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His Father's Eyes
He smiled when he opened the door. He held out his hands, kissed Beth gently when she stepped closer, her fingers wrapped in his. "Good evenin', darlin'," Hammond said softly.
"Good evening, George." She looked around, frowning slightly when she realized how quiet the house was. "Where are Abby and the girls?"
"Abby took the girls to Chucky Cheese for pizza," the general replied.
Beth smiled. "I have you all to myself?"
"I'm all yours," he chuckled. He cleared his throat, then glanced sheepishly at his guest. "I actually asked Abby to give me time alone with you."
Beth felt her heart began to beat faster. They'd consummated their relationship just a few weeks earlier…the bed in her apartment offering them the privacy they needed, and the secrecy they desired. It had been sweet and wonderful and had probably been the most incredible night of her life. In spite of her age, and her rather curvy, middle-aged figure, George had made her feel sexy and desirable. Their respective schedules had prevented them from being together as often as they…well, at least she…would have liked. It seemed that tonight they would make love in George's bed.
"There's something we need to discuss."
Uh-oh. Warning bells began to blare in her head. She did her best to fight back the tears she could feel trying to form. I will not fall apart if George wants to break up, she warned herself sternly. "Oh?"
He took note of the crestfallen look that she was trying valiantly to hide. "It's nothin' bad. At least, not as-" He broke off, and began to chuckle again. "If I want to do this right, I think we'd better go into my den."
His fingers were locked around hers, she noted. And…surprisingly…she could feel him trembling. She walked beside him toward the room where she spent most of her time when she visited. It was comfortable in the den; the room was a reflection of George…his likes and dislikes. Memories of hours spent in the room, talking about anything and everything that crossed their minds, flittered through her mind.
"Have a seat," he said, pointing to the sofa that sat in front of the bay window. He hurried over to the bar to pour drinks - scotch for him, gin and tonic for her. Taking a deep breath, forcing a smile to his face, he turned and walked toward her, his heart pounding against his ribs. Equal measures of hope and dread filled him.
She sat down, put her purse off to the side. "Thank you," she said, accepting the drink he offered. Recognizing the expression on his face, one that told her he had something to share with her, kept her from saying anything as he settled onto the couch beside her.
"Beth, the past few months have been…it's been a long time since I've felt so happy, so alive," the general began. "I was devastated when I lost Betty. Didn't figure I'd ever love again. But then…then I met you. And I've fallen head over heels for you."
"Oh, George," Beth sighed. Her pulse raced, her heart jumped for joy. "I love you, too!"
He fumbled in the breast pocket of his short-sleeved polo shirt, and withdrew a simple platinum band with a single, three-carat round solitaire. "I want to marry you, Beth. If you'd do me the honor."
"I don't know what to say," Beth admitted, surprised and overwhelmed and so in love it actually frightened her. She hadn't even let herself consider a permanent relationship with George, happy to just drift along with whatever he was willing to offer. She'd left behind fairy tales and 'happily ever after', believing that at her age she'd never find the man she'd be willing to commit to…or find a man willing to commit to her, for that matter.
"Before you say anything, there's something you need to know," the general said. He took a fortifying sip of his drink, then stood and went to his desk. He frowned at the folder, then picked it up. "I thought it would be easier for you to just read this," he said, handing the manila folder to her. "Trying to explain is…difficult."
Confused, Beth accepted the thick folder.
"Take your time," he said softly. While he didn't want her to feel rushed, waiting while she sorted through the substantial amount of information was going to be difficult.
She reached into her purse for her reading glasses. When they were settled on her face, she flipped open the folder to read the summary. Gasped slightly, and looked up at the man beside her. "This is a joke!"
"I'm afraid not, darlin'. Keep reading. Please."
The grandfather clock in the entry hall tick-tocked each passing minute as Beth read. She'd felt as if she'd fallen down Alice's rabbit hole when she'd arrived at the SGC for the first time. Now she felt as if she'd just been slapped silly and tossed into the Mad Hatter's tea party. Immortality. Granted by Beings from another level of existence…so that a team of very special heroes could continue to fight evil wherever it existed. Daniel Jackson was 'The One', the Champion of all Mankind, if this was to be believed. And not only that, but Doctor Fraiser and General Hammond had been granted the 'gift' as well. Immortal. He'll never die… She looked up, her eyes wide. Her expression revealed the torrent of thoughts that were flooding her mind.
The general reached out and brushed the back of his fingers against her cheek. "I know it's a lot to take in."
Her tongue felt as if it were permanently stuck to the roof of her mouth. She chugged her drink, took a deep breath. "A lot to take in? This is…this is…it's science fiction!" Beth declared, tapping the folder that lay open in her lap.
"Every word is true. By now you should realize that the impossible isn't so impossible, at least, not out there," Hammond said, waving a hand slightly toward the ceiling. "What you've seen at the SGC is proof of that fact."
