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Aloha Pa'ing

Chapter 2

The lamp on the sofa table was glowing as they walked in the door. As always, she sighed softly, unaware that each time she did so, the man walking behind her smiled with satisfaction, knowing that she was happy. "Hungry?"

"I could eat," he replied. He went to the front door, opened it and checked the white mailbox box that hung beside it. Three pieces of junk mail. Two bills: electric and insurance for the jeep. The entire bulk of envelopes went into the basket on the island. He'd deal with it later.

Casey took a casserole dish from the freezer, put it into the microwave, set the temperature for the oven. She turned to look at her husband, her arms around her slender waist, her smile as bright as her eyes. "I met the president!"

"You charmed the president," Daniel corrected, his grin as wide as hers. If Casey had asked for anything while she sat in the Oval Office, he had no doubt that the president would have gladly given it to her.

"Hardly! But he was so very nice!"

Daniel chuckled. "What did you expect?"

She shrugged. "I'm not sure. I guess I thought the meeting would be very serious and he would be very...proper."

"Well, I suppose if you'd met the Queen, that would have been more formal," Daniel teased.

"I suppose you've met her?"


She giggled. "Wouldn't it be an absolute hoot to have tea with the Queen? Of course, seeing royalty doing something as ordinary as eating could be a bit of a downer."

He chuckled loudly at the thought. "I suppose it would bring them back into the realm of the rest of us mere commoners."

"Can you imagine the consternation if the Queen had a bit of spinach, or something equally as green, stuck between her teeth? Do you tell her? Do you ignore it?"

Casey could come up with the damnedest things sometimes! The mental image was just too funny. Daniel laughed harder. "That would be a bit of a dilemma, wouldn't it?"

"So what would you do?"

"About what?"

"Telling the Queen she has something green between her teeth."

His eyes twinkled as he laughed. "I suppose I'd just lean over, tap her on the shoulder, and whisper, 'Liz, you have something green on your teeth.'"

She was laughing so hard she squeaked. "I'm certain she'd be grateful."

"Or I could wind up in the Tower of London for embarrassing her."

"I'll break you out, I promise." The microwave beeped, and she transferred the casserole - chicken enchiladas - to the preheated oven. A quick check of the refrigerator offered ingredients for a salad.

It was as natural as breathing to toss his suit coat onto the back of one of the dining room chairs, roll up his sleeves, and help her clean veggies. They stood side by side, the simple task made special because they were together.




They had finished eating, Daniel was holding her hand as they sat at the breakfast bar, discussing their long, but interesting day. "So tell me, Mrs. Jackson," he said, smiling at her. "How does it feel to be an old married lady? Almost a year, now."

She studied him for a moment. This was the second time today he'd brought up the subject of their approaching anniversary. She searched for signs of discontent...boredom...or worst of all, unhappiness...on his face, in his beautiful blue eyes. Something...anything that would warn her if he was feeling...trapped; would warn her that her heart was about to be broken. Found none of those worrisome things. "I love being an old married lady," she replied softly.

"I want to do something special for our anniversary," he said, his voice just as low.

"Everyday with you is special," she replied truthfully.

"What you do to me, woman," he whispered, working his hand through her hair, cupping the back of her head, pulling her toward him for a kiss.

Her worries fled as his kiss sent his love to her...strong...deep...wonderful. When he finally released her, she smiled up at him. "What would you like to do for our anniversary?"

"Go somewhere nice and warm...where you can wear that sexy little bikini...or better yet, nothing at all," he replied, waggling his eyebrows.

She giggled. He was going to get his wish. Only not the way he expected. "I like the sound of that."

"I'll call the travel agent tomorrow."

"I don't think you'll have to worry about that," she replied.

He looked at her. "Case?"

"Trust me," she said softly.

The last time she had said that, she'd wound up on Ba'al's ship. He sighed. "Casey-"

"Daniel...trust me, please?"

"If anything happens to you, I'm going to be pissed," he said warningly.

"I promise to wear plenty of sunblock," she told him, her green eyes dancing with excitement.



Had she already made arrangements? Had she already planned an anniversary trip for them? "What's going on?"

