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Fragile Balance of Politics


Chapter 6

With her resignation duly delivered, Casey felt as if she were going to be ill. A stop in the gym locker-room to wash her face, and she felt a bit better. She should probably be helping Jonas with the database...but he'd be doing the work himself from now on. Might as well get used to that fact. Him as well, she thought glumly.

The pull of the mirror was too great. She took the stairs. Less chance of running into the official visitors that way. The last thing she wanted was to be confronted by President Hayes.

The poking she had felt earlier in the morning was getting stronger. When she walked by his office, she saw Daniel sitting at his desk. Did that man have any clue how damned cute and sexy he looked...his glasses perched on the end of his nose, his hair showing the signs that he had run his hands through it a time or two? The intensity of his gaze as he studied the photographs spread in front of him. The smile that tugged at her lips was automatic. Her feet turned and led her into the room. "Hi," she said softly.

"Hey," he replied, smiling up at her. "I haven't had a chance to talk to the general yet-"

"He's with the president by now."

"Oh. You've talked to him? The general, not the president," he clarified.

She nodded. Thankfully Daniel never asked about her meetings with the general. She was doing her job, and he accepted that fact. She rubbed her hands over arms suddenly cold at the thought that she'd never have another meeting with the amiable Texan. No doubt he'd call her in the morning...when Daniel arrived without her. But there would never be another meeting in his office, going over pre-mission status reports. Her heart clenched in pain.

"Well, I am going to talk to him. The fact that you didn't have that nightmare last night just proves it's stress," Daniel said, his attention back on the photos scattered across the top of his desk.

"That's not true, Daniel," she argued softly. "Even though I can't remember more than just the emotions after I'm awake, I know...somehow I know...that you're in danger."

Daniel frowned. "There's something odd about that. Your gift was...enhanced, for lack of a better term...to protect me." And that was still a fact he struggled with. Whether it was just male pride, or his own need to protect her, coupled with the knowledge that her attempts to protect him would put her at risk, he didn't know. Wasn't anxious to examine the issue too closely. "If I were really in danger, you'd see more."

A frown pulled her brows down. That was a little wrinkle she'd forgotten about. Okay, maybe she needed to look at this problem from another angle...although, if her 'gift' was...was what? Fading? Faltering? Failing me completely, she snorted silently. "I don't have details. But you are in danger."

"Well, there is the fact," he said, sifting through the pages of the folder in his hand, "that I'm not the only Daniel Jackson you know."

What in the world was he talking about? How many Daniel Jacksons did he think she knew...and just how in the world would she know any other...Like a lightbulb flickering on over her head, the answer raced into her mind. Annika's Daniel! Of course! That would explain why the mirror seemed so important! Something was going to happen to Annika's Daniel! "That's it," she said breathlessly, "that has to be it!"

"When you get the chance, you should talk to General Hammond, get permission to activate the mirror and talk to Annika," Daniel said, somewhat distractedly. He was going over Jonas's notes again. Trying to find the key to where the pieces of the Ancient weapon had been 'tossed'.

"This feels too important to wait," she replied.

"Casey, I'm betting Annika already knows. You'd probably only be confirming something she's already seen," Daniel said gently, glancing up at her. He'd had first hand experience with just how psychically...talented...his counterpart's wife was.

Ten days. The nightmares had started ten days ago. If she dialed 'back', she could catch Annika before the premonitions started, which would give the SG-1 of that reality a 'heads up' before it was actually needed! The darkness that had been writhing inside her twisted yet again. This was her chance - maybe her last chance - to do something right, she thought desperately.

Cam Balinsky and Jonas hurried into the office. "Here are the images you wanted," Jonas said, handing a folder to Daniel. He glanced at the seer and smiled. "Hi, Casey."

"Hi, Jonas." It was easy to smile at him. There as something about the Kelownan that just brought out the 'mothering instinct' in her. She extended the smile to Cam as well. "Hi, Cam."

"Hi, Casey."

"This is interesting," Daniel murmured. "Four references to the same thing."

Jonas nodded. "That's what I...we...thought, too."

"We need a word for word translation of every one of these pillars," Daniel decided. "And then we'll see what we have."

"These are in a dialect only you know," Cam said, handing another folder of photographs, each of the images close up views of the pillars, to Daniel.

"Okay, I'll get started on them. You two work on the others. Remember, word for word. If there can be more than one translation, write them all down," Daniel instructed. "I'll talk to the general tomorrow about going back, so we can compare what we're seeing here," he said, holding up the photos, "to what's there. I'd like to scout around a bit as well, see if we can find anything that might have been a temple."