"But…this… Immortal? Stuff of legends and myths," she replied.
"I kinda figured you'd react this way," the general sighed.
"What 'way'?" she demanded, suddenly angry that he could find her so predictable. "Like the logical scientist that I am?"
"Or like a hysterical woman? Maybe I'm reacting like a civilian?"
She shook her head adamantly. "George, this is just…I'm sorry, but this is just impossible."
The general rose to his feet, held out his hand. Smiled when she put the folder against his outstretched fingers. He took it, tossed it onto the desk, then once again held his hand toward her. His smile widened with not a small amount of relief when her fingers wrapped around his.
Feeling as if she were about to fall into another rabbit hole, Beth sighed, put her hand in the strong hand of the man she loved…a thought that wasn't able to penetrate the whirling emotions that were overwhelming her. When he tugged slightly, she rose to her feet beside him.
Hammond led her back into the entry hall, through the kitchen, to the patio beyond.
She came to an abrupt halt when she saw Daniel, Casey, and the other members of SG-1, as well as the diminutive base doctor, sitting at the picnic table, sipping beers. "What's this about?"
"I thought maybe talking to SG-1 about this might help you," the general replied truthfully.
"It's a lot to take in, isn't it?" Daniel asked softly.
Beth gave a very un-ladylike snort. "It's rubbish."
"Sometimes, I wish it was," Daniel replied. "Especially when Casey is suffering because I'm The One."
"Daniel…" Beth paused. She turned to the general. "I don't think you're lying. I just…I just think that maybe you've been fooled…convinced of something that isn't true."
"When I was missing, declared dead," Daniel said, "I really was dead. For three days, anyway. That's how long it takes for us to uh…reanimate."
"We've all died at least once, so far," Jack added. "Maybe you've noticed that if we come back wounded, we're fine in a day or so. Unlike members of other teams."
"Remember that bad bout of flu that everyone was catching?" Sam asked. "We all caught the same virus as the rest of the population of the SGC. But not one of us were down for more than two days…while everyone else was down for at least a week."
"The average was ten days," Casey pointed out.
"I don't suppose that you've noticed that Daniel isn't aging. Casey isn't either," Janet added quietly. "None of us are."
Beth studied the younger general. He was known for his pranks and practical jokes. She tried to force a smile. "Okay, you got me."
"Huh?" Jack asked. He was obviously - and truly - confused.
"This is a joke. I know George has a wicked sense of humor," Beth explained, smiling up at her lover. "The two of you cooked this up, right?"
"Maybe you should show her," Sam said quietly to Daniel.
Beth frowned when the team, and George, looked around carefully. The frown deepened when George nodded slightly at Daniel.
Daniel raised his hand.
Beth watched, not certain what to expect. The sudden blue haze around his fingertips shocked her. She was speechless when a moment later a blue fireball the size of a tennis ball was hurled into the ground, leaving a hole surrounded by scorched grass.
"Not a joke," Daniel said quietly.
"I can show you the test results that verify that each of us," Janet nodded at her companions, "are Immortal."
Beth could only stare at the tiny woman.
"You've been offered the gift of Immortality as well," Hammond said softly, putting his arm around Beth's shoulders.
"The Big Boys understand how absolutely horrible it would be to go through eternity alone," Casey added. "We all have our soulmates…Teal'c has Janet, Sam and Jack have each other, Daniel and I are together. But General Hammond…" She paused. "All you have to do is say 'yes'."
Eyes wide, unable to form a coherent thought, let alone speak, Beth shook her head. She backed away slowly. Dreaming. I'm just dreaming. There's no such thing as Immortality!
"Beth?" Hammond asked, his voice reflecting the worry visible in his eyes.
"I need…I need to go home," she managed to say. She whirled around and nearly ran back through the house. Almost forgot to stop in the den for her purse.
Daniel shook his head when the general started to follow his fiancée. He could certainly empathize with the heartache the older man had to be experiencing in that moment. He also realized that Beth needed time to absorb what she'd just learned. Rising to his feet, he barely managed to grab the general's arm.
"That went well," Jack muttered.
Casey hurried to General Hammond's side. "Give her a day or so to come to terms with all of this."
The general nodded, although the anguish on his face had the entire team aching to do something to help ease the hurt he was feeling.
A A A A A A
Beth was sitting in the commons, the only place she could find to be alone at the moment, staring at the wall. She'd barely made it through the Monday morning meeting with Daniel and Jonas. Daniel had been…reserved. She'd been…she'd been quiet, speaking only when necessary. Then there had been questions from Leanna regarding several new crates of artifacts. Her mind, she admitted freely, was certainly not on her work today. In fact, at the moment, she really didn't care what happened on level eighteen, as long as people would just leave her alone.
