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Seek and Ye Shall Find

Chapter 2

"I...I...I'm so sorry...I had no idea...oh, hell," she stammered.

President Miller held up a hand. "It's all right, Mrs. Jackson. General Hammond explained that you were in the middle of training for base security."

"He...he did?" Her eyes flickered from the president to the general and back again.

"I think the idea is creative, and keeping everyone on their toes is a must around here."

"Uh...yes, sir."

"Mr. President, SG-11 is preparing to embark, if you'd like to join me in the control room," the general said, not bothering to hide his smile.

"Um...general, technically, the president is dead," Casey said, her eyes dancing. She looked at the president and shrugged one slender shoulder. "Sorry, Mr. President. Them's the rules."

The quiet Texas president began to laugh. "Do you suppose that my body guards could carry me?"

She looked at the two men who were still standing with their hands on their weapons. "If it keeps them from shooting me...sure!" She looked over her shoulder at Major Wilson. "Stay out of drafts."

The major had been leaning back in his chair. He sat up instantly. "What kind of drafts, ma'am?"

She cocked her head sideways. "Um...windows...cold drafts...stay away from them."

"Yes, ma'am!"

"Anything else, Casey?" General Hammond asked quietly.

"No, sir."

"Very well. Carry on."

"Yes, sir." With a grin and a salute, she dashed through the general's office and headed for the control room.

"What on earth did she mean by that?" President Miller asked.

"I don't know, sir," the general answered truthfully.

"I'll be staying out of drafts, you can bank on that," Major Wilson declared.

"I believe I would too, son," the president smiled.

 

 

 

"Newsome just reported that they're on level twenty-seven," Major Parker told his men. "If I know Teal'c, he'll go for the control room."

"We could corner them there, sir," Tony said.

"Yep. All units, this is Parker. Enemy has the control room. We take them there," Parker said into his radio.

Within minutes, nearly every SG-team on the base had converged on the lower level. All were making their way toward the room where Teal'c and Casey were busy trying to set their trap. Their plan was to close all of the blast doors on each level at once, trapping their enemy in small areas of each corridor. Being unable to reach the control room, no one would be able to open those doors. Which left them free to slip in and kill the enemy at their leisure.

Casey checked one of the security camera monitors. "Oh, shit!"

Teal'c glanced over her shoulder. "We should take cover."

Taking opposite corners of the room, offering them the ability to keep all entrances guarded, the two carefully filled their water guns, pumped them fully...and waited.

Major Parker and his team were the first up the stairs at the back of the control room...and were the first to be taken out. SG-5 and 13 were right behind them however, and then continued to fire until Teal'c was literally dripping.

Major Newsome grinned when he caught site of Casey. "Okay, remember I did this for your sorry butts," he whispered. He ran toward the room, didn't stop until his shirt was hanging from him, water running from the seams.

"Now!" Deke Anderson yelled. Bodies appeared from every direction, aiming at the slender blonde. Who was howling with laughter as she rolled to the floor, her hair plastered to her head as she was 'killed'.

The surviving teams began to hoot and cheer with glee...victorious over their enemy. Teal'c helped Casey off of the floor. "We have done well this day. It took them nearly an hour to take us out."

"Not too shabby for two people," Casey agreed.

"You threw us off when you separated so soon," Major Parker admitted.

General Hammond, the president standing beside him, looked at Walter. "You may begin the dialing sequence, Sergeant."

Walter grinned, slid into his chair. "Yes, sir."

With a smile of his own, the general crossed the room and grabbed the telephone that would allow him to address the entire facility. "This is General Hammond. The enemy has been neutralized. Briefing in the 'gate room in fifteen minutes."

Daniel looked up, then grinned. Yep, the whole damn base had been involved. He tossed down his pencil. This should be interesting.

Jack looked up from the stack of reports he'd been working on. Enemy? Neutralized? What the hell was going on? He hadn't heard any alarms...he bolted from his chair and headed for the 'gate room.

