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For disclaimers and author's note see Part I.

 

Always Darkest Before the Dawn Continued


Janet hid her smile as she took in the sitting Jaffa by Sam’s door. She had suspected SG1 would close ranks around the Major and she hadn’t been wrong. She clasped her clipboard closer and carried on down the corridor. She hadn’t really been keen on the idea of letting Sam out of the infirmary but she had realised restraining her might have done more damage than good. She had managed to get Sam’s agreement that Janet could check on her at any time and she had arrived early that morning determined to make sure Sam was OK especially since she had not been observed overnight by medical personnel.

The Jaffa rose at her approach and bowed slightly. ‘Doctor Fraiser.’

‘Teal’c.’ Janet smiled. ‘I just want to check in on Major Carter.’

He moved aside and Janet stepped forward. She rapped on the door. ‘Major. It’s Doctor Fraiser.’

There was no reply and Janet pressed her ear up against the door, concerned. She pressed her lips together thoughtfully. She rapped on the door again. ‘Sam? It’s Janet. I’ve come by for the check-up we talked about yesterday.’

The silence continued.

Janet spun on her heel to face Teal’c. ‘Is it possible she left her quarters?’

Teal’c placed his hands behind the back. ‘I have been by her door since she entered.’

‘Have you heard any kind of disturbance from inside at anytime?’ Janet asked, her eyes moved back to the door.

‘I have not.’ Teal’c said. His eyebrow darted upwards. ‘Do you believe something is wrong, Doctor Fraiser?’

‘She’s not answering.’ Janet said concerned.

‘Perhaps she is sleeping.’ Teal’c suggested. ‘She may not have heard your knock.’

Janet felt a frisson of unease. It was a reasonable idea but her gut was telling her something was off. ‘Maybe you should try.’

Teal’c turned and knocked on the door loudly. ‘Major Carter. It is Teal’c.’

The door remained firmly closed.

A door further down the corridor opened and Daniel stumbled out, bare-footed and dressed only in his BDU pants. Any other time Janet would have taken a moment to admire the toned torso but her anxiety over Sam was paramount.

‘What’s going on?’ Daniel asked, walking up to them and peering at them blearily. The shadows under his own eyes gave away his lack of sleep.

‘I came to check in on Sam but she’s not answering.’ Janet informed him. She sighed heavily. ‘I knew I shouldn’t have agreed to her staying in her quarters. I should have kept her in the infirmary for observation.’

Daniel’s eyes widened. ‘You think she’s unconscious?’

‘I don’t know.’ Janet admitted. ‘But the fact that’s she’s not answering her door is not a good sign. She was subjected to a lot of medical procedures.’

‘Don’t you have a card that can get in?’ Daniel asked urgently, responding to her worry. ‘I mean, in case of medical emergency?’

‘Perhaps I should secure one from security.’ Teal’c offered. His dark eyes gave away his own anxiety.

‘Please.’ Janet said. She didn’t watch as Teal’c raced away. She stepped back up to the door and knocked again. ‘Sam? It’s Janet. Please open the door.’

Daniel joined her. ‘Sam! It’s me, Daniel. Please just open the door.’

‘It’s not working.’ Janet paced away from the door. ‘I knew I should have insisted on her staying in the infirmary.’

‘It’s not your fault.’ Daniel hastened to comfort her.

‘It is my fault.’ Janet rejoined passionately. ‘I’m her doctor! I should have followed protocol instead of allowing my friendship with her sway my professional judgement.’ Sam had begged not to be restricted to the infirmary and Janet had given in because the younger woman had been through so much. It had been the wrong decision.

‘Hey,’ Daniel put a hand on her shoulder, ‘you were trying to do the right thing.’

Janet took a deep breath; getting upset was not going to help Sam and she needed to focus. It was possible that Sam was just deeply asleep, she reminded herself. Or that she’d had some kind of reaction to the drugs she had been subjected to during her abduction and was lying unconscious, the voice inside her head argued back. Whatever the situation, she mused, she was going to need to be more prepared than simply having a penlight, a stethoscope and a clipboard. ‘I need to phone the infirmary.’

