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 Picking Up the Pieces


Chapter 9

The two teams were ringed to the Daedalus. Daniel was heading toward the infirmary as soon as the light had faded, almost before the others had begun to move away from the round transport pad. His teammates were quickly on his heels, however, their own wounds forgotten in their concern about Casey; she hadn’t made a sound since Daniel had picked her up. Her head lolled against his shoulder.

Colonel Mitchell had alerted Doctor Lewis that there had been injuries; she and her staff of medics and nurses were waiting anxiously by the infirmary door.

"First bed," Doctor Lewis ordered, as soon as Daniel stepped into the room. "Mike, take care of Colonel O’Neill. Susan, see to Teal’c. Karen, it looks as if Major Carter might need stitches in her cheek. Larry, let’s get Mrs. Jackson stripped so we can see what we’re dealing with." The orders were given as she began a cursory examination of Casey.

Daniel wrapped his arms around his chest, trying to stay out of the way as a medic raced toward the bed to assist the doctor; loathe to move too far from his Wife’s side. She was so damned pale! That couldn’t be good!

Her tee shirt, which the doctor cut from her body, was bloody in several places. The medic pulled her boots and socks from her feet, worked the BDU pants from her hips, tossed the clothing to the floor.

Doctor Lewis glanced up at the archaeologist. Circumstances, and the decision of the commander of the Stargate Program, had seen her briefed on the ‘secret’ that SG-1 held. "She’ll be fine, I promise. It looks worse than it is."

The medic, Larry, gave the doctor a sharp look. He could see the bruises on her ribs, a bright red spot and corresponding lump. The lack of movement when the patient breathed, as shallowly as she was doing so, indicated a possible break. He'd also noted that the slender blonde’s stomach appeared to be slightly distended, a sign of internal injuries; which meant she was most probably bleeding into the abdominal cavity.

Daniel hadn’t missed the frown on the medic’s face. Briefly wondered how to explain the fact that his Wife would be good as new in a few days, though his heart lurched at knowing how seriously she had been injured. Even his untrained eye could tell that she was in bad shape. Just how close to killing her had those people come? How long had she been pelted with those rocks, none of them smaller than a baseball, all hurled at her with anger and hatred?

When she noted the questioning look on the medic’s face, Doctor Lewis shook her head slightly. "Trust me," she said, more to her assistant than to the husband of her patient.

Casey moaned softly, opened her eyes. Squinted slightly. No rocks. No wooden poles, either. Definitely not the SGC infirmary. Which meant...she turned her head. Saw Daniel, just behind the man who was in the process of inserting an IV. Winced slightly as the needle sank into her arm. "The team?" she asked weakly.

"They’re fine, Angel," Daniel said softly.

She nodded, grimaced at the pain the movement caused. Remembered the rocks that had hit her in the head, making her ears ring with each impact. Now it felt as if an entire demolition crew was hammering away inside her skull. She cried out when the doctor pushed just above her navel... a sharp, intense jolt of pure agony shooting throughout her body.

Practiced hands moved over the slender body. If she wasn’t missing her guess, Doctor Lewis thought, the spleen had been ruptured. No doubt there was internal hemorrhaging as well. Two, possibly three ribs broken, although thankfully there didn’t seem to be any punctures into the lungs. The right wrist had been fractured; and the laceration, with the significant hematoma and concurrent swelling, on the blonde’s forehead indicated a possible concussion. A quick check of Casey’s back, done by gently rolling her to her side, found more bruising. The doctor wondered briefly if the kidneys had been damaged in any way. The professional in her grimaced. She wanted to bark orders...wanted to do something for a woman so obviously in need of medical treatment. If this were any other patient, I’d be prepping for emergency surgery, Doctor Lewis thought. And listing the seer’s condition as serious, possibly even critical. Part of her reluctantly admitted that she hadn’t actually been convinced by what Janet Fraiser had told her. Another part fretted that by ‘withholding’ treatment, the slender blonde’s condition would deteriorate. "Well, seems you have some significant bruising," the doctor said, forcing a smile to her lips, even as the lie fell from them.

