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General Hammond frowned when Daniel followed Jack into the living room. It was obvious the man hadn't slept. He hadn't bothered shaving, either. Jack had said that the young archaeologist had been determined to try to find his wife alone, until her trail had literally gone cold. Just as the light had faded from Casey's eyes in the infirmary, the life seemed to have drained out of Daniel as he stood there, listening to people tell him that they had no idea who she was or where she might have gone. His Second-in-Command was gravely concerned about their top archaeologist. He was as well, and he hoped that what transpired in this room in the next few minutes would change things for the better. "Thank you for coming, Doctor Jackson."
Daniel nodded, glanced at the man who sat silently in a chair beside the wide, sandstone fireplace.
The general sat down on one end of the sofa, motioned for Daniel to be seated. Jack stood beside his best friend, his hands in his pockets. "Doctor Jackson…" The general shook his head. "Daniel, I want you to know that we're going to find Casey. I feel responsible for what's happened-"
"You, sir?" Daniel asked, surprise in his voice and in his eyes.
"If I hadn't allowed her to convince me that her…feelings…were just of a personal nature, I never would have allowed you to proceed with that…mission," the general said, with a glance at his still un-introduced guest. "At the very least I should have insisted that Colonel O'Neill go to your home, and then take her to where you were…staying."
Jack had reported that he'd tried calling that night, but that Casey had never answered the phone. He'd driven by the apartment building, had seen the lights in the apartment, and so had honored her unspoken wish to be left alone. He was still kicking himself for not stopping, not insisting that she talk to him.
He nodded. "Yeah, well hindsight is twenty-twenty, so they say."
The older man smiled. "Yes, so they say. Daniel, Colonel O'Neill, this is Mr. Leigh. He's a Special Agent attached to the Secret Service. He's worked on the President's detail team. And he's going to find Casey."
Daniel gasped. "Sir?"
"You just tell Agent Leigh what you've found, and I promise you, he'll find her."
The young man turned to stare coldly at the agent. "If you hurt her, or frighten her, I'll kill you."
Gary Leigh had been threatened by the best. Some of the most notorious terrorists had threatened him personally. This was the first time a threat had ever sent a shiver down his spine. "I have no intention of doing either, Doctor Jackson," he replied.
"What do you know about the…situation?" Jack asked.
The agent smiled. "I know that Doctor Jackson was called away on a matter of national security. That during the operation a former girlfriend was located among unfriendlies, and returned. That during his confinement by aforementioned unfriendlies, Doctor Jackson was drugged, and made to believe that he was still in a relationship with this woman. He managed to return to base with this former girlfriend. And, still under the influence of the drugs, managed to shove his wife across the room, and charged over, picked up his former girlfriend, and fled. Mrs. Jackson had no idea…has no idea...that drugs were involved. And that an abusive childhood has left her with psychological scars that make her more receptive to believing the worst case scenario."
Jack looked from the agent to the general and back again. General Hammond had given him the details, even if the specifics were missing. "Yeah, that's about the gist of it."
"She's a beautiful woman, Doctor Jackson," Agent Leigh said softly, holding the picture that Gen. Hammond had given him.
"Inside and out," Daniel replied.
"So I've been told."
"Daniel, what did you and Colonel O'Neill find out?" General Hammond asked quietly.
"She bought a bus ticket here in Silver Springs, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Except she got off at an unscheduled stop. In Springer, not too far south of the Colorado border. There are three possible buses she could have gotten on, all three heading farther west," Daniel replied.
Agent Leigh nodded. "What did she take with her?"
Daniel frowned. "Just some of her clothes." That morning, having decided to do a load of laundry just to keep himself busy, he'd discovered some of her things...a pair of jeans, two tee shirts and two pairs of cotton pajamas...in the hamper. He'd sat on the bathroom floor and held the items, breathing deeply of the sweet scent that clung to them, crying into the material until the shirts were wet from his tears.
"What about credit cards, cash?"
