Chapter Ninety Three
"We're not taking that vehicle."
Janet looked at him, realizing he was actually indulging in a fit.
Even Cassie was acting more mature and Cassandra could throw fits with the best of them.
Sometimes Janet wished she'd stayed a little more alien, but she knew that the fact Cassie had gotten used to Earth life to the point where she acted like a twelve year old was a huge step in the right direction.
She just had to remind herself of that when the more annoying aspects of being an almost teenager presented themselves.
"Jack, can we please have a word in private?"
Jack looked up at her, knowing that tone from previous encounters.
Amber had refused to tell Daniel what was wrong with the car.
That was Jack's only consolation...getting to see Danny-boy's face when he saw what the girls actually expected them to go to Florida in.
A more conspicuous car he couldn't imagine at that moment.
No one would have to tail them.
They could just call police dispatch and ask where the big Easter Egg had gone.
How Laci had justified to her husband painting over the dark blue and black paint, Jack would never know.
Of course, Sara had done some pretty strange things when she was pregnant, too.
Jack sighed as he thought back, wincing as Amber re-lived the memory.
At least it wasn't a bad one, this time.
Sara had shoved all their pillows on the floor, refusing to allow even one on the bed for three months.
She'd thrown out all his gun and fishing magazines to make room for baby stuff catalogues, called every family member she had - even ones she hadn't talked to since she was three, and had proceeded to tell them they were mooching imbeciles who could make something of themselves if they'd just go out and get a job.
Some of them had been doctors and hadn't appreciated her advice until Jack had explained the situation to them when Sara just left the phone sitting there, not even bothering to listen to them or hang up after her tirade.
He felt the mental tug that accompanied Amber's immersion in the memory and sighed.
They had to find out how to stop this.
He couldn't control his thoughts all the time and Amber was getting the short end of all of it.
Jack got up, knowing that look on Janet's face.
He didn't want Cassie or the General to hear the tongue-lashing she'd unleash on him if he didn't grow up.
He led her into the bathroom where he splashed cold water on his face.
"I know. We don't have a choice."
Janet scowled at him.
"No we don't and I don't like the example you're setting for Cassie. You're old enough to know better, Jack, and..."
Jack whirled around, kissing her quiet.
He knew it wouldn't stop her, but it might confuse her enough to let him get a word in.
She finally pushed against him, pulling back.
He was surprised, knowing she hadn't ever never managed to make herself stop after they'd started kissing.
Then she spoke and from the echo, he knew Carter was in charge.
Well, explained that.
"Sir, no more of that. I know in a way this is just between the two of you and I feel really weird doing this, but the fact is that I'm here, too, and every time you send her brain into...LaLaLand, I never know what's going to happen to me. I managed to get her coherent enough to put me in charge, but she's still floating a bit and so I have to ask that you save the kissing and stuff for controlled moments. Okay?"
Sam winced, hating this, but knowing the Colonel needed to know what happened to her when Janet lost control.
She did not want a repeat of that.
Jack knew Amber's memory was winding down and hastened to get this done before she was back in contact with him and began commenting.
"Carter, I didn't know. I'm sorry. Okay?"
Sam smiled at him before pausing, obviously speaking with Janet.
Then, she grinned and ducked her head.
The rueful smile on Janet's face when she looked up caught Jack's breath.
"I send Sam into oblivion when you kiss me."
Janet blushed when Jack grinned, his eyebrows rising.
"Really. Why's that?"
"Oh no you don't. The last thing you need is your ego stroked. Now, please, get me the cords so Teal'c will stop standing out there waiting for me."
"Teal'c's out there. Who's with the airman?"
"Teal'c cuffed him to the closet. I'll go check on him while you get the cords. Okay?"
