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Forever And Ever, Amen

Chapter 6

For an hour Duncan did nothing more than show Casey a range of stances, explaining each carefully before moving to the next. He had her swing her sword in a variety of ways to determine if it was too long, too heavy, or too awkward for her to use.

He was standing behind her, his hands over hers as he taught her how to swing the sword in a smooth, flowing motion. The sweet smell of her hair tickled his nose. He licked his lips, fighting to keep from placing a kiss on the side of her face, just above her temple.

Casey tried to ignore the body behind her. She could smell the masculine scent of his sweat, and it was driving her to distraction. She was falling in love with Daniel. So why was she responding to Duncan this way? She felt as if something deep inside her was stirring, something she had no name for, no words to describe. She fought to keep herself from leaning back against him as Duncan showed her again how to swing in one long arc. Unable to take his closeness any longer, she slipped away from him. Turned around and looked up at his face, saw the flash of raw desire in his eyes before he moved away from her.

"Now that you know the basics, let’s see if you can apply what you’ve learned," he said, stepping toward the edge of the mat they had thrown onto the floor. He held his own sword ready, and then began to attack.

Casey struggled to put to use what he had told her. Within minutes, however, she was clearly losing the fight.

"Halt!" Duncan said.

"I’m sorry, Duncan," Casey said, shaking her head. "I was trying to remember everything you said…"

Duncan grinned. "Considering you’ve never held a sword before, and you’ve only been holding it for an hour or so, you’re doing okay. I just wanted to see if you’d been paying attention."

"I was, I just couldn’t think fast enough!" Casey responded. She dropped to the floor, and sat cross-legged, breathing hard.

"That’s what practice is all about. It won’t take long until your mind will be ahead of your body," he said, looking down at the top of her blonde head. He tried to ignore the fact that from this vantage point he could see down her scoop-necked tee shirt. The top curves of her breasts were just visible. He could feel a stirring in his groin.

Casey snorted. "Good thing we’re both immortal. The way I just responded, it’ll take decades, maybe centuries!"

Duncan laughed. "You didn’t do as badly as you think. That you could parry as well as you did tells me that you’ll learn quickly."

"Ha!" was Casey’s only reply.

"Okay, let’s go over the basic stances one more time, then we’ll call it a day," Duncan said. He offered his hand to the young woman, pulling her to her feet. The weight of the sword in her hand caused her to stumble against him as she stood. He felt his entire body harden at the contact.

Casey gasped and stepped away. She ducked her head so that Duncan couldn’t see the shock in her eyes, or the color that was rising in her face. The brief contact had sent a bolt of fire through her body. She took a deep breath, looked up and forced a smile. She was too stunned to notice the look of surprise in Duncan’s eyes.

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

Forty-five minutes later, Casey stood in the shower and let the warm water flow over her body. Her mind was in turmoil. She loved Daniel. She had no doubt about that. So what was going on between her and Duncan? She had never responded to any man like that before. She didn’t even know him, for crying out loud! Nor was she some hormonal teenager! She shook her head. Maybe it had just been so long since she had been with a man that her body was responding to any male who got near her. She refused to dwell on the fact that she hadn’t felt that type of response when she had been in hand-to-hand combat training with Jack. Being close to Teal'c during her "basic training" hadn’t aroused her either. She sighed. Maybe it was just the soap, or cologne, or whatever it was that Duncan used. Pheromones, that was it. Just good old-fashioned biology. Her heart was in no danger of being pulled in two.

Daniel was sitting at his desk, bent over a stone tablet when Casey entered his office some thirty minutes later. He didn’t even notice her arrival. With a grin, Casey slipped up behind him, put her arms around his shoulders, and began kissing his neck. He smelled of soap and coffee and a little bit of dust.

"What the-" he jerked, taken by surprise. His face lit up as he realized what was happening. He turned his head and kissed her. "Hi, there," he said.

"Hi, yourself."

"So how was your…uh…lesson?"

Casey hoped that he didn’t see the blush that rose to her cheeks. "Interesting. It’s a good thing I’m immortal. It’ll take forever for me to learn how to use a sword," she declared. She let go of him, and began to wander around his office, looking at the collection of artifacts that covered every surface. Every surface that wasn’t covered with books, that is.

"Have you had anything to eat yet?" Daniel asked her, watching her as she examined his office. He smiled as she frowned over several stone fertility statues. He'd have to remember to explain them to her later.

She shook her head. "Nope. You?"

"I was waiting for you," he said softly.

Casey smiled, delighted that he wanted to have breakfast with her. She walked back over to him, and leaned against the edge of his desk. "I’m glad you did," she replied, running her finger down his cheek. She grabbed his hand. "Let’s go, I’m starving!"

