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"...In my heart I can feel it
In my mind I can see it
And you make me believe it
What do I have?
You're my guide when I need one,
Shine your light show me freedom
Now my life has a reason,
What do I have?
What do I have,
If I don't have you?"
"What Do I Have"
Written by - Heather Small and Simon Climie
She opened her eyes. Pitch black. No way would she ever get used to that! Her hand reached out, fumbled in the darkness for the switch on the lamp on the bedside table. She turned it on, then rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
The sudden scream of the klaxons outside her room made her jump. She'd never get used to that, either. With a sigh, she tossed the blankets back, and sat up. Six months she'd lived like this, at this mysterious, secret facility known as the SGC. Having arrived after a visit from three people she'd seen only in dreams...premonitions. Their arrival guaranteed after she'd sent a letter warning someone named General George Hammond not to go to someplace called 'Kelowna'. A warning that had arrived too late to halt the tragedy that had resulted on that fateful mission. But one that had sent the premier SG team in search of the woman who knew more than she should about the operation, and whose warning could have made all the difference in the world to them, and one of their teammates, had it arrived just a few days earlier. If she'd just mailed that damned letter sooner...Once again she pushed down the guilt that came with those thoughts.
After a quick shower in the adjoining bathroom, she pulled on the prerequisite BDU. Dried her hair and pulled it back into its customary ponytail. A glance at the clock beside the bed told her that Jonas and Teal'c would be eating breakfast by now.
Jonas. What a sweet man. Almost child-like in his view of all around him, his excitement about learning. He'd taken the place of Dr. Daniel Jackson. Well, that wasn't exactly true. Especially if one listened to Colonel O'Neill. Jonas Quinn had been put on SG-1 because of his ability to learn so quickly. He was reading all of Dr. Jackson's notes and journals, and was becoming proficient in three languages, including Ancient. He was teaching her his own language.
Teal'c. Warrior. A man committed to the destruction of the Goa'uld. Nasty creatures, from what she'd been told. He, and his people, the Jaffa, had been enslaved by the Goa'uld for millennia. Because of his recognition that the System Lord Apophis was not a true god, SG-1 had survived their first official 'mission'.
Both men were aliens. Honest-to-god-born-on-a-different-planet aliens. And both treated her with kindness and respect. The three of them spent much of their 'off-time' together. Mostly because the three of them lived on the base. And she was just as much an 'outsider' as they were...although Teal'c was actually well accepted by the military men and women around them. Jonas...well, it was impossible not to like Jonas. Major Carter had equated him with an eager little puppy, always willing to do what it took to make those around him happy. Her gift of sight, and her innate shyness, kept everyone she'd met at arms' length. Although she'd relaxed around Teal'c enough to be able to work out with him; he was teaching her mastaba, the Jaffa equivalent of Tai Kwan Do, as well as how to read and speak Goa'uld.
As always, there were quick smiles from the male personnel she encountered. Not so much from the women. She sighed mentally. That wasn't anything new. Since high school she'd suffered the ire of other females. She had no idea why. She was too skinny, her neck made her look like a giraffe, her ears gave her the appearance of Dumbo...no, her looks were certainly not the issue. She was painfully shy, and it was possible that the women mistook her shyness for aloofness. That was the only plausible explanation she could come up with for the less-than-friendly attitudes.
There were days she missed Kelley, her best friend, so much that it brought tears. She was lonely here. But, Miss Eloise insisted that this was where she needed to be. And she'd seen with her own eyes that her premonitions, her warnings, had made a difference for these people. True heroes, who risked their lives every time they stepped through the Stargate, fighting to protect the entire planet. If they could step through that thing, and face the real monsters that lurked out there, the least she could do was to offer the insights that her gift allowed. And not complain about it.
Stargates. Aliens. Parasitic creatures bent on enslaving all of humanity. Her entire world had been turned upside down, twirled around and twisted for good measure. Everything she'd ever believed had been challenged upon her arrival at the SGC. Even when she was at her lowest, she knew that she really didn't want to be anywhere else...that she couldn't be anywhere else, not with what she knew.
