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 Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

 

Chapter 8

Janet had refused to allow the team to leave the infirmary until after lunch. Daniel was certain she had done so just because she could, not because any of them actually needed to be observed by the medical team. Payback for all of the times they'd managed to slip out, walk out, sneak out, or get by with avoiding her for days on end; at least, as far as her role as CMO went. She was always welcome at the 'SG-1 table' in the commissary, and was often with the team for lunch or coffee breaks. Especially lately, although that fact hadn't yet settled into his brain enough to recognize that 'something' was up. As soon as their lunch trays had been cleared away, she had agreed to release them. He'd headed straight for his office.

He frowned as he finished going over the notes Jonas had put together, sat back in his chair. What they had determined was both exciting...and frightening.

"Wish we knew whether or not Ba'al knows what he has," Jonas sighed.

"If he does, we'll hear about it," Daniel replied. "This is fascinating. Excellent work on the drawing, by the way. It doesn't look much like a weapon though, does it?"

"No. At first I thought it looked like a captain's chair on the bridge of a ship. But, that's not exactly right, either. The platform on a ship is smaller. At least, it is in all of the pictures I could find. This...it's more like the dais for a throne," the Kelownan responded. "Which has made me wonder...is it possible that the Ancients had throne rooms, like the Goa'uld do...only theirs were actually the weapons that protected their people?"

"I have no idea," Daniel murmured, sorting through the notes. He glanced up. "Intriguing theory, however. Actually, the Goa'uld took all of their technology from the Ancients. It's very possible that the pyramid ships of the Goa'uld are based on what the Ancients had."

"The Ancients didn't have pyramid ships?"

"Not from what I've been able to determine. No clue who the snakes did steal the ships from," Daniel replied. "So, what's the plan so far?"

"General Hammond is going to have the Prometheus do a scan of the planet as soon as they've returned from their current mission. He said that there's little doubt something in this has naquadah in it."

"I agree. The Ancients seemed to have made all of their most important devices with or from naquadah."

"Daniel, what happens if we find an Ancient Weapon here?"

His frown deepened. "We'll have to fight like hell to keep it out of the hands of the more...fanatical components...of the military. No doubt it will protect the planet from a Goa'uld attack." Which would have been damned nice to have known about a few months ago, when Ba'al had lost his freaking mind and tried to take over! Daniel shook himself mentally. "It would be better for everyone if the SGC retained control of the weapon."

"Is there a way to make certain that happens?" Jonas asked.

"Oh, I hope so," was the quiet response.

"This is the part that Ba'al has," Jonas said, pointing to one of the 'sections' of his drawings. What appeared to be a lever, attached to the right arm of the 'chair'.

Well, didn't that just figure? The damned snake had what appeared to be one of the most important pieces of the weapon...the damned control! "As long as he doesn't know what he has, then he won't be out there looking for the rest," Daniel mused.

"How will you get that part?"

He smiled. "We just go on board his ship and steal it."

Hazel eyes went wide. "You make that sound as if it's no big deal!"

Daniel shook his head. "I wish it was that easy. Every time we've gone on a mission like that, something always goes wrong for us."

"Maybe this time it won't."

"I can always hope," the archaeologist sighed. Glanced at his watch. "Guess I'd better get to the conference room. We have a briefing in about thirty minutes."

"Will you be heading home afterwards?" Jonas gathered his notes and the drawings, placing them carefully in the folder.

"Probably."

"Then if I don't see you before you leave, have a nice evening."

I plan to. A very nice evening with a very naked Casey. Daniel shivered slightly, although it wasn't noticed by his companion, which was a good thing. He smiled. "Thanks. You too, Jonas."

 

 

 

Daniel was walking by the storeroom where the Quantum Mirror was kept when he heard what sounded like someone mumbling. He peeked into the room. Frowned slightly. Well, at least he knew where Casey had 'disappeared' to as soon as the team had been freed from the infirmary. This was the third time he'd found her standing in front of the Mirror, her arms locked around her slender waist. "Casey?"

"I just can't shake the feeling that I need to be here," she sighed. "The thing is, I have no idea why!"

He noticed that the mirror was on...a familiar storage room on the 'other side'. She'd said nearly the same thing twice before. And had been just as agitated those times as well. He had no idea what her gift was trying to tell her, or show her. Apparently she didn't either, which was leaving her frustrated...and a bit out of sorts. "Turn it off, Angel. We have a briefing to get to. You'll figure it out."

"Like I figured out that Teal'c was going to be killed? That Sam would be alone, and trying to protect us and keep from getting caught, all at the same time?"

Her words were filled with anger...bitterness...self-recrimination. He moved into the room, stepped behind her as she stood staring into an alternate reality. Wrapped his arms around her, tugged until her back was pressed against his chest. Pressed his cheek against her hair. "You saw everything. It's not your fault you'd never seen one of our deaths before. Like Jack said - when Sam, he, and I were killed, you were being held by Ba'al, your body...your mind...full of ker'nish'ta."

She turned in his arms, wrapped hers around his neck. "What good is my gift if I can't see everything? What good am I if I can't interpret it correctly...and in time? We could have avoided all-"

He put his finger on her lips, damning that low self-esteem that plagued her whenever she determined that she had 'failed'. For her, the truth had little place in the matter whenever such an event occurred. "No. We couldn't have. What happened, happened for a reason. We're all safe, Casey. We're all home and everything is fine."

"But-"

"Don't. You are not to blame. For anything."

"Doesn't feel that way."

He pulled her close, let his eyes drift shut as her soft scent tickled his nose. How in the world could he get through to her? She would blame herself for all that he, Jack, and Sam had endured for the final three days of the mission. She'd have nightmares about her 'failure'. "Please believe me, Angel. You have nothing to feel guilty for. You told us what you saw. We were prepared, and that's the best survival tool we could have had."

