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Daddy's Little Girl

Chapter 3 

He could see the apprehension in his daughter's ever expressive eyes. The fine lines around his son-in-law's eyes were more pronounced, an indication of the stress he was under at the moment. As joyous as finding his daughter had been, Gary understood that this situation was entirely different. The joy was no doubt colored by the fact that the little girl involved was chronically ill. Nor had the mother known that Daniel was the father of her child...might be the father of her child, until the disease had struck, and the tests that had been the result. He reached out and took Casey's hand. Her fingers seemed cool. "How are you holding up?"

She smiled. "I'm okay, Dad, really."

Gary didn't miss the grimace on Daniel's face. "Okay, huh?"

"'Okay' is the word Casey uses when she's as far from 'okay' as she can get without having to admit she's not 'okay'," Daniel said quietly.

Casey started, looked at her Husband. She'd never realized that! She'd have to be more careful when answering his questions, it seemed, if she wanted to protect him from her own foolish and silly insecurities and fears.

"I see. So, bullshit aside," Gary said, watching his daughter carefully, "how are you?"

One slender shoulder moved up and then back down. "Can I get back to you on that?"

He allowed himself to smile. "Sure, honey." He turned his attention to Daniel. "What about you?"

"I'm not sure. Still in shock, I think," Daniel replied.

"I can well understand that," Gary nodded.

The waitress filled the two upturned cups with hot coffee, topped off Gary's cup, and left them to peruse the menus she had brought with her.

"French toast?" Daniel asked Casey. He often teased her that no matter that she read the entire breakfast menu out loud, discussed the merits of one breakfast over the other, she always ordered the French toast.

She shook her head. The appetite she had announced earlier had disappeared. "I think I just want a slice of toast and some jam."

"Casey-"

"Please," she said softly, her eyes pleading with him. "Don't force me to eat. I...I can't. Not right now."

He wasn't pleased. But he knew that if she tried to eat, just to humor him, the chances were high that somewhere along the line, before lunch, she'd lose it all. When she became upset, her stomach bothered her. Why that hadn't been 'fixed' when she'd become Immortal, he didn't know. He suspected it was as much, or more, psychological as it was physical. There was no way in hell he'd ever tell her that, however. It was part of who she was; just one remnant, just one result of the not so pleasant childhood that she had yet to move past. "We'll have lunch at Olive Garden, or Red Lobster," he promised.

By then, they'd know more about the situation, she thought. Hopefully Janet would be on the base, and they could speak to her about the DNA test. Once that was taken care of...well, then they would know what their next steps would be. She nodded. Knowing that she'd have to try to force down a few bites, in order to keep Daniel from worrying about her. He had enough on his mind without needless concern about whether she was or wasn't eating.

Daniel ordered a waffle. Decided to forego the sausage that he usually ordered with it. Like Casey, his stomach was in knots. No doubt neither of them would be able to eat for the next day or so. He wasn't bothered for himself, but Casey was still struggling to put on weight after the weeks she'd spent unconscious, and on the astral plane.

Gary watched both of them. "If there's anything I can do to help, just say the word."

Daniel offered a small smile. "Thanks."

Casey tossed her napkin onto the table. "This is ridiculous! We're behaving as if someone has died!"

Both men smiled at her.

"This could be one of the most exciting things to happen to you," she said to Daniel, holding his hand tightly. "We should be embracing this, celebrating it, not moping around about it!"

"Right," Daniel said. Trying to feel more celebratory that he was.

"It will bring a few changes into your life," Gary said. "I'd advise that one of the first things you should do, as soon as you know for certain, is make sure that you get full visitation rights."

"I plan on it," Daniel said. "If she..." he paused, shook his head. "I don't even know her name," he said quietly.

"You will," Casey whispered, lifting his hand to her lips, pressing a kiss to his knuckles.

That gentle touch did more to comfort him than anything that could have been said. "I want to spend time with her, get to know her. From what I understand, Amelia lives in Phoenix."

"Not so very far then," Gary nodded.

"I'm not certain what's going to happen this afternoon," Casey said, looking at her father, "so I don't know what time we'll be able to start looking at apartments."

He held up the newspaper he'd purchased on the way in. "I've actually already started looking."

"There's a remodeled building on Midland Street," Casey said. "The apartments are furnished...they're about as personable as hotel rooms, but with a few nice accessories, a chair or two, they're not bad."

"Midland Street?"

