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Heaven Called While You Slept
The white, two-story clapboard house, with green trim and shutters, looked exactly the same as he remembered it. The tree-lined street was quiet...almost seemed deserted. A second look around, and he could see one of the neighbors watering her flowerbed. Another on the other side of the street was washing his car.
In the distance, a dog was barking; whether at a squirrel or a cat, who knew. It wasn't enough of a disturbance to quiet the birds who chirped happily in the old oaks and towering maple trees that grew along the way. There were one or two in each yard, limbs spreading outward and creating a canopy of shade, allowing only bits of sunlight to touch the green grass here and there like golden polka-dots. Rose bushes added color to the fronts of various houses, the scent of the bright blooms wafting gently on the soft breeze that moved his hair against his forehead. Someone had lilac bushes as well, he could smell them. The scent was familiar...and brought a smile to his face. She'd planted lilac bushes along the driveway, a 'green' fence between the two yards...
That thought had him frowning. Something wasn't right... The last time he'd seen this house, been here, was just before he and his parents had flown to New York City...just before his eighth birthday. They'd come home long enough to 'catch their breath', as Claire Jackson had said. It occurred to him that he'd never known exactly who took care of the house during the frequent and extended absences of the Jackson family, when Melburn and Claire were working on an archaeological dig somewhere. Usually in Egypt. Funny, he hadn't thought about that little mystery - or the house itself - in years. Now that he did think about it, however, he could recall hearing about an aunt...his mother's, he thought, who owned the house. Giving the Jackson family a place to return to whenever they so wished. Maybe this aunt was caretaker as well. He couldn't remember the name of the aunt...
But he remembered coming home that spring. They'd spent the entire months of May and June here...and then they'd left for New York City...had celebrated his birthday there... He shook his head, trying to rid it of the haze that seemed to fill his mind. Painful memories escaped his grasp, although the emotions remained firmly in place; the sense of loss, the feeling of abandonment, deep sadness, aching loneliness.
For one moment, an odd smell assaulted his olfactory senses...something burning; which might explain the confusion that had wrapped around him... Smoke...there was smoke... Then the scent of lilacs again filled his senses again...mixed with other spring flowers, and a hint of vanilla...
No, something was definitely not right. But, it didn't feel...wrong...either. Which was totally disconcerting!
He was standing in the street...beside a cab. He had no memory of arriving in Chicago. None of hailing a cab, nor of the ride from the airport to this suburban utopia. He glanced into the backseat of the vehicle...no luggage. Fished in his pocket for cab fare, handed the man a twenty dollar bill. "Keep the change," he said, managing a smile, and hoping that there was actually enough of a tip to be worth the effort.
"Thanks, mister!" the cab driver exclaimed, grinning broadly.
Apparently the tip had been generous. And in that moment, was a detail that was totally unimportant...well, he was fairly sure it wasn't important.
The cab pulled away from the curb, but Daniel remained rooted to the ground, staring at what had been his childhood home. Even if the stays here had been sporadic at best, it was still the only 'home' he'd known.
Slowly, glancing up and down the street, searching for...well, he didn't really know what he was looking for...Daniel made his way to the curb. Into the grass. Toward the sidewalk that led to the wide front porch. The old-fashioned, painted metal lawn chairs were still lined up in front of the windows, there for sitting with friends who dropped by on warm summer evenings...
He looked up when the front door opened and a woman stepped out, her face lighting up with a smile. He barely managed to stifle his gasp. Even though she had a scarf wrapped around her head, the way she always did when she was working, he could see a few blonde wisps that had escaped. Her eyes were still as beautiful and blue as he remembered.
Claire Ballard Jackson, fine laugh lines around her eyes revealing her age more dramatically than he recalled, smiled widely and opened her arms. "I'm so glad you've come to see us!"
"I don't understand," Daniel said softly. He glanced around again, eyes searching in vain...for what he still wasn't sure. He only knew that something seemed very - strange - about the entire situation. Something was...missing. No, not something...someone. More than just one person. Missing...not here...
