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It was a warm day, and Casey was wearing a spaghetti strap top. She was braless, and her firm nipples stood up against the cotton material. Her new tattoo was visible, and she delighted in showing it off. Sam, Tessa, and Carly laughed at how proud she was that it marked her as belonging to Daniel.
He had decided that they were not going to bring her…guests…to the house right away. Helen had called at seven, demanding to know when she would be there to pick them up. Daniel told her that Casey would be there around noon. The woman had protested, but he had simply hung up on her. Duncan reported that the two women had gone to the cafeteria for breakfast, and then immediately back to the room, where they remained until Casey arrived in the jeep. Sam was with her this time, and heard the grunt of aggravation that Helen had given.
"We need to keep an eye on that witch," Sam whispered to Tessa and Carly. "She’s wanting to get Casey alone. Let the guys know too. Daniel is worried that if she gets the chance she’ll drive Casey right over the edge."
Carly nodded. "Casey is a strong woman, but she still has fresh scars on her heart that haven’t completely healed yet. I wish we had talked her out of letting that…bitch…come here!"
A A A A A A
Helen was becoming frustrated. Every time she tried to get Casey alone, one of…those…people interfered. She grabbed another beer from the ice chest and followed Casey into the house. She closed the double French doors and locked them. "There," she said with satisfaction. "Now we’ll have time for a nice private little chat."
Casey looked over at her, continued to fill the relish tray. "Say whatever it is you’re so damned anxious to say."
"Well, haven’t you become all high and mighty! You just remember who you’re talking to, Slut!"
"No chance I’ll be forgetting that," Casey said.
"You may have these people fooled. You may have that piss-ant you’re married to fooled, but I know that you’re still a good for nothing little whore!"
"Piss-ant? Oh, lady, have I got news for you! Daniel is more man than you’ll ever see again in your lifetime. He’s kind and generous and good and brilliant. Not to mention built better than Adonis! And he loves me! I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Kenny. Daniel has healed every hurt, fought every demon that has haunted me from my childhood. I am not a slut, I am not a whore. Never was. Never will be. I don’t know what it is about me that you don’t like. I can’t figure out why you ever adopted me."
"Frank wanted you," Helen spat. "I never did. He was always looking at you, smiling at you. He thought you were so special. But I knew different. I could see that you were just a piece of trash. A slut. A whore."
Casey crossed her arms in front of her. "You’re a sick woman. You’re twisted. I don’t know who hurt you, but somebody sure did, and badly. I feel sorry for you, because you’re so angry and bitter and miserable."
Helen stood shocked, her mouth hanging open.
Daniel, Carly, Duncan, and Sam were standing just inside the door beside the fireplace, having seen what Helen was up to. Carly kept a calming hand on Daniel’s arm as they listened to the conversation, holding him back until it was clear that he was needed.
"I wish you could be happy. I don’t know if that’s possible for you. I am. Happy that is. I’m so in love with Daniel that it hurts. And he loves me. We have Emily, and our family…I have a wonderful life."
By now everyone was standing in the living room, although neither of the two women seemed to realize it.
Helen was still speechless.
"I have a little money. I’ll be glad to pay some of Frank’s bills. I won’t pay all of them, but Frank tried to be good to me. I’ll always thank him for giving me that Walkman. I have a love of music because of it. I used to hide in the music. Now I use it to help me celebrate my life."
"Well," Helen sniffed. "If you’re going to help me…I’ll just take the money and go and you can get back to your happy little life."
Casey shook her head. "You didn’t hear what I said. I said I’ll pay some of the bills. I already have a call into the hospital about it. I never agreed to give you any money." The idea of paying the bills directly had been Daniel’s. She was glad that he had insisted upon it as the only way to help.
"You selfish, good for nothing little whore!" Helen hissed.
"Just why exactly do you think I’m a whore?"
"Look at you! So…so…men pant after women like you. You dress like a slut. You act like a slut. You even have tattoo now. Whores have tattoos!"
Casey actually giggled. "Oh my god! It’s so simple! You’re jealous of me! Frank wanted to adopt me…I took his attention from you, or at least you thought I did. Then, when I … developed, I was popular, something you never had been, something you never will be. It just ate you up inside when I started standing up to you."
"Don’t try any of that hoity-toity mumbo-jumbo on me! I know a slut when I see one, and right now I’m looking at one!"
"I think the best thing for you to do is gather your things and head back to Earth. You have what you came for…my help with Frank’s medical bills. There’s no reason for you to stay any longer."
"You’re…you’re kicking me out? You’d kick your own mother out of your house?"
