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Duncan had agreed that meeting up with the NID agents anywhere but Earth was a good idea. Immortals wouldn't be safe on the 'home planet' for generations to come. Since it would be at least three days before their prey would be on the move, he sent the team home for a couple of days of down time.
Casey was sitting on the floor with Nicholas, his bucket of Lego's spread across the floor. They were building a…well, she wasn't exactly sure what they were building. She was just putting the colorful plastic blocks where her son pointed. He was sitting in her lap, and turned around to look up at her.
"Mommy go away?"
She looked down into blue eyes exactly like Daniel's. Funny that both the kids had his eyes. Funny in a good way. Because his eyes were incredible…beautiful…cerulean blue eyes that captivated her heart and soul. "Just for a few days," she replied.
"Mommy die 'gain?"
Her heart stopped beating. The fact that the book that Daniel had been reading to Emily hit the floor alerted her to the fact that he had heard the question as well. "No, Little Man. I have no intentions of dying."
"Missed you, Mommy."
She glanced up at Daniel. His eyes were full of pain, of worry. She was certain that hers were reflecting the same thing. Why now? It had been six and a half months since she'd returned. After almost two months away from her family; buried beneath the ruins of an underwater city. Daniel had been certain that the child hadn't really understood what was going on around him, only that Mommy wasn't there. "I missed you too, Nicholas," she said softly.
Emily slid from Daniel's lap to the floor, leaned against her mother. "Mrs. Seeney says that you risk-es perm'nent death every time you walls through the 'gate," she said softly.
Well, that explains a few things. The kids had overheard the woman telling their grandmother that their mother 'risked permanent death each time she waltzed through the Stargate'. She'd have to talk to her mother about making sure the kids weren't around to hear so much of adult conversations. "I suppose that's true," Casey said.
"Mommy, did you want to go away?"
"Never, Emmie. I wanted to be with you and Nicholas and your Daddy so much that all I could do was cry," she replied truthfully. Teal'c had held her while those bitter tears had fallen, just before the room had literally exploded around them.
"Did Daddy want you to go away?"
The question shocked him. "What would make you ask a thing like that?" he asked hoarsely.
Emily looked up at her father. "You sleep-ded here," she said, pointing to the sofa.
"Yes, I did."
"You cried. And you said you hated Mommy."
He paled, felt his heart clench in pain. There had been several nights when the heartache had been so great that he'd struck out against it. He could vaguely remember saying something like that. Several shots of Southern Comfort had failed to numb him sufficiently, so that he could find peace for just an hour or so. In that moment, blinded by grief, he had hated her for leaving him, for taking the sunshine he had grown so accustomed to. For stealing his heart, and then breaking it so badly. How in the hell was he supposed to explain that to a four and a half-year-old? He settled onto the floor beside his wife. Took his daughter into his arms. "Emily, I have never hated your Mommy. Never wanted her to leave me, to leave us. My heart hurt so badly that I was saying things that I didn't really mean. Just trying to make the pain go away."
"I was mad at Mommy," Emily whispered.
"You were?" he asked softly.
She looked up at him, and nodded. "'Cause she didn't come home. I was mad at you too. I didn't like you 'cause you wouldn't go get Mommy and bring her home. Then I was mad 'cause you hated Mommy, and that's why she was gone."
He pulled her close to his chest. Now her anger toward him during that time made sense. "Oh, Princess," he moaned. "I'm so sorry. Emmie, I wanted to go get your Mommy. I wanted so very much to go get her, but I couldn't. I didn't have any way to get to her."
"I’m sorry, Daddy," the little girl said, her fingers toying with the collar of his shirt.
"What for, Princess?"
"For being so mean to you. You was sad, but I didn't care," she said, looking up into his eyes. "I was sad, too."
"I know you were, Princess," he replied. "We were all sad." He looked over at Casey. Moaned mentally. Her eyes were full of tears…and guilt. 'Don't you dare blame yourself.'
She shook her head. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. "It's all my fault."
"Casey Renee Jackson! I said don't you dare!" Daniel hissed. "Don’t you dare blame yourself for something you had absolutely no control over!"
Emily looked from her mother's face to her father's eyes. "Daddy, don't be mad at Mommy."
He started, looked down into blue eyes so like his own. "I'm not mad at her-"
"Yes you is. Your eyes is mad at her."
He couldn't help but smile. Emily had a way of knowing what a person was feeling, just by watching their eyes. It was a relatively easy thing with Casey. Anyone could see what was in those beautiful green depths. But she was able to read him as well. Was that part of the gift that he and Casey were certain she had? Or was it just simple observation, something that most people never learned? "I'm not mad at your Mommy," he repeated. "It upsets me that she blames herself for things that aren't her fault. It makes her sad, and I don't want her to be sad."
She looked into tear filled green eyes. "Mommy, don't be sad."
"I'll try, Baby," Casey replied softly. She kissed the top of Nicholas' head. She'd never asked the kids what they had felt, what they'd experienced...witnessed...during her absence. She glanced at Emily. "Did Daddy cry every night?"
The little blonde head moved up and down. "Sometimes, when I was asleep, I'd just opened my eyes and I could hear him," she said.