Daniel laughed and stood up, lifting her hand to his lips. "So am I," he replied. His eyes told her that food was not what he was thinking of, however. 

A thrill ran through her, even as she shivered from the gentle caress.

When they arrived in the commissary, Jack and Sam were there as well. Jack was finishing off a bowl of fruit loops when they sat down. Greetings were exchanged all around, then Jack turned his attention to Casey.

"So, how did the Errol Flynn stuff go?" he asked.

Casey grinned. "I was just telling Daniel it’s a good thing I’m immortal. It’ll take forever for me to learn how to use that thing!"

"I told you, you did better than you think," a voice above her said.

She looked up into Duncan’s smiling face. "I say again, Ha!"

Duncan smiled, and motioned with the tray he carried. "May I join you?"

The others at the table nodded their consent, and he sat down beside Casey. For a brief second Casey had a flash of premonition, that she would forever be caught between these two men. She shook her head mentally, smiled at Daniel, who winked back at her, and nibbled at a piece of toast.

"How long will it be before Casey is able to defend herself against other Immortals?" Sam asked, a worried frown on her face.

Duncan took a sip of his coffee before answering. "It will be at least a month, possibly longer, before I would consider her able to take on a challenger. And that is only if we practice every day. Like I said, she’s doing better than she thinks she is. Repetition is the key. The basics are easy. Learning to use them without thinking about it is the hard part."

"What happens if she gets challenged before she’s ready?" Jack asked.

Duncan frowned. "We’ll just have to make sure that that doesn’t happen."

"Meaning that she doesn’t leave the mountain alone," Daniel said.

Duncan had already been considering this problem, still angry that she had been allowed to leave the mountain the night before with Jackson. He had a way of preventing that from happening again. "Meaning that she doesn’t leave the mountain without Methos or me with her," Duncan corrected him. "If there is another Immortal nearby, we’ll sense it, and be able to get her to safety."

"But Casey can sense other Immortals," Daniel argued stubbornly.

"Aye, she can. But her Quickening is…young. Other Immortals will sense that. As she gets older, she’ll learn how to 'mute' her Quickening, making it less noticeable. Other Immortals can sense when a Quickening is being muted, but they can’t tell by how much. Usually the older the Immortal, the more muted the Quickening is. Often that will prevent a challenge from being issued. But with a 'new' Immortal, the Quickening is full force, and most Immortals see taking on a young one as an easy Quickening. Some actually seek out new Immortals," Duncan explained. It was all the truth, and he was using it to his advantage.

"I don’t see what that has to-" Daniel started.

"If Methos or I are with her," Duncan interrupted, "Other Immortals will sense our muted Quickening in the same location as Casey’s 'young' Quickening. They will know that she is under the protection of another Immortal. Thus they won’t be as eager to make themselves known, or issue a challenge."

"Makes sense," Jack said, nodding. He looked at Casey. "Okay, kiddo, until MacLeod says you’re ready to take on a fight, you don’t leave here without him or Methos, okay?"

"I understand," Casey agreed.

"Jack! That’s not-" Daniel started to protest.

"Daniel, enough!" Jack was well aware of the reason for his best friend's objections. But that jealousy wouldn't do Casey any good if it got her beheaded. A little fact he just needed to remind the archaeologist about. "Think about this for a minute, will ya? The primary concern here is Casey’s safety, right?"

"I guess so," Daniel mumbled.

"Okay. There you have it. Danny, I know that you’d never let anything happen to Casey if you could prevent it. But this is one time when none of us are qualified to do the job. Casey could be at risk with us if we were to go out with her alone. Duncan isn’t saying that you, or any of us, can’t go outside with her, he’s just saying that he or Methos need to be along as well."

Duncan hid his displeasure at Jack’s explanation by taking another sip of coffee. He would rather Casey go nowhere without him specifically, and he would prefer to not have Jackson tagging along at all. He refused to acknowledge the fact that technically he would be the one tagging along.

Daniel put his arm across the back of Casey’s chair. "I understand," he sighed. I just don’t like it, he added silently to himself. He turned his attention to the woman beside him. "So are you ready to tackle ancient Mayan?"

"Is that what you were working on?" Casey asked.

Daniel nodded. "Actually, it’s a form of ancient Mayan, with some other influences added in. That’s because the group of Mayans that were taken to this planet continued to evolve, while here on Earth they disappeared. The very disappearance of the Mayans from Earth could explain why we’ve found several planets that seem to have Mayan origin. The Mayans could have been taken en masse from Earth and relocated in small groups on different planets. There are theories that the ancient Mayans have some ties with the Babylonians, and the Sumerians before them. We don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that the people who became the Mayans were from what is now the Middle East. We know that Africans had made the trip to South America long before Western civilization’s explorers came around-"

Jack groaned. "I think I’ll go hit myself in the head with a hammer for awhile."