"Mmmhmm."

Gary wrote the street name down.

"Talk to Candy Johnson at Silver Springs Realty. Tell her you're my dad," Casey continued.

"I'll do that." He carefully jotted the names beside the street she had mentioned.

Daniel studied her. What did she know about apartments near the center of town? As far as he knew, she'd never been there.

Casey caught his curious stare. "The...um...alternate..." she shrugged.

Ah. So that's where she...or rather, her alternate self, had been living when Casey 'visited' that reality. They hadn't discussed those alternate realities after they'd returned home. Everything that needed to be said, had been said. Neither of them were willing to dwell on what had been heart wrenching experiences. He did wonder if his presence had alerted that alternate Daniel to what he'd lost. Hoped like hell that that hadn't happened. He wouldn't wish that agony on anyone.

Breakfast was eaten with a minimum of conversation. Casey was grateful to be with the two most important men in her life at that moment, her Husband, and her Dad. Regardless of what she'd said, she was still fighting feelings of dread. She had no idea how much was from her gift, and how much was simply a result of her fear of losing Daniel.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Janet was willing the plane to fly faster. She knew from experience just how damned pushy attorneys could be. When she'd spoken to General Hammond, he had assured her that Daniel was going to have his own attorney present for the meeting that would be happening in...about an hour, she thought, glancing at her watch. However, knowing Daniel, he'd be hell bent to help this little girl, especially if he was convinced that he was her father. In fact, knowing him, if he was convinced the child was his, he would undoubtedly waive the need for the DNA test, and offer to sign papers for the surgery on the spot.

The problem with that, she thought, sighing audibly, was that she had no idea just how his Immortality would affect his body during surgery. Further, there was no way of knowing just how this little girl's body would react to having a kidney that had been...altered. Every cell in Daniel's body had been altered at the genetic level. Nor did she have any idea what the power that flowed through his veins might be doing to his internal organs. She feared that there was enough difference in the altered DNA that rejection was a real and serious threat. A little girl in need of a kidney transplant was too ill to have to go through the trauma of severe organ rejection.

Besides, she knew for a fact that he couldn't have fathered that child. Daniel was sterile. She'd discovered that fact after their run-in with Hathor. Examining the 'remains' of the Goa'uld larvae that had been killed...roasted, to be exact, she had found his DNA, just as he had suggested she would. A slight anomaly had led her to perform several tests. One that she never actually told him about. It had been easy enough to get a urine sample and run a sperm count. The fact that she'd been able to get the first urine sample almost immediately after his...rape...allowed her to use one of the more advanced methods of detection, and using medical equipment given to the SGC by the Tollan enabled her to get accurate results. She'd looked for any sperm in the urine. There should have been a few, given that he'd just ejaculated. There hadn't been any. Hathor had used the blood she'd taken from the bites she'd made on his shoulder to create her spawn of evil, somehow getting the DNA she needed. Janet suspected that Hathor hadn't actually needed more than a bit of blood from Daniel. But the Goa'uld bitch had wanted to maintain her control over the archaeologist.

Determined to learn if his sterility was the result of 'gate travel, something he had suffered as a result of going off world, or if there was the chance that he'd been sterile before arriving at Cheyenne Mountain the first time, she'd used one of the forms he'd signed when Catherine Langford had brought him to the facility. It had taken time, but she'd located all of his medical records from the doctor who was contracted to the Archaeology Department at UCLA, and did the yearly physicals and made sure that the archaeologists who were traveling overseas for excavations had all of their vaccinations up-to-date.

Rubbing her eyes tiredly, Janet berated herself. She should have told him what she'd learned...as soon as she'd found out. Daniel had suffered a nearly fatal fever while on a dig in Guatemala, during his senior year of college. He'd endured the same mosquito bites as his colleagues, but had developed Dengue Fever, and had been so ill that he'd been forbidden by the local doctor to travel. His fever had spiked at one hundred and four, and according to the notes sent to Dr. Ramir Hashad at UCLA, had remained there for nearly three hours. When it did drop, it was only to one hundred and two, and that fever Daniel had fought for nearly four days. It had been three weeks before he was deemed well enough to travel.