Casey’s eyes went to Daniel. He nodded slightly, having already discerned that Doctor Lewis was aware of the team’s Immortality. Something, he supposed, that was necessary, given the circumstances that the team worked under. "Yeah, didn’t see that first step," she murmured.

Jack sat still for as long as he could, allowing the nurse to clean the cuts and bruises on his face. Hearing Casey’s voice spurred him to his feet. He had heard the pain in every syllable she'd uttered. He pushed the nurse away, ignored the frustrated sigh of impatience from the woman as he staggered slightly...his own condition far from ‘fine’ at the moment...and made his way to Casey’s bedside. Stood just behind Daniel’s shoulder. "You’re a smartass, Radar," he managed to quip, giving her a weak smile.

"Yeah, you’ve mentioned that before," Casey replied, smiling in return, just before her eyes fluttered shut, a slight frown marring her delicate features.

"I’m going to keep you here, at least overnight," Doctor Lewis said, watching as Larry cleaned and treated the cut on Casey’s head. "You’ve probably got a slight concussion from that goose-egg on your forehead. I’ll keep you on the IV, just in case we need it."

"Hooked up, to prevent escape," Casey joked, although her eyes remained closed.

"Remember, I’ve had plenty of warnings from Doctor Fraiser about all of you," Doctor Lewis jested in return. "I’ll have chairs brought in for the rest of you," she said quietly to Daniel and Jack. "Janet told me that SG teams prefer to stay together when one member has been injured. Especially SG-1."

"Thanks, Doc," Jack said, sincere gratitude shining in his brown eyes.

With a nod, the doctor turned to her very curious and slightly suspicious staff. "Get the exam areas cleaned up, then go take a break."

"Doctor-" one of the nurses, Karen, started. Her eyes were on Casey.

"Are you questioning my orders?" Lewis demanded.

"No, ma’am. But I am a trained RN. I know what I’m seeing," the woman replied quietly. She wasn’t being intentionally insubordinate. She was, however, more than a bit confused.

"Lieutenant, if there’s a need to disperse information to you, I’ll make certain that it’s done. If you haven’t been briefed on a...situation...it’s because you have no need to know," Lewis snapped, her voice hard. "Is that understood?"

"Yes, ma’am," the lieutenant gulped. The nurse realized she hadn’t been told everything about the Stargate Program. And God knew she was having enough trouble dealing with what she did know. Wrapping her mind about all she had learned in less than four weeks time had been difficult, to say the least. One thing of which she was certain: Doctor Lewis was one of the best surgeons in the Air Force. She’d never risk a patient, not for any reason. If she believed that this team was okay, then they were. Even if the wounds seemed more serious to her and her co-workers.

Doctor Lewis offered a soft smile. "I know it’s not easy. Just being out here," she waved her hand in the air, "is enough to make me feel as if I’m standing in the Twilight Zone. There are things that will happen out here that will defy rational explanation. Just accept what is...be prepared for anything...and forget everything you see as soon as it’s over."

"Right," the medic who had worked with Casey murmured. He shook his head, and pulled the latex gloves from his hands. He’d carefully cleaned all the wounds he could find, and had needed to bandage one. Like his companions, he’d been trained. He’d worked at one of the largest Air Force hospitals in the States. Had seen his share of accident victims. The woman lying on the bed should be heading into surgery. Yet, Doctor Lewis was behaving as if she had a few bumps and scratches. He sighed mentally. Like the other medical staff members, the doctor had earned his respect and admiration in just the two weeks they had worked together. And they were working on a freaking space ship...He glanced at Teal’c. A man who just happened to be an honest-to-god alien. "This is totally freakin’ bizarre."

Daniel snorted, then smiled when the man looked at him. "Wait until things get really interesting."

