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To Elvis, Or Not To Elvis
Sam was clutching Jack's hand tightly as they entered the License Bureau office. There were eight lines of people; each line made up of four to six couples. The number of people waiting surprised both of them. Jack gave a casual glance around the room. "So all of these people are getting married?" he whispered.
"I guess so," Sam replied. "I knew that Las Vegas was the marriage capital of the US, but geez!"
"Well, we need the license," Jack pointed out.
"I know. Guess we just pick a line?"
"I guess so."
Sam giggled softly. "Whichever line we choose, it'll stop moving. It happens to me every time I'm in the grocery store."
Jack chuckled. "Me, too. Hey, maybe if it happens to both of us, being together cancels out the bad luck!"
"I like the way you think," Sam grinned.
"Just remember that the next time we're on a mission," he whispered.
"Okay, on missions, you're a bit dangerous when you start thinking," she teased.
"You been taking smartass lessons from Radar?" Jack asked, raising one eyebrow slightly.
"Nope," Sam replied. "Just stating a fact."
The line moved more swiftly than they had expected it to, and no more than twenty minutes later they were standing at the counter.
The form was short, the clerk efficient. She asked for their ID, and both produced driver's licenses and their military ID cards. Jack put three twenty-dollar bills on the black surface of the counter, and the marriage license was in hand.
"Sweet," Jack said, looking the document over as they walked back down the wide hallway to the entrance of the building.
"Tomorrow we get married, and then…" Sam's voice faded as she smiled. "Then we'll be Mister and Missus Jonathon O'Neill."
"Has a nice ring to it," Jack replied.
"Would you be upset if I keep my name…just for working?"
"If that's what you want. It would reduce confusion, since you've been 'Carter' for as long as you've been there," Jack admitted.
"I could go with a hyphenated version."
"Lieutenant Colonel Doctor Samantha Carter-O'Neill." Sam gave a slight shiver. "I'll get writer's cramp if I ever have to write that out! And they'll never be able to get all of that on a uniform tag!"
Jack grinned. "Just stick with Carter."
"No rank or title?"
"Not needed. Everyone knows you're a genius, and everyone knows you're a colonel," Jack said jauntily. "SGC rumor mill takes care of all that for you."
"Right," Sam said, grinning broadly.
"So, we have a couple of hours before we meet the rest of the team for dinner," Jack said, checking his watch. "Any ideas on how to pass the time?"
"Oh, I think we can figure something out," Sam smiled, slipping her arm around his waist as they walked toward the parking lot.
"I like the way you think," Jack grinned.
"Even on missions?"
He chuckled. "Especially on missions."
A A A A A A
Casey stretched out on the chaise, wiggling her toes contentedly. Sunglasses perched on her face as the sun smiled down, a fruity rum drink in her hand, and Daniel at her side. Can't beat this, she thought contentedly.
Daniel reached out and laced his fingers with his Wife's free hand, an action spurred by the interest of a group of men sitting at the bar beside the pool. They'd been watching her when he'd arrived, coming down after she had in order to return a call from Beth, concerning the arrival of two interesting tablets. Both were on the work table in his lab, and he'd promised to look at them as soon as he returned.
The fact that Casey was oblivious to the attention thrilled him to the core. He'd had to bite back a smile when he'd overheard one of the men commenting about the chances of getting to know the gorgeous blonde in the green bikini. Slim to none, he'd thought smugly, as he continued past the men. He'd glanced over at them when he settled on the chaise beside her, took note of the expressions on their faces, which ranged from openly jealous to obviously curious. He would have bet Ferretti that they were, to a man, waiting for him to 'crash and burn'.
When her fingers tightened around his, he couldn't help watch the men, his eyes hidden by his sunglasses. Wanted to laugh out loud at the looks of frustration that covered their faces. Two of the men turned back to the bar. Three others continued to watch.
Sipping from her drink, Casey looked at her husband. "What are you smirking about?"
"I'm not smirking."
"Yes, you are."
He grinned, ear to ear. "Just happy."
"Proud that a woman as beautiful as you loves me."
He chuckled. "And, I'm enjoying the disappointment of the guys sitting at the bar. They were watching you when I came down. I'm sure they've been watching you since you came out here."
She shifted slightly, tried to look at the bar without seeming to do so. Three men were looking in her direction. She took a moment to study them. "Boring, boring, and a jerk."
Daniel turned his head, noted the studious expression on her face. "How can you tell?"
"Oh, just a guess," she admitted. "Well, the jerk is sort of easy to pick out. He has that whole 'I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread' vibe going on."
