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 Daddy's Little Girl

Chapter 4

Settled into the seat of the commercial airliner, Daniel once again closed his fingers around the soft, slender hand of his Wife. She didn't have to say out loud that she thought he was reacting impulsively. But in spite of what she thought, she was at his side, and he knew that she'd fight like a little hellcat against anyone who tried to stop him from doing what he wanted to do...or at least, what he thought was best. That, he thought, is real love. His fingers tightened automatically as he realized in that moment just how much she did love him. Felt the warmth of that love flow over him from the top of his head, to the tips of his toes. He was a very lucky man.

Casey would be an excellent step-mom. He frowned slightly. Was that correct? Step-mom? He and Amelia had never been married...he snorted silently at that thought. Hell, they'd never really been friends! Whatever her official 'title' would be, Casey would make Kirsten feel comfortable...and loved, while she was with them.

His heart skipped a beat at that thought...spending time with his daughter. He was Cassie's god-father. At least, that's what she and Janet called him. He'd been through several harrowing experiences with the two of them, offering all of the love and support he could. Just as Jack, Sam, and Teal'c had done. This...this was uncharted territory. Totally alien waters he was getting ready to wade into. As Kirsten's father, he would be responsible for her, or at least partly responsible for her. It would be up to him to make certain she had everything she needed, including a good education.

For the first time it dawned on him that having his daughter stay with them could present a few problems. Unless he and Casey took vacation time, there was the chance that they'd find themselves off-world in a life-and-death situation, perhaps for several days. His frown deepened. Now that he was a father, should he rethink going through the 'gate?

He glanced at the woman beside him. The woman who held his heart, his entire universe, in those soft, slender hands. If he stopped going through the Stargate for any reason, it would be to protect Casey. No, he couldn't stop doing his job. What he and his teammates did on a daily basis protected every man, woman, and child on the entire planet. And that included Kirsten.

Okay, so her visits would have to be carefully planned. He'd have to explain to her that what he did was very important, and that if a visit had to be cut short, it wasn't because he didn't want to be with her, or didn't love her.

Another thought that brought him up short. Love? How could he love her? He didn't even know her! He thought of Gary. There was no doubt in his mind that by the time he actually met his daughter, Gary already loved Casey. Must be some sort of paternal instinct, he thought. Let anyone try to prove to him that it didn't exist, or wasn't as strong as the oft-touted maternal instinct. He knew what he was feeling. Knew what his father-in-law felt. There was not a doubt in his mind that the feelings he had for this little girl would indeed be love in a very short amount of time. He could only hope that it would be reciprocated.

She glanced at his face...wondered, and worried, at the frown she saw there. "Wanna talk?"

He smiled. "About what?"

"Oh, I don't know. Planes. Plumbing. Just exactly what the Odyssey is really about. How you'll feel if Kirsten isn't your daughter."

"You don't think the Odyssey is just an adventure story?"

She raised one eyebrow. "Are you kidding? Homer was trying to tell people that war sucks, and we have to make our way through life and fight each battle as it comes, learn from it, and move on."

"Very interesting interpretation."

"You should hear what I think about Macbeth," she grinned.

His grin matched hers. Faded slightly. "You really don't believe she's my daughter, do you?"

"I don't know, Daniel. I...there's something so wrong about this situation, but I can't focus on it."

"Could it be that you don't want her to be my daughter?" he asked softly.

Casey studied his face for a moment. She could tell him what he wanted to hear, that of course that wasn't what she wanted. Or she could be honest with him. Sometimes, honesty wasn't the best policy.

"Babe?"

"I hope, if it's really what you want, that she is," she said slowly.

"I think there's more, isn't there?" he asked softly.

"It's not right," she admitted softly, not willing to meet his eyes.

"What's not right?" The last time she'd said that, it had been her way of denying herself something she didn't believe, deep down in her heart, that she deserved.

"I...I'm so angry! And...jealous as hell. I wanted to be the one to give you a child, your first child. I don't want there to be anyone between us, or between you and our children. And," she sighed, "that's not right, or fair to you."

