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Dead Men Tell No Tales
"Every road that
I've been down
The only truth that
I have found
There's only one thing
I can't live without
"You" by Rascal Flatts
Daniel opened one eye. He'd heard the voices…male voices. They were commenting about the blonde in the green and blue bikini. How beautiful she was. Great rack. Great legs. Gotta be a model. Both eyes open now, he glanced at his Wife. She was lying beside him, sunglasses blocking his view of her eyes, her body covered with sunscreen, glistening in the sunlight, that tiny little bikini creating interesting tan lines. Just as it had on their honeymoon. He raised up on one arm, ran his hand from her throat to her belly. Could hear the men behind them moving away.
"Are they gone?" she asked softly.
"I thought you were asleep," he replied, his voice just as soft.
Casey rolled to her side, bent her arm and rested her head on her hand. "I was, until I heard that car come roaring up."
He smiled. The car had been loud, both the muffler and the stereo. He was certain that the occupants were students at the local college. Classes had started a few days earlier. He glanced around. Grant Park was full of people taking advantage of the uncommonly warm late summer day. He and Casey were only one couple of dozens who were spread out on the grass, lying on blankets and towels, soaking in the sun. It seemed that nearly every woman was in some sort of swim suit. None of them, however, looked as good as his Wife, he thought smugly. Thus the reason for the discussion among the young men who had stopped to stare at her. Two had been convinced they had seen her on television. He grinned. "Can't blame them for looking. You are a beautiful woman," he said.
She rolled her eyes, the action hidden by her dark glasses. "Only to you. I doubt seriously that they were talking about me."
There it was. That damned low self esteem. He sighed mentally. Okay, they'd only been together a little over eight months. It was going to take awhile to undo twenty-two years of abuse. "I don't." Daniel sat up. The sun was beginning to move lower in the sky. They had been here, lying peacefully, for nearly two hours. "Feel like taking a walk?"
"I walk…no…I hike, with a full pack, five or more days a week Why in the world would I want to walk now?" she replied.
Daniel chuckled. She never complained when they were on missions. Never. She really didn't say much about the discomforts, the hikes, the times they had to run for their lives, when they were 'earth side' either. "Not even for ice cream?"
There was no way to contain the laughter that bubbled up when Casey jumped up and pulled on the jeans and tee shirt she had worn over her bikini on the drive to the park.
"You're still laying there, and what is so funny?"
He pulled himself to his feet, tugged his jeans and tee shirt over legs and arms. "I get the feeling you like ice cream."
She shrugged. "I do like ice cream. I never…" she broke off, pulled her lip between her teeth. She hated saying 'I never had that when I was little' - it always brought such a look of pain to his beautiful blue eyes. She knew that Daniel was doing his best to give her all the things he had determined that she deserved, trying to make up for the childhood she'd heard him describe as a 'pure hell'. Which, she readily admitted, it had been.
Every reminder of her childhood was like a knife in his heart. To know that she had been so abused, so hurt…so ignored, made him angry at the two people who should have seen to it that she had been taken care of, loved, nurtured…treasured. She was so special…so precious… didn't they see that, didn't they know? Didn't they care? Apparently not, his brain replied. "Yeah, well I'll buy the whole damned shop for you if you want it," he told her with a smile.
Without a doubt he would do just that. The amount of money the man had spent on her since coming into her life still terrified her…from the rings on her finger to the fully equipped kitchen to the very house they were living in. When she went shopping with Sam and Janet, he was always upset if she came home empty-handed. Something, she was certain, no other woman in the world had ever experienced. She was equally certain that there were women who would do just about anything to be in her place. It had taken a bit of talking…convincing…to make him understand that she had everything she could ever dream of…hope for. He had fulfilled every dream she'd ever secretly harbored in her heart. She reached up and cupped his cheek. "I don't need the shop. Just you. And a double scoop sugar cone."
He put his hand over hers, pressed his face against her soft fingers, then turned his head slightly to kiss her palm. "Whatever you want," he said.
