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Little Green Men
The waitress led the three couples to a table near the back. She recognized Mrs. Jackson, she had seen her picture on the news, both when her tragic death had been reported, and then again when it was announced that she and the Jaffa, Teal'c, had been returned to Gamma. She wasn't Immortal, and living around them was proving to be…interesting. "Is this all right?" she asked.
"It's fine, thanks," Daniel said, smiling at the woman.
Her heart doing flip-flops, the waitress smiled in return, and handed him a menu. "Whenever you're ready, just call out," she said breathlessly. She ran to the counter, filled glasses with water and brought them back, receiving the same heart-stopping smile as the first time.
Casey slid onto the booth, sat next to Sam. "Happens every time. I'm going to have to start carrying a baseball bat," she muttered quietly.
"Or start flirting with the guys," Sam giggled.
"Now that's an interesting idea," Casey said, giggling as well. "I like it!"
"You like what?" Daniel asked, settling next to her as Teal'c and Carly slid into the booth beside him.
"The décor in here."
He looked over at her, noted the wide-eyed, innocent look she gave him. "Uh huh."
"The problem is," Casey whispered to Sam, "I've never been good at flirting. I always avoided it. Too afraid someone would take me up on an offer I was only making in fun."
"I understand that," Sam whispered in reply.
"What are you two whispering about?" Jack asked.
"The best way to tie your ankles to the bed," Casey said, not missing a beat.
Jack nearly choked on the mouthful of water he had just taken. "What?"
"Sam prefers a sailor's knot, I kind of like the tailor's knot myself," she continued.
Sam and Carly were giggling hysterically. "You are just wicked, Casey Jackson," Sam managed to gasp, using Tessa's favorite line.
"Yeah, but you love me anyway," the young blonde replied, her green eyes dancing.
Daniel shook his head. "We put up with you, sweet'um's," he teased.
"Oh, yeah, right. I'll remember that in a couple of hours," she shot back, her eyes laughing at him.
He grinned, went back to examining the menu.
It didn’t take long for the team to decide what they wanted. The waitress, Tammy, according to her nametag, happily took the order, her eyes on Daniel almost the entire time, although the archaeologist was completely oblivious, much to his wife's relief.
Casey sipped at her iced tea. "I wonder just how the Conciliators are going to explain what happened," she said, resting her elbow on the table and propping her chin in her hand.
"Not a clue," Jack replied.
"How would the Air Force have handled something like that back in the sixties?" she asked.
"In the sixties? Told everyone that the eye witnesses had all been dropping acid and were hallucinating," the older man chuckled.
The young blonde Immortal giggled. "Yeah, I can see the headlines now, 'Little Green Men Sighted'. Then an article that goes on to tell about a commune of whacked out hippies that hallucinated the entire thing…so that the doctor, the lawyer, the three cops and five housewives who really saw the entire thing would be hesitant to open their mouths about it!" She shook her head. "In Menefer, I imagine that they'll just say that anyone who says they saw anything are enemies of the people. Tyranny makes it so convenient to hide things, doesn't it?"
"Unfortunately," Daniel agreed. "But they can't hide it forever. Too many people were involved. Too many people did see something. They might not talk about it openly, but they will talk about it."
"Just as long as Talla and her friends are safe," she sighed quietly.
"Amen," Sam agreed softly.
Tammy and one of the other waitresses appeared at the table, setting steaming plates of hot food in front of the team. "Anything else?"
Jack glanced around, noted that his team was already beginning to eat. "That's it, thanks," he said, smiling.
"If you need anything, let me know," the waitress replied, her eyes going once again to Daniel.
Casey was digging into her chicken fried steak, extra gravy, with enthusiasm. "From now on, when we go somewhere, we take time to eat. Even it if is MREs," she grumbled.
"Hungry, Case?" Daniel grinned beside her. Her appetite had been good since her return. He prayed that it stayed that way. When she ate, Emily ate. Emily was putting back on the weight she had lost during Casey's absence.
She glanced over at him. "Just a bit." She noted that he was sawing into his T-bone steak with gusto. "Almost as hungry as you. Geez, could you have ordered it more rare?" she asked, watching as the bright pink meat oozed bright pink juice.
