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Hell is for Children

Chapter 8

Sam and Teal'c were already waiting in the room that had been set aside for the meeting with Dr. MacKenzie when Casey and Daniel walked in. They settled on the sofa beside Sam, their fingers entwined, their hands resting on Daniel's thigh.

Dr. MacKenzie watched them for a few moments. Neither seemed highly agitated. He glanced again at Major Carter, then at the Jaffa. Both seemed relatively calm. The four had exchanged greetings, smiling and commenting on the weather.

Jack walked into the room, his hands shoved into his pockets. He looked at each face, then grinned. "Take the leg," he said. The team dissolved into fits of giggles and chuckles. He glanced over at the psychiatrist. "Sorry," he said, his expression telling the man that he wasn't the least bit remorseful.

"Would any of you care to explain what Colonel O'Neill's comment was in regard to?" the doctor asked.

"A movie," Sam replied.

"'Evolution'," Casey added.

"It's a comedy," Daniel said.

"Highly entertaining," Teal'c said.

Jack grinned. "We got together for pizza yesterday. Then watched a movie."

"Before that we did some meditating, and talking," Daniel said.

Dr. MacKenzie frowned. "And who suggested this…meditation?"

"I did," Casey said shyly.

The older man looked at her over the rim of his reading glasses, grabbed a folder, opened it, and scanned the contents. "I understand that you believe yourself a seer," he said. And instantly felt the anger of each of the people in the room. The team was mentally and emotionally gathering around her, ready to protect her. Very interesting, he thought. The team dynamic had not suffered from what they'd endured. If anything, it was stronger now.

"I am a seer, yes," she said, her voice quavering slightly.

"Damned good one, too," Jack said, his voice cold.

"Casey's gift has saved three teams, including SG-1," Daniel said, his voice as cold as Jack's. "She's prevented nine others from walking blindly into situations that could have been deadly. Her help was instrumental in reaching a new agreement with the Tollans."

"So," Dr. MacKenzie said calmly, "any guesses on this week's lotto numbers?"

"It doesn't work that way," Casey replied. She looked at the man for a moment, cocked her head sideways. "However, you might want to think again about buying that car. You won't like it."

The folders that had been in his hand dropped to the floor. There was no way that this young woman could have known about that! He'd been looking at cars on the Internet, in the privacy of his home the night before. Had found one in Denver that had caught his attention. He glanced at each of the faces in the room. They were all smiling…no…smirking at him.

"General Hammond won't send a team out without Casey looking at the mission folder first," Jack said. "I think that's about the highest recommendation she could get."

Dr. MacKenzie had gathered the folders and the contents that had scattered. He sat back in the chair. "Let's talk about what happened three days ago."

The team members exchanged glances. Looked at Jack, all of them giving silent consent for him to speak for them. "We were going on a standard meet-n-greet," Jack began. "Locals weren't friendly, and wanted us to move on. So we did. Major Carter took readings and marked the location of a sizable naquadah deposit. Doctor Jackson had come up with a plan that we hoped would get the locals to let us do some mining. We spent the night near the site, we were going to leave first thing in the morning."

"We were trying to decide which way we needed to go to get back to the 'gate, in order to avoid the village. We didn't want to upset them further," Daniel said, picking up the narrative. "Then we heard the screams. They were faint, we were about a mile from the village. But the wind carried the sound, and we headed that way, to see what was going on, to see what we could do to help."

"When we got to the ridge that looked down on the village, we could see the Jaffa. At first there were only about forty of them. They were too far away for us to open fire on. There was no cover, no way to get to the village without being seen. There were enough of them that I knew we'd be caught if we tried," Jack continued. "We could seem them taking most of the men, a few of the young women to the 'gate. The rest of the men and the old people were already dead."

"These Jaffa were not sane. We have come to the conclusion that they were most likely imprisoned by a Goa'uld after losing in a battle. They would have been tortured mercilessly," Teal'c added. "They were allowed to live so that they would bear the shame of their failure to succeed in the name of their god. I do not know how they escaped, but they did."

Dr. MacKenzie was frowning again. "So you just stayed there on the ridge, hidden?"

"Yep," Jack replied. "For eleven goddamn hours."