**Ugh. Jonathan, that wasn't necessary.**
**Pregnant women are like that.**
**I don't ever want to be pregnant. Not if it means I'll do anything like that.**
**Sounds good to me. Last thing I want to do is be in a pregnant woman's mind during her nine months of asylum-quality sentience defection.**
Amber sent him a mental raspberry and quickly scanned his memories for anything she'd missed.
Her chuckling just annoyed him and he stalked out of the bathroom to the hall closet where he'd left the cords.
Janet passed him on her way to the spare bedroom and she kissed his cheek before walking into the room.
He sighed and examined the cords to make sure the hooks were on each end and pulled them down to give to Janet.
He did not want to look at that car again until time to leave, so Teal'c could have the honors.
**We're almost there.**
On second thought, seeing Daniel's face was a must.
Janet stepped out of the room, a pensive expression showing.
"He's there and he's not doing anything, but he's obviously not happy."
"Jack, I just wonder if we're being harsh. I mean, we have no proof he's done anything to us..."
"You saw what Amber and I are going through. He has the information we need..."
"I know that. I can't help how I feel about it, though."
Jack ran a hand through his hair, making it stick up all over.
"I know. Come on, Daniel and Amber are about to be here and I want to see them when they see...it."
Janet smiled and followed him out as Daniel and Amber pulled in the drive beside the Voyager.
* * * * * *
Almost to Amber's.
Daniel shot continuous glances at Amber, trying to figure out what could be wrong with the vehicle.
Jolinar was still fascinated by cars, providing him with information on multiple words that had automated ground transport, but none as self destructive as automobiles.
Daniel was curious what her home would look like.
Organized and boring, probably.
Another fit of laughter from Amber broke into their conversation and she touched his arm to indicate his next turn.
Daniel smiled in spite of himself.
Seeing her smiling and laughing was really nice, even if it was apparently all at Jack's expense.
Daniel wished he could reach out and wave away the dead look her eyes got between giggles, though.
She blanked as much as she laughed and it was creeping Jolinar out which meant he felt the creepiness in the second person.
Amber wrapped her arms around her side, trying to keep from exploding when Jonathan swore he'd never speak to her again.
She couldn't remember anything this genuinely funny ever actually happening to her before.
His mental imagery, of her being compacted into a human cube, was interesting and just made her try to keep from scaring Daniel with more laughter.
Then, just as she thought it couldn't get funnier, Jonathan sat down beside Cassie, refusing to allow himself to even think about the Easter Egg, as he thought of it.
She fell apart, crying in her laughter.
She knew he had supportable concerns, but he was so funny...
Daniel was starting to think something was physically wrong with Amber.
He pulled into the drive she waved at and watched her, making sure he'd picked the right one.
As soon as she nodded, he turned off the car and walked around to Amber's side to help her out.
His eyes took in the house as he waited for her to unbuckle herself.
It was nothing like he would've expected.
It was a goodly sized white European stucco and cherry wood house with Grecian pillars on the porch.
Everything was carved, detailed somehow.
Nothing escaped the artist's touch.
He shook his head at the amount of money it must've cost to have it done, enjoying her immaculate lawn.
He's always loved perfectly tended lawns.
He just never wanted to take the time to tend them.
She had a long rock garden with a small brook running around her house like a moat, a strong wooden bridge covering the spanse of water.
Daniel helped Amber up and out, taking her arm to guide her along the concrete walkway, across the bridge, up the step to her porch, and to the door.
The door was plainly elegant, allowing the doorjam carving to be its main decoration.
Amber walked to one of the two potted plants, reaching into the large elephant plantholder's mouth to retrieve her spare key to her house.
Daniel went back and got Janet's suitcase, closing the trunk lid before hurrying to rejoin her on the porch.
She quickly opened her door, sniffling to control the allergies her constant crying and laughing had stirred up.
Daniel looked around him as he entered behind Amber, answering Jolinar's questions as he went.
"Amber, this is gorgeous."
Amber turned to see what he found fascinating and grinned when she realized he was motioning to her home in general.
"Thank you. I worked on the plans for a long time before having it built."
