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The man walked along the sidewalk, taking his time, looking around with interest. There was no need to be discreet at this point. He was just a man alone, a stranger in a new city. If anyone questioned him, he'd be able to tell them that he had a room at the hotel only a few blocks away, and was walking in order to work the kinks out after his long flight from Taiwan. The sun sank behind the mountains, leaving dark shadows clinging to trees and the corners of the houses.
When he reached the bungalow, he stopped to admire the flowers planted near the sidewalk. Then he began to walk again. When he came to the corner of the property, he darted up the driveway, keeping on the grass so that there would be no echo of his shoes against the concrete. He slipped to the back of the house, onto the narrow deck.
Mini blinds were closed, preventing him from seeing inside. The transom windows above the single French doors were open. He could hear what sounded like a television program. Perhaps a movie. How the Americans loved their movies! Then listened to the laughter of the two people inside. Frowned slightly as he tried to understand their conversation. It made no sense to him.
Until the targets went to bed, he'd be unable to pick the lock and get inside. Once they'd been injected, he would signal his companions, who would arrive with the car. Tied and gagged, Dr. Jackson and his wife would be put into the trunk, and the drive to Salt Lake City would commence. It was the only option...the car that had been rented only accommodated the driver and three passengers. Renting a van would have raised suspicions. As a result, it would be necessary to stop every two to three hours to check on their well being. Specialists had assured the Director that there would be no lingering ill-side effects from being transported in such a manner, but caution should be used during the transport of the prisoners .
It appeared that it was going to be awhile before the American archaeologist went to bed. He found a comfortable spot and settled in. Dressed completely in black, he seemed to disappear into the shadows, becoming nothing more than a shadow himself.
It was at least two hours before the lights went out. From his vantage point near the corner of the garage, he could see the lights come on in the front room. The bedroom, he assumed. The only thing he could see was the thin strip of light at the very edge of the blind. He wasn't certain, but the light seemed dim. Did the American leave a small lamp on when he slept? That could complicate things. It was important that he not be seen until after he'd injected the targets.
Daring to move closer to the house, he slipped toward the open window. Stood and listened for several minutes. The man inside was making love to his wife. He smiled grimly. The man would go to sleep immediately. The wife would be the largest threat, if she was not asleep as well when he gained entry. He'd give them thirty minutes after the light went off.
Satisfied with his plan, he crouched behind the rose bush that prevented anyone on the street from seeing him. Soon, the most difficult part of the mission would be over.
A A A A A A
She sat upright in the bed. Glanced at the clock. A quarter of ten? Oh, shit! She was ready to bolt for the door when a firm hand closed around her wrist.
"It's our day off, babe," a sleepy voice reminded her.
Which would explain why the alarm hadn't awakened them, she thought. She settled back down beside him, put her head on his shoulder. "I suppose this means you'll want me to fix you waffles for breakfast," she teased.
"Yep," he grinned. He put his arm around her when she snuggled closer. The night before had been great. Pizza had been ordered and delivered. They'd watched 'Caveman', spouting off the lines along with the characters. Trying once again to warn them of danger ahead. Pausing the movie when they were laughing too hard to hear the dialogue. Making their own music with the empty pizza box during the 'campfire scene'. Rooting for Atouk and Lar all the way. Laughing and being silly and totally relaxing for the first time in weeks. And then they'd made love nearly all night, taking their time; taking a trip Around the World that had left him panting and exhausted. But, god, had he felt good! His toes were still curled from the mind-blowing orgasms he'd experienced. All four of them.
"I could make sausage and egg burritos, with sausage gravy," she offered.
He groaned. "Last time you did that, I was sick all day."
"It is not my fault you ate six burritos, Daniel. I told you after you ate the third one that I thought you were nuts. You'd eaten an entire skillet of gravy by the fifth one. What did you expect?"
"It was your fault," he countered.
"Just how in the hell was it my fault?"
"You're a good cook. I don't know how you do it, or what spices or special ingredients you use, but you make the best sausage and egg burritos I've ever had."
Casey lifted one eyebrow in a perfect imitation of Teal'c. "I make the only sausage and egg burritos you've ever eaten," she said dryly.
"True. But they're still the best."
"Okay, so you want waffles."
Daniel laughed. "Whatever you want to make for breakfast is fine by me," he replied.
She stretched luxuriously, then rolled to 'her' side of the bed. Padded into her closet, sorted through the drawer of pajamas and found a cotton nightshirt. She was still tugging it over her head when she walked back into the room. Daniel was pulling on his sweats.