Casey watched as the men became absorbed in their work. It was, she thought, chiding herself for suddenly feeling left out, what they did. What they would continue to do...without her. Besides, there was something more important she needed to do...

She slipped into the corridor. Glanced at the doorway to the storage room. Like a siren's song, the mirror seemed to beckon her. She headed determinedly in that direction. She had a message for Annika. Her redheaded friend's Daniel was in danger. Unfortunately, she had no clue how, where, when or why that Daniel was in peril. No details at all. Just the most horrible feelings she had ever experienced. Annika was a psychic, surely she would understand that sometimes...sometimes what? That sometimes a seer felt as if she were losing her mind? Another sigh. That was definitely happening this time! She'd deliver the message, or at least let Annika know that something was wrong, the damned nightmares would stop...and she'd go on with her life. She just wouldn't be doing it at the SGC. She had to stop for a moment, put her hand on the wall to steady herself, as the pain of that loss washed over her.

"Hey, Casey."

She turned to face the owner of the voice. Rather than having to look up, familiar brown eyes were now at her level. "Hey, Jack."

"Wha'cha doin'?"

She shrugged.

He'd spent enough time with her, watching her mourn for Daniel, to recognize the signs of the tears she had cried. Felt humbled that she would shed tears for him. "Don't worry, Radar. We O'Neill's are notoriously difficult to get rid of."

Goddess forgive her, the tears she'd wept had been more for herself than for him. "We'd better find that rabbit pretty damned fast," she snapped, then cursed herself when the teenager winced visibly. "I'm sorry, Jack."

Narrow shoulders moved up and down. "It's the truth," Jack replied. "I know that my...condition...isn't the only thing bothering you. Daniel said you're having nightmares. Need to talk?"

She couldn't help but smile. The question was both atypical and typical of Jack O'Neill, as contradictory as that might be. Very much like the man himself. Complex. More than most people realized. "No. My dec-" she broke off, looked down at the floor.

"Made a decision, did you?" Jack asked. "And just what is this decision, that has you in tears?"

"You're dying, and it's my fault," she whispered.

The youth stared, his jaw dropping slightly. He snapped his mouth closed, shook his head, planted his fists on his hips. "Radar, that has to be the dumbest thing you've ever said! Just how in the hell could you have anything to do with...this?" He motioned toward his skinny, young body.

"I didn't see it! I should have seen it! Been able to warn you! Then we could have prevented whatever happened from happening!" she said softly.

"Uh huh. And if I had wings, I'd be the tooth fairy."

"What the hell does that have to do with anything?"

"Exactly. Casey, you see what you see. You don't have any more control over that fact than you do having blonde hair or green eyes. It just...is."

"I'm useless, Jack, utterly useless! I can't stay here, when my failures continue to put people in jeopardy!"

Okay, this was like trying to get through to Daniel. Only more aggravating. Because the slender seer just refused to acknowledge the truth of the matter. At least Daniel eventually saw reason. Casey had declared herself incompetent, and for anything that went wrong she would lay hold of the blame and hang onto it with both fists. "You have never, ever put anyone in jeopardy. Well, there was the time when you sneezed and damned near got us caught by those Jaffa, but other than that-"

A smile tugged at the corners of her lips as the memory flashed through her mind. Failed to curve her mouth into a full smile, however. It certainly didn't reach her eyes.

"-you've saved lives around here. Every time that 'gate opens, and a team goes through that event horizon, they have the most information that they can be given. Including all of those little tidbits that only you can see."


He put his finger against her lips. "You've got a head thing going on that I couldn't ever hope to understand. I don't know how it works. I don't know how you deal with those downloads without going a little nuts. Or a lot nuts. But you do it. And you find the information we need. Every time."

"Teal'c died. Sam was alone on a planet crawling with Jaffa because I couldn't figure out what was going on."

Jack rolled his eyes. "Are you listening to me? Am I suddenly speaking some freaky language you can't understand? You saw exactly what happened. We stayed closer together than we usually do, and correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't I already pointed out the fact that by doing so, we managed to stay un-caught? As in not caught by the Jaffa on that ship? We learned a couple of things that we'd have never known about if things hadn't played out the way they did; knowing that Kookoo's First Prime is on the verge of deserting is information we can use to our advantage."

"I just feel so...useless."

"Radar, you're probably the least useless person in this mountain."

"Sure would have been nice to have had a heads up about..." she waved a hand in his direction.

"Yeah, it would have been. There's a reason, Casey. A skinny, pain-in-the-ass seer told me that once. That there's a reason for damned near everything that happens."

"Pain-in-the-ass, eh?"

