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As often happened in the early spring, one day could be glorious and sunny and warm, the next reminding all that winter wasn't quite finished. Given that spring hadn't even arrived officially...according to the calendar...to wake up to gray skies wasn't a surprise.
Casey pulled her flannel robe around her shivering frame. Kissed her husband's stubble darkened chin, and quietly slipped from the bedroom. Coffee. First, foremost, and most importantly...coffee! Muriel was standing near the French door to the left of the fireplace, looking out at the garden. "Good morning."
Muriel turned around, smiled at the young woman. "Good morning. I didn't wake you, did I?"
"Oh, no! It always happens this way. If I can sleep in, I usually wake up before the alarm is set to go off. If I have to work, I can't seem to open my eyes," Casey replied, offering a warm smile in return. Well, that was true if she and Daniel hadn't spent the night before making love until the wee hours of the morning.
"Maybe you should set your alarm on your days off," the older woman suggested. "Trick your brain into thinking you have to get up. Then you can sleep in."
She giggled. "I'll have to try that." She fumbled for a moment with a paper filter, stuffed it into the coffee maker. Ground the beans. It had been awhile since she'd forgotten to set the machine up the night before. She glanced over her shoulder. "Daniel is a coffee snob. He prefers designer coffee. Well, I call it designer coffee."
Muriel smiled. "Marvin didn't like coffee. Didn't even want it in the
house. I'd wait until he left for work to start my first pot. It was such a
convenience when they came out with instant. Of course, at first, it tasted
"I used to drink instant a lot," Casey admitted. "You said last night that Marvin was a teacher?"
"Yes, he was. He taught history at the Butler high school for almost twenty years. He'd been an elementary teacher before that." She settled onto the sofa, tugged the blanket over her lap.
She couldn't help but wonder if the man had been as stern and cold in the classroom as he had been at home with his family. "Daniel has taught. He still does teach occasionally at the Air Force Academy. Mostly language courses."
"He has his father's love of words," Muriel smiled.
"From what you've told us, Daniel is very much like his father," Casey said softly. She moved to stand beside the curio cabinet that held her Grandma Rose's dragons.
"Very much," Muriel confirmed.
"He's thrilled to know that. He adored his father."
"I just wish-" The older woman turned her head, wiped at the tears that started to fall. "I wish I hadn't been such a coward. I wish I'd have tried to contact him when I thought he'd stopped writing."
Casey frowned. "You thought he'd stopped writing?"
Muriel nodded. "The letters just...stopped. I didn't know that Marvin was tucking them away. He hadn't even opened them. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn't destroy them. The letters didn't stop coming until after that August. There was a letter dated June of 1978. I think...I think Melburn wanted very much to bring his wife and son to meet us." She took a shaky breath. "If only I had known."
"Present and future," Casey said gently, sitting down beside her husband's grandmother. Took a wrinkled hand in both of hers. "That's what my Dad says when he starts feeling angry about not knowing about me. Concentrate on the present and the future, because we can't change the past."
"He didn't know about you?"
"Not until last June."
"Oh, that poor man!"
Casey smiled. "Well, we found one another, and that's all that counts. Just like you and Daniel. You've found one another. That's what matters."
"Yes," Muriel said softly. "We've found one another."
A A A A A A
Rachel quietly examined the room. For a bachelor, Jack had a well equipped kitchen. Did he like to cook? Or were some of the things in the room 'left over' from his marriage? An examination of the refrigerator left her smiling. Lots of take out leftovers. Some had been there for awhile. As evidenced by the growth of mold inside and outside of the containers. She'd seen the trash cans near the side of the house when Sam had brought her in the back way yesterday. Did Sam not have a key to the front? Or was it habit to come in the back door? Whatever the reason, it wasn't any of her business, Rachel decided. She gathered the most offensive of the containers, took them outside to discard them. Shivered slightly in the chill of the early morning.
Further searching provided the ingredients for a batch of pancakes. Bulk sausage in the freezer could be turned into patties. Within minutes she had the coffeemaker filled and working its magic, the sausage thawing in the microwave, and the pancake batter ready for a hot griddle. If she could find one.
Jack wandered into the room. Watched in silence for a few minutes as Rachel opened and closed cabinet doors, obviously looking for something. The bowl on the counter was a clue. "I just use a skillet," he said quietly.
She started, turned to face her brother. "Good morning."
"Yeah...morning." How good it was remained to be seen. He and Rachel had made tentative peace. One wrong comment from either of them could see them tossed back into the familiar pattern of arguing...shouting...at one another.
