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If Not for Love
He rolled over, stretched out his hand. The bed was empty. He strained to hear the sounds of her moving in the baby’s room. Silence. He frowned slightly, scratched. He was wearing sweats and a tee shirt. He hadn’t worn sweats to bed since…his eyes flew open. He looked up at a stark white ceiling. Which was supported by stark white walls. He sat up, rubbed a hand over his face. What the hell? Where was he?
The bed he was lying in wasn’t theirs. It was a full sized bed, no headboard. Plain white sheets and a green and black comforter. No extra pillows, just the two standard ones, both had been crushed behind his head.
He pulled himself from the bed, wandered down the narrow hallway to a small kitchen. Just beyond was the living room. He recognized every artifact that hung on the walls or sat on the shelves. There was one lone picture sitting on the coffee table. A picture of him and Jack, Sam, and Teal'c. He didn’t recognize it. Didn’t remember this apartment either.
His heart began to pound against his ribs. "Casey? Babe, where are you?" He waited, holding his breath. Nothing. He could feel the panic begin to grow in his belly. Coffee. He could smell coffee. The glass pot on the coffee maker was full. He opened cabinet doors until he found a mug, filled it, took a sip of the black liquid. Sure wasn’t as good as what Casey made. He looked around again.
The doorbell startled him, he nearly jumped out of his skin. He looked through the peephole. Jack was standing on the other side of the door. With a sigh, he opened it. "Jack, what the hell is going on? Where's Casey?" he said, not even letting the man get fully into the apartment before questioning him.
"Come again? Casey? Who is 'Casey'?" Jack asked. He looked at Daniel, as if trying to determine if the man was drunk or joking.
"My Wife. Mother of my daughter," Daniel replied. He wrapped his arms around his mid-section and began to pace the small room. "Something must have happened when I touched that rock," he said, more to himself than to his stunned guest.The panic was beginning to grow. Where was he? When…was he? Had he somehow been transported into the past? No, he would recognize this place if that were the situation. What about an alternate reality? He shivered. If this were an alternate universe, then it was clear that Casey wasn’t a part of his life here. That thought made his heart constrict so tightly that the pain was physical.
"Daniel? What’s going on? You aren’t married, haven’t been since Sha’re. Not even dating that I know of, unless you’re leading a secret life we don’t know about. Definitely no kids."
He stopped, his heart pounding against his ribs again. He sank to the sofa, his eyes full of tears. Suddenly it came to him…no…it couldn’t be…please god, no! Not just a dream! It had seemed so real! He had dreamed the entire thing, every precious minute with that beautiful woman. Nothing but a dream! The pain was almost more than he could bear. "Never mind, Jack. Guess I’m still half asleep," he mumbled. "Haven’t had my second cup of coffee yet."
Jack grinned. "Must've been one hell of a dream!"
He didn’t answer. "I’ll be out in a minute." He stumbled back into the bedroom, pulled on jeans and a shirt. His mind, his heart, was numb with grief. He had to fight back tears that threatened to fall.
A A A A A A
"Daniel? Please, my heart, talk to me." She was trying hard not to cry, but tears rolled down her cheeks as she held him tightly. When Jack and Teal'c had tried to move him from the temple, to take him back through the gate, his body had gone into seizure. As long as he stayed near the stone, he remained unconscious, but otherwise unharmed.
"Case, Daniel would always take your hand when he went into your dreams," Jack said softly.
She nodded, pulled his hand into hers, wrapped her fingers tightly around it. "Daniel, please, let me see," she whispered. Nothing. She could see nothing. Felt nothing. Heard nothing. "Oh, goddess," she moaned, holding him tighter. "Daniel! Daniel?"
A A A A A A
It had been difficult to pay attention during the briefing. They were going to do a recon mission on a planet that the MALP had indicated had a naquadah source. General Hammond had had to repeat several questions, waiting for him to search his notes for the appropriate answers.
It was during the meeting that he decided he was going to take time off, go to Tacoma. If she was there, he was going to find her. He’d quit the SGC, he could certainly find a place to teach, in a small school perhaps. Or maybe he could find work in a museum. Anything, as long as he could find her, have her in his life. He sat alone in the conference room for several minutes after everyone else had left, trying to recall the name of the company that Casey had worked for. He’d start there…go there, introduce himself… hope that she would fall in love with him…be a part of his life here…in his…this…reality.
He wandered into Sam’s office, watched her silently for a few minutes. She looked up at him.
"Daniel, what’s wrong?" Her voice was full of concern.
"Ever have the feeling you’re not where you’re supposed to be? Like - you’re totally out of…sync…with everything around you?
She sighed. "The colonel said you had a really…strange dream; one that seemed very real to you. Maybe you’re not ready for active duty yet, Daniel. You’ve been through a lot the past few days. Maybe…maybe your dreams are just the…memories…of the people who were…in you…in your…head."
He shook his head. "No. No, they were much more…real…than that. I could smell her, taste her-" he broke off, his cheeks blazing. "Never mind," he mumbled. "I guess I should get back to my office."
