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Seek and Ye Shall Find

Chapter 7

Jack waited until they were settled into the booth, the waitress on her way to fetch iced teas and coffees before speaking. One look at Casey had been enough for her teammates to know something was wrong. "I take it things were pretty rough yesterday?"

She frowned, at first not understanding what he meant. Then shook her head. "I didn't even get called yesterday. We spent all day in that damned little room."

Daniel remained silent. If she wanted to bring up the confrontation with Helen, that was fine. If she didn't, it was because she didn't want to talk about it. Again, that was fine with him.

"So, you're sure to be called tomorrow, right?" Maybe just thinking about what was to come had the young seer upset.

One slender shoulder moved up and then back down. "I guess."

He rolled his eyes. "So are we going to play twenty questions all afternoon, or are you going to tell us what's wrong?"

"I...we went to the church where I was...found. I met the priest..." she took a deep breath. "I met the priest who saved my life."

"Wow," Sam said softly.

"To say the least," Casey nodded. She reached for Daniel's hand, grateful that he was with her, beside her. "He...he had a tee shirt. I guess I was wrapped in it and a blanket."

Jack frowned. An ordinary tee shirt wouldn't have been worth keeping. "I take it that this tee shirt provides a bit of insight?"

Daniel could feel the tremors return, stronger this time. "It was from the University of Puget Sound."

Jack nodded. Chances were, the mother, whoever she'd been, had reached for the closest thing to wrap her newborn baby in. Just before she abandoned it, he thought irritably. Then chastised himself. There were a lot of things they didn't know. A woman...or a young girl, had to be damned desperate to just abandon a baby. At least she'd chosen a place where the baby had a chance of being found...of surviving.

"We're going to go take a look at the student roster for '74-'75. See if we can see someone who might be a possibility," Daniel continued. He'd made the suggestion on the way back to the hotel. Casey'd agreed that they might just as well take a look. Although she'd told him that she figured it had been a miracle that the priest had kept the shirt all of those years, and she wouldn't be holding her breath for another one.

"Do you want some help?" Sam asked softly.

"That would be nice," Casey said softly. "I have no idea how big this university is. We're limited in the amount of time we can search..."

"Hey, we can keep looking, while you do what you have to do," Jack said quietly.

She reached out with her free hand, clasped his fingers tightly. "Thank you."

"Any time, Radar," he said softly.

"Father Thomas suggested checking out the adoption records. He said it was possible that the social services were able to find something, and that the information was added to the records," Daniel said.

"We could go on to the university and start looking through photos," Sam suggested. "There would've had to have been some sort of identification card issued for getting in and out of the dorm, getting meals..."

"If she didn't live off campus," Casey added. "It's possible that she didn't attend the university, just knew someone who did." She didn't say out loud that there was no doubt in her mind that the tee shirt had belonged to her mother. It had been a small size, not large enough for even a slim man to fit into. Nor would she admit that she'd already attempted to 'see' who the woman was. As had always been the case, whenever the situation was centered on her, she could get only feelings and a general sense of what was going on. Never any details, very few if any 'warnings'.

"Let's just start here, worry about that later. I'll ask around, see if I can find anyone who was on the campus then, or at least names of those who had been," Jack said. Pregnant students weren't unusual, even in '75, but there were few enough that a pregnant student might be remembered.

Kelley had once asked her if she wanted to try and search for her parents. Not knowing where to start, or whom to talk to; afraid that the woman who'd left her on the steps of the church would resent being 'found' by the child she'd not wanted, Casey had declined the offer of assistance. Now, here she sat, with friends who were as close to her as any family she could ever have, determined to help her find what had been denied to her for so long...the knowledge of where she'd come from...who her parents were. And if...when...she found them, these loving, caring people would be right by her side. She glanced at Daniel. Once again her heart assured her that as long as she had his love, nothing could hurt her, and she needed nothing else, no one else in her life.

"Case, it's all up to you," Daniel said softly.

"I've come this far, might as well see it through," she replied. Smiled when his fingers tightened around hers.

The waitress chose that moment to reappear, a tray of drinks in hand. Menus were hurriedly examined, and lunch orders given.

Casey toyed with her cup of coffee. Began to giggle. She had finally recalled what had prodded her memory about that window...and the altar.

"What?" Daniel asked.

