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Dead Men Tell No Tales
Daniel reached for the phone, screwed in the small 'scrambler' that Harry had given him; in fact each of the team members had received a small device. Any calls received or made, that might possibly be recorded, would render nothing but white noise. If anyone was actively listening on the line, all they would hear would be an annoying whine. He had no doubt that the devices were standard 'spy' equipment. "General Hammond? Daniel Jackson. I need a few days of leave time, and I need to know if you can keep the police off me for that time."
General Hammond sat back in his chair, held his granddaughter a bit tighter. "I believe that can be arranged. I'll send you on a dig, somewhere in…Egypt."
"Don't worry about a thing, Doctor Jackson. The police will believe that you've been called to oversee a dig that's of potential interest to the United States Air Force. I'll see to it that all the paperwork leads from Peterson to Cairo."
"Thank you, sir."
"You bring your wife and Doctor Fraiser's daughter home, Daniel," the general said softly. "We'll worry about taking down Kinsey."
"I'd like to knock the shit out of him," Daniel admitted.
"Who knows, Doctor, maybe you'll get your chance."
"Have a safe trip, Doctor Jackson."
"Thank you, sir." He cut the connection. Sat back and rubbed his hand over his face. With luck, Casey would be back in his arms in a matter of hours. A couple of days at the most. He took the device off of the phone, slipped it into his pocket. Went to put clean clothes in both suitcases. Would pick up Cassie's on the way out of town. No doubt the teenager would be as eager for clean clothes as his Wife.
A A A A A A
Harry finished off his coffee. Grinned at the waitress. "You're sure I can't interest you in carrying a supply of our gift cards and memorabilia? I have brochures in the car that show our line of products. The company will put the name of the diner on all of it. Gives folks something to keep, a souvenir of their visit here."
Betty smiled. The man was damned persuasive. But Junior would have her hide if she gave in to another salesman. "No, darlin', not interested."
"Don't suppose you'd be interested in a drink later tonight? I'll be at the hotel over there."
The waitress giggled, fluttered her hands like a young girl. "Now you just behave! I'm a happily married woman!"
The former NID agent grinned. "Lucky man. Can't blame me for trying. Well," he sighed. "Guess I'd better move on down the road. Nurse my broken heart on the way." He watched Casey and Cassie slip into the eighteen wheel rig while he paid his bill. Left a nice tip for the very helpful waitress. Went out to his rental, and pretended to examine the map.
Dutch finished off his coffee and paid his bill. With a significant look at Betty, he and his partner - a young man everyone called 'Slim' - went out to the truck. Dutch had two grown daughters of his own. Slim's wife had just given birth to their second child. A little girl. Neither man could understand how a father could abuse his children…his daughters…the way those girls' daddy had. It just wasn't right! Goddamned pervert, Dutch thought angrily. Men like that should be taken out back and beat to death!
The curtains in front of the bed had been pulled closed. Neither man paid any attention to them, or the soft sound of breathing that came from the compartment. Dutch put the diesel into gear, and eased the rig onto the highway. He passed a sedan doing just a bit under the speed limit four miles down the road.
Harry watched the truck go by. Set the cruise control to keep him at a respectable distance behind the rig. He had no idea why Mrs. Jackson had chosen Houston. Perhaps it had been a random choice. That would certainly bode well for her if that was the case. He'd heard the message she'd sent to her husband, by way of that very friendly waitress. Had no doubt that the 'ad' would contain information that only the archaeologist would recognize. He only hoped that Dr. Jackson understood that until Kinsey was no longer a threat, his wife and Dr. Fraiser's daughter were still in danger.
"So, how long to get to Houston?" Slim asked. He'd just taken this particular job. He'd been driving a big rig for nearly ten years, but never long haul. His routes had always been shorter, affording him the opportunity to be home more often. But with the birth of their second child, the need for better pay had pushed him into taking a position as a relief driver for the longer trips.
"About nineteen hours," Dutch replied. "We'll stop a couple of times at rest stops. But we'll need to keep moving if we're gonna make our schedule. That's where you come in, partner. You'll drive when I get too tired. I suggest you get some sleep."
