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"So what we have is definitely a clue," he mumbled, more to himself than to his companions. Cam stood up to look over his shoulder. Daniel shifted to give his friend and coworker a better view of his notes.
"That would indicate that one of these pillars, depending on just how they were referenced, has what we’re looking for," Cam said, his finger moving over one of the photos taken by SG-12.
"Those are the pillars in that unusual dialect," Jonas pointed out.
"And if I’m off in my translation even a little, we’ll miss the entire thing," Daniel sighed. "I need to make certain that I’ve deciphered the other text correctly."
"We’ll keep working on these," Cam said. "It’s amazing…or annoying, take your pick…that so much of this can have multiple meanings."
Daniel frowned. "There has to be a reason for that. Obviously only one translation can be the right one, can be what the person hammering out these glyphs meant. I’m thinking that the key to which meaning is the correct one is in the others."
"And just how do we figure that out?" Jonas asked.
"Okay…let’s start with this one," Daniel said, pulling his notes toward him. "There are three possible translations for these glyphs. The first one would be ‘and the words of his brother were true’."
"Given that the stele told the tale of two brothers, that fits," Cam nodded.
"But it could also mean ‘the truth comes from the companion’."
Jonas frowned. "The only thing that’s the same is the word ‘truth’."
Daniel grinned, in his element and loving every second of it. "The final translation could be ‘the words of truth were his companion’."
"That translation is too different," Cam said automatically. "The difference is too obvious. Whoever did this was not going for obvious."
"Exactly," Daniel said, drawing a line through it. "Now, keep in mind that there are twelve stelai standing in a precise manner in that meadow. Think about that for a minute, and what do you have?"
The two men shook their heads in bewilderment.
"The word ‘companion’ and ‘brother’ aren’t to be taken literally, at least, not in a physical, or rather, not in the human sense," Daniel explained.
"If that’s the case, then the words of the other stelai are the truth?" Jonas asked, not certain he was understanding.
"Not all of them. One specific stele. The companion, or ‘brother’, of the stele this section was on."
"And just how do we determine which one that would be?" Cam asked.
Daniel sat back with a sigh. "I’m not sure. Yet."
"If we have this much, we’ll get it all figured out," Jonas said positively.
"Yes, we will," Daniel replied. Hopefully before the damned Goa’uld do.
A A A A A A
He glanced at his watch. Wow. After two. Since Casey hadn’t come in to roust him from his work, he’d wager she hadn’t had lunch yet either. Daniel pushed away from his desk, stood, and stretched. Twisting slightly from one side to the other, he heard and felt his back pop back into place. Proof that he’d been hunched over his desk far too long. He sauntered to the door, contemplating having lunch anywhere that wasn’t the SGC, spending a bit of time alone with his Wife. Bit back a curse when the phone began to ring.
Backtracking into the room, he grabbed the receiver on the third ring. "Jackson."
"Doctor Jackson, just wanted to let you know that the last of the crates have been moved into the new storage rooms," Airman Tommy Reeves said.
"Thanks, Tommy. Did you attach the inventory sheets that Doctor Meyers typed up for each crate?"
"Good. Take a break, airman," Daniel grinned.
"Don’t mind if I do, sir. Might mosey topside for fifteen minutes or so."
His grin widened. For obvious reasons…one being that the SGC consisted of confined spaces on every level, plus the added risks from ammunition, sensitive experiments and equipment, and air that had to be recycled, as well as federal laws on the matter…smoking within the facility was strictly prohibited. Those who did smoke slipped topside, into the woods near the cavern entrance of the loading dock on level five, to have their clandestine nicotine fixes. "Take twenty."
It had taken time, far too much time, Beth Meyers had insisted, but at long last levels thirteen through fifteen had been ‘assigned’ to the SGC. All of the crates of artifacts that had cluttered the eighteenth level, as well as a few other storage rooms, were now sitting in rooms on those three levels. Beth had even managed to arrange the crates according to mission dates. Now the task of identifying each artifact could begin. Not, Daniel thought idly, a simple task, given the sheer number of crates that waited to be reopened. That was a problem to be dealt with later. After lunch. He headed for the door, a whistle on his lips as thoughts of slipping away for that bit of lunch, and maybe even more, with Casey flittered through his mind..
Mitchell tapped his knuckles against the open door. Grinned when Casey glanced up at him. "General Hammond said you’d be able to help me with this," he said, holding up a folder.
Colonel Mitchell was one of the friendliest men she’d ever met. Already, just hours after his arrival, stories of his sense of humor were circulating among those who worked within the Mountain. Fastest rumor mill in the west, she thought. Not always a good thing. In this instance, however, those rumors only confirmed her initial impression of the man. "Depends on what it is," Casey replied, smiling warmly at her visitor.
"It’s a list of the personnel assigned to the Daedalus. The general seemed to think you should take a look-see and tell me if there are any potential problems," the colonel explained.
"Oh. Sure," Casey nodded, pushing her notes on the System Lord named Svarog...who, according to their intel, was dead...to the side. She motioned to the chair beside her. She and Jonas had been working together earlier, the fact that the folding chair was practically touching hers didn’t even register in her mind. Jonas had been reading from the folders, she had been typing, and the Kelownan had made certain she wasn’t making any errors. The two had developed a system that worked well, and when they could work together uninterrupted, they could make impressive progress on the database.
The colonel hesitated for a second, noting the proximity that the chair would put him in…not that he had any complaints about being close to Casey Jackson. The woman not only oozed a lethal combination of sweetness, innocence, and sensuality, she smelled so darned good. Good enough to eat, he thought briefly, once again pushing the thought aside before it could lead to other, more graphic and totally unwelcome thoughts…unwelcome because he knew there was no sense in pursing the matter. If he hadn’t seen for himself the love between the seer and her husband, he’d certainly been told about it often enough. Amazing how much a man could learn in an hour or so sitting in the commissary nursing a cup of coffee.