"And you can tell that, just looking at him," Daniel observed.
"Stud Muffin, men are pretty easy to read."
It was impossible not to laugh. "I don't doubt it. We're simple creatures."
"Pretty much," Casey agreed, smiling. She pulled her hand from his, rolled to her side, propped her head on her upturned hand. "I should go over there and tell them that a woman who's blessed to have a man like you in her life is never going to even notice their existence."
"Mmmhmm. Honestly, I never would have known they were sitting there if you hadn't pointed them out."
"Lucky for me," he murmured.
"No, lucky for me," she said softly. She took another sip of her drink, then settled on her back once again.
When her hand reached out for him, her fingers wrapping around his, he sighed silently with happiness. He was the luckiest man in the universe, and he was well aware of it.
Janet smiled when she saw the Jacksons lying side-by-side on chaise lounges. "Let's go over here," she suggested, tugging Teal'c's hand. "Casey said they'd planned to go to Denver this week, so I know they were looking forward to some time alone."
"Perhaps they will be able to get away during an upcoming weekend," Teal'c replied, following the petite doctor as she wound her way toward one of the other pools.
"I hope so," Janet sighed. "Not that this trip isn't exciting, and something that they'll enjoy."
"Indeed. Being part of O'Neill and Samantha Carter's marriage celebration is most heartwarming."
"Isn't it great that they're finally getting married?" Janet sighed. "They've loved each other for so long, even though they both denied it."
"It was impossible for them to hide that love," Teal'c agreed.
"Well, I'm glad they don't have to," Janet declared.
"As am I."
"So, Casey really said that we're destined to be together?" Janet spread her towel a vacant chaise.
"Do you believe her?" she asked shyly.
"I have had no reason to doubt Casey Jackson's observations," Teal'c answered. "Do you believe her?"
Looking up into warm, dark eyes, Janet gave a little sigh of contentment. "Yes, I do."
Teal'c smiled. "Then perhaps we should discuss the large wedding that she will no doubt insist that we have."
Janet laughed, her brown eyes dancing with mirth. "I suppose so."
"Was your first wedding 'traditional'?" Teal'c asked.
"Right down to the white carpet for the bride to walk on, and the music that was played," Janet said.
"If you do not wish to repeat the experience, then we will not do so," Teal'c said firmly.
"Actually, I kinda think I'd like a nice wedding," Janet said softly. "Between my mother, my sister, and my aunt, I don't think I had the wedding I wanted."
"Your mother is no longer living," Teal'c said quietly. "I do not believe your sister or your aunt will…interfere…as they did before."
Janet grinned from ear-to-ear. "Oh, I know they won't! I'll sic Casey on 'em!"
Teal'c chuckled loudly. "Indeed."
A A A A A A
After a quick discussion via telephone, the teammates decided to have dinner in 'The Mix', one of the Mandalay Bay's five star restaurants. It was, Jack insisted, the equivalent of a wedding rehearsal dinner. They were just getting out of the rehearsal part.
Seated at a table near one corner of the room, which offered them a bit of privacy, Jack ordered a bottle of wine to accompany their appetizers.
"No problems getting the license?" Daniel asked.
"Nope," Jack replied. "Lots of people there getting licenses, though."
"All age groups, too," Sam added. "There was one couple who had to be in their seventies."
"Hey, it's never too late for love," Casey said. "Although, at that age the honeymoon is probably just a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the fanny."
Janet laughed out loud. "Maybe not. There are a lot of very spry, active septuagenarians!"
"I'll take your word for it," Casey replied. Then frowned slightly. "Although, that's good to know."
Daniel glanced at his wife's face. "Don't even think about it," he warned.
"Think about what?" Sam asked curiously, looking from Daniel to Casey and back again.
"She's got it into her pretty little head that General Hammond needs a woman in his life," Daniel replied with a grimace.
"Well, he does!" Casey declared.
"She does have a point," Janet said softly. "Although, it's not going to be easy for him."
"I already suggested having Daniel talk the Big Boys into…" Casey glanced around, noting the waiters and the patrons at other tables. "Well, you know."
"Do you think you could do that?" Sam asked Daniel, an expression of hope on her face.
Jack looked from Casey to Janet to Sam then back at Casey. "You're serious!"
"Jack, we're all…we have each other, and we have our soul mates," Casey said, her voice soft but firm. "Even though the general is our friend, and he shares our…secret…he doesn't share the same…bond…that we share. He's not part of SG-1."