When they heard Beaverton...the neighbor's half-Cocker Spaniel, half-Beagle, completely dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks dog...giving his warning bark, Daniel went to the window and peeked between the slats of the closed blinds. "Apparently the mail arrives at around ten," he said, watching the mailman walk up the steps and onto the porch.
"Well, whaddaya know about that," Casey replied. "So while you check to see if any long lost and forgotten relatives have kicked the bucket and made us filthy rich, I'll start breakfast. And a pot of coffee."
With no need for the alarm, setting up the coffee maker to come on at its usual six-thirty a.m. hadn't been necessary. Which meant that there'd be no coffee until one of them manually flipped the switch. Casey had, from force of habit, filled a paper filter with freshly ground coffee beans, and placed it into the basket before they'd gone to bed. With Daniel being the coffee connoisseur that he was, an ordinary coffee maker would never do. No cheap, twenty dollar Wal-Mart special for him. Oh, no. He had a Cuisinart coffee grinder. Sixty bucks worth of grinder. To grind specialty coffee beans to go into a hundred-and-fifty dollar Cuisinart coffee maker. He was, she had decided long ago, a coffee snob. But, she loved him anyway. As loathe as she was to admit it, she was beginning to enjoy the 'better' coffees. She was even starting to like the Sumatra Mandheling that he loved. What was amusing to her was that he was now drinking his coffee with one cream, two sugars. She giggled. Yep, they were definitely rubbing off on each other.
"What's so funny?" He was sorting through the stack of mail. Junk. Junk. Junk. Letter from Catherine Langford. Junk. Telephone bill. Junk. Whoa! Back up! Tossing the mail onto the dining room table, he snatched the letter from Catherine, and excitedly opened it.
"Just thinking about how we've changed since we got married."
He looked over at her. "Changed? How?"
"I drink designer coffee, and you drink yours with cream and sugar."
Daniel grinned. "Compromise, babe. That's what it's all about."
She giggled again. Pulled out her cookbook, and began gathering the ingredients for waffles. She glanced over at him, noticed he was reading a letter. "Something special?"
"It's from Catherine. She has a few boxes of artifacts she wants me to have. She said they should be arriving in a few days."
Casey cast a glance around. "And just where are you going to put them?"
Daniel looked up, then followed her eyes as she moved her gaze from one side of the room to the other. "Don't worry, Case. We'll go through them, keep what we want, and take the rest to the base to store."
"Why doesn't she just donate them to a museum?"
"Because these are special. Most of these items were found with the Stargate. By her father. She knows that I understand that. And the significance of the pieces," he said softly.
"We'll keep the best pieces here," Casey replied. Best didn't necessarily mean the most aesthetic. But the most valuable...emotionally if not monetarily.
She didn't have to say out loud what he knew she was thinking. He could see it in her eyes. Typical Casey, he thought proudly, his heart swelling with love.
"Someday, we'll have a house with a room just to display artifacts."
"A private museum, huh?"
"I love you," he sighed.
"I love you, too, Stud Muffin," she smiled. "Now, since you're standing there, grab the milk, will you?"
A A A A A A
The car drove up the street slowly. The blinds in the front rooms were still closed. Yi Lin scowled. When he'd moved close enough to be able to hear sounds through the open windows, he'd heard the Americans laughing and talking...it seemed they were watching something on television. Then there were the sounds of love making. Very vigorous love making if the cries and moans of pleasure had been anything to go by. The sounds hadn't stopped until nearly four a.m. And lights had begun to come on in several of the nearby houses. Knowing that the chances of being discovered increased drastically if there were even a few people stirring, he'd signaled his companions, and had returned to the car waiting on the street. No, when they took Dr. Jackson and his wife from their home, there could be no witnesses.
He blew out a heavy breath of frustration. Time was of the essence, he did not have the luxury of waiting for the perfect moment. It would have to be tonight. Hopefully the archaeologist would not find it necessary to fuck his wife for hours again.
He opened his phone. Dialed carefully. "We will have them in our custody tonight."
"Very good. I have made arrangements for renting a most suitable house. I will fax directions to your hotel," the voice on the other end said.
"We will return to the hotel now in order to receive it."
"Do not call again until you are on your way."
"I understand." Yi Lin turned to his associates. "We must be extremely careful. No one can see us. No one can know that we have taken Doctor Jackson. Nor can we fail."
His three companions nodded solemnly.
