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All In a Day's Work
She watched as her husband and Teal'c wandered back toward camp. Daniel had already told her and Casey what he thought had happened, admonishing both of them to remain quiet about what they knew. It was funny, though, to think of Teal'c wandering around, his thoughts on what he and Janet had been doing in the bedroom. Knowing Janet, those thoughts would have been particularly…distracting.
"So, are we ready to head back to the SGC?" Jack asked.
"Not just yet," Daniel said immediately. "Give me another hour or so."
"You got it," Jack replied cheerfully. He exchanged a look with Teal'c, the two men nodding at one another.
Okay, what was that about? The two had the look of having had a meaningful discussion…probably about Teal'c and that well. During the wait for Casey to return with the rope, she'd noticed that Jack had continued to look from the path the Jaffa had worn in the grass, and the well where he'd fallen. Which had been at least four feet apart. Jack was a very astute man, something he did his best to hide. He figured out that Teal'c had been…distracted. She wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. Jack had a tendency to tease his teammates about things that he thought were funny. The rest of the team didn't usually agree with his assessment on what 'funny' was. Luckily for him, the team was exceptionally tolerant…and forgiving.
He was whistling as he approached her. Nothing odd in that fact. Except that less than five minutes ago he'd been beating himself up for not realizing that Teal'c had gone missing. She'd seen the self-recrimination in his brown eyes, and had seen the worry about Teal'c's safety. She'd seen the guilt in his expression before he carefully pushed down all his emotions, his focus solely on rescuing Teal'c. General Jack O'Neill's harshest critic was himself.
Now…his brown eyes were twinkling merrily. The crooked smile he wore most of the time was in place. And, he was whistling. Her eyes moved back to the large black man. Knowing her husband, Jack had probably asked exactly what had happened. Given what Daniel had told her and Casey…Oh, to have been there to have heard Teal'c's explanation, she thought, barely suppressing a chuckle.
Those two had most certainly reached an agreement about something…the way they'd nodded at each other was proof of that. She didn't have a clue what it might be. Without a doubt it would be interesting…and entertaining. Especially with Jack involved.
"So, are you finished playing in the dirt?" Jack asked as soon as he was close enough.
"For now." Her smile was an automatic response to his. For what had to be the millionth time her heart beat a bit faster, knowing that she no longer had to break eye contact with the man she loved to avoid the risk of embarrassing herself - and him as well, probably - by doing or saying something that she shouldn't. How many times had she barely caught herself before uttering the words 'I love you'? Not to mention the numerous times she'd started to lean toward him, the desire to kiss him almost overwhelming. And she'd given up counting the nights she'd lain awake, contemplating resigning her commission, hoping that General Hammond would be able to hire her as a civilian consultant, so that military regulations wouldn't be able to keep them apart. How many times had she agonized over the career she was proud of…that she cherished…and the love she felt for the one man she wasn't allowed to love?
"Need any help getting this stuff repacked?"
While the offer was sincere, she knew that Jack's idea of packing scientific equipment consisted of tossing everything into the box and slapping the lid on it. "Thanks, but I've got it."
"I'll take care of the sleeping bags and tent, then."
"Sure you don't want some help?"
"I'd really like for all of these samples to reach the SGC in one piece, and still viable for further tests."
The wounded look he gave her made her chuckle out loud. "I'd be careful with 'em!"
"Uh huh. Like you were careful with those samples from P3X 087?"
"P3X 087? Not ringing any bells, Carter."
She smiled. They had agreed that, married or not, referring to one another as 'Carter' or 'General' was one way to keep their private life and their military life separate. What happened at work had absolutely nothing to do with what happened at home. And vice versa. According to Casey, it also drove the gossip-mongers of the SGC nuts. It seemed that those who loved to keep the SGC rumor mill whirling were never sure if the couple were angry with one another, or just behaving as their normal selves. The seer had giggled hysterically over one rumor, that suggested that the general and the colonel hadn't gotten married at all, that the trip to Las Vegas was a nothing but a team excursion. Jack had found it entertaining as well. Keeping people guessing about what he was doing…or thinking…was a favorite pastime for him
With a start, she realized he was still waiting for her response, one eyebrow raised slightly. "The planet where we found a sizable deposit of iron, and a vein of naquadah. The mission was last summer."
"Still not remembering," he said, frowning in apparent concentration. Which she knew was put on.
"You tossed all of the samples into the box, dumped the detector and the analysis machine on top of them. By the time we got back to the SGC, all of the vials had been broken, the dirt was so mixed up there was no way to tell what came from where…and it took two days to clean the dirt out of the electronics."
"Oh, that P3X 087. Nope, still not remembering."
"You ruined three days of work."
"Did not! You'd already run all your tests, and you had all the GPS locations marked with the results."
"There were other tests that needed to be run, to determine the concentration of the ores in the dirt."
"Oh." He looked dutifully reprimanded, for all of about ten seconds. Then his usual grin slid back into place. "What if I put the doohickeys in the box first?"
She burst into laughter. "The vials have to be packed into their special case first. It fits at the bottom of the box."
"Oh. Okay, so you play with the vials, and I'll take down the tent."
"Sounds like a good plan."
"It does, doesn't it? Must be because it's my idea."