She started to shake her head. Then sighed. No matter how many times she tried to explain just how horribly she had failed the team...General Hammond...him; Daniel would never understand. He loved her, and that love often blinded him to her faults. And her failures. They could stand here for the next hour and the conversation wouldn't change. She pulled away from his warm embrace, crawled up onto the crate beside the mirror, reached over and deactivated the device that controlled the time and the reality that was 'dialed'. But not before tossing a final, frowning glance at the dark storeroom.

He knew that he hadn't gotten through to her. That she would continue to hold herself solely responsible for all that had happened. Sam was right...her faith in her gift...in her abilities...in herself...had been shattered when she hadn't been able to interpret the images she'd seen at Jack's cabin. His 'death' had left her broken in more ways than one. His return had mended her heart. But she would continue to struggle with believing in herself. Hopefully soon that faith in her gift would be 'healed' as well. "Come on, Angel."

She took his hand. Accepted the comfort he offered, even as her heart refused to acknowledge the fact that he might be a tiny bit right. She'd screwed up. Again. Her teammates had suffered as a result. The thought that maybe she should just resign, considering she didn't seem to be much use, danced at the edge of her mind. She didn't push it away.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

General Hammond settled into his chair at the head of the conference table. "Did you learn where Ba'al is?"

"Buzzing Keku's planet," Casey retorted. Rolled her eyes in response to the three pairs that turned to stare at her. "Okay, what'd I say?"

"It was Ba'al?" Sam said, the surprise in her voice the same as what was reflected on Daniel and Jack's faces.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Casey replied.

"We had to bug out as quickly as we could," Jack said, still staring at the seer. "Because there were several gliders making the rounds of the place. We knew it wasn't Kookoo. He'd have just landed his ship again. So, knowing that another snake was about to send Jaffa to stomp around, and figuring that the Stargate might not be so handily unguarded if that was the case, we hightailed it out of there."

"Let's start at the beginning, shall we?" Hammond said, frowning slightly.

Three heads bobbed in agreement. "We waited until nightfall to try to get on the ship," Jack began. "There were too many Jaffa wandering around to risk moving without the cover darkness provided. Managed to get onto the ship without a problem. First hitch we came to was the fact that there weren't any computers in the cargo bay."

"Are there usually?" the general asked.

"Not always," Jack replied. "We knew there'd be plenty to choose from on the third deck, so that's where we headed. Managed to get there and checked out Kookoo's databanks."

"There was information about an Ancient weapon," Daniel interjected. "I'll need to see everything that's on the data crystal to determine exactly what it is."

"Good work, Doctor," General Hammond nodded. "Were you able to determine where Ba'al has been hiding?"

"No, sir," Sam replied. "The only thing we found was what Daniel saw."

"Very well. Continue, Colonel."

"We had to do a bit of climbing around, and a bit of hiding and waiting, to keep from getting caught after we'd finished up. Sam, Teal'c, and Radar had made it off the ship, Daniel and I were right behind them. Then a group of Jaffa came along, shut the door, and locked us in," Jack finished.

Sam nodded. "Teal'c, Casey, and I were pinned down...when we'd first left the ship, the loading dock was deserted. By the time the doors on the ship had closed, there were a dozen Jaffa, and three or four of the villagers. Teal'c was going to try to create a diversion, he'd noticed some crates with red markings-"

"Explosives," Teal'c explained. "Used in mining operations."

"He had a torch in hand when one of the villagers spotted him sneaking toward the crates. He'd already thrown the torch when he was shot in the back by one of the Jaffa."

"I remember that," Casey murmured. "I was so angry..."

Sam gave a weak smile. "Temper got the better of you?"

"Something like that. I didn't even realize I'd stood up, or that I was screaming, until I heard my voice echo back to me...and then...then..." Casey shook her head.

"Casey went down, killed by the Jaffa. They hadn't noticed me, so I was able to take a few of them out. Then the explosives caught fire, and it seemed like all hell was breaking loose," Sam continued. "I knew I couldn't just leave them there...I had to hide them...there was a ravine beside the road that lead to the village. It was deep, lots of vines and leaves and..." She took a deep breath. "I got them there...and I had to go back to get my pack and my weapon...the Jaffa saw me. All I could think about was getting away. So I started running."

Jack was studying his hands as Sam gave her report. She was one hell of a airman. One hell of an incredible woman. She'd done everything right. She'd taken care of her teammates, made certain they were safe, and then she'd bugged out.

"I relied on my SERE training. I knew I had to keep the Jaffa busy, I didn't want them to start looking for Teal'c and Casey; I was fairly certain no one had seen me move them, everyone's attention was on the fires that the explosions had started. But I didn't dare take the chance that someone...anyone...might have noticed what I did."

"Wait a second, 'seer' training?" Casey asked, obviously confused.

"S-E-R-E," Sam smiled. "Survival-Evasion-Resistance-Escape."

"You can train for that?"

General Hammond's lips twitched. "All Special Ops troops and all military pilots complete the training; the training for pilots is important in the event their aircraft is shot down behind enemy lines."

"Something tells me that the training is tough," Casey mused.

"It is," the general confirmed. "Continue, Major."

"I found a cave...there was a depression...almost like a second cave, toward the back. I figured it was the perfect place for Teal'c and Casey, and there was plenty of room for me to be able to move around...sleep, whatever I needed to do. So...I got a bit of rest, waited until nightfall, and then went and got them. I had to take them one at a time."

"The mountain she found that cave on was steep," Daniel added, admiration in his eyes as he looked at Sam. "I'll never know how she managed to drag Teal'c up that slope alone. Just trying to climb it was hell."