It was the first sign of real emotion concerning the matter that the psychiatrist had seen. "What did you observe?"

Sam glared at the man. "We 'observed' three women, seven teenagers, three of them boys, and five little girls under the age of ten brutally raped and beaten," she spat. "We 'observed' the women murdered, the boys murdered, and those little girls murdered."

"We listened to the screams, knowing there wasn't a damned thing we could do, other than get ourselves killed," Daniel said, his voice shaking slightly. "We wanted to help, god we were all going crazy wanting to help, or to at least stop what was happening-"

"Stop it, Doctor Jackson? How?"

The young archaeologist stared daggers at the doctor. "We could have put them out of their misery," he said coldly. Until that moment, he'd never even considered that idea. But had the opportunity presented itself to them while they huddled on that ridge, he knew that he would've willingly done so.

"Anyway, I sent Teal'c to see if the 'gate was guarded. I was pretty sure it was, but there was the possibility that it wasn't, and that he could have called for backup," Jack said. "He came back and told us that there were five young Jaffa guarding it, and that we'd be able to take them out, if we waited for nightfall."

"If you were sure you'd be able to take out these Jaffa, why didn't you leave right away?" Dr. MacKenzie asked.

"Did I mention that this place had absolutely no freaking cover?" Jack asked, his brown eyes flashing with anger. "If there'd been any kind of chance for success during the day, don't you think I'd have ordered my team away from there as soon as possible?"

The doctor said nothing, but continued to write on the pad held on his lap. "Go on."

"When night came, we made our way to the 'gate, took out the Jaffa, and came home," Jack finished.

"How do you feel about this?"

Casey rolled her eyes. "How are we supposed to feel? We feel guilty for not being able to save those kids! We went back and we buried those people. We did what we could for them."

"Yes, I read that the five of you left the SGC through the Stargate without permission," the doctor replied.

"General Hammond understood," Sam said, holding her chin a bit higher than normal.

"Have any of you had nightmares about this?"

Jack snorted. "We wouldn't be human if we didn't, would we? Look, Doc, shit happens. Sometimes really lousy shit happens. And sometimes there's not a thing you can do about it. So you make sure you survive to fight another day. My top priority was the safety of my team. I brought them all home. Safe and sound."

"Well, perhaps not so sound," Dr. MacKenzie replied.

"It would be odd if we weren't having nightmares," Casey said. "But we're all able to sleep. And eat. We're ready for our next mission."

"I will say when you're ready for your next mission," the doctor said firmly.

Casey cocked her head sideways again. "Just because you don't like Jack, and you don't believe in seers even when confronted with one, and you don't like Teal'c because you can't get to him with your inane questions, and you're annoyed that Daniel was right about what was affecting him, doesn't give you the right to keep us off of the duty roster. You might not like us, you might think that you know better than we do…than I do. But we are ready to go back out there. In fact, if we don't that could be the worst thing for us as a team. Of course, you already know that, too."

He started, again disconcerted that the slender blonde seemed to be reading his mind. Four pairs of eyes glared at him. One pair of green ones challenged him.

Jack stood up. "I just talked to General Hammond. He agrees that we should get back out there. He also understands that to cover his ass with the Pentagon, he needs your approval. Now why don't you just sign those papers saying we're mission ready, and let us get on with our jobs."

The doctor shook his head. "You may feel ready. Believe that you're capable of performing as usual. But all of you are on the edge of a breakdown. Being off world is not the place to become detached from reality."

Casey shook her head. "That's not going to happen and you know it. Yes, we're going to have nightmares for awhile. That happens with a lot of missions, and you know that as well. I had them for a few days after dealing with Anuket. And having Sergeant White try to kidnap me. But I haven't gone crazy yet."

"I'm surprised," the doctor said sharply. "I'd say you're closer to a complete mental episode than any of your teammates."

"That is just bullshit!" Daniel declared. "You aren't listening to us! You wouldn't listen when I told you what was happening with those devices that Ma'chello built. Even though I was right. As I remember, even after I did prove to you that I wasn't…crazy…it still took you two days to release me! What is it that you really want? To lock us away, so that you have a full SG team to study, to see how we think, how we can work together, how we can do what we have to do, and not go crazy? Do we threaten you because we can deal with what we have to face out there?"

