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The police lieutenant had instructed them to take seats in the reception area. There were the usual bureaucratic hoops that had to be navigated before they'd actually be allowed to see the prisoner. Her state appointed attorney had to be in attendance for the meeting, and that woman hadn’t been pleased to be informed that representatives of the United States Air Force were interested in questioning her client. Especially when she'd been forced to rearrange her very busy schedule in order to be present for the interview.
Casey pressed her hands together, shoved them between her knees as they sat waiting to be called back to the interrogation room. She willed them to stop shaking.
"You can wait here," he said softly.
She shook her head stubbornly. "I need to do this," she replied.
That had been her mantra since learning that he and Jack were going to confront her adoptive mother. Did she really believe it, or did she believe that she should believe it? He wasn’t certain, but he did know that he wouldn’t allow that woman to say one thing to her. Helen Webster would talk to him. And him alone.
"Colonel O’Neill?" A police officer approached them. "This way, please."
Casey’s purse, Sam’s purse, and everything the men carried in their pockets had to be checked into the property room, and receipts given to them, before they were led down a narrow hallway. The room the officer stopped in front of was the last one on the left.
She hesitated just outside of the door. He put his arm around her shoulders, held tightly. "Case..."
She looked up at him...squared her shoulders, smiled, and then walked through the door. It had been over nine years...almost ten. And those years had not been good to Helen Webster. The woman had always been overweight, now she was dangerously obese. The orange jumpsuit that proclaimed her to be a prisoner of the King County jail was stretched tight across her stomach. There were ankle chains on her legs, and they were locked to the base of the chair she sat on. Which was in turn bolted to the floor. A female officer stood behind her and the attorney.
Daniel’s eyes narrowed. "You’ll speak to me, and only to me."
Brown eyes moved from the slender blonde woman to the tall young man. She recognized his voice. It was just as cold as it had been when she'd talked to him on the phone. So this was Dr. Daniel Jackson. He'd been on the news...she'd seen him hugging the little tramp when the FBI had returned her to Denver. "Don’t have anything to say to you," she spat.
"Good. I have a few things to say to you."
"Before this goes any farther, I want to know who you people are, and what right you have to question my client," the slender woman beside the prisoner said.
"Who are you?" Jack asked, casually, his hands shoved into the pockets of his khaki Dockers.
"Glenda Marsh. Mrs. Webster’s attorney. And you are?"
"Colonel Jack O’Neill. US Air Force. Doctor Jackson there has a few things to say. And you’re going to let him say them."
Ms. Marsh did an impression of a fish for several long seconds. "And just who are you to determine this?" she demanded.
"I work for a...branch...of the Air Force concerned with national security. Mrs. Jackson was kidnapped by Robert Kinsey, former senator. Maybe you've heard of him?" The news had been full of the trial that had been held, the accusations providing ample fodder for political pundits on both sides. "He’s been found a traitor to his country. And because of Mrs. Webster’s history of abuse-"
"Alleged abuse," Ms. Marsh insisted.
"-of Mrs. Jackson, we wanted to make certain that she didn’t have any...connections...to the former senator, and those...events," Jack finished, as if the woman hadn’t spoken.
Helen listened to the discussion going on around her. For two days now her life had been turned upside down. She, who had always been in control, had been the one giving the orders, was now in the position of only being able to obey orders. Frank had watched the police officers when they'd arrived, stepping back and letting them handcuff her without so much as a single word. He refused to accept her phone calls; the slut assigned to be her attorney had said that she couldn’t force him to post bail, and as long as he refused to do so, it would take longer to get her out of jail. Apparently that good-for-nothing bastard had told Ms. Marsh that she wasn’t welcome to come home. According to the skinny whore attorney, that complicated matters further. And she hadn’t seen or spoken to Sheryl since the entire mess had started. Now this. She glared at the little bitch who was the cause of it all. She was supposed to have kept her mouth shut about it!
"You look at me," Daniel hissed.
Jack looked at the woman in the orange jumpsuit. Yeah, she's a piece of work, all right. Hard. Bitter. Angry. It was written plainly in the harsh lines of her face. "You have the floor, Danny," he said softly.
Daniel glanced at Casey. Her eyes were wide, her cheeks pale. "She can’t hurt you, Angel. Never again," he said softly. He stepped in front of his Wife, turned his attention back to the woman who stared at him. "I have no idea how someone like you was ever allowed to adopt. You certainly shouldn’t have been allowed to adopt a child as beautiful, as sensitive as Casey. The fact that she survived thirteen years in that house is a testimony to her spirit...to her determination to rise above what life threw at her. You came damned close to breaking her. But you didn’t. She’s an incredible woman. Smart. Brave. Funny. Beautiful. Talented. God knows she’s the kindest, most giving woman I think I’ve ever met. In spite of you she’s an amazing woman."