"Big one. Gigantic pain-in-the-ass," Jack grinned. "I was just gonna get some coffee. Thought I'd see if you and Space Monkey need a break."

"Daniel is working with Cam and Jonas right now," Casey replied.

"Ah, yes. Ancient weapons. Ya know, that group left way too many toys around. Very irresponsible, considering they're supposed to be so smart and benevolent and all that."

"They ascended, Jack. All at once. I doubt they had time to worry about all of their gadgets," she countered.

"Yeah, well somebody should have picked up after them!"

She snorted softly. "If my memory serves me, the Ancients and the Ascended haven't done such a great job of doing anything but standing back and watching the universe pass by."

"Gotta be boring," Jack retorted.


"So, want some coffee?"

She glanced at the door of the storage room. "Actually, there's something I need to do first."

He nodded slowly. "I'll hang around in the commissary for awhile. In case you change your mind."

Her smile was small, but genuine. "Thanks, Jack."

"Any time, Radar. You okay now?"

Nothing will ever be 'okay' again, she thought sadly. She gave a small nod. "Sure."

He gave her an awkward pat on the back, confident that he'd helped her see the truth of the matter; tossed a cheeky grin at her, then sauntered down the hallway. She watched until he stepped onto the elevator. Wiggled her fingers in a half-hearted wave when he gave her a sloppy salute just before the doors closed.

She took a deep breath. Time to stop stalling. With the conviction that she was correct, believing with all her heart that Annika needed...deserved...any warnings concerning her husband, unswayed by the fact that any such information would no doubt be delivered directly to the redhead, via her own psychic connections, Casey strode into the room. She hesitated for a moment, then quietly closed the door. She wasn't hiding what she was doing...exactly. She just didn't need anyone telling her what she already knew...that she was losing her mind as well as her gift.

Crawling on top of the stacked crates, Casey leaned over the beams of the alarm system, and touched the device that hung from the top corner of the mirror. She had the reality memorized. Or at least the 'hum' that she could hear echoing from it. She frowned slightly. If Annika's timeline was four months ahead of theirs... Sam had theorized that as both realities had experienced the temporal time loop caused by the Ancient device that had been activated by Malikai, for some reason their own reality had been in the loop four months longer. The women had privately agreed that, knowing the two men involved, Jack and Teal'c had taken far too much pleasure in getting away with who knew what during that endlessly repeated day, when there could be no consequences resulting from their actions. And she so wasn't going to think about that...on any level!

She sighed with frustration. Timeline differences, and temporal time loops, and other realities were so not her forte. That was Sam's area of expertise. But, there were basics that even she could understand. Okay, she'd dial for four months in advance, then 'back up' ten days from that date. That should, she thought, coincide with the first night she'd had the nightmare. Better make it eleven days. Just to be certain. With the time and date entered, she touched the center of what looked like a miniature Stargate. Watched as the mirror flickered, then revealed a dark storage room.

Damn it! Didn't those people ever use that freaking room?


Miss Eloise frowned as she watched. It was one thing to speculate...to even suspect what might be happening. She'd 'seen' the threads of external 'power' around Casey, although she hadn't been able to decipher just exactly from where those threads were coming. It had led her to do a bit of snooping; disappointingly she'd found nothing...no answers to the questions that plagued her. If there were still rebels about, they were hiding themselves well. She had to concur with Oma, there was something...not right...about the situation. That particular discussion - which they'd had after Casey...and Daniel's...visit - had alerted the older Ascended Being to the problem at hand. And, the two had agreed - even when Casey's self esteem was at its lowest, she had never doubted her dreams, or the information that was given to her. She'd never struggled so to interpret what she was seeing. Not, the old seer thought worriedly, that Casey was actually 'seeing' much of anything. Even her dreams seemed to be vague images that held little resemblance to her own reality...

The old seer stared at the mirror for a moment. Reality...well hell! Why hadn't she considered that possibility before? One thing was for certain, whatever was going on, it wasn't good! Moving closer to the mirror, she felt it...wasn't that just a kick in the pants, as Jack O'Neill was inclined to say. It seemed that she'd stumbled upon the 'who' in the equation. She sent out another desperate message, hoping that the higher ranking Being wasn't preoccupied bending the rules somewhere!

Oma approached slowly. "To be as worried as you are, there must be a crisis."

"You could say that. Take a look." Miss Eloise said, waving a gnarled hand in the direction of the storage room.

"Why is she near the mirror?" Oma asked.

"She's been practically obsessed with the damned thing for almost two weeks. Just...listen. Or rather...sense."

With a frown, Oma nodded, closed her eyes. What she felt was cold...dark...faint, but familiar. Her eyes flew open.

