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Jacob watched as the Tau'ri mingled with the Tok'ra. Jack was actually laughing about something, talking with Aldwin, Daniel and Casey.
'Do you believe this will be a step toward healing the rift between our people?' Selmak asked her host.
'I hope so. The Tok'ra need the Tau'ri; and as much as Jack and others don't want to admit it, they need us.'
Selmak's mental image smiled as her host referred to himself as Tok'ra. 'It is true, our strengths are only greater when we work together.'
'Yes, they are.'
The symbiote bit back her chuckle at the surge of impatience she felt in her host. 'I suppose now would be a good time to 'spring the surprise'.'
Before Selmak could change her mind, Jacob hurried toward his daughter. "Sammy, I have to go...there's something important that I have to take care of...and I can't put it off any longer."
Sam nodded, hugged her father. "Thanks for this, and thanks to Selmak too. I think this will help soothe some of the anger and the hurt that have occurred in the past year."
"I hope so," Jacob said sincerely. "I'll see you soon, kiddo."
When they saw Jacob making his way to the door, three other Tok'ra did as well. The four slipped away, and the echo of the event horizon opening was lost amid the sound of several conversations that filled the air with a soft hum.
Thirty minutes later, Jack looked around, walked over to Sam. "Where did Jacob disappear to?"
"He said he had something important to take care of, and that he couldn't put it off," Sam replied.
The colonel nodded, then glanced at his watch. "Think we've made nice with the Tok'ra long enough?"
The 'ceremony' at which the medals had been given to the team members hadn't taken more than five minutes. The reception had been in full swing for about an hour, although it seemed that a few of their hosts had made their excuses and left the room, probably returning to tasks interrupted by the festivities.
Daniel, Casey, and Teal'c joined their teammates. "Seems to be winding down," Daniel mused.
"Seems that way," Jack agreed.
"Considering that the way they have to live - always on alert, on the run - ceremonies and celebrations are done on the fly. They're not used to relaxing for very long," the archaeologist speculated.
"Let's say thanks one more time, say our goodbyes, and head home," Jack said, turning toward the corner where Ren Au was speaking with three other Tok'ra. "I'll catch the newest episode of the Simpson's."
Casey smiled. "How about that, actually seeing it the night it's broadcast. Which means you won't be able to fast forward through the commercials."
Jack paused, looked over his shoulder at the young seer. "You're just Little Miss Suzy Sunshine, aren't you?" he groused.
Daniel laughed. "So does this mean we can stay longer?"
"No," Jack said firmly.
Ren Au smiled as SG-1 approached her. "I trust you are enjoying yourselves?"
"It's been very nice," Daniel replied, returning her smile warmly. "However, we need to return to the SGC."
"Of course. I'll send Aldwin to dial the Chappa'ai, and I will accompany you as you say farewell."
Aldwin, who was in on the surprise, smiled and dashed to the cavern where the Chappa'ai was located. He would dial, and hopefully none of the Tau'ri would notice that the symbols that were lit were not those for the SGC of Earth.
Ren Au made certain that every Tok'ra had been given the opportunity to wish the Tau'ri well before finally leading them back to the Stargate. "I hope that today has seen the healing between our people begin."
"That the Tok'ra have reached out in such a manner cannot be ignored, nor understated," Daniel replied. "We are most honored at what you have done. I believe it has done much to heal the...rift...that had formed between us."
"I'm glad to hear that, Doctor Jackson," Ren Au smiled. "Perhaps we'll find another, more tangible means of relaying our gratitude for your help in the past, and our hope that our alliance will remain strong in the future."
Casey fingered the silver star that nestled between her breasts. "I think this is quite tangible."
The Tok'ra could barely control her excitement. When Jacob had first made the suggestion, she and the other Council members had been reluctant to agree to the plan. Selmak had made a convincing argument however, and hesitantly permission had been given. The Tok'ra and her Tau'ri host had embarked on a search with full enthusiasm, and if Jacob was to be believed, the team would be thrilled at the final part of the Tok'ra 'apology'. Now that the moment had arrived, she was tempted to follow SG-1, just to see their faces!