Both Sam and Daniel looked at him and grinned.

Casey frowned. "Don’t you find this interesting, Jack? I think it’s fascinating."

The look on Jack’s face had them all laughing.

"I want to learn as much as I can," Casey said softly, her eyes locked with the blue eyes of the man beside her, "so I can help Daniel with his work, with translations or whatever."

"Oh great," Jack moaned. "You’ll be collecting rocks and doohickeys with all the enthusiasm of these two! Now I’m glad I don’t go off world any more. Those two are bad enough, but putting up with three of you would be more than I could take!" More laughter followed his declaration.

Duncan quietly excused himself. Casey’s interest in Daniel’s work cut him like a knife. He tried to force the pain down. Why couldn’t he quit thinking about her? Why did she haunt him so? He would go back to the warehouse and practice his kata until he was too exhausted to think. And in the morning, he would go through the sweet torture of being near her again.

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

It was nearly nine that evening before Daniel called a halt to their work. They had eaten both lunch and dinner in his office. Casey had been so absorbed in what she was learning, that she barely touched either meal. Daniel watched her as she puzzled over a group of pictographs he had written out on a piece of paper.

"Either I’m not getting this at all, Doctor Jackson," Casey finally said, a shy smile on her face, "or this is a seduction!"

"Really?" Daniel said, pretending to be seriously studying the paper. "What does it say?"

Casey picked up the paper and turned to face him. She cleared her throat. "My sun rises in your smile, my stars twinkle in your eyes. My body aches to worship you." She put the paper down, and put her arms around his neck. "Is that about right?"

Daniel kissed her. "That’s about right. My place or yours?"

Casey giggled. "Let’s try my place. They found us at yours."

Daniel grinned, his lips against her cheek. "Lead on, My Star."

The door had barely closed behind them when they turned to one another, lips eagerly seeking lips, hands roaming over bodies.

"Too many clothes," Casey murmured, pulling at Daniel’s shirt, fumbling with the buttons. She stopped long enough for Daniel to pull her tee shirt over her head. He had already disposed of her bra by the time her trembling fingers had managed to get all of the buttons undone and the shirt off of his shoulders.

Daniel sat down on the edge of the bed, pulling her to stand between his thighs. He kissed each pink nipple, feeling the buds harden against his tongue. His hands caressed, squeezed, massaged her breasts as he moved his mouth from one to the other. He suckled greedily, giving each breast ample attention. Casey’s breath was coming in ragged gasps as he worked her jeans loose and pushed them off her hips and to her knees. Her panties followed. He kissed her flat abdomen, then lowered his head to taste of her, licking the delicate skin between her thighs, finding the moist flesh salty and sweet and intoxicating. She was soon trembling beneath his lips.

Before he could take his fill, Casey pushed him back on the bed, stripped her jeans and panties completely off, and then unfastened his pants. His breath caught in his throat as she slid her hand under the waistband of his boxers, and began to stroke his hard shaft. "Lift your hips," she whispered, and he complied. With a bit of effort she stripped him as naked as she now was. Her eyes widened slightly at the sight of his fully naked, and totally aroused body. He was magnificent! With a moan, she lowered her head and took his throbbing manhood into her mouth, her hand working on that part of him she couldn't accommodate.

"Oh, god," he whispered, his hands filling themselves with her hair. His fingers massaged her scalp even as her tongue did the same to his body. Before she could send him to paradise, he pushed her away, then maneuvered them until she was lying beneath him. He began to kiss her neck, her jaw, her lips. His knee was between her legs, he gently spread them apart, poised above her. She wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him closer. With one hand she guided him into the warm folds of her body.

"Yes," she whispered, as he pushed deeper. Her arms wound around his shoulders, her tongue tracing patterns over the skin of his chest as he began to move against her. Her hips met his, thrust for thrust.

In the back of his mind, the fact registered that she had taken all of him. Coherent thought was pushed away as the sensations of their lovemaking flooded his mind, washed over his body.

The room was filled with the sound of their labored breathing. Daniel led her to the brink of pleasure, only to deny her what she so craved. He slowed his movements, began kissing her, whispering soft words of love in her ear. She whimpered beneath him, trying to take what he would not give. He moved above her, barely remaining inside her body.

"Please," she begged.

Daniel plunged into her once again. For the second time he took her to the edge of ecstasy, only to deny that which he promised. By now Casey was nearly mad with desire. She surprised him with a push, and didn’t stop until she was straddling him, his shaft now buried deep inside her. She began to move against him, her body thrumming with sensation. Just as she began to crest the top of her climax, Daniel reversed their positions and began to pound into her shuddering body. With a moan, he reached his own climax and poured himself into her.