"That's what I thought," Miss Eloise said, her suspicions confirmed by her mentor's troubled reaction.

For the first time in millennia, Oma Desala wasn't certain what her next move should be. Going to the Ascended Committee would be of little use...they would simply surmise that 'the problem' was someone else's now. They 'couldn't' interfere. The truth was, they wouldn't 'interfere'...not if they could avoid doing so. To approach a higher level...risky at best. The result might be unwanted attention at her own level; and she couldn't do her...work... if The Others were watching too closely. Her dark eyes swung back to the young seer. Could feel the emotions that rippled through her slender body. They were dark and cold and overwhelming. That the mere human was able to function at all, given the intensity of those emotions, was testament to the strength of the young immortal. Oma studied the blonde, looking for something, some clue as to what was happening, and why. The how, she wasn't even concerned about at the moment. Like Miss Eloise, she could see the threads connected to the young woman. But there was no definitive 'direction' to them...they seemed to float around her ambiguously.

"So, what do we do?"

"Our own actions are guided by the steps taken by those who would lead. As the sun follows the moon, so does the moon follow the sun."

Miss Eloise rolled her eyes. "Save your mumbo-jumbo for someone who appreciates it. Now isn't the time to play the part of some higher-plane philosopher!"

Oma spared a smile. "We must watch. And...help her...as long as we can do so without intervention."

A quiet 'harrumph' filled the air. They were already walking a fine line. If they crossed it, things could get ugly. And then who would keep an eye on this group...this very important group...of humans?


She had to get the attention of someone over there. It didn't matter who it was. She could ask...insist...that she speak to Annika right away. Casey pushed away the fear that the redhead could be on a mission with her SG-1. Her eyes followed the paths of the beams she could see on the other side, which trigged another thought...she did not need anyone here trying to stop her. Whatever she did to catch the attention of someone there, she had to avoid doing the same in her own reality.

Casey turned to look at the alarm panel on the wall. It was a small square of polished steel, that held an even smaller square keypad, with red plastic buttons numbered one to zero; three lines of three buttons, the zero centered at the bottom. She moved closer, wrapping her arms around her narrow waist. Stared at the control as if doing so would conjure up the code needed to disable the alarm.

Images flashed in her mind. Kasuf, Skaara...Sha're wrapped around Daniel. She hastily pushed that mental picture aside. Teal'c standing off to her side. And...one of the Marines...

She watched his fingers as he punched in the code. 9-7-7-1-0. She shook her head. That seemed so...odd. She remembered seeing Sha're...in Daniel's arms. She'd turned to leave...had a Marine silenced the alarm? That didn't seem right, yet...


Miss Eloise glanced at the dark-haired woman beside her. Talk about getting close to that fine line!


When the images flashed through her mind again, she sighed. Okay, maybe she really had noticed the Marine enter the code, but in the heat of the moment, hadn't realized it. Maybe she had 'focused' on the Marine, to avoid seeing that...woman...wrapped around her Husband. That had to be it.

She stepped closer to the panel. What would happen if she entered the wrong code? Just how would she explain the fact that she needed to talk to Annika? Surely General Hammond would understand. Although, at the moment he was busy with the president...

That thought gave her pause. Her respect...her affection...for General Hammond was too deep to want to cause any trouble for him, in any way. She glanced over her shoulder at the dark storage room. A life was at stake here. In that reality, their Daniel Jackson was in danger. Horrible danger, if the emotions that continued to swirl through her were any indication. That outweighed whatever any visiting politician might say.

Her hand trembled slightly as she reached for the pad. Her index finger shook visibly as she punched in the numbers slowly, carefully.

A soft hiss filled the air, and she whirled around just in time to see the flash of the laser beams as they disengaged. She sagged against the wall in relief. Now...if she could just find a way to trigger their alarm...

She stared at the mirror, frowning slightly. Tossing something through would certainly interrupt one of those lasers long enough to set off the klaxons. She glanced around the room. Daniel would come unglued if she tossed any of the artifacts stored away in the crates and boxes that filled the room. She began to pace. Whatever she threw, it had to be large enough to scatter the beam for at least second.

Head down as she walked a small circle, trying to think of something that wouldn't be missed, or considered priceless...she mentally rolled her eyes...everything in here was priceless if one listened to Daniel. Not that she disagreed with him...it was just that this was an emergency, and desperate times called for desperate measures. Stopping in front of the mirror, her eyes on still on the toes of her boots, she hit on the perfect solution. With a grin, she knelt down, and unlaced the boot on her left foot, tugged it off. Stood up, took a deep breath. Aiming carefully, she tossed the military issue, ladies' size six, black leather field combat boot through the mirror. Her jaw dropped as the boot spun through the mirror, between two of the beams, hit the leg of the table, and then dropped to the floor, spinning as it slid through the open door.