Janet flushed slightly, tightened her fingers around Teal'c's large hand when she realized that she had become a part of the team, even if she didn't go on missions with them. The sense of belonging washed over her, left her feeling warm and loved.
"It's not fair to expect him to remain alone. Not now that he's…well, you know," Casey continued. "He needs someone in his life. He'll need someone to be with him, beside him, when he has to face the loss of his daughter, and his granddaughters. Someone to hold him while he deals with that grief. Someone he never has to lose."
His Wife, Daniel decided, was making far too much sense. He was frowning as he twisted the stem of his champagne flute between his fingers. The thought of being alone for centuries…millennia…was less than pleasant. To be alone even for a few decades rang with absolute desolation. "I hate to admit it, but she does have a point."
Jack started to object, then looked at Sam. He didn't even want to contemplate a life without her in it. Especially now that they were able to be together, the way their hearts had yearned to be for so long. He heaved a sigh. "I suppose she does at that."
"I believe that if and when General Hammond finds a woman to stand beside him, we should make certain that she will remain with him," Teal'c said.
"Daniel's The One, so if he asks, the Big Boys have to listen," Casey declared confidently.
"Well, like Teal'c said, if and when the general finds a nice woman, we'll deal with the issue then," Jack said.
"And we let him find someone," Daniel said, his voice carrying a warning tone. Without a doubt Casey would be eager to 'help' the general find that someone. "Right?"
Casey nodded. "Of course."
"No outside help or influence," Daniel continued.
She looked over at him. "Not even an introduction?"
"Let the man take care of himself, Casey," Daniel said firmly.
"Not even a little nudge?"
"No nudging, no helping, no interfering, no suggesting, no introducing."
"Angel, if there's a woman meant to be with General Hammond, they'll find each other," Daniel said gently.
The look of certainty in his blue eyes made her smile. He believed in Destiny, because they'd been able to find each other. Well, they'd had a bit of help… Why couldn't he see that sometimes Destiny needed a helping hand? She heaved a sigh. "All right."
Jack smiled at the disappointment that had flickered in Casey's green eyes. "Danny's right, Radar. The general needs to do this on his own. I doubt he'd be happy to know we're even having this discussion."
"Indeed," Teal'c nodded.
"So, no matchmaking. Promise?" Daniel asked,
Casey contemplated her Husband for a moment. No doubt he, and Jack, and Teal'c were viewing the situation as only men could: that any 'help' offered in the situation was tantamount to interference, rather than assistance. Well, they hadn't said anything about a whisper in the ear of a potential partner for the general! "Promise."
Sam picked up her glass of champagne and took a sip in order to hide her smile. The men at the table might have believed they had 'won'. But no doubt Casey would find a half dozen ways around their objections, and not once break her word.
After a dinner that left each of them declaring they wouldn't be able to eat for at least a day, Sam suggested a nightcap at the 'House of Blues', one of the clubs in the casino. Knowing that Jack liked the blues almost as much as he liked opera, a fact that not many people knew about him, she hoped he would enjoy his last night as a 'free man'. She'd almost suggested that the three men go have a bachelor party, and she and her best friends could have the requisite bachelorette party. But the thought of spending the late evening without Jack left her cold. By the reactions to her suggestion, no one else had any desire to 'break up the team', even for a few hours.
According to the marquee outside the door, the night's entertainment was solely blues. A local band was on the stage, the sax was wailing, and the dance floor packed with swaying bodies.
Casey and Daniel were moving toward the dance floor almost immediately. Sam tugged at Jack's arm, and Janet took Teal'c's hand and led him deeper into the throng of dancing couples.
Arms around Daniel's neck, his arms around her waist, Casey sighed happily as they moved slowly to the beat of the music. It was impossible not to smile when she saw Sam and Jack, arms around each other, oblivious to the world around them. "I'm so happy for them," she said softly.
Daniel leaned closer. "Hmm?"
"Sam and Jack, I'm so very happy for them," she repeated, her lips beside his ear.
He glanced over his shoulder, smiled at the couple who were two of his best friends. "Me, too," he replied.
"I wonder how long it will take Teal'c and Janet to have their wedding."
"Don't know," Daniel said. He caught sight of the tiny doctor and the strapping Jaffa. In spite of the difference in their sizes…which was considerable, given that Janet was barely five feet, four inches tall, and Teal'c was six feet, four inches in height...they really did look good together. Maybe it was because of the love that was reflected on their faces, and filled their eyes. "They look happy, don't they?"
Casey nodded. Snuggled deeper into her Husband's embrace. "I'm glad that our friends are as in love as we are."
