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To Elvis, Or Not To Elvis 

"...Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay, would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you.
Like a river flows surely to the sea,
Darling so it goes,
Some things are meant to be.
Take my hand, take my whole life too.
For I can't help falling in love with you
For I can't help falling in love with you..."

"I Can't Help Falling In Love (With You)"
Performed by Elvis Presley
Written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss.

 

Chapter 1

"Wake up, babe. We have to be at Peterson in less than an hour."

Casey peeked blearily at him from one eye. Daniel was leaning over her, his own eyes barely open, still puffy with sleep. "I didn't hear the alarm," she mumbled impudently. If the alarm hadn't gone off, she was not getting out of bed!

"I'm surprised. The thing was beeping for almost five minutes," Daniel replied drolly. At least it had been according to the bright red digital numbers on the face of the clock, by the time the noise had finally registered in his own brain, and he'd reached out to shut it off. He yawned, then reached out to caress her cheek. "Shower."

"Goddess, you're bossy," she complained.

He pressed a kiss to her bare shoulder. "Regular tyrant."

"Not even five more minutes?"

"Nope."

"You're mean."

"You love me anyway."

"Not when you insist that I get out of bed before the sun is even up. What ungodly hour is it?"

He couldn't help but grin. "It's 6:37, and the sun is up. Must be cloudy today."

"Cloudy? Rain? Perfect sleeping weather. Give the president my regards." She jerked the blanket up over her head.

The grin morphed into chuckles. Early mornings and his Wife were not on good terms. In fact, to say she hated getting up in the morning wasn't a stretch. Unless, of course, she was getting up for some eagerly anticipated activity. Going to Washington DC for a 'command appearance'...as she had dubbed the meeting scheduled in the Oval Office in little more than six hours...didn't meet her criteria for 'fun'.

Truth be told, he hated early mornings as well. Daniel could remember days of hitting the snooze alarm until he barely had time to get to the base...where he'd dash into whatever meeting had been scheduled, then slip into the locker room for a shower as soon as he could. With Casey in his life, he'd learned that the snooze alarm meant being late for briefings...it took at least ten minutes just to wake his Wife, another ten to get her moving toward the shower. He often wondered how she'd ever made it to work on time before they'd met. Daniel sat up, yawned again, and peered over his shoulder. "Don't make me carry you."

"Hmmph." She burrowed deeper beneath the comforter.

He crawled out of bed, scratched luxuriously for a few seconds. Then, with a smile of love on his lips and a glint of determination in his eyes, yanked the covers back and scooped her into his arms. Ignored her squeal of surprise, and then the groan of protest.

"I don't wanna go," she grumped.

"Tough."

"There is absolutely no logical reason I need to be in DC today. Jack and Sam, absolutely. Me, not so much."

"What about Jack and Sam?" Daniel asked curiously.

Green eyes opened fully. "Nice try. The general wants it kept a secret."

He deposited her in front of the shower, making certain she was steady on her feet before letting go. "Well, you're going to be there."

"I will not be awake." She stepped past him, opened the door to the linen cabinet and grabbed two clean towels.

"Fine. Just stand there and look beautiful." He reached into the shower and turned on the water.

"Can't stand if I'm not awake," she insisted.

"Then you can sit there and look beautiful. Just don't snore."

"I do not snore!" she protested. Slapped half-heartedly at his arm when he began to snicker.

The water was warm, and though he longed to make love, Daniel knew that they were quickly running out of time - and a stop at Pike's Perk on the way was an absolute must. He was certain he'd be able to wait until they returned home before his need for her was out of control...neither of them were ready to face the day due to the fact that they'd made love until almost three a.m. It hadn't been intentional. They'd been in bed before midnight. He'd only wanted to taste her, then hold her. Of course she'd insisted on tasting him as well, and then had decided to ride him into oblivion. Turn-about was only fair, and he'd pounded into her until she cried out, his name echoing off the walls as her body shivered beneath him. And then...he couldn't help but grin. Then they'd started all over again.

"We have got to stop with the 'marathon-love-making-sessions' when we have to get up early the next morning," Casey said, yawning.

Her comment proved that she either read his mind, or innately knew what he was thinking. Simpatico. In tune. We just think alike. "I agree."

"Haven't we agreed to that before?"

"I believe we have."

She twisted her hair, fastened it on top of her head with a banana clip, then stepped under the warm spray. She looked up at him, cocked one perfectly arched eyebrow. "Someone is not abiding by the agreement."