"I thought I'd make breakfast. You took me to dinner last night," she explained, waving her hand weakly toward the bowl of batter.
"Maybe not. But I'd like to do it for you."
"I suppose it's a done deal now," Jack said, pointing with his chin toward the batter that sat waiting.
Rachel tugged at her lip.
"Crap. That's not what I meant. I...I appreciate the effort. Means I don't have to cook."
She offered a tentative smile. "Don't you like to cook?"
"Don't mind the cooking. I'm not so crazy about the cleaning up part," Jack admitted.
"Well who is?"
"Good point. So...pancakes?"
"Do you remember when we used to go to the cabin, and Grandma would always make pancakes for us?" he asked softly.
"I remember. She used to make little animals."
"How'd she do that, anyway?"
Rachel smiled. "C'mere. I'll show you."
Jack found the coated skillet he used when he bothered to make pancakes. He'd done so twice for Sam. Once after she'd nearly killed him wearing that little leather outfit, and...Nope, don't think about that, O'Neill, or you'll embarrass yourself! "Here ya go."
"Okay, I'll do the easiest first. Mickey Mouse."
"We never missed that show, did we?"
"No, I don't think we ever did."
"Wonder what happened to our ears."
"Mom kept them. They're in my attic now."
"I could send them to you, if you'd like," she offered shyly.
Jack watched her for a moment. "Yeah," he said softly. "I think I'd like that."
"Okay. Take a bit of batter for the head, like this. Then use a smaller spoon, and add batter for the ears, see?"
"Doesn't look so hard."
"You make these for your kids?"
Rachel smiled. "Until they started complaining that they were too old for such childish things."
"Ah, kids. Grow way too damned fast."
"I know...I know it's not easy, but...would you...could you...tell me about Sara and Charlie?"
He swallowed. It wasn't easy to talk about his family. The family he'd once had. Easier now than it had been, thanks to the loving heart of a certain nosy, busy-bodied little seer who talked too damned much. "He was something, Rach."
"With you for his father, how could he not be?"
Jack gave a crooked smile. "I met Sara when I was stationed in Tinker, Oklahoma. I was only there TAD for six months. That's all it took."
Rachel poured two mugs of coffee. "Knocked you for a loop, did she?"
"Didn't know I existed," Jack retorted.
"Yep, she was." Without realizing what he was actually doing, Jack launched into the story of how he had met his wife. Their marriage, a hurried affair at the Justice of the Peace, so that he could get the paperwork turned in, allowing her to accompany him to his duty station in Germany. Their move to Lackland, Air Force Base in Texas, and Charlie's birth. The amazing child his son had been. The duty stations that had followed, punctuated by his absences when he'd gone into Special Ops. His transfer to Peterson. And the catastrophe that had struck there.
Sam listened from the door, arms around her waist, tears in her eyes. She couldn't help but grin from ear to ear as Jack told his sister about seeing her for the first time. Knowing that he'd met his match in a 'scrappy Air Force Captain'. The fact that for five years they'd been unable to act on their feelings, pursue a relationship. How much he loved 'his' blonde 'gizmo expert'. How he'd often contemplated resigning his commission, leaving his position, so that they could be together. His awe of Casey, and how grateful he was that the seer had confronted the President of the United States, paving the way for him to be with the woman he loved. She slipped back into the hallway, towards the bathroom. She had to wash the tears of happiness from her face. Didn't want Jack to know that she had overheard the conversation. Tucking every word into her heart.
A A A A A A
He rolled over...reached for her. Felt nothing but empty bed and cool sheets. He opened his eyes. She was already up. Unusual, given that they had the day off. When the soft murmur of voices filtered to him, the events of the night before flooded his memory. His grandmother!
He flopped onto his back. Covered his face with one hand. He'd never thought about grandparents. Not once during the years when he'd been shuffled from one foster home to another had the idea that he might have family somewhere...grandparents in particular...crossed his mind. He had assumed, he supposed, that the people in charge of his care would have thought of such things. Perhaps they had. From what he'd heard, it would have been in keeping with Marvin Jackson's way of thinking to have denied any knowledge of Melburn Jackson if he had been located, and contacted. After all, his grandfather had disowned his father, hadn't he? If that had happened, there would have been little that the social workers could have done. Even if they'd had proof of his family lineage, forcing the old man to take on an orphan would have been damned near impossible.