"I'd like to put in paperwork for the major to receive a Meritorious Service Medal," Jack said quietly. "Without her quick thinking, her determination, and her sense of duty, it's possible that Teal'c and Casey might have been discovered by those Jaffa. Had they been turned over to Kookoo, there's the chance he'd have found out about their Immortality."

"I'll see to it," General Hammond nodded, scribbling a note on the pad of paper in front of him.

Sam blushed. "I was only doing my job...taking care of my teammates," she objected.

"Exactly," Jack replied. "And you were doing so under extreme circumstances."

Her cheeks went a shade pinker, and she ducked her head. In her own mind she'd done nothing out of the ordinary; nothing that her teammates wouldn't have done if put into the same situation.

"What about the two of you?" Hammond asked, looking from Jack to Daniel and back again.

"We managed to stay hidden...came up with a plan. We were going to find an armory, get a couple of zats'...always a better choice when sneaking around a Goa'uld ship," Jack said.

Daniel remembered taking advantage of that fact on occasion. When he and the rest of SG-1 had been trying to free Casey from Ba'al's clutches, and had wound up unwitting passengers on his ha'tak. What was it with SG-1 getting caught 'unawares' on some Goa'uld's ship, anyway?

"We knew that we needed a 'safe place'," Jack went on, "somewhere to get a bit of rest, and figure out how we were going to get off the ship. Daniel figured one of the storage bays would be our best bet; it had worked for us before. We found one, but it was being used."

"Being used? I don't understand...you were looking for an empty storage bay?"

"No, sir. The room was occupied. By the First Prime and whom we're assuming was one of the women from Keku's 'personal' harem. They were..." Daniel spread his hands and shrugged.

"They were gettin' busy, sir," Jack said. "Gettin' ready to get it on. Do the horizontal hoochie coochie. A bit of the sheet shimmey-"

Again the general's lips twitched. It never failed. Only SG-1 could be hiding from the Goa'uld, and stumble upon something as unexpected as the First Prime meeting up with his lover. "Yes, Colonel, I get the picture."

Jack looked suitably chagrined. For all of about three seconds. He grinned at Casey as she struggled to hold back her giggles.

"We'd been ready to drop down into the room," Daniel said, picking up the account of his and Jack's experience; at the same time tossing a look at Jack that intimated that he thought his best friend had lost his Special Ops trained mind, "and when we started to move back, the First Prime heard us. I shoved the vent cover into his face, and we escaped."

"Found a place to hide out for a bit, got a couple of hours of sleep," Jack interjected.

"When we decided that we'd have as much luck in the corridors, we came face to face with the First Prime."

"You were captured?" Hammond asked.

"No, sir. I explained to him that we just wanted to get home, and that we had no desire to tell anyone what we'd...witnessed. He loves her, General, and was willing to let us go. I guess he thought that if Keku tortured us, we'd tell him about what we'd seen, just to get better treatment. Even if the Goa'uld hadn't believed us, he would have been suspicious enough to have the two followed. And when they were caught, they'd have been killed," Daniel said. "He allowed us to escape. Kept the alarms from going off when we took a glider."

"That's a bit...unusual...isn't it?" the general asked.

"Yes, sir. But love is a strong motivator," Daniel said quietly. He wrapped his fingers around Casey's hand. "His top priority was protecting his lover...at any cost."

"You were able to fly the glider back to the planet?"

"Yes, sir. Daniel figured most of that problem out," Jack replied, nodding his appreciation to his teammate and best friend.

"Jack managed to keep us from getting killed in the asteroid field that Keku was hiding in," Daniel pointed out. "And regained control when it seemed we were going to spin into the planet."

The general nodded. It was typical of not only this team, but of all of the teams within the mountain, to extol the accomplishments of teammates, while making their own personal efforts seem of little import. No doubt their escape had taken the abilities and training of both men.

Jack took a deep breath, blew it out slowly. "When we got to the planet, we had to search for the village. Came in over the mountains where Carter just happened to be hiding. She was, at that moment, trying to protect a group of villagers who were running from Jaffa. I brought the glider around, and fired on the Jaffa as well...those who weren't killed headed into the forest. Back to the village I assume. Daniel had spotted Carter, and we landed-"

Daniel snorted, and Sam ducked her head.

Casey looked from one grinning face to the other. "Landed? As in 'crash-landed'?"

Jack rolled his eyes. "I keep tellin' ya, any landing you can walk away from is a good one!"

"We almost didn't walk away," Daniel pointed out.

Jack glared for a moment, then turned his attention back to the general. "Semantics aside, Carter showed up, and we hightailed it for the cave."

"We must have fallen asleep," Sam said, taking up the story, "because the sound of gliders woke us up. We discussed our options, and the colonel decided that too many Jaffa on the planet could lead to our capture."

"Kookoo didn't keep a guard on the 'gate," Jack explained. "Another Goa'uld might have. We needed to get out while we could."

"And that Goa'uld was Ba'al?"

Daniel grinned. "According to Casey."

Hammond looked at the archaeologist. "Doctor, how long will it take you to discern what, if anything, this Keku knows about the Ancient weapon?"

"I don't know, sir. A few hours, I would guess."

"Very well. I'd like that report as soon as possible. For now, go home, get a good night's rest."

"Yes, sir," Jack responded, answering for his team.

"I've been informed that the president will make his preliminary visit in three days. I'd like your reports to be ready by then." He gave a stern look in the colonel's direction.

Although they managed to hold back their moans of protest at the impending political 'dog-and-pony-show', eyes rolled as they nodded their acknowledgement. "Yes, sir," Jack sighed. Well, at least he had a couple of days to get his report typed up. He hated typing reports.