"How can you afford this?"
Amber's smile slipped a bit, but she recovered quickly.
**He's not meaning anything by that.**
**I know. Just wasn't expecting it.**
"I...inherited a while back."
Daniel picked up on her tone immediately and dropped it.
"I take it you like elephants."
"Yes, there's just something about their...power and majesty when they're charging. I find them very calming."
Daniel cocked his head, as if seeing her from a new angle.
*May I be in control?*
"Amber, what kind of security do you have here?"
At her raised eyebrow, he smiled.
"Jolinar wants out for a while and I don't blame her. She's been dormant this entire time, trying to keep Cassie's agitation to a minimum around her. I just wasn't sure if some guy's looking at a surveillance TV or what."
"No, standard burglary system and hidden cameras, but I'm the only one who can see them. If someone was able to monitor them, they're probably the same people we're worried about anyway and they already know about Jolinar so feel free."
Daniel put Jolinar in charge, feeling her rush of freedom as if it were his own.
He suddenly felt very guilty about her position, realizing how patient she really was, considering.
"May I help you pack?"
"Sure. Right this way."
Amber led the way across the marble floor, up the stairs toward her bedroom and Jolinar looked around in fascination.
She allowed her hands to trail across the stair railing, enjoying the carved wood's coolness and unique textures.
Jolinar had seen many wondrous and rich places, but this had an elegance to it that many Goa'uld palaces lacked.
They were large, gold, and bulky.
This...was truly lovely.
Daniel looked through Jolinar's eyes as she stopped to look at each painting and sculpture they passed.
Mostly elephants, with some portraits in matching frames - all carved cherry wood.
This must've cost a fortune.
Amber was thrilled with the way Daniel and now Jolinar was reacting to her home.
She had spent almost everything she'd inherited on it, indulging a side of herself she'd never been able to let out before.
Everything was clean, in its place, perfect, and beautiful.
Practical, useful, and wonderful.
She always loved coming home.
She opened her bedroom door, enjoying the scents of jasmine and apples as they announced her arrival in her most private of rooms.
She turned to see Jolinar's reaction to her sanctum, the only other person to ever have done so.
Jonathan didn't count.
He'd only been there in her mind.
Jolinar didn't disappoint her.
Jolinar's eyes flashed in pleasure as she looked around at the mixture of silver and gold on earth tones and rich, luxurious greens.
No cherry wood here, all was light English Oak...so light as to almost be ivory in color.
Her bed was a modified sleigh bed, being pulled by oak elephants, decorated with silver and green harnesses.
Jolinar touched everything she could, feeling the silk of Amber's green bedding, the coolness of the woods, and the smoothness of the silver and gold accents throughout the room.
She pestered Daniel with origin questions as Amber pulled open the mirrored closet doors, pulling out clothing from the walls of her walk-in closet.
Jolinar set Janet's suitcase on the bed, being careful so as not to mar the calming splendor of the room.
She opened it and took out everything, refolding the clothing in a more efficient manner, ignoring Daniel's mental diversions to keep from watching her actions.
*I'm not into knowing what Janet wears under her clothing.*
*You would still be unsure of her preference since Samantha could be influencing her choices now.*
*I don't think of them that way and I'd like to keep it that way.*
Jolinar smiled at his discomfort, analyzing yet again how interesting the contrasts between her and her host were.
Amber set her clothes on the bed and Jolinar immediately began folding them into the suitcase.
Amber packed a bag with her shampoo and other personal effects and re-joined Jolinar just as she was closing the suitcase.
"Is there anything else?"
Amber thought about her refrigerator, mentally checking to see if anything would go bad anytime soon, but couldn't think of anything so she shook her head, still smiling as she listened to Jonathan's thoughts.
Daniel took over as they reached the front door and with one last look cast behind him, he followed Amber out.
She locked up and then got in the car while he put the suitcase in the trunk.
