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Forever And Ever, Amen

Chapter 9

The klaxons were wailing, the red lights reflecting off of the gray walls. Jack ran into the gate room, looking up at Sergeant Harriman for verification.

"It’s SG-1, sir," Walter said. "They’ve only been gone thirty minutes."

Jack grimaced. Only thirty minutes? Not a good sign. He watched as the event horizon opened, waiting for the members of the team, his friends, to appear.

After several tense seconds, Teal'c walked down the ramp, a very bloody, very dead Casey in his arms. There was what appeared to be a blast wound on his shoulder. Behind him Sam hobbled in, Daniel leaning heavily against her. Without being told, Walter was already closing the Iris. Several loud thumps resounded in the room.

"Get a medical team in here, stat!" Jack ordered. He hurried forward, put his arm around Daniel and took his weight off of the injured colonel. He eased the bloodied man to the floor.

"What happened, Carter?" He asked, looking at Sam.

"Jaffa, sir. They weren’t at the gate, but close by. I don’t know which System Lord, we didn’t get a good look at them. We were able to hold them off and get back to the gate. When Daniel was dialing the DHD, Casey saw a Jaffa aiming at him. She jumped in front of him and took the blast full on. If the gate hadn’t opened when it did, I don’t think any of us would have made it."

Teal'c was still holding Casey in his arms when she gasped and began to move. He carefully put her on her feet, holding on to her arms until she was steady enough to stand unaided.

She took a quick look around her, then gave a cry when she saw Daniel. She sat down beside him and pulled his head onto her shoulder, her hands gently moving across his body, trying to assess the damage. 

Daniel leaned against her, drawing comfort from her gentle touch, his heart hammering against his ribs at the concern she showed.

The medical team arrived, and Sam and Daniel were lifted onto gurneys. Teal'c and Casey followed, Casey clinging to the side of the gurney on which the wounded Daniel lay.

Methos and Duncan were in the infirmary…having just finished their brain-wave scans…when the wounded were brought in. Duncan blanched at the sight of Casey’s burned, bloodied clothes. He was experienced enough to know that the wounds had been mortal. He watched as she tried to follow as Daniel was taken into an exam room, held back by two nurses. He had to close his eyes as the pain washed over him in waves. He loved her more than life itself. Would she ever love him, even a little?

She finally acknowledged their presence, although they all knew that she had known they were there before she even entered the room. She walked slowly over to them, her eyes brimming with tears.

Duncan held his arms open, and she walked into them. He held her while she cried, her tears soaking the front of his shirt. Centuries of experience told him that the emotional outburst was typical after a battle. When she finished crying, he led her to the waiting area, sitting with her, not saying a word. She continued to hold his hand, neither of them aware that the contact was not causing pain, nor were the voices taunting them.

One of the medics came for her, led her to a bed and pulled the curtain around it, starting her post-mission physical. While she sat there, waiting for the doctor to come complete her check-up, she heard two nurses talking quietly, somewhere behind her.

"…It’s unnatural, that’s what it is! Peterson says she was dead, obviously dead, I mean, you can’t have a hole that big, one that goes clear through the body, and not be dead. Anyway, he said that from the control room they could see sparks flying all over her chest, and the next thing you know, she’s breathing and walking and talking! I don’t care what anybody says, those people, those Immortals," she spat the word as if it were obscene, "they’re freaks of nature!"

Casey pressed her fingers to her lips, her entire body trembling. In that instant, everything that had happened to her -  that fateful night in a shopping mall parking lot…the beatings and humiliation she endured as a slave…the night Wepwawet repeatedly raped her…the morning she killed for the first time…being shot, only to wake up again…the battle she and her teammates had just escaped - all came crashing down on her, the images and emotions flashing through her brain. With a sob, she jumped from the bed, pushed past the doctor as he walked toward her, dashed through the small waiting area, down the corridor toward the elevator.

