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Devil's Brigade

Chapter 9

The day had been a busy one, spent catching up on all of the chores that had accumulated during their hectic weeks of missions. They'd spent the morning running errands, debating on the wisdom of purchasing too much in the way of fresh fruit and veggies and dairy products. Casey had an ingrained aversion to waste. Having to pour out milk that was past the expiration date, and sour because they hadn't been home to use, it still made her cringe.

He'd caught up on email and the ever present requisition forms that required his attention, while she'd caught up on the laundry. Lydia had been in the day before, the house was spotless, and for the first time Casey was actually glad that Daniel had insisted that 'his' cleaning lady continue to work for them after they'd moved into the house.

After a bit of cajoling on Daniel's part, Casey had taken a long bath, relaxing in the jasmine scented water for nearly an hour. He'd showered, dropped a kiss on the top of her head, encouraging her to take as long as she wanted, and had disappeared into the bedroom.

Daniel was lying in bed reading when she walked into the bedroom, still brushing her long, just dried tresses.

"Love that outfit, babe," he grinned, looking up at her.

She glanced down at her naked body, giggled slightly. "Just something I tossed over my bones."

He chuckled. Closed his book, 'Treasure Island' to be precise, and put it on the bedside table. "C'mere, you," he said softly.

Her breath caught in her throat as she watched his body stir to life. She crossed the room. Put her hairbrush on top of his book. When he slid over on the bed, she stretched out beside him, bent her arm, leaned her head on her hand. She ran her fingertips from his chin to the top of the dark blonde patch of curls that surrounded his now swollen erection. "You're magnificent," she whispered.

The warmth in his cheeks alerted him to the fact that he was blushing. Only in her eyes was he anything other than a simple man, an archaeologist...a geek. "Only to you," he whispered in return.

She shook her head. "To anyone who sees you...who knows you."

He put his hand behind her head, pulled her close for a kiss. "What you do to me," he murmured, just before his lips touched hers. His tongue moved over her lips...gently touching her, then applying a bit more pressure, then just the tip on her full lower lip, rewarded when she gasped and opened to him. He surged forward...tasting her, touching her.

Kissing Daniel was all it took to make her world right. To push back the fears and the anger and the feelings of inadequacy. To set her body...her heart...her very soul on fire with love and passion. She accepted his invitation to touch him, taste him. Her fingers moved over his face, the tactile input making her shiver with delight.

She never took before giving, and she was giving him all that she was, her kiss telling him that all he wanted, all he needed, was his for the taking. Her sweet kisses could heal his soul, make his heart sing, make his body burn with desire. He could feel her need, that passion that lurked just beneath the surface. Knew that his caresses, his kisses would loose that wild side of her, that soon she'd be demanding greedily what only he could give her. Knowledge that thrilled him to the core of his being.

That male part of him, hard and throbbing, was pushing against her belly. The sensation sent flames of need up and down her spine, was echoed in the pulsing of her own hot center. It increased the need to touch him, taste him. She slowly moved her lips from his, over his jaw, where the day's growth of beard rasped against her tongue. To his throat, where she set out to anoint every inch with a soft kiss.

He closed his eyes, rolled to his back in response to the gentle pressure of her hand, let her take what she wanted, even as she continued to give him pleasure. Her fingers were moving up and down his chest, his side, toying with nipples that hardened at her touch, caressed the skin of his hip, combed through the hair around his aching cock. He groaned when her fingers grazed his balls, and continued down his thigh.

The soft groan thrilled her, made her heart hammer against her ribs. She knew what he wanted...what he needed. Her lips and tongue blazed a trail over his collarbones, down to those strong pecs. Teased brown, flat nipples until they were pebbled against his skin, and his breath was coming hard and fast, his chest rising and falling with each effort to pull more air into his lungs. His belly rolled beneath her mouth as she gave it her attention, thrusting her tongue into his bellybutton.

A moan of gratitude passed his lips when she wrapped her hand around him, began to tenderly stroke him. His entire body tensed in anticipation when her lips left his body. Her eyes locked with his, and he couldn't help but smile at the glee that filled them as she slowly...oh god so slowly...took him into her mouth. "That's it, do it," he whispered. Saw the flare of excitement in those green depths, felt the shiver in her body. "Suck me, babe, give me what only you can."