He searched his memory. Conversations pertaining to family...anything that his parents might have said. They occasionally spoke of Nick, and the work he was doing. But nothing came to mind regarding the other side of the family; not once had his father mentioned his own parents. Now that he thought about it, he'd never even known exactly where it was that his father had grown up! His mother had lived the majority of her life with her mother in California. That was something he'd discerned at a young age, although he was unable to pull forth the specific reason, the conversation that had planted that bit of information in his head.
After learning about his paternal grandfather, he couldn't say that he blamed his dad for walking away. He'd have done the same thing. He had never been able...been willing...to let others decide the path of his life. Perhaps being 'left alone' at such an early age had added to his sense of independence. He'd found his own way; everything he had, he'd gotten on his own...alone. So, it seemed, had his dad. Still, it had to have hurt, walking away from his family like that. He knew, thanks to his grandmother, that his dad had tried to stay in touch, tried to do the right thing. Marvin Jackson, however, had denied that simple connection to his son, and to his wife. What a bastard!
Maybe that's where I get my cruel streak, Daniel thought. He was well aware of the fact that he could be...cold. That if pushed, he could be manipulative. He fought that part of himself, struggled against the 'dark side' as he'd come to call it. Not often, thank goodness. But there were times when that darkness would raise its head, try to push him into doing what felt good...even if it wasn't always right. He was strong enough to control those urges. Oh, he'd slipped a time or two. Destroying that seplica of Goa'uld young came to mind. He'd been affected by alien devices that seemed to loose that dark side...the sarcophagus, that Light thing...both had had a dangerous narcotic affect on him. Made him cold and uncaring and...cruel. Of course, those instances had been influenced by those devices. Left alone he never would have...
No, he thought, whatever darkness he battled, it was his own. Nothing had been said to indicate that Marvin Jackson had been a cruel man. Just a man unable to show his emotions, a man unswerving in what he believed. Stubborn as a Missouri mule, Grandma had said. He couldn't help but smile. That, it seemed, was something he'd inherited. He remembered his father being especially tenacious when he was arguing about something he believed in.
Daniel reached for his sweats, pulled them on. Grabbed a tee shirt and tugged it over his shoulders. Padded into the great room to see Casey and his grandmother sitting at the dining room table, coffee in hand, chattering away. He paused, watched them for a moment. Family. A feeling of warmth wrapped around him as he stopped to consider the family he had in his life.
He'd been alone for so damned many years. From the day he'd left his final foster home, literally if not technically, according to Social Services; living in the dorm of UCLA, he'd been totally on his own. He'd spent the first holidays his freshman year with his foster parents. It had been the last time he'd actually seen them. After that, he remained alone in the dorm, for the most part, lost in his studies. Throwing himself into any projects he could find that interested him. Given his field of study, there had been an ample supply of such assignments.
When he'd been certain he'd destroyed whatever hope of a career he'd had with a theory his contemporaries weren't ready to hear, to believe, Catherine Langford had offered him the opportunity of a lifetime. He'd spent an entire year on an alien planet, living with people whose lives were the same as those he'd studied for so many years. Feeling as if he belonged for the first time since his parents had been killed. Another tragedy in his life, stealing the happiness he'd only just found...and then he'd become part of one of the most ragtag groups he'd ever known...a colonel so broken by grief that he had wanted to die; a brilliant astrophysicist fighting to make her way through a male dominated military; a warrior who had deserted his own people in order to fight for the freedom of them all. Himself...a disgraced archaeologist. Jack, Sam, and Teal'c had filled his life with their love...their acceptance. They had only one another to turn to...whether on a mission, or when they were on the base, surrounded by the 'best of the best' that the military had to offer. Not realizing that they were among that number.
Without understanding what their tenacity, their creativeness in the field, their cocky 'never say die' attitude was doing for their reputation, certainly without intention, the four of them had become the premier team for the Stargate Program. He'd become a respected, well-liked member of the SGC family. That respect came from scientists of various disciplines. He'd been gratified by that acceptance. The respect also came from the military men and women he'd fought beside. That had certainly been a surprise...especially considering the earliest days of the program.
His life had taken a turn for the better when he'd first learned of the Stargate Program. In spite of Sha're's abduction, and her death, being a part of the SGC had been good for him...to him. He'd finally found friends he could really depend on. He had his memories of that beautiful year on Abydos. His life had been...sufficient. And then he'd taken a wild trip through the wormhole. Wound up in a different reality. Learned that there was a beautiful blonde named Casey who was his Destiny.
