<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>
What the Eye Beholds, the Heart Denies
"You don't have to do this."
"Yes, I do."
"Are you certain you're ready?"
Casey took a sip of her coffee. Studied the face of the man who had proven to her what friendship was all about. "Jack, I can't stay here. I won't sell the house, I'm not ready to do that yet. I just...I just need some time away."
Jack frowned. Allowing Casey to just run off wasn't in his game plan. How could he take proper care of her if she was...gone? "I could see about leave time. I know I have enough stacked up on the books, I could-"
She put her hand over his. "That's sweet. But not necessary. I need time to just...pull myself together. I know that I have to get back to work. But..." Her voice faded. She had yet to try to reach out, to try to see anything. She didn't know whether to be relieved or worried that the poking in the back of her mind seemed to have stopped. "I have to make certain that I still have what it takes. And I have to know that I can interpret what I'm seeing in enough time to make a difference."
"So...you heading to Los Noches?"
She shook her head.
The frown deepened. "Okay. I give up. Where?"
"I'm not certain yet. I thought I'd just...drive. I'll know when I get there, I suppose."
"Casey, I don't think this is such a good idea."
"I'm fine, Jack. I won't freak out again."
"That's not what worries me," he replied immediately, truthfully. Casey was a strong woman. She'd gone through the worst of the grieving process. She was dealing with her grief in her typical fashion, smiling at the world, and keeping all of her heartache a private matter. No doubt she was having nightmares...but so far they didn't seem to be anything that she couldn't handle.
"Then what worries you?"
"You're a beautiful woman, Casey. And a beautiful woman traveling alone...that just invites trouble."
She blushed brightly, lowered her eyes. Daniel had always declared that she was beautiful...and sexy. But he'd loved her...had viewed her through the eyes of love. No doubt his glowing opinion of her had colored Jack's perceptions. "Yeah, well, Teal'c taught me mastaba. I think I can protect myself."
No doubt about that. He'd seen her training. She'd wiped the floor with seven cadets before they'd had time to comprehend what had happened. But an armed man, taking her by surprise, or worse yet, more than one man..."Radar, I don't like the idea of you being alone."
"Jack, I really need to do this."
"I hate this idea, you know."
She smiled. "Duly noted."
"You call me. Every morning before you start out, and at night when you stop. I want to know where you're headed."
"I can do that," she replied softly, understanding his need to protect her. She knew that Jack's continued visits weren't because he was worried that she would harm herself, or freak out again. Or that she wasn't coping with Daniel's loss. He was doing what came naturally to him. Protecting her. Taking care of her. Because he'd made a promise to Daniel that he would do so. Because he was still blaming himself for Daniel's death...even though that responsibility, that blame, lay solely at her own feet.
Jack heaved a sigh of defeat. "When will you leave?"
"Probably not until next week. I need to make arrangements for a couple of bills to be paid automatically. I know that General Hammond wants me to-" She broke off, turned her head away, trying to hide the damnable tears that seemed to be in her eyes most of the time. "There's paperwork that needs to be dealt with. Daniel's will needs to be opened and read."
He nodded his understanding.
"I have to be somewhere else...I can't be here..." her hand motioned weakly toward the large calendar that was hanging on the refrigerator.
Jack turned and looked. Frowned slightly. Big red 'X's marked each day she had managed to get through. A big red heart drawn around February twenty-second. Okay. So what...oh hell. Their anniversary. The second one. "You could always check out-" Just before he could suggest going to Las Vegas, a cure he'd suggested to Daniel after Sha're had been killed, his memory supplied the images of the team vacation. Damn! He'd barely caught himself in time. Pick a city, any city, his brain shouted at him..."oh, I dunno...Tulsa?" Good save, O'Neill, he thought.
"Tulsa? As in Tulsa, Oklahoma?"
"Ever been there?"
"No, I haven't."
"Well, there ya go. Nice city. Not so far from Colorado Springs. New terrain, new people, new place...you'll like it. Spend a few days, get your radar back on track, and you'll be good as new."
She couldn't help but smile. "Well, close enough anyway," she said softly.
He glanced at his watch. Tapped it twice. Had he really been here that long? "I need to get going."
Casey glanced at the clock. "Yes, you do."
"I'll talk to you tonight."
"I'll be here."
He patted her hand, tossed back the last of the coffee, winked, and hurried out the door.
