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Daniel had barely stepped out of his office when he heard his name being called. He glanced over his shoulder, and cringed. Emmett Bregman was descending on him like a freight-train on the downhill side of a mountain passage. He ducked his head, hunched his shoulders, shoved his hands into his pockets, and began to hurry toward the elevator.
"Doctor Jackson! Wait a minute!" Bregman was breathing heavily when he stopped beside the archaeologist. Stuck out his hand and smiled. "I'm Emmett Bregman."
"Yeah, I've heard," Daniel replied, his unease obvious. He hesitated another moment, then half-heartedly shook the outstretched hand.
"If you have a few minutes, I'd love to talk to you," Bregman continued. He struggled to open his portfolio, searching the notes for the questions he'd wanted to ask the archaeologist.
"Actually, I’m on my way up to level eleven," Daniel mumbled. He'd requested that any faxes be sent to him via one of the offices there; until Siler, or one of the other computer gurus, could figure out why his fax machine had died. His intention had been to hide in that office until the fax arrived, thus avoiding…well, to avoid this.
"Fine, we can talk on the way." With a quick look over his shoulder, the journalist nodded at his cameraman.
James hoisted the camera to his shoulder. "Rolling," he said quietly.
Daniel glanced nervously at the camera, the bright light on the top of the unit blinding him temporarily.
"Just relax, Doctor. This will be easy, I promise," Bregman grinned.
"Right," Daniel replied drolly.
"I've heard a lot about you from Cam Balinsky," Bregman said.
"He's a good man. I'm honored to call him my friend," Daniel said immediately, earnestly.
"He says the same thing about you. He also called you brilliant."
"I've read your file, or at least what I was allowed to see," Bregman continued, as the group stepped onto the elevator. He side-stepped slightly to avoid two airmen coming off. "I'd have to say that I agree with his assessment."
"If you say so," Daniel said, his voice low. One of the airmen assigned to level eighteen as a 'manual laborer' was walking past. "Hey, Tommy? There's a list of crates I need checked, it's on my desk. If you find the tablets, and they should be marked, put them in the lab."
"You got it, Doc," the Airman replied, giving a thumbs up. And a wide grin at the fact that the archaeologist had been 'caught' by the journalist.
"Smartass," Daniel mumbled, too low to be heard clearly.
Bregman waited for a moment, watching as the young man disappeared into Doctor Jackson's office. Then cleared his throat. "It seems that there's a running joke around here…you coming back from the dead? You've been reported dead at least what…three times now? The last time was a 'certainty', I believe?"
Daniel frowned. Given Casey's download about Janet, and the threat of their secret becoming known, alarm bells began to ring in his head. Just how much had this guy been allowed to see? While he was certain that nothing about their immortality had been in the files of SG-1 that the journalist had been given, he couldn't help but wonder if Bregman would put two and two together, and realize that the sum wasn't correct. If that happened, he'd heard enough about this man to know that his investigative tendencies could surface, and cause more than a few problems. Especially if he started pressing the other SG team members who did know about the secret SG-1 held so closely.
"I was wondering if you'd talk about that with me," Bregman said.
Better safe than sorry, Danny. He took a deep breath, blew it out slowly. "No."
"Uh…no? Is there something you're hiding?" Bregman offered a conspiratorial grin and wink. "Maybe you really were dead, huh?"
With a sigh of defeat…because it was obvious that the man wasn't going to stop pestering him about the 'rumors', Daniel heaved a deep sigh. "The first time I was declared dead, it was because of false memories planted in the minds of my teammates. The second time, we were all declared dead, because we were unable to get to the Stargate to check in." Okay that was a bit of a stretch…the team had vanished without a trace from the viewpoint of their colleagues, they really had been dead, and sixteen days had passed before they'd emerged from that deep cavern temple…changed more than any could ever know. "The last time - I was stuck on another planet, because the explosion of a ha'tak threw my escape pod several hundred thousand miles into space. Luckily for me, there was a habitable planet nearby. I don't know how long much time passed before it landed…er…crashed onto the planet and I…er…woke up."
"I was…um…unconscious," Daniel murmured.
"Oh, yes, of course."
"My Wife was told I was dead, because that's what everyone believed. She damned near…" Daniel stepped off the elevator, turned to look at the journalist. "Never mind."