With handshakes and pats on the back, thanks given and received on both sides, Jack led his 'kids' up the steps, waved at the hosts who continued to call out good wishes.
"Doctor Jackson?" Ren Au said, smiling widely.
Daniel stopped, turned to look at the woman, Casey's hand tightly in his own. He half expected the Tok'ra to tell him that the Council had a mission they wished him to go on. "Yes?"
"We wish you and your wife a happy anniversary."
"Thank you," he said, smiling at the excited look on Ren Au's face. Which registered just about the time Casey tugged him into the event horizon behind her.
"What in the hell?" Jack spun around, looking at the Stargate behind him, just as it hissed 'closed'.
"Oh, wow," Sam murmured.
Daniel frowned. Happy anniversary? What the hell is going on?
Teal'c looked around cautiously, his hands curled; wishing fervently for his staff weapon.
When Casey began to giggle, four pairs of eyes swung in her direction. "That sweet, sweet man," she said. She bent over, took off her shoes, and bounced toward the white sand beach that was spread out before them.
The ocean was beautiful blue-green, and soft waves lapped lazily at the shore. Not sensing any danger, at least, not at the moment, the others followed her.
They all turned toward the sound of the voice, to see Jacob, wearing a bright orange and yellow Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat, striding toward them. "Dad?" Sam asked, the confusion on her face mirrored by that of her teammates.
"Welcome to paradise, Sammy," Jacob grinned. "General Hammond agreed that SG-1 needed a few days of down time. He also agreed that a few days down time far away from the SGC was a very good idea."
Jack was looking around, squinting against the brightness of the sun. "This isn't exactly Hawaii."
"Well, no. But I rather imagine it's exactly like Hawaii had been before the white man showed up," Jacob replied.
"I hate to burst your bubble, but we didn't come prepared to set up camp," Jack pointed out.
"Not a problem." Jacob waved his hand in beckoning motion, and ten people, who appeared to be local natives, approached the formally dressed group. They were smiling broadly at their visitors. "There are three huts on this island. And each hut is about two hours walk from here."
"Dad!" Sam protested, looking at her own uniform, then conspicuously at the way her friends were dressed.
"Take care of," Jacob said gleefully. He nodded toward the DHD, where five packs waited. "Now these folks are going to see to it that food and water are provided. You won't see or hear them coming or going."
"There's a reason you chose this island, this planet," Daniel said, a grin starting to work its way across his face.
"Yes there is. These are very peaceful people. Very hospitable. They're also very...shy. They like their privacy, and they understand when visitors want privacy. They're more than willing to allow you to stay here for a few days, three to be exact...and provide food and water for you."
"What are they getting in return?" Daniel asked.
"Food, medicine, a few nice trinkets," Jacob grinned unabashedly. He looked from Sam to Casey, then back at his daughter. "Aloha Pa'ing. That's Hawaiian for 'Feast of Love'. When your mother and I arrived in Hawaii for our honeymoon, that's how we were greeted...we were being welcomed to what would be our 'feast of love'."
His attention moved from his daughter to Casey and Daniel. "The two of you have been through a lot this year. And I know that you blame the Tok'ra for most of it. Not that I can fault you for that," he said hastily. "Your anniversary is just a few days away. We, that is the Tok'ra, would like to try and make up for what you've suffered because of the missions you undertook for us, by giving you an anniversary vacation."
"Wow," Daniel said softly.
"You kids go change into something a little more suitable for a hike. I think Gracie put hangers in your packs. I'll take your clothes back with me, get them to the SGC for you," Jacob continued. "When you're ready, your guides will lead you to your private huts. You'll be on three different sides of the island. Total privacy. Aloha pa'ing." His grin was so wide his cheeks were beginning to hurt.
Casey dashed forward, and pressed a kiss against the man's cheek. "Thank you," she whispered. "You, too, Selmak!"
Sam followed her best friend, wrapped her arms around her father's neck. This was his way of letting her know that he approved of her relationship with Jack. "Thanks, Dad," she said softly.
