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She hadn't been able to speak to her teammates. She knew that Daniel would clue them in. When she grabbed her flashlight, and headed for the ruins, the argument that she and her husband had almost convinced her that he really was angry. Only his chuckle in her mind, and his soft touch, the flood of love that wrapped around her let her know that he understood what she was doing. A simple, 'be careful' echoed just before she stepped away from the warmth of the fire.
Just as she had hoped, Marcus was less than two minutes behind her.
Jack watched Daniel's eyes as the man moved into the shadows, in the same direction Casey had gone. He motioned for the archaeologist to follow him. Led him to the edge of the camp, turned his back on the people who were gathered around the fire. "What the hell is going on?" he hissed. He'd thought he knew. The argument that was still ringing in his ears had left him clueless once again.
"Casey suspects Marcus...she doesn't know exactly what's up, but she thinks he needs us to translate for him," Daniel explained with a grin.
The older man leaned back. "Okay. So what is it that he's after?"
Daniel's shoulders moved up and down. "I don't know. I do know that he has to believe that I'm pissed as hell. And nobody else can know what's up. We need to keep their reactions...believable. He's a gambler, he can read people pretty damned well."
Jack smiled. Seeing the man flirting with his friend, the wife of his best friend, pissed him off. No need to pretend there! "Got it."
The two men moved back to the fire, Jack looking very unhappy, and Daniel was still looking pissed. Worried glances were cast at Daniel and toward the darkness. Where Casey and Marcus were...somewhere. And several minds wondered why the archaeologist wasn't going after his wife.
A A A A A A
She was standing just inside the first of the two temples, playing the light around on the walls. She couldn't wait until daylight, when she could see it all! It was magnificent! She stepped closer to one of the walls, ran her finger over the carefully inscribed hieroglyphs. This was a temple to Thor! She couldn't help but giggle as she read the story of the Norse god in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Although this story was much different than the story of Thor on Earth.
Her sudden jerk of surprise was genuine...she had become so wrapped up in reading that she had temporarily forgotten that Marcus should be following her.
The little yelp of surprise had him hurrying to her side. "I'm sorry for startling you." He paused when she merely nodded. "He was quite angry," Marcus said softly.
"He was being a jerk," she replied, her voice just as soft.
He dared to reach out and touch her cheek. "You love him."
"Yes, I do."
"But living with him is not easy."
"Not always, no," she admitted. Living with a man as brilliant as Daniel, as passionate as he was about his work could sometimes be trying. There was no denying that. Not that she was such a prize, herself!
He shifted slightly. As he had hoped...planned...she stepped back against the wall. "Sometimes it helps to talk to someone not...close...to the situation."
"There's nothing to talk about," she said truthfully.
Marcus studied her in the dim illumination from her flashlight. "If you ever need to...talk...I'm here," he told her, his voice husky. He moved again, ever so slightly, closing the space between their bodies.
"Marcus, I'm married..."
"I know," he whispered. He nuzzled her cheek.
"We're not exactly alone," she protested, turning her head, unknowingly exposing more of her throat to him.
He almost groaned out loud with the need to taste that sweet skin. His fingers closed around hers, managed to shut off the flashlight. "No one will see. No one will know," he whispered in her ear.
"That's not true," she said, trying to move away from him. "I'll know. I love Daniel. With all of my heart. I couldn't, and I won't, betray him, or break our vows."
He studied her for a moment in the shadows cast by the moonlight. The ones most worth the effort always put up a fight...in the beginning. "Has he always been as faithful to you as you are to him?"
She was glad that he couldn't see her eyes. She knew that as the memories of Daniel's past...indiscretions...filled her mind - situations over which he had no control, but that hurt nonetheless - the doubts and hurt were reflected there. "His heart has always been faithful to me," she said firmly.
"Ah. His heart. But what of his body?"
"You're attracted to me."
"I never said that I wasn't."
"I'm attracted to you."
"I figured that out."
"We're both adults."
"I'm a married woman with three children. A happily married woman," she insisted.
Marcus was momentarily stunned. Children? Three children? There was no way he ever would have guessed that her slender body had ever borne children! Well, that certainly complicated things, didn't it? There would be custody battles, and visitation schedules...he gasped out loud. What in the hell was he thinking? A few nights of pleasure and bliss in her arms! That's all that he wanted from her...with her! Nothing permanent! Needing space to gather his reeling thoughts, he stepped away from her...not far, but enough that she was able to slip toward the other side of the room. He noticed that her cheeks were pale when she turned back on the flashlight.
"I guess the thought of me having kids sort of threw cold water on your ardor," she teased gently. She was shaking. He had smelled so good, and the warmth of his body against hers had been...pleasant. And those feelings surprised her. Oh, there wasn't the lust that she had suffered with Toren. Had Marcus pursued her for a kiss she would have had no trouble dropping him. But she was attracted to the man.
