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Sand in an Hourglass
The three members of SG-1 who were waiting in the briefing room watched the door anxiously. If Daniel and Casey didn't walk through it soon, their worst fears would be confirmed. Jack had already informed Sam and Teal'c that the general had every intention of sending them on the mission, with or without the Jacksons.
Casey hurried through, a Sonic cup in her hand. Daniel was right behind her, carrying coffee from the Espresso stand just outside the main gate to the base.
Jack gave a silent sigh of relief. "Glad you could make it," he said quietly.
"I'm not," Daniel replied bluntly.
Obviously Casey had insisted that they attend, Jack thought. Perhaps the archaeologist still intended to refuse to go on the mission.
General Hammond followed Jacob Carter and Sarah from his office into the room. Settled at the head of the table. If Dr. Jackson was present, that was a good sign.
Daniel bit back his gasp. Jack hadn't said a word about her being here! A quick glance at his friend confirmed that the colonel was just as taken by surprise.
"Doctor Jackson, I'm glad you decided to attend the briefing," General Hammond said.
"It doesn't mean I have any intention of going on any missions," Daniel said, his voice firm.
"I understand, son," the general replied. "But please, hear General Carter out before you refuse."
Jacob Carter sighed mentally. George had told him that there was a very real possibility that Daniel would leave the SGC before going on this mission for the Tok'ra. Not that he could blame the young man. In the past year, every mission SG-1 had undertaken for his adopted people had caused heartache and grief. Selmak quietly pointed out that the mission that had sent the team into a future, alternate reality had resulted in something very good happening. His eyes went to Casey. Yeah, he admitted, that was the one good thing to happen. Of course, he said to his symbiote, just a few months later she'd fled with a broken heart, because of us. Selmak remained uncharacteristically silent on the subject.
"So, General, what is it that the Tok'ra want from us now?" Jack asked. He didn't bother to hide his irritation.
Tension in the room was palpable. Neither the host nor the symbiote could blame the group waiting for them to speak. The Tau'ri/Tok'ra cleared his throat. "As you're aware, Karinda has continued to pose as Osiris, and has managed to move closer to Anubis. He's aware of Sarah's past; it seems that Osiris was more than willing to share what he knew about modern day Earth. It's been no secret that he has wanted to capture SG-1, but most particularly, Doctor Jackson."
"Mostly to torture me," Sarah said softly.
"We know that Anubis has nearly every Goa'uld in the sector under his control," Jacob continued. He stared at Teal'c for a moment, trying to figure out what it was about the man that looked...different. "What we don't know is what else he's been up to."
"Anubis has been 'disappearing' for days at a time," Karinda said, watching Daniel's face, noting that he wouldn't look at her host. "He already has a ship that is quite...impressive. It alone will be difficult to defeat. We believe he is building a new ship, however we can find no...trail...that will lead us to it. It is possible that he is up to something else entirely. We need to know what that is. If Osiris were to capture Doctor Jackson, it would 'cement' his place as Anubis' second-in-command."
"And Anubis would tell Osiris what's going on," Jack said.
"That is our hope, yes," Karinda replied.
Daniel's eye went wide. "Your hope? All of this because you hope Anubis will clue Osiris in?"
Jacob could feel the shift of emotions in the room. He glanced at George. The frown on the man's face was not a good sign. "There is never any guarantee with any mission that the objective will be accomplished," he pointed out quietly.
"We understand your...hesitation...to assist us in this matter," Selmak said quietly, looking at Daniel. "However, the information we seek-"
"Isn't worth what I'd have to do, the risk I'd have to take," Daniel interjected flatly, firmly.
Sarah cringed slightly. It was obvious to her, to everyone in the room, that pretending to be Osiris' prisoner was beyond what Daniel was willing to do. No matter what the reason. Karinda whispered, she reluctantly gave in. "Daniel, Anubis is on a path for Earth. If he's building a ship...the type of ship we believe him to be working on, it would make taking over the planet child's play for him. We have to take out the ship he has now in order to defeat him. This may be our only chance to stop him."
He opened his mouth, closed it when Casey took his hand, laced her fingers with his.