He smiled at how typical the comment was for her. Casey was undoubtedly a romantic. The fact that she wanted the same happiness for her friends as she'd found also bespoke of her generous heart. "It is nice," he agreed. Felt his breath catch in his throat when her green eyes focused on him.
"I love you."
"I love you, too, Angel."
"You know, I wouldn't mind going back to the room," she said with just a touch of shyness.
"I think that sounds like a good idea," he murmured.
"I probably should get some sleep, Sam and Janet and I have early appointments in the salon."
"Well, we should call it a night, then," Daniel said.
It took a few minutes to make their way through the crowd to Jack and Sam. Having said their goodnights, and waving at Janet and Teal'c, Daniel led Casey to the door and into the main room of the casino.
Neither noticed the looks tossed in their direction from the group of men who had been watching them at the pool. And they'd never know about the discussion that ensued, and the disappointment that they commiserated with one another.
A A A A A A
It was nearly midnight when Jack and Sam returned to their room. Sam took her duffel bag and disappeared into the bathroom. Jack shed his shirt, sat down in the chair to remove his shoes and socks.
He closed his eyes as memories of his first marriage began to drift through his mind. He and his buddies had spent the night before he and Sara had been married drinking at the local flying club. He'd been drunk when he'd made it back to the barracks; but he'd sobered up by the time he had to show up at the court house. His best man, if he remembered correctly, had still been fighting a hangover during the brief, civil ceremony.
The night before Daniel and Casey's wedding, he'd tried to get the archaeologist to go out for 'one last hurrah'. He'd suggested Deezer's, because he'd had every intention of getting his best friend on the stage with one of the dancers. Casey had spent the night with Sam and Janet, making Jack certain he'd be able to tempt, beg, coerce…bribe if necessary…Daniel into agreeing with his plans. Hadn't happened. They'd had a couple of beers at O'Malley's, Daniel had made him and Teal'c vow to be at the chapel on time, and had then bid them goodnight. Rumor had it that Daniel and Casey had talked almost three hours on the phone that night.
Sitting in that hotel room, just hours away from his own wedding, Jack understood exactly how Daniel had felt. He had no desire to be out drinking with friends. Didn't even want to be alone watching a hockey game. He just wanted to be with Sam. Did that make him old…or just really in love? There was no doubt about the love that he and Sara had shared. He could certainly recognize the differences in his first marriage, and his relationship with Sam. This time, it just felt so easy…he didn't feel as if he had to struggle and try so hard. Part of it had to be because Sam was in the Air Force. She understood him, and his profession, in a way Sara had never been able to. Maybe he'd mellowed over the years. Maybe he'd learned how to be the man a woman needed. Maybe he'd figured out how to be in a relationship. Maybe, he thought, Radar is right. The seer insisted that when a person was with his or her soul mate, the love that resulted could endure anything, and felt as natural as breathing. He'd found his soul mate in Sam Carter. It couldn't be any better, or any easier, than that.
Sam opened the door, stepped into the room wearing the skimpy little white teddy that she'd purchased for the occasion. Was about to clear her throat to draw Jack's attention when she saw the colors on his bicep. She stepped closer. "Jack?"
Jack opened his eyes, and looked up at the most beautiful vision of sensuality he'd ever laid eyes on. "Holy Hannah," he murmured.
Tracing a finger over the tattoo on his arm, Sam gave him a questioning look.
He looked down at his brand-new body art, then back up into wide, sapphire blue eyes. "Your wedding present," he said quietly.
Sam knelt down beside him. The eagle on his skin was identical to the one on her shoulder. Held in the talons was a red ribbon, with her name in carefully scrolled, white letters. "It's…it's beautiful," she whispered.
"Yeah," she smiled. "You didn't have to."
"I know. I wanted to." Jack shrugged his shoulders. "Danny and Radar have matching tattoos, I figured since you'd gotten one…one for me, well…" He shrugged again.
Sam placed a gentle kiss on the beautifully crafted design. "I love it."
"I love you."
"I love you, too, Sam."
She stood up again, gave him an impish smile. "So, what do you think of my teddy?"
"I think you look like one of those Victoria's Secrets models. Do you know I used to fantasize about those women?"
The twinkle in his eyes had her smiling. "Used to? What changed?"
"Had a scrappy, gorgeous Air Force Captain cross my flight path," he grinned.
"Gorgeous?" In that moment, Jack's appraising looks had her feeling as beautiful, as sexy, as…desirable…as a Victoria's Secrets model.
