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White Lace and Promises
It was completely dark when the five Tau'ri made their way down the street. They remained in the shadows, bursts of movement taking them ever closer to the temple, and danger. Teal'c led the way, his finely honed Jaffa instincts alerting them to approaching sentries before the others heard the familiar clank of armor.
They paused not more than two city blocks from where the al'kesh was sitting, a camp erected to one side of it. One look told them that there was no way that they were going to enter that temple from the front, at least, not directly. Daniel used the binoculars to identify the temple they needed. Yep, Casey had been right. He reached over and ran his hand over her back, could feel her trembling. He squeezed her shoulder, offering her reassurance, comfort.
It took them forty-five minutes to wind their way through the back streets, but at last they'd managed to approach the temple from behind. Jaffa seemed to be everywhere, although they hadn't seen any going into the temples.
Moving slowly, keeping their eyes on the numerous guards, one by one the members of SG-1 slipped inside the temple of Anwaw. Daniel hurried to the altar and, using his penlight, quickly read the inscriptions carved into the stone.
"We need to move this," he whispered, pointing at the long, wide stone chantry.
"Why?" Jack asked.
"Because what we want is beneath it," was the simple reply.
"It should move away from the hidden opening rather easily, once we find the release mechanism," Daniel said. He was already searching the stone, his fingers moving lightly over the surface. He grinned. "Found it."
"How much noise is this thing going to make?" Jack wanted to know.
"I have no idea," Daniel said truthfully. "Hopefully, none."
"Yeah, here's hoping," Jack muttered. If there was so much as a creak, the temple would be crawling with Jaffa, and they'd be in deep shit. He sighed. Whatever it was that was beneath that thing, they had to get to it first. He pointed to each member of the team, and then toward a specific area of the temple. When they were hidden in the shadows, he peeked around the column that hid him from sight, and nodded at the young archaeologist.
Daniel pressed the key that was noticeable only to someone who was looking for it, felt the heavy altar begin to slide. So far, the only sound was a quiet 'swish' as the device that controlled the movement continued to expose a narrow, deep opening. He took his flashight from one of his pants pockets, carefully shined it into the darkness. He stared at a tunnel that went straight down for nearly fifty feet. He could see where it opened into what was probably a room below that. He grinned. Now he understood the need for the ropes. He was sure that the climbing equipment would make the descent easier, but there was no way they could risk hammering pitons into the rock. So they'd have to rely on just the ropes alone.
With a wave of his fingers he called the team back to the altar. After a quick discussion, it was decided that Jack and Teal'c would handle the ropes. Casey was going to go down into the hidden cavern room with Daniel. And Sam was going to stand guard.
Two of the ropes were tugged around two separate pillars. Teal'c, being the strongest, would lower, and then raise Daniel. Jack would do the same for Casey.
Harnesses were donned, Jack and Teal'c looping the rope through the rings, which would give them extra support if it was needed. Daniel helped Casey into the rig, and helped her get the rope through the rings on her own harness.
Showing more confidence than he actually felt, Daniel grinned, and gave the signal to start lowering them.
Casey's heart was pounding with a combination of fear and excitement. To get caught would most certainly mean their death. Eventually. After the Goa'uld present had tortured them until he…or she…no, it was a he…was bored with them.
Daniel's heart was pounding as well. The fear of being caught by the Jaffa outside of the temple was overridden by the excitement, the adrenaline rush that happened whenever he made a significant find. He'd been right. The tunnel ended ten feet above the floor of a large, subterranean room.
She was a bit disappointed as she moved her flashlight around the subterranean room. There was another stone altar. It was plain, the walls of the room undecorated. Casey followed Daniel's example, unclipped the rope, dropped three feet to the dirt floor. "Okay, now what?" she whispered.
Daniel smiled. "Now we find whatever it is that they've hidden in here." He was carefully examining the altar. But wasn't having any luck. He put his flashlight on the stone top, sighed in frustration as his hands moved over and over the stone. If the weapon, or whatever, wasn't hidden in the altar, then it had to be hidden somewhere else in the room. "Look for anything that seems out of place, or odd," he whispered.
"Odd? Like this whole place?" she replied.
He grinned. "This is nothing compared to some of the stuff we've seen," he told her.
"I'm sure," she said. Her flashlight moved meticulously over the walls.