‘Use the phone in my room.’ Daniel offered.

‘Stay here,’ Janet told him briskly, ‘keep trying to rouse her.’

Daniel immediately turned back to the door and started tapping softly.

Janet hurried down the corridor and into Daniel’s quarters. She barely took in the disturbed bed in the centre as she picked up the phone and dialled the infirmary. She quickly ordered a team of medics with a gurney, crash cart and other emergency equipment. She wanted to be prepared for anything. She slapped the phone back into the cradle and took another breath.

Her eyes fell on the picture of Daniel’s wife on his bedside table. She had seen the one in his office but she hadn’t realised he kept a picture in his quarters. He must still love her a great deal to have a picture so close to the bed, Janet considered as she made her way out of the room. She pushed the twinge of envy aside as she made her way back to him.

‘Anything?’

‘Nothing.’ Daniel sighed. ‘I should have stayed with her last night. I offered…we offered,’ he motioned at the vacant chair where Teal’c had kept watch, ‘but she said she was fine.’

Janet knocked sharply on the door. ‘Major! Please open the door! That’s an order!’

There were footsteps behind them and they both turned to see General Hammond hurrying towards them with Teal’c and a security guard.

‘Doctor.’ Hammond said briskly. ‘I understand you’re trying to gain access to Major Carter’s quarters.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Janet motioned at the door. ‘I have cause for concern, sir, given her recent ordeal.’

Hammond nodded. ‘Very well. Airman, open the door.’

The security man reached forward with his card and slid it through the reader. The light blinked green and the door audibly unlocked.

Janet immediately moved forward. She knocked again briefly before pushing the door open. She peered into the dark room. ‘Major Carter?’

‘Stay away.’ Sam’s voice called out weakly from the other side of the bed.

Janet could barely make out Sam’s form. The light from the corridor fell across an empty bed and she could see Sam huddled into the shadows of the corner of the room. She squinted. ‘Sam, it’s me. I just want to confirm that you’re OK.’

‘No.’ Sam snapped. ‘No more experiments. Stay away from me or I’ll shoot.’

Janet froze at the entryway. That didn’t sound good; Sam sounded confused and disoriented. More to the point; how had Sam gotten a gun?

‘Doctor?’ Hammond questioned urgently behind her.

‘I think she’s disoriented.’ Janet said quietly, her heart racing as she slowly raised her hands so Sam could see they were empty. ‘It’s possible we woke her from a deep sleep and she’s uncertain of her bearings. Let me talk with her, sir.’

‘Is there any possibility she has a weapon?’ Hammond asked sternly.

‘Uh,’ Daniel cleared his throat. ‘She had one yesterday when we were looking for the Goa’uld. Jack gave her it.’

Hammond sighed. ‘And she didn’t return it?’

‘I don’t think any of us thought to ask her.’ Daniel admitted chagrined. ‘We were just relieved at finding her.’

‘Doctor,’ Hammond tapped her shoulder, ‘step out of the room.’

‘Sir?’ Janet looked over her shoulder at him surprised.

‘I can’t take the risk.’ Hammond said firmly.

‘Sir, if you send a security detail in here, the Major will be traumatised further.’ Janet said quickly. ‘This was my mistake. I should have kept her under observation in the infirmary. Please.’

‘I’m sorry, Doctor, but I cannot allow it.’ Hammond declared authoratively. ‘Step back; that’s an order.’

Janet sighed and stepped back. She immediately turned to her commanding officer. ‘Sir, I have to protest.’

‘Maybe Teal’c and I should go in.’ Daniel said quickly. ‘I don’t think she’d shoot us.’

‘I cannot allow anyone to go in there.’ Hammond said. ‘Not while she’s disoriented and potentially armed.’

‘Sir,’ Janet began again.

‘What about me?’ Jack’s voice broke in authoratively and Janet turned to glare at him, absently noting the arrival of the equipment and personnel from the infirmary that she had ordered along with the Colonel.

