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 Daddy's Little Girl

Chapter 2

Jim Harmstead stood at the window, looking out at the lights of the city. Kirsten was asleep. Amelia was as well, on the cot that had been provided for her. Dr. Daniel Jackson. He well remembered the man. Well, young man. Daniel had been about three years older than he and Amelia. Lean and fit and tanned, with those blue eyes and sun-streaked sandy blonde hair. Even with the glasses, the archaeologist had looked like the surfers he'd seen during his visits to California. The type of guy girls went ape-shit over.

Amelia hadn't been immune to those good looks and his shy demeanor. Almost as soon as the archaeologist had shown up, joining the others who were already working on the ruins of that old temple complex, she'd been in his arms. Hell, the bastard was kissing her in back of the cafe, an hour after they had met. Her hand down his pants...He shook his head as the memory of seeing them together washed over him. Knowing the moment that Amelia had seen him, while Daniel had been feeling her up. It didn't matter that both hands were on top of her tee shirt. He was still touching her. And until that moment, Amelia had always been his.

It wasn't until the fourth week that the group from Chicago had been camped at the edge of the village that he'd realized what was going on. He'd been coming home late, having spent the day with friends...hell, he couldn't even remember what they'd been doing. Only that they hadn't wanted girlfriends tagging along. They were brash young men, with a need to sow a few wild oats. If it hadn't been for the white of her skirt, he never would have seen her as she moved through the dark, toward the camp. He'd stopped, ready to call out to her, when he watched her glance around, then slip inside one of the tents.

Curious, and not just a little jealous, he'd followed her. An approaching car had had him diving for cover; he could still remember having one moment of indecision. Wished even now he'd just gone back home. When the way had been clear again, he snuck into the camp...moved toward the tent he'd seen her go into. Heard the unmistakable sounds of two people having sex. Angry, he'd moved closer, ready to rip the front of the tent apart. Amelia was wrapped around the archaeologist, who was pumping in and out of her. She'd never allowed him past second base...in all the time they had been together, seeing her breasts was as far as he had gotten. But that bastard...he could still remember the way her eyes had met his as she looked over Daniel's shoulder. The smirk on her face. Then she had closed her eyes and moaned, soft and low.

Maybe that was the night Kirsten had been conceived. He shuddered at that thought. His little girl...his baby...not really his. He was still dealing with that blow. The pain was excruciating. If he'd ever wondered about her blonde hair and blue eyes, when his own hair and eyes were dark, and Amelia's hair was brown, and her eyes hazel, well, he'd always assumed that their child looked like one of their relatives. Genes managed to skip a generation or two, nothing unusual in that.

His thoughts moved back to that small Egyptian village. He remembered the night he'd heard the jeep roar through. He'd gotten up, watched as Jackson and two of the other archaeologists and three of the locals staggered toward the camp. He remembered wondering just what the man thought he was doing when he walked up to the whitewashed, mud brick house where the Wheeler's lived, and tapped on the window to Amelia's room. Five minutes later, they were walking toward his tent. Daniel hadn't even held her hand.

He'd tormented himself, watching that tent for the rest of the night, convinced that he could hear the cries of passion from within. He'd nearly run out to catch Amelia as she made her way back to her home just after dawn. The look on her face had stopped him. She'd looked confused...hurt...angry. At that moment, he assumed that she and Daniel had had a lover's spat. He'd hoped to talk to her, maybe get back together with her. Even now it was difficult to admit that it wasn't because he wanted her, as much as he was accustomed to her attention. Watching her turn to someone else did nothing more than stir his sense of possessiveness...and jealousy. Amelia had always been his. She always would be. No matter how many women he took to bed when he and his buddies visited the city, he would always return to Amelia. She was familiar. She was comfortable. She was socially acceptable. She was...there.

Two days after that night, Amelia and her mother had left to visit Amelia's aunt in the States. She'd been gone a month. When she'd returned...she wouldn't even look in Daniel's direction. Afraid that the archaeologist would do something to make amends with her, he'd gone all the way to Cairo to find a ring. He'd proposed three days before the group of archaeologists left.