"Absolutely. Big blue eyes…great smile…incredible legs…" He reached out and ran a calloused hand over the soft skin of her thigh. "Amazing legs," he murmured. Glanced up at her again and grinned. "Built like a brick house."
She burst into giggles. The song by the same name had been playing on the radio one afternoon, shortly after she and Jack had learned they could be together. Jack had pointed to her each time the singers had insisted that 'she's a brick house'. It was a memory she treasured.
Jack rose from the chair. "I'm not sure what an incredibly beautiful colonel sees in a broken down old general like me," he said, giving an imperceptible shiver at the knowledge that he was a general, "but I'm glad you do."
"I don't think you're broken down at all," she insisted, slipping her arms around his neck.
"No. An old general, maybe. But definitely not broken down."
"I'm not old, ya know."
"I hate being a general."
"I know that, too."
"So ya gonna let me take this little lacy thing off?"
He had no chance to wonder what she meant…she'd closed the gap between them and was kissing him, forcing coherent thought from his mind.
A A A A A A
Daniel was still asleep when Casey slipped from the bed. She tossed an indulgent smile at him as she headed toward the bathroom. Once they'd closed the door behind them, Daniel locking it securely, they'd stripped each other and made love until almost two am. She was grateful she'd thought to have the front desk call at eight…she'd have never woken up in time for the salon appointment if she hadn't.
She'd just finished washing her hair when she felt a poke in the back of her mind. "Oh no. Not today. Whatever it is, it can wait!"
"What can wait?"
Jumping slightly, Casey gave a squeal of surprise.
"Sorry, thought you heard me," Daniel said, flushing the toilet.
"I must have been rinsing my hair when you came in," Casey replied.
"So, what can wait?"
"I'm getting a poke."
"Not today," Daniel exclaimed.
"That's what I said," Casey huffed. "It's not serious…at least, not yet. I'm not saying a word to Sam or Jack until after the wedding."
She heaved a sigh. "Unless I get a download and it's important."
He could hear the exasperation in her voice. For not the first time he wished that there was a way that she could 'turn off' her gift, if just for a few hours. "Does this have anything to do with the download you had the other day?"
Carefully examining the feeling, she looked at the images that she'd received during the return flight to Colorado Springs. "Nope. Nothing at all. This…this is about the SGC." She paused, closed her eyes, and did a brief search. "Yep, SGC."
"Is something wrong?" Daniel asked immediately.
"No," she replied. "Nothing wrong…exactly. It just feels…annoyed…someone is really annoyed."
Daniel chuckled. "That could be anyone."
"True. It's still vague. Until I get more, I am not saying anything."
"I don't want you to say anything either. Jack and Sam have waited so long…the Fates can give us a few hours," Casey declared.
He smiled. She could be tenacious when defending her friends, no matter who she was defending them from. That included the Fates, it seemed. "I promise."
"Just keep Jack busy until it's time for the limo. Sam is going to bring his shirt and shorts to our room, so you guys can get dressed here."
"Any special reason for all this secrecy?"
"You're not going to tell me?"
"What you don't know, Jack can't manage to weasel out of you," Casey replied.
"He can't do that."
"Yes, he can," she argued. "It happens before you even realize it."
Daniel chuckled. It was true, Jack had a way of getting people to talk even if they didn't necessarily want to. As long as the topic of conversation wasn't related to feelings, families, or personal matters. "Okay, I'll give you that one."
"Give, take, whatever." She stepped out of the shower, reached for the towel. "Can I order breakfast brought to the room?"
"Whatever you want, Angel."
With a nod, she wrapped the towel around her slender frame, and hurried into the room. A quick glance at the menus available, and she picked up the phone. Scrambled eggs, toast and fruit, as well as a pot of coffee, would arrive within fifteen minutes she was promised.
He didn't particularly care for showering alone. Although it was probably a good thing Casey had taken her shower first. At least she'd have time to eat breakfast. Before she went out to do whatever it was she and Sam and Janet were up to. Probably the same thing as the three had done on their wedding day. Casey's hair had been pulled up…baby's breath and tiny white roses woven through those silky blonde locks. She'd been so beautiful that day…
A A A A A A
General Vidrine's hopes for a quiet stint at the SGC were dashed almost before he'd poured his first cup of coffee for the day. He'd just replaced the receiver onto the cradle of the phone when the klaxons began wailing, red lights flashing. He heaved a sigh. "Major, if you'll see to our guests, I'll find out just what has Doctor Lee in such a snit."
The Major Davis nodded. "Yes, sir." He hurried toward the 'gate room, the general striding purposefully in the other direction, toward the elevator.