He lifted her hand, held her fingers against his lips for a moment while he gathered his thoughts. Her confession startled him...and thrilled him. That she would be so...possessive...Never in his life had he felt so loved, so...adored. So needed. It was overwhelming. It was the most incredible feeling in the world. "I promise you, Casey, no one - not Kirsten, certainly not Amelia - will ever come between you and me. Or between me and our children. You are my Wife, the love of my life. Our children will be just that, our children. I'd like to think that Kirsten will be a part of our family. But don't you ever believe that I'll put her over our children. Ever. I hope I'll be the kind of father who will be able to love his children unconditionally, and equally. That they won't feel that I love one more than the other."

"You're going to be a terrific father," she whispered. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't feel this way."

"Honey, right now we're both feeling anxious and confused and worried. This is a big change in our lives. If," he added, "Kirsten is my daughter."

"You believe she is," Casey said.

He watched her eyes...could see her concern, her fears. "Casey, I know you well enough to know that if you're sensing something, even if it's nothing more than a vague feeling, that I should pay attention."

"I don't want you to be hurt," she said, reaching out to caress his cheek. "You're already making plans, I can see it in your eyes. If...if she's not your daughter, you're going to be devastated!"

"No, Angel, I won't be. I promise." That one irritating thought that continued to haunt the back of his mind, even though he refused to acknowledge it, squirmed annoyingly.

She remained silent, not at all sure he realized just how much his actions revealed about what his heart was feeling. "I'm always here for you, Daniel, and I'll help you anyway that I can."

He kissed her fingers, then leaned over and kissed her lips. "Thank you," he whispered.

She smiled, and nodded. "Did you make hotel reservations?"

"Holiday Inn. Just a couple of blocks from the hospital."

"Good."

"So tell me your theories about Macbeth," he said, a smile tugging at his lips.

"I think he was an idiot led around by his dick...he didn't have balls...or he'd have stood up to that harpy of a wife. Who was a social climbing, heartless bitch."

Daniel chuckled. "That's another interesting interpretation. What about the witches?"

"What about them? They told Macbeth the truth. He was too much of an idiot to figure out that he was never meant to be king."

"Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both died horribly."

"Served them right," Casey huffed. "My favorite Shakespearean play is 'Taming of the Shrew'."

His cheek was twitching uncontrollably. "Do I want to know?"

"Want to know what?"

"Your interpretation of that play?"

She grinned mischievously. "I don't know. Do you?"

"Yes, I suppose I do," he grinned.

"It's the story of a strong-willed man, a strong-willed woman, and what love can do. Kate tamed Petruccio as much as he tamed her."

"I suppose that's true," Daniel allowed.

"True love always wins in the end," she said softly.

"I'll have to agree with that," he said, smiling at her. The arrival of the flight attendant, offering them a drink, interrupted any further conversation on Shakespeare.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Janet was dumbstruck. "What do you mean, they've already left?"

General Hammond repeated what he had learned. "Walter reported that Doctor Jackson called in about thirty minutes ago, and informed him that he and Casey were on their way to Phoenix, and he wasn't certain when they would be back." If the sergeant had reported that phone call immediately, there would have been a chance to stop the Jacksons before they boarded that plane. He shook his head mentally. No one but SG-1, Dr. Fraiser, and he knew what was going on, and the serious implications. Had Walter known, he would have made certain that Daniel spoke with the doctor before doing anything.

"What time did they leave?"

"The first flight that they could have taken left about twenty minutes ago."

"General, I have to stop him!"

"I agree, Doctor. I'll have a Pave Hawk standing by. I'll alert the hospital as well. There will be someone there to escort you to wherever Doctor Jackson might be."

With a nod of understanding, Janet clutched the manila folder, which held the copies of the test results that Dr. Hashad had filed, and her own findings. Proof that Daniel Jackson was not the father of Amelia Harmstead's daughter.

Jack was hurrying toward them, a look of concern on his face. "Walter called me," he said in way of explanation. "What's going on?"

The corners of the general's lips curved upward, just a bit. Even without knowing the details, Walter had reacted instinctively. If Dr. Jackson and his wife were suddenly flying to Phoenix, at least one of their teammates should be notified. Who more appropriate than the commanding officer of the team?

Her cheeks paling with guilt, Janet lowered her eyes. "I should have told him as soon as I suspected," she mumbled. "It's all my fault, I should have tried harder."

Frowning, Jack looked from the petite doctor to the general and back again. "Uh...kinda lost here, Doc. What's all your fault?"

When she couldn't seem to force words past the lump in her throat, General Hammond cleared his. "It seems that it's not possible for Doctor Jackson to be a father."