Sam began to chuckle. She'd heard the activity in the halls, but had been too busy working on modifying the scanners to join it. She wasn't about to miss the first ever 'briefing' after one of the 'training sessions'.

Janet sighed. Well, they'd managed to keep the game going for an hour. Which was, she admitted to herself, longer than she'd expected it to last. Two people against every team in the mountain? Teal'c and Casey had never stood a chance!

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The 'gate opened with the usual splendor, and the president watched as SG-11 walked up the ramp, and disappeared into the event horizon. He shivered slightly. Couldn't even begin to imagine what these people faced, what they experienced on a daily basis. He turned to find that the room was filling up with people, several of them rather wet. He bit back his smile when he watched as the military men and women, and the few civilians, recognized him.

General Hammond waited until he was certain that all who needed to be present were standing at attention. "Ladies and gentlemen, today you were very lucky. There were only two enemy combatants who infiltrated the SGC."

Careful glances were exchanged. The same question was reflected in every pair of eyes. What was going on?

"However, it is doubtful that there would be so few in a real assault on this facility. The next 'training exercise' will include more infiltrators."

Smiles began to flicker over faces. Glances were exchanged, and smiles grew wider.

"Uh, sir, I think it would have been nice if everyone had been alerted to the fact that something was going on," Jack said, not a little peeved at having missed out on the 'fun'. Damned reports anyway! If he'd been wandering around, as was his usual routine, he'd have known about it. Could have led the attack.

He barely refrained from smiling. "I believe that the purpose of such training is that it's unexpected. However, alarms will be used in the future," the general announced.

Casey's eyes went wide. Somehow, the simple games that she and Teal'c had played had suddenly morphed into honest-to-god training! She pushed her wet hair back with one hand. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry from frustration. Now what was she supposed to do for fun?

"Mrs. Jackson, I'll leave it to you and Teal'c to come up with a way of making this...training...as realistic as possible," the general continued.

Daniel almost laughed out loud at the look of surprise on her face.

"Yes, sir," she murmured. Great. Just what she needed. More damned work!

"Dismissed."

Not one person missed the fact that the general had not once acknowledged the presence of the president. It seemed that the visit was a secret, and had been intended to remain that way. Excited chatter filled the corridors as the teams returned to the tasks that had been so delightfully interrupted earlier.

"George, that was the finest line of bullshit I have ever heard," President Miller chuckled.

The general turned to look at the man standing beside him. "I've learned, Mr. President, to take opportunities wherever they may appear. Normally, Teal'c and Casey Jackson are the only two involved...although whoever gets in their way manages to get soaked. No one has ever complained...but I do believe that the others became involved simply to join in on the fun. A needed release for the stress, the sadness, that had filled this facility while Casey was missing."

"You don't have to explain, George," the president replied quietly. "I've always approved of the way you run the SGC. You're a good man, an excellent leader. Now," he said, rubbing his hands together, "shall we see about lunch?"

General Hammond grinned. "This way, Mr. President," he said, holding one arm out toward the door.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Casey flipped her freshly washed and dried hair over her head, fluffed it a bit with her hands, and turned to face her best friend. "Is everything all right?" she asked softly.

Sam jerked slightly. "Everything is fine. Why?"

One slender shoulder moved up and down. "I just sense that you're...not exactly upset. But...preoccupied."

Keeping anything from this woman was just a pain, sometimes! "Casey, I'm fine. In fact, I was thinking earlier this morning how happy I am."

She cocked her head to the side. "You're sure? Nothing wrong between you and Jack?"

The laugh that bubbled out was one of pure joy. "Girlfriend, things couldn't be any better between us!"

The comment had the desired effect. Casey smiled. "He spent the night?"

"Oh, yeah."

The soft giggle filled the air. "Ring-a-ling?"

"Three times."

"Impressive!"