"I would think she'd have been upset," Bregman prodded, as he followed on Daniel's heels. The cameraman and sound technician were directly behind him.
Rundell shook his head, and followed at a respectable distance. Even a blind man could see that Doctor Jackson didn't want to discuss the subject. Bregman wasn't blind…just arrogant.
"To put it mildly," Daniel replied.
"Okay," Bregman said, glancing at his notes. "The Pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty did not build the pyramids."
"No. No, they didn't. They're actually landing pads for Goa'uld mother-ships."
"No, I'm quoting you from a speech that you made before you were introduced to the Stargate," Bregman explained, frowning slightly. "Now, I presume at that time you knew nothing about landing platforms or mother-ships, right?
Daniel looked at the man. If Bregman had read anything about the Stargate Program, and his 'fall from grace', the journalist would already know the answer to that. "Right. No."
"Um, 'no' you didn't know that the pyramids were landing platforms, or 'no', you did know?" Bregman asked bewilderedly.
"I theorized, based on what I'd found in Giza," Daniel said. "I didn't know for certain at that point in time."
"Until you were introduced to Catherine Langford…" Bregman paused, hoping that Daniel would take the initiative and tell about meeting Doctor Langford.
Craig Nichol's warning was ringing in his ears. Give the bastard nothing that can be used out of context. "Right."
"And she's the one who brought you into the Stargate program…"
Bregman resisted sighing out loud. What's that old saying…'more difficult than pulling teeth'?…something like that. I should just pull his teeth! "So. Why?"
The sigh he'd held back before escaped, an audible sign of his growing frustration. "Um, why did she do that?" Bregman asked.
"I don't know. You'd have to ask her," Daniel replied flippantly.
Bregman paused, Maybe that wasn't such a bad idea. Get a viewpoint from someone on the outside of the SGC. "Okay, fine. Maybe I'll ask her."
When the beeper on his phone went off, Daniel grabbed at it. Hoping it was a phone call so that he could cut this 'interview' short. It was a message. The fax he'd been waiting for was coming through. He glanced at Bregman. Should probably feel guilty for the thought that ricocheted through his head. "Will you excuse me?"
"Uh…yeah…sure…but…" Bregman stammered.
Daniel began to run down the corridor, barely clearing each corner before surging forward.
"Follow him! Come on! Come on!" Bregman shoved James in front of him. "Keep rolling! Move! Move! Move!"
Turning the corner, there was no sign of the archaeologist. A quick peek into the rooms on either side revealed nothing…they were empty of occupants. The camera crew hurried around the far corner. Bregman stuck his head into the first doorway.
Daniel stood by the fax machine, waited until the printer was finished before reaching for the paper. Keeping his head down, he watched from the corner of his eye as the journalist and his crew crowded into the room, nearly standing on one another in the small, cramped space. His gaze raked over the page once, he raised his fist to his mouth, and coughed slightly in an attempt to hide his laugh. He continued to keep his head lowered as the cameraman slowly approached him, Bregman at his side.
Pretending to study the paper, having already skimmed the short message, Daniel ignored the reporter.
"Um…Doctor? What is it?" Bregman tried to read the sheet of paper upside-down. Craned his neck in an attempt to see what was so important. "What is it?"
"Oh…it's uh…the mask fragment I collected from P3X 298 was sent for carbon-dating so that we could-" Daniel started, speaking as quickly as he normally did when he was excited about something. Wondered once again if karma would smack him down for what he was doing.
"I'm sorry," Bregman interrupted, "could you slow down?"
"The mask fragment I collected from P3X 298. It was carbon-dated to match the predynastic period of Egypt here on Earth," Daniel said slowly, enunciating carefully.
"And could-what does-" Bregman looked at James. "Could you get a close shot of this?"
James pointed the camera at the sheet of paper Daniel held tightly. Filmed the contents, at least the parts not covered by Daniel's hand, in perfect clarity…
Pages 1 of 1
To: Dr. Daniel Jackson
Fax# Local #776
Dr. Daniel Jackson,
After extensive carbon testing of the main fragment that was collected from planet P3X-298, we find that it is to be dated to match the predynastic period of Egypt on Earth. Official results to be sent to your laboratory…
Dr. Sam A…
Bregman was reading as well…at least as much as he could see. "So…uh…what is the…uh…what is the significance of that?"