He lowered his frame into the metal chair. His shoulder brushed against hers, something he was aware of instantly. His body reacted to that brief contact, and he struggled for several seconds, reminding himself that as much as he was attracted to the woman, she was off limits. An argument that he seemed to be losing, he noted. He opened the folder. Said nothing as she leaned close to read what was typed on the white sheet of paper. Tried to be as inconspicuous as possible when he took a deep breath, barely resisted burying his nose in her fragrant hair. He shook himself mentally, common sense returned, after a brief interruption thanks to his over-active libido, and sat back slightly.
Casey read each name carefully, ‘looking’ as much as she could around each. Pointed to the fifth name on the list. "I’m not so certain he’s a good choice for that position. I think he’d do better serving in the engine room."
Glancing down at the list, he saw the name. Toby Garret. Slated for security. "Any reason why?"
She glanced up into blue eyes. Much lighter than Daniel’s. But the same…intensity…shone there. "He’s much better suited to putting things together, making them work, than he is in being…forceful. I think Lieutenant Garret will be an asset in keeping the Daedalus running, and running at peak efficiency. You might want to check his record. Something tells me he accepted the security position simply to get into the program."
Mitchell nodded. Patted his pockets for a pen. Damn it, must have left it in his jacket, which was in the room he’d been assigned. There was a pen in front of the monitor. He leaned forward. Why he turned his head at that moment, he’d never know. But he did. And Casey, who had been leaning slightly toward him as she read the list of names in his hand, was just inches away. His gaze focused on her pink lips. He’d only just met the woman! He'd never been the type to rush into anything...hell, it usually took a date or two before he even considered kissing a woman. And this particular woman was married, for Pete’s sake! Totally unavailable. Just thinking about kissing her was a huge mistake. He continued to berate himself for contemplating such an act, even as he closed the gap between them.
Daniel stopped short in the doorway. Watched as another man began to kiss his Wife. A man she had met just a few hours ago. She didn’t even know this guy, and she was kissing him? No…this was so wrong! Thoughts of the first kiss he’d shared with her, within fifteen minutes of meeting her, rushed through his mind. That was different, he insisted. He’d gone to Tacoma specifically to find her, armed with a letter from her counterpart, who insisted that he and Casey were Destined to be together. They had both felt that connection immediately. Mitchell was just a stranger! If he'd been some guy who had just shown up on her doorstep, Casey never would have opened that apartment door. She'd known when she opened the door and looked up at him with those beautiful green eyes…just as he had…Destiny!
Anger, fear, pain, jealousy, all moved through him in a flash of raw emotion. His first instinct was to grab the bastard and beat him to senseless pulp. He’d taken a step forward…hands curled into fists, intent on doing just that…when the dark fear that lurked in his heart pointed out that unless Casey had wanted…welcomed…the attention, it wouldn’t be happening. Barely biting back a gasp of pain at that most disheartening thought, he backed away, turned on his heel and nearly ran back to his office. Once there, he tossed his glasses onto his desk. Ran his shaking hands over his face.
It took a moment for Casey’s mind to register what was happening. When she realized Cam’s intent, she backed away, almost whacking her head on the shelves behind her. Both hands came up, and she shoved against him with as much strength as she could muster. The result sent him backwards, and knocked him off the chair. "What in the hell are you doing?" she gasped.
She was on her feet. "If you ever try that again, I’ll knock the shit out of you!"
"I’m sorry!" Mitchell shook his head, his apology echoing on the air as she practically leapt over him to reach the door. She was gone before he could make it to his feet. He had no idea what had possessed him to try to kiss her, a woman he’d only met that morning. His still addled brain refused to form coherent thoughts. The urge that had propelled him to make such a moronic move had dissipated the moment she’d so roughly pushed him away, leaving him feeling embarrassed and madder than hell at himself. He had no doubt that if he ever did something that stupid again, she really would knock the shit out of him. Doctor Jackson would probably beat the crap out of him, as well. Not, he thought a bit dazedly, his senses still reeling from just being so close to her, that he didn’t deserve it.
Casey raced down the hallway, into Daniel’s office. Empty. Probably up on the new storage levels, she thought, heading for the elevator. She was shaking, her entire body vibrating with fear. What if someone had seen Cam trying to kiss her? And told Daniel? He’d be so upset…no, he’d be furious. And no doubt he wouldn’t want her near him. The thought of losing Daniel sent another wave of panic over her. She slid her badge through the reader again, swiping it with unnecessary force. Daniel’s arms. She just needed to be in Daniel’s arms. Then everything would be okay.
Leaning over the sink in the men’s restroom, splashing cold water onto his face, Daniel felt the waves of nausea pass. What would he do without her? How could he live alone, after having her sunshine in his life? How would he…could he…deal with seeing her every day? With that bastard Mitchell, no less. He closed his eyes. God, he couldn’t do it. There was no way he could deal with pain like that.
His only choice, it seemed, was to make her understand how much he loved her, how much he needed her. He was, Daniel thought morosely, not above begging. He had no pride when it came to her. He’d do anything to keep her at his side. Anything.
A A A A A A
She was searching for Daniel when the information was dumped into her head. Not much, and it made absolutely no sense at all, but then, most of the time her ‘cosmic radio’ was scrambled at best, requiring at least a partial ‘interpretation’. At other times, such as this, there was no interpretation to be made...the intel was too scanty to make any determination about what it could possibly mean. It just...was. With a sigh, she turned back toward the elevator, intent on going to level twenty-three. The warning she had received was definitely for SG-6, there was no doubt in her mind about that.
She smiled at the medics who joined her at level seventeen. It was serendipity that had one of the members of SG-6 standing in the corridor of level twenty-one, where the men got off. What he was doing on this level, she had no idea, but that really didn’t matter. Jumping between the doors as they began to close, Casey called out. "Tony! Just the man I wanted!"
Tony Sabotti grinned from ear to ear. "Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear those words from you?"