"You're telling me?" Sam giggled. "It was great. It's...it's been awhile since we've been...relaxed...enough to make love like that. It was...free...so...so free. Jack didn't have a care in the world, and I could feel that...I could feel that he was totally focused on me."

She cringed slightly. Any tension that had been between the lovers had been her fault. Oh, she'd had no control over the events that led to her capture, or her disappearance. But damn it, I should have 'seen' what was about to happen! "I'm sorry," she said softly.

Sam immediately drew the slender blonde in for a hug. "Oh, Casey, there's not one thing for you to be sorry about!"

"My fault things were...tense."

"No, Casey, it wasn't. Ba'al's fault, yes. Never yours."

Casey dropped down onto the bench, slowly pulled on socks, then the government issue boots that went with the BDU she was wearing. "How bad...how far...was he...did he eat? Did he get enough sleep?"

Sam shook her head. "I think it was worse this time than it was the first time Ba'al took you. Mostly because we didn't know where you were, and you were missing much longer. He...he closed himself off. He...he sat in his office, just staring at your picture. I know, because I watched him."

She closed her eyes, nodded slightly, encouraging the other woman to continue.

"He missed you so much. He...he collapsed...literally dropped to his knees when General Hammond passed on the information from the Tok'ra spy...about that ceremony."

She shivered slightly. "If things hadn't happened the way they had, I wouldn't have been able to fight them off. I was trying...goddess I was trying so hard...but I was so tired, and that thing hurt so damned bad...if I just...if I didn't fight it, then the pain went away..." She blinked the tears from her eyes. "Six days. If I'd had to go through the entire six days..."

"I know. That's what terrified him. Losing you to Ba'al, after losing Sha're to Apophis...I don't think he could have handled it."

"He told me that you went to that planet, talked to the Unas," Casey said.

Sam nodded. "That's when what little hope he'd been clinging to really started to slip away. We had no leads...not really. A few people who claimed to have seen you, but Jack thinks they were just hoping for some sort of reward."

"I'm glad Daniel killed Ba'al. I just don't think he's going to stay dead," Casey said softly.

"Did he tell you where he sent him?" Sam asked.

She shook her head. "No. He seemed confident that Ba'al couldn't escape. But..."

"Have you seen anything?"

"No, but I can...feel it." She shivered. Knew that something would happen that would allow Ba'al to continue to be a threat to them...to Earth.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The slender seer hadn't seen the Goa'uld ship move as close to the planet as possible. The trader had finally replied to Ba'al's summons. It was this ship which moved in, hovered directly over the mountains. It was from this ship that three men took the ring transport into a dark, dank cave...one that fairly screamed of danger. And it was from this cave that four returned, although the fourth remained as lifeless as when he'd arrived, sent there by technology that had been repaired...and improved.

He could only pray that it wasn't too late. It had taken time to figure out just what planet the Tau'ri had dialed to. Knowing it would not be possible for himself, or any of his men, to undertake the mission, he'd been forced to wait for the assistance of a trader with no loyalty to him, or his god. If he was successful, all sins would be forgiven. His inability to succeed in his task of training the slave would be overlooked. If he was successful.

His dark eyes glittered. Revenge would be his. In the name of his god.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel was sitting with Teal'c and Jack in the commissary when the two women of SG-1 entered the room. His eyes lit up when they met and locked on hers. His breath caught in his throat at the rush of love that filled him. One that mirrored the love that filled those green depths.

Jack and Teal'c exchanged a glance and grinned. The archaeologist was smiling again. His eyes were full of life...full of love. "So, any plans for this weekend?" Jack asked

"Yep." Daniel watched as Casey walked toward him. She was so damned beautiful! How had he gotten so lucky?

"What?"

"Not sure yet."

"Say what?"

"I'll talk to you about it later," Daniel said, shooting his best friend a look that suggested he change the subject.