She sat back in the silence that surrounded her. She'd made the decision the night before, sitting on the couch, knowing that she needed to do something to move forward. Needed to deal with her 'gift'. Needed to know just how well it still worked, if it worked at all. If not, she'd have to make arrangements for another job...she had nothing to offer the SGC if she didn't have her gift of sight...there was no way in hell she could ever be on an SG team. Not without Daniel.
She poured the last of the coffee into her mug. Sat back down at the table. This was the best thing she could do. And if...if her gift had been lost to her, a result of Daniel's death...and her own failure, then she would leave Colorado Springs. Tulsa, huh? Why not?
The man and woman watched worriedly. "If she leaves the area, she'll be vulnerable. She'll have no protection," the man said, adjusting the round, wire-framed glasses on his face. His deep blue eyes reflected his concern.
The small, wrinkled woman nodded. "Running...hiding. That's what she's trying to do. Looking for shadows to hide in so the pain can't find her."
"Born of necessity," the old woman nodded. Developed as a child of five...then six, as a way to survive in the 'care' of a mad woman. She didn't say that out loud. They didn't like it so much when she cussed.
"Whatever you're going to do, I believe it would be wise to do it soon." He looked around, making certain they were alone. "You are going to do something, right?"
"We're not allowed to interfere," the old woman replied.
"I know that!"
"You took a great risk."
The old woman smiled. "Sure as hell riled her up, didn't you?"
"That hadn't been my intention."
"Intentional or not, it worked. Made her start thinking...rather than just ignoring her insights...drifting along half dead."
"This is all so...wrong!"
"Yes, it is. And soon, those responsible will pay for what they've done," the old woman predicted. "Now, you go find something to keep yourself out of trouble. I have things to do."
The man looked again at the young woman who sat at the oak dining table, frowning at her coffee mug. A smile tugged at his lips. "I think I'll go check on my wife."
"You can't! William, you'll be...disciplined!"
"Maybe. If They catch me."
The old woman looked up at her companion. Realized just exactly what he was doing. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. This is too important...you...we can't fail. Not this time!"
"Hmmph. Seems to me that we already did. And that failure happened long before either of us got here."
"So, it's up to us to set things right."
The old woman looked around. "Be careful."
"Always am," William grinned.
In a flash of bright white light, he was gone.
The old woman sighed. At least she had Casey's own words to use in her defense. She chose the spot, a nice quiet corner...very little traffic. And the booth was half-hidden behind a large maple tree. Another flash of light...
The ringing of the phone brought Casey from silent contemplation. It was too early to be Sam. Probably Janet, she thought. Or maybe her dad. He called every day, too. She smiled. It was amazing, the number of people who cared for her. She reached for the noisy instrument. "Hello?"
Casey's eyes widened slightly as she recognized the familiar voice. "Miss Eloise?"
"Arlinda said you wanted me to call."
She pulled the receiver away from her ear, looked at it as if she'd never seen the device before, then slowly put it back in place. "Um...yeah, I guess I did."
"So you're thinking of taking a little trip, eh?"
"Your information is certainly up-to-date. I just decided last night. I told Jack about it just this morning."
Again, Casey was shocked. Her spirit guide, the old seer who had taught her about her gift, was being surprisingly direct. "Why not?"
"Miss Eloise, what is going on? Why are you calling?"
"Oh, great. You call me, and now you're going to go all Ascended on me! 'Think, Casey'," she mimicked.
"Throw your little temper tantrum and then get on with it. Time's a-wasting."
Casey frowned. "I didn't figure it out in time. Whoever sends the messages fucked up as much as I did. Three images, Miss Eloise. Three lousy damned images! That is all that I got! Nothing with it, not sounds or smells, nothing to help me link them together! And because I fucked up, Daniel died! So don't get all superior with me! As far as I'm concerned, you and your friends can take this gift and shove it up your collective Ascended asses! It doesn't mean a thing if I don't get what I need, if I can't figure it out in time!"
There was a soft chuckle. "Feel better?"
As a matter of fact, she did. She would not give the old woman the satisfaction of hearing her say that out loud, however. "What do you want?"
"I want you to do what you're supposed to be doing."
"Don't play stupid, Casey. You're not, and we both know that."
Casey sighed. "I can't," she whispered. "I'm terrified! What if...if it's gone, what am I going to do?"
"Running and hiding won't help," the old seer said gently. "Trust me, Casey. Do what you're supposed to do."
