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Out of the Blue
Daniel had barely had time to get into the office and pour himself a cup of coffee when someone tapped on the door. He turned around, smiled to see Stephanie Miller standing just inside the room. "Good morning, Stephanie."
"Good morning, Doctor Jackson," the young woman said nervously.
He took note of the fact that her fingers were worrying one another. He'd sent out the week's 'schedule' on Friday, before leaving for the day. After learning that he was about to become a father…for the third time. Had he messed something up, and she was hesitant to tell him? "What's up?"
"Um…I need to talk to you," Stephanie said. Wishing her voice didn't sound like that of a little girl who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar!
"Sure. Have a seat," Daniel said. "Coffee?"
If she tried to hold a cup right now, she'd spill it everywhere. "No, thank you."
He waited until she'd pulled the chair from the work table to sit in front of his desk before settling down in his chair. "Okay, what can I do for you?"
"I…um…you know that the Tok'ra are looking for permanent hosts?" she asked, her voice shaking slightly. She was letting this man down. She knew that. And it bothered her to know that. But there was no way that she could pass up this opportunity. None whatsoever!
"Yeah, I know. I was at the meeting when Selmak told us," he replied.
"I've studied the Tok'ra ever since word about the Stargate, and our allies…and enemies…was first announced," she admitted.
Warning bells began to go off in his head. "Stephanie, please tell me that you're not thinking about volunteering!"
"Actually, I've already spoken to President MacLeod," she said.
"Are you out of your mind?" Daniel asked, unable to stop the outburst.
Stephanie sat up straight. "No, Doctor Jackson, I am not."
Daniel shook his head. "What on earth would possess you to even consider such a thing?"
"Haven't you ever wondered what it would be like to have so much knowledge at your fingertips?" She flinched. He'd been Ascended. His memory hadn't been 'erased' as it should have been. The knowledge that was hidden in Dr. Jackson's mind was…unimaginable…and he had admitted to Terry, who had shared with the rest of the 'crew', that bits and pieces were becoming 'available' to him. "I mean, I know that you have all of that knowledge from your time as an Ascended being…but…"
"Stephanie, you're a very intelligent young woman. I know that you love to learn. And you will. Just give it time. You can't learn everything at once," he said gently. "And…blending…is a hell of a drastic measure just to be able to speak Ancient. Or read one of the yet undiscovered languages."
"It's not just that," she said, shaking her head, realizing that he was never going to understand her reasons for wanting to blend with Tok'ra symbiote, "I…you have Mrs. J. And the relationship the two of you have…you're never alone. You're with each other all of the time, mentally if not physically."
"To a point," he allowed. "I don't share my mind, or my body with Casey. Has something happened between you and Todd?" Please, don't let this be a temper tantrum over a lover's spat! he thought desperately.
"Todd has nothing to do with this," Stephanie replied firmly.
He took a deep breath. "Explain to me how being joined with a Tok'ra is a good idea. This isn't just a game, Stephanie. They're looking for permanent hosts. That means sharing your mind, and your body, with a…a…a snake, for the rest of your life! Which would be considerably longer than normal!"
"I'm well aware that it's not a 'game'," she said, her voice cool. "I might be young, but I'm not stupid!"
Shit! He'd pissed her off by suggesting she was too young to know what she was doing. While it might be true, he should have found a better way to voice that opinion. Real tribute to that linguistic degree, there, Danny! "The Tok'ra are very different from us. Living among them would be a…challenge."
"But don't you see, having a symbiote would help me to adjust! I'd understand the nuances of their society in a way that I wouldn't if I wasn't joined!" she insisted. "They have so much knowledge, and now that they're taking a more active role in fighting the Goa'uld-"
"Do you understand how dangerous that is? Even a symbiote can't help you if you're wounded so badly that your body dies," he pointed out quietly.
Stephanie shook her dark head. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime! The Tok'ra were an ancient race when our ancestors were still living in caves! We don't know how many Tok'ra influenced the development of the people on Earth! It's possible that one of the symbiotes waiting now for a host was in Egypt when Ra was, perhaps helped plan and execute the rebellion that sent him back into space. Or was part of the group that helped establish Greece, or Rome."
"I doubt that," Daniel said dryly. "Any symbiote still on Earth at that point in time wasn't going anywhere, not with the Stargate buried."
"They had ships, just as the Goa'uld did," she argued.
