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Wearing desert camouflage BDUs, Casey and Daniel emerged from their tent a full forty minutes after the others of the group had gathered around the fire. Her hair was braided, his do-rag was tied over his short, dark blonde hair. And neither would ever admit that they had taken the time to make love; gentle caresses and kisses that had completely satisfied both of them.
Marcus watched as they sat together, planning their day - discussing, disagreeing, compromising; writing out a list of what they were searching for, hoped to find - heard Casey say something about a theory...He shook himself and gratefully accepted more coffee from the man named Franklin.
Daniel took note that the Terran was unable to stop watching Casey. She hadn't told him what had transpired between her and Marcus. Only that they had talked. And that she suspected he was after something in the farthest of the two temples. Whatever she had said to the man, he seemed to understand, at last, that she had no interest in him. He could barely keep from grinning as he recalled her disquiet over her 'attraction' to Marcus. Her declarations of love, her concern that he might be hurt, that she was a 'horrible wife' because she had been taken in by the con artist, had the man in him doing a happy dance. He would never admit that in a million years. He had no desire to focus that temper on himself!
Jack was watching as well. Could tell from the look in Daniel's eyes that Casey had learned something. He watched the slender blonde for a moment, noted that she was totally ignoring their Terran 'guest'. Who was not ignoring her. Just what the hell had happened last night?
When she finally dared to glance over at Marcus, he was watching her. And damn him, he had the audacity to wink at her, give her that crooked, pirate smile. She fought to keep from returning that smile. Carefully examined her feelings for the man. Found that they weren't attraction at all...more like...amusement. She gave a silent sigh of relief. Marcus was sweet, and funny, and charming. Okay, he was good looking, and smelled good, too...but there was no flutter near her heart. Her breath didn't become faster at with each flirtation. She was so relieved that she returned his smile.
Daniel watched from the corner of his eye. That's it, babe. Keep leading him where we need him to go, he thought. Watched her lick her lips, the same sweet lips that had been wrapped around his aching cock not more than twenty minutes ago...a thought that threatened to have him rising again. He grinned when she glanced over at him. Had a feeling she knew exactly what he had been thinking by the slight blush in her cheeks, the sudden darkening of her eyes.
The warmth that flooded her when she looked over at him brought a blush to her cheeks. Normally Daniel was very careful to hide his feelings when they were around anyone else. But for a few moments, his lust had been there for everyone to see. He tossed her a granola bar, tore one open for himself, as everyone else had already eaten breakfast. She unwrapped the bar, took a bite.
Marcus watched them. The look of raw desire in the doctor's eyes was one he could identify with. He felt the same thing for her. The blush that brought such a lovely pink to her cheeks let him...let them all...know that she had seen that hungry look. The smile on her lips told him that she enjoyed knowing that she was the cause of her husband's hunger.
Jack sat back. The Terran was watching both Jacksons, although his gaze focused mostly on Casey. Daniel had looked at Casey as if he wanted to jump her bones right then and there, just before that guarded look returned to his eyes. When had that happened? Jack wondered idly. When he had first met Daniel, all of his excitement, his innocence, was in those blue eyes. Why hadn't he noticed that somewhere along the line, those same blue eyes had taken on the hard, cold look that filled the eyes of a soldier? The excitement still filled them. Occasionally the innocence as well. But no one knew what Dr. Daniel Jackson was thinking, unless he wanted them to know. Sad, really, that the enthusiasm that had always been there was tempered now. Considering what the man had been through, it wasn't at all surprising. He shook himself when he realized that Casey and Daniel were moving away from the camp. "Going somewhere?"
"Gonna sign up for the rafting trip," Casey shot back at him.
"Temples, Jack. Stele. Obelisk. Translations." She said each word slowly, enunciating carefully.
"You're bordering on insubordination, Jackson," he growled.
"Bordering?" Daniel asked. "Hell, I think she zipped right on past that border."
Sam snorted, turned her head to laugh. Teal'c cleared his throat, his newest way of trying to hide the fact that he was laughing. Coughs and chuckles from the Marines added to the sounds of amusement.