"Celebrate later, this is important," Casey replied cheekily, mentally berating herself for her poor choice of words...she’d opened the door for the SF’s merciless teasing, and he’d just run right through!
"Right. I’ll do a ‘happy dance’ later. Wanna dance with me?"
She couldn’t help but giggle. "I’m serious!"
"So am I!"
"Aw, c’mon, Case, give me a little hope here. Just a little crumb, a tiny little seed of hope."
"Well, if I have to explain it to you," Tony huffed a sigh, then grinned wider.
He’d been coming around the corner, heading to the infirmary to have someone take a look at the splinter that was driving him to distraction, when he heard their voices. Felger watched the two, shocked at what he was hearing. He was absolutely positive that a certain archaeologist would be upset to see and hear the way they were carrying on! Well, maybe he should say something…after all, someone else might not be as understanding as he was. He knew that she was a beautiful, charming woman. She was a friendly person, and was always willing to chat with anyone. He’d even talked to her on the elevator a time or two. And given that this particular SF had a reputation for being a ‘player’, according to the rumor mill…well, she just might not be aware of that fact.
He stepped around the corner. "Mrs. Jackson," he said loudly, pasting a smile on his face.
"Oh, hello, Doctor Felger," Casey said, smiling at the man Jack referred to as a ‘bumbling geek’.
Stepping between the lovely seer and Tony, Felger did his best to elbow the SF back a few steps. Succeeded only in hitting the taller man in the stomach.
"Ow! Felger, watch it, will you?" Tony muttered, rubbing his abdomen.
"Sorry," Felger muttered automatically. Then shook his head. "You shouldn’t be talking to Mrs. Jackson like that."
"Like what?" Tony asked.
"You know…like that. Being…suggestive."
"Yes, suggestive," Felger huffed. He turned to Casey. "I don’t know how well you know Sergeant Sabotti, but trust me, he’s only chatting you up because he wants to add another notch to his bedpost."
"What?" Tony’s voice rose sharply.
"You have to be joking!" Casey said, eyes wide with disbelief. How could anyone think that there was a man in the world who could compare to Daniel, at least in her eyes? She and Tony were friends, and had been once she’d moved past her fear of men...done only with Daniel’s loving help; certainly as soon as she had discovered that she and the sergeant shared a love of music and 7-11’s nachos.
"Hey, pal, Casey and I are friends. We joke around because it’s fun, not because we’re serious. Besides, there’s nothing…inappropriate…about what we’re doing," Tony said, his anger evident in his brown eyes. "But I suppose if you don’t have friends among the fairer sex, you wouldn’t know about that, would you?"
Felger sputtered for a moment, his eyes wide with surprise, and not a bit of self-righteous indignation.
"Doctor Felger, it’s all right," Casey said quietly. "Tony and I are friends, and we tease each other all the time. And Daniel knows all about it," she added, certain that the scientist’s concern, while misplaced, was sincere.
"Oh…well…if Doctor Jackson is aware…are you sure he knows how this…this…military playboy…talks to you?"
"Military playboy?" Tony echoed, shaking his head. "Now that’s one for the books. I’ve been called a lot of things-"
"And it fits," Casey said, grinning up at the SF. "Face it, Tony, you have a reputation around here. I personally think you’ve started most of the rumors yourself, but hey, whatever gets you laid, right?"
Both men stared at the slender blonde, Felger absolutely slack-jawed.
Tony burst into laughter. "You whisper one word of that to anyone, and I will so get you!"
"Your secret is safe with me." She glanced at Felger. "Us. Your secret is safe with us, right, Doctor?"
Felger nodded slightly, still unsure he had heard the lovely seer correctly. He glanced at the SF, then back at Casey. "Absolutely. Mum’s the word." Shoving his hands into the deep pockets of his white lab coat, Felger hurried on his way, forgetting the splinter completely in his desire to return to the ‘safety’ of his lab, muttering beneath his breath about keeping out of the affairs of others. A glance over his shoulder at the two...brown eyes were watching him with a mixture of amusement and frustration. He quickened his pace, ducking into the nearest doorway to catch his breath. None of his business, he firmly told himself, peeking out at the two as they continued to talk. But wait until Simon heard about this! Mrs. Jackson flirting with Sergeant Sabotti!
Tony watched for a moment, then shook his head. "Well, I figure in about three hours, the entire base will hear that I was hitting on you."
"Anyone who believes it doesn’t know us," Casey replied. "Anyway, the reason I wanted to talk to you...watch out for the blue things."
"Yep. If it’s blue, and a thing, avoid it," she said. "I know it doesn’t make any sense now, but it will when you get there."
"Thanks for the head’s up, Case."
"That’s my job," she replied with a smile. "Just remember," she reiterated, her insistence alerting Tony to how serious this warning was, "watch out for the blue things. I have no idea what they are...only that they’re blue, and they’re trouble."
"No blue things, got it," he grinned. With a wave and wink, Tony sauntered toward the lab where a certain lieutenant with big hazel-green eyes and long auburn hair was working. Now her, he really would chat up. Getting to know her better was high on his list of priorities.
Casey turned back toward the elevator, caught sight of Doctor Felger watching her from the doorway of one of the medical labs. What he was doing there, she had no idea. Shaking her head mentally, she wondered about his insistence that Tony was trying to ‘chat her up’. There were times she had to agree with Jack; Felger was just a walking disaster. How could he believe for a minute that there was anything between her and Tony Sabotti? Everybody knew that her world revolved around one man…Doctor Daniel Melburn Jackson.
Another head poked out of a doorway. The infirmary. Thankfully the doors to the elevator opened, and she could pretend she hadn’t noticed.
A A A A A A
When Janet poked her head out of the infirmary and waved, apparently the ‘break’ that she had taken with Teal’c and her father was over, Casey was once again overcome by feelings of disbelief. Not them! Not the three of them! She really needed to talk to someone about this...so far trying to deal with it on her own had been a dismal failure.
Determination in her steps, she headed in the direction that would take her to his office.