"Don't look at me, I was ready to stop after the first round."

"You were not! At least the anaconda wasn't!" she argued.

"All your fault. You touch me, and I'm on fire for you," he countered, nuzzling her cheek.

She snorted softly. "Yeah, like I'm not burning out of control from your kisses."

Daniel grinned from ear to ear. "Guess we'll just have to keep our hands...and lips...to ourselves when we have to get up early."

Green eyes went wide. "Oh, I think not! We'll just have to start sooner!"

He gave in to the urge and began to laugh. Closed his eyes as Casey began to lovingly, efficiently bathe him. She'd barely finished rinsing the soap from his skin before he was returning the favor, moving the bright green scrunchy and the fragrant soap bubbles over her soft skin.

While he shaved, she carefully applied her makeup. She'd determined that she wanted her hair braided, declaring she didn't really have time to curl it, and 'straight' just wasn't acceptable for a meeting with the President of the United States. Practiced movements had that task completed in a matter of minutes.

 

A A A A A A

 

Daniel was wearing his dark gray slacks; he tossed his light gray herringbone jacket onto the bed. The jacket was summer weight, and unlined. He pulled his blue and gray checked shirt, which was short-sleeved, over his shoulders. Left it unbuttoned at the collar. The weatherman had predicted unseasonably warm weather for the day on the East Coast. If he had to be in DC, he was at least going to be semi-comfortable. He carefully adjusted the collar of the shirt after he'd donned the jacket.

Casey stepped out of her closet wearing a light gray skirt and a soft pink blouse. The hem of jacket that matched the skirt stopped at her waist. The suit was tailored, and as a result fit her slender frame perfectly. She shoved her feet into pink, high-heeled pumps, and smiled up at him. "Okay, Stud Muffin. Let's go."

For a moment, he could only stare. She was so damned beautiful! There were times that he was struck absolutely breathless when he looked at her. Women like her were models, or actresses...not the wives of geeks like him! He shook himself mentally, sent out a thank-you to every god and goddess he could think of, as well as a general 'to whom it may concern', just to cover all his bases. That this gorgeous creature loved him was a miracle for which he would be eternally grateful.

The way he was staring caused her to pause. She tugged her lower lip between her teeth. Her Husband was well versed in dressing for important meetings. She, however, could be a complete moron when it came to knowing the 'do's-and-don'ts' of such events. Her 'social training' was limited at best, consisting of the scant clues she'd been able to pick up by listening to and watching people around her, attempting to discern what she should or shouldn't do. Her black suit had been appropriate for her first trip to the White House... Was it the color or the style of this skirt and jacket that was the problem? "Daniel? Is something wrong? Do I look okay? Should I change my clothes?"

The worry, and the touch of fear in her eyes, shook him from his stupor. Made his heart constrict tightly. She still viewed herself in the harsh light of low self-esteem, in spite of his attempts to prove to her what a beautiful, intelligent, charming woman she really was. "Nothing's wrong, Angel. You're so beautiful," he sighed.

Relief washed over her. Daniel was honest, above all things. If she'd been dressed inappropriately, or if the outfit simply didn't look good on her, he'd tell her. Gently and lovingly, of course, but he'd prevent her from embarrassing herself...and him...in front of the most powerful man in the world. "In your eyes," she smiled. "You, however, are an absolute hunk."

"Hunk?"

"Absolutely. Definite hunkiness." 

He grinned. Her opinion of him, and his looks, always left him feeling just the slightest bit surprised. He'd never considered himself overly handsome...although to hear Casey, he was just the best looking man walking. He held out his hand, sighed silently with happiness when her soft fingers wrapped around his. "Let's go. I don't want to listen to Jack complain all the way to DC about us being late."

 

A A A A A A

 

The terminal at Peterson Air Force Base was bustling with personnel. It seemed that four local fighter squadrons would be participating in special training, in the form of organized 'ground games'. As the 'visitors', they would be the 'infiltrators'. The participants from Bolling would be the 'defenders'. The group was boisterous; bragging to each other how well they would do, and how soundly they would defeat their Air Force brethren.

Teal'c had arrived before O'Neill and Major Carter, and that couple had arrived before the Jacksons hurried in. He'd been witness to the wide-eyed reaction to the major's arrival. She was wearing her 'service dress' uniform, the ribbons of her achievements displayed proudly. As always, she was most attractive. While O'Neill, also wearing his service dress blues and his ribbons and medals, had been the recipient of quiet respect - shown by the nods and straightening of shoulders, Major Carter's presence had been greeted with obvious approval, apparent in the smiles that lit many of the faces around them. Not that the major had seemed to notice.