"I just remembered something...I have no idea how old I was. I always loved the window beside the altar. I couldn't tell you why, or what made it different from the others. I used to love to stand and watch as the sun moved, the way the colors moved across the floor. Anyway, I managed to slip away from the sister, and went running into the sanctuary. I guess I lost track of time, because I heard people starting to come in. I knew I'd be in trouble for being there, I wasn't allowed in there, except during Mass. So, I crawled under the altar, but I pulled the altar cloth up enough that I could see what was going on. I didn't realize that the Father...Father Thomas, would see me. He started the prayers, and then the door to the back hallway, it always had this horrible squeak...well, it opened, and the sister was there, and I could see that she was really upset.

"I looked up, and Father Thomas winked at me. I can't remember all that he said, just something about Christ loving the little children, and that whenever they wanted to be with Him, or in His house, they should never be discouraged. And that children were closest to God, and that sometimes, grown ups should remember that." She sighed, took a sip of her coffee.

"Why do I get the feeling that you were a handful?" Jack asked, a smile tugging at his lips.

"Because she was?" Daniel teased gently.

"I was a little angel," Casey sniffed.

"I do not believe those put in charge of your care would agree, Casey Jackson," Teal'c said.

"I happen to know that my presence made all the nuns there have a closer relationship to their god." Casey wore an angelic expression, smiled demurely at the Jaffa, batted her eyelashes.

"In what way did you accomplish that?"

"They always seem to speak to Him whenever they caught me doing something I wasn't supposed to...most often along the lines of 'Please God, grant me patience'."

"I believe these nuns most certainly viewed you as a test of their faith, one sent to challenge their abilities to remain calm in the face of disaster."

Casey rolled her eyes. "I'm telling you, I think you should contact that Asgard friend of yours. The one who kept taking people? I think he's doing it again...and he took the real Teal'c!"

Their teammates laughing around them, Casey and Teal'c glared at one another. Any observer would have believed the two were furious with one another. Only his close friends could see that the Jaffa was on the verge of bursting into laughter.


A  A  A  A  A  A


He had to drive around the building in order to enter the parking lot from the correct direction. Gary took a deep breath. Get copies of the records, then take them to an attorney. And get his, and Brenda's, name on that birth certificate. That was his new focus. Something to occupy his attention while he came to terms with the fact that he now knew his daughter's name. That he knew where she was. That tomorrow, according to the very helpful young lady at the courthouse in Seattle, he'd be sitting in the same room as she was. Oh, she wouldn't know that. But he would. And for the moment, it was enough.

He was surprised to find that the clerk's office wasn't extremely busy. He flashed his most charming smile as he approached the counter. Was encouraged to see the woman he'd be speaking to flush slightly, smile brightly back at him. Okay, so far so good. "Good afternoon," he said amiably.

"Good afternoon, sir. How may I help you?"

"I need to get copies of adoption records for Casey Renee Webster. She was adopted in April of 1980. Adoptive parents, Frank and Helen Webster."

The clerk's eyes widened slightly at the name. It had been all over the news. No doubt this man was a reporter, looking for background information on the parties involved. Well, if the records weren't sealed, they were available to the public. And if they were sealed, it would be interesting to see if this man would pursue access to them.

"Is that a problem? I was told they were public documents."

Shaken from her surprise by the man's comment, the clerk began typing on the keyboard n front of her. "Yes, they're public."

"Good. I'd like copies of everything in the file, please," he said, smiling at her again.

"Yes, sir."

It took all of fifteen minutes and twenty dollars. He was shuffling through the papers as he walked to the door. Original birth certificate...he winced. Date of birth: Unknown, assumed 03-23-75. Mother: Unknown. Father: Unknown. Attending physician: None/Unknown. Hospital: None/Unknown. Jesus H. Christ! How damned sad...how heartbreaking. He could only hope that Casey hadn't already tried to locate him. This would have torn her heart out...especially if she was anything at all like Brenda. Sweet...tenderhearted. Giving. Sensitive. Her soul easily wounded.

He was reaching for the door when it opened, he looked up to see the young man he'd noticed in the hallway at the motel. For a second the coincidence of seeing him here, in the county clerk's office, tickled at the back of his mind, but he shrugged it away. The man stared at him for a second, as if trying to recall his face. The slender blonde was digging in her purse, dark sunglasses covering her eyes. She'd probably be able to find whatever it was she was looking for if she took the damned things off, he thought. He gave a short nod, and walked out.