"Hardly," she replied, rolling her eyes.
"You're being insubordinate, Colonel."
"So, write me up, General."
"Might have to think about some discipline…make you shine my boots or something."
She knew from the leering glance he gave her that he wasn't thinking about boots. No, his mind was on the 'or something'. "I'll shine whatever you want shined, just as long as you stay out of my way."
"Yep, subordinate as hell. Definitely gonna be some shining going on tonight!"
Once again she began to laugh. Jack had always been able to make her laugh, no matter the circumstances. "Go take down the tent," she chortled.
"Insubordinate and bossy. Lots of shining, Colonel."
"Only if I get my samples loaded, General."
"Right. You load, I'll dismantle."
Hands in his pockets, P90 over his shoulder, Jack walked toward camp.
She grinned when she once again heard the sound of his whistling. It was always a good sign when Jack whistled on a mission. With a shake of her head, and one last chuckle, she began to organize the samples she'd collected, making certain that each sample was marked, then inserted them into the carefully constructed box. With luck she'd be done within thirty minutes.
Teal'c had taken down his tent; his pack was completely ready to go. She and Jack were sitting side by side on a fallen pillar, their packs at their feet.
"Five more minutes." Daniel's voice was muffled as he called from the small room where he and Casey were still taking photos.
"You said that thirty minutes ago!" Jack complained.
There were a few moments of silence, and then Casey emerged from the temple. She headed for the tent that was still erected. Apparently she and Daniel had agreed that she should start packing to return to the SGC. It was a struggle to keep from grinning at the look of irritation the seer tossed at Jack. Casey and Daniel were so much alike, especially when it came to their work.
Casey had barely started taking down the tent when Daniel strolled toward them.
"Get everything?" Jack asked. She bit back another smile at the innocent expression on her husband's face.
"Yes, I did. In spite of you annoying me every five minutes."
"Well, good. If you can manage to get your stuff together, we can go home."
Casey, who had been bent over, pulling the flexible poles from the tent, stood up and put her hands on her hips. "If you need to run home to watch the Simpsons, by all means, go ahead. There's nothing here to worry about, and without you pestering us, we can get more film of the entire complex."
"No way, Radar. The team stays together. And you've had two days to get all the pictures you need."
"We've used every bit-" Daniel started. He paused when Casey put her hand on his arm.
"Stud Muffin, give him a break. If he doesn't get Sam home so he can jump her bones, since he's apparently too shy to do so on a mission, he'll explode."
She didn't know what was funnier: the look of surprise on Daniel's face, or the shock on Jack's. Both expressions had her laughing out loud.
"It's not funny!"
"Yes, it is." She leaned toward him, whispered softly in his ear. "And it's true. You know, when it's an easy mission, we could…indulge."
The red that colored his cheeks deepened. "Carter!" Jack hissed.
His response made her laugh all the harder.
Jack pointed his finger at Casey. "Radar, I am so writing you up for insubordination."
"Okay, whatever. Just spell my name right."
The snort from Teal'c's direction was unexpected. She looked over to see the Jaffa grinning broadly.
"I get no respect. I'm a general, ya know," Jack said petulantly.
"Yes, Jack, we know," Daniel replied. "You remind us of that, and how much you hate it, at every opportunity."
"Well, I'm a general, you should respect that."
Casey again stopped what she was doing to turn to face Jack. "But you said you didn't want to be a general."
"So what does it matter if we respect the general in you or not?"
Jack sputtered for a moment. Teal'c's deep rumble of laughter had the team CO turning to look at him. "Don't encourager her, Teal'c."
She wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes. "She has a point."
"Carter, who's side on you on here?"
"I have to choose sides? I can't just play the part of Switzerland and watch?"
Now it was Daniel and Casey who were chuckling loudly.
"No respect at all. Maybe I should send you all to a refresher course on military protocol."
"Not military, Jack," Casey sang out.
"You're contracted to a military installation," he retorted.
Looking over her shoulder, from where she squatted beside Daniel, helping him roll the tent, Casey smiled. "You know I love you, Jack. Even when you're annoying."
"I am never annoying," he countered.
She could see the twitch in Jack's cheek. He was enjoying the banter as much as Casey was.
"Shining every boot at the SGC."
"Nah…don't think so."
"Doing my paperwork for a year."
"Well, at least it would get done," Casey snickered.
Jack began to chuckle. "If you need more time, just say so."
Daniel, who was laughing as well, shook his head. "We have everything we need."
If for one moment Jack thought that Daniel was just trying to placate him, then the team CO would insist that the archaeologist be certain he had all of the photos and recordings needed. In spite of the loud complaining that he did, Jack was more than willing to allow 'his kids' as much time as possible to do their jobs. How many times had she heard him talking to General Hammond via the MALP, requesting additional time for some mission project or another, insisting that if she or Daniel thought it was important, that it was important. His faith in the abilities and skills of his team was just one of the many traits that made him an excellent CO
And if Daniel wasn't finished, he'd still be in the temple, working…in spite of Jack's constant nagging. If the archaeologist had wanted another day to translate what was on the walls, nothing short of an act of God…and that was iffy…would prevent him from arguing for - no, demanding - the time needed. If that were the case, after a sufficient amount of very loud bickering between the two, Jack would heave a pained sigh, then order the tents back up, and then he'd offer Teal'c's and her assistance, since she was finished with her own work. Jack, meanwhile, would continue to nap. A thought that brought another smile to her face.
