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All In a Day's Work
"…When your long day is over
And you can barely drag your feet
The weight of the world is on your shoulders
I know what you need
Bring it on home to me…"
"Bring It On Home"
Little Big Town
Written by Tyler Hayes Bieck, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Greg Bieck
It seemed that the older he became, the faster the days seemed to speed by. The weekend had passed far too quickly…he felt as if he'd not had even a moment to just sit down and relax. The feeling was a carry-over from the previous week, he was certain; the intensity beginning immediately after the holiday weekend…
He'd managed to celebrate the 4th of July with his family - spending a quiet evening watching the girls with their sparklers, and Abby setting off the few fireworks she'd purchased. Talking with Beth…Doctor Meyers, he reminded himself firmly as he straightened his jacket before stepping off the elevator…about music and movies and books that he thought only he remembered.
His feet moved him automatically toward his office as his train of thought continued. The pleasant respite of the holiday weekend had ended abruptly when the machinations of the NID had seen Casey Jackson and Jack O'Neill's clone…I have to start thinking of that boy as 'Johnny', he chided himself…kidnapped. The upside to the entire incident was that the last of the rogue NID leaders had finally been dealt with. He'd already heard the grumbles that had resulted as those who worked within the SGC learned that the newest Director of the National Internal Defense department was none other than General William Bauer. Apparently his tenure as CO of the SGC, as temporary as it had been, had left a permanent distaste for the man. He'd also heard that the general had been more than a bit surprised to be called out of his forced retirement to take the position.
While he hadn't actually met Bauer, General Vidrine had spent several hours debriefing him regarding the events that had transpired during his absence. Apparently the time spent at the SGC - dismantling SG-1 and riding roughshod over men and women who had been performing their tasks efficiently and commendably for nearly four years, and then as a result, nearly destroying the SGC…and probably Colorado, if not the entire planet - had humbled the hawkish general. Bauer had become, Vidrine insisted, one of the most vocal advocates for the Stargate Command Program, and the men and women who worked within the secret bunker. Having an ally leading the NID could only benefit the SGC.
He stopped and turned toward the voice. Smiled automatically when Casey Jackson hurried toward him. "Casey! How are you this morning?"
"I'm fine, sir," she replied, smiling warmly. "And you?"
"To be honest, I’m a bit tired."
"Yeah, it was a hell of a week, wasn't it?"
It was impossible not to chuckle out loud. After Monday's NID escapade, a request had come in from a village of people regularly visited by SG teams, for aid during what turned out to be one hell of a natural disaster. Two teams had been on-site when the river near the village overflowed its banks, and the heavy rains washed most of the village away. The majority of the villagers had fled the area days earlier, and those who had remained behind were uncertain as to where the group was located. Reports from geologists and the meteorologist sent to examine the area were adamant that the river's course had changed drastically, and that the suddenly stormy weather wasn't going to abate any time soon. The Stargate was in danger of being swept away, within hours according to the reports he'd received. There hadn't been time to search for the other villagers, nor had there been any choice other than to bring the few remaining to the SGC. It had taken three days to find a suitable planet for the survivors. The Prometheus had been dispatched to the planet, in hopes of locating those who had fled the village, and reuniting them with their brethren. The report he'd received Friday evening from Colonel Ronson hadn't been promising. The planet had suffered massive devastation from floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Although they had examined a nearly two hundred mile radius from the now destroyed village, no life signs had been located. It would be his duty to recall the Prometheus if the report was the same today. If those people hadn't been found by now, he knew they wouldn't be. The most difficult part of the task would be relaying that news to the survivors who were trying to settle into their new world.
At the same time, four SG teams had come down with food poisoning…the culprit being potato salad left on a picnic table in the sun too long at a holiday party all four teams had attended. The resulting illness had put two missions on hold until a team was available. And had most of the men affected vowing to never eat potato salad again.
The week had ended with Senator Shepperd making a spur-of-the-moment visit to the SGC, accompanied by two senators newly appointed to the Senate Oversight Committee. The politicians had been impressed with the facility, in spite of the fact that Doctor Felger had blown up an alien device in his lab, sending the entire base into lockdown for three hours. Casey had offered to take the politicians on their tour. The young seer had confirmed that the two senators were staunch supporters of Shepperd, and as a result, firm allies of the SGC.