The night he'd proposed, Amelia had made love to him. Had blown his mind with the way she wiggled and moved and moaned beneath him. For all of Kirsten's life he'd believed that she had been conceived that night. He'd had no idea that Amelia was already pregnant, carrying the child of another man.

"You should try to get some sleep."

He turned slightly. Amelia was sitting on the cot, her legs pulled up to her chest, her arms around them. When was the last time they'd made love? "Not sleepy," he replied.

"It's going to be a long day. Mr. Pierce is meeting with Daniel today. Chances are he'll be here sometime tonight."

"You're looking forward to seeing him again," Jim accused.

Amelia shook her head. She knew that there'd been nothing more than sex between her and Daniel. That's all she'd wanted from him. That, and to make Jim jealous enough to propose. At least, that's what she'd told herself at the time. She'd gotten exactly what she'd wanted. She tried to push away the memory of one night...when her reserve had slipped. When she'd admitted to herself that she felt more than just gratitude for the man who had made her a woman. A fact of which she wasn't certain he'd ever been aware. In spite of what she'd planned, she'd somehow fallen in love with an archaeologist named Daniel Jackson. The man who could bring forth sensations and feelings she hadn't experienced since.

But on that one night, she'd been faced with the truth of what she'd done. She'd always refused to talk to him during the course of their...relationship; afraid that he would charm her as he had nearly every woman in the village...including her own mother. Oh, not in any sexual way. He was just shy...polite...sweet...charming...

She closed her eyes. Remembered how her heart had caught in her throat the night he tapped on her window. It had been the only time he'd sought her out himself, rather than sending little Akil with a message to meet him in his tent. She remembered the romantic dreams she'd begun building. There'd been little time left to be with him. She was leaving to visit Aunt Larue, and would be gone a full month. But if he'd wanted her to stay, she would have. All he'd needed to do was ask.

When they'd slipped inside his tent, he had stripped, dropped onto the sleeping bag, and simply waited for her to do the same. No whispers of love, no gentle touches. She had set out the rules for their...encounters, and gentleman that he was, Daniel had obeyed them. He'd kissed her, his hands moving over her, arousing her just as he always did. And then he'd taken her. In every position his booze addled brain could imagine. When he'd cried out the last time, dropped to his side, he'd rolled away from her.

Because, her brain informed her, now just as it had then, the one time he tried to hold you, you pushed him away! Tears formed behind her closed eyelids. She hadn't wanted him to be tender, or loving. She'd only wanted sex. She loved Jim. But she hadn't wanted to risk her first experience being...less than spectacular. It hadn't been. Amelia was positive that, from the way she'd initiated their relationship, Daniel had never guessed that she'd been a virgin. Had he been aware of that fact, she knew instinctively that he never would have allowed her to stay the first night she'd shown up in his tent. That last night with him, however...in the early morning hours when he was finished, had taken what he wanted from her, what she'd offered with no strings attached, she'd realized just what she'd done. What she'd lost.

Hurt, angry at him, furious with herself, she'd lashed out at him, telling him that he was a bastard, that all he'd done was used her for his own pleasure. She could still see the shock on his face, the way his blue eyes had widened. He'd put his glasses on, stared at her for a moment, and then gathered his clothes and left the tent.

She'd waited for nearly an hour before returning home...although even now she was hard pressed to know what she'd have said to him had he returned...how she could have made right something that had never existed, something never meant to be in the first place. She'd cried herself to sleep...cried while she packed for her trip. Two days later she was on a plane bound for Phoenix. She'd spent the month nursing her broken heart, and if her mother had been at a loss to understand what was wrong, she'd tried her best to comfort her daughter.

When she'd returned to Egypt, the archaeologists were busy crating their finds, packing up to leave. She couldn't even look at Daniel without feeling that tug in her heart. When Jim had proposed, which had been her goal at the beginning of her...plan, she'd made love to him, hoping that her feelings for him would return. It had taken time, but Jim's loving attention had healed her secret heartbreak.

"Amelia?"

"Hmm?"

"All of this talk about back child support...it's to get back at him, isn't it?" Jim asked softly.

Her eyes flew open. "What?"

