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Daniel parked beside the very familiar Ford F-250. More than likely Jack would have some smart remark about the fact that he and Casey were arriving ten minutes later than the agreed upon time. He didn’t care. He could always invoke his ‘gotta have a fix’ excuse. Jack hated it when he did that. As much as it shouldn’t, it always made him laugh, at least silently, to watch Jack roll his eyes, and then visibly try to force images of the two of them making love from his mind.
They hurried into the hanger, toward the ticket counter. He was surprised to realize that Jack and Sam had only just arrived as well. "Jack," he said, tossing the duffels and garment bags onto the conveyor belt that would take them through an x-ray machine.
"Inside the cafeteria. Saving a table for us. Seems our flight has been delayed by an hour," the older man replied.
"Gives us a chance to grab some breakfast."
Casey put her purse on the wide conveyor belt that led through the x-ray machine. Smiled at the Airman who handed it back to her, unaware of the goofy grin that covered his face as she walked away.
"I’d like to call Mike Loughlin," Daniel said quietly to his Wife. "As long as we’re gonna be there..."
"I think that’s a great idea. I’d like to meet him. Maybe he’d like to join us for dinner tonight," she suggested. The smile that lit his face made her heart skip a beat.
Teal’c had managed to find a table large enough for all of them, and four cups of coffee were waiting.
"You’re a good friend, Teal’c," Casey sighed as she took a sip of the beverage. They hadn’t had time to have coffee in their rush to shower and finish packing to leave in time. "Thank you."
"You are most welcome, Casey Jackson," the Jaffa replied.
Jack grinned as he sipped his own coffee. "Admit it, T-man. You just don’t want to be around these three when they’ve been deprived of their caffeine fix."
"They are rather...irritable...when they have not consumed sufficient amounts of their favorite caffeinated beverage," Teal’c said. The tiny twitch of his cheek was the only outward sign that he was laughing at them on the inside.
"I am not irritable," Sam argued.
"Right," Jack said, rolling his eyes. "I wasn’t the one going off about the particular color of the blouse the news anchor was wearing this morning."
It was Sam’s turn to roll her eyes. "All I said was the color made her look washed out, and that whoever was in charge of wardrobe wasn’t doing a very good job. She’s blonde, for crying out loud! A beige blouse under those lights? Please!"
"Channel 9?" Casey asked.
The blonde major nodded.
"I swear, they need to hire someone who has a clue," the young woman said. "Did you see that jacket she was wearing on Tuesday? I'm positive that I remember one of my teachers wearing something like that! It had to have had shoulder pads in it!"
Sam hadn’t had time lately to keep up with all of the latest fashions and fads, never had, actually. She'd always been too busy with her school work, her science projects, her work...trying to impress...please...her father, or whoever her CO was at the time. Now she wasn’t worried about impressing them...but the schedule she kept prevented her from noticing a lot of what she considered superfluous. "What color was that anyway?"
"Some sort of green?"
"I thought it was a weird brown," Sam admitted.
"Whatever it was, it was ugly!" Casey declared.
"And this is important because...?" Jack asked, looking from one woman to the other.
"I guess it’s not really important," Casey allowed.
Daniel had been silent, studying the Styrofoam cup and its contents.
"Daniel?" Sam asked softly.
He blinked, looked up at the faces that stared at him. "What?"
"Are you all right?" his best friend asked, her hand on his arm.
He forced a smile. "I’m fine."
Casey frowned slightly. "You don’t have to go there," she said softly.
"Yeah, I do. I know it won’t make any difference, won’t change what you’ve suffered." He took a deep breath. "But god, it will make me feel better!"
"And that bothers you," she said intuitively.
"Not really." He admitted to himself that what bothered him was the thought of telling off the woman...no...the monster...who had been responsible for raising the child who'd grown up to become his Wife didn’t bother him. In fact, he was looking forward to saying things to that woman that probably should have been said years ago...by someone...anyone. "I’m just worried about you."
She smiled, laced her fingers with his. "I’m with you. I can’t be any safer."
"We’ll be there too, Danny," Jack said quietly. "No doubt it won’t make a difference to her. But we’ll be standing together. Like always."
Like always. The comment made his heart beat faster for just a moment. Once again the thought that he'd never before had such close, dear friends; that he'd never been part of such a close-knit group flittered across his mind. His family. These people were his family. And they were Casey’s family as well. Together. Like always.