She loved it when he said things like that. It was such a turn on! Her hand caressed balls heavy with the need to come. The other moved up and down the shaft of his erection, giving him as much pleasure as her mouth. Casey had always been observant, had listened to what those around her were saying. And talk in the ladies locker room offered her many new ideas and insights. She positioned herself on her knees, leaning forward, slurping and gobbling the cock in front of her as if it were her last meal.

Oh, damn that feels good! Did she have any idea just how much it meant to him that she was so willing to make love to him like this? He knew her jaw had to be aching, yet she never slowed up, only changed the rhythm of her movements now and then to keep him from reaching his climax too soon. He watched the sparkle in her eyes...could see a look of absolute joy. And then a touch of mischief. He grinned. He was gonna die. Yep, that look meant she was going to do her best to give him a heart attack. And he was going to love every minute of it...every second of wonderful agony...he always did.

She began to suck steadily on the head of his erection, her tongue moving over that sensitive underside, teasing, tormenting with each flick. Her hands began to move down his shaft, never leaving the throbbing cock untouched, when one fist reached his balls, the other was already on the way down.

"Oh, god," he moaned. Closed his eyes as she worked him with so much love it was tangible. He could feel the heat build, could see his climax shimmer...just out of reach...so close...so close.

That's what she wanted...moans and groans and sighs that let her know that she was pleasing him, that he was moving toward that pinnacle of pleasure that she was working so hard to build for him. She felt him swell more, grow just a bit harder...his shaft like a steel rod now. He was almost there. She moved her head back and forth just a little, adding more movement to her tongue. Then she relaxed, moved down over him, felt him slide into her throat, and began to swallow, her hands now stroking him hard and fast.

"Sweet Jesus!" His shoulders were off of the bed, his toes curled, his body rigid as he began to erupt, the waves of pleasure pushing him higher and higher, until he was spinning among the stars. The ride was over...his body was trembling from the aftermath of sensations that had overwhelmed his senses.

She cleaned him carefully with her tongue, kissed and licked her way up his chest, then kissed him gently. "Lots of praying going on."

He laughed out loud. "Smartass!"

"Better?"

"Unbelievable."

"Good." She snuggled close to his side. Smug with contentment, knowing that she'd given him pleasure, that she'd done for him what no other woman in his life had ever been willing to offer him.

"My turn," he whispered, rolling to his side, putting her on her back. "Now I get to taste you...tease you...send you flying."

His eyes had grown darker with every word. She shivered with delicious expectation. She'd fly...she'd soar among the stars. But he'd torture her, prolong the sweet agony until she was certain she could take no more...and every moment would be incredible. "Please," she whispered, "take me to that place where only you can take me."

His heart pounded his reply. He took her hand, put in over that rapidly beating organ. "That's what you do to me," he whispered. "God, I love you!"

"I love you, Daniel," she sighed.

He leaned forward to kiss her, caught her full lower lip between his teeth, traced it with his tongue...nibbled her lips, caressed her tongue with his own. Smiled inwardly when he felt her hands in his hair, felt her fingers begin to curl.

He was toying with her...making her wait...drawing out the anticipation. Making love with Daniel was not only passionate and fulfilling and a most beautiful expression of their love, it was fun and playful and made her heart sing and her soul soar into the heavens. She never could have dreamed of a life so full of happiness, a love so deep and strong, of feeling whole for the first time in her life. Every moment with him was a moment spent in sunshine, regardless of what the weather was outside of their windows.

She tipped her head back, offering her throat to him. In the animal kingdom, such an act was one of submission, of complete trust. The random thought made him smile even wider mentally. He covered that fragrant skin with tiny kisses. Pressed his lips against the artery that pulsed with every beat of her heart, noted that it grew quicker, as her breath became shallower, faster. He ran his tongue up and down the muscle that connected her slender shoulder to her elegant neck, just before he bit her...not hard, just enough to let her feel his teeth. Her gasp and shiver let him know that she approved. The shivers intensified when he began to suckle that sensitive spot behind her ear.

Every touch, every kiss, every lick, every nip sent fingers of pleasure racing up and down her spine, spread warmth throughout her body, and centered between her thighs. That now familiar ache was beginning to build, would be excruciating before he finally allowed her to take flight. Without even being aware of it, her fingers curled tightly, holding onto him as he began to orchestrate the symphony that would send her dancing among the stars.