"I will expect SG-1 to set the example for the rest of the SGC personnel to follow concerning this visit."

"Yes, sir," Jack grimaced. He was fairly certain that giving the president the old 'heave-ho' by any possible means wasn't what the general had in mind. Which was exactly what he'd prefer to do to the politicians who insisted on showing up at the SGC, demanding a tour, expecting to be treated like celebrities, then getting pissy as hell when they weren't. It went without saying that the tour would totally screw up every routine in the mountain. His especially! "We'll be on our best behavior."

"I'll hold you to that, Colonel. Dismissed." Hammond waited until the team had left the room before grinning. If President Hayes expected wide-eyed, preferential treatment, he was in for a very rude awakening. He could only hope that none of the teams, SG-1 in particular, were openly insubordinate. Politicians were as well liked within the concrete walls of the SGC as the Goa'uld were. That was something he should probably explain to the president.

 

 

 

"Let's go home, kids," Jack said, stepping into the elevator.

"Sounds good," Casey said, leaning against Daniel. "I'm...um...I'm really sorry."

"For what?" Sam asked.

"For screwing up."

"Yeah, well, next time you won't be so quick to expose yourself in a firefight," Jack grinned. "Just be grateful that you're Immortal. Otherwise you'd never have a chance to put that lesson into practice."

She forced a small smile. Was certain that Jack would have more to say on the matter...later. "Not what I was referring to," she said softly. "Although, I do believe I 'get it'."

"Casey, I said don't do it," Daniel growled.

"Don't do what?" Jack asked.

"She's blaming herself for everything that happened."

"What the hell for?" Jack demanded. His gaze moved from Daniel to Casey, his eyes held hers. "You saw everything! You gave us a heads up, and we did what we always do...we did our job, ran around a bit just to give the snakes heartburn, and we came home!"

"I should have known!" Casey insisted. She turned to Teal'c. "I'm so sorry! I didn't see what happened...I should have!"

"Casey Jackson, apologies are not required," Teal'c replied calmly. "As O'Neill stated, you gave the warnings that were needed."

"We know that Keku's First Prime just might be ripe to join rebellion against the Goa'uld...if not openly, then covertly," Daniel said. "We wouldn't have had a chance to find that out if Jack and I hadn't been on that ship at the right moment."

"And I know that saving those villagers was important," Sam added.

"Plus we know that Balls is getting ready to screw Kookoo over. That's certain to stir things up a bit," Jack said. "And something it's best that we know now, rather than finding out later."

"If Ba'al is busy dealing with Keku, he's not out looking for pieces to that Ancient weapon. Or at least not actively. I still don't think he knows what he has," Daniel said.

Jack stepped in front of Casey, cupped her chin with his hand. "Radar, I can't even begin to understand how that gift of yours works. I do know this...we stayed close on this mission. Closer than we usually do. My gut tells me that kept us from being caught. What happened, had to happen, or we'd have avoided it."

"I concur with O'Neill, Casey Jackson."

"Me, too," Sam chimed in.

"Like I told you, Angel. There is nothing for you to feel guilty about."

She gave her husband and teammates a watery smile. "Thanks. I promise to do better."

Jack rolled his eyes. "She just does not listen, does she?"

Daniel smiled, shook his head. "Not often."

"Radar, if I find out you've had one nightmare about this, because you think you screwed up, I'll kick your ass. Do I make myself clear?"

Her smile widened. "Crystal."

"Good. Daniel, I want to know."

"I'll tell you the first thing in the morning," Daniel smiled.

It wouldn't be easy. Because damn it, she was guilty of not giving her teammates a complete warning. She hadn't been able to interpret what she had seen...not soon enough to have been of any use to them. But she'd try to accept that there were things she couldn't change. And she was most definitely talking to Miss Eloise about the damned incomplete messages. If she had to go through every one of the nine levels of existence to get the problem take care of, she would! It didn't dawn on her that her own badly shaken self confidence was the only problem she needed to face.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Home. No matter what the language, no matter that the literal meaning of the word was something as impersonal as 'shelter' or 'residence', the word conjured up images of comfort and peace. A place of refuge. For him, it was his little piece of heaven on Earth. His personal, private paradise. Oh, without Casey, it was just a house. But as long as she was there...it was paradise.

Hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans, he watched her as she wandered into the living room, dropped down onto the sofa. He shook his head, then followed her. When he sat down beside her, she immediately reached for him, slipping her arm through his, wrapping her fingers around his hand. He waited, knowing that when she was ready...was able to put her thoughts into words...she'd talk to him. Explain what was bothering her. Or ask the questions that were troubling her.

Casey sighed. This was the only place on Earth, the only place in the universe, that was truly hers. Truly safe. When what happened 'out there' was too much to bear, she could return to this place, this house, and feel safe. Oh, she was well aware of the fact that the house itself had little to do with the feelings. Not that she wasn't thrilled with the house. She absolutely was. But Daniel's love filled every room, the very air carried that love to her, wrapped around her...protected her.

His thumb moved gently over the ridge of her knuckles as he waited. Simply watching her, the slight frown on her face. Searched his mind for the words, the phrases, that would reach her, that would help him to explain to her that she hadn't 'failed' her teammates.

"When you...after you had...when you woke up, did you have to sort through...deal with... all of your memories?" she asked softly, breaking the silence that had fallen between them.

"Yes, I did," he replied. He kept his voice low. Waited to learn what horrors had been freed during her reanimation. Hoped that whatever she had to face, he would be able to help her, even if it was just to offer her comfort.