Dr. Hashad had run a battery of tests on the young archaeologist as soon as he had returned to California, as well as prescribing the normal course of antibiotics, which luckily for Daniel, had been started in the clinic near the dig site. Because of the extreme fever, Dr. Hashad had determined it necessary to check for any residual organ damage. Including a sperm count. According to his notes, the doctor had explained to Daniel that such a test was routine, and there had been no difficulty in procuring the sample needed. The results of that test had revealed that Daniel was sterile, and the doctor considered it most likely the result of that illness; most specifically, the sustained high fever. However, he'd never had a chance to tell his patient. Because the patient, being who he was, had failed to show up for his final check-up. Daniel had been, in fact, on his way to a dig in Jordan.

As soon as she'd learned the truth, Janet had had every intention of telling him. She'd tried to catch him every day for nearly a week after the Hathor incident, but Daniel had been avoiding everyone during that time. He came to her two weeks later, requesting something to help him sleep; nightmares from what he'd been put through by that Goa'uld bitch had made it impossible for him to get a full night's rest. She remembered how tired, how defeated he'd looked as he stood there, staring at the floor, quietly explaining his request. It just hadn't been the right time to discuss the issue. A few days later, SG-1 had been sent on a mission; they'd returned with a little girl who had also been the victim of a Goa'uld, another bitch by the name of Nirrti. All focus had then been on finding a way to 'disarm' the bomb that had been planted in Cassie's young body. Her own emotions had been overwhelming at the time, and settling in as a mother to the alien child had meant that she'd pushed the problem of telling Daniel about his sterility to the back of her mind, at least for awhile.

Janet sighed again. At the SGC, it seemed that they raced from one crisis to the next. Before she was aware of it, three months had passed. Then six. Then a year. Every time she looked at his record, she knew she needed to talk to him about what she'd found. But she'd never been able to find a way to do so. It wasn't like she could check him out after a mission and say, 'by the way, Daniel, I ran tests after you were raped by Hathor, and you're sterile'. Yeah, that would have been easy to do. Not!

How in the world was she going to explain this? How could she tell him that she'd known for six years that he was sterile? The issue had become even more explosive, in her mind anyway, once Daniel had married. When Casey had requested birth control, she should have come clean right then. But no, she'd decided that again it wasn't the 'right time'. Part of that decision hinged on what she now knew was the mistaken fear that if she let the couple know before they were married, Casey might have second thoughts. If only she'd taken what in retrospect was a heaven-sent opportunity to talk to Daniel!

Thank goodness neither of them were ready to start a family yet! Maybe they'd wait a few years. Give her the chance to find a way to help them get pregnant. Sure, that would work. Maybe one of the SG teams would bring back some little gadget she could use to 'cure' Daniel's inability to father children. She'd tell him she'd randomly chosen him to use as a guinea pig so she could experiment with some alien device. Dream on, she thought grumpily. She leaned her head back against the headrest. Closed her eyes. "I'm so sorry, Daniel," she murmured, mentally berating herself yet again.

Right now, in Colorado Springs, Daniel and Casey believed him to be the father of an ill child. That was a lovely bit of stress to put on a marriage! If she'd told him as soon as she had learned the truth, he could have simply ordered a copy of the medical proof of his sterility sent to the attorney, and that would have been the end of that. Instead, Daniel was preparing to meet with that attorney, was being pressured to provide a DNA sample, General Hammond was worried that the archaeologist's Immortality was about to be exposed, and only god knew what Casey was dealing with emotionally. "Janet, you totally fucked this one up," she muttered. Can't this damned jet go any faster?

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Captain Jennifer Ingalls was tall, thin, her dark blonde hair pulled back into a severe bun; every bit the consummate Air Force officer. She stood to her feet, offered her hand when her client, one Dr. Daniel Jackson, archaeologist contracted by the Air Force, walked into the stuffy, windowless room in the NORAD training center. It was the only room available for their 'emergency' meeting.

The attorney took note that Dr. Jackson had immediately wrapped his hand back around that of his wife as soon as they'd introduced themselves. She could understand the need for that bit of comfort. "General Hammond has given me a rundown of what's going on, as well as the subpoenas that were issued. They're both legitimate, and I've already filed for leniency due to extenuating circumstances." She gave a curious glance at her client. "The letter from the president will no doubt carry a bit of weight as well."

Daniel nodded.

"Now, the subpoenas are for a DNA test. Standard procedure for a paternity suit. However, there is a clause in your current contract that states that only Doctor Janet Fraiser is authorized, by the President of the United States, to conduct medical tests of any nature on your person," Captain Ingalls said, reading from her notes. Again she glanced at her client. There must be something very special about this man.