She'd spent the entire weekend going over and over all that she'd read. Alternating between crying spells, mourning the loss of her relationship with George Hammond, and angry spells where she cursed the day she'd met him, wishing she'd never allowed herself to become friends with the man. And all the while, clinging to the love that still filled her heart.
She didn't even notice Casey was standing in the doorway until the seer cleared her throat. For some reason, the older woman felt it important to be standing when she acknowledged her visitor. She rose slowly to her feet. "Oh…hello."
"May I come in?" Casey asked politely.
The archaeologist gave a slight shrug. "It's the commons," she replied stiffly. She wasn't sure how to act around the young woman. The easy camaraderie they'd shared had evaporated the minute Daniel had tossed a blue fireball from his fingers.
Casey stepped closer. "Beth, do you believe I'm a seer?"
The question took her completely off guard. Before arriving at the SGC, before meeting Casey Jackson, she'd never believed in psychics. She'd personally witnessed Casey offering tidbits of advice, things that had prevented teams from being injured, or worse - killed. "Of course I do. You prove your talent on a daily basis."
The slender blonde smiled. "Well, maybe not daily," she countered.
Beth managed a wan smile in return.
"You've seen so much working here, you've even been off-world, stood on an alien planet, slept beneath strange stars. Is what the general told you…which by the way, is not common knowledge around here…anyway, is it really so difficult to accept?"
She was still struggling with what George had told her…shown her. She wasn't anywhere near being able to accept it. One thing did catch her attention…"Not common knowledge?"
Casey took a deep breath. "The only people who know about Immortals are…well, Immortal. The president knows, but thanks to a very specially worded Presidential Order, he can never reveal what he knows. To be honest, we took a hell of a risk telling you. If you even whisper about us, it could fall onto the wrong ears." Not mentioning that most of the SG teams knew was an omission meant to protect them was well as the Immortals of the SGC. If anyone outside of the concrete bunker knew that any SG team member had such information, they would be in as much jeopardy as SG-1 would be. General Hammond had made it clear that not only were those who were aware of the truth not to discuss the issue, they were not to even acknowledge what they knew.
"NID?" Beth was well aware of that entity, and the trouble it had caused. George complained about them regularly…although he seemed to be satisfied that the days of 'interference' were over.
The young seer nodded. "There are those who'd sell us out in a heartbeat. Do you know how much nations would pay for us? To experiment on us? To try to find out what makes us Immortal, in a bid to duplicate that…ability."
The color drained from Beth's face when she contemplated what Casey was saying. "Oh, my!"
"Yeah. But General Hammond loves you…and you have the right to know everything," Casey continued.
"It's just so…unbelievable," Beth sighed.
"So is being tossed through a stable wormhole to an planet on the other side of the galaxy," Casey countered.
"So what do I do?" Beth asked.
"I guess you have a few questions to ask yourself," Casey said softly.
"And they would be?" She didn't even try to hide her frustration.
"Whether or not you love General Hammond. And if you love him, do you want to live without his love, or with it? If he's your soulmate, do you want to spend the rest of your life…however long that might be…without him?"
Beth frowned slightly. She'd never had a real relationship…not since college. She'd been too focused on her career. Too certain that she didn't have the time a healthy relationship needed, and deserved. But the one serious relationship she'd had certainly left its mark on her. She'd grieved for months after the breakup…forced by his parents. An archaeologist for a daughter-in-law didn't fit into their social plans for their son. Particularly once he passed his bar exam, and became a full-fledged attorney. How many times had she regretted not standing up to the De'Lecourts? How many times had she cried thinking about the last night she and David had been together? How many times had the hints that he was willing to fight his parents, if she only said the word - hints that she'd not heard in those last minutes together - echoed over and over in her mind in the days and weeks that followed the breakup?
Casey pulled her lip between her teeth, waiting for her friend to respond. She frowned as the minutes ticked by. "Beth?"
"I've only been in love once before. I was very young, and it ended very badly," the older woman admitted quietly.
"And you're afraid of that happening again?"
It wasn't possible to hold back her snort of laughter. "Hardly. I doubt that George's parents are going to interfere."
"Oh," Casey said, nodding slightly.
"It's just…" Beth waved her hand in a weak circle. "Immortal? I can't seem to wrap my mind around it."
"Neither can I," Casey confessed.
"But you've been…Immortal…for two years!" Beth exclaimed.
The slender seer shrugged. "I don't actually think about it very often. But when I do, it tends to freak me out. Unless I'm thinking about Daniel. Then I'm so very glad we're Immortal. I'll never have to face life without him...he'll be with me forever. That's the only way I can handle the idea."
The frown on Beth's face deepened. "If George is already Immortal…" Her voice faded as she realized just what impact Immortality would have on his life. He was Immortal. Abby wasn't Immortal. Neither were Kayla or Tessa. They would continue to age. They would grow old, and eventually… "Oh, god! Poor George!"