Yes, it had been one hell of a week! "To put it mildly," he replied.
"Well, I have some good news for you."
"I'll take all the good news I can get," he sighed.
"Since SG-1 had weekend duty, I went over the mission reports that came in." Casey paused, tugged her lower lip between her teeth. "I hope you don't mind."
He waved her concerns away. "Not at all."
"Good," she sighed, visibly relieved. She began smiling again. "You'll be pleased to know that it's going to be a very boring week for all the SG teams slated to go off world. I have no idea what will happen here, but as long as the NID is under control, the politicians have sated their need to wander around, and we don't get any distress calls, I'd say you're in for a quiet week as well."
"Casey, that's the best news I've heard in days," he said amiably. "And I appreciate knowing early enough to be able to enjoy the peace and quiet." The relief that he felt at her proclamation washed over him in soft, warm waves. How long had it been since the SGC had had any 'quiet time'? Too long, as far as he was concerned.
"As long as none of the Goa'uld decided to lose their freaking minds," she quipped. "Although the psychic radar on that is quiet, too."
"Maybe the Big Boys," he barely paused, the phrase making him chuckle mentally - the term was used by the seer to refer to the beings on the highest levels of existence, who seemed most interested in the SGC and the personnel within, "understand that we could use a bit of a break."
"Could be," Casey allowed. "I left notes with all the folders, so you can decide who goes where."
"Thank you, Casey. I should have that information in time for the Monday briefing."
This time his chuckle was audible. Jack O'Neill was quite the influence on his team, it seemed. "I'll see you at the meeting."
He returned the smart salute she offered. It had taken an actual order, one which he'd issued covertly, to prevent any of the military members of the SGC from revealing to Casey that it wasn't necessary for her to salute. In fact, it wasn't even proper protocol. But the young woman had been so determined from her arrival at the installation to do the 'right thing', and the salute was the ultimate reflection of her respect. That she actually saluted as well as any of the military personnel was a constant source of amusement to him. Before he could say any more, the whirlwind known as Casey Jackson had already turned and sprinted for the elevator. With an amused shake of his head, he continued into his office.
"Good morning, sir," Walter smiled broadly, pouring coffee into a mug.
He hadn't realized he was still laughing until he noticed the mirth in the staff sergeant's eyes. "Good morning, Walter."
"Colonel Reynolds has five reports ready for your signature. All five are routine."
"General Jacoby has requested any requisition forms be submitted by ten hundred on Friday."
"Very well. Send a memo to General O'Neill requiring all requisitions he's received be forwarded by fifteen-thirty hours Thursday."
Walter grinned openly. "Yes, sir."
"I just spoke to Casey Jackson. She's already gone over the mission files. All I need to do is take a quick look at them."
"According to Casey, we should be in for a quiet week."
"I hope so, sir. It's been crazy around here lately."
"Yes, it has been."
"If that's all, sir…?"
"Yes, thank you, Walter." He settled down behind his desk. If the week was actually quiet enough, perhaps he'd make reservations for dinner. He was certain Beth would enjoy a nice evening at one of the better restaurants in Colorado Springs. He shook himself mentally. This was not the time…nor the place…to contemplate such thoughts.
A A A A A A
He paused at door to the large conference room used for Monday morning briefings. Casey Jackson was telling a joke, the men and women from half a dozen teams clustered around her. He was lucky, she'd just begun…
"…so, this guy decides okay, I'll appease the wife, and figure out who I'm going to put in charge of my business when I retire. He thinks about the problem for awhile, and comes up with what he thinks is the perfect test."
He almost laughed aloud when several of the listeners leaned in slightly. They were totally unaware of how enthralled they were.
"Dear old Dad comes down to breakfast," Casey continued, "nods at the servants, and they carry in a large cage. In the cage are three ducks. So, the man takes the ducks, and hands one to each of his sons. 'I want you to take these ducks, and make the best deal you can for it,' he says.
"Well, the oldest and the middle sons are out the door like a shot. The younger son looks at his father like the old man has lost his mind, gives a shrug, and wanders out, duck under his arm. Not thirty minutes later the oldest boy is back, and hands his father twenty-five dollars. 'I sold my duck to the French restaurant down the street,' he says. The father is thrilled, and ready to sign the business over to his oldest son. A few minutes later, the middle son comes back, and hands his father fifteen dollars. 'I sold my duck to the meat market in town,' he said. The father is impressed, and thinks that maybe he'll put the two into the business as partners. Now, lunchtime arrives, and there's no sign of the youngest son. That's because the kid is downtown, wandering around, trying to figure out just what he's going to do with a freakin' duck."