The screen door opened, then slammed shut behind the tall, dark haired man who had stepped onto the porch. He adjusted his glasses. Then smiled warmly. "Well, don't just stand there, son! Come give your mother a hug!"
Propelled forward by the words, Daniel moved up the sidewalk. "Dad?"
When he reached the porch, Claire wrapped her arms around him, hugged him tightly. "My son...my beautiful son!"
He'd barely stepped away from her grasp when he was enveloped by his father's arms. Tears filled his eyes, he pressed his face against his father's shoulder. "Dad?"
Melburn pulled away gently, wiped the tears from his own eyes. "Come inside, son, we'll have a cup of coffee and talk."
He glanced back at the empty sidewalk. Green eyes...blonde hair...a beautiful smile..."Casey!" he whispered. Where was Casey? And the rest of the team for that matter...Jack, Sam, and Teal'c? Where the hell was he? What was going on? He looked back at the beaming faces of his parents. Well...two people who looked like his parents.
"You can tell us all about her," Claire said, wrapping her arm around Daniel's waist.
"What's going on?" Daniel demanded, stubbornly refusing to be led into the house.
"Come inside, Danny," Melburn said. "Everything is okay. You're fine."
Okay, what was the last thing he remembered? The team had been on a mission. To retrieve a stone...one that was somehow a portal to the...
"This isn't real," he said firmly.
"It's as real as you want it to be," Melburn said quietly.
"It's a gift...one that you've earned," Claire added, her eyes sparkling with love and joy.
"I'm not stuck here, right?" Daniel asked, looking around warily once again.
Melburn laughed. "No, Danny. You're not stuck here. But as long as you've come for a visit, the least you can do is come inside and have a cup of coffee with us. Tell us what you've been doing."
He relaxed visibly. Wrapped his arm around his mother's shoulders. "I'd love a cup of coffee."
A A A A A A
The day was warm, the road familiar. He turned off the A/C, rolled down the window and took a deep breath. The air was clear and clean and smelled of trees and dirt and sunshine. Pavarotti's tenor voice filled the cab, he hummed along with the opera singer. The thought that if his teammates heard him humming like this they'd never let him live it down caused a silent chuckle.
He pulled into the drive, shifted the truck into park. He could already feel his shoulders beginning to relax. Happened every time. With a grin that only the local wildlife would take note of, he hopped out of the truck. Headed for the porch of the cabin. Came to an immediate halt when he realized the front door was open...
Now isn't that just enough to ruin a perfectly lovely day!
Habit had him reaching for a weapon that wasn't there...not on his hip, not at the small of his back. He looked around warily. Couldn't hear anything, but then, anyone in the cabin would have heard the truck coming down the drive...
It wasn't unheard of for some of the cabins to be broken into by itinerant workers, or regular ol' hobos, from time to time. Normally there wasn't any damage done, just the use of the place, and most times just a bit of any stored food and a few clothing items went missing. But he'd always been careful to keep the doors locked when he wasn't around. Tom only left the doors unlocked if he knew that Jack was going to be arriving sometime during the day. And he hadn't called Tom this time...
Wait a minute...he hadn't called because he hadn't been planning on a trip to the cabin, and if he was, he'd bring... Jack glanced around. Okay, this was just too freaking weird. Surely he'd remember the sixteen hour drive, right? Try as he might, he couldn't recall one minute of what should have been a long day. He squinted up at the sun. Given the time, he'd have had to have driven all night to get here. Sure didn't remember that either. What the hell was going on?
He sniffed the air...could smell something burning. His eyes scanned the roof of the cabin, checked the area around him as well. Couldn't see any smoke...another deep breath, and the smell was gone...replaced for just a brief moment by something sweet, a bit spicy. Just like the shampoo Carter used...another sniff and that scent was gone as well.
What the hell was going on? His eyes narrowed, he remained crouched beside the truck. Trying desperately to recall what he'd been doing...why he was here...
The team had been on a mission... Okay, what the hell did that archaeologist touch this time? Something about a stone teased the edges of his memory...