He shook his head, and smiled. "No, it hasn't. I was just momentarily taken aback. You're far too delicate, too beautiful, to ever have endured the rigors of childbirth."
She giggled. "I can give you all of the gory details to prove it."
What a delightful sound! "That won't be necessary," he said quickly, his chuckle filling the air.
She studied him. Wished she could figure out just what he wanted...what he needed. Was afraid that to continue leading him on would only wind up burning her. "Marcus, I love Daniel with every fiber of my being. He's The Chosen. I'm the Heart of the Chosen. I'm his Beloved, he's mine. I won't deny that I'm attracted to you. But I can tell you right now that nothing will ever happen between us."
He moved closer. Sat down on one of the fallen beams that had once supported the ceiling of the temple. "I see."
"We're Immortal," she continued. "We went through a ceremony devised by the Ancients... the Ceremony of Fire. Only Daniel can fill me with desire. Only Daniel can quench the need in me."
"So I'm wasting my time."
He grinned unabashedly. "Good thing it's my time to waste, eh?"
"It's never going to happen, Marcus."
"Never is a very long time, Casey."
"Did you hear anything I just said?"
"You're not listening."
"Yes I am. I'm just not heeding your words. I'm responding to your heart. To the fire in your eyes."
She shook her head. "Marcus..."
He reached out, caught her hand, tugged until she was sitting beside him. "Casey, if you didn't want me to follow you, why did you come out here?"
"Because I wanted to take a look at the temple! Just as I tried to explain to Daniel!"
Marcus shook his head. "You can't see enough to do anything."
"I can see enough to get an idea where I want to start in the morning...rather than wasting time then," she argued. "This temple was dedicated to Thor. Yes, the Asgard that you met," she said in answer to the question in his eyes.
"I don't understand," he frowned.
"The Cardorians, which you should recognize as "The New People", were refugees. Taken from Goa'uld enslavement by the Asgard. They believed they were saving the human race in doing so. People from Earth, and Langara, and Terra, and half a dozen other worlds, some we haven't even come across yet! There were so few of each group that they had no choice but to come together, to become one people."
He watched her eyes, the excitement that filled them as she spoke. Had he truly misread her? Was she telling him the truth...he shook his head mentally. He hadn't missed the shy glances she had cast in his direction. She freely admitted to being attracted to him. He sighed. It had been a very long time since a woman had left him feeling so damned confused!
"So, that's why it's important that we learn all that we can about them," she finished.
He stared at the wall he could barely make out in the darkness. If she started in this temple, how long before she was ready to work in the other one? To unlock the secret to that hidden chamber? The one that had to be there. He had paced the length of the inner chamber when it had seemed small compared to the dimensions of the building outside. There were no doors, nothing that would hint at another room. He had paced it again, and then paced the length of the temple. The hidden room at the end of the main chamber wasn't large. But it was there. And hidden meant that someone didn't want it found. And that always meant treasure of some sort..."So, will you start here?"
The question was too casual. He was trying too hard to pretend he didn't care where she started. His eyes were suddenly too guarded. "I don't know. Is there something you've found that I should know about?"
Marcus Tiberius had learned very early in the orphanage where he had been raised, never trust anyone. Even beautiful women with hair the color of the sun, and eyes so green that a man could drown in them. "Nope."
She smiled. He was lying. She could feel it. "Well, then I guess I might as well start here."
"Wouldn't it be better to check the other temple first, just to make certain you're making the right decision?"
Her smile widened. Daniel would never allow her to make such a snap decision, and no doubt Marcus knew that, or at least suspected. "I suppose."
"Shall we go take a look?"
Casey shook her head. "I need to get back to camp. I don't want the others to think that something...inappropriate...has been going on."
He nodded. "And your husband?"
"Will know that nothing inappropriate has been going on."
No doubt about that. There would be no chance that his scent would be on her skin. No smell of love clinging to her body. "I'll wait until you've been back for awhile. Maybe I'll poke around for a bit."
"Just be careful. These ruins can be dangerous."
"As I am well aware," he replied. More so when beautiful women were around, he thought.
She made her way carefully among the fallen timbers of the roof. Toward the edge of city where the Stargate was located, and in front of it, a camp with a cheery fire.
A A A A A A
Everyone looked up when she walked back into camp. She settled beside Daniel. Leaned against him when his arm went around her shoulders. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
"I'm sorry too, Angel," he replied. Couldn't help but grin mentally at the half dozen almost suppressed sighs of relief that flittered around the campfire. "Did you find anything?"
"The first temple was...is a temple to Thor. What I saw talked about him bringing the people from bondage to freedom."
"And the other?"