"There were so many things I'd forgotten," she sighed. "I...one of the sisters in the orphanage used to bake cookies for us. There was this long table, and she'd sit us all down, and while she made the dough, she'd tell us stories. She'd sing songs with us while the cookies baked. And then we'd say a prayer because we were lucky enough to have warm cookies and cold milk to enjoy...and oh, those cookies were always so good!"

He smiled. Both the faraway look in her eyes and the way her lips curved upwards served to make his heart beat faster with love.

She shifted on the sofa, turned to face him. Ran her finger over his jaw. "All of the...bad...things are still there. Still hurt, too. But..."

Her green eyes had dropped, she was tugging her lip between her teeth. "But?" he asked, when it seemed she needed to be encouraged to continue.

"I pushed them back, shoved them back into that place where I know I had them hidden. There are things I don't want to think about, don't want to look at."

"Okay."

"Is that...am I being a coward, doing that?"

Well, that certainly wasn't what he'd expected her to ask! Nor could he say that he was at all surprised by the question, either. Just more proof that her self-esteem had been so battered that she second-guessed every thought, every action; saw herself in that dark light, rather than recognizing what an incredible woman she was. "No, you're not. There are things I don't want to look at, or think about, or deal with. There's nothing wrong with leaving those things alone."

She gave a slight nod. "Does it get easier?"

"I'm not sure what you're asking."

"Well, you've died more times that any of us. I mean, I don't know what it's like to wake up in a sarcophagus, but...does it get easier to...deal...with all of that?"

His smile was automatic. That question was so typical of her that he couldn't help but reach for her. Tugged until she was sitting in his lap, his arms around her. "No, can't say that it does. Although, I suppose I might be a bit faster at reorienting myself to what's going on around me."

"I'd rather not have to go through that again," she admitted.

"I agree. It's not easy. Better to just stay alive."

"Much better." She toyed with the collar of his pullover. "You know, I think I'd like a warm shower."

"Want company?"

"Always," she whispered. She climbed off his lap, held out her hand. Smiled when his fingers closed around hers. "I've heard that making love is a way to prove to yourself that you're really alive."

"It is," Daniel replied, rising to his feet. "There are stories told...that during the air raids of the London Blitz, couples would slip away to dark corners of the subways and bomb shelters and make love. Well, mostly, just have sex. Because it made them feel alive. If they were going to die, they wanted to go while feeling the most alive. The body is the most aware sensually, the emotions are the strongest when we make love."

"Just how did you hear these stories?"

"My grandfather was one of the young men in one of the bomb shelters," he grinned. "I don't think I was supposed to hear the story. He was talking to my dad at the time. I'd already been tucked into bed, but I wanted to hear more about his work. So I snuck down the stairs, and hid under the table in the hallway."

She smiled at the mental image of Daniel as a small boy, hiding so that he could continue to listen to the conversations of the grownups. "Every time we get home, after dealing with one of those life and death situations, or even just a skirmish with some Jaffa, all I can think about is being with you...holding you, touching you." Her hand moved up his chest, over his shoulder; her fingers moved against his neck, into his hair.

"Me, too," he said softly. "After missions like that, I need to hold you, feel the warmth of your skin against mine, feel your body move with each breath, hear the beat of your heart beneath my ear."

A poet. The man had the heart of a poet. Casey rose up on her toes, pressed her lips against his.

Wrapping his arms around her, pulling her close, he worked the combination of those sweet lips...slipped inside the warmth of her mouth when she opened to him. He stroked her gently, telling her with each caress that she was alive. Assuring himself that she was alive.

Because she hadn't been. When he had carried her body back to the SGC, Casey had been as dead as Sha're had been the day he had returned to Earth, having finally found his Abydonian wife. For a moment the grief that had assailed him that day, as he'd laid Sha're's body on the gurney, washed over him once again. Knowing in that moment that his search had come to an end...a horrible, life-shattering conclusion. As difficult as it had been to deal with her abduction...the fear, the guilt, the need to find her...her death had brought a finality that had left him devastated. The closure he'd found hadn't been at all what he'd hoped for...what he'd wanted. But then, it seemed that little in his life had been what he'd hoped for....or wished for.

Until Casey. God, he'd wanted her in so many ways, on so many levels, the first time he'd seen her. Standing in that strange 'gate room, clinging to the arm of his counterpart. He would never forget the thrill that he'd felt when he had learned that there was hope for him; that his own Destiny was waiting for him in his own time, in his own reality. He'd been filled with the kind of hope he hadn't felt since the night Jack had promised to help him find Sha're. Funny, Jack had been the one to insist he at least meet 'his' Casey.

That late afternoon in January had brought such a fundamental change in his life that he still sometimes caught himself looking around with wonder at what he had; more importantly, what he had found. In the instant that Casey had opened that door, and looked at him with her beautiful green eyes, his world had shifted on its axis. He'd walked out of the darkness and into her sunshine, and had found love so deep, so all consuming, so sweet that it left him breathless.

The thought moved through his head again, this time with more force. She had been dead! If not for the miracle of the gift bestowed upon them by Beings of a Higher level of existence, if she wasn't Immortal...

His arms tightened, his kiss became urgent, almost panicked. It took a moment, but she was finally able to pull away, her lips slightly bruised from the pressure he'd exerted. "Daniel, what's wrong?"

He framed her face with his hands, his eyes moving over the delicate features...her eyes, always so expressive, full of concern; her lips swollen from his kiss..."I can't lose you," he whispered hoarsely.

Her hands went to his face. She smiled tenderly when he pressed against her palm, his eyes closed. His hands covered hers, pressed her fingers against his whisker-stubbled cheeks. "You brought me home, Daniel. I'm safe because of you."

"You're alive because Sam protected you," he replied dryly.

She shook her head stubbornly. "Sam never would have been able to get both Teal'c and I off that planet alone. If not for you, I'd still be there, scared to death, alone-"

"Alone?"