"What about privacy? Let's just forget the fact that the Tok'ra don't have doors on any of their rooms. You'll never be alone in your mind again. You'll never be able to have a thought without that…creature…knowing it."
"I don't believe that's entirely accurate," Stephanie replied. "I think that the host is able to have time 'alone', just as the symbiote would most probably seek time 'alone'."
Daniel snorted. "Kind of hard to do when you're sharing a mind. That symbiote would be buried in your brain, Stephanie. Wrapped around your spinal column."
"I know exactly how the…physical…connection is made," she said. "I've read all about it…"
He jumped on this bit of information. Maybe, just maybe he'd be able to get her to understand what a crazy…a dangerous…idea this was. "Yes, I'm sure you have. You've read all about the Tok'ra, and symbiotes. That is, what we have and understand. They haven't been very forthcoming with information about themselves. Hell, Jacob Carter hasn't even told us what it's like to have a symbiote!"
He was reacting as if he thought that General Carter should tell them every tiny detail about the Tok'ra, and having a symbiote. Didn't he understand that it was a very personal thing? That two beings came together in a very intimate way, sharing their minds…their very souls…in one body? That there was a relationship between host and symbiote that couldn't be described to the satisfaction of those who weren't blended? At least, that was what she believed. She was certain that she was right. How else could the two beings co-exist so closely? "Perhaps he knows that it would be useless to try and explain it," she replied quietly.
"How can he put into words something that you can't even comprehend?"
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Trust me, if Selmak wanted to explain, she could. Jacob would be able to give us at least some idea…if he wanted to. Or was allowed to."
"You don't believe that Selmak controls him?" Stephanie gasped.
Well, maybe he was getting through after all! "That's always a possibility. We'd never know if he was really inside his head, screaming to get out, would we?"
Once again she shook her head. "I don't believe that. Especially not of General Carter. And Anise has chosen to do things simply because Freya likes them. And Freya does things that Anise enjoys. It's like…it's like the closest relationship you can have with another being," she said softly.
"Stephanie, I understand about being lonely," Daniel said gently. He'd picked up that 'theme' in her argument rather quickly. She was seeking a damned permanent solution to a very temporary problem. "I was alone, and lonely almost all of my life. It was worse after my first Wife was taken from me, and then killed. I didn't think I'd ever find someone to love, someone to share my life with again. Then Casey dropped into my life. Literally," he grinned.
She smiled. She knew the story as well as everyone else on the base. "It's not just about being alone…being lonely. It's having someone to share with."
"That is part of being lonely, that desire, that need to share with someone…with someone special. You're young, Stephanie. Don't give up just because you haven't found that special someone yet. Okay, maybe it's not Todd. Doesn't mean you won't find him…meet him," Daniel said.
She bit back her remark, and the sob that was waiting just at the back of her throat. "You don't understand," she said finally, her voice little more than a whisper.
"No, I don't," Daniel admitted. "I don't understand why a beautiful, intelligent young woman would want to condemn herself to a lifetime as a…"
"Prisoner? Doctor Jackson, we're talking about the Tok'ra, not the Goa'uld," she pointed out quietly.
"There isn't a lot of difference. How many Tok'ra have actually taken over their hosts? I don't believe that Talek was the only one who has 'turned'."
"I believe that Talek was the rare exception," Stephanie replied.
He shook his head. They were going in circles, getting nowhere. "What about your family? How do they feel about this?"
"If my mother was alive, I think she would encourage me," Stephanie said. "My mother believed that life should be experienced, not just endured. That we should take every chance that Fate offered to us, to learn, to grow, to be the best that we can possibly be."
He thought about this for a moment. "I think she's right. But I don't think she'd see having her daughter's body, and mind, invaded by an alien being as a chance that should be taken."
"But the symbiote won't be 'invading'!" She wanted to scream. He wasn't listening…wasn't hearing what she was saying. "I'm extending an invitation to share my life…yes, my mind and my body as well, but I'm doing so of my own free will! In exchange I'll have access to so much knowledge, and my life span will be doubled, at the least! I'll be helping a people who have been fighting the Goa'uld longer than the Tau'ri have been a people!"
Damn! She was bound and determined to do this, and it was blatantly obvious that he was not going to change her mind. He decided to change tactics. "What does Todd say about this?"
"What Todd has to say about it is beside the point."