"You'll find out soon."

Daniel grinned. Yep, the little minx had already planned something! He couldn't help but wonder where they would be going...where she would need sunblock. Florida maybe? The Caribbean again? Or Hawaii? As long as they were alone, together, he didn't care where they went. Visions of her playing in the water, wearing only sunblock and a smile danced in his head as he helped her clean the kitchen.


A  A  A  A  A  A


He looked up from the photos taken of a temple on P7X 209 by SG-8 when the klaxons began to wail. With a sigh he tossed down the pen he'd been using to take notes. Casey jumped up from where she'd been typing up his finished notes, adding them to the database of archaeological information that she was building. He couldn't help but smile when she tugged slightly on his hand, hurrying him toward the elevator.

Jack was already on the elevator, coming from who knew where...the man had a habit of wandering the SGC to avoid doing the mountain of paper work that his position as second-in-command required. He was usually 'pestering' one of his kids. The fact that neither Teal'c nor Sam were with him was proof he'd been 'hiding' somewhere else.

The Jaffa joined them from level twenty-one...he'd been working with several of the cadets who had expressed an interest in the physical fitness training routines that the majority of SG teams utilized.

Sam joined them at level twenty-four, where she'd been working on enhancing the range of one of the MALP unit cameras. "What's up?"

Daniel shrugged. "I have no idea."

"Radar?" Jack asked.

"Visitors," she replied.

"Tok'ra," the SG-1 CO muttered.

"Yep," she smiled. She didn't wait for any of them as she bounced off of the elevator and down the corridor toward the open blast door that led to the 'gate room.

"What the hell is going on? She's acting as if she's glad they're here!" Jack snapped.

"I don't know," Daniel replied truthfully. "General Hammond said they'd be contacting us about that ceremony of theirs."

"Nothing said about dropping in," the colonel grumped. They'd been waiting for word from their 'allies', a term he used loosely, for nearly a month now! Not one word...yet now they just...show up! Rather rude, he grumped to himself. He led the way to the 'gate room. At least they'd get this ceremony thing over with. So he could forget about it.




Casey hurried to where General Hammond was standing with General Carter, and a woman she'd never seen before. "General Carter," she said, smiling warmly, extending her hand.

Jacob grinned in return, his large hands wrapping around the slender fingers. "Casey! You're looking wonderful!"

"Thank you," she replied, blushing slightly. "You're looking pretty good too, for a man who gave up coffee."

The older man laughed. "Sam told you, huh?"

"She couldn't believe it either. How on earth do you function without it?"

"Selmak is quite...encouraging."

"Whips you into shape, does she?" Casey retorted, her eyes laughing.

He barked with laughter. "Yes, she most certainly does!"

By this time her teammates had joined her, frowns on three of the faces that now surrounded them.

"Ren Au, I would like to introduce you to the members of SG-1. This very charming young woman is Casey Jackson," Jacob said, still holding Casey's hand in one of his own. He reached out and took Sam's in the other. "This is my daughter, Major Samantha Carter. Those gentlemen behind her are Teal'c of Chulak, Colonel Jack O'Neill, and Doctor Daniel Jackson. SG-1, may I present Ren Au, the leader of the Tok'ra Council."

"It's a pleasure to meet you," Casey said softly. She accepted the woman's hand.

"And an honor for us to meet you," Ren Au replied. "I wish to extend the deepest regrets and apologize on behalf of the Tok'ra Council for the difficulties you have suffered while working with one of our operatives."

Jack snorted loudly. Remained unabashed when General Hammond, Sam, and Casey tossed frowns in his direction.

"Samantha, your father and Selmak have told us a great deal about you. Both are very proud of your accomplishments here at the SGC," Ren Au continued.

Sam threw a look of surprise at her father. Caught the embarrassed grin. Jacob Carter was a man for whom showing his emotions had never come easy. "It's nice to meet you," she murmured.

Ren Au turned to Daniel. "Doctor Jackson, I offer to you also the deepest regrets for what you have suffered as a result of the missions undertaken for the Tok'ra. We wish to apologize to you and your lovely wife."

The smile that tugged at his lips was sincere. "I accept your apology, Ren Au, thank you."