She glanced up. "Hi, Jack."
Jack stopped beside her, hands in the pockets of his pants. "What’s up, Radar?"
Damn it! One of these days I’m going to have to learn how to hide what I’m thinking, she groused silently. As much as she loved Jack, this was one problem she just couldn’t share with him. For one thing, he’d simply hot-foot it to each of the individuals involved in the ‘affair’... she shuddered inwardly at the word...and bluntly ask if the three of them were sleeping together. Not that she hadn’t been tempted to do the same thing, but there was all that white around them, and it was love...and this was such a freaking mess!
"Radar?" he asked gently.
"You aren’t coming with us," she blurted. It was the first thing that popped into her head. Which, now that she thought about it, was a bit troubling. The team not together? Never a good thing!
"Okay. Not coming with you where?"
The colonel smiled. "Ah. Right."
"SG-1 won’t be together."
"Casey, this is going to be one of those boring as hell missions. Well, boring for me and the Big Guy. I dunno about Carter. She’s not into rocks, so it would probably be boring for her, too. You’ll be with SG-12, and you’ll be with Daniel. Right by his side."
"It’s okay, Case. I know it’s a bit spooky to go on another mission where the team won’t be together. But I promise it’ll be okay," Jack said reassuringly, rubbing his hand up and down her slender arm.
"I want that in writing."
"You’re such a smartass," Jack retorted.
"Thanks, Jack," she said, smiling at him. She hadn’t even been aware of the fact that she was nervous about the mission until she’d spoken about it, recognized the unease that had been lurking within her...unacknowledged.
"That’s my job," Jack grinned. "Taking care of my kids." He glanced at his watch. "I’ll catch up with you in a few minutes. You can buy me a cup of coffee."
"You got it," she smiled. She hugged his neck, headed for the elevator. Wondered briefly where he was going.
A A A A A A
Images of the three of them together dancing through her memory, that white glow completely enveloping them, followed by the ‘enlightening’ discussion with Annika, had sent her to the one person she was certain could help her work out this…problem. She hated to interrupt him, she knew he was busy trying to decipher the last of the text from the tablet SG-6 had found. There were clues about the Ancient Weapon there, Daniel was certain of it. And that was important. But, damn it, so was this!
And...she still hadn’t hugged him, or rather, been hugged by him, since Mitchell had...she pushed that thought aside, her stomach doing painful flips as her worry about whether or not anyone had been passing the room at that moment pushed forward, competing with the other jumbled thoughts in her head. Yep, a hug from Daniel...a few minutes just to talk to him, to get his opinion...that’s exactly what she needed!
Casey hurried into his office. Cam Balinsky and Jonas were there as well. She heaved a sigh of frustration.
Daniel looked up, saw her standing in the doorway, her arms wrapped around her slender waist. His heart lurched in his chest. He hadn’t been able to find her after he’d gotten his raging fears under control. "Case?"
"Daniel, I know you’re busy, but - " she shook her head. "Do you have a few minutes?"
He was on his feet before she’d finished speaking. His heart was beginning to sink to the bottom of his stomach. Was she going to tell him about the kiss? Maybe ask him for a separation? No, she wouldn’t do that so soon after meeting the guy...would she? He glanced at the clock. Five hours, give or take. No, surely not! "Sure, Angel," he murmured. He glanced at the men sitting at the work table. "I’ll be back shortly."
"No problem, Daniel," Cam said quietly. Something was amiss. It was apparent in the look on Daniel’s face, the worried frown on his brow…the very way he walked, shoulders hunched forward, hands shoved deep into his pockets. Whatever ‘it’ was, it had absolutely nothing to do with the Ancient Weapon.
His pulse jumped, he reached eagerly for the hope that filled him when her soft hands grabbed his arm, held tightly. "What’s wrong?"
"I…I have a question for you, and to be honest, I have no idea how to ask it," Casey replied.
Question? Like a ‘do you want the house, or can I have it’ type of question? He firmly pushed that thought away. Too soon, he told himself. She just met the bastard! He led her across the corridor, into the storage room. "Just ask, Case," he said gently.
"If…um…if three people really care for one another…say…well, if there’s a woman, and she loves one man, and is maybe...well, is attracted to another man…and…well…do you suppose that it’s okay? I mean…is it okay for a woman to love two different men? And if she does…well, I mean…do you think that they could…would…be ‘together’…you know…together?"
Oh, god. She was attracted to that damned pilot! And, if he wasn’t misunderstanding her, she wanted to bring Cam Mitchell into their bed. His heart dropped to his feet. "I guess…I think…it would depend on the woman…and the men…involved."
She tugged at her lower lip. Teal’c had been raised in a society free of so many of the puritanical hang-ups that plagued modern ‘Christian’ society. Janet had told her and Sam about some of her early...escapades. Casey had been downright shocked at several of the revelations, although she’d kept that to herself. "I think one of the men is a bit more…open minded…about things. I think the woman…well, she’s sort of…she’s willing to…she doesn’t mind trying new things."
Daniel did his best to remain on his feet. Casey had never denied him. She’d been willing to indulge his every fantasy. She had absolutely no qualms about trying ‘new things’ when it came to their love life. He wasn’t certain he could go through with what she was asking for. Knew he couldn’t live without her. Better to have what love she could and would offer him, than to lose her entirely. He’d always thought he was open-minded, willing to accept others on their own terms. Apparently Mitchell was willing to ‘share’ her. Perhaps the fact that he knew she was married had influenced that mindset. Daniel did his best to keep his expression neutral, his voice level. Even as his heart began to break. "I think, if the three people are…okay…with the relationship, it’s no one else’s business."
She frowned. "I guess. The heart loves who the heart loves," she sighed. "Or desires."
So soon? How could she have feelings for this guy so soon...so damned quickly? Fifteen minutes, his mind pointed out. You were kissing her fifteen minutes after you met her. He shook his head in mental defiance. Destiny. So different than this situation. It had been Destiny that had brought him and Casey together. "Casey, do you love me?"