Casey grabbed the blanket they had been lying on, shook it slightly, then folded it, and stuffed it into the basket that held bottles of water, a tube of sunscreen, and the books they had been reading earlier. She smiled when Daniel grabbed the handle of the basket. Three young women on towels nearby watched him, the interest in their eyes unmistakable. Eat your hearts out, she thought happily, her heart skipping a beat when his arm settled on her shoulders. It was tempting to hold her left hand out, so that the diamonds that sparkled on her finger would catch their attention. But she didn't. It was enough that she knew that Daniel loved her. Me! He loves me! Insignificant, totally average, skinny Casey Renee. How utterly amazing is that?
They walked along the brick path, taking their time. The ice cream shop that they frequented was on one of the side streets that butted up against the park. They waited at the corner with a group that appeared to be a family, Casey smiling at the excitement of the little ones as they bounced and jumped, declaring to anyone who would listen that they were getting ice cream cones.
He watched her eyes. Someday, he thought, smiling to himself. Someday we'll have a family of our own. Maybe they would discuss the matter next year. Yeah, that would be something, watching her belly grow, round out with his baby. Of course, it would make going off world more difficult. She'd have to stay on the base. He was more than willing to remain there as well. He had plenty of work to keep him busy for years to come. He shook himself when he realized that she was tugging at him, her arm around his waist. The light had changed. He grinned down at her, and stepped off of the curb.
The little ice cream shop was crowded, and they took their place in the line that extended out the double doors. "So, going to be adventurous today?" he teased.
She couldn't help but smile. Every time they came in, she ordered the same thing. It wasn't that she didn't want to try something new, she really did. It was just that when her eyes stopped on the tub of green chocolate chip mint ice cream, it just cried out to her. "Maybe."
When it was their turn, she stepped up to the front of the freezer, her eyes moving over the large tubs of ice cream. Daniel looked at the selection, decided on the chocolate mocha fudge.
Rocky Road! She hadn't noticed that they had Rocky Road ice cream before. She loved it! She smiled at the young woman who was standing behind the counter, waiting for her to make her decision. "I know I want a sugar cone," she said softly. "And I think I'll have two scoops of that." She pointed to the chocolate ice cream with the marshmallow swirls and chocolate covered peanuts.
Daniel planted a hand in the middle of his chest, faked a stagger. "You're not having chocolate chip mint?"
She giggled. "Nope. I like Rocky Road even more."
He grinned, kissed the side of her head. "Whatever you want, Angel."
Whatever she wanted. How often did she hear those words? And he meant it. All she wanted was him. It was still hard to wrap her mind around the fact that he loved her so very much. She slipped her arm around his waist, even though he had both hands full, one hand holding the basket, the other his cone.
The tables inside of the shop were all occupied, but there were several benches outside. It was to one of these that they went, cones in hand. They ate quickly, the warmth of the sun making the frozen confection melt and run down the sides of the cones.
"I think I'm just going to make a super salad for dinner. There are a couple of pieces of leftover chicken I can cut up to toss in." Casey mused as they walked back to the parking lot where the jeep waited.
"Sounds good to me." There hadn't been anything that she had prepared for him that he didn't like. Her culinary skills were right up there with those amazing lovemaking skills on his list of 'things Casey does that make me happy'.
A A A A A A
As she did every time they walked into the remodeled bungalow that was their home, Casey sighed happily. She had spent the previous day working in her flower garden, and as a result, a lovely arrangement of fresh flowers was sitting in the middle of the table, their scent filling the air around them.
Daniel grinned. Every time they came home, she sighed. That contented little sigh that went straight to his heart. This was where they hid from the world. Where they laughed and loved and talked and held one another. This was where he felt the warmth of home like he never had before. Where, she had told him numerous times, she felt safe. This was their sanctuary. Their home. Not since his parents had died had that word held such comfort, such happiness, for him.
She opened the double French doors, and the singles that flanked the fireplace, the ceiling fans which turned slowly in the living room would circulate the air as it cooled when the sun finally went down. The message light on the answering machine was blinking, so she pressed play.