The woman bowed her head graciously. Teal'c was standing just behind Daniel. "To meet the Jaffa who inspired the rebellion among all Jaffa is an honor as well."

Teal'c inclined his head. "It is an honor to make the acquaintance of the leader of the Tok'ra Council."

Everyone held their breath when the Tok'ra leader turned to Jack. "Your distrust of the Tok'ra is well known. I can only hope that we will be able to dispel those doubts in the future, and that any joint operations between the Tau'ri and the Tok'ra will be as successful as those in the past, and that nothing...unfortunate...happens again."

The caustic remark he was about to make died in his throat when he caught a glance at Casey's face. She was pulling that lower lip between her teeth. Worried about what he was going to say, that he might offend this Tok'ra. A glance at Sam was even worse. Her eyes were pleading with him to make nice with the damned snakes. Well, hell! "Yeah, well...yeah," he muttered.

"Let's go to the conference room, shall we?" General Hammond said. He held out his arm, extending the invitation for Jacob to lead Ren Au.

"George, Ren Au and Selmak would like to speak with you privately, if that's all right," Jacob said nervously.

If he was surprised, the general hid it well. "Of course it is. We'll speak in my office."

"If no one objects, there are three cadets I'm scheduled to work with," Casey said softly. "I'm sure that if the team needs to meet with Selmak and Ren Au later, Daniel can tell me about it?"

General Hammond smiled. "Of course, Casey, that would be fine."

Flashing a smile at General Carter, nodding at Ren Au, Casey nearly bounced out of the 'gate room. She wasn't sure she could have lasted another moment! She'd 'seen' what Jacob was up to. Not all of it, she was certain, but enough that her excitement would have been obvious, and her teammates and Husband would have demanded to know what was going on, which in turn would just ruin the whole surprise. She couldn't do that!

Daniel frowned as he watched her leave. She knew something...had seen something. Yet she hadn't said one word. If there was something wrong, he was certain that she'd have shared it with him, at least.

Ren Au put a hand on Daniel's arm. "Doctor Jackson, I thought it prudent to speak with you before approaching your very charming wife."

He steeled himself for the request he could feel coming. "About?"

"Reports of Mrs. Jackson's...'searches'...have been quite intriguing. And have offered us an option in a very...distressing...situation. We wish for her to do a 'search' for us. One of our operatives seems to have disappeared. Because the situation is quite...delicate, we dare not send another in to determine what has happened. If the operative is alive, we need to know, so that we can extract him as quickly as possible."

Daniel didn't even have to think about his answer. It was terrifying enough when she did searches for SG-1. No way in hell was he exposing her to danger for the Tok'ra. An apology didn't make them any more trustworthy than they had been in the past. "No."

"Daniel-" Jacob Carter began.

"No way. I won't let her do a search. You have no idea how dangerous it is for her...the risks she takes every time she closes her eyes and...searches," Daniel said quietly. "I don't even like her doing it for SG-1."

Ren Au lowered her eyes. "We understand."

"Good." Without another word Daniel turned and stalked out of the room, his long strides taking him to the elevator in short order. Jack was directly behind him.

"I'm sorry," Sam said to her father.

"Sammy, this is important," Jacob said.

"I'll mention it to Casey," the major promised. She knew that her best friend would probably stop by the lab to find out what was going on, before the afternoon was over. She only hoped that by speaking to Casey about the request, she wouldn't anger...and alienate...her other best friend. Daniel's friendship was valuable...and she didn't want to lose it. Knowing how much he loved Casey, and how protective he was of her, going behind his back - and that would be exactly how he would view it - would no doubt cause hard feelings. With a sigh, she hurried down the corridor. And hoped that the situation would work itself out...favorably.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Daniel jerked the sweat pants over his legs, pulled the wife-beater over his shoulders. Slammed his locker door closed, and turned to look at his friends, his hands on his hips. "I can't believe that after everything that's happened, they'd ask that!"

"I can," Jack replied. He followed both Daniel and Teal'c into the gym. The three men headed for the weights, began a few warm up exercises. "That's the way snakes are, Daniel."