"Casey?" Daniel called, seeing her flee from where he lay. He pushed away the medic who was applying antiseptic to the cuts and scratches on his face and arms, ignored the pain in his ankle as he pushed himself to his feet.

As fate would have it, the elevator was undergoing its weekly maintenance check. The doors were open, but the elevator car itself was one floor up. Casey stood at the edge of the shaft, looking down into the darkness.

By now her teammates were behind her, Methos and Duncan as well. Daniel started to step closer, but Methos’ hand held him back.

"Casey?" Sam asked softly. The tall woman moved to stand beside the distraught young Immortal.

Casey looked up at the colonel, her eyes wide and haunted.

"Let’s go get some coffee, and a piece of chocolate cake," Sam said softly.

Casey shook her head. "I’m a freak of nature," she whispered. The Immortals behind her winced at the words. She turned her head to look at the startled young Airman who had been working at the shaft. "What level are we on?"

"Twenty-one, ma’am," was the stammered reply.

"How many levels, total?"

"Twenty-eight."

Sam touched Casey’s arm. "You’re not a freak of nature, Casey. You’re an Immortal. You have a very special gift. Let’s go down to the commissary-"

Casey stretched both arms out, as if she were about to take flight. "It’s okay, Sam. I can’t die." With those words, she stepped backwards into the open shaft, plummeting seven levels.

Two men cried out and rushed to the opening. Duncan grasped the side of the shaft, his vision blurring as he tried in vain to see into the darkness. Daniel stared into the darkness, a hoarse litany of "no’s" tumbling from his lips.

"Get that thing working, now!" Duncan turned and growled to the maintenance team. "We’ll take it down to twenty-seven. We’ll have to climb down to the bottom from there."

Fifteen tormented minutes later, Daniel and Duncan were lowered into the shaft. Duncan felt his heart stop beating as the flashlights revealed the scene. Casey was on her back, her lifeless body broken and bleeding; her beautiful green eyes staring unseeing at them. Just above her, piece of sheet of metal hung precariously just inches away from her exposed neck. The force of her body impacting against it had broken it loose. One false move and she would be decapitated.

"Mother of God," he breathed. "Don’t move!" he warned Daniel sharply. He knew that Daniel realized the gravity of the situation when he heard Daniel’s gasp. He found a ledge to stand on, and pulled the blonde man toward him. "We have to get her out from under that thing, without disturbing it."

Daniel nodded his understanding.

Both men surveyed the situation for a few tense seconds.

"I’m going to try to get over to that sheet, and hold it up, you grab her and pull her away. Don’t worry about being gentle, she’s dead, you won’t hurt her," Duncan said.

Again Daniel nodded. He sent up a silent prayer that the Scot would be strong enough to hold back the piece of metal that threatened Casey’s life.

"Are you ready?" Duncan asked quietly.

"As I’ll ever be," Daniel replied.

"Daniel, if this should go badly-"

"It won’t," Daniel said stubbornly.

"If it should, try and hide behind that chunk of metal. It will at least offer you some protection," Duncan said.

The vision of the Quickening he had witnessed flashed across Daniel’s mind. He shuddered. From somewhere deep inside came a blistering rage. If things went ‘badly’, Duncan would have Casey forever with him, and he would be left with nothing but memories, and too few of them. "Duncan," he said, turning as much as he could to the man beside him. "Good luck."

"Aye, to both of us."

Duncan began to inch his way toward the dangerous metal. His third step brought a creak, the sound filling the shaft and echoing in their ears. The sheet slid slightly, toward the delicate skin of Casey’s slender neck. Duncan grabbed the metal with both hands, ignoring the pain as it sliced into his palms. His muscles strained as he held the heavy weight. "Now!" he hissed through gritted teeth.

Daniel reached forward and grabbed Casey’s arm, dragging her towards him. When she was safe in his arms, Duncan let go of his burden. It sank forward with a clang.