Daniel gave the man an innocent look. "It's fascinating."
"It's fascinating," Bregman said flatly. "Okay." He motioned at James and Shep. "Back up. Back up." Waited until the crew members were standing near the door. "Uh…that's it? It's 'fascinating'? Then why were we running?"
"Oh…uh…I just wanted to see if you'd chase me." He turned to look at the camera, a deadpan expression on his face, then returned his attention to the fax. If the shard was as old as the shards located in two predynastic ruins in Egypt-
"Okay, turn it off. Turn it off! Get that mike away from me! Turn it off!" Bregman demanded.
"Sorry if you don't find this as exciting as I do," Daniel said, trying to sound sincere.
"Yeah. No problem," Bregman said, forcing a smile. "How about we do an interview later?"
"Sure, whatever," Daniel replied. Couldn't hold back his grin when Bregman and his crew filed out of the room.
A A A A A A
Casey gave a contented sigh. "Now that was just what I needed."
Janet smiled. "I'm proud of you. Onion rings and half the burger."
"Still working on the shake," the seer grinned, wiggling the paper cup back and forth slightly.
"Speaking of shakes, are you still drinking a shake every morning?"
"Daniel makes a fruit smoothie for me," Casey grinned. "I can handle that stuff with the fruit."
"Good." The petite doctor gave up trying to look stern and gave in to the grin that Casey's mischievous look invoked. "As long as you're getting it."
Glancing sideways at her companion, Casey made a show of studying her shake.
"Okay, out with it," Janet said.
"Whatever it is you're dying to ask."
"Has he moved in yet?"
"He who?" Janet asked, grinning down at her own drink.
"You know perfectly well 'he who'. 'Cause I gotta tell you, that Jaffa has been more relaxed lately than I've ever seen. I damned near took him out during our mastaba practice the other day. And he laughed about it!" Casey said.
Janet giggled. "He hasn't officially moved in. But he spends most nights with me."
"I'm glad, Janet," Casey said, reaching out to grasp her friend's hand. "I wanted you and Teal'c to be happy. It's a super bonus that you're happy with one another."
"I'm happy about it, too. I never thought I'd find that 'special guy'. And there he was, in front of me all that time."
"Well, from what I've heard, he had a few things he needed to work out before he was ready for a relationship."
"True," Janet admitted.
"Can I ask you a personal question?" Once again Casey studiously examined the cup her shake was in.
"Ask away," Janet replied.
"Well, given your size, and his size…er…sizes," Casey said, her cheeks flushing pink, her eyes twinkling, "did it take awhile to…er…you know."
Janet blushed slightly. "Like I told Teal'c, a woman's height isn't necessarily indicative of how much she can…er…handle…sexually."
"So I take there have been no problems?"
"Well, that's good. I mean, I don't want either of you to miss out on how absolutely mind-blowing-" Casey broke off, her blush deepened.
"It's okay, go on with what you were going to say," Janet urged quietly. Suspecting what the young seer was going to say.
"It's just that, for Daniel and I, it's not just sex. It's not just the physical act of making love. It's as if our hearts and souls combine, ya know?"
The comment was one that Casey had made before, during conversations about making love. Janet smiled. "It is special when you're with the right person, isn't it?"
"Very much so," Casey smiled. "I'm glad it's the same for you and my best buddy."
"So, has Daniel offered any juicy tidbits about his captivity?" Janet asked, steering the conversation back to a safer topic. Or she and Casey would sit and compare notes all afternoon...which would do nothing good for her composure. She wasn't sure Teal'c was quite ready for a supply-closet rendezvous. A thought that had her giggling mentally.
"Only that he had Kali so pissed most of the time she didn't know whether to hit him or kill him. The fact that she needed him for those translations made the situation worse for her."
"I have the feeling he enjoyed taunting her."
"Probably far more than he should have," Casey replied dryly. "I told him I'd have kicked his ass if he'd gotten himself killed." She took a sip of the shake. "That's what worried me the most. I've seen him bait snakes. He's far too good at it. And if anything had happened…" Her voice trailed off. There was no need to finish her thought. No doubt Janet knew perfectly well what the results of Daniel's death…one that there would be no return from…would do to her.