Her head jerked up, her eyes locked with his. "Of course I do!"
Unable to fight the need, he reached for her, pulled her into his embrace. Held her tightly. Rejoiced silently when she seemed to cling to him. Pressed his face against her hair when she buried hers in his shoulder. Nearly choked on the words that would hopefully keep her at his side. "Whatever you want, Casey. I’ll…I’ll do my best to make you happy."
What in the world was he talking about? She pulled away just far enough to look at him. His beautiful blue eyes were troubled. Well, the whole idea of an Ancient Weapon that had spooked its creators was enough to bother anyone. And here she was, keeping him from work that was far more important than her coming to grips with two of her best friends and her father in a relationship. "You make me happy every day," she said softly.
Daniel closed his eyes, held her tighter, the fear that holding her in such a manner would become a rare thing poking at his heart. "I love you so very much."
"I love you, too." She pulled away gently. "I’m sorry I pulled you away from your work for…this."
"Anything you want to talk about…need to talk about…is more important to me than my work, any time. Every time," he replied.
She leaned up, kissed his chin. "Thank you."
"You’re welcome." He took a deep breath. Might just as well find out now, so he had time to come to grips with the fact that his Wife loved another man. "So, making any special plans for the weekend? We’ll be home no later than Friday afternoon."
"Nope. Well, for Saturday."
Thud. Heart dropping again.
"I thought we’d have the team over for dinner. I think Charley will be here this weekend, so I’ll invite her and Dad as well."
Dinner would be good. No mention of Mitchell. Or was that something she planned to ‘surprise’ him with? "Sounds good to me," he said out loud. Amazed that his voice sounded normal. Calm. As if his world wasn’t turning topsy-turvy around him.
"I’ll make lasagna," she smiled.
"That’s great, Angel."
He sounded...distracted. His mind, no doubt, on the puzzle of finding all of the clues that would lead them to the pieces of that damned weapon. "I’ll let you get back to work. Thanks for answering my question."
He nodded, not willing to trust himself to speak in that moment. He was on the verge of dropping to his knees, to beg her not to leave him, when the door opened and Jack walked in.
"There you are," Jack grinned. "It’s break time, and Radar owes me a cup of coffee."
"I do?" Casey exclaimed.
"Yep, you do."
"What for?" Daniel asked
"Radar and I had a little chat," Jack replied flippantly.
Chat? About what? Daniel glanced at his Wife. Had she approached Jack with her...question? Surely she wouldn’t tell...ask...Jack something so damned personal, would she? Then again, after he’d been declared dead, the friendship between the two had only deepened...had perhaps made such a conversation possible.
Casey frowned slightly. Oh, yeah. She had momentarily forgotten the brief conversation with Jack just a few minutes earlier, her thoughts so focused on her ‘problem’. "Right. Coffee. Coming, Stud Muffin?"
Daniel studied his best friend. Jack was excellent at appearing innocent. Which he was doing at the moment. "No, I need to get back to work," he murmured. Less chance of Jack teasing him about the upcoming threesome he’d be involved in, he thought peevishly.
"Okay. I’ll talk to you later." She tightened her arms around him, kissed him gently. Was surprised at the urgency in his response. Something was wrong. But she had no clue what it could be. What she didn’t need was another puzzle to work out. You’ve already worked one out, and it’s not good, her mind insisted. Chances were, another ‘emotional’ puzzle might be just as…bad. She pushed her worries away. She’d deal with it all later. She still had to come to terms with what she knew about her best friends and her father. Would she ever be able to accept that ‘relationship’?
"Let’s go, Radar, before the coffee sits too long," Jack said, already heading out the door.
"Love you," she whispered.
"Love you, too," Daniel replied. More than you’ll ever know. I just hope my love is enough to keep you with me.
A A A A A A
She couldn’t put her finger on the reason, she suspected he’d just been preoccupied with his work on deciphering that stele, but talking with Daniel had only seemed to leave her more confused. Nor could she remember a time that she’d ever felt that way. The whole day was beginning to feel...weird. Because, Casey sighed, you have confirmed that your dad and two best friends are doing the sheet-shimmy together. The shiver that moved her from head to toe was barely visible, not that she'd have noticed if anyone had seen it. She wasn’t even paying attention to where she was going, when she heard her name called. Turned around to see Cam Mitchell hurrying toward her.
"Glad I caught up with you," the colonel grinned.
"Yep. You were absolutely right. I did a little digging around in Garret’s file. He’s an electrical engineer. No doubt he can use that training on the Daedalus," Mitchell explained.
"That’s great! Have you told General Hammond?"
"On my way now. I know that I sort of-" He stopped, wiped his hand across the back of his neck. "Could you finish taking a look at this list?"
They hadn’t finished looking at the list because Cam had tried to kiss her. She could see it embarrassed him. Choosing to ignore what had happened, believing it was just a ‘one off’ thing, Casey leaned over slightly to read the file in the colonel’s hand. She skimmed the list of names, ‘looking’ for anything that he might need as the commander. "Nope. Nothing there. I’m guessing that means that you have a good crew."
Mitchell’s smile widened. "That’s good to hear."
"Best of the best, Cam," Casey said softly.
"Right." He felt the prickle of being watched. Turned his head and met the icy cold glare of Doctor Daniel Jackson. And berated himself instantly for the ire that tried to rise in his heart. "Thanks."
"You bet." Casey flashed a smile, and headed for the elevator. And watched as Teal’c hurried down the adjoining corridor. Oh, good grief! There went her stomach again, doing that weird flipping thing it seemed to do whenever she saw any of the ‘lovers’. Would this damned day ever end?
She took a deep breath. What she needed, Casey decided, was a chat with her best friend. Well, one of her best friends. One who wasn’t involved in a threesome with her dad.