"You're just an animal, you realize that, right?" she said. She had her eyes on her plate. But everyone could see the twinkle in them.
The four people with them ducked their heads and chuckled. Both of the Jacksons were well aware of the reactions.
"In more ways than one. Or so I've been told," he replied, just before taking a bite of that tender, juicy steak.
She giggled. "Don't know who you've been talking to."
Sam burst into laughter. "Eight times, huh, Daniel?"
He threw a look of disbelief at his wife. "You told her about Saturday night?"
"I didn't tell her, Stud Muffin, I was bragging," Casey replied calmly. Sam and Carly cracked up, even Jack and Teal'c were laughing. Daniel tossed a pained look at her.
She took another bite of her chicken fried steak. Then burst into giggles.
"What?" Jack asked, already grinning.
"We're Little Green Men!" she said. "Everybody knows how you can take a story from one person, and by the time it gets around the room, it's entirely different. So you just know that somewhere in Menefer, they're talking about us. We were wearing the green BDUs…Little Green Men!" By now she was beginning to squeak as she laughed. Her companions were laughing just as heartily.
A A A A A A
By the time they arrived at the gray house that Casey loved so dearly, it was almost midnight. Jack had told them to sleep in. Daniel planned to take advantage of that. He was taking off his watch, putting it on the nightstand when Casey walked into the bathroom. Already stripping, he followed her, tossing his clothes into the hamper as he walked by it. He stopped just before opening the glass door, watched her for just a moment. She turned on the water, let it run over her face, then ran her hands over her body, wetting her skin. He was hard, aching…needy. He stepped in behind her, turned on 'his' showerhead. He put his hands on the wall, hung his head and let the water run over it, drip off of his face.
She glanced over at him. He looked beat. Aroused, but beat. She couldn't hold back her giggle.
He turned his head to look at her. "What?"
"Your body says 'not right now', the anaconda is screaming 'now!' So, the question becomes, who…what…will win…the tired body, the exhausted mind, or the raging anaconda? Tune in tomorrow folks, same bat time, same bat station, to learn the fate of the…'raging anaconda'!"
He cracked up. "You are too much," he chuckled.
"Yeah, but you love me," she said, pressing her warm, wet body against his.
"With all my heart," he replied softly. He put his arms around her, pulled her close, held her tightly.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"What for?" he asked.
"Tonight…scaring you that way," she replied. She ran her hands up and down his chest, over his shoulders, down his arms, back up again.
"I thought we had a discussion about this Saturday night. No apologizing for something that is not your fault?"
She shrugged slightly. "Any time you're hurt, or worried, it's because of me. Whether it's something I've done intentionally or not is beside the point," she murmured.
Daniel caught her chin with his hand, tipped her head back, waited until those green eyes finally locked with his. "Casey, that is exactly the point!" He shook his head, felt the frustration mount. How…when would he get through to her? "Nothing that has happened to you is your fault! Nothing! Damn it, how do I make you understand? Why are you so damned stubborn that you insist on clinging to guilt over something that is not your fault?"
Her eyes were wide. "I…I…because when bad things happen, it's always my fault," she whispered hoarsely. That 'fact' had been beaten into her, literally, when she had been a small child.
He moaned, pulled her into his arms and held her close. "No, Angel. That is not true. I don't care what that fat bitch told you, it's not true!" He longed to enter her mind, find the wounds in her soul that haunted her, hurt her, and heal them. "Let me see, Angel," he whispered.
She tried to pull away from him, he only held her tighter. "No," she whispered in reply.
"No," she repeated. She managed to step away from him, unaware that her terror was plainly visible in her eyes.
"Angel, talk to me…tell me what's wrong. Why are you afraid to let me see?" He was frustrated…worried…hurt.
She shook her head. "Too much darkness…it's…ugly…it makes…you'll see me for what I really am…ugly," she replied, her voice shaking slightly.
Just as they had Saturday night, her words, her confession, stunned him. "Oh, Angel, that's not true!"