He looked at the house one last time as they turned the corner. Tonight. He would not let his patron down!
A A A A A A
Ares watched with detached amusement as Tem strolled around the garden. He'd been in the sarcophagus when the son of Ra had arrived. His attention returned to the text that scrolled across the screen. Very interesting information. He had no idea where the data crystals had come from, although Prochoros speculated that one of his spies had probably left them, preferring to remain unseen for the moment. It was a fair assumption. There was something...different...about the information, however. The syntax was...off. Very formal. Not at all like the reports he was accustomed to.
The Goa'uld shook his head, sending his dark hair into motion. No matter the source, all of the information was useful. It seemed that both Tem and Ba'al were determined to have the seer known as Casey Jackson at their side. No doubt the fools were certain that she'd give them an advantage. If she were half as talented as the report claimed, she would indeed be an asset. Previous reports that had reached him concerning the Tau'ri of the First World led him to believe that an assault on this mysterious 'SGC' in order to capture her would be problematic at best. And as long as the Asgard were protecting the First World, a full assault was unthinkable.
Still...Ares sorted through the information he'd received a week prior. There. Names and descriptions of this infamous 'SG-1'...a group of Tau'ri single-handedly responsible for the deaths of at least half a dozen System Lords. Including Hathor and Seth. His eyes narrowed slightly as he recalled those particular Goa'uld. They'd been aware that Tem was about to betray him, he was certain. Haughty in their belief that they, as 'Egyptian gods', were more powerful, more important than he and his brothers and sisters. Damned fools were dead now, weren't they? It seemed that the majority of that pantheon were dead...at the hands of the very Tau'ri they subjugated for so many centuries. Rather fitting, he thought.
His eyes narrowed even further when he read the names. Daniel Jackson. Daniel? Husband of the lovely Casey Jackson. A woman of great beauty, the report claimed. Long blonde hair, big green eyes...
Ares hurled the chalice of wine he'd been holding, listened as it hit the wall, watched as the crimson liquid stained the silk covering. He'd had Daniel Jackson in his pool! Had been prepared to make the man his lover, and the host to his beloved Thanatos! The bitch who'd wounded him..."PROCHOROS!"
It was several seconds before the older man hurried into the room. Ares was pacing furiously. "Yes, My Lord?"
"Prepare my ship! We are going to the First World! I will have her, and I will make her pay for what she dared do to me!"
"Well, I see you've discovered the identity of your attacker," an amused voice said from the doorway. Tem was leaning casually against one of the pillars.
"The whore you believe so worthy of your bed," Ares spat. "The witch must have used her magic to blind my guards."
Tem straightened up. He hadn't shared the knowledge of the identity of the attackers with Ares. He knew that those who'd infiltrated the palace had been Tau'ri. He'd had no clue that those interlopers had been the infamous SG-1! "Casey Jackson is the woman who shot you? You're certain?"
"I have the description here. I saw her with my own eyes. As well as had her husband...Daniel...within my grasp!"
According to the slaves, Ares had been about to fuck the man. Tem pushed back the rush of jealousy that thought brought forth. "You realize that the First World is under the protection of the Asgard."
"So what? Do they have a continued presence there? Do their ships patrol there? Not according to my sources! I will have the planet before they are aware of what has happened!" Ares fumed.
"You are prepared to deal with the Asgard?" His own sources informed Tem that the Asgard weren't as powerful as they'd been when Ra had been foolish enough to attack them. However, they were still more powerful than he, or Ares; and no doubt the other Goa'uld would turn on them in self defense if the Asgard were to suddenly make an appearance and demand...retribution.
Ares backed down a bit, although his brown eyes continued to flash with anger. He wasn't prepared to take on those annoying gray beings.
"There are ways to do this, my friend," Tem said, barely stopping himself from referring Ares as his 'love'.
"I suppose you have a plan?" Ares asked, throwing himself into the nearest chair and sulking.
"As a matter of fact, I do."
"There you are," another voice said. One sharp with barely suppressed jealousy.
Both Goa'uld looked over when Kinsey entered the room. "What do you need?" Tem asked. His expression and tone of voice reflected his irritation at being interrupted.
"To make certain you have all that you need," Kinsey replied. He cast a glance full of hate in Ares direction.