"Hey, Danny," Jack's voice said, "Just got a call from General Hammond. Pack a bag. We're going to DC. Some sort of meeting with the Senate Oversight Committee. Looks like we'll be there most of the week. The general needs a list of all of the 'significant' finds you've made in the past six months. Briefing about all of it at oh-eight hundred. Just wanted to give you a heads up. Talk to you later."
He moaned. He hated those damned meetings! Dealing with politicians and bureaucrats wasn't much better than running from Goa'uld and being shot at by Jaffa!
"You'd better start packing," she said softly. "You'll probably be leaving some time tomorrow."
"Probably." He pulled her into his embrace. "You'd better get your bag packed, too."
"You're part of SG-1. If we go, you go."
She smiled. "I didn't hear Jack tell me to pack a bag."
"Pack anyway," he replied.
It didn't take them long to have their things together. When she had finished, Casey began to make the salad that would be their dinner. She took candles and a bottle of wine to the glass topped patio table that sat on the deck. They ate most of their meals here, and would continue to do so, as long as the weather permitted.
As they ate, Daniel explained what would happen during the meeting, what the committee members were seeking, and the type of questions that would most probably be asked. "Senator Kinsey isn't on the committee any longer, and that's a blessing," he said, finishing off his salad, reaching for the large bowl for the third time.
"He's the one who keeps trying to shut down the program?"
"Yep. Well, he wants to run it…his way. Which means a very aggressive, 'take-what-we-want-regardless-of-the-consequences' way of doing things."
"He'd make more enemies than friends that way," she said. "We'd have more than just the Goa'uld after us."
"Yeah, well, he's not smart enough to figure that out," he replied dryly. "For Kinsey, it's all about power, control."
She shivered. Daniel had told her about his journey into the alternate universe where Apophis had managed to attack Earth. And the fact that no one had believed him, even though he had returned with a staff blast wound on his shoulder. But that at his insistence, Jack and Sam and Teal'c had gone through the 'gate with him to the address he had obtained in that alternate reality. How Kinsey had managed to shut down the program, making their trip through the 'gate one of insubordination. And how that trip had managed to save the entire planet from attack. He had told her of the inquiry by the Oversight Committee, the questions, the accusations. It had been a nightmare, he'd said. But General Hammond had provided enough proof that without SG-1's intervention, the Goa'uld would have destroyed Earth, or at best, taken it over, and made slaves of the population. And in spite of Kinsey's protests, the program was restarted and Kinsey was, for all intents and purposes, told to sit down and shut up. Something that had only given the Senator more reason to hate General Hammond, the members of SG-1, and especially Jack O'Neill. Later, Jack…with the help of an NID agent the team despised, one Harry Maybourne…had found enough proof to link Kinsey to the illegal activities of the NID. Senator Kinsey was, in every aspect, an enemy. "That will be his undoing," she said softly.
Daniel looked at her. Didn't notice any of the 'signs' that she was 'seeing' anything. "That's been the fate of many such men," he replied.
"Just be careful," she said. "Even if he's not actually on the committee, he still has a lot of influence over those who are."
He nodded. "Yeah, I know."
That little voice was beginning to whisper. Something was about to go wrong. Very, very wrong. She mentally shook her head. Without details, she couldn't give a warning that would be of any use. There was no doubt that she would get those details. She could only hope that it would be soon enough to be useful.
A A A A A A
General Hammond sat down heavily. "It seems that we're once again being asked to provide proof that the Stargate Program is worth the money that's being put into it."
"The fact that we're not Goa'uld slaves isn't enough?" Jack muttered. Snickers and giggles moved around the table.
"I may have something that will help," Sam said, smiling at the base CO. "We've figured out a way to link that Ancient power source with our own generators. It should power almost everything in the mountain. The naquadah generator is ready to test as well. What the Ancient power source doesn't run, the generator can."
"This is good news, major," the general replied. "If we can cut operating costs, that will silence a lot of the grumbling. By eliminating the need to pay for electricity, which is a huge overhead expense, and doing it with alien technology, it will be difficult to say that we're not finding anything worthwhile."
"I'll put together a list of all of the villages and people we've saved from the Goa'uld, and those we have alliances with," Daniel said. "I realize it's not as important as finding weapons, or technological advances, but maybe somebody on that committee will comprehend the human cost and rewards of what we're doing."