When the archaeologist had walked out of the ruins toward camp, it was because he had everything he could find, or would need. Jack was well aware of that fact. The banter was just part of what they did. It often confused anyone who might be observing the team. What seemed to outsiders to be complaints and reprimands were nothing more than good, old-fashioned teasing. Daniel and Jack often used that behavior to confuse enemies. On more than one occasion their 'fighting' had led captors to mistakenly approach one in order to make a deal against the other. Usually the offer was made to Daniel…his lack of military prowess was obvious. His strength and determination were always, inexplicably, overlooked. Daniel would agree to discuss the matter, and then find a way of getting the rest of the team released…either through negotiations, or sneaking out and freeing them himself.
Not to mention that it could be downright fun to watch the confusion on the faces of those who watched the team, particularly when they were observing Daniel and Jack. No one outside of the SGC realized the two could communicate through simple glances. A look, a nod, and they knew exactly what the other was thinking. When the two went into their 'good cop/bad cop' routine, it never failed to net the results they wanted.
It had taken Casey's remark about the team having 'hearts entwined' to have her actually examining the bonds she had with her three male teammates. Although she'd held, or had tried to hold, her love for Jack in check, there was the friendship that they had carefully built, long before they'd fallen in love. It was the foundation of their relationship. Teal'c and Daniel - she loved each of them. Trusted both with her life. Couldn't imagine her life without them. Daniel's gentle teasing, his interest in her work. The silent, unyielding support and confidence that Teal'c offered with just a look, or a simple act. No, she couldn't imagine not having the two beside her when she walked through the Stargate.
Her gaze moved to the slender seer. Such a tender, wounded soul when they'd met. Casey had been shy, and almost afraid to reach out for friendship. It had been such a joy to become a good friend to the young woman. Knowing that she'd had a part in helping Casey blossom into the woman she had been meant to be was an honor she'd never take for granted. Watching as Casey became more confident was like watching a beautiful rose open and bloom.
"Okay, let's go."
Daniel's voice cut through her reverie. He had his pack on his shoulders, Casey beside him, wearing her pack as well.
"Okay, Danny. Dial it up. Let's go home," Jack said, rising to his feet. He held out his hand.
Like it did every time she wrapped her fingers around his, her heart sped up, and her stomach quivered slightly. For so long she'd believed that it would be years…if ever…that she and Jack would be able to admit their feelings for each other. At times the knowledge that they were now married overwhelmed her.
Totally complete. My life is so totally complete. She gave a sigh of happiness. Smiled when Jack looked at her quizzically, letting him know with that simple response that all was well. Her life couldn't be better. She had Jack, and was able to love him the way she'd yearned to do for so long. She had Teal'c and Janet and Daniel and Casey. Best friends in every sense of the phrase. She had work that she loved, and a career full of more excitement than she could have hoped for. She and her father had reached a place where they could talk honestly with one another. Yep, totally complete.
The klaxons were wailing as the team walked down the ramp into the 'gate room. As he usually was, General Hammond was waiting to greet them.
"Welcome home, SG-1."
"Thank you, sir," Jack replied.
"We'll discuss your findings when we debrief. Conference room, one hour," the general said.
"Very good, sir." Jack turned to look at his team. Even though they'd managed to wipe off with Wet Ones, they were all in need of a shower. "Let's go, kids."
Handing off packs and weapons to the supply officer who had arrived, the team filed into the corridor.
"Hey, look!" Casey said, pointing to the wall. "Beth said she was going to get started on the 'Dead Goa'uld List'."
They all examined the freshly painted hieroglyphs that covered one wall of the narrow hallway, and the calligraphy that decorated the other - Doctor Izett had confessed that she had a modicum of talent in doing the decorative lettering. Casey was certain that the anthropologist was much better at it than she.
"That's an impressive list," Jack said approvingly.
"Even the minor Goa'uld have been listed," Teal'c pointed out.
"Hey, they count, too," Casey replied. "A snake is a snake, and the best ones are the dead ones."
"Hear, hear," Daniel murmured. "Kinda makes it all worth it, doesn't it? I mean, seeing the list of names and dates like this…"
"Gives a sense of accomplishment," she said, when the archaeologist paused.
"Exactly," Daniel nodded.
"It's proof that we're making a difference out there," Jack said quietly. A grin spread across his face. "Of course, now I'm hoping there's a reason to have one or two or five of them here for a meeting of some sort. Just so they can see this."
They all chuckled at the thought of the reactions of the various Goa'uld to the list of their fallen 'brothers and sisters'.
"Can you imagine Ba'al's face?" Casey giggled. "Especially if we put his name up here, with a temporary sign that says something like, 'date of death pending'."
Daniel laughed. "That could be entertaining."
Jack squeezed Casey's shoulder. "Thanks for the pleasant thought. Shower, kids."
They trooped onto the elevator, their conversation focused on the list, and the names they were eager to add.
A A A A A A
As she dried her hair, her attention was caught by movement beside her. Casey had her hair dryer out, and was busy drying her long, thick locks. She'd kill to have hair that gorgeous. Although taking care of it was certainly a drawback.