His hand moved over her, from her shoulder, down her arm, to her hip, over her narrow waist, until his fingers felt the curve of her breast. He cupped the tender flesh, ran his thumb over a hard nipple, felt the corresponding response in her body. Making love with her...to her...was sheer delight. Every sigh, every shiver, every soft cry and moan were for him, and him alone. He was the only man who had ever made love to her...ever tasted her sweetness. The only man she gave herself to so completely. Nothing that had happened to her could ever change those facts, could never take that honor away from him.

When his lips closed around an aching nipple, she sighed, closed her eyes as he began to suckle. His beauties. That's what he called her breasts. She smiled. He 'greeted' them every morning. Pouted if she was already up and dressed when he awoke on their days off, until she took off her shirt and bra and allowed him to play. Which usually led to other things. She was well aware that their love life was special. That they were very...active...even for relative newlyweds. Although they wouldn't qualify as such for much longer. A year. They'd been together a year. And what an amazing year it had been!

The taste of her...the smell of her...the feel of her satiny skin beneath his fingertips, the hard buds of her nipples against his tongue, all had him rising again, his need stirring deep within him. His addiction was beginning to make itself known, demanding that he move on, leave the beautiful breasts that he loved, investigate that sweet, succulent flesh between her thighs, where the sweetest of all nectar waited for him. He was shaking with need as he began to cover her flat belly with his kisses, taking the time to tug that tiny little platinum ring that glinted against her skin. Felt her body jerk, heard her soft gasp. That sexy little inny belly button was extremely sensitive with the addition of her piercing. And he did so love to tease her. His tongue invaded that tiny space, which brought forth a soft moan that made his cock throb in reply.

Her back wasn't touching the bed...not that she was actually cognizant of that fact. Nor was she conscious of the fact that she was beginning to tug at the hair that filled her hands, tickled her palms. All she was aware of was his touch...the way he was kissing her, the caresses that were driving her crazy with need. His hands wrapped around her, gently applied pressure, until she was lying on the bed, rather than half-arched off of it. Her hips pressed up against him, a silent plea for him to give her what she needed...wanted from him. She knew that the time he spent arousing her was done to please her, to make her ready to take his impressive manhood into her body. But it was also done so that she'd give to him what he desperately needed from her...what he called her 'sweet nectar'. She almost giggled out loud. What a lovely side benefit for her, that for him to get what he needed, she had to be completely turned on...had to come.

The pressure of her hips against him brought a smile to his lips. She was close...so very close. He'd partake of her intoxicating honey, and then he'd send her into orbit. He slid down, wrapped his hands around her slender thighs. Her sweet scent surrounded him, he drew a deep breath, filling his nose, his lungs with her. He looked up at her. Her eyes were dark with desire, her breath coming in soft gasps. Holding her gaze, he lowered his head...nuzzled the soft curls just above her soft pink cleft of womanhood. Ran his tongue from the top of that wet slit to the that warm opening and back again.

She gasped...moaned softly.

Yes! Let me hear you beg, babe, he thought excitedly, his body going ever harder with each reaction. They continued to stare at one another as his tongue moved over her warm folds. Caught any stray drops of the nectar that had escaped her sweet well, making him want more...need more.

"Please," she whispered...begged. "Please..."

Triumphant, he shoved his tongue into her honey pot. Watched as she closed her eyes, listened to the low moan that filled her throat, took down the flood of sweet, sweet nectar, quenching the thirst that she created in him, quelled the need, and felt the rush of adrenaline from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. When he'd satisfied his cravings, he began to explore the soft folds once again, his tongue moving over them, flicking her swollen clit with every pass. Her hips jerked each time, her fingers were tugging his hair just a bit harder now.

Absolute bliss shimmered just above her now...she reached for it...stretched to touch it...felt her body stiffen in anticipation...

Swollen and hard, her clit peeked boldly from the pink hood, begging for his attention. The tip of his tongue moved in circles around it. When he slowly took it into his mouth, a soft whimper filled the air. He began to caress the little nub with his tongue, slid his fingers into her warm well. Set up a rhythm that had her hips pushing up against his face.

"Nngg...yes!"

