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Devil in the Shadows
"…Close call there in the shadows
There's a fear in the dark
There's one out there
All those memories, pain and anger, flood back one by one
They must be just around the bend, they always come…"
"Out of the Shadows"
by Sarah McLachlan
Casey was bent over the worktable, concentrating on a long stone tablet, making careful etchings that would be much easier to read and work with to translate, when the phone at her elbow started ringing. She sighed, finished the last inch she had been working on, then grabbed the annoyingly noisy instrument. "Hello?"
"Hey, gorgeous, wha'cha doing?" a familiar, sexy voice asked her.
She smiled. "Hey, handsome. Just finishing up an etching. Then I can get started on the translation."
"Need a break?"
Her smile widened, and her pulse began racing. "Always."
"Supply closet there in the Center, in about twenty minutes?"
"I'll be there." Her heart was hammering against her ribs with anticipation now.
"Love you, Angel."
"Love you, too, Stud Muffin." She was grinning when she hung up.
"Mrs. Jackson? I have finished with the crate brought in last night. There were…um…three canopic jars, all of them have… Goa'uld…well, what looks like…uh…Goa'uld to me…yes, Goa'uld inscriptions on them. Should I have them…uh…sent for MRIs?" Ramir Jahareed asked, standing just inside the office, adjusting his glasses nervously. He always became so tongue-tied around Dr. Jackson's beautiful wife!
She smiled. "Yes, please. Be sure to put the warning tags on them, and make certain that none of the seals are broken." Daniel had put a standing rule into place that any canopic jars were to be handled with extreme care, and marked as dangerous if there were any Goa'uld markings on them. All were to undergo MRIs to determine the contents.
Ramir smiled automatically in return. "Yes, very well." He hurried back down the stairs, wondering why the jars had to be marked as being dangerous. He shivered slightly, pressed his hand to his side, which had been hurting all morning, then went to the table where the jars waited. The seals were all intact. He marked them, then put them inside another box, and put them on the cart with the 'work order'. Any one of the Marines who worked in the Center when they were on mission stand-by would see to it that the box was taken to the medical lab and the aforementioned MRI would be run on each jar to determine the contents. The resulting report would be delivered to Dr. Jackson.
Casey finished the etching of the tablet, glanced at her watch, put the paper on the desk. She bounced down the stairs and to the ladies room. She took her oversized handbag with her, pulled several Wet Ones from the box and cleaned up a bit, then applied more lotion. She decided that her purse was as safe there as in the office, so she hung it on one of the coat pegs beside the door as she left. Her heart was pounding against her ribs, images of what she and Daniel would be doing in just a few short minutes filled her head. She nearly ran to the back hall where the supply closets were located.
Daniel was leaning against the wall, waiting for her, a smile on his face.
"You said twenty minutes," she said, smiling in return.
"I was…anxious. You're early too," he replied, reaching out to pull her against him.
"I'm…anxious, as well," she said softly, reaching up to run her finger over his jaw. She shivered when he caught her hand and gently nipped at her finger.
He opened the door. One of these days he was going to have to oil that hinge. The light was already on, and the sounds of a couple in the throes of passion could be heard from one of the corners. He bit back a grin when Todd Lansing's bushy brown head came up, just visible between packages of pencils and ink pens. The young man blushed brightly behind his beard.
Stephanie Miller's head came up as well, her cheeks crimson. "Oh…uh…oh…"
Casey ducked her head, hid her smile against Daniel's shoulder.
"Sorry," Daniel managed to say without laughing. "Just be sure to lock the door the next time."
"Uh…y-y-yes sir," Todd stuttered.
He made sure the lock was engaged, closed the door and gave in to his laughter. "Guess we've been a bad influence."
"So it would seem," she giggled. "Conference room?"
His eyes flared with fire. "Great idea." His arm around her shoulders, hers around his waist, they headed back into the gallery.