The Jaffa was sitting quietly, sipping his hot tea, listening with half an ear to the hum of dozens of conversations around him. Waiting for the moment when Casey Jackson would walk into the hangar. It was always most entertaining to watch the reactions of the men who stared at the slender seer. There were always those who would attempt to draw her attention to themselves, although he had yet to witness any who had succeeded.

Jack tossed a frowning glance at the door as he settled into a chair beside Teal'c.

Sam stirred her coffee. "They'll be here," she murmured.

"They were supposed to have been here five minutes ago," Jack grumped.

"They have arrived," Teal'c announced, nodding toward the door.

The numerous conversations, complete with raucous laughter, diminished drastically when Casey walked through the door Daniel held open for her. She was oblivious to the stares and quiet murmurs that followed her through the room. Flashed a smile at Teal'c when he nodded in her direction.

Daniel, on the other hand, was quite aware of the reaction to his Wife, and did his best not to strut behind her. Not an easy feat; especially when she stopped, turned, and wrapped her hands around his arm before starting once again toward the table where their friends waited. He knew that his chest had puffed out slightly. It was just impossible not to show his pride at being the man the beautiful blonde had chosen.

"You're late," Jack said, as soon as the couple sat down.

Casey held up her Pike's Perk cup. "Five minutes, or me sans coffee."

"There's coffee here," Jack replied.

"There's sludge here," she informed him. "Worse than the stuff in the commissary."

"You are an unmitigated coffee snob," Jack told her.

"You only drink imported beer," she responded easily. "Sue me."

Sam grinned. Held up her own cup, the 'Pike's Perk' logo visible. "Don't let him fool ya, he likes a mocha, too."

Casey stared at Sam's fingers. It took a few seconds for her brain to register what she was seeing. She let out a soft squeal. Jumped to her feet, dashed around the table to hug Jack's neck, surprising him to the point he nearly dropped his cup of coffee. "You finally proposed!"

Sam's grin softened to a smile, and she held out her hand so her best friend could examine the diamond that sparkled there. "Night before last, after we dropped you off at the base - on the way to my place."

"Congratulations," Daniel said, smiling at both his friends, his attention focused momentarily on his best friend. It's about damned time! I was beginning to think you'd never do it, Flyboy!

Never thought we'd be able to be together, Jack's eyes replied.

It's been two years, Daniel's expression said.

Jack shrugged slightly. Didn't want to ruin a good thing by rushing it. 

Daniel nodded his understanding. "I'm happy for you, Jack."

"Indeed. This is very good news," Teal'c said, dipping his head slightly.

"Thanks," Jack nodded in return, accepting the good wishes from both of his friends.

"Oh, Sam, it's beautiful," Casey sighed as she examined the ring. She gave the major a quick hug, then returned to the chair beside her Husband. "So, have you thought about when you'll get married? Or where? There are some lovely chapels in the area, or if you get married this summer, you could do an out-door wedding...oh, that would be just breath-taking! I know Ms. Adams would be thrilled to help...have you thought about making an appointment with her?"

Sam shook her head, smiling slightly at Casey's enthusiasm. "We've decided to just go to the Justice of the Peace," she said softly.

Casey watched her friend's eyes. Noted that the sapphire orbs were focused on the table. "Sam?" she asked softly.

"I'm just not into frilly and formal...the thought of planning anything, even with a wedding planner..." She shook her head again. "That's just not me."

Instinctively, Casey understood that there was a reason for those feelings. "You're sure? I'd be happy to help you, and I know Janet would too. All you'd have to do is decide what you want," she said, reaching for her friend's hand.

"I'm sure," Sam smiled.

"Will you at least have a reception, or a party of some sort?"

"Absolutely. That you can help me plan!"

"I'd be thrilled," Casey vowed.

"And of course I want you...all three of you...to be with us when we have the ceremony," Sam said.

"We'll be there," Daniel promised, smiling at his friend.

"Indeed."

"With bells on," Casey added, remembering Catherine Langford's declaration when Daniel had called her, to inform the older archaeologist of the wedding. As she recalled, she'd giggled for almost an hour over the mental image that the comment had created.

"Just stand still so the jingle doesn't drown out the judge's voice," Jack quipped.

"Oh, you are so funny," Casey said, rolling her eyes.