He walked through the corridor of the SGC, heading for his office. He was sure there was work to do. He just couldn’t remember what it was. His mind was still haunted by green eyes and a bright smile, warm arms and a soft, willing body; the face of a blue-eyed baby girl who called him Daddy. Just a dream. A beautiful, wonderful dream. Not real. Not for him. Never for me, he thought morosely.
He sat down at his desk, took off his glasses and rubbed his face wearily. He looked around the room, recognized everything in it. It just didn’t…feel…right. His dream had felt more real than his reality. Was he going crazy…totally insane? Had all that he had endured as a member of SG-1, part of the Stargate program, finally become too much for his mind to handle?
He jumped. That was her voice! The sweet, soft voice of the woman he loved. The woman he adored. His Chosen…his Chosen…marked…both of them marked…that planet…that old woman …He tore at his shirt, pulled the tee shirt up. Stared at the blue-black tattoo on his chest.
"Where did that come from?"
He looked up to see Janet Fraiser staring at him; Jack and Sam and Teal'c right behind her. "Hi, Janet. It’s been a long time," he said softly.
The petite doctor shook her head. "If you call less than fifteen hours a long time." She was running her finger over the tattoo. "So this is what you did last night? I’m surprised. There’s no redness, no swelling, no bleeding. Or is this just ink?"
"It’s a real tattoo," he smiled.
‘Daniel?’ That sweet voice echoed again.
A A A A A A
She struggled to move past the haze, the fog that seemed to envelop his thoughts. She fought down the fear that she would somehow get lost. She focused on him, felt his…confusion. "Daniel?"
She nearly wept with relief. He was there, she just had to get to him. She looked around, could see the corridors of the SGC on Earth become clearer. "Where are you, sweetheart?"
‘In my office.’
She smiled and began to run.
A A A A A A
"Daniel, you’re starting to freak me out, buddy," Jack said.
‘Where are you, sweetheart?’ she was asking.
He grinned. "In my office."
Janet looked at the others. "Yes, Daniel, you’re in your office. But how about going up to the infirmary with me?"
Before anything else could be said, a beautiful woman with long blonde hair walked into the room, her green eyes full of love and focused on the man sitting behind the desk.
"Oh, Angel, I thought I only dreamed you," he said, his voice a soft moan, standing to his feet, reaching for her.
She wrapped her arms around him, held him tightly. "No, my love. I’m real. Our love is real. Our baby girl is real." In spite of the fact that the others stood there watching, she pulled her tee shirt up, took his hand and put his fingers on the tattoo just above the lacy cup of her bra. "Heart of the Chosen," she said softly. She put her own fingers on his tattoo. "Chosen."
"Just what the hell is going on here?" Janet demanded.
Casey turned around. "Hi. You must be Doctor Fraiser. Daniel has told me about you."
"That’s nice. Who the hell are you?"
"Casey Jackson. Daniel’s wife."
"You’re not real," Jack said firmly. He looked at Daniel. "She’s not real."
"She’s not real, Daniel," Sam said. "You can’t have a life like that. You don’t deserve it."
"Indeed, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. "Any happiness you find is not real. Not for you."
Casey placed herself between them and him. "No, you are the ones who aren’t real. You're just images in his mind; doubts and fears that torment him. Leave him alone. I won’t let you hurt him any more. He’s suffered enough."
They began to move closer. "Any happiness he has, can’t be real," they all said, repeating it over and over.
She glanced over her shoulder, saw the tears that streamed down his face. She took his face between her hands, kissed him gently. "Look at me, Daniel. What do you see?"
"Love, happiness…I can’t have those," he whispered hoarsely, shaking his head sadly.
"I don’t deserve them," was his distraught reply.
"Oh, my love, you do deserve happiness! You have suffered so much, given so much! Daniel, you have a good heart, a kind, gentle heart. You try so hard to help others, you reach out, you care so deeply. You are The Chosen, my love. How can you be The Chosen, and not deserve happiness?" She turned to face his tormentors. "He's The Chosen. He's earned whatever happiness he has. You will leave him alone, do you hear me?" Her eyes blazed with anger. "I don’t know who let you in here, who told him that he didn’t deserve happiness. But he does! Now leave…all of you! Leave Daniel alone! He's The Chosen! He does deserve to be happy!"
Daniel looked at her for a moment, mulling over what she had said, then smiled. "It’s okay, guys. She’s right, I’m The Chosen. I love her with everything that I am. She’s filled my life with sunshine and happiness and love. I love her. I love my daughter. I love my life with them. It’s okay. It’s okay for me to love…be loved…be…happy."
Jack looked at him. "Do you really think she’s real, that the life you’re describing is real?"
He nodded. "I know it is."
Casey hugged him tightly. "Damn straight it is!"
Jack looked at Daniel and smiled. "About time you figured that out." He gave a nod, and he and the others faded away, leaving nothing but a peaceful feeling in their wake.
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