"No credit cards…" Daniel's frown deepened. She wouldn't use her Visa card. There was a balance on it, probably high enough to put her close to the limit. Without a means of paying it…no, she wouldn't use her Visa at all. "There wasn't much left in her checking account. We just bought a house, and we used her money to buy paint and blinds…I don’t think there was more than a couple of hundred left…she paid the closing costs," he said softly. "I figure she probably has two, maybe three hundred dollars, tops."
"Then she'll probably be looking for work."
He nodded. "Casey is a hard worker. She won't take a handout from anyone," he said.
"It will be a fairly simple thing to talk to the drivers of those buses. One of them will know something. I can narrow the search down from there." The three men of the SGC nodded. "It might take time. If she was trying to hide her tracks, though, she'd have tried to disguise herself. I'm thinking she's just running from a big case of heartache," Agent Leigh said.
"That's what I think," Jack said, nodding his head in agreement. "She's not even thinking…just running."
The tall blonde haired man nodded. "That will make it easier to find her. Is she shy, or does she talk easily with strangers?"
"She's shy. Quiet. People flock to her, though," Daniel replied.
Agent Leigh stood to his feet. "I'm going to head to Springer now. With luck, in the next day or so I can speak to all the bus drivers of any of the possible routes she took. As soon as I have a definite direction, I'll call you."
Daniel and General Hammond stood as well. Daniel offered his hand. "When you find her…just call me. I…if she comes home, it has to be because she wants to."
The man nodded. "Understood. I won't approach her."
Satisfied that the man wouldn't frighten her, possibly into disappearing again, Daniel nodded in return.
"Thank you, Mr. Leigh," Hammond said quietly.
"My pleasure, sir. The president says that you folks have more than earned any help you need." It was apparent that the agent didn't know what these men did, and that he was curious. But it was just as apparent that the word of the President of the United States was enough for him. With another nod, Agent Leigh let himself out. He had a missing person to find. An incredibly beautiful blonde woman. Her husband was deeply in love with her. And nearly crazy worrying about her…missing her. All of that had been blatantly apparent. He hoped that it wouldn't take long to find one Casey Renee Webster Jackson.
Daniel turned to the general. "Thank you, sir."
"You're welcome, son. We all miss her," the general replied. "Let's go have a beer, shall we?"
Second was smiling brightly. "We haven't even had to guide them! He is brilliant, he knew where and how to look! His friends care deeply for him, are anxious to help them in whatever way they can!"
First smiled indulgently at her companion. Always so emotional, this one! "Which leaves us free to help twice more, if the need arises."
"Perhaps we should check on her," Third said. "He has his friends to offer comfort and support. She is alone."
"Not completely. She has a friend," First pointed out.
"But he cannot offer the comfort that a close friend can," Second replied.
"True," First conceded. She led the way to where a young woman lay crying herself to sleep in a run down motel room.
A A A A A A
She sat up. It was useless to try to sleep now. She'd been dreaming. Just a simple dream. A lovely dream. Just her and Daniel grocery shopping…laughing and gently teasing one another the way they'd grown accustomed to doing. She remembered vividly the night that they'd stopped at Piggly-Wiggly on the way home from the base, and a popular love song had begun playing on the speakers above them. Between the peanut butter and the jams and jellies, Daniel had pulled her into his arms, and they'd slow danced. Right there in the aisle of the grocery store. She wiped tears away from her face. He'd be dancing with Sarah, now.
What if Tank was right? What if Daniel had been drugged? What if…what if he was looking for her right now? What if he wanted her to come home? She shook her head. She could 'what if' herself into next week. She'd known before he left on the mission that she was about to lose him. There was no denying the facts, her mind insisted. Her heart wouldn't be so easily shushed. How could she have been so sure that she was about to lose him, when she'd been able to see nothing, sense nothing else about the entire mission?
Casey tossed the blankets back. Began to pace the floor. What if…She stared at the phone. Shaking hands picked it up. Dialed that familiar number.
"Hi. You've reached Daniel and Casey Jackson. We can't come to the phone right now, so leave a message after the beep. We'll get back to you as soon as possible."
She let the receiver clatter back into the cradle, the sound of his voice both soothing her, and tearing her apart even more. He hadn't changed the message yet. Of course, he might still be on Ravanna with the Tok'ra…with Sarah. How many days had it been? She opened up the small refrigerator, pulled out the bottle of tequila, the container of orange juice. She fixed a drink, downed it, willing the liquor to numb her enough to sleep.