"Attention, please! All passengers to Bolling proceed to the gate. All passengers to Bolling will board now."

"That's us, campers," Jack sighed. He glanced around. "I guess the general either left on the first flight out, or he left last night."

"Late evening, actually. Not long after we talked to him about the mama Goa'uld and the Pangarans," Casey replied.

"Really?" Jack asked.

"Huh?"

Daniel chuckled. "You said the general left for Bolling yesterday after we talked to him."

"I did?"

"Yep."

"I wonder why?"

"I was going to ask you," Jack said. He watched the slender seer. "Any clues?"

"Nope."

Jack nodded. Scratched his nose. Gave the seer an innocent look. "So, why are we heading to DC, anyway?"

"Because the general ordered us to," Daniel responded.

"Uh uh. Radar knows why," Jack insisted.

"And the general doesn't want you knowing until we get there," Casey said.

"Just a hint?"

Casey studied her friend and CO. Decided that even if he did figure it out before they arrived at the White House, there wasn't any way for him to escape. "New name plates," she said smugly.

"We're going to DC to see new name plates?" Jack asked incredulously.

"Don't be ridiculous," Daniel chided. "Why would we be invited to DC just to see new name plates?"

Sam watched Casey for a minute. Contemplated the nameplate on her desk, and the one on the wall beside the door to her office. 'Major S. Carter'. Daniel was right, of course. No need for SG-1 to go to DC to see someone's new nameplates. Which meant…"We'll need new name plates?"

Rather than respond, Casey handed her ticket to the Airman who was standing beside the gate. Gave him a smile, and followed Teal'c onto the plane.

With a frown, Sam gave her own ticket to the gate guard. There was only one reason that new name plates would be required. Promotions. She gave a sideways glance at her fiancé. Now she understood why the general didn't want Jack to know. He'd have retired on the spot. While that was still a possibility, she figured that once within the hallowed Oval Office, he'd be less apt to respond negatively. Jack, I swear I'll hit you if you say anything stupid to the president!

Casey's cryptic comments the night before now made sense, Sam thought, still watching the seer as she boarded the plane. If Jack was a general, he'd be able to back General Hammond completely, thus blocking attempts to undermine his command. As a Lieutenant Colonel herself, she could add her own support. And, according to the general himself, nothing would change...operations at the SGC would remain the same. Jack would still be CO of SG-1, and would continue to lead the team on every mission they drew. No doubt this promotion was part of the reason for the increased paperwork he'd been required to take on. And, there would probably be more for him to do. She bit back a smile. That would certainly curtail the amount of time he had for wandering the corridors of the facility, bothering 'his kids' at will. Something he was certain to complain long and loudly about.

"Carter?" Jack asked, slipping into their 'professional' relationship. "What's wrong?"

"Not a thing," she replied. Again she bit back a smile. Oh, there was no doubt in her mind that he was going to grumble for the entire flight back to Colorado. She made a mental note to stop and find a book to read for the return trip. Maybe a mystery. Something she could 'hide' in. Her smile broke free. Of course, the fact that she would be attempting to read wouldn't deter Jack from reciting a litany of complaints about his promotion. It was still worth a try, she thought, ignoring his questioning glance. She could always pretend to be listening, he certainly did that often enough to her...

 

A A A A A A

 

General Hammond sipped from the mug of coffee the secretary had handed him. General Vidrine waited until his visitor had set the cup on the desk before speaking.

"How did the team react to the news of the promotions?" Vidrine asked.

His cheek twitched slightly, he fought to contain his smile. "I don't know," Hammond replied. "I haven't told them."

"They're unaware of the reason they've been ordered to appear at the White House?" Vidrine asked incredulously.

"If Colonel O'Neill had any clue he was about to become Brigadier General O'Neill, he'd have resigned before I'd finished," Hammond replied.

It was Vidrine's turn to fight a smile. He was aware of the fact that the colonel wasn't the only one who would be surprised by a richly deserved promotion. His decision to keep that tidbit of information to himself was made in that moment. It seemed fitting…if one officer didn't know about his promotion, why should the other be given advance notice? "The ceremony will be brief, and only General Maynard and I will be in attendance."

"That's perfectly acceptable," the Texan said easily.

"George, I know for a fact that you haven't taken any time off in at least a year. I want you to take a few days. I'm certain that between Major Davis and myself, we can keep the SGC operable for that short length of time," Vidrine said. While the offer was altruistic, there was another reason for making it. One that had everything to do with being able to silence the critics within the walls of the Pentagon. Basing observations on actual experience garnered more acceptance than just stating opinions, especially within the brick walls of the Pentagon.