Okay. Apparently the two weren't a 'couple' any longer. He frowned slightly. When had that happened? The last he knew, they were slipping off to the supply closet as often as he and Casey did! "What about your work here? I thought you enjoyed working at the Center? You've learned Ancient, you're learning Tollan-"
"I love working here!" she said, interrupting him. "It's not about being dissatisfied with my job. This is about an opportunity!"
He let his head drop forward, shook it slowly. Then looked up at the young woman. "I'm not going to be able to change your mind, am I?"
"No, Doctor Jackson, you aren't," she replied softly.
"Do me a favor. Please, think about this carefully. Being a permanent host to a Tok'ra isn't something to do on a whim."
"Believe me, I've thought about nothing else for days," she replied. "I've thought about it since I first heard of the Tok'ra, and understood who…and what…they are."
"Keep thinking about it. I'd hate to see you make what could be the biggest mistake of your life."
"Funny, I think it's the biggest opportunity of my life." She stood up, offered her hand. "General Carter and Selmak will be arriving tomorrow. I guess there are two other people who will be going also. I…I want to thank you for the faith you've had in me. For believing in me enough to hire me. I've learned so much from you. It's been…it's been amazing."
Daniel stood to his feet, accepted the small hand, held it tightly. "You're welcome. You've done a wonderful job here, Stephanie. Like I said, you're an intelligent young woman. You could go far in the world of archaeology."
"Who says I won't?" she asked, smiling brightly.
He forced a smile. He doubted very much that archaeology would be what the young woman would be working on. "Here's hoping. What time will you leave?"
"President MacLeod's message said that we'd be leaving around noon."
He nodded. "We'll be there to see you off. And Stephanie, there's still time to change your mind."
"No, Doctor Jackson, my mind is fully made up. This is what I want."
Another nod. "Well, I'll wait to say goodbye tomorrow. Why don't you take the rest of the day off. You'll need to get your things together, tie up any loose ends."
She smiled. "Thank you. I'm already packed, actually. And I'm back in the barracks, so all I have to do is check out in the morning."
"Well, take the day off anyway. Spend it shopping, or doing whatever it is that you enjoy. I have a feeling it will be the last time you'll be doing it," Daniel replied.
Stephanie tried to keep the smile on her face. He just doesn't understand. None of them do. "Thank you. I'll see you tomorrow then."
The young woman had turned and left the room before he could respond. Goddamn it! Now he had to find three capable archaeologists! And it was going to be damned near impossible to find one as eager to learn, and as bright as Stephanie Miller. He pushed back from the desk. He'd go down to the gym, where Casey and Teal'c were torturing a new group of cadets. Case had warned him a few months ago that the young woman was leaving them. He would never have dreamed it would be like this! Maybe his Wife could get through to that headstrong young woman!
A A A A A A
Casey tried to keep her impatience from showing. She had to get to that planet! Had to talk to the Being who'd changed her Quickening. Had to make sure that this was the last…surprise…that she and Daniel would have. Three children were enough. Although Daniel had said something about two girls and two boys…she shook her head mentally. No. Three were more than enough. Especially considering the children she was blessed with. A child prodigy. Dennis the Menace. With her luck, this baby would be…what…Dennis the Menace Child Prodigy? She shuddered inwardly. Daniel made beautiful babies. But, lord, the attitudes! Too damned smart for their own good. She had surmised that Daniel had been a lot like his children when he'd been young…just as precocious as Emily, and as…adventurous…as Nicholas. Three babies. Maybe the universe was trying to make up to them for all of the crap they had survived, she thought. And having the last laugh at the same time. Just wait, she thought smugly, addressing the universe in general. Three Jackson children on the rampage!
Dr. Montigue said nothing as he watched the young Immortal fidget on the bed. "This shouldn't take but a few minutes," he said, walking toward her. A blood draw tray had already been prepared. He handed her a large jar. "Prenatal vitamins. You know the drill. One in the morning, one before bedtime."
She smiled. "I never thought I'd been so familiar with being pregnant," she admitted.
The older man laughed. "Believe it or not, you aren't the only Immortal woman to have more than two children. Brenda Endicott is pregnant again. This will be their fourth. Although numbers two and three are twins."
"I couldn't survive twins," she replied. "Neither could Daniel."
"I'm certain he'd do just fine," the doctor teased. He wrapped the latex band around her arm, tapped lightly on the vein that darkened on her inner elbow. Carefully inserted the needle, and began to draw blood.
"No, he wouldn’t. Because if I have twins, it would be his fault, and I'd kill him," she said dryly.
