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It's Hard to Say Goodbye

Chapter 11

The day was sunny…warm…beautiful, as were most days on Gamma. The families of the men of SG-6 were quietly, reverently led to the front three rows of chairs. The grief etched on their faces was reflected on those of the people around them, something that struck the kin of the fallen, who had traveled from Earth for this ceremony. They had not expected to find the people on Gamma grieving as deeply as they were. The Marines, who had escorted the weeping mothers, the fathers who tried to remain strong, the sisters, brothers, and other family members to their seats, marched to stand in front of the group, saluted smartly, then moved to stand guard in front of the dais.

The colors were brought in, everyone rising to pay respect to the flags of Gamma, the Stargate Command Colonies, and the United States. Military members stood at attention, saluted as the flags were carried to the front and placed in the waiting holders.

Duncan MacLeod waited until the honor guard had taken their place beside the Marines. He rose, and stood behind the podium. "As the Commander in Chief for the Stargate Command Colonies, this is the most difficult duty that I am required to perform. It is because of men like Major Evan Parker, Master Sergeant Anthony Sabotti, 1st Sergeant Marvin Yates, and Sergeant Allen Trenton that I have not been forced to perform it often. The men of SG-6 were an example to all of us here on Gamma. They believed in freedom, they believed in hope, they believed in a future secure from the threat of Goa'uld. So much so that they were willing to risk their lives every day for those beliefs. Each of them knew, as we all know, that every trip through the Stargate, into the unknown, every mission on one of the SGC ships, was a risk. They understood those risks. They had calculated those dangers. And they had deemed their beliefs important enough to do the job that their country, their planet, their colony, asked them to do." He looked down into the faces of the families who were grieving. "There are no words that can convey the sorrow we feel, the loss we feel. There are no words to express how much these men meant to us. How much we will miss them. We can only promise to honor their memory by keeping their hopes, their beliefs alive, and to do the best that we can everyday in the face of every threat, every danger that comes our way. SG-6 will be remembered as heroes. Heroes who died doing what they knew must be done. Doing what they had been trained to do. Doing the job that they loved as much as they hated. Doing what had to be done to protect the rest of us. There will never be another SG-6. Because those men can never be replaced. Rest in peace, Evan, Tony, Marvin, Allen. We won't let you down."

When Duncan returned to his seat, Casey stood, her knees weak. Daniel reached up and ran his hand over her arm, squeezed it gently. She nodded at him, then moved to stand where Duncan had been. "I-" her voice broke, she lowered her head, fought back the tears, struggled to regain control. "I was honored to be a part of SG-6, officially assigned to them for a short time, but always a member of that team. There is no debate that these men are heroes. What we sometimes forget is that not every mission was as dangerous as the one that stole them from us. There were exciting times, discoveries that we made together as a team. Then there were the fun times, when we goofed off, made each other laugh. If it's all right with you, I would like to share with you some of my favorite memories of those times." She looked down at the families, unaware of how much comfort her words were offering. She looked at Anita, gave the woman a smile. "Everyone knows that when I get bored on a hike, I start singing. What not everyone knows, is the fact that Major Parker had a beautiful bass voice. Nor do many people know how many silly songs he knew. We were on a planet that was hot, rocky, pretty boring. The major and I drove Tony and Texas crazy singing 'I'm Henry the Eighth'. I think we managed about thirty choruses before Tony mutinied and threatened to shoot us both if we didn't sing something different. About thirty choruses of 'This is the Song That Never Ends' drove Texas to mutiny. All we had to do after that mission to send Texas and Tony running from us was just hum either of those tunes." Quiet laughter filled the air.

Anita was smiling, E.J. and Kerry were nodding their heads and grinning. They all remembered Evan Parker laughing as he told them of that mission.

"Tony is the one who got me interested in lip-syncing," Casey continued, looking down at the Sabotti family. "He always said that karaoke was Japanese for 'you-should-not-be-singing-in-the-first-place'." Several people chuckled out loud. She grinned. "But, he said, anyone could lip-sync and be good at it. We had a lot of fun doing that. We entered a contest in the Pit, that was the club on base for SGC personnel in Cheyenne Mountain. We chose 'You're the One that I want", a song from the movie, 'Grease'. I did John Travolta's parts, he did Olivia Newton-John's. Now, it was going pretty well, until one of his balloons…he wanted to 'look' the part, he said, so he was wearing balloons and a tight sweater, anyway, one of the balloons developed a slow leak. It was hissing, and I got tickled, and lost my place. So, to cover up the flub, he just grabbed me, and dipped me like he was going to kiss me. I guess he forgot about the other balloon, and he sort of put too much pressure on it, and it popped. He actually had a bruise on his chest from that." Laughter moved across the assembled crowd in front of her.