Confused, something that he felt around Daniel and Sam more often than he liked to admit, certainly more often than he was comfortable with, Jack frowned and took a sip of coffee.

Casey smiled as she sat down beside him. Laced her fingers with his. "You didn't get me any," she said, nodding toward his coffee cup.

"Didn't want it getting cold," he said cheekily, grinning at her.

She sighed. "Good save, Doctor Jackson. I'll be right back."

As soon as the blonde's back was turned, Sam leaned forward. "Janet is getting the word out. Potluck in the warehouse Saturday. The colonel is going to insist that we do our weapons qualifications," she whispered.

"I am?"

"That's good," Daniel whispered in reply. "What about a cake? I can call the bakery on Tenth Street..."

"No need. I've already talked to Major Whitmore. He's going to have the cake, and a few of Casey's favorites from the commissary," Sam informed him.

"Perfect!"

"Can you get away from the base for an hour or so?"

"I think so. Why?"

"Well, you asked about a gift...Janet and I thought a strand of pearls. Something very...basic."

"Doable," he nodded.

Jack cleared his throat. "Just what in the hell are you two talking about?"

"I believe they are discussing a surprise birthday celebration for Casey Jackson," Teal'c said.

"You knew about this? Why am I always the last one to know this stuff?"

"I did not, O'Neill. It is, however, a logical assumption. Casey Jackson was battling the being known as Dartal when her birthday passed. I have no doubt that Daniel Jackson wishes to observe this day, regardless of the lateness of such a celebration."

Jack rolled his eyes. "Yeah, sure, that much is obvious. I just wanted...details," he said, trying to bluff his way around his confusion.

"Well, now you have them," Daniel grinned.

"Heads up, she's coming back," Jack said quietly.

When Casey sat back down beside her husband, she looked from one studiously innocent face to the next. They were trying too hard to appear relaxed. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," Daniel replied easily...and too quickly.

That little voice began to whisper in the back of her mind. Her deepest, darkest fears whispered louder. She'd been gone for two and a half months. Time during which the team had operated...had functioned...as it had before she'd joined them. Were they longing for the days when it had been just the four of them? Was her presence on the team a distraction, an unwanted addition...one that they'd never asked for? Although the voice tried to contradict the feelings of panic that were beginning to take hold; the scars, the insecurity she'd lived with for so many years, drowned it out completely. "Excuse me, I'm not very hungry after all. I have something...I have work I should be doing."

Before her teammates could respond, she'd jumped to her feet and fled from the room. "Oh, hell," Jack muttered.

Daniel shook his head. "I should have known," he sighed.

"Known what?" Sam asked softly.

"She can sense that something is going on. And being Casey, she'll twist it around until it's so far from the truth it's not recognizable. Then she'll make herself guilty for whatever horrible thing she's imagining."

"Oh, hell," Jack repeated.

He pushed himself to his feet. "I'll let you know if the party needs to remain a secret."

Sam nodded her understanding, watched as the archaeologist raced after his wife.

"Casey Jackson has been greatly wounded," Teal'c said quietly.

"Yes, she has," Sam agreed. "We can only hope that she's beginning to heal...and that someday she'll be able to move past all of that pain."

"Indeed."

The three sat and watched the door. Hopefully the Jacksons would return soon...together.

 

 

 

She could barely see to sort the notes and folders that cluttered his desk. With an angry sniff, she wiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of her fingers. She had a meeting with General Hammond in less than an hour. She'd make her request then. See to it that was effective immediately. And then...perhaps she could convince the general to send the team...SG-1, she corrected herself, on a mission. Right away. She'd be in Tacoma, her attention focused on the trial and her testimony, rather than the fact that her Husband and best friends were off-world...were being SG-1 without her.

"Casey?"

Ducking her head, hiding her face behind the curtain of her hair, she affixed her attention on the notes on the desk in front of her. Listened as he walked into the room. He'd stopped by the large work table.