The spot by her ankle, where she'd nicked herself shaving, had finally stopped bleeding. Damned razors, anyway. Why can't someone come up with a better way of shaving?
Again her gaze moved back to her friend. After Casey's return from being held by Ba'al - for the third time - the young seer had confided that she'd not had to perform her 'maintenance'. They had discussed the issue over Oreo's in her lab…with Casey inquiring whether or not what she'd experienced was actually possible, or if something else, perhaps something linked to their immortality, was going on. If only it was an immortal thing, she sighed silently.
It seemed that during her time as Ba'al's captive, Casey had been subjected to a 'beauty regimen' that beat the hell out of anything on earth. A thick, heavy cream…Casey had compared it to whipped cream…had been spread on her legs, underarms, and her bikini area, and then Ba'al's lo'taur had held a small device, like a pen-light as the seer had described it, over each area for several minutes. According to the slender blonde, she'd insisted that the narrow 'v' of blonde curls on her mons be left alone, arguing quite vehemently with Shanda regarding the issue. She couldn't help but smile at the thought that it wasn't a surprise that Casey had won that argument. She'd seen that stubbornness in action a time or two. The cream that had been used had smelled like cinnamon, the seer had reported, and had tingled slightly. After making certain that the light had touched every inch of the cream, she was rinsed completely. And any hair was gone. Completely…and apparently permanently…gone. While Casey had commented that she had to trim what pubic hair she had, and pluck her eyebrows, she hadn't been required to do any 'maintenance' since that day.
Discussion with Janet had led to the conclusion that the treatment had been some sort of electrolysis. She'd contemplated doing that once. After accompanying a friend for her treatment, she'd changed her mind. The time involved was substantial; after all, each hair had to be plucked individually for the electrical current to 'kill' the hair follicle. And the idea of having her bikini area plucked…she shuddered mentally.
"Penny for them," Casey said, a smile on her face.
"You seemed to be deep in thought. I offered a penny for them," the young seer explained.
"Oh…well…" She could feel the heat in her cheeks. She didn't want to admit to herself that she was feeling more than a bit jealous.
"Sam?" Casey settled on the bench beside her.
"I was just thinking about one of our discussions…the one about shaving, and how you don't have to do that any longer."
Casey giggled. "Ya know, next time we're on Ba'al's ship, we need to make a stop by the harem. Get a jar of that stuff, one of those light thingy's and bring them back."
The very thought of a 'side-trip' to the harem was actually funny. Normally on a mission where the team was required to sneak on board a Goa'uld ship, just trying to remain undetected and alive was all they could think about.
"Seriously, the snakes and the tinmen would never think to look for us in the harem. We'd probably have to break a few arms-"
The grin Casey gave her made her grin in return. "Any woman who gets grabby with my man gets her arms broken. You can't tell me those women wouldn't be all over Daniel… and Jack and Teal'c," she added quickly.
She snorted…unintentionally…in her attempt to hold back her laughter. "True."
"So, one of us has to break arms, while the other finds the cream and the light thingy."
"Since you know what you're looking for, I'll break the arms." Not that she'd actually do such a thing, or be able to hurt those women. They were slaves, and the life they'd been subjected to wasn't anything she'd wish on a worst enemy. She also knew for a fact that Casey's tender heart would be desperate to find a way to help those women, rather than harm them.
The serious look that crept over the seer's face concerned her for a moment. She waited, hoping that whatever Casey was thinking about, it had nothing to do with being a prisoner.
"I wonder if Janet could figure out what was in that stuff…or if there are ingredients we can't find here on Earth," Casey said. "I think Janet was spot on regarding that light thingy…it has to do with ultra-violet light, or something like that. We can come up with that, right?"
"Right. I'm sure Janet could determine the chemical composition of that cream."
Casey gave a nod of determination. "Next time we're on a snake ship, we hit the harem. We'll only need one jar of the stuff."
"We'll make a fortune selling that stuff, ya know," the young blonde confided.
"And when the FDA wants to know what's in it?"
"We give them the list of ingredients. Let them figure it out," was the cheeky response.
"Now that's a good plan. Given the speed they work, the program will have been public knowledge for at least a decade before they ever get around to testing it!"
"See, no problems. We're gonna be filthy, stinking rich, I tell ya. I think I'll buy an island with my share," Casey giggled. "Daniel can write about all of his experiences and his finds, I can have a nice garden, and there won't be anyone around to bother us. We'll build our houses close…but not too close, so we have privacy, but so it's just a short walk to visit each other."
"I like that idea. You buy the island, I'll build the houses," she said, enjoying the fantasy that was being woven. Sometimes, dreams were all that kept a person from going insane. Sometimes, they were wishful thinking, or, as in this case, a wish for a bit of peace and quiet, if only for awhile.
She checked her watch. "We'd better get a move on if we're going to grab a cup of coffee before the briefing."
Casey pulled her boots on. "I'm getting coffee…late or not. General Hammond will understand."
She smiled. In all likelihood, the general wouldn't blink an eye if Casey were a few minutes late to the meeting. Especially if it were for a stop for much needed coffee.