"Sam would have had to try to save Teal'c, because he's important to the team, and she's the head astrophysicist of the SGC, so she would have had to come back here."

She spoke as if what she said was a simple, common known fact. He barely held back a sigh of frustration. "We never leave a man or a woman behind. Sam never would have left you."

"If she'd had no choice-"

"I want you to listen to me. You're every bit as important to SG-1 as Sam. Or Teal'c. Or Jack. Or me."

Tears filled her eyes. "I don't see how. I haven't been able to give the team a good reading in months."

The guilt on her face brought a deep moan from his chest. "How do I get through to you? You see what you see, Angel. You do your best to interpret it. We do our best to help you. You have never, not once, failed us. Any of us."

"You died because I fucked up."

Her comment, blunt and filled with unmistakable regret, gave him an insight to how shattered she was feeling, how deep her self-reproach went. She was convinced that the work of daemons was her fault. And just as certain that she wasn't capable of offering useful information from her 'visions'. She had persuaded herself that her gift was flawed; that her inability to interpret what she saw immediately, and in detail, made her a failure. And as such, she was 'useless'. "I died because there were daemons messing around with the order of things, not because of anything you did, or didn't do," he said firmly.

"There aren't daemons to blame for this mission. I should have seen more," she insisted.

"You saw enough. We're home, Casey. We're here, and we're safe, and that's because of you. Because you gave us enough to know what to expect."

Her fingers moved over his face. His hands had moved to her shoulders, were sliding down to her waist. "I'm safe, because of you," she said, softly repeating her earlier declaration.

Rather than persisting with the argument, and that's what it was, and what it would continue to be...because Casey was the most stubborn woman he'd ever met...Daniel gave a slight nod. "You're alive. You're here with me. That's all that matters."

"All that matters," she echoed, her voice no more than a whisper. She closed the distance between them, kissed him gently, pouring her love into every movement of her lips against his.

When her tongue moved against his another moan rose up from him, this one filled with need. "Shower," he whispered, barely moving his lips away from hers enough to be able to speak. He began backing up slowly, his hands on her hips.

She followed, allowing him to take what he needed from her in the kiss they continued to share; even as they moved, slowly, in the direction of the bathroom.

Three days. Well, four, counting the day of the mission. Four days since he'd held her. Tasted her. Loved her. He was already beginning to shake in anticipation. Because of her premonitions, he'd carried the Hathor serum in his pack. He'd given himself a dose before the team had headed for the ha'tak, and then again every twenty-four hours after that. He'd been in no danger of suffering from physical withdrawal. His heart, his soul, however, needed to make love to her as much as his body. Because his addiction had little to do with the Hathor-gene. And everything to do with his love. His need. His desire.

They had finally reached the bathroom. Pulled away from one another long enough to strip. She twisted her hair up, clipped it out of the way. No way was she going to take time to dry it; besides, it had just been shampooed, Daniel had washed it for her, according to Janet.

Cold. That was the first feeling...the first impression...she'd had upon awaking. Being so damned cold. Her limbs had felt heavy, as if they'd been made of lead. Then...then the onslaught of memories...images, sounds, smells...worse than any of her downloads, the memories a painful reminder of all she'd endured. She'd been struggling against them, shoving the darkest of the number down with all her might as soon as her brain had begun stirring from its slumber.

The water was warm and soothing. Daniel's body was warm and firm. She put a hand on his chest, felt the hammering of his heart beneath her fingers. The rise and fall of his chest with each breath he took. "I was so cold," she said softly.

He knew she was referring to those first moments of cognizance. The first breath, the emotions that accompanied the sensations as feeling seeped back into a body that had been heavy in death. He wrapped his arms around her, drew her close. Pressed his face against her hair. Smiled when her arms locked around his shoulders. He could feel the warmth of her breath against his neck. Could feel the slight movement of her breasts, the hard nipples grazing his skin as she breathed. "Still cold?"

"I'm warming up." She leaned her head back, looked into his eyes. "In fact, I'm getting downright hot."

His grin was an automatic response to the twinkle in her eyes. "Do tell."

She grabbed his washcloth and shower gel. Began to gently bathe him. Smiled, closed her eyes for a moment as his hands moved over her, one hand guiding her gel covered scrunchy, the bubble-covered fingers of the other caressing her skin gently. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

As if it were impossible to keep from doing so, they began to kiss once again, their soap-slick bodies pressed against one another. They rinsed quickly, their need growing with each passing second.

Daniel closed the blinds against the late afternoon sun as Casey turned down the bed. She stretched out, waited for him to join her. She remembered the first days with Daniel...her fear that she had only dreamed him into existence. Afraid that she would wake up and find herself alone once again. So much had happened since the day she had flown to Denver, to begin her life with the man who was her Destiny. And still she needed to reassure herself that he was real. That he was alive. That she was alive.

She was kissing him before he was fully settled beside her, letting him know with her caresses that she was in control. He filled his hands with long blonde silk, held her head gently as he took what she offered, gave back what she demanded.

His kisses always left her breathless...burning with need; whether he was in the lead, or she was the first to begin the journey of love that would send them spiraling to the stars. Daniel's kisses could comfort, or arouse, or tease, or offer more pleasure than it seemed humanly possible to survive. He could set her very soul on fire with his kisses. She was near spontaneous combustion at that moment. The need to please him, to make love to him, became the only thought; her ultimate goal - to hear that groan that came from deep within his belly.

Slowly, gently, she tempered the kiss that had her toes curling. Moved her lips to his jaw. Began to kiss and nip at his throat, tugged his earlobe between her teeth, then whispered her love in his ear.