"Found it," Daniel whispered triumphantly. Directly across the room from the altar was a stone that was just a bit larger, the color a bit lighter than the stones around it. "I might need some help," he said, his fingers already trying to pry the square brick loose.
She slipped her fingers into the crack at the top of the stone, wrapped her hands around the curve of the rock and began to tug. Daniel was doing the same thing at the bottom. With a sharp, grinding sound, the rock moved about an inch. They froze in place.
Daniel grabbed his radio. "Jack, tell me you guys didn't hear that," he said softly.
"Hear what?" Jack's voice whispered around them.
They sighed with relief. "Never mind," Daniel replied. They continued to tug and pull until the stone was ready to fall away from the wall. "Stand back, Case," he instructed. When she was standing off to the side, he gave one final tug. The stone hit the dirt floor with a resounding thud. He grabbed his flashlight from the altar. Gasped when it illuminated an object that glowed slightly. He checked around it, looking for anything that might be a booby trap, but found nothing.
He reached in with both hands and pulled the thing out. It was fourteen inches tall, and about eight inches square. The bottom four inches seemed to be solid, he wasn't sure what it was made of. The top ten inches seemed to have multiple, varying shaped openings that flashed and flickered with colors ranging from deep magenta to red to blue to green to yellow and back again. Carefully pulling the military green canvas bag from where he'd tied it to his belt, he slipped the object inside, wrapped the bag around it, then slipped it inside a second bag. "We're ready to come up, you're gonna have to lower the ropes more," he whispered into his radio.
They watched in the glow of the flashlights as the ropes moved closer to the floor. "That's it, Daniel," Jack's voice informed them.
"It's enough," he replied. Once again he helped Casey connect the ropes to her harness. He gave a tug, and watched her begin to move upwards. Within seconds he was moving as well.
Two hours after entering the temple, SG-1 was slipping through the shadows, retracing their steps. They were hungry, but none of them were willing to stop, not with so many Jaffa in the area. They squeezed back through the massive gate that offered the only entrance to the city from the side facing the hill, and raced up the incline. Fingers of pink could be seen along the horizon when the group stood facing the Stargate, waiting anxiously as Daniel dialed home.
Five hearts began to beat normally once again when they walked down the ramp in the SGC. General Hammond hurried into the 'gate room.
"We got it, sir," Jack grinned. "Thanks to Danny and his rock digging skills!"
Daniel flushed slightly, but grinned. He handed the double canvas bag to Sam. "I have no idea what it is."
She knelt down, opened the bag, took the object out and removed it from the first bag. "Wow," she said softly.
"Any guesses, Major?" General Hammond asked.
"Not right now, sir," she replied, turning it and examining each side.
"Well, you can work on it tomorrow. Good job people. Go get checked out, and we'll debrief in an hour."
With weary nods, SG-1 turned toward the door, spilled into the corridor. Jack dropped an arm around Casey's shoulder companionably. "So, what did you think of your first mission?"
She smiled. "If they're all that easy, I'll be happy."
Jack grinned. "Yeah, that would be nice."
A A A A A A
As soon as Janet had cleared her, Casey had hurried to the nearest ladies room to empty the menstrual cup she used instead of tampons or pads. When she was finished, she stepped back into the corridor, ready to head back to the infirmary where the rest of the team was still receiving their post-mission check-ups.
She was walking past a supply closet when a hand reached out, grabbed her arm, yanked her into the dark confines of the small space. Before she could scream, that same hand clamped over her mouth. "Make one sound, and I'll kill you right here and now."
Shivers ran up and down her spine. She cursed mentally. She was so tired that she hadn't heard that 'little voice' warn her of the impending danger. Now she was in deep trouble. Sergeant Mark White was no longer in a holding cell. And she knew that if he managed to get her off the base, things would not be good for her. She struggled, until he pushed her against the wall, used the weight of his body to hold her.
"Don't waste all that energy now, darlin'," he drawled. "There will be plenty of time for that as soon as I get us out of here. Now, you do like I say, or I'll start carving you, do you understand?"
She could smell the alcohol on his breath. If he was drunk, reasoning with him would be difficult, but not impossible. She just had to keep him focused on something other than what he had planned for her. If she could get him to drink more, he might pass out. Her mind grabbed onto that hope and held tightly. Eyes wide, her heart racing with fear, she managed to nod.
