As soon as the initial greetings were past, there was a great deal of distress at Sam and Daniel's inappropriate attire. Sam, as an adopted daughter of the house and Daniel as her husband, were casting an ill light on the image of the whole family. They were immediately hustled off to change into something more appropriate. Daniel would have laughed at the results on Sam if he hadn't known how ridiculous he looked as well. He knew he would be hearing about this from Cam and Surat for a long time.
They rejoined their party for the first of four banquets over the next two days. The food was, as before, most disgusting, but years of field work and then his SG-1 experience had taught Daniel how to look like he was eating stomach turning food, ingest the minimum possible, and get the rest down without vomiting. He suspected it was like the advice that mothers used to give their daughters before their wedding nights in Victorian England to steel them for what they believed would be a horrific and unpleasant experience, "Just think of God, the queen, and your country. It will all be over soon."
Poor Jean-Paul was exiled with Cabreza to the far end of the dining hall. As non-relatives, neither counted. Surat regaled them afterwards with the stories of Cabreza's extreme difficulties with the food. Surat had been in Special Forces in some amazing circumstances. His point of view was that anything that kept him from starving and didn't involve cannibalism was cool.
When they had told Bel Min that Cam was "of their household" now because he was living with them, he got to join them at the head table. The three took advantage of this isolation from Cabreza to get their negotiations out of the way immediately.
Bel Min said readily, "Hanna has left. There are no other of her people here."
Cam asked through Daniel, "Is there any way to contact them?"
Bel Min shrugged. "We have an agreed upon sort of message drop with another planet and sometimes they answer. Most of the time, they ignore them for years."
Daniel was delighted to hear that and even happier with the next question Bel Min had. "What purpose do your people have for wishing to hire an empath?"
Cam said, looking warningly at Daniel and said, "I trust you to translate this the way I say it."
Daniel nodded. Cam said, "I believe they want to explore possibilities that an empath could offer for us in all areas."
Bel Min narrowed his eyes. He was no fool and he had seen the interplay prior to translation. "Do any of these involve covert uses? Instances where other parties would not know of the empathic abilities?"
When Daniel translated, Cam slowly nodded. "This is not acceptable under our laws." Daniel looked rather puzzled, thinking of Hanna. Bel Min looked horrified. "You did not understand the word observer when Hanna was sent home with you? For us that particular word means the observation of an empath. You have my deep apologies."
They talked further of the ethics involving empathy. In the end, Bel Min understood that the dour looking man named Cabreza needed a show to convince him that an honest effort had been made by the others to get Hanna or someone like her. He also read between the lines that they wouldn't mind giving him a hard time.
They returned four days later and were sitting in the conference room waiting for the debrief. Cam leaned over and said en sotto voice to Daniel, "This is going to be a lot of fun." He was straight-faced and, if Daniel had not been an empath, he might have taken it as sarcasm since there was definitely going to be a lot of upset and possibly yelling and screaming -- not the good kind either. He could perceive, however, that Cam considered it a pleasure to quash this whole empath thing in its infancy when they told the General that they had failed completely to find or retain any empaths on Poopoo.
Daniel was sitting between Cam and his wife. Surat, Teal'c, and Cabreza were across the table. Teal'c was bandaged and moving slowly. He hadn't gone on the mission but he was there as part of the team. General Landry had just taken a seat and looked from the fuming Cabreza to the carefully blank faced members of SG-1. He nodded at Cam and said, "Let's have your report, Colonel."
Cam threw his hands out and said, "It's quite simple, sir. Hanna had left the planet weeks ago. They have no idea how to contact her or her people. Evidently they just show up when they are in the mood to do so."
"I'm a little surprised that it took almost four days to discover that," Landry said, his eyebrows raised.
Cabreza said in clipped tones that dripped with displeasure, "We spent two entire days eating one feast after another of truly deplorable food. Several things were on the menu that I don't honesty think humans were ever designed to ingest. There was also an unacceptable level of drinking on duty."
"Mr. Cabreza spent at least half his time in the facilities throwing up," Surat volunteered. "His testimony of what happened for almost the entire trip is certainly colored by his gastrointestinal problems."
"If I might add," Daniel interjected, "the customs are quite strong in this area. If we had refused to eat or drink with them, they wouldn't have told us anything." He cleared his throat and looked at Cam. "There was another road block."
"No need to pause for dramatic effect, Dr. Jackson, I'm listening," Landry said.