"He broke your heart. Used you, and left. This is your way of making him pay for that."

She was stunned.

"I saw you slip into his tent a few times," Jim said, shrugging slightly.

In all the years they'd been together, they'd never talked about the spring and summer the archaeologists from Chicago had been in the village. Perhaps, her heart whispered, it was time they did. Confession was good for the soul. And if there was the chance she would be forced to go to court over custody of her daughter, it was best that Jim heard the truth now.

"You loved him," Jim continued.

"Yes...and no," she said softly.

"Did he force himself on you?"

She gave a sad smile. "No. Never. The first night we met, I...well, I'd had a couple of beers. He was cute, and unattached...and very nice. I...I decided he would be the one."

"The one to what?"

"Teach me about sex."

Jim gaped at his wife. In all the years he'd known her, he never would have expected a confession like that! "What about me?"

"I wanted to be able to please you. And," she dropped her eyes, blushed slightly, "I didn't want my first time to be with a boy who didn't know any more about making love than I did."

He gave a small, sad smile. "Whatever gave you the idea that I didn't know anything about it?"

She shrugged. "We were always together. When would you have had a chance..." her voice trailed off, her eyes went wide as realization set in. "Those nights that you and your friends went to Cairo..."

He nodded slowly. "There were always tourists and students around," he said softly.

Amelia shook her head. "I never let Daniel hold me afterwards. Never really talked to him. I didn't want that from him...just the sex. Or so I thought."

"Is that why the two of you didn't even acknowledge one another during the day?"

"He tried to...but...I...if he spoke to me, I'd just turn and walk away."

"Why?"

"I loved you. I didn't want to fall in love with him."

"But you did."

She nodded miserably. "I didn't even realize it until the last night we were together. Daniel was so shocked when I accused him of using me, when it had always been the other way around, and we both knew that. I wanted what I'd thrown away. And it was too late," she whispered.

Their marriage hadn't always been a good one. There had been rocky times. She'd had an affair. Oh, she wasn't aware that he knew about it. But Kirsten had told him about the man who took naps in Mommy's bed with her. He'd had a couple of affairs himself. Nothing serious, he'd just wanted someone less...intense...than his wife. Someone he didn't feel as if he had to please every minute of the day. Someone not so...dependant...on him. "How long did you love him?"

The corners of her lips pulled up slightly. "Just a few months. You did a wonderful job of healing my broken heart."

He couldn't help but smile at her. Maybe that was why she'd been so obsessive, so clingy while he had finished college. Because she was afraid of him leaving her, just as Daniel had done. Then it hit him. The truth she was trying to tell him. "He never knew, did he?"

She shook her head again. "Daniel never had a clue about my feelings...or that I'd been a virgin. I...I was...I was actually a pretty cold-hearted bitch, now that I think about it. He was always such a tender, gentle, considerate lover...he never took before he gave. I always had at least one orgasm with him. Usually two or three," she admitted. "But I never let him know how much I appreciated that. He..."

Even in the dim light Jim could see how her cheeks were blazing with color. "He what?"

"Daniel is very...large," she said, not looking at her husband. "I knew that from the first night, when I had...when I'd given him a hand job. I'd listened to some of the girls who hung around the cafe...understood that if I was on top, it wouldn't hurt so much. For the first week, I rode him, because I could control how much...how far...It took a few times before I could take him completely." She shivered slightly. "The first time on my back, when I held him..."

He waited, hating what he was hearing; relieved to know that she'd been treated well in the arms of this man.

"It was amazing," Amelia whispered.

Jim blanched...she'd never used that word to describe what they had shared. Not once in nine years of marriage. "I see."

She looked at him, her features hardened slightly. "Oh, don't go getting your ego bruised and your feelings hurt," she snapped. "It was just sex! He didn't love me, and I didn't..."

He watched the pain that moved through her eyes, took note of the fact that she couldn't say truthfully that she hadn't loved Daniel. "I suppose you're hoping that maybe you can pick up where you left off? Maybe confess your love for him, and hope he'll return it?"

She stared hard at the man standing beside the window, his hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. Refused to listen to the part of her heart which was insisting that that was exactly what she wanted. "What on earth makes you say that?"