"My god, I’ve never had an orgasm that strong," Casey whispered, when she could finally breath again.

"So, uh, it was okay, huh?" Daniel asked, still panting slightly, a smile on his face. He rolled to his back, taking her with him, staying inside of her.

Casey raised up enough to look at him. "Okay? Daniel, I never knew it could be so…so …like that!"

"You were married, surely you…"

Casey shook her head. "I was lucky if he took the time to make sure I was ready enough that it wouldn’t hurt. When he was interested enough to even have sex with me, that is."

Daniel pulled her close, his arms wrapped tightly around her slender frame. "You deserve so much better. You should be…" he hesitated.

"Should be what?" Casey prompted softly.

"Worshipped." Daniel whispered.

"Oh, Daniel!" Tears filled her eyes. Never had she felt so wanted, so desired, so…loved.

"Hey, what are these about?" He asked softly, wiping tears from her cheeks with the back of one finger.

She shook her head. "I’ve just never felt like this before."

"Like what?"

"So…wanted."

"Oh, I want you alright. Same way I want to breathe."

Casey smiled. She lifted her head and kissed his chin.

"Fact is, Ms. Webster, I think I’ve fallen in love with you," Daniel admitted quietly.

"Really? That’s good. I think I’ve fallen in love with you, too, Doctor Jackson." Casey put her head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat, loving the fact that he was still inside her.

Having had less than three hours sleep the night before, the lovers drifted to sleep, clinging to one another.

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

Luckily Casey had had the foresight to set her alarm. It’s incessant buzzing brought her from her slumber. She and Daniel were lying side by side, curled together like spoons. She reached up and slapped at the annoying noise. She felt Daniel kiss her bare shoulder blade.

"Guess you should probably get up and go, you don’t want to be late for your lesson," Daniel told her sleepily.

"I guess I should. I think I’ll take a quick shower first, though," she smiled.

Daniel grinned. "Wonder if we’d get caught taking a shower together?"

Casey giggled. "I dunno. Want to find out?"

Daniel pretended to consider it. "Nah, better not. Jack would toss me off the base."

"So? You can still sleep in here with me," Casey replied, grinning broadly.

"If I know Jack, he’d just send in the Marines to drag me out, kicking and screaming."

"Then we’ll just avoid the entire mess, and I’ll shower alone. I won’t like it, but it’s better than having the Marines bodily drag you from my bed," Casey said, her eyes dancing.

Daniel laughed. "That’s the only way you’ll get me out of your bed, woman!"

Casey turned her head so that she could kiss him, then threw the covers back, wondering when during the night they had managed to get under the blankets. "I’ll see you in your office as soon as I’m finished. As sweaty as I get, I know I’ll want to take another shower when I’m done with the sword work."

"I’ll be waiting." Daniel crawled out of the bed and began to pull on his clothes. "I have got to have a cup of coffee," he said. He pulled Casey into his arms, kissed her, and then opened the door. "I love you," he said softly.

"I love you, too," was her quiet reply.

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

Duncan was waiting for her when she opened the door to the warehouse. She checked her watch as she walked over to where he was standing.

"You’re not late," he said, noticing her action.

"Then you’re early," she grinned.

"Something like that." He tried to smile at her.

Casey noted the dark circles under his eyes. "Duncan, are you alright? You look…tired," she said.

He winced. "I didn’t sleep well last night," was all he would say. He wouldn’t tell her that he had awakened before three a.m., the dreams he'd been having about her forcing him into the shower to stand under cold water until he could regain control of his body. He had given up on sleep, and had instead come to the warehouse, where he had worked on his kata, desperately trying to force her from his mind.

"Look, if you need to get some rest, we can do this later," Casey offered.

Beautiful, charming, funny, sensitive…and compassionate. Duncan nearly groaned out loud. How was he to resist this woman when she continued to show him facets of herself that attracted him like a bee to honey? He shook his head, and forced another smile. "You need to be trained."

She opened the long, wooden case that held the sword he had given her. She picked up the weapon, still awed that such a deadly thing could be so beautiful. She ran her finger lightly over the detailed scrollwork that covered the hilt.

Duncan watched her, delighted that she was pleased with the sword he had chosen for her. She had gasped when he had presented it to her the day before, staring at it for several minutes, then looking up at him, her eyes bright with appreciation. "It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful!" she had told him, her voice low and breathless.

"I still can’t believe that you’re just going to give me this," Casey said, breaking into his thoughts.

He mentally shook himself, forcing his mind back into the moment. "Such a beautiful sword deserves to have an equally beautiful owner," he told her, his voice betraying none of the emotion he felt.