Hammond started slightly. "A few days to relax does sound enticing."

"Your latest report indicates that Casey Jackson hasn't foreseen any problems with upcoming missions," the Pentagon general continued. One of the reasons the much deserved time off was being offered. The timing couldn't be better, actually.

"That could change in a heartbeat," Hammond countered.

"Yes, it could."

"Doctor Jackson has requested a week's leave, starting tomorrow," the Texan general admitted. "I'd planned to grant that time off."

"There's no reason that you shouldn't. In fact, I believe the entire team could use a bit of time away from the SGC," Vidrine mused.

Hammond chuckled. "You think giving him a few days to get used to the fact that he's part of 'the brass' will help?"

Vidrine grinned broadly. "It will at least keep him from resigning immediately. Colonel O'Neill has more than earned this promotion. But I don't know that he'll appreciate that fact."

"I agree. I doubt he's going to embrace the new duties. The man abhors paperwork."

"He'll remain the CO of SG-1. His rank will actually allow him to make field decisions he's not able to make now. That can only help the team when dealing with new civilizations they meet," Vidrine insisted. "Surely that will keep him from seriously considering retirement."

"His remaining on SG-1 will be the only reason Jack O'Neill won't immediately throw those silver stars at us," Hammond replied. "I do agree with you, however. Jack has the experience of being out there, dealing face-to-face with aliens. Combining that experience with the rank that will afford him the ability to act immediately, rather than having to wait for permission, could make a world of difference. There are at least three planets that we could have had treaties with, had Jack been able to respond more quickly to the requests made."

"Would they have been valuable allies?"

"Two of the planets have trading posts that several Goa'uld utilize. A treaty with the traders of those posts would have afforded us the ability to place spies close enough to get up-to-date intel on the movement of at least half a dozen System Lords. Intel that could be the difference between being prepared for an attack, and being caught with our pants down around our ankles," Hammond said.

"You believe that an all-out 'shooting' war with the Goa'uld in inevitable?" Vidrine asked, worry reflected on his coffee-colored face.

Hammond sighed. "I do. It's not a matter of 'if', but 'when'. We managed to prevent Ba'al from taking Earth. In doing so, we demonstrated to the rest of the System Lords what not to do. Even though Thor was able to convince the Goa'uld that the Asgard are still a force to be reckoned with, not one of those System Lords will hesitate to take over at the first opportunity. They know that the Asgard would hold back any direct attacks, because they'd be unwilling to get into a heated battle that could destroy the planet."

Vidrine frowned. "So, these System Lords believe that once they've taken control of Earth, the Asgard would be hard pressed to remove them."

"Exactly. The Asgard probably don't have the actual military strength to get into a war with the Goa'uld. They're stretched thin fighting the Replicators, according to Thor. A fact that we've worked damned hard to conceal. So even if the Goa'uld believe that the Asgard could defeat them, they know that the Asgard would hesitate to attack them on the First World, simply because such an attack would destroy much of the planet, not to mention wiping out most, if not all, of Earth's population."

"If the Asgard attempted to oust any conquering Goa'uld..."

"Whichever System Lord it might be, he or she would simply start the systematic destruction of cities, until the Asgard capitulate," Hammond said, confirming his companion's fears.

"What about the Ancient weapon in the Antarctic?" Vidrine raised one hand, when Hammond began to deny the existence of the weapon. "The only people who are aware of the weapon are those who are associated with the SGC, either as liaison, or oversight. Although the chairman of the Senate Oversight Committee is the only civilian aware of its existence."

"If we use that weapon, we're going to have to explain to the rest of the world what it is, what it does, and why we had to use it," Hammond replied.

"So it's literally a weapon of last resort," Vidrine sighed.

"I'm afraid so." General Hammond sat forward in his chair. "From the tests Major Carter and Doctor Lee have performed, there's no way in hell to hide from the numerous satellites what's going on if we use that thing. The major also figures that those at McMurdo station will have a ringside seat for the display. Those scientists will be demanding answers from folks who won't have a clue, and that in turn will open the whole can of worms completely."

"Work on a third ship has begun," Vidrine said quietly, after a moment of contemplating the information he'd just received. "As well as more F302's."

"That will certainly help," Hammond acknowledged.

"If I might make a suggestion?"