His wandering thoughts brought him back to where he stood. Never once during his life had he dreamed he'd have so much. Wouldn't have dared to hope for a woman like his Wife...yet there she was. Didn't think he'd ever have family in his life. But he did...Family of the Heart, as Casey called them. Just when he thought he couldn't be any happier, that there was nothing that he needed in his life, Fate brought his Grandmother to him.
There was no way he would question any of the miracles that had brought him to this place, standing in the kitchen of his own home, watching his Wife and Grandmother as they conversed. He would never examine those miracles too closely, for fear of the Universe taking offense, and stripping him of everything he had. He'd dealt with enough pain, he wouldn't tempt Fate to remind him just how cold, how empty, his life could be.
"Hey, Stud Muffin," Casey said, smiling over her shoulder at him.
"Hey, Angel. Good morning, Grandma."
Muriel's face lit up. "Good morning, honey."
"What's for breakfast?"
Casey sighed, rose to her feet. "I won't even bother asking what you want."
"Your waffles are my favorite," he teased.
"You'll eat anyone's waffles. Just as long as they're waffles."
Daniel shrugged, grinned over at his grandmother. "I like waffles."
Gathering the ingredients she'd need, pulling Grandma Rose's favorite mixing bowl from the cupboard, Casey looked at him. Gave him a smile. "The sun has been peeking out, I thought maybe we could take Grandma to Grant Park?"
"We can do that."
"I know it's a bit early in the season, but already there is so much in bloom there!" Casey explained to the elderly woman.
Muriel smiled. "It sounds lovely, dear."
"When you come back this summer, we'll take a trip up to Pike's Peak. It takes a couple of hours, but it's so worth it! We can either pack a picnic lunch, or eat at one of the summit cafes," Casey said.
Daniel didn't miss the look of surprise in his grandmother's light brown eyes. Followed by excitement. "Maybe you could join us for the 4th of July celebration."
"Yeah, we got gypped out of it last year," Casey complained. "Inconsiderate jerks," she muttered under her breath.
"We go to the parade, then have a barbecue here with friends, then we do the carnival and go to Grant Park to watch the fireworks display."
"It sounds like a very exciting day," Muriel replied.
"It's a lot of fun," Daniel admitted. Of course, he'd only experienced such a full day on that holiday once...the first year he and Casey had been married. He'd never forget it.
"I need to make a run to Piggly Wiggly, if we're going to have lasagna tonight," Casey said.
"No problem," Daniel replied. "You'll love Casey's lasagna. It's the best there is."
"I'm sure it is," Muriel smiled. She recalled Casey mentioning that her aunt had arrived after she and Daniel had left the base. "Tell me about your aunt, dear."
Casey shrugged. "I only just met her, and only for a few minutes. But I like her."
"I'm betting that she likes you, too."
Another shrug of those slender shoulders. "Not much I can do about it if she doesn't."
A A A A A A
Janelle accepted the cup of coffee that Gary had poured for her. "I know I showed up unexpectedly. If you had plans for today-"
"I'd cancel them to spend time with you," he intoned.
She gave him a stern look. Shook her head when he grinned at her. "If you had plans with Janet, I suggest you keep them."
He frowned. He didn't actually. In fact, they hadn't even discussed the weekend. Which, now that he thought about it, seemed rather odd. Usually by the middle of the week Janet had an idea or two of what she wanted to do. Or would ask what he wanted to do. But they would always make plans to be together. Normally Saturday night was their guaranteed night for making love. Their schedules were hectic, and there were times that being together for a couple of hours during a week night was the most they could do.
"Call her," Janelle said softly. "I'll go take a shower."
He nodded. "Towels are in the linen closet beside the sink," he mumbled.
"I'll find them," the older woman promised. She stood, patted his shoulder.
Left alone, Gary stared at his cellphone. Call her, airman. You have to talk to her sooner or later! He had just reached for the device when it began to ring. Checking the caller ID, he felt his heart speed up. "Hey, Charley."
"Hey, boss. So how did the reunion go?"
"Pretty well, as far as I know. Daniel took his grandmother to dinner."
"What about Casey?"
Gary chuckled. "Last night was a bit bizarre. Jack's sister showed up while we were standing in the visitor's lounge. About thirty minutes later, I got a call that I had a visitor. Aunt Janelle was there."
"You're making this up!"
"I swear, it's the truth!"
"I suppose all of that isn't any more unbelievable than Muriel Jackson calling Franklin Enterprises to look for her grandson, Doctor Daniel Jackson," Charley conceded.