"That's right," Daniel replied. The wording in the contracts signed much earlier by he, Teal'c, and Casey had just recently, and very carefully, been changed. Newly added clauses stated that the three were under the sole, exclusive medical care of Dr. Janet Fraiser. There were special orders put into Jack and Sam's military records that made the same stipulations. There might be questions, but with the Presidential seal, there'd be no problems.

"Because of this clause, I can insist that she perform the test. I'm certain that Mr. Pierce is going to demand that the specialists his client has hired to perform the tests at least be present."

"Not a problem." He had no doubt that Janet would be able to hide from any and all prying eyes anything that might give away his...unique...physiology.

"Now, as your attorney, I need to know the truth. Is it possible that you're the father of this child?"

He tightened his fingers around Casey's. "Yes, it is."

"Do you have any objections to being named the father of this child, if the DNA results confirm paternity?"

"No! Of course not!"

The captain smiled. "Then I'll draw up papers to demand partial custody, and another set for visitation rights. We'll decide later which to actually file."

Again Daniel nodded. If this little girl was his, then damned straight he wanted to spend time with her!

Casey could feel his barely contained excitement. He was already convinced that he was the father of Amelia's daughter. She frowned slightly. Why didn't that 'feel' right?

"I need to know the dates that you were involved with Mrs. Harmstead," Ingalls continued.

Oh, hell...that had been right after he'd been accepted to the Oriental Institute, at the very end of his third year of grad school, which would have been in the spring...Daniel recited the date he arrived in Egypt, and the day he left. Explained that he and Amelia had become...involved...almost immediately. That she'd been away for a month, and had returned only two weeks before he left, but that during that time, they'd not resumed their relationship.

"This seems to be pretty straight forward," the attorney said, finishing her notes. "I'll be with you when you meet with Mr. Pierce. Until you have the results of the DNA test, you are under no obligation to see the child, nor respond to any pleas or requests from the mother. No doubt, considering the seriousness of the situation, there will be some pressure to simply forego the test, and fly to Phoenix to have the surgery. Again, there is no obligation for you to do so until you know for certain."

"I'm fairly certain now," Daniel admitted.

And excited about it, Casey thought again. She tried to fight down the surge of conflicting emotions. They were moving so quickly she couldn't even identify them all. And what the hell felt so wrong about all of this?

Ingalls glanced at her notes. Took a deep breath. "Be that as it may, Doctor Jackson, I would advise against any hasty action. I do understand that you are facing circumstances not normally associated with paternity suits. I will ask you to keep in mind the fact that it's quite possible that Mrs. Harmstead's distress over her daughter's illness is clouding her memory. It's not unheard of for a woman to be convinced she knows who the father of her child is, for that man to be as certain, only to learn that it isn't indeed fact. You must consider that it is possible that she was with someone else during that month she was away from you, who may or may not be the father of this child. "

Daniel shook his head. "If that were the case, Amelia would have looked for him as well."

Captain Ingalls studied her client. He was convinced that he was the father of this little girl, and apparently had no objections, nor reservations, about the situation. "General Hammond told me that Doctor Fraiser will be available later this afternoon. As soon as she is, she can take the needed sample from you, and begin the test. If Mr. Pierce has no objections," she added.

Daniel nodded his understanding.

"Once paternity has been established, you'll be required to sign consent forms to allow the surgical procedure. It isn't necessary for you to go to Phoenix, the surgery can be performed here, and the kidney transported."

"I'd rather be there," Daniel said quietly. "I'd like a chance to meet my daughter."

"Yes, of course," Ingalls replied.

Casey shuddered mentally. His daughter. Which meant that the mother of his child would become an important part of his life as well. What if...what if...she closed her eyes. What if Amelia managed to win his heart...his love? She'd given him a child...Casey forced that thought away. Amelia was married. No doubt just as upset about the situation as she and Daniel were. Maybe more so...after all, she'd believed for years that her husband was the father of her child.

"Casey?"

She opened her eyes, looked over at blue eyes filled with concern. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Do you have any questions?" Captain Ingalls asked gently. No doubt this was difficult for the beautiful woman sitting beside her client. She had no idea how she'd personally deal with learning that the man she loved had fathered a child with another woman...even if it had been years before she'd met him.

"No," Casey replied softly.