Daniel shook his head mentally. He'd watched her for a moment from the doorway, had seen the tears she wiped away. "Angel, talk to me."

"About what?'

"About what's hurting you."

"Nothing is hurting me."

"Bullshit. You're sitting there crying."

"Paper cut."

"Nope."

She sighed. "It's nothing. Something I should have figured out for myself sooner."

"And that something is what?" he asked softly.

"Something that none of you would ever admit to," she whispered.

Just what was going through that beautiful blonde head? What would she think that they, and he was assuming she was talking about the team...would never admit? How devastated they'd been when she'd been kidnapped? Okay, that was probable...mostly because she'd feel guilty about causing those feelings, even though she'd nothing to do with the situation. She'd been the victim! He shook his head mentally a second time. So fragile, he thought, pain filling his own heart. She'd been so battered, so beaten down that she was as fragile as delicate crystal. As tough as she could be, as strong as she'd proven herself to be...her psyche was still fragile. Oh, he was certain that the past year had helped her, had at least started the healing process. But she was far from being whole emotionally. He moved farther into the room. Perched on the corner of the desk. Was barely able to fight back the urge to reach for her, touch her. As much as he longed to comfort her, hold her, he couldn't rush her, or make her feel as if he were crowding her.

"Sometimes it's not easy to admit to feelings like that," he said slowly. He was proceeding with the same caution he used when dealing with alien diplomats. He'd find out exactly what she was talking about, what she was feeling, if he just allowed her to talk it out.

No, she thought miserably, it wouldn't be easy...for any of them. They were far too kind hearted to ever admit out loud what they all felt. At least, not to any outsiders...like herself. "I suppose not."

"I suppose every team in the mountain was feeling the same way."

Her head shot up. She'd heard the rumors when she'd first arrived in the SGC...words filled with anger. That she, someone with no training, no experience, had taken a much coveted place on SG-1. The premier team of the SGC. "I see," she said, her voice shaking.

The look of pain in her eyes warned him too late that he'd taken the wrong path. "Talk to me, babe," he begged softly.

"There's nothing to talk about," she told him. Okay, this was easy enough to deal with. She'd come in once or twice a week and go over the MALP reports with the general. And she'd find full time employment elsewhere. Once again the thoughts...the doubts...that Daniel was with her only because of what she could offer the SGC assailed her. She nearly doubled over from the pain they caused. She pushed herself to her feet. Hopefully the general would be able to see her now. The sooner she got the hell away from the mountain, the better! "I have a meeting with General Hammond," she said coolly. Calmly. Amazing herself with her ability to sound so completely in control, when in reality she was falling apart.

Uh oh. Big trouble. He watched as she began to pull away emotionally, closing herself off from him, from everyone around her. He reached for her hand, said nothing when she snatched it away. "Just what exactly is it that you think the team is feeling...or thinking?"

She looked at him. If she put her fears into words, if she confronted him with her suspicions, he'd simply deny them. "I don't know, Daniel. You tell me what the team is feeling."

He sighed. "I don't know about the team, but right now I'm feeling frustrated."

She nodded. It must be a difficult position for him. After all, she was his wife. And of all of the members of SG-1, he was the most tenderhearted. It would be the hardest on him to admit that he didn't want her on the team. "No doubt," she murmured. She moved past him, then turned when she reached the doorway. "I think I have a solution that will be satisfactory to everyone involved."

Solution? To what? "It would help if I knew what you were talking about," he told her.

"We both know that you know what I'm talking about." She turned and left the office. Amazed that her legs were able to carry her to the elevator. She swiped her ID badge, hurried into the car, the doors closing behind her before he was able to join her. She wrapped her arms around her waist. Had it been only this morning when she'd been so absolutely carefree? It suddenly felt like a lifetime ago!

Daniel slammed his fist against the closed elevator doors. Damn it! He'd screwed up, he knew that. Had seen it in her eyes. Now he had to figure out just exactly what was going on, and try to repair the damage. He leaned against the wall. Knowing Casey, she wouldn't make it easy.