Casey stepped closer when tears filled Beth's warm brown eyes. "Beth?"
"How can he face losing them? His daughter and granddaughters…oh, that will just devastate him." Beth dropped onto the sofa that was pushed against the wall, her fingers pressed against her lips.
"I'm sure it will," Casey said softly. She settled beside the older woman. "Daniel and I have talked about that a bit…I mean, it's one thing to lose grandparents or parents…you kinda expect that. But to lose children, and grandchildren…" She shook her blonde head. "So not an easy thing to do."
"If I were Immortal," Beth said slowly, turning her head slightly, her eyes holding Casey's in a firm gaze, "I could be there for him. Hold him while he cries. Help him pick up the pieces and move on."
"Yes, you could," Casey said, her voice softer still. "And he'd never have to face losing you."
Beth put a hand to her forehead. "All of this is giving me a headache."
"I understand," Casey said, offering a small smile. "You don't have to make any decisions immediately."
"But George needs to know," Beth said. "He proposed to me, exposed this secret…I can't make him just sit and wonder if he's made a mistake."
Casey's smile widened. "I hate to be the one to point this out to you, but all of your concern about the general sorta proves you love him very much."
Beth snickered softly. "I guess it does at that. I've never loved anyone the way I love George. It's just so…easy. It feels so right. Sitting beside him on the couch, watching a movie, or going to the grocery store, or having coffee in the commissary…it's just so…right!" She blushed slightly.
"Yep. Love. Big time," Casey teased.
Beth rubbed her hands against her denim-covered thighs. "Do you know if George is in his office?"
"I think he is," Casey said.
She rose to her feet. "I have a proposal to accept. Do me a favor…don't let anyone head for George's office. He's so darned determined that we'll not do any kissing here at the SGC, and I intend to kiss him when I accept his offer of marriage."
Soft giggles filled the air. "I promise. I'll have Ferretti post a guard," Casey promised.
"Thank you." Beth started out of the room, then paused. "Thank you," she repeated softly. The different meanings in the two comments were apparent to both women.
"I didn't do anything but offer you another perspective," Casey replied.
"You did more than that," Beth argued gently. "You prevented me from losing the most beautiful thing I've ever had in my life."
Her heart swelled with a dozen different emotions, all of them positive, and all of them sending warm fuzzies from the top of her head to the tips of her aqua-painted toes. Casey beamed a smile at the older woman. "You're welcome."
As soon as Beth was in the elevator, Casey raced for Daniel's office, where the team was anxiously waiting. She held up her hand as she dashed through the door, stalling the questions that were forming on the lips of her teammates. Grabbing the phone, she grinned from ear to ear. "Lou? Could you do me a favor? Put a guard on General Hammond's office door. He'll let you know when it's okay to send him off…Let's just say the general needs a bit of privacy. For at least the next thirty minutes or so…nope, can't give details, at least not yet…I promise."
"Well?" Jack asked, unable to wait until the phone was in the cradle.
"Beth decided that she just couldn't allow General Hammond to be alone when the time comes…when he'll have to…give up…his family. She loves him too much to let him hurt," Casey announced.
"Yes!" Daniel crowed, smiling as widely as his wife.
"Oh, that's wonderful," Sam sighed.
"Indeed, this is good news," Teal'c nodded.
"This will make things so much easier for him," Janet added. "He'll never be alone again…because Beth has the security clearance to discuss anything that happens here."
"That's a good point," Jack said. "We have each other, but the general has never had that…that…"
"Comfort?" Daniel offered.
Jack pointed at his best friend. "Exactly. Comfort."
"I wonder where they'll get married," Casey mused.
Janet chuckled. "We could always suggest Las Vegas."
"Do you think General Hammond would wear shorts and a Hawaiian shirt?" Casey asked mischievously.
Sam began to laugh. "That would be something to see, that's for sure!"
"Well, now that we know everything is okay," Janet said, pushing away from the work table she'd been leaning on, "I need to get back to work."
"Me, too," Sam sighed. She looked pointedly at Jack.
"What?" the general said, feigning ignorance.
Jack heaved a pained sigh. "I hate being a general."
"You hated the paperwork you had to do as a colonel," Daniel pointed out.
"I hate paperwork," Jack agreed.
"Life's rough," Daniel teased.
"You have absolutely no compassion," Jack retorted. "Heartless. That's what you are."
"I thought I was annoying," Daniel countered.
"You are. Annoying and heartless."
"Let's go, general," Sam said, putting one hand on Jack's shoulder and pushing slightly. "Get your paperwork finished and you can come bug me."
"Now that's something to look forward to," Jack smiled.
