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"...Well I wanna make love to you tonight...
...And every time I touch you, you just tremble inside
And I know how much you want me that you can't hide..."
"Moondance" by Van Morrison
Casey smoothed the black skirt of her suit, tried to quell the butterflies in her stomach. No need to panic, she told herself firmly. She was standing in the reception room, outside of Oval Office. In the White House. Waiting to meet the President of the United States. Skinny, nobody Casey Renee. Meeting one of the most powerful men in the world. How awesome was that? She glanced anxiously at the man beside her. Daniel was wearing his black suit, a white shirt with gray and blue stripes, and a dark blue tie. He looked incredible. And it was because of the handsome, amazing man, who stood casually with his hands in his pockets, that she was standing where she was.
"You look beautiful," Daniel whispered, when her hand went to her hair again. That mane of golden silk lay in waves of curls down her back, held back by two tortoise shell combs. She had fussed for an extra ten minutes with her makeup that morning in preparation for the meeting. She was stunning, and three male staffers and two of the Marine guards had nearly fallen over their own feet while watching her.
"Aren't you nervous?" she asked in a soft whisper.
He shrugged. "No."
She rolled her eyes. She was aware of the fact that Daniel and the rest of her teammates had met the president several times over the course of the years. This was a momentous occasion for her!
All eyes swung to the doorway, where a smartly dressed woman stood smiling at them. The General rose to his feet from the sofa where he had been perusing the morning paper. "Yes?"
"The president will see you now."
SG-1 fell in behind their Commanding Officer, as he followed the secretary down the carpeted hallway.
President Miller was standing in front of the windows that faced out onto a large expanse of green lawn, just behind his desk. Casey thought it an odd place to put a desk, especially when one considered the security risks. But she supposed that the Secret Service would have moved it if they were at all concerned. She glanced around the room. This was where history making decisions had been made. She could feel the heaviness in the air...so much sadness here! So many of those monumental decisions had not been reached easily. Heavy hearts...guilt...sadness. She took a deep breath, pushed the onslaught of emotions and feelings aside.
"General, it's nice to see you again," President Miller said, stepping forward to shake Hammond's hand.
"And you, Mr. President," General Hammond replied. "I believe you know Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, Teal'c, and Doctor Jackson."
"Yes, we met at the summit between us and the Tok'ra, and we had lunch during a briefing about the Tok'ra alliance and our mutual interest in eliminating the Goa'uld," the president replied, shaking hands with each of them.
"Please allow me to introduce Doctor Janet Fraiser, the Chief Medical Officer of the SGC, and Mrs. Casey Jackson."
"Ah, yes, the Resident Seer, I believe?" the president was charmed by the shy smile, the excitement in the wide green eyes, and the slight tremor in the slender fingers that clasped his hand firmly.
"That she is," General Hammond smiled.
"Doctor Fraiser, I'm pleased to meet you," the president said, shaking the diminutive woman's hand. He turned to face Casey again. "You gave us all quite a scare a few months back, young lady. I'm glad everything worked out."
She blushed brightly. Daniel had told her that the president had called daily for an update while she...and SG-1...had been missing, asking for any word about her. She had replied that he was concerned about the premier SG team, not her. Now she had to admit that just maybe Daniel had been right. "I am as well," she murmured.
"Please, let's all be comfortable." The president led the group to the center of the room, where two sofas faced one another, and two arm chairs flanked each. He settled into one of the chairs. General Hammond sat down beside him. The team settled onto the sofas; Jack, Sam, and Janet on the left; Daniel, Casey, and Teal'c on the right. "Now, what is this all about?"
General Hammond glanced at Casey. "Did Agent Leigh speak with you last night?"
President Miller frowned. "Yes, he did. He explained what he witnessed, and I must agree that the...display...you put on for him was quite, well, in Agent Leigh's own words, bizarre."
"Did he verify that we had indeed suffered wounds?" the general pressed.
"Is Agent Leigh available?"
The frown deepened, and the president rose, went to his desk, and requested the Secret Service agent's presence. The man entered the room almost immediately.
The president waved a hand in the direction of the seated visitors. "General Hammond asked to see-" he broke off at the look of confusion on the agent's face.