"You're welcome, kiddo. You too," he said, winking at Casey. "Now, hurry up and change, you want to be at your respective huts before dark.
"You heard the man, campers! Let's get out of these damned clothes and into something comfortable," Jack grinned. Three days alone in paradise with Sam? Sweet!
Daniel tugged at his tie, pulled it free from the collar of his dress shirt. Watched as Casey slipped out of her dress. The tiny little green thong and bra were enough to set his pulse racing and his cock rising. She looked over at him as she pulled the BDU pants over her tanned legs. Winked at him. The little minx knew exactly what she did to him...she reveled in her control over him.
BDU on, boots by her side, she put her dress on a hanger, held it in one hand, and took Daniel's jacket, tie and shirt in the other.
"Thanks, babe," he said softly as he took the items one by one and put them on the hanger over his trousers.
"Anytime," she replied.
"You knew about this."
"I suspected. I only saw a beach, and Jacob...well, a hut. But I only saw one hut. I didn't know about the others," she admitted.
"On our anniversary, I'll take you somewhere nice for dinner," he promised
He smiled. "Dancing, too."
"Sounds like a plan to me. Three days alone in paradise, a nice dinner, dancing...total score," she giggled.
Daniel couldn't help but laugh as well.
A A A A A A
Jacob reminded the team that on the morning of their fourth day in paradise, their guides would return, and lead them back to the Stargate. All of their meals would be provided, there wasn't anything they had to do. He gathered the dress clothes, promised to take them directly to the SGC, and inform General Hammond that SG-1's downtime had begun.
The young man who had been selected to lead Daniel and Casey to the north side of the island was tall and lean. He cast a glance over his shoulder every few minutes to make certain the strangely dressed, light-skinned people were still behind him. He shook his head mentally. All of those clothes must be hot. His thumbs absently adjusted the band of hemp that held the colorful sarong around his narrow hips.
Daniel had tried to engage the young man in conversation, but had never heard the particular dialect of what sounded like Malaysian before, so communication was reduced to hand gestures. Not easy to do when one person had his back to the other. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. It seemed that the sun had hit its zenith. Hopefully the day wouldn't get any hotter.
Casey's tee shirt was showing the same sweat patterns as Daniel's...she was grateful that he had insisted that not wearing the heavier BDU shirt would make their trek easier. She wished briefly that she was barefoot as well.
The path was narrow, and the abundant plant life encroached on the dirt trail with crass audacity, vines snaking over the ground, creating traps that could trip the unsuspecting traveler. Bushes that grew taller than she, laden with bright, fragrant blooms broke up the unending sea of green that surrounded them. Every shade and hue of green that she could think of was present; either on a bush, or a vine, or a tree.
She held yet another branch of leaves so that it wouldn't hit him in the face, felt his hand on it before she let go. Daniel had insisted that she follow the guide, and he would follow her. A smile lifted her lips at the thought that he wouldn't let her out of his sight. Since her return from imprisonment by Ba'al the first time, he had been loathe to let her go anywhere without him. Running to the convenience store just a few blocks from the house had never been a big deal...now he drove her if she needed to pick up a carton of milk or loaf of bread. It was as if he were afraid that she'd be taken from him again. She wasn't complaining. She fought her own demons, and the dark shadows that haunted her. His presence kept those shadows at bay, kept her safe.
He'd never said it, but she knew that what had happened to Sha're had riddled him with guilt. They'd actually discussed Sha're only once, when he was telling her about the first time he'd walked through the Stargate. She understood that his memories of his first wife were private, and precious. She didn't want to intrude on them. She also knew that the guilt he felt over Sha're's abduction only intensified the misplaced guilt he felt for her being taken by Ba'al's Jaffa. No matter how many times she told him that her capture had been her own fault, and for a reason, he continued to berate himself over it.
"Doing okay, babe?"
"I'm fine," she replied. Just anxious to get you alone, she thought, grinning to herself.
Alone. Totally alone. He wasn't letting her out of bed for at least two days. Wasn't letting her get dressed, either. A thought that brought a wide grin to his face. Three days in paradise with his Wife. Couldn't get any better than that!