Not more than two minutes later, fully dressed in clean BDUs, the two blondes headed out the door of the locker room, bound for the commissary on level twenty-six. It wasn't a surprise to find Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c leaning against the wall, waiting for them. Coffee first, a quick stop by the infirmary for the mandatory post-mission checkup, then the briefing…then home. She glanced at Jack. A night in his arms was exactly what she needed. And wanted.
A A A A A A
"All right, SG-1, what did you find?" General Hammond asked as he settled at the head of the table.
Daniel glanced at her and nodded, allowing her to give her report first.
"There's enough of a naquadah reading to do a test drill," she said. "There's definitely trinium in the area as well. I found four places with traces of trinium. Two tests showed almost pure trinium."
"Very well. Right up your report, and I'll have Major Edwards go over the findings," Hammond replied.
Major Edwards was the SGC geological expert, and was in charge of the mining operations being undertaken. He'd been new to the program, and to the facility, when he'd been tasked to mine the planet occupied by Unas. It still amused her that his disdain for Daniel had quickly turned to respect, thanks to Daniel being himself. The only person in the entire program with any real experience with the Unas, the archaeologist had managed to make an arrangement with the leader of the indigenous clans to do the actual mining. According to the reports she'd seen, that mine was out-producing every other naquadah mine in operation.
"The temple complex was Egyptian in design and construction," Daniel said. "It was dedicated to Zeus. We found a few…interesting…things written about him."
Daniel and Casey exchanged a glance. "Well, sir, we think we know just what started the slave rebellion that saw Ra kicked off Earth," Daniel replied.
"And that was?"
"Ra exiled Zeus."
General Hammond frowned. "Are you telling me that the slaves rebelled because one Goa'uld had exiled another?"
"Yes, sir," Daniel nodded. "From what we could find, and a download that Casey had, Zeus was a much…kinder…god than the other Goa'uld. It's possible that all of the Olympian gods followed his lead…well, all but Ares," the archaeologist amended, "but Zeus actually took care of those who served him."
"That's…it's…" Hammond started.
"Disturbing," Casey murmured.
"Very," the general agreed. "This would certainly make a difference in what we can expect from him, wouldn't it?"
"I don't know, sir," Daniel admitted. "I think he'd be much more open to…negotiation, than any other Goa'uld. But he is Goa'uld."
The frown on Hammond's face deepened. "Do you think this can benefit us in any way?"
Casey took a deep breath. "If push comes to shove, I think we could make a deal with him…we won't bother him if he doesn't bother us. How long he'd honor that deal, I have no idea."
"What we found, and what Casey saw, indicates that Zeus understands that brutality isn't the way to gather loyal followers. When a man was crippled during the building of that particular temple, Zeus had his personal guard carry him to the ship, and the man was put into a sarcophagus and healed. He fed the workers, made certain they had enough to eat, and when a violent storm blew up, he made sure the workers were protected. We think he simply took them onto his ship until the storm blew over."
"That's very…unexpected," Hammond said.
"Yes, sir, it is. Especially when compared to the way every other Goa'uld has treated the people they rule," Daniel agreed.
"He behaved like a benevolent god. Like…like a father," Casey added. "Which is what most descriptions of Zeus are…they call him the 'father' of the Olympian gods. But also, the 'father' of the Greeks."
"There's something we haven't considered," she said. The thought hadn't occurred to her until she listened to Daniel give his report. "He could be Tok'ra."
"No way!" Jack said immediately. "Not after what he did to Daniel and me!"
She shook her head. "If he has to keep up appearances, he'll do what he has to…short of actually killing a captive."
Daniel was frowning slightly. "To be honest, Jack, things could have been much worse for us."
"Ya wanna explain how?" Jack demanded. "'Cause I'm remembering a hell of a lot of pain."
"Yes…but, he never…I don't think he had any intention of following through with his threat. He backed off too quickly, and really, when think you think about it, any other Goa'uld never would have hesitated…I'm not sure they would have even offered the warning…or the opportunity to stop the…er…punishment."
She could see the shudder that moved over Jack's body. She knew about the threat to castrate him. He'd told her about that horrible afternoon when they'd finally returned home. "That's what struck me as odd," she said aloud. Not realizing until that very moment that the fact that Zeus hadn't continued because of Jack's lack of cooperation was out-of-character for a Goa'uld.
"Excuse me?" Jack said.
"When you told me about…that…I was so relieved that it didn't happen," she said. "But at the same time, I couldn't believe that you and Daniel had managed to get so lucky. I mean, yeah, SG-1 has this…magic…that seems to protect us…but still…"
Jack was frowning. "I hate to admit it, but you might have something."
"He used the pain stick himself, but he didn't…he didn't even cut the buttons off your pants," Daniel said.
"If he's not a Tok'ra, he might have inspired them," Casey said.
All eyes turned to the slender seer. "Casey?" Daniel asked softly.
She shook her head, indicating she hadn't 'seen' anything. "There's something about what Sam says that feels…right. But, not exactly right. I know that doesn't make sense…"
"Would the Tok'ra have any record of Zeus being one of them?" Jack asked, looking from Sam to Daniel and back again.
"I'm certain they would," Sam replied. Aware of the fact that she and Daniel knew more about the Tok'ra than the remainder of the team.