He'd said the same thing when she'd talked to him after learning about the Little Whore's kidnapping. "She’s a slut," Helen sneered.
"Like hell! It’s really none of your business, but Casey was a virgin when she came to my bed. I’m the only man she’s ever been with," Daniel said proudly. "She’s battling a hell of a lot of hurt because of you...her very soul is scarred because of you. Jesus, lady, how could you send your ten-year-old daughter into an examining room knowing what that son-of-a-bitch was going to do to her?"
"If he did anything, how could she be a virgin?" Helen challenged.
"Because he only used his fingers," Casey said softly.
"Casey-" Daniel started, frowning.
"No, Daniel, I need to say this." She turned back to the woman who'd once frightened her so. "I was terrified every time he walked into the room. I knew what he was going to do. I didn’t know exactly what it was that was happening to me...I only knew that it scared me, that it was...wrong...it made me feel...ashamed. And that you...that you knew."
"Instead of protecting her, you were pimping her!" Daniel exclaimed. "How freaking sick do you have to be to pimp the child who called you ‘mother’?"
Glenda Marsh was stunned. If this woman testified in court, there wouldn’t be a jury in the country who'd be willing to listen to her client’s side of the story. Not that she'd actually heard that yet, herself. So far, Helen Webster had been anything but cooperative.
"There are seven other little girls who you pimped," Daniel said, recalling the latest conversation with Melodie Wheaton. "You convinced their parents that Doctor Hayling was the best doctor around, and that he charged less for seeing children. That was because he was abusing them. Four of those little girls weren’t as lucky as Casey. He did rape them. Repeatedly."
"I did what I had to do. She got sick. How else was I supposed to pay for it?" Helen asked haughtily.
"Ever hear of Social Services? If you needed help, why didn’t you go to them?" Daniel demanded to know. "And why didn’t you treat Sheryl with the same anger, the same hatred? What kept her from suffering abuse as well?"
"Sheryl was a good girl!" Helen replied. "She was always quiet, did exactly what she was told."
"Probably because she saw what you did to Casey," Jack muttered.
Casey looked at her friend. She'd never considered that thought before. Had Sheryl seen what ‘disobedience’ wrought in the Webster household? "I tried so hard to be good," she whispered.
"You were, babe," Daniel replied softly.
"She was always bouncing around, singing...talking to that damned rag doll that snooty bitch of a mother-in-law gave her. Always asking stupid questions...she never did her chores right, not from the time we brought her home!" Helen shouted. "I never wanted her! I hated her! Frank was the one who had to have her! Frank was the one who thought she was so special! But I knew the truth! I knew she was a slut! She was born a whore!"
The room went still, the occupants stunned into silence. "Why didn’t you take her back to the orphanage?" Daniel asked softly.
"We’d already spent the money to adopt her," Helen replied. "I figured she owed us. Made her work it off."
Once again Glenda Marsh was staring at her client. She didn’t care what her boss said. This case wasn’t winnable. And she didn’t have the heart...or the conscience, to even try.
"Know this," Daniel said, his voice low...cold...hard. "If you ever try to contact her, I’ll see to it that you’re put in a place so cold and dark they’ll never find you."
"Is that a threat against my client, Doctor Jackson?" Ms. Marsh asked, forcing herself to do her job, one which she had to do as long as she was still on the case. Even if it made her sick to her stomach to do so. After all, there were cameras, and it'd be just like John Shuemaker to check up on her.
"No, that’s a promise," Daniel spat. "Take a good look, Angel. She’s going to be punished for what she did to you. It’s over, babe. It’s all over."
Over. It was over. At last, she could let go of the fear...the guilt that she'd been a terrible child, a child so ill-behaved that she'd deserved the treatment she'd received. She could hear Grandma Rose telling her that she'd never been a bad girl. "I was a good girl," she whispered.
"That’s right, babe," Daniel whispered in return. He pulled her into his arms.
Casey looked over at the woman who'd been so cruel to her. "I was a good girl!"
Sam, Jack, and Teal’c exchanged glances. None of them were experts on psychology. But even they could tell that a something...significant...was occurring. Casey was finally breaking free from the childhood from hell. She'd deal with the scars for years to come. But she'd be free from the guilt.
Ms. Marsh cleared her throat. "Will Mrs. Jackson be testifying against my client?"
"If not in person, then most definitely by deposition," Daniel replied.