The archaeologist shook his head. "They weren't always so..."

"Dishonest? Uncaring? Selfish?" Jack supplied. "News flash, Daniel. They haven't changed. Only your perception of them has changed."

He began to pump the weights up and down, the muscles in his arms bulging. "I guess."

"Although, it seems that in the past year they've really pushed things," Jack allowed. It had all started with that trip to Ravanna. Something good...something very good...had come from that harrowing experience...but each mission with or for the Tok'ra after that had been nothing short of a nightmare...with results that his 'kids' had been forced to deal with. One in particular had faced more heartache than any man should be required to.

"Perhaps their precarious situation is to blame," Teal'c mused.

"How so?" Daniel asked.

"They have suffered great losses in two attacks on their hidden outposts. Both locations of which we had knowledge," the Jaffa replied.

Daniel lowered the weights, looked thoughtfully at his friend. "That would make them suspicious," he admitted.

"And perhaps willing to push our alliance with them in order to determine if we were the source of the security leak," Teal'c added.

"Doesn't excuse how they've treated Daniel and Casey," Jack growled.

"Only if the actions taken were done so with full knowledge and intent to cause harm," Teal'c replied.

Daniel remained silent. Somehow, knowing that they hadn't meant for anything to go wrong didn't change the fact that things had...and that Casey, and he, had suffered greatly in the process.


A  A  A  A  A  A


It was ten minutes before three when Casey tapped lightly on the door to Sam's lab. "Hey, girlfriend."

Sam looked up, and smiled distractedly. "Hey, yourself. So, do you think those cadets will actually use what you taught them?"

Casey smiled. When the cadets had approached her, she'd been more than a bit surprised. They had, she was informed, learned that she meditated with Teal'c on a regular schedule. Too wary of the Jaffa to ask him about it, they asked his slender young 'assistant' to teach them the basics, to help them learn how to control their emotions, especially fear, during their training exercises. She'd been more than willing to comply. "I hope so. If they do, there's a chance they'll make it all the way. So, anything interesting happen while I was otherwise occupied?"

The major nodded, looked back at the monitor, her task still foremost in her mind at the moment. "Ren Au asked Daniel if you would do a search for them."

"Oh? What did he say?" She waited for the answer, fairly certain she already knew what it had been. Daniel always insisted that she make any such decisions for herself, although he was always there with advice and opinions when she needed them. No doubt he had told the Tok'ra leader that he couldn't answer for his wife.

"He told her no way," Sam said, shrugging slightly. Her attention returned to what she had been doing. She'd delivered the message, what happened now was up to Casey.

"He said what?" Casey asked, surprise filling her eyes, just before the fire of anger began to blaze in the green depths.

"He said that there was no way he was going to allow you to do a search for them," Sam replied. She glanced up from the monitor, where she had several windows open, searching online for a particular component that she wanted for the naquadah generator she was building. Only to see Casey storming out of her lab. Had she caught a glimpse of her best friend's face, she'd have known what was about to happen, and would have called to warn the archaeologist she also called a best friend.




Since when had Daniel become her keeper? Casey fumed silently as she paced in front of the elevator. When and where...and for whom...she did searches was up to her discretion, not his! If Ren Au needed help, wanted her to use her gift help them...help the Tok'ra...This thought gave her pause. Okay, the Tok'ra were not on his most favorite list. In fact, right now, they ranked only slightly lower than politicians on his most hated list, who were barely above the Goa'uld in his estimation. Still, she could sense that the request had been made in good faith, for a very important reason, and besides, in spite of everything, the Tok'ra were their allies, and he had no right to be so damned tyrannical about it! If she didn't want to do the search, she would be the one to make that decision, not him! She would not be treated as if she were a child too young, too inexperienced to think for herself! She would not be treated as if she were incapable of standing on her own two feet. She'd been doing so long before he had come into her life, she was fairly certain that she could continue to do so!

She stormed into his office, only to find it empty. The lab and artifact storeroom were empty of human inhabitants as well. She stood in the middle of the latter room, hands on her hips. The more she thought about what he had done, what he had said...and the impression it had to have left on the Tok'ra leader...the angrier she became. She glanced at the clock on the wall above the desk. It was just after three... She hurried back to the elevator.