"Doctor Jackson, you are focusing the anger that you have for those Jaffa, toward me. Classic case of transference."

Daniel rolled his eyes.

"You know what I think, Doc?" Jack asked. "I think it pisses you off that you can't keep us from going off world, can't keep any of the teams from going off world, because we're all a little wacko."

Casey giggled. "We have to be, to be willing to go through that Stargate and be hurled through a wormhole through space to another planet, and then deal with Goa'uld who really are crazy!"

"Fighter pilots, test pilots, race car drivers, hell, even cops and fire fighters are all considered a bit nuts," Jack said. "It takes a special type of person to do this job. Of every fifty recruits we bring in to train, only about ten have what it takes. Because the other forty don't walk on the edge, aren't just a little bit bonkers. We're a little battered. But we're okay. SG-1 is ready for the next mission. Now, are we finished?"

Dr. MacKenzie studied them, looking from one determined face to the next. He was well aware of the fact that Colonel O'Neill didn't like him, and keeping Dr. Jackson those extra two days had only intensified that dislike, and had angered the young archaeologist as well. Major Carter had always shown him the respect she felt he was due, although her attitude toward him had cooled significantly after Dr. Jackson's hospitalization. The Jaffa had never seemed to like him at all. He studied Casey. He'd never believed in seers. He did now. Although he'd be loathe to admit that fact. And he'd never admit that Colonel O'Neill had a legitimate point. Several, in fact. It didn't lessen his belief that any of them could suffer a mental breakdown as a result of what they'd been through. Having that happen on a mission could be fatal. "I'll speak with General Hammond," was all he'd say.

Jack led the way, and the doctor watched as the team members filed past him. Casey stopped, resulting in Daniel stopping as well. She turned to face the doctor. "I know you only want to help, that you have the welfare of the teams, and the SGC at heart. But don't let your personal feelings lead you astray on this one," she said softly. She looked up at Daniel, tucked her arm through his, and let him lead her out of the room.

Dr. MacKenzie stared after her. SG-1 had faced more, seen more, suffered more than any other team in the SGC. By all rights they should have been slobbering lunatics. But they weren't. They were confident to the point of cockiness. That attitude had landed them in trouble a time or two. No doubt that very attitude was what kept them alive when they should be dead, kept them sane when they should be insane. He looked down at the forms on his lap. With a sigh, he began to scratch his name across the bottom of them.


A   A   A   A   A   A


The group was gathered around the worktable in Daniel's lab. "He'll clear us," Jack said confidently.

Sam toyed with one of the tablets that lay on the tabletop, waiting for Daniel to translate it. "What if he's right? What if one of us does…lose it…while we're in the middle of a mission." She hadn't meant to, but her glance flickered in Casey's direction.

"I think I can hold myself together, thank you," Casey replied, her voice edged with anger.

The blonde major shook her head. "Casey, I'm not trying to pick on you, and lord knows that the first week you were on duty was a rough one-"

"Which proves that she can handle whatever she has to," Daniel said, his own voice cool.

Again the tall woman shook her head. "Daniel, all of us; the colonel, Teal'c, you, me…we've suffered some pretty bad things over the past five plus years. What happened the other day-"

"Sam," Daniel said, reaching out and taking the woman's hand. "I didn't have any military training at all the first time I walked through that Stargate. Didn't have any the next time I walked through it either. If I remember correctly, I drove Jack…and you...a bit nuts because I didn't do things the 'military way'. Which worked out for us most of the time. I was just as vulnerable emotionally, and mentally, as Casey was…is. I managed to survive. Casey has had the benefit of having you and Jack and Teal'c working with her, training her. To give her ways to protect herself physically. I think we all know that she has ways to protect herself mentally. For the record, Case didn't break out there. She came damned close, but she didn't break. Hell, I was close to breaking out there!"

Jack looked at Casey. Had known the battle she was fighting in her mind as she laid on that ridge, watching the horrors below. He'd seen it in her eyes. Knew that she'd come as close to the edge of insanity as she could get without falling over. Had known when she'd won that battle when the fevered look had faded from those green depths. "Why didn't you want us looking at…them?"