The listeners began to chuckle and elbow one another slightly.
He couldn't help but smile. Casey's jokes were always funny. Usually a bit off-colored as well. He had no clue where she found them, but it was as entertaining to hear and watch her tell a joke as it was to hear the joke itself.
"So the kid is standing on a street corner," Casey continued, "when a hooker walks up to him. 'How about going up to my place?' she offers." The seer had one hand on her hip, the other patting her hair. She wiggled slightly, winked broadly in imitation of the hooker in her story. "The boy looks her over, and then shakes his head. 'I'd love to,' he says, 'but I'm broke. All I have is this stupid duck.' The hooker looks at the kid, then smiles. 'You're cute,' she says. 'I'll do it for the duck.' So, off they go to her room. A couple of hours later, because the boy is good," Casey said, winking and nudging Colonel Carter…who was standing right beside her, "the hooker says, 'Wow, that was great! Let's do it again!' The boy says, 'I can't, you've got my duck.' The hooker says, 'Baby, do that again and you can have the duck back!' Did I mention the boy was good?"
Louder chuckles filled the air.
"So, a couple of hours later, the boy goes back to the street corner, a satisfied smile on his face and the duck under his arm-"
"What about the hooker?" Major Ferretti asked, grinning broadly.
"Ferretti, the boy was good," Casey grinned. "After four hours of intense lovin', she was sleeping!"
The group burst into laughter.
"So, anyway," Casey chuckled, "the kid is standing there, when this huge moving truck comes by. Well, some idiot pulls out of a parking space without signaling, the truck driver hits his horn, which scares the bejeezus out of the duck, who goes flying into the street and WHAP!" She slapped her hands together. "The duck is a new grill decoration for the moving truck. The kid just stands there, wondering what the hell he's going to tell his father, when the truck driver sees him. 'Was that your duck, kid?' the truck driver asks. 'Yep. Was,' the kid replies. 'Oh, man, I'm sorry,' the truck driver says. He reaches into his pocket. 'Here, will fifty dollars cover it?' The kid shrugs. 'Sure,' he says. Well, at home, the father is wondering what the hell is going on. It's nearly dinnertime when the kid comes walking into the house. 'Where's the duck?' the father demands. 'What did you get for your duck?' The kid pauses, thinks for a minute, then says, 'Well, Dad, I got a fuck for a duck, a duck for a fuck, and fifty bucks for a fucked-up duck'."
Hoots and laughter filled the entire room.
"That's one of her favorite jokes," a voice chuckled.
He started slightly, then realized that Daniel Jackson had been standing beside him for a minute or so. It was impossible not to laugh. "I don't know what's funnier, the joke, or the way Casey tells it," he admitted.
Daniel grinned from ear to ear. "She does have a talent for telling them," he agreed.
"Yes, she does."
"Sir, before the meeting gets started, I wanted to talk to you," Daniel said, any trace of his smile gone.
"About?" he asked, equal parts curiosity and dread filling him.
"Well…it's…" Daniel crossed his arms over his chest; a familiar physical action that had often preceded the sharing of information of a negative form.
He steeled himself for the worst. No doubt the fact that his wife had been kidnapped again, had brought the archaeologist to the decision to leave the SGC.
"I'd like to put up a plaque on level eighteen," Daniel said quietly. "A remembrance of Cam Balinsky. I thought maybe we could even name one of the offices for him."
He relaxed visibly. Nor was he surprised at the request. In fact, he'd been expecting the young man to ask for some such thing. "I think that's a fine idea, Doctor. Fill out whatever forms are needed, Walter can help you with that. I'll sign them as soon as they cross my desk."
Daniel smiled happily. "Thank you, sir!"
"Shall we?" He motioned toward the room, where those gathered were settling into their seats. There were still chuckles, and a few of the men were repeating the punch-line of the joke to themselves. He found he was still smiling about it himself.
General O'Neill called the meeting to order. "Not much today…I do have a new estimate on the date of the new ships being launched."
"Wait a minute…gotta get my sheet," Ferretti mumbled.
More snickers moved around the room.