The commissary was full. Teal'c and Jonas were sitting with Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter. She took a tray. Coffee...first and foremost, coffee. She couldn't function without it. A slice of toast. An orange. Good enough.
There were no empty tables to be seen. She put the toast on a couple of napkins, balanced it and the orange in one hand, wrapped the fingers of the other hand around her coffee mug, and slipped back out. She'd just eat in the small room that had been converted into an office for her. She went over MALP findings and pre-mission reports there, alerting General Hammond to any dangers she could sense. If the need arose, she sat in on briefings, giving as much information to the teams assigned to the missions as she could. And from where she was working on a database that would list known Goa'uld, and all myths and facts known about them. The number of cross-references was staggering. Jonas was helping her, when he wasn't on missions with SG-1.
Jonas frowned when he watched the slender blonde slip from the room. "I wonder why Casey didn't join us?"
"Because she doesn't like me," Jack said immediately.
"No, I don't think that's it," the young man replied, shaking his head. "She thinks you're a very intelligent man. And a very good leader."
Jack's face registered his surprise. "She does?"
The Kelownan nodded.
"I believe you do intimidate her," Teal'c said quietly. "She is quite in awe of all those around her."
"I always thought it was because she was-" Sam's cheeks colored slightly as she broke off.
"That she was what, Carter?"
The frown on Jonas' face deepened. "Why is it that the women around here don't seem to like her? She's sweet, and kind, and generous, and she likes to make people laugh. Very shy, though. And she's suffered a lot. The woman who adopted her was very cruel to her. By the way, I've been meaning to ask, just what is a 'two-bit whore'?"
Jack choked on his coffee. "Where did you hear that?"
"It's what the woman who adopted Casey called her. Every day, it seems. That and 'slut'. She was five when she was adopted, and from what she's told me, that woman called her those things from the very beginning."
The two military people exchanged shocked looks. "She was called that...at age five?" Sam asked, her voice rising slightly in pitch, and in volume.
"There were others, as well. Casey said that the woman never liked her. I checked on adoption...it's quite a complicated process. Why would anyone go through all of that if they didn't even like the child? And further, why would the authorities allow someone to adopt that child if that person had no feelings of compassion toward the child? Is this something that happens often? Aren't there checks in place-" he broke off when Sam pushed away from the table with a barely mumbled 'excuse me', and fled the room. His eyes went wide. "Did I say something wrong?"
Jack shook his head. "No, Jonas, you didn't. You did shed a bit of light on the matter though."
"The women of this facility are threatened by Casey Webster's beauty, and the kindness that is just...her," Teal'c observed.
"Yeah, I picked that up," Jack replied.
"You mean...you mean they're all jealous of Casey?" Jonas asked.
"Yep," Jack nodded. "I think Carter is about to remedy that situation, though."
Casey was sitting at the desk. Staring at the reference materials. Most of them notes written by Dr. Jackson. She hated touching them. She hated touching anything that had belonged to the beloved, sorely missed, brilliant archaeologist. It was her fault he'd died. If she'd just tried harder...written that damned letter sooner...
She shook her head. She was too weary of that inner battle to struggle with it now. But that wasn't the only reason touching his things left her so ill at ease. Every time she touched something that had been his, she felt such an ache in her heart, such a sense of loss, such...loneliness...that it took her breath away.
"Am I interrupting?"
Startled, the pencil that had been in her hand flew across the room.
Sam smiled. "Sorry, guess I should have knocked first."
Casey smiled in return. "No problem. I was lost in thought, I guess."
"So it appeared. Do you have a minute?"
Sam entered the small room. There wasn't even a second chair. Not that there was actually room for one. There was barely room for the desk, the chair the slender blonde occupied, and the narrow set of bookshelves that had been pushed into the corner. The books and stacks of paper that filled it reminded her of Daniel's office. This room had been used as a supply closet at one time, she was certain of it. "I was just wondering if you're busy on Friday night."
It was difficult to hide her surprise. Her first fleeting thought was that the major was going to ask her on a date. But she knew that the tall blonde loved Colonel O'Neill. He loved her as well, and she could see the 'sparks' between them when they were together. Stupid military regs, she groused silently. While she could well understand the reason for them, it didn't make it any easier to watch two people who belonged together living apart, struggling to suppress their feelings. Those rules needed to be changed, or at least suspended. Especially when the people who worked within the confines of the SGC faced an entirely different 'reality' than that of every other military base in the country...in the world. She'd already mentioned the issue to General Hammond. Even offered a few suggestions to pass on to the president. She had no idea if he had actually done so.