 

 

 

General Hammond looked up and smiled when the slender seer knocked hesitantly on his door. "Casey!"

"I apologize for being early," she said softly. "But there's something we need to discuss before I go over the mission reports."

"By all means," he said, waving her forward. Agent Leigh immediately jumped to his feet and offered the chair to her.

She smiled, settled on the edge of the seat. "This is-" she stopped, cleared her throat, willed her heart to stop pounding, demanded that her eyes stop tearing up. "This isn't easy. But I think you'll agree it's for the best."

Years of experience had honed his instincts. Whatever she was about to tell him, he wasn't going to want to hear it. Hammond sat back in his chair. "I see."

Casey glanced at the president, and the two Secret Service agents. She'd forgotten about them...having an audience for this hadn't been in her plans. It was humiliating enough to have to deal with; would be painful enough to just tell the general. Shaking herself mentally, she made up her mind to just get it over with. She took a deep breath. "It's come to my attention that my...presence...on SG-1 is neither necessary...nor particularly welcome. Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, Teal'c and..." She paused. She couldn't very well call him 'Doctor Jackson', he was her Husband! "And Daniel have been very...kind. But I think it's time that I just...I shouldn't be on the team. Not if it's going to cause problems. I'll continue to go over the MALP findings, and give a reading for each possible mission. It would be most convenient if we could arrange specific times for those meetings...I'll be seeking other employment elsewhere."

He couldn't have been more shocked if she'd jumped up onto his desk and performed a strip tease. "What on earth are you talking about?"

"While I was...away...the team...SG-1," she corrected herself again, "worked without me, like they were accustomed to doing before I arrived. They...they..." she shook her head, dropped her eyes. Hastily wiped the single tear that had escaped from the corner of one eye.

Watching her, General Hammond picked up the telephone. "Walter, have SG-1 report to my office immediately." Within seconds the call was going out over the intercom, echoing down the corridor.

She looked up. "Sir, please...don't force them into this!"

"Into what, Casey?" 

"Admitting out loud, admitting to you, their true feelings. They're good people...very good people, and they wouldn't...they'll just deny it."

The president watched her carefully. He'd read Doctor Fraiser's evaluation of the young woman seated beside him. She was tough as nails, what she'd experienced since becoming a part of the SGC was proof of that. But he knew of the abuse she'd suffered as a child. Understood that her emotional state was precarious at best. Something had happened within the past hour that had set her on this path...and he had every intention of discovering just what that 'something' was. "Mrs. Jackson...may I call you Casey?"

"Of course," she replied, forcing a smile to her lips.

"Casey, what's caused you to believe that you should abandon SG-1...and the SGC?"

"Oh, no, I wouldn't abandon the SGC," she declared immediately. "I couldn't! I'm supposed to be here!"

"That's my point, you're supposed to be here. So why are you leaving?"

"Not leaving...not completely. I'll only be doing what I can do...what I'm...what my gift dictates that I do. Nothing more. There's no need to pretend I have the training needed to continue going on missions. I think the record speaks for itself. When I go along, bad things happen. If I just stay here..." she shrugged her slender shoulders. Not knowing that her teammates had praised her abilities on the missions she'd been on in their individual mission reports; that Jack considered her an asset to his team for more than her psychic abilities.

"General Hammond, correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't SG-1 garnered a reputation as the one team to have more go wrong per mission than any other team in the mountain?" President Miller asked.

"Yes, sir, they have."

"And this reputation was...set...before Casey ever arrived here?"

"Indeed it was, sir," General Hammond nodded.

"They've spent too much time looking for me...everyone has spent too much time," she whispered. "Time that should have been spent finding allies, fighting the Goa'uld. It's...it's all time that's been wasted."