"Good. Now, we're gonna do some climbing, sweet thing." He cracked the door of the closet open, looked around. He pressed himself to the opposite wall to see as much as he could in the other direction. The corridor was empty. There was just enough booze in his system to make him feel invincible, and convinced that his plan was foolproof. And to make him forget about the security cameras that occupied every corner of every corridor and room in the SGC.
He pushed her toward the hatch-like opening that led to the maintenance ladders. He shoved her into the narrow passageway, carefully closed the door behind him. "Start climbin', sweet thing."
She felt the tip of the knife as he pushed it against her side. With a shudder of fear, she grabbed onto the rungs and began to climb.
"Where's Casey?" Daniel asked, glancing at his watch. She'd left the infirmary to go to the restroom almost twenty minutes before.
"She went to the ladies room," Sam replied. "I'll go make sure she's okay."
When the blonde major raced back into the room not more than two minutes later, without his fiancée, Daniel knew that something was terribly wrong. "Where is she?" he asked hoarsely.
"I don't know, Daniel," Sam said quietly. "She wasn't there."
"Okay, maybe she went on down to the conference room," Jack suggested.
"She wouldn't do that," Daniel argued. "She'd wait for us, for me at least."
"Maybe she became disoriented, and followed the wrong corridor away from the facilities," Teal'c suggested.
That had to be it, he thought, desperately grabbing at the idea. "I'll go find her," Daniel said, jumping to his feet and running out the door. He jogged down the hall. Checked to see if she'd wandered down two of the short side corridors. Even went so far as to check the rooms that opened off of each one. She wasn't there. By now she was probably back in the infirmary waiting for him. She wasn't.
"She can't have just disappeared into thin air," Jack said, shaking his head. A dark thought formed, took hold. He moaned. "We'd better check all of the surveillance cameras, all levels, and the elevator."
His heart stopped beating. General Hammond had warned him that Sergeant White might not be in the holding cell when they returned from the mission. If he wasn't, and had managed to stay in the mountain, or had been able to slip back in…Daniel couldn't breathe as fear washed over him, pain at what she might be suffering at the Marine's hand. And anger that he'd fucked up…again.
Panting, exhausted to the point of tears, Casey was moving ever slower.
"Hey, get that sweet ass of yours moving," White demanded.
"I'm tired," she said softly. "I just spent twenty hours on a mission, doing a hell of a lot of walking."
"Yeah, well, you can rest later. Move!"
Just as the elevators went only to level eleven, the access ladders were the same. They'd have to leave the ladder they were on, move through level eleven to the opposite side of the level, and then proceed to the top, where they'd emerge in the woods on top of the mountain. Sergeant Mark White wasn't aware of this particular fact.
When she came to the final level, she sighed at the number written on the door. There was still a chance for her to get away. If she was very careful. "Can I please rest? I'm so tired," she said. Suppressing a shudder, she forced herself to lean against him.
White smiled as the hot little blonde cuddled up to him. "Well, I suppose we could take a breather. Don't want you completely worn out, now, do I?"
"No," she whispered. Closed her eyes and gritted her teeth has his hand moved over her side and hip. Please, Daniel, she thought dejectedly, please find me!
The SF's in the monitoring room were searching through the recorded images for the past three hours. Sergeant White had entered the mountain two hours prior, they had him on camera going through the final check point. He'd taken the elevator to level seventeen, then the maintenance ladder to level twenty-one. Knowing that SG-1 was on a mission, and due back within a matter of hours, all he had to do was bide his time. Pre- and post-mission check-ups were SOP, and he was well aware of that fact.
Daniel hadn't realized Casey had left the infirmary until he'd looked around for her, and Janet had told him that she'd headed for the restroom. It wasn't far, two doors down from the infirmary. He should have told her, insisted that she not wander the corridors alone!
"If he took the ladders to get in, he's going to take them to get out," Jack said. "Our best bet is to let him get topside. We can grab him them."
General Hammond, who had been alerted to Casey's abduction, agreed. "I'll call the guards on level eleven. Tell them to let him through to the ladders, and to call as soon as he's inside the crawlspace again."
Jack squeezed Daniel's shoulder. "Let's go, Danny. She's gonna be all right, you'll see."
Armed with 9mm Beretta's, the team hurried topside, and ran through the woods. They agreed that they needed to stay out of sight until Casey was clear of the bunker opening, certain that Sergeant White would make her climb ahead of him.