"Got it!" he said, holding up a tattered sheet of paper.
"Okay, for the Phoenix, looks like 'late October'. Odyssey should be ready by mid-December."
Ferretti grumbled beneath his breath.
"Lou?" Jack asked, his cheek twitching.
"Nail 'em down to actual dates. Can't declare a winner without dates."
More chuckles had filled the air as a result of the Marine's comment. Gambling on a military installation was illegal. He'd always been firm about that at every command he'd served. However, the betting pools that Lou Ferretti ran were so varied, and served as such a monumental moral booster that he turned a blind eye to them. He'd already heard about this pool, started when the first of the delays had been reported on the two new ships. The underlying tension - a result of the continued delays in having the ships completed and in action, protecting Earth - could be felt in spite of the frivolity. Everyone in the room understood how desperately the new ships were needed. There had already been at least a dozen times that either the Prometheus or the Daedalus had been called upon to pick up teams stranded on a planet where the DHD had been damaged, or ferrying villagers from a ravaged area of a planet to safety on another continent. Which left one ship to protect the planet. One ship that could easily be destroyed if the Goa'uld decided to attack. "Is that pool still open?"
All eyes shifted to him.
Ferretti sat up straight, cleared his throat nervously. "Yes, sir."
"Good. Come to my office after this briefing. I'll take a look at what dates are available."
Grins and smiles lit every face.
"Yes, sir!" Ferretti grinned.
"It's all yours, sir," Jack said, waving at the lectern. He sat down beside Sam.
"Thank you, general." He hurried to the front of the room. "I have mission reports here, and have assigned teams to each mission. According to Casey, we're in for a quiet week."
Applause broke out, and there were even two sharp whistles of approval.
Have I ever been on a base that was so…undisciplined? He immediately chastised himself. No, not 'undisciplined'. The men and women who worked for him were the sharpest, fittest, most…yes, most disciplined…troops it had ever been his honor to work with. The constant threats, the intensity of the war in which they were engaged filled the very air of the SGC. The moments of frivolity were snatched when and where they could be. It was a defense against the fear of losing the war against the Goa'uld; the danger of the jobs these people faced on a daily basis. He smiled, and waited for the group to settle back down. "SG-5, you'll be doing a routine recon to PX3 711. Standard three day stay. Casey recommends you take along a deck of cards."
Major Wheaton, the new CO of the SG-5 team, nodded as he jotted down the planet identification. As soon as the briefing was over, he'd use the information from the mission packet to learn if any other tidbits on the planet could be found in the computer. The more he and his team knew before heading into the 'unknown', the better.
"SG-1, MALP images on PY4 839 have indicated a large temple complex. Preliminary analysis also indicates the possible presence of naquadah."
Jack, as the team CO, was also copying down the planet identification. "Duration?"
"As long as necessary." He was aware that Colonel Carter and Doctor Jackson could find a dozen reasons to drag the mission on for a few days. Nor would he object. A nice quiet recon mission was exactly what that team needed. Whether it had been missions, or personal dilemmas, the members of SG-1 had been put through the wringer. The year, so far, had been more than a little intense for them.
"Cards needed, sir?"
He couldn't help but smile. "You'll have to ask Casey."
"Radar?" Jack asked.
"Probably," the young seer replied immediately. "I suggest a deck of Uno cards too, in case we get bored with Gin and Poker."
With a chuckle, he handed out the rest of the assignments, adding that the pre-mission briefings schedule would be posted within thirty minutes of the meeting's adjournment. He then inquired about reports from any of the various departments. It seemed that there wasn't much to report; just a continuation of on-going work and experiments. He'd never admit to being absolutely delighted that the briefing had lasted less than thirty minutes.
His thoughts continued on their previous track as he hurried down the corridor. Tension had been running high since the film crew had 'invaded', as the members of SG-1 insisted had been done. The death of one of the civilian members of the SGC had shaken everyone. The loss of any SG team member was taken personally by all, but those among the civilian scientists had been hit the hardest by the archaeologist's death. The lightheartedness that had filled the room when he'd announced a hopefully uneventful week was positive proof that everyone in the mountain was in dire need of a break. Perhaps it was time for a 'training day'…
"General Hammond, do you have a minute, sir?"
Stopping in front of his office, he turned and smiled. "What can I do for you, Colonel Carter?"