"Nope, it's not. Honey, can I call you back? I need to talk to Janet. I have to let her know." Gary would never know that the automatic endearment had Charley's heart racing.
"Sure. Don't be surprised if she's not as broken up as you think she'll be."
"I'm counting on that," Gary admitted. "I don't want to hurt her. But not being honest with her now will hurt her later."
"That's very true. And not being honest with her now will also hurt me. And you," Charley said softly.
"I know, honey. I promise, by midnight, it will be taken care of."
"I'll be happy with knowing that it's dealt with by Monday."
"Yep. Won't you be flying back with Mrs. Jackson?"
He grinned. "As a matter of fact, I will be. I might be staying in KC for a day or so."
"I'd like that," Charley said breathlessly.
"So would I," he responded. "Okay, I have to go. I'll let you know as soon as I talk to Janet."
"I'll be waiting."
He closed the phone, and his eyes. When in the hell had his life become so damned complicated? There was no way to stop the smile that spread across his face. The answer to that was easy. It had happed the day a former classmate had told him that he was a father. Things hadn't been the same since that fateful day. And he wouldn't change one single agonizing, wonderful moment.
A A A A A A
Janet paced from the kitchen, to the dining room, around the living room, to the entry hall, and back again. Her arms were around her waist, her head down, her brow wrinkled with a frown of concentration.
Just how was she going to explain this to Gary? She'd been the one to ask him to move in. There was no way in hell she'd ever probe her feelings of relief when he'd refused to make any sort of commitment. She'd asked again, only because she thought it was expected...not necessarily because she'd wanted him moving into the house with her and Cassie. The first time she'd asked, she really had wanted that. Had spent time daydreaming about having Gary living with her, able to hold her at night while she slept. There whenever she needed him. She loved Gary, she really did. But something had changed. And she'd be damned if she had a clue as to what, or when, that change had occurred.
Teal'c's face flashed across her mind. She very promptly shoved any thoughts of the Jaffa away. She couldn't even begin to deal with that situation until she'd talked to Gary. Why in the hell did this feel so...so...so 'high school'? It was the first time in a very, very long time that she had been the 'dumper', rather than the 'dumpee'. And if what she was feeling now was any indication, it was a lousy situation no matter which side of the equation one stood on.
When the phone rang, she picked it up automatically. It was Saturday. It was either Sam, or one of Cassie's friends. "Hello?"
Oh, hell. "Gary!"
"Are you going to be busy for lunch?"
"Nope. Not at all."
"Good. I'll pick you up. We'll drive over to Denver. We'll have lunch at Big D's Smokehouse?"
She started. It had been there that she and Gary had first admitted their feelings to one another, still trying to come to terms with what was happening between them; neither admitting that the reason they drove to Denver for their 'dates' was because they didn't want anyone from the SGC to see them together. Now that she thought about it, they hadn't been back since that night. At first she thought maybe he was trying to be romantic...was it an 'anniversary'? A quick calculation of the date blew that theory out of the water. Okay, something was up. She could feel it. "That's fine. What time?"
"I'll try to be there around eleven-thirty or so."
"I'll be ready."
"Okay. See you then."
She hung up. There had been no endearments. No 'love ya, honey'. Her heart sank. She wouldn't have to break up with him. He was going to break up with her - just as she'd suspected. That thought ricocheted around in her head for a moment. "Janet Fraiser, get a grip! That's exactly what you want!" she grumped out loud.
Her heart, however, continued to bemoan the fact that once again she was being left by the man she loved. Her mind was quick to point out that the love she had felt for Gary had never been the 'forever and ever' type of love.
Gary had been nothing more than a means to nurse her broken heart when Paul had left her for that captain. And that, she thought gloomily, had just been a lousy situation all around. Paul hadn't been Mr. Right, she'd realized that shortly after they'd begun sleeping together. He had been Mr. Right Now. And at the time, that had been enough. She'd never even considered wanting more than what they had...until the night he'd called to tell her that he had met someone, a woman there in DC.
Janet was honest enough with herself to admit it wasn't so much that she was heartbroken over Paul leaving her. It was just the fact that he had been like every other man she'd been involved with. He'd left her.
And Gary had been there. Not judging, not offering unwanted, unsolicited advice. He'd listened. Let her talk out her feelings and frustrations. Spending time with him had been fun. It had felt good. Gary was attentive and funny and sweet and a damned good lover and she'd been having a good time. But once again, there had never been feelings of permanence.