Ares saw the look, recognized it for what it was. Tem had been most forthcoming with the details of his time 'imprisoned' on the First World. It had been apparent that Tem hadn't changed...the Goa'uld had only become bitter, more cruel...sadistic perhaps. He gave the 'pet' a lazy once-over. And tried to figure out just what it was about the man that bothered him so...something about the name seemed familiar...He sighed mentally. The answers would come to him. As always. In dreams, when the voices whispered into his ear. "You really should teach your pets better manners, Tem. To allow them to interrupt the conversations of their gods is quite...unacceptable."
Kinsey went red with rage. Who did this Ares think he was? He was the Beloved of Tem!
"I suppose so," Tem sighed. "Go to my quarters. Wait for me there."
Furious at the casual dismissal, Kinsey whirled around and stalked down the corridor toward the wide stairs. He would not sit idly by and allow Ares to shove him out of Tem's favor! He would speak to Habib, and find out if any new reports were available. He knew that the old priest resented him. He paused as he climbed the steps. Perhaps that was a situation he should remedy. It would make keeping Tem's attention much easier if he had allies who supported that position. With a calculating smile on his face, he turned around, and went in search of the priest, the orders of his god temporarily forgotten.
A A A A A A
Casey was sitting on the floor beside the sofa table, photographs spread out around her, one of the three albums she'd purchased laying across her lap when Daniel came out of the den to get another cup of coffee.
"Hey, babe," he said quietly. He poured the last of the dark liquid into his mug. "Pot's empty."
"And you're helpless?" she asked.
"Nope. But I can't make coffee as good as yours," he replied.
She ducked her head so that he couldn't see her smile. Daniel had a way of making her feel as if she were something...someone...special. "Can it wait a few minutes?"
"I suppose so. If you hear a 'thunk' in the other room, it's just me passing out from lack of caffeine," he teased.
She looked up...bit back a scream at the sight of a dark shadow standing menacingly behind him. The terror that gripped her rocked her from head to toe, and settled in her stomach.
The fact that the color drained from her face so quickly, as well as the wide, frightened eyes had him spinning to look behind him. "Case?"
"Um...," she shook her head, looked again, and the shadow was gone. She very carefully laid the album she'd been working with on floor. Neatly stacked the photos. Slowly rose to her feet. Then dashed for the bathroom, where she relinquished the waffle she'd eaten for breakfast.
Daniel nearly tossed his mug full of coffee onto the island, and followed his Wife, holding her hair, rubbing her back gently. Frowned as the spasms continued until she was exhibiting the classic signs of dry heaves. "Angel? What's wrong?"
"I saw the shadow of a man behind you...it looked as if he were trying to grab you."
His frown deepened. "Maybe you should talk to Miss Eloise."
"I suppose so." She stood shakily to her feet. Grabbed the bottle of Listerine, rinsed her mouth thoroughly.
When she reached for him, he pulled her into his arms. Once again she was trembling so hard she was able to move him. "C'mere, Angel," he said softly. He scooped her into his arms, carried her to the bedroom. Carefully lowered her to the bed, took the time to push the pillows against the headboard, and settled beside her. He pressed a kiss against her forehead when she crawled into his arms, curled against him as close as she could get. "I'm right here, Casey. I'm not going to let anything happen, I promise," he whispered. "Now, close your eyes, and talk to Miss Eloise."
She nodded slightly. Took comfort from his warmth, his scent. Relaxed just a bit when she felt his arms tighten around her. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes. Had to struggle for several long seconds to center herself.
"Right here, Sunshine," the old seer said softly.
"I'm losing my mind!" she declared without preamble.
"Possibly. So what happened?"
"For a seer you're not very bright! Of course you see things!"
"Shadows that look as if they're about to attack Daniel?" Casey snapped. "Or appear to be breaking into the house?"
The tiny white haired woman frowned slightly. Held out her hand. "Show me."
Casey had no clue how to share what she had seen. She took the arthritic hand, closed her fingers around it. Played back the 'episodes' in her mind.
"Well, how about that," Miss Eloise said, her voice filled with awe. "Very distinct premonitions."
"Why is it so...different?"
"Because it concerns The One. It's not serious danger, or you'd see more than just the shadows."
"So someone is going to try to break into the house and grab Daniel?"
"I suppose so," Miss Eloise shrugged.
She didn't even try to stop the automatic roll of her eyes. "Two days off! I am not dealing with this on my days off! Do you know how long it's been since we've had two days off?"
"A week or so," Miss Eloise replied.
Another roll of green eyes. "Old woman, I am so not in the mood for this!"