"It's about the naquadah generator we've been working on. I was going over some of my notes about the Tollan devices we've been able to procure, and I think they might have switches that will work better than what I can get here on Earth. What we need…"
It wasn't easy to keep up with the brilliant mind of the astrophysicist as she launched into a description of the switches needed, the parameters that had been set, and the limits to what was available to her. He did his best. "As long as these devices can't be used in a weapon of any sort, I don't see that the Tollan council would refuse. Do we have anything to offer in return?"
"Well, there are the blueprints for the Tegerian defense satellites," Sam mused. "I don't know if they would be 'advanced' enough. There's always naquadah."
The generator the colonel and her team were working on would be used to power everything in the SGC that wasn't being powered by the first naquadah generator. It would effectively take the entire facility 'off the grid'. And would leave more in the budget for trading with other planets. While it wasn't the money itself that would be used for trade, that same money could purchase the goods that traders wanted. The president was eager to see the second generator finished, as well. It would help to prove to the Senate Oversight Committee that useful advances were being made by the SGC, using technology gained from missions and allies. "Write up a requisition report. I'll contact the Tollans and request a formal meeting."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," Sam beamed. She saluted.
He returned the salute, watched her rejoin her teammates, who were waiting in front of the elevator.
The phone on his desk was ringing - the black one, thank goodness. He hurried into his office, grabbed the receiver and sat down at the same time. "General Hammond, this is a secure line."
"Grandpa, I need help," a little voice said immediately.
"Kayla, Grandpa is working," he said gently.
"I know, but this is ultra 'specially important," the little girl insisted.
With a smile on his face, he sat back in his chair. "Well, if it's 'ultra 'specially important', I suppose you'd better tell me what it is."
"I have to be a horsy for the school play, but I don't want to be a brown horsy, I want to be a red horsy. Mommy says there aren't any red horsies."
"Well, tell Mommy to look at the Bay horses. There's a special kind of bay that's red," he said. Growing up on a ranch in Texas had given him more than just a passing knowledge of horses. That his aunt and uncle bred Bays gave him full knowledge of that specific breed.
"I can be a red horsy?"
"Of course you can, darlin'," he replied.
"Thank you, Grandpa!"
"You're welcome, Kayla. I have to go back to work now."
"Okay. I love you."
"I love you, too, sweetheart." The chuckle he'd been holding back during the brief conversation broke free when he heard the phone clatter, and then the silence that indicated Kayla had hung up. He reached for the top folder on his desk. A soft tap on the door stopped his hand midway. "Casey, come in."
"Thank you, sir," the young seer said, stepping into the room. "I just had the oddest download."
The frown on her face brought one to his own. "I see."
"Sir…" She broke off, her cheeks turning pink. "I don't know how to ask this or really I just need to tell you what I saw but I don't want you to think we've been spying or anything because we haven't…" Deep breath. "But I think it's great and I've wanted you to find someone so you wouldn't be alone because we aren't and it would be just horrible for you and I saw you and Beth Meyers in that cavern where we were…you know…" She waved her hand in a weak circle. Drew another deep breath. "But it wasn't exactly the same cavern and then suddenly it was just the woods on the top of the mountain that we can get to when we go to the loading dock on level five and I think it means that the Big Boys are going to let Beth be Immortal too because you deserve to have your soul mate too."
It was a good thing he was already sitting down, he thought immediately. It was one thing to realize that someone within the SGC knew about the relationship between him and Doctor Beth Meyers. It was a completely different kettle of fish to be confronted with it. He shook his head mentally, even as he tried to stop the shaking of his hands. There wasn't a 'relationship', they were friends…just two people near the same age who had found interests in common.
"Sir, no one will hear about any of this from me. It's your story to tell, not mine," Casey said gently. "I just think the Big Boys want you to be assured that you won't…well, you won't be left alone. That you'll have someone you care about…someone you love," she amended, "with you…forever."
He tried to speak; found that he couldn't. Which had him clearing his throat. "Casey, I'm not sure there's anything other than friendship between Beth…er…Doctor Meyers…and myself," he said, after a few awkward moments of silence.
The blonde tipped her head sideways. She seemed to be staring just past his shoulder. She gave a slight nod, as if listening to someone speaking. "Well, all I'm picking up is that when you're sure, just let Daniel know. And we'll take care of making her immortal."