Gary Leigh had been surprised when he had been called to the hotel room of the general, to find Colonel O'Neill, Doctor Jackson, Casey Jackson, and three other people he'd never met. When each of them carefully sliced open their palms, and the tiny little woman, a medical doctor she told him, asked him to examine and verify that each of them were indeed lacerated, he had been shocked. "I saw them! Where are the cuts that should be on your hands?"
President Miller looked at his visitors, and then at the agent. He already surmised that whatever George had to say, it had to deal with the SGC. "Gary, whatever is said in this room in the next hour, you will forget. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir." Not a problem, Leigh thought to himself, staring at hands that should have had nasty looking cuts on them...but didn't. No one would believe me anyway!
"Good. Have a seat." The president returned to his chair. "Now, what in the hell is going on?"
General Hammond held out his hand, Sam passed a folder to him. "This is the full...uncensored...report of a mission that SG-1 went on last spring. They were missing and presumed dead for sixteen days. Each of the team members has included his or her own personal report. There's also a summary of the post-mission medical examinations performed by Doctor Fraiser. And a report on an event that occurred five days ago. This report is also accompanied by Doctor Fraiser's...findings."
He looked at each face. Whatever was going on, it was serious. He pulled his reading glasses from his pocket. Opened the folder. And within minutes felt as if he had stumbled into a rabbit hole all over again. Finding out about the Stargate Program when he had taken office had been staggering enough. This was...this was just unbelievable. "I take it there's a request in here, somewhere."
The general nodded. He'd known that the president would understand immediately what needed to be done. "Yes, sir. We would like this information entered into the Roswell File. Along with a Presidential Order that stipulates that I am to remain OIC of the SGC, that Doctor Fraiser remains CMO of the SGC, and that the members of SG-1 remain in place."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," the president said carefully.
"I understand, sir," Hammond replied.
"Am I to understand that no one else knows about this?"
"No one but those of us in this room."
"If I were to write such an order, and place it into this file of which I have never heard," Miller said slowly, "how can I be certain that you will all remain at the SGC, not wish to retire and leave?"
"Doing what we do is the reason we were granted Immortality," Casey said softly, speaking before she realized she was doing so. She glanced up, her cheeks flushed slightly. Continued when General Hammond nodded at her. "Leaving isn't exactly an option for us, at least, not in the foreseeable future."
President Miller smiled. "So your report states. This is rather mind boggling."
"You should try it from this side," Casey replied; again, the comment out before she could stop it. She silently damned that smartass reaction that occurred every time she was frightened or nervous.
The president chuckled. "I rather imagine it is...incredible."
"It's also a burden," Daniel said quietly. "This isn't something that any of us bear lightly. We understand exactly what it means. General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser...accepted...the gift so that they can continue to protect our secret."
"I rather imagine it is a burden at that," the president mused softly. "Let me ask you this...why tell me? Why tell anyone? Clearly you've been able to keep this a secret for nearly a year."
"It was a condition attached to the giving of the gift to Doctor Fraiser and myself," General Hammond explained. "For the Roswell File."
One eyebrow went up. "Am I to understand that those who bestowed this gift upon you know about the Roswell File?" he asked incredulously. "If it actually existed," he added quickly.
Jack grinned. "Sir, they know pretty much everything that goes on around here." He waved his hand in a small circle.
"I see." President Miller looked back at the folder in his hands. "Doctor Fraiser, for now, I'd like to ask that you keep this file in a safe place. I'll add a memo to put into it. As for your request...well, if there were such a file, I can see no other alternative but adding such a Presidential Order. I don't believe having anyone know about this would be a good thing. And I don't believe that fact is going to change anytime soon."
General Hammond nodded his head. "The wording of such an order would have to be precise, allowing no room for alternate interpretations."
"I agree. Do you have any suggestions?" The president hadn't made it into the Oval Office without knowing what people were up to...having the ability to accurately read situations around him. He suspected that this group was as prepared as they could possibly be.
Once again Sam opened the portfolio-type case she was carrying, pulled out another folder and passed it to the president. "We all contributed to this. We think it's as airtight as we can make it."
President Miller took a few minutes to examine the documents. He was an attorney. And he was damned impressed! There wasn't an uncrossed 't', an un-dotted 'i' anywhere! Careful thought had gone into the phrasing of each clause. "This is excellent!"
The teammates grinned at one another. "So, if that Roswell File existed, you'd put that, with your Presidential Order into it?" Jack asked.