"Oh, please! You were never my mother. Never acted like my mother, never treated me like your daughter. I have a mother. She’s a wonderful woman; she’s sweet and kind and generous and loving and I want to be just like her. But you do have the kicking out part right. I’ll be happy to call a cab for you…unless you’d like to walk? Hope is a very nice little town, you’d be perfectly safe walking back to the base. Once you get there, all you have to do is tell the guard you’re ready to leave. They’ll see that you get back to the SGC on Earth."
Helen was once again staring slack-jawed at Casey.
"One more thing…"
"What?" Helen asked angrily.
"Don’t let the door whack you on the ass when you leave!"
The people in the living room began to clap and cheer. Duncan and Jack both gave a whistle.
Helen turned, looked at the group, her face red from humiliation.
Casey looked at her family and smiled, gave a little curtsey. "I have the relish tray ready. Are the burgers done?"
"Shit!" Daniel exclaimed as he dashed out the door and ran toward the grill. The others laughed and followed him. They found that for the most part, the hamburgers were salvageable.
Sheryl, who had been standing off to one side of the room, watched her mother for a minute, then walked back outside. She gathered her purse, and Helen’s, then went back inside. "If you would be so kind as to call a cab," she said softly to Casey. "Here’s your purse, Mama. We’ll wait outside in the front." She led her still dazed mother down the hallway and out the door. She turned around, hoping that Casey was behind them. She wasn’t. Sheryl took a few steps back into the house, saw that everyone was gathered on the deck. She shook her head. When Casey had moved out of the Webster’s house, she had left them all behind forever.
Sheryl held tightly to her mother’s hand as they waited. A small van appeared on the street, stopped in front of them. "Do you take US currency?" she asked, remembering some of what she had learned about Gamma.
"I suppose I could," the driver said, although obviously not happy about it.
"Good. Could you take us to the military barracks please?"
"I can get you to the gate, that’s as far as I’m authorized to go."
Sheryl nodded. "That will be fine." She sat in the van, not seeing the quiet streets of the lovely little town. She was seeing the rages, the attacks that Helen had inflicted upon Casey all of her life, or at least all of it under the Webster roof. It was a wonder Casey hadn’t turned out as bitter and angry as…Helen. She looked over at her mother. The woman was fuming, her lips pressed together until they were a thin line. She hadn’t known Grandma Rose very well, but it was obvious that Casey had found refuge there, and had managed to grow up a healthy, beautiful woman in spite of Helen…and her.
Maybe she would listen to Carl, and seek some counseling. He was right; Casey was right. Her mother was a twisted, angry woman. And she was dangerously close to becoming the same thing. Maybe, just maybe, she could get her mother in for counseling as well.
She heaved a sigh of relief when an hour later they stepped onto the ramp in the Cheyenne Mountain SGC. She managed to find a telephone once they were escorted off of the base, and they took a cab to the airport. Sheryl held back the tears until she reached home. She had never realized what she had missed by treating Casey so shabbily. Now, she would never know what it was like to have a woman like her as a friend, as a sister.
A A A A A A
It was three weeks later when Casey opened the priority message. It was from Sheryl.
I just wanted to let you know that Dad passed way last night. He went peacefully in his sleep. Thank you for taking care of all of the emergency room bill and the surgeon's bill. I appreciate it. Mom isn't doing so well, the doctor says if she doesn't lose some weight she's going to have a heart attack herself. She refuses to follow her diet, so I don't know how much longer she'll be with me.
I realize that it's too late now, but I will say I'm sorry anyway. I'm in counseling now, my husband, Carl, is very happy about that. We're even in marriage counseling and family counseling. With luck, my family will be much happier.
I was always jealous of you. In a way, I still am. But I'm working on that. I want to apologize for Mom's behavior. She had no right to behave like that in your home.
Well, that's all I have to say. I'm glad you're happy. You deserve to be.
She folded the paper and slipped it back into the envelope. She felt a tear make its way down her cheek.
"Angel, are you okay?"
She nodded. "Frank passed away three nights ago. I’d like to send flowers for the funeral."
He folded her into his arms. "I’ll take care of it."
"Thanks, sweetheart, but this is something I need to do."
He nodded, pulled her closer. "Love you, Casey."
"Love you, too, Daniel."
"Enough that you’ll go get me some coffee?" he asked with a teasing smile.
"My heart, a damsel who has been saved by a white knight is always willing to get his coffee," she smiled in return. "But you have to get your own bagel."
He laughed. "Come, Sweet Damsel. Let’s go get some coffee."
"I would be honored, Sir Knight," she giggled.
They walked down to the cafeteria, arm in arm.
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