Which meant, he thought abashedly, that his tears, and the sobs that wracked him, had awakened his daughter. Probably had woken Nicholas up as well.
She reached out and caught his hand, laced her fingers with his. "Daddy told me you wouldn't eat while I was…gone."
"My tummy hurted too much. My heart hurted too, and it just hurted right into my tummy," the little girl replied.
Casey closed her eyes in the wake of this information. How desperately her family had grieved for her! It humbled her, and added to the guilt that she carried for deserting them; even though that wasn't what had happened, it was how she felt. "Did Daddy's tummy hurt too?"
Again the little girl nodded. "He rubbed his chest a lot, right here," she said, demonstrating the way Daniel would rub at the sharp pain that had been his constant companion during Casey's absence.
He wasn't aware he'd ever done that, he thought, listening to the conversation.
"Daddy's heart broke," Nicholas piped up, nodding along with his sister. "Meemaw told me so."
"Well, my heart is just fine now, Little Man," he said, reaching over and ruffling the light blonde locks. That needed to be cut. Again.
"'Cause Mommy's home!" Emily giggled.
"Yep. 'Cause Mommy's home," he agreed.
Nicolas turned around on Casey's lap, put his little hands on her cheeks, his nose almost touching hers as he looked into her eyes. "Don't do that no more never 'gain," he said sternly. "Daddy's heart gots cracks in it now!"
She couldn't help but giggle. Nicholas had received a lecture after running through the house and knocking over one of her vases. She had glued it back together, but had explained that now it had cracks in it, and could never be used again.
"Yeah, don’t forget that," Daniel teased.
Emily cocked her head to one side. "Mommy, does your heart have cracks in it too?"
Yep, definitely had the 'gift'. "For a long time Mommy's heart had cracks in it," Casey replied softly. "My heart hurt so badly. But then I met your Daddy. And he fixed it all. Made it better than new."
The little girl thought about this for a moment. "Did Mommy fixed the cracks in your heart, Daddy?"
"Every last one of them," he replied.
"Is there anything else you want to ask, or tell us?" Casey asked softly.
'Careful, Angel. We might wind up talking about sex!'
She bit back her giggle.
Emily looked from her Mother to her Father. "Daddy, when you find-ded Mommy and brought her home, did your heart quit hurting?"
"Yes, it did, Princess."
"You not gonna die, Mommy?" Nicholas asked.
"Nope. I'm not going to die," she replied.
He toyed with her long hair. "What died means?"
She giggled. "Well, it means that our body stops working. Like when the batteries run out of your dump truck. It stops."
"What ha'pens then?"
"That, my boy, is the philosophical question of the centuries," Daniel laughed.
"What Daddy means, in his usual long-winded way, is that nobody really knows."
"What you do when you was dead-ded?" the little boy asked.
'Yeah, answer that, smartass. Long-winded! Ha!'
She giggled again. "Nicholas, I have no idea, because I can't remember."
Emily was studying her mother. "Mommy, does make love feel good?"
'Told you so!'
She could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. Knew that she was blushing brightly. Refused to meet blue eyes that were dancing with laughter. "Yes, Baby, it does."
The little girl nodded. "I thought so."
'Dare we ask?'
He shrugged. "What makes you say that, Princess?"
"Cause I hear-ded Mommy telling you that she liked it."
Daniel couldn't stop the roar of laughter that erupted. They had learned to keep their bedroom door locked at night. Evidently it hadn't kept their very precocious daughter from standing outside of it and listening.
Casey was certain that it was impossible to blush any brighter than she was. It felt as if her face was on fire. "Well, little lady, you need to learn to stay in your bed at night. It's rude to listen outside of someone's bedroom door. What goes on between Mommy and Daddy is private and personal."
"But I hear-ded Daddy groaning, and I thought he was sick," the little girl replied, her eyes full of serious concern. "But then you was laughing, and you told him you liked it."
"Well, if Daddy is sick, I'll let you know. Otherwise, you stay in bed."
"But I had to potty!" she protested.
"Fine. You can potty, but then straight back into your bed. You stay away from our bedroom door!" Casey exclaimed, slightly exasperated.
Daniel had finally regained enough control to be able to join the conversation. "Your Mommy is right, Princess. It's very rude to listen like that."
"'Kay, Daddy. But I did think-ded you was sick," she said, somewhat petulantly.
He grinned. "Trust me, Princess. I wasn't sick." He glanced at Casey. 'Probably just on the verge of dying though. Waiting to go over the edge.'
She shook her head, unable to stop the smile that spread over her face. "How about some ice cream?"
"Ice cweam!" Nicholas crowed delightedly. He jumped to his feet, grabbed Casey's hand and began to tug at her.
"With choc'lit sauce?" Emily asked.
"With chocolate sauce," Casey replied.
"And whipped cream?"
"And whipped cream."
'Save some of that whipped cream for later.'
She looked over at him. The look of laughter and lust in his eyes was enough to have her heart battering her ribs. 'There are two cans in the 'fridge.'
Daniel grabbed bowls and spoons while she gathered the ice cream, the chocolate syrup, and the can of Reddi-whip.