He tried to glare, gave up when he continued to stare at her, the 'I'm-so-sweet-and-innocent' look on her face bringing a grin to his own. "You are such a smartass."
"Yes, I am," she agreed easily. "I also have a job to do. That is, with your permission, of course."
Marcus couldn't help but grin. These people were close...they were good friends as well as teammates.
"Teal'c ready to go baby-sit?"
The Jaffa grabbed his pack and Staff weapon. "Indeed."
"No touching anything that's going to cause trouble," Jack warned.
Casey stopped walking, turned around and put both hands on her hips. "And just how, pray tell, are we supposed to know it's going to cause trouble?"
"You're the archaeologist. Read the squiggles. If it has a warning on it, don't touch it," Jack replied easily.
By now the Marines were laughing openly.
"Now who's the smartass?" With a toss of her braid, Casey sauntered up the wide avenue, skirting the rocks and stones of fallen walls and columns.
A A A A A A
They stopped in front of the temple that Casey had discovered was dedicated to Thor. "I don't think the Asgard were here long after bringing the Cardorians," she said softly. She grabbed his hand, tugged Daniel inside, hurrying toward the section of text she had examined the night before.
Her excitement was contagious, and it delighted him as well. He followed along, agreed with her translation. He felt more than heard the other man enter the temple. Turned to see Marcus leaning casually against one of the still standing columns that had graced the front of the temple. "I doubt if you'll find anything here worth stealing," he growled, the words out before he had a chance to stop them.
Marcus grinned. "I'll take my chances."
Daniel stared at him for a moment. Casey was right. Marcus suspected something, and was bound and determined to be nearby if...or when...that discovery made. Without a reply, he turned his attention back to his wife.
"As long as you're going to be there, you might as well help," Casey sighed. She pulled the camcorder from her pack. "Here. Think you can handle this?"
"I have used a similar device before," Marcus replied.
"Good. Try to keep your hand steady. Shaky film is useless."
He couldn't help but smile. She was determined to keep him at arm's length. And he was just as determined to break through the barricade she had thrown up between them. It was an automatic response - he didn't think about it....didn't even realize what he was doing. "I'll do my best."
She gave him careful instructions on how to use the camera, then turned back to Daniel. "I want to get a look at the other temple...but I think I'd like to go ahead and at least get everything in here recorded."
Daniel nodded. He had his own camcorder out. "We can take care of that. Go take a look, babe."
With a smile brighter than the sun above them, Casey nearly skipped to the door. "Coming with me, Big Guy?" she asked Teal'c.
She waited until they were in the shadows cast by the walls of the second temple before speaking. "Marcus is up to something."
"I had surmised as much."
"It has to do with this temple." She looked around. "Daniel won't be able to stall him long. We've got maybe thirty minutes."
Teal'c nodded, and they began to carefully examine the smaller chamber.
Casey frowned. The room seemed...wrong. "There's something not...right...here."
"I agree, Casey Jackson."
She moved toward the far wall, behind what was left of a large altar. She hastily scanned the hieroglyphs, searching for any clue. There! "Teal'c, you can read this, can't you?"
"Most of it," Teal'c agreed. The text was written in the same manner as the ancient form of Egyptian that the Goa'uld had invented.
"Check this out."
The large man stepped behind her, read over her shoulder. "It would seem that something of importance is hidden here."
"Good, I wasn't mistranslating," Casey sighed. She looked around. What was it about this chamber that seemed off? She just couldn't shake that feeling.
"Casey Jackson? What troubles you?" Teal'c asked, noting that her lower lip was between her teeth.
"I don't know, Teal'c. Just something feels very...wrong...about this room."
"Is there danger?" the Jaffa asked immediately.
"No," she replied slowly. "Not dangerous...just...off."
Teal'c turned and slowly surveyed the room. He too felt that there was something...odd. "Perhaps we should examine the other walls."