"Okay, sweet thing, let's go." He carefully opened the door. No one in sight. He'd have to risk searching for the maintenance ladder on this level, there wasn't any other way to get out of the mountain, not if he didn't want to get caught. Everyone was aware that the beautiful blonde with the big green eyes belonged to Dr. Jackson. He grabbed her by the throat, pulled her back against him. "Nice and easy, darlin'," he hissed in her ear.
Shaking with fear, she moved along beside him, the hand around her throat squeezing just enough to make breathing difficult.
He was beginning to get angry, and worried, ready to take the chance of leaving through the checkpoint, when he finally located the hatch. "Now how about that! Okay, in you go."
Casey wanted to fight him. Was too frightened of the huge hunting knife that he continued to wave at her. Tears in her eyes, she began to climb once again.
Radio communication with General Hammond kept them informed of the progress of the sergeant and his hostage. Daniel was pacing beside the concrete bunker.
"Daniel, they should be here in just a couple of minutes," Sam said softly. She put her hand on his arm. "She's a tough woman, she'll be just fine."
"I'm supposed to be protecting her!" he said. "Obviously I can't do that. I couldn't protect Sha're, now Casey…I just keep fucking up!"
"That's not true, Daniel!" Sam argued. "There was nothing you could have done for Sha're, if you'd been there and tried, you'd have been killed. What would have happened to her baby then? This is nothing more than…" she stopped, then grinned. "An exercise in dealing with abductors."
He tried to smile. "If he hurts her, I'm going to kill him."
"I know," she said softly.
"Heads up, they're almost here," Jack called softly. He had no intention of holding Daniel back this time. With SG-1 backing him up, it would be damned impossible to prove that he hit the guy.
The team faded into the brush and waited. The sound of the hatch being opened filled the quiet night air. It was clear, and damned cold. And Casey didn't have a coat on, Daniel thought angrily. He watched as she climbed through the hatch, and lowered herself to the snow covered ground.
As soon as White was standing beside her, Daniel was holding a gun to the man's head. "Give me a reason," he hissed.
The Marine tried to look around. How in the hell had they known? How could they have figured it out so damned fast? He tightened the grip on his knife, reached out slowly, then grabbed Casey. He pulled her against him, held the knife to her throat. "This is what's going to happen. Sweet Thing and I are going to mosey on down to my car. If you try to follow us, I'll slit her throat. Do you all understand?"
"Let her go, White," Jack growled. "You're in enough trouble without compounding matters."
"Way I see it, Colonel, I ain't got nothin' to lose. And a lot to gain." He dragged his tongue from her temple to her jaw and back. "Damn, she's sweet, huh, doctor? You can bet your ass I'm gonna have me a fine time with your woman, and there ain't a thing you can do about it!"
White had neglected to ascertain that all of the members of SG-1 were here he could see them. Jack and Daniel were to his right, Sam to his left…and Teal'c was behind him. A soft thud echoed around them. The Marine's eyes rolled back in his head, and he dropped to the ground.
Terrified, in shock, Casey stood frozen, her eyes closed, her hands in fists beside her neck, where they had been gripping her assailant's arm, trying to pull it away from her body.
Daniel rushed forward, wrapped his arms around her, pulled her close. "It's okay, Angel, it's all over. I have you." She was shaking so hard that she couldn't stand any longer. Her knees buckled, and he swept her into his arms. "I love you, Casey, I love you," he whispered in her ear as he nearly ran back toward the elevator entrance.
The Security officers who had been standing nearby grabbed the unconscious man by his arms and began to drag him toward the security van that waited to take him to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex Military Hospital. He'd be under constant guard, and transferred to the stockade as soon as he was well enough. Sergeant White might have had a chance at beating the harassment and the battery charges. He would not, however, have a prayer of beating the attempted kidnapping charge. Not with all of the surveillance footage of him forcing Casey at knifepoint to climb out of the SGC.
A A A A A A
Casey was sitting up in the bed, her legs against her chest, the sheet clutched in fists beneath her chin. Her eyes were as wide as he'd ever seen them, and she wasn't responding to him, or Janet, or anyone else. She wouldn’t even look at them. She hadn't said a word since he'd carried her in, either.
Daniel sat beside her, aching to touch her, hold her, comfort her. The one time he'd reached out to caress her face she'd whimpered, and pulled away from him.