"I don't know, Amelia. Maybe the fact that you're sitting there, love filling your eyes every time you say his name."

"That's ridiculous!"

"Maybe. I'm going home. I'll be back to have breakfast with Kirsten before I go to work."

"But-"

"I'm tired, Amelia." He walked past the cot, kissed his sleeping daughter on the forehead, then slipped out of the room. Truth be told, he was exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally. If Amelia had just allowed him to donate a kidney to their daughter, she'd be home by now. There would've been no need to tell Kirsten that he wasn't her biological father. And there wouldn't have been the need to dig up the past. He snorted. Wasn't that what archaeologists did? Dig up the past?

With more force than was necessary, he punched the elevator button for the lobby. Promised himself a nice stiff drink as soon as he was home.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Twelve thousand years. Give or take a day or two. The man sitting on the throne smirked. It had been a long time. At long last, he was returning. Back to the place of his birth, the place where he'd wielded power for the first time.

He silently contemplated what he knew, the information he'd quietly gathered. He'd have liked to have been nearby when Ra had been tossed off of the First World by his own slaves. Would've liked even more to have been present when the progeny of those slaves actually killed him. It had done Ra no good to try to hide what had happened on the First World, to forbid them the knowledge of reading and writing. The slaves knew. They remembered, and the few who dared to defy their god had kept record of that great uprising. Then they'd outsmarted Ra, from what his spies had reported. The greatest of all Goa'uld, so he claimed. Killed by a handful of ragged, rebellious slaves.

Zeus sat back. With Ra gone, and Anubis out of the picture for the time being, or so he'd been told, the others were fighting like rats, trying to outmaneuver one another to become the Supreme System Lord. Emperor of the Goa'uld Empire. While the fools continued to beleaguer one another, he would simply...arrive...and take over. Those who battled for power had managed to keep one another in check, never allowing any other to grow too strong. In the meantime, he'd been amassing ships, and Jaffa. And wealth. There were, he knew, places in the galaxy where simply being a Goa'uld System Lord garnered no worship, nor respect. But those places often had goods that were necessary. Especially weapons.

He ran a hand through his long dark hair, his thoughts moving randomly for the moment. He'd found it quite amusing to learn that those in this galaxy spoke of him in myths; described him as an old man with long white hair, and a long white beard. Oh, he was old. One of the oldest Goa'uld still living. Almost as old as Yu. But he'd always preferred hosts who looked as young as he felt. His present host was lean, fit...very handsome, if he did say so himself. His dark eyes surveyed the pel'tak, watched to make certain that his Jaffa were paying attention. For all intents and purposes, they were in enemy territory. Attack could come at any time, from any direction.

Resting his chin in one hand, he absently ran the fingers of the other through the long, auburn hair of his current object of desire. A slave taken on a raid he'd conducted during this journey, the young woman had learned quickly that to please her Master brought great pleasure. The pain of disobeying him was just as great. He smiled when he realized that she was leaning against him. For all of her protesting when he'd first taken her, she'd quickly warmed to his attention, offering herself again and again. If he demanded oral pleasure from her right here, right now, she would give it without hesitation, with all of the fervor she always displayed when making love to him.

Zeus was one of the few Goa'uld who preferred making love to forced sex and rape. There was no pleasure in a body rigid with fear and loathing. Something, he mused silently, that Ra had never seemed to understand. Nor, he thought, giving a snort of disgust, had Ares ever learned that fact.

Ares. His son. Of all the Goa'uld he'd fathered, could have selected to take that honored position, he had chosen Ares. What a disappointment. Brash and arrogant, the young fool believed that he was all powerful. Zeus snorted softly. The damned bastard had played upon his trust, killed him and sent him toward the far galaxy known by the Tau'ri as Andromeda. When he'd awakened from his sarcophagus, he had but the ship he was on, and fewer than one hundred Jaffa.

In his younger days, patience had never been one of his stronger points. But circumstances had dictated that he be patient. And as he built up his own sector of space, expanding at will, never allowing more than token protest among those he took from, Zeus had learned that waiting for the perfect time to strike would always net him more, and far easier, than rushing in during the heat of anger.