‘What are you doing here, Colonel?’ Hammond’s glare rivalled Janet’s.

‘I heard Carter’s refusing her wake up call?’ Jack said dryly. He gestured with his good hand at the open door – his injured arm was in a sling.

Janet’s eyes landed on the orderly who shrugged apologetically. She couldn’t blame him. She figured the Colonel had probably insisted on making his way to the Major’s room as soon as he had heard the news.

‘My decision remains, Colonel.’ Hammond said forcefully. ‘If there’s any chance Major Carter is armed, I cannot risk sending someone into that room.’

‘Sir,’ Jack said pleadingly, ‘Carter’s confused. That’s all. Let me go in and bring her out.’

Hammond and Jack exchanged a long look.

Janet watched with bated breath and she could see the same tension on everyone else’s face.

The General sighed. ‘Are you certain about this, Colonel?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Jack said confidently. ‘I am.’

Hammond’s fingers clenched at his sides but he nodded reluctantly. ‘You go in at your own risk.’

‘Understood, sir.’ Jack said. It was clear he didn’t really care about the risk to himself.

Janet moved out of the way, feeling wholly inadequate. She should probably protest, she thought sadly. The Colonel was injured; he was in no condition to go in that room yet…she inwardly sighed. Sam was rightly wary of doctors given her trauma and Janet knew if anyone could get through Sam’s fugue it would be the Colonel.

Daniel sighed heavily. ‘Jack.’

‘Daniel.’

‘Are you sure you don’t want Teal’c and I to come in with you?’ Daniel asked. His voice hummed with nerves but Janet could see he was hopeful.

Jack patted his arm. ‘Not this time, Daniel.’ He took another step. ‘Carter, I’m coming in.’

He walked inside and closed the door.

o-O-o

The door clicked shut behind Jack. He hoped Hammond would understand why he’d closed the door and would keep it locked for a while. There were things he might be prepared to share with Carter given the circumstances but Jack didn’t really want the whole base knowing his past – and he figured Carter would be mortified if the details of her own experience leaked out. Jack moistened his lips and stayed still, allowing his eyes to adjust as the light seeped in around the door and cast the room in shades of grey.

He made out the bed, rumpled and stripped of its blankets as though Carter had been startled awake. His chocolate eyes snagged on a huddled shape in the far corner, wedged up against the wall.

‘Carter.’

The shape moved. ‘Sir?’

The misery in her quiet voice almost made him smile despite the circumstances. ‘You woken up yet?’ He asked bluntly.

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam replied.

‘The gun?’ His heart pounded as he waited for her answer.

He heard her sigh heavily. ‘No gun, sir.’

‘OK.’ Jack made his way over to her and lowered himself to the floor beside her, ignoring the pain that bit into his back and arrowed down his arm. Carter was curled up into a small ball, her face buried in her hands. They sat for a long moment side by side.

Jack darted a look at her and wet his lips. ‘You want to tell me what happened just now?’

Sam shook her head and he caught a glimpse of tears on her cheeks. ‘I don’t know. I was sleeping and someone was breaking into my room so I…’

‘Hauled ass and threatened to shoot?’ Jack completed when she stuttered to a halt.

‘I just reacted.’ Sam continued sadly.

‘Of course you did.’ Jack said sympathetically. ‘Hell, Carter, if it was me I would have probably just attacked.’ He had in the past; broken the arm of the nurse who’d had the misfortune to wake him the first morning he’d been liberated from an Iraqi prison.

Sam looked at him. He could see the faint outline of her face; the glimmer of her eyes. She shifted beside him and he felt her inch closer. ‘I threatened Janet.’

Her voice was a whisper.

‘That why you didn’t come out once you realised where you were?’ Jack questioned gently.

She didn’t reply. He saw her duck her head in a classic Carter avoidance move.

‘Carter?’ He prompted.

‘I tried but I couldn’t seem to move, sir.’ She whispered. Her hands gripped her knees tightly; he could see the knuckles turning white.