"Daniel, so help me," he muttered under his breath, peeking over the hood of the truck, an attempt to detect any movement in the cabin. Glanced around as well, considering that the threat, whatever it was, could be anywhere. And that's a totally disheartening thought, he sighed mentally, glancing over his shoulder. There was no doubt in his mind....that archaeologist had touched something and now the entire team was...where was his team? He stood up, no reason to try to hide now.
The worn screen door creaked open. "Well, now, you look like a man in desperate need of a beer."
It was all he could do to keep his jaw from dropping open. His eyes widened, and he couldn't help but stare in disbelief.
"Y'er lookin' a mite discombobulated, Jack," the old man snickered.
"Pappy?" Jack shook his head slightly, closed his eyes. Opened them again, to see the old man standing on the porch, grinning at him. "This isn't real," he said softly. Began to furiously search his memory, trying to figure out what traps the team had exposed...this had to be some sort of alien trick. Like that crazy guy and those people with the weird black veils...wanting to live other people's dreams...
"...The stone is a portal to the dream world, Jack...."
"This isn't real," he said loudly, glaring at the old man. "That tea is screwing with my head."
In spite of himself, he grinned. Pappy had never been one for mincing words. He had always called it as he saw it. "It's not real," he repeated.
"I suppose that depends on your definition of 'real'," the elder O'Neill replied. "Real enough."
"Is he here?" an excited voice called from within the cabin.
Sounded like a young man...teenager maybe. Before Jack had a chance to blink, that teenager stepped out to stand on the porch beside the old man. He felt as if someone had just sucker-punched him in the gut. There was no need for an introduction; even though the boy had grown into a young man, there was no doubt in his mind that he was looking at his son. "Charlie," he whispered hoarsely.
"Dad!" Bounding off the porch, long legs making quick work of the distance between them, Charlie ran forward, wrapped his arms around the taller man's shoulders.
He stood stunned for a moment. Unsure what was happening, praying that this wasn't some whacked out alien trick, his arms went slowly around the already impressive shoulders of...his son. "Charlie," he repeated, closing his eyes, not caring one bit that they were filled with tears.
"We've been waiting," Charlie said, grinning from ear to ear when he was finally able to move away far enough to see his father's face.
"Waiting?" Jack asked weakly.
"Yeah. Ever since we got word that you were going to come out for a visit," Charlie explained.
The elder Charles O'Neill stepped off the porch, put his hand on the teenager's shoulder when he was close enough. "Guess you haven't quite got it figured out yet," he said, his grin just a bit mischievous.
"...The stone is a portal to the dream world, Jack...."
"What's going on? Where am I?" Jack demanded to know, the military special ops soldier taking control.
"You're in Minnesota. At the lake," Pappy O'Neill replied.
"Well, sort of," Charlie added. "It's okay, Dad, honest."
Jack shook his head. "This can't be happening."
"Why not? From what I've heard, you've experienced a hell of a lot more than just a dream," Pappy snorted.
"More or less. A bit more...vivid...than your normal dream," the old man explained. "As real as we are."
"You're both dead."
"Well, that's true," Pappy allowed. "Don't mean we stopped existing."
"...there are other planes of existence, Jack, including that place where people go when they cross over. They're not 'gone', they've just...moved on..."
For a moment he wasn't certain his legs were going to continue supporting him. His brown eyes swung toward the face of his teenaged son. Seventeen, almost eighteen, if his slightly befuddled brain was adding the numbers right.
In that moment he surrendered to the circumstances, not giving a damn how real the situation was. All that mattered was that his son was there. Charlie was there...grinning at him... He reached out and grabbed the young man in another hug, holding tightly, letting the tears of joy fall freely.
"Why don't we go inside. We'll have some lunch, and then you and Charlie can go fishing," Charles O'Neill said.
"You aren't coming?" Jack asked.
"Nope, not this time," the old man replied easily.
Jack and his son beamed at one another. They were about to spend time alone together. Father and son. Something he'd only been able to dream about...