Teal'c nodded toward Daniel and Casey as he led Janet out of the archaeologist's office, followed closely by Sam and Jack.
"Alone at last," Daniel grinned.
"Yep. Which means we can get back to work," Casey replied, trying to ignore the gleam in her Husband's eyes.
"I dunno, I was thinking about a little trip to the supply closet…"
"If we get finished with our paperwork, maybe we can get home early enough for me to do a little strip-tease," Casey smiled.
Daniel hurried to his desk. Turned to look over his shoulder. "What are you waiting for? Get busy!" His grin and wink caused her to giggle.
Casey settled behind her own desk. Sighed happily. Those among the SGC who had been granted Immortality had also been blessed to have their soulmates granted the same gift. The 'ceremony', or whatever it could be called, to bestow the gift to Beth had yet to occur, but no doubt it would soon. General Hammond would never be alone again.
The general had nearly a dozen reports in front of him when someone knocked on the door.
"Come in." He looked up to see who was intruding on his time now. He rose to his feet automatically when the woman he loved walked in. Swallowed hard when she quietly closed the door behind her. "Beth-"
"Just a minute," she said. She lowered the mini-blind that covered the window between the office and the briefing room, made certain the slats were closed tightly.
She held up her hand. "George, I'm so sorry for running out the way I did Friday. I can't explain how shocked I was…it was just so much to try and take in. I spent the weekend trying to convince myself that it was a horrible joke. But…part of me believes what you've told me. Part of me just…well, part of me is really struggling with these 'facts'."
"I understand," he said. "It is a lot to take in. Maybe more than I realized." He'd not spoken to Beth since she'd fled from the backyard. He'd heard the front door slam. He had spent the weekend worrying that his second chance at love was going to slip away from him. He stood stiffly, waiting to hear the words he wanted to hear…that he ached to hear. Terrified that instead he'd hear her saying that she didn't want to see him again.
"I had a little chat with Casey. Seems I'm very much in love with you," Beth said, smiling broadly. "I already knew that, but now she knows as well."
He felt the tug of a smile on his lips.
"I can't let you go through…I can't let you be alone. I love you too much to let you go through that. I love you too much to want to be away from you."
It took a moment for her words to sink in. When they did, his blue eyes widened, and his smile spread from ear to ear. "I love you, too, darlin'," he declared softly.
"I don't suppose you have that beautiful ring on you, do you?"
With a chuckle, Hammond reached into his pocket. "Seems I do," he said, holding up the shiny diamond. "Will you marry me, darlin'?"
Beth stepped closer. Slid her arms around his neck. "Yes…oh, yes," she sighed. Just before she rose up on her toes, and claimed his lips in a kiss. Melted against him when his arms locked around her, pulling her closer.
"Oh, no," General Hammond whispered, pulling away from a very delightful kiss.
"I dropped the ring."
Chuckling, Beth knelt down on the carpeted floor. The general knelt down beside her, and the two began to search for the missing ring.
"Found it," Hammond declared, holding up the shiny, tangible evidence of his love. "Let's get this on your finger before I drop it again."
Laughing, her heart hammering with love and happiness, Beth watched as the general slid the ring over her finger. She stared at it for a moment. "It's beautiful."
"Not as beautiful as you," he said softly.
"Sweet talker," Beth said, blushing slightly.
"I suppose we should talk to Casey. And Daniel," Hammond said. "We need to make sure you're…" he glanced around.
"Right. By the way, thank you for the faith you showed. You took a risk."
The general smiled warmly, his blue eyes reflecting his love. "It was worth it."
"So, what will happen?" Beth asked.
"I don't know. When I…when the gift was given to me, I just stood there, holding Daniel's hand," the general replied.
"Well, that sounds easy enough," Beth sighed. She accepted his hand when he offered to help her up, after getting to his feet.
"Let's at least find out if we need to do this immediately." The general opened the door, startled to see a guard standing at attention in front of it. "Airman?"
"Major Ferretti put me on guard, sir. Said you'd let me know when I could leave."
"Casey," Beth chuckled. "I asked her for a favor."
Hammond smiled. "I see." He turned back to the young airman. "Thank you, son. You can return to your regular duties."
Even though he didn't hold her hand…Beth couldn't help but chuckle silently at George's insistence that they give the rumor-mongers very little to talk about…he stood close to her on the elevator. Her thoughts were still whirling, as they'd been all weekend. It would take time to fully come to accept what she'd learned. Another thought poked through. "Does Abby know?"
Hammond smiled. "I talked to her before I accepted the gift," he admitted. "She signed the non-disclosure forms before I told her."
She bit back her smile. Even if he'd been breaking the rules, he'd done his best to follow those rules. "She understood?"