"And if I never decide that I'm sure…or we decide that we're not meant to be together?"
She gave him what could only be an indulgent smile. "I don't think you'll decide either of those things. There's no real rush. At least, I'm not sensing any urgency about the situation. Just…whenever you're ready."
Maybe, he thought, with a hint of amusement, he should just give in to the inevitable, and ask Beth to marry him. When the thought bounced around in his head, he took a moment to examine it. He grimaced with the immediate feeling of being unfaithful to Betty. Then noted, somewhat peripherally, that the woman he found himself attracted to was also an 'Elizabeth'.
Casey had stepped closer to the desk, her green eyes filled with concern. "General, are you all right?"
"I'm fine," he replied. "A bit…shocked, I guess."
"Yeah, nothing like finding out the Big Boys are nosing into your business," she quipped drolly.
"I suppose, under the circumstances, I should be grateful."
"The gift isn't given lightly," Casey said softly. "You wouldn't have been granted…the gift…if you hadn't deserved it. Something tells me that Beth is just as deserving. I do…feel…that her being granted the gift has more to do with you, and preventing you from being alone, than anything she's actually done to earn the gift."
"And, sir, this conversation will remain between you and I. But if you need help explaining…things…to Beth, just let us know. We'll help any way we can," she assured him.
"I appreciate that, Casey. When the time is right, I'll let you know."
She beamed a smile, snapped off a salute, and turned to dash out of the office. For a moment, he was left wondering if he'd dreamed the entire exchange. The pounding of his heart assured him that it had been very real. And the sense of…relief?…was just as present. Had he held back, not allowing himself to feel more for Beth because her mortality? Even though he rarely thought in terms of being immortal, it was obviously affecting the way he approached things - particularly those of a personal nature. It took a few minutes to corral his thoughts, and shove them to the back of his mind. Personal issues would have to be dealt with later. He had two mission briefings and a meeting with Colonel Reynolds regarding the monthly reports…all before lunch.
A A A A A A
"From the images," Daniel said, "the temple complex appears rather extensive. Since all of the photos were taken from a distance, I can't see who the temple is dedicated to. Three areas of the temple structure appear to be perfectly intact, so hopefully I'll be able to find complete text on the inner walls or columns."
"Very good," he said. While the majority of archaeological finds were little more than of passing interest to him, he understood the value. An understanding he had only because of the tenacity and dedication of the man sitting beside him, shuffling through what looked like an entire legal pad of notes. Whatever information was discovered in this temple…temple complex, he corrected himself, Doctor Jackson would be able to use to help any number of SG teams when dealing with the Goa'uld in the future. He turned his attention to the astrophysicist who waited patiently. "Colonel Carter?"
"If the analyses from the MALP is correct, there's at least a small deposit of naquadah. Even more interesting, however, is that I found readings for ore that seems very similar to trinium."
That particular ore, he knew, was a rarity in the universe. Like naquadah, it didn't exist on Earth. And so far, they had located only two planets where trinium occurred naturally. The first had been a planet where actual Salish Indians had been located; sent there by Ra, or so it was assumed, after Tem had crash-landed his ship near a settlement of the natives on Earth. The second was on a barren planet void of all but sparse plant life. SGC geologists were convinced that the types of ores (several other ores, including uranium, had been located there as well) were the reason for the lack of life. While they were only able to take a bit out of the river on the first planet, a full-scale mining operation was ongoing on the second planet. Another source would please the Pentagon. Not to mention making several of the SGC's 'trading partners' happy as well. If they could increase their supply to the Tegerians, the only advanced race actually willing to trade with the Tau'ri, it could only strengthen the treaty between the two cultures. More trinium to the Tegerians might even net further medical and farming advances. He tried to rein in his excitement. "Can you tell how large the deposits might be?"
"It's hard to say, sir," Sam replied honestly. "I was only able to pick up trace amounts, but that was from the samples taken by the MALP. Daniel and I have examined the photos, and we agree that near the Stargate is what looks like a dry riverbed. If there are trace amounts of several ores near what was once a river, I think it's safe to assume that at least modest deposits of the ores are located somewhere 'upstream'."
"I'd like to have a thorough analysis run, Colonel. If you need extra man-power or equipment, let me know."
"Yes, sir. I can run preliminary tests, do a bit of looking around, and then send a report."
