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The banquet was held in one of the large gardens in the middle of the capitol building. Daniel and the members of SG-9 had been provided with the colorful clothing that the Tegerians wore, surprised at how well the items actually fit.
Nearly a dozen tables were covered with food, and a group of musicians provided entertainment. The music was soft, and seemed to mimic sounds of nature, punctuated by wooden bells and instruments that looked and sounded like clarinets and flutes.
"Daniel Jackson, it is an honor to meet you."
He turned, looked into the dark eyes of one of the councilwomen. Her hair was dark, and fell past her hips. "It is an honor to meet you," he replied, at a loss to recall the woman's name.
"I am Daria," she said, smiling. "I am sure that your brain must be spinning with names. Many of our lineages are quite long."
He returned her smile. "That is something to be proud of," he replied.
She linked her arm with his, led him toward a quiet path. "I am told that you are considered quite handsome on your world."
"Who told you that?" he blurted, color rising in his cheeks.
Daria smiled again. "Major Farnsworth. Do not be angry with him, I did ask."
He shrugged. "I guess. I think I'm pretty…average." And a geek, his mind added; not that this woman would have a clue as to what a 'geek' was.
"Tell me, what do you think of Tegerian women?"
Oh, son-of-a-bitch! If he offended this woman, he could blow the whole goddamned deal! And have to start all over again! He looked up at her, she was at least five inches taller than he, frantically searching his mind for a diplomatic response to the most unexpected question.
"Forgive me, Daniel Jackson, that was an unfair question to ask," she said softly.
He turned to face her, put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. "I think you're a very kind woman. If I weren't married, I believe I would enjoy learning more about you," he said quietly. Okay, not exactly the whole truth, learning her customs would be about all he'd really be interested in. But she didn't need to know that.
"Yes. Mated. My Beloved and I were bound together in a ceremony similar to your gamos," he told her. Tegerians viewed matrimony as the most sacred of all institutions. Very few of their people were actually mated, because to do so meant that they were bound to their mate for life. The Tegerians were long lived, most of their elders were over two hundred years old. That was a long time indeed to be bound to someone, especially if feelings had changed in the interim.
"Ah, I see," Daria replied. "I can see in your eyes that you love her."
"With all my heart."
"Perhaps when you return to visit with us, you will bring her?"
"I'd be honored to visit you again. And to bring Casey, my Beloved, would make me most happy," he replied.
The woman led him back to the tables of food. Pallin stood waiting. "Daniel Jackson is a most honorable man," she said softly. With a smile, and a slight bow of her head, she moved away to join another group of Tegerians in their conversation.
The red-haired Tegerian watched the woman walk away. "Would that she'd speak to me privately," he said softly.
"Maybe she's waiting for you to make the first move," Daniel said.
Pallin sucked in a breath. "A man does not approach a woman!"
Shit! This was very much a matriarchal society! He groaned inwardly. "Forgive me, I meant no offense. On my world, men are usually the pursuers." If he'd just blown the treaty, he was going to shoot himself. Let someone else deal with them for the three days it would take him to reanimate!
The Tegerian relaxed. "No offense is taken. I must try to remember that not all societies are like my own."
"Just as I have to remember that not all societies are like mine," Daniel replied.
"I think that we will learn much from one another," Pallin said, the smile on his face sincere, and full of friendship.
The feast had been eaten; speeches made declaring the treaty between Earth and Tegeria the dawn of a new and most exciting era. Entertainment had been provided, and had been interesting to observe...the double-jointed Tegerians had bent and twisted in the most intricate of dances. In spite of his desire to return home, Daniel had found himself enjoying the evening. His watch said five after two, when Pallin finally led the Tau'ri delegation back to their rooms. He was tired, and determined to sleep now. Because as soon as his feet hit the SGC, he was getting his shot, giving the Tau'ri copy of the treaty to General Hammond, and letting Major Farnsworth explain it. He was heading to New Mexico. With luck, this time tomorrow Casey would be in his arms. He went to sleep with a smile on his face.
A A A A A A
Pallin woke the Tau'ri diplomats just as the sun broke over the horizon. The treaty was ready to be signed, and the leaders were anxious to do so.
By the time Daniel had read and signed seventy-two documents, his hand ached, and his head hurt. A surreptitious glance at his watch told him it was almost three in the afternoon Earth time. He wanted to groan out loud.