"I can protect her and the girls, as long as I’m here at the SGC," Hammond said gently. "If I were to retire…" He shrugged. "General Bauer may be sitting the director's chair of the NID, but I don't believe for one second that he has absolute control over every section of that department. I can't let some rogue group from the NID slip someone into this facility. They'll either declare open war on the Goa'uld, which would result the destruction of Earth, or they'll make a deal with a Goa'uld, which would see the Earth taken over by that Goa'uld."
In that moment, Beth fully understood the reason that General George Hammond had accepted the gift of Immortality. The burden he bore, not just for those under his command, or just in the US. He carried the weight of the safety of the entire planet on his broad shoulders. She wrapped her hands around his arm. "Oh, George," she said softly.
"What?" he asked.
"That's such a heavy burden…" She broke off with a shake of her head.
"I work with some of the best people in the country," he replied. "I have the best of the best here. They bear that burden with me."
"I'll try to help you as well," she vowed.
"You already do, darlin'," Hammond drawled, smiling warmly at her.
The look in his eyes warmed her to her core. She couldn't help but smile back.
Daniel looked up when the two entered his office; rose to his feet immediately. "General?"
Hammond looked down at Beth, noting the look of love on her face. Then turned his attention to the waiting archaeologist. "Doctor Jackson, Beth has consented to marry me."
"That's great!" Daniel smiled.
"We…uh…" Hammond broke off.
"So what do I have to do to join your exclusive little club?" Beth asked cheekily.
Daniel chuckled. "Let me find Casey. She'll talk to Miss Eloise and find out what we need to do."
"Very well," Hammond nodded. "We're going for coffee, should be back in my office in thirty minutes or so."
"We'll meet you there," Daniel nodded. He couldn't help but grin as he watched the older couple walking down the corridor. Sam and Jack had disappeared immediately after Casey's announcement that Beth was going to talk to the general. Teal'c commented about the recruits waiting for him in the gym, and Janet had mentioned a meeting with Doctor Warner. Casey had insisted on getting paperwork finished up…just when had she left? More importantly, where had she gone? Before he could pick up the phone to have her paged, she bounced into the room. "There you are!"
"Here I am," she confirmed. "What's up?"
"You just missed General Hammond and Beth," he informed her.
He paused, looking closer at her. She was nearly vibrating where she stood, and her eyes were sparkling brighter than the diamonds on her finger. Daniel chuckled with amusement. "So, what did Miss Eloise say?"
"There's a copse of trees a few hundred feet from the loading dock. Nice and private. There won't be any questions asked if we all head out that way…one at a time, of course," Casey replied.
"Of course," he smiled.
"If we wait until eleven-thirty or so, the dock itself will be deserted. Each of us heading up won't be commented on…people will assume we're heading for lunch. And you know how crowded the commissary gets," the slender seer continued.
There were days, when favorite dishes were being served, that it was almost impossible to find a table. Often, a wait of ten minutes or so was required to locate a place to sit, especially if they wanted to eat together. "And no one is going to actually be looking for us," he mused.
"Right. If no one sees anything out of the ordinary, they'll never notice."
"Okay, so do we all need to be there, or just you and me?"
"Well…" Casey paused, then sighed. "I suppose you and I are the only ones who have to be there. But it won't feel…right, without Sam and Jack, and Teal'c and Janet."
"Okay. And seeing them going up as couples won't cause any suspicion."
"Nope, everyone knows about Janet and Teal'c, and of course Jack and Sam are married now."
"Right. So, when do we do this…today, tomorrow - next week?"
"Whenever the general and Beth want," Casey said.
"Well, I get the feeling they're a little anxious," Daniel chuckled.
"Okay, you go find them, I'll call Janet and Sam, and tell them where and when to meet us."
"Got it." As soon as he was close enough, he pulled her into his arms. "Have I mentioned how much I love you?"
"Not in the past hour or so," Casey smiled.
"Well, I do. I love you," Daniel whispered. Just before he lowered his head and brushed his lips against hers.
Her heart was beating a tattoo against her ribs by the time he pulled away from her. "I love you, too," she whispered. Wanting…needing more of him, she pulled him close once again, and teased his lower lip with the tip of her tongue, before accepting the invitation to explore his mouth as he had just done hers. She touched him…tasted him…felt the shiver that moved over him.
He put just enough distance between them to be able to talk. "We have to stop this," he murmured.
"The general is waiting…"
He gave her a gentle kiss. Another, more firm kiss. Then resolutely stepped away from her. "Remind me not to do that again."
"What…kiss me?" Casey's eyes went wide.
"No!" He grinned at the horror on her face. "Just remind me not to kiss you just before we need to do something."
"Oh, that," she said, waving a hand in dismissal. "What did you think would happen? A quick little peck on the lips?"
"Well, that had crossed my mind," Daniel replied, fully amused.
"Silly man. Can't happen between us. Too much fire," Casey responded.