Casey pulled her lip between her teeth. Because of her and Cassie, the young man would be forced to sleep in the seat. It couldn't be helped, there certainly wasn't room for him back here, not now, and she wasn't about to let Cassie share a bed with a strange man, no matter how innocent the situation. Nor was she eager to have a man stretched out beside her. She sighed These men had understood that this was what would happen when they'd agreed to take on passengers.
She motioned for Cassie to stretch out. It was getting late, they hadn't reached Cheyenne until just before sundown. Had spent several hours looking for a suitable vehicle to 'borrow'. When they'd stumbled across the truck stop on the edge of the city it was well after midnight, and they'd decided that they just couldn't go any further without something to eat, and a nice, big glass of water.
It hadn't been difficult to convince the waitress that they were running from their father…an overbearing man who was trying to force Casey to leave the love of her life. No way to hide her wedding rings - even if she took them off, the marks would still be there. Might as well use the romance card, she had thought. The woman had been more than willing to call Daniel, and give the brief, cryptic message. Cassie's 'revelation' had been the catalyst that had offered the most assistance, however. Casey barely bit back her giggle thinking about it.
She settled beside Cassie. Felt the young woman snuggle close for comfort. Neither were even aware of falling asleep.
Dutch drove into the night, the three people with him sleeping soundly.
Harry continued to follow the truck. When he had the opportunity, he'd check the logbook and find out exactly where in Houston they were headed. For now he was content, knowing that the two women were safe.
A A A A A A
Daniel tossed Cassie's luggage into the back of the jeep. Hugged Janet tightly. "I'll bring her home, Janet," he promised softly.
"Just keep those police off my tail."
"We'll do our best," the petite doctor replied.
"General Hammond is already getting the paperwork set up," Jack said quietly. "Major Davis is handling things on that end."
Daniel studied the keys in his hand, then looked up at Jack. "What about your friends?"
"They're trying to pick up Kinsey's trail right now. Seems he disappeared about the time we were heading into that meeting," Jack replied.
The archaeologist nodded. "When they find him?"
"They'll hold him. You and I will make a little trip to wherever they have him. I'm assuming it will be Wyoming. Then on to Tacoma."
He couldn't stop the grin that lit his face.
"A promise is a promise, Danny," the older man said softly.
The older man hugged his young friend, patted his back affectionately. "Now, I have to go to the base and make noises about finding something important in Cairo, and getting you there, and what a bitch it is that you're being forced to leave in the middle of this crisis."
"I'll be in touch," Daniel said, crawling behind the wheel of the jeep. "See you in a couple of days."
Sam watched the jeep pull away from the curb. "We should go to the base, do a few searches, make it look like we're trying to figure out where Kinsey took them."
"Perhaps we should do the same search as Harry Maybourne," Teal'c suggested.
"I have no idea how he was able to do that," Sam admitted.
"If it takes awhile, that only helps us," Jack pointed out.
She nodded her understanding. The four headed to the base, to determine just exactly what it was the Senator Robert Kinsey was up to. Maybourne had told them it was…interesting. That meant that it was probably bizarre, twisted, marginally illegal, and would no doubt bring him lots of money; with which he would 'buy' more people, and their loyalty.
A A A A A A
He put one of her favorite CD's into the player. She loved the Eagles. Daniel found himself singing along with the music as he drove down the interstate toward Texas. Houston, to be exact. He had to chuckle. He'd told her about meeting up with an old friend there, just a few days after the one year remembrance of Sha're's death. Mike Loughlin had been his student advisor when he'd started his undergrad studies. Mike had been a senior, but the friendship they had forged, while not as deep as the one he shared with Jack, or even Teal'c, had remained strong. Mike had listened to him talk about Sha're, about her being kidnapped, his three year search for her, then her death. He couldn't share the details. The older man had respected that. Was still willing to listen to what Daniel could tell him.
"Danny, you need to cut loose. You've been mourning for this woman for four years. She's gone. It's time to let go. You're too young to cut yourself off from life," Mike had told him.