A A A A A A
The tulips and daffodils lined the sidewalk; irises and jonquils were nestled in the flower beds in front of the rose bushes. There were still cracks in the sidewalk, through which grass attempted to grow, although any weeds that dared to poke through were pulled immediately.
The windows sparkled...they'd just been washed, it seemed. The shutters had seen a scrub brush as well. The front porch boasted a painted wood swing, and the concrete floor of the porch had been swept clean...the broom was still leaning in the corner beside the front door.
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath. Was positive she could smell sugar cookies. Frowned when she detected just a hint of smoke. Her eyes were automatically pulled toward the roof...nope, nothing there...wait...that scent was familiar...a bit spicy, like aftershave, she thought... Another deep breath, and all she could smell were flowers and sugar cookies.
Again her mind took note that it looked as if Grandma had been cleaning. As if she were preparing for company...
Climbing the steps of the porch, Casey could remember the many times she'd done so, arriving to stay for a few days, or if she was lucky, a few weeks. The only place of sanctuary she'd had while growing up. When she was with Grandma Rose, she didn't feel useless...or ugly...or unwanted. It was okay to laugh and bounce and ask questions when she was here...safe in this modest little house.
She hesitated at the door. Usually she just walked in. She lifted her hand to knock, then dropped it, her fingers closing around the old door handle. Giving it a twist, she pushed the heavy wood door open. "Grandma?"
An elderly woman with warm brown eyes, thick white curls, and a wide, welcoming smile hurried into the living room, barely pausing to take note of who the visitor was. Her arms opened, and she reached for the slender young woman. "Hello, Sunshine!"
As weird as the situation was, Casey didn't feel a sense of panic to be standing in the living room of her grandmother's home, being hugged by her grandmother. There was something...an explanation of sorts, just out of reach in her mind...
Portal to the dream world.
Back where it belongs.
Casey smiled. "Hi, Grandma."
"I just put the kettle on to boil. We'll have a nice cup of tea, and cookies."
"Sugar cookies with colored sugar on top?"
"Just the way you like them," Rose Webster replied with a smile. "Come tell me what you've been doing, while we wait."
"Wait? What are we waiting for?" Casey asked.
"Not what. Whom," Rose replied. Her smile faltered slightly. "It might not be easy for you."
Casey rolled her eyes. "Nothing ever is."
"That's not true," the elderly woman chided gently, although her eyes danced with barely suppressed mirth..
She frowned, trying to figure out just what her grandmother was talking about. Then smiled. "Loving Daniel is as easy as breathing."
Rose smiled in return. "I'm glad to hear that, Sunshine." She put an arm around the younger woman's slender shoulders, and led her toward the kitchen. "Tell me all about him."
"He's gorgeous and he's brilliant and he loves me," Casey replied. She settled onto the vinyl covered kitchen chair, leaned against the table, with its Formica top and three-inch wide metal edge. Watched as Rose poured water into three waiting cups, the strings from the teabags hanging over the rims. Reached for a cookie from the platter in the center of the table. They were still warm.
"So you're happy?" Rose asked, putting the cups on a tray, and carefully carrying it to the table.
"Like I've never been before in my life. I never knew it was possible to be so happy. Daniel is kind and generous and funny and sweet...and I love him so much it hurts," Casey replied. "And...I found my dad. Or he found me." She tilted her head slightly. "Maybe we found each other."
"Oh, Casey, that's wonderful news!" Rose exclaimed.
"I think so," Casey smiled smugly. "He was in the Air Force, he was Special Ops, just like Jack. They went on a couple of missions together. Were held prisoner in Iraq together."
"And he loves you very much," the older woman smiled.
"Isn't it amazing? I have so many people in my life who care...I mean there's Daniel, and Dad, and then my teammates and best friends Jack and Teal'c and Sam; and then there's Janet, and then the guys on the other SG teams..." She paused, her eyes misting over. "I've never been so loved...so wanted...in my life." Her words echoed in the air. She immediately reached for the older woman's hand. "You were the only person to offer me love when I was little."