"Hey, Danny!" Mike said, walking toward him. "I think you'd better take a look at this."
Daniel bit back a groan of impatience. 'Later, Angel. Conference room.'
She smiled. 'I'll be there. On the table waiting. Naked.'
This time Daniel did groan out loud, fighting to control his body. He gave her an exasperated look, made more so by the look of feigned innocence on her delicate features, then turned to face the approaching Immortal. "What's up, Mike?"
"Well, Ramir just packed three canopic jars. Then he passed out. Terry and one of the Marines took him to the infirmary. I'm going to take the box myself, it's marked for an MRI. And I think we should get it done right away." The Goa'uld script had the older Immortal more than a little nervous.
Daniel frowned. "Anything unusual about the jars?"
Now it was Casey's turn to frown. "He said there were Goa'uld inscriptions on them."
"Shit! Call Duncan, get a security team to the infirmary. Let him know we may have a Goa'uld loose. Where's that box? We have to get those jars checked out now!" Daniel said, already running towards the worktables in the back of the gallery.
Casey bolted for the nearest telephone, and passed on the message that she had been given. She ran to catch up, then followed Mike and Daniel as they carefully carried the box containing the three jars through the parking lot and toward the elevator that would take them into the belly of the mountain.
A A A A A A
Once inside the MRI room, Daniel and Mike gingerly pulled the jars out of the foam holders, and sat them on the table. The seals were intact, there were no cracks anywhere on the ceramic containers.
"Daniel?" Casey asked, her eyes wide. She could tell by his reaction that something was seriously, dangerously wrong.
"Osiris got loose from a jar just like these," he said softly. "Were there any other jars?"
Mike shook his head. "Just these. Inventory sheet said three. That's the first thing I checked."
Daniel nodded. "Okay, let's see how Ramir is."
Ramir, it turned out, was being prepped for surgery. His appendix was on the verge of bursting. Dr. Montigue told them that he was a lucky young man, and that he would be just fine.
Jack was standing just outside the infirmary door. "Déjà vu, huh, Danny? I remember this same thing happening to another archaeologist."
The young man grimaced. "Yeah, well, at least I was close enough to the infirmary for medical treatment."
"Just like Ramir," Jack grinned. "What is it with archaeologists and getting sick?"
"Must be the work," Daniel retorted, fighting a smile of his own. "Dealing with the dust and grime and germs from thousands of years ago."
"Good point," Jack conceded. "So what made you think we had a Goa'uld running loose?"
"Remember the canopic jars from the Steward Expedition?"
Jack frowned. "Sorry, not ringing any bells."
Daniel smiled. "When Osiris got loose?"
"That I remember," Jack groused. "Ruined a perfectly good fishing trip."
The smile widened, then faded quickly. "We have three of them, exactly the same. Well, the gods depicted on the outside are different. They're gods of Langara's ancient past. But the jars are identical. They're being looked at right now."
Duncan approached the group, a worried look on his face. "What's going on?"
"Daniel just found some jars, like the one Osiris was in. They're getting x-rayed right now."
The Scot nodded, and led the way back to the MRI room. "What's up with Ramir?"
"Appendix," Jack replied.
"Just like another archaeologist we all know, huh?" Duncan grinned, familiar with the story of Daniel's nearly ruptured appendix. Daniel rolled his eyes. Casey gave in to her urge and giggled.
A A A A A A
Mike was standing near the window that looked into the room where the MRI machine stood, watching as the first of the jars was carefully centered inside the rotating ring that would provide images of what was in the beautifully decorated ceramic container.
"Holy shit," the lab tech said. "Whatever is in there, according to these readings, it's alive!"
"Looks like Daniel was right to be nervous," Duncan said. "Jack, suggestions?"
"Open them up and kill the sons-of-bitches," was the blunt reply.
Duncan nodded. "Okay. Works for me. Daniel, any clue as to who we're dealing with?"