"Absolutely. If it existed."
"How soon?" General Hammond asked.
"I can have it done in an hour or so. Because of this," the president said, holding up the folder, "I might be able to add a few things. Ideas, a trick or two to help incoming presidents maintain the budget for the SGC. Senator Sheppard has been working toward that goal himself, and between the two of us, we should be able to keep the SGC operating. The fact that you've managed to find and utilize an alien power source has greatly helped matters."
"That's good to hear," the general replied.
Casey watched as shadows moved around the president. Cocked her head sideways as she listened to that little voice.
"Incoming," Jack said quietly.
President Miller gave him a quizzical glance, and then realized that all eyes were focused on the slender blonde.
"There's danger...political danger...around you," she said softly. "Deception. Someone you trust, someone very near to you, is plotting against you."
"What?" the president gasped.
"You know who it is. You know what she's doing. There is still time to stop her. But you must move quickly. And those you believe to be your enemy, will stand firm behind you...if you ask for their help. Choosing one of them to stand beside you will silence your true enemies."
It must be just spooky as hell being around that woman all of the time, Tim Miller thought. He couldn't imagine living with her. The thought that buying Christmas gifts for her would be a challenge brought a smile to his lips. Which faded quickly. He knew exactly who and what the young seer was talking about. He'd been suspicious for some time. Now it seemed that those suspicions were proven true. He glanced at Agent Leigh. "Would you bring Sandra Tompkins in please?"
"Yes, sir," Leigh said, standing to his feet. He had been able to surmise quite a bit from the conversation he had just heard, added with a few bits and pieces he'd overheard during the years he had been part of the President's Special Detail. Enough to know that what the people sitting in this room did was damned important. Their secret was safe with him!
"As much as I'd like to chat more with you, it seems that I have some phone calls to make," President Miller said, smiling at Casey. "If you ever get tired of working underground, please consider working here. No matter who's in office, you'd be invaluable."
Casey blushed. "Thank you, sir. I'm quite content where I am."
The president chuckled. "Good thing for us. George, an hour, two at the most. You have my word on it."
Everyone glanced at Casey. Smiled when she nodded.
The chuckle grew louder. "You'd be amazing to watch in Vegas!"
Jack laughed. "She is!"
When the team had spent a week in Sin City, Casey had agreed to gamble, just so that she could say that she had done so. Jack taught her the finer points of the game of craps, and she'd made all of them several hundred dollars richer. When one of the Pit Bosses came to the table to supervise, convinced that the enchanting blonde was cheating, three comments from her had him sweating where he stood. Daniel had taken pity on the poor man and the equally shaken dealer, and had dragged his wife and best friend to the slot machines.
President Miller waited until the group was standing near the door before approaching Casey, wrapping her hand with both of his. "Thank you. I know I won't be re-elected, and that's all right. Henry Hayes will do a fantastic job in this office."
Casey raised her eyebrow. "Aren't the two of you supposed to be on opposite sides?"
He laughed. "There are a few of us who remember why we're here, who we really work for. Henry is actually a friend of mine. With the information you just gave me, I'll be able to leave office with my head high, knowing that I've done the best job that I could do. Who knows, I might even be the one to start that bipartisan cooperation that's needed on the Hill. It is an honor to be the president able to aid you in the important job that you do for this nation...for this planet."
"It was an honor to meet you, Mr. President." Casey took his hand, turned it over...examined it carefully. She looked up at his face and smiled. "Long and happy. You're going to be a very old man when you finally move on to the next plane of existence."
It was impossible not to return that smile. Damned hard not to get lost in those green eyes. "Thank you," he whispered. He looked at General Hammond and winked. "Maybe I should add a little addendum to that memo...personal palm reading for each president."
General Hammond chuckled. "I'll make a note of it."
The president escorted the team to the foyer. "Perhaps I can arrange another tour of your facility before I leave office."
"We'll look forward to it, Mr. President," the general replied.
A A A A A A
General Hammond suggested lunch at a nearby restaurant, The Flying Scotsman; where, he insisted, the best Rueben sandwiches ever tasted were available. Janet begged off, having already made lunch plans with Major Davis. She hadn't been able to tell Paul why she was in DC, only that she was, and for just the day. No doubt they would take advantage of their time together...their visits were often sporadic and far between, making every chance see one another something to be grabbed and cherished, no matter how little time they had.