Her cheeks turned red when she realized she'd been staring at the major as her thoughts spun around. "Sorry," she murmured. "No, I won't be busy on Friday."
"Why don't you join Janet and I for dinner? We're going to see a movie afterwards, as well."
"Oh!" Green eyes went wide. "Um...well...are you sure? I don't want to intrude or anything..."
Sam perched on the corner of the desk. "I should apologize. You've been here six months, and I have yet to just sit down and talk with you."
"You're very busy," Casey replied softly.
"Not so busy that I can't at least share a cup of coffee with someone I'd like to become friends with." Sam felt her heart constrict when the flood of emotions played across the younger woman's face, filled her always expressive eyes. Surprise. Excitement. Curiosity. Hope. Just before she pushed it all down, that familiar guarded look slipping into place once again.
"No, Casey, it's not. If you have a few minutes this afternoon, stop by my lab. We'll have a cup of coffee and chat."
She studied the sapphire blue eyes that held her gaze. Could see nothing but sincere friendship there. She could sense no deception, this wasn't a way to 'set her up' for some embarrassing, painful exhibition. "Sure, I'll do that."
"Great! I'll talk to you later, then," Sam smiled. She waved as she left the tiny room.
Casey sat back in her chair. Well, imagine that! She shook her head, picked up the pencil, gently pushed aside the late Dr. Jackson's notes, and studied the book beneath them. Might as well get this section finished. She'd just started working again when Jonas tapped lightly on the door. She couldn't help but return his smile.
"I just saw Major Carter leaving," he said. "Is everything all right?"
"She just asked me to have coffee with her this afternoon," Casey replied.
"That's good," Jonas smiled. "Isn't it?"
"I think it is."
The young man plopped onto the corner of the desk. "I didn't know, at least, not until this morning, that the women around here are jealous of you."
Jealous? Of her? Whatever for? She shook her head slightly. "I don't know who told you that, but I'm afraid they're wrong," she said softly.
"I do not believe that to be so, Casey Webster," Teal'c said from the doorway. "Jonas Quinn is correct. Your beauty, both physical and inner, creates feelings of jealousy among the women who work in this facility."
She shook her head again. "You're both very sweet. But I'm well aware of what I look like. And believe me, I know that there isn't anything about me that would make any woman jealous."
The two men exchanged glances. "I have come to inquire about your training," Teal'c said, deciding not to pursue the matter further. It would take more than the words of two men she considered friends for Casey to believe the truth.
"Are you free now?"
"I am, indeed."
"Then no time like the present, right?"
With a slight nod of his head, Teal'c stood beside the door, his hands clasped behind him. He waited patiently while Casey saved her work, and then joined him in the corridor. Jonas fell into step beside them, the slender blonde flanked by the two aliens. The body language spoke volumes to any who saw them...the two men were very protective of the newcomer.
It only took a few minutes in the locker room to slip out of her clothes and into the sweats she used for working out. The hot pink, spandex sports top didn't quite reach the waistband of the pants, exposing a bit of her flat stomach. She moved through the warm-up exercises with practiced ease.
"We will begin with weight training today," Teal'c informed her, leading her to the three sets of free weights. Due to his diligence, and Casey's willingness, they worked out every day, unless he was off world with SG-1; and her abilities continued to steadily improve. He handed her the ten pound weights.
As soon as her hands curled around them, images began to flash before her eyes. She'd seen the man often enough. There were also pictures of him in Teal'c's room. Dr. Jackson. The weights dropped from nerveless fingers, she backed away, folding her arms around her narrow waist, shaking visibly.
"Casey Webster?" His dark eyes mirrored his concern.
She lifted haunted green eyes to his face. "Tell me about him," she whispered.
"The man I'm responsible for killing. Doctor Jackson," she replied, her voice raspy as she struggled to hold back the tears.