No questions, Daniel thought. Just lots of worry. Too much fear. That much he could see in her eyes. What troubled him was the fact that he wasn't sure just exactly what she was so worried about, or afraid of. Surely she understood that the surgical procedure, while serious, was almost routine for those who dealt with kidney transplants.

A light tap on the door announced the arrival of one of the duty guards, and Mr. Pierce. With a nod of thanks to his escort, hoping that someone would be available to lead him back out of the confusing corridors of the NORAD facility, the attorney stepped into the room.

The officer rose, offered her hand. "I'm Captain Jennifer Ingalls, JAG. I'm Doctor Jackson's legal counsel."

"Dillon Pierce," he replied, shaking hands with his counterpart. He turned and offered his hand to the man now standing beside him. "Doctor Jackson?"

"Yes." Daniel put his hand on Casey's shoulder. "This is my Wife."

Pierce nodded, shook the slender hand of the beauty still seated. "A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Jackson."

Casey murmured the appropriate greeting, at least she was fairly sure that she had. She sought the comfort of Daniel's touch when he settled back into the chair beside her, wrapping one hand around his wrist, lacing the fingers of the other with his.

Ingalls sat down beside Daniel, leaving Mr. Pierce alone on the opposite side of the table. It was the oldest and most common maneuver that attorneys used. It set the tone of 'us' versus 'them'.

Pierce opened his briefcase. Battled with his conscience only long enough to pull the photo from among the legal papers he carried. Slid the picture across the table. "Your daughter," he said quietly.

"Alleged daughter," Captain Ingalls replied instantly. She glanced at the photograph. "That is very unethical! This is a form of emotional blackmail!"

Daniel was staring. The little girl looked so frail against the stark white of the hospital bed. There were three IV's, and numerous wires attached to sensors attached on her chest. He wouldn't even hazard a guess as to what they were for. Her eyes were as blue as his own, her hair sandy blonde. It was obvious that when the picture had been taken, she hadn't been feeling well.

"I disagree," Pierce said immediately. "There is no doubt in my client's mind that Doctor Jackson is the child's father. Just looking at him, I must say that the resemblance is very much there."

Casey frowned at the photo. The little girl's eyes were blue, but not the intense, gorgeous blue of his eyes. Nor were they shaped like Daniel's. Her chin was very different as well. She must look like her mother, she supposed. Again, something felt 'off' about that observation.

"Her name is Kirsten, and she's almost nine and a half," Pierce continued, focusing on Daniel. "Without a kidney transplant, she'll never see ten."

"If you continue to subject my client to emotional harassment in this manner, I will end this meeting immediately, and any further communication with Doctor Jackson will done through me," the JAG officer warned the man sitting across the table from her.

Pierce glanced at the attorney. He didn't have to say another word. Everything he'd needed to say and do was already done. Both attorneys were well aware of that fact.

Daniel took a deep breath. Once again, the notion that the lab techs who would be examining the DNA sample would only be concerned about the markers identifying paternity settled in his brain. "We'll be on the first flight to Phoenix we can get on," he said quietly.

"Doctor Jackson-" Captain Ingalls objected.

"Please, I know what you're going to say," Daniel said. He picked up the picture. "This is my daughter. She's dying. I can't let that happen."

"Doctor Jackson, any healthy donor can save this child's life, isn't that correct, Mr. Pierce?" the captain asked coolly. She'd thoroughly researched the subject before the meeting. Knew that having Daniel Jackson as the kidney donor might be preferable, but it was not a necessity.

"Kirsten's chances are much higher if the donor is a first-degree relative-"

"Yes, a first-degree donor is preferable, but not necessary," Ingalls interrupted. "Any measure of difference in the survival rates using organs from a first-degree relative are negligible."

Daniel continued to stare at the photo. Of the little girl who was his daughter. His mind was made up. He stood to his feet, tugging Casey to hers. "We're going," he said firmly.

"Doctor Jackson, I strongly suggest that you wait until the DNA test proves paternity," Ingalls said.

"I understand, and thank you for your time," Daniel replied. He looked at Pierce. "Tell Amelia I'm on my way."

Casey felt her heart tremble at that simple statement. How many times would she hear it now? How many times would Daniel drop everything to run to the side of his former lover, and their daughter? When she tried to pull her hand free, his fingers tightened. It was a small comfort. She grabbed it and held tightly to it. As soon as they were out of the building, Daniel's arm went around her waist, held her close to his side.

"I have to do this, Casey," Daniel said, unlocking the Jeep.

