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Forever And Ever, Amen
Casey lowered her sword, put her hands on her hips, and stared at Duncan. "You’re going where?"
"I’m going with Methos to that planet, uh… PX-something, where all of the tablets about the Immortals were found."
Duncan shrugged, and turned away from her. So I won’t have to be so near you, and yet so far from you, he thought. "Because Methos thinks he’ll be there for some time, and I thought I’d keep him company."
Casey knew about the mission. Methos was indeed going to be spending a great deal of time there. Several of the videos weren’t clear enough for a definite translation. Daniel wanted to go as well, but SG-1 had a mission for the Tok’ra to take care of first. As soon as that was finished, SG-1 would join the two Immortals on PX3-695. "Duncan, what is going on? You barely talk to me any more! This is the most you’ve spoken to me in days!"
Duncan’s eyes darted to the diamond on her left hand, then to the floor. He remained mute, not trusting himself to speak.
"Duncan, can’t we at least be friends?"
The Immortal snorted, and shook his head. "No, Casey, we can’t. I love you. I do’nae wanna be your ‘friend’. I want to be your hus-" he cut of the remark with a bitter curse.
She refused let the man standing in front of her make her feel guilty. She was happy, truly happy, for the first time in years. She couldn’t remember ever being this happy. It was true, she did love Duncan. But she was in love with Daniel. They were planning a wedding for the Fourth of July. She walked to the bench, carefully returning her sword to its case. When she was finished, she turned around and looked at the man who stood watching her, raw hunger in his eyes. "Damn it, Duncan, don’t do this to me!"
"I can’nae help the way I feel, lass," he said softly. He walked over to where she stood, putting his own sword away.
Casey reached out to touch his arm. And was horrified when she felt as if she had been electrocuted. She felt the flames spread throughout her body.
Duncan looked down at her, shock in his own eyes. The skin on his arm was aflame.
"Oh, god, no!" Casey whispered. "Not again!"
"You’d better go, Casey," Duncan said, his own body on fire. He was suddenly more aware of the smell of her skin, the smell of her hair, the sweat on her body. He could just make out the dark shadow of her nipples under her white tee shirt. He began to perspire heavily.
Casey nodded weakly, backing towards the door.
"Go, lass, before I can’nae control myself." The need to feel her body beneath him again was growing stronger by the second. This time he couldn't blame his reactions on a Quickening. And this time, the fire was much, much worse.
Casey ran out of the warehouse. She heard Duncan’s roar of frustration, the sound causing her blood to burn in her veins. She had to force herself not to turn around and go back to him. ‘He burns for you,’ the voice that had been silent for so long whispered in her brain. ‘Take the fire to him, burn with him. You belong to him,’ the voice told her. "No! I belong to no man! I love Daniel Jackson!" she screamed, her fists beating her legs. She looked up into the sky. "Leave me alone!"
Duncan was battling his own demons. He held the doorframe tightly, his knuckles white, trying to force his body to remain still. He heard Casey’s cry of torment, and it fanned the flames that burned within him. ‘Go to her, feel her fire,’ the voice demanded. ‘She belongs to you. Take what is rightfully yours.’ "Go to hell," he ground out, his jaw aching from clenching it so tightly.
When he could no longer see her, the fire began to die down. His skin was still warmer than normal, and where her hand had touched him, the skin was still red. Whatever was going on, it was getting stronger. Duncan had no doubt that the next time it happened, he would take Casey, willing or not. He wiped a towel over his face and went in search of Methos.
A A A A A A
Methos dropped down into the chair in front of Jack’s desk. "We have a very serious problem," he said.
"Ya think?" Jack asked, already aware of what was happening between Duncan and Casey. The young woman had just left his office. She had spent thirty minutes sobbing out her story, telling him about the voice, and what had happened. She showed him the burn marks on her fingers, where she had touched the Scot. He had sent her to tell Daniel, telling her that the archaeologist needed to know what was going on.
"We’ve got to get them back there, and try and ‘exorcise’ these demons, beings, whatever they are," Methos declared.
"I just gave the order to get ready. You and MacLeod need to be ready as well. Embarkation time is 1400 hours."
Methos nodded and hurried to the room he shared with Duncan. He had left the Scot there, lying on his bed, wet towels covering his overheated body.