"Very true. Now, you call Janet and Sam-"
"And you go clue in the general and Beth," she finished. Casey glanced at her watch. "I'll meet you on eleven."
Daniel nodded. "Right. Love you."
"Love you, too. Go. That's how we got sidetracked the first time."
Chuckling, Daniel made his way down the corridor, toward the elevator.
Casey grabbed the phone and dialed the infirmary. As soon as she had alerted Janet, receiving promises that both the petite doctor and Teal'c would be present, she called Sam's lab. She wasn't at all surprised when Jack answered the phone. The brigadier general heartily approved of the plan for the team to arrive separately, to avoid as much speculation and gossip as possible, and gave his word that he and Sam would be present. Heart lighter than it had been in days…possibly weeks, Casey dashed to the elevator, and rode it to level eleven.
Daniel was waiting for her, leaning against the wall, conversing with the guards on duty. They signed out, making the notation that they were simply heading up for lunch, and stepped onto the elevator.
"Hold the door!" a voice called. Jack stepped into the corridor, followed closely by Sam. "Lunch?" he asked casually.
"Yep," Daniel replied. He glanced at Casey. She'd said that they needed to arrive separately, or at least just as couples. She was smiling, tossing a teasing comment at Jack about how slow he was to sign his name. Apparently this wasn't going to be a problem.
The colonel and general stepped onto the elevator, Daniel released the door, and Casey punched the button for the fifth level.
"I have a question for you," Jack said, looking at Casey.
"Okay. I have an answer. Let's see if they match," Casey responded.
"Har-dee-har-har," Jack said. "Are the Big Boys allowing Doctor Meyers-"
"Beth," Casey interjected.
"Might as well get used to calling her Beth. She's one of us," Casey replied.
"Right," Jack said, his tone of voice indicating he didn't fully agree. "Anyway, is she being offered the gift just because of the general?"
Casey frowned slightly. "Not exactly. From what Miss Eloise could tell me…via a game of twenty questions-"
So that's where she'd been, Daniel thought. She'd found somewhere quite, and private, and had had a lengthy conversation with the old, ascended seer.
"-had the Big Boys not found Beth worthy, the offer wouldn't have been made. Any request would have been rejected."
"Oy, that would have been tough," Jack muttered.
"No kidding! Nothing like falling in love, only to be told 'too bad, so sad'," Casey agreed. "I think the reason that the general did fall in love with Beth is because she is the right one."
"Well, everything worked out," Sam said, smiling brightly. "I wonder who will wind up getting married next?"
"Next?" Jack asked.
"Well, we were married April 27th," Sam pointed out.
"I remember that," Jack grinned. He chuckled loudly when Sam punched his shoulder.
"My guess," Sam continued, although she was grinning as well, "is that the general and Beth aren't going to wait long to get married, so this will be the second SGC wedding in about four months. So…who will be next?"
"Ferretti," Casey said immediately.
Jack snorted. "I doubt that."
"Really," Jack confirmed.
"Well, who else is single and available?" Casey asked. "Wait…it could be Tony Sabotti. Last I heard, he was getting fairly serious about the woman he's been dating."
"Tony? Serious about a woman?" Daniel chuckled. "I'll believe that when I see it."
Sam nodded. "I agree. He has a reputation as being quite a ladies man."
Casey snorted. "A reputation started and embellished by the man himself," she said dryly.
"I knew it!" Sam declared. "No man can be that successful with women!"
Jack laughed. "There are rumors of such men existing, although I've never personally met one." He glanced at Daniel. "Well, the Space Monkey, here, was pretty popular with the ladies on all of our missions prior to Casey coming into our lives."
"I was not," Daniel muttered.
"Sure you were. Regular babe magnet," Jack teased.
They had reached the docking bay. And as expected, the area was deserted. The four climbed down the concrete steps that led from the cavern deck to the ground below, then wandered slowly toward the copse of trees they could see.
Not more that fifteen minutes later, both Teal'c and Janet, and General Hammond and Beth were waiting with them.
"Okay," Beth said nervously, "now what?"
Casey smiled, looped her arms around Daniel's neck, and closed her eyes.
"Hello, Sunshine!" The white-maned seer looked around. "Well, seems like everyone is here."
"We figured it just wouldn't feel right if Jack and Sam and Teal'c and Janet weren't with us," Casey explained.
"Very true. Well, I take it that the good Doctor Meyers is willing to accept the gift?"
"Yes, she is," Casey confirmed.
Miss Eloise nodded. She looked up, then after a moment of silence, nodded twice. She raised her hand, offered the other to Casey. "Take His hand. Have him hold hers."
Casey nodded her understanding as she wrapped one hand around the gnarled fingers of her Guide. "Daniel?"
Daniel started slightly. "Right here, Angel," he whispered. When Casey's hand reached up, he wrapped his fingers around it, held tightly. "I'm here, Angel."