"Actually, I think the Tok'ra have overlooked one little detail," Casey said softly. She looked at Sarah. "Osiris might capture Daniel, but as you said, only to torture you. He'd never allow you-" She broke off as the same images she'd seen before...Daniel and Sarah in bed together, touching, kissing, whispering to one another, making love...began to tumble through her mind again. Only this time..."Oh, god!"
Sarah's eyes went wide. "I'm so sorry!" she blurted.
Daniel took one look at her wide green eyes, the fact that the color had drained from her face, and knew that Casey had seen something.
"He didn't know," Sarah said, tears standing in her eyes. "He was drugged the entire time!"
Jack hissed a sigh. Oh, hell! Something not good just happened. "Radar?"
Casey continued to stare at Sarah, the images playing over and over in her head, the two bodies rolling and writhing together...She bit back a gasp. What she was seeing wasn't from their past, from the days when they'd been lovers. She was seeing what had transpired between the Goa'uld infested woman and her husband, while he'd been Osiris' prisoner for four days. Heartbreak...anger...jealousy...emotions without names raced through her.
Jacob Carter and General Hammond exchanged worried looks. Sam and Teal'c were looking from one shocked face to the other, wondering what was happening.
"Radar?" Jack asked again, softly. "Casey?" A bit louder this time. He winced when her green eyes swung to him, the pain in them so deep he could feel it.
"Drugged," she managed to whisper. She pulled her hand away from Daniel's. "If you'll excuse me..." She turned and fled the room.
Daniel glared at Sarah. "You know what she saw."
One tear made its way down the woman's face as she nodded.
He had a sinking feeling he knew exactly what Casey had seen as well. Which sure as hell answers my own questions, doesn't it? he thought angrily. He pushed himself away from the conference table and hurried after his wife.
She put her hands against the wall, let her head hang down, her hair hiding her face. He didn't know! He had no memory of it even happening...no more than what she remembered of her time as Ba'al's prisoner. That didn't make the images hurt any less. She bit back a sob, tried to reign in her raging emotions.
When strong, familiar arms wrapped around her, she gasped, then turned and buried her face against his shoulder.
"I love you," he whispered. "Only you, Casey. I never...I didn't..."
She pulled away, reached up to caress his cheek. Ached from the pain that filled his blue eyes. "No, you didn't. You had no idea. I just need a few minutes, I'll be okay, really."
They turned to see Jack approaching slowly, his hands shoved into his pockets, worry etched on his face.
"Care to clue me in?"
Daniel shook his head, unable to put into words what had happened to him.
Casey took a deep breath. "When Osiris held Daniel prisoner, he allowed Sarah control of her body. There was no way for her to...break free...I think she continued to fight him, and this was his way of...controlling her, even though she didn't realize it. She was hoping that Daniel really would fall in love with her again, knowing that if he did, he wouldn't stop trying to free her."
"Um...still lost here."
"When Daniel was Osiris' prisoner, he spent those four days in bed with Sarah, not Osiris," Casey replied candidly.
Daniel's jaw worked furiously as he tried to retain control over his temper. Now Sarah's desperate need for his forgiveness made sense. She was aware of what she'd done, even if he hadn't been. Even now he had no memories of those four days. Blurry images of Sarah's face, but that was all.
Casey once again caressed his face, her fingers moving over his jaw until she could feel it relax. "You didn't know," she whispered.
"I do now. So do you."
"I was raped repeatedly by Ba'al's Jaffa. Maybe even the snake himself," she countered.
"You were a prisoner," he argued.
"So were you."
He couldn't help but smile. "Are you okay?"
"Are we okay?"
"We are just fine," she replied.
Jack cleared his throat. "It's your call, Daniel. I'll back you either way."
To know that his best friend understood, was willing to let him walk away from this mission, was like a warm blanket wrapping around him. "Thanks, Jack."
"We need to do this," Casey insisted.
"Why?" Jack asked.
"Because Anubis...he's not building a ship," Casey whispered, her eyes going wide as a feeling of dread washed over her.
"What's he building?" Jack asked.
"Not building...creating...at least...that's the word, the feeling that I keep getting. Not good, whatever it is!"
Jack flexed his shoulders. Situation normal, all fucked up, he thought irritably. "Okay. Let's get back in there."
"Case, you said that the Tok'ra were missing the 'details'," Daniel said softly.