"Will you be there?"
Casey put the receiver back in place. Wished fervently for Daniel's calming touch. For the security of his presence. Both hands on the granite counter, using it for support, Casey closed her eyes. Began to reach out. That familiar hum was there, just as loud as ever. She had grown so accustomed to it that she only heard it when she listened for it.
The room was familiar...small, shadowed, the single incandescent bulb hanging down in the very center offering it's meager light. Miss Eloise was waiting for her, sapphire blue eyes filled with concern.
"I'm not going to cry," Casey whispered, so relieved she was shaking. She hadn't even admitted to herself that the loss of her gift would be a loss of what made her the person that she was.
"Good. We don't have time."
"Time for what?"
"Reach out, Casey. Tell me what you see."
She nodded, closed her eyes. In an instant she was in the dark of space. She didn't need to be told where she was. She recognized it. Debris floated in an ever expanding cloud. Pieces of Ares' ship.
Suddenly, as if she were watching a movie being rewound, the ship was pulled back together...four explosions 'undone'. Wait! What the hell was that?
She moved closer. Waved her hand backwards. Too far. As if she held the remote for this bizarre 'movie' in her hand, she tapped her finger against the vacuum of space slowly, advancing the scene one second at a time.
Her heart caught in her throat. There was Daniel's escape pod! She knew it was his...she could feel it! Wires above three clamps sparked, but the clamps held firm. Another explosion. The pod had been damaged...life support, she thought, watching a small section of the back of the pod floating away...some sort of control panel, she thought. Okay, he was Immortal...they just had to get him to safety...
Another explosion. But in the nanoseconds before the flames and the flying debris that would act as shrapnel - tearing the pod and the man inside it into pieces - were close enough to cause the expected damage, a shaft of bright light seemed to appear from nowhere. And the pod was...gone!
She gasped, tears rolling down her face. Where in the hell had it gone? She whirled in a circle, looking for it, certain she would see it. It was gone. But...where?
She was pulled back to that small room by a gnarled hand on her arm. "It's gone!"
"What's gone?" Miss Eloise asked.
"Daniel's pod! It wasn't destroyed in the explosion! It was there...and then...it was gone!"
Miss Eloise smiled. She'd felt the...movement. Had suspected what it meant. But only Casey had the ability to find out for certain. Now that she knew, it would be safe to look. For the moment, however, keeping this information away from those who had orchestrated the entire nightmare was her most important task. "Casey, you have the information you need. Do what you must. Follow your heart."
Casey opened her eyes. Collapsed into a heap on the floor, sobbing loudly. Gone! The escape pod was gone! It hadn't been destroyed!
She pulled herself upright as the thoughts echoed in her head. The pod hadn't been destroyed. Which meant...
She had to get to the base! She needed a list of all of the planets that were anywhere near the spot where Ares had been destroyed. Daniel was out there...somewhere. She just had to find him!
She pulled her boots on. Searched for and found her ID badge, grabbed the keys to the Jeep, thankful that Jack and Teal'c believed it important that she have it there, rather than leaving it on the base. The fact that she was leaving black skid marks on the street never registered in her mind. She had one thought...get to the base. Sam would be able to get a list of those planets, and the addresses. She just had to find the right one.
Daniel was going to be nine kinds of pissed off when they finally found him. She should probably start working on an explanation now...
A A A A A A
The jeep squealed to a stop at the main gate, Casey barely remaining there long enough for the blocking arm to be raised. She came upon two slower moving vehicles, sped around them with out even slowing down, barely avoided an oncoming truck. Ignored the blaring horns and the squeal of breaks. Whipped into Daniel's parking space, and tore out for the bus stop at a run. The bus had just arrived.
"Mr. Dausey! Wait!"
The startled bus driver kept the door open. It was good to see Mrs. J back on the base. Even if she was running late. He slapped the door closed as soon as she was onboard, headed for the mountain entrance and its huge blast door.
She didn't know what bothered her more...the looks of pity that she received, or the enthusiastic welcome from SG team members as she made her way through the required check posts. If anyone was surprised to see her, then they didn't let on.
Practically bouncing as she rode the elevator to level nineteen...she'd already decided to alert Sam first, the list of planets would be needed before they could go anywhere...she went through Jack's daily 'routine' in her mind. If he stayed true to form, he'd be in the CO offices by the time she was finished.
Casey raced into Sam's lab, startling the major. "He's alive!"