"Well, nothing did…other than him accomplishing exactly what he wanted," Janet said, patting Casey's arm. She glanced at her watch. "Guess we should head back to the base."
"I suppose so," Casey said, just before an annoying poke in the back of her mind. Can ya wait until I’m back on the base with Daniel? she grumped silently. She glanced upwards. And this had better be the clarification for what I saw earlier!
A A A A A A
"Balinsky, you're with me," Dixon said, staring at the downed robot with malice. "You two stay here. Keep out of sight, just in case there are more of those things around."
"We should send this back to the SGC," Cam said, squatting beside the device.
"Why? We blew it up," Dixon replied.
"Well, not completely," Cam said, pointing to the circuitry in the bottom-half of the sphere. "I'm sure that Colonel Carter could figure out what this is."
The team CO scrutinized the remains of…whatever the hell it was. Balinsky was right, if anyone could figure out what it was, it would be Carter. And she'd raise nine kinds of hell if she found out they'd left behind a bit of technology without at least telling her about it. He crouched down beside the archaeologist. Reached out and gingerly touched one of the half-spheres. The object began to spin. "Okay. You take that half. I have this one."
Cam picked up the device, carefully folding the 'tentacles' into the open top. "She's gonna love this."
"Yeah, no doubt," Dixon concurred. "Let's go."
"There's a lot more to examine," Cam said, rising to his feet beside his commander. "I'd like to at least get photos of it all. Maybe an hour or so of film."
"These ruins are Ancient, Colonel. No telling what else we might find," Cam said, hefting the half sphere slightly.
"Right. More toys that need to be dealt with." Dixon heaved a sigh, then motioned with the barrel of his gun. "Move out, Doc."
As was usually the case, the trek back to the Stargate didn't seem as long as their walk to the ruins. Cam sprinted ahead slightly, struggled to pull the GDO from his pocket, balancing the half-sphere with one arm.
A A A A A A
General Hammond looked up when Walter tapped on the door.
"Sir, I just heard that Bregman is heading for the commissary. It seems that he found out that General O'Neill is there, and he's hoping to get an interview," the Technical Sergeant said.
Shaking his head, Hammond fought back a smile. Fastest rumor-mill in the west. As far as he was concerned, no one under his command could…or would…be forced to give an interview. If General O'Neill didn't want to talk to the journalist, well, that was his right. "Any teams due to report in, Sergeant?"
"No, sir," Walter replied. He hesitated for a moment, then took a deep breath before speaking again. "I don't know if it means anything, but he was asking Siler and Gracie Williams about the 'animosity' between General O'Neill and former Senator Kinsey."
Any reason to smile disappeared. Former Senator Robert Kinsey was held with the same regard as the Goa'uld by the personnel of the SGC. Any mention of that politician was liable to start a chain reaction of emotional fall-out that would not bode well for Bregman. Not to mention how bad it would look on film.
"I could always check in with one of the teams, just to make sure they're okay," Walter offered.
"Good idea, Walter," Hammond said. "In about five minutes, dial the 'gate. I don't care which team."
"Yes, sir." Walter hurried back to the control room. Hoped that the 'interruption' would prevent Emmett Bregman from stirring General O'Neill to anger. It was never pleasant when the brass was upset.
Bregman had overheard a group airman talking…speculating, actually…on whether or not the members of SG-1 would show up in the commissary as usual for lunch, or if the visiting film crew would have them 'hiding out'. When one of the men had commented that he'd just seen General O'Neill heading in that direction, the journalist was determined to get an interview. "I could use a cup of coffee," he said, glancing at Rundell.
Rundell said nothing, but led the way to the elevator. He'd overheard the same conversation, and was certain of Bregman's motives. If nothing else, the confrontation between journalist and general would be entertaining.
"Hopefully the general will still be there by the time we get there," Bregman muttered under his breath as they waited for the lift to arrive.