"Huh? Sir," Jack added hastily.

Tears standing in her deep brown eyes, Janet looked up at the colonel. "When Daniel was in college, on an expedition in Guatemala, he caught Dengue Fever. From the notes sent up by the clinic physician, he damned near died. The result of that..." she paused, took a deep breath. "I wouldn't have known if there hadn't been an anomaly when I did the tests on the tissue left by Hathor's larvae. So I...I ran a test, without his knowledge, or consent."

"Go on," Jack said kindly.

"He's sterile, Colonel. Doctor Hashad, the doctor who treated him at UCLA, and ran the initial tests, hypothesized that the sterility was the result of his fever. I...I have to agree with his diagnosis. I'd sent for Daniel's medical records, and learned about the fever, because I was concerned about the possibility of the damage being from 'gate travel, or some related incident," she confessed.

"And this happened before he met this kid's mom?" Jack asked.

"Four years before, actually," Janet replied.

"The fact that the mother is insisting that Doctor Jackson is the father concerns me," General Hammond admitted. "Whether or not she's aware of what he does now, I have no idea. But I believe she's after more than a kidney for her daughter."

"Child support," Jack nodded.

"I wouldn't be surprised if she seeks back child support from the doctor," Hammond said.

"Nice," Jack responded, in a tone of voice that let his companions know his true thoughts on the matter.

"I'm sending Doctor Fraiser to Phoenix to stop Doctor Jackson from doing anything...foolish."

"Yeah, well you know Danny, sir. Always thinking with his heart, not his head, and racing in where angels fear to tread," Jack retorted, silently quite proud of his unintentional rhyme. "Want some company, doc?"

Janet nodded. "I'd appreciate it."

"Let's go."

"Good luck," General Hammond said to Janet, giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze.

"Thank you," she managed to reply.

Jack put his arm around Janet. She was beating herself up pretty damned hard over this. He knew just how crazy it could be around the SGC, and telling a man he was sterile...well, that wasn't a conversation easily held under the best of circumstances. He could only hope that Daniel wouldn't be angry at the fact that Janet had known for so long, and had never found the right time, or right way, to broach the subject. If need be, he'd have a talk with his best friend. Remind him that Janet would never do something like this out of spite or malice.

For her part, Janet could only hope that Daniel wouldn't hate her. She was already prepared for his anger.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Amelia carefully replaced the receiver. Turned to face her little girl, a wide smile on her face. "That was Mr. Pierce. Your biological daddy, Daniel, is on his way. He'll be here in just a couple of hours."

"Will he give me his kidney then?"

She smiled. "Well, Mr. Pierce said that we'll have to wait for the results of the DNA test. But it won't take long, I promise."

"Mommy, do you think he'll like me?" Kirsten asked, her blue eyes wide with concern.

"He'll love you, my darling," Amelia replied. She looked up when her mother walked into the room.

"Grandma! My biological daddy is on his way here!" Kirsten said excitedly.

Amanda Wheeler looked sharply at her daughter, surprise registering on her face. "You told her?"

"Of course I told her! She's old enough to know, and she has the right to know," Amelia responded.

"Your Daddy is downstairs, I believe he's buying you another teddy bear," Amanda said, smiling at her granddaughter, patting her hand lovingly. She glanced over at her daughter. Wondered at the look of excitement in her eyes. Was is it simply because Kirsten would receive the healthy kidney she so desperately needed? Or was there more than that...something that had to do with seeing Daniel Jackson again? "Jim said to tell you that he needs to speak privately with you."

She raised one perfectly arched eyebrow. "Since when does he have to send messages to me through you?"

The older woman sighed. "I saw him in the gift shop, and stopped to say hello. He simply asked me to tell you, so that you'd be prepared to slip away with him for awhile. The two of you should go home for an hour or so."

She knew what her mother was referring to. She hadn't been in bed with Jim for months, not since Kirsten had become ill, and had been spending so much time in the hospital. Even when she was home, Amelia often slept with her daughter, holding her tightly through the night. She and Jim hadn't had sex for almost a year. Not since his last affair. Oh, it wasn't that he'd had the affair. She knew about the first one, and she suspected that he knew about hers. It was the fact that he didn't seem concerned that she'd found out. He'd apologized. Once. They hadn't discussed the matter again. In fact, they really hadn't spoken to one another after that. Not unless it concerned Kirsten.