She shook her head. "I'll give it a once over in the
morning." She glanced over at Jack. "So who has first watch?"
The older man grinned. "Turk, his boys, Teal'c, and I will take care of keeping you scientists safe."
She couldn't help but giggle. It was Jack's way of acknowledging that the archaeologists and geologists and the astrophysicist and the metallurgist were going to be very busy. And that the Marines, the former Special Ops soldier, and the Jaffa would use their training to do what the others would be too preoccupied to worry about.
"Ready to get some sleep?" Daniel asked quietly as Marcus entered the camp. The two men studiously ignored one another. Both carefully watched the blonde at Daniel's side.
She nodded. "Yep."
Fortunately for him, when the Jackson's stood to go to their tent, the others began to drift toward their own as well. Marcus settled into his sleeping roll, listened carefully. He was certain that he could hear soft whispers, the sounds of kisses. Which did nothing for his dour disposition. Or his aching balls and throbbing cock. He could visualize her...could imagine making love to her...with a grunt of aggravation, he rolled to his side. Tried not to listen. Wished he had pitched his tent on the opposite side of the damned camp. He was certain her heard her moan, just seconds before a deeper voice moaned just as softly...both sounds were muffled, barely audible. But he had heard them. He groaned mentally, forced images of her from his mind, tried desperately to focus on speculation of what treasures might be waiting in that hidden temple room.
A A A A A A
Casey cuddled close to his side, her body still tingling from the amazing oral love making they had just shared. "Think that will hold you for awhile?" she asked softly.
"At least until morning," he replied, grinning into the dark. She had nearly attacked him as soon as he'd zipped the tent closed, kissing him, caressing him, dropping to her knees and making love to him until he forced her to stop, so that they could lay down, and he could reciprocate. 'What did you find out?'
'There's something about the other temple, the farthest one, that has him interested. I don't know what it is. He tried to play it off, but I could feel it.'
'Okay, we'll take a look.'
'I love you.'
'Love you, too, Angel. Sleep. We have a long day ahead of us.'
She snuggled closer, closed her eyes. And drifted to sleep.
It was a beautiful room...opulent, without being ostentatious. One side of the room was completely open to a large balcony. Sheer panels of silk hung down, moving gently with the breeze, offering protection from the already blazing sun. The three solid walls were decorated with brightly painted hieroglyphs.
The bed she was lying on, round and soft and comfortable...and huge!...was in the middle of the room. Netting was gathered at the 'head', and had been pulled back. She could see heavy chests of cedar and teak, polished to a bright sheen, chairs of polished cherry and mahogany, with thick, satin covered cushions for comfort. Brass torchieres were scattered around, although the flames that had burned in them the night before were now cold.
The sound of water splashing against marble caught her attention. On the far side of the room was a large, sunken tub. She smiled when she realized the man she had caught a glimpse of had dunked his head under the water.
Tossing the satin coverlet back, not at all concerned to find herself naked, she padded toward the marble bathing pool. Gasped when the man rose up out of the water. "Marcus!"
"Good morning, my beautiful queen," he smiled.
No! This was wrong! So very wrong! She looked around frantically. "Daniel!"
Marcus frowned. "Another nightmare? He is gone, Casey. Left you when he realized that your love for me was stronger than your love for him."
"No! That would never happen!"
"Calm down, my Sweet One," Marcus murmured. He moved closer, tried to take her into his arms.
"Don't touch me!"
He sighed. "Every time you have that...nightmare...we go through this."
Her green eyes were full of panic, darting around the room, trying desperately to see into the shadows, to find him, see him standing there, waiting to rush to her rescue. "Daniel!"
He stirred slightly. Thought he heard...
Instantly awake, he rolled to his side, pulled her close to his body. "Shh, I'm right here, Angel." He reached for her hand. Wrapped his fingers tightly around hers. "Let me see, Case," he whispered.
Tears were streaming down her cheeks as Marcus carried her to the bed. She had stopped fighting him when she realized that she was alone. That Daniel wasn't going to save her from this. Not this time. Goddess, was it true? Had Daniel left her? What about the Fire? How could she love this man, make love to him, when she was bound, heart and soul, mind and body, to Daniel?
He watched for just a few seconds, trying to figure out what was going on. He'd never seen the room before. Pretty nice, he admitted. Like the private chambers of an Egyptian Pharaoh. He is attention was pulled back to the bed, where Casey lay crying, as Marcus gently caressed her.
"Daniel," she whispered.
"Not here," Marcus said gently. "Just you and me, my beautiful queen."
"Don't touch me," she hissed for a second time, pushing the man's hand away from her breasts.
"You belong to me, Casey. I took you as my queen. We've been here for nearly two years now."
She shook her head. "No! I don't believe you!"
Marcus sighed. "Look at me, Sweet One."
"Don't call me that!"