The thought that he owed the Tok'ra thanks for this unexpected anniversary surprise poked at him. Casey continued to insist that the Tok'ra had never intentionally done anything to harm either of them...that circumstances alone were to blame...not their allies. The words of the ceremony echoed in his head. They had been fighting the Goa'uld for so long, demanded complete consecration to the cause, that it was difficult for the Tok'ra to acknowledge the cultural differences between them and their allies. The only thing that mattered on a mission was the objective, personal feelings were secondary, if they were recognized at all. Hadn't he seen that time and again? Sam had shared some of Jolinar's memories with him; the need to talk about the symbiote that had given its life to save her driving his friend to his office on several lonely nights. The sacrifices that the Tok'ra made as a matter of routine were astounding.
The Tok'ra were also a proud people...convinced that their way was the best way, they often side-stepped the opinions of others to get what they wanted. They were determined to win the war against the Goa'uld, and they were determined to do it their way.
He couldn't help but smile when he realized that the award, and the reception, and this little jaunt into paradise were netting the Tok'ra exactly what they wanted. Forgiveness. Daniel didn't like conflict, hated being at odds with anyone. His anger at the Tok'ra had been as much over the fact that they had pushed him into a corner, setting him up to be taken by Osiris, as it was over what had happened to him, and to Casey, because of them. He was angry with them for making him angry...for allowing circumstances to cast them in the role of the villains. He had always respected them, looked up to them as a wiser, older race of beings...and to discover that they were capable of very selfish, childish behavior - demanding things be done as they decreed, in spite of the consequences - had shattered his illusion of them as a superior culture. He'd never taken well to being disillusioned.
The guide slowed up, veered from the path, led them to a small stream of water that meandered its way through the jungle.
Daniel and Casey both drank gratefully of the cool water, took the opportunity to splash themselves, wash away some of the sweat their trek had left on them.
"I wonder how far from the 'gate the village is," Daniel mused, once they were back on the trail.
"I don't know...I'd think it would be close to the center of the island, if these people are going to be bringing us food and water every day," Casey replied.
"Do you think this ocean has coral reefs?"
He grinned. She had very much enjoyed examining the reefs during their honeymoon in the Bahamas. "Possibly."
"Too bad we don't have snorkeling gear," she sighed.
One day he was going to take her somewhere, maybe the Bahamas again, maybe Jamaica, or Hawaii. And they would snorkel. Perhaps even do some scuba diving. He'd never been interested in doing either until meeting her. Casey's enthusiasm for life was contagious, and he found himself wanting to experience all of it, right beside her.
As promised, two hours after they'd started, the narrow trail opened onto a clearing, just a few yards from a pristine beach. Off to one side of the grassy area was a small temporary shelter, the roof was made of palm fronds, the walls were woven grass mats tied between poles. It wouldn't survive any type of a storm and certainly wouldn't last more than more than a season. It would, however, be just perfect for the four nights they would be spending in it.
The young guide grinned and pointed to the hut, then to a tray that was on the ground just outside of the door. A large gourd that had been hollowed out held fresh water, and various pieces of fruit were piled high. A platter held an assortment of grilled meats and vegetables. He pointed to the sun, then toward the horizon. As near as Daniel could tell, someone would either bring more food and water when the sun went down, or pick up the empty tray...he wasn't quite sure which.
With a jaunty grin and a wave, the young man disappeared into the jungle once again, leaving the couple alone. Casey took in her surroundings, her eyes dancing with excitement. "Oh, Daniel! It's beautiful!"
He couldn't help but smile. And agree. It was beautiful. "Yeah, it is."
Casey scampered toward the hut, pulling her pack from her shoulders. She pushed aside the colorful curtain that covered the door of the little hut. On the floor, which was the same type of matting as the walls, was a large, plush looking mattress...of sorts. Dozens of pillows were piled in the center, and netting connected to the ceiling draped around it completely. A beautifully glazed pottery bowl was fit into a small stand on one side of the room; a ceramic pot that held water, in which flower petals were floating, was beside it. A low table and more pillows were on the other side of the bed. "It's perfect!" she declared.
