Chapter Eighty Seven
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Cassie came back from the bathroom and pushed her bag back against the dresser.
Daniel smiled at her as he grabbed a pair of Jack's sweatpants and a T-shirt before heading to the bathroom.
Cassie watched him go, wondering whether he'd want to talk about the vodka or not.
She hoped not.
She quietly walked to the bed and tucked the blanket around Amber, pausing as she opened her eyes.
"It's okay. You're safe here."
Amber smiled a bit.
"We're going to Florida tomorrow."
Amber's eyebrows raised.
Daniel slipped into the room, catching the conversation.
He was still grinning at the look on Sam's face when he heard Amber's question.
Cassie turned toward him, a wary look in her eyes.
"She wants to know why we're going to Florida tomorrow."
Daniel sat on the bed, his eyes running over Amber's face to see if she looked any better.
"Jack thinks we all need a change of scenery. A distinct lack of conspiracy is what we all need, I think."
Amber nodded a bit.
"I can't hear him."
Cassie pulled off her slippers and laid down next to Amber, making sure to leave enough room for Sam.
"You mean telepathically?"
"Yes. I have this foggy blanket on my brain. I can't think of anything really without pushing on it. I don't really care, either, I suppose."
Amber shrugged and then focused on the doorway.
Daniel glanced over, unsurprised to find Jack standing there with a blanket and a closed fist.
Jack walked over to the bed, handing Daniel the blanket and gently moving Cass aside so he could get to Amber.
"Come on, sit up."
She didn't move, but Daniel could tell it wasn't because she didn't want to.
She seemed boneless.
Jack sighed, carefully propping her up.
Daniel motioned for Cassie to hand him the glass of water and he held it for Jack.
Smiling his thanks, Jack popped the pills he'd brought with him into Amber's mouth and then took the water from Daniel.
She swallowed automatically and Jack made her swallow some more water.
Daniel noticed Cassie's wrinkled nose as Jack checked to make sure the pills weren't still in Amber's mouth.
Cassie looked at him, wariness in her expression again.
"I'm okay. This is just weird."
"Yeah, it is. Tell ya what. How about you and I take a little walk while Jack gets Amber settled."
Cassie looked at him, her shoulders slumping in resignation.
Jack looked over at Daniel, obviously interested in what would cause the defeat in Cassie's voice.
Daniel smiled at him, setting the blanket on the bed as he stood up.
Jack raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything as Daniel took Cassie's hand and left the room.
He turned back to Amber, his hand smoothing her hair off her face as she settled back into the bed.
"I can't hear you."
Jack paused, looking at her.
"Not at all?"
"Well, that explains why you haven't been answering me."
Amber's eyes focused on him then.
"You can hear me?"
"Yeah. Just like before, but without your answering thoughts. More emotion and memory than anything else. Usually you respond, but you haven't been."
"Maybe it's just because of this malaise I feel. I have no motivation to move or do anything."
"Yeah, but I feel a sense of panic around the edges of that malaise."
Amber screwed up her nose slowly.
Jack grinned for a moment at the slow motion-like movement.
"I'm not sure I like you being able to read me without being able to read you."
"I don't think it's caused by the implants. I think when you face all the crap you just went through, it'll come back."
"Really, Dr. O'Neill. I'm impressed."
Jack smiled, ignoring her weak sarcasm.
"Janet told me to give you those pills. She said they'd take away your physical pain and let you sleep."
Jack cocked his head.
"I was thinking pain-killers, but okay."
"Pain-killers won't work, Jack. My pain is mental. It feels physical, but it isn't. Anti-depressants will help calm extra anxiety after awhile so that the cause behind my pain can be dealt with."
Her voice trailed off in a whisper he had to lean down to hear.
She closed her eyes, not trying to talk anymore.
Jack sighed, feeling the foggy resistance fill her mind again.
He picked up the blanket and stepped outside the room, flipping the light switch.
As he felt the darkness seep into her, he turned on the bedside lamp so she could still see.
"Sorry...you'd think I'd remember."
Her hand lifted a bit and then dropped to the bed.
Jack looked around briefly before stepping out the door.
He entered the living room, glancing at the couch where his second in command was fast asleep.
After Janet had told him where to get the pills for Amber, Sam had taken over again and was dead to the world before her eyes had fully closed.
His eyes twinkled, remembering how tired she'd looked.
He walked over to where he'd laid a pillow bed out and dumped his blanket on the makeshift mattress.