"They want to know what Anubis is up to. They want...Sarah...to be able to continue posing as Osiris. But they're focused on you and Sarah. Not Osiris."
It was an 'aha' moment for both men. "Let's go clue them in, shall we?" Daniel said, taking her hand.
General Hammond was standing beside the window, looking down at the Stargate, his hands behind his back. He'd already informed Jacob that if Daniel didn't want to go on the mission, he wasn't going to force the issue. Having the Jacksons remain at the SGC was more important to him than any mission for the Tok'ra. And he'd informed Selmak of that fact as well.
Sarah sat twisting her fingers around one another, a look of abject misery on her face. Teal'c and Sam were nervously waiting to learn whether or not their teammates were going to be joining them on the mission. As Jack had pointed out many times, it was never good when the team was separated.
Jacob was quietly talking with Selmak, both trying to reassure one another that Dr. Jackson would see the importance of the mission, neither quite believing that he'd assist them.
"Radar has a bit of info for us," Jack said as soon as the three walked into the room.
General Hammond turned around. "Casey?"
"He's not building a ship. He's...creating...something. But I can't see what it is...yet," she admitted. She settled back down into the chair beside Teal'c. Took Daniel's hand as soon as he was seated on her other side. "General Carter, may I ask you...ask Selmak, a question?"
"Of course," Jacob replied immediately.
"Why hasn't the Tok'ra Council realized that Osiris would never take a male lover? What happened between..." she lowered her eyes, unable to look at anyone as she admitted that Daniel had been making love with his former girlfriend. "What happened between Daniel and Sarah was just that. Osiris allowed it because is was a way for him to maintain control over her."
Sarah gasped. "He knew!"
Casey nodded. "Or at least suspected."
"Who knew what?" Jack demanded.
"Osiris knew that Sarah was counting on Daniel to rescue her. Which is exactly what Osiris wanted as well. It got him into the SGC, where he planned to take over. He allowed Sarah 'control', knowing that even under the influence of that drug, Daniel would know if her responses weren't...right. Which they wouldn't have been had Osiris remained in control of her body. What he didn't realize was that Sarah was as strong as she was."
"I tried to hide...he left me alone if I was quiet," the woman said softly.
Jacob shook his head. "So damned obvious!" he muttered.
"We had assumed that Osiris sought to capture Doctor Jackson because she...he...had an interest in him," Selmak said.
"Oh, he did," Casey agreed. "To torment Sarah, and keep her completely under his control."
"I take it that all of that time in the canopic jar weakened him," Daniel mused.
"And Sarah was...and is...a very strong woman," Karinda added. "It was difficult for him to maintain control once the shock of what had happened to her began to wear off. She understood that your theories were correct, Doctor Jackson. She listened, and she learned. It wasn't until the final year of his life that Osiris realized just how strong Sarah was. And he began to torment her mercilessly.
"To weaken her," Sam murmured.
"Exactly," Karinda replied.
"So his...obsession with Doctor Jackson was for revenge against his host," Selmak mused.
"I think so," Casey nodded.
"Osiris loved beautiful women," Sarah said softly. How many nights had she hidden in the shadows of her mind, watching through her own eyes as the Goa'uld took one of the women from his harem? Even though he hadn't been in a male body, he'd been able to enjoy them, take pleasure from them.
Casey grinned. "Yep." She looked pointedly at Sam. "I just don't see him passing up the opportunity to add two blondes to his harem."
Sarah smiled. "He wouldn't have."
"And he'd have delighted in torturing SG-1."
Gray eyes traveled from Daniel to Jack to Teal'c, then back to Casey. "He'd have been giddy about capturing the shol'va known as Teal'c," she said.
Jacob grinned as Selmak began to formulate a new plan, one certain to be approved by the Council. "I think SG-1 is about to be captured."
General Hammond grinned as well. As long as the team went together, and Dr. Jackson wasn't forced to do something he didn't want to do...
The voice was low...quiet. Firm. And ice cold. Everyone stopped, turned to stare at Daniel.
"Excuse me?" Jack asked.
"There is no way in hell I'm going to let Casey do something this risky."
It was the first off-world mission that the team would take on after her imprisonment by Ba'al. Naturally he was going to be...concerned. "Daniel, you'll be right there. The team will be together. Sarah and Karinda will be there," the seer said softly.