"She's had a lot to process, assimilate in the past three days," Janet said quietly. "She's still dealing with what happened when that Goa'uld managed to get in here. She's never killed before, and that's a shock to anyone. She just went on her first mission, where the danger level was pretty high. Then to be assaulted like that," she shook her dark head.
"So what now? I mean, will she come out of this?" Daniel asked, tears in his eyes.
"I think so. She just needs rest. And patience. And love. I'm going to try and get an IV in her. If she fights me, I'm going to have to sedate her the hard way. Don't worry, I won't hurt her, but you have to let me do what needs to be done," Janet said calmly.
Janet approached the bed slowly. "Casey? Honey, I need to get an IV started. You're dehydrated, and your electrolytes are low. I need your arm, sweetie," she said softly, soothingly.
The young blonde began to shake, trying to pull away from the strong, small hands that gripped her. Another whimper left her throat, the sound the same as any terrified, wounded animal would make. It was enough to make every heart in the room clench. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she tried in vain to get away, to find shadows to hide in.
Daniel felt his heart breaking. If anything happened to her…he shook his head. He hadn't known her that long, she hadn't been with him for longer than two weeks, but he couldn't live without her, not now, not after having her sweet sunshine in his life. If only he hadn't let her leave the infirmary alone! If only he hadn't fucked up…again!
Janet managed to inject the young woman. She busied herself getting the IV ready while she waited for the sedative to take affect. In a matter of minutes, Casey was unconscious. With Daniel's help she stretched the young woman out on her back. Once again every muscle in the slender seer's body had tensed. She inserted the catheter in the back of Casey's hand, and started the drip. Looked up into the tormented eyes of Daniel Jackson. "She's going to sleep for awhile. Go get something to eat. Take a shower. Then you can come back," she said gently.
"I can't leave her," he whispered hoarsely. "I can't!"
"Daniel, don't you dare blame yourself for this!" Janet warned. "She needs you strong and completely pulled together. If you need someone to blame, blame the security guards. He never should have been allowed back in here."
He looked at the petite woman beside him. His heart, his mind grabbed at this possible reprieve from his guilt. "I fucked up, Janet," he said softly. Those three words let his friends know just how deep his guilt over Sha're went, how desperately he needed to protect the woman he now loved.
"No, Daniel, you didn't. You're the best thing that has ever happened to her. She didn't have to tell me that. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at you. We both know what she's suffered in the past. That's all over thanks to you," Janet said, her voice soft and low.
Sam, who had been standing with Jack and Teal'c as close to the bed as Janet would allow, moved to his side. "Daniel, just before we left on the mission, Casey told me that she's happy, that she's never been happy before. That since she's met you, she feels as if she's awakened from a bad dream, that she feels alive for the very first time. Because of you. She loves you, Daniel. You haven't failed her, you've saved her. When she comes around, ask her, she'll tell you that herself." She looped her arms around his neck and pulled him in for a hug.
He leaned into Sam's embrace. "Thanks," he whispered.
"Come on, Danny. Let's go take a shower, get something to eat. We'll sit here with you when we're done," Jack said quietly.
Janet watched approvingly as his friends led Daniel gently toward the door. She glanced at the sleeping woman. Hoped that Casey hadn't fallen so far over the edge that she couldn't find her way back.
A A A A A A
It was nearly three a.m., and Daniel was still by her side, his hand wrapped around hers. He'd put both arms on the bed beside her, let his head drop to rest on them, and had eventually fallen asleep. Jack, Sam, and Teal'c were sleeping in turns, keeping watch over both of them.
Soft moans and whimpers woke him, brought Janet from her own light sleep in the chair beside the desk on the far side of the room. "Easy, Angel," he whispered, as the slender body in the bed began to thrash, her breathing erratic and shallow.
Janet moved to the side of the bed, checked the IV, glanced at the vitals on the monitors beside the bed. Heart rate was elevated, adrenaline levels were high. She ordered another sedative, administered it directly into the clear tube that dripped a cocktail of Ringer's Lactose, a muscle relaxant and a light sedative.
Casey began to relax, her breathing returned to normal. Daniel smoothed the long blonde silk away from her face. "I love you, Casey. I can't live without you," he said softly. "I need you. So very much. I love you, Angel." He wasn't sure, thought it was probably only wishful thinking, but for a few seconds he thought that her hand had gently squeezed his.
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