"Daniel Jackson, the treaty is signed. The Tegerians and the Tau'ri are now allies. Take this treaty to your leaders, and let our journey of friendship begin." The leader smiled. "You will not need to run."
He allowed himself to grin. "Thank you. May our journey of friendship be a long one."
"You honor us with your words. Pallin will see you to the Circle of Light." With a nod, the leaders stood and left the room.
Fifteen minutes later he was walking down the ramp in the SGC. He couldn't help but grin at the anxious looks on the faces of General Hammond and Jack.
"Well?" Jack asked.
Daniel took the leather-bound book from his pack and handed it to the general. "For a few Stargate addresses, all to planets that have no known population on them, we get schematics for generators, and several of their medicines and medical equipment. For naquadah, we get the tools and the instructions to build satellites that will protect Earth."
"Yes!" Jack exclaimed.
"Well done, Doctor Jackson," General Hammond said, beaming at the young archaeologist.
"I'm not certain, but it might take awhile to be able to actually build the things," Daniel warned.
"At least we have the plans, doctor," the general replied. "Debrief at oh-eight hundred."
His heart fell. He'd wanted to leave tonight. He knew that he'd have to stop somewhere along the way for a couple of hours of sleep…
"I'm sorry, son," Hammond said softly. "Two of the Joint Chiefs and the Chairman of the Oversight Committee want to be briefed on this very important alliance."
Well, hell! That could, most probably would, take most of the day! "I understand, sir," he said softly. Unable to keep the disappointment from his voice, or his face.
"I suggest you get some rest, Doctor Jackson. Tomorrow is sure to be a trying day for all of us."
With a weary nod, he left the 'gate room. Jack fell into step beside him as he walked toward the elevator.
"Pizza and a movie?" Jack asked.
He almost said no. But he was hungry. And it would help to pass the time. "Sure. I need to stop in the infirmary first."
A A A A A A
The three-meat pizza tasted damned good after three days of fruit and vegetables on Tegeria. Although he wasn't much of a beer drinker, the cold brew hit the spot too. He glanced over at Jack as they watched 'Miracle', the movie about the US Olympic hockey team that took the Gold in spite of the odds against them. "You did it on purpose, didn’t you?" he asked, trying to hide his grin.
"Picked a hockey movie."
"Nah. I got it because I like Kurt Russell. He's a good actor," Jack replied, emptying his beer bottle. "Another one?" he asked holding up his empty.
"No, thanks. I should probably head home. I’m about to fall asleep on my feet."
"Yeah, you'll need your wits about you to deal with the nitwits tomorrow."
Daniel groaned. "On that sad, sad attempt of humor, I bid you adieu."
Jack chuckled. "Casey appreciates my sense of humor."
"She hasn't known you that long. Besides, she tries to be nice to dogs, homeless people, and colonels who make lousy jokes."
"See, I told you the woman was smart!" He stood to his feet. "You know where she is. You'll be there in just a couple of days," he said softly.
"Yeah. I'll bring her home," Daniel replied confidently.
"Yes, you will. Go home, Danny, before you pass out on my floor." Jack walked him to the door, watched the young man get into his jeep, continued to watch until he could no longer see the taillights. He hoped like hell that the brass and the ass tomorrow wouldn't decide to take the briefing into extra innings. He didn’t think Daniel's nerves could take much more.
A A A A A A
Ruby Wilson, the widowed owner of the Sands Inn, had taken a shine to her young renter. She allowed very few of her tenants to use the laundry room where Juanita, the woman who cleaned the rooms, washed the soiled towels and bedding. Casey was one of those few. She stuck her head into the room. "I'm heading across the street for some dinner. Why don't you come with me?"
She looked up from her book and smiled. Today was Wednesday. That meant..."Meatloaf?"
"Jimmy makes the best!"
Casey stood and stretched. "My things are almost dry. Why don't you go grab us a table, and I'll be there in a few minutes."
The older woman nodded. "Coffee or iced tea?"
"In this heat? Tea!"
With a chuckle and a wave, Ruby headed toward the diner.
She sighed. She'd hoped that Daniel would have been here by now. Something must have come up. A 'visit' with Miss Eloise had reassured her that he was still crazy in love with her, and about to go nuts with wanting to get to her. The old woman could say only that he was doing something of great importance. He'd probably had to go on a mission, she thought. Maybe it had something to do with the translations he'd mentioned in his letter. Which she'd read at least fifty times by now. Several times she'd picked up the phone. Only to have that little voice tell her that it would be better to wait. That little voice hadn't led her wrong yet.