A A A A A A
Casey sat down, glanced at Daniel as he settled into his seat. "I don’t suppose that now would be a good time to tell you that something’s up, would it?"
He looked at her. Barely bit back a groan. "What is it this time?"
She cocked her head sideways. "Well, I don’t feel any...threats...at least, not directly. But something...All I can see for certain is a cave. And a pole. Well, not exactly a pole. It has...faces on it."
He smiled. "Totem pole."
"That’s it. I should have recognized that, remembered it," she mumbled, frustrated with herself for not recognizing the symbols for what they were immediately.
"It’s been awhile since you’ve needed any of your...training," he replied softly.
"What training? I had two years-" she started to object.
"And you learned more in those two years than most students do in their entire academic career. I’ve watched you, Case. You have this...thirst...for knowledge."
She couldn’t help but smile. "Sort of like this incredibly handsome archaeologist I know."
Daniel grinned. "Incredibly handsome, huh?"
"Absolutely. Although, I was never the child prodigy that he was."
"You’re a smart, intuitive woman. You’ve already been on three digs," he pointed out.
"And you’ve learned three languages."
"I’m learning three languages," she corrected him. She was becoming more proficient in Goa’uld because Teal’c had begun to speak to her only in his native tongue when they worked out together. Ancient was more of a struggle, and Sumerian, well, she was learning that because Daniel said that very few people could read the language. Experts weren’t certain what it sounded like spoken. It was one language he couldn’t easily read. But it was one that he thought might be important to know, considering how many descendants of ancient cultures they were meeting on their trips through the Stargate.
"I’m so proud of you," he said softly. The smile that she flashed nearly blinded him.
"I’m glad," she whispered. "I want you to be proud of me."
He lifted her fingers to his lips. "You’re an incredible woman, Casey Jackson. I’m damned lucky that you’re mine."
"I was just sitting here thinking that I’m the lucky one," she replied.
He wrapped his fingers around hers, felt the tremors that shook her body. He understood her need to face her tormentor. However, understanding did nothing to assuage the unease he felt about having her any where near that woman.
When the plane was in the air, she pulled her notebook from her purse. She'd copied several Sumerian ‘stanzas’ from one of the tablets in Daniel’s lab. The three hour flight was perfect for doing a bit of studying. They discussed one particular stanza, which had at least two possible translations. She insisted that without knowing what the text around the stanza had been, it was impossible to know for certain which translation was correct. Daniel argued that each stanza stood alone, and that the double meaning was just that...a double meaning. That it was intended to be taken literally as well as figuratively, which resulted in the ‘dual’ translation.
She sighed as she read the stanza for the fifth time. "There could be another answer," she said quietly.
"A third possible translation. See this mark, where the tablet was damaged? What if this is supposed to be this?" she asked, using her pen to slightly change one of the cuneiform letters.
He frowned. "It’s possible," he admitted. "Translating tablets that have been damaged is hit or miss at best."
"So how do you know what the right translation is?"
The frown deepened. "Sometimes we don’t."
"You always get it right."
The frown disappeared, he smiled shyly. "Not always."
"Hmmph! Not what I’ve heard, or seen."
He shrugged. "I just...follow my heart," he replied softly.
She nodded. "It will never lead you wrong," she replied.
"So I’ve been told," he smiled.
A A A A A A
She hadn’t expected to return to Tacoma so soon after leaving. She shook her head mentally. Nine months. She'd been in Colorado, with Daniel, for nine months. He'd told her to call Kelley, to let her best friend know that she'd be in town. The redhead had been thrilled, and had promised to meet them at the airport...even though they were renting an SUV to get around in.
She looked around, searching for the familiar face while Daniel took care of the luggage.
"Kelley!" The tall, lanky redhead grabbed her and hugged her tightly. She returned the embrace just as enthusiastically. "You’re looking good."
"So are you. How are you feeling?"
"Feeling? Fine, why?"
Kelley shrugged. "No reason I guess. I just thought that being kidnapped like that...god, we were so worried about you!"
"I’m fine," Casey smiled. "It wasn’t that bad. Scary, yes, but nothing...bad...happened."
Daniel walked over to them, Casey took her duffle from his hand. "Jack is getting a luggage cart," he informed her. "Hi, Kelley."
"Hi, Daniel," the redhead replied.
"Load ‘er up," Jack said, pushing the cart toward them. "Hi...uh...Kelley, right?"
The tall woman nodded. "That’s right."