So it was that he waited, biding his time. Knowing that eventually Ra would be overthrown by those he so harshly ruled. And that when it happened, those who'd worked together to be rid of the tyrant would turn upon one another in a battle to gain dominance. And it was then when he would strike.

When his spy among Ares' Jaffa had reported that Ares was returning to Thracia, Zeus had known that the time had arrived. That coward would never have moved back toward the old places had the most powerful Goa'uld still been in control. He had positioned his Jaffa and ships carefully, he had no desire to lose what he'd so painstakingly acquired. With half a dozen ships, and five thousand Jaffa, he'd headed toward what was now known as the Milky Way Galaxy. Toward a tiny blue and white planet known as the First World. A place that had been home to him for centuries. The place from where he would rule as the Supreme System Lord.

"My Lord, there is an al'kesh approaching. We are being hailed," the Jaffa monitoring the communications console reported.

"Just who is hailing me?"

"Oshu, the First Prime of Lord Yu," was the reply.

Well, that hadn't take long. Apparently Yu was still as paranoid as ever. "I will speak to him," Zeus said. He sat forward slightly, watched as the window in front of him filled with the image of the First Prime to one of his oldest enemies...and his oldest ally.

"Greetings, Lord Zeus," Oshu said, bowing his head in respect.

"And to you, Oshu," Zeus replied. He was somewhat surprised that the Jaffa recognized him. He was, after all, in a different host. Apparently the ha'tak hanging in space beside him had impressive scanners. Almost as impressive as his own, if they were able to identify him so quickly.

"I must inquire as to your presence in the space that belongs to Lord Yu, my master."

"Of course you must," Zeus said. "You may inform your master that I seek no vengeance. I am only passing through, on my way to reclaim what was stolen from me."

Oshu gave the faintest hint of a smile. "Ah yes, Thracia. I understand it is nothing more than a desert, and that nothing worth having remains."

Arrogant little prick, Zeus thought. It wasn't difficult to figure out that Oshu was the power behind the throne. No doubt the First Prime of Yu was running his kingdom. Zeus had heard the rumors of Yu's decline. Too old to take a new host. Unable to find relief for his aches and pains in the sarcophagus. For one moment the Goa'uld wondered if this too was his fate. To become old and senile. He pushed the thought aside. He was hale and hearty, his host in the prime of his life. He had many centuries to live before worrying about such a thing happening to him. "So I have been told. However, under the proper guidance, it can be the great city that it once was. If I should decide to remain there."

"And where else would you go, My Lord?"

"Nowhere that concerns you, or your master," Zeus retorted. "Unless you are prepared to attack my fleet, you will move aside and let me pass."

Oshu frowned slightly. He was already aware of the number of ships present. He could only guess at the size of the army they carried. Morrigan and Amaterasu had been relentless of late, attacking ever closer to the heart of Yu's territory. If he were to lose even one ship, it would give Zeus an advantage over him...Lord Yu, he quickly, carefully corrected himself. "If safe passage is all that you seek, I would be honored to escort you."

Zeus sat back, contemplated the calm face of the First Prime. He didn't want an escort. Without permission to pass through Yu's territory, however, he'd probably find himself in battle before he was ready. The secret to winning a battle, he knew, was to be certain that the time and place of any such engagement was of his own choosing. It gave him a distinct advantage. Patience...that hard learned lesson, once again came into play. It would not to do capitulate too easily, though. The game was ruled by appearances as much as by actions. "If you simply alert your ships that I am doing nothing more than moving through your space, such an escort would be unnecessary, leaving you free for the more important tasks Lord Yu no doubt has for you."

"My Lord would insist that I offer my services to you," Oshu responded.

Well, damnation! It would be best to get through this region of space as quickly as possible. "I am rather in a hurry," Zeus countered.

"That will not be a problem."

The Goa'uld heaved a sigh. "Fine. Move ahead of my ship, and lead the way."

"As you wish, My Lord," Oshu said, his eyes filled with triumphant glee.

"Take care that I do not run over you," Zeus grumbled.