Jack nodded. He knew how much it had cost her to admit that. ‘Well, I can see why you wouldn’t want to; lovely floor, nice wall.’

Sam shook her head. ‘I should be stronger than this.’

He could hear the tears she was holding back in her choked voice. ‘You’re one of the strongest people I know, Carter.’ He said sincerely. He knew that for a fact. Any one of the challenges she had faced would have downed a lesser person. ‘And you’re not alone. You’ve got me, Teal’c, Daniel. You know that, right?’

Sam nodded jerkily. He could hear the catch in her breath.

‘C’mere.’ Jack slung an arm around her shoulders and tugged her towards him. He didn’t care if it was inappropriate or the wrong thing to do as her CO. She cuddled into his side and rested her head on his shoulder. He could feel the hot splash of her tears soaking into the thin infirmary pyjamas he was wearing. He stayed silent and let her cry, knowing she didn’t want him to acknowledge her weakness. She stopped eventually; hiccupping slightly and sniffling.

Carter shifted suddenly to face him. Jack knew it wouldn’t take much to lean forward and capture her lips with his; to kiss her; to assure himself on a primal level that she was alive. He didn’t even think she would resist. But it would be taking advantage of her when she was vulnerable. He stayed still and she returned to her previous position, resting her cheek against his shoulder again.

He was reminded of how they used to cuddle when they’d thought they were entirely different people by the names of Jonah and Thera. He’d missed it, he realised regretfully; missed her. He was beginning to understand in his haste to resurrect the professional boundaries between them, he’d come close to destroying their friendship along with the promise of more someday.

Well, not anymore, Jack determined strongly. Even if he and Carter couldn’t be something more than friends, they could be friends. There was nothing wrong with that; nothing inappropriate; nothing against the regs. She stirred beside him and he dragged his mind back to the immediate problem. They couldn’t sit on the floor of Carter’s room all day no matter how much he liked it there.

‘You know after this morning Fraiser’s going to revoke your staying-in-your-quarter privileges.’ Jack said conversationally.

Sam sighed and he felt her tense at the idea that she was going to have to be in the infirmary.

‘I was thinking maybe we could convince her to give us one of those isolation rooms to ourselves?’ Jack continued, keeping his tone light. ‘Like we had just after Antarctica? It’ll be like old times.’

‘Really?’

‘Sure.’ Jack agreed. ‘Besides, I could do with some chess practice. Cassie keeps remembering Daniel’s moves.’

‘I thought she was getting really good.’ Sam commented, her body relaxing again.

‘She’s sneaky.’ Jack said proudly. He felt her lips curve through the thin material of his top. He glanced toward the door. He didn’t think they would have much longer before someone came in to check that Carter hadn’t shot him. ‘You ready?’

She hesitated but nodded. She didn’t move.

‘You’re going to have to help me up here, Carter.’ Jack prompted. He figured her ingrained compassion would kick in with the plea and he was right. She shifted immediately, taking hold of his arm and assisting him to his feet. He ushered her into a robe and they moved out to the door side by side. Jack opened it with his good hand and peeked out. He was relieved to see just Janet, Daniel and Teal’c. Hammond had evidently got rid of the rest of the circus.

‘Hey.’ Jack greeted them and nudged Sam out of her room.

Sam gave a small, fleeting and embarrassed smile before her eyes landed apologetically on the waiting doctor’s. ‘Janet…I am so sorry.’

Janet looked over her briskly. ‘That’s OK but…’

‘I’m staying in the infirmary.’ Sam completed, grimacing.

‘I thought one of those nice isolation rooms like the one we had after Antarctica?’ Jack hurried out. He hoped Janet got the message not to separate the two of them.

Janet shot him a look but nodded. ‘I’ll see what I can arrange.’ She motioned toward the elevator. ‘Shall we?’

They all started off down the corridor, Janet leading the way with Jack and Sam following her, flanked by their team-mates.

Jack frowned at Daniel suddenly taking in the other man’s undress. ‘Daniel.’