The woman gave a nod of her auburn head. "Is there anything else?"
Daniel looked at Helen. Could see that the woman was stunned that Casey had stood up to her. He could sense that she was still surprised to find herself in the situation she was in. "I have no idea what happened in your life to twist you so. I have no idea if you can be helped. I will be eternally grateful for Casey’s Grandma Rose. That woman is probably the only person in her life who loved her. Until me."
Helen Webster couldn’t miss the love that was shining in those blue eyes. She opened her mouth...closed it. Took a deep breath. Everything was spiraling out of control. And she didn’t like it. No sir, not one bit! Her eyes narrowed as she looked at the slender young blonde woman. "I never wanted you!" she hissed.
"I never wanted you, either," Casey replied, shocking herself at the sudden ability to stand up to the woman who'd terrified her for so many years. An ability that no doubt came from the comfort of having Daniel’s arms around her. "I'd like to leave now," she said quietly.
Daniel nodded. Turned his back on the woman at the end of the table. He took a deep breath. No, it hadn’t changed anything...certainly couldn’t change the memories, the scars, that Casey bore. But he felt a hell of a lot better. And if he didn’t miss his guess, so did Casey.
Jack nodded at the police officer who waited patiently beside the door. It was obvious that the man had known from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be an...interrogation. Just as obvious that he didn’t care that the people from the Air Force, well, one man, anyway, had done nothing more than ‘say his piece’. "Oh, by the way... you weren’t working for Kinsey, were you?"
Helen glared at him. Refused to answer.
"That’s what I thought. Had to ask, though. National security and all." He smirked as he followed his team into the hallway.
Sam put her arms around both Daniel and Casey. "Are you all right?" she asked softly.
Casey smiled. "I feel better than I have in a long time," she replied.
"Me, too," Daniel said. He pulled Casey close. He glanced around as they reclaimed their belongings. "Now what?"
"Let’s do the Space Needle!" Casey said immediately, the excitement in her voice making her companions laugh.
Jack grinned. "You heard the lady. Let’s go, campers."
A A A A A A
The day was typical for the Northwest in October...sunny and warm. The last ‘hoorah’ of autumn, before the days of gray skies and rain set in for the winter. There were already a large number of tourists waiting in line for the elevator ride to the top when the team arrived.
Daniel and Jack took care of purchasing tickets while Casey posed Teal’c and Sam and shot off half a roll of film. Then Sam took the camera and had the Jaffa posing with Casey. She took pictures of Daniel and Jack as the two men approached.
They were all in a happy, playful mood. No Goa’uld. No enemy Jaffa. No threats of any kind. The days of vacation seemed spread out before them...carefree...perfect...just what the doctor ordered.
Riding to the top of the Needle in the glass walled elevator, the team oohed and aahed at the sight of the city spread out before them. They'd walked on other planets. Had looked up at alien skies. Had been in the dark of space. But this...this was home. And that was a thrill in and of itself.
They spent a full hour on the observation deck, watching the ship traffic in Elliot Bay, taking in the beauty of the Olympic mountain range to the west, and the Cascade mountain range to the east. They watched the traffic on the city streets below. And reveled in the feeling of not having anything more pressing to do than...more sightseeing.
Souvenirs in the gift shop were carefully examined. Jack insisted that they all buy matching tee shirts. They were a team, he insisted, and so should look the part. Other trinkets were purchased as well. Hunger drove them back down to the street, ready to head to the waterfront and Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant.
Daniel held her hand tightly as they walked from the parking garage to the restaurant. "So, are you okay?" he asked softly.
"I’m fine," she replied, smiling up at him. "I feel...free."
That smile could make even the darkest day bright. Could certainly make everything right in his world. "Good."
"What about you?"
"I feel much better," he admitted.
A A A A A A
Ivar's had tables available on the pier, and the group opted to eat outside in the sunshine. Jack encouraged his ‘kids’ to have a glass of wine if they so desired; he was driving, and was more than willing to limit his alcohol consumption to a single beer. They'd spend enough time walking through the various shops on the piers after eating that he didn’t have to worry about being affected by it.
Casey closed her eyes, lifted her face toward the sun. "It’s a beautiful day," she sighed happily.
"Yes, it is," Sam agreed.
"Most pleasant," Teal’c added. "Casey Jackson, are you suffering any ill effects from this morning’s confrontation?"
She smiled at her large friend, reached across the table and wrapped her slender fingers around his large, square ones. "No, Teal’c. I’m feeling...relieved...free. I’ve known for a long time that I had to face her...face what she did to me...allowed to be done to me, before I could really move past it. I just never had the courage to do it."