"Yes, My Lord," Oshu replied. Barely bit back his smirk. Closed the communication link.

"You will follow that al'kesh. Match speed exactly. Do not let it move too far ahead, nor allow us to move too closely," Zeus ordered.

"Yes, My Lord."

He watched as they began to move deeper into Yu's territory. Welcome back to the Stars of Goa'uld Birth, he thought.

As long as Yu's ship was nearby, he would refrain from contacting his spies. He didn't want any of the reports to be listened to by Yu's First Prime. What Lord Yu didn't know, wouldn't hurt him. Until it was his time to die, Zeus thought, with not a little satisfaction. By the time he was finished, his rule would span two galaxies. Giving him the strength to stretch even farther. He would do what Ra had failed to do. He would extend the Goa'uld Empire not among solar systems, but among galaxies!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Amelia wasn't in the room when Jim stepped in the next morning, feeling a bit worse for wear. He'd had his drink. And then another, and another. Thinking of his wife in the arms of another man. He'd never felt this way about...what the hell was that guy's name? He could never remember the name of man with whom she'd had an affair. But Daniel Jackson...that name, and that face, were always in the back of his memory.

Not for the first time Jim had questioned himself...wondered if maybe he should have just backed away, instead of rushing to propose to Amelia. He'd known, at least a part of him had been aware, that it wasn't love that spurred his actions, but jealousy. She'd found out she was pregnant just a month after they'd announced their engagement. They weren't actually married until right after Kirsten had been born. They'd never returned to Egypt, although his parents had remained there for another year. Amelia's parents came home for the wedding, and stayed in Phoenix. He and Amelia had lived with them while he'd attended the newly opened West Campus of Arizona State University. He'd gotten his teaching degree, just like his parents had done. Unlike them, however, he had no desire to teach overseas. He wasn't even working in his field now, having taken a job with an insurance company for a summer, and finding that he could make more, with less stress, than he could teaching. The increase in pay had pleased Amelia. She'd been impatient to move from the small house they'd purchased right after he'd started teaching, into a larger house in a new, more upscale community.

Shaking himself mentally, he pasted a smile on his face, tried to ignore the pounding of his head, and approached the bed where his daughter lay. She looked pale. Too pale. "Good morning, baby girl."

"'Morning, Daddy," she replied softly.

"How ya feeling?"

"I don't feel good," the little girl replied.

He automatically put a hand to her forehead. Cool and clammy. "Has the nurse been in to check on you?"

Kirsten nodded. "She said she had to get the doctor."

Panic rose in his chest. Time was ticking away while they waited for the DNA test. And it didn't matter...he was healthy, and more than willing to save his daughter. He didn't give a damn if she didn't possess one gene from him, she was still his daughter! No more! They were not going to wait any longer. If Jackson was her father, well...that was just the way it was. But Kirsten's life was hanging in the balance. It seemed that the illness was progressing much more quickly than the doctors had anticipated...

Amelia watched from the doorway. Could see the determined set of his jaw. She'd spoken to the nurse. If Daniel wasn't in Phoenix by tomorrow...

"Mommy!"

Jim looked over his shoulder. His wife looked haggard. He wondered if she'd slept at all after he had left. "We can't wait much longer," he said flatly.

"I know. Tomorrow. If he's not here tomorrow, then...well..."

"I'll tell the doctor. Get all of the forms signed today. The less time we waste, the better."

"Is that what you think we're doing? Wasting time?"

"Isn't it?"

"He has the right to help her."

"Maybe. It's not necessary, and you know that as well as I do."

"Don't fight Mommy. Don't be mad, Daddy."

His eyes swung back to his little girl's face. Softened as he smiled at her. "We're not fighting, baby. Just making a decision."

"When will my biological daddy be here?"

Jim cringed. Apparently Amelia had already told Kirsten about the situation, and Daniel Jackson. He silently damned her for not letting him be a part of the conversation, to explain to Kirsten that he loved her more than life itself, and he'd do anything for her. That no matter who her biological father was, he would always be her Daddy, and she would always be his little girl.

"Soon," Amelia replied, hurrying to the beside. Pushing in front of Jim to stand beside her daughter. "He'll be here soon. He's very anxious to meet you."