Daniel colored slightly. "Yes sir. When we did start negotiating, we encountered an entire barrage of questions as to what laws we had in place governing the ways in which empaths could be used by the government and how the general population was to be protected from them. We, of course, deferred those inquiries to Mr. Cabreza."
It was Cabreza's turn to color up. He looked almost apoplectic. "That was a degree of interference in our internal affairs as a world that was quite unacceptable."
"And you had no answer for it because we don't have any policy, not to mention laws, in place to prevent misuse of empathy," Landry observed mildly.
"Due to the fact that it was not really their business, I crafted an answer that described the policy that I am certain we will adopt. Your Dr. Jackson refused to translate it."
"It was a lie, sir. It has not been our policy to lie to our allies," Daniel said.
Sam spoke for the first time. "In any case, Hanna wasn't there and it didn't matter what they thought about our policies."
"I demand that we return to Poopoo in force and throw a little scare into them. We need to make sure that they were not lying to us just to keep their empaths for themselves," Crabreza said, his voice rising.
"Take on an entire world with technology roughly equivalent to our own? Destroy an alliance that is doing quite nicely for us? In just a few words, Mr. Cabreza, I don't think so." Landry stood up. "I believe this meeting is over."
Sam followed Landry out of the conference room and spoke to him privately. Daniel knew exactly what was on her mind. As strongly as possible, he concentrated on feelings of concern and disapproval, but she ignored him. Landry nodded and they started to walk off together.
"What's that all about?" Cam asked, curiously. "You don't look too happy."
Daniel said, "I'd rather not say right now. Things are still in the negotiation stage."
As they got into the car later, Cam leaned forward between the seats, looked at Daniel riding shotgun, and asked, "Does she always drive?"
"She hates my car," he said. "It isn't clean enough for her. Too many papers and books and empty Styrofoam cups."
"SHE is right here in the car," Sam said, a little irritated with being talked about in the third person in her presence.
"Good because I have a question for you," Cam said. "What was that about with Landry?"
Daniel put a hand on her knee. He was turned toward her, giving her his full attention. "Cameron I don't think we should lay this on you while I'm driving," she answered, eyes straight ahead.
"Honey," Daniel said, "this is really sort of a classified conversation. I don't want to have it at home. Jack's maybe still kind of weak and he doesn't need to hear this now. Let's drive out a little ways to some place private Cam took me to." He turned toward the backseat. "How about directing her?"
When they arrived at the pull off where Cam had told Daniel he knew they were empaths, they all piled out of the car. Sam said, "If you brought him up here to make out, he's mine you know."
Cam said, "What sort of youth did you people have anyway that when you see a nice overlook in the country, you immediately assume it was a make out spot. Actually, I should be the one bringing that up because there aren't too many good parking spots in my part of North Carolina I don't know well."
"I never parked with anyone," Sam said. "Dad would have found out somehow, but I had some friends who never tired of a sort of running travelogue on make out spots they had visited."
Daniel said, "You're forgetting, honey, you and I…." They both produced their trademark blushes.
"Too much information, once again," Cam said, good naturedly. "Enough stalling"
He leaned against the car, expectantly.
"Okay," Sam said. "I can't handle our not going through the gate together any more. It was SO much better this time, being there together. And WE were so much more effective. We hadn't mentioned to you yet but whereas our individual range for picking up emotions isn't more than a couple of feet, when we are together we can read people even ten feet away. We know without a doubt that no one was lying to us about Hanna not being there and her people being out of touch."
"Hot damn!" Cam said. Then he said, "But that's the last thing I'm going to hear that I'm going to like, isn't it?"
"It's the whole Yoko Ono thing," Sam said. "I told Landry I wanted to negotiate a way that I could resign my commission and Daniel and I could work as a couple, go out with the scientific teams that don't get deployed until after everything is all safe. There are plenty of very effective husband and wife scientific teams. It really shouldn't be against regulations."
"You're trying to take Daniel off SG-1," Cam said. His voice was flat and extremely unfriendly.
"I'm sorry, Cameron, I really am, but it can't go on like this. I was also thinking that if I wasn't in the military, I would have more control over my life. We could be more flexible in how we keep this empath thing hidden."
"I guess I should be flattered that you think highly enough of me that you clearly don't expect me to blackmail you with my knowledge of your powers to keep you from going through this." Cam studied the ground a minute. He looked back up to ask, "So what did Landry say?"
"He called Daniel in and talked with both of us together. He said he had some calls to make. He was not happy about it. He likes things the way they are, but he was being fair."
Cam sighed deeply and decided to make the best of it. He said, "Well, I'm warning you people no group marriages! You can't have T."