The doctor chuckled. "Good thing for him that you're not carrying twins."
"Very good thing."
After a few more seconds, watching the dark red blood fill the tube, he withdrew the needle, pressed a cotton ball on the wound. "Okay. No salt. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Plenty of water and exercise."
"I know," she smiled. "Um…just to make sure I do this while there's still time…epidural. As soon as I start labor…running until this baby is out."
Dr. Montigue smiled and patted her knee. "I understand. I'll mark your chart now, just to make sure."
"Thanks." She slid off of the bed and headed for the door.
"I'll see you in two weeks."
Casey stopped and turned around. "Two weeks?"
"I'd rather be safe than sorry," the doctor replied.
She nodded. "Good idea. My kids have a tendency to want to…surprise me," she said, smiling.
"Yes, they do. I'll let you know if I find anything we should discuss."
"Thanks, Doctor Montigue."
"You're welcome, Casey." He watched her dash out of the door. Did that woman ever slow down? He shook his head. Good thing she was Immortal...she'd drop of exhaustion if she wasn't!
A A A A A A
She'd already checked Daniel's journal again, and had the address…well, the planet designation…that she needed. Now, a cooperative control room tech was all that was left on her list. "Kyle, I need to go to R5X 395," she said breathlessly, sliding into the control room.
The young man frowned. "Why?" He turned to his computer and quickly typed in the address, pulled up the last entry on the planet. The team had returned to the planet just days after relocating the cave dwellers they had found there, ran the tests for naquadah. Test sites had been drilled, and though the ore was definitely there, the harsh winter weather created too hostile an environment to work in. So the mining would be put off for a few months, to wait for whatever summer type weather was available.
"It's important," she said softly. "Very important."
"Casey, it's the middle of winter there!" Kyle argued, looking up at her.
"I won't be gone long. Couple of hours at the most. I'll be in that cave," she replied, trying to sound more confident that she felt. She hated the cold. Hated the thought of going to a planet during the middle of an Ice Age winter.
He could never say 'no' to her. Especially when she stood there and looked at him like that, those big green eyes just begging for his help. "Duncan is gonna kill me," he muttered.
"I'll be geared up in five minutes. Start dialing in four. I want to be through there before the Highlander can stop me. And don't tell Daniel!" she said, already hurrying out the door. With luck she'd be back before Daniel had a chance to miss her. She'd find out what she needed to know, she'd be able to relax, they'd do lunch, and he'd never be the wiser.
A A A A A A
Exactly four minutes later the klaxons began to wail, and the red beacons began to flash. "What the hell?" Duncan said, looking up from the file he'd been reading. As far as he knew there were no teams due to report in or return. It could only mean that one of them had run into trouble. He started down the steps that would take him from his office to the control room. "What's up?"
Kyle flinched. The event horizon opened, and he watched as Casey raced into the room, up the ramp, and into the ring of the Stargate. Hell, she hadn't even given him time to send a MALP to make sure she wasn't walking into a freaking blizzard!
Duncan's dark eyes flashed. "Where is she going?"
"Uh… R5X 395," Kyle replied, not looking at his boss.
"Too many planet designations bouncing around in my head. Refresh my memory," Duncan growled, doing his best to maintain control over his anger.
"Ice planet, cave dwellers…the old leader that General O'Neill called Grandma Moses," the young man said.
"What the hell is she going there for?" The Highland demanded. He was dangerously close to losing his temper. That woman was going to be the death of him! She had to stop using the 'gate as if it were her own personal portal to wherever the hell she decided she needed to run to!
"She didn't say," Kyle said truthfully.
Duncan glared at the young man. Frowned when it occurred to him that it was on this planet that her Quickening had been changed, which had resulted in her current condition. Pregnant. Casey was an enigma at the best of times…trying to understand why she did things was a complete waste of time. Toss in the scrambled hormones she was dealing with right now, and she was a total fruitcake. Not all of the time. But certainly enough to warrant keeping an eye on her. "Better call Daniel down here."
"Uh…she specifically mentioned not telling him," Kyle said.
The dark haired man snorted. "I'm sure she did. Call him. Call the whole damned team."
"SG-1 to the 'gate room," Kyle said into the microphone. He wasn't sure which was worse. Facing an angry Scot, or facing a pissed off Casey when she returned. Casey couldn't fire him, he reasoned. Make his life miserable, and without a doubt she would, but he'd at least have a job.
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