Daniel looked over her shoulder. It had a bed, that's all he was concerned about. He grinned. "Honeymoon suite in paradise."
She giggled. "Looks like it." She stepped inside, dropped her pack beside the door. "Let's eat, and then take a swim."
"Can't swim for an hour after you've eaten, you know. You could get a bad cramp and drown."
"You don't say," she teased.
"I do say. Don't want anything-" he turned his head slightly.
The next time he saw Jacob, he was going to hug the man! Daniel dropped his own pack, grabbed her hand and pulled her along, heading toward the back of the little hut. He was certain he had heard water running... Sure enough, a small pond, fed by a narrow brook, sparkled in the sunlight.
"Paradise," Casey sighed.
"Let's eat, and then see how deep that pond is," he said softly, his voice low.
"I think that sounds like a wonderful idea," she replied.
They walked to the front of the hut; Daniel began to strip on the way.
"What are you doing?"
"It's hot, it's paradise, and we're alone," he explained, unbuttoning his BDU pants.
"All excellent points." Casey stopped and began to strip as well. She looked back at the small pool of water. "Quick swim, and then lunch?"
He grinned. "Be there in a minute," he promised. He scooped up their discarded clothes, then disappeared into the hut. He put his glasses in the case he carried to protect them whenever he wasn't wearing them. When he came back out, he had their ditty bags in his hands.
Casey tested the temperature of the water with her toes. It wasn't exactly warm, but it wasn't too cold either. She took a deep breath, and stepped into the pool. She found several large, flat boulders that were submerged, sat down on one of them. Within seconds the water felt absolutely perfect against her skin.
She tilted her head back, let the sun caress her face, moved the water over her arms and shoulders slowly.
Daniel paused to watch her for a few minutes. The water formed droplets on her skin, dripped off her nipples and fingers. He truly was in paradise, he thought, his heart sighing happily. All he needed was her to make any place home. Right now, he felt as if he had wandered into heaven itself. "And lo, I came unto that place where she bathed, and I watched her from afar, my heart filled with love for the beautiful goddess, who knew not that I could see her," he said softly.
She smiled. "That's beautiful."
He put the ditty bags beside the pool, stepped into the water, settled beside her. "It's from a story about a trader who owned a very large caravan, and the goddess Bastet."
"It sounds lovely. Tell me the story," she asked softly.
Daniel smiled. How often did she beg him to tell her about the mythology that he knew, to share the stories that had always fascinated him, that gave him a glimpse of the past? And every time she did, every time she expressed interest in the very things that intrigued him, it made his heart skip a beat. "The caravan owner-" he started.
"What's his name?"
"I don't remember him being named in the story," he replied.
"We can't just call him 'the caravan man'," she objected.
His smile became a grin. Sometimes she listened attentively, as if she were a student in a class he was teaching, asking questions that let him know she was interested, and was learning as much as she could. At other times she was playful, insisting that the story be changed to fit her whim. He loved telling her the stories, no matter which mood she was in. "I suppose you have a name for him?"
"Of course I do," she replied, her smile mischievous. "Dan the Caravan Man."
Daniel laughed out loud. "Dan the Caravan Man?"
"Kind of catchy, don't you think? He could have someone write up some jingles for his radio ads."
He laughed harder, and shook his head. "Do you want to hear this story or not?"
"I'm all ears," she replied breathlessly.
"No, you're not," he teased, his eyes moving over her naked body. "And I love every part of that opulent body."
"On with the story, before the anaconda wakes up," she instructed.
He shook his head, and still chuckling, began again. "A caravan owner, named Dan," he said, grinning at her, "stopped one evening at an oasis. Even though it was early enough in the day that he could have gone just a bit further, his camels and his servants were hot and tired and in need of fresh water. "Now, this caravan owner-"
"Dan," Casey interjected playfully.
"-was a very conscientious man." Daniel grinned, and continued. "He took excellent care of those who trusted him to do so. Because he was such a good man, he never asked anyone to do something he wasn't willing to do himself. Nor would he send anyone into a situation that could be dangerous."