Duncan watched as Daniel cradled Casey’s limp body, watching as the man’s tears mingled with the blood on her face. His own tears traced a path down his taut cheeks, unheeded. Daniel gently closed her eyes, tenderly kissing each eyelid. The Scot’s jaw began working in his attempt to keep from crying out.

"Why isn’t she waking up?" Daniel asked, as he rocked back and forth, smoothing the dirty, bloodied hair from her face.

"She’s been hurt seriously. Probably broke damn near every bone in her body. The internal damage had to be extensive as well. And, she just recovered from a fatal wound not more than an hour ago," Duncan replied.

The two men gently tied the woman onto a backboard that had been lowered to them. As they climbed up out of the shaft, Daniel looked over at the man who loved Casey as much as he did. He wondered briefly if she would be better off with this man, a man who was like her, an Immortal. Would he ever be unselfish enough to let her go? The pain he felt at that thought constricted his heart. The best he would be able to do would be to allow Casey to decide whom she wanted, and then beg her to choose him.

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

Casey had still not regained consciousness by the time her two rescuers had been examined. Her vitals had returned, she had gasped and taken in breath, her heartbeat and pulse both strong, but she had yet to open her eyes. Daniel had insisted on being put in the bed next to hers, his ankle now wrapped tightly in an ace bandage. It was only a sprain, and not even a bad one. With luck he’d be mission-ready in two weeks.

Daniel nodded slightly when Duncan came into the room, hovering at the doorway. He noted the look of concern on the big man’s face. "Something is wrong, isn’t it?" he asked quietly. The Scot walked to where Casey lay.

Duncan reached out to touch Casey’s cheek, managed to stop and pull his hand back. He dropped it limply to his side. "Aye. She should be awake by now. The healing in her body is done. I fear it’s her mind that has yet to mend."

"What can we do for her?"

Duncan was gratified that the man had included him. "Talk to her. Tell her you love her. Don’t leave her alone," he said, the words sticking in his throat.

"I do, you know," Daniel said softly. The big Scot looked over at him. "Love her. Very much."

"Aye. As do I." Without another word the Immortal turned and left the room.

Daniel slid off the bed he was on, and slipped onto the bed beside Casey. He pulled her head onto his shoulder, and took her hand, lifted it to his lips. "I love you, Casey. You're my sun, my moon, my stars. Don’t leave me. Not yet. I need you here with me." He paused, running the back of his fingers over her face. "What do you say we get a place of our own? Where we can take a shower together anytime we want. Then we won’t have to worry about Jack sending in the Marines. We’ll get a place where I can have an office, and you can have that flower garden you want. We’ll work together on translations. Maybe we can take a vacation. I know a great little planet with white sand beaches that seem to go on forever. It’s warm and beautiful and it could be our own private paradise."

Time continued to tick by. Jack, Sam, and Teal'c had all stopped by; sitting with them, offering their support to Daniel in quietly spoken words, or silent understanding. Jack had investigated the incident, and two young lieutenants were on report for conduct unbecoming of officers. Doctor Williams was furious, demanding that the two women be transferred. His suggestions had included both poles and Iceland.

Methos came in around midnight. He stood at the door for a minute, just looking. Daniel was asleep, lying on his side, his head on the pillow, hers on his arm. His body was as close to hers as he could get, her hand clutched tightly in his own. The lanky young/old man walked to the side of the bed. "Time to wake up, Casey. You have a destiny to fulfill. You have adventures to go on, battles to fight. Come on, Casey. I know you can hear me. Open those green eyes of yours. It’s time to get back to bewitching the good doctor here, and tormenting the Highlander."

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

At 0800 Jack called the team in for their debrief. None of the wounds sustained had been serious, other than Casey’s; mostly minor cuts and abrasions. Daniel had only a minor sprain, Sam had scraped her knee when diving for cover. The wound on Teal'c’s shoulder had looked worse than it was, the blast glancing off him from the side. They had little information about who the Jaffa served. It was decided that this planet would be put on the "do not call" list. Daniel was so distracted that the general heaved a sigh and sent him back to the infirmary.