He started the car and they pulled out, heading back to Jonathan's.
Janet had finally decided to confront Jonathan and Amber grinned.
Then, Amber caught Jonathan's thought and tried to run from the memory, but wasn't fast enough.
She looked over at Sara, trying to keep from laughing at the conversation she was having with some cousin Fred or whatever.
She knew laughing would just get that mood sent her way and she had no desire to be on the receiving end of it.
Sara dropped the phone onto the table, letting the person yell at nothing as she went to the kitchen to get something.
Amber quickly picked up the phone and explained about Sara's pregnancy, apologizing.
As soon as she hung up, she chuckled and went to find her errant wife.
Her eyes softened as she took in Sara's form, absolutely breath-taking in her sixth month of pregnancy.
Sara thought she was a blimp, constantly complaining and trying to hide herself, unable to understand why Amber found her even more beautiful than ever.
Amber's eyes took her in, unable to believe how blessed she was.
Her son was in there, a real life...created by her and Sara.
She refused to cry, but let the emotions flood her, hoping Sara could see how much love she felt for her.
Amber smirked as she followed Sara into the bedroom where their still pillow-less bed apparently beconned.
She'd tried to sneak pillows in for a nap or two, but had then been forced to listen to fifteen minute discourses from Sara on how insensitive she was being.
Sara turned out the light, wanting complete darkness to hide in as she dressed for bed and Amber sighed, wishing Sara would fall asleep quickly so she could turn on the bedside lamp and watch her wife sleep.
As soon as her breathing evened out, Amber turned on the light, ready with an excuse should Sara wake, and after a few moments, curled up, trailing her hand along her wife's belly, smiling at the thought of her son right under her hand.
She couldn't wait for him to be born.
All the things she'd teach him, show him, learn from him.
Daniel looked over at Amber, seeing how emotional her eyes were.
He shook her out of whatever it was she was seeing and saw instant wistfulness followed by intense gratitude before she blanked herself.
Then, she began chuckling and Daniel gave up on having any clue what was going on with her.
"We're almost there."
Amber looked up and around, suprised that almost the entire ride had happened while she was in that memory.
She informed Jonathan, listening to his conversation with Janet.
She had no problem with the airman being held captive.
Not if he was in any way responsible or knew who was responsible for what had happened to her and Jonathan.
Jonathan completely agreed with her on that one.
Daniel checked Amber out, making sure she was okay, glad she was calm again.
As he pulled up to Jack's drive, he automatically made the turn before realizing what was wrong with the picture in front of him.
Then, as he pulled up along side it, he grinned at the pastel pink and blue Voyager.
No wonder Amber hadn't told him about it.
The only way to experience that vehicle was to see it.
Daniel got out, walking to the car and laughing out loud when he saw the inside was a light yellow.
Jack must've had a fit.
Well that explains Amber's reactions so far.
Jolinar's disgust with the vehicle fueled his amusement.
*We are not to draw attention to ourselves. This vehicle is not acceptable. Get another.*
Daniel ignored her, knowing she just didn't know any other way yet.
Jolinar seethed when Daniel mentally tuned her out.
She longed to be with Martouf, fighting by his side against the System Lords.
Instead, she was stuck in a might-as-well-be pascifist who didn't mind driving a horrific vehicle with small cuddly animals on it.
*They're bunnies, Jolinar.*
Jolinar's disgust only increased when Daniel supplied her with information on them.
Fertile, hopping, bunnies...why would anyone worship such creatures.
*I doubt they're on there for worship purposes. They're associative with babies so it makes sense...I've never seen it carried to this extent, but, well...*
Daniel went to stand beside Jack who was watching him, but trying to to see the vehicle behind him.
Daniel chuckled, thinking to himself that if Jolinar had joined with Jack instead of him, they'd have either destroyed each other by now, or would've have so much in common they would've reinforced each other's violent streaks and Maybourne would be dead.