Rose patted the hand that wrapped around her fingers. "You were an easy child to love, Casey. So full of life, and happiness. So much love to offer."
"I miss you so much," Casey whispered.
"I know, Sunshine. I wish I could have been with you longer, but it just wasn't meant to be."
"I was devastated when you...when you left."
"I think that's when things got...worse...for me," Casey admitted.
"But you survived. You never let anything that woman said...or did...to you stop you from reaching out; from believing in a better life."
"I just wish I could have survived without all the scars," the young seer sighed.
"Honey, she started wounding you the very day you were taken from that orphanage. So much damage had already been done before I ever had a chance to meet you."
"You kept it from being worse...kept me from giving up. You taught me how to love, and how to hope," Casey said softly.
The doorbell chimed loudly.
"Stay put," Rose said, rising to her feet. She hurried to the front room, glancing over her shoulder. Hoping that the meeting that was about to take place would at least answer a few of the questions that tormented the young seer in the dead of night.
A A A A A A
Traffic on the street was snarled, as usual for this time of day. Exhaust fumes and the smells from nearby restaurants filled the air. Her nose wrinkled as she smelled an odd...smoky...scent. It was gone before she could identify it. The sounds of engines being revved, horns honking, voices calling out greetings or venting frustrations nearly drowned out the sound of her cell phone.
Sam frowned, glanced around the cab in which she found herself. She didn't have her purse...when she felt familiar vibration, she pulled the phone from her pocket. Just a text message. A single line. An address. Something about it poked at the back of her mind...
"Lady, you gonna tell me where you wanna go, or am I gonna have to kick you outa the car?" the driver asked, his voice filled with exasperation.
She glanced at the address on her phone. Rattled it off, hoping that whatever was going on, she'd figure it out soon.
"Ya sure about that? It's not that far from here, just a few blocks," the driver asked.
"I'm sure," Sam replied. Praying that she was right.
Just how had she come to be...here? She looked around carefully, and while there was a familiarity about the city around her, she was at a loss to know exactly where she was. It wasn't Colorado Springs, or Denver, or Washington, DC. Still, there was something...
The seasoned soldier in her began to evaluate the situation, seeking out potential threats. Might help to know what's going on, she grumped silently.
The first thing she needed to do was figure out where she was. Looking around at the multifarious signs that surrounded her wasn't much help. Okay...what had she been doing before she came...here?
She glanced around again. Okay, what the hell was going on? Where were her teammates?
Her frown deepened as she tried her best to pull forward the information she knew was in her mind.
Dreams? The word seemed to echo in her mind. Something about dreams...
She shook her head. That didn't explain how she wound up here...did it? Was this just a dream? Again Sam looked around. It was too real. Even the most vivid of her dreams hadn't had this...quality...of reality. This was real...wasn't it?
Confused, but curiously not afraid, she watched the streets pass by, taking note of the businesses on either side, not paying attention to the people in the other vehicles or crowding the sidewalks.
Three stop lights, and the cab was pulling toward the curb. "Here ya are, lady," the cabbie said, turning to look at her.
Sam fumbled in her pockets, found her 'emergency' cash. "How much?"
The smallest she had was a ten. "Here. Keep the change."
She crawled out of the car, eyed the front of the cafe. She knew this place! She hadn't actually been inside. But she'd taken the bus...walked down the street, just to see the place. The last place her mother-
Sam put a hand to her mouth. "Oh, my god," she murmured.
It was the cafe where Caroline Carter had met with friends for a cup of coffee, before completing her list of errands. She had been expecting her husband to pick her up here. When he hadn't arrived, she'd used the payphone by the cash register to call him. Only to learn that he wouldn't be able to give her a ride after all. So she'd taken a cab...had been in an accident...had died...
She knew the details of what had happened before the accident, had gone over them again and again in her mind. If only Dad had picked her up...
The face that peeked out the window at her was one she recognized immediately. "Mom," she whispered.
The woman smiled, waved, then motioned that Sam should come inside.
This isn't real, Sam told herself firmly. It's just a dream...