The diminutive woman cackled. "So I see. Whenever The One is in Danger, you'll see it. Not just images in your mind. You'll be able to see...if not all of the details, enough to know that something is about to happen. It's part of your gift, Sunshine. Enhanced so that you can protect Him."
In that instant every objection fell flat in her mind. She'd do anything, suffer anything, to protect Daniel. "So now what?"
"That, Sunshine, is up to The One."
"Could these...shadows...be friends of Dartel?"
"No, I don't think so. You'd sense them."
She nodded. "Okay, so someone is going to try and grab Daniel. I assume that seeing this now means it's going to happen soon."
Another nod. "I'll tell him. He'll know what to do," Casey said, unaware of the faith, the awe, the love, and the pride that wrapped around those words.
Miss Eloise smiled. "Yes, he will."
"I won't let anyone hurt him," Casey swore, her green eyes flashing.
"I know that, too," the old woman smiled.
"You're welcome, Sunshine. Better make an appointment for your shot."
"I'd say that it's time for your birth control shot."
Casey frowned. "How on earth do you know that? Never mind. Fine. I'll talk to Janet when we get back to the base on Thursday. She has the date written down."
"I'm sure she does," Miss Eloise replied innocently. "Go. Daniel needs to know that he's in danger."
With a nod, Casey squeezed the hand in hers, then opened her eyes.
Daniel felt her take a deep breath. Watched her eyes open slowly. "Well?"
"It seems that my gift has been 'enhanced' so that I'll know right away, and clearly, or sort of clearly...I think...when you're in danger. It's my job to protect you. So I'll get premonitions that are...different...from what I see when I look for the missions, or get information dumps."
He frowned. Wasn't so certain he was at all comfortable with the idea of his Wife protecting him. He was supposed to protect her! "Which means?"
"From what I've seen so far, someone is going to break in, and grab you."
"No. I've 'felt' them often enough to recognize them," she replied confidently. "I have no idea who this is."
"Any idea when this is going to happen?"
She shook her head. "Sorry. Just soon."
"I don't think anything is going to happen in broad daylight. If you're still having the premonitions tonight, we'll call Jack."
"Shouldn't we call now?"
"Honey, no one is stupid enough to try to break into this house in the middle of the day. Not even the Goa'uld. If you have another premonition tonight, I'll talk to Jack about it," he said.
She allowed his confidence to override her fear. When they were together, and she was in his arms, nothing bad could touch them. Ever. She rested her head on his shoulder. "At least I'm not going nuts."
Daniel smiled against her hair. "I never thought you were."
He settled a bit against the pillows, quite content to sit and hold her. "Don't worry about this. If we know it's going to happen, we'll be prepared. I'm willing to bet that you'll know exactly when this abduction will take place, in order to prevent it. Right now, you're just getting the 'warnings' that it's supposed to happen."
Casey wasn't so certain. Her gift wasn't always precise. When she wanted, or rather, needed for it to be as exact as possible, she was left with vague feelings and unease and...shadows. How totally annoying!
"I said don't worry about it."
"I heard you."
"So, stop worrying."
She lifted her face, looked up into blue eyes that held her entire world. "Damned hard to do, you know. You're in danger, and all I can see are shadows! I should...do...something!"
He smiled, pressed his lips against her forehead again. "You already have, Case. You saw the danger. We know someone is after me."
Tugging her lip between her teeth, she thought about what Miss Eloise had said. If the danger was severe, then she'd see more. Snuggling closer, not even aware of doing so, her fingers moving up and down his arm, she held to this thought. So, if it wasn't going to be life threatening, who was going to abduct him, and why? She reached out as much as she could. Nothing. Damn it! Just like Thracia! Daniel'd been caught by Ares, and all she'd felt was unease. Granted, that had worked out all right...
"It's supposed to hit ninety today," he said casually, softly.
And just what in the hell did the temperature have to do with anything? The towering oaks and maples in the neighbors' yards kept the house in shade for most of the day. Ceiling fans moved the air in the rooms, drawing it through the open windows. They could always close all of the windows and turn on the central air conditioning. She hated doing that...preferring the fresh air. "So?"
"We could go to Grant Park. They'll have the sprinklers on."
Silver Springs boasted an Olympic sized swimming pool. Indoors. Which was always crowded with kids and families. Grant Park had three grassy areas where those seeking a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding gardens could do so. And during the hottest days of summer, the sprinklers were turned on, giving anyone who wished the opportunity to cool off. They'd joined in the fun before, finding that most of the participants were people between twenty-five and forty. It was like a huge block party. She smiled up at him. "Then we should go to the park."
