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Hell is for Children

Chapter 6

Casey had insisted that they all take off their shoes and get as comfortable as possible. She had no idea how long this…process…was going to take. If any one of them fought it, then it would take just that much longer.

Teal'c lit the candles while Casey tossed pillows onto the hard, concrete floor. When he was finished, he turned to look at the young woman.

She'd arranged the pillows in a circle…a very small circle. She sat down on one of the pillows, held her hands out. Daniel smiled, took her hand and sat down beside her. Teal'c took the other hand, and lowered his large frame to the floor on the other side. Sam and Jack hesitantly followed suit. "Get close. Your hearts are entwined, allowing your bodies to touch so casually shouldn't be that big of a deal."

Her teammates shifted, scooted closer to each other. Legs and knees and arms and shoulders rubbed lightly against one another. "Now what?" Sam asked. She was surprised that she wasn't…uncomfortable. In fact, feeling Teal'c on one side of her and Jack on the other felt so normal, so right, that she could feel herself beginning to relax.

"Link hands," Casey said softly. "Close your eyes. Try to just clear your mind."

Hands closed around hands. Eyes closed. The room fell silent as each of them began to struggle with the demons that filled their hearts, their minds. Images, sounds…the smell of the burning huts began to fight to be recognized. The sounds of ragged breathing began to fill the air. Nearly half an hour had passed.

"I'm so sorry. I wasn't trying to expose our position," Casey whispered. "I just wanted to help them."

"I know," Jack replied softly. "I wanted to help them, too. But my top priority was my team. The whole situation sucked. There was no way to get to those kids without exposing ourselves before we could open fire. Any movement would have wound up getting us killed."

"I wanted to just stand up and open fire," Sam admitted in a hushed voice. "I couldn't take the screaming."

"What they were doing was so wrong," Daniel said softly. "So…twisted!"

"They were without honor," Teal'c said, his deep voice as soft as those of his friends. "True Jaffa, honorable Jaffa, would never have done those…things."

"I hated you, Jack. For a little bit I hated you," Casey admitted.

"I know," Jack replied. "I could see it in your eyes. You were so angry."

"You hated me, too, didn't you?" Daniel asked softly.

"You were backing him up…I was…surprised that you'd just sit back and accept the situation," she replied.

"What was I supposed to do, Casey? I couldn't let anything happen to you. And as selfish as it sounds, I didn't want to die, either. I want forever with you. And that means staying alive long enough to have it…to enjoy it," Daniel said.

"I was so angry," Casey said, her voice a mere whisper. "At the gods, at you, at Jack, at…everyone. But mostly myself."

"What the hell for?" Jack asked. He opened his eyes. Found that the others had done so as well, all of them frowning with concern at the young blonde.

"I should have figured it out sooner," she said, shrugging slightly.

"How?" Daniel asked. "You said that you don't always get clear images, mostly just feelings."

"But I saw Jaffa. I just didn't understand what I was seeing. Jack was right, I should have said something," she said.

Jack shook his head slightly. "I don't know how much of a difference it would have made. Those people didn't want us hanging around, and they'd have used those very nasty looking arrows on us, and being a shish-ka-bob wasn't something I wanted us to be."

"I should have tried harder," Daniel said softly. "I should have insisted that you give me a few more minutes."

"Daniel, they made it damned clear that they didn't want us there. A few more minutes might have gotten us killed," Jack replied.

"I should have tried," the young man insisted.

"Why were they so adamant that we not stay?" Sam asked.

"Lack of resources," Daniel said. "Food, water, clothing, everything was probably hard to come by. Five strangers would have put a strain on already limited supplies."

"We weren't supposed to be there," Casey said softly.

"How do you know that?" Sam asked.

One slender shoulder moved up and down. "Miss Eloise."

"This woman is your guide?" Teal'c asked.

Casey started, looked up at the dark features of the man beside her. She should have realized that Teal'c would understand. She felt her heart move even closer to this giant man. "Yes, she is. I hadn't realized that until…lately."

Everyone in the room knew about the 'prophecy' the old seer had made, and exactly what it had meant. Jack had even teased Daniel about it a bit. "Will she always guide you?" the colonel asked.

Again that slender shoulder moved up and down. "I don't know. I don't think so…at least…it doesn't feel that way. She's just with me until I've learned enough…can do what I need to do." She looked around at her friends. "Okay, eyes closed. Minds clear."

This time, breathing remained calm, steady, quiet. Five hearts reached out and touched each other, comforted one another. The silence was soft and warm and safe. Nearly two hours of sweet serenity passed. Until soft snoring from one brought chuckles and giggles from the others.