*He may still die if it is him that has attacked Amber.*
Daniel stopped, realizing Jolinar's interest in Amber had actually become fondness.
He looked at Amber, grinning when whatever it was she said to Cassandra sent the girl into spasms of laughter.
The way Jack was glaring at her now gave a hint of what the subject matter had been.
Cassie took another look at the car and then ducked into the house, closely followed by Amber.
Jack just sighed, looking straight at Daniel.
**I will find a way to get you back. Somehow...**
**They liked my house.**
**I knew they would. It's a gorgeous house, Amber.**
Jack smiled at Amber's pleasure.
He was glad she was starting to open up even if it was under duress.
Amber snorted and he chuckled before turning his back on that...thing.
Daniel was grinning like an idiot and Jack upsmacked his head.
Daniel gave a yelp, clutching his head and Jack gave a matching yelp when Janet's hand connected with his backside.
"What was that for?"
Janet just grinned and walked into the house.
Daniel glared at Jack and followed her in, trying not to speed until he was inside.
Jack put Amber's suitcase on top with the other two suitcases and helped Teal'c strap 'em all down.
He checked his watch and knew he needed to get everyone moving.
No sooner had he thought it than everyone, including the General was leaving the house.
Trivies was in Daniel's care and was flanked by Janet and Teal'c quickly stepped beside them.
Jack noticed Amber was avoiding Trivies, visually and phycially and Jack was relieved.
He didn't want another trip down memory lane if at all possible.
The women had their's and Daniel's carry-on bags and the General stepped back a couple steps when he saw the bunnied-vehicle.
"See? It's the BunnyMobile."
Jack groaned at Cass's christening of the vehicle.
It fit, though, so it would probably stick.
Hammond was at a loss for words and Jack let him stay that way, directing everyone to their seats.
"Daniel's got shotgun, Janet's driving, Trivies and Teal'c are on the middle benchseat, Amber, Cass, and I take the back benchseat. Any questions?"
No one said anything so Jack stepped up to the General, ignoring Amber's increased agitation at Trivies' nearness.
"Sir, we're going to get on our way."
"We don't have a choice, sir. So yeah. How are you getting back to base?"
"I called for a ride. They'll be picking me up shortly after you leave."
"Go ahead and lock up, Colonel. I have all of my things out here."
That's when Jack realized the General was re-dressed in the clothes he'd had last night.
**Janet washed them for him. We can't get in until you do.**
Jack nodded to air and shook Hammond's hand.
"I know you took a big risk here, sir. We'll have as much information as possible when we come back and hopefully a few healed people."
"That's the priority. There are people out to get you, Colonel, so stick together and use our previously set up communication method. As far as I know, it's still secure."
Jack locked up the house and picked up the CD case Cass had left in the walkway.
Hammond watched Jack take a quick look around and wished them all a safe journey.
Jack turned and putting his imagination into gear, to Amber's obvious delight, he pretended he was climbing into a red SUV, choosing to push the pretty yellow into mental oblivion.
He took his seat by the window and Cassie crawled in next to him, followed by Amber.
Teal'c and Hagar had taken their seats in front of him and Jack realized he'd be better off keeping his eyes closed.
Janet and Daniel made a quick round to make sure everyone was settled.
They'd be trading off on the driving.
Daniel got his bag from Cassie and Janet popped in the Titanic Soundtrack.
She kept it low as everyone got ready.
"Just look for a place to eat and we'll decide whether we're eating in here or there."
Janet's nose wrinkled.
"We'll be eating in, Jack. I hate driving and eating."
Daniel started to speak, but one look at Janet's warning look shut him up.
"We're in the BunnyMobile. I want IHOP."
Jack tickled Cassie.
"What! It fits..."
"I want IHOP, too."
Janet grinned at Amber's addition and shrugged to Daniel.
"Do you know where an IHOP is near here?"
"Yeah. Go left up here..."
* * * * * *
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