"By all means." 

"Put O'Neill in charge of those ships. You have enough on your plate dealing with running the SGC, and the SG teams that go out on missions. The day-to-day operations of the place could be turned over to a subordinate. I would suggest Major Carter, but I believe she's more valuable on SG-1."

"There are several officers who would do an excellent job in dealing with day-to-day operations," Hammond mused. He was already mentally going through the list of officers under his command, rejecting one or another for various reasons, mostly having to do with leading SG teams. One name continued to stand out. He was certain that Colonel Reynolds would be relieved to hand over command of SG-5 to Major Wheaton, his 2IC. Reynolds continued to blame himself for the death of the young lieutenant on his team, a result of the attack on Ba'al's Jaffa to rescue Casey Jackson. It was a difficult thing, to lose a member of one's command. He knew…he mourned every death that had occurred under his watch. And continued to hold himself responsible for those deaths. It was, he thought, one of the burdens of command. He was certain that Colonel Reynolds would find relinquishing that particular duty for the routine paperwork associated with day-to-day operations a welcomed relief. Realizing that Vidrine was still talking, the general reined in his wandering thoughts.

"The SGC is so different from any other military installation in the world, that we need to broaden our view of how best to operate," Vidrine was saying. He was quoting from one of Casey Jackson's reports...whether or not his colleague recognized that fact, he didn't know. He agreed wholeheartedly with the seer, and was doing his best to accomplish just that.

"I couldn't agree more," Hammond said. "It seems that every day the SGC becomes even more different than other bases. We deal with problems, emergencies - situations that are so...literally alien - that we're flying by the seat of our pants. Established protocol doesn't always 'fit'."

"I understand," Vidrine said quietly. "You've done one hell of a fine job, George. I won't pretend to understand what you face on a daily basis. But I can tell you that you have the support of the Pentagon."

"In spite of certain...sections?" Hammond asked, one eyebrow raised slightly.

"In spite of certain sections," Vidrine replied, a knowing look in his eyes. "There will always be a small group that will insist more oversight is needed, more control in the hands of the Pentagon itself. Usually those making the demands would be so ill-equipped to deal with the reality of the SGC that it terrifies the rest of us to think of them anywhere near the bunker. That fear will help us keep those few in check."

"I hope so," Hammond sighed. Memories of one incident in which the NID…the most persistent group complaining about the lack of 'full Pentagon oversight' of the SGC…had attempted to take complete control of the SGC flashed through his mind. He wondered briefly if General Bauer was enjoying his retirement. Forced retirement- the result of his less than stellar performance as the commander of the SGC...and as a pawn of the NID. "It doesn't help to have the Stargate Alliance sticking their nose into operations."

Vidrine smiled. "Well, Homeworld Security is getting a new director. General West is retiring. The president wants someone who is more...how can I put this tactfully? The president wants someone more in touch with the reality of today's political climate, as well as the reality of the SGC. The list of candidates was short, and it didn't take the president long to make his decision. We're confident that she'll be able to keep the Alliance in check."

"She?"

"Doctor Elizabeth Weir. She's a civilian expert on international politics. Her training and experience will be beneficial when dealing with the members of the alliance. From what we've learned, Kinsey had earmarked her for running the SGC; under his guidance, of course. He had every intention of calling the shots, even if it was 'behind the scenes'. Thank goodness he's out of the picture," Vidrine sighed. "Dr. Weir is the best candidate for the job, because she owes no political favors. That's important in this town. Undoubtedly she'll be taking a tour of the SGC.  According to the president, she needs to be made aware of how important the Stargate Program is, and how vital it is that operations aren't...interrupted...by foreign demands," Vidrine said.

"If she's intelligent, reading the reports already available should make that clear enough," Hammond responded, reaching for his mug of coffee.

"She's being briefed now. I'm certain she'll be up-to-date by the time she takes that tour," Vidrine replied. "But President Hayes believes that there's nothing like seeing for one's self just what the SGC is all about. He's convinced that a day at the SGC will provide a dose of…reality…to those reports. A little chat with the president will help, as well. Hayes is a staunch supporter of the SGC."

"It always helps to have the backing of the man in charge."

Vidrine smiled. "Yes, it does." He glanced at his watch. "Your team should be arriving in an hour or so. Do you have plans for lunch?"

"Not really," Hammond replied.

"Come on. We can have a nice relaxing lunch in the commissary."

Hammond chuckled. "After a few days at the SGC, you'll never be able to utter those words with a straight face again."