"Maybe not," Daniel countered. "No one but Selmak knew about the box that contained the scrolls from the First World that had been taken. And Selmak was the only Tok'ra who knew about the agent who had been abandoned here, after the crash of that scout ship. The one who became Tem's valet."
"True," Hammond said quietly.
"It's possible that with all the moves, and the…compartmentalization of their operations…that the information was lost," Daniel continued.
"Did Jolinar know anything?" Jack asked.
He alone was aware of the fact that she had learned how to access the memories left behind. The others knew that the memories were there, and they even knew, to a point, that she was haunted by them. She took a deep breath. "I could…look."
"Sam?" Daniel asked, a worried frown on his face.
"I…uh…I can…sometimes I can look at her memories, look for something…specific." Why did it feel as if she were revealing a deep, dark secret?
"It's okay if you don't want to do this," Casey said.
She couldn't help but smile. Casey knew more of her 'dark secrets' than anyone in the world. Not even Jack knew everything that had happened to her, things that she'd dealt with, alone. And Casey's knowledge would make her protective. Which was a thought that warmed her to her very core. To have one person who knew all, and to have that person so determined to protect her from any hurts…that's true friendship, Sammy. "It's okay."
Taking a deep breath, steeling herself for the onslaught of emotions, she found the place where Jolinar's memories were hidden. It was always an unsettling sensation to see the faces of people she'd never known, and to feel recognition, and sometimes even fondness, or love, or trust, or some other emotion. Sorting through the images that were filling her mind, she concentrated on any meetings or 'official' discussions. Nothing. "If Zeus is a Tok'ra, Jolinar was unaware of that fact," she said at last.
"According to Selmak, Egeria left the Goa'uld and literally spawned the Tok'ra," Daniel said slowly. "There's no way of knowing exactly how many…uh…broods she…er…um…spawned. But, is it possible that she might have…you know, spawned another group, before she was captured by the Pangarans?"
"I dunno," Jack said. "How often can they spawn?"
Daniel shrugged. "The Goa'uld…breeder…that Anubis had seemed to be spawning a lot. But that could be the result of something he did to her, and not something normal."
"Hathor spawned while she was here," Teal'c said. "I do not believe it to be the only time she gave birth."
Daniel shuddered visibly at the mention of that particular Goa'uld.
She still felt guilty about walking away and leaving him...after locating him in his quarters...catatonic with shock. But there had been precious little time to defeat Hathor and she had made the only choice possible at the time. To learn later that he'd been raped… She hastily pushed away that thought, and those that tried to follow.
"So it's possible that Egeria did have more than one…litter…or whatever," Casey said.
"Brood?" Daniel asked, frowning slightly. "What do they call the young that are spawned from a Queen?"
"I do not believe there is a single term," Teal'c replied. "They are simply larval Goa'uld, those who need the protection of a Jaffa's pouch."
The memory was suddenly there…the images crisp and clear. She could sense that Jolinar was quite young…
All of the Tok'ra on the base were gathered in the council chamber. She was near the back of the room, so she couldn't see the faces of all of the council members. Only the leader of the council was visible to her.
"We must continue to follow the plans laid out for us by Egeria-" the council leader began.
"Which we have been doing for the past four hundred years!" a voice called out.
"Our numbers grow smaller with each symbiote lost. Finding suitable, willing hosts has always been our greatest problem. If we could only locate the Great Mother and request that she-" The speaker was another council member.
"How can we make such a demand?" the council leader cut in, his voice rising dramatically. "We are her children! Such a demand would be disrespectful-"
"The Great Mother taught us that the Goa'uld are wrong…that taking an unwilling host, condemning that host to a life as…as a prisoner… is wrong, evil. If we are to combat the Goa'uld as she intended, we must have more symbiotes!" The speaker was somewhere to her right.
"We do not know that she has not already perceived our problem," a voice said quietly. The speaker was the symbiote, the host a young woman with a mane of red hair.
"Do you know this for certain, Selmak?"
The young woman stared at the leader for a moment, then lowered her head, shook it slightly. "No. I only voice a thought."
Sam jerked slightly in her chair. "Selmak might know," she said hoarsely.
"Huh?" Daniel asked, looking at her.
She could sense the surprise from those around the table. "Um…one of Jolinar's memories," she said.
"Bad one?" Jack asked immediately.
The concern in his voice, and his eyes, made her smile. He no longer tried to hide…had to hide…how much he cared. Something that even after two years together, and even getting married, she was still adjusting to. "No…nothing like that. There was a…like a 'town hall' meeting. I get the sense that every Tok'ra not a mission was there. I think…I think several of them wanted to contact Egeria, and ask her to…spawn…more Tok'ra. There was a feeling of division…some thought it was their only hope of winning against the Goa'uld, others felt it was too disrespectful."
"Was there anything else?" General Hammond asked.
"A very young Selmak, at least her host was fairly young," she replied. "She said something about Egeria already knowing that they needed more Tok'ra. When the…leader…asked if she knew for certain…there was…the way she looked at him…it was as if she knew that he already knew the answer. But for some reason, she just lowered and shook her head. That's all of the memory I saw."
"So it's safe to assume that Selmak knows something…she knows whether or not Egeria had another…brood…of Tok'ra," Jack said.