"I know."

"Be there for me."

"Always."

He gave in to the need to hold her. Hugged her tightly, felt her arms tighten around his neck. As long as Casey was at his side, he could face anything. And he'd do whatever was required to help his daughter. His daughter. The words bounced around in his head, made his stomach quiver. I'm a father!

She would keep her promise...until the moment he released her from it, for whatever reason. Her imagination was supplying any number of those, each one more heartbreaking than the last. One thing was for damned sure...if Amelia Harmstead thought she'd give Daniel up without a fight, she was in for one very rude awakening!

Their hands remained tightly entwined as he drove toward Silver Springs, and the little house on Baldwin Street.

 

 

 

Captain Ingalls walked beside Pierce as they too, left the NORAD building. "I will still insist on the DNA test. And if it turns out that Doctor Jackson is not that little girl's father, I'm going to file suit against you for undue harassment and mental anguish. And report you to the board of ethics."

"If he's not her father, I won't fight you," Pierce replied. He didn't even realize that Amelia's certainty had become his own. Having seen the man, he too believed that, without a doubt, Daniel Jackson was Kirsten Harmstead's father.

Although it wasn't a requirement, the captain took the time to inform General Hammond about what had transpired during the meeting. There hadn't been anything that could be considered confidential, especially given that opposing counsel had been present. She also gave her opinion that it was possible that the archaeologist's wife would be able to talk him out of leaving before the DNA test had been performed, or at least hold off the surgery until those results were in.

In his office, twenty-seven stories beneath Cheyenne Mountain, the general sat at his desk and worried. Even if there wasn't a DNA test performed, there was always the chance that somehow, someway, one or more of the doctors performing the surgery would learn of Daniel's Immortality. That just couldn't be allowed! He glanced at the clock on the wall. Dr. Fraiser was due at Peterson within the hour. With luck, she'd be able to either stop Daniel, or find a way to be present during the surgery, to ascertain that his Immortality wasn't allowed to come to light.

The random thought crossed his mind that this was why the Beings who had blessed all of the members of SG-1, and Dr. Fraiser and himself, with Immortality, had done so. Daniel might be The One, but he was hardheaded, stubborn, and about as impetuous as anyone he'd ever known! Something that those Beings most assuredly knew and understood. Daniel followed his heart, and damned be the consequences. Which meant that his teammates, and friends, were often required to either bail him out of whatever mess he managed to get himself into, or protect him from being hurt, physically or emotionally, by those who would take advantage of that generous heart.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

While Daniel checked available flights, Casey was tossing clothes into their duffels. She was stuffing her soap, shampoo and conditioner into her bag when he stepped into the room.

"I found a flight that leaves at twelve-thirty. We'll have time to stop at Sonic for a bite to eat," he said softly.

She smiled up at him. "Sounds good."

"I...thank you."

"For what?"

"Being there for me...with me. For understanding."

"You're welcome. Just do me one favor?"

"What?"

"Have the DNA test?"

He frowned. "Case?"

She shook her head. "No, I haven't seen anything. But...I can't shake the feeling that something is really...off...about the entire situation."

"You saw that picture! She looks like me!"

"No, Daniel, she doesn't. She has blue eyes and blonde hair, yes. But there wasn't one trait I could identify as yours. Does she look at all like Amelia?"

The frown deepened. "Her eyes were similar to Amelia's."

"What about her chin?"

"What about it?"

Casey shrugged. "I don't know...there's something about her chin..." she sighed and shook her head.

For the first time since seeing the photograph, Daniel stopped long enough to take a deep breath. Realized just how rashly he was behaving. Thank god for Casey, he thought, taking another deep breath. If not for her, he'd race into that hospital, ready to sign away a kidney without so much as an 'are you sure?' "So what should I do?"

"We should get on that flight. If you are Kirsten's father, she needs that operation, right away. If we're already there, that can save some time."

He nodded. Pulled her into his arms. "Love you."

"Love you, too."

"See why I need you?" he asked, grinning down at her.

"Yep. You follow your heart, Daniel, and that's a good thing. Sometimes you just follow it a little too quickly."

"I guess so," he allowed.

"That's why you have me...and Jack, and Sam and Teal'c...and General Hammond and Janet."

He managed a smile. "Are you saying that I don't think things through, and need rescuing a lot?"

"See, I've been telling you that you're brilliant," she teased gently.

"Are you going to be okay with this?"