"It is," she insisted. Tears filled her eyes, slid down her cheeks. She could feel the panic rising up. She would lose him if he ever saw the things she had done, had thought…the fears that refused to leave her alone. He would see her for what she was…scarred, useless…ugly.
"Casey, do you love me?" he asked softly.
"With all my heart, forever," she replied, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Do you trust me?"
"With my heart, mind, body and soul," she told him.
"Are you sure? Your mind as well as your heart, body and soul?"
She lowered her eyes. "Yes," she said so softly that he almost missed it. Her heart was breaking, but if he insisted, she knew that she would allow him into her mind - because she did trust him. She trusted him not to hurt her, abuse her. Her heart, her mind, maintained that once Daniel saw what lay hidden, he would not, could not continue to love her.
"Let me see, Beloved."
She looked up at him, the pain in her eyes so raw, so deep, that it made him gasp.
He put his hand around her chin, his arm around her body, and moved closer to her. "Trust me, Beloved," he whispered.
The nod she gave was barely perceptible. She closed her eyes, waited for the end; waiting for her beautiful life to come crashing down around her.
His mind moved toward hers. He was determined to help her, heal her. Make her understand how beautiful, how special, how wonderful she was.
Once again he was standing in that meadow. But it was raining, large drops that soaked him to the skin in seconds. He looked around. Saw her standing in the middle of the grass field, her head hanging down, her arms around her narrow waist, her beautiful hair plastered around her slender frame. He walked toward her, called her name. She didn't respond. Thunder rolled over head, as clouds, heavy and gray and dark, continued to roil in the sky. When he was near enough, he reached out to touch her, put his fingers beneath her chin, raised her head. Her eyes were full of tears.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"For what, Angel?" he asked.
"I'm bad. I hurt people when I don't mean to…I make people unhappy with the way I act…I'm bad," she repeated, sounding like a broken-hearted child.
He suddenly understood that he needed to find the child, the wounded child that still resided in her mind…her soul…the one so abused that she was unable to see…accept her worth. "Never, Angel. You aren't bad."
"Yes, I am," she said sadly.
"Casey, where is…where is the little girl?"
She lifted her arm, pointed toward a steep path that led from the meadow toward a dense forest. "In there," she whispered.
"I have to go in there. Will you be all right here?"
"Yes," she replied, her voice low, soft.
"You're sure? I won't leave you here if you're going to be in danger," he said.
"I can't go…there…please don't make me go there!" she said, looking up at him, her eyes full of panic.
He pushed wet tendrils of hair from her face. "I won't make you go there," he said softly. "Just promise me you'll be all right here."
"I will be. I'll be safe here," she replied.
He nodded. "I won't be long," he promised.
"Be careful. She'll hurt you," she warned him. She knew just how cruel that woman was. How easily she could hurt others.
"I promise to be careful." He kissed her forehead. "I'll be right back." He began to run toward the trail. It was difficult to traverse the path, he fell twice, the rain had turned the bright red clay to muck that clung to him, his hands, his clothes, his boots. His feet stuck in the deep mud, making sucking noises each time he pulled a foot free.
It seemed to take an hour before he was finally at the edge of the forest. At least the rain had washed him clean. There was a narrow trail, the trees on either side tall and dark and menacing. He walked slowly along the path, watching carefully around him.
The path ended suddenly, leaving him standing on the sidewalk in a run-down housing development. Most of the houses needed paint, yards were nothing more than patches of dirt. Toys were scattered in many of the front yards; he could see laundry fluttering on clotheslines in back yards.
This was where she had grown up. He noticed a tall, wide oak tree in the back of one of the houses. He smiled. No doubt that was the tree where eight year old Jimmy Palmer had proposed to six year old Casey.
Sitting on the curb in front of a white house, was a very young blonde girl. Just behind her was the detached garage that she and Jimmy had planned on jumping from, trying to be Wonder Woman and Super Man. That she had slept in as a teenager, on the nights she had dared to stand up to her abuser, leaving the house in order to find safety. It sagged slightly. He didn't want to frighten the child, so he walked slowly toward her. He shoved his hands into his pockets.