A A A A A A
Casey sobbed as she told Daniel everything that had happened. He stood, leaning against his desk, head down, his arms wrapped around his mid-section, as if trying to protect himself from her words. Tears streaming down her face, Casey took the ring from her finger and held it out to him.
"I take it that this means you don’t want to marry me," Daniel said flatly.
"Don’t want to? I want that more than anything in the world!" Casey cried. "But after what I just told you, how could you still want to marry me?"
"Aw, babe, don’t you know me any better than that?" Daniel reached out and grabbed a lock of her hair, twisting its softness between his fingers. "I’ll admit I’m hurt that you slept with him, but geez, Case, I don’t think you had much of a choice! I don’t think you were in control at the time. I’ve been around enough weird crap to not be too surprised by this. It hurts me that you’re hurting, and that you’re a victim in this. But I’m not angry with you, and I sure as hell am not willing to let you walk out of my life just because some alien is trying to control you!"
Casey flung herself into his arms. Her sobs shook both of them
Daniel held her tight, whispering in her ear. "You’re forever My Star, babe. I’m never going to turn you away, no matter what happens. I’ll be there for you always."
Eventually the tears stopped. Daniel helped her pack her gear for the mission, stowing the diamond ring safely in a locked drawer in his desk. They walked to the gate room hand in hand.
Methos brought Duncan in just as the third chevron locked. The tall Scot groaned beside him. "I need some help here!" he called out as Duncan began to fight him, trying to get to Casey. Two SF’s helped Methos hold the large man in check.
Casey slid to her knees, the fire raging in her body nearly unbearable. Daniel picked her up, ready to run through the gate as soon as the event horizon opened. At last the seventh chevron locked, the "whoosh" signaled the opening, and Daniel raced through.
Daniel led the group to the temple. By now Casey was unconscious in his arms. He slid to a halt when he saw the long, wide alter. It was glowing. He transferred Casey to Teal'c’s waiting arms, and dug in his backpack for the etchings Casey had made of the stone tablets. He hastily read the glyphs. "We have to put them on the altar," he said.
Duncan was nearly incoherent as Methos and the SF’s led him to the glowing stone. Every glyph on the ancient pier appeared to be on fire. Flames began to surround them.
Teal'c laid Casey next to the Scot, her skin almost too warm to touch. He stepped back, waiting for Daniel to figure out what was to be done.
Before anything more could be said, Duncan and Casey began to levitate. They were held by some invisible force, their arms stretched out at their sides, their heads thrown back. Flames shot up from the altar and surrounded them.
Suddenly the apparition of an old man appeared just above the two floating Immortals. "Last to one, one to last, strong hearts burn with the fire. Blood boils, hearts burn, one from two, two as one," it intoned.
"No!" Daniel whispered hoarsely.
"Daniel, what’s going on?" Sam asked, holding her P90 at the ready.
"A marriage ceremony," Daniel said dully.
"Highlander, your blood boils for the one named Casey. Do you burn for her?"
Duncan fought to lift his head. Even through the flames he could see the tears streaking her cheeks. It would be so easy. To take the vow, give her no choice. He looked into her green eyes. "No," he managed to say.
"Youngest of all, mother of the future, will you share the fire with the Highlander?"
Casey struggled to catch her breath. "I…love…Daniel…Jackson! I…will…not…" she gasped.
Suddenly the flames were gone, and Duncan and Casey were dropped onto the altar. The fires that seemed to be burning everywhere had disappeared.
"Damned peculiar!" a voice clucked from somewhere near the huge pile of stone.
Daniel led the group of spectators to the altar. A slight man with wrinkled skin and snow-white hair and beard hurried out to greet them.
"Most unexpected," the old man continued to cluck. The old man hobbled up to each member of the group, staring deeply into their eyes, then moving on to the next. When he had finished, he went back to where Casey and Duncan lay, and put a withered hand on each of their heads. "Damned peculiar!"
"What is ‘damned peculiar’?" Daniel asked finally.
"That the two who were chosen in the Time of Yesterday will not bond! He is The One! She is the The Youngest of All, the Last! They will breed a new race of Immortals to protect the innocent!"