Again the liaison officer remained silent. Rundell had no doubt that the 'rumor' mill of the mountain was keeping the members of SG-1 informed of the journalist's movements. It was the only plausible explanation for the fact that there had so far only been one actual 'interview'. Although Colonel Carter had arrived in the room set aside for the interviews, she hadn't stayed longer than ten minutes. Bregman was pissed that Doctor Jackson had made him look foolish…although he was still determined to do a full interview with the archaeologist. As he was still determined to interview General O'Neill, in spite of the 'brush off' earlier. Teal'c had disappeared from the lab before Bregman could speak to him; Casey Jackson hadn't been seen, not even in passing. Based on the bits of conversations he'd overheard, consensus was that the Jaffa and Mrs. Jackson had slipped off somewhere, and were watching videos and eating popcorn until the film crew left the SGC. With a sigh, Rundell followed the crew onto the elevator. And wished he were with the seer and Jaffa.
Jack grabbed a bowl of mixed fruit, filled a mug with coffee, and sat down to go over the latest request chits. As promised, Sam had gone over the forms with him, and helped draft a new, more 'user-friendly' form. Well, user-friendly if the user was General Jack O'Neill.
He took a bite of cantaloupe, read the first page. A list of parts, electronic mostly. A glance at the top. Request submitted by…Doctor Lee. Okay, whatever he was up to, it apparently required building a circuit board or two. He picked up his pen, signed his name in the appropriate places, initialed it in two others. Turned to the next chit.
"General O'Neill!" Bregman dropped into the empty chair across the table.
"Busy," Jack intoned immediately, not bothering to look up.
"Oh…uh…yes, I see that," Bregman said, noting the folder. "This won't take but a moment of your time."
"Right. Is that what you told Daniel?"
"When you accosted Daniel outside his office," Jack replied, finally looking up. "Is that what you told him, that it would only take a 'moment of his time'?"
"Accosted? I'd hardly call it 'accosted'," Bregman said, bristling slightly, not realizing that it was an incredible 'coincidence' that the general had already heard about the incident. "I just happened to see him, and called out to him."
"Accosted. That's what he called it," Jack smirked. Daniel had actually called him, to warn him that "Bregman is on the prowl." And had suggested finding a quiet place to hide…somewhere not a corridor.
"Uh huh. Look, I wanted to ask you about something specific," Bregman said.
"The rather…um…antagonistic…relationship between you and former Senator Robert Kinsey."
Jack closed the folder with an audible 'snap'. "You really don't want to go there."
"Really, I do," Bregman pushed. "There was talk in and around Washington that you might have had a hand in the senator's untimely demise." The 'talk' was restricted to two senatorial aides who had overheard their respective bosses talking about…or rather laughing about…the confrontation between the colonel and senator at a high level meeting. And, the 'talk' was mostly about the fact that both Senators believed the colonel should have been given a medal for getting rid of one of the most corrupt politicians in the capitol. All of course, overheard by himself as he hovered near and in the courthouse where Kinsey was being tried…posthumously. "You and he had just recently bumped heads during a Senate Oversight Committee meeting. Without his…interference…the SGC received the funding you…er…that had been requested."
Only those associated with the SGC knew of the 'late' senator's actual whereabouts. The president had felt it best to leave the traitor dead…making it impossible for him to slip back to Earth and make a miraculous recovery. "Are you accusing me of something?" Jack asked coldly.
"No…of course not. Unless you'd like to confess," Bregman said, smiling slyly. The smile faltered under the cold, unwavering stare of deep brown eyes. He cleared his throat. "I realize that Senator Kinsey was far from a favorite on Capitol Hill-"
His eyes narrowing slightly, Jack crossed his arms over his chest. "I assume you read the newspapers during and after his posthumous trial," Jack interrupted.
"Of course," Bregman replied indignantly, obviously insulted that the question had been asked. An irony totally lost on him.
"Then you know what kind of a lousy, self-righteous, opportunistic son of a-"
The klaxons chose that moment to come to life, blaring loudly, causing Bregman and the two members of his film crew to jump slightly.
"-snake-in-the-grass…no good…smarmy-" The words were barely audible between the blasts of the alarm. Jack broke off when he realized that the alarms were drowning out his voice.
"Unscheduled off world activation. General O'Neill to the control room. Repeat. Unscheduled off world activation."
Jack looked over at Bregman. "I was done," he said, rising to his feet. He looked directly into the camera. "I hope you got all the important parts."
Bregman stood as well. "General, what is this "off world activation" something?"
"Won't know until I get there," Jack replied, already moving toward the door.
Waving at his crew, indicating that he wanted them to continue filming. "That's great! Where's…there?"