Daniel watched the man's retreating figure. Three times. This was the third time he'd seen that man. And two of those times had been in places that were just too damned freaky to be a coincidence. He moaned silently as the implications set in. Probably a goddamned reporter! Well, if he had copies of Casey's adoption records, then so be it. As far as he knew, the documents were public; the Catholic churches in the area had been required to release all adoption records several years ago, after a lawsuit by a former orphan, or so Sam had told him, after doing a bit of quick research at the hotel before the team split up to go their separate ways.

Casey pulled the sunglasses from her face, stuck them in the case she'd been searching for. "Okay, so now what?"

He smiled, took her hand, led her to the counter. "We need to get copies of my Wife's adoption records."


"Casey Renee Webster," Casey replied.

The woman looked up sharply, then her eyes went to the closed door.

He didn't miss the woman's reaction. So, that guy had been after the same thing. Another silent moan as he thought about the possible articles that were being written about this case. And about his Wife. With luck, this mess would only be of interest locally, and she'd never know about any of the publicity that the trial was getting.

"That man-" the clerk broke off. Her fingers moved over the keyboard as if she couldn't conclude the transaction soon enough. The printer behind her whirred, and she tallied up the total cost.

Casey was still frowning. What man? She looked around, and while there were a few others in the office, being helped at other windows along the counter, she didn't see anyone who struck her as odd, or out of place. She reached out just a bit...felt tension from that man...he was looking for a way to best his wife in their game of 'keep-away'...their nasty divorce putting their children into the center stage of the battle. That woman was seeking information about her property line...remodeling project. That man was looking for replacement copies of documents lost on his boat...silly place to keep important papers, Casey thought. She shook her head mentally. No one here who was a threat!

When the clerk handed her sheaf of papers, Casey's fingers were trembling too much to be able to hold them, let alone read them. Daniel took them. "We'll look at them later," he said softly.

She nodded. No sense taking the risk she'd fall apart here, she thought.

"Let's go see what the team's turned up."

Once again the thought that maybe she should just let sleeping dogs lie flashed through her brain. She was this far into the search now. Might as well see it through. It never occurred to her that the ease with which they were allowed copies of information normally not so quickly turned over was the result of a little 'higher' intervention. Or at least gentle nudging.


A  A  A  A  A  A


The librarian was a friendly young man, more than happy to find all of the student information for the '74-'75 school year. Sam had told him they were searching for a few 'lost' classmates. The yearbooks were on DVD, just transferred from microfiche, they were told. The librarian was quite proud of the fact that the PSU library was one of the most up-to-date in the area.

Jack went to the administration offices, hoping to find someone who'd been around thirty years ago. He wasn't going to hold his breath, but it was worth a shot. As soon as Sam or Teal'c had anything for him, they'd call. He was going to try to get a look at student records for the year that Casey's mother would have been in school and pregnant. He was prepared to use his old stand-by, national security, to get a peek at the ID card photos. If the cards had had photos then.

While Sam and Teal'c settled in to search the yearbook, looking for any young woman who was pregnant, and with luck, would look slightly familiar, Jack began to lay on the charm. The success that they had should have surprised them. Once again, it seemed that Providence was guiding them to the information they needed. Or the information to them, however one wanted to look at it.

"I just can't believe that any of our alumni would be involved with anything like terrorism," the older woman said, leading Jack into the storage room where files were kept.

"I'm sorry, I guess I didn't explain it well. This is a background check on a woman who is being considered for a position with Homeland Security," Jack smiled. Although he groaned mentally at his 'slip'. Now how in the hell was he going to get a look at all of the ID photos?

The woman looked over her shoulder, began beaming. "Oh, that's just wonderful! Now, what exactly is it that you need?"

Well, now, maybe he hadn't screwed up so badly after all...She was handing him everything he wanted...with a smile! Sweet! "I actually need to review the entire record."

"I see. Name?"

Aw, hell. Before he could find a good excuse as to why he wanted to go through all of the records, his cell phone rang. Saved by the bell!




In the library, Sam and Teal'c were staring at the monitor. The face in front of them was so familiar it was spooky. And her picture had been in the front of the book, part of the yearbook staff. Although there was no graduation date beneath her name. Brenda Kaye Collier. There was no doubt in either mind that this young woman had been Casey's mother.