He frowned. It seemed that since they'd learned that he wasn't Kirsten's father, Amelia had been pushing him away. From herself, and from Kirsten. Which only confirmed his suspicions. Amelia might not admit it, even to herself, but deep inside, she was already forming a little family with Daniel Jackson. He wondered how long it would be before she served him with divorce papers. Hell, maybe it was for the best. They hadn't been intimate in months. Since before they learned of the disease running rampant in their child's body. They hadn't talked...really talked...to one another in years. He shook his head mentally. There hadn't been a marriage for a very long time. Maybe it was time to just let go.

"Aren't you going to be late for work?" Amelia asked. "These bills won't pay themselves." They couldn't afford for Jim to lose his job. Not now, with the medical bills piling so high. She forced herself to calm down. Daniel would help pay them. It would be his duty, as Kirsten's father. It was the least he could do!

"No, I won't be late," Jim replied tersely. He didn't understand why she was so damned hung up on the bills! She'd been sitting beside him when the one of the women from the hospital's Patient Financial Services department had explained that what their medical insurance didn't cover, Social Security would. Those forms had been filled out and submitted that day! The only thing they had to worry about were deductibles, and those were manageable. "I want to hear what the doctor says."

"I'll call you and tell you."

"I'm her father, Amelia."

"No you're not," she spat. Her eyes went wide, and she looked at Kirsten. "Daddy will always be your Daddy," she said hurriedly.

Stunned, feeling as if someone had just shoved a knife into his chest, Jim physically staggered from the words. "I see," he said quietly. He walked to the opposite side of the bed, leaned down and kissed Kirsten's cheek. "I'll be back later, baby girl."

"Okay, Daddy," Kirsten replied, giving him a weak smile.

Without another word to his wife, he strode out of the room, passed the doctor and two nurses who were hurrying in. His decision had been made in a few fleeting seconds. One that he probably should have made years ago, when he'd found out about Amelia's affair. Instead of having two affairs himself.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Gary had booked himself on the first flight he could get from Kansas City to Colorado Springs. It was just after eight when he tossed his duffel into the rental car. He opened his cell phone, punched two. "Good morning! I didn't wake you, did I?"

On the other end of the line Casey smiled. "No, we've been up for a bit. Daniel is meeting with Mr. Pierce at ten-thirty."

"Had breakfast yet?"

"Not yet."

"I'll meet you at IHOP, near that big shopping center, the one where you do your grocery shopping."

"We'll be there. What time?"

"If I can get around Grandma Moses here, about fifteen minutes. Give or take."

"Right. Fifteen minutes. IHOP."

"See you there." He disconnected. Waited for an opening. So long, grandma, he thought irritably as he sped around the brown sedan.

Casey grinned, and hung up.

"Who was that?" Daniel asked, coming out of the bathroom, wiping his face on the towel in his hand.

"Dad. We're meeting him at IHOP in fifteen minutes." She moved closer, wrapped her arms around his neck. "I think I'm going to have to be sure to set that clock again tonight."

"Which clock?"

"The one with the amazing alarm," she smiled. She'd awakened to find Daniel making love to her breasts, her body far ahead of her mind as the sensations of pleasure raced up and down her spine.

"Liked that wake-up call, did you?" he asked, grinning broadly. Her cries of passion were still ringing in his ears, he could still feel the way her arms and legs had tightened around him, held him so closely as her body bucked beneath his, taking what she wanted, what she needed, giving back so much more...blowing his mind with her caresses, her kisses.

"Loved it," she replied, her smile matching his.

"Payback for all the incredible wake-up calls I've gotten."

The last time she'd awakened him like that had been the day after she'd come out of the coma her time on the astral plane had put her into. She hadn't had her full memory at the time. Only deep feelings of need...of desire...the wish to please him.

They'd avoided mentioning the meeting with Pierce, at least to one another. General Hammond had called at seven-thirty, informing Daniel that legal counsel from the base was available, and that one of the JAG officers would accompany him to the meeting with Mr. Pierce. For his part, Daniel was relieved that he'd have his own attorney; especially grateful that the general had made arrangements for him, since there really wasn't time to search for one.