The Sabotti family was smiling, turning to one another and nodding their heads. Mr. Sabotti looked up at the young blonde woman, gave her a smile, and winked, the action so like Tony that for a moment Casey was breathless from the loss of one of her dearest friends.

She turned her attention to Marvin Yates' mother and sister. "Texas was so shy when I first met him that at first I didn't think he ever spoke. We were on a mission to examine some ruins, and I was busy taking a tracing of one of the stele. I was sitting cross-legged on the sand, not really paying attention to what was going on around me. I had put my P90, my weapon, down, but I didn’t realize that the muzzle was pointed right at Texas. I heard the sound of a throat clearing. I looked up, and Texas was standing there with both hands up in the air. In this slow, cowboy drawl he said, 'Damn, Case, if I pissed you off, the least you could do is to tell me what I did, so I won't do it again.' From then on, he always made a big deal out of moving out of my line of fire whenever I shifted my weapon."

Melanie Yates giggled in spite of herself. She could imagine her older brother doing such a thing. She glanced at her mother, noted the glimmer of tears, and the smile that pulled at the corners of her mouth.

Casey took a deep breath. Todd and Amy Trenton looked up at her expectantly, the tears in their eyes offset by the smiles on their faces. "I think it was the third time I had worked with 6 after Allen was assigned to the team, he hadn't been with the SGC very long. We were settling down for the night, had camp set up, and a nice fire going. I was complaining about having to eat cold MREs. Trenton looked over at me, and said that we had a fire, surely there was a way to heat the food. Well, I had an enchilada dinner. So he took his knife, one of those big hunting types, and stuck one of the enchiladas on the tip, and held it over the flames. I had a burnt crisp enchilada. Have to admit, the charcoal kind of improved the taste! Anyway, he felt so bad about ruining my dinner that he gave me his cookie. And Major Parker's cookie. And Tony's cookie. And Texas' cookie. I have never seen fingers so fast in my life! He told me that his older brothers always made him go sneak cookies out of the cookie jar. He was fast enough to not get caught, and if he did, he was too cute to get in trouble!"

Amy Trenton giggled, although the sound ended with a sob. Her husband put his arm around her, hugged her close.

"The men of SG-6 were more than just my comrades in arms. They were more than just my teammates. They were my friends. And I miss them like crazy." Casey looked up at the blue sky above them. "I know how you guys are. I know you're watching all of this, probably laughing your heads off at all the pomp and circumstance, and the fact that we all had to get dressed up. I know how much you all loved ceremonies. I think you preferred a hot zone to an inspection. We love you guys. We miss you. We'll never forget you. And we'll make sure that the bastard who took you from us pays dearly." The look of angry determination on the delicate features of her face left no doubt in any mind of those attending the memorial service that she meant exactly what she said.

Becca walked up the steps of the platform, and sat down at the piano that waited on one side. Casey moved to stand beside her, just a bit behind her. The opening chords filled the air, and in her soft, sweet voice, tears in her eyes, Casey began to sing.

"I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin' in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I'm so tired but I can't sleep
Standin' on the edge of something much too deep
It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard

But I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I'm so afraid to love you, but more afraid to lose
Clinging to a past that doesn't let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Weep not for the memories."

 

When Casey had taken her seat, four F302s flew overhead, performing the 'missing man' maneuver. Everyone associated with the SGC stood to their feet in a show of respect. When the roar of the engines had faded, the sound of a single bugle broke the silence that had fallen. 'Taps' filled the air around them. She turned, pressed her face into Daniel's shoulder, and began to weep. Not one of the family members sitting just below missed the action.