"Uh, Jack?" Daniel said, shaking the sleeping man's shoulder.

"Hmmph? What?"

"You fell asleep."

"I did not!"

"Did so. You were snoring." 

"I do not snore."

"Oh, you most certainly do!"

Casey collapsed into giggles, leaning heavily against Teal'c's side. "Like an old married couple!"

Sam burst into giggles as well. She was also leaning on the Jaffa. "You two are so sad!"

The two men glared at the laughing women. "We do not behave like…like…that!" Jack declared vehemently. Which only served to make the women laugh harder.

Wiping tears from her eyes, Casey sat up. "Is anyone else hungry?"

"I could eat," Daniel said.

"O'Malley's?" Jack suggested.

"Sounds good," Sam replied.

Shoes were pulled on, and the group stood to their feet. Casey approached Jack shyly. "I promise to let you know if I ever see anything with Jaffa again."

The older man hugged the slender young woman tightly. "I appreciate that, Case. And we'll do our best to help you make sense of the things you're seeing."

"That's right, Case," Sam said, hugging the young woman as well. "Just tell us, no matter how strange or odd it might seem."

"Indeed," Teal'c said, also taking a turn at hugging the slender blonde. "Perhaps what you see is something that we will recognize, or be familiar with."

Daniel watched, a smile on his face. "What…no hug for me?" The smile that she gave him threatened to melt his brain. She stepped into his embrace, and he pulled her close.

When she was in his arms, nothing could harm her, she thought again. She snuggled close, smiled when she felt his lips against the side of her face. "Love you, Daniel," she whispered.

"Love you too, Angel," he whispered in reply.

"Food. Now," Jack commanded.

A group of SF's returning from the commissary watched as the team spilled from Teal'c's quarters. Three of them had been on duty when SG-1 had returned the first time from P7Y 190, had seen the pain, the desolation in their eyes. Now the group was smiling, laughing at something that Dr. Jackson had just said. Whatever had happened in that room had rid the flagship team of the deep pain they'd been suffering. Or had at least helped them come to terms with it. They began to wonder about, and then speculate on what had gone on behind that closed door for over three hours.

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

Gina just happened to be working when SG-1 walked through the door. She'd seen the wedding announcement in the Silver Springs Tribune. She glanced at Daniel's hand. Yep. Wedding band, and a darned nice one too! She sighed. Forced a smile to her face and greeted them as she did all of her regular customers.

The group found a large booth near the back of the dining room. Decided that a couple of O'Malley's pizzas would take care of their hunger. They were still quieter than normal, still a bit subdued. They understood that there had been no alternatives left to them, that hiding on that rocky ledge was the only way to survive, that there had been nothing they could have done to have prevented what happened…or changed anything that occurred. That knowledge didn't make the memories any easier to live with. But the guilt that had weighed so heavily upon them had been assuaged.

When Gina approached with menus, she noted that Jack had his arm around Sam's shoulders. She'd heard through several of her regular customers that the president himself had lifted the ban on fraternization for those who worked in Cheyenne Mountain. Which only added fuel to the fire of speculation that something a hell of a lot more…important…than deep space telemetry was going on there. She'd often thought that the two looked at each other as if they were more than friends, or at least wanted to be more than friends. She tried hard not to cringe at the look of bliss in Daniel's eyes, something she'd never seen there before. It made her jealous to think the slender blonde beside him was the reason for that happiness. "So what will it be, gang?"

"Two pizzas. First one, half sausage, green peppers, mushrooms and olives, half sausage, green peppers and onions. Second one, half veggie, half cheese," Jack said. "Heinekens' all around, well, raspberry tea for the T-man."

The dark haired waitress nodded. "Got it. Any appetizers?"

"Mozzarella sticks," Sam said.

"With ranch dressing for dipping," Daniel added.

Another nod. She glanced at the young blonde who now owned Daniel Jackson's heart. The woman was watching him, a look of such devotion on her face that it made Gina sick. No doubt about it, those two were in love. She shook herself mentally. "Shouldn't be too long on the appetizer. I'll bring your beers and tea right over."

Casey watched the woman walk away. Knew that she was, or at least had been, very attracted to Daniel, perhaps even a bit in love with him. She looked at her Husband again. Could only marvel, and thank the gods and the Goddess, that she was his Destiny, and he, hers.

"So what do we tell Mackenzie tomorrow?" Sam asked.

"That we went through hell," Jack replied. "And that we're dealing with it. And that we're okay."