"You are not responsible for his death. Those who built a defective weapon of such destructive power are at fault," Teal'c said softly.
"I didn't send the letter in time. If I'd mailed it right away, he'd still be alive," she argued. "It's my fault that he died."
Teal'c closed his hands around her upper arms. Held her firmly in his grasp. "You are not to blame. You carry guilt that is not yours to bear."
His comment startled her, had her eyes searching his. "I knew that something...bad...was going to happen. I'd written the letter warning General Hammond. But...I hesitated. I was so afraid that he'd think I was crazy. My own sense of pride resulted in the death of a man who never should have died," she insisted.
Teal'c led her to the nearest weight bench, sat down, pulled her down beside him. "Daniel Jackson would be the first to tell you that nothing that happened was your fault. Even if your letter had arrived, General Hammond had no way of knowing who you were, nor of your gift. The warning would not have been heeded."
"It would have caused enough doubt that he'd have held off on the mission, just for a day or so."
"And if he had done that, thousands of lives on Kelowna would have been lost. Daniel Jackson would have been most distraught if that had happened."
"The needs of the one must be sacrificed for the needs of the many," she whispered.
She lowered her head. "Perhaps he'd have found a way to stop them. I've heard that he was very persuasive."
"He would not. He attempted for two days to arrange a meeting between the warring factions of the planet. Those in charge of the Kelownan government were most stubborn. They would not listen to reason," Teal'c replied. When she remained silent, he stood to his feet. Retrieved the weights. "Put aside the guilt that you carry. You are not to blame."
She took the weights, stood beside the man who was as much her friend as he was the one in charge of her 'military training'. "It feels as if I am."
"Only because you allow yourself to wallow in that guilt."
Casey looked sharply at the large man beside her. "Wallow in it? You think I enjoy feeling this way?"
"I believe that you accept the blame for what happens around you, simply because you have been told again and again that you must do so."
She tugged her lip between her teeth. That was certainly true enough. That 'lesson' had been beaten into her at an early age. She sighed heavily. "If I'd tried harder, perhaps another option that would have presented itself."
"Perhaps. But I do not believe that your efforts at that time would have made any difference in the outcome of that mission."
"Tell me about him," she asked again.
As they went through their workout routine, Teal'c told her about the man, and the friend, that Dr. Daniel Jackson had been. As she listened, it was difficult to shake the feeling that something very special had been lost to her when the archaeologist had died.
It was almost three when Casey looked up from the computer. She wondered briefly if it was too late to have that chat with Major Carter. Would the air force officer even notice if she didn't stop by the lab, or call? She could hear her grandmother's voice echoing softly in her head. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The worst that could happen would be that the major would be too busy to stop and have that promised cup of coffee. After all, it wasn't like it was that...important. Just a cup of coffee. Casey did her best to push down the hope that the woman had been sincere in her offer. She searched for and found the list of SGC phone numbers. She'd never made use of it before, and dialed hesitantly.
"Major Carter," the woman's voice said after three rings.
Her tone was brusque. No doubt she was busy, probably in the middle of working on something crucial in the battle against the Goa'uld, Casey thought. She took a deep breath. "Um...hi...this is Casey Webster. I was wondering if you were still interested in coffee?"
"Casey! You bet I am! Meet you in the commissary in five?"
It was impossible not to smile at the change. The major actually sounded pleased that she'd called! "I'll be there."
"I'm on my way," Sam replied.
The line went dead. Still smiling, Casey saved the last two hours' worth of work, stood and stretched. She opened the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet and took out the unopened package of Oreo cookies. She and Kelley had shared many a secret, had many giggles while decimating a package of the chocolate treats. The major had taken the first step by approaching her. This would be her contribution to what might become a true friendship.
Nervous, Casey opted to take the stairs to the commissary four levels down. The physical exercise would help her to remain calm. The blonde major was already sitting at a table, two cups of coffee in front of her when she walked in. With a shy smile, she offered the package of cookies. "I don't know if you like these or not. My best friend and I used to kill a package for every serious conversation we had."
"I love them!" Sam replied. She eagerly ripped open the cellophane, took a cookie and bit into it, closing her eyes to savor the rich chocolate-y treat.