The young, dark-blonde man shook his head. "Give me a couple of hours."
"Let's put those things in a containment field. I want all you can find in…" Duncan checked the watch on his wrist, "two hours. Then we'll let the med teams have a look at them. They haven't had an abundance of live snakes to study. They can have a couple of hours; then we kill them."
Daniel nodded. He put his arm around Casey's shoulders and headed for the elevator and his office. "Case, see where those jars were found, then let me know," he said, getting out on level eighteen.
She nodded, accepted and returned his light kiss, then continued up to ground level.
Duncan looked around at the Marine and SF guards. "None of you alone, and none of you lose sight of each other or those jars."
"Got it, sir," the sergeant in charge replied.
A A A A A A
Daniel dropped down onto the chair behind the desk in his office. His heart was pounding against his ribs. Knowing that the jars held living Goa'uld had him nervous. No, not just nervous. It scared him to death to know that the damned creatures were down three levels…and alive. His hands tightened on the arms of the chair until his knuckles turned white. There was no way he was going to let it happen again…no way in hell! He picked up the phone, had Jack paged. "Jack, don't let Casey near them," he said hoarsely when the man answered. "Keep her away from them."
Jack closed his eyes. Knew how badly Daniel had taken it when Sarah had been infested by Osiris; blaming himself for not seeing the danger soon enough. The same way the young man had blamed himself for not being able to save Sha're, or prevent her from becoming a Goa'uld host. Not that Danny could have prevented either situation, he thought. "I'll make it a standing order. She won't be allowed in the same room, I promise."
"Anytime, Space Monkey."
He hung up, rubbed his hands over his face. The sooner the snakes in those jars were dead, the happier he'd be. He preferred that they be killed immediately, rather than risk them infesting someone and escaping. Daniel sighed, pulled the keyboard closer, turned on his computer, and began a search for information on the three Langaran 'gods'.
A A A A A A
Casey was busy going over the mission report that accompanied the crate of artifacts. The items had been located in what was left of a temple on P5R 922. Nothing unusual about the mission, no reports of trouble. So far all of the artifacts seemed to depict gods from Langara's ancient history. They were already tagged to be sent to Langara, a standing arrangement between the two worlds insured that any artifacts that were of relevance to either Earth or Langara would be transported to that world, although a 'fair' amount of time to study any items was insured. There was even a new agreement about displaying such artifacts in local museums, one of which would soon be finished in Hope.
"Uh…Mrs. Jackson, are you really busy?" Stephanie asked shyly.
She looked up and smiled. "I think I can spare a few minutes."
"Uh…about earlier…" the young woman blushed furiously.
"Stephanie, it's okay, there isn't any need to explain, or apologize. You're an adult, you're free to…um…associate…with whomever you please," Casey said softly.
"It's just that…well…Todd said that you and Doctor Jackson…well…do it…in the supply closets, and if you could, we could," Stephanie explained.
Now Casey's cheeks were flushed. "Well…uh…yeah…um…" She started to giggle. "Just make sure you lock the door next time. And tell Todd the conference room is off limits. No matter what he thinks Doctor Jackson and I may…or may not…do in there."
The young woman smiled. "I will."
Casey studied the young archaeologist. "So, is this true love, or just true lust?"
Stephanie giggled. "There's plenty of lust. But I think the love thing is happening. Todd is talking about getting a place together. There are two new apartment buildings going up near here, we might rent an apartment there."
"Sounds like a good plan. Live with him for awhile before you get serious," Casey advised.
"Is that what you and Doctor Jackson did?"
She couldn't help but giggle. "Yeah, we bought a house and lived together all of about a month before we were married. There are days I swear that if I'd known that he couldn't get socks into a hamper or would leave empty coffee mugs all over the house, I might have reconsidered!"
Now the young woman laughed. "I don't believe that for a minute! You and Doctor Jackson are so in love that it's-" She broke off, searching for the right word.