She looked up at him and smiled. "It certainly had a beautiful owner before me," she said shyly. "Or handsome, if you’d rather." What was she doing? It seemed that not only her body was reacting to this man, so was her mind! She felt as if she were watching herself from the outside, unable to stop what was happening.

Duncan felt himself blushing at the compliment. He hadn’t blushed in…years! "Thanks," he managed to murmur. Inside his heart was racing. She thought he was handsome! That told him that she was noticing him. That thought sent his pulse pounding in his head. He cleared this throat. "Guess we should get started," was all he said.

"Duncan…" Casey caught his arm, then snatched her hand away. The slightest touch seemed to send electric bolts throughout her body.

Duncan stopped and stared down at her. He had seen how rapidly she had dropped her hand from his arm, as if she had been burned. Was she feeling the same electric charge that he was? He waited for her to continue speaking.

"I…uh…I didn’t mean to embarrass you. As good looking as you are, I figure women must be telling you so all the time. They probably throw themselves at your feet," she said, trying to lighten the mood.

Duncan couldn’t help but laugh. "No, they don’t."

"Don’t what…tell you that you’re good looking, or throw themselves at your feet?" Casey asked, smiling up at him.

"Either one."

"Puhleeze!" she protested. "You expect me to believe that? How long have you gone without a date? Two, three days?"

"Actually, it’s been about three years now." Duncan said, wiping the blade of his sword carefully, then putting the shield over its razor sharp edge.

"What?" Casey squealed. "You’re joking, right?"

Duncan shook his head. "After Tessa died, it was a couple of years before I could even think about another woman. I could never find a woman I could…connect with. I could never seem to have a relationship that lasted more than a few days, and that got old very quickly. After awhile, I just stopped going out at all. Well, I go out, just not with anybody, except Methos or Joe." The pain in his eyes tugged at her heart.

"Who was Tessa?" Casey asked softy. She struggled to get the shield over her own blade. Duncan reached over and helped her.

"She was the only woman in almost four hundred years that I wanted to marry. There was only one before her," Duncan replied, his voice low.

"Oh, Duncan, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-"

Duncan placed a finger on her lips, his entire arm tingling as he did so. "It’s okay. I want you to know…everything," he said, his voice a mere whisper.

Casey shivered. The finger on her lips was causing her entire body to feel as if it were on fire. His words fanned those flames. She stepped away from him, more than a little shaken.

"Well," he said, breaking the uneasy silence that had fallen between them, "let’s see how much you remember from yesterday."

Casey took her place beside the tall Scot and followed him as he moved through each stance. Both were careful to avoid physical contact.

Duncan continued to have Casey move through the stances, calling them out, watching as she responded, correcting verbally any mistakes she made. After awhile he was calling them out faster, in no particular order.

"Time out," she called, panting, a bead of sweat running down her neck.

Duncan watched as it disappeared beneath her tank top, wishing he could watch that single drop of moisture as it made its way between her breasts, down her belly…Stop it! he demanded. She loves Daniel! ‘But her body burns for you, a voice deep in his mind whispered. ‘Touch her,’ it urged, ‘feel the fire that burns in her.’ He shook his head to physically stop that voice.

Casey watched him, but said nothing. She wondered briefly if he was carrying on the same battle in his head as she. A tiny voice in the back of her brain was whispering to her, urging her to touch him, to feel the fire once again. She groaned silently, trying to force the voice into silence. She barely noticed that the 'voice' wasn't the same as the one she'd heard since she'd turned eleven.

On this day, she lasted no longer in an actual fight than she had the day before. She huffed a sigh, then stood tall, ready to try again.

"Remember to watch what I’m doing, so that you can counter it," Duncan warned her.

"Easy for you to say! I can barely keep up, let alone think ahead!"

Duncan lowered his sword to his side. "I’ll tell you what: we’ll ‘step’ through a fight…I’ll make a move, then you show me what you should do to counter it."

Casey nodded. She followed his lead, parrying with greater efficiency, even though they weren’t actually fighting. By the time they had been at it for fifteen minutes, she was beginning to not only think ahead, but also was starting to force Duncan into retreat. Duncan stepped up the speed, still not moving as fast as he would if he were really fighting, but faster than they had been. Still Casey was able to keep up with him, and counter his moves effectively.

"Yes!" Duncan shouted, a grin on his face. He grabbed her by the waist with his free arm and whirled her around, her body pressed against his.

For a moment she was as caught up with excitement as he was, until she felt a tingle in her breasts as they rubbed against his chest. She pushed away from him, stumbling backwards as he abruptly let her go.

Duncan put a hand to his chest. He had felt her nipples harden, and the sensation had been like molten lava across his skin. They stared at each other for several long seconds. "I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that," he said softly.