At least this 'visit' had been announced. Colonel Reynolds, the CO of SG-5, had contacted the SGC two hours earlier, requesting that the leaders of the two feuding factions of the planet the inhabitants called Amora be allowed to accompany the team back to the base. It seemed that the Amorians were finding it impossible to negotiate a peace treaty on their own, and the unexpected arrival of the 'outsiders' had offered both parties an objective mediator. What they each wanted, Reynolds had said, was for someone to declare their point of view as the correct one, and force the other to bend to that ruling. After six hours of dealing with the men, he'd suggested going to the SGC, hoping that by doing so, both would be a little less combative.
Davis shook his head mentally as he watched the two men, flanked by the members of SG-5, walk down the ramp. Each man refused to let the other get even one step ahead, and the glaring looks tossed back and forth indicated that any treaty reached was going to be hard earned. "Colonel Reynolds."
"Major," Reynolds nodded. "May I introduce Arnbjorg," he said, speaking in Goa'uld.
The taller of the two men nodded. He was dressed in loose fitting pants and a long shirt, the hem of which went almost to his knees. It was obvious that the cloth was homespun, but the intricate designs in brown and red on the yoke and sleeves were breathtaking in their intricacy.
"Arnbjorg,"the major said amiably, stumbling a bit over the pronunciation of the name. It didn't help that the name was actually meant to be enunciated in a different language. Thankfully both leaders spoke Goa'uld fluently, allowing communication between them and the Tau'ri. The thought that Doctor Jackson had been correct in suggesting that the Goa'uld language be considered a 'Galactic Standard' language flittered through his mind.
"And this is Ketill,"Reynolds said, motioning to the smaller man.
The man was clad in leather pants, and what looked like a leather vest. A long robe that had been fashioned from one hell of a huge animal hung around his shoulders, the bottom dragging on the floor by at least six inches.
Again Davis dipped his head and smiled. "Ketill."
"This is one of the men of whom I told you," Reynolds said, addressing the two leaders. "I am sure that they will be able to help you find a peaceful solution to your dispute."
The two men glowered at one another for a moment, then both turned toward Davis expectantly. Reynolds motioned to his team, and those three men continued down the ramp. With luck, they'd be able to get the two hardheaded clan leaders into the briefing room without them coming to fisticuffs…again.
"It is our desire-"Arnbjorg began.
"We will not be-"Ketill started at the same moment.
"You will let me speak!"Arnbjorg roared.
"And what makes you so important that you should be heard first?"Ketill demanded.
"I am the leader of my clan…we are the ones who have been slighted!"Arnbjorg snarled.
"That is not true!"Ketill shouted. "It is you who have violated the peace by attacking our hunters!"
"We defend what is rightfully ours!"
"Since when does the entire valley belong to you?"
"The plains of Goran are sacred ground!"Arnbjorg yelled.
"Only to a plainsman."
"I am a plainsman!"
"As if I couldn't tell."
"I take offence at that!"
"Offence. Now there's an idea."
Arnbjorg began to mutter in his own language. The tone of voice left no doubt as to the fact that he was most certainly cursing.
"Gentlemen…gentlemen," Davis said, raising his voice slightly. Realized that he'd forgotten to speak in Goa'uld. He smiled hopefully as the two turned to look at him. "If you'll please follow this man," he waved one of the marines standing guard toward him, "he'll take you to a place where we can sit and discuss the problem. General Vidrine will join us shortly. I’m certain we can find a reasonable compromise to the situation." The major looked at the waiting marine. "Take them to the briefing room."
With a nod, the young man handed his weapon to his partner. "This way, please." He turned and walked toward the door.
The major started slightly. Doctor Jackson had been placed in charge of seeing to it that everyone who worked within the SGC had at least a working knowledge of the Goa'uld language. From the ease with which the young man spoke the alien language, the linguist was obviously a very proficient teacher.
Ketill grabbed his robe, pulled it toward his body, and swept past the taller man, his lip curled in a sneer of anger.
Arnbjorg followed, elbowing the smaller man out of the way when they reached the open blast door at the same time. The two engaged in a minor shoving war, until both made it through the doorway.
Reynolds rolled his eyes. "Good luck, Major," he said.
"Thanks." We're gonna need it, Davis thought, watching the two adversaries. If the initial meeting was anything to go by, finding common ground for the two to agree on was going to be a monumental task.
A A A A A A
General Vidrine stepped into Doctor Lee's lab. "You wanted to see me?"