"There is here for you," Jack replied, not breaking stride.
Bregman paused slightly. "What?"
Jack was gone, the door flapping slowly behind him.
"Ongoing activity," Rundell said. He pointed at James, who turned off the camera and lowered it.
Bregman rolled his eyes. Any 'ongoing activity' was off-limits to him and his crew. How the hell was he supposed to make a documentary when he was stymied at every turn?
Jack slid into the control room. Daniel and Sam ran into the room just seconds behind him. "What's up?"
General Hammond glanced over his shoulder. "Colonel Dixon just made contact."
"Okay. Regular check-in?"
"Not good," Jack murmured.
"My thoughts exactly," Hammond nodded. Although, he conceded mentally, the timing was fortuitous. Walter hadn't had a chance to dial out in order to 'rescue' Jack before the 'gate had come to life. "Go ahead, Colonel."
The camera for the MALP activated, and Dixon's face came into view on the monitors. "Yeah, we found some ruins. Had a bit of excitement. We're sending something through, some sort of security device, or robot security guard or something. It attacked when Balinsky set off some sort of alarm. He's not sure exactly what triggered the thing. We fired at it, but the thing had a shield. 'Carter Special' took it out. Cam figured Colonel Carter would probably want to take a look at it."
"Very well," Hammond replied. Noted with amusement that Sam's face had lit up at the mention of the alien technology. And that Jack's had taken on a look of pride at the mention of the weapon.
Everyone in the control room watched as two halves a sphere rolled down the ramp, clanged together twice, and then fell onto the rounded backs. One of the Marine guards trotted forward to grab the device.
"Balinsky wants to stay for awhile," Dixon added.
"Do you see anything worth staying for, Dave?" Jack asked.
"Hard to say," Dixon replied.
Cam Balinsky pushed forward, leaned down to look into the camera. "The ruins are pretty extensive. They're also Ancient. We need to finish searching to find out what else might have been left behind."
"How long?" Hammond asked.
"A day or two…maybe longer," Cam responded. "Like I said, the ruins are fairly extensive."
"Maybe we could send a UAV?" Daniel suggested. "An aerial view would help us narrow down the locations of the most important buildings."
Hammond nodded. "Permission granted. I'm sending SG-6 as backup. Any sign of further threat, you get out of there immediately, Colonel."
Cam moved out of the way, disappearing from the view of the camera.
Dixon leaned down, his face looming on the monitors. "Understood, sir. SG-13 out."
The camera went off, and the wormhole disengaged. The klaxons went silent; the emergency lights shut off at the same time.
"I'll start running tests on what's left of the device," Sam said. "Maybe I can locate any programming that could tell us what it was doing there."
"Need any help?" Daniel asked.
"Probably. If there is any programming, it will most likely be in Ancient," Sam replied.
Hammond nodded. "Best time Colonel, Doctor. Walter, have Sergeant Siler prepare a UAV. Notify me when it's ready."
"Yes, sir," Walter replied, reaching for the phone that waited on the corner of the table.
The general turned, ready to climb the stairs back to his office.
Jack stepped up next to him. "Uh…sir…not that I don't appreciate it-"
The Texan held up a hand. "Walter told me that Bregman was heading for the commissary, and that he had been asking others about the…relationship…between you and Kinsey."
"Ah. Not just a rescue mission," Jack replied, giving a crooked smile.
"Jack, I don't care what you told that wea-" Hammond broke off, looked around at the technicians in the room who were pretending not to listen. "It was most definitely a rescue mission," he smiled.
"Then allow me to express my deep and unyielding…love…for you, sir."
Chuckling, Hammond gave Jack's shoulder a pat, the other hand on the railing for the stairs.
The clearing of a throat had both generals turning toward the doorway.
"General Hammond, if you have a moment, Mr. Bregman would like a word," Rundell said. His expression remained completely neutral. The two officers watching him, however, knew without a doubt that he'd overheard their conversation.
"I'll have time in about an hour," Hammond replied. Didn't wait for a response before climbing the spiral stairs to the briefing room and his office.