"Hey, baby girl!" Jim called out as he walked into the room, both arms behind his back. "How are you this afternoon?"

"I'm feeling much better. My biological daddy will be here soon, and he'll give me his kidney, and then I'll be cured, right, Mommy?"

"Yes, darling, you'll be cured," Amelia smiled.

"Well, you'll still have to take medicine," Jim said, frowning at his wife. He was still furious over the fact that she'd not only told Kirsten about Daniel Jackson without him, she was insisting on calling him Kirsten's 'biological daddy'. He didn't give a damn if it was true, that man would never be Kirsten's 'Daddy'. Jackson hadn't been there through the colic and the teething and the bumps and bruises and skinned knees. Hadn't been there for her first smile...her first step...her first word...her first day of school. Her first pony ride. Her first piano recital. Hadn't been there day the doctor had explained that Kirsten had a disease, one that resulted in renal failure, and the need for a kidney transplant. No, he was her 'Daddy'. Had been from the day she had been born.

"But you'll be a beautiful, healthy girl," Amelia said.

"Daddy, what are you hiding behind your back?" Kirsten asked. This was a game she and her father had played as long as she could remember. Whenever he went away on business, he always brought something special for her. Every time she was in the hospital, he showered her with little gifts. She was too old for the game, she thought, but her Daddy seemed to enjoy it, so she'd play along. He always smiled when they played. And she'd noticed that lately, her Daddy hadn't been smiling often. At nine, Kirsten was old enough to perceive the tension between her parents. She often tried to intercede, playing the peacemaker when the arguing became too much. In the past few weeks, there hadn't even been that. Just lots of tense silence in the house. She was certain that she, and her illness, were the cause.

"Me? I'm not hiding anything! Why would you think that?" Jim said, giving her a wide-eyed look of innocence, barely able to contain his smile.

"You have both arms behind your back like you're holding something," Kirsten giggled.

He showed her his left hand. "Nope, nothing there."

"Your other hand!"

With a grin, he shifted the stuffed toy to his left hand, held out the right one. "Nothing there either."

"Show me both hands, Daddy!"

"I just did!"

"At the same time!" Kirsten was giggling harder.

He held out both hands, the bear still in his left hand. He looked at it as if he had no idea where it had come from. "Hey, would you look at that? A pink bear! Wonder where it came from?"

"Come on, Daddy. I'm not a little baby. I know you bought that at the gift shop downstairs."

"No fooling you, is there, baby girl?" Jim smiled, his heart aching just a little bit more. Kirsten was growing up much too quickly. When she fully understood that he wasn't her father, would she still want to spend time with him? Would she still love him, even a little bit? Because no matter what happened, he would never stop loving her.

"Nope."

"Kirsten, I have a new book for you," Amanda said, reaching in her large canvas tote. "Shall we read together, let your Mommy and Daddy go get a cup of coffee?"

"I'd like that, Grandma," Kirsten replied. Her glance went from Amelia to Jim and back. She could sense the tension between them...again. Maybe getting a new kidney from her biological daddy would make them stop fighting. She'd be cured, so there wouldn't be a reason to be mad at each other, blaming one another for her disease. Then they'd love each other again.

Jim dropped a kiss on his daughter's forehead, put the bear in her arms, nodded at Amanda, then left the room.

Amelia heaved a sigh, then followed.

"We should go sit down," Jim said quietly, as soon as she had joined him.

With a nod, she followed him to the waiting room. As it usually was this time of day, the room was empty. "What is so damned important that it couldn't wait until Kirsten goes to sleep?"

That was when they did most of their talking...arguing. When their daughter was asleep. So that she wouldn't try to intervene, wouldn't blame herself for the fact that her parent's marriage was struggling along at best, completely on the rocks at worst.

Jim looked at his wife. She was still just as pretty as she'd always been. She was still willowy, although after having Kirsten, her small, perky little breasts had filled out. He had no doubt that he'd loved her. That love had waxed and waned over the years. More wane than wax lately. Had he ever really been in love with her?

She'd always been there. He'd been fourteen the first time they'd met. She'd latched onto him then, and had never let go. He frowned mentally at that thought. Maybe that was part of the problem. He'd never actually had a relationship with any other woman. The girls...and women, he'd bedded during his teen years didn't count. Those had been single encounters...for one thing, and one thing only. The two affairs didn't count...neither had been anything more than a way to relieve the stress he felt constantly.