For a moment the acrobatics of her boot had left her speechless. Until she realized that there were no alarms going off in the alternate universe. "Well, damn it to hell! If I had tried to miss those damned lasers, that freaking boot would have tumbled and hit every damned one of them! When I want to hit the lasers, nada! How freaking hard can it be to hit one damned laser beam? Not very freaking hard! But can I do it? Hell no!" She took a breath, tried to calm her shaking hands. At any other time, she would have congratulated herself on getting the boot through the exact center of the crisscrossed beams. At the moment, she couldn't see just how impressive her toss had been. In that moment, all she could see was yet another failure. "Goddamn it!"

She sat down on the floor to remove the other boot. "Last chance," she growled at the black leather. Frustrated by this point, she had decided that she'd deliver a message to whoever walked through that door. Short and sweet. "Just tell Annika that Casey sends a message: Daniel is in danger," she said out loud, practicing the line to make certain it didn't sound as odd to her ears as it did bouncing around in her mind. What the hell. She was a seer, she was accustomed to people not understanding what she said...thinking she was a bit strange. As long as Annika got the message, and understood, that was all that was important. If the redhead received the warning, Casey thought, then surely she would know what to do. Sure she would. Unlike me, she doesn't screw everything up.

The distinct sound of crockery breaking brought her head up. Moving closer to the mirror, she tried in vain to see who was in the corridor. She heard a muffled curse, a moment or two of silence, and then an almost strangled cry. She recognized the voice that called out the name of her redheaded friend. "Daniel! Hey! Daniel! Come on, give me a break, will you! Daniel!" Not even realizing it, Casey was waving her arms frantically, as if that would attract his attention.

A familiar sandy-blonde head poked around the doorframe. It was obvious that his recognition of her wasn't quite as immediate. Blue eyes focused on her. "Hi, Casey. Now isn't a good time for an intel swap."

She barely had time to register the fact that Daniel looked like death warmed over. He was a good ten pounds lighter than he had been the last time she'd seen him, and his eyes betrayed his need for sleep. Something was very wrong..."I need to see Annika."

"You and me both," he sighed. He was turning Casey's boot over and over in his hands, as if he had forgotten he was even holding it.

She didn't realize that she was staring at him, obviously unaware of what she'd said. "'You and me both' what?"

"Casey, I'm really not in the mood for word games."

Damn it! Of all the times for that to happen! Her blank look seemed only to irritate her Husband's counterpart even further. "I'm not playing word games. What did I say?"

His expression told her that he was too mentally drained to press the point. "That you need to see Annika." His tone became bitter. "Which you can't. None of us can."

There had to be a reason she'd said 'see' and not 'talk to', which is what she was certain she had been about to say. It simply followed that there was something that she needed to see...something about Annika that she had to visually examine. What that could be, she hadn't a clue. "Why not?"

"Because she's run away. We have no idea where she is."

Run away? Annika had run away? What in the name of the goddess had happened? Before she could form the words to ask the questions that were whirling in her mind, Daniel stepped closer to the mirror. The haunted pain in his eyes had her heart aching for him. That, she thought fleeting, is what my sweet Daniel looked like when I was gone. Remorse for what her Husband had endured stabbed at her heart.

"Do you know where she is? Can you help me find her? Please-"

When his face went pale - paler, she thought somewhat frantically - a healthy dose of fear raced through her, as she realized that something was happening. He grabbed at his head with both hands, squeezed his eyes closed as if he were in pain.

"Help me," he gasped, one hand reaching out...grasping at the work bench in an effort to remain upright, the forgotten boot hitting the tiles in front of the mirror.

She watched in absolute horror as Daniel crumpled to the floor. Without stopping to think about what she was doing, Casey jumped through the mirror, dropped to her knees beside the downed man. She wasn't even aware that the boot she'd been holding had fallen from her hand, her movements sending it under the workbench. "Help! Someone! Anyone! Help!" she cried out, her voice competing with the wailing of the klaxons that screamed overhead. 

She leaned over, trying to make certain he was still breathing. The pulse in his neck was strong, thank the gods and goddesses for that! His body had twisted when he fell, however; she did her best to straighten him so that he wouldn't wind up with a kink in his back and neck as well as a headache.

"Hey, Pixie Chick, step the fuck away from him," a voice demanded coldly.

Her head jerked up. She was looking into the not-so-friendly face of one Lou Ferretti. Who was holding what looked like a gold baseball bat. He just happened to be one of her friends in her reality...not, she thought with a bit of sudden panic, and a glance over her shoulder at the mirror, that she was in her reality at the moment.