"I just talked to Miss Eloise. I saw it, Sam! I saw it! Just before the final explosions, there was this bright light, and the pod Daniel was in...it was just gone!" the seer explained breathlessly.
"Casey, slow down! Sit down!" Sam said. For the moment the fact that the seer was even in her office was completely lost. "Now, start over. You talked to Miss Eloise?"
"Yep. Then I saw the explosions. There were three clamps that didn't turn loose of Daniel's escape pod. I could see the sparks, but nothing happened. Then the final explosions. But just before all of that...stuff-"
"Yes, all of it...before it could hit the pod, there was this flash of bright white light...and the pod was just...gone."
She'd never had a reason to doubt what Casey saw. She wouldn't start now. Even if her mind insisted that it wasn't possible. "Where?"
"I don't know. But it had to be somewhere around there, right? There had to have been a planet nearby."
None of the nearby planets, most of them a considerable distance away, had been searched. There had been no need, the ship had been destroyed, and so had Daniel's escape pod. Or so they'd believed.
"He's going to be nine kinds of pissed off when we find him," Casey muttered.
Sam couldn't help but laugh. "Oh, no doubt."
"We need a list of planets near there, with Stargates."
The major nodded. "We'll search them first. If there are any habitable planets without 'gates, we'll have the Prometheus do a search."
Casey frowned. "I just thought of something."
"If there was a 'gate where he is, he'd have headed to the Alpha site, and home."
"True. IF he's alive. If he was trapped in the pod, he'd have suffocated."
"But he'll be in one piece," Casey said.
"Three days, girlfriend."
"He'll still be pissed when he finds out how long it took."
Sam smiled. "Something tells me he won't be too pissed."
Casey's smile, the first genuine smile she'd given since the day that mission had gone to hell, lit the room. "I have to find Jack and Teal'c."
"Go. By the time you bring them back here, I'll have that list. And we'll tell General Hammond then."
She gave her best friend a hug. "We'll be right back. Oh, could you give Janet a call? Let her know?"
Sam picked up the phone. "Right now. Go!"
She ran toward the elevator, ignored the surprised looks and exclamations from those in the corridor, who stood watching as she zoomed by.
A A A A A A
She punched '21', she'd grab Teal'c on the way to level twenty-three, where the CO offices were located, and hopefully Jack O'Neill as well. She shoved the door of the gym open, glanced around. Met surprised black eyes with her own, held his gaze. "He's alive, Teal'c. I saw it," Casey said quietly.
Teal'c nodded. Put down the weights that he had been working with. "Where?"
"I'm not sure, exactly. Sam is getting a list of possible planets together right now. We find Jack, get permission from the general, and we go get him."
"I will meet you...where?"
"Sam's office. In ten. Don't be late!"
"I will not," Teal'c said, offering one of his rare, ear-to-ear smiles.
With a flutter of her fingers, she dashed out of the room.
One of the SF's, who had heard the exchange, shook his head. "Does she ever walk anywhere?" he asked.
"I do not believe so," Teal'c replied. Still grinning. He hurried to the locker room. Never once doubting what Casey had seen, or told him.
A A A A A A
When she opened the door to the CO offices, the conversation and laughter that had been audible ceased completely. All eyes focused on her. Jack was on his feet in a flash, met her half way across the room.
"Casey?" His brown eyes were full of concern. What the hell was she doing here? The last time he'd tried to bring her into the SGC, she'd panicked, he'd barely gotten her home before she'd fallen apart, crying and shaking and gasping for breath.
"He's alive, Jack! Daniel is alive! Miss Eloise called me, I think she was pissed off because I haven't reached out at all since that day mostly because I was pissed off and there's been this poking but I just ignored it because what good is the damned info if I can't figure it out in time but she called and-"
He put a finger on her lips. "Take a breath, Radar. You lost me right after Miss Eloise called."
Ferretti and Major Newman chuckled.
"She called. I searched. I saw what happened. Three clamps malfunctioned. Just before the debris from the final explosions could destroy his escape pod, there was this brilliant flash of white light...and the pod was just...gone!"
Jack's eyes went wide. His expression mirrored by the other men in the room. "Where?"
Casey shook her head. "I don't know. Sam is getting a list together."
He grabbed her arm, was half dragging her toward the door. "Teal'c?"
"In the shower, he'll meet us in Sam's office," was her reply.