Her legs pulled up, her cheek resting on her knee; she sat on the bed and watched as the shadows moved over the walls.
If he can't find you, how can he secure a divorce? How can he be free of you?
She sat upright, the hair on her arms standing on end. She shivered from the sudden cold that seemed to fill the room. Oh, god, she hadn't even thought about that! What if he was looking for her…only so he could serve her with divorce papers? No, better that she serve him…then he'd never need to know where she was. And that's what she wanted…wasn't it?
First thing in the morning…well…as soon as she went to the bar, she'd ask Tank for his advice. Maybe…maybe she'd rent a car and drive to Mexico. She'd heard that divorces there were quick and cheap. That's what she needed…as quick and as cheap as she could get it.
She finished off the tequila laced orange juice. Spent another hour crying. Finally fell back into fitful sleep. Trying even in her dreams to run from incredible blue eyes, that sexy, shy smile, strong broad shoulders, and amazing, warm hands.
A A A A A A
The klaxons began to wail, the red beacons flashed. The Marines were already running into the 'gate room to take up their defensive positions.
"Unscheduled 'gate activation," Walter's voice intoned over the intercom.
"Any identification?" General Hammond asked as soon as he arrived.
"Not yet sir."
The members of SG-1 raced into the room.
"General?" Jack asked.
"Tok'ra IDC," Walter announced. "It's General Carter, sir."
"Open the iris," the general ordered. The flagship SG team fell into step behind him as they made their way to the 'gate room.
Jacob Carter and Sarah Gardner walked down the ramp.
Daniel could feel the bile rise in his throat. The two people he really didn’t need…didn't want...to see right now. He did his best to greet the two civilly. He was aware that Sarah was now joined with a Tok'ra symbiote. She looked better than she had the last time he'd seen her. He could feel her eyes on him. He ducked his head, rubbed his neck absently with one hand.
"Jacob? To what do we owe this visit?" General Hammond asked.
"Actually, Sarah requested to visit. She wanted to speak with Daniel."
His head jerked up. "Why?"
"I'd like to explain to your wife what happened, so that she doesn't hold against you anything that she may have…witnessed," Sarah replied softly. "Explain to her that you'd been drugged by Osiris."
He couldn't stop the disdainful laugh that escaped his throat. "Yeah, I'm sure she'll be eager to hear that. You find her and let her know that, will you?"
Jacob frowned, glanced at General Hammond. "George?"
The older man shook his head. "When Doctor Jackson…fled…the infirmary with Ms. Gardner in his arms, Casey left the mountain. We've neither seen nor heard from her since."
Selmak writhed with guilt. They'd been aware that Casey Jackson had been distressed when she'd witnessed her husband calling for, reaching out for another woman; Samantha had informed her father that the woman had fled. He…they…had assumed that by now she would have been found and returned to her rightful place. "Doctor Jackson, it is with utmost sincerity that I offer my apologies for the Tok'ra part in this…situation," the Tok'ra said softly.
Sarah felt the tears in her eyes. "I'm so sorry, Daniel! I know how much you love her-" she broke off when Daniel held up a finger.
"Yeah, everybody's sorry. I get that. None of it does a damned bit of good, though, does it?"
"Daniel!" Jack said sharply, a warning in the tone of his voice.
"What Jack? I should make nice with the Tok'ra after they totally destroyed my life? What I had to…endure…on that goddamned ship was bad enough! But then to be taken by Osiris…lose my Wife…no, Jack, I'm not playing the game anymore. I'm going home." He turned on his heel. Maybe he'd take some of the paint over to the house today. He'd purchased a ladder and all of the equipment the salesman had insisted he'd need. If he concentrated on getting the house ready for her…
Sarah watched, the misery she felt reflected on her lovely face. She turned to Jack. "You're his friend - please, if you'd take me to him, let me speak with him…"
"Lady, it's pretty obvious that Daniel doesn't want to talk to you. At least not right now," Jack replied coldly.