Sam shuddered visibly. "I could barely stand being in that room with her, no longer than we were there. I have no idea how you survived growing up with her around!"
"Grandma Rose," Casey said softly. She looked at her husband. "She would have liked you."
He smiled. "I know I'd have liked her, too," he replied. "We still need to put her up for sainthood."
Jack solemnly lifted his beer bottle. "To Grandma Rose."
Glasses and bottles clinked together as the team murmured the toast. "There was a reason that Grandma Rose didn’t confront...her," Casey mused. "Because Grandma never backed down from anyone."
Sam folded her arms and rested them on the table. "Must be where you get your spirit," she smiled.
The smile that Casey flashed lit the entire area. "Must be. I remember once she'd called a repairman, the refrigerator wasn’t keeping things cold...he told her that he'd be there at ten...I think that was the time...it was sometime in the morning. Anyway, he finally showed up around three that afternoon. I remember it was cold and rainy outside. So, when the doorbell rang, Grandma got up, went into the kitchen and proceeded to fix herself a cup of tea. She forbade me to answer the door. I told her he'd just leave...she said not to worry about it. He rang the bell a couple more times, and just as he was getting ready to turn around and go back to his truck, she opened the door." She started giggling. "He wasn’t just late, he was stupid, because the first thing he did was to ask her if she was deaf or something, because he’d been standing there for ten minutes. Well, Grandma shook her head, and said, ‘You, sir, are a liar. It’s not been more than five minutes, because I just fixed my tea, and that only takes five minutes. It wasn’t raining at ten o’clock this morning, so if you’re wet and miserable, you have no one to blame but yourself. You can just go to the back door, because you’re not going to traipse over my good rug in those muddy boots!’ I don’t think I’ll ever forget that!"
Her friends were grinning and chuckling around her. "I take it he went to the back door," Jack said.
Casey nodded. "Oh, yeah. And when he had to go get a part, he told her it wouldn’t take longer than an hour. He was back in forty-five minutes. It wasn’t just what she said, it was the look on her face...she was absolutely furious at him."
"You loved this woman very much," Teal’c observed softly.
"Yes, I did. She was...she was the only person who ever told me that she loved me," she replied wistfully. "I was so...surprised...the first time, I didn’t even know what to say." She reached up and flicked the unexpected tears from her eyes. "When she died..." She turned her head, stared out at the water, watched the seagulls as they dove and circled just above the surface of the slow waves. "When she died I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone."
Daniel put his arm around her shoulders, offering his silent comfort. He smiled when she reached up and took his hand. "You’ll never be alone again, Angel," he said softly.
"Damned straight," Jack said. He cleared his throat, the only outward sign of his current emotional state.
She shook herself mentally. Casey looked at the faces of her friends...her family. "Thank you for being there this morning."
"Where else would we have been?" Jack asked, that roguish smile back in place on his handsome face.
"That’s right, Case. We’re family," Sam said.
"Indeed," Teal’c nodded.
He smiled when she sighed contentedly. "Family," Daniel murmured softly. The word had never had a sweeter sound.
Cups of steaming chowder arrived, and the team began to eat. When the entrees were brought out, several minutes were spent giving one another tastes of the local fare; anyone watching the people who sat laughing, talking and eating together could see that they were more than just friends. The bonds that connected the five hearts to one another were tangible.
She pushed the plate away, just a few remnants of her fish and chips remained. "I am so full," she groaned.
Sam pushed away what remained of her grilled halibut. "Me, too!"
"I take it you’re ready to walk the piers now?" Daniel teased his wife.
Casey smiled. "Walk? I think you’ll have to roll me down the sidewalk!"
They took a leisurely stroll, stopping at every shop, sifting through racks and stacks and piles and shelves of souvenirs and memorabilia, each of them finding at least two more tee shirts, the women buying at least a half a dozen pairs of earrings each, Jack had no less than a dozen shot glasses, all with different sayings or locations on them. Teal’c had found two baseball caps, one with a giant, fuzzy, stuffed clam on the top that he insisted upon wearing.
On the way back to the parking garage, several street musicians had gathered, and were entertaining the passers-by. One of them called out a greeting as the team approached, asked if the beautiful ladies had any requests. Sam and Casey blushed prettily, shook their heads.
"Do you know ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’?" Daniel asked.
"Sure do!" was the reply. A strum of the guitar, and the man began a soulful rendition of the song.