Putting her hands up in the universal sign of surrender, Casey started to rise to her feet. "Please, I need to talk to General Hammond right away-" Because Daniel was unconscious, and she needed to know what in the hell had possessed her friend to run away from her soul mate. And General Hammond would know. Or at least have an idea. She was as certain of that as she was that this particular Daniel Jackson was in danger.

"The only thing I want to hear from your mouth, Pixie Chick, is what the fuck you did to Rock Doc," Ferretti growled.

Well, at least that was universal...Jack and Ferretti seemed to compete in giving people nicknames. And just what the hell did he mean by 'Pixie Chick'? She shook her head mentally. She'd worry about Ferretti and his affinity for nicknames after she'd been able to speak with General Hammond. By the time she was standing, two armed Marines had careened into the room, both of them holding P90s that were pointed at her. Being on the wrong end of that particular weapon was just not her idea of a good time. Her glance went from the just arrived guards back to Ferretti. That Ferretti was moving her away from the mirror didn't actually register in her brain...she was doggedly focused on speaking to General Hammond.

One look from Ferretti and the Marine closest to her reached out; grabbed one hand, twisted, pulled her arm behind her back, then took the other hand, and snapped a pair of handcuffs on her.

"Take Pixie Chick to the brig." Ferretti ran his hands over Daniel's body, ensuring there were no broken bones. "And someone turn that racket off."

The Marine closest to the trip alarms kept his gun trained on the intruder with one hand. The other reached for the switch that would turn off the 'deterrent' noise, though not the alarm itself, which would remain on silent mode until it was reset in the control room.

"Please! This is-" Casey lowered her voice in the abrupt silence of the room, "really important." Even though she longed to scream her frustration, shouting now would get her nowhere fast. "I need to talk to General Hammond!"

The soldiers ignored the woman's plea as they pulled her from the room.

Ferretti gestured to the second Marine. "We'll take Rock Doc to the infirmary."

"What about the mirror?" a third Marine asked, edging into the room, his duty-partner at his side.

"Leave it on. If we have to toss her back through it'll be a pain-in-the-ass to find the right reality again. Don't let anyone who comes looking for her through." There was a brief pause. "And inform Hammond that we have a guest."

She barely heard Ferretti's orders as she was dragged down the hallway. In her distress, Casey didn't realize she was bootless. That her 'nickname' had come from the brightly colored, striped toe socks she was wearing. Not exactly government issue, but they were comfy, and kept her toes from being so cold. Nor did she realize that those 'missing' boots would give her husband all the information he needed on her whereabouts.

Casey was struggling, more out of principal than any actual desire to break free. She was trying to come up with a diplomatic way to tell the Marines who held her to pull their heads out their asses, because she really needed to speak with their general. When a hand clamped tighter around her arm, the reality of her situation hit her full on. Oh, goddess! What the hell had she done? She was in a different reality...as in stay too long, and it would be 'so long Casey Renee'! Oh, Daniel is going to be so pissed!

While the Marines weren't unduly rough with her, they weren't exactly gentle, either. She continued to comfort herself with the facts of the matter...that for all they knew, she was an invader...and unlike her, with her 'gift', they had no way of knowing if she was carrying a Goa'uld or not. "If I could just talk to General Hammond...Or you talk to him. Tell him Casey is here...Casey Jackson."

One of the men gave her a sharp look. "Jackson?"

"As in Mrs. Daniel...in my reality. Not every reality has an Annika married to Daniel. Of course, on the flip side of that, not every reality has a Casey married to Daniel. Although the running theme seems to be that his second wife is 'gifted'. Now, I think it has something to do with the fact that Daniel is The One, at least in our reality. Which means that he needs my 'gift'..." Her voice faded when she realized she was babbling. And that the men were staring at her as if she'd lost her mind.

"Uh huh."

"Look, I don't know how it is in this reality, but where I come from freaky, unbelievable crap happens all the time! You wouldn't believe what's going on right now!" The comment caused Casey to stop and wonder how Jack was faring. If he was still sitting in the commissary drinking coffee. She frowned slightly. Was this...visit...related to that problem? Had this SG-1, and their medical team, experienced 'Mini-Jack syndrome'? Did they have the answers that would keep Jack alive? If she could just talk to General Hammond, she was certain he would be able to give her the information she needed. It never occurred to her that this General Hammond would be any less forthcoming than her own...

She was unceremoniously pushed into a holding cell. Her hands were uncuffed...she had to give thanks for that small blessing. The door slammed shut, and without a backward glance, the two men disappeared.