The smile morphed to a grin. "With luck, I'll walk away from the SGC 'unscathed'."

The Texan snorted. "I'll have my cell phone with me at all times, just in case."

"I appreciate it," Vidrine replied, chortling softly.

 

A A A A A A

 

Casey was surreptitiously watching Jack and Sam as they talked quietly in their seats across the aisle from where she sat. Before meeting Daniel, she'd never allowed herself to think about weddings, or being engaged, or married. She'd never believed she'd find a man who would...or could...love her. The day Daniel had appeared on her doorstep, those thoughts had crept into her mind anyway. And when he had urged her to think about getting married, for the first time she had examined the dreams that had lurked, hidden in her heart. Those dreams had come pouring out the day they'd hired a wedding planner, and sat side-by-side, organizing the most special day she'd ever experienced.

Her intuition, if not her gift of sight, told her there was a reason Sam didn't want a wedding. In spite of her own opinion on the matter, Casey was determined to support her best friend's wishes. She sighed silently. Sam would be such a beautiful bride! Maybe she just needs time to think about it, Casey thought. Sam had loved Jack 'from afar' for so long, and they'd only been able to be together for a couple of years... She nodded to herself. Yep, Sam just needs time to get used to the idea.

"Whatever you're thinking...don't," Daniel whispered in her ear.

"What?"

"I have no idea what's going on in that pretty little head of yours," Daniel said softly, "but judging from the look in your eyes, you have plans for Sam and Jack...and a wedding."

Jerking slightly, she focused her attention on her Husband. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Daniel grinned. "It's in your eyes, Angel."

Damn it to hell! I have got to learn to hide what I'm thinking. Maybe I should start wearing dark glasses all the damned time! With exaggerated patience, Casey opened the book that had lay unheeded in her lap. "I repeat, I have no idea what you're talking about."

Glancing over at his friends, thrilled to the core to see them whispering happily back and forth, their fingers laced together casually, Daniel recalled conversations he'd had with each of them...both confiding in him about their feelings for the other. Both had needed someone they could talk to about the love that they struggled to conceal from those they worked with...and from each other. Jack had even tried to convince him...or maybe, Daniel thought, the older man had been trying to convince himself...that the feelings were nothing more than old-fashioned sexual tension. Nothing romantic or permanent about them…

 

"I figure that one drunk weekend would take care of it," Jack had said, staring into his glass of beer. "I asked her to come to the cabin…to go fishing. Figured a couple of drinks, a romp through the sheets, and this…thing…between us would be taken care of."

"Maybe for you. What about Sam?" Daniel had asked. "Do you think she's the type of woman who can hop into bed with a man, and not have an emotional attachment to him?"

Jack had started, stared at him for a moment. "There's nothing we can do. She's an officer under my direct command."

 

Daniel could still remember the way his best friend had sighed and sat back in his chair, a look of defeat on his face.

 

"Seriously, it's just a case of wanting what we can't have. The minute one of us is available, that attraction will disappear."

"You're sure about that?"

"I have to be, Danny," Jack had said softly.

 

And then, he thought, Jack had abruptly changed the subject. They'd never spoken of the unrequited love that existed between the two members of SG-1 again.

The diamond flashing on Sam's finger as she lifted her drink to take a sip was proof of the fact their love was more than just a fleeting, sexual awareness.

Shifting slightly in his seat, a physical response to his fluctuating thoughts, Daniel contemplated the 'sudden' proposal. Wondered briefly if Jack's visit with Charlie had been the catalyst. Decided just as quickly that it didn't matter what had spurred him to propose. The team had been together for seven years. And Jack and Sam had loved each other for at least six of those years. Possibly longer. It was about damned time! Maybe that's why they just want to go to the Justice of the Peace. They don't want to take the time to plan a wedding. That thought spurred another…one that took him by surprise...that of his counterpart in the reality where the world had been turned upside down by Kinsey. That Daniel and Casey had gone to the JP just a few days after meeting.

He lifted his Casey's hand, her fingers entwined with his, and gently kissed her knuckles. He'd have married her within hours of meeting her, if he'd been left to his own devices. Gentle warnings from his Wife's alternate reality counterpart had let him know that taking it slowly was in his best interest. That alternate Casey had told him that if, and when 'his' Casey was ready, she'd let him know. Although putting a ring on her finger within hours of meeting her certainly didn't qualify as 'taking it slowly'. He'd suspected then, and knew for certain now, that leaving her without making that tangible declaration of his commitment to her would have been more frightening for Casey than rushing headlong into marriage.