That avoidance continued as they moved around one another, she putting on her makeup, he taking time for a second cup of coffee and a quick glance at the morning newspaper.

Daniel was still feeling shell-shocked from the revelation that he might be a father, and that someone from his past, from a brief and seldom thought about episode in his life, was about to become a major part of his present. Possibly his future as well, if her claims were true. While a part of him really was excited, anxious even, to be a father, the majority of his heart and mind struggled with the concept. What kind of an ass am I, he wondered as he pulled on his black trousers, to hope that I can find a way out of this situation?

Casey was quiet as she pulled on her black suit. She adjusted her stockings, tugged at the skirt. This suit had seen her through a Senate Hearing, a meeting with the President of the United States to reveal the Immortality of SG-1, the criminal trial of her adoptive mother, and a meeting with the G8 members, which revealed the Stargate Program to the world leaders. It would see her through this disaster. She shook her head mentally, chastised herself. A little girl's life was on the line. A little girl who might belong to Daniel. Her heart constricted. She'd held the hope of presenting Daniel with his first child. It seemed that Fate had conspired against her, to rob her of that joy. Again she pushed the thought aside. How could she feel so jealous of Amelia and this little girl, when she knew she wasn't ready to start a family? Even if Daniel said that he wasn't ready either, his excitement at being a father was obvious. What a rotten damned merry-go-round this had turned out to be! With one final shove, she managed to push her churning emotions to the side. Right now Daniel needed her support. He didn't need to deal with her insecurities and jealousies.

"Case?"

"Hmm?"

He reached out, gently caressed her shoulder. "Are you all right?"

She forced a smile to her face, turned to look at him. The burgundy shirt looked perfect with his black suit. For one moment she wondered about the need to be dressed so formally. Nearly suggested that they change to something more comfortable. Thought better of it. This was a life defining moment for him...for them. Looking the part was just a natural reaction. "I'm okay. You look delicious," she informed him, straightening his black tie.

Okay. She's 'okay'. Goddamn it! He glanced at his watch. By the time they finished breakfast with Gary, it would be time to meet with Jennifer Ingalls, the attorney from the NORAD legal department on base. Then they would meet with Mr. Pierce. There wouldn't be time for them to talk...alone. And if...he shuddered imperceptibly. If he was forced to take that DNA test, and it came back positive, as he was certain it would, no doubt they'd want him to go into surgery right away. How long would it be before he could talk to his Wife? Ease the fears, the worries that he could see lurking in the depths of those heart-stealing green eyes. He pulled her close, held her tightly. "I love you, Angel."

"I love you, too."

"No matter what happens, it's you and me, together, always."

"You and me, together, always," she whispered, pressing her face against his neck.

It didn't matter that they were going to be a few minutes late meeting her father. He held her tightly, felt her clinging to him. Eventually the tremors that had moved over her slender frame lessened...faded away. "Better now?" he asked softly.

"Much," she replied. It never failed to amaze her. Not one word had been spoken between them...but his touch, the safety of his embrace, had soothed her. Pushed her dark fears away.

"Promise me something?"

"Anything," she replied, looking up at him. Losing herself in beautiful blue eyes.

"Don't leave me."

"I'm stuck to your side like a burr to a wool sock, Doctor Jackson," she said, smiling at him.

"Good. Insist on your own spot by the operating table."

She giggled. "I promise."

Her giggles were the sweetest sound in the world. Well, right after the adorable whimper that filled her throat just before she sang her love to him when she came. The sweet sound let him know that whatever she'd been struggling with, she'd managed to defeat it. Or at least pushed it back until they could deal with it together. "Ready to go?"

Casey nodded. "I'm starving!"

"Good. Me, too."

He held her hand as they walked through the house. Across the yard to the garage. Until she settled into the seat of the Jeep. He leaned across her to fasten her seatbelt, stole a kiss before he closed the door, grinning as she wiped her lip gloss from his lips. "Love you," he whispered.

She caressed his cheek. Smiled when he pressed his face against her palm. "Love you, too," she whispered in reply.


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