"Jack? We found her. Casey is the spitting image of her. Same big green eyes, long blonde hair; the expression in the picture is one I've seen on Casey's face," Sam said, as soon as he answered his phone.


She repeated it, spelling it for him. "Where are you? We'll meet you there."

"Just come to the admin building...follow the signs to the ID counter. Oh, get copies of that photo if you can. Radar deserves to have a picture of her mom."

"Got it." She folded the phone, stuck it back in her pocket. "I wonder how long it'll take to find her."

"If Casey Jackson wishes to speak to her mother," Teal'c said.

Sam nodded. "Good point. Jack wants us to get copies of the picture..." she paused. "Let's see if there are others...we'll get copies of as many as we can.

Twenty minutes later they'd located seven other photos, taken during the course of the four years the seniors of 1975 had spent at PSU. Five of those photos had a tall, slim young man with curly blonde hair and laughing blue eyes standing with the Brenda. It appeared that the two were close, although neither Sam nor Teal'c would speculate on whether or not the young man might be Casey's father.




"I'm sorry," Jack said, smiling at the woman. "Now, what were we discussing?"

"I needed the name for the student you need the records for."

"Oh, yes. Collier. Brenda Kaye Collier."

With practiced ease, the woman searched the wide, deep drawer. Pulled up a file. "Do you need a copy of this?"

"That would be great," Jack replied. It was probably illegal, as well, he thought. But at the moment, he didn't care. Radar should have everything they could find on her mother. And please god, let it be good!


A  A  A  A  A  A


Gary found a phone booth. Luck had been with him all day, he didn't question the fact that the phonebook was in place, and most of the pages intact. He ran his finger down the yellow pages list of attorneys. Stopped on an ad that proclaimed the man specialized in adoption. Okay, this guy should be able to help him get names on a birth certificate. He wasn't asking to change the adoption certificate, although he supposed that under the circumstances, he could. He just wanted to amend the original. Correct it. Put on it what should have been there in the first place.

He called the office of Mr. David Olerich, and was able to make an appointment for that afternoon. After getting directions, he climbed back into the rental car. It had been a hell of a week. Well, week and a half. He had known, when he'd boarded the plane in Kansas City, that going to that class reunion was a decision he'd never understand. He'd never been the 'reunion' type. Had never been to any of his high school reunions. Had never attended the family reunions his grandmother and aunts used to hold every summer, at least, not after he was old enough to decline, old enough to hold down a job that gave him a convenient excuse to avoid the entire thing.

There had been times during his life when he'd wondered just how much of his grandmother's 'gift' he'd inherited. Shunned by most of her family because of her psychic abilities, which for some reason offended the religious sensibilities of her sisters and brother, she'd always been close to his grandfather's family. Who often depended on Grandma to let them know if they needed to plan to hold the reunion inside, or if they'd be able to have it outside on the farm. And he could remember clearly that Grandma had never been wrong about the weather.

So, had he known, somehow, that he needed to be in Tacoma for that reunion? That he'd find out about something he should have known years ago? He never doubted his 'gut instinct'...but he certainly didn't have talent like that of his grandmother. He shook his head at the strange turn his thoughts had taken. It didn't matter why he'd gone to the reunion. He had. And he'd learned about his daughter. Had learned what had happened to Brenda...that thought caused his heart to constrict within his chest. Without a doubt Brenda had died of a broken heart...broken the minute she was forced to leave her baby on those church steps. She'd never recovered from that hurt.

He stared at the parking lot for a moment. Watched the people coming and going into the shops of the strip mall. "I found her, Bren. I'll take good care of her, I promise," he whispered. His heart prodded him. He ignored it. Knew damned well it would take time to forgive her. To forgive being robbed of the opportunity...denied his right...to be a father to his child.

With a flick of his wrist, he started the engine. If nothing else came out of this mess, his name would be on his daughter's birth certificate. Where it belonged.