Sam smiled. "He’s Jack, I’m Sam, and this is...Murray."
"I remember," Kelley said, smiling in return. She turned back to the slender blonde beside her. "It’s all over the news...they’ve arrested your mo...your adoptive mother."
"When?" Daniel asked.
"Last night," was the reply.
"Don’t worry, Danny. I can get us in to talk to her," Jack said confidently.
Kelley looked from one determined male face to the other. "Why?"
Casey smiled. "Daniel has a few things he wants to say to her."
"Yeah, so do I," the redhead replied drolly, her face going serious instantly.
"You have your own mother to deal with," Casey reminded her friend.
"True. Although I haven’t actually seen my mother in about three months. She had a hissy-fit when I wouldn’t drop everything and go running to her side when she decided she was dying. She had a cold," Kelley said, rolling her eyes.
Casey glanced at her friends...her family. "So, do you have time for lunch?"
The lanky redhead nodded, understanding that Casey had other...obligations. "I took the day off."
"Oh, I’ll bet Jan loved that...not!" Casey giggled.
"Actually, she told me to tell you hello," Kelley replied.
"When I can get my jaw off of the floor, I’ll send a hello back," Casey retorted. She turned to Daniel. "Any requests for lunch?"
"It’s up to you, babe," he replied.
She looked over at Jack, Sam, and Teal’c. Remembered the first time she'd met them, at the airport in Denver. "What about you?"
Jack grinned. "This is your old stomping ground, Case. We’ll trust you."
"Newport Bay?" Kelley suggested.
"Sounds good to me," Casey replied.
"I’ll meet you there," the redhead smiled.
"Okay. If you get there before we do, get a table," Casey said.
"Are you driving?" Kelley asked.
"I dunno, why?"
"If you’re driving, I’ll let you get the table."
Daniel chuckled. Casey was hell on wheels. How she'd managed to keep from getting speeding tickets was beyond him.
Jack had seen the slender blonde drive as well. "I’ll drive. I want to get there in one piece, thank you very much."
Kelley laughed. "She’s actually a very good driver. She has to be, to drive the way she does."
"I’m standing right here, and I’m not amused," Casey said. However, the smile on her face, and the light in her eyes, belied her words. Her friends continued to laugh.
"Let’s go get the SUV," Jack said, looping his arm around Sam’s waist. Teal’c had taken control of the luggage cart, and waited patiently for his companions to decide where they were going, and when.
Daniel stood off to one side while Jack and Sam took care of renting the vehicle. He put his arm around Casey’s shoulders. "I still want to talk to her."
"I still want to be there, then."
"I don’t know, Casey...she’s in jail."
"It will be easier for me to get in to see her than it will be for you," she pointed out.
He smiled. "Not necessarily. Jack will pull rank and then some to get us in to see her."
"It’s always possible she’s out on bail already."
"So we’ll call and find out."
"You’re determined to do this, aren’t you?"
His eyes turned icy for just a few seconds. "Oh, yeah."
She shivered. Something told her that Helen Webster was about to meet her match. For all of his kind-heartedness, the goodness that was part and parcel of Dr. Daniel Jackson, he had one hell of a temper when it came to those he loved. Anyone foolish enough to hurt his loved ones was certain to find himself...or herself...the target of his wrath. And it wasn’t a pleasant position to be in. "Thank you," she whispered.
"Standing up for me."
He smiled. "I just wish someone had stood up to her years ago. Or at least had intervened and had you removed from that house of horrors."
She shrugged. "I survived."
"Barely," he replied. He was well aware of the fact that even though Casey had told him about her childhood, the two of them sitting on rocks on the top of Pike’s Peak on a balmy summer afternoon, sharing the bitter memories of their lives as lonely children, he didn’t know all that she'd suffered. Probably never would. Again the thought that it was a miracle that she could function on any level flittered through his mind. Today, he thought grimly. Today he was going to face down her tormentor.
A A A A A A
It was after one-thirty when the SUV pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant. Kelley had arrived before them, and was waiting at a table. Jack glanced at his watch as he sat down. "I think our best course of action would be to have lunch, then check into the hotel. We’ll wait until tomorrow, there’s always the chance she’ll get out on bail."
Daniel nodded. "Case and I thought of that, too."
"It'd be better if she was still in custody when Daniel confronts her," Sam said, examining her menu.
Jack looked at his lover. He'd known her for almost six years, and still she could surprise him. "Why?"