"Yes, sir," Doctor Lee nodded vigorously. He pointed at the work table. In the middle of the table was a planting pot, with a plant about five inches tall in it. The stem was covered with large, thick leaves.
"Is this the plant that SG-8 brought back?"
"Not exactly sir."
"What to do you mean, 'not exactly'?"
"Well, sir, twenty minutes ago, it was just a seed taken from that plant," Lee explained, pointing to a plant that was at least ten feet tall. It was sitting beside a plant that not only touched the ceiling of the room, but was now curling across the concrete expanse, and halfway down the opposite wall. The excitement in the scientist's voice mirrored in the expression on his face..
"Maybe we shouldn't have brought that thing here," Vidrine mused worriedly.
"Sir, it's just a plant," Lee said soothingly. "And besides, off-world teams follow strict safety protocols in determining what to bring back to Earth. You know, if human kind is going to benefit from what we find out there, we have to be able to study it in controlled situations."
Vidrine sighed. "Yes, I suppose so."
"I know our mandate is to seek out new weapons and technology to defend the planet from our enemies," Lee said, "but…wouldn't it be cool if we could exploit the wonders of the galaxy for other beneficial purposes, like curing disease, or, well, in this particular case…possibly…solving world hunger?"
"I suppose so," the general sighed.
"I just wanted to let you know that we might be onto something major here. Something really big…important. A huge discovery!" Lee said, practically vibrating with excitement.
Before the general could reply, the phone on the desk began to ring. Vidrine nodded, waved toward the phone, and turned to leave. He glanced over his shoulder. From a seed to a full plant in just twenty minutes? Something in his gut told him that fact was going to bite him in the ass.
The sound of shouting voices greeted the general as he left the elevator on level twenty-seven. He rubbed absently at the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache beginning to form. How in the world did George Hammond deal with days like this? And from the reports he'd read, situations like what he was now facing happened on a very regular basis around here. Vidrine smiled grimly. George had been adamant about promoting O'Neill; and not just because the man's military career depended on such advancements. Now, that almost desperate request made perfect sense. And suggesting that an officer take on the duties of assistant to help with the day-to-day running of the SGC was the best idea he'd ever had…at least, judging by the eagerness in George's response to the suggestion.
Just three more days, Vidrine thought, slowly walking toward the briefing room. I can keep this place together for just three more days. He didn't even realize he'd reached for his cell phone until he was searching through his list of numbers…
For the moment, General Hammond was on a much deserved vacation. Which left him holding the bag…er…in command of Stargate Command. Even on the 'quiet' days, he'd learned that being the CO of the SGC was not a job that he would ever want on a permanent basis! He stuffed the phone back into his pocket. I can do this, Vidrine thought, with more than a bit of determination.
Three more days. Squaring his shoulders, Vidrine stepped into the briefing room. Marines were standing guard around the room, Major Davis physically between two men who continued to hurl insults at one another. At least he assumed they were insults; he didn't understand a single word any of them were saying. "Major Davis, what is going on?"
The major turned relieved eyes toward the general. "Sir! It seems that these…gentlemen…can't agree on anything. Including which side of the table to sit on, and who should sit down first!"
Vidrine rolled his eyes. "Major, please sit down here," he said, pulling out a chair. He walked around the table, pulled out a chair on the opposite side. He turned to the men, who had stopped arguing long enough to watch him. "If you would please tell the taller man to sit beside me, the shorter beside you, we can get started."
"Very good, sir," Davis sighed. He faced the two bickering leaders, repeated what the general had said. Watched with surprise as the men immediately moved to obey.
"According to Colonel Reynolds' report," Davis started, "the
people of Amora, both groups, are willing to trade with us, if we can help them
settle their dispute."
"All right. What seems to be the problem?"
Another deep sigh. "Well, it all started…" Davis began.
Listening raptly, Vidrine jotted down notes as the major explained the facts of the disagreement. He asked questions, certain that making sure both parties were allowed to offer their viewpoints would help to reach a successful agreement. The fact that neither man showed signs of breaking into the volatile behavior that they'd displayed earlier was promising, he thought.
A A A A A A
Casey hurried from the elevator, moving with precision toward the salon. Down the carpeted walkway between the rows of slot machines with flashing lights and computerized sounds. Around the poker tables, behind the craps tables. Past the roulette tables. She had almost reached the entrance of the famous 'Robert Cromeans Salon' when a tall man with chestnut brown hair and narrow gray eyes stepped into her path.
"Hello," he said, flashing a smile.
"Hello," Casey said. Her smile was fleeting, her eyes barely lit on the man as she attempted to move past him.
