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The Phoenix returned to Gamma when it was clear that Geb was returning to his home world. It was during the mission debrief that Daniel told them what he and Casey had learned. Stunned silence met his announcement.
Jack cleared his throat. "Uh…Danny…how do you…uh…feel about…this?"
Daniel shrugged. "How am I supposed to feel? I don't know, Jack. At this point I'm not sure I feel anything."
Casey continued to stare at her hands. Which were shaking visibly.
Perhaps it was because he had lived with her for two years. Perhaps it was because he was the only one really looking at her. Whatever the reason, he could see that she was suffering. "Are you okay, Casey?" Duncan asked softly.
She looked up. "Why shouldn't I be? I just got information…alien information…dumped on me…had to tell my husband that the man his wife…that…his brother…yeah, I'm just peachy, thanks!" She jumped up and ran from the room. Once she had made sure that Daniel was all right, the implications of the information she had received finally took hold in her own brain. Everything that had happened between her and Wade, both on Dracia and Tantaline, played over and over in her head; getting worse with each repeat.
Daniel frowned, stood to go after her. She had been quiet for the remainder of the trip home, barely speaking to anyone, certainly not to him, unless it was absolutely necessary, and had spent most of her time in the cargo bay, exercising until she reached the point of exhaustion. She had also waited to come to their bed until she was confident that he was asleep, and tried hard not to touch him. He woke up each time she climbed into bed, aching to feel her near him, unsure why she wasn't. He had reached out to her once, only to have her jump up from the bed and run into the bathroom. After that he had lain still, trying to figure out what was wrong. When she was finally asleep, she moved until she was wrapped around him, sleeping the way she always did. "What the hell is going to happen next?" he asked with a sigh. "How much more can she take?"
Duncan shook his head. "She's a strong woman, Daniel."
"Yeah, but even she has limits." He walked out of the briefing room. 'Angel?' He reached out, felt her, knew that she was hurting.
A A A A A A
She looked out over the firing range. She didn't answer him, but she didn't block him, either. He would find her soon enough. Then she would hear the words that she dreaded. The words that, in her self-imposed solitude on the Phoenix, she had become certain she would hear. After that glorious weekend on Alteria, she had thought that all of this was finally in the past, done for. Now…now he wouldn't be able to look at her without remembering that she had slept with his…his brother!
He climbed up, sat down behind her, pulled her against him. "Want to talk about it?" he asked softly.
"I guess we sort of have to, don't we? I mean…I understand. I won't try to fight for anything, you can keep the house…I…I know I'm not …the best mother…so…I won't fight for custody, but Mom should still take care of them, and I'd like to see them…" she pulled her lip between her teeth, willing herself not to cry.
He was stunned. "Wuh - wha- What?"
She sniffed, tried to keep the tears from falling. "I understand…that…now that you know…that …I know that you can't…that it would be too hard…that you have to…have to…" she turned her head so he couldn't see the tear that escaped from the corner of one eye.
"Casey Renee Jackson! Turn around and look at me!" he demanded.
Slowly, she twisted around. And stared at the third button on his fatigue shirt.
He sighed, put a finger under her chin, lifted her face up, waited until her green eyes finally made their way up to look into his blue ones. He reached out, felt her fear…hurt…worry. "Angel, just what is it that you think I'm going to do?"
"File for divorce," she whispered.
He stared at her for a moment. "Do what?"
"I understand, Daniel, really I do-"
"Well that's good, because I sure as hell don't!" he exclaimed. "Why…what…what in the world would make you think that I'd be filing for divorce?"
"I slept with your brother, Daniel!"
He shook his head. She had tried to twist that situation around before, making it her fault. Now she was throwing the fact that Wade was his brother into the mix. Stirring it up and deciding that he couldn't deal with it. "Casey, what am I going to do with you?" He pulled her into his arms, held her tightly against his chest. "Angel, you were so out of it that if Jack had been the one on top of you, you wouldn't have realized it! You certainly didn't have a clue as to who he was! Babe, where did you get the notion that I'd ever let you go? That I'd ever stop loving you?"
She shrugged. "I know I hurt you…I know how badly it must have hurt to…see…that. Now…knowing that he's your brother …that has to hurt even more."
"I've hurt you, just as deeply, Casey. I haven't seen you walking away," he said softly.
"I love you, I know that you'd never hurt me on purpose," she whispered.
"And you don't think it's possible for me to feel the same way? To know that you'd never hurt me intentionally? Angel, I thought we went through all of this, that we had buried it, forever." The frustration he was feeling seeped into his voice.
"I thought so, too. But that was before I found out I'd…I'd slept with your brother."
"Who he is doesn't change what happened. Doesn't change the fact that it wasn't your fault. You wouldn't even have been there if not for me! If I had just listened to you, none of this would have happened! If anyone is to blame, it's me! Casey, please, let that go! Let it go, Angel!"
She swallowed back her tears. "I love you. More than you'll ever know," she whispered.
"Let me feel it, Angel," he whispered in return. Smiled when a warm flood of emotion washed over him. He held onto her love, sent his in return. He watched as she closed her eyes, watched her smile as his love surrounded her. "I love you, Casey. More than you'll ever know. And that is never going to change."
They sat there, watching the sun set, watched the first moon come up over the horizon. She leaned back against him. He tightened his arms around her.
"Let's go home. I need to see my babies," she said softly.
He helped her down, and they walked to the jeep. "I'll never let you go, Angel."
She smiled. "Good." And maybe someday, she thought, I'll be worthy of that love again.
A A A A A A
"Then the wolf said, 'I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house down," Daniel read. "And so he huffed and he puffed, and he puffed and he huffed, but he couldn't blow the brick house down. So the big bad wolf went away, and left the little pigs safe and happy in the brick house."