The stone! The team had been able to find that stone, and they'd taken it back...
Taking a shuddering breath, Sam stepped onto the sidewalk. Crossed it slowly...opened the door of the cafe...
"Sam! I'm so glad you came!" Carrie Carter exclaimed, rising from her seat, beaming a smile at her daughter.
"Oh, look at you! So beautiful! You were always so pretty...you're just beautiful!"
For a moment, she was too stunned to return the hug she was receiving. It's just a dream, she thought. And hesitantly hugged her mother in return.
"Sit down! We have so much to talk about," Carrie said, guiding the tall blonde toward the table.
"This isn't real," Sam said.
Carrie smiled, patted her daughter's shoulder. "Of course it is."
"It can't be. You're...you're...you're not really here," Sam insisted hoarsely.
"Of course I am. And so are you. Oh, I know you're only here for a visit."
"Visit?" Sam asked weakly.
"We have so much to talk about," Carrie repeated, a wide smile on her face. "As soon as you wrap that brilliant mind of yours around the concept."
"This is a dream."
"Of sorts," Carrie agreed.
"...the dream world is just another level of existence..."
"Holy Hannah!" Sam whispered, finally understanding what was happening. "Mom?"
"Yes, Sam. It's really me."
Tears filled her eyes, and she hugged her mother once again; holding as tightly to her mother, as her mother was holding her. "There's so much to tell you," she murmured.
"Let's order coffee, and you can get started," Carrie grinned.
Sam settled in the chair across from her mother, nodded when the waitress approached with a pot of coffee, sliding the mug that waited on the table toward the edge. "I don't know where to start," she admitted.
"How's your father?" Carrie asked softly.
"He's fine. He's blended with a Tok'ra now. Oh...um...Tok'ra. Let's see, how do I explain that..." Sam took a deep breath. Began to tell her mother all that had transpired in her life, after that fateful day.
A A A A A A
The meadow was quiet, dawn just breaking over the horizon. The path was centuries old...carved by the feet of those who had made the journey to the small temple. The temple was a place for reflection, a quiet retreat in which to search one's heart and mind for the answers to the questions that perplexed the soul. Not all questions were answered of course...not all answers had questions.
It had been many years since he'd even been on the planet. The planet of his birth. Home to the god...false god...Cronus. The god his father had served as First Prime.
Teal'c paused mid-stride. How had he come to be in this place? The fact that there was no memory of the journey drew his brow into a frown. There was something - unsettling - about the situation. Senses alert, he carefully surveyed the area around him. Other than a few birds, who were chirping loudly in the growing light as the sun climbed in the sky, he was alone.
He took another step. Then another. There was no threat of danger. Yet he could sense something...unusual.
Why was he alone? When had he left the company of his teammates? The thoughts brought even more confusion, for he could find no answers in his mind.
With seemingly nothing else to do but follow the path, the Jaffa continued to climb the steep trail. His finely honed senses detected an odd, burning smell. Something was on fire...
Looking around, eyes scanning carefully for any sign of smoke, he grew more confused when all he could see was the meadow, the mountains that surrounded it on all sides, and nothing but blue sky. No hint of smoke...not the smallest wisp...could be seen.
Taking a deep breath, hoping to be able to identify what type of smoke he was smelling, his frown deepened. The scents of the trees, of the clover that spread a blanket of white across the green of the meadow, the faint scent of the dirt on which he walked...but no smoke. Not even a lingering trace.
Once again thoughts of his teammates had him pausing. Where were they? They had completed their mission...he was certain of that...
More confused than alarmed, Teal'c began to move forward once again, his feet following the path, his eyes moving constantly, alert for any threat that might lurk...although his heart was beginning to lull him with a sense of peace.
A tall tree, the branches spread wide, like an umbrella that offered shade from the still climbing sun, caught his eye. There was something about that tree...the smiling face of a woman, the dark eyes full of laughter and happiness. The deep laugh of a man...