There was a veritable Who's Who list of politicians already seated at several of the tables when the group entered. Casey had to quell the urge to walk up to three of the more well known senators and tell them exactly what she thought of them. She was certain that kindergarten children behaved with more decorum and self-control than they did!
When the waitress hurried toward the kitchen with their order...the greatly raved upon Rueben's and coleslaw; and glasses of iced tea were sitting in front of them, Jack leaned back in his chair.
"I hate this town," he said quietly. "But I'm damned glad we came today...and that everything is...dealt with."
"Casey, are you certain that the...memo...will be written today?" Sam asked.
The slender blonde nodded. "He was going to do it as soon as we left. And the woman he sent Agent Leigh for...well, she's in for a bit of a surprise when President Miller finally talks to her. He's going to keep her waiting for most of the afternoon, while he makes certain that she can't do what she was planning to do."
"Which was?" Daniel asked.
Casey shrugged. "I don't know. I don't always get the details," she admitted.
"The president knew exactly whom and what you were talking about," General Hammond said. "That was more than enough information."
Jack nodded. "He didn't look very surprised, either. I think he had an idea of what was going on. Radar just confirmed it for him."
"Who's Sandra Tompkins?" Casey asked.
"His press secretary. First woman to serve in that position," Sam replied.
"Wow. So why would she want to bring her boss down?"
Daniel shrugged. "Pay-off. Someone from the other side made an offer she couldn't refuse."
"Or a threat she couldn't ignore," Casey replied. She looked around the room. Greed for power, for money, were the past time and life force of Washington D.C. "On second thought, considering where we are...the pay-off is probably closer to the truth."
"There's been quite a shake-up with Simmons' arrest," General Hammond said. "Not on the surface, where the average tax-payer can see it. But every politician in the city is scared to death that all of their dark little secrets and back room deals are about to become common knowledge."
"Talk about turn-over on election day!" Casey exclaimed. "There wouldn't be an incumbent left!"
"And as pleasant as that sounds, it would mean chaos...a House of Representatives and a Senate full of freshmen politicians, with no clue about what was going on," Jack admitted.
"There are plenty of foreign powers who would love to see that," General Hammond said.
"Including and most especially the Chinese," Jack replied.
"Simmons was working for the Chinese, wasn't he?" Sam asked.
"He was giving them artifacts," Casey murmured.
Everyone looked at her. "Case?" Daniel asked. "Are you sure?"
She nodded. "I...see...well...I saw it. Just a few images. He had one of his...associates...meet the truck just after it left the SGC. The driver was told it was a security inspection...he never knew that anything was being taken off the truck. The paperwork-" she broke off. "Sir, do you keep a copy of all of the artifacts that are transferred from the SGC to Area 51?"
"Yes, I do," the general confirmed.
"The list that arrives at Area 51 has been altered. I don't think Simmons was aware of your private files," Casey said. "Compare the two lists, and you'll know what he sold to them."
"I'll call Walter right now," General Hammond said, pulling his cell phone from his pocket.
"I don't see what good it will do, there isn't any way to get back what they have," Daniel groused.
"But knowing what they have might help us to counter anything the Chinese develop from the technology," Sam said.
"Damned traitor," Jack hissed. Simmons had been a colonel in the United States Air Force. And to Jack O'Neill, that made his acts of treason all the more heinous. It put a black spot on the Air Force that he'd devoted his life to...made heartbreaking sacrifices for.
Casey reached over and took her friend's hand. "He's going down, Jack. And when he goes, the NID will become a pariah among all of the security agencies. They'll never have the ability to operate the way they have in the past. Even though the man who believes he will become the new Director of the NID hasn't figured that out yet."
"And just who would this asshole be?" Jack asked.
She couldn't help but smile. "I'm not sure. I can only see his shadow. I'll let you know as soon as I can."
"Good enough," the older man replied.
The sandwiches arrived, and the team agreed that they were the best Rueben's they'd ever tasted...the corned beef lean and piled high, fresh sauerkraut and thick slices of Swiss cheese, all bursting out of the pumpernickel bread that was bakery fresh and delicious.