Daniel and Cassie stepped out of the kitchen, whispering good night to him before heading to bed.
He waved them through and set about turning off the lights and locking up the house for the night.
As he passed it, he flipped the bathroom light on so it would flicker through to the living room.
* * * * * *
Daniel followed Cassie into the kitchen.
She took up a defensive stance against the counter and whispered, aware of Janet asleep on the couch.
"What are you gonna do?"
Daniel slid to the floor, leaning against the refrigerator.
"What should I do?"
She shrugged, not moving.
"Why did you have it?"
She shrugged again, shifting her foot across the tile floor.
"I wasn't gonna drink it."
Daniel cocked his head, wondering if she actually thought he believed that.
Apparently she didn't because she sighed loudly before sitting down in front of him, her chin resting on her upraised knee.
*If you wish to speak, you will need to mentally press me. I am...meditating is the closest word, I suppose.*
Daniel's mouth curved as he thought of a goa'uld pretzeling itself and humming to aid its meditation.
Her deadpan comment made him chuckle and then he felt her relax, her focus turning inward.
"I wanted to know what it tasted like. Jack doesn't have any and no one else I know has any."
Daniel schooled his expressions, trying to look parental.
"Maybe you should talk to Jack about this. I don't mean tell him you took the bottle, I mean ask him about alcohol."
Cassie checked him over, wondering if he was demented.
"He'll tell me it's bad and I shouldn't drink it."
"I'll just get in trouble."
"Are you sure about that or are you just assuming?"
Cassie looked up at him, frustrated.
"You think I won't?"
Daniel leaned against the fridge, his eyes watching her carefully.
"I didn't give the bottle to Janet."
Cassie lit up.
"I'm going to give it to Jack."
Her face fell.
"So I'm still dead."
Daniel smiled, lifting her chin so she'd meet his eyes.
"Just..just talk to Jack about it, okay? I'm going to give it to him because I don't think you would if you had a choice."
He held up a hand, not letting her protest finish.
"You think of Jack as a father so trust him. You may still get in trouble for taking the vodka, but you won't get in trouble for asking about it."
She looked doubtful and Daniel smiled at her.
"Just make sure you listen to his response. Cassie, he knows about this and he's the best one I can think of, excepting your mom, to ask about it."
"I'm not telling Janet."
Daniel's eyebrow raised at the emphasis on Janet's name.
"You mind me calling her your mom?"
Cassie shifted a bit, biting her lip at his whispered question.
"No, it's just that I'm...I don't know...I think of her as my mom, but she told me she wasn't going to take my mother's place. I'm not sure she wants to be..."
"That was just to make sure you didn't feel resentful of her being here instead of your biological mother, Cass. She's thought of you as her daughter from the start. I don't know if you realize this, but she asked Sam if she could have you since Sam couldn't adopt you. Sam agreed, seeing how much Janet wanted you and went with her to the General to clear it with him. Either Janet or Jack has instigated everything you have here, everything that's been done here, with our support. If you want to call her mom, just do it. Don't make a big show of it. Start calling her that in your head and it'll slip out on its own once you're comfortable with it. Okay?"
Cassie grinned, thinking it over.
"Can I ask Jack about vodka before you give the bottle to him?"
Daniel's mouth twisted a bit as he thought about it.
"I don't think so."
Cassie pouted and Daniel just reached over and flipped her puffy bottom lip with his index finger until she stopped, giggling.
"After seeing Sam pout at Jack, that just doesn't work on me."
"Sam doesn't pout."
"She does when she wants to pull a brain-trip on an unsuspecting Colonel. She'll be very matter of fact and when he turns to look at her, she'll pout and ask for something. Jack gives in immediately just because he's so stunned. I think he's on to her now, though."
Cassie rolled her eyes.
"I can't see Sam doing that, but okay. Whatever you say."
Daniel's eyes still laughed at the memory even as his mouth settled into a smile.
"I hear Jack humming in the living room so let's go."
"Umm...shouldn't we get Sam?"
"Sam's sleeping on the couch. I'm with you and Amber."
Cassie's eyebrows raised, her eyes wide.
"Janet's okay with that?"
"She didn't say anything about it so I guess so. I don't think I count as a boy, Cass."
"I don't mean with me, duh. I knew that was okay. I mean with Amber. She's really pretty."
Daniel's nose wrinkled before he could stop it, causing Cassie's eyes to widen.
"You don't like her?"