While he'd been in college, she'd done her best to keep him satisfied in bed. After he'd graduated, her interest in making love diminished. While he'd been working for his Master's, teaching during the day, going to school in the evening, and working at night, there hadn't been a love life. He'd existed on two and three hours of sleep a night, and whatever naps he was able to catch between classes or work. They'd spent what time they did see each other arguing about everything, and nothing. He wondered briefly if she had loved...what was his name...or if he, like Jackson, had just been someone to fuck.

"I'm waiting," she snapped, her arms folded across her breasts.

"I'm filing for divorce," he said softly.

Her arms dropped, she stared wide-eyed at him. "You're what?"

"Come on, Amelia, face it. We've been heading toward this for years. Hell, you won't even sleep with me, haven't since..." he broke off, looked at the television that was playing, although the volume was off.

"Ever since your last affair," she spat.

"I told you I was sorry."

"Yes, you did. Once."

"What do you want from me?" Jim demanded. "I've done my best for you, Amelia! Tried to make a good life for us! Nothing is ever fucking good enough for you! I feel as if I've been working my ass off to please you since you first sank your hooks into me when I was fourteen goddamned years old!"

She dropped onto the nearest chair, her eyes wide, her mouth in an 'o' of shock.

Jim shook his head. "I shouldn't have said that."

"Did you love her?" Amelia asked softly.

"Who?"

"The woman you were having an affair with."

"No. Yes. No...I don't think so," he admitted.

Heavy silence filled the air around them. She took a deep breath. "You've been unhappy for a very long time, haven't you?"

"Probably as long as you've been unhappy," he replied. "Mel, I love you. I always have. But...I've never been in love with you. You've never been in love with me. We were the only two white kids in town. We were isolated from our friends and family, all that we had known."

"So now you're blaming our parents?"

He shook his head again. "No. They were doing what they thought was right, and offered us a chance of a lifetime. But I think we mistook comfort, and familiarity, for love. And neither of us knew how to back away."

"I...I don't know what to say," she admitted, her mind reeling. Jim had been the only man she'd ever wanted. Liar, her brain hissed at her. You wanted Daniel Jackson. You still do.

"Maybe...maybe things will work out between you and Jackson," Jim said softly.

She gave an unladylike snort. "I doubt it. His wife is accompanying him," she replied. That was a tidbit of information passed on by her attorney.

"Oh."

She sat back. As much as she'd like to deny it, Jim was right. They'd both known for a very long time that this day, this moment, was coming. They hadn't known how to stop it, and had only made themselves and each other miserable trying to postpone it. Knowing that didn't make it less of a shock, or any easier to face.

"There's no way I can afford to make house payments and pay rent for an apartment at the same time," he said. "If you don't mind, I'd like to sell the house, find something a bit smaller for you and Kirsten."

She nodded numbly. "Yes, of course."

"I know I'm not-" His voice broke, he pressed his fingers against his eyes as they filled with tears. Tried to swallow the agonizing ache in his heart. "I know I'm not her father, but I'd like to be able to see Kirsten."

"You'll always be her father, Jim, in every way that matters," Amelia said gently. "You're the only Daddy she's ever known. She adores you, and I wouldn't deny her the right to be with you."

He dipped his head. "Thank you."

Amelia ran her hands over her face. "I've been such a fool," she said softly. "I keep trying to control everything, everyone around me, demanding that they abide by my rules...and when they do, I realize that's not what I wanted after all."

"Maybe there's a reason for that," he said, shrugging when she looked over at him. "It wouldn't hurt to talk to someone about it."

"You think I'm crazy?" she demanded, a frown darkening her lovely face.

He heaved a sigh. "No, Amelia, I don't think you're crazy. I do think that you've got some issues, something deep inside you, that needs to be worked out, or you're just going to continue on the same path."

"Maybe...maybe I should go back to school. I'll need...I should find a job. I'm certain that I won't be able to live on alimony and child support." She'd never attended college...she'd met Daniel Jackson, and become pregnant, the summer before what should have been her freshman year...lagging behind her peers at home because of the move to Egypt her parents had made when she'd been twelve.

"You might find something you really enjoy," Jim said, trying to be encouraging.