The meeting was brief, but successful. Mr. Olerich said that the filing fee would be the major cost, and that he'd submit the paperwork immediately. He also informed Gary that since consent had not been given for the adoption, he could legally contest the procedure. It was something he'd have to think about. Something that the local media would no doubt pick up on. Casey didn't need that going on as well. His gut told him to wait. So wait, he would. The option was always there, he decided.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Jack called Daniel. Told him to meet them at the hotel. The team's trip to the university had taken no longer than the Jacksons visit to the clerk's office. Casey assumed that it meant they hadn't been able to find anything, or had been prevented from doing any real searches.

She was pacing the room when a soft tap on the door announced the arrival of the remainder of SG-1. Daniel opened the door, and she watched as Jack, Sam and Teal'c filed in. She was unable to read from their expressions what luck they had, or hadn't had.

"Well?" Daniel asked quietly.

He hadn't yet seen any of the photos...he'd been studying the pages of information so amiably printed for him while Teal'c drove back to the hotel. Jack waited until his best friend was standing with his arm around Radar. No doubt she'd need the support. "Brenda Kaye Collier. Born in Granger, California on August 21st, 1953, to Henry and Kaye Lynne Collier. Oldest daughter of two. Graduated from Granger High in May of 1971. She was on the yearbook staff as a student advisor for her junior and senior year at PSU. She never graduated. In fact, she just disappeared in October of 1974."

For the second time in one day Casey's knees took an unexpected break from duty. Daniel scooped her into his arms, carried her to the bed.

"We have photos," Sam said softly, offering a folder to Daniel.

He took it, opened it up...gasped at the face that stared back at him. "You look just like her," he said, handing the folder to Casey.

She studied the copy of the yearbook picture. Recognized her own face. This was her mother. She was looking at her mother. Images began to flood her mind...feelings of fear...which turned to terror...then shame...then regret...oh, so much regret! Such heartbreak...Broken, her mother had been broken, and he...dark hair and eyes...so cold, so cruel, had taken advantage of her. Faces of men, hundreds of men, flashed before her eyes, moving so quickly their features were blurred.

Tears were running down her cheeks. The rapid movement of her eyes alerted him to the fact that she was experiencing an 'information dump. Daniel reached out and took her hand. He always felt so damned helpless when she was being accosted by the images and sounds that sometimes took her days to interpret.

Oh, goddess! She'd been so abused...used...beaten up so many times...the only constant in her life had been the pain. The images stopped suddenly. One man seemed to stand out...the memory sweet and good and...her father! This man was her father! She began to frantically search through the information...she had to know...she had to know!

"She never told him," Casey whispered. Tears dripped from her cheeks as she continued to move through the information she'd just 'received'. "Her father was a very strict man...he would have been furious if he'd found out she was pregnant. She...Brenda...was certain that because he...my father...was a good, decent man, that he'd be outraged as well. She loved him so much...she...she was only with him once...and I was conceived that night. She was so terrified...so ashamed...she wanted to tell him...wanted him to tell her everything would be okay...and that they'd get married and she never had to go back home again. But...she was so afraid!"

"So she left," Daniel said, surmising what had happened. He reached out, dried the tears from her face. Cupped her chin gently, looked into her eyes to ascertain that she was all right.

Casey nodded. "She...she never forgave herself for leaving me like that. She'd met up with a guy soon after she left the university. He gave her a place to sleep, fed her. Then...then he turned her into a prostitute. Eventually had her hooked on drugs. She was in jail at least once, I saw that."

"We can look up the records," Jack offered.

She shook her head. "It doesn't matter. Not now. She's gone," Casey said softly.

"Could you see who your father was, get a name?" Daniel asked.

"No...I mean, I saw him...or what he looked like to her."

Sam stepped forward, sorted through the photos. "This guy?"

She studied the picture. Well, Case, say hello to mom and dad! "Yes, that's him," she whispered. She held the photo in trembling fingers. A name. Two faces. She knew what had happened. And it was all too much. The emotions raging through her overwhelmed her. She shoved the folder aside, jumped from the bed, raced to the bathroom.

Daniel was right behind her, held her hair back and gently rubbed her back as she relinquished the contents of her stomach.

"We're going to head up the street for dinner. How about we bring you guys something," Jack said quietly. He knew that the two needed time alone. Casey had a lot to come to grips with. In the space of a day she'd found her parents. Or at least found out who her mother was. That had to be some sort of a record, he thought, although like the others involved, he never considered that there had been a bit of help from familiar sources.

"Thanks, that would nice," Daniel replied. "Just grab a sandwich and coffee for me. Soup and tea for Casey."