"Daddy, does you pa'tect Mommy when you fights the nasty snakes?" Emily asked as she climbed up on the barstool.
"As much as I can, Princess," he replied.
She nodded sagely. "I thought so. Mommy, does you pa'tect Daddy?"
"I try, Baby," Casey replied.
"If you stayed home, you wouldn't have to."
The simple comment struck hard in two hearts. She looked at Daniel, could see the worry in his blue eyes. "No, Baby, even here we have to protect each other."
Casey handed the ice cream scoop to him, walked around the island and sat down beside her daughter. She began to run her hand over the light blonde hair that now reached Emily's waist. "We have to protect each other from words that hurt. We make sure that we don't work too long, that we eat enough, and get enough sleep."
The little face scrunched in concentration. "Why?"
"Because, Baby, we love each other. When you love some one, you're concerned about their well being. You want to make sure that they're safe and happy, no matter where that might be."
"But you don't fights nasty snakes here," Emily insisted.
"That's not true, Princess," Daniel said softly. "When I'm working in my office, I'm translating the text on artifacts or images of walls to find clues that can help us fight the nasty snakes. When Mommy and I are working on the base, we're looking for information that will help us win the war."
This wasn't the answer the little girl had expected. "You fights the nasty snakes all the time?"
"All the time," Daniel replied.
Emily sat back in her chair. "I misses you when you're gone," she said softly.
Casey pulled her daughter onto her lap. "Oh, Baby, I know you do. And we miss you too. Emmie, Daddy and I would love to be able to stay home with you, or at least be home with you every night. But we love you too much to let those nasty snakes get near Gamma. Which means we have to fight them out there."
"Meemaw says that Im'ortals were created to fight the nasty snakes. Meemaw says that you and Daddy are Im'ortals."
"Yes, we are, and yes, Immortals were created to fight the nasty snakes. The Goa'uld. We have to keep all of the innocent people safe. That's our job," Casey said.
"Am I Im'ortal?"
She sought his counsel with her eyes.
"As far as we know," Daniel replied. "But that's not something you need to worry about."
"Mikey Peterson says that Im'ortal's has to die before they don't die. That don't make sense!"
Casey giggled. "Well, he's right, even it if doesn't make sense. I don't know how to explain it, Emmie. When an Immortal dies for the first time, that's when his, or her body stops aging. And after that, if they…die, they'll wake up."
"Did you die?"
"Yes, I did."
Blue eyes looked up at blue eyes. "Did it make you sad, Daddy?"
Amazing that his daughter just assumed that he would have been with Casey for what she already understood was an important event. "For a little while. I was scared, too. I didn't really understand about Immortality. I was afraid that Mommy wouldn't wake up."
"But she did."
"Yep, she did. And when she woke up, I kissed her for the first time." The memory of that first kissed washed over him. He could still feel the emotions that had flooded him as he held her for the first time, took his first taste of those sweet lips.
"When did you die, Daddy?"
Oh, god! How did he explain to his daughter that Oma had brought him, and Jack and Sam, back in time? That he'd stood in the kitchen of the little house on Baldwin Street, and shoved a knife through his belly. That he'd thoughtlessly, carelessly…needlessly…hurt his Beloved by killing himself that way.
"Daddy died when he got cut with a big knife," Casey said softly, her eyes locked with his. In all the years since, they'd never once talked about that morning.
"Was you sad?"
"I was terrified. I cried and cried, because I wasn't sure your Daddy was Immortal," she replied honestly.
"But he is."
"Yes. He is."
A A A A A A
The ice cream had been eaten, toys picked up, baths given, and snuggle time enjoyed. Casey kissed Nicholas goodnight, then followed Daniel into the hallway.
"We need to talk," he said softly.
"C'mere, Angel." He led her into the bedroom, carefully locked the door behind them, then took her hand and pulled her toward the bed. Once they were settled, her head on his shoulder, her arm around his waist, he took a deep breath. "I never did apologize for what I put you through that morning."
"There's no need-" she started.
He put a finger on her lips, smiled down at her. "Yes, there is. I could have just cut my thumb or something. I didn't need to do…that."
She shuddered as she recalled holding his body, terrified that she'd been mistaken, and that all she remembered had been only a dream. "If…"
He waited for a minute. "If?" he prompted softly.
"I'd decided that if I was…wrong, and you had been right and it was all only a dream, I was going to find an Immortal and challenge him…or her. I wouldn't even have fought. Just let him...or her...take my head. I couldn't go through being without you again."
Daniel had always known that his…'suicide'…had hurt her. He hadn't been aware of how deeply it had hurt her…panicked her. "I'm so sorry, Angel," he said softly, pressing his lips to her forehead.
She snuggled closer. "It's okay, Stud Muffin. You're here, and you're alive, and you love me. That's all that I need."
"Don't need anything else?" he asked playfully. Gasped when her hand worked its way between his jeans and his skin.
"Well, maybe one other thing," she replied, smiling seductively at him as her hand closed around his swelling flesh.
"It's all yours, Angel," he whispered. Just before his lips claimed hers.
They made love gently, quietly…taking one another to that special place that was for them, and them alone.
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