"Possibly. I'd prefer not to tell Kirsten about this until after she's home from the hospital."

"I agree."

"You might as well stay at the house for now, I'm rarely there, and that won't change until Kirsten goes home."

Another nod.

Amelia stood to her feet. "Are you coming back in?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind."

"No, I don't. Besides, Kirsten would suspect something was wrong if you aren't here when-" She broke off, looked away.

"When her 'biological daddy' shows up?"

She could tell from his words, his tone of voice, how angry he was over that. She'd just been so excited when Mr. Pierce had called to tell her that he'd located Daniel Jackson...and that he'd be speaking to him as soon as possible, two subpoena's in hand for the DNA tests that would prove his paternity. Unable to speak past the sudden lump in her throat, Amelia nodded.

They put on what they hoped would pass for happy faces, and went back into the room where their daughter lay, waiting for the miracle that would save her life.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Zeus settled himself on the bed. Oshu had stopped at the boundary of Yu's territory. Once his ships had been far enough away that any attempts to follow them would be in vain, he'd ordered them into hyperspace. He would be at Thracia in less than two hours.

In the meantime, he had decided that he would indulge his carnal needs. A little 'comfort' before the struggle began. After all, his arrival wouldn't be hailed with joy. More than likely Ares would meet him in battle. If the fool held true to form, he'd be ill prepared, Zeus thought.

The young slave stretched out beside him. Her first few days as the slave to this man...who called himself a god, who did things that surely only a god could do...had been terrifying. And painful. The beatings had left her bruised, her first sexual encounters had left her sore and ashamed. It hadn't taken her long, however, to understand that pleasing her god meant that she would not be struck. And that being with Zeus was most...agreeable.

"My sweet Maia," Zeus said softly, running his hand through her hair, watching the light dance off of the fiery locks.

"What do you demand of me, My Lord?" she asked.

"Your complete obedience."

"Yes, My Lord."

"There is something I want you to do for me," he said.

She waited, holding her breath. Her god's appetites were many...and varied. Some she enjoyed, others she endured.

"We will arrive soon on Thracia."

"Yes, My Lord."

"When we have, I want you to escape."

A frown wrinkled her forehead. "Escape, My Lord?"

Zeus wrapped her hair around his hand, jerked her head back, placed the other hand around her slender, white throat. "Do not believe that it is actually possible," he hissed in her ear.

She was confused, and frightened. "I would not, My Lord, I swear it!"

"Good, that's my good little whore," he said, his words reminding her of her place. "I wish for you to seduce my son."

"Your son?"

"Ares. Arrogant bastard. But he'll fuck anything that stops long enough. And you, my beauty, will turn his head quickly. When he is busy humping between your legs, you will take this ring, and rub it against his shoulder." He held up a large, ruby ring. Imbedded within the stone were half a dozen tiny needles, invisible to the naked eye. Each had been coated with a potent, fast acting poison. In one of the cargo bays a scout ship waited. It had been badly damaged in a firefight with Athena's Jaffa. It was barely large enough to hold the sarcophagus that sat inside it. It would be Ares' only vessel when he awoke. What he did after that, would be interesting to observe.

She was trembling as she listened carefully to her instructions. Zeus was the only man to ever have her. To allow another to do as he did...

"Remember your place, Maia," Zeus whispered in her ear, stroking her throat gently. "You are but a whore. My plaything. To do with as I will. You will do exactly as I say, or," his hand tightened around her throat until she was unable to breath, "I will kill you."

She was barely able to nod, gasped for breath when his hand dropped. She had no idea that her fears had been visible in her eyes. She only knew that once again her master had known her thoughts. She no longer harbored the illusions that she would ever break free of her bondage. There was no escape from a god!

"Before we arrive, I shall have you," he said, smiling at her. He pushed her head toward his groin. "Show me how much you love me."

With trembling fingers she opened his trousers, pulled his swelling member from the confines of the cloth, and began to pleasure him, just as she had been taught by Althea, the lo'taur who often joined them; a woman with raven black hair and sapphire blue eyes, voluptuous breasts and curvaceous hips.

He hadn't made up his mind as of yet whether young Maia would be consigned to the harem upon her return, or if he would simply oversee her purification, and keep her for himself. He closed his eyes as she worked his aching flesh with determination. It was as if she believed that her very life depended on pleasing him at that moment. He smiled lazily. Actually, it did.