One of the other nurses shook her head. "Things are ‘interesting’ enough already. Not so sure I can handle more!"

"I have faith in you, captain," Doctor Lewis smiled. "Now. Clean up and a break."

Heads nodded in acknowledgement, and without further comment the remnants of what medical care had been offered were cleared away. The two beds that had been used were stripped and remade with fresh linens, and the exam tables were scrubbed with antiseptic cleaner. Supplies were checked, emergency trays restocked, and the group left quietly, less than twenty minutes later.

Daniel had moved to stand next to the bed as soon as the medic had finished; one hand wrapped around Casey’s, holding it tightly, the other smoothing strands of blonde silk away from the bandage that covered that nasty cut.

"Janet told you...you know about our...um...immortality," Sam said, as soon as the members of SG-1 and Doctor Lewis were alone in the room.

"Yes, she did. I have to admit, at first I thought it was some sort of a joke...hazing the new person. But..." she shook her head. "When I had to sign an additional, much more detailed non-disclosure form, I figured Janet wasn’t kidding. And the general assured me that what I was being told was true. I read all of your medical files. Janet and General Hammond felt it might be necessary." The doctor waved a hand in Casey’s direction. "I’d say they were right. I’ll be a true believer when she’s completely out of danger," the doctor confessed, somewhat petulantly.

"So, what’s really wrong with my Wife?" Daniel asked, his voice raspy with concern.

Lewis recited the list of the injuries she had determined, and those she suspected. Watched the man’s face grow paler with each word, his eyes filled with worry. "She’s going to need total bed rest while her body does…whatever it does to heal her.

Daniel nodded. "According to Colonel Mitchell, we’re heading back to the SGC. So we’ll be here for at least a week."

"I’ll give her pain medication, and a slight sedative. The more she rests, the better. It looks as if the three of you could use a bit of rest as well," the doctor noted.

"We’ll stay with Radar," Jack said firmly.

Doctor Lewis nodded. "Janet said separating SG-1 was like trying to stop the tide with a teaspoon."

"You’ll have better luck stopping that tide," Jack replied, with a cheeky grin.

"I imagine so," Lewis smiled. "I’ll see to those chairs. Oh, and just so you know, I’m the only one on board who is aware of your...secret."

The team nodded their heads in understanding. "Thank you," Sam said.

"Anytime," Lewis replied. She administered the medications, adding both to the IV bag that dripped saline into the wounded woman’s body, drop by drop. Then quietly slipped out of the infirmary, leaving SG-1 to sit with their wounded teammate.




The team spent the first hour at Casey’s bedside discussing what had happened, giving Daniel a blow-by-blow account of what had occurred in the village. Daniel had told them about the work on the chair; and Mitchell’s initial reluctance to part with ‘his’ chair. Jack admitted to being impressed with Daniel’s ‘solution’ to the problem of leaving Gaillard in control of the village. Without a doubt what those people had witnessed was going to make them start asking questions the scarred man had no answers for. How much Sawyer would reveal was anyone’s guess.

The hour after that, they worked on their individual mission reports. Consulting with each other over one detail or another. All of them dozed off and on, Daniel sitting beside the bed, Casey’s hand in his, his head resting on his arm.

Doctor Lewis had ordered dinner trays brought in to them, and they ate, quietly joking about the differences between MREs and meals cooked aboard a ship. The Daedalus, it seemed, had not been as fortunate as the Prometheus; the cook onboard wasn’t an Executive Chef. The meal, however was hot, nutritious, and a hell of a lot better than an MRE!

Jack, Sam, and Teal’c eventually made the decision to go to their quarters to sleep. Daniel carefully stretched out next to his Wife, daring anyone to tell him he couldn’t stay with her. Noted that she snuggled closer to his side, her head finding its way to his shoulder within minutes of him settling beside her. The bed was narrow, and she was practically lying on top of him...not that he had any objections.