A A A A A A
Casey hesitated at the door. She knew Sam was as busy. There had been several new ‘gizmos’ brought back by SG teams in the past week. She hated to interrupt…but she valued her best friend’s opinion. Right now, she was so damned confused she wasn’t sure if she was coming or going. No, she thought, that isn’t true. She was simply unhappy about what she had discovered. What she was looking for, she presumed, was someone to give her a single clue on how she was supposed to deal with the situation. She tapped shyly on the door.
"Casey!" Sam’s smile was wide and genuine. It was always a nice break to chat with the slender seer during the day. Even if it was just for a few minutes.
"Hey, Sam. I was wondering…could I ask your opinion on something?"
Sam laid down her tools. She’d worry about getting this…thing, whatever it was…open after she’d helped her friend. "What’s up?"
"Well, I have a bit of a dilemma. There’s a…situation…that I could use some advice about."
"Suppose there’s a woman. And…um…she loves two men. Not exactly the same, I don’t think, anyway. But she does love them. Is that…I mean…there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?"
She couldn’t hold back her smile. Sam knew that Casey loved Daniel. In fact, the love between the two was so deep, so strong, that it was amazing to watch them together. She also knew that the slender seer thought the world of Teal’c. Probably loved him, in a much different way. But more than just as an ‘average’ friend. "There are many kinds of love, and I think each of them are important, and valid in their own ways. What you feel for Daniel is one kind of love. The love you might feel for a…friend…is totally different. And, no, there’s nothing wrong with that."
Okay…not sure what she and Daniel had to do with the situation…oh, okay. Sam was using them as a comparison. What if Janet loved her dad, the way she loved Daniel? And the tiny doctor loved Teal’c as well…just in a ‘different’ way. That would explain the white glow, wouldn’t it? Love...deep love, that’s what white meant. "Do you think…would it be okay to talk to the…um…well, to tell this person…or the persons...involved…that it’s okay?"
"I think it’s fine. In fact, I think it’s for the best. If you’re feeling guilty about something, even if you shouldn’t, Daniel is going to pick up on that."
Casey sighed mentally. She was feeling a tad guilty. After all, she’d been sitting in silent judgment of her dad and his…lovers? Lover and her lover? Whatever the three were, she’d been less than charitable in her thoughts. Actually, it was rather surprising that Daniel hadn’t already noticed, and asked her about it. No doubt his preoccupation with the Ancient Weapon was taking precedence in his mind, she thought. Not that there was anything wrong with that. If they didn’t find the pieces of that weapon before the Goa’uld did, it could be all over for the human race!
"I suggest you talk to them. Let them know. And I predict that they’re going to be just fine with your feelings," Sam continued.
Her feelings really didn’t matter. Although, she figured her dad would at least want her understanding, if not her approval. And, given that Janet and Teal’c were her best friends…yeah, maybe her feelings mattered more than she realized. At least, to those three. "Thanks, Sam. I’ll do that."
"Good. Now…I don’t suppose you can tell me what this thing is?" Sam asked, a twinkle in her eye as she pointed to the grotesquely decorated box.
"Besides ugly? That is just awful!" Casey turned the box slightly. "I don’t know what it is."
"Well, there’s a power reading coming from it. Faint, but it’s there," Sam sighed.
"Could it have naquadah in it?"
"Possible," Sam replied. "I guess I should get it open and check it out."
"Good luck. And if it turns out to be nothing…toss the damned thing back through the ‘gate, will you? I’d rather not have to study that ugly thing, and Daniel will insist that I do just that if he sees it," Casey said.
"I promise," Sam chuckled.
"Thanks, Sam. I appreciate your help."
The major smiled gently. "What are friends for?"
"Good point. See you later!"
"I’m sure you will," Sam grinned. She watched the seer bounce out of the room, then turned her attention back to the box. It was hideous, no doubt about that. If she could just get the top open…it was hinged…there had to be a latch somewhere…
A A A A A A
It had been a hell of a day, so far. He’d needed one of the mission reports on Ancient ruins that had been located on...he couldn’t remember the planet designation. He’d loaned them to Doctor Coombs, who had been working on one of the small devices found on that particular planet. He’d been hoping that the report might have a reference he needed. It hadn’t, to his frustration. What he had found, however, was Casey standing in the corridor, talking with Mitchell. He’d barely resisted walking over and hitting the bastard. Mitchell had seen him. Like they had earlier, the two men had stared at one another.
At that particular moment, Daniel was staring into his coffee, a frown on his face.
Sam filled a mug, sat down across from him. "Daniel?"
He looked up. "Oh, hi, Sam."
"Translations giving you problems?"
"Huh? Oh, no. Nothing like that." He paused. Studied his coffee mug again, then glanced into sapphire blue eyes that were filled with concern. "Can I ask you something?
"You know you can, Daniel," Sam replied gently. Call it a woman’s intuition, but she knew immediately that whatever Daniel wanted to talk about was of a personal nature.
He nodded. Took a deep breath. Tried to still his whirling thoughts long enough to form a coherent sentence. "Has Casey…um…Casey hasn’t said anything, has she? About…about being attracted to someone else?"
It was Sam’s turn to frown. Casey hadn’t asked her to keep their conversation a secret. Still, what the two women had discussed had been…private. "She didn’t say anything about being attracted to anyone," she said slowly.
"So what did she say?" Daniel asked. That dark fear, the fear of having Casey leave him, was curling tighter around his heart, squeezing until he nearly gasped out loud from the pain.
The major sighed. "She loves you, Daniel. So much that when she does have feelings for someone else, even when those feelings are…innocent…it bothers her. Her heart belongs to you, Daniel. Wholly, completely."
He puffed out his cheeks, blew the air out slowly. Hearing the words helped. There was still something going on. Maybe it was simple curiosity that had Casey wanting to bring Mitchell to their bed. No…not their bed. Never there. He’d stand firm about that. If she wanted to…experiment…then they’d go to a hotel room. "I love her, Sam. I can’t live without her. No matter what she asks of me…no matter what it is…I’ll do it. For her."