"With what? The surgery?"

"Kirsten. That she's my daughter."

"Might be your daughter," Casey corrected softly. "I don't have much of a choice, do I?"

The frown returned. "I guess not."

"I'll do my best to let her know what a wonderful father she has. If you're her father," she added quickly.

He pulled her into his arms, held her tightly. Holding her could always ease his fears. Calm his anger. Soothe his worries. Tonight, if he wasn't being prepped for surgery, he'd let her know with his touch, with his body, just how much he loved her.

Gary had left a message for her, telling her that he'd rented an apartment on Midland Street, finding that it would be adequate until he could decide whether or not he wanted to buy a condo in Silver Springs.

She glanced at the box in the far corner of her closet, tugged it into the open and picked it up. "Can we drop this off for Dad on our way to the airport?"

Daniel took the box from her arms. "Sure. What is it?"

"Just a few things from when I was a kid," she admitted, blushing slightly. "I thought he might be interested in looking through it."

"I'm betting he'll be thrilled to get a chance to see those things," he said softly. "We'll stop on our way to Sonic."

She nodded, leaned up to kiss his cheek. Somehow, letting Gary see the mementos of her childhood seemed important. Maybe it was because of the situation that she...that she and Daniel...were in. Wondered if Amelia would have things from Kirsten's early childhood to share with him.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

As soon as the wheels of the jet had touched the tarmac, Janet was unfastening her seatbelt, prepared to grab her bag and run. She glared at the cell phone in her hand, the batteries of which had decided to go completely dead. Even though it was a conversation best held face to face, if need be, she'd tell Daniel over the phone what she'd discovered six years earlier.

When she was finally able to get off of the plane, nearly plowing over three higher-ranking officers to do so, she raced through the terminal to the parking lot. Jumped in the SUV, turned the key in the ignition...and groaned. No, damn it! She hurried to the nearest gas station, hoping she could get there before the damned engine died completely.

Muttering and cursing beneath her breath the entire time she stood putting gas in the SUV, she oscillated between fury, and panic. She'd been in such a hurry to leave, to get to DC and spend four glorious days with Paul, that she'd decided to tank up on the way home. Of course, Murphy's Law had prevailed. She didn't have time for this! By now that meeting was over, and she had to stop Daniel from submitting to that DNA test! She'd have to have copies of the medical reports and the test results...but that would be easy enough to do...once she made sure that the archaeologist wasn't in danger of being given a DNA swab by anyone not on her staff.

She drove straight to the mountain, certain that she would find Daniel in his office or lab. Not even bothering to stop in her own office first, she went directly to level eighteen. Only to learn that the Jacksons had the day off.

"Shit!" Janet raced for the elevator. Down to level twenty-seven.

General Hammond looked up with surprise when the doctor ran into his office, slamming the door shut behind her. "Doctor Fraiser-"

"He's sterile, General," Janet gasped, breathing hard. "It happened while he was a senior in college...during a nearly fatal illness...at least that's what his doctor at the time thought. But Doctor...whatever the hell his name was...is...never got a chance to tell Daniel, because he never went back for his final check up. I found out after Hathor...but..." She broke off, dropped onto the chair that was sitting in front of the desk, tears filling her eyes. "I tried to tell him, but things kept happening and crises kept coming up..."

The rush of words had left their impact on the general. He sat stunned, wishing he'd followed his instincts and contacted Janet as soon as the attorney had left after his first visit, rather than waiting until  he'd spoken to the young man. "Get copies of everything you need. Daniel is on his way to Phoenix. Apparently Mrs. Harmstead's attorney had a picture of the child. It was enough to have Daniel convinced that she is his daughter."

"Oh, no!"

"I'll see if I can catch them before they leave," Hammond said, reaching for his phone. The good news was, there was no need for a DNA test, not with the proof that Dr. Fraiser had. The bad news was, unless he could stop the archaeologist, there was a chance he'd submit to a surgery he didn't need to, renewing the risk of his Immortality being discovered. Not to mention that this could be a disappointing blow for the young man. It seemed that he'd fully accepted the state of fatherhood, was no doubt even a bit excited about it. There was no telling what Casey thought of the entire matter. She would support her husband, come hell or high water.