Casey blushed slightly at the hazy memory of her behavior. "You're a man. They'd been so abused by…men; I just wanted …they needed to have their dignity returned to them, even if they were dead," she said softly.

His brown eyes locked with green ones. He nodded. "I understand," he said softly.

"She had no one; someone had to grieve for her, show her that she was…loved," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

Daniel rubbed his hand over her slender shoulders. "You gave her that, honey," he said gently.


Five heads turned toward the door. Dr. MacKenzie stood there, folders in hand. "You'd better be here to tell us that you've cleared us," Jack said coldly.

"The forms are signed, ready to give to General Hammond," the doctor said. "I suggest that you continue to discuss this mission. It will speed the recovery process." Without another word he turned on his heel and walked away.

"Well I'll be damned," Jack said softly.

"He really does want to help," Casey said. "It has to be…frustrating, to be trained as a psychiatrist, and then work around a group of certifiably insane people, knowing that they're probably saner than the average person walking the street."

"We deal with more reality than the average citizen is ready for," Sam agreed.

"Since we're not on duty until tomorrow, anyone for a beer and some pool?"

"It's not even three yet, Jack," Daniel argued.

"Somewhere in the world it's happy hour, Danny," the older man replied.

He heaved a sigh. "Case, interested in shooting some pool?"

"Sounds good to me."

Standing in front of the elevator, Jack glanced over at the young blonde plastered to Daniel's side. "Hey, Case…take the leg."

She began to giggle. Her eyes flashed with wicked humor. "Which one? Left, right, or middle?"

For one moment Jack stood shocked, his jaw hanging open. His companions were laughing heartily at his response.

"Good one, Casey," Sam giggled as they stepped onto the elevator. The two SF's who joined them exchanged glances full of misinformed speculation.

Jack caught the silent exchange. "Anything you'd like to share, Airman?"

The men jerked, looked at the gray haired colonel, around at the group with him. Another exchanged look. Hell, if it was true, maybe they'd be…invited…to join in. After, all, the more the merry, right?

"Well, sir, rumor has it that your team is close…really close," one of the men said slowly.

"All of the SG teams are that way. Comes from the type of work we do," Jack replied casually.

Yet another glance shared. "Uh…no sir, really close," the man said.

The colonel frowned. "I'm not following."

The second man glanced at Sam, then at Casey, wet his lips with his tongue and took a deep breath. "Closer than any of the teams that don't have female members," he said quietly.

Understanding dawned on Sam as she watched the two Airmen. Her eyes went wide, and her cheeks began to glow with color. "Oh, my god!"

"What?" Jack asked, his frown deepening.

Casey's green eyes went wide as well, her cheeks the same crimson as Sam's. "Oh, god!"

"What?" Daniel asked, a frown on his face.

"They think…that we…that Sam and I…" Casey stammered, staring at the two men.

"That you and Sam what?" Daniel asked, trying to rein in his frustration.

"They think that Casey and I are doing the three of you special favors," Sam replied. Her embarrassment was fading as anger kicked in.

"They what?" Jack demanded. He turned to the closest airman, barely fought down the urge to grab the little punk by the front of his shirt. "Just what makes you think that?"

Both men realized that they'd just angered SG-1. And Colonel O'Neill, who happened to be the 2IC of the base. "Well, sir, rumor has it that you all came back from…that mission…pretty broken up, and the way you dealt with it was…" he broke off, looked at his companion.

"Well, sir, you all were in Teal'c's quarters for over three hours," the second man said.

"What?" Daniel nearly shouted. "You think what?"

This is my fault, Casey thought morosely. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "It's because of me."

Daniel glanced down at her, saw the tears that clung to her lashes. "How in the hell do you figure that?"

"It was my idea to use Teal'c's quarters to meditate. I thought…well, it was small, and we needed to be close…" she broke off, glanced at the two men who were listening, her cheeks blazing pink again.

With a sigh, and a glare for the two men, Daniel put his arm around her shoulders, pulled her close. "Angel, you offered us a way to work through all of that. It helped, really it did."