He closed his eyes when she moved toward his chest; her lips warm, each kiss branding him, leaving his skin on fire. He shivered when she began to suckle on his hard nipple, her fingers toying with its twin.

The firm pectoral muscles of his chest; his hard, brown, flat nipples beneath her tongue served to increase the heat that was building in the very core of her being. She lavished every inch with kisses and caresses, not stopping until his breath was coming faster. The anaconda was begging for her attention, standing proud and tall. His hissed sigh of approval filled the air as she wrapped one hand around his erection, the other cupping his balls gently.

"Sweet Jesus!" Her mouth was warm and eager, and she was already sucking him as if she'd never get the chance to do so again. He didn't even bother to try to strike a deal with his body...to hold out for as long as possible. She was in total control; his body knew that...and so did he.

There would be no teasing...not tonight. She knew his need had to be as great as her own. She settled on her knees between his legs, licking every inch of that magnificent specimen of manhood before falling into the rhythm that had his hips thrusting toward her lips with each downward movement she made.

Incredible. Mind-blowingly incredible. The sensations that raced through his body - from the base of his skull, out to his fingers and toes, then lodging in his aching cock - were nothing short of incredible. Phenomenal. His hands were caressing her arms as her hands worked his flesh with as much skill as her mouth.

She relaxed her throat, took as much of him as she could, then began to swallow. The sound she had hoped for, that deep groan of satisfaction, filled the air just seconds before his orgasm exploded, and her name echoed off the walls. She took down every drop of his precious white love, pressed gentle kisses and soft licks against his skin until the throbbing stopped completely, then kissed her way back to his lips. "How was that?"

"Amazing," he replied. Before she had the chance to reply, he had her on her back. He smiled down at her. "My turn." The tiny shiver that moved her pleased him. Once again he was awed...humbled...overjoyed...to know that he - and he alone - could touch her, could love her. That only he could make her shiver and cry out with pleasure. That only his touch was welcome...desired. That, he thought, had to be the most powerful aphrodisiac known to man.

When his lips descended on hers, claiming the kisses that belonged only to him, she was barely aware of the fact that his hand was just above her breast, palm pressed against her skin. His tongue teased her, toyed with her. His kisses made promises of what was to come. She shivered again in anticipation.

The beating of her heart beneath his hand was tangible evidence that she was alive. He slowly moved his lips from hers, pressed them to her throat, felt the pulse of life against them. Death, or the threat of death, could bring out the most basic of needs. Just to feel the rise and fall of her chest with each breath she took was the most wonderful thing he could imagine. His fingers slid down, caressed her ribs for a moment to feel her breathing, before cupping the soft curve of her breast. Warm and sweet and alive.

The soft moan she gave when his mouth finally arrived at her breasts, after leaving a trail of kisses over her throat and collarbones, and his mark of love on her slender shoulder, made his own pulse race. He kissed each pink tip, settled himself over her, wrapped his hands around his beauties. "Hi, girls. Miss me?"

She couldn't help but giggle. "They always miss your attention."

He grinned up at her. Teased one nipple, then the other, with just the tip of his tongue. "Good."

Her back arched and she mewled with pleasure when he began to suckle. Every tickle of his tongue, every nip, every time his lips moved against her skin, the sensations were like fire...and it spread throughout her body, to her fingertips and the ends of her brightly painted toes. And settled in the molten center of her body.

She hadn't teased him...hadn't led him to the edge of the cliff, only to deny him flight. He wouldn't tease her. She needed to fly, and he was going to see to it that she soared into the stars. He took a moment to greet that sexy bellybutton, before sliding down. Wrapped his hands around her slender thighs and began to place kisses on her hips, her mons, just before tracing that warm, sweet cleft with his tongue.

"Mmm..."

He watched her, the look of rapture on her face making his heart dance with pride. He began a thorough investigation of those soft, swollen folds. Knew that she was close when the tip of her tongue began to move over her top lip. He shoved his tongue into her hot honeypot, listened to her moan, and lapped at the nectar that flowed. It was time to take her to the stars. He began writing out the love poem he'd found, one that spoke of dreams and hopes and forever, his tongue drawing each letter against her skin with precision.

Oh, goddess, what was he doing? Daniel was the most talented lover in the world...not that she'd had any other lovers, but from what she'd heard in the ladies locker room, she knew without a doubt that she had been blessed with the best.

She was pushing her hips down, trying to draw his attention to that little pearl nestled at the top of her folds. He grinned against her skin. Then flicked the tip of his tongue against that tiny bundle of nerves.

"Nngg!"

That's it, let me hear it, babe! Encouraged, he began to flicker his tongue over that hard little nub, holding tightly to her as her hips began to move up and down against his face. That beautiful whimper filled her throat, and when he began to suckle her clit, her song of love filled the air.

Her breath was still coming in gasps when her body dropped back onto the bed. She held open her arms, wrapped them around him when he moved up, his hips pressing against hers. She reached between them, stroked his hardened manhood, then guided him into that place that ached for him.

He couldn't hold back the moan of pleasure as he sank into her warm, welcoming body. Her arms held him tightly, her legs wrapped around his waist, preventing him from moving too far from her as he began to thrust slowly, gently.

"Oh, I so love that feeling," she sighed.

"Me, too," he replied. Warm...hot...tight...home. It didn't matter where they were. As long as they were together, he was home. As long as she loved him...he was home.

The dance of love was gentle; the soft tapping of the headboard a subtle accompaniment to the beating of their hearts, the pounding of their pulses. Each breath, the soft gasps as they moved with one another, served to verify that they were both very much alive. Need began to grow stronger with each thrust, desire burning hotter each time their bodies met.

"Harder...faster," she begged, panting slightly.