A A A A A A
Casey wandered down the corridor, head down, tugging her lower lip between her teeth. She'd managed to keep Janet away from Bregman, and even given her best friend a reason to avoid the journalist. It might have been stretching the truth a bit, but desperate times called for desperate measures. The last thing SG-1 needed was for that man to learn about their immortality. And Janet would never forgive herself if she was the 'leak'. If their secret was learned, the only way to save themselves from being treated like science experiments in Area 51 would be to flee Earth. And if that happened, how could she do her job? How could any of them do the job for which they'd been granted that special gift?
Not, she sighed silently, that she was doing such a bang-up job at doing what she was supposed to do. In spite of every effort, she was still unable to see who was hidden by that dark cloud in her vision. The only thing she could see…with crystal clarity…was that the person was near Janet. It just doesn't make sense, she complained to herself…again.
"Good afternoon, Casey Jackson."
Looking up, a smile lit her face. "Hey, Teal'c. Where are you headed?"
"Colonel Carter requested my presence in her lab."
"I believe Daniel Jackson is already present there," Teal'c continued.
"In that case, guess I'll join you."
"Or not," Casey sighed. She turned to face the owner of the voice.
Bregman hurried toward the slender seer. "Mrs. Jackson, I'm Emmett Bregman."
She stared at the man's out-stretched hand for a moment, before shyly accepting the handshake. "Hello," she said cautiously.
"If you have a few minutes, I'd very much like to interview you."
Do it now, and he'll leave you alone for the rest of the day, her brain prodded. "I suppose I could spare a few minutes," she replied hesitantly.
"That's wonderful!" Bregman crowed delightedly. "General Hammond was generous enough to offer us a small room to do the interviews in. We have most of our equipment set up there."
"Sure…whatever," Casey mumbled. She grabbed Teal'c's arm. The tall Jaffa leaned toward her. "Tell Daniel I'll talk to him in a few," she whispered.
"I will do so," Teal'c promised softly. With a smile for the seer…and a scowl for Bregman, who took a hesitant step backwards…he turned the corner.
Chicken, Casey thought, giggling silently. Teal'c would use the freight elevator rather than be stuck in the main lift with the journalist.
"I appreciate your cooperation," Bregman said, leading the way toward the elevator. Didn't even pay attention when Rundell slid his pass through the reader. "I was able to interview Colonel Carter this morning."
"Oh? How'd that go?" Casey asked, an innocent expression on her face.
"It wasn't as 'in-depth' as I'd hoped, but I'll be able to use what I have," Bregman replied confidently.
I'll just bet you will, Casey thought.
Within minutes the group was filing into the room on level twenty-five that had been designated as the 'interview room' for the duration of Bregman's visit. The journalist noted that the slender blonde paused in the doorway.
Casey glanced around the room. It was one of the smaller guest quarters. The 'intimacy' of the room was supposedly more conducive to relaxed, informative interviews. Or so the latest scuttlebutt claimed.
"Mrs. Jackson, come in!" The small, dark-haired man beamed a smile at her, waving toward the chair that was sitting alone in front of the far wall.
Obviously that was where the interviewee…victim, she though sourly…was to sit. She perched nervously on the edge of the seat.
"I'm relaxed," she ground out. When the airman in charge of the sound tried to clip the small microphone to her tee-shirt, she batted his hands away.
"Sorry, ma'am," Shep said apologetically. "You have to wear this so that we can record your voice."
"Oh. Give it here, then." Accepting the small device, she clipped it to the collar of the shirt herself.
Emmett frowned. It would have been obvious to a blind man that the slender blonde was uncomfortable. "I just have a few questions for you. Please answer them as fully as possible."
So you have more to cut and piece together, to completely change the meaning of what I've said? I don't think so, Bregman! "Right."
He made a show of studying his notes. "You know, President Hayes is quite impressed by you," he said, trying to make the comment sound 'off-the-cuff'.
"I respect him as well," Casey replied.
"Uh huh." He looked at his notes again. "So, according to my sources, you've been here at the SGC for just over two years, is that right?"
Bregman glanced up at her. "So, what do you think of it?"
"What do I think of the SGC?"
"Yes," the journalist replied, smiling at her again.
Slender shoulders moved up and down. "I suppose it depends on the context."
Bregman cleared his throat. "Okay, why don't you just tell me about your experiences here at the SGC?"
"Everything I do here is classified," she responded immediately.
"It's okay. I…we," Bregman pointed to himself, and then the two crew members, "have been cleared."