They'd found a quiet little bar and proceeded to drink themselves into oblivion. Granted, it didn't take much for him, just a few beers. The added shots of Southern Comfort had nearly done him in. Daniel barely remembered a woman with dark hair and dark eyes. Of Latin or Spanish descent, he was sure. He had absolutely no idea if he'd actually slept with her. He'd awakened alone, and so hung over he was certain that death was just around the corner. How the hell Mike had managed to conduct another lecture that day he'd never know. Of course, he hadn't attended any of the seminars. His presence would have been sneered at, too many questions about what he'd been doing for the previous five and a half years would have been…uncomfortable, and impossible to answer. So he had stayed in his room, in bed, for the entire day; nursing a Texas-sized headache. Only to go out with Mike again that night and get drunk all over again. When he'd returned to Colorado, it had taken nearly a week to fully recover.
Casey had laughed until she cried at his descriptions of the two of them - drunk and trying to pick up women. Then she had asked him if he remembered the name of the bar where he had killed so many brain cells. "We should go there sometime, and hold a memorial service for all of the brilliant brain cells that were murdered so brutally," she had giggled.
The name had reminded him of a pub he had visited in Scotland, The Boorish Bull. The Bull and Bear was a sports bar in Houston that the cab driver had recommended. The food had been good, the beer cold, and he and Mike had been able to sit quietly in a corner and commiserate.
He suddenly knew exactly where to find her. He wasn't sure she could get Cassie into the bar, but then again, as long as she didn't try to drink… He would get a room, and then try to locate the bar. And he would sit there all day, every day, reading the Houston Chronicle. The personal ads of the Houston Chronicle, looking for, waiting for her next communication.
He let the music take over, memories of her flowing with each song that played. This was the CD that had been playing three Saturdays ago, while she'd made the casseroles that were the mainstay of their diet during the week, when they arrived home too tired to do more than collapse onto the couch. She had be-bopped around…swinging those slender hips, shaking her shoulders, making his beauties bounce beneath her tee shirt…until he had been forced to find something to do other than watch her. He'd mowed the lawn, washed the Jeep and cleaned it out. Still his need for her had raged. When he'd finally ventured back inside she'd been standing in front of the washing machine. He'd picked her up, carried her into the bathroom, and they'd played in the shower until the water turned cold. Then she'd led him to the bedroom, and made love to him until his brain had melted and his body had refused to move an inch.
A A A A A A
"Miss? Wake up, Missy," a male voice said softly.
She opened her eyes. Looked up into the kind, concerned face of the truck driver who was taking them to Houston.
"Miss, you and your little sister should probably take the chance to go to the restroom. Ain't nobody around here but us. Couple of trucks, but the drivers are sleeping," Dutch told her.
Casey nodded. "Cass? Wake up. Come on, pit stop."
The teenager mumbled for a moment, then opened her eyes. Which widened slightly when she looked around.
Dutch and Slim checked the tires and the brake lines while they waited for their unexpected passengers. Both men watched warily, making certain that there were no prying eyes that would see the two women get back into the truck.
The sun was peeking over the horizon as she and Cassie walked toward the brick building that housed the men's and women's restrooms in this particular rest stop. Casey splashed cold water onto her face.
"Do you still feel…funny?" Cassie asked softly as they made their way back to the truck.
"Like I'm half asleep?"
The teenager nodded.
"Yes, I do. I think it's probably a side effect of whatever it was that they used on us. Guess it's a good thing, sleeping is really all we'll be able to do for awhile," Casey replied.
Dutch and Slim walked toward the building, studiously ignoring the young women. Who walked past the truck before circling back through a stand of trees to climb into it once again.
Harry slowed down. No way to stop without being noticed. He continued down the road. He knew the truck number as well as the license plate number. He would pull off at the next off ramp, hopefully there would be a gas station so he could fill the tank, then wait for awhile, until he saw the truck drive past, and follow it once again. He worried that the two women might not be on the truck. Then pushed the thought aside. He hadn't been able to hear all of the conversation, but it seemed that the truck driver was willing to take her all the way to Houston. No reason to believe Mrs. Jackson would pass up the opportunity to get all the way there with so little trouble.
It was only right that he let the man know that his wife was all right, he thought. He picked up his cell phone. Dialed. "They're on the road," he said, almost before the man answering had said hello.
Daniel grinned. "Yeah, which one?"
His heart began to pound. "Where on US-64?"
"Just north of the Clayton. Not quite into Texas."
"Give me a mile marker."