Rising up on outstretched arms, he began to pound into her willing body, obeying her commands, even as his body began to make demands of its own. With a grunt, he grabbed her legs, pushed them against her shoulders. Oh, god, yes!

It was difficult to keep in step with him in this position, although her body insisted that she try. Her fingers dug into his biceps as she held on. Each time he buried himself inside her, he rubbed his hips back and forth against her, offering the stimulation she needed, in all the right places.

That sweet whimper filled her throat. "Give it to me, Casey," Daniel begged breathlessly. Barely held onto the control he was clinging to, waiting for her to fall over the edge, into the waves of pure pleasure.

Lights were flashing, colors beginning to whirl when she closed her eyes, reaching for the climax that glimmered just out of reach. Another thrust, another grinding of their hips, and that delicious feeling of bliss washed over her.

As soon as her aria of love filled the air, he let go, cried out his release. His hips jerked with each spasm of his cock, as he filled her with his essence. Her arms and legs wrapped around him, holding him tightly when he collapsed, unable to support himself as the pleasure slowly subsided.

With a groan of effort, Daniel worked his arm under her hips and rolled to his back, holding her body tightly against his own. "Now that was life-affirming!"

She couldn't help but smile as her body continued to tremble with the after-shocks of her climax. "I know I'm very much alive. I couldn't feel this good if I were dead!"

He slipped his hands under the long blonde silk that was spread across her back, began to gently caress her. "You're alive, Angel. You sang that beautiful song of love to me."

A light pink blush covered her cheeks. What he considered her 'song of love' sounded like nothing more than a long moan to her. As long as it didn't bother him, she wasn't going to worry about what it really sounded like.

"I wish we were getting some time off," Casey grumbled softly, settling against his chest, her head on his shoulder. Her fingers moved against the warm skin of his sides.

"Politics, babe. We have to make sure everything is ready for the president's visit."

"Can't we just tell him that now isn't a good time?"

He snorted. "No, I don't think so. He is the President of the United States."

"And we're trying to protect the whole freaking planet here," she retorted. "We have an Ancient weapon to find, before Ba'al does, not to mention keeping the other Goa'uld in line, we don't have time to pussyfoot around with politicians."

"Babe, you are free to tell President Hayes that the minute you see him."

"You just want me in the stockade for the duration of his visit."

"It would keep you out of trouble," he laughed.

"It would keep me away from the politicians that are certain to be with the president," she replied dryly.

"Same difference," Daniel grinned. She crossed her arms over his chest, looked up at him with her beautiful green eyes. "I know you'd like a day or two off. How about we go to Denver, the next weekend we have free?"

"That sounds wonderful," she sighed.

Daniel reached for the clock to set the alarm. "Sleep, Angel. We have to get up in a few hours."

She snuggled against him again. Sighed contentedly when his arms tightened around her. Smiled when his lips pressed against her forehead. "Love you."

"Love you."

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The sound had him bolting upright in bed. Casey was sitting beside him, her scream still echoing in the air. He reached over, switched on the lamp. Her eyes were wide, filled with fear, and her breath was coming in gasps. Slowly, not wanting to frighten her further, Daniel began to run his hand up and down her back. "It's all right, Angel. It was just a nightmare."

Haunted green eyes swung around to face him. Trembling fingers moved over his face again and again. "You're okay," she whispered.

"Doing just fine," he whispered in reply.

"Jack? Sam? Teal'c? They're okay?"

"They're fine, I promise."

She leaned into his embrace, wrapped her arms around his neck and held tightly. "I can't lose you! I can't lose any of you! Whatever I have to do to make sure you're okay-"

He pulled away slightly, looked down at her face. Cupped her chin in his hand. "Whoa...what are you talking about?"

She blinked slowly. Looked around the room. What the hell? The emotions of the nightmare were still boiling in her heart and mind, but the details...were gone. The only thing left behind were feelings of absolute dread. Of heartbreak. And...there was something...something so familiar...but she just couldn't put her finger on it...

"Casey?"

"Hmm?"

"What are you talking about? Do whatever you have to in order to make sure I'm...we're...okay?"

Casey met his gaze. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Of all of her nightmares, this was the most...unusual. Normally she would tell him about the details...all that she had seen, or heard, or felt. But this nightmare...she would scream. Cry out in absolute agony. And as soon as she was awake, could tell him nothing about what had frightened her so. Only that the emotions were so strong, so...overwhelming, that it took at least an hour to deal with them. "You had it again," Daniel said gently. "And you had it the night before we left on the mission to Keku's planet," he pointed out.

She pulled her lip between her teeth. "That's five times now."

He nodded. "I know."

"Daniel, something is wrong. Something is very wrong. I just can't seem to figure it out!"

He held her close. Knew that her frustration would make whatever she was seeing all the more difficult to interpret.

"The only thing I know is that I have to protect you."

Biting back a sigh, because he still wasn't comfortable with the idea of his Wife protecting him; definitely wasn't happy about the fact that she was suffering nightmares that left her shaking, seemingly because of a premonition in which she felt the need to protect him. "C'mere."

As soon as he had settled back on the bed, she shifted until she was lying on him, his arms holding her gently. She could feel the pounding of her heart ease as his hand moved so slowly up and down her back, from the back of her neck to her hips, the caress almost hypnotic.

"Think you can get back to sleep?"

"I think so."

"I'm here, Angel. If you need me, I'm here."

She leaned up to kiss his chin. Settled her cheek against his shoulder.

Her breath was warm against his neck. He closed his eyes. Hoped that the nightmare wouldn't return. Whatever it was, he would help her deal with it. And he'd do his best to convince her that she, and her gift, were neither flawed, nor useless. No matter what it took.

THE END


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