With a nod, her heart heavy, her conscience gnawing away at her, Janet hurried out of the general's office toward the elevator. A stop at the infirmary long enough to get the paperwork, and she could finally tell Daniel what he needed to know. She could only hope that he would forgive her.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A 

 

She tapped on the door, a bit nervous at the thought of letting anyone see the contents of her 'memory box', as Grandma Rose had named it. Not even Daniel knew what was inside. It wasn't that she was hiding anything from him, she just never considered that he'd be interested in any of the 'little things' her beloved Grandmother had collected.

"Casey!" Gary's face lit up when he opened the door.

"Hi, Dad. I...we...Daniel's waiting downstairs, we have just enough time to stop at Sonic and grab some lunch on the way to the airport."

"Going to Phoenix?"

Casey nodded, tugging at her lower lip. Didn't notice the flash of concern on her father's face when he noted the movement. "I thought I'd drop this by...just some stuff from when I was a kid."

He could tell she was uncertain just exactly how he was going to react. Gary took the box in one arm, hugged his daughter with the other. "Thanks, honey. This," he nodded at the box, "means more to me than you'll ever know."

Slightly embarrassed, thrilled that he was receiving the...gift?...yes, she thought, gift...so well, had her heart pounding. "It's not much. A few old report cards. One or two things I made in school that Grandma Rose kept. I think some of my school photos are in there as well. Mo...she never bought any of mine, but Grandma always did."

Thank god for Grandma Rose, Gary thought. If not for a woman he was quickly coming to regard as a saint, no doubt there'd be nothing from Casey's childhood for him to see, nothing to give him a peek into those precious, lost years. He figured that Casey's Grandma Rose and his Grandma Franklin would have gotten along well.

"Dad, we have to go..." She hesitated, shook her head slightly.

He watched her carefully. Could tell she was ill at ease about something. "Casey?"

"I can't put my finger on it...but there's something...not right," she admitted.

"Listen to your heart, honey," Gary said softly.

Casey smiled. "Thanks, Dad."

"Call if you need me."

"I will." She hugged him tightly, then hurried down to the street. She climbed into the jeep beside her Husband; smiled when he immediately reached for her hand.

 

 

 

Gary closed the door. Put the box on the table. He stared at it for a moment, then decided that a strong drink would probably be needed. He poured bourbon into one of the glasses purchased only an hour or so earlier. He'd gone shopping for needed household goods and groceries as soon as he'd signed the lease. He'd never tell Casey that he'd gone straight to Silver Springs Realty, and met Candy Johnson. Or that this was the only apartment he'd looked at.

Drink in hand, he sat down, and carefully lifted the lid. Inside was a worn, yellow teddy bear with a ragged, blue-checkered bow. The pocket of his vest was embroidered, the stitches uneven and crooked. But each letter had been made with pride. "Hello, Mr. Ralph," he said softly. Held the stuffed toy in his hands. Wondered how often little arms had hugged it tightly. How many tears had the soft, yellow fur soaked up?

Gently laying the bear aside, he reached in again. Withdrew a scrapbook. It looked as if Grandma Rose had put each page in place with extra care, and no doubt a lot of love. Several pages were folded, being too large to be in the book otherwise. Drawings of houses with happy stick people. One woman with gray hair. A little girl with a big smile, holding onto the woman's hand.

A three ring binder held an assortment of essays and poems. He lost track of time as he read. Casey's sense of humor was obvious in several of them. It had developed while she was quite young, it seemed. He could read Brenda's irreverence, a bit of his own cynicism, Casey's own unique way of viewing the world in line after line. Her heartache and loneliness just as plain in others, most of those written as she had grown older. She'd told him that her Grandma Rose had passed away when she was thirteen. Someone had kept this notebook, filled it with the papers she brought home. He suspected her adoptive father had done so.

In a flat box that had at one time held a shirt or a sweater, were photographs. Six of them were obviously school photos. But there were nearly forty snapshots, all taken in the same house. No doubt the home of Grandma Rose.

Tears filled his eyes as he looked at each of them, devouring the images of his little girl, imprinting them on his heart. His fingers moved over her face in photo after photo.

He tossed back the last of the bourbon. Sat back in the chair. No, Casey would never know just how precious a gift she had given him. With luck, she'd let him keep one or two of the photos. He'd get frames for them. Hang them on the wall.

If the little girl in that hospital in Phoenix was Daniel's, he hoped that his son-in-law would be allowed to be a part of the child's life. That he wouldn't be robbed of so many precious moments. Present and future, Gary, he told himself firmly. Concentrate on the present and the future.


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