Daniel walked in the door, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, the other shoved into his pants pocket, wondering when the woman who had turned his life upside down with love and laughter would be back to doing just that. He stopped short, his eyes widening. "Hi, there!"

Casey’s green eyes lit up at the sight of the man she loved. She held out her arms.

Daniel lifted her into his embrace. "I’ve missed you, My Star," he whispered in her ear. He settled her back into the bed. "Are you okay?"

Casey blushed slightly. "Embarrassed more than anything else. I really freaked out, didn’t I?"

Daniel laced his fingers through hers. "Casey, with all that you’ve been through, it’s not surprising. Nobody thinks anything of it. All of us have freaked out a time two. Comes with the type of job we’re all doing. The stress is bound to get to you sooner or later."

"I still feel like an idiot," Casey said.

Daniel let his hand roam over her body. "No, you feel fine to me," he replied, a grin on his face. "So why are they keeping you here?"

Casey huffed a sigh. "Doctor Williams wants to run some more brain scan tests. He said he might as well do them while he has me here."

Daniel nodded. "I’ll just wait here with you."

Casey lifted his hand to her mouth and kissed it. "No, you won’t. You have work to do. As soon as the doctor is finished I’ll be going to the warehouse to workout."

"But-"

"No buts, Doctor Jackson. I don’t want you falling behind in your work because of me," Casey said, her eyes belying the sternness of her voice. "If you fall behind in your work, you won’t have anytime for…extra-curricular activities."

"Extra-curricular activities, huh?" Daniel chuckled.

"I’ve heard that certain types of extra-curricular activities are good for a man’s heart. As well as other vital…organs."

Daniel laughed out loud. "You are a wanton hussy, you know that?"

"You love me anyway," Casey grinned.

"I damn well do love you, woman," he growled, his blue eyes twinkling. "Okay, I’ll go slave away in my office. But as soon as you finish your workout…lesson...whatever, come find me. We’ll have lunch together."

"All right," Casey agreed. "What’s on the menu for lunch today?"

Daniel grinned at her and waggled his eyebrows.

"That we can eat," Casey laughed. His leer sent her into deeper giggles. "What is for lunch that is digestible?"

"Technically…" Daniel started, grinning from ear to ear.

Casey heaved her pillow at him, hitting him on the side of the head and knocking his glasses askew.

Daniel straightened his glasses, picked up the pillow, looked around to make sure that no one was near, then began to pummel the young woman on the bed.

"No fair!" Casey squealed, crawling out of the bed on the opposite side, seeking a pillow of her own. She located one, and the two began the pillow fight in earnest.

"Ahem."

Daniel lowered his pillow and turned to find Jack standing at the door, his arms crossed over his chest, an amused look on his face. "Uh…hi, Jack." A pillow flew through the air and hit him in the back of the head.

"Hiya, Daniel. You gonna let her get away with that?"

A second pillow came sailing through the air and hit the general square in the face. "Oh no. You did not just do that." He grabbed the pillow and started out after the young prankster who had thrown it at him.

Doctor Williams walked into the room to find the CO of the base, its top archaeologist/linguist, and its newest member in the midst of a heated pillow fight. "I can order sedatives for all of you," he said, loudly enough to be heard over the squeals and laughter.

The three would-be children immediately dropped the pillows and stood looking at him, their best, 'who, us?' expressions on their faces.

Jack cleared his throat and began to edge towards the door. "I see our patient is better today, Doc. I’ll just leave ya to it. I have paperwork waiting in my office." He shoved his hands into his pockets. Before he made it to the door a pillow hit him in the back. "Big honkin’ needles doc, use the biggest honkin’ needles ya got!"

Doctor Williams turned to Casey. "I guess I don’t need to ask how you’re feeling." He smiled at her. "This scan won’t take more than a few minutes. Then you can get out of here. You’re messing up my infirmary."