"You got it," Jack nodded "We'll be back soon."


A  A  A  A  A  A


Gary walked past his computer for the fifth time. Finally sat down. Pulled up the website that very few people had access to. Typed in his daughter's name. Sat back and waited. He rubbed his hands over his face. Finding people had never been a problem for him. He had good instincts, and with the right resources, information on most people could be located within a matter of hours, a couple of days at the most. Actually locating the person could take a bit longer, especially if they moved around a lot, and tried not to leave a trail.

The program beeped at him. Search complete. Current military photo available. View?

Military photo? Had she joined the military? Wouldn't that be something, if she'd gone into the Air Force like her old man? View...yes.  The monitor flashed...

Sweet Mother of God! If he didn't know better, he'd swear he was looking at Brenda! She had the same look in her eyes...that love of life. She was beautiful. Gary, say hello to your little girl.

She'd attended Western Washington University for two years. Married to...well, now, this was impressive! Married to one Dr. Daniel M. Jackson. Date of marriage, February 22nd, 2002. They'd celebrated their first anniversary, no record of a divorce. Hell, they were still newlyweds!

Better check him out...Date of birth, July 8, 1970. Multi-doctorates...archaeology, anthropology, philology. Other than having written a dozen archaeological papers, there wasn't much to find, a couple of articles about seminars he'd held in the summer of '96, nothing on him after October of that year. No activity on any bank accounts until September of 1997. Contracted to work for the Air Force in September of 1996, to the present. Location, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado. What the hell did NORAD need an archaeologist/anthropologist/philologist for?

Back to his daughter...Contracted to work for the United States Air Force, January of 2002. He glanced back at the window with the information on her husband. Little shit had worked, fast, hadn't he? Gary chuckled. As beautiful as Casey was, no doubt the men had been lined up. He went back to the information on Dr. Jackson. Searched...yep, there it was.

He frowned at the photo. That face was so damned familiar! He'd seen it...oh god! Ohgodohgodohgodohgod! They were staying just down the hall! He'd seen that man a couple of days ago...then earlier today in the clerk's office...No! He didn't want her to find it, not yet! Not until it was fixed! Not until it was the way it should be!

He wanted to jump up, run down the hall, pound on the door and explain what had happened. Explain that her mother had loved her, but had been terrified. That he hadn't known...wanted to take away the sting of mother: unknown, father: unknown!

His hand reached for the bottle of Jack Daniel's he'd brought with him. Hmm. Almost empty. He took several deep breaths.

Okay, Gary. Now what? Stick to the original plan...just get the birth certificate 'fixed', go sit in that courtroom and listen to the horrors your daughter experienced as a child? Or go down the hallway, knock on the door and say, 'Hi, I'm your dad.'? Yeah, she really needed that dumped on her, didn't she? Okay, stick to the original plan. And see to it that a copy of the new birth certificate finds its way to her. Let her decide if she wants to find you. Open the door. Let her walk through when she's ready.

When the cell phone rang, for one moment he thought it would be her...wondered what he'd say to her. Get a grip, airman! "Hello?"

"Hey boss. We're set. Dancer has a bead on the little bastard right now."

"Good. Keep on him. If he knows Casey is back in Seattle, he's liable to try and get to her."

"Right. We'll see that he doesn't get the chance."

"Thanks, Lucky. I owe you guys."

"Not hardly," Lucky said quietly, those two words acknowledging years of history together. "We'll check in tomorrow morning."

"I'll be in court. Leave a message."

"Will do. Get some sleep, boss. You need it."

Gary grinned. Lucky had known him for so long, knew him so well, that the man could tell just from talking to him how he was feeling. "Right. I'll try."



Okay, so that little problem was dealt with. He let his attention wander back to the photo of his daughter. She was so beautiful, just like her mother had been.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Daniel sat on the bathroom floor with her, waiting for the sickness to subside. She was shaking so hard she was practically vibrating. He grabbed the bottle of mouthwash so conveniently provided by the hotel, held it for her, watched her spit into the toilet. "How about a warm shower?" he asked softly.

She nodded. Warm water, Daniel's arms; sounded like heaven to her! Her fingers refused to cooperate, Daniel had to unbutton her blouse. Not that he was complaining. He was always thrilled to get her out of her bra, a thought that brought a smile to her face.