Swell. She was sitting in a holding cell in the SGC of a different reality, and her teammates had no clue. Oh, she was in a shitload of trouble now! Let's see, using the mirror without permission...that will certainly piss General Hammond off. Leaving the base without letting anyone know...definitely a sure way to get a lecture from Daniel and Teal'c. She'd gone through the Quantum Mirror without letting anyone know...yep, four people to yell at her for that...no doubt Sam would take the lead, reminding her - unnecessarily, mind you- about the whole entropic cascade failure...thing. Then there was the whole 'getting arrested' part...Jack would have plenty to say about that little detail.

Dropping onto the bunk, she pulled her legs up, rested her cheek on her knee. "Daniel, I need you," she whispered, wishing she'd just left the damned mirror alone. When the sound of a second alarm filled the corridor outside of the brig, she jumped up, raced to the bars of the cell. Wrapped her hands around them. She needed to be visible to any SGC personnel who might check the room, because if this place was being invaded, locked in a holding cell was not where she wanted to be!




Jack paced around the work table in Sam's lab. He could fully understand why the general wanted to keep him out of sight, and to be honest, not having to deal with politicians of any vein suited him just fine at the moment. He was doing his best not to think about the fact that he was still trapped in the body of a fifteen year old. And that that body was dying.

Sam was trying to concentrate on the drawings in front of her. If she could locate the power source for this weapon, it would go a long way in figuring out how it worked. She hoped. There was something about one of Jonas's drawings, but at the moment, any recognition refused to settle into her mind. Not only was Jack's pacing a bit distracting...but she would prefer to be working on that particular problem. 'Fixing' Jack. For her, in that moment, the most disheartening thought was that she'd tried, or suggested, everything she could think of regarding the situation... and she was completely out of ideas. She was pinning her hopes on Janet, and the specialists the doctor had called in. Once again, she sent up a worried prayer that someone would find the answer to the dilemma...soon!

"Do you think that Hammond would mind if we left for a bit?" Jack asked, making his twenty-fifth circuit around the room.

"Actually, the general will bring the president here, to...um...meet me," Sam replied, ducking her head to avoid the look of hurt that she knew would fill brown eyes. "Teal'c will be here in a few minutes to go with you to the commissary."

"I'm perfectly capable of finding the commissary on my own," Jack protested, his voice cold.

"Yes, sir. But the general wants you to be escorted."

"Any reason I wasn't let in on this plan?" He wouldn't even address the issue of needing an escort. Since when did he need a babysitter? Since you turned into a snot-nosed fifteen year old.

There it was...the anger - the frustration - the hurt...of being left out of decisions made not only for his protection, but for that of the SGC. Because in his present state of mind, Jack O'Neill would insist that he was fine, and fit for duty. The truth was, he was neither. Not as long as he was...like that. In the body of a teenager. Dying. Dealing with the emotions those two facts generated. "We just want to do what's best, for everyone concerned. You're not in this alone, you know."

He was about to respond...and rather hotly...a good rant had been working its way up. But the simple truth was...she was right. Jack heaved a sigh. "I don't think I've ever felt so damned useless," he muttered.

"You're not useless, Jack," she said softly.

"Yeah? How about letting me take a turn at escorting the president around? Or better yet, let me take you home and make love to you!"

She cringed, tried to hide her reaction to his angry words.

Jack ran a hand through his hair. "Sorry, Carter."

"It's all right," she replied perfunctorily.

He looked at her, shook his head. "No, Sam, it's not. Nothing is right, and from the looks of things, nothing will ever be right again," he replied quietly.

Tears filled her eyes. Dripped onto the paper she was leaning over. She grabbed a tissue, carefully blotted the drawing.

Damn it...every time he opened his mouth he was snapping at her. Or making her cry. He just wasn't handling this whole...'Mini-Jack'...thing very well. The added stress of knowing that he was living on borrowed time sure as hell wasn't helping his disposition. "Look, maybe I should just go home. No chance of the president seeing me like this if I'm at home. I can kick around, maybe get a bit of sleep-"

"Are you tired?" Sam asked immediately. Fatigue was one of the first symptoms he would suffer.

"No. Yes. No...I just...I didn't sleep well last night," Jack assured her. "Your couch is fine for making love on-" He broke off when she glanced away from him. "It's fine for a nap. But trying to sleep on it for the night, not so great."

"We can stay at your place tonight. I'll sleep on your couch," Sam offered.

What he wanted was for her to sleep in his bed. He wanted...needed to hold her. Suspected that she wanted the same thing. No need for her to explain that the thought of hugging a scrawny kid left her feeling more than a little squeamish. Even if it was him inside! "Sure. Sounds like a plan," he said, trying to force a smile. Failing miserably.