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

Duncan was in the midst of kata when Casey entered the warehouse. She watched the repeated movements for awhile, marveling at the strength and restraint that they revealed. She opened her sword case, wiped the blade carefully, and put the guard on, moving as quietly as possible, not wishing to disturb her teacher.

"I’m glad to see you’re up and about."

His voice startled her; she nicked her finger on the cutting edge of the sword as she put the protective cover on. She was even more startled when she felt him behind her. He took her bleeding finger, lifted it to his mouth, and sucked at the wound until the blood stopped. Her heart began to beat faster, her body beginning to respond to the action. "Duncan, I-"

"I won’t deny my love for you, lass. I won’t let you deny it either. I won’t let you pretend that there is nothing between us."

"You promised-"

"I know what I promised. That was before I nearly lost you. I know that you love Daniel. I know you want a life with him. But I want you to realize that he’s not the only one who loves you. And he’s not the only one you love." Duncan said, steeling his heart against the tears that were pooling in her eyes.

"That’s not fair!" she cried. She jerked her hand free. "I love Daniel. I loved him before I even met you! I felt it the first time I looked down into his eyes, when I was escaping from that Goa’uld! It took Methos’ shooting me to push us to explore what we were feeling. If you and I had met first, if I didn’t love Daniel, then I would accept my feelings for you. But, it didn’t happen that way. I will not let you jeopardize my relationship with Daniel. I never wanted you to love me! I never set out to seduce you! I don't want to love you! I don’t know what is going on between us, but don’t you dare call it love! Don’t you dare! For all we know it’s nothing more than an alien induced lust!"

Duncan grabbed her by the shoulders, forcing her to turn and face him. "I damn well will call it love! Because that’s what it is! Damn it, Casey, I fell in love with you the first time I saw you, when you walked down that ramp with the general and the others, after they had put you through their ‘boot camp’. I saw the fire in your eyes, felt the fire in your soul! I do call it love! I do love you!" He thrust her away from him, and began pacing. "I know the situation is complicated. But do you really want to spend the next twenty or thirty or forty or however many years with him, watching him age, watching him get old and feeble? How long can you stay with him before people start talking? How long before he’s introducing you as his daughter, or his granddaughter?"

"Damn you!" she hissed, the tears falling freely now. "I don’t give a damn what people think! I’ll be by Daniel’s side until the end! I don’t care how old he is, or how feeble he gets! There is more to our love, to our relationship, than just sex! Just to be together, to sit and hold hands and talk will be enough for me!"

"Will it? When your body is clamoring for a man, when you need that sweet release that only comes from a healthy, able-bodied man, then what? What will you do if his mind deteriorates along with his body? What if at the end he doesn’t even remember you?"

"Then I’ll remember for him! I’ll take care of him! I won’t care that he’s old and can’t remember me! I’ll still remember him! I will still love him! That is what real love is about!" she whirled around, shaking with anger.

Duncan watched her, her words echoing in his ears, almost exactly the same words he had used when Conner had tried to dissuade him from loving Tessa. His shoulders dropped, the fight gone of out him. He reached for her, pulled her into his embrace, held her while she struggled, part of him reassured when she relaxed against him. "I’m sorry, lass. I never should have said those things. You do need to be aware of them, but I shouldn’t have brought them up like that. I do love you. But I understand your love for Daniel. I said before I didn’t like it, and I don’t. I fight jealousy every second of the day. But if he makes you happy, lass, then I won’t stand in your way. Like you said, we’re Immortal. We’ll have our time, someday."

Casey nodded, not daring to speak. When his arms loosened, she stepped away from him.

Without another word, he brought his sword up. They continued to spar until the sweat poured off of them. In the days after their fire-induced encounter, Casey had continued to improve. Today, she managed to best Duncan. She knew that it was only because his thoughts were not on what he was doing. After an hour, he called a halt, and they returned together to the mountain in silence.


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