They arrived home to find the house dark. They all panicked a little. Had Jack had such an adverse reaction he had had to be hospitalized? Sam found the envelope addressed to Daniel and her proposed up on the coffee table. She tore it open and read it out loud, even though Cam and Daniel were crowding her, reading over her shoulders.
"Sara and I have decided that I might as well go back to my house. There's more space there and she can have a bedroom of her own so that she can be around to help me out. You two were great to take me in. Tell Cam he should still put a sound measurement device in my old room and let me know what he finds out. Yours, Jack."
"All right!" Daniel said and he and Cam hi-fived.
"This is just the best," Sam said. "I hated the fact that our marriage made him feel so left out."
"I'll bet there'll be dancing at that wedding," Cam said.
"You think they'll get remarried?" Daniel said.
"Why do you ask me questions like that when I'm sure you know exactly what I thought?"
"I don't want to weird you out," Daniel said.
"Hey," Cam said. "You know how superheroes always have a support team that doesn't have superpowers but knows all about theirs and sort of run interference. That's me."
"Like the butler on Batman?" Sam asked, laughing.
"Nah. Think of someone else. He's old and probably never going to get another girl friend. I'm still hopeful," Cam answered. "Speaking of which, I've been thinking of asking Liz MacDuff out. Maybe she'd like to go dancing."
Daniel thought, that's part of what I love about the guy. He's just determined to be happy. He misses Carolyn but he'll go on. "Sounds like a plan," he said.
Three months later, Daniel and Sam sat companionably in front of the fire, turning the pages of the scrapbook Sam had just finished about their second wedding and the reception. They'd had a professional photographer but they liked this homier effort, Sam's first scrapbook ever, better. She'd told Daniel that somehow as long as she was a military officer, scrapbooking had just seemed too suburban. He thought she had been surprised by how free leaving the military had actually made her feel. Neither one of them really regretted the less adventuresome SG teams they now joined as a team although they both missed working with Cam. Always the optimist, he kept trying to get them approved to work SG-1 together and would probably never give up trying to make it happen.
Sam ran her finger along the edge of the picture of the wedding party: Cassie, Mark's wife Julie, and Carolyn, Teal'c, Cam, and Jack. Daniel had found it impossible to determine which of these men should be the best man so they drew straws. Teal'c had won the honor. There was Mark walking Sam down the aisle, just passing the pews where there were sprays of roses on each side for the parents who had gone on to glory.
There were several candids of the various guests. One of Sam's favorites was the picture of Antoinette, the waitress from Cracker Barrel. They'd been back on several occasions with Cam and, against all odds ended up with her as their waitress almost every time. She had overheard them talking about the wedding and jokingly expressed an interest in coming. Daniel had called her bluff and there she was with her brother in tow as an escort. She'd told Daniel that her boyfriend balked at eating the Egyptian food to be served at the reception.
There were many pictures of everyone dancing on the patio behind the Egyptian restaurant where they had held the reception: Cassie with Jack, Jack with Sara, Cam with Liz, Carolyn with her father, Bay in the arms of someone extremely good looking she had brought as a guest -- Daniel couldn't remember his name but thought he had said he was an actor -- Lina Ragen, Sam's exercise buddy from the Mountain, dancing with Antoinette's hunky brother, Mark and Julie, Walter and Antoinette, and the bridal couple together.
Daniel kissed the top of Sam's head. "Turned out well didn't it?"
"You weren't even smitten with lightning for daring, as a heathen, to get married in the Catholic church," Sam teased.
"I was worried about that," Daniel said. "I haven't died and come back in over a year now."
"Now Jack and Sara are talking about their own ceremony although it's months off because he was adamant about not even starting to plan it until he got done with all the treatments and had a clean bill of health. I just wish Cam and Carolyn…" her voice trailed off.
"Maybe Liz would make him happier. From what he's told me about her, they have a lot more in common than he did with Carolyn. Or maybe Cam and Carolyn are in the middle part of the novel where the couple encounters all kinds of problems before they can be together," Daniel suggested.
"Are we at the happy ending?" she asked and kissed him lightly.
"Of this volume anyway," her husband answered. "Enough talking Colonel Doctor Carter-Jackson twice over." He pulled her to her feet, they turned out the light, and went upstairs and peace and happiness reigned.
Thanks for sticking with the story through all these chapters. I have tentative plans for continuing this in a sequel that would probably carry Cam's story forward and deal with Sam and Daniel's kids and their abilities if there's interest. I'll give a working title – They Do Too - but odds are very high the title will change.