With a groan of satisfaction, Zeus gave the young slave what she had worked so diligently for. He would sample her sweet young body, take her every way that he could in the time allotted, and then send her to kill Ares.

He wondered if his son would understand the message being sent...murdered by a mere whore of his father's. Probably not. But the other Goa'uld in the sector most certainly would. None would be willing to aid one so despised by another. Especially when that 'other' was as powerful as Zeus.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The heat was the first thing she noticed as they stepped out of the terminal building, heading for the parking lot and the rental car that waited for them. Casey adjusted the strap of her purse over her shoulder, looked around with open curiosity. They hadn't been this far south on their vacation. The thought that she'd traveled more in the past year and a half than she had in her entire life had her smiling. As a matter of fact, she'd done extensive traveling. Across the globe, and across the galaxy!

Daniel had a city map, and had marked the route they needed to take to the hospital. As they drew closer, his heart began to pound. Conflicting emotions began to pull his heart and mind in several directions...excitement, fear, dread, hope, anger, all competed for his attention. The one thing he refused to acknowledge was the desire to move back in time...before he'd heard about a little girl who might share his genes, and needed major surgery. Because that thought, he told himself, was completely selfish and self-serving.

When the hospital was in sight, he glanced at Casey. Her cheeks were pale, her eyes wide. She was scared to death. Of what, he had no idea. One way to find out, Danny-boy, he thought. "Talk to me, Angel."

"About what?"

Her fingers were trembling in his hand. "About what has you so frightened."

She swung her eyes in his direction. Forced a smile. "Just what makes you think I'm afraid?"

He lifted her fingers to his lips. Tightened his grip when she would have pulled away. She'd just realized she was trembling, he thought. No sense letting her know that the trembling wasn't the only 'signal' that had alerted him. She'd just find a way, or try to find a way, to hide those tell-tale signs from him. "I can tell," he replied.

"You haven't seen Amelia since you left Egypt, have you?"

"Nope."

"Was she very pretty?"

He glanced at her again as he turned into the parking lot. "I guess so."

"I rather imagine she's a beautiful woman now."

"I guess."

"When you...when you and she...did she please you? Keep you happy while you were on that dig?"

He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning. Damned if she didn't sound as if she were a little bit jealous! "We had sex, Case. We never once made love. I think we've discussed my preferences."

She couldn't help the tiny smile that tugged at the corners of her lips. "She didn't have any little...tricks...that you particularly enjoyed?"

He waited until he had found a parking spot, pulled in, and shut off the engine. He turned to face her. "We fucked. That was it. There was only enough foreplay to make her ready. She never once went down on me. Never even offered. She never wanted me to do that to her, not often. Certainly not long enough to get her off." He reached out, wrapped a lock of blonde silk around his finger. "Unlike you. You're bound and determined to kill me...give me a heart attack brought on by more pleasure than my mind can deal with. No one has ever made love to me the way that you do. No one has ever made love with me the way that you do."

Her smile broke free. "Spoiled you, haven't I?"

He laughed out loud. "Absolutely. Casey, I can't even say in honesty that we were friends. She came to my tent, fucked me, and then left. We didn't talk. She never let me hold her. There was nothing...just mutual sexual gratification."

"That's so sad," Casey said softly.

"Sad?"

She nodded. "How could a woman be so cold hearted?"

He frowned. "I guess I never really thought about it. It wasn't like I was looking for, or even wanted, any kind of real relationship. I'm just as guilty of being cold hearted. I got my rocks off, and did my own thing. It was what she wanted. It was what I wanted."

"Somehow, I don't believe that," Casey replied. "Had she offered more, had she allowed you to be with her the man that you are, then she'd have known what real love is."

"What you do to me, woman," he whispered. He pulled her close, kissed her gently; took from her the comfort he needed, gave to her the reassurance that she needed.

"So, are we going inside, or are we going to sit in this car and neck all afternoon?"

"I have a choice?"

She smiled. Knew that he was anxious...excited...at the prospect of meeting Kirsten. "Later, Stud Muffin. I promise."

"I'll hold you to that," he replied.

They walked arm in arm toward the hospital doors. This is it, he thought. He was about to meet his daughter. The little girl who might be your daughter, his mind insisted. This time, he didn't push away that selfish little hope. Even if it did make him an ass not to do so.


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