"What?" Harry suddenly realized that Jackson was on the road as well. He had been able to get close enough to hear what had been said when the waitress made that phone call. Had known it had been to Jackson. But even though the call had lasted less than eight seconds…he'd been timing it…the message had been received. He looked around. "They stopped at the last rest stop before the Texas-New Mexico border."
Heart pounding harder. He had passed that rest stop not more than thirty minutes earlier. "What are they in?"
"Big rig." Harry gave Daniel the pertinent information.
"So why are you following them?" Daniel asked curiously.
Harry sighed. "Just wanted to make certain that they were all right."
"Harry, you're getting soft in your old age."
"That is a very cruel thing to say, Doctor Jackson. Where are you?"
"Just east of Texline," the young man replied.
"What are you driving?"
"Pewter Jeep Renegade."
"I'll watch for you. I'm in a white Ford Taurus."
Daniel grinned. Rental car. "Let me know when they're close. I'm pulling over in Perico. Need to get gas anyway."
"I'll be in touch." Harry replied. If he could safely deliver Casey Jackson and Cassandra Fraiser into the good doctor's hands, it would leave him free to return to Wyoming. He knew that by now Kinsey was there. Had probably found the dead kidnapper. It would be interesting to see if the senator called the local authorities about the murder, or tried to hide it.
A A A A A A
Casey cocked her head to one side. Daniel was close…very close…she could feel it! Her heart began to pound against her ribs. He was on his way to Houston! She'd known that he would understand! She hoped that she remembered the name of the bar he and his friend had gotten completely crocked in. Not knowing whether or not their phone line had been tapped, she hadn't wanted the waitress to say anything that could be easily understood. Only the two of them understood the significance of the Texas city. The people after her and Cassie might go to Houston. But they had no idea where in that particular city to go. They would watch the personal ads, trying to decipher each one. She almost giggled out loud at that thought. How many ads would they find secret messages in?
For the first time since the woman had pulled the gun on them in the Ford Theater, she could see the end of the ordeal. Something told her that even when she and Cassie were with Daniel, they needed to continue on to Houston. Just for a day or so. She knew well enough to listen to that little voice.
She poked her head through the curtain. "If you see a pewter colored Jeep Renegade with Colorado plates, let me know," she said softly.
Dutch, who was sitting in the passenger seat, looked sharply at her. "Why? Is that what your daddy drives?"
She shook her head, smiled softly. "No. It's what my Husband drives. He got my message, he's on his way to Houston. We might see him on the way," she explained.
Slim glanced at his partner. "How do you know he'd be on this road?"
"Just call it a hunch," she said, hoping that the two men wouldn't continue to ask questions.
The older trucker studied her for a minute. "This husband of yours, he's why your daddy is so upset with you?"
It was difficult not to smile. "Mostly."
"You went to get your little sister," Dutch continued, weaving the story as he believed it to be.
If she didn't say anything, and let the two men believe the story, was that still lying?
"Well, if your husband is out here, and we see him, we'll let you know."
"Thank you," she said softly. She closed the curtains, stretched back out beside Cassie. The teenager was dozing. She closed her eyes. "Miss Eloise?" she whispered.
She was standing beside a small lake. The water was calm, reflected the blue sky like a looking glass. Miss Eloise was standing beside a giant of an oak tree. "He's nearby."
The old woman grinned. "You're getting stronger all the time, aren't you?"
"Well, you know what you told me," Casey replied nonchalantly.
Miss Eloise smiled. But said nothing.
"Not much more than an hour, I suppose. He's waiting in a little town. Don't say anything to the men who are helping you."
The white haired woman smiled. "Nothing more. They're aware that Daniel is on the same road. He'll find you, Sunshine."
One eyebrow went up.
"You're sure," Casey smiled. "Thank you. What about Kinsey?"
"Let your friends...those you call family...deal with him. Right now you and Daniel must protect that little girl. Neither of you are safe, not just yet."
She nodded. She'd felt the...darkness...that seemed to cling to Cassie, and herself. "Kinsey?"
"And his associates."
Casey shivered. "As long as I'm with Daniel, I'll be all right, Cassie and I both will be all right."
Miss Eloise smiled. "That you will, Sunshine, that you will."
When the old woman disappeared, Casey opened her eyes.
Soon, her heart told her. She would be in his arms soon. It couldn't be soon enough to suit her!
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