"May I make a suggestion?" Teal'c asked quietly.
"Please," General Hammond said. This mission could be...was...vital for the safety of Earth. And he'd prefer having his premier team working together...all of them. He was willing to consider any reasonable request that could make that happen.
"Perhaps if I were to choose a group of Jaffa willing to participate in this mission, pose as Osiris' Jaffa, it would ease Daniel Jackson's concerns." And his own. If he were unable to protect Casey Jackson, having Jaffa nearby who were able to do so would go a long way to easing his own worries, spurred by his guilt over her capture by Ba'al.
Jack grinned. "The more good guys we can get in there, the better our chances of succeeding," he pointed out.
General Hammond frowned slightly. "Do you think you can gather a group willing to do that?"
"I do. Anubis is a threat to the Rebellion as much as he is to Earth. Should he win, we would lose our strongest allies," Teal'c replied.
"Selmak thinks it's a great idea. She's certain she can convince the Council that this idea has merit, and a greater chance of success than the original plan," Jacob Carter replied.
"How long will it take you to round up a group of Jaffa?" General Hammond asked Teal'c.
"If I leave immediately, I should have an answer no later than tomorrow."
"Do you want to go alone, or should SG-1 accompany you?" the general inquired.
"I believe it would be best that I go alone," Teal'c replied. All the better to sneak back with Casey's Christmas gift was the thought uppermost in his mind.
"When is this mission planned to take place?" Sam asked. It was obvious with the changes, and the need to wait for word from Teal'c, that the team wouldn't be leaving the next morning.
"It would be best to have SG-1 in custody in three weeks, at the latest," Karinda replied, thinking quickly. The Council's plan had Osiris capturing Dr. Jackson tomorrow. Selmak had warned them that it was possible that the timetable might need to be adjusted; that the Tau'ri might not immediately agree to join them. They'd agreed that three weeks was the longest that they could wait to implement the plan. Sarah suggested to her host that allowing the team to remain home for Christmas would be seen as a compromise by the Tok'ra. "That will allow me...allow Sarah and I...to set up the capture. We will send word to Selmak, who will contact you on where you should go, and when."
Three weeks. Which would put them almost a week into the New Year. And allow them to celebrate Christmas on Earth, rather than in the holding cell on Anubis' new ship. Five hearts sighed with relief. Working during a holiday, especially this one, was never easy, and certainly lowered spirits. General Hammond did his best to make certain that all of the SG teams were home at least for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, even if they were required to leave late Christmas night.
"I think that's acceptable," General Hammond replied.
Planning began in earnest, the number of Jaffa that Teal'c would try to bring with him decided upon. If anyone noticed that Daniel and Sarah didn't look at one another, or speak directly to each other, it wasn't mentioned. Nor did anyone point out that the archaeologist refused to let go of his wife's hand during the entire meeting.
A A A A A A
Daniel was still not completely happy with the plan. Casey and Sam would be taken directly to Osiris, as new additions to his harem. Jack, Teal'c, and he would be held prisoner in a holding cell on her...his ship. Which meant that he wouldn't be able to protect his Wife. Karinda had pointed out that if Anubis demanded custody of any of them, it would be impossible for Osiris, as second-in-command, to refuse. She didn't think that the request would be made, certain that Anubis was far too concerned about whatever it was that he was doing. A mental shudder made him close his eyes. He'd come too close to losing her - twice. He wouldn't risk it again. He'd do anything...anything, to protect her.
Casey had tried to do a search, and spoke with Miss Eloise. The old seer wasn't able to tell her anything of course, only that Anubis was a threat unlike any other. And she'd been able to see absolutely nothing. A fact that Jack was not at all happy about. While she could sense no impending danger for the team, she did know that it wasn't going to be easy. And that the entire dynamic of the mission could change at any moment, and become extremely dangerous.
Jack had his own reservations about helping the Tok'ra. Even with Casey's explanation concerning the reason why only one ship was dispatched to help them fight Tem, he felt as if the SGC - and his team especially - were used only for the dirtiest and most dangerous missions. As if they were expendable, whereas the Tok'ra agents were not. He didn't like feeling as if he and his kids were nothing more than canon fodder for the Tok'ra. He'd never trusted them fully, and what trust he did have was being eroded away as each contact with them seemed to prove out his fears and concerns.