Her heart was pounding against her ribs when Daniel took her into his arms and began to dance with her. He was dancing with her! In front of god and everybody, right on the sidewalk! It might not have been a big deal to him, but it spoke volumes to her. She closed her eyes, snuggled into his embrace, wasn’t even aware that Jack was dancing with Sam, and several other couples had joined in as well, until the song ended, and they all stopped to applaud. She searched for and found her wallet, dropped a five dollar bill into the open guitar case.
"Thanks!" the singer grinned up at her.
"Thank you," she replied softly.
It was so easy...and so worth it...to do such little things for her; watching the love, and the surprise, fill those beautiful green eyes. With a smile, Daniel put his arm around her shoulders, pulled her close.
They were all pleasantly tired when they finally made it back to the hotel. Once again they decided to take advantage of the on-site restaurant, choosing the more relaxed atmosphere of Maxwell’s cafe. Jack had purchased a map of the state, and he and Daniel sat planning the route they'd take to Wenepo.
A A A A A A
He rolled them over, still breathing heavily. Making love to Casey...with her, was always an experience to be cherished. His body was still trembling from the pleasure she'd given him.
"You are incredible," she sighed, her own body shaking as she continued to come down from the heights of pure ecstasy.
He smiled, kissed her forehead. "You’re not so bad yourself," he replied.
"Remember on the plane I told you that something was going to happen...and that I saw a cave?"
It was difficult to keep from groaning out loud. "I remember," he said softly.
"Well, Mike said there were five caves," she said.
"So...is it going to be bad?"
She frowned, tried to make sense of what she was seeing. "No...not bad. But...I just see the caves. Nothing about them...not inside them or anything. But there’s something...important."
He considered this. "Maybe this is going to be a very...enlightening...excavation," he said slowly.
She shook her head. "I see the SGC involved."
Shit. That could mean only one thing. Goa’uld. Would they ever get away from those damned snakes?
A A A A A A
Daniel glanced at Jack and Teal’c as they carefully loaded all of the luggage into the back of the rented SUV. "Casey had a...feeling...about those caves," he said quietly.
Jack looked at his young friend. Did not like what he saw in those blue eyes. "We’re on vacation. In Washington state. Not even in the same time zone!"
"She said she saw the SGC involved with the caves Mike was telling us about," Daniel said.
The older man shook his head. "Vay-cay-shun, Daniel. I am not going to even contemplate it! I am ordering you not to find anything about those damned snakes!"
He couldn’t help but laugh. "I’d like nothing better than to follow that order."
"Good," Jack nodded. Then narrowed his eyes. "Since when? You go out of your way to disobey my orders!"
"I like that order," Daniel replied, shrugging casually.
Jack tossed his duffle into the SUV, and sighed. "Whatever you find, make sure we know about it first," he said.
Daniel nodded. "I hate having to shut Mike out like that."
"I know, Daniel."
"Will there not be trouble with the local tribes who own this land, if the SGC were to become involved?" Teal’c asked.
"That’s the general’s department, Teal’c," Jack replied. He glanced at his young friend. "Daniel can smooth things over until the general can get things taken care of through D.C."
The large man nodded his understanding.
Casey was alerting her best friend to what might be happening. "I can’t see anything specific...just those caves, and I feel the SGC around them."
Sam nodded. "I suppose we should have suspected as soon as we heard that this was Salish land," she sighed.
"Why?" the younger woman asked.
"I think it was the second year as a team, we were in the briefing room, planning a mission to go rescue one of the other teams...the ‘gate opened...and this arrow...a trinium arrow... comes flying through the window...went straight into Jack’s arm. General Hammond sent me, Daniel, and Teal’c to find out what was going on...and find our missing team. We met a man named Tonane, the leader of a tribe of Salish people who'd been left on that planet by Goa’uld. There was another race of aliens, they'd forced the Goa’uld to leave...then protected Tonane’s people...by taking the shape...or form, of their ancient gods. We sort of...exposed them...accidentally. We have a treaty with Tonane now, we mine trinium...just small amounts, not as much as the Pentagon wants, but more than we could get without the treaty," the major explained.
"So, if there was a Goa’uld who took a group of Salish people from here..." Casey started, frowning at the implications.
"There will more than likely be proof of it," Sam finished, nodding.
"And we can’t let anyone know about the Goa’uld," Casey sighed. "Poor Daniel."
"Poor Daniel?" Sam asked, surprised.
"Yes, poor Daniel. Mike is his friend. Has been a good friend for years, even when he was being shunned by every other academician. It won’t be easy for him to have to lie, and that’s exactly what will happen if we find something," Casey replied.
Sam shook her head. No, it wouldn’t be easy for Daniel to lie. He was by nature the most honest man she'd ever met. "Poor Daniel," she said softly.
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