He was certain that Doctor Lewis had added a considerable amount of pain killers to the IV. The doctor’s recitation of Casey’s injuries had been extensive. Had she not been Immortal, his Wife would have undergone emergency surgery in an attempt to repair the damage done to her body. His heart lurched in his chest at the thought, his arm tightened around her slender shoulders, and he held her closer. This was, he thought, one of the times that he was especially grateful for the miracle that had occurred in an underground cavern on a far away planet.

It had been a hell of a day...two days, his weary brain reminded him. The mission was over. They had the third component for the weapon. And his Wife had nearly been killed. He couldn’t honestly say that having that chair in a storage crate in the cargo hold of the Daedalus was worth what she’d suffered.

It was impossible not to smile when she snuggled closer and his name left her lips, a softly whispered sigh. Even unconscious, a result of the sedative she’d been given, she was aware that he was there, that she was in his arms...he was sure of it. That his presence seemed to reassure her was more than he could ask for. Daniel pressed a kiss to Casey’s forehead, just beneath the bandage. Smiled when she sighed softly again.

Before he realized it, sleep came creeping in, and took him away to dreams of long blonde hair, beautiful green eyes, pink lips that smiled seductively at him, and slender arms that held him tightly.




Sam was in the cargo hold, the two crates that held the pieces of the weapon sitting on the floor in front of her. She was certain that the ZPM that they had found would fit inside the stele that waited in Warehouse Two, just outside of Cheyenne Mountain. What she was dying to know was what was in the seat of that chair. She bent over, trying to find any latch that would open the box...just a quick look...

"Ah, ah, ah. No playing with that thing here," a voice called from the doorway. "Doctor Lee managed to rig some sort of containment field in the warehouse. We don’t have that here, and there's no telling what’s in that thing."

Turning around to watch him walk closer, a smile tugged at Sam’s lips. "Aren’t you even a little curious as to what’s inside that chair?"

Jack shrugged his shoulders, shoved his hands into the pockets of his BDU pants. The only thing he cared about was getting the components to the weapon. Considering how terrified Radar was of just the thought of the thing being assembled, left him with the feeling that they should leave well enough alone. "Not really. Doohickeys and gizmos...that’s your department."

"Very true," Sam replied. Her smile widened. Jack wasn’t nearly as dumb as he insisted on pretending to be. No doubt his input would be needed to help learn the secrets of the Ancient weapon. "I just want to take a look, I promise I won’t even touch anything."

He snorted, shook his head. "Yeah, where have I heard that line before?"

She couldn’t help but chuckle. She or Daniel had, on several occasions, gotten the team into serious trouble with their curiosity, that need to know. "Okay. But I’m going to have to find something to occupy my time," she whispered, stepping closer and wrapping her arms around his neck.

Jack looked around to make certain they were alone, then grinned, his arms going around her. He cupped the firm curves of her ass, pushed against her slightly. "Think that will hold your attention?"

"Oh, for an hour or so," she smiled.

"Was that a challenge, major?"

"Take it any way you want, sir."

"My quarters. Ten minutes."

She giggled at the raspy tone of his voice, proof that he was more than just a little aroused. "I’ll be there."

"So will I." Another quick glance around the capacious room, and Jack dropped a kiss on the lips that had tempted him for so many years...lips that he could drink from for hours. Lips that sent him to paradise regularly, now that they could be together without fear of reprisal. He pulled away slowly, pleased to see the glimmer of love...and the glint of lust...that filled her sapphire eyes. Pushing his hands into his pockets once again, he turned around, left the bay whistling.

Sam patted the crate that held the chair. "Just wait ‘til I get you to the warehouse!" She had ten minutes. A stop by her quarters for a bottle of lotion...massages were always fun...and she’d spend the rest of the morning doing something other than thinking about the Ancient weapon that they had all been obsessed with for weeks.