‘Jack.’ Daniel replied.

‘Shirt.’ Jack said with a smirk.

Daniel looked down at his bare torso. He spun around and headed back to his room.

Jack grinned, inwardly pleased as he saw an answering amusement light up Sam’s blue eyes momentarily before she looked away. It was going to be hard getting Carter through her experience but he resolved he would get through it; SG1 would get her through it.

Part II: Before The Dawn

Teal’c focused on the chess board and regarded his opponent with a fierce glower as she removed his king from play.

Cassandra Fraiser smiled sweetly back at the Jaffa. ‘Your turn, Teal’c.’

Teal’c’s dark eyes fell back to the board. He preferred the Jackals and Hounds game that he and Daniel Jackson played regularly but he enjoyed chess. He relished the challenge of determining strategy and he always played to secure victory. He picked up a knight and sent it into battle. He secured one of Cassie’s white pawns and added it to the small pile of pieces he had removed. He studied the board with satisfaction unaware of the look of amusement Jack and Sam shared while watching him. He had been inveigled into the game during Cassie’s visit to Sam for their usual game. Sam had played one game but she had tired and the other members of SG1 had stepped in. They had set up the board on a table between the beds allowing Jack and Sam to watch unimpeded.

The Air Force Major hadn’t said much since the incident the day before when the Colonel had intervened to bring her out of her quarters. She had been embarrassed by it and while they were all ignoring the fact that it had happened, the very visible outcome – her return to the infirmary – reminded them all too evidently that it had happened. Janet had arranged an infirmary ward. Without discussion, Teal’c and Daniel had also taken up residence in the room. Daniel had simply assumed ownership of the third empty bed on the other side of Sam while Teal’c was content to take a chair by the door. They were in and out of the room during the day and left when Janet insisted the injured pair needed to rest but overnight they provided Sam with a blanket of protection that was as much for their benefit as it was for hers.

Cassie’s visit would have usually have been cancelled but Hammond had ordered additional security to be implemented into the homes of the SGC staff. As SG1 and Cassie were at the top of the at-risk list, they had all insisted the Fraiser home be tackled first. Janet had decided to allow Cassie’s visit to Sam as a way of getting the teenager out of the house while the security men completed their work and a way of brightening up Sam’s otherwise despondent mood. Janet had told them she hadn’t decided what to tell the teenager beyond the basic facts; that Sam had been kidnapped, that Jack had been injured rescuing her and that they were all going to be more careful with their personal security going forward.

Cassie frowned in response to Teal’c’s move. She pulled her lower lip between her teeth and looked at the board just as seriously as Teal’c. It filled Teal’c with pride. She was learning well. Her hand snaked out and hovered over one piece before she suddenly changed her mind and shifted another piece.

Checkmate.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow. He lifted his eyes to meet Cassie’s and she grinned back at him. Teal’c bowed his head; conceding his defeat.

‘Nice.’ Jack commented.

Teal’c’s head snapped to the SG1 team leader.

Jack puffed out his chest. ‘I believe I remember some of those moves.’ He gestured at the board.

‘Me too.’ Daniel commented, looking up from his translations.

‘Me three.’ Sam said, adjusting the blankets around her as though she was cold.

‘Do you require another blanket, Major Carter?’ Teal’c asked.

She shook her head.

Cassie rolled her eyes and grabbed a blanket off Jack’s bed. She passed it to Teal’c who accepted it with a small inclination of his head. He shook it out and placed it over Sam reverently.

Sam sighed. ‘Thank you.’ Her eyes sneaked to Cassie. ‘Both of you.’

Cassie grinned irrepressively. ‘So who’s up for another game?’

‘What?’ Jack said dryly. ‘Beating me and Teal’c wasn’t enough for you today?’

‘You played well.’ Teal’c murmured. ‘I was not expecting such a bold move.’

‘Jack taught me that one.’ Cassie admitted.

Jack grinned proudly. ‘I did.’

Cassie stuck her tongue out at him and Jack responded in kind.