He looked over his shoulder. "Pass the word. The more teams we have looking, the sooner we'll find that pod."
Ferretti nodded. "On it."
Janet was standing in Sam's office when Casey and Jack arrived. She took the seer's slender hands in her own small ones. "Casey, you're certain?"
The seer nodded. "Yes, I am. I...I can feel it...I can feel him. I just...I never-" She broke off, lowered her head. When she raised it, her eyes were glistening with tears. "I never even tried to look. I was so angry, so convinced that my gift was worthless," she whispered.
Janet hugged her tightly. "Under the circumstances, I'd say that wasn't unreasonable. It wasn't true...but we all understand."
"He's going to be so pissed when he finds out how long we waited," Casey said.
Janet smiled. "Which is exactly why you get to tell him."
"List?" Jack asked Sam.
"Almost," the major replied easily.
"Right." Jack gave a short nod of understanding. Any planets that didn't have a Stargate would have to be scanned by the Prometheus.
Janet looked from one to the other. She'd heard one word conversations between the members of SG-1 before. It was almost 'shorthand', and the way the team seemed to communicate half of the time. Five people, one entity, she thought, smiling slightly.
A A A A A A
Thirty minutes later, four members of SG-1 crowded into General Hammond's office. He rose to his feet as soon as his eyes focused on Casey.
"He's alive, general," Casey said quietly. "I should have looked sooner, should have reached out sooner."
"I see." Hammond motioned to the chair in front of his desk. "Now, tell me what's going on."
Casey told him about the phone call. The search. What she had witnessed. Sam added her own ideas, Teal'c interjected that obviously someone from a higher level had intervened to save the life of The One.
The general cleared his throat before speaking; his emotions nearly overwhelming as he processed the news that Dr. Jackson was alive...or at least soon would be, both the major and the colonel surmising that he was still inside the escape pod.
"Sir, the more teams we have looking, the sooner we'll find him," Jack offered, hoping that his CO would agree.
"There are six teams on base. I'll have them called to the conference room. We'll debrief in-" He glanced at his watch. "Thirty minutes."
A A A A A A
The excitement that filled the air was palpable. Word had spread throughout the SGC that not only was Casey Jackson back, she'd brought with her the most incredible news imaginable. No one doubted. Not even those who were new to the facility. Stories and reports of her abilities were told and talked about...those who were alive because of her heralded that fact often and loudly. If Casey said Dr. Jackson was out there, he was out there. It was just a matter of finding him.
The members of SG-1, SG-3, SG-6, SG-7, SG-12, and SG-13 filled the briefing room. Talk was loud, laughter was rolling across the room as Casey told jokes, and bemoaned the fact that Daniel was going to be pissy about being left 'out there' for so long. Several of the men promised to 'protect' her...until Jack pointed out that the archaeologist would most probably absolve his wife of any blame...but each of them would no doubt be targets of his wrath. Which had those same men begging Casey to protect them. The sound of her soft laughter on the air was a balm to every heart in the room. No one would forget the desolate look in her eyes, the sound of her pain on the day of the memorial service.
"That guy has more freaking lives that a cat," Major Dave Dixon declared.
"Lucky for us," Ferretti replied, pointing his chin toward Casey. "Without him, we don't have her."
The men around the Marine major nodded. No one had held much hope that the slender seer would ever return to the concrete walls of the SGC. Her grief, her pain, was just too great.
General Hammond entered the room, a smile on his face...the first that anyone had seen in weeks. "Mrs. Jackson has informed me that Doctor Jackson has survived the destruction of Ares' ha'tak. Your job, ladies and gentlemen, is to find him."
"Any ideas at all where to start?" Major Parker asked.
All eyes turned to Casey. She shook her head. "Not a clue."
Sam held up a computer print out. "This is a list of planets in the sector of space where the ship was destroyed. There are seven that don't have 'gates, the Prometheus can scan for anything that might be the escape pod."
"I'm not trying to be a downer here," Ferretti said, "but how do we know that he'll be anywhere near a 'gate?"
"We're assuming that whoever saved him would want him to make it home," Jack replied. "Why save him for nothing?"
"Wouldn't he have just gone to the Alpha site?" Major Newsome asked.
Five people exchanged nervous glances. "Major, would you please close the door. Airman, clear out the control room. Close those doors, then remain in the corridor." General Hammond said quietly.