The dryer began to buzz, and she carefully pulled out the jeans and tank tops. She folded the few items of clothing, and took them to her room. Her panties and bras were dry as well, she'd washed them out before heading to the laundry room. She put the clothes away, and carefully locked the door behind her. But not before she'd taken the time to read his letter one more time.
Ruby waved her over, as if Casey couldn't see her in the tiny diner. A tall glass of tea waited for the slender blonde.
"Tank just left," Ruby said, watching those green eyes.
"He came in for meatloaf too?"
The older woman smiled. "Seems so. Now you know I'm not one to pry into other people's business-"
She had to fight to remain silent. Ruby Wilson was the biggest gossip she'd ever met. Thanks to her very talkative landlady, she knew about everyone in town; what they'd done, were doing, and planned to do.
"-but I think he's a bit sweet on you. And if I don't miss my guess, you're a bit sweet on him."
"Don't think I haven't noticed that you've perked up in the past couple of days. You're smiling for the first time since you got here! Never saw so much sadness in my life," Ruby declared, shaking her white head. "But the past few days, well… I saw him bring you back the other night. Did he kiss you?"
"No! It's not like that at all! Tank is just a friend! I…" she shook her head. When Daniel arrived, the whole story would be out anyway. "I left Silver Springs…left my husband, because I saw something that hurt me, something that I… misinterpreted. Things are fine now…Daniel sent me a letter. A beautiful letter. He's coming to get me, just as soon as the…project…that he's working on is completed."
"He's an archaeologist," Casey replied. "I love Daniel with all of my heart. That will never change. Even if things hadn't worked out between us, that wouldn't change."
The older woman took a sip of her tea. "You say he's coming here?"
"As soon as possible, yes."
"I see. I guess this means that you'll be leaving Los Noche?"
Casey nodded. "Yes, it does."
Ruby sighed. "We'll miss you around here," she said.
"Thanks," Casey replied, surprised…and pleased.
Jimmy's wife Theresa brought out two plates piled high with meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The two women ate in silence, both caught up in their own private thoughts.
An hour later, she was pouring drinks and opening bottles of beer at Shady Dan's. Casey glanced over at Tank. "Ruby made an interesting observation today," she said quietly.
He looked over at her. "What?"
Her cheeks began to redden. "She said…she thinks…she thinks you're sweet on me, as she put it," she said in a rush.
Tank laughed. "That's Ruby. Always looking for love in all the wrong places!"
"Case, you've been in love with your husband since I met you. I don't go where there are 'no trespassing' signs posted. Your heart has 'no trespassing' all over it."
"Should be 'Daniel's property'," she muttered.
He laughed again. "Are you a wiseass at home, too?"
"Pretty much," she admitted, with a grin.
"Look, I'm not saying that I don't think you're the most beautiful woman I've ever laid eyes on, because you are. Hell, that alone would keep me from trying anything," Tank said.
Her eyes were wide. "Why?"
"Because beautiful women like you don’t fall for guys like me," he replied with a shrug.
She shook her head. "I think you're wrong, on both counts. I'm not that beautiful…I'm not beautiful at all. And I think any woman would be lucky to have a man as sweet and kind as you in her life!"
"Tell that to my ex-wives!" he retorted. He didn't respond to her claim that she wasn't beautiful. Something told him that she'd probably never see herself that way. Which made her all the more attractive.
Tilly and Pete wandered in, dropped down onto two barstools. Casey had their beers open and in front of them before they were completely settled. She and Tank didn't have time to talk about Ruby's misguided assumptions again, the regulars were starting to arrive.
"Hey, Casey," Mary said in greeting when the young blonde put the pitcher of beer on the table. "I hear that your husband might be showing up."
Casey sighed. The fastest way to spread gossip was to tell Ruby Wilson! "He'll be here," she replied.
"Is that good or bad?" Sharon asked.
She smiled, lit the entire room when she did so. "It's good. Very, very good."
Pete had dropped change into the jukebox, and Billy Ray Cyrus began to wail about his Achy Breaky Heart, which meant that the patrons of Shady Dan's were doing the line dance that Casey had taught them. Even Tank, who always refused to dance, was out from behind the bar, shaking his hips along with everyone else. This place will never be the same, he thought, watching her turn and dip. He already missed her.
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