"Ms. Gardner, I know that Daniel isn't blaming you," Sam said softly. "But he's grieving deeply. We haven't been able to locate Casey. The longer she's missing-" the blonde major broke off, shrugged slightly. "If you'd like, I'll take you to Daniel's place. If he doesn't want to talk to you, then we leave."
"And the Tok'ra keeps quiet," Jack growled, not at all happy that Sam was going to do exactly the opposite of what he thought should be done. Something that they would be discussing later!
A A A A A A
Daniel sat on the sofa, ran his hand over the cushion. They'd made love here. They'd made love in every room of the apartment. He smiled through his tears as he thought about the night she'd come into the office, and they'd made love in there. He'd spent the day working on a rather difficult translation. She'd brought lunch and dinner to him, kept his mug full of fresh, hot coffee. But by eleven o'clock that night, she'd had enough. She'd walked into the room, sat down on the chair to read, like she always did when he was working. But she'd been naked…that beautiful body so gloriously naked. And she'd brought her toys with her. When the scent of her arousal, and the sound of the vibrator had filtered through to him, he'd looked up, and nearly came on the spot as he watched her pleasure herself. She'd looked over at him, given him a smile that had melted his brain, and slid to her knees. He'd been hard and hot and ready, and she'd sucked him off with all of the love and enthusiasm she always did. Within seconds she had him hard again, had climbed on him, impaled herself on his throbbing shaft, and had ridden him until they were both crying out.
He shook his head. This wasn't getting anything done. Dozens of packing boxes waited for him to fill them. He sighed, taped half a dozen of the brown cardboard pieces into shape, and began to empty the bookcases. Casey had worried about moving the massive units. He'd assured her that the movers had gotten them into the apartment, they'd be able to get them out, and into the house. He glanced through a few of his journals as he put them into the box, some of them bringing a small smile to his face.
The doorbell echoed around him. Probably Jack, he thought. He wasn't prepared to see Sam standing there…with Sarah.
"If you want us to leave, we will," Sam said immediately, casting a warning glance at the woman beside her.
He sighed. He knew that Sarah wanted…probably needed…to apologize. Better to get it over with. "No, come on in. You can watch me pack."
"Pack?" Sarah said, alarm in her voice. As long as Daniel continued to work at the SGC, she'd be able to see him occasionally. Her hope was that eventually they'd become friends. As they'd been once. She understood that he'd never loved her, cared for her certainly, but he'd never been in love with her. She'd also determined that she'd rather have him in her life as nothing more than a friend, than to not have him in her life at all.
"Yeah, Case and I bought a house. I figured I'd have everything ready for when she comes home-" his voice caught, he turned away from the door.
Sam motioned that the woman should enter, then followed behind her. The rooms still screamed of Casey's absence.
Daniel had gone down the hallway, disappeared into one of the rooms.
"I'll be right back," Sam said quietly. "He may not want to talk to you."
Sarah nodded. The phone chose that moment to start ringing. It had been a long time since she'd heard that familiar sound. When Daniel hadn't appeared by the third ring, she'd moved closer. So long…such a simple thing…She would never know what made her reach out and pick up the handset. "Hello?" The only thing she heard was a soft click. When she looked up, Daniel was staring at her. She slowly replaced the receiver. "Whoever it was hung up," she said, shrugging slightly.
"I hope like hell that wasn't my Wife," he hissed. Something told him that it had been Casey on the other end of that line.
She closed her eyes. Oh, god, had she reached for that phone, knowing subconsciously that it could be his wife? Was she trying to make Daniel hate her more? "I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Get out," Daniel said hoarsely. "Please…just…get out!"
Sam grabbed the woman's arm, pulled her toward the door.
"I'm sorry, Daniel!" Sarah cried out.
He closed his eyes. Everybody was so fucking sorry! And it did nothing to bring Casey home!
A A A A A A
She recognized the soft voice as the one that had been calling out Daniel's name in the infirmary. Well, that cinched it, didn't it? She fought back the tears, berated herself for attempting to call again. She pulled on her jeans and the new Shady Dan's tee shirt that Tank had given her. She'd talk to him about that trip to Mexico, and the divorce that Daniel was probably eager to have.
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