Sam had misgivings of her own, wondering if her father had any reservations at all about the mission, and her part in it. That it could be one of the most important missions the team had ever undertaken, and that it could turn deadly at any moment, she understood. She'd watched her father during the latter part of the meeting, taking note that he rarely spoke, Selmak seemed to be in control for the most part. Was it because he was worried about his daughter's part in the mission?
Teal'c understood that if Anubis wasn't destroyed, his strength would continue to grow, as more and more System Lords bowed their knees to him. He wouldn't need a massive army of his own, using the resources of the others would ensure that he need never fear a rebellion among the ranks of false gods. He'd be unstoppable if he were allowed to pull any more System Lords into his service. Which would guarantee the enslavement of the First World, and the Tau'ri. And would most certainly see an end to the Jaffa rebellion, dashing the hopes of thousands of Jaffa who sought freedom from their masters.
General Hammond contacted the President, and informed him of the circumstances surrounding the latest Tok'ra request. Another plan was quietly discussed...a contingency plan in case SG-1 and the Tok'ra agent were unsuccessful. The fate of the entire planet was once again riding on their shoulders. Never before had SG-1 failed to pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, saving themselves and Earth. But the fact that one day they might, however unpleasant as it was to contemplate, was still very present and very real. The Texan sent up a prayer that the magic of SG-1 would prevail yet again.
A A A A A A
He started, looked over at her. "Hmm?"
"Are you ready to leave? We were going to go get ornaments for the tree, remember?"
He smiled, reached out and took her hand. "I remember."
Casey leaned against the worktable, next to the stool where he sat. "You're still upset."
Daniel crossed his arms over his chest. "You got it."
"Okay, let's talk about it," she said. With a hop, she settled onto the table. Pulled her legs up, wrapped her arms around them. "You're upset about what happened between you and Sarah."
"Damned straight I am!" he declared. "Not just because she used me like that, but because...because..."
"Because I know about it," she finished softly.
"I'm so sorry, Case," he whispered.
"There isn't anything for you to be sorry about. You were drugged, Daniel. You don't even remember it."
"But she does. She knew. She knew I was married, happily married, but she...she-" he broke off and shook his head.
"Are you certain?"
"That she took advantage of me?"
"No. Knew that you're married. We'd only been married two and a half months at the time," Casey pointed out.
He frowned. "She told me that Osiris wouldn't inject me with that drug in the evening. That he only gave me a mild sedative. And that I called your name over and over. That had to be a clue that I at least had someone in my life."
"But she had no idea of knowing how...serious...you were about me."
"If I was calling your name, it goes without saying that I was in love with you," he insisted. If Sarah had ever known him at all, she'd have understood that.
Casey shook her head. "Daniel, she was desperate. You were her only chance to escape, the only hope she had of being free of Osiris. Even if she'd known-"
"She watched Osiris inject me, waited for the drug to take affect, and then moved forward to make love to me..." It was difficult enough to deal with the fact that he'd held Sarah, made love to her...had been unfaithful to Casey. But knowing that it wasn't only Sarah, that Osiris had been there, experiencing everything that Sarah did, that the Goa'uld had taken pleasure from his kisses, his caresses...he shuddered mentally. "Damn...how twisted is that?"
"Not twisted, Daniel. Desperate." His eyes were guarded. The only thing she could see was his anger. His frustration. She could sense his...embarrassment. His...revulsion.
He studied her. The seriousness in her green eyes. How typical of her. To defend someone she believed had acted only in self defense, self preservation. In spite of the fact that that 'someone' was a woman who had...seduced...her husband. Slept with her husband. The woman who'd broken her heart; whose behavior, coupled with his own, had sent her into hiding, convinced that he no longer loved her. "I understand that she was desperate. She should have known that I would have-" he broke off. Did he really hate Sarah? Or was he just angry with her?
"Been angry? That you'd have hated what she did to you, hated her for what she 'allowed' Osiris to do to you? She knew that, Daniel. But better to be free of Osiris, even if you hated her," Casey replied softly.
He flinched slightly. Had Sarah been that desperate? "She only had to ask," he said, his voice just as soft.
"Daniel, Osiris was right there. In control of her."