He'd been a small child, no older than four years. His father had brought him and his mother to this place. They'd had a picnic...a celebration of his victorious return from battle. First Prime of Cronus, Ronac had been granted a few days to spend with his family...a 'gift' from their god. To make certain that he wasn't interrupted, at least for that day, Ronac had brought his family to this place.
Teal'c carefully approached the tree, half expecting it to disappear. He reached out, his large hand touching the rough bark. It was real enough, it seemed.
"You ran circles around this tree," a voice said.
Whirling around, Teal'c came face to face with the man he'd never thought to see again...lost to him when he'd been just a few months older than he'd been the day of the picnic. The man killed by Cronus because he'd failed to secure a victory in circumstances that ensured his failure.
"Do you not believe your eyes, Teal'c?"
"You cannot be the man my eyes see," Teal'c replied.
"Because my father is dead."
The man nodded. "That he is." A frown tugged at the man's eyebrows. "It is rather unsettling...I can remember those final moments with crystal clarity. But I cannot recall how I came to be...here."
"I too, find that I am unable to remember arriving here," Teal'c admitted. "How is it that you know my name?"
The man smiled. "You have her eyes. Her smile. I know the face of my son, even if he is a man now."
Teal'c chose to look up at the green leaves of the tree. Thoughts of his mother tugged at his heart. Part of him had always been glad that she'd not seen her son become a shol'va. Part of him disappointed that she'd not lived to see Jaffa reaching for freedom.
"So tell me, do you have any theories as to why we are here?" Ronac asked.
"I have none," Teal'c replied. Then frowned. Images filled his mind...a mission with his teammates...the theft of a stone that the owners held in high regard...a trek through a forest...a village of people under the control of a Goa'uld...Nirrti...Samantha Carter had killed the false god known as Nirrti. Daniel Jackson had wrapped the stone in silk...they had made their way back to those who dwelt on a cliff...
Portal to the dream world.
Casey Jackson had been certain that the stone was a portal, allowing a 'seeker' to enter the dream world, which was, she said, an actual astral plane of existence.
"...there are other planes of existence...including that place where people go when they cross over. They're not 'gone', they've just...moved on..."
He looked around. "I believe we are in the dream world," Teal'c said quietly.
"An interesting place to be," Ronac replied.
Ronac wandered closer to the trunk of the tree, put his hand on the bark beside Teal'c's. "I held that day in my heart," he said softly. "Every night, before I slept, I would think about that day."
"I held the memory special as well," Teal'c replied. "It brought much comfort as I strove to become the First Prime of Apophis."
"And did you?"
"I did." Teal'c sat down beside the tree. "One day, three Tau'ri were captured by his Serpent Guards. They were to be killed, along with the other slaves that had been taken, and had not been chosen."
"People of the First World."
"Those who had overthrown Ra."
"Indeed. One of the Tau'ri, O'Neill, begged me to help him save those people." Teal'c looked at his father. "He was the only man I believed could make good on his promise."
"You did not kill him."
"No. I had known for many years that the Goa'uld were not true gods."
"What made you question the gods?" Ronac asked.
"Would a god need a device on his hand with which to inflict pain? Would a god act out in anger when his plans, against which his own advisors had stood...and were punished for that stand...had met with failure? Would a god kill an innocent man for his own mistake? Would a god be unable to protect the people who prayed to him when storms destroyed their homes? Would a god be taken unawares, and his palace burned to the ground, and the homes around that palace destroyed?" The pain, the anger...the anguish, were as sharp as the words were accusing.
Ronac studied the far hills. "I suppose not."
"I stand beside O'Neill, and together we battle against the false gods. The Goa'uld tremble in fear when they hear the names of those known as SG-1, of the Tau'ri,' Teal'c said proudly.
"You betrayed your god," Ronac pointed out.
"No. I broke free from the yoke of a false god," Teal'c countered firmly. "I honor those gods that the Jaffa have worshipped from the beginning."
The older man nodded slowly. "Tell me about the Tau'ri. They are honorable warriors?"
"Those with whom I stand are most honorable."
"I would hear more about these people," Ronac said.
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