For a moment she wondered if she'd ever find a man she could see herself spending forever with. Someone who would want to be with her, love her, be in love with her, as much as she was in love with him. Again Teal'c's face flashed behind her closed eyelids. And once again she shoved that thought as far back in her mind as she could.
She'd get ready, go to lunch with Gary. Explain that she loved him, but wasn't in love with him. That she'd like to be his friend. But that the relationship they had wouldn't be continuing. She had a hunch that if she wanted to be the dumper, she'd better speak her piece first...or she'd hear the same speech from his lips.
A A A A A A
Sam walked into the kitchen to hear Rachel and Jack laughing. She paused.
"...never seen you look so startled!" Jack crowed.
"I never expected to catch the damned thing! Grandma insisted that the lake didn't have any fish," Rachel replied, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. She glanced up. "Good morning, Sam!"
"Good morning," Sam smiled. Her smile widened when Jack stood up and gave her a tight hug.
"Good morning, honey," he whispered.
Jack grabbed a mug from the cupboard, poured a cup of coffee. "Rachel is making pancakes."
There were two plates on the table. Both had evidence of having been used already...traces of butter and syrup puddled in the center of each. A third sat on the counter beside the skillet, where another Mickey Mouse pancake was cooking. A platter held what was left of the sausage patties Rachel had made. "So I see." She blew across the top of the mug, sipped at the hot brew.
"We were just taking a stroll down memory lane," Rachel explained.
"That can be fun," Sam allowed, another smile tugging at her lips.
"Occasionally," Jack said. He slid the flexible nylon turner under the pancake, flipped it over.
"So, Sam, what about your family?" Rachel asked. She watched the glance exchanged between the blonde and her brother, then the way Sam's eyes had dropped to the floor. Great, did I just open a can of worms better left alone?
"My brother lives in Denver. My Dad is...out of the country," Sam replied, using a fork to grab the remaining sausage.
"You must get to see your brother often then," Rachel smiled.
"Um...not really. He's pretty busy," Sam said, glancing at Jack again.
"Her brother doesn't care for the military. Likes it even less because his sister is in it," Jack said.
"My father was career military," Sam explained. "It was...difficult...at times when we were growing up. Lots of moves."
"I see." Couldn't say that she blamed this brother. She didn't much care for the military either. And their penchant for secrets.
"Our family consists of us, Daniel and Casey and the T-man," Jack informed Rachel, setting the plate with the now ready pancake in front of Sam. "Right, honey?"
The smile that lit her face was genuine. "Right. Family of the Heart. That's what Casey calls us."
Rachel nodded. She'd heard the phrase for the first time when Casey had been explaining to her just what kind of man her brother was. "It's nice that you have each other."
Jack raised an eyebrow. He didn't know if Rachel had intended the comment to sound as condescending as she had, or if it was her way of pooh-poohing the entire idea. "Yeah, it is. Because when the chips are down, when all hell breaks loose, we only have each other."
The dark haired woman sat back in her chair. "So you all work together?"
"Every day," Jack replied, licking syrup from his finger after snitching a bite of Sam's pancake.
"Don't you need a bit of...space...if you work together like that?"
Jack studied his sister. Didn't believe that she'd ever understand the bonds that were forged between people...teammates...friends...under fire. That facing death with someone could create a relationship between even the most diverse individuals. He gave a silent chuckle. Couldn't get any more diverse than SG-1! "I like knowing my kids are safe and happy," he answered slowly. "I like being a part of their lives. Being welcome in their homes."
She studied her coffee. Jack had been in her home a grand total of twice. Both times during his short 'visit' when their mother had died. Had he felt unwelcome there?
"What we do is...dangerous," Jack said, choosing his words carefully. "The situations that we face on a nearly daily basis require that we trust one another with our lives."
"Do you?" Rachel asked.
"Without a doubt. Just like they trust me with theirs," he replied softly. "That kind of trust doesn't come easy. But when it happens, it brings with it the type of relationship that outsiders can't understand. No one knows what my kids and I go through, what we've experienced, but us. No one can help us deal with what we've seen, what we've been forced to do, but us. We have each other."
"And you don't need anyone else," Rachel finished quietly.
"I didn't say that," Jack objected. "There's always room for others. But they'll never be...as close." He shrugged. "That's just the way it is."
Rachel looked at Sam. "Casey said that what you do is important...that it's vital for national security. Do you deal with terrorists?"