Casey shook her head. "It’s okay, we were both caught up in the moment. Shall we try again?"

Duncan looked down at the floor, frowning. As much as he wanted to be with her, even if it was only as her teacher, he needed time to think about what was happening. Something was going on, something he’d never experienced before. "Let’s call it a day. You’ve worked hard. I don’t want to wear you out, and I don’t want you to wear blisters into your palm." Neither of them would verbally acknowledge the fact that being Immortal, any blisters Casey did get would quickly heal. It was an excuse to escape from one another.

Relieved, Casey nodded, and headed for the bench where the case for her sword waited. ‘Feel the fire again,’ the voice began to whisper. ‘Touch him again, you know you want to!’ "No!" she cried out loud, pushing her fist against her forehead.

Duncan walked across the floor and stood next to her. "Casey?"

Blushing furiously, Casey lowered her head. "Just thinking out loud," she mumbled, turning away from him, careful not to let her shoulder brush against him.

Duncan watched her for a moment, sure now that whatever he was feeling, she was also dealing with. He needed to find out what was going on, but he had no clue where to start. Maybe he’d talk to Methos about it. In his five thousand years, surely he'd had a similar experience at one time or another. Attraction was attraction…right?

Barely taking time to say a civil goodbye to the Immortal, Casey rushed from the warehouse and jogged down the road to the base gate. She was nearly there when she felt it, that sudden pain between her eyes. "Duncan!" she cried, holding a hand to her head. "Duncan!"

He heard her cry out his name. Duncan ran to her side, his sword in his hand. He looked around, trying to discern where the "buzz" was coming from. He looked towards the copse of trees near the road. Was that a man standing there, next to that tree? He watched for several tense seconds. The shadow moved, and Duncan started to run down the hill. He turned to Casey. "Run!" he said. "Get to the gate, now! Tell the guards that someone is out here!"

Casey obeyed, her legs pumping, her breath coming in gasps. One of the guards on duty, seeing her approach, stood to meet her. "There’s…someone…out…there," she panted. The guard sounded the alarm. Soon a dozen Marines were combing the area. She let the remaining guard examine her pass, signed in with shaking fingers, and headed straight for Daniel’s office.

The elevator seemed to take forever. Once on sublevel eighteen, Casey ran past people in the corridor, bumping into several, ignoring the surprised looks that followed her.

"Daniel!"

The tone of her voice brought Daniel to his feet. She was out of breath, and her eyes were glassy with terror. "Casey? What’s wrong, what happened?"

Casey clung to the man in front of her, her fists pulling at his shirt. She began to shake. "There was someone, an Immortal, between the warehouse and the gate," she finally managed to say.

"Oh, God!"

"Duncan…I called for Duncan, and he went down to find out who it was. He told me to get the guards, they’re all out there…"

Daniel led her to a chair and helped her sit down. He picked up the phone and called the gatehouse. "This is Doctor Jackson. Has the intruder been located?…Good…No, I’ll tell General O'Neill myself. Hold him for now, the general will let you know what to do with him. Thanks." He turned to Casey. "Come on, babe. Let’s go tell Jack about this."

"Did Duncan catch him?" Casey asked as they made their way to Jack’s office. She was still clinging to Daniel, her entire body trembling.

"Yes, he did. He and the Marines are holding him now." Daniel pressed a kiss to her temple. "It’s okay, Casey, you’re safe here. Nobody is going to touch you as long as I’m around!"

The door to Jack’s office was open, and Daniel didn’t even bother to knock as he and Casey walked in. He lowered Casey into the chair in front of the desk before answering Jack’s unasked question.

"Seems we have a visitor," Daniel said.

Jack took in Casey’s pale face and trembling shoulders. He noticed that she wouldn't turn loose of Daniel’s hand. Not that Daniel seemed to mind. "Really?"

Casey nodded. "I was leaving the warehouse after my lesson when I…felt…someone. It was really…powerful. All I could think to do was to call for Duncan. He went after whoever it was, and told me to call for the guards."

"I just called up there, they have him," Daniel added.

Jack picked up the phone. "This is General O’Neill. Have the prisoner brought down to the SGC level, and put him in a cell." He replaced the receiver and looked at Casey. "Are you okay?"

Casey nodded. The color was returning to her face, and she had loosened her death grip on Daniel’s fingers. "I think I’d like to take a shower now," she said, indicating her sweaty clothes.

"Okay, but Danny, stay right outside that door," Jack ordered. He figured that would keep the scientist too busy to interfere with the interrogation of the prisoner.

Daniel nodded. "No problem."