"I disagree, Casey. Not one moment was wasted," General Hammond said gently. "You're very valuable to the SGC. Not just because of your gift. You've brought a lot of sunshine into this mountain. A lot of smiles and laughter. We need those things as much as we need you to protect the teams who go through that 'gate. Without you..." he shook his head. "Without you this is a very cold, dark place."

Jack walked into the office, his hands in his pockets. Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c were directly behind him. He took a look at Casey, noted how pale she was. Then back at the general. "You wanted to see us, sir?"

"Yes, Colonel, I did. Casey has requested that I remove her from SG-1," General Hammond said.

"What?" Daniel's eyes went wide. "Case?"

Jack muttered under his breath, rubbed his hand over his face. "Okay, I'm putting an end to this crap right here and now. Sorry, Daniel, I know you wanted it to be a surprise. But with Radar's...radar...and her penchant for screwing things up when it comes to her..." He shook his head. "When you came back to the table with your coffee, we'd been...they'd been discussing the surprise birthday party that Danny is throwing for you."

Her eyes went wide, she looked from Jack to Daniel. "What?"

"Babe, we are...were hiding something from you. But not what you thought! I can't...I won't let the fact that you were...missing...on your birthday stop us from celebrating it."

"My birthday?"

Daniel grinned. "Yeah, March twenty-third. Ringing any bells?"

She hadn't even thought about it! Although, she admitted to herself, dealing with Ba'al and fighting off Dartal had kept her just a tad preoccupied. "I know when my birthday is," she replied.

The president was smiling. Of course. With her gift, she'd sensed only the deceit...hadn't known the true cause. Her confusion, her hurt made sense now.

"What about the other teams?"

Jack frowned. "What about them?"

"I thought...I thought they were upset about me being on SG-1, too."

"What do you mean, 'too'?" Daniel asked.

"I thought...I thought while I was...gone...the four of you were a team again...the way it used to be...and that-"

"That we wanted it to be just the four of us," he finished. Damn, had he fucked that one up! If they'd been on a mission, they'd either be running for their lives, or dead by now! His own sense of frustration had prevented him from realizing that it was Casey's gift, coupled with her low self-esteem, which had prompted this particular situation.

"Casey, where do you get such crazy ideas?" Jack asked, exasperation in his voice. "What have I told you? Haven't I said, 'Casey, don't go running off, come talk to me'? Haven't I told you that? Whenever you get these screwy ideas, you're supposed to tell me! So I can tell you what screwy ideas they are!"

She smiled. "It's just that...well, I can feel it. Everyone is so..."

"Tense? Excited?" Sam smiled, and shook her head when Casey nodded slowly. "Janet started passing the word this morning. Everyone is looking forward to this...they want to do it for you Casey, because you're their friend."

"Not to mention the one that keeps their butts out of the fire," Jack added, a grin on his face.

Daniel knelt in front of her. "I suppose this means I can never throw you a surprise party, right?"

"You did okay last year."

He smiled. "I had Sam and Janet take you shopping while I fixed dinner. Didn't ask them until the day before."

"Not as big of a secret then," she agreed.

He cupped her face with his hands. "Don't you ever, for one second, think that I don't want you at my side. If I go through that 'gate, I want you beside me. You're part of the team, as much a part of it as I am."

"Or as I," Teal'c added."

"Hey, without the four of you, I got nothin'," Jack grinned.

"I'm not going without any of you," Sam tossed in.

She pulled away from Daniel, caught his hands and held them, lowered her head. "Sometimes..."

He leaned forward, pressed his lips to the top of her head. "We know, Angel. You don't have to explain, or apologize."

"Nothing to apologize for," Jack said softly, reaching out and squeezing her shoulder.

The president watched as each member of the team shifted slightly, until they were all unobtrusively touching...as if they were completing a connection. This was the magic of SG-1. He'd heard about it. George Hammond had tried to explain it. But it was something that had to be witnessed to be understood.