"What?" he asked, smiling at her.

"Just thinking how eager you always are to get my bra off," she replied.

His smile went wider. "Hey, anytime I can get close to my beauties, I'm a happy man."

She giggled, then sighed and arched her back, pressing against his hands as he softly caressed the curves of her breasts. She wrapped her arms around his neck. "I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too," he whispered in return.

"You're the only person I need. The only person I can't live without."

"Only you, Angel, only you," he whispered. He had the water on, they stepped into the tub. He gasped softy when she pressed her body against his, her belly pushing against his rising cock.

"I heard Jack say he'd bring something back. Do you think we have enough time to...indulge?"

He'd never know how he'd gotten so lucky. He'd just continue to thank all the powers that be that he had. His hands moved over her gently, he kissed her, then slid to his knees. He'd take just a little taste before he buried himself in the warmth of her body.

When the first whimper filled her throat, he stood up, helped her wrap around him, moaned out loud when he lowered her onto his aching shaft. He used the wall to hold her steady as he rocked in and out of her, until they were both crying out their pleasure.

Casey giggled when a sharp rap on the door alerted them to the fact that their friends had returned. Daniel grabbed a towel, hollered that they'd be right there, and tossed her robe to her.

Pulling his sweats over his hips, he unlatched the door. Jack glanced at them, then grinned. "Room service."

"Just put it over there," Daniel said, pointing to the small table beside the window. "Thanks."

"Any time." Jack looked at Casey. "Are you okay, Radar?"

"I'm fine."

"You're sure?"


He nodded. "We'll be there tomorrow."

"I know."

"And, just so you know this...nothing that comes out in that courtroom tomorrow is your fault. You were just a kid, and you were victimized. Teal'c and I discussed digging that rotten son-of-a-bitch up, just so we could piss on his bones, but Sam said we'd probably get into trouble."

The comment accomplished two things, both his intention, she was certain. It made her giggle, and it let her know that no matter how...delicate...the details might be, she need not be embarrassed. Especially in front of her friends. "Thank you," she said softly.

Jack winked. "Anytime, Casey. Breakfast, in the cafe, seven o'clock."

Daniel grinned. "We'll be there."

With a nod, the older man left them alone once again.

Two bags sat waiting on the table. One contained two hamburgers, with everything; two orders of fries, and two cups of coffee. The second contained a cup of chicken soup, and two brownies. "I guess they knew I'd be okay, that you'd make everything okay for me," she said softly.

Did the woman have a clue what she did to him? How she could take a few simple words, string them together, and make him feel invincible? He smiled, and reached for her. Because the need to hold her, just for a moment, was too strong to fight. He pressed a kiss against the side of her face. "Hungry?"


He chuckled, and they sat down to eat. He let her chatter about whatever came to her mind. And never said a word about the revelations of the day, or the impending testimony she'd be required to give tomorrow. For now, they would ignore it all.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Jack sat down at the bar. Bounced his knee with nervous excitement. Thirty minutes, she'd said. He wouldn't regret it, she promised. Carter, you're killing me here, he thought, wondering just exactly what she was up to. She had something planned. He'd known that the minute she whispered in his ear that he should go downstairs and have a drink...and come back up in half an hour. Yep, tonight the colonel was going to get lucky. He almost chuckled out loud.

He didn't pay much attention to the man who sat down two chairs away. He watched the waitress in the mirror behind the shelves of glasses and bottles. Now there, he thought, was someone who understood human nature. She could probably tell at a glance who was a big tipper, who wasn't. Who wanted to talk, who wanted to be left alone. Yep, she could probably read people as easily as he read the newspaper.

"Jack Daniel's, double," the man ordered.

He had to smile. It was a joke around the SGC...Jack Daniel's. Everyone knew the two men were the best of friends. Oh, there had been a couple of rumors flying around that Daniel was gay, and more than willing to ease the ache in the colonel's balls. It seemed that using the archaeologist for a fuck buddy was all right, it didn't diminish his masculinity in any way. After all, Daniel was the fag, right? And no matter how many times Daniel accompanied him to Deezers, the local strip joint, no matter how much money the young man spent getting lap dances, which always left him with an impressive hard on, the rumor just would not die. Until Casey'd arrived. Squashed that rumor all to hell! He shook his head mentally. Anyone who'd ever believed Daniel to be gay didn't know the man. And how in the hell had he gotten started thinking down this particular track?