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

The man sat at the table, staring up defiantly at Duncan, who stood leaning against the wall. He hadn’t said a word. Even the Marine guards were unable to get a name from him. Everyone in the cell looked up when General O’Neill walked into the room, his hands thrust into the pockets of his pants.

"So, who do we have here? And why is he on my base?"

The man’s lip curled in sneer, and he looked away.

"So far our visitor here hasn’t been very forthcoming," Duncan replied. His sword was still in his hand. He tapped it absently against his leg.

Jack sat down opposite the man. "I’m General O’Neill. I’d like to know just what you’re doing on government property."

The man turned his head, and stared at the far wall. He had felt the presence of a young Immortal when he'd stopped to get a bite of dinner a couple of nights earlier, and had followed her here. He had watched her go into the warehouse two mornings in a row, at about the same time. He'd been trying to figure out a way to reach her, when he had felt the presence of another, older Immortal. He'd remained hidden among the trees, still planning a way to approach her, surprised to see her emerge from the warehouse when she did, without the other Immortal near. He was about to make his own presence known when she had screamed for help. He looked up at the dark haired Immortal again. She had screamed the name 'Duncan'. Could this man be the famous Duncan MacLeod? It was said that he had killed at least three hundred Immortals, and was probably the strongest Immortal alive. To take his head would be a feat indeed!

"General, perhaps you and these fine young Marines should leave. If a fight is what this man wants, then a fight he can have," Duncan said, an edge in his voice.

Jack looked back at the man. "Is that what you came here for? I thought the polite thing was to introduce yourself when you made a challenge."

For a second the man’s eyes widened. He knew that the only Immortal in the room was the tall dark haired man standing beside the door. How did these ordinary men, especially military men, know about Immortals, and the Game?

"Look, buddy, since you don’t legally exist anywhere, I can have you locked up and throw away the key, and nobody will be the wiser. Now who are you, and why were you trespassing on government property?"

Again the man was startled. This general did indeed know quite a bit about Immortals. "I am Timmer Barnes. I was born in Montreal two hundred years ago. I was having dinner at a local establishment when I felt the presence of an Immortal, a very young Immortal," he said, giving a feral grin in Duncan’s direction. "I followed her here, and was simply waiting to…introduce…myself." The man said finally.

"I see," Jack said, anger stirring as he thought about what this man had planned for Casey. "Well, I don’t think the young woman in question has any desire to meet you."

"She must be very young then," the man said.

"Very," Duncan said quietly, his voice emotionless. "But since you’ve come all this way for a challenge, I’ll be more than willing to comply. I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod."

So, the man thought, this was the famous Duncan MacLeod! He gulped when Duncan pushed himself away from the wall. The Scot seemed to be much taller than before, and certainly more muscular, now that he really looked. Timmer hesitated. He had survived by shooting those who challenged him, and then taking their heads. He preferred young Immortals, those too young to defeat him. His skills with the sword were poor, and he knew that he wouldn’t stand a chance against this man. Especially since he had been searched and his pistol and sword confiscated. He was sure that if challenged, his sword would be returned to him. But not the pistol. And for Timmer Barnes, the 9mm Glock was more important than his sword. "I did not come here to challenge you, Highlander."

Jack snorted. "No, you came to kill a young woman." He turned to Duncan. "Please tell me that not all the other Immortals are this…cowardly."

Duncan bit back a smile. "Unfortunately I have run into several men like Mr. Barnes. But for the most part, Immortals are honorable."

"Well, if a challenge is what he wants, and you’re willing to oblige, then we’ll just turn him over to you."

Duncan nodded. Before Jack left the room, Duncan whispered into the General’s ear.

"Do you really think that’s wise? Or necessary?" Jack asked, surprise in his voice.

Duncan nodded. "It would be better for her to see for herself what happens."

"Okay. I’ll send her to the warehouse. But I’m sending Daniel with her."

Duncan felt his temper flare for a split second. That maddening voice in his head was screaming that Daniel Jackson had no right to be near Casey. With effort, he pushed it down. "That would be a good idea."

Timmer Barnes was terrified. He knew that in a fair fight, he didn’t have a prayer of winning. He also knew that now he didn’t have a choice. When he had parked his car at the edge of the highway, and had climbed down to the road near the base, he had planned to take the Quickening of a young Immortal. He had not reckoned on dying this day.

 

 

 

Daniel had objected vehemently to allowing Casey anywhere near the battle, but Methos agreed that it would be a good idea, that she needed to see what it was about to understand it.

Methos insisted that they remain in the safety of the shadows, hidden behind a stack of crates. The actual fight hadn’t taken long, Timmer Barnes was a very poor swordsman.

Duncan had tried to give the man every chance he could, but knew that what must be done, needed to be done quickly. When the wounded man dropped to his knees, they could hear Duncan speaking. "There can be only one," he told the man in front of him. His sword flashed as it dropped, severing the man’s head from his body.