The men who remained in the room shuffled uneasily. No one needed to say out loud what everyone was thinking. They were about to learn something that was classified. Something that only the OIC and SG-1 knew about.
"Gentlemen, what you are about to learn must never leave this room. The very lives of Doctor and Mrs. Jackson could be at stake were you do so. What you hear, I want you to forget just as quickly," the general said. His voice remained low.
SG-1 exchanged more glances. Only two of the Immortals of the SGC were about to be exposed. Protecting the other five for as long as possible. It was a wise decision, one that they fully understood, and agreed with.
When the metal shield came down over the window that looked out over the 'gate room, preventing any sound from escaping the room, the shifting became pronounced.
Hammond turned to Casey. "Mrs. Jackson, would be willing to share your secret...and the secret of your husband?"
She nodded, trying to think quickly; like her teammates, she understood that the general was giving out only as much as needed to be disclosed. "On a mission right after I became part of SG-1, we were...we were..."
"We were taken captive," Jack said. "We were separated. They took Daniel-"
"Um...'they'?" Ferretti asked, frowning.
"We never actually saw faces. Just hooded, robed figures."
The men around them nodded.
"Daniel was killed...so was I," Casey continued. Which was the truth. Just not exactly the whole truth, or even in the correct order. Sometimes white lies were the only thing between life and death. "But...whoever they were, they brought us back."
"Kind of obvious," Tony Sabotti, muttered.
Casey smiled. "Yes it is. When we returned, Doctor Fraiser ran the usual tests. There were...anomalies. So she did a little more. Daniel and I were changed...at the molecular level. Every genetic flaw had been...repaired. Our DNA is...perfect." She took a deep breath. "Daniel and I are Immortal. We can die, yes. We can be wounded, or killed. As long as we stay in one piece, three days and we're good as new."
Absolute silence filled the room, hanging heavier with each second that passed.
"What this means," General Hammond said softly, "is that even with the time that has passed, as long as Doctor Jackson's escape pod has remained intact, he will...revive, once he's removed from it."
"In three days," a voice said.
Ferretti was frowning. "Explains why he was up and walking around right after we brought him back from the Unas planet. He was damned near dead, never seen a man beaten so badly."
Several heads in the room nodded in agreement.
"General, no offense meant here, but we've all noticed that it's not just Doc or Mrs. J who seem to recover from their wounds pretty damned fast," Major Anderson said.
"You've known?" Jack asked incredulously.
Anderson shrugged. "Not details, no. But it wasn't difficult to put things together. SG-1 was missing for sixteen days, you come back without a scratch on you. And we figure Doc Fraiser must be...well...whatever you are. She was dead. Then she wasn't. Sorry, Major Carter, but you can't control the healing device that well."
General Hammond's lips began to twitch.
"Why didn't you ever say anything?" Sam asked, her blue eyes wide.
"Ma'am, if it were for us to know, we'd have been told," Major Parker said. Various murmurs of agreement filled the air.
"Well I'll be damned," Jack muttered.
"I just gotta know one thing," Tony Sabotti said. "When Ba'al had Mrs. J, that first time, and the rest of you were beamed onto Ba'al's ship...you weren't just exhausted when you got back, were you?"
Sam smiled, and shook her head. "No, we weren't. Daniel, Colonel O'Neill, and I died helping...protecting the Tok'ra. Teal'c was our...bodyguard."
"Literally," Casey mumbled, to chuckles and snickers.
"Okay, so the Doc is either still in the pod, or on a planet with no 'gate," Ferretti said.
"That's what it looks like," Jack replied.
The CO of SG-3 looked around the room, then at the general. "Sir, permission to go bring Doc home?"
General Hammond smiled. "Granted, Major. Gear up, meet in the 'gate room in twenty minutes. Major Carter will have your planet assignments when you come in. Casey will take a look at each planet, we won't have time to wait on the MALPs."
Casey nodded her understanding.
"One more thing. When you do find him, tell him that we need to make up a story about him being disoriented, or his memory being affected, some such thing," the general said.
More shuffling and exchanged glances. "Sir, I don't think that will be necessary."
"Everyone knows?" Casey asked, wide-eyed.
"Well, probably not the lab rats, but they don't need to know," Major Newsome replied, a wide grin on his face.
"But what do we tell them?" she insisted.
The major shrugged. "Why tell them anything?"
"The people in the archaeological department will be...curious...at the very least," she pointed out.