"I'm still learning about her. I don't know her very well, but Cass, I'm in love with Sha're. I'm not looking for anyone else."
"She's been gone a long time."
Daniel pitched forward onto his knees, looking into Cassie's eyes.
"If Janet were kidnapped and you knew they were hurting her, would you stop thinking of her as your mom if it took a long time to rescue her?"
Cassie's eyes misted.
"No. I would find her."
"And I will find Sha're and bring her home safely."
"She'll live here with you?"
"Yes. It's the only place I can trust is safe to keep her. Abydos is constantly invaded by different goolds. When I have her here, I'll ask Kasuf to come here to see her, not the other way around. I want my wife back."
"What if she doesn't like it here?"
Daniel sighed, standing up and helping Cassie to do the same.
"Then she and I'll have to make some decisions. The point is, she'll be here to make them with me. Until then, though, I'll keep looking."
"I hope you find her."
Daniel stepped through the kitchen doorway, whispering goodnight to Jack as he passed him and hearing Cassie do the same.
Cassie leaned down and gave Sam a pixie kiss on her nose before following Daniel to Jack's bedroom.
Daniel smiled as he shut the bedroom door behind them.
He noticed the bedside lamp immediately and realized Amber had moved so she was right next to it.
Cassie frowned since Amber had taken her spot, but didn't say anything as Daniel motioned her to take the other side.
As soon as Cassie was situated in the middle, against her quiet protests since she wanted the edge, Daniel slipped under the covers.
Cassie turned to face Amber and snuggled against his back.
He grinned as she unsuccessfully tried to steal more of his pillow.
No one had ever been able to steal his pillow, not even Sha're.
He closed his eyes, listening to the breathing of the room's female occupants and waited to fall asleep.
* * * * * *
Daniel's nose wrinkled as the smell of a foot took up residence just outside his nostrils.
Refusing to open his eyes, he lifted a hand and swatted the offending foot, smiling at the muffled yelp that accompanied the impact.
A groan filled the air and he felt legs attached to the feet turn and he couldn't keep his eyes closed any longer.
Blinking against the lamplight, he caught Cassie's feet with his hands, holding them still.
A huge yawn interrupted her.
Daniel smiled, tickling the feet so her legs automatically started kicking at his face.
Her giggling caused Amber to stir, and Daniel stopped, not wanting to wake her up until he knew what time it was.
He couldn't see over Cassie's twisting legs.
"Cassie, what time is it?"
"I dunno...go back to sleep."
"I can't sleep while breathing your stinky feet."
Cassie sat up, frowning.
"So leave them alone."
"Get them out of my face."
Daniel just stared at her, realizing that Cassandra Fraiser was cute, if stupid, when she was sleepy.
"Turn back around and get back under the covers."
"Too hot. Amber rolled on me and you squished me."
Her sleepy indignation was joined by another deep yawn and she rubbed her eyes.
After another moment, she finally gave in, turning so she was wrapped around him, her arms lying across his chest.
Daniel visually checked on Amber now that Cassie had pinned down his arms, making sure they hadn't woken her up.
Seeing no movement, he leaned up a bit, pushing against a softly complaining Cass.
Four fifty-four in the morning.
They were rather definitely not leaving in six minutes.
Jack would just have to deal.
Daniel resolutely closed his eyes, a small part of him reveling in the mental rebellion he was indulging.
Within seconds, he was asleep again.
* * * * * *
Jack groaned as a strong hand shook his shoulder, forcing him from his dream and to reality.
His eyes opened and he stared into calm, amused, chocolate-colored eyes.
"Teal'c. Ugh. What time is it?"
"It is fifteen minutes after five o'clock, O'Neill. If we are to leave this morning, we should do so now."
"He will sleep for some time. My bag is by the front door. I will help you now."
"You can help me by waking everyone up."
"I have already awakened Capt. Carter. She is showering. I will awaken those who sleep in your room next. You may wish to take up post outside the bathroom so that when Capt. Carter is finished, you will be assured of hot water for your shower."
Jack grinned at the knowing glint in Teal'c's eyes.
"Good idea. Be a shame if I had to chase a certain archaeologist down and rough him up for using it all again."
Teal'c lifted away and Jack sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
He padded to the laundry room, getting a towel out of the clean basket.
He thought about putting them up, but knew if he held out long enough, Daniel would do it for him during his next guilt phase.
Grabbing a pair of pants and boxers, he headed to the bathroom, his body urging him to get closer to the door where small bits of warm steam drifted.