‘Sir.’ Janet’s voice whipped across the room from the doorway.

Jack hastily plastered an innocent look on his face as he turned to greet the CMO. ‘Doc.’

Sam ducked her head to hide a smile.

Teal’c was pleased to see it.

‘I think it’s time we left the Colonel and the Major to rest.’ Janet said decisively, folding her arms over her chest.

‘Mom!’ Cassie protested automatically.

‘Yeah,’ Jack chimed in, ‘Mom!’ His dark eyes twinkled mischievously.

Janet shot him a warning look before sliding her gaze meaningfully toward Sam. Jack looked immediately contrite.

Cassie sighed expressively and hugged Sam goodbye. ‘Get better soon.’ She walked the short distance over to Jack and hugged him too, careful of his bandaged arm. She accepted Teal’c’s muscular arm as he silently offered to escort her from the room.

Janet cleared her throat as Daniel remained riveted to his research.

‘Oh.’ Daniel said, looking up and blinking. ‘Right.’ He climbed off the infirmary bed and gathered up his papers.

Teal’c bowed his head at Jack and Sam as he left them.

Janet closed the infirmary door behind them. She slid an arm around Cassie’s shoulders. ‘Why don’t you sit in my office for the next hour and do some homework?’

‘Can’t I just catch a ride home?’ Cassie argued. ‘I could go to the movies with Dominic like I planned.’

‘Cassie…’

Teal’c could see the conflicted look on Janet’s face.

‘Look, the house isn’t going to be finished until later,’ Janet said firmly, ‘and I would rather you stayed here.’

‘Perhaps a game of Jackals and Hounds?’ Teal’c suggested, stepping in to divert Cassie’s attention.

Cassie regarded him with a long look. ‘OK.’ She darted a look back toward her mother. ‘If that’s OK with you, Mom?’

Janet sent a chiding look but nodded. ‘If it’s OK with Daniel; it’s his game.’

Daniel nodded quickly. ‘Sure. I don’t mind. I was heading to my office to continue with this.’ He raised the mess of papers and books he was carrying.

Cassie joined Daniel and Teal’c as they made their way to Daniel’s office. Teal’c knew Cassie loved the room and he too appreciated its familiar comfort. The smell of old books permeated the air; the shelves of the room were crammed with them; reference books, journals. They mixed with stacked reports and research papers and the artefacts that littered the room haphazardly to an observer but with a strange order for those who understood history.

Daniel cleared a section of the central bench, simply dumping the papers and books onto a nearby stool. He set up the game and retreated to his desk.

Teal’c seated Cassie before he took his own chair. They began playing and Teal’c felt some of his own tension from the events of the past week drain from him as he went through the familiar actions.

‘So,’ Cassie said, clearing her throat, ‘is anyone going to tell me what really happened?’

The question startled Teal’c into raising his eyes to meet her worried face. Teal’c looked over at Daniel seeking his assistance in answering the question.

Daniel looked back at Teal’c with bemusement. He cleared his throat. ‘What do you mean?’

Teal’c approved; an evasive approach was a good tactic. It would buy them time.

‘You’re all worried.’ Cassie said. She folded her arms over her chest and looked at both men expectantly.

‘I, uh…’ Daniel stumbled over his words. He nudged his glasses up his nose. ‘Your Mom explained what happened, didn’t she, Cassie?’

Cassie sighed. ‘She told me about Sam getting kidnapped but that doesn’t explain why everyone’s still worried. I mean you caught the guys, right?’

Daniel and Teal’c exchanged a look of consternation. Neither of them wanted to lie to her but both of them were unsure what Janet would want them to say.

Daniel motioned at Teal’c to reply.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow and stayed silent.

‘You didn’t catch them?’ Cassie surmised loudly. Her eyes widened as she looked at Daniel for confirmation.

‘Not exactly.’ Daniel mumbled, looking down at his translations as though he would find a means of escape in the words.

‘We were able to capture many of the men involved with Major Carter’s disappearance.’ Teal’c reassured Cassie swiftly.