Daniel shook his head. "As far as we know, the Tok'ra didn't come into existence until just before Ra was kicked off Earth. They might have formed in protest to Zeus's exile, or they might have already been working covertly to bring down the Goa'uld. I've always thought that unarmed slaves had to have had a bit of help. Superior numbers can't overcome superior fire power, unless those superior numbers are willing to die by the thousands…or millions."
Casey stared at the tabletop for a moment. "When they found Egeria, she gave the Tok'ra the…cure…for addiction she'd caused in the Pangarans, right?"
She'd read the same report. "Janet says that the drug, they call it tretonin, might work to help free Jaffa from Goa'uld enslavement. It re-enforces the immune system. Regular injections would be needed, but it would beat having to carry a Goa'uld larva around."
"If the Goa'uld do not have Jaffa in which to incubate their young, then their demise is truly imminent," Teal'c said, his eyes shining with glee.
"That's good news," Jack declared.
She was having a difficult time trying to figure out why Casey's question felt so important. "She might have passed on knowledge of any other Tok'ra she'd borne." The thought left her almost breathless with hope. A strong Tok'ra resistance was a much better ally, and would be much more willing to remain allies, than a group so decimated by the loss of dozens of symbiotes that hiding might be their only hope of survival.
"Which might include any operatives that those here in the Milky Way galaxy wouldn't have been aware of," Daniel surmised, nodding slowly.
"Back to Zeus," General Hammond said. "Do we want to bother the Tok'ra with this?"
Do we want to let the Tok'ra know what we know, she thought. That's what the general is really saying. She wanted to insist that she could ask her father and Selmak, and request that the conversation remain undisclosed, but she knew that neither host nor symbiote would agree. Especially for something like this. If Zeus was a Tok'ra, or at the very least, the inspiration for the Tok'ra, it would not be something that they'd want known. Even by their 'allies'. Or especially by their 'allies'. She was about to suggest having the SGC spies on the lookout for any meetings between known Tok'ra agents and Zeus, but she just couldn't form the words. Doing so was such a sign of distrust, and the tenuous relationship between the Tau'ri and Tok'ra might not survive if such spying ever came to light. And eventually, inevitably things like that always found the light of day, no matter how one might try to keep those things hidden.
"I dunno, sir," Jack said, shrugging his shoulders. "I mean, all we really have is some writing on a wall."
"And Casey's info dump," Daniel added, rather firmly she noted. Daniel never allowed anyone to forget the valuable input that came from his wife.
"So we know that the slaves rebelled because Ra gave Zeus the old heave-ho," Jack allowed. "As far as we know, Zeus is still a Goa'uld. If he wasn't, we'd have heard about it by now."
"Only if he hasn't been working under cover for the past ten centuries," she countered.
"Do ya really think that's possible?" Jack asked. "I mean, the idea is to take out the Goa'uld, right? Doesn't seem to me that Zeus has done any of that, other than keeping his ass in charge in the Andromeda galaxy."
She shrugged, not really in the mood to get into a quarrel over the Tok'ra. Not tonight, anyway.
"Ten centuries is a very long time," Daniel pointed out. "In that amount of time Zeus could have…reverted…to the ways of the Goa'uld. Granted, he wouldn't have been able to keep in touch with the other Tok'ra…so it's really difficult to know how much he really might have accomplished."
"I believe we'll just keep this bit of information to ourselves, for the time being," General Hammond said decisively. "If we find more regarding Zeus and any possible connection to the Tok'ra, we'll approach them with our findings then."
She nodded her head in agreement, as did her teammates.
"Is there anything else?" the general asked. When nothing more than the shaking of heads occurred, Hammond smiled. "Good job, SG-1. Dismissed."
She jumped to her feet when the general rose, and stood at attention until he'd cleared the room.
"We need to stop by Piggly-Wiggly," Casey said, wrapping her hands around Daniel's arm.
She bit back a smile. Daniel had told her, right after he'd brought Casey to Colorado Springs, that he actually enjoyed trips to the mall or to the grocery store with his wife, because she made both 'fun'. It wasn't until talking to Jack about the conversation that she learned how much Daniel enjoyed watching his wife as she shopped. You dog, she thought, not unkindly. Like it had so many times, the happiness at seeing her best friend in love and totally besotted with his wife filled her heart. Once again she found herself in agreement with the sentiment of others at the SGC - no one had met the real Daniel Jackson until Casey Webster had appeared in his life. The two scurried out the side entrance of the briefing room. After nearly fifty-six hours together as a team, she was certain the couple were eager for time alone.
When a familiar arm dropped around her shoulders, she looked up into warm brown eyes. And let loose the smile that she'd held in check.
"Don't tell me we have to go grocery shopping," Jack deadpanned.
"Nope. We'll just get something to eat on the way home," she chuckled.
"That'll work. Steak?"
"Sounds good to me."
"What about you, Big Guy?"
"I believe Janet Fraiser and I will have dinner in her abode."
Jack grinned broadly. "Well, enjoy the evening, Teal'c."
"Thank you. And I hope that you have a pleasant evening as well, O'Neill."
"Thanks, Teal'c, I'm sure I will."
"Goodnight, Samantha Carter."