She looked up at the tall man with the friendly eyes behind his glasses. She wasn't supposed to talk to strangers. But he had a nice smile, and she could just tell that he wouldn't hurt her!
Daniel sat down beside the thin child, barely resisted the urge to run his hand over her silky blonde hair, so light it was nearly white. Her eyes were big and green, and she was already showing the signs of the beautiful woman she would become. "Hi. My name is Daniel," he said quietly.
"My name is Casey," the little girl replied.
He looked up and down the street. There was a woman sitting on her front porch, smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, three grubby children playing in the dirt in front of her.
"The houses on this street are sad," Little Casey said.
She nodded. "They're sad because they wants nice families to live in them. But only trash and sluts and whores live here."
"I see. Who told you that?"
"Her. My momma…I mean, my Mother," she replied, hurriedly correcting herself, looking around nervously.
"Is your…Mother…at home?"
Little Casey nodded. "She's inside baking cookies. I can't help because I get in the way. That's because I'm bad," she said sadly.
"Oh, Angel, that's not true," Daniel said, his heart breaking at the hurt that reflected out of those beautiful eyes. "You're not bad at all!"
"Uh huh. Momm…I mean, Mother says that I was born a slut, and sluts are bad, and I'll never be good no matter how hard I try, and I keep trying and trying and trying, but I keep making her mad at me. I don't mean to. It's just because I'm bad," the little girl continued. She sighed heavily.
He closed his eyes against the pain that rushed through him, the overwhelming desire to take her in his arms and hold her. He opened them again, smiled down at her. "How old are you, Casey?"
"I’m this many," she said, holding up all the fingers of one hand, and the index finger of her other. "I'm six years old. Mom…Mother says I'm old enough to behave like a little lady. But I don't know how!"
"Casey, do you have a grandma?"
"Gran'ma Rose. Mo…Mother says that she spoils me, and that I can't go there. I don't think she likes Gran'ma Rose." She leaned toward him, whispered conspiratorially. "Gran'ma Rose don't like her right back!" she declared.
He couldn't help but chuckle at the childish delight in her voice.
"Gran'ma Rose likes me. She told me so. She says that I'm very special."
"She's right. You're very special, Casey. You have a giving heart, you care about others. You have gifts…talents…that help people, and make them happy."
"I do?" Her eyes grew wide. "Mo…Mother says that I'm bad, and good for nothing, and a slut. I don't know what a slut is, but I know it's bad. I don't want to be bad. No matter how hard I try, I'm just…bad," she said, shrugging her painfully thin shoulders.
"No, Angel, you're not bad. You're a typical six-year-old girl. You're full of life and sunshine, you have a special light that shines from inside. From right there," he said, gently touching her above her heart. "You're very, very special, Casey. No matter what your…Mother…may tell you." He looked around again, wondered why Helen Webster hadn't come outside to scream at the child for talking to him.
They could hear the sound of a dish breaking inside the house. Screaming ensued, and the woman he had been wondering about burst onto the front porch. "You good for nothing little slut! My best mixing bowl is broken, and it's your fault! You know why it's your fault? Because you didn't put it back in the cupboard right! You can't do anything right! You're useless!"
Daniel was on his feet, his anger surging through his veins. "Why was a six year old putting away a mixing bowl?" he demanded.
Helen glared at him. "None of your damned business!"
"Yes, it is my business!"
Sudden fear filled the woman's eyes. "She does the dishes after supper. It's one of her chores. She's old enough to do chores!" she said defiantly.
"Maybe. Depends on what the chores are. Washing dishes, alone, certainly isn't something that she should be doing. She could be hurt." He felt a tug on his sleeve. He looked down to see Casey looking up at him, her little face full of sadness, her lower lip trembling.
"It's okay, Daniel. When bad things happen, it's my fault."
He knelt down in front of the child. "No, Angel, that's not true. Sometimes bad things just happen. They're called 'accidents'."
"That's right. And accident's aren't anybody's fault."
Helen sneered. "This kid is a walking, talking 'accident' then!"
Daniel took a deep breath. This was going to be harder than he thought.
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