The smile became a grin. Casey grabbed a cookie, twisted it apart, and began to lick the frosting from the center. "There's nothing so bad that Oreo's can't help."
Sam giggled. "Amen. So how's that database coming along?"
Casey rolled her eyes. "If I'd known just how much work was involved, I never would have volunteered for the job. There are so many cross references! Jonas and Teal'c have told me that the Goa'uld are very inconsiderate, and I believe them! They couldn't be satisfied being just one god, and dealing with a certain number of things. Nope, they had to try to do it all!"
"Daniel always believed that the myths that grew up around those 'gods' we know now are Goa'uld were changed to fit the needs of the people at the time," Sam said, her eyes reflecting the sadness she always felt when thinking or talking about the man who'd been like a brother to her.
"That makes sense," Casey nodded. "It explains the changes that seem to occur through the centuries. Doesn't make that database any easier to compile. What about you? How is your day going?"
"I'm almost finished with a prototype naquadah generator. If it works the way I hope it does, it can be used to provide most of the power for the SGC, most certainly for the 'gate itself."
"Would that be a good thing?"
Sam nodded. "If General Hammond can cut the operating budget, more money can be spent for research, and for helping those people that we find out there."
Casey reached for another cookie. "If anyone can do it, you can."
Her coffee cup had been halfway to her lips. "Thanks," Sam said softly.
Slender shoulders moved up and down. "Everyone around here knows that you're brilliant when it comes to that stuff. They say that Doctor Jackson was brilliant as well. SG-1 was the best of the best. If I..." she broke off, looked down at her cup of coffee. Jumped slightly when cool fingers wrapped around her own.
"Casey, you couldn't have known. And even if we'd received that letter sooner, I'm not certain that General Hammond would have heeded the warning. Not without knowing more about you first."
She looked up. Teal'c had said the very same thing to her. "I feel so guilty. I know that there are those here who blame me."
"There'd better not be! What happened was a terrible tragedy. I miss Daniel like crazy. But he'd be the first to point out that he chose to do what he did, no one forced him to reach in for that core," Sam replied firmly.
"If he hadn't, the entire facility would have blown up," Casey pointed out softly.
"The letter you sent arrived two days after our first trip to Kelowna. General Hammond didn't even read it until three weeks after that."
"There were other things on his mind," Casey pointed out. Like the death of a much beloved member of the SGC.
"Don't blame yourself. It's not your fault."
"Feels that way."
"That's the same thing that General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill have said."
Her head shot up, she looked at the woman across from her. "Why would they feel guilty?"
"General Hammond sent us on that mission. And the colonel could have stopped Daniel from going into that lab. He said..." Sam turned her head, struggled to retain control of her emotions. "He said he had a bad feeling, and almost told us to pack up and leave. He regrets not doing that. But, if he had, the entire city would have been destroyed. Thousands of people would have died."
She considered these new pieces of information. "Thank you," she said finally.
"You're welcome," Sam replied, flashing a warm smile. "Now, I'd like to get to know you better. Would you mind telling me about yourself?"
Another shrug, self-conscious this time. "Not much to tell."
"You're from Tacoma?"
"Yes. Born there. Raised there. Damned glad to be away from there."
"You didn't like it?"
"The city itself is okay, I guess. I'm just happy to have seventeen hundred miles between me and my adoptive mother."
"Oh." Given what she'd learned about Casey's childhood during breakfast that morning, Sam wasn't certain what else to say.
"What about you?"
"Air Force brat."
"Really? I'll bet you've lived all over the world!"
Sam laughed. "Only in Germany and Okinawa."
"I've never even been to Canada!"
"I have pictures from both places. You should come over sometime, I'll show them to you."
"I'd like that."
"Now, about Friday night, any preference on the movie? Or where you want to eat?"
"Oh, whatever you and Doctor Fraiser decide is fine with me," Casey replied hastily.
Sam said nothing. But she was already getting the sense that Casey's self-esteem had been beaten down. She'd have a chat with Teal'c later. Her Jaffa friend knew Casey better than anyone else on the base. "Janet tells me you're still living here on the base."
She was immediately on edge. She'd overheard several comments about her living arrangements, and how 'convenient' for the men of the SGC it was. "General Hammond said it was all right."