"The visit would be recorded. It could be used in court against her," was the simple reply.
The colonel began to laugh. "You’ve been watching ‘Law and Order’ again," he teased.
"She has a point," Kelley said. "Especially if she forgets about the cameras. I’ve met her. She’s a real piece of work. And there is no way she’ll sit passively and let Daniel tell her off."
Jack frowned. "Well, only one way to find out if she’s still being held. Let’s order, and then I’ll go make a phone call."
A lively discussion ensued, leaving Kelley thoroughly entertained. Casey had told her that the five of them were a ‘team’ and worked on ‘projects’ together, sometimes going on ‘missions’. She couldn’t give details, of course, but it was easy to see that this group functioned well together. They decided on an appetizer combo of batter fried calamari, mozzarella cheese-sticks and zucchini spears.
Telling Sam what he wanted for his entree, Jack excused himself and went to the bar, hoping to find a phonebook he could use.
Kelley watched the older man walk away. Then turned to her best friend. "He’s as anxious to confront her as Daniel is," she said softly.
Casey glanced toward Jack’s disappearing back, and smiled. "Almost, anyway."
"I’ll bet Sam and Murray have a few things to say as well."
"Sam...maybe. T...uh...Murray...he’s a man of very few words," Casey replied.
"Yeah, but I’ll bet those few words would be humdingers!"
She burst into giggles. Glanced at the large man who had become one of her best friends, a man into whose hands she could, and did, entrust her life. "I’m certain that they would."
"So do you have big plans next month for your first Thanksgiving in Colorado?" Kelley asked.
"We’re having dinner at our place. Oh, that reminds me!" Casey grabbed her purse, began digging in the cavernous interior. "I have photos of our house."
Daniel rolled his eyes. "So, Kelley, how are things?"
The redhead giggled. "Fine. How are things for you?"
"You are so not funny," Casey said, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "They’re right here." She turned and stuck her tongue out at Daniel. Who returned the gesture. Which sent Kelley and Sam into giggles.
"Ever wonder what fights at their house must be like?" Kelley asked, grinning broadly.
Sam giggled and shook her head. "Knowing these two, anything is possible."
The waitress arrived to take their order, and after the photos had been looked and at exclaimed over, the conversation turned to updates on mutual friends and acquaintances.
Jack returned to the table, a grin on his face. "She’s still in custody. Seems that Mr. Webster hasn't bothered showing up with her bail. From what the officer in charge could tell me, her husband didn’t seem overly concerned about her spending the night."
"So did you convince them to let Daniel see her?" Sam asked.
Daniel’s head shot up, he looked over at his best friend. "No?"
"I convinced him to let us interrogate her," Jack grinned.
"Us?" Casey asked.
"Interrogate?" Daniel's eyebrows moved upward.
"Yep. We need to know whether or not she was working with Kinsey."
"Oh, that’s good," Casey said. "You are good!"
"I’m the best," Jack replied, his grin going even wider. "I convinced them that since Doctor and Mrs. Jackson work for the Air Force, doing classified work, and Kinsey has been exposed as a traitor, there’s the possibility that her kidnapping had something to do with national security. And considering the fact that Mrs. Webster didn’t hesitate to...use...Casey when she was a child for...monetary gain...or at least in barter, we have to examine the possibility that she'd do so again, if the price was right."
Daniel chuckled. "You work the ‘national security’ angle in whenever you can, don’t you?"
"Hey, it works! Besides, in a way, it is affecting national security. What we do is for national security, and as such, we need to know about any possible risks...to any of us," Jack said.
"That is so convoluted-" Daniel started.
"And so true," Jack finished.
Kelley watched and listened to them as they talked...joked...teased...laughed. Realized that Casey was a part of this very special group. And that their friendship would never be the same...never be as...close. It had taken time for her to become accustomed to not having the soft-spoken woman in her life. She hadn’t realized that, even as shy as the slender blonde was, Casey had pulled her out of her own shell. Casey had always made people laugh; had drawn men like bees to honey; had been the center of attention when they'd gone out together. Without her best friend, Kelley didn’t even want to go out. She heaved a silent sigh. It stung a bit, watching the slender blonde laughing with the people she referred to as her ‘family’. And made her realize that she had to move on with her life. And that she might have to do some serious thinking about why having Casey move away felt so...devastating. She only hoped she could deal with what she discovered about herself...what she already suspected about herself.
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