"I will check outside of the structure. Do not touch anything during my absence," Teal'c instructed.
"Jeez, you're sounding just like Jack!"
One eyebrow went up. His cheek twitched. But Teal'c said nothing. He disappeared into the bright sunlight.
Casey watched him disappear around the corner, then heaved a sigh. She didn't feel nervous, so obviously there was no danger. Just that...something. She decided to check out the altar. The flat stone that had been the top was in three pieces on the floor. With luck she'd be able to get them turned over to see if there was anything of importance written there.
Teal'c carefully moved around the exterior of the temple. Both temples were set far enough away from all other structures that there were few fallen stones to have to move around. Like most Egyptian temples, the front was open to the stone steps that spanned the width of it. Tall columns had supported the roof above it, all but one was still upright. The three sides of the building were plain, unadorned stone block. There was a bit of damage to the back wall, the result of sandstorms, he was sure. That thought had him hastily scanning the horizon for any warning signs. There were none.
By the time he had worked his way back around to the front, he was convinced that whatever was...odd...about the temple was inside. He stood in the opening, his attention caught by Casey's movements. She was attempting to move a rather large piece of stone by herself. With a shake of his head, he hurried to help her.
When large, black hands appeared on the stone beside hers, she smiled. "Find anything?"
"Nothing." With very little effort, or so it seemed to his slender companion, Teal'c turned the flat slab over.
"Well, damn," she sighed. There were no marks at all on either side of stone slab that had once been the top of the altar.
Teal'c stood up. Stared at the wall. That seemed much closer than it should have been. "Casey Jackson, I believe I may have discovered something," he said softly.
"Remain here. I shall return quickly." He hurried outside. Carefully paced the length of the temple.
Casey watched as Teal'c slowly paced from the opening to the altar, and then to the wall behind it. "What's up?"
"There is something behind this wall," the Jaffa replied.
"What? You're sure?"
"I paced the length of the temple on the outside. It does not correspond with interior."
"Well, you have to allow for the depth of the walls-"
"There is a much greater difference," Teal'c said calmly.
"Well, that explains the text reference to the importance of the temple, and the word 'hidden'." She reached up and keyed the radio on her shoulder. "Daniel?"
"I think you'd better get over here. Jack?"
"Go ahead, Casey," Jack's voice replied.
"Can you grab a couple of Marines...and pry bars? We're going to need some muscle."
Marcus listened, tried to fight down his excitement...and worry. Obviously Casey and that giant of a man with her...the Jaffa...had discovered what he had. He wanted to be there when they broke through that wall. Because something of great value lay on the other side. His instinct told him that. And not even Casey was going to stop him from making a profit on this adventure!
Knowing that there was no way the Terran would stay out of the way, Daniel took Casey's camcorder. He'd check it later, see how much was usable. Have one of the Marines finish recording the walls of Thor's temple. He jogged across the courtyard, up the steps and into the second temple.
Casey was bouncing with excitement. "I knew there was something wrong, well, not wrong...but odd, definitely odd when we came in here and then we found this text that spoke of 'things of great value hidden within' except I couldn't figure out where they were hidden because there's nothing here, well really there is, but at the time I didn't know it and then Teal'c paced the outside and came back inside and realized that this room is smaller than it should be...shorter that is, and so-"
Chuckling, Daniel put a finger on her lips. "Take a breath, Angel."
Jack, Turk, and Franklin trotted into the temple. Franklin was carrying two iron crowbars, 'borrowed' from the geologists who were working with Sam at the moment, analyzing several soil samples. "What's going on?" Jack demanded to know.
"Casey may have made one hell of a discovery," Daniel said proudly. He turned to his wife. "Okay, where do we knock through at?"
She studied the wall. "Let me get it all on film," she murmured, reaching for her camcorder. She glanced at Daniel. "Borrow yours?"
"Use your own," he teased, sliding a new disc into it before handing it to her.
With careful, determined movements, she recorded every inch of the wall. She glanced at the men who waited patiently, moved to stand close to Daniel. "I've never done anything like this," she whispered. "What do I do?"