Oh, hell yes! His cock throbbed, his heart pounded with sheer joy knowing that he was pleasing her, making her feel as good as she'd made him feel earlier with her loving ministrations to his body. Time for her to fly. He stroked deep and hard, increased the pressure of his tongue against her. When he felt her well begin to tighten slightly, that sweet whimper fill her throat, he began to flick his tongue back and forth. The whimper built up, became a sweet song of love.

Lights flashed, colors whirled behind her eyelids as he composed the final notes of the overture. She cried out when waves of pleasure washed over her from head to foot, tossing her into the clouds, propelling her into the stars. Her body shook, her hips were in perpetual motion against his face as he continued to lick her, taking down every drop that flowed from her.

With a grunt of need, Daniel rose up, slid forward and sheathed himself in that convulsing well. Her arms and legs were around him, pulling him close before he'd a chance to fully settle over her. Whispering his love in her ear, listening to her soft declarations in return, he began the final movement of their symphony of love, his hips moving slowly, pushing him deep into her body.

She rejoiced as he pushed deep into her, hesitating just long enough for her to experience that sensation of being full...so full. She was completely full of Daniel, he filled not only her body, but her heart, her mind, he held her very soul in his warm hands. Her hips met his, step for step as she followed his lead. He nuzzled her cheek, she turned her head slightly, gave herself up to his kiss. Her body hadn't even recovered from her first climax, and he was moving her toward her next one. She concentrated, massaged the length of him each time he pushed into her...his pleasure her only concern.

When he felt that deep massage begin, he knew that it wouldn't be long until he was pounding into her, the need too strong to fight. And she'd be right there with him, grinding against him with total abandon, taking as much as she gave. He loved it when she was wild and out of control.

"More," she whispered.

That soft whispered burned through his brain, settled in his cock. He began to move faster, determined to give her exactly what she wanted...all the while making the sweet ride last as long as possible.

The room was filled with the sound of their labored breathing, and the scent of their lovemaking. The small lamp beside the bed painted their shadows on the wall as they continued their intimate, ancient dance of love.

She was almost there, could feel the tingling that meant she was about to go over the edge. Tightening her grip on his shoulders, she pushed her hips harder against his each time he moved downward, into her. He was beginning to move back and forth with every thrust, the added stimulation exactly what she needed. Just a bit more...closer...closer...

He could feel her thighs quiver against his sides. The whimper filled her throat. "Fly, babe. Give it to me," he whispered.

The whimper in her throat built up until she was moaning loudly, her body shaking as she experienced her second orgasm of the night. "Love me, Daniel," she whispered in his ear, still breathing hard; his movements keeping her riding the waves of pleasure.

He rose up on outstretched arms, began to drive into the willing body beneath him, her legs never letting him move too far from her. Her hands were wrapped around his biceps as she clung to him. The convulsing of her well was sending messages to his brain...and with a cry he gave up the control he'd been clinging to and raced over the cliff, and into her arms, spiraling amid waves of sensation so powerful he could see spots in front of his eyes. Completely spent, he collapsed on top of her.

She held him close, ran her hands over his back as his breathing began to slow. She always loved the few moments when he was on top of her like this, his weight pinning her to the bed, his body weak from the force of the love they'd shared.

Too heavy...he was too heavy for her. With a groan of exertion, he managed to roll to his back. Wrapped his arms around the slender body lying on top of him, held her close. "Love you, Angel."

"Love you, too," she replied.

Satiated, at least for the time being, he thought with a grin, he closed his eyes. Let his hands drift up and down the smooth, warm skin of her back.

For the first time in weeks a feeling of peace settled over her. No doubt the future held more grief for them. More danger. But for now they'd be allowed a bit of a break. A chance to catch their breath, for the wounds on their souls to heal...for them to 'recharge' their mental and emotional batteries. "Daniel?"

"Hmm?"

"I think things are going to be...quiet...for awhile anyway."

"Good." The past few months had been agonizing. Infuriating. Frustrating. Terrifying. To know that for awhile, a few weeks hopefully, they'd be able to avoid anything more stressful than recon missions, or working on translations, or instructing cadets soothed his weary heart. "Good," he repeated softly.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Two days later, rested, ready to return to work, the members of SG-1 converged on Warehouse Two. Twenty cadets would soon experience their first simulation with the famous SG-1.