"Goodnight, Teal'c." Her smile was an automatic response to the use of her first name, rather than 'colonel'. When the team was alone, Teal'c was more apt to be less formal. We're really rubbing off on him, she thought. Next thing we know, he'll be using slang. That thought almost made her giggle out loud.
Just before Teal'c stepped off the elevator, the two men exchanged another nod. There was an undercurrent between them…something not spoken aloud, but acknowledged just the same. I am so going to find out what's going on!
A A A A A A
O'Malley's was rather quiet when they arrived. It was just after eight o'clock, the dinner rush obviously over. Gina led them to a quiet table in the corner of the dining room.
She waited until after they had ordered and the first round of beers had been served, before asking the question that had been burning in her mind all afternoon. "So what's up between you and Teal'c?"
There was no imagining the sudden jerk Jack made as he reached for his beer. "Huh?"
"I was just wondering about the significant nods you two gave each other, just before we 'gated home. Which was right after you and he finally got back to camp. I thought you were right behind me…but Daniel, Casey, and I were in camp at least five minutes before the two of you showed up."
His brown eyes became guarded. He smiled, but she could see it was a bit forced. "Sometimes a man has to have some…" he paused.
"I was thinking more along the lines of privacy."
"Oh. Well, it's okay, you don't have to tell me." It was a bit disappointing. When Jack was involved, there was usually a humorous side to everything. But he did have a point. Just because they were married didn't mean they had to share every thought. Daniel and Casey have no secrets…they tell each other everything. She grimaced mentally. She and Jack were totally different people. Casey and Daniel were so alike…that's an excuse. Jack and I are as alike as much as we're different.
"It's just not like Teal'c to become so…distracted…ya know?" Jack said quietly. "So, while I was sleeping, he was…distracted. I mean, what kind of a CO doesn't know when someone on his team is…struggling…with something."
"You're not a mind reader, Jack," she said, reaching for his hand, wanting to offer the comfort she was certain he needed.
"I shouldn't have been so…"
"I wasn't just relaxed, Sam, I was derelict in my duty as an officer and the commander of a team."
"Jack, there was nothing to be concerned about. It was an easy mission…one that I'd like to point out we deserved. I know it was boring for you. I rather imagine it was boring for Teal'c as well. There was nothing for you to do but nap!"
He shook his head. "Two hours, Sam. Teal'c was in that damned well for two hours, because I was taking a nap."
"He was in that well because he was distracted. I mean, I don't think he'd have fallen if he'd remained on the path he'd created."
"No, he wouldn't have," Jack allowed.
"So it's not your fault." She toyed with her napkin. She knew what had distracted Teal'c, or at least what Daniel suspected the distraction had been. "So…did he say anything?"
The smile that lit his face was genuine. "Let's just say that Teal'c suffers the same as any other man in love."
"What are you going to put in your report?"
"That Teal'c was investigating the cistern, that the well was so covered with overgrowth there was no way to know it was there, and he fell in."
"Is gonna say the same thing."
Once again she toyed with the napkin. "So…do you ever suffer the same thing Teal'c did?"
His expression told her that he knew in that moment that she knew the cause of the accident.
"Daniel told us. He didn't want us to say anything, he said Teal'c was being pretty hard on himself for being distracted."
Jack chuckled. "Sam, when the woman you love is on your mind, it's impossible to focus on anything else. It's hard to keep track of where you're putting your feet when images of making love are dancing in front of your eyes."
"Have you ever been that distracted?"
His smile softened. "Every time I'm around you."
Such a feeling of love rushed over her in that moment that she felt slightly dizzy. "I feel the same way."
Chuckling at the proud look on his face, she laced her fingers with his. "Good thing we're married. We can take care of all that sexual tension now."
"Yeah, really good thing. Have I mentioned that I'm really sexually tense right now?"
The chuckles morphed into laughter. "No, you haven't."
"Well, I am, so don't order dessert."
"I promise. I'm a bit sexually tense, myself."
"It wouldn't be so bad, if you weren't so shy about doing it on missions," she teased.
"Don't go there, Sam. I am not about to start a bad habit."
"What about Casey and Daniel?"
"Hello? Have you seen those two? They'd both explode if they had to refrain. Ya know, it's always the quiet, serious, studious guys who are always the biggest hornballs."
She nearly snorted beer up her nose as she tried to take a sip. "Do tell."
"Yeah…I mean, just from the few things Danny has told me, he and Casey get a bit…freaky."
"Probably no more so that we do."
"I dunno, Sam. He knows about all those cultures, and the weird ideas that some societies have…who knows what that brain of his can come up with. Or Casey…that little blonde dynamo is pretty inventive, too…or so Danny says."
Had she ever laughed as much as she did when she was with Jack? She certainly couldn't remember a time, before meeting him, when laughter had been such an integral part of her day. "So, should I start being more inventive?"
"More? Don't know that my heart could handle it," Jack quipped. "I happen to find everything you do to be most satisfactory."
"And mind blowing."
"And sometimes kinky."
"Did I ever mention that I like kinky?"
"Really? That's great. I have a couple of ideas…"
His grin told her he was more turned on by her comment than worried about it. She wondered what he'd think about some of her fantasies. I'll find out when we get home!
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