A A A A A A
Jack accepted his beer from the flight attendant with a smile, settled back in his seat, then looked over at 'his' archaeologist and seer. They were quietly discussing a translation, a rubbing of two tablets that Daniel had made before the trip, to give them something to do on the flight, the young man had said. He smiled at the look of pride...of love...that filled Daniel's blue eyes as he watched and listened to Casey. Jack was more accustomed to that look of happiness now, was getting used to seeing Daniel smiling, and hearing him laugh every day. He liked this 'new' Daniel. This happy Daniel. And he'd do whatever it took to see to it that his best friend remained happy.
Sam smiled when Jack absently threaded his fingers with hers. She had no idea what he was thinking about, but he looked...content. What a lovely feeling...contentment. Something she hadn't experienced in years after joining the SGC...and falling in love with her CO. Everything had changed in the past year. She leaned her head back against the seat. Could still see...herself...standing at the end of the ramp, looking so damned happy, a diamond ring and wedding band nestled on her finger. Matching the wedding band of the man standing beside her...the man who was Jack's counterpart in that reality. For several hours she was afraid that SG-1 had come to the end of the line, that there wouldn't be a 'miraculous out' for them...that they were doomed to die horribly as a result of entropic cascade failure in a reality...in a time...not their own. Instead, thanks to another very lucky SG-1, they had made it home. And their lives hadn't been the same since.
It had taken Jack three days to convince Daniel to follow his heart; and the advice of his counterpart and that man's beautiful wife. To take the chance - to go to Tacoma and find his own Destiny. When she'd seen him as she crawled out of that pit where she, Jack, and Teal'c had been held prisoner by people Daniel described as Aborigines, or directly related to them, she'd noticed the difference in him immediately. The light in his eyes...the happiness in his eyes that she'd never seen before. And two months later, her best friend, colleague, and teammate was married to his Destiny, and the president had granted permission for she and Jack to be together. Oh, not them specifically. The order was general, allowing any relationship that formed between any two people assigned to and working in the SGC to be...overlooked...by Air Force brass. For the first time since meeting, military regulations couldn't keep them apart. It had been a great year!
Daniel looked up, caught his two friends watching him. He smiled at their indulgent expressions. Wondered if they knew that they looked like doting parents. The smile widened when he realized they were holding hands. That they were able to hold hands was due in large part to the woman sitting beside him. He wondered if there was anyone, male in particular, who could say no to the amazing blonde next to him. God knew he couldn't. Not that she'd ever given him a reason to want to say no. As was his habit now, he lifted her fingers to his lips. He glanced at the woman beside him. "So, have you thought about what you'd like to do for your anniversary?"
"Our anniversary," she replied automatically.
He grinned. "Okay, our anniversary."
"Be with you," she said, looking up at him.
"All I'll ever need."
What this woman can do to me! The look of love in those amazing green eyes was enough to have his pulse racing, his heart pounding with love so deep it never ceased to amaze him whenever he examined it. "Same for me, Angel," he said softly.
While she continued to work on the translation, her concentration so intense it brought yet another smile to his face, he opened his journal. He kept a separate journal for every mission the team went on. The last two off-world missions had been...painful. He'd attempted to keep the journals as objective as possible. He was also well aware of the fact that his anger, his heartbreak, his fears, had filled the pages of those red-bound books in spite of his best intentions. This journal, the personal diary of his life, he had only started a year earlier. The first entry had been written while he'd been in the air, flying to Tacoma to search for...to find...a young woman named Casey Webster. He'd written his fears...his hopes...his dreams...
He could remember the vicious circle his thoughts had taken during that long flight. When Casey shifted slightly, leaned against him as she worked, his heart jumped, began to pound for just a few seconds. Love washed over him...he pressed a kiss to the side of her head because he couldn't not do it. The second entry had been written on the flight back to the SGC, in between studying the information General Hammond had faxed to McChord. He glanced at the beautiful woman beside him, then returned his attention to his waiting journal.
He smiled as the memories washed over him...from holding her for the first time, to the love they'd made the night before. He turned to the empty pages that waited for him to fill them with more memories, more observations of love...amazement...happiness. He clicked his pen, began to write...
The flight attendant was instructing everyone to put their seats in an upright position, and to make certain all trays were locked into place. With a grin, he tucked his journal into Casey's purse...right beside hers. Yep, every day with her was the best.
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