"Indeed, Casey Jackson. Meditating allowed us to battle the demons that haunted us, allowed us to discuss what we had experienced," Teal'c said, his large hand moving over her slender back.

The two Airmen didn't miss the movement. As far as they were aware, Teal'c wasn’t one to show any type of emotion, let alone offer comfort like that!

"Let me tell you something," Jack hissed, "and you be sure to tell all of your dirty-minded friends, the only thing that happened was meditating, and talking!"

"Casey offered us a way to move past what had happened so that we could talk," Daniel said, his voice cold. "No one knows what happened in that village, what we endured on that ridge, but us! We only have each other to turn to! We had to be able to talk about it, to exorcise those demons or we all would have cracked from the strain! Sam and I have meditated with Teal'c before, and not one damned word was said about it!"

Sam nodded her head. "But suddenly, now that Casey and Daniel are married, we're all doing each other?"

The men had backed up against the wall in response to the waves of anger that flowed from four of the team members. "I just heard about it," one of the men said.

"And what exactly did you hear?" Jack asked, his voice deadly calm.

"That the five of you went to Teal'c's quarters looking like hell, and came out all smiles and happy."

Jack rolled his eyes. "So of course that meant that we were…we were…"

Daniel's blue eyes blazed with anger. "I believe the popular terminology around here is 'getting our poles greased'."

Both Airmen dropped their gaze to the floor.

"Say what?" Jack asked, looking at the young archaeologist.

"Ferretti and I were the first to hear that the reason Casey is on SG-1 is because she's…uh…'greasing my pole'…and yours and General Hammond's, as well, according to the rumor," he replied.

"That is just…" Jack shook his head. His fist hit the emergency stop button on the elevator. Then level 27. When he hit the button to send the car back into motion, they began moving down. He looked at the two cowering Airmen. "Who did you hear this gem of a rumor from?"

The men glanced at one another.

Jack shook his head. "Never mind. It doesn't matter." The elevator doors opened, and he stalked toward the control room. General Hammond was in the room, waiting for a report from SG-10. Without a word Jack walked to the phone that controlled the intercom system. "Attention in the mountain! This is Colonel O'Neill!"

"Colonel?" General Hammond asked, one eyebrow raised slightly.

"It has come to my attention that there are some pretty wicked rumors floating around out there about SG-1. I'm going to set the story straight. The only thing that happened in Teal'c's quarters yesterday was meditating, and talking through some…things…that only SG-1 understands! The reason that Casey Jackson is on SG-1 is because she has a talent…a gift...that gives us an edge against the Goa'uld. She is not, I repeat not 'greasing my pole', nor General Hammond's. What she does in the privacy of her home with her husband, Doctor Jackson, is no one else's business. I hope this clears up any misconceptions!" Jack slammed the handset back onto the cradle.

General Hammond was staring at the gray haired man. "Would you like to explain this?"

The colonel ran a hand over his face wearily, then launched into an explanation. 

No one noticed when Casey slipped from the room. She found a quiet corner in the corridor, put her back to the wall and slid down, pulling her knees up to her chin. None of this would have happened if it wasn't for me, she thought. Obviously there hadn't been these sorts of rumors about SG-1 before she joined the team. She certainly wasn't surprised at the suppositions on why and how she'd landed a place on the flagship team of the SGC.

Janet was on her way to General Hammond's office when she turned the corner. She had paperwork that needed immediate attention. Her thoughts were focused on the abrupt, totally unexpected announcement that had echoed through the hallways and rooms of the SGC. Someone had ticked off Colonel O'Neill, that was for sure! She never paid attention to the gossip that continued to float around the corridors of the military installation, rumors that were as common as the gray paint and fatigues. She certainly wasn't surprised at the content of the rumors that the colonel had…put to rest. If she hadn't glanced up, she'd have missed seeing Casey sitting in the shadows of the corner. "Casey?"

The young woman looked up. "Hey, Janet," she said softly.

"Oh, honey, what's wrong?" Janet carefully lowered herself to the floor, tucked her legs beneath her, tugged her skirt down a bit.

"What is it about me that makes people say and think such horrible things?"