Duncan stepped back up to the podium. In his hands were four narrow boxes. He nodded, and the color guard approached. They accepted the boxes, then went down the steps to stand at attention near the families. "In recognition of what the members of SG-6 accomplished, and the sacrifices that they have made in defense of Gamma, the SGC colonies, and Earth, I hereby bestow posthumously upon Major Evan J. Parker, Master Sergeant. Anthony M. Sabotti, 1st Sergeant. Marvin T. Yates, and Sergeant Allen W. Trenton the Gamma Medal of Honor, and the Gamma Hero's Cross."

The men of the honor guard opened the boxes, revealing the medals, and then carefully placed them in the hands of the wife or parents of the fallen men. They then saluted, and returned to their place at one side of the dais. Gamma had just honored her first fallen heroes.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Carly and Tessa had taken charge of the reception that followed the ceremony. Large standing floral arrangements stood at the front of the room, one for each man, an eight-by-ten color photograph in the center. Tables lined one side of the room that was used most often for training exercises, all of them loaded with a variety of food.

Casey stood beside Daniel, a small plate of food in her hand.

"Please, Angel, try to eat something," Daniel said softly. "You didn't have breakfast this morning."

She looked up at him, forced a smile, and took a bite of the spinach spread pinwheel sandwich.

"Mrs. Jackson?"

She looked up into brown eyes so like Tony's it made her want to cry…again. "Hi, Vincent."

The young man smiled. An older couple hovered just behind him. "My aunt and uncle, Tony's parents, would like to meet you," he said quietly

"I would love to meet them," she replied softly.

With a smile, Vincent turned, put his hand beneath the arm of a tiny woman with dark hair, which was sprinkled with gray. It was immediately apparent where Tony had gotten his smile. "This is my Aunt Louisa Sabotti. And my Uncle Michael," he said, nodding at the tall man whose face was just like Tony's. "This is Mrs. Casey Jackson."

"How do you do?" Casey asked, shaking their hands. "This is my husband, Doctor Daniel Jackson."

Daniel greeted the couple, shook their hands.

"We wanted to thank you for what you said today. It helps knowing that he had such good friends," Michael Sabotti said.

Casey smiled. "You're welcome. I just wanted to share some of my memories of each of the guys. Tony was one of my first friends at the SGC," she said.

"He spoke of you often in his emails and letters and phone calls," Louisa Sabotti told the young Immortal woman. She didn't say out loud that she had known, that she had been able to tell from his voice, that her son had loved this woman.

Casey glanced at Daniel, relaxed when she saw the look of love in his eyes. "He spoke of his family often, as well. He worried about you, about his sisters. He told me-" she broke off, looked down at the floor.

Louisa Sabotti took the young woman's hand. "He told you?"

"He said that he'd die before he let some snake-headed bastard get close to the people he loved," she said, her voice not much more than a whisper.

"President MacLeod said that Tony and his friends…uh…teammates, were on a mission to stop several of those big ships from getting here," Michael Sabotti said.

Casey nodded. "If we had failed…" she shivered. "My babies would have been at risk if we had failed. The men of SG-6 helped keep my babies safe. I'll owe them a debt of gratitude for their part in that, forever."

The Sabotti's nodded. The diminutive woman smiled. Those words gave meaning to her son's death, a reason worth dying for. "Thank you," Louisa whispered. She allowed her nephew and husband to lead her away.

"I'll be right back," Casey said, spotting Linda Yates, and her daughter Melanie. She approached the two women shyly. "Excuse me, I just wanted to offer my deepest sympathies."

Linda Yates turned and looked at the beautiful Immortal woman. "I never wanted Marvin to join the military," she said bluntly.

"I know. He told me," Casey replied.

The woman's eyes widened slightly. "I told him there was plenty of work around Beaverton. He just couldn't be happy there, though. Too much like his Daddy, I guess," the woman said sadly.

"Mrs. Yates, your son is a hero," Casey said gently.

"My son is dead." The woman turned her back.

Melanie shook her head. "I'm sorry. Mama…" she glanced at her mother, then stepped away from her, motioning for Casey to follow. "Every time Marvin called, Mama would insist that he stop being a 'damned fool' and come home. He wanted so badly for her to understand that what he was doing was important. She…even after what he did became…public, she didn't care. She just wanted him home. The last time he called, that would have been about a month ago, she told him that he wasn't home by the end of the year, to never come back. He told her he was sorry she felt that way. He…he hung up, and that was the last time we heard from him."