Casey raised one eyebrow slightly. "You've read the mission files you were authorized to see. What more can you possibly want to know?"
He heaved a sigh. Yep, he was having to wring every little bit out of these people! Just like pulling teeth, he thought for not the first time. It would probably be easier to take a pair of pliers and pull a tooth from each person he wanted to interview. "What's one of your favorite things about working here?"
The response had been immediate…she hadn't paused to consider her answer. Which was encouraging. "Really? Helping people? How?"
Green eyes narrowed. "However we're able," she replied coolly.
Okay, maybe the lovely lady would warm up talking about her husband…although it hadn't worked well with Colonel Carter. Of course that had been the result of his bringing up the non-frat rules… "What's it like to be married to the man responsible for making this entire place possible?"
It was impossible to hold back her smile. Casey had no idea that her eyes had begun to sparkle with love. "Amazing. Wonderful."
Bregman smiled in return. The love that reflected in those wide, green eyes was undeniable. The camera wouldn't be able to miss that twinkle. "I've been told that the way that you and Doctor Jackson met was a bit…unbelievable."
Her smile widened. "At the very least."
He'd struck the right chord…she was opening up. He'd be able to maneuver her around to get the answers to the questions he really wanted to ask, he had no doubt of that. "Would you tell me about it?"
Like a book slapping closed, the barriers had gone back up. Bregman sighed again. "Okay, how about you tell me what you do here at the SGC?"
"I'm Daniel's assistant. I'm working on a database to catalog every known god from Earth, and cross-referencing it with the Goa'uld we know about."
"Sounds ambitious," Bregman said, remembering what Cam Balinsky had told him regarding the scope of the project. Something about her work being the definitive resource for every myth and story about any and every 'god' known to mankind.
"It's a pain-in-the-ass," Casey retorted.
Bregman chuckled. "Is there anything else you do…that is expected of you?"
Casey tilted her head to the side. This man didn't believe in seers. No doubt she'd be presented as some sort of crazy woman. "I do whatever is asked of me," she replied carefully.
"Doctor Balinsky referred to you as the 'Resident Seer'."
"Not that you believe in seers," Casey countered.
"Well, not many people do…no offense," Bregman replied, offering another smile. Which wasn't returned.
"No offense taken. I realize that most people only have experience with those who claim to be psychic. Some have a modicum of talent. There are one or two real psychics out there. But the rest…" Casey shrugged. "Scammers and con artists."
"But you're neither of those things."
"No, I'm not."
"So, tell me how it works," Bregman said, sitting forward slightly.
"I don't know how it works. I just know that it does," Casey replied stiffly.
"I'll tell you what, how about you just start talking…tell me about an average day here at the SGC," Bregman suggested. He could edit questions in later.
"No? Look, General Hammond has orders-"
"I know all about the order from the president, Mr. Bregman."
"You're not cooperating."
"I suppose it would seem that way to you," Casey said, offering a 'butter-won't-melt-in-my-mouth' smile.
"I think we've somehow gotten off on the wrong foot here," Bregman said. "Can we start again?"
Once again slender shoulders moved up and down. "Suit yourself."
Bregman cleared his throat. Studied his list of questions once again. "Doctor Balinsky tells me that your...gift...has saved lives here at the SGC on a regular basis."
Casey said nothing…there hadn't been a question, and she'd be damned if she'd say anything that might be misconstrued.
"Do you consider yourself…and your gift…important to the SGC?"
"I'm no more important than any of the other people working here. We all do our job, to the best of our ability," Casey said carefully.
"I see. What if I told you that others say that you're important to the SGC?"
"I'd say that's their opinion."
The frustration was rolling off the journalist in waves. Part of her felt sorry for the man. He was trying to do a job set out for him by the president. But that little voice in the back of her head continued to scream warnings at her…that Bregman wasn't to be trusted. "Mr. Bregman, what we're doing here at the SGC is very simple."
"Really? And what is that?"
"Fighting to keep this planet from being taken by a Goa'uld, and the inhabitants killed," Casey said flatly. She looked at her watch. "Are we finished?"
Bregman rubbed his hands over his face in defeat. "Sure. Fine. We're done." He watched the slender seer bolt from the room. "Thanks for nothing," he muttered under his breath.
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