Sam glanced at Jack. "That's one name for them," she replied ambiguously.
He was going to have a serious talk with that blabber-mouthed seer, Jack sighed mentally. She hadn't given anything away...not technically. But damned if she hadn't handed his sister the complete book on his life!
Recognizing the look in his eyes, Sam put a hand on Jack's arm. "Casey said exactly what needed to be said."
He jerked, looked at his lover. "You going psychic on me now?"
She smiled. "No. I just know Casey."
Jack heaved a sigh. He knew Casey as well. If she hadn't thought the information she was imparting was important for Rachel to hear, then the slender blonde wouldn't have uttered a word. He'd seen Goa'uld get downright pissy when she wouldn't do more than just glare daggers at them, refusing to even make a sound when she was being struck. "Radar has a way of telling it like it is, whether you want to hear it, or not," he admitted.
Rachel gave a small smile. "I believe that."
"She also has a way of offering comfort to your very soul," he said softly. He folded his fingers around Sam's. "She gave me back the good memories of Charlie. Things I couldn't look at, because I couldn't get past the pain, and the guilt. Both of those things are still there. Hurt just as bad as they ever have. But...I can reach past them."
"Whatever Casey said, you can take it to the bank," Sam said softly.
"She's really a psychic?"
Sam smiled. "She prefers the term 'seer', because that's what she does. She 'sees' things."
"She's the best," Jack added. "She hasn't been wrong yet."
Rachel wrapped her hands around her coffee mug. "You love her."
Jack gave a crooked smile. "Yeah. Just like a wart on my ass."
Sam snorted, then laughed out loud. "I'll tell her you said that."
"Go ahead," Jack retorted. "I've already told her that myself!"
Rachel chuckled. "She called you annoying."
"That's the best she could come up with? Gonna have to try harder, I guess," Jack grinned.
When the phone rang, not one of them were surprised to learn it was the object of their conversation calling.
A A A A A A
Casey held her hand over the receiver. "I'm calling Jack to see if he, Sam, and Rachel want to join us at the park," she said, when Daniel came back into the kitchen after his shower.
He nodded his acknowledgement. He was not showering alone tomorrow! He didn't care if his grandmother was there, he had every intention of taking advantage of that private time to make love to his Wife...like he did every Sunday! And any other day of the week I can manage it, he admitted to himself.
She couldn't help but giggle at the look in his eyes. She'd slipped in and taken a shower while he'd finished his breakfast, asking questions about his father. She'd known as soon as she came back into the kitchen, her hair still damp, that he hadn't been pleased. She leaned up and kissed his chin. "Hi, Sam! How's it going?"
Sitting at the table in Jack's kitchen, the blonde major smiled. "It's good. Rachel made pancakes and sausage for us."
"That's totally awesome! So she and Jack talked?"
"They're sitting right there?"
"Okay, we're taking Grandma to Grant Park, and I thought maybe you and Jack would like to bring Rachel along and join us. I can call the T-man."
"Sounds good. I'll talk to Jack and Rachel, and call you back."
"I'll be here," Casey replied. "Later."
Casey turned around. "I have to call Teal'c. He's the big guy on our-" She broke off, looked at Daniel.
"Casey and I are part of a team. We do...classified work. National security," Daniel told his grandmother.
"It's an important job," he said quietly.
"I know it is, Daniel," Muriel replied. "Won't stop me from worrying about you. Either of you," she said, her eyes going to Casey.
Casey smiled. It was still a new enough feeling to know that Daniel worried about her. That Jack, and Sam, and Teal'c, and Janet worried about her. She was still adjusting to the fact that her father was in her life, and worried about her. To have Daniel's grandmother care that much...it was almost overwhelming. Never in her life had she had so many people who were concerned about her well being!
Daniel glanced at his wife. Could see that she was surprised that his
grandmother would care so much about her. He reached out, cupped her cheek,
smiled when she automatically leaned into the caress, pressing her soft skin
against his palm. "Are we leaving now?"
She shook her head, poured another cup of coffee for him. "Sam is going to talk to Jack and Rachel, she said she'd call right back. Can I use your cell?"
"I have to call Teal'c, but I don't want to miss Sam's call," she explained.
He couldn't help but grin. "Help yourself."
Muriel watched as the slender blonde dashed into the bedroom. "She's something, isn't she?"
Daniel chuckled as he sat down at the table beside his grandmother. "And more."
"I wonder if there's anyone who can say no to her," the older woman mused.