"Yes, we should. And we should probably turn the A/C on now," he said.
"Okay." She couldn't help but smile when neither of them moved. In fact, Daniel's arms had tightened around her just the slightest bit.
He'd get up and close the windows...in just a few minutes. Right now, holding her was all he wanted to do. It was his day off, and he was going to do exactly what he wanted!
A A A A A A
Le Kwan watched as the truck from Rent-A-Center rumbled up the gravel driveway. His associates were waiting at the hotel. It was preferred that they remain as anonymous as possible. That required that they be in public as little as possible.
He carefully oversaw the delivery of the few pieces of furniture that would be needed. Sleeping bags he'd already procured from a local camping outfitter. Comfort was not the concern here. Getting the translation for the alien weapon was all that mattered.
He'd found everything that he and his companions would need for the few days they'd occupy the house. Purchasing all of the items and the food in one trip would negate any reason to return to the small community just up the road. Where his presence had been duly noted and commented upon. No doubt he'd be remembered for a few days, at least. The sooner those people forgot about him, the better!
Yi Lin had assured him that the Jacksons would be in custody tonight. With luck, they'd be here sometime late tomorrow morning. Then, Dr. Jackson would begin his work. If he balked, or refused to cooperate...Kwan smiled coldly. He'd amassed years of experience procuring cooperation from the most unwilling. And those he dealt with never forgot him. The scars that remained on their bodies, and on their minds, assured that.
He walked through the farmhouse, checking the view from each room. Not that he was concerned about what they could see of the shallow valley from inside, but rather what someone from the outside might be able to see. He selected the room that would be where the archaeologist would work. Double doors could be opened and what was happening in the small connecting room would be easily seen. He dragged a metal folding chair into the middle of that room. Took out two pairs of handcuffs, put one on each side. He pulled the blinds in the room. Frowned to note that there was still too much light that filtered through. The problem was simple enough to fix. Black plastic tarps would cover the windows completely, and block out any light. There were five windows in the two rooms. He measured as well as he could by sight. A stop at any hardware store would provide the tarp and tape.
Kwan nodded with approval. When he walked outside, he was pleased to note that the road was far enough from the house that little would be heard, if anything at all, even if someone were to walk past the long driveway and frontage part of the property. All was ready.
His heart began to pound with excitement. Soon China would be in control of the most powerful weapon known to mankind. Not even the arrogant Americans would be able to stand up to the Army of the People! The leaders of China would bring order to the world. And he would be one of those leaders. He was standing on the brink of greatness, in the moments that would see change come to the planet forever. They'd avoid the chaos that the Prime Minister's foolish act would have rendered. With the weapon, change would be accepted. Would happen peacefully. Oh, there would be grumbling. It would take months to make certain that the citizens understood...and accepted...their place in the new order. But they would do so.
Then, he thought, they'd have total control of this Stargate Program. And they would reach out to the stars. The magnitude of what he and his comrades were about to do filled his chest with pride. Their names would live forever. They would live forever, if what Simmons had told them was true! He was most anxious to examine these sarcophagi. Very interesting technology.
Rubbing his hands together in excited anticipation, he walked back toward the car. He'd stop at the hardware store. Then pick up his associates from the hotel. They'd spend the night here, preparing for the arrival of Li Yin and his group. And Dr. Daniel Jackson.
A A A A A A
Jeri Baker just couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right. In spite of Jeanne's insistence that she was making something out of nothing, she decided to make a visit to the Phillips farmhouse in a day or so. If she still couldn't shake her unease, she'd talk to Jim. He'd been a lousy husband. But he was a great Deputy Sheriff. She'd let him decide whether or not her case of jitters was warranted.
Wanting to leave before Mr. Kwan knew she'd been on the bluff watching, she eased her SUV back onto the road and headed for town. She waved at Mr. Marsh, the man who owned the property that butted up against the Phillips farm. Hoped that if he spoke to Mr. Kwan, he wouldn't mention seeing her today.
A A A A A A
Kinsey found the old priest sorting through the scrolls that Tem had refused to leave behind. He wanted them all 'updated', to carry the story of his 'miraculous return'. To the delight of the people. He barely bit back his snort of derision. It was difficult to understand how a god could be so blind...so foolish. The priests, from Habib to the lowliest scribe, resented his return; for their power had diminished once the god had reappeared. The people didn't seem to care one way or another, their lot little changed when the ha'tak settled over the pyramid on Menes, and Tem had announced his arrival.