"Look at me!"
His voice was hard...cold. She let her eyes focus on his. Watched as the warmth, the love, the concern replaced the anger that had filled them.
"It was just a nightmare, Case," Marcus crooned softly. "You're safe here, I promise."
"I want Daniel!"
"I'm here, Angel," he said stepping out of the shadows.
Relief flooded her entire being. She wrenched herself from Marcus' grasp, raced across the cold stone floor to Daniel's waiting arms. "I knew you'd come for me," she sighed, shivering slightly.
She sat up, could feel the tears on her cheeks. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.
Daniel pulled himself up, sat beside her. "Nothing to be sorry for, babe."
"I would never...could never leave you."
He pulled her into his arms. He pressed his face against her hair. She was trembling in his arms, her embrace nearly choking him. "I know."
"I...I am...well...a little...I am a little bit attracted to him," she confessed in a whisper.
He couldn't help but chuckle. "Yeah, I picked that up."
"But that's wrong!"
"You can't help what you feel, Case. It's not like you intended to be attracted to the guy."
She pulled away from him just a bit. The still roaring fire in the pit in the middle of camp offered just enough illumination to make out the features of his face, although she couldn't see what his eyes held...or hid. "But you've never been attracted to other women!" she protested.
"I never said that."
"You have been attracted to other women?"
If he grinned or laughed now, she'd deck him. No doubt about it. "Not exactly. No other woman can compare to you. You're the most beautiful woman my eyes have ever seen."
"Daniel, you're the most beautiful man I've ever seen! I love everything about you! So why do I feel this way?"
"Because he managed to charm you," was the simple reply.
"I'm a terrible wife," she muttered.
Still fighting that urge to laugh. And it was becoming more difficult with every passing moment. "What makes you say that?"
"Because I've been attracted to other men! First Toren, now Marcus! It's so wrong!"
"I don't think you're attracted to them as much as you're responding to them. There might have been something...how did you describe that...primal...between you and Toren. Simple biology. Marcus has just managed to charm you, saying the right things at the right time, making you laugh."
Her arms were crossed over her breasts. "It's not right!"
The laughter he had been struggling to control escaped, in the form of one short chuckle.
"And just what is so damned funny?"
"Casey, you're not really attracted to him. Not like you think. Hell, even Sam responds to his flirting! You're making more of this than is there!"
"Easy for you to say!"
"Did anything happen when he followed you?"
"Of course not!"
"You weren't even tempted?"
Marcus had smelled good. The heat from his body had felt nice...but...there certainly hadn't been any spark of desire. "No," she admitted slowly.
"If he offered right now, would you join him in his tent?"
"Then quit beating yourself up. Babe, the man is a con artist. He's an expert at playing people. He knows how to push buttons to get the responses he wants. You showed him a kindness by bringing him into the camp, before he died of thirst. He was grateful, and he was...charming. You responded to that."
She rolled the thought over in her mind, examined it. Found that it was the truth. Not that Daniel had ever lied to her...well, never when it was important...like this. She sighed, dropped back onto the sleeping bag. Tugged until he was lying beside her once again. Put her head on his shoulder. "Damned annoying," she muttered.
"Feeling this way."
"Attracted to him."
He chuckled again. "As long as you stay feeling that way."
"Attracted to him?"
"Annoyed about it."
"Well, the more I think about it, the pissier it makes me! Just who does he think he is? Oh, he's cute enough, but he's no Daniel Jackson!"
His chest puffed out as she stroked his ego. "Think so, huh?"
"I know so, Stud Muffin."
"Go back to sleep, Angel."
She listened as his breath became steady and slow, proof that sleep had reclaimed him. She snuggled closer, smiled when his arm tightened automatically around her. For several long minutes she was afraid to close her eyes. But finally sleep won out. Her dreams were more pleasant...when she returned to that palace room, it was Daniel who waited for her. Although why he insisted on filling that beautiful marble tub with blue Jell-O, she would never understand.
Marcus had heard her soft voice cry out her husband's name, as if she were frightened of something. Three times he heard her, then the soft murmur of voices as they talked, he trying to comfort her, no doubt. Had he known that he had been the cause of her nightmare, he might have found a reason to continue to try to seduce the beautiful Casey Jackson. But when the look of love had filled those amazing green eyes as she followed her husband toward their tent, he had known that any attempts to seduce her would fail. It had happened before. Not often, but enough that he knew the signs. Never before had it left him so breathless with regret...with a sense of loss that filled his entire being.
He stared at the dark canvas above him. Wished he had left this damned place when he had first realized there was nothing of value...before he had discovered that hidden room... before the siren song of treasure had begun to play in his mind. Then he never would have crossed paths with the beauty known as Casey Jackson. A woman who would haunt him for a long time to come. Of that he was certain.
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