"Haven't met anyone yet who could," Daniel laughed. "Not that she asks for much."
"There's sadness in her eyes. When she thinks no one is looking, it's there," Muriel observed.
"Casey had a very..." Daniel paused, then shook his head. "Casey's childhood was hell on Earth. Her Grandma Rose did what she could to protect Casey, and help her. Unfortunately, her grandma died when she wasn't quite thirteen."
"I don't know if coverage of the trial made it out this far...did you see anything on the news about Helen Webster? A woman from Tacoma who was convicted on eight counts of child molestation, for setting little girls up to be molested by a doctor who ran what was basically a pedophile ring."
"I did hear about that. Horrible thing to happen to those poor girls."
"Helen Webster was the wife of the man who adopted Casey. Why he didn't try to protect her, I'll never know. That...bitch...allowed that doctor access to her," Daniel explained quietly.
"Oh, my!" Muriel gasped. She glanced toward the bedroom. "She's the daughter who exposed the entire thing!"
Daniel grimaced. "Actually, that was me...I'm the one who exposed it. Luckily, Casey didn't suffer as much abuse as the other girls."
"That poor child!"
"That's only the tip of the ice berg," Daniel continued. "Casey was five when she was adopted. By the time she was six, she'd been told every day that she was a slut, a whore, a tramp, and half a dozen other not so lovely names. She was told she was useless, and unlovable...that she was nothing. She heard that screamed at her every day until she left that hell-hole."
Muriel's eyes filled with tears. "That she's so happy, so...so...so..."
"Well adjusted?" Daniel offered softly.
The older woman nodded her head. "What a miracle!"
"You have no idea," Daniel murmured. "Please don't say anything. Casey is a very private person. I'm the only one to whom she's ever told everything."
"That must not be an easy burden to bear," Muriel said sympathetically.
"On the contrary...helping her to deal with all of that is what I'm here for. I love her, Grandma. I'll protect her from anything, and everything. If bearing the weight of that hell can help her just a little bit, it's the least I can do," Daniel replied.
"You're just like your father," Muriel smiled, patting his hand. "And don't worry. I wouldn't dream of mentioning this. It's not my business to tell."
"Thanks. I just...I just wanted you to understand how truly remarkable, how absolutely amazing my Wife really is."
"She thinks you hung the moon and stars," Muriel smiled.
He could feel the heat of embarrassment in his cheeks, even as a pleased smile tugged at his lips. "Yeah, well...she has a way of making me feel as if I could."
The phone chose that moment to ring, Casey raced around the corner to grab it, Daniel's cellphone pressed against her other ear. "Hang on a sec, T...Hello? Hey Sam, what's the word?...okay...yeah...I think so...wait a sec...T? Can you be there in about an hour?...Great!...I dunno, just a sec...Sam? Which parking lot?...Well, actually I think D is a bit closer...right, D it is!...T? Parking lot D, in an hour. Right, see ya there! Sam? We'll meet you guys and Teal'c in that parking lot in an hour...right. Bye!" She hung up the phone, closed Daniel's cell. Turned to see her husband watching her with an amused smile on his face. "What?"
"Not a thing," he said.
"We're meeting everyone at Grant Park-"
"In parking lot D in an hour," Daniel interrupted. "Yeah...picked that part up."
"Ha ha!" She walked over and handed him the phone. "Your battery's low."
"So take your phone, and I'll put this one in the charger."
The tone of her voice caught his attention. "Casey, your phone is charged, right?"
She pulled her lip between her teeth. "I think so."
Daniel sighed. "An hour should give them both a full charge. Is yours on the table beside the bed?"
"Last time I looked."
He stood up, planted a kiss on her cheek, and disappeared into the bedroom, only to re-emerge with both cellphones in hand. He took them into the den, and set them up to charge.
"Sometimes I forget to do that," Casey confided.
Muriel smiled. "I don't know the first thing about those cellphones. No need for me to have one."
"They can be convenient. They can be inconvenient, too," Casey admitted. Particularly when the damned things decided to ring at the most inopportune times, and muting the ringtone had been forgotten. Such as when they were hiding in a supply closet to fool around, after having deciphered a particularly graphic text on the sexual prowess of an alien 'god'.
When Daniel came back into the room, it was to find his wife and grandmother in a discussion about just how necessary many of the 'modern conveniences' really were. He sat down with a fresh cup of coffee, content to just listen, offering his opinion only when asked for it. Family. Him. Who'd have ever thought that would happen?
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