Habib looked up when the man walked into the room. Whore, he thought silently. He'd seen what this man, this Kinsey, was willing to do in order to maintain his status as Tem's Beloved. Worse than any of the women of the harem!
"Habib, we must speak," Kinsey said, stumbling a bit over the still unfamiliar language.
"And of what must we speak?"
"I am concerned for our god. I do not believe that this Ares is trustworthy. I fear he might attempt to...harm...Lord Tem," Kinsey said carefully. He watched the old man's eyes, the guarded look that filled them as the priest hid his true feelings, his thoughts.
The old man straightened slowly. Well, now, that was an interesting observation. And one that merited close monitoring. He knew just the person for the job. "What is it you wish of me?"
The smile that Kinsey gave the priest held no warmth. "I understand that in your position as High Priest, you must know things of which not all have knowledge."
Habib remained silent.
"It would ease my mind, and my troubled heart, if you were to let me know these things that you know...that you hear, so that I might protect our god as best I can." So that I can watch, and find out who your spies are, Kinsey thought. Then I won't need you at all! Convincing Tem that the priest was conspiring against him wouldn't be difficult. Then he could take the position. And wouldn't have to fear Ares ever replacing him. The position of High Priest was too important, the information he had too valuable. And in that position, he'd be able to throw suspicion on Ares. And get rid of that Goa'uld permanently.
And have every word fall into the ear of Tem? Not hardly, the priest scoffed silently. Still...if he were to tell Kinsey only that which he wanted Tem to know...it would be easy enough to omit facts, or rearrange them to be more...useful...Tem would react in a predictable manner. He could influence what the Goa'uld did...and eventually...Habib shivered imperceptibly at the possibilities. It might not take as long to rid themselves of their 'god' and his 'pet' as they'd feared. He, however, would be much more careful than his predecessor. "What I hear, I will tell you," Habib promised.
"Good. Thank you. I know that you take your duties as seriously as I," Kinsey said. "Working together, we will serve our god, and protect him from those who would dare to move against him."
What a posturing buffoon, Habib thought irritably. As annoying as Tem! But if using this whore would bring down the Goa'uld who had shown up after so many centuries, sending every Jaffa loyal to the Temple of Tem to their death, this fool who rounded up young men and declared them Jaffa before they were ready, then he would do so. "You are welcome, Kinsey. I am certain the results of our...efforts...will be most rewarding."
I think so too, you damned old bastard, Kinsey thought. "I believe you're right," he said aloud.
A A A A A A
Wearing cut-off blue jeans and her bikini top, Casey followed Daniel between the dozens of parked cars. Enjoying the sight of his muscular legs in his blue-jean cut-offs. And that extremely sexy ass. And those broad, bare shoulders.
When they stepped onto the sidewalk he automatically reached for her, and almost laughed out loud when a group of men standing nearby visibly sighed with disappointment. Eat your hearts out, he thought gleefully. He draped one arm around her shoulders, tossed the towels over the opposite shoulder and led her toward the sprinklers. The sounds of laughter and shouting echoed up and down the brick walkway.
As soon as they were close enough, Casey gave a whoop and ran to join a group of people who were dashing madly back and forth through the fine spray of water. She turned to watch Daniel approach. He dropped the towels nearby, in one of the relatively 'dry' spots. She held her hand out, waited for him to take it.
"Whoa! That's cold!" he complained as soon as he was inside the spray.
"It feels wonderful!" she exclaimed, holding her arms straight out, her head tilted back.
He shook his head. For someone who chilled as easily as Casey did, she adjusted damned quickly to the water whenever they went swimming...or came here to play in the sprinklers. A family of five...mom, dad, and three little ones, the oldest looked to be about six, he guessed...were running back and forth nearby. He watched them for a few minutes. Then looked over at Casey. She hadn't said anything, but he'd noticed that lately she'd taken to watching babies and toddlers. Was she ready to start a family? His heart thumped in his chest at the thought. Sha're had told him often that she'd give him many strong sons. She'd never had the chance. He hadn't thought he'd ever love again, ever have the opportunity to even think about having a family of his own.
"Nothing's wrong, Angel," he replied.
When she was ready to talk to him about the subject, she would. He'd examine his own feelings then. No need to worry about it now. "I'm sure."
"Hey!" a familiar voice called.
Casey and Daniel turned toward it in unison.
Cassie Fraiser hurried over, three young ladies and four young men just behind her. "Hi!"