"I guess it’s a good thing she’ll never ask you to do something illegal or immoral," Sam chuckled.
He tried to smile. Was making love…no, it would never be making love if…when she touched, caressed Cam Mitchell. Would having sex with two men at once be considered ‘immoral’? Oh, for certain at one time society had frowned on such practices. But moving back in time, before the morality inflicted on society by the powerful Abrahamic religions, having multiple partners wasn’t unusual. Particularly at festivals for gods and goddesses linked to fertility. It was, he decided, much easier to contemplate ancient peoples participating in sexual liaisons than to think about the fact that his Wife was interested in having sex with another man…at the same time she was making love to him. Would that be considered a 'renewal' of the ancient customs? He barely suppressed a shudder. He was so damned jealous of her love, of her attention, how could he get through it if she really did want to have a…a…a ménage à trois?
"If she wants something…unusual…something…something…she’s so giving," Daniel said, struggling to put his thoughts into words. "No matter what I ask her to do, she does it. She’s passionate and giving and incredible. I guess…I guess a woman as passionate as she is…that she could be…curious…about…about things."
"I’m not following," Sam said, her frown deepening.
Another deep breath. "That’s okay. It’s really no one else’s business," Daniel replied. "Thanks for letting me…well, I guess I just needed to put things into words, hear the answers I already had."
"Glad I could help," Sam smiled. Even if she wasn’t entirely sure that she had, considering she didn’t have a clue to what Daniel had been talking about.
A A A A A A
At the end of the very long day; a very upsetting…no, what he had learned hadn’t been simply ‘upsetting’, it had been heartbreaking to say the least…a very miserable day, the ride from the base was done in silence. Well, not total silence. Casey was singing along with the radio. Clinging to his hand. That was a good sign, right?
She glanced at him as he drove, noted the frown that tugged his brows into a frown. She’d opened her mouth no less than a dozen times, intent on telling him what had happened. Unable to find the words to say that Colonel Mitchell had tried to kiss her. She tried so damned hard to not be what those horrible names implied. Yet…either someone was tossing them at her in the heat of anger, or she was unintentionally behaving like…that. She sighed. Omission was the same as lying. But how could she tell Daniel about what had happened in Jonas’s office, without making him angry? Without hurting him? She just wasn’t strong enough to live without him.
When he pulled into the driveway, her fingers tightened around his. "Daniel, I love you."
"I love you, too, Casey."
She studied him for a moment. Tell him.
"Is everything okay?" He wanted, needed to hear her explanation for what he had witnessed, although he knew she was unaware of that particular fact. If she’d just tell him, he could move straight to begging her to remain with him.
"Everything’s fine," she replied. Liar. Coward.
Maybe she just needed a bit of encouragement. "You know you can tell me anything, talk to me about anything."
"I know," she replied softly. Reached out and traced his jaw with her finger.
He could feel the tremor as her fingertip moved over his skin. Part of him wanted to just get everything out in the open. Dealt with. Part of him was terrified…wanting to maintain the status quo for as long as possible.
Another soft sigh, and she turned to open the car door. He caught her hand, pressed her fingers to his lips.
Her smile was warm, her eyes full of love. Maybe she’s just attracted to the guy sexually…physically. Maybe her heart wasn’t involved at all. His own heart grabbed to that hope, held tightly to it.
Once inside, Casey went straight to the freezer. Pulled out a casserole, put it in the microwave, set the temperature for the oven. Turned around to find him watching her. "Are you all right?"
Hell, no! Nothing has been ‘all right’ since I saw you kissing that bastard. "I’m fine," he replied. Forced a smile to his lips.
She gave a slight nod, then opened the refrigerator. "Crap."
"No lettuce. No fresh spinach." She turned to face him again. "If you could run to the store for me, I could get a load of laundry started."
"Sure, Angel. I can do that."
"Thanks. I’ll get everything done, and then we can have the evening to ourselves," she said softly.
He pushed away the thought that she just wanted him out of the house so she could call Mitchell. She doesn’t even know his number, for cryin’ out loud! While he couldn’t be absolutely sure that was true, it was another crumb of hope he clung to. "Sounds good."
Casey grabbed her notepad, jotted down the items she wanted. Handed the slip of paper to him, taking the time to kiss him before letting him take it from her fingers.
"I’ll be right back," he promised.
"Good. I miss you when you’re not here," she smiled.
He couldn’t help but grin. "Good," he replied. Dropped a kiss on the tip of her nose, then headed out the door.
As was normal for that particular time of day, the Piggly Wiggly was crowded, as shoppers on their way home from work stopped by to pick up items for dinner, for breakfast, for school lunches. There were no hand baskets near the door. A quick glance at the note, Casey’s neat handwriting clear and precise, assured him that he could easily carry the few items she’d requested.
He’d never paid much attention to the produce before he’d met her...he grabbed what he wanted and moved on. Casey had taught him how to search out the best. To find the freshest. One bunch of leaf lettuce. A carefully wrapped bundle of fresh spinach. Tomatoes...he found two that looked good. A loaf of bread and he was finished...
"Hi, Doctor Jackson!"
He turned, watched as the woman with curly brown hair grinned at him. One of the SF’s. Cathy Masterson, his brain supplied. A friend of Casey’s. Very pregnant friend from the looks of it. He smiled. "Hi, Lieutenant."
"Picking up a salad?" she asked, nodding at the three plastic bags in his hands.
"Apparently just having sliced cucumbers and avocados wasn’t good enough," he replied. "Not that I’m complaining."
Cathy grinned. "Good. I’d hate to tell Casey you were whining about a grocery store run."
He couldn’t help but chuckle.
"I guess you met the new guy today?"
Daniel nodded, barely maintaining the now stiff smile on his face.
"He’s good looking, isn’t he? Well, I guess you wouldn’t notice that," Cathy chuckled. "Great sense of humor. He had us in stitches during lunch."