"So, tell them it's classified. Tell them the Doc was on a mission, and no one here was told about it?"
"That's good," Jack nodded.
"I agree," General Hammond added. "We'll worry about a cover story when you return with the doctor. Dismissed."
Tony fell into step beside Casey as the group moved toward the armory. "You know what this means, don't you?"
"What?" she asked.
"Next time we're in a fire fight, I'm hiding behind you!"
She giggled. "Right. I'll protect you."
A A A A A A
It didn't take her long to skim through the list of planets, 'looking' around each, specifically near the Stargates. None of the planets were inhabited. That was the good news. Three were jungle, the others heavily forested. Finding an escape pod might not be as easy as they had first anticipated. She continued to be disappointed by the fact that she couldn't 'see' the escape pod on any of the planets. She wasn't aware of it, hadn't 'stretched' enough to notice it, but she was still being blocked. The heavy blanket that had seemed to hang over her hadn't been removed, it had merely been pulled back...but not by much.
Sam suggested that each team be issued a metal detector to assist in the search. The SGC already owned two of the devices. Frantic calls placed to sporting goods' stores in the area netted five more. MPs were dispatched to collect the detectors, which would be sent through the 'gate as soon as they were brought back. Which meant that one member of each team would be required to wait near the 'gate planet-side. Not an ideal situation, perhaps, but an acceptable one.
Jack stood at the bottom of the ramp, his heart pounding against his ribs. This was the miracle he'd been praying for, hoping for. He looked over at Casey. She was damned near bouncing. He knew that the chances were high that they wouldn't be the team to find Daniel. That was all right. One of the other teams would find the pod, or the Prometheus would locate it. The most important thing was that Daniel would be back. Right where he belonged. SG-1 magic. Thank every real god that existed for it. The Tooth Fairy, too, just in case, he thought irreverently.
The event horizon opened, and Casey ran up the ramp. Her teammates grinned, and followed her, just as excited as she was.
The terrain was rough...the 'gate was located in the center of a group of young trees...young when given the girth of those growing outside of that circle. Jack looked around. "Any ideas where to start?"
"None," Casey replied. Her heart was beating so quickly she was afraid it was going to give out. He could be here. Daniel could be right here, on this planet! She wanted to run in every direction at once. Barely managed to remain with her teammates.
He bit back his grin. "Spread out. Let's start looking. Carter, you pick the direction that feels right to you."
She started slightly. It was as if nothing was wrong, as if the three weeks between the day of that mission, and this one, had never happened. How could he do that? Would he stop at her house tonight, expect her to welcome him to her bed as if the silence...the days apart...had never happened? The question was, would she welcome him? Or would she play the part of the wounded lover? She'd bet a month's pay he didn't even realize he'd hurt her. He'd been so wrapped up in Casey...no, she chided herself silently, he'd been wrapped up in taking care of Casey. Trying to make up to the slender seer for what he believed to be his fault. At the expense of his own life...his own happiness. Even if that meant hurting her. Damn it Jack O'Neill, how do you manage to do that? How do you piss me off, hurt me so badly, and then manage to be the hero? She forced the thoughts aside, focused on the mission. "If I were to make a guess, I'd think that whoever took the pod, would put it directly in front of the 'gate, or as close as possible."
Jack nodded. "Head straight out, then, Major. Teal'c, to the right. Radar, take the left. I'll check back here. Just in case someone has a twisted sense of humor."
With matching grins, the team headed out. Hearts light, because they were looking for Daniel, and not one of them doubted that they would find him.
A A A A A A
Two days later, the excitement had faded dramatically. The search area had widened. Still, there had been no sign of the escape pod. Jonas and Casey were pouring over Daniel's notes, trying to find any hint that one part of the galaxy was more important to the Ancients than the others, a place where the Ascended might dwell, on their plane of existence. It was possible, they believed, that whoever had taken Daniel, and consensus was that it was the Ascended, had taken him to a place that had special meaning. The theory opened the door to the possibility that every planet with a Stargate would need to be searched. And that would take a very long time.
Boots echoed against the metal of the ramp as SG-12 returned to the SGC. Major Anderson shook his head at the inquiry in the general's eyes. No one wanted to tell Casey. As the time continued to pass, the light in her eyes grew just a bit dimmer. The magnitude of the search that might be required had slumped her slender shoulders.
Daniel was out there. Somewhere. But just how long would it take them to find him?
<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>