"Hello, Cassie," Daniel smiled.
"Hi, Cassie," Casey said, giving the young woman a very wet hug.
"Mom said you had the day off," Cassie said.
"And tomorrow, too," Casey grinned.
"I know you deserve it," the young woman replied.
"Just recharging our batteries a bit," Daniel admitted. He kept an eye on the young men of the group his 'god-daughter' was apparently with. Especially the tall skinny kid with blonde hair, who seemed to be staring at Cassie's back. Or her ass, he wasn't exactly sure which. The teenager was dressed like the others, in her swimwear. A tiny bikini that he was certain Janet would never approve of. "So is Janet here?"
"Nope, she's working," Cassie said.
Casey looked up at his face. He wasn't even bothering to hide the scowl that had formed. She poked him in the side with her elbow.
"Ow!" What in the hell had possessed her to do that? Daniel wondered grumpily.
"Love the bikini," Casey said smoothly.
Cassie beamed. "Thanks! It took forever to talk Mom into letting me have it, and I really wanted the thong bottoms, but she absolutely refused. She can be so old-fashioned."
She couldn't help but smile. "She's just trying to protect you."
"I know," Cassie nodded. "But I'm seventeen, I think I can decide for myself what's right for me."
The kid was definitely looking at her ass, Daniel decided. He was about to step over the sprinkler and go have a little talk with the punk when a soft hand on his arm stopped him. When he looked over at her, green eyes held a warning.
"We're going to head over to Sonic for some food, we're starving!" Cassie announced.
"Be sure to reapply your sunblock," Casey said.
"I will. Geez, you're as bad as Mom," the teenager complained. But she was smiling.
"You too! See you later!"
"Bye, Cassie," Casey smiled.
"Cassie..." Again with the elbow in the ribs! "See you later," he said, frowning down at Casey. He waited until the group of teenagers was out of earshot. "What the hell was that about?"
"She just wanted to say hello."
"Not that," he huffed. "The elbow in the ribs!"
"You looked as if you were going to take Robert apart with your bare hands," Casey replied easily. She wiped her hands over her face, turned around so that her back was toward the spray of cool water.
"You know his name?"
"I met him at Janet's one night when we were playing poker," Casey informed him.
"Oh. Wait, you and Sam and Janet were playing poker?"
"Mmmhmm. Cathy Masterson, Tiesha Taylor, and Gracie Williams were there as well. Cassie had a date with Robert, and we all got to meet him."
"And you never thought to tell me about this? Does Jack know?"
She burst into giggles. "Who Cassie dates is really none of your business, Daniel. As long as Janet approves, Cassie can date whomever she pleases."
"Date? Her and that punk alone? She's just a kid!"
"That 'kid' is seventeen, Daniel. Cassie is a young woman," Casey said gently.
"Yeah, well..." he ran his hand through his hair in frustration. Just when in the hell had that happened? When had that sweet little girl from Hanka grown up? It hadn't been that long ago that they'd found her, terrified and alone...had it?
"I think it's adorable that you're so protective," she said softly.
Daniel grinned. "Yeah?"
He reached out and pulled her toward him, hugged her tightly. "That kid had better watch his step," he growled.
"I think he's probably more afraid of Janet than he ever will be of you. Or Jack."
Daniel gave this thought a bit of consideration. Janet could be downright frightening when she was on a rampage. Her temper was every bit as hot as Casey's. And Sam's. What was it about the women of the SGC? There wasn't one of them who was safe to turn your back on if they were pissed off. Must be what made them so good at what they did...that fire. "You're probably right," he admitted.
"I wonder if my Dad would have been as...over-protective," she said softly.
"If your Dad had been in the picture when we first met, I'd still be making trips to Tacoma to see you," Daniel replied. "I'd probably have to stand out on the sidewalk, and you'd have to stay on the porch, and your dad would be sitting inside polishing his shotgun."
The mental picture his comment conjured was just too funny. She began laughing so hard she started squeaking, much to the amusement of those around them. "When we met I was almost twenty-seven!"
"Yeah? Your point would be? It wouldn't matter if you had been forty-seven. Your dad would have behaved the same way," Daniel insisted.
"I doubt it," Casey said, once she'd caught her breath. "Nothing...and no one...could have come between us," she said softly, looping her arms around his neck.
"Destiny," he agreed softly. And dipped his head to kiss her, the cool water splashing down over them. It did nothing to stop the inferno that began to burn in his body, to match the fire that burned in his heart for her.
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