The team was once again congregated around Casey’s bed in the infirmary. After taking a shower himself, Daniel had pulled the curtain around the bed, and lovingly bathed his Wife, washing her hair to rid it of the grit and blood from the events of the previous day. He was sitting on the bed, Casey leaning against him, her head on his shoulder, while he brushed that long blonde silk. She had murmured a hello to her friends, and then closed her eyes, slipping back into medically-induced sleep, the sedative in the new IV stronger than the first had been. A result of her attempt to get out of bed when Daniel had awakened and slipped from the room.

"Mitchell said a report from the SGC came in last night," Jack reported quietly. "Seems the Prometheus has found something...no details as of yet, but they reported that whatever is there definitely has naquadah in it.."

Daniel nodded. "If the Ancients used the Antarctic as their base of operations during their time on Earth, they probably left behind more than just the Stargate and DHD."

"Still should have tried to fix that thing," Sam muttered beneath her breath.

"I thought you said we don’t have the components to fix it," Jack replied.

"We didn’t...at the time. We could always find the parts we need," Sam suggested hopefully, her eyes lighting up.

"So make a shopping list. We’ll see what we can find when we visit Balls," Jack said cheekily, mentally chuckling at his lover.

"Really?" Sam almost squealed with excitement.

"Why not? Might as well get everything we need while we’re there."

Daniel snorted. "I’m sure he’ll appreciate that."

"You can see how much that bothers me," Jack retorted. "Besides, it would do Radar a world of good to cause some damage to that snake’s ship."

"Indeed," Teal’c said softly. "I believe Casey Jackson should be allowed to make any changes to the ship that she wishes."

"No arguments from me, Big Guy," Jack said quietly.

"Well, any changes she makes, she’ll have to make with me tagging along. I’m not letting her out of my sight," Daniel said firmly.

"No problems with that either, Danny," Jack replied.

"Do you have any idea how the pieces of this weapon go together?" Daniel asked, watching Sam writing notes, about what he could only guess. He eased Casey back down, smiled when she gave a soft sigh, one hand reaching out for him. He made himself comfortable sitting beside her, his heart pounding with love when her fingers closed around the material of his pant leg, holding tightly.

Sam shook her blonde head. "The drawing Jonas made, based on Ancient text, suggests that there’s a platform that somehow connects the stele to the chair."

Daniel frowned. "I haven’t found anything that references a platform. We have the ‘seat of power’. We know where the ‘rod of fire’ is, and the ‘heart’ could be either the ZPM, or the piece that’s waiting in Arizona."

"Could the platform be what we’ll find there?" Jack asked.

Sam shook her head again. "The traces of naquadah are too small. In fact, whatever is there seems to be in an opening not much larger than what it is, and that’s only about the size of a shoebox, from what we could tell."

"There was a line about the ‘will of the gods’ being...um...how was that worded," Daniel murmured, closing his eyes for a moment. "Um...‘and so it was, that the will of the gods was taken, and put into a vessel, from which all would be protected’. So, I don’t think the ZPM is what they were talking about."

"I agree. I’d say the ZPM is just the power source, the heart is what we’ll find in Arizona," Sam nodded. "My guess is that the ‘heart’ is probably some sort of computer interface."

"I believe it would be to our advantage to heed Casey Jackson’s warnings concerning the weapon," Teal’c said quietly.

"I couldn’t agree more," Sam said, shivering slightly. She’d never seen Casey as afraid of anything as the seer seemed to be of the Ancient weapon.

Colonel Mitchell peeked into the infirmary, waited until he’d received a welcoming nod from Jack before stepping into the room. Like Jack and Daniel, he walked around with his hands in his pockets most of the time. His fingers curled into fists when he saw Casey lying on the bed. He’d heard what had happened to her...that the villagers on the planet had tried to stone her to death. That her condition was ‘guarded’, according to the Doc. She was pale, her cheeks nearly as white as the bandage on her forehead. Doctor Lewis had said she’d be fine in a couple of days. He’d also heard the rumors that she'd been damned near dead. That her wounds had been ‘significant’, according to one of the medics. That the infirmary staff was perplexed as to why Doctor Lewis hadn’t performed the surgery that had been so obviously necessary. He had no idea what was going on, but if Doc Lewis was confident about her patient’s recovery, and the members of SG-1 were content to sit back and wait, then he wouldn’t say anything about the situation.