The general cleared his throat softly. "I believe Casey and I have a few reports to go through. Colonel, are you finished with your reports?"

"Just about, sir. Five or six more. Shouldn't take more than another week," Jack replied glibly.

"I want them by the end of tomorrow."

"Yes, sir. C'mon, campers. Radar's gotta do her thing. Coffee, commissary. Two o'clock sharp. You're paying," he said to Casey, giving her shoulder one last squeeze.

Daniel tucked a finger under her chin. Didn't give a damn if the president was sitting there. He gave her a quick kiss, winked, and followed his teammates into the corridor.

They were silent until the reached the elevator. "When is she going to get it?" Jack asked softly.

"I'm sorry, guys..." Daniel started.

Jack held his hand up. "Daniel, you have nothing to apologize for. And the person who owes the apology owes it to her," he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder, indicating the way from which they'd come.

He couldn't help but smile. "Thanks."

"Anytime. We're family." Jack stepped onto the elevator. "We can still make this a surprise."

"How, sir?" Sam asked.

Bless her heart, the minute they stepped foot on base, he stopped being 'Jack' or 'Honey', and was immediately 'sir' or 'colonel' again. Did wonders for keeping the gossip down. "Because, Carter, she only knows that we're planning a party for her."

"Not where, when, or what kind," Daniel added.

"Oh, I just had the greatest idea!" Sam said, her eyes lighting up. "I need to talk to Major Whitmore, and Siler-"

"Sam?" Daniel asked, stopping the excited flow of chatter.

"A prom!"

Jack looked at his lover as if she'd lost her mind. Wasn't so sure she hadn't.

"Casey didn't get to go to her prom..." Sam explained.

"And you want to have a prom for her?"

"I believe that Sergeant Sabotti has the necessary equipment with which to provide music," Teal'c said.

"What do you know about proms?" Jack asked.

"Have you not watched the movie 'Footloose', O'Neill? Dancing in an integral part of one's prom," Teal'c intoned.

The former special ops soldier stared at the Jaffa. Damned if he could tell whether or not the big guy was laughing at him! Usually he could tell. "I'm ordering you to spend less time around Casey. You're becoming as much of a smartass as she is!"

Sam and Daniel chuckled.

"I suppose I'll have to rent a tux?" Jack asked.

"No sir, with only three days, I don't think we should worry about that. Your dress blues will be fine. Civilian men can wear suits," Sam replied. Because it wasn't an official military function, this would give her and every other female Air Force officer in the mountain, as well as Casey and the other civilian women, a chance to dress up. This would be an opportunity to remind the men they worked with that as competent as they were as soldiers, they also had their softer, feminine side.

Daniel studied the floor. He'd almost made it to his senior prom. He'd been sixteen, and his date, seventeen-year-old Becky Windom, had been the girl of his dreams. He'd been thrilled when she accepted, after he'd worked up the courage to ask her. He had saved the money he earned from tutoring to pay for the tux and to buy a corsage. Wrapped up in studying for his final exams, however, he'd procrastinated in renting his tux. The sleeves of the jacket had been just a tad too long, the pants about an inch too short. When he'd arrived to pick her up, her father, a man with a cruel sense of humor and a drinking problem, had immediately begun teasing his daughter about her date...calling him a geek, and a nerd. She'd burst into tears, disappeared into her room and refused to come out. He'd run all the way back to the foster home where he lived at the time, tears on his cheeks, so embarrassed and hurt he didn't speak for two days. "I think it's a great idea," he said softly.

Sam beamed. "I'll get the word out. Do you know what her school colors were?"

"Not a clue," he replied honestly.

"We should use red, white, and blue," Jack said.

"Why?" Daniel asked.

"She's working for the United States Air Force. And we have lots of red, white, and blue bunting in storage," he said with a slight shrug.

"I think the colonel is right," Sam nodded. "I think she'll like the association."

Jack grinned and rubbed his hands together. "Let's see Radar figure this out!"


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