Casey giggled. "That's not the ending I read."
Daniel smiled. "I just think Emmie is a little young for wolves dropping into pots of boiling water."
"Did the wolf dwop into water, Daddy?" Emily asked sleepily from her place against Casey's side.
"Yeah, he did, Princess. Which is why he ran away and left the three little pigs alone," Daniel replied with a smile. He closed the book, set it on the nightstand, pulled himself off of the bed. He took a sleeping Nicholas into his arms, while Casey pulled back the blankets and tucked Emily into her bed. She kissed her daughter's cheek, then took the baby so that Daniel could lean over and kiss his little Princess good-night. Nicholas was put into his crib, and they went out to the living room.
Casey picked up toys, put the walker in the corner, fidgeted with the photographs that lined the mantel. She glanced over her shoulder. He was watching her, his hands in his pockets.
"Why were you afraid to touch me?"
She knew exactly what he was talking about. The last three nights spent on the Phoenix, she waited in the cargo bay until she was sure that he was asleep. When she did climb into bed beside him, she was careful to stay on her side of the bed. She always woke up curled around him, and she tried to wake up before he did, so that she could be out of bed before he awoke. She'd only managed that once. "I didn't think you would want me to touch you," she said softly.
"Any particular reason?"
"I see. Well, I'm going to bed," he said softly. He was hurt, and frustrated. Just when he thought he had made progress with her, had finally reached her, soothed her fears away, she turned around and proved him wrong. "I want you beside me, Angel. Always."
"Daniel-" she stopped, looked down at the floor. She wanted so much to be in his arms, to feel him, make love to him. But what had happened was haunting her. She didn't…deserve… to be with him…like that. Not after what she had done.
"Yes?" he asked hopefully.
"Goodnight," she whispered.
He watched her for a minute. "Goodnight."
She slipped out the French door, onto the deck. She sat down on the rough wood, looked up, stared at the stars. Jumped when she felt him sit down behind her, wrap him arms and legs around her. "I thought you were going to bed."
"Not without you. Casey, you haven't touched me, haven't let me touch you, in four days. I know you're not on your period, not that that's ever been a problem before. We talked this out earlier, didn't we? We're okay, aren't we?"
"Then let me make love to you, Angel." He nuzzled her neck. Smiled when she tilted her head to the side, offering more of her soft skin to his mouth.
"I don't deserve…to…don't deserve you, to be with you," she whispered.
"Says who? If anyone is undeserving here, it's me," he replied.
"I feel so…dirty…" she said softly.
"Let it go, Casey."
"Easier said than done."
"Let's go take a shower," he suggested. Perhaps it wouldn't 'clean' her in the way she needed, but maybe the symbolism would help.
She nodded. "I think I'd like that."
He stood up, held out his hand and helped her to her feet. Once in the shower he made love to her, slowly, gently, whispering his love in her ear, sending his love with each caress his hands made over her body.
Afterwards, in their bed, she snuggled close, breathed in the clean masculine scent of him. Sleep was slow in coming, and when it arrived, it brought with it a new nightmare to haunt her.
The room was luxurious, candles added their warmth and scent and light to the dim room. She poured a chalice of wine, drank it slowly. A door to the side of the room opened, and he came out, naked, ready for her. So handsome, so virile. He stepped into the light. It was Daniel. She reached out for him, he smiled at her. She held him in her arms, he made love to her. He kissed her, then looked down at her.
"You slept with my brother." His eyes were suddenly hard, cold.
She felt tears form in her eyes. "I didn't know! I didn’t know he was your brother! I didn't know what was happening!"
"You slept with my brother!" he repeated, his voice now as cold, as accusing, as his eyes.
"So, big brother, are you going to share?" a voice asked from the other side of the room.
"She's already fucked you. Take what you want," was Daniel's cold reply.
"No! Oh, god, Daniel, no! I love you! Only you!"
Wade dropped down beside them, Daniel rolled off of her. "Thanks, big brother," he said, as he roughly entered her body.
Daniel stared into her eyes as Wade moved on top of her. "Do you still want both of us?"
She shook her head, tears rolling down her cheeks. Her arms were at her sides, she lay motionless beneath the man thrusting on top of her. "I never wanted that! Only you! I want only you, Daniel, love only you!"
Daniel pulled Wade off of her, then yanked her to her feet. "Ride him!"
"No, please, don't make me do this!"
He pushed her, Wade reached up for her, pulled her down to straddle his hips. She cried out when she felt Wade enter her. She screamed when Daniel shoved his full length into her unprepared ass. He thrust roughly into her.
"Please, Daniel, no!"
He heard her soft cries, felt her body thrashing beside him. He thought about the last time he had entered her nightmare, hesitated. She cried out again, his name on her lips. He took her hand, and nearly cried out himself. He sat up on the bed, turned on the light. "Come on, Angel, wake up. It's a nightmare, babe." He gently caressed her side, ran his shaking fingers over her face. The images danced before his eyes…terrible images, with cold, hateful feelings attached.
She opened her eyes slowly. They were wet with tears. She looked up at him, rolled to her side and began to sob. "I'm so sorry!"
Daniel stretched out beside her, pulled her against him. "Shh…it was a nightmare, babe. It's okay."
"I love you, only you," she gasped between sobs.
"I know, Angel. I love you. I would never do that to you, Casey, never!" he replied. He kissed her shoulder. "Shh, don't cry, Angel. It was a nightmare. I can change it for you," he said softly.
"I think…I think I'd rather just…talk for awhile," she replied. She had stopped crying, but her body was still trembling.
"Okay, babe, we'll talk."
It was nearly dawn before she finally fell into exhausted sleep. Daniel held her close, but the nightmare didn't return. He closed his eyes. How much more, was the last conscious thought on his mind before sleep claimed him.
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