"Take Beth's hand," Casey said softly.
The archaeologist reached out to his colleague. "Just relax," he said quietly, holding Beth's hand gently. "This won't take long."
Beth managed a nervous smile. She glanced at the general, felt herself relax when he nodded at her and gave her a warm, encouraging smile. "I'm ready," she said.
"We're ready, Angel," Daniel murmured into Casey's ear.
A bolt of bright light filled the sky above them, then seemed to grab the upraised hand of Miss Eloise. She jerked slightly, feeling the power that rushed through her and into the slender seer at her side.
Casey started, feeling the heat of the power that was pulsing through her flow to Daniel. "Hold tight."
A blue haze formed around Casey, and enveloped Daniel immediately. The archaeologist didn't have the chance to respond to his wife, the power flowing through him was almost overwhelming. A glance at Beth, and he immediately began to slow that flow of power, not willing to overwhelm her. Slowly, gradually, he sent that special gift to the woman holding his hand in a near death grip.
Slowly, that blue haze moved over Beth's hand, up her arm, until she was fully engulfed in the phenomenon. The observers were totally unaware of the fact that the haze didn't stop there, but reached out until the entire team, Janet and the general, were encompassed in the soft blue glow.
After a few moments, the bright light faded, then disappeared. Miss Eloise dropped her arm. "Well, that's that," she said smugly. "Now all of you are properly Immortal, and can protect one another and The One."
Casey smiled. "I take it that the Big Boys are okay with this?"
"They're pleased," Miss Eloise corrected. "Knowing that all of you take this gift seriously, that you understand the magnitude of the gift, that you accept the burden of your task, pleases them greatly. Making certain that each of you are…safe…as well as happy, that is the least they can do."
"If the general were to remain alone, with no one who shared his secret…his gift…one of two things could happen," Miss Eloise explained. "He would eventually succumb to the grief of losing all those he had loved, or would become embittered in his loneliness."
"Oh, poor General Hammond," Casey breathed. "I never realized how important it was that he have someone."
"Well, you helped a bit," the old seer grinned.
"Me? What did I do?"
"You prevented Beth from turning away from her own destiny. As soon as it was deemed necessary to offer the gift to Janet and General Hammond, it was also decided that the right mate must be located for the general," Miss Eloise said.
"And Beth was the one selected?"
"Yes. Not only because she was already at the SGC, but also for her own merits. In spite of her doubts, she has accepted what is. Her love overrode her fears. And, she's managed to do a few things during her life that warrant such a gift. Nothing big, just small but significant gestures."
"Well, we're all together now," Casey sighed.
"Yes, you are. And your journey to protect the Innocent is just beginning," Miss Eloise said.
"Wow. I'd hoped that at some point we'd all be able to retire," Casey replied.
The old seer laughed. "Oh, you will. But it will be some time. There are threats other than the Goa'uld which must be faced. But, eventually, you will find peace and rest."
"Well, that's both disturbing and reassuring," Casey grumped. She glanced around. "I need to get going. I really do want to grab some lunch!"
Miss Eloise chuckled. "Go. I'll be here when you need me."
Casey leaned down and kissed the wrinkled cheek. "Thanks, Miss Eloise."
"You're welcome, Sunshine." With a wave, the old seer began to walk away, disappearing after just a few steps.
Casey opened her eyes. She immediately looked over at Beth. "Welcome to the club," she said softly.
Beth chuckled and patted Daniel's arm as she pulled her hand from his. "Thank you, I think!"
"I'll see to it that your medical records are kept with the others," Janet promised.
"I'll have the President add your name to the list," Hammond added.
"What list?" Beth asked.
"The one in the file that doesn't exist," Casey said.
General Hammond chuckled. "Come on, darlin'. I'll explain over lunch." He looked at each of the members of SG-1, his gaze stopping on Daniel. "Thank you."
"Our pleasure, sir," Daniel smiled.
Jack rubbed his hands together. "I don't know about anyone else, but I'm starving."
"Sonic?" Casey asked hopefully.
"I could do that," Jack admitted.
"Just be sure to be on time for our meeting regarding the Phoenix and Odyssey," Hammond grinned. His arm around Beth's waist, he led her back toward the supply deck.
"Yes, sir," Jack responded.
"Good news about the ships?" Casey asked.
"Just an update," Jack replied. "At least the reps from Northwood-Gromwell have been given the ol' heave-ho. The hyperdrive engines are being tested one last time before the maiden voyages."
"They sure are taking their time in launching," the seer huffed.
Jack grinned. "Well, there's also the fact that the lab rats have come up with a couple of upgrades, based on feedback from the Prometheus and the Daedalus."
"That's good, right?"
"Right," Jack said. "Okay, let's get going."
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