"Of course it is," Sam reassured the young woman. "Although it can't be conducive to a good night's sleep!"
Casey relaxed again, and smiled. "No, not always. Although I prefer to think of the klaxons as not scaring the bejeezus out of me, but helping me to maintain cardiovascular health. You're supposed to exercise until your heart is beating hard and fast. Can't pound any harder or faster than it does coming up out of a dead sleep to the sound of the world ending."
Sam burst into laughter. "Interesting way to view it. Have you thought about getting a place of your own?"
"I've thought about it. I've never lived on my own. I know, how sad and pathetic is that? When I went to Western, I shared a room with Kelley and Gretchen. After I finished up at the Brown Business College, I couldn't find a job that paid enough to pay rent and utilities and still eat and have gas for the car," she explained. "I'd really like to live off base, but I don't know Silver Springs very well."
"You know, we could go looking on Saturday."
Green eyes went wide. "Looking?"
"For apartments. I know a realtor, she's great. Candy helped me find my house. I told her what I wanted, what I was looking for, and I didn't have to waste time looking at anything that didn't fit my criteria. I know that she handles several of the apartment complexes here in town," Sam said.
"That would be great, thank you," Casey replied.
"You're welcome. So, tell me about high school," Sam grinned. She wanted to learn more about this woman. She was beginning to understand just exactly how much fun Casey could be.
The room was beginning to fill up with personnel coming in for dinner before the two women looked around long enough to notice. The only thing left of the Oreo's were a few crumbs. At Sam's suggestion, they joined the chow line, where they continued their discussion and shared their opinions. The major didn't miss the looks that several of the other women who worked in the mountain tossed in their direction. Hopefully they, too, would make the effort to get to know Casey. Sam was already convinced she'd found a very good friend in the slender blonde.
It was nearly seven o'clock when Casey hurried back into the little room where she worked. She wanted to make up for the hours she'd spent chatting. She was still smiling, certain in her heart that Sam Carter was destined to become a very good friend. The loneliness that had plagued her since her arrival was conspicuous in its absence as she sat down and began typing.
She was checking the cross-references for two of the Celtic 'gods'; Camulus and Morrigan. She was tired, and the more she learned about the creatures known as the Goa'uld, the more she disliked them. "Name...Camulus. Description...asshole."
A snort of laughter from the doorway brought her head up. Colonel O'Neill stood there, hands in his pockets. "That sums it up perfectly," he grinned.
Casey blushed brightly. "I won't really enter that," she mumbled.
"Why not? It's the truth." He glanced around. "Gee, they almost gave you a real room to work in."
She followed his glance with one of her own. "It's fine."
"Jonas tells me that you've been working hard on that database."
"I'm doing my best." She studied the man. Why did it seem as if, all of a sudden, the military members of SG-1 were interested in her? She had no doubt of the major's sincerity. She'd thoroughly enjoyed the time she'd spent with the major...Sam, her mind corrected. After she'd insisted that Casey use her name.
"If anyone gives you a hard time, you come tell me. I won't stand for anyone who works here to be harassed."
It was all she could do to keep from gaping at the man. She had no idea where he had might have heard that anyone was harassing her...she hadn't mentioned anything of the unkind remarks made in her direction to either Jonas or Teal'c. "I...uh...sure," she stammered.
"See you at breakfast tomorrow," he said, smiling at her. "We'll save a chair for you."
With a nod, confident that the slender seer wouldn't eat any more meals alone, Jack turned and left the room. He should probably see about having her moved into Daniel's office. All of the reference materials she needed were there, according to Jonas. Made sense to have her there, rather than shuffling back and forth with those musty old books. He frowned slightly. Just who in the hell had stuck her in that tiny hole, anyway? Determined to rectify a situation he hadn't been aware existed, much to his chagrin, he hurried toward the general's office.
Casey watched the colonel leave. Couldn't help but smile. Things were definitely looking up! She reached out to grab a folder, so that she could move it. Dropped it instantly as images of Daniel Jackson flashed through her mind. And that heartbreaking sense of loss washed over her. She wrapped her arms around her waist. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.
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