Methos stepped forward. "Why these two? Why not another pair of Immortals?" His thoughts fleeting touched on another couple, wed for nearly four hundred years. Robert and Gina would be perfect for this ‘job’.
"They were chosen in the Time of Yesterday. It is their destiny!"
"You didn’t think that they might have their own ideas about who they loved?" Methos asked.
The old man stopped his clucking and whirled to look at the young/old man. He began to cackle. "As a matter of fact, we didn’t!" He hobbled up to Daniel again. "You’re not one of us," he said matter-of-factly. "But you’ve walked with those who travel the stars," he added.
Daniel was taken aback. "I was Ascended."
"What happen, they kick you out?" the old man asked with a grin.
"Well, yes," Daniel admitted.
"Because I broke the rules. I couldn’t stand by and watch my friends be killed."
"Humph. You’re not one of us. A good man, but not one of us."
"I’m not Immortal, no," Daniel replied.
"Yet she chooses you over The One. Damned peculiar." Without warning the old man grabbed Daniel’s face with his gnarled hands. He stared into Daniel’s blue eyes. He then hobbled to where Casey still lay, barely conscious.
He put his hands on her face, turning her towards him, staring deeply into her eyes. The old man cackled again. "Well now, that's different. We’ve waited for this long, I suppose we can wait a few more decades."
Daniel stepped closer. "Does that mean…"
The old man looked up at him. "It means, mortal, that she can have her time with you. You won’t last forever, you know!"
Daniel couldn’t help but smile. "I know."
"Never did figure on the heart of a woman. Seems to me one of the women on the council warned of this very thing…what was her name? Quite a looker, great sense of humor. No patience though." The humans around him began to smile. Once again the old man turned his attention to the two Immortals on the altar. "Fire from blood, fire from heart, until it is time, do now depart! Time be again, hearts will burn. Come to this place, two become one. Hearts burn together, when next they return."
Duncan sat up, his head pounding. He reached over and helped Casey to sit up. The fire was gone. He smiled weakly at her.
The old man stood in front of them, his hands on his bony hips. "Now, when that mortal is gone, you two come back here. We have a ceremony to finish."
Casey climbed off of the altar, and bent to place a kiss on the cheek of the shrunken old man. "Thank you," she said softly.
The old man cackled again. He turned to Daniel. "Oh, she’s a charmer, isn’t she? No wonder your mere mortal heart couldn’t resist her!" He turned back to Casey. "Don’t you forget to come back here! If you do, the fire will return. I can only put it to sleep, I can’t remove it, you know. I’ve sent it back into your subconscious, but it’s still there."
"How long…" Casey asked.
"Not more than a hundred years. Probably closer to seventy-five, although you might get eighty," the old man said.
Casey closed her eyes for a second, a small smile on her lips. Seventy-five years was enough.
"What is your name, Revered One?" Daniel asked.
"Revered One?" The old man laughed, so hard that it brought on a coughing fit. "Revered One! I’m just the Registrar. I only perform and record the ceremonies, I don’t do any of that magical mumbo jumbo. I leave that to Merlin. He’s a big show off, but he gets the job done," he confided. "Most folks just call me Reggie."
"Is that your name?"
Another laughing fit ensued. "You know, it’s been so long since I’ve been asked what my name is that I’ll be damned if I can remember!"
"How old are you, Reggie?" Methos asked.
"Just full of questions, aren’t you? Well, that’s the way of children, always asking questions. Best way to learn, don’t you know. Hmm, let’s see, if I can remember exactly, it’s been, hmm, according to the Earth calendar, don’t remember my actual birthday, but I think it’s close to a million, million and a half. That’s in your terms, you understand."
"A million years? That’s incredible!" Daniel exclaimed.
"Could be a million and a half. I am Immortal, you know!" the old man harrumphed.
"Reggie, could you tell us how the Game started?" Methos asked.
"Game? What game?" The withered old man turned sharply to look at him.
Duncan was on his feet now, standing near Daniel and Casey. "The Game that forces us to fight one another, taking the Quickening of the defeated. There can be only one, and the last Immortal wins the Prize," Duncan explained.