Casey winced. She had noticed that his eyes held a deep sorrow, she'd never known what the reason for it had been. "Texas…er…Marvin could never have given up SGC. He understood what the risks were. He also understood what the threat was."

The young woman nodded. "I know. He emailed me almost every day. Marv was proud of the work he did here, proud of what everyone here was doing."

"I'm sorry for your loss," Casey said softly.

"Thank you." Melanie smiled, then turned back to her mother.

"Are you all right?" a loving voice beside her asked softly.

"I am now," she replied, leaning against him slightly, taking comfort from his presence. "I want to speak to the Trenton's."

"They're over here," Daniel said, gently leading her away from the angry woman and her grieving daughter.

Todd and Amy Trenton had seen the couple moving towards them. Both smiled nervously. "Casey…Jackson, correct?" Todd asked.

She smiled. "Yes. This is my husband, Doctor Daniel Jackson."

"It's an honor to meet you, both of you," Todd replied.

"Thank you," Casey murmured.

"Allen was absolutely enthralled with you," Amy said. "He spoke as often about you as he did his teammates."

A blush warmed her face. "He was a very sweet young man," she said, not knowing how else to respond.

"Thank you for sharing your memory of Allen with us," Todd said.

"You're welcome." She flashed a smile. "He was always so polite. He never called me Casey, or Case. Well, hardly ever. It was always 'ma'am'. I have to admit, I was crushed when he did it the first time. It made me feel so…old!"

Amy smiled. "He was always a polite boy. It made up for all the mischief he could get into."

"His eyes were always twinkling," Casey said, smiling in return. "Sometimes I used to wonder just what he was up to! Any time there was a practical joke pulled, we knew that he was involved somehow."

Amy Trenton nodded. Tears began to fill her eyes. "He was always so full of life…" her voice trailed away, and the tears slid down her pale cheeks.

Todd cleared his throat. "If you'll excuse us, I'm going to see if I can't get Amy to eat something."

"I'm not hungry," the woman insisted, wiping the tears from her face almost absently.

"You still need to eat," her husband argued. He gave them a sad smile, then moved his wife toward the tables of food.

"Glad to see I'm not the only one," Daniel mused.

She looked up at him. "I'm trying to eat."

"I know, Angel."

Jack, Sam, and Teal'c approached. "We have news," Jack said softly.

"Methos found something?" Daniel asked.

"So it would seem," Jack replied. "Duncan wants to brief in an hour. Can you get something together on Toren by then?"

The archaeologist nodded. "I'll go to my office right now and get started."

Casey glanced at the families of the dead men. For them, the war against the Goa'uld named Dagon was over. For the rest of the people, military and civilian, who worked at SGC Gamma, the war was just beginning.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Dressed in in a BDU, Casey dropped down into the chair behind his desk. The printer had finished, she took the sheets and walked across the corridor to Julie's office. "Make it an even dozen," she smiled, handing the report to the dark haired woman. "I have no idea how many we'll actually need, but I have a feeling that's close."

"I'll get them finished in just a minute," Julie said distractedly. She hurriedly closed the window on her computer screen.

"Is something wrong?" Casey asked, wondering what the young woman had been reading.

Julie lowered her eyes. "No, nothing is wrong."

Casey studied the young woman for a minute. "If you need to talk, about anything, I'm here," she said softly.

The dark haired woman looked up at her, blushed slightly. "Um…well…it's about…"

She grinned. The young woman was thinking so loudly, it was like a neon sign above her head. "Turk."

The blush deepened as the woman nodded.

Casey perched on the corner of the desk. "He's single. I don't think he's seeing anyone. Has a Master's Degree in English Literature, loves chilidogs and football. And he's one of the sweetest guys I know."

"Really? Do you think…well, if I…do you think if I…um…ran into him in the commissary, do you think he'd be willing to have a cup of coffee or something?" Julie asked shyly.

"The only way to know that is to ask him. If you run into him in the commissary," Casey grinned. She gave the woman a wink, and went back across the corridor to Daniel's office.

A packet of photographs was waiting on the worktable, images that Daniel had taken of Dagon's temple, and those massive columns. She opened it up, spread the photos out, and began to study them. She didn't look up when he walked in, hands in his pockets, a slight frown on his face.