Jack loved to intimidate the cadets, and nothing scared them more than staring up into the stony black face of a Jaffa. He assigned Teal'c as the 'keeper' for this particular group. Ferretti had already given him a report on this 'class'. Which ones showed promise. Which ones were trouble makers. Which ones wouldn't make it past the first off world mission.

Teal'c headed for the classroom, his teammates would make certain that his pack and staff weapon were ready for him. Colonel O'Brien had left a message for him. He read it carefully. Allowed himself a smile. A warrior must often seek information that would aid him in any way, whether it was in the battlefield...or in a classroom. A good warrior knew when to accept help with that which he could not fight alone.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Standing in the front of the room, Teal'c stood with his feet apart, his arms crossed over his massive chest. These cadets hoped to become part of the elite forces of the top secret Stargate Command. He already knew that by the end of the six week training period, fewer than half would remain. Twenty faces stared up at him. They were waiting for him to dismiss them from the classroom for the day. Colonel O'Brien had left only moments earlier, after concluding their chemistry instruction. The members of SG-1 had arrived, coming through the door at the back of the room. Their arrival had gone unnoticed for nearly three minutes. Something that didn't please Jack.

Two young men who were sitting at the back of the class gave each other a laughing glance. One of them raised his hand into the air.

"Yes?" Teal'c asked.

"So, do you know anything about chemistry?"

"I have learned a few things," the Jaffa admitted. More since Colonel O'Brien had arrived at the SGC. The man was friendly, and had a way of making even the most difficult theories understandable. The colonel had made his own assessment of this particular 'class' of cadets, which he'd shared with Teal'c.

Another exchanged glance. Grins went wider. "Well, the colonel was talking about Boyle's Law today," the young man said. "He said that it was possible to use the principal to prove or disprove even hypothetical situations. Like the existence of Hell."

The young man's companion snorted with barely suppressed laughter.

Not one of the cadets who were sitting in the classroom would have ever guessed that Teal'c of Chulak, the stoic member of the legendary SG-1, leader of the Jaffa Rebellion, had a wicked sense of humor. They didn't know him. And they were about to be proven wrong in their assumptions.

"Indeed."

"Well, using Boyle's Law, can you tell us whether Hell is exothermic or endothermic?" Several guffaws echoed across the room, the offenders quickly ducking their heads, hoping to avoid the cold stare of their instructor.

The Jaffa's dark cheek twitched. "As the concept of 'hell' is not a solely Tau'ri belief, we must agree that for the sake of answering your question, we will deal only with the concepts of hell as believed by those on the First World, as this is your home. Do we agree?"

A bit surprised, the young man nodded. "Uh...yeah...sure...agreed," he stammered.

"First," Teal'c said, "we must ascertain how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we must determine the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I believe that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, we must look at the different religions that exist on Earth. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you are doomed to Hell. As there are more than one of these religions and as people do not typically belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we must look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added."

The cadets began to shift in their seats, looking nervously at one another. In the back of the room, Jack, Sam, Casey, and Daniel were exchanging looks of utter disbelief.

"This results in two possibilities," Teal'c continued. "The first possibility...If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose. The second possibility...If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over. So which is it?"

At this point, not one of the cadets was willing to say anything. They were watching the Jaffa carefully. The two young men in the back, who'd been certain that they were going to be able to taunt the large man, their daring being outpaced only by their stupidity, sat with their mouths hanging open.

The four members of SG-1 stared at Teal'c. They'd had no idea that the Jaffa was even aware of Boyle's Law. Daniel, Jack, and Casey certainly didn't know about it...chemistry not being their forte.

"If we accept the postulate given to me by Drey'auc, before she agreed to become my wife, that, 'it will be a cold day in Hell before I marry you', and take into account the fact that I did indeed marry her, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over, and did so when she agreed to become my wife."

Casey began to giggle. Sam was biting her lip, her smile as wide as it could get. Jack and Daniel exchanged surprised, amused looks, and began to snicker.

"The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a Divine Being, which explains why, on the night of our joining, Drey'auc continued to cry out, 'Oh my God'."

Four voices from the back of the room howled with laughter. The cadets began to smile and chuckle. The two young men slouched down into their seats.

"Are there any other questions?"