The general smiled. Doctor Jackson was the most aggressive voice for peaceful exploration, for extending a hand in friendship, that the program had. He was also very persuasive. He possessed a natural charm that had enabled him to establish treaties with nearly three dozen alien civilizations, many of which were allowing the mining of naquadah. "I'd appreciate anything you can come up with, Doctor." General Hammond looked at Doctor Fraiser. "I need you to come up with a list of every medical advance that has occurred as a result of our missions, even if those advances haven't reached the private sector as of yet."
The petite woman nodded. "Yes, sir."
"We leave at oh-seven hundred tomorrow. Casey, I'd like for you to attend as many of these meetings as they'll allow. You can give us an idea of which way they're leaning," General Hammond said.
The young blonde nodded. She tugged her lip between her teeth. She had no idea what sort of questions those men…and women…would have for her. "What do I say if they ask me if I vote?"
Snickers again moved around the table.
"If that particular subject comes up, tell them the truth," the general replied with a smile. He didn't think the young woman had anything to worry about.
"Uh…sir, maybe you should hear the…uh…truth…before you say that," Jack grinned.
General Hammond looked at the young woman. "Tell me, Mrs. Jackson, do you vote?"
"Only in local elections. At the national level it's a crap shoot…whoever the electoral college decides has the most money wins. This country has way too many politicians, and not enough leaders. I'll only vote for someone I think is a leader. There aren't any of those in DC."
The snickers evolved into full blown laughter. The general's blue eyes twinkled. "As far as I'm aware, this is still a free country. Casey, if you're asked, I want you to tell them exactly how you feel."
Casey smiled. "You realize there are people in this country who dream of this opportunity."
Jack howled. "You'll be living the American dream!"
"It's a shame that a certain senator won't be present," Daniel grinned. "I'm sure he would love to hear that."
"As a matter of fact, Senator Kinsey will be present," General Hammond replied.
The laughter stopped as suddenly as if a switch had been thrown. "Don't tell me that ass is back on the committee," Jack moaned.
"No, but he has managed to get an…invitation; as a 'concerned observer'," General Hammond replied.
"One shot," Jack mumbled. "One clean shot."
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that," the general replied. "All right people. We have to get this information together. Let's get busy. Dismissed."
Casey cocked her head to one side. "We need to be very careful," she said softly. "Something…something isn't right about this."
"Can you see anything specific?" General Hammond asked immediately, a frown on his face. He'd been unpleasantly surprised at the sudden insistence that he, and SG-1, personally attend this budget hearing.
"Not yet. But I…they're going to try to separate the team…question each of us individually," she replied.
"Typical. Divide and conquer," Daniel muttered.
Casey shook her head. "No, I don't think so…they want…they want to see…to hear…about missions from each point of view. And they don't want any of us…distracted…no, that's not right…"
"They want to hear what we would say if the rest of the team isn't present," Sam said.
The young blonde nodded. "That's it."
"Guess they don't know us," Jack grinned. His 'kids' grinned back at him. There wasn't an SG team in existence as close as SG-1. They had faced more together than most of the other teams combined. That they held secrets, some things even General Hammond was unaware of, made them closer still. The Oversight Committee wouldn't find what they were looking for…a reason to disband SG-1. The only team that had the audacity to stand up to anyone who stood in the way of what they thought was right. Even, and especially, powerful politicians.
"Let's get this dog-and-pony show over," General Hammond said. "We have real work to do."
The team continued to grumble to one another throughout the day. They knew what the politicians were up to. Maybe not specifics, but they were well aware that SG-1 was once again on the chopping block, and the future of the Stargate Program was resting on their shoulders. Those politicians had overlooked two important facts. The team now had a seer who could and would alert them to any and all dangers, including political ones. And the team members had never been closer than they were now. The five harbored a secret that was still unknown to most of the people who worked in Cheyenne Mountain. A secret that made them unique among the people who lived on planet Earth. One that could cost them everything if it was uncovered by the 'wrong' element of the Pentagon.
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