"I have to admit, I don't feel as guilty as I did before we…meditated," Daniel said.

"Me, either," Sam said softly. She smiled at Casey. "Next time you talk to Miss Eloise, thank her for me."

Casey smiled. "I will."

Jack was toying with the salt and pepper shakers that were sitting in the middle of the table. "I think we need to go on a mission as soon as possible. Get back on the horse after being thrown sort of thing."

Teal'c nodded. "I agree. What we…endured…was not typical of what we face. We must remember this, and the best way to do that is to continue to work as we have."

Casey shivered. "It's not going to be easy to go through that 'gate again. So far, I haven't had the best of experiences."

Sam leaned over and grasped the young woman's hand. "I promise, not all missions are so…brutal. Most of them are actually pretty boring."

"I'll take boring, I like boring!" Casey replied quickly, bringing quiet laughter from her companions.

"There are a couple of routine recon's. Nothing in sight for miles except ruins," Jack said. He glanced at Daniel. "You up to investigating some rocks?"

The young archaeologist smiled. "Always." 

Jack nodded. "Okay, Sam, I'm sure there's some astrophysicist type stuff you can do. Teal'c, you and I and Casey will make sure our two scientists don't touch anything they're not supposed to."

The Jaffa nodded, a smile on his face.

"Maybe we can get a hand or two of poker in while they poke around," Casey said, trying to hold back her smile.

"So not funny," Jack chuckled. "Poker while they're poking. Not funny."

"Then stop laughing about it," Sam said, grinning broadly.

"I suppose it would have been funny if you had thought of it," Daniel teased.

"Absolutely side-splitting," Jack replied unabashedly.

The sudden sound of a child screaming caused all of the team members to jerk. At one of the nearby tables a little boy had pulled his plate of food off onto his lap, and was now wailing in dismay. Hearts pounding, they tried desperately to recover at least a modicum of the peace that they had felt earlier.

Casey watched as the mother led the child toward the restrooms. "So will we ever be able to hear a little one cry again, without…" she shook her head.

"Without hearing…those…screams?" Sam finished softly.

"It will happen," Jack replied. He should know. He'd learned to live with other memories, things that were every bit as horrible as what he'd witnessed three days ago, he thought sadly. He'd done too many damned distasteful things during his career.

"Not soon enough," Daniel said. He rubbed his hand over Casey's slender back, could feel her trembling. He was shaking, himself.

Gina brought out the platter of mozzarella sticks and two small bowls of ranch dressing, as well as the beers and tea. If she noticed that the faces of the people around the table were suddenly pale, and slightly drawn, she said nothing. Once again she wondered just exactly what went on inside the fences of Cheyenne Mountain.

Jack took a sip of beer. Looked at the faces of his team as they toyed with the appetizers they should be eating. "Anybody up for a movie after we eat?"

Daniel smiled. Knew exactly what Jack was doing. Realized that they had to move on, or at least try. To sit and dwell on what had happened would drive them mad. "We could stop by Blockbusters', see what they have."

"A comedy," Sam said.

"Without kids," Casey added softly.

"Sounds doable," Jack replied.

The pizza arrived, and slowly, conversation began to turn toward what movie the group would rent, and where they'd watch it. By the time they were wiping fingers on napkins, sitting back pleasantly full, hunger having driven them to eat, the returning peace allowing them to eat, the feelings of despair had once again been pushed to the back of their minds. With luck, a good comedy would have them back on kilter once again.

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

After nearly an hour in the nearby Blockbuster, the team had agreed on the movie "Evolution". Jack had nearly vetoed the movie, having seen it before with Cassie, worried that the scenes of the dinosaurs being blown apart might bring thoughts of blood, and what they had witnessed, but decided that perhaps it was better to face their demons than to continue to tip-toe around them.

Casey cuddled next to Daniel on the sofa, Teal' sitting on the other side of her. Jack and Sam were snuggled together on the loveseat. It was the first time she'd been to Sam's house, and she'd known instantly that it was the blonde major's space. The décor was soft, without being overly feminine. There were a lot of books, expected from a woman as intelligent as Sam. The number of plants was surprising, and filled the room with life.

"…take the leg, take the leg!" came from the television. Casey began to laugh so hard she squeaked. Which in turn sent her friends into further fits of laughter. Sam paused the movie as the group laughed hysterically. Several minutes passed before they were calm enough to continue watching the movie. Snickers, giggles and chuckles continued to echo as SG-1 let the comedy entertain them. And as they came to grips individually with the fact that it was all right to laugh…to live, in spite of what they'd endured.


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