When it was obvious that no one was willing to make a sound, although it would have been difficult to have heard anyone over the raucous laughter still coming from the back of the room, Teal'c nodded. "You will line up, in formation, on the training field. Dismissed."

Chairs scrapped against the floor. Twenty cadets fled the room. Two young men led the flight.

Sam wiped her eyes. "Teal'c, where did you ever learn that?"

The large man grinned. "It is a joke that Doctor Lee and Doctor Felger found quite amusing several days ago. Colonel O'Brien explained it to me. I merely adapted it to fit the needed criteria."

Casey was leaning against Daniel, tears streaming down her face. "Oh, my god!"

Jack and Daniel began to howl again. "Well, we know he exists, right? It's been proven," Jack gasped. It took several more minutes for him to regain control. "Teal'c that was priceless."

Teal'c was grinning broadly. "I believe I have proven that a warrior must be prepared in all manner of ways. Battles are not always waged on a battlefield."

For the second time, Sam wiped the tears from her eyes. "I should have you explain Boyle's Law in every chem class!"

This idea led to more laughter from the team. It was nearly fifteen minutes before they were finally able to join the waiting cadets. Not one word of complaint was heard.

 

 

 

For the remainder of the day, all it took to dissolve the team into fits of hysterics was for one of them to cry out "Oh, my god!" Once again the cadets proved their inability to read a situation properly. They believed that SG-1 would be unable to focus on the simulation, that the team was too distracted by what had happened in the classroom earlier. The young people were expecting an easy 'win'. After all, there were twenty of them, and only five team members.

By four in the afternoon, all of the cadets were sitting in the warehouse, bound hand and foot with the plastic ties.

Jack paced slowly around them, stopped to prod one or another with the toe of his boot. "They're alive," he announced. The team waited for him to continue. "However, they're about as bright as pond scum."

"Sir, I hardly think insulting them is going to help the situation," Sam said, right on cue.

"They don't listen." He looked over the very subdued group. He looked at the young man who had been stupid enough to try and bait Teal'c. "Hooper!"

"Sir! Yes, sir!'

"You have two magazines for your P90. You're surrounded by Jaffa. You count sixty. How long to take them out?"

The young man frowned. "Not more than a couple of minutes, sir. The time will vary depending on how long it takes to change the mag."

"And just what makes you say that?"

"Well, sir, the P90 fires 900 rounds a minute." The young man's eyes flickered to the colonel's face, to see if the fact that he knew this particular little tidbit of information had impressed him. It hadn't. "Two magazines hold fifty rounds each, so it wouldn't take more than a few seconds to empty both.  Taking out sixty Jaffa shouldn't take more than a minute, maybe a minute and a half."

Jack looked at Casey. "What do you think, Case? How long will it take to get rid of them?"

"No clue, Colonel," she replied. "If I'm alone and surrounded by Jaffa, I'm keeping my skinny ass down and out of sight, until I can get to the 'gate and either get home, or send a message for backup."

With a grin, Jack nodded. Then pointed as the slender blonde. "She listens. She learns. And she remembers."

"Have you ever been in that situation? Sir?" Hooper asked.

"More times than I care to think about," Jack retorted.

Casey turned slightly, not willing to let anyone see the tears that filled her eyes every time that damned mission filled her thoughts. An action not missed by the restrained cadets. Who began to exchange nervous glances.

Jack crouched down in front of Hooper. "Pack your gear, son. You'll be debriefed, and then report to whatever post you'd been assigned before you got here," he said quietly, firmly.

"Sir-"

"You're bright, Hooper. Stupid sometimes, but you've got book smarts. You have absolutely no sense when it comes to doing what you should, or not doing what you shouldn't. I don't think you do it on purpose. But you do. Coupled with that attitude of yours, you wouldn't last five minutes out there. And I won't risk the lives of any team you might be assigned to. You're a danger not only to yourself, but to anyone with you."

Anger flared in hazel eyes, then died under the unwavering stare of the colonel. Shoulders slumped, the young man nodded. Humiliated to be the first cut from the group.

Jack moved around the cadets, quietly telling two others who'd failed to make the grade that they, too, would be moving on to their previously assigned duty posts. Of the twenty, seventeen remained. "Cut 'em loose," he ordered.

The team rode back to the base together. "Not bad for the first cut, only lost three," Jack commented.