He smiled. "You're certain something is behind that wall?"
She nodded. "Teal'c paced the length outside. He insists that even allowing for the depth of the stones that make wall, this chamber is much...shallower...than it should be."
There was no need to ask if she trusted Teal'c's judgment. She did. He did as well. "Okay, the best thing to do is find a spot that might be weak."
"And I do that...how?"
The smile widened. Daniel asked for one of the pry bars, went to one corner, and began gently tapping on the wall.
Daniel stopped, looked over at her.
"We can't damage that wall," Casey insisted.
Jack frowned. "Casey, if there's something back there..."
"From the other side. We go through from the other side," she said hastily.
Jack looked at Daniel, seeking his expert opinion.
The archaeologist shrugged. "We wouldn't need to be as...concerned...about damage."
With a sigh, the older man nodded. He tossed a look at the steps. "Well, we'll have to break in high enough to actually hit any hidden...room....or whatever."
"We have scaffolding at the Center," Daniel replied. "Isn't there a group of cadets training on Gamma this week?"
"I believe so."
Daniel grinned. "Have Duncan send them through with the scaffold."
Jack's grin matched that of his best friend. "Good plan."
A A A A A A
Casey finished recording the walls of the second, smaller temple. One dedicated, oddly enough, to Loki...although an alternate version of the name, Loder, was used. "You don't think Loki would have hidden what he took from Astrild, do you? Not right here."
The question surprised him. His gut feeling, however, did not. "Where better to hide it? He would be suspected of fleeing with it, and I'm sure he did flee. But not before making certain everything he had taken was safe...and that no one else could find it, or have access to it ," Daniel replied.
"Somebody knew about it, why else make the announcement that the temple had been chosen as the place where 'that of great importance to the great god is hidden'," she quoted.
Daniel frowned. "Maybe someone working with Loki, or for him, was trying to leave a trail," he hypothesized. "Loki is the trickster, remember that. He had a way of conning people into helping him. It's possible that he did just that, and whoever was conned, tried to make amends."
"Because Loki was powerful enough at the time to have made someone's life miserable if they dared to cross him," Casey said, nodding.
"So what do you think is hidden in there?" Marcus asked, nodding toward the temple.
Daniel barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "I doubt there will be anything you can sell," he said shortly.
Casey glanced at her husband, then looked up into amused brown eyes. "Daniel's right. Whatever we find will be of value only to the Asgard."
Sam chose that moment to join her friends. "Should we notify Thor?"
"I think it would probably be a good idea," the young seer said softly.
With a nod, the colonel hurried back to the Stargate. Duncan would see to it that the Asgard were sent the message immediately.
Word came back that it would take at least two hours for the cadets, accompanied by Terry and Mike, to get the required scaffolding together, and through the 'gate. Casey and Daniel used the time to carefully film and photograph the interiors of both temples.
She was sitting on the ground, carefully taking a rubbing of the base of the obelisk that graced the center of the courtyard between the two temples. Marcus dropped down beside her. He watched in silence for a few moments, fighting images of those hands moving with such precision over his body. "So, is it important?"
She cast a glance at him. "Is what important?"
He motioned toward the stone monument. "Whatever that says."
A smile tugged at her lips. "This side is dedicated to the rulers of Cardonium."
"The 'New Place'?"
"That's what it says."
He studied the hieroglyphs, symbols that held no meaning for him. "I suppose that if they called themselves the New People, naming their first city the New Place isn't much of a surprise."
"I suppose not."
"Are you angry with me?"
She looked sharply at him. "Why would you ask that?"
"You've been...distant...cool...since our conversation last night."
"I wasn't aware."
"Well, now you are. So, are you?"
"Am I what?"
Marcus sighed deeply. "Casey, are you angry with me?"
She finished the last symbol, carefully pulled the tracing paper away from the rock, slipped the paper back into the pad she had taken it from. Turned to look at him. "No."
"Then why the cold shoulder?"
"I'm not giving you the cold shoulder."