‘But?’ She prompted; her eyes were wide on his.

‘But the man who was primarily responsible was able to evade capture.’ Teal’c confirmed.

Cassie sighed. ‘And that’s why we’ve got the extra security? Why Mom’s so worried about me going out alone with Dominic?’

‘It’s just a precaution.’ Daniel said getting up and walking around the desk to place an arm over her shoulders. She wrapped her arms tightly around the archaeologist’s waist as she buried her face in his chest. Daniel looked over her head at Teal’c.

‘Daniel Jackson is correct.’ Teal’c said comfortingly. ‘Adrian Conrad kidnapped Major Carter because of her experience with Jolinar. There is no reason to believe that he would be interested in kidnapping any other person.’

‘The security is just because we realised after Sam went missing that maybe we haven’t been as careful as we should be about our security when we’re on Earth.’ Daniel said. ‘General Hammond thinks it’s best if we’re just more cautious for a while. That’s all.’

Cassie raised her head. ‘What about Sam?’ She asked anxiously. ‘Is the…the guy still going to be after her?’

Teal’c and Daniel exchanged another look.

‘He is not.’ Teal’c said firmly. It was the truth. The Goa’uld was unlikely to ever complete Conrad’s plan and allow his host to go free; he had no need of their team-mate.

Cassie nodded and shifted away from Daniel. ‘Sorry. I guess I’m just a little more freaked out about it than I thought. It’s just if they could kidnap Sam so easily…I mean, she knows how to fight.’

Teal’c inclined his head. ‘I would be honoured to teach you to fight so you are more able to defend yourself.’

‘Really? That would be great. You know Mom and Sam taught me some stuff when I started dating and then when I started seeing Dominic, Jack taught me this really great move, you know, just in case. But Jaffa moves?’ Cassie grinned. ‘Cool.’

Daniel sighed. He hugged her and let go. ‘You’re spending way too much time with Jack.’

‘He says I’m spending way too much time with you.’ Cassie retorted cheekily.

‘That’s because you keep stealing all my chess moves.’ Daniel pointed out as he retook his seat.

‘I like how you play chess.’ Cassie said. ‘You always play your opponent.’

Teal’c looked at her quizzically. ‘Is that not the point of the game, Cassandra?’

She laughed and shook her head. ‘I didn’t mean that; I meant Daniel plays differently depending on who he’s playing. I like that.’ She smiled. ‘Know your enemy, right?’

Daniel looked at her surprised. ‘That’s a good observation.’ A mischievous look entered his blue eyes. ‘What about Teal’c?’

‘He always plays to win.’ Cassie said. ‘He never looks for a draw.’

Teal’c inclined his head in agreement.

‘And Sam?’ Daniel questioned.

‘She’s the most scientific.’ Cassie said authoratively. ‘She usually picks a classic strategy from some Grand master but then if she starts to lose, she’ll switch it up and try something else.’

‘What about Colonel O’Neill?’ Teal’c asked.

Cassie gave a small frown. ‘He’s the most unpredictable. He’ll just change strategies mid-game sometimes.’

‘Sounds like Jack.’ Daniel said dryly. He looked at her speculatively. ‘You’ve made some good observations.’

‘I was thinking of anthropology as my major when I get to college.’ Cassie grinned at him.

‘You’d be good at it.’ Daniel remarked.

Teal’c gestured at the Jackals and Hounds game. ‘It is your turn.’

Cassie picked up the coin. ‘So, when will you start teaching me how to fight?’

‘When we have discussed the matter with your mother.’ Teal’c said firmly.

Daniel snorted and Teal’c shot him a look.

‘Loser has to ask Mom?’ Cassie suggested sweetly as she plucked one of Teal’c’s pieces from the board in front of them.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow and folded his arms over his broad chest.

Cassie sighed huffily. ‘OK, OK. I’ll ask.’

Teal’c allowed a small smile to lift his lips. ‘Indeed.’

Continued in Part III.

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