Talk about totally unaware! Janet shook her head slightly. "Have you looked in a mirror lately? Casey, you're beautiful, and you just ooze this innocence, and at the same time you have this…sensuality…about you. It isn't anything that you say, or do; it just… is. And women are going to hate you because you're so pretty, and the men are going to try to get you to notice them because they're infatuated with you."

She stared at the dark haired woman beside her. "You must be kidding! I know that Daniel thinks I'm…pretty…but that's just because he's in love with me, and that is only because of the whole Destiny thing!"

Janet shook her head. "I'm not kidding, Case. I think Colonel O'Neill just put the kibosh on any more rumors like the ones going around about you. Honey, that's part of life on a military base. Some of these people have nothing better to do than talk about those around them. It's sad, it's pathetic really, but that's just the way it is. And Daniel loves you because you're a warm, caring, giving woman."

"Daniel must be horrified…embarrassed!" Casey insisted.

"Daniel is pissed off," a voice just above them said softly. He dropped down to sit on the other side of his wife. When he'd realized she was no longer standing beside him, he'd known instinctively that she was 'hiding'. "Janet is right, rumors fly around here faster than the air moves through the circulation vents. A lot of…this…is because they don't know you. Once these people get to know you, they'll understand just how wrong those rumors are, and how petty the people who start them are."

She couldn’t help but lean against him slightly. She smiled when he wrapped his fingers around hers. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

"Casey, there isn't anything for you to be sorry about," Daniel insisted.

"It's my fault they think we were…that…"

He shook his head. She couldn’t even say out loud what those jerks were thinking, spreading around. "No, Case, it's not."

Three more bodies dropped to the floor in front of her. "Casey?" Jack asked softly.

"I'm sorry," she whispered again. "I shouldn't have suggested Teal'c's quarters."

"There is no reason to apologize. And the same rumors would have floated if we'd gone to your place, or Carter's, or mine," Jack said gently. "In fact, they probably would have been more…intense."

"There was absolute no sound coming out of that room," Sam said. "If we'd been off base, they'd have been free to embellish everything."

"But why? To hurt you? To hurt Daniel? If they want me off of SG-1, fine, no problem! If that's what it takes to stop this-"

"Casey, that won't stop the rumors," Jack said. "And General Hammond makes the decisions about who works on what team, not these rumor-mongers. Look, don't let them get to you. We were going to shoot some pool. Still up for it?" 

She glanced at Daniel, who smiled and nodded slightly. "Yeah, I'm up for it," she said softly. It seemed she was still not accustomed to having people protect her, believe in her. Care for her.


A   A   A   A   A   A


The members of two SG teams who were on 'down time' were shooting pool in O'Malley's when SG-1 arrived. One of the teams happened to be SG-7. They'd already heard about Colonel O'Neill's angry announcement. In fact, they'd been discussing the rumors that had been flying. The men who were alive thanks to Casey were adamant that the rumors were baseless, and that O'Neill had every right to be pissed off at having the names and reputations of the flagship team besmirched.

Daniel tightened his hand around Casey's as they walked toward the pool tables. Of the eight men who were watching them as they walked in, only two were what he considered troublemakers. He glanced at Jack, hoping that if it looked like trouble, they could just walk away.

"Gentlemen," Jack said calmly.

"Colonel," Major Andrews, commanding officer of SG-7 said, smiling. He looked over at Casey, gave her a wide smile and a nod.

Jack grabbed the rack and headed for the third, empty table. Sam was selecting a cue stick. Daniel perched on a chair at the bar. Teal'c sat down beside him. Casey remained standing, although she was standing between Daniel's legs, one hand on his thigh.

The major conferred quietly with his men, and those of the other team, then approached the bartender. "Whatever these folks want is on our tab," he said, his voice wasn’t loud, but carried in the nearly empty room.

"You got it," the bartender replied.

Jack smiled. "Thanks, Andrews, but that's not necessary."

The man snorted. "Colonel, if not for that little lady over there, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Now, the way I hear it, SG-1 got sent…" he glanced around. "Somewhere interesting. You found out a few things that we needed to know. Doctor Jackson has been a widower for two years, and the boys and I are damned glad that he found someone to put a smile on his face. Hell, in all the time I've known him, I don't think I've ever seen him happy, ya know?"