"Sounds like my kind of man, this Dan." Her eyes were dancing.
"So the caravan owner-"
"I thought we agreed his name was Dan?"
Daniel tried to put on his best 'professor' expression. "I don't remember agreeing to that."
She sighed dramatically. "Must be your age. Memory is going."
"I'm going to stop," he threatened.
"No!" she objected. "I want to hear about Dan the Caravan Man and Bastet, the Cat Goddess!"
"No more interruptions," he warned.
"Unless you forget Dan's name again."
He couldn't help but laugh. "I'll do my best to remember."
"Good. Poor man...having his name forgotten!"
"One more word and I'm out of here."
She made a show of 'zipping' her lips closed.
"Now, Dan the Caravan Man," he intoned, struggling to keep from laughing out loud at her antics, "bade his servants to wait with the camels, while he made sure that there weren't any thieves or undesirables lurking at the oasis."
"Very noble and brave of him." She snuggled close to Daniel's side, slowly kicked her feet back and forth to stir the water around them.
"Yes it was. He also wanted to make certain there as enough water for all of the people and animals in the caravan."
"He had more than just camels?"
"I'm certain he had a dog or two, for protection," Daniel grinned. "Maybe a few goats for milk."
"Most people in the Middle East only have goat's milk. There aren't pastures of grass available for cattle to graze on."
"You don't get milk from cattle," she informed him. "You get milk from dairy cows."
"They're all bovine to me," he replied. Chuckled when she jabbed half-heartedly at his ribs.
"You're going to miss Dan finding the goddess."
"Oh, no, I don't want to do that!"
"Then hush up and let me tell this story!"
"You're the one who keeps stopping."
Daniel started to rise to his feet.
Giggling, Casey tugged at his shoulder until he settled back onto the boulder beside her. "I'll be quiet, I promise."
He gave her a look that said he didn't believe it for a minute. Then took a deep breath. "Okay, where were we?"
"Dan the Caravan Man was protecting his caravan, and doing a recon to check for bad guys."
Another grin split his face. "In the very middle of the oasis was a large pool. Probably a lot like this one."
"Except this one is on a tropical island, not an oasis in the desert," Casey pointed out.
He raised one eyebrow.
"Oops. Sorry. Go on."
She wasn't sorry at all...the light in her eyes and the smile on her face were evidence of that. Not that he was complaining. He was enjoying the banter as much as she was. "The caravan owner-"
"-approached quietly, not wanting to alert anyone if the oasis wasn't deserted. When he came upon the pool, he discovered the most beautiful woman he had ever seen bathing there. Her skin was flawless, and her alabaster beauty had been kissed by the sun." He ran his fingers up and down her arm, pleased at the shiver that resulted.
"She had a tan, huh?"
"Damned nice one, too," he grinned.
"Did she see him?"
"Not right away. Now the caravan owner...Dan," he said quickly, before she could interrupt again, "couldn't help but watch this beautiful woman. The longer he watched, the deeper he fell in love with her."
"If she's a goddess, shouldn't she know he's there?" Casey asked.
"As a matter of fact, she did know," Daniel replied. "And she knew that he was watching her. When she stood up, to get out of the water, the caravan owner...Dan...quickly turned away, to leave her modesty intact."
"He's been gawking at her bare boobs, what's the big deal?" Casey complained.
Daniel grinned. "Naked breasts weren't unusual. But seeing a sweet little twat, well, that was reserved for husbands and lovers only," he replied.
"Gotcha. So Dan is being a gentleman."
"Exactly. And Bastet was very impressed, because she was aware of how...affected...the caravan owner was."
"Dan was sporting a hard on, was he? If he was as endowed as you are, he needed another tree just to hide the anaconda."
He lost any semblance of control and began to roar with laughter. "You are such a smartass! Just for that, I'm not going to tell you the rest of the story!"
"Bet I can guess it," she said softly, shifting until she was straddling his lap, facing him.
"Really. Think so?"
"Go for it."
She smiled. "I was so hoping you'd say that."
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