"Colonel," Jack said in greeting.

"Sir. So how is she?" Mitchell asked.

The look of concern on Mitchell’s face was unmistakable. Knowing Casey’s feelings about the colonel...a ‘nice guy’, she called him...her reassurances that she loved him, had gone a long way to relieving his fears and soothing the jealousy that lurked in his heart. Which meant he could watch Mitchell’s eyes move over his Wife and not have to fight the urge to knock the pilot through the wall. "She’ll be fine," Daniel replied, offering a friendly smile.

The dark-haired man nodded slightly. "Just got a message from Walter. It seems that our first stop was noticed. Apparently a couple of Goa’uld were seen heading in that direction."

"Damned snakes," Jack muttered.

"By now there’s not much to see," Sam said thoughtfully. "They might assume we were merely studying the geology of the planet. The volcanic activity is similar to what Earth went through millions of years ago."

"Here’s hoping," Daniel said. "If they noticed that stop, did they see where we went afterwards?" The thought of Goa’uld showing up, and making slaves of the villagers they had just left, who...in a day or so, would be free of Gaillard...made him angry. Those people didn’t deserve to trade one tyrant for another.

"No word yet. We weren’t orbiting that first planet for more than five hours total," Mitchell mused.

"Which would indicate that a ha’tak, or other Goa’uld ship, was in the vicinity," Teal’c said.

"Must have been," Mitchell agreed. "No other way for them to have known we were there."

"So, if they noticed our first stop, it’s possible they followed us," Jack said flatly.

"Perhaps. But as we slowed several times during our journey to conduct scans and take readings, it is possible that the Goa’uld will assume that we are merely using the ship to learn the secrets of space, and space travel," Teal’c suggested.

"We’ve been cloaked, haven’t we?" Jack asked, a frown on his face.

"Except for dropping the cloak when we beamed you to the planet, and then back on board," Mitchell replied.

"So we can assume that the snakes just happened to see us when we were uncloaked, and now they know we have cloaking capabilities, just like their ships," Jack said. His frown deepened as a more worrisome thought crossed his mind. "Any chance they can detect us even with the cloak?"

A slight frown pulled at Sam’s perfectly arched eyebrows. "I don’t think so. Unless they scan for energy fluctuations."

Jack gave her a puzzled look. "What would they do that for?"

"It would be similar to looking for...or rather, scanning for...exhaust fumes. There are residual naquadah readings...an expended energy trail of sorts...that would be left behind, like exhaust," Sam explained, "which would in turn indicate the presence of a cloaked ship."

"Teal’c, are there any Goa’uld who would be paranoid enough to do that?" Jack asked the Jaffa.

"Indeed. Apophis did so regularly as he traveled, to intercept any possible attackers," Teal’c replied. "The Goa’uld are especially apt to do such scans if they are stationary, particularly if they were meeting with another System Lord."

"Well, crap!" Jack exclaimed. Peachy…if the snakes are going to follow us every time we leave Earth orbit…oy! "So being cloaked means squat!"

"That is not true, O’Neill," Teal’c responded. "Unless the scans are run within an hour of a ship’s passing, there is no discernable trail to follow."

Sam nodded. "And the ship doing the scanning would have to be close to that ‘trail’. It’s possible that another ship did cross our path, as it were. Probably close enough to detect the Daedalus when the shields were lowered."

"Was there any indication that the Goa’uld in question knew the ship was ours?" Daniel asked Mitchell.

The ship’s commander shrugged his shoulders. "There wasn’t anything definite mentioned, but the fact that word reached the SGC about us being noticed leaves the impression that whoever saw us, knows who we are."