"Yes you are."
Casey shook her head. Her gaze moved to where Daniel stood, marking out in the dirt just exactly how he wanted the equipment placed...equipment that would help them bust through the stone wall of the temple to find out what lay hidden in a secret chamber. "No, Marcus, I'm not angry."
His eyes followed her gaze. "Ah. I see."
"Yes. If you were to act any other way, he would be angry."
Without a doubt, Casey thought.
"You're afraid of him."
The statement was so absurd, and made so calmly, so assuredly, that she gasped. "I am not! I have never been afraid of Daniel! I have no reason to be afraid of him! He's the sweetest, kindest, most gentle man I've ever known!"
Her outburst surprised him. He had expected those green eyes to drop to the ground, for her to deny his charge, certainly, but not like this! Those green pools were full of fire and anger.
"How dare you accuse him of that!" she hissed.
Marcus frowned, completely bewildered at this point. "Accuse him of what?"
"Of being abusive!"
"I never said that!" he objected.
"You've certainly been thinking it!"
"His behavior when you brought me back into camp led me to that conclusion!" he exclaimed.
Casey shook her head, lowered her eyes. "You're very observant, Marcus. But you don't always see what's right in front of you. Daniel was upset, yes. It seems that he believed you were a threat...competition for my attention. He should know better than that," she murmured.
Those softly spoken words cut to the bone. One simple statement, one that he was certain that she hadn't meant for him to hear, spelled out exactly where he stood with her. Which was exactly nowhere. One tiny ray of hope continued to fight for life. "He still believes me to be a threat?"
"I don't think so. I think he believes you're-" she turned her head, studied the outline of the building that Daniel had determined was the civic center of the city, where all of the governmental business was conducted. Careful examination of it would be conducted as soon as they finished with the small temple.
He waited. Reached out and gently turned her face toward him. "He believes I'm what?"
"Annoying," she murmured.
Marcus couldn't help but grin. He had always taken great pleasure in doing just that...annoying the hell out of the men whose wives he was seducing. Which, his brain informed him, was exactly why he was wanted in so many places! Keeps life interesting, he insisted. His brain refused to agree.
Daniel looked over just in time to see Marcus reach out and cup Casey's chin in his hand, turn her face toward him. He bit back the bile that began to burn in his stomach.
His fingers were beginning to caress her cheek. Gently, but firmly, Casey placed his hand on his thigh. "I'm married, Marcus. Happily, giddily married. My eyes see only one man. My heart belongs to only one man. My body burns for only one man. Daniel Jackson. Excuse me." She rose to her feet, brushed the dust from her pants, and hurried toward her husband.
The grin that nearly split his face was one of sheer delight. Daniel pushed himself to his feet. He watched his wife striding toward him, her eyes full of fire and love...and damned if it didn't look like she was going to...
As soon as she was close enough, her hands were around his face, pulling him close for a kiss. She teased his full lower lip before allowing him to work the combination to her own that had their tongues dancing against one another.
Turk and Haberman had been sitting with Daniel, prepared to help him when the cadets and equipment arrived. Both men grinned as they watched the two archaeologists, before both ducked their heads to study the ground, and Daniel's carefully sketched diagrams.
No need to interpret that, Marcus thought, also watching the couple. Although, he thought with some amusement, he wondered if perhaps Casey wasn't protesting a bit too much. He grinned. He had nothing to lose by continuing with his seduction plans. And paradise to gain.
When Casey finally released her hold on him, Daniel had one thought in his head. Getting her back to the tent to make love to her until she was as breathless as he now was. When her arms wrapped around his neck, and she pressed herself against him, clinging to him as if he were her lifeline, his arms automatically locked around her, pulled her closer still. "Case?" he asked softly.
She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak, at least, not until the hammering in her heart, and the Fire that raced up and down her spine had been controlled. Anything she might try to say before that would come out in two words...Take me.
'He can't hurt you, Angel.'
'He can certainly annoy the hell out of me!'