He walked toward the printer, stopped when he realized that the eight pages or so of information that should have been waiting there…weren't. He glanced over at his wife. She had the magnifying glass in her hand, carefully examining a photograph. "Did you take the printer sheets?"

"Yep. Julie will have copies made shortly."

He glanced across the hall. Sure enough, Julie was standing at the copier, which had been moved into her office. "Are those the pictures of Dagon's temple?"

"Yep."

"So, have you figured out what it says yet?"

She looked up at him. He sounded…pissy. "No. I was just looking to see if I recognized anything."

The look in her beautiful green eyes let him know that he had said something wrong, something that had hurt her feelings. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing."

"You sound as if there's something wrong," she said softly.

He looked down at the floor, then back up into those amazing eyes. "I guess for a few seconds I was feeling a little…useless."

Her eyes went wide. "Useless? You? Don't make me laugh!"

He shrugged. "Julie is taking care of the paperwork, you're dealing with translations…"

She shook her head, sending her long hair into soft waves of motion. "I'm looking at pictures of hieroglyphs. Haven't got a clue from where, or what they say. Your beautiful, amazing mind is needed for that. You hired Julie to do all of the paperwork, remember?" Her voice was as soft as her hands when she stood and crossed the floor to stand in front of him, wreathed his face with them. "You are probably the most important person in the SGC, Daniel."

"Me?" His voice revealed his disbelief.

"Yes, you. If not for you, and that brilliant mind of yours, there wouldn't be an SGC! Duncan and the rest of the Immortals, including me, would still be fighting one another. We never would have freed all the people we have from the Goa'uld. Certainly wouldn't have destroyed any of them. Chances are, we'd be enslaved by those snakes. It's you who can read and understand what the rest of us can't. It's you who can comprehend the meanings associated with ceremonies and rituals. The rest of us depend on you to guide us, teach us…" she shrugged her shoulders. "You are the one person that the SGC couldn't function without!"

He slipped his hands into the hip pockets of her pants, pulled her close. "What you do to me, woman," he whispered, just before he lowered his head and captured her lips with his. He was certain she overstated his importance. But to know that she viewed him as so essential to the workings of the SGC went a long way to soothing the self-doubts that plagued him. Just as she fought demons of fear and darkness, he battled demons who whispered that he wasn't good enough, never had been good enough, never would be good enough. For what, he had never been sure. Only that he wasn't. Except in Her eyes. In Her eyes, those beautiful pools of emerald green, he was capable of anything. Her faith in him was unshakeable. Her belief in him carried him to the highest heights.

She could sense his disquiet. Although she didn't know the cause, she knew that he needed her, needed the comfort that she could give him, the reassurance that she could offer him. She moved her lips against his, nibbled on that sexy lower lip, ran her tongue lightly inside his mouth.

"Ahem," a voice said from the doorway.

Damn! He wasn't ready to let go! He wasn't ready to move away from those sweet lips, and the love they sent to him. His cock twitched slightly. Better let her go now, it warned him, or take her now. One or the other. The key word being now!

She looked over to see Julie grinning at them, a stack of folders in her hands. "That was quick," she said softly.

Julie giggled. "Not really. It just seemed that way, since you were…um…preoccupied."

Daniel grinned. "Wow, you have them in folders!"

"I figured if you wanted twelve copies, they were for a mission briefing," the secretary replied.

"You figured right," Casey said.

The klaxons began to wail, and the red lights began to flash in the corridor. "Duncan must be sending the families back to Cheyenne Mountain," Daniel said quietly.

The pain that had filled her earlier in the day returned, dulled now to a deep ache. She nodded.

His own feelings of inadequacy paled in light of what others were dealing with. He realized that no one would even notice that the material he had on Toren was sketchy at best. He had made suppositions, but even those were based on nothing more than a few pages of myths. Instead, his teammates would accept what he had, what he could extrapolate, and never say a word about the brevity of the information.

"SG-1 to the conference room," Kyle's voice said over the intercom.

"That's us," Daniel said. He took the stack of folders. "Thanks, Julie. And call it a day. Have a good weekend."

"You too, Daniel. See you on Monday, Casey."

"I hope," Casey smiled.

Julie's eyes flashed with understanding. "If not, be careful."

"Always," Casey replied. She turned and followed Daniel down the hallway to the elevator.


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