"What kind of balderdash is that? Taking one another’s Quickening? If you do that, just how do you expect to protect the Innocents? Never heard of such a thing!" the old man was hobbling back to his perch behind the altar.
The two older Immortals exchanged a glance. "Reggie, how can we convince the others, those who haven’t witnessed this, that the Game is false?" Methos inquired, sitting down next to the ancient man.
"Well, let me see here…" he began to fumble in the wide sleeves of his robe. He pulled out a small, metal sphere. "My answer ball," he explained. He shook the globe, and then stared into it for a minute. "Ask me later, it says." He cackled again, slapping his knee. He looked up at the tall Scot, his head as far back as it would go. "You are the one, Duncan MacLeod, Highlander. Leader of the Immortals. When you tell them, they will listen." He put the metal sphere into the Scot’s hand. "Take this. It will help you. It will let you know what to do when the time comes."
"But…" Duncan began to argue.
"No buts, youngster. You are the one. They will listen. Got to get this nonsense stopped. Should have checked in on that backward little planet more often, I guess. Well, that’s not my call, that’s up to the Council."
"Are there Immortals on other planets?" Daniel asked. He had the camcorder out and was recording, his eyes moving from the viewfinder to the old man and back again.
"Of course there are! How can they protect the Innocent if they’re not there?"
Methos studied the old man. "Are the ‘innocent’ to know about us?"
Reggie cackled yet again. "Not only no, but hell no! Mortals don’t take kindly to being reminded of their mortality. Nope, they wouldn’t trust an Immortal. Oh, sure, there will be mortals you can trust. Just don’t go around proclaiming you Immortality in the marketplace. You just do what you need to do…quietly. And when you’re needed, you use the power you’ve been given to help protect those Innocents, do you understand me, boy?
A grin spread over Methos’ face. "Yes, old man, I do."
Daniel was in full ‘scientist mode’ now, and was bursting with questions. "Reggie, do you know of the Ancients? Are the Immortals related to the Ancients? Did the Immortals help set up the Stargates?"
"Boy, the Ancients are called the Ancients because that’s what they are! Ancient! They were here when time began, or so it’s said. They built the Stargates, set up the entire network long before most of the life in this galaxy existed. They’ve been gone longer than I’ve been the around. And yes, Immortals are related to the Ancients. They created us. And no, we didn’t help with the Stargates. They were already old in existence by the time we came to be."
"Why don’t we know-" Methos started to ask.
"I don’t have time for any more questions. I have a birth to Register. Now where did I put that book…" The old man looked up when none of the visitors made a move to leave. "Go on home now." He pointed a bony finger at Duncan, then at Casey. "A hundred years, tops. Then you get back here and finish the ceremony!"
"It’s a promise," Casey said, smiling at Duncan as she slipped her arm around Daniel’s waist.
Reggie turned to Methos. "When the ceremony is completed, you’ll have all of your answers. All the 'whys' that haunt you now. You help the one. He has to stop this ‘game’ nonsense."
Methos placed a hand on Duncan’s shoulder. "I will, Old Man."
As the group made their way back to the star gate, Daniel scooped Casey into his arms. "Don’t want you to wind up married to anybody else before we get home," he told her, a grin on his face.
She kissed his cheek. "The only one I’m marrying in the foreseeable future is an archaeologist by the name of Doctor Daniel Jackson."
"Yeah?" Daniel grinned. "I’ve heard of him. Good looking, genius type, right?"
"And oh, so modest too," Casey giggled.
When they reached the gate room, Jack raced down from the control room to greet them. "So, how did it go?"
"We met a really sweet old man who didn’t realize that Duncan and I aren’t getting married," Casey said. "For awhile." She winked at the Highlander.
Duncan winked back at her. His heart still ached. He loved Casey, would always love her, and he wanted her now. But knowing that he would have her, and that she would be his wife for eternity helped to ease the sting a bit. He had a big job ahead of him. It would probably take him the next one hundred years to stop the Game. If only they had known, so many of his friends would still be alive; Darius, Sean, Fitzcairn, Greggor, Marcus, Amanda…Richie. He looked over again at the woman he loved, watched her standing there, her arms wrapped around the mortal she loved. Daniel was already past thirty. He figured the man had sixty years at the most. And sixty years could pass very quickly, he knew.
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