He worked out with Jack and Teal'c on a regular basis. No doubt he was in the shower. Well, he'd better stand by to stand by, because she was not about to let him behave as if he were her lord and master!

Her temper in fine form, Casey rode the elevator to the twenty-first level. Didn't even break stride when four airmen dove out of her way, the look of rage in her eyes, and on her delicate features, enough to send even the bravest man searching for cover.

Nor did she hesitate outside the door of the men's locker room. In an explosion of blonde hair, fiery green eyes and sizzling hot anger, she shoved the door open and walked in. Looked around, searching for a face she recognized, not even noticing as men grabbed whatever was handy in order to hide their naked or nearly naked bodies. The first face she focused on belonged to Major Ferretti. "Where is he?" she demanded...her voice low...cool...and shaking with her barely suppressed ire.

"Shower," Lou Ferretti replied, too stunned to do anything else. He clutched the towel around his hips just a bit tighter.

She moved through the room. The area was set up just the opposite of the women's locker room, which was on the other side of the far wall...a thick wall that the showers shared. Like the women's locker room, the shower was actually a medium-sized room, with a tiled floor, drains every few feet carrying the soapy water to a recycling tank to be filtered and cleaned; tile from floor to ceiling on the walls, and five shower heads on each of two adjacent walls. Unlike the women's shower room, however, there weren't caddies over each showerhead...filled with body washes and shampoos and conditioners and colorful scrunchies. Again, her anger prevented her from seeing anything, or anyone, other than the man with whom she was absolutely furious.

"Jesus, Casey!" Jack grumbled, grabbing the first thing his hands could find...a bottle of shampoo, and holding it in front of himself. He'd seen her stomp into the room out of the corner of his eye; a second, closer look had him shutting his mouth and trying to remain motionless, lest he bring her wrath down on himself as well. That woman was nine kinds of pissed off, and her eyes declared that she was in a 'take-no-prisoners' frame of mind. This was one time he didn't envy his best friend!

At the sound of the distressed comment, every man in the shower, there were five others in various states of soapiness, turned to look. Four turned pale and groped for something, anything to hide behind. The fifth looked at the woman standing with her hands on her hips, her green eyes so full of fire he could feel the heat where he stood; knew that she was as close to knocking him senseless as he'd ever seen her. And he knew exactly what had her so upset.

"Daniel Melburn Jackson, how could you? How could you treat me as if I were a child...or...or...how could you?"

"Casey, calm down," Daniel said quietly. He walked to where his wife stood. Wasn't surprised when she backed away from him when he reached for her; her hands flying up to ward off his touch. He let his hands drop to his sides.

"Calm down? You want me to calm down? You tell Ren Au that you won't 'allow' me to do a search for her? Won't allow me? Since when do you tell me what I can and can't do?" Her voice continued to rise until she was shouting at him.

"I am not about to let them use you as if you're nothing more than a...a...crystal ball!" Daniel replied hotly.

"Isn't that what General Hammond and you and the rest of the team do?"

"No!" he denied, even as the thought, not a new one by any means, poked at him. He shoved it away, because just like the other times he'd thought about it, it bothered him...hurt him...angered him. He didn't want her used by anyone. But he especially didn't want the Tok'ra using her special gift. Not after what they had done to her...to him.

"It's what I do Daniel!" Casey continued to shout. "I'm a seer! It's my goddamned job! And if helping the Tok'ra helps take out a snake, then it's worth the effort, wouldn't you say?"

"No I would not!" Daniel shouted in return. "It scares the bejeezus out of me every time you close your eyes and do...whatever it is that you do!"

"It's no big deal! I go, I look, I come back...my body isn't even involved!" she argued.

"It is a big deal! If something goes wrong, there's nothing I can do to help you! God, don't you understand?" His entire body radiated his frustration...his arms waving, his hands clenched into fists, his very stance one of stubbornness. "I can't let anything happen to you! And as a matter of fact, your body is involved! Everything you experience on the astral plane, your body experiences!"