"Good." He looked over at Casey - smiled at her because it was just damned impossible not to smile at her. "Any new information for us?"
"No, sir," the young seer replied.
"General," he said, turning to Jack, "I'll authorize as much time as your team needs."
"You'll depart in thirty minutes."
"Yes, sir," Jack nodded.
Before SG-1 was scheduled to leave, SG-5 and SG-8 would be leaving on their own missions. As was his habit, he was waiting in the 'gate room when each team arrived. If the men and women of the SG teams were willing to risk their lives by walking through the Stargate, the least he could do was to be there as he sent them into the unknown. Oh, he was aware that MALP reports offered enough to keep any team from walking blindly onto a planet. Common sense dictated that knowing whether or not a planet was even habitable was a priority. And since Casey Jackson's arrival, there were even more tidbits of information that prevented the teams from running face-first into dangerous situations. But things could, and often did, change very quickly 'out there'. And sometimes those changes caused very unwelcome results. He was responsible for sending good men and women to other planets. He wouldn't do so from behind his desk.
Giving his 'usual' sendoff, SG-5 left the SGC. Ten minutes later, time during which he signed half a dozen forms that Walter had brought to him, the scene was repeated as SG-8 embarked on their mission.
With at least fifteen minutes to wait, he was back in his office, pouring a cup of coffee, hoping for at least a few sips before SG-1 was ready to leave.
"Good morning, General."
He nodded at his visitor, accepting the folder with a welcoming smile. "Thank you."
"It's just a routine report," Beth shrugged. "It could have waited, I suppose. But I-" She broke off, and looked down at the floor.
"I'm glad you brought it by," he said softly. "I was hoping for a chance to ask if you'd have dinner with me…sometime this week."
Her head came up, her brown eyes sparkled, and her smile warmed him to the core. "I'd love to have dinner with you," she replied.
"Good! I'll make reservations, and let you know when."
She nodded. "That's fine. I…uh…I thought maybe we could have coffee together later today?"
"That would be nice," he said. "I've got several meetings, how about I call when I have a few minutes?"
"I should be in my office all day. If not, call the commons."
He nodded his understanding.
She smiled. "Until later, then."
"Until later," he echoed. Was that strange stirring near his heart more than just friendship? More than just simple affection for a woman with whom he shared a love of jazz and old Bette Davis movies? Could it possibly be love?
With a firm shove, any and all thoughts of a personal nature were pushed to the back of his mind. He'd deal with them later. He rolled his eyes mentally. It seemed he'd done the same thing several times already, and it wasn't even eleven o'clock yet! No more thoughts about romance, he told himself firmly. Tonight. You can deal with it all tonight, over a nice glass of scotch. In the meantime, he was expected in the 'gate room. He took a sip of coffee, sat the cup on his desk, and then hurried down to see SG-1 off.
The team members were just arriving, Daniel was carrying what looked like a large leather bag undoubtedly stuffed with books and notes. Sam was dragging two packing containers, filled with the equipment she would need to run the tests necessary to determine what ores, and how much, were available. He smiled when Teal'c strode over to help her, placing one container on top of the other, his massive muscles bulging as he picked up both.
He stepped forward, noted that all five faces turned to him expectantly. He said the same thing every time a team embarked on a mission, only the team number changed during his 'send-off'. It seemed that it was expected. In fact, the teams seemed to hold the send-off as a talisman against bad luck. In the past, several teams - including SG-1 - had waited patiently while he dealt with some emergency or another, not moving until he was either in the control room, or the 'gate room itself, and he could utter the simple phrase. "SG-1, you have a go. Godspeed."
"That's the word," Jack quipped, leading the way up the ramp.
Daniel was on the general's heels, Casey right behind him. Sam remained beside Teal'c, helping to steady the crates.
When the event horizon collapsed behind them, he felt that familiar tug on his heart. In spite of the fact that he wasn't supposed to have favorites, the members of SG-1 were closer to him than any of the other people in the SGC. With the exception of Doctor Fraiser and Walter Harriman. And Beth Meyers. Every time the premier team went out, he knew that there was a chance of them running into unforeseen trouble. They had a knack for finding trouble. Or being found by trouble. Of all the teams he sent out, he waited anxiously for every check-in scheduled for SG-1. Worried between each prescheduled contact. He took a deep breath. "Stay out of trouble, Jack," he murmured.
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