The smile on Jack's face went wider. Consensus on the base was that no one had ever seen Dr. Daniel Jackson happy, not like he'd been since Casey had entered his life. "I know," he said.

"Anyway, thanks to Doctor Jackson, that little lady was there the day my team was in trouble. She got us…uh…out of trouble. We'll owe her, and Doctor Jackson, for one hell of a long time," the major concluded.

Daniel smiled. Just when he was convinced that the entirety of the SGC consisted of nothing more than military pricks, something happened, someone proved him wrong.

"That's right, sir," one of the SG-7 team members said. "We owe you all." With nothing more left to be said, the men went back to their game, as did the other team.

Casey walked over and found a cue stick, and stood beside Sam. "So do you play teams, or cut throat?"

Sam grinned. "I take it you've played a time or two."

"A time or two," Casey replied, her grin matching that of her friend. She pushed the memories of what Kenny had become from her mind, clinging to the good times, when they'd been nothing more than friends.

"Okay, call for the break," Jack said, pulling a quarter from his pocket.

"Heads," Sam said quickly, winking at Casey.

Jack flipped the coin, grabbed it and slapped it onto the back of his hand. "Tails."

"Take the break, Case," Sam said, stepping away from the table.

She stepped up, took the shot, sank four balls, two solid, two stripes. "Call it."

"Stripes," Sam said.

With a nod, Casey examined the table. Took a shot and sank the five. Walked around and looked at her options. With enough English on the shot, she thought, she should be able to get the cue ball around the eight and hit the three. She positioned herself, totally unaware that every man in the room was watching her closely as she leaned over the table. She took a deep breath, blew it out slowly. Moved the stick over her fingers a few times, visualizing the shot. She pulled her arm back, then hit the white ball. It rolled to the side of the table, hit the bumper and began to spin, sending it completely around the eight ball and into the three ball, stopping just on the edge of the pocket as it followed the three.

Daniel grinned. "You show 'em, babe!"

She tossed a grin in his direction, then returned her attention to the table. She missed her next shot, but not by much.

"Wow," Sam said softly. She had the reputation of being a pool shark. It was nice to find someone who could play as well as she. "Okay, let's see what I can do." In a matter of minutes the table was bare of striped balls. She took aim for the eight, and missed the pocket.

"Nice try," Casey grinned. She cleared the solids from the table, and easily sank the eight.

Jack rubbed his hands together. "Okay, all games after this are for money!"

Casey looked at him, then around the room. The men from SG-7 and SG-12 had stopped playing to watch the two women. "And just who are we supposed to play against?"

Jack followed her glance around the room. "So we wait until somebody else shows up," he said, shrugging nonchalantly.

She giggled. "It's the middle of the week. I really don't think we're going to see too many people in here. Besides, I promised Daniel a home cooked meal tonight." That promise had been made on the way to the base earlier in the day.

"Another game?" Sam asked.

"Okay, I'll play another." She took a sip of the beer that Jack had handed her. "Don't you play?" she asked him.

"Against Carter? No way!"

She grinned, glanced at Daniel, raised an eyebrow.

"Don't look at me!"

The laugh that escaped mesmerized the men who heard it. "You guys are just sad!"

After two more games, both of which Sam won, just barely, Casey put her cue back on the rack. She walked over to where Daniel sat talking to Teal'c, wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned onto his back. "Ready to go home, Stud Muffin?"

He grinned, leaned back against her. "Yep."

Jack looked over from where he sat beside Sam. "Oh-seven hundred, Danny, briefing room."

"We'll be there," the young man replied. He held Casey's coat as she slipped her arms into the sleeves. He caught sight of three men watching them, a look of pure desire on their faces. He couldn’t help it, he had to remind them just who the gorgeous blonde loved. He lifted her fingers to his lips. As she almost always did, she smiled, turned her hand and cupped his cheek. He pressed his face against her palm.

"Love you," she whispered.

"Love you, too," he replied. "See you tomorrow," he said, waving at his teammates. His arm around her shoulders, hers around his waist, they left O'Malley's, heading for the solitude of their home, anxious to be alone together. In the back of their minds was the knowledge that tomorrow they'd go through the Stargate once again. And it made them nervous.

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