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 The Gray-haired Avengers

 

"It’s the little old lady from Pasadena
(Go granny, go granny, go granny go)
Got a pretty little flower bed of white gardenias
(Go granny, go granny, go granny go)
But parked in her rickety old garage
Is a brand new shiny red super-stock dodge...
And everybody’s saying there’s nobody meaner
Than the little old lady from Pasadena
She drives real fast and she drives real hard
She’s a terror out on Colorado boulevard..."
"Little Old Lady From Pasadena"
Written by Don Atfeild
Performed by Jan and Dean

 

 Prologue

The day was warm and sunny. The type of spring day that promised that summer was on the way, and the cold days and nights of winter were truly past. Birds trilled happily as they flittered back and forth, building nests. The occasional sound of a dog barking at the squirrels that raced jauntily from tree limb to tree limb added harmony.

Spring flowers bloomed in the beds that surrounded the modest home. The riot of colors brought a smile to the face of anyone who happened to see them. The visitor, as he stepped from his car, was no exception.

He took a deep breath. He’d made the decision, and being a man of action, was setting into motion what he hoped would be a safety net for two very special people. He owed it to them to do his very best to offer the most protection that he could. Even if the idea was...unorthodox.

The general rapped lightly on the screen door. Waited patiently when he heard movement within the sunlit interior of the house. Smiled as the occupant stared up at him, wide-eyed and almost open-mouthed. He removed his 'cover', tucking the military hat beneath his arm. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Hanks," he said jovially.

It had taken her a moment to recognize the man who was standing on her front porch. Another moment to rein in the surge of curiosity that washed over her, leading her to wonder just what had brought him to her door in the first place. Emma smiled. "That makes me sound like an old woman. Plain ‘Emma’ suits me fine. Just what can I do for you, General Hammond?"

"There’s a matter I’d like to discuss with you. A favor I’d like to ask. It concerns Daniel and Casey Jackson."

Emma pushed the screen door open. "I think you’d better come inside then, General."

"Thank you, ma’am." Hammond followed the spry octogenarian into the comfortable living room of her home. Sat down on the sofa when she motioned toward it. Watched as she perched herself on the edge of a matching club chair.

"Now, what’s this about Daniel and Casey?"

Hammond took another deep breath, blew it out slowly. What he was doing hadn’t been cleared with the president. Figured that Henry Hayes would approve of the less than conventional idea, especially if it were presented ‘fait accompli’. He couldn’t, and wouldn’t, give the woman any information regarding the work that the Jacksons did...that fact would probably be all that would keep him from suffering the president’s ire. No matter how...unusual...his approach to a rather unique problem, for the moment it was the best chance he had of protecting two of the most valuable assets of the SGC, while they were outside of those concrete walls. "You’ve mentioned that your husband worked for the NSA during his naval career."

"For thirty-five years," Emma replied.

"Then I’m sure you understand when certain facts must remain classified."

"Sure do," the old woman nodded.

"Emma, I can’t tell you what Daniel and Casey do. Only that it involves national security, and that it’s very important," the general said quietly.

"Daniel said something similar once, when I asked him just what the Air Force needed with an archaeologist," Emma said. "That’s when he told me about that degree of his about languages. I figure that’s what he’s doing."

The general smiled. "Something like that."

"What they do isn’t any of my business," Emma continued. "I’m just tickled pink to be able to help those young folks any way I can. I collect their mail, water Casey’s house plants and rose bushes and flowers...whatever they need done when they’re...away."

"I know that they appreciate your willingness to do so," Hammond replied politely.

"Gives me something to fill an hour or so," Emma said, giving a casual shrug of her shoulders.

"I’m also aware of the fact that it was your vigilance that alerted the local authorities to the...prowler...on the first Thanksgiving that the Jacksons lived in the house behind you."

"Well, I don’t make a habit of spying on those young folks, if that’s what you mean," she said, just a bit defensively.

"Of course not," he replied hastily. "I apologize if that’s the way my comment sounded, that’s not at all what I meant."

"Never did hear if they caught that fella," Emma said, watching the general carefully.

"Not from what I’ve heard," Hammond replied truthfully.

"Hmmph. Should’ve just grabbed Henry’s shotgun and taken the punk out myself," the old woman grumbled under her breath, but not so low that her guest could miss it.

He bit back his grin. And firmly admonished himself for allowing the thought that he wished she’d done so to even form in his mind. He had the feeling that encouraging this elderly woman, even mentally, was a dangerous thing to do. Which was, he sighed silently, the reason he’d not rushed into what he was about to propose. But his gut was telling him that things had been peaceful for far too long...that the NID was about to raise its ugly head once again. And his gut had never failed him yet!

"Just what is it you want me to do?"

The grin he’d struggled to hide broke free. Emma was too old to be fooled, especially by innocuous comments of polite conversation. "There’s a chance that Daniel and Casey might be put under surveillance...by persons not sanctioned by the government. Or at least, not by our government."

Dark eyes went wide, the laugh-lines that creased the lids becoming all the deeper. "Well, I never!"

"What I’d like you to do is keep an eye out for any...unusual...activity in the neighborhood. I realize that you’re unable to see the street in front of the Jackson’s home, but chances are, anyone watching them is going to try to get inside to plant listening devices," Hammond explained.

"Best way to do that would be to break in the back," Emma nodded in understanding. "General, you can count on me!"

He held a hand up. "IF you should see anyone suspicious, call me. I’ll take care of the situation. Under no circumstances are you to approach anyone who attempts to break into the Jackson’s home."

"Well, I can do that, easy enough," Emma replied. "Be darned glad to help out."

General Hammond smiled. "Good. I appreciate the assistance. Remember, call me...that’s all you’re to do." He reached inside his jacket pulled out one of his business cards. He’d already written his personal number on the back for her. "The number on the front of the card will ring directly to my desk. The number on the back is my cell phone."

She accepted the card, studied it carefully. "General, I’ll keep my eyes peeled. No sneaking punk is going to get away with harassing those young folks as long as I’m around!"

"That’s good to know. And...let’s keep this between the two of us, shall we?"

"Absolutely. Mum’s the word!"

Hammond rose to his feet. "You’ve certainly helped to put my mind at ease. What the Jacksons do is difficult enough, without having to worry about trouble from their own back yard, so to speak."

"I understand," Emma nodded, standing as well. She followed the general to the door. "Do you need a weekly report?"

He had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. However, rather than make the old woman feel as if she weren’t contributing to Daniel and Casey’s safety, should nothing come of his suspicions..."I believe once a week will be sufficient."

She nodded solemnly. "Any particular time I should call?"

"How about Friday afternoons?"

"I can do that," the old woman said, nodding again. "I’ll mark my calendar today. Don’t you worry, General, I’ll keep an eye out for Daniel and Casey. Nothing will happen over there that you won’t know about!"

For a brief moment he wondered if he’d be privy to a recital of everything the Jacksons did. Then decided that the ultimate goal of making certain that any NID activity was noted and countered as quickly as possible was worth listening to what would no doubt be detailed ‘reports’ from Emma Hanks, about everything that happened at the Jackson residence. "Thanks, Emma. I knew I could count on you."

After a stop at Pike’s Perk, for the general was as much a coffee lover as the majority of those he worked with at the SGC, Hammond crossed one more thing off his list for the day. He had high hopes that the next conversation, which would be held by phone rather than in person, would be equally as successful.

It wouldn’t be long until George Hammond questioned his decision to enlist the aid of the Jackson’s feisty neighbor.


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