"Annoying?" Casey grinned.
"I was thinking more like amazing," Stephanie replied.
"That too." She looked up at the young woman again, realized that she and Todd had been 'preoccupied' when Ramir collapsed. "Oh, you probably don't know, Ramir passed out a little bit ago, he's in surgery now. His appendix was about to burst."
"Oh, my god!" Stephanie's cheeks went pale, her green eyes widened with shock.
"If you and Todd would like to go to the infirmary and be with him, that's fine. I know that the three of you are pretty close," Casey told the young woman gently.
Stephanie nodded. The attraction between her and Todd had happened the minute they were introduced to each other, although neither had been comfortable exploring that attraction too quickly. But the three young people, thrown into work at the Archaeological Center of Gamma together, had become best friends immediately. They even referred to themselves as the Three Musketeers. "Thank you. I'll let Todd know."
"I think Ramir would appreciate his best friends being there," Casey said softly.
"Not to mention that his best friends would feel better being there for him," was the smiling reply.
"I'll see you bright and early tomorrow morning," Casey said.
"Thanks, Mrs. Jackson."
"You're welcome, Stephanie." She watched the young woman walk away, then returned to reading the mission report.
'Case? What did you find?'
'The jars were found in a temple on P5R 922. No reports of trouble. There is a notation that the jars were set alone inside a stone altar near the rear of the temple, one that appeared to be used for human sacrifices. From what I can see of the inscriptions in the photos, I think that 'sacrifice' should be replaced with 'execution'. That's what it looks like to me, anyway.'
'Bring the photos on over here. We have a meeting in about fifteen minutes.'
'On my way.'
'Stay away from the med level.'
'What?' She frowned. She had planned to stop in just long enough to check on Ramir.
'You heard me. Just do it.' His voice was firm…hard.
She was about to argue when Osiris's face flashed through her memory. Sarah! He blamed himself for her being taken by that snake…he was afraid…She reached out and gently caressed him. 'I promise, My Heart.'
In his office, Daniel closed his eyes when he felt her gentle, soothing touch. Relaxed when she promised to comply with his wishes. 'Love you, Angel.'
'Love you too.' She leaned back against the wall of the elevator. If Osiris was alive, she'd yank the snake out of Sarah with her bare hands and tear it to pieces. Daniel had suffered so much - lost two women he had loved to the Goa'uld, both infested with the damned things. She shook her head. It was a wonder he had been willing to give their relationship a chance! She smiled at that thought. Destiny couldn't be avoided, she supposed, and they were well aware of the fact that she was his Destiny, and he was hers.
As soon as she walked into his office she crossed the room, dropped the folder of photographs on his desk, grabbed him by the front of the shirt and pulled him to his feet. "I need a kiss," she whispered, just before she leaned up and pressed her lips to his, locking her arms behind his neck.
Daniel moaned softly, wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. He ran his tongue over her lips, pushed into her mouth when she opened to him. He stroked her, tasted her, reassuring himself that she was alive and safe and in his arms. He pulled away slowly, looked down into green eyes burning with Fire and filled with love. "How was that?"
She sighed. "Incredible, as always. I really wanted to go to the Conference Room. Which, by the way, I told Stephanie was off limits, no matter what Todd said."
"What?" He looked as confused as he sounded.
She recounted her conversation with the young archaeologist, pointing out that obviously their trysts were not as secret as she had been led to believe.
Daniel chuckled. "So, I guess this means that we can't make love in the supply closets any more?"
She tightened her arms around his neck. "Oh, I never said that. I just made sure that we'll always have a place to…um…tryst."
"God, I love you," he whispered, just before he kissed her again.
Casey pulled away, her eyes on his lips for a few seconds. "I love you, Stud Muffin. We'd better get to that meeting."
"Yep, we'd better." He hugged her tightly once more, gathered the information he had printed out, and added the photos she had brought with her. Arm in arm, they walked toward the elevator.
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