She refused to listen to reason. At that moment the only thought that registered, all she understood, was that he was trying to control her. Just like her adoptive mother had done for so many years. "Listen, and listen good Daniel Jackson!" she hissed, her voice dropping in volume...and in temperature, her index finger jabbing his bare chest. "Don't you ever tell anyone that you will or won't allow me to do anything! What I do is my decision, not yours!"

His blue eyes narrowed. "As long as you're my Wife, I'll do whatever I think is necessary to protect you! And if that means telling the Tok'ra no fucking way are you going to risk yourself for them, I'll tell them that!"

Her hands curled into fists. "As long...you'll...Oooooooo!" She turned around, striding back through the locker room the way she had come.

The men in the room exchanged looks of surprise. It was the first time any of them had been exposed to the temper that she possessed. Damned if they would ever do anything to piss off that blonde hellcat! She was actually more frightening than a pissed off Samantha Carter, and that was one woman to avoid at all costs when she was upset! And not one of them believed she had actually seen anything...probably wouldn't even be able to tell anyone who had or hadn't been in the locker-room. She'd been focused on one man, and one man only.

The very loud argument had accomplished two things...it had made Casey even angrier, a fact easy to determine by the set of her jaw, and the look of fire in her eyes. And it had given the men with whom he worked a glimpse of the fear...the terror...that Daniel lived with; the fact that guilt and the pain over what had happened to his first wife colored every action he took with his second.

"Damn," Ferretti mumbled under his breath as the door slammed closed behind her. No way in hell did he ever want that slender little blonde pissed off at him! He glanced toward the shower room. His respect for Doc Jackson hiked a few notches higher, as well. The man had lost everything because of the Goa'uld...that he had the courage to even try to love again, and to love a woman like Casey, who worked at the SGC, who was exposed to more dangers from the Goa'uld than Sha're had ever been... "Damn," he mumbled again.

She was halfway to the elevator again when what she had done, and where she had been, sank into her consciousness. Her cheeks began to burn. And Daniel's words, the look of fear...for it had been fear in his eyes, lurking just below the anger...and the love, began to make an impact on her brain.

Casey moved toward the gray wall of the corridor, pressed her back to it and slid to the floor. When she pulled her legs up to her chest, she wrapped her arms around them, rested her cheek on her knee. She'd never had anyone who worried about her. Who loved her enough to be frightened for her. Sometimes the love Daniel showed her, his need for her...overwhelmed her. In her heart, she understood that he would never, ever see himself as her master. But he'd always do just exactly what he'd said he would do: protect her. Even when she didn't recognize the threat. The anger faded to a warmth that wrapped around her heart like a blanket, soft and gentle and made her feel oh so safe! Was that the reason she could step out...take the risks? Because her heart knew that Daniel would always be there to shelter her from harm?

Daniel shook his head, hurried to rinse off. He had to make her see reason before she slipped off and did a search for the visiting Tok'ra. No way in hell was he going to let her do it without him! He might not be able to help her...or stop her, but by god he was going to be there with her!

He tore out of the locker room, still pulling the BDU shirt over his arms. He would have ran right by her had she not shifted slightly, the movement catching his attention. He walked over to where she sat. Lowered himself to the floor beside her. He'd finally 'heard' what she had said as well...understood her determination to remain independent, realized where it had come from. Admitted to himself once again that her stubborn pride was all that had been left to her after a lifetime of abuse. "I'm sorry," he said softly.

"Me, too."

He glanced at the locker room door. Grinned when two of the SF's stuck their heads out, looking around carefully. "I think you scared those guys half to death," he chuckled.

She gave a small smile. "I'm sure my reputation as the Base Bitch has been made," she replied softly.

"I doubt it. You're the Sweetheart of the base. That will never change."

A small shake of her head indicated her disagreement.

"I overstepped my bounds as your husband. It wasn't intentional, Angel, you have to believe that. Ren Au told me that they wanted to you to do a search for them. As if you were just...just..."

"A crystal ball?"

"Yeah. After everything they've done to you..."

"Daniel, the Tok'ra haven't actually done anything to me."