Daniel turned his head away from the sight. Violence was nothing new to him, after almost eight years at the SGC. But it was still not easy to look at. Casey’s face was pale, he put an arm around her and pulled her close. He turned his attention back to the man who now stood, head hanging down, sword at his side. A blue fog began to wind its way from the dead man’s body, wrapping itself around Duncan as if it were a living thing. Bolts of lighting began to crackle about the Scot’s head. Suddenly a wind began to blow inside the building, lifting Duncan into the air, as more lightening bolts crashed, exploding everything in their path. They could hear Duncan screaming, as the blue fog seemed to force its way inside him. Finally, it was over. Duncan fell to the ground, unconscious.

Casey was on her feet, running to the downed man. As she reached out to touch him, Methos, who had been right behind her, grabbed her hand away, and pulled her towards him. "No, Casey. You don’t want to touch him yet. In fact, it’s best not to touch him for at least twenty-four hours."

"Why not?" Casey asked.

Methos looked into her innocent green eyes. "After you take a Quickening, you become hypersensitive. Any touch becomes almost unbearable, and very stimulating...sexually…and the need for…release…impossible to fight. If you were to touch him, he wouldn’t be able to stop, he would have to…uh…have you."

Casey jerked her hand back.

"It can be quite…exhilarating, if you’re with someone you love," Methos couldn’t resist adding, throwing a sideways glance at the young archaeologist who had joined them.

Casey shook her head. "This just keeps getting more bizarre. I can’t imagine having to fight to the death like that, to actually have to…kill…someone." Her memory taunted her, flashing that early morning on planet light years away, when she had used a knife to kill her tormentor just before her successful escape attempt. She pushed the memory away.

"It’s all about survival, Casey," Methos explained. "You don’t kill because you want to, you kill to survive." He forced down dark memories of his own, of days passed; days when he had ridden with men who killed for the pleasure of killing. That life was long gone - as were the men he had ridden with. It had taken Methos centuries to realize he had stopped being a Horseman the day he had slipped away from their camp. It had taken the Highlander less than a week to rid the world of the Horsemen. "It’s you or your opponent. When you’re in the heat of battle, your survival instinct, and your training, will take over." He turned the young woman to face him. "No regrets. When it’s over, move on. If you harbor regrets about every death, you’ll kill yourself slowly from within. Do you understand?"

Casey nodded.

"Just think of them as Goa’uld," Methos said wickedly, a grin on his face.

"But they’re not," Daniel said quietly. "They’re human."

"They’re Immortals," Methos said firmly. "They know and understand the Game, and if Casey is going to survive, she must know and understand it, too."

"What did Duncan mean, ‘there can be only one’?" Casey asked, still looking down at the unconscious man.

Methos sighed. "When there is only one Immortal remaining on the planet, he, or she, will win the Prize."

"What’s this prize?"

The ancient Immortal shrugged. "No one knows. The only thing we do know is this: if all the other Immortals are dead, killed in challenges, and only one remains, he or she will have all of the knowledge and power of every Immortal who ever lived."

Daniel thought about this for a minute. "That would make the…uh…winner…very powerful, wouldn’t it?"

Methos nodded. "I’m not so sure that the Game is what was intended for Immortals, though."

"The tablets?" Daniel asked.

Again the man nodded. "From what I have so far, it’s possible that we’re from a race of Immortals, and that somehow Immortals were still being ‘born’, or created, here on Earth. The thing of it is, Casey is the first ‘new’ Immortal to be found in five years."

"Couldn’t there be some that you just don’t know about?" Casey asked.

Methos shook his head. "It’s not very likely. The Watchers are very thorough, and they know what they’re looking for. They have located every new Immortal who has been born since, well, since there have been Watchers. And there have been Watchers for thousands of years. They noticed a decrease in the number of Immortals about fifteen years ago. It wasn’t unusual to have a dozen new Immortals a year. Then it was half a dozen, then a few, then one or two. Five years ago there was one. Then none until Casey."

Daniel was frowning, his finger tapping against his lips. "There was more writing in the temple where the tablets were found. I’ll get the video to you, you might find something there about all of this," he said.

"I’ll be waiting for it," Methos replied. "I think we should be going now."

"What about…him?" Casey asked, trying not to look at the headless body.

"The Watchers will take care of it," Methos told her.

"They can get on a military base?" Daniel asked.

Methos laughed. "There are Watchers in the military." He took Casey by the arm and led her out of the building. An instinct he hadn’t felt in years told him that she should be nowhere near the Highlander when he woke up. Methos didn’t know why this felt so urgent, but it did. He was going to have a talk with the Scot as soon as he could.


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