Teal'c was on his way to the elevator, having just cleaned up after leading a group of cadets through a grueling hour work-out. He had seen the president and General Hammond step into the gym for a few minutes. While he would do whatever was required of him, he wasn't particularly in the mood to be questioned, and that would invariably be the results of coming into contact with the politician. One friend had been regressed to a child, and was now dying. The other was physically suffering from the weight of her gift, and whatever that mystical talent was trying to tell her. He had no time for Tau'ri politicians.

Turning the corner, he came face to face with Henry Hayes. This, it would seem, was the run of bad luck that always preceded the good luck that SG-1 was routinely blessed with. He bit back a muttered curse, inclined his head politely when General Hammond introduced him as Teal'c of Chulak.

"It's an honor to meet you, Teal'c" Hayes said, grinning broadly.

"As it is mine to make your acquaintance," Teal'c responded.

"So tell me, how do you like life here on Planet Earth?"

"I find it most satisfying," Teal'c replied honestly.

"Do you have friends among the personnel here at the SGC?"

"I do."

"And you're well received on the SG team you're on?"

"I am."

Hayes grinned again, turned to General Hammond. "Not much of a talker, is he?"

Hammond bit back his chuckle. "You'll find Teal'c is more a man of action."

The president took in the impressive girth of the Jaffa - the wide chest, the heavily muscled arms. Would bet the Oval Office that the alien's thighs were as big around has his wife's waist! "I can see that."

"If you will excuse me, there are matters I must attend to," Teal'c said quietly. Firmly.

The two generals flanking the president exchanged amused looks. This was probably the first time in over a dozen years that Henry Hayes had ever had anyone so anxious to walk away from him, and his position.

"Uh...sure," Hayes stammered.

Hammond studied the Jaffa for a moment. Keeping the president away from the major would prevent him from running into the teenaged version of Colonel O'Neill. Or that was his theory. He'd been told that Doctor Lee was working on a new plant derivative that had potential as an insecticide. If the plant could be introduced as a crop for local farmers, the monetary compensation would be remarkable. The trick, of course, was a cover story for a 'suddenly discovered' plant that was totally alien to Planet Earth. That problem, he thought, he would leave to someone else. For now, however..."Teal'c, would you let Major Carter know that we'll be visiting Doctor Lee's office?" he inquired.


"The president will meet with SG-1 later," Hammond continued. It seemed that Hayes was planning a little sit down chat with the five members of the premier team. The longer he could put that off, the better. Maybe, he thought almost desperately, there would be resolution to the current crisis before that inevitable meeting.

"I will inform my teammates," Teal'c replied.

"Good. Carry on."

With another regal nod of his head, Teal'c slid his ID badge through the reader to call the elevator. Stood with his feet apart, arms held behind him, waiting patiently.

Hayes chuckled slightly. That was a dismissive posture if he'd ever seen one. "George, your alien doesn't like me."

"That's not true, Mr. President," Hammond replied. His blue eyes twinkled. "Teal'c doesn't like politicians, of any kind."

The men chuckled loudly, and proceeded down the corridor. They would finish the tour of level twenty-five, then have a chat with Doctor Fraiser, in her office on level twenty-two. Hammond could only hope that it would be a brief visit. The doctor was still working on a cure for Jack's current...condition. He didn't want her distracted any longer than necessary.




It was with obvious relief that the occupants of the lab greeted him. His experience, and his knowledge of the two people beaming smiles at him, was enough to tell Teal'c that the situation was as difficult for Major Carter as it was on O'Neill. And that their relationship could not be...embraced...until O'Neill had been returned to his rightful size and age. The concern at the moment was that there would not be time to do so, as the boy's body was defective.

"Hey, T-man!" Jack said, nearly rushing to stand beside the Jaffa.

"President Hayes has nearly completed his tour of level twenty-five," Teal'c informed them.

"You've seen them?" Sam asked, referring to the president, the two generals and the two Secret Service agents who were his escorts and body guards.

"I have. I spoke briefly with the president before taking the elevator," the large man replied. "He will be inspecting Doctor Lee's laboratory. SG-1 is to meet with him 'later'."

"Well, I guess we should think about moving up," Sam sighed, with not a little relief. She was in no mood to answer questions about her equipment, what experiments she was running...in fact, she didn't really want to talk to anyone right now. She gathered the drawings of the weapon, carefully returned them to the folder where they were kept.

"Why don't we go see what Radar and Daniel are doing," Jack suggested.

"Good idea, sir," Sam smiled. Anything was easier to deal with when the team was together.

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