"So we’re back to where we started," Jack grumped. "With the possibility that the snakes are following us. If that’s true, then you know they’ll be lurking near Earth...any time the Prometheus or the Daedalus leave orbit, chances are, the Snake Times will announce it."

"I have an idea," Sam said, a slight frown pulling at her perfectly arched eyebrows. "We’ll be passing the nebula that houses the Giant Stellar Nursery. What if we slow down, or even stop there? It would offer us the chance to study it much closer than just Hubble photographs."

"Which would give any lurking Goa’uld the impression that we’re doing exactly what Teal’c suggested," Daniel said, nodding with approval.

"And we can run a few scans of our own, to see if there are any ships out there that might be following us," Sam added.

"I don’t see that a few hours is going to make that big a difference in our plans," Jack allowed with a sigh.

"What about Ba’al?" Daniel asked quietly.

"Whether we have to sneak into his palace, or onto his ship, it’s going to be tricky," Jack replied.

"True," Daniel said.

"Then it’s settled," Jack said. He looked up at Mitchell. "Colonel, if you’ll take us in close to that nebula, we’d be obliged. Carter can take pictures to her heart’s content, and run any other tests she thinks would be helpful."

"Yes, sir. I’ll let you know when we arrive there."

"Thanks, colonel," Jack said.

With a nod, Mitchell took one last look at the woman on the bed, then turned and left the infirmary.

"Well, we didn’t want to hit Balls until we had all the other pieces," Jack sighed.

"Wonder which Goa’uld saw us?" Daniel asked, of no one in particular.

"I wonder who got word to the SGC about it," Sam said.

"Tok’ra spies?" Daniel offered.

"Had to be," Jack affirmed. "Although I kinda wonder if they weren’t the ones who pointed us out to their snake bosses."

"They wouldn’t do that, we’re allies," Sam protested.

"Riiiight," Jack said, rolling his eyes slightly.

"That is a troublesome thought," Teal’c said. "Who else but the Tok’ra know of the Tau’ri ships...and who else would inform the SGC of any interest shown in Tau’ri activities? If we cannot trust those who are allied with us, how can we work with the Tok’ra in the future?"

"We can’t, Teal’c. I suppose we’ll get more details from General Hammond when we get home," Jack sighed again. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another, he complained silently. He watched Daniel for a moment, as the young man arranged the sheet over his wife’s shoulders, keeping her hand firmly in his. "How’s she doing?"

The change of subject wasn’t surprising. Talking about the Tok’ra always seemed to leave the team feeling used, frustrated, and a bit divided...Sam and Casey took their allies at their word. Experience had made Jack, Daniel, and Teal’c skeptical at best.

"She’s sleeping soundly," Daniel replied. "She did a bit of moaning last night, I know she was hurting. Doctor Lewis increased the morphine in her drip, she settled down after that. The doctor seems to think keeping her sedated right now is the best thing for her."

Jack nodded. He looked at Casey, at the floor, back at the slender seer, and then at his best friend. "I tried, Danny. I tried to stop them. I tried to get to her."

"As did I," Teal’c said.

"I know," Daniel said quietly.

"They wouldn’t listen...those people just wouldn’t listen," Sam said, tears standing in her eyes.

"She knew something was going to happen," Daniel said, his voice low. "She didn’t have details, or she would have said something. She said she was ‘uneasy’, but couldn’t be more specific than that."

"It seems that whenever Casey Jackson is in danger, she is unable to discern the details," Teal’c noted. It was an observation he had voiced several times in the past as well.

"I think we need to take a lesson from this," Jack said, his eyes on Casey’s sleeping form. "If she’s feeling uneasy, and can’t see anything to warrant that feeling, we should assume she’s the one in danger."

"That would make sense," Daniel nodded slowly.

"And we’d be able to do more to protect her," Sam said. "She’s always doing her best to protect us, to give us as much information as possible to keep us safe. We have to do the same for her. Even if we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, we can at least be more vigilant."