"They set me up to be captured by Osiris...I hurt you so deeply because of it, you felt you had to run from Silver Springs. They allowed Ba'al to take you again, even though they knew you damned near didn't survive the first time that bastard held you captive," he argued.

One slender shoulder moved up and down. "I don't think they planned the first...I'm not saying they didn't take advantage of the situation. They might have hoped, but they didn't plan it. As for the other...that wasn't planned, either."

"Karinda could have stopped it. She could have refused to let Ba'al take you."

"Which might have resulted in Anubis taking me," she countered.

He shook his head stubbornly. "Their fingerprints are all over both incidents. And yet they have the nerve to show up here and ask for more."

"I thought they were here to extend an invitation to their Commendation Ceremony in person."

"Convenient excuse," he replied. He'd argued with Jack in the past about the Tok'ra and their intentions, always insisting that the Tok'ra were honorable, were allies to be trusted. Now he found himself standing shoulder to shoulder with his best friend on the issue.

"Sam says that before you and I met, you believed that the Tok'ra were our allies...that you would argue with Jack about helping them...defending them to him."

He smiled. Wondered for the hundredth time if she read his thoughts, or just knew him so damned well she could sense what he was thinking. "Before I met you, they weren't sending me on missions that were so risky, on so many levels. Before I met you, I wasn't as concerned about my own safety, certainly didn't have anyone else who needed my protection...or whom I thought needed my protection."

She shifted again. Rested her head against his shoulder. "I'm still not used to that."

"Used to what?" He pressed his cheek against the top of her head.

"Someone loving me so much...needing me...worrying about me...caring about what happens to me."

Dark, cold, and bleak. Her childhood had been the coldest type of hell a child could go through. It had been awhile since anything had reminded him of that fact. "I love you more than words can express...I need you more than the air I breathe...and I care about you so much it scares me sometimes," he replied softly.

"You have the heart and soul of a poet," she said, not for the first time.

"So you keep telling me."

"Well, it's true."

"I don't want you to do that search," he said, raising his finger to stop the protest that was forming on her lips. "But if you do it, please, Casey, let me be there."

"I can't do it without you," she whispered. The very thought of doing a search without Daniel nearby had her heart pounding with fear. She needed to know that he was holding her, listening...there for her if she needed him. His quiet strength, the love that came through to her as she moved on the astral plane, kept her safe. She was certain of it.

It soothed his heart to hear the words, to know that she needed him...even if he was unable to do anything more than hold her, or pass on messages from General Hammond or the team. He would never tell her how deep his fear ran; how close he'd come to losing himself in his grief and his anger, when Ba'al had taken her captive the first time. She didn't know how black his hatred of the Goa'uld really was; what he was capable of in order to protect her from all that he'd been unable to protect Sha're from. That his desire...his need...to keep her close stemmed from guilt - the deep self-recrimination for leaving Sha're in that temple when he had led Jack and Sam and Kawalsky and the others into the second temple he had discovered. He reached for her hand, laced his fingers with hers. "I can't lose you, Casey. I just can't."

"You aren't going to lose me, ever," she whispered softly.

"Good," he said, her words soothing both hearts. He raised her fingers to his lips.

"Let's find Ren Au. I have a search to do."

"Promise me that you're not doing this just because I told Ren Au you wouldn't."

She shook her head. "I knew a little bit ago that I needed to do it. It's important Daniel. A man's life is at stake."

His eyes went wide. The Tok'ra had told him a bit about the reason they wanted Casey to do the search. As far as he knew, no one had told her about it. "Someone told you that?"

She tapped the side of her head.

"Ah. Well then, let's go," he said, getting to his feet, helping her to stand. It seemed that even if he had been determined to keep the information from her, it would have been in vain.



"Don't ever stop protecting me. Even when I don't think I need it," she said softly, shyly.

Daniel smiled. Wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "I'll do whatever I have to do to protect you. Even if you don't think you need it." His smile widened when her arm went around his waist, tugged him closer.

Lou Ferretti grinned as he watched the two walk toward the elevator. As strong and deep as their love was, and as passionate as they were, fights between them might be rare...but the arguments they had were volatile. Bet the 'making up' sex is great, though! he snickered silently.

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