"According to her, she was in control when we were...when we were...together."
"Of her body. He was still there. Listening. Watching."
"Experiencing everything she did...that we did," he spat.
She leaned forward, caressed his face. "You were drugged, Daniel. You had no idea what was happening."
"I do now."
"Do you? Tell me about it. What did you do? How did you touch her? How did she touch you?"
"I can't," he admitted.
"You tell me. You saw it all," he challenged.
For a few seconds, she felt as if she couldn't breath. The images of him and the strawberry blonde began to play through her mind again. Something began to poke at her. The voice that had guided her, protected her since puberty, began to whisper. She frowned slightly. Closed her eyes to concentrate.
"Casey? Angel, I'm sorry," Daniel whispered, jumping to his feet, pulling her into his arms.
She opened her eyes, looked up into blue eyes full of remorse...guilt...love. Wrapped her arms around his neck "Give me a minute. And I'll tell you."
"There's something...give me just a minute."
He pulled her closer. Held her tightly. Not exactly sure what she was doing...seeing.
With a deep breath, Casey closed her eyes again. Focused on the images that began to play in her mind like a tape on a loop. She tried to hear the whispers that passed between the two people who held each other...writhed together as they made love. His promises to get her to safety, her declarations of love. She waited to hear him return the sentiment. Watched the gray eyes fill with tears when he remained silent. A single tear rolled down her cheek.
Oh, hell! What's she seeing? Whatever it was, it had to be bad...it was making her cry. "Case?"
"She wanted to hear it, needed to hear it," Casey whispered.
"She told you that she loved you. But you never...you didn't reply. You promised to free her, to get her to the SGC, to get the snake out of her. You told her that everything was going to be all right...be just the way it had been. But you never...you never told her you loved her."
He frowned. "I don't understand what difference it makes," he admitted softly.
Her fingers moved over his jaw. "Your heart, Daniel. It was always mine. You didn't love her."
"I never loved her when we were together," he replied. "Cared for her, certainly. I cared deeply for her. But not love. Not like I loved Sha're. Certainly not like I love you."
"I was raped. I don't remember it. In a way, Daniel, so were you. And you don't remember it, either."
His frown deepened. "I got the impression that I was pretty willing."
"Only because you'd been drugged. Made to believe that you and she were still together."
"No matter how it happened, or what I remember, you've...seen...witnessed...what happened. It hurt you."
"The only thing that hurt was the thought that your love, even for those four days, was hers. It wasn't Daniel, it never was. Your heart...your heart was mine," she whispered.
"I cheated on you," he said brusquely.
His eyes were full of so much guilt and remorse that it made her gasp with pain. "Never! You never did that! Listen to me!" She wrapped her hands around his face, held his gaze with her own. "Your heart never left me. Never abandoned me. Never stopped loving me."
"It never will," he whispered. "My heart will always, always belong to you."
"Then what happened, what you can't remember, is no more important to us than what happened to me. If we can't remember it, it never happened, right?"
"But you saw-"
"Just a bad dream," she whispered, just before her lips touched his.
He moaned softly, pulled her closer still, her soft fingers still caressing his face, setting fire to his skin. He worked the combination that opened her sweet lips, dove into the warmth of her mouth, needing to claim her, needing to touch her, taste her.
She allowed him to take what he needed, until the sensations fueled her own need. She slipped her tongue into his mouth, felt him acquiesce to her demands. Her heart was pounding her love against her ribs. He had never, never stopped loving her. Even when his body was loving Sarah, his heart had remained true to her. In her own mind, that was all that mattered. The only thing that had worried her. If he hadn't fallen in love with the woman then, it was doubtful that he would now. Not even if he had to pretend to be a 'pet'. "I love you," she whispered, pulling away just far enough to speak.
"I love you," he whispered in return, before his lips moved over hers once again.
In the corridor, Sarah moved away from the doorway. She'd wanted a chance to...explain...to apologize, again. Karinda did her best to console her host. Tried to convince the young woman that Dr. Jackson didn't hate her. Even if he was angry...furious...over what had happened to him. And chances were, forgiveness would be a very long time coming. She could only hope that her host, and the Tau'ri, would be able to work together. The upcoming mission was too important to allow personal feelings to...interfere.
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