The slight chill in the house encouraged the groanings of the multitudes as a sleepy Daniel, followed by a sleepier Cassandra left his room, shower supplies in hand.
They slid to the floor, both knowing they were now in line and it might be awhile.
Jack waited for Amber to appear, but when she didn't, decided that Janet could tend to her if needed.
Daniel's head lifted a fraction.
"She's not asleep, but she's not responding either. Just laying there, staring at nothing. I kinda expected nightmares or something, but this...nothing is unnerving."
Cassie looked up before placing her shower bag on the floor and cuddling up to Daniel.
"She looks like Sam did when Jolinar....sorta died."
Daniel smiled, feeling Jolinar's very active amusement.
She was in a relatively good mood this morning and Daniel hoped Jack would try to be civil, since he could tick Jolinar off faster than anyone else in the house.
"Good comparison, actually."
Jack could hear the blow dryer now and knew it wouldn't be long now before he'd be under that hot water.
He should probably have turned on the heater last night, but he'd forgotten and now he was mentally hurrying Janet.
She never took long, so he wasn't surprised to hear only a few more minutes of movement before the bathroom door opened and Sam stepped out.
Her glowing eyes didn't creep him out nearly as much as they had at first, but he was disappointed she was in charge.
He stifled it, reminding himself it was the only way he would spend time with Sam, and smiled a welcome to her as he lifted his foot to step forward.
A burst of speed went by him and the bathroom door shut in his face before he'd even completed his step.
"Daniel!! Daniel get out of there now!"
Jack pounded on the door with his fist, stopping only when he heard the lock click.
"Shh...sir, the General."
His ire wasn't assuaged the least bit as he glared into his second in command's laughing eyes.
"That was so not fair."
Jack looked down at Cassie, curled up and pouting a bit.
She was so adorable in those cloud pajamas.
He slid to the floor beside her.
"I agree one hundred percent."
"We'll get some on the way. McDonald's or something. Daniel's paying. Go ahead and help Amber, would ya?"
Sam grinned as she nodded at him before ducking her head.
Janet quickly kissed his cheek to Cassie's sleepy delight, pausing to enjoy his sleepy smile before dropping her bag to the floor beside him and then walking into his bedroom.
*That was sweet.*
*I just really like kissing him.*
Janet didn't bother with a response, choosing instead to focus on the bed where Teal'c was holding Amber.
"Good morning Teal'c."
"Good morning DoctorFraiser."
"Good morning Dr. Corvores. How are you feeling this morning?"
"Tired. You may as well call me Amber. It feels weird to be called Dr. Corvores by you when no one else here does."
Janet smiled, pausing before acquiescing.
"Okay then, Amber.
*First name basis. One more barrier down.*
*Sam, I can't stay mad at her. Especially not now.*
*I know. It just feels strange.*
*Believe me, I know.*
Janet checked Amber's vitals, noticing that the glass on the table was empty.
She smiled her approval.
"Do you want me to help you get dressed to go?"
"No, I can do it."
"I think until you're yourself again, you shouldn't be alone right now. Just for a little while, okay?"
Amber sighed, her hair dull and lifeless against the pillow.
"I know you mean well. I know where you're coming from. I just don't care."
Janet sat down on the bed.
"Then you won't care if I help you up and to the bathroom as soon as the Colonel's out."
"He's in the shower? I still don't feel him."
*Oh, really. The Colonel didn't mention that.*
Janet ignored Sam's innuendo, choosing to concentrate on any and all visible signs Amber gave off.
*I'll ask him when I get a chance.*
"No, Daniel jumped in ahead of him, but he will be soon since Daniel knows he's on borrowed time now."
Teal'c turned, listening for further instruction from the Colonel.
When none was forthcoming, he nodded to the women and left the room in case O'Neill needed him and was not just pouring out frustration.
"I don't have any clothes here."
"Well, we were prepared to spend the weekend here, so I have some spare clothing. You're a bit taller, but we should be able to figure out something until we can swing by your place and pack some clothing for you."
Amber stopped talking and Janet didn't press her.
Instead, she stood.
"I'm going to get my stuff finished to go. If you need anything, we're all here and willing to help, no matter what has happened before. Okay?"
Amber raised an eyebrow at her and smiled a bit before closing her eyes and very determinedly turning her head to go back to sleep on the pillow.
Janet sighed and left the room, turning off the overhead light so that only the bedside lamp was dimly lit.
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