"Then it’s agreed," Jack said solemnly. "We’ll talk to Radar about this when she wakes up, and she’s feeling better."

"I hope that’s soon," Daniel sighed. His hand had been moving over her shoulder, a gentle caress that was done without conscious thought. She had shifted closer to him, the side of her face pressed against his thigh as he sat beside her.

"It will be. She’s tough." Jack leaned back in his chair, stretched his legs out, and put his hands behind his head. "I wonder just how much she’ll torment Balls before we get that scepter, and her, off his ship?"

Daniel chuckled. "As much as possible."

"I look forward to having her demonstrate the techniques she used on Zeus’s ha’tak," Teal’c said, his cheek twitching.

"If you could have seen the look on his face when she zatted him," Jack laughed. "He was so damned surprised!"

"We almost weren’t able to keep her from killing him," Daniel chortled. "I don’t think she’s forgiven us for stopping her."

"Hey, we had a perfectly good plan. He was our ticket off that thing," Jack retorted.

"Too bad the plan didn’t work exactly like we thought it would," Daniel said drolly.

"That’s SG-1 luck for you," Sam grinned.

The sounds of a metal cart echoed in the corridor outside of the infirmary. When it appeared, it was being pushed by Doctor Lewis. Four lunch trays were on the two shelves of the cart. "I figured I’d bring lunch to you, since I’ve been told ordering you to the commissary to eat seldom works."

"Thank you, Doctor," Daniel said, flashing a shy smile at the woman.

"You’re welcome." Her heart fluttered slightly, before she reprimanded herself. The man was happily married, and she was very happy with the relationship she’d been in for the past three years. Although, she thought, a bit sadly, the last time she had talked to Mark, he’d been less than thrilled about her accepting the promotion to major, and the orders to a secret facility. She wondered if their love would survive what were certain to be extended absences. Shook herself mentally. "She looks...comfortable."

Daniel smiled. "I can’t complain."

"I’d like to take a look at her later, see how much improvement there’s been."

Just like Janet, Daniel thought. That need to be doing something to help her patients was often thwarted by SG-1’s Immortality. Even though she knew they’d be perfectly fine, her heart refused to be stilled on the matter. "Sure."

"I suggest all of you take the time to rest, you’re still healing from your own trauma," Doctor Lewis said, her gaze sweeping over the team. Her eyes stopped on Daniel. "You, too. The emotional strain you’re under isn’t anything to sneeze at."

"We’ll take those naps," Jack said. "Just...later."

"But you will take them."

"Promise," Jack replied, smiling at the doctor.

"I will be checking."

"We’ll nap in shifts."

"There’s no need-"

"Doctor, one of the team is down. Until she’s back, one hundred percent, we won’t be leaving her...or Danny...alone. They need us. We’ll be here," Jack said, his voice firm.

Doctor Lewis nodded in defeat. "Janet warned me." She sighed, then offered a small smile. "I’ve been with a combat unit. I understand the bonds. And I understand that what I’ve witnessed...shared...pales in comparison to the bonds on your team."

"Hearts entwined," Sam said softly. "That’s what Casey always says. Hearts entwined, joined at the hip."

The doctor’s smile widened. "Fine. One of you can be here with the Jacksons. The other two...nap. As soon as you’ve finished lunch."

Heads bobbed up and down in acknowledgement. And all of them were certain that the tall, dark haired woman would carry out her ‘threat’ to check to make certain they were complying with her demands. Just as Janet always did.




Forty minutes later, Daniel slid down on the bed and went to sleep, Casey resting in his arms. Jack’s chin was on his chest, and his eyes were closed, although whether or not he was sleeping wasn’t easily determined. Sam and Teal’c had returned to their quarters to rest, having given promises that they would return within two hours, so that Jack could rest.

By the time the Daedalus reached Earth, SG-1 would be ready for the next step in their scavenger hunt to pick up the pieces of the Ancient weapon.

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