The man two chairs down had tossed back his drink, motioned for a refill. He looked over at the man sitting beside the wall. One of the best places in the room to be, if one were used to protecting one's back. There was something about him...the hair was gray...more silver than gray, actually, although there was still a bit of dark to be seen. It couldn't be, could it? "Jack? Jack O'Neill?"

He started, looked over at the man. Frowned as blue eyes stared at him. "Gary Franklin?"

"I'll be damned!"

"Probably. What the hell are you doing here?"

"I could ask you the same question," Gary replied, returning the grin that had spread across the other man's face.

"Here for moral support. For a friend," Jack replied. "You?"

"Long story."

Jack glanced at his watch. "I have the time."

Gary contemplated his glass. Tossed back the whiskey. "Came back for a college class reunion."

"Those are always pleasant," Jack replied. His tone indicated the opposite.

"Yeah, well, I wouldn't know. Never went to one before. Never even made it inside the ballroom for this one," Gary replied.

Jack might not have been as an astute judge of character as the waitress. But he knew when someone needed to talk. And he knew Gary. Hell, they'd spent several long months sharing a filthy hovel as prisoners of the Iraqis. He knew that the man needed someone to just...listen. "What happened?"

Gary grimaced. "Got one hell of a bomb dropped in my lap."

"Good...or bad?"

The blond man snorted. "I suppose it depends on how you look at it. You may congratulate me, Jack. I am a father."

"Congratulations. That's great!"

Another snort. "Would've been better had I been informed at the time." Gary shook his head. He was still working out how he felt about everything that had happened within the past few days. Wasn't sure he was ready to talk about it with strangers. Or even Jack O'Neill. A man who probably knew him better than anyone on earth ever would...or could. "So what have you been up to? Last I heard, you were in line for command of Holloman."

Jack bit back the bile that surged in his stomach. That promotion had been in the works before...He shook his head. "Yeah, well, things change."

"Who'd you piss off?"

He gave a quiet chuckle. "Myself, mostly. I...uh...I had a personal issue come up."

"Sara? Charlie?"

"Charlie...Charlie died, Gary. He found my gun, and he...Sara and I were outside, he was supposed to be getting my baseball glove. I hadn't been home much, and Sara and I were...we were standing in the back yard necking..."

"Oh, Christ," Gary said, understanding what Jack was trying to say. "I'm so damned sorry, Jack."

"Yeah. So was I. We...Sara and I...it was my fault, I should have gone in for the goddamned glove...should have made sure the gun was in the lock box in the closet...Sara...Sara never blamed me...not in so many words..."

"She never would have blamed you, Jack," Gary said quietly.

"Yeah, well I did. Wasn't too pleasant to be around for awhile. Got called in for a mission. Was supposed to be one way. Had a skinny geek who managed to save our sorry asses. Came home and retired."

"So what are you doing now?"

He took a pull from his beer. "Classified work out of Cheyenne Mountain."

Gary nodded. Signaled the bartender for another drink. The two double shots he'd had before prevented him from making the connection right away. "Consultant?"

"Nope. Reactivated."

Something about that began to ring an alarm in the back of his mind. There was so much bouncing around in his head it was giving him a headache. He shoved it away. He didn't give a rat's ass at the moment.

Jack's cell phone chirped. "Excuse me." He turned his back, spoke quietly.

Gary thought about how devastated Jack must have been, losing his son, and consequently his wife. Dreams of Sara and Charlie, the hope of making it home to them, were what had kept Jack alive in that goddamned prison camp. Just as thoughts of Cookie had kept him hanging on, when by all rights, he should have been dead.

"Look, how about we meet up tomorrow night," Jack said, pushing his half empty bottle away. "I...uh...I have a sexy blonde upstairs waiting for me."

"And you're down here? I always thought you were an idiot," Gary teased.

"I always thought you were a bastard," Jack grinned. "So let's meet here, say around seven? You can meet my friends."

"Including the sexy blonde?"

"Sure. And you look at her wrong, I'll break you in two."

Gary chuckled. "I'll be here."

Jack gave the man's shoulder a pat, then hurried toward the elevator. He just hoped the hard-on he was sporting wasn't noticeable!

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