He maneuvered himself in front of her. "You're a guest here," he said.
"Yes." Again she attempted to reach her destination.
"I see you're alone this morning," the man continued.
She stopped walking to avoid bumping into him. Casey looked up at the man. "I wouldn't say that," she replied coolly.
Looking around him in an obvious attempt to see anyone who might be accompanying the lovely woman, the man's smile widened. "Invisible friend, perhaps?"
Sam looked out the window of the salon, knowing that Casey would arrive at any moment. Frowned when she saw the young seer, and the man who seemed determined to talk to her. When the man made a second successful attempt at getting in the way, she was moving toward the door.
Janet looked from Sam's frowning face to the window. "You have got to be kidding!" she muttered under her breath.
Casey frowned at the man. "What?"
"You indicate that you're not alone, yet…" the man scanned the room again, "other than a few card dealers and slots players, there's no one here."
"Look, I have no idea what your game is. Don't care what your game is," Casey replied firmly, her green eyes flashing with impatience. "I do know that if you don't get out of my way, I'm going to have to smack you down."
The man took stock of her slender frame and began to laugh. "You? Smack me down? I don't think so!"
"Believe it," Sam's voice said from behind the man. "She can take you out with two punches."
The man whirled around. "Well, another lovely blonde, and a pretty little red-head."
Janet snorted. "This 'pretty little red-head' can whip your ass, too."
Two ever-alert security guards, having witnessed the way the man had accosted the slender blonde, approached the group. "Good morning, ladies," the first guard said, smiling amiably. "How are you today?"
Casey gave the two armed, uniformed men a bright smile. "Much better now, thank you!"
"Here to take advantage of the salon?" the guard asked. The pretty little blonde's reaction to the arrival of himself and his partner let him know that the man trying to unobtrusively back away had been bothering her.
"That's the plan," Sam grinned.
"Well, enjoy yourselves," the guard said, opening the plate glass door emblazoned with the name of the salon in bright gold calligraphy, holding it as the three women trooped inside.
"Thanks!" Casey said, beaming another smile at the guard.
The three stood watching as the security guards followed the man who had stopped the seer. "What was that all about?" Sam asked.
"Not a clue," Casey replied honestly.
"From their reactions, I think they knew that guy," Janet said, watching until the guards disappeared from sight.
"Possible," Sam nodded. "Probably a hustler of some sort, looking for a mark."
Casey giggled. "That sounds positively 'Vegas'!"
Sam grinned. "Well, when in Rome…"
Within a matter of minutes the three women had been whisked into the interior of the busy shop, and the incident completely pushed from their minds. Facials had been decided upon…Casey insisting that as long as they were in a world-class salon, they should take advantage of as many of the services as possible…and when those were completed, hair would be styled.
Sam was delighted to learn that the hair extensions she wanted would not only make her short hair appear longer, her hair would be colored, just slightly, so that there was no difference between her own hair, and the extensions that would be added. It would take an extra hour, but the bride and her attendants would still meet the limousine in front of the hotel on time.
Settled back in the chair, Sam couldn't help but smile. It was her wedding day, and she was being pampered. What a great idea coming to Las Vegas had been!
A A A A A A
Perhaps forty minutes had passed, when Walter hurried into the room. "Excuse me, sir. We have a slight problem. One of the water lines in the men's locker room has burst."
It was impossible not to cringe. "Shut the water off," Vidrine ordered.
"Already done, sir," Walter replied.
"Bring in a plumber to fix it."
"Sir, I can't do that," the sergeant said softly. "You'll have to call for one of the security repair teams."
"There are personnel who have been cleared to work on the lower levels of the SGC, nothing below level twenty-one, of course," Walter started.
"Sir, the men's locker room is on level twenty-five. You need to give express permission for those personnel to be escorted by SGC security to the locker room, to undertake repairs."
"Of course, permission granted," Vidrine said amiably.
Walter sighed. "No sir, you have to call Maintenance, request a Secured Repair Team, and then send a faxed authorization. Then you'll have to contact Security, and have the security officers meet the repair team."
"Right," the general mumbled, rising to his feet. What should have been a simple procedure obviously required multiple steps and additional paperwork at the SGC. While the security of the facility was paramount, it was one example of the 'extra' work required of the commanding officer. "Major, please explain to our guests that I have a bit of an emergency I must deal with. This shouldn't take long."
"Yes, sir," Davis nodded. He turned to the Amorian leaders, and explained what was happening. The two men sat back in their chairs, arms folded defiantly across their chests, and glared at one another.
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