"Indeed," Teal'c agreed.

"I think we can figure to lose about half of those left," Sam said.

"They try so hard," Casey said softly.

"Yeah, they do," Jack replied. "But they don't all walk on the edge."

She nodded her understanding. Unless the cadets fully understood what was being asked of them, and wanted to do the job anyway, they weren't suitable for the SGC. "Nuts. Bonkers. Crazy. Insane..."

"Whacked out...screws loose," Jack grinned.

"Elevator doesn't go all the way to the top," Sam added.

"Lights on, nobody home," Daniel grinned as well, putting an arm around her shoulders and tugging her close.

"I believe we are all one sandwich shy of a picnic," Teal'c intoned. Which sent his teammates into fits of laughter once again.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Back within the concrete walls of the SGC, the team members found messages waiting for them. General Hammond wanted to see them as soon as they returned.

Jack gathered his team, led them to the general's office, knocked on the door. "You wanted to see us, sir?"

The general looked up, motioned them into the room. "So how many cadets did we lose this afternoon?"

"Three," Jack replied. "Is that what you wanted to know, sir?"

"No, Colonel. There are a couple of things, actually. Arrangements have been made for you, as a team, Doctor Fraiser, and I to have a private meeting with the president. We leave day after tomorrow."

Casey nodded. A stipulation of the Immortality that General Hammond and Dr. Fraiser had received was that the President of the United States had to be made aware of the seven Immortals who now worked for the Stargate Program. She'd insisted that it be done as soon as possible. The order had to be written, and added to the 'Roswell File'.

"The second reason, sir?"

"I received a message from the Tok'ra."

Daniel stiffened. "Then this doesn't concern us," he said coldly. Wrapped his hand around Casey's arm, started for the door.

"Actually, Doctor, the message stipulates that you and Casey especially are invited."

He paused. "Invited, sir?"

General Hammond smiled. "It seems that the Tok'ra are holding a ceremony in which SG-1 will be honored with some medal or another. And then a reception will follow."

They exchanged glances. "Sir, this could be...well...it's almost as if..." Sam said.

"An apology, yes, I know. In fact, according to Jacob, that's exactly what this is all about. An attempt to make amends for all that's happened in the past year."

Jack narrowed his eyes. "They're up to something."

"I agree, Colonel," General Hammond agreed. "I believe their situation is dire, especially without the aid of the Tau'ri. This is a gesture made to maintain the treaty."

"Party, huh?" Jack asked. He looked at his 'kids'. "Whadda'ya say campers? Willing to party with the Tok'ra?"

Casey looked up at Daniel. "They understand," she said softly. "This is a very generous gesture on their part."

He understood enough about the Tok'ra to realize that apologies didn't come easy...or often. Even if they were doing it only in an effort to keep the treaty in place, it was...unexpected. "I suppose it would be rude to refuse."

The general sighed silently. He'd been concerned that no amount of pleading would make the archaeologist go anywhere near the Tok'ra. "I'll send a message of acceptance," he said quietly.

"When is this shindig, sir?" Jack asked.

"Jacob said something about preparations, and not being certain exactly how long it would take. Once you've accepted, they'll finish, he said. And then notify us," Hammond replied.

"Right. Okay, so we wait for the call?"

"So it would seem, Colonel."

"Guess there's nothing we can do about that."

"No, there isn't. That's all," the general said. "Dismissed."

The team filed into the corridor. "Wow, medals from the Tok'ra," Sam said quietly.

"Don't get excited, Major. They're probably recycled pot metal," Jack snorted.

"It would seem that the Tok'ra understand that they need our assistance more than we need theirs," Teal'c mused.

"That's gotta rankle," Jack replied. He checked his watch. "Let's call it a day. We get to put the cadets through their paces again tomorrow."

They moved toward the elevator. Each of them were surprised at the apparent attempt by the Tok'ra to mend the strained relations between them and the Tau'ri. Each of them suspected that there was more to the effort.

Casey frowned slightly, reaching out, seeking to learn if there as any deception involved. Began to smile. "That sweet man," she said softly.

"What?" Daniel asked.

She looked up at him. "Nothing," she replied. A bit of a vacation. Just what the team needed. She decided to make certain her bikini was where she thought it was. It would certainly be a nice break from the cold Colorado winter.

THE END 


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