"Yeah, he’s a charmer," Daniel replied, fighting to keep from gritting his teeth. Good looking? Was that what had attracted Casey to him? His looks? His sense of humor? His charm?
"Ferretti already has a betting pool going on how long before he cracks on his training mission tomorrow," Cathy continued. "I don’t think he will. He’s got grit."
The last thing he wanted to do was stand in the grocery store, listening to a list of Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell’s attributes. It was bad enough that the bastard was stealing his Wife. He didn’t need to hear that everyone in the SGC believed the guy was the best thing since sliced bread!
Cathy glanced over her shoulder. "I have to go. Nice seeing you! Tell Casey I said hello."
"Yeah, I will. Nice seeing you, too." He’d never meant anything less in his life! What a hypocrite, he thought disgustedly. If I were any kind of real man, I’d tell her that the bastard is a snake in the grass, a conniving son-of-a-bitch who seems determined to wreck marriages.
Tossing a parting smile over her shoulder, Cathy disappeared around the corner of one of the aisles.
Daniel stood for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts... and calm his pounding heart. To push aside the pain that was sinking its claws into his very soul.
It wasn’t more than fifteen minutes later when Daniel opened the door, and stepped inside. Caught sight of Casey disappearing into the bedroom. Carrying bed sheets, it had looked like. He put the bag on the counter, about to call out to her when he realized the stereo was playing. Patty Smyth’s voice filled the room. Listening for a moment, Daniel felt as if the world around him was beginning to crumble. He reached out to steady himself, wrapping both hands around the edge of the granite countertop.
"I don't wanna lose you, I don't wanna use you just to have somebody by my side…"
Casey believed there was a song for every occasion. For everything that happened in her life, good or bad. He glanced toward the bedroom. Was this her way of telling him that it was over between them? Had she set this up? Heard him pull into the driveway, and scurried to turn the stereo on before he walked in? A dozen such scenarios played through his head in the time it took to swallow the grapefruit-sized lump that had filled his throat.
He’d seen Mitchell talking to Casey in the corridors of the SGC. It seemed he hadn’t been able to turn around without the colonel being nearby…watching her. He was certain the bastard had been following her all afternoon. The raw hunger that filled those light blue eyes was a hunger that Daniel recognized...well understood. He felt it every time he looked at his Wife as well.
It hadn’t been easy to refrain from being the jealous, overly-possessive husband. Especially when it took every ounce of self-control to keep from pounding the damned pilot into the floor when he’d seen the man kissing her...kissing his Wife. It was all he had been able to do to remain civil when Casey was nearby. He hadn’t even bothered when she hadn’t been, the two times he’d passed the pilot in the corridors. He didn’t like Mitchell. And he was fairly sure the feeling was mutual. His hands curled into fists. He’d beat the shit out of that bastard if he’d talked Casey into leaving.
Daniel shook his head mentally. That’s a surefire way to send her running. She’s seen my ‘dark side’, in that alternate universe counterpart. No need to become that man. She’d never be able to love someone that cruel…she’d never forgive me if I hit Mitchell. Never. No matter how much he disliked…hated…Colonel Cam Mitchell, he’d remain silent about his feelings. How could he convince Casey to stay with him, that he loved her, if he was busy pounding on the man she…he closed his eyes against the wave of pain that flooded him…that she was attracted to? Possibly even loved, if he were very, very unlucky. Was it possible to console himself with the ‘fact’ that so far, all Casey had hinted at was wanting to bring the bastard to their bed? Or had his hesitation…his reluctance to even mention her fantasy…pushed her toward leaving altogether? It’s only been one goddamned day! The song caught his attention…
"…But there's a danger in loving somebody too much, and its sad when you know it's your heart you can't trust. There's a reason why people don't stay where they are. Baby sometimes love just ain't enough…"
He glanced at the bedroom door again. His heart was hammering against his ribs. For what seemed to be the millionth time, the question bounced through his head…was this Casey’s way of telling him that she loved him, but not enough to stay? That she loved someone else…loved Cameron Mitchell…more? It’s only been one freaking day!
"…And there's no way home, when it's late at night and you're all alone. Are there things that you wanted to say? Do you feel me beside you in your bed, there beside you where I used to lay…"
Oh god, oh god, oh god! He nearly stumbled into the living room. Stabbed the control for the DVD player; watched with tear-filled eyes as the drawer opened. He barely resisted throwing the disc to the floor. Instead, shaking fingers returned it to the thin plastic case that lay beside the player. One day. He’d lost her in the span of a single day!
Casey stuck her head out of the bedroom door. "Hey, Stud Muffin. Not in the mood for Patty today, huh?"
"Something like that," he murmured.
"Well, feel free to put on whatever…I’m in random kind of mood," she smiled, then disappeared.
He wiped his hands over his face. Part of him wanted to stomp into the bedroom, demand to know if she still loved him. Part of him was terrified to speak the question out loud. He didn’t want to hear the words that would bring to an end the most beautiful, happiest two years he’d ever known. Oh, there had been moments of fear, and grief, and absolute gut-wrenching heartache. But through it all, he’d had her love. That love had buoyed him through everything they’d endured.
"There are clean sheets on the bed now."
"It’s going to be about an hour before dinner is ready. Feel like messing them up?" Her head came around the door frame again. She wiggled her eyebrows.
The pounding in his heart changed rhythm. Fear melted into desire. And he firmly pushed away the thought that this could be the last time he held her. They were leaving first thing in the morning. They’d be alone on 611. Well, as alone as they could be with Cam Balinsky and SG-12 along for the ride. No Mitchell. That was a very good thing.
He took a step, already unbuttoning his shirt. "I’d love to mess the sheets up with you, Angel," he said softly.
Her blouse and bra sailed into the hallway. "Last one naked has to do the other first!"
He grinned. Took his time shedding his shirt; toed off his shoes, pulled off his socks. They hit the dining room floor. He would make love to her, do his best to quell any need she might have for another man. He could do it…he could be anyone, do anything she wanted. He’d prove it to her.
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