He hadn't meant to chuckle out loud. He tried to look repentant when she pulled far enough away to glare up at him. But she was so damned cute when she was rattled like this. Not to mention the perks of having her grab and kiss him at every given opportunity! 'What did he say?'
'He thinks you abuse me, that you...hurt me.'
His head flew around, his eyes narrowed as he looked at the man who sat watching them, a smirk on his face.
He jerked slightly. 'Don't what?'
'Don't even think about hitting him.'
'Oh, I'll think about it. I'll fantasize about it. But I promise I won't do it.'
His reply made her giggle. Which released the tension that had held her in its grip. 'Love you.'
'Love you, too, Angel.'
Slowly she pulled away from him. Blushed brightly when she glanced over that the two Marines who waited patiently. "Uh...sorry for interrupting."
"No problem, Case," Turk grinned. "Don't know if your friend got the message, though."
Turk glanced at Marcus. "I think it'll take a lot more than you sucking Doc's face off to convince him you're not interested."
Daniel chuckled at the blush, and the look of surprise that filled her beautiful green eyes. "Honey, if that's what you were trying to do, Turk's right. Marcus sees what he wants to see."
She shook her head. "I'm glad you can laugh about it," she told the three men. "It's not your bones he wants to jump!"
The chuckles turned to full blown laughter. With a shake of her blonde head, Casey left the men to their frivolity, sought the comfort of her mentor and best friend. The large Jaffa was standing guard at the corner of the small temple, his eyes continually scanning the desert.
"It's a dead planet, Teal'c," she said softly.
"Indeed. But that does not mean there is no life on it."
"Well, at least we know that no one has come through the Stargate."
"That is not correct, Casey Jackson. We can be certain only that no one has come through since our arrival. There could be those who arrived while Marcus Tiberius searched the desert for the obelisk. Or before he arrived."
The words caused her to scan the desert as well. She shivered slightly. And thanked whatever true gods there were that Jack and Teal'c never let down their guard, especially when she...missed...the potential danger of a situation. "No sign of anyone, or anything, though, right?"
He didn't miss the sudden nervousness in her voice. Her enthusiasm over her finds had pushed all other thought from her mind. Or she wouldn't have forgotten to remain alert. "I have seen nothing," he confirmed.
Well, if Teal'c hadn't seen it, no one else would either. "I'll be right back," she murmured. She hurried to where her pack still lay, against the inner wall of the small temple. She grabbed two bottles of water. "Here," she said, having rejoined her friend.
"Thank you." He opened the bottle, drained the contents in only a few swallows.
"How do I make him understand I'm not interested?"
Teal'c smiled. He had known that as soon as she could put whatever it was into words, she would tell him...ask him. "You do not."
"Great. So what do I do?"
"Nothing. Marcus Tiberius is as enamored of the chase as he is actually securing your affections. He does not wish a relationship with you, merely a short period of diversion."
She couldn't help but smile. "When did you get so smart about this stuff?"
"He is not the first man to behave in such a manner."
Something told Casey that Teal'c was speaking from experience. "Did she...did she succumb to his...charms?"
His face tightened the slightest bit. "She did."
"I'm sorry," Casey whispered. She leaned her head against the tall man's shoulder.
"I was away from my home for long periods of time," he said softly.
"It doesn't make what she did right, nor does it make it hurt any less."
"No, it does not."
"So I shouldn't do anything?"
"No. He will continue to pursue you until you give in, or until he grows weary of the chase."
"Well, let's hope he gets tired soon, there's no chance in hell I'll ever give in," she said dryly.
Franklin came jogging toward the temple. "Cadets and scaffolding are coming through the 'gate," he announced.
This was it! Her heart pounding with excitement, Casey took Teal'c's hand, squeezed it briefly. Smiled as he gently returned the pressure. "Time to get to work," she said softly.
She was nearly bouncing as she watched a group of young cadets, followed by Terry and Mike, coming up the worn stone street toward them. Yep, time to go to work. Time to find out just exactly what Loki had hidden.
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