Whether or not she'd have talked to him about that ad she'd seen in the supplement to the Sunday newspaper, just days after she'd arrived in Colorado, he didn't know. He'd overheard her comment to Kelley as the two chatted on the phone, and without one ounce of penitence, had grabbed the opportunity to talk about getting married. He'd even encouraged...pushed? Did I push her?...to make an appointment with Ms. Adams right away. Which she'd done. She'd even seemed excited about it. Well, more so after the wedding had actually been planned. He smiled as memories of conversations they'd had, focused on their upcoming nuptials, flittered through his mind. The way her eyes had lit up, the excited chatter about this detail or that.

"What has you so happy?" Casey asked softly, noting the smile on her Husband's face.

"Just thinking about our wedding."

She sighed. "It was so beautiful."

"Yes, it was."

"It was like a fairytale come true. You were the Handsome Prince, who'd rescued me from the Wicked Witch."

"And you were the Beautiful Princess, who saved my heart from the cold of loneliness."

"I don't understand why Sam doesn't want to have a beautiful day like that," Casey admitted. "It's so special..." Her voice faded, and she shook her head.

"She has her reasons, Casey."

"I know. It just doesn't seem right, though. She'd be such a beautiful bride!" Casey replied, voicing her earlier thoughts.

"Yeah, she would be," Daniel agreed softly. "But it's her choice."

"I know. Doesn't mean I have to like it."

He couldn't help but chuckle. "You'll survive."

"Janet and Teal'c had better have a wedding."

Daniel's eyebrows went up in surprise. "Wedding? Janet and Teal'c?"

Casey rolled her green eyes. "Oh, please, they're practically living together. I mean, no one is supposed to know...but Cassie let it slip that Teal'c is there almost every evening, and she said his truck is still in the driveway when she gets up in the morning."

"And that is their business," Daniel said, a warning tone in his voice.

"Yes, it is. But you can't tell me you're not as happy as I am to see them together. They're so in love it's cute!"

Another smile tugged at his lips. He'd seen his two friends together. Their love was obvious to anyone looking at them. And it was fun to watch them. Daniel had never seen Teal'c as content as he'd been since Casey had 'exposed' the attraction between the Jaffa and the CMO. He'd never seen Janet smile as much. It was apparent that the two were happy together.

"I worry about General Hammond, though. I mean, there aren't any Immortal women around for him to hook up with."

"I'm certain that if he wants a woman in his life, Immortal or not, he'll find someone."

"I hope so. Although losing someone you love-" Her voice caught, and she turned her head toward the window, blinking furiously to keep the tears from falling. Memories of the days she'd spent thinking Daniel dead moved unbidden through her mind.

"I know," he said softly, struggling against his own memories of time spent separated from his Wife.

Casey took a deep breath, firmly pushed the less than pleasant thoughts away. Frowned slightly as she recalled the manner in which the general, and Janet, had been granted their Immortality. "Maybe if General Hammond does find someone, you could convince the Big Guys to make her Immortal, too."

"I dunno, Angel."

"Well, you're The One. You could talk Them into doing it."

"Me?"

"Yep. You're sensational at negotiating," Casey replied, her smile as full of her pride in him as it was her love.

He lifted her fingers to his lips again, held them there as his heart hammered against his ribs. She could make him feel invincible...capable of doing anything.

"But, the general has to find that special someone first." Her expression became thoughtful.

"Oh, no you don't," Daniel declared.

"What?"

"You are not going to try to set the general up. He's perfectly capable of finding companionship on his own."

"But-"

"Casey, the general's personal life is just that…personal. Interfering, even when you have the best of intentions, can backfire. And that can cause hard feelings all around. So please, don't get involved," Daniel said firmly.

Casey smiled sweetly. "Okay, Stud Muffin."

Daniel shook his head. Didn't believe for one minute that Casey would give up on the idea of finding a suitable match for the general. And, he thought, the only reason his Wife was concerned about the general's love life, or lack thereof, was because of her own happiness. Toss in the fact that General Hammond was Immortal - and as such, a part of the team, if only peripherally - and she'd be hell bent see to it that he was as happy as her closest friends. It was the generosity of her heart, that romantic streak in her, that wanted to make certain the general wasn't alone for what would be a very, very long life. I should probably warn him now, he thought with a silent sigh. And a secret smile.


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