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In Between the Lines
It was barely two a.m. The changing of the guard had happened at midnight, but the men coming on duty had felt no need to check on the prisoner. Until one of them realized that they didn’t hear snoring; and Camulus had earned a reputation for his ability to snore. When they had opened the door, the first thing they had noticed was that the cot had been moved. There was nothing saying that the prisoner couldn't rearrange the furniture a bit if he wanted. Then they realized he wasn't in the bed, but hanging above it.
The alarm was sounded, but Camulus was dead. When Dr. Montigue arrived, he did an x-ray, which revealed that the symbiote wasn't fully attached to the spinal column. The Goa'uld had had no intention of surviving.
The team sat bleary-eyed at the conference table. "It would seem, then, that Casey's pheromones cause madness in Goa'uld," the doctor said, finishing his report.
"They're already crazy," Jack muttered. He rubbed his hand over his face. "But she makes them go completely nuts, huh?"
"So it would seem," Dr. Montigue replied.
"The guards from the evening shift said that at around eleven Camulus demanded that they write something down for him," Duncan said.
Casey frowned. "That would have been about an hour after I came in and did thirty minutes of yelling."
"He heard every word, Case," Duncan replied.
"What did he want written down?" Daniel asked.
"'One life in exchange for another,'" the Scot said quietly.
"I still don't think Goa'uld can change," Daniel muttered.
"This one did," Casey replied. She wasn't sad…exactly. After all, they were at war with the Goa'uld. But Camulus had grieved, truly grieved over Cara's death. He had loved her so deeply, felt such a connection to her that he had sought out other humans in his sorrow. Had felt responsible for Casey's impending 'death'.
"Well, we know one thing for sure, close proximity and repeated exposure to Casey drives them stark raving mad," Duncan remarked.
"That's not necessarily a good thing!" she retorted.
"No, but it's damned helpful," Jack said. "At least we know about Penatil and the Kull thing."
Duncan yawned. "I sent a message to Methos. He's going to see what he can find out."
"Okay, let's all go home. There's nothing we can do until we get some intel," Jack suggested.
A A A A A A
Daniel was snoring softly as she tiptoed from the room. She went into the kitchen. Opened the cabinet door and stared in the dim light at the bottle. Took it and a small glass to the deck. Southern Comfort wasn't her liquor of choice, but it would do. She poured a bit into the glass, tossed it back, felt the burn all the way into her stomach.
She stared at the stars, wondered if she had the courage, the strength, to do what she had determined must be done. If Goa'uld could be driven mad from exposure to her…to the pheromones that her body produced…what would happen to Daniel? Would he suffer the same fate? Would she slowly drive him into madness? She shook her head, decided that she loved him too much to expose him any longer. The fleeting thought that she could 'infect' her children as well skittered across her brain. Another shot. And another. No, what she needed to do was to go away. To protect them.
Stumbling into the den, she reached for his legal pad and a pen. Frowned as she tried to come up with the right words. Another shot. Getting through the 'gate wouldn't be easy. Not since Duncan had ordered guards into the control room for the night shifts. She certainly didn’t want to hurt anyone. She sighed. Another shot. A double this time. SG-1 was scheduled to go on a mission immediately after Christmas. She nodded to herself. That would be much better. After Christmas. She would spend one last holiday with her family and friends. Then she would leave. Dr. Montigue had finished the serum that mimicked her pheromones. He would be able to 'wean' Daniel from them. Then he would be free of his addiction - the addiction to her. He would be safe. No chance of madness. She looked at the glass. Raised the bottle to her lips and took a healthy swig of the bourbon.
She put the bottle back in the cabinet, the glass in the sink. She staggered slightly as she made her way back to bed in the darkness.
Daniel frowned when he felt her crawl back into bed. She had been uncharacteristically quiet on the drive home earlier. Something was going on, and if she was feeling guilty about Camulus he'd…he'd what? Shake her until common sense returned? Tempting. But not the best way to get through to her. She's just too damned tender hearted, he thought. The frown deepened when he realized she hadn't cuddled close to him as she normally did. Not wanting her to know he was awake, he rolled to his side, tossed his arm over her waist. Felt her stiffen slightly. He kept his breathing slow and steady. Then he felt it. Her body began to shake as she cried into her pillow. Goddamn that freaking Goa'uld anyway! He moved closer, pulled her back against his chest. Felt her stiffen again. Longed to reach out and touch her, caress the guilt from her mind. Satisfied himself to simply hold her for the time being.
Casey lay still, afraid of waking him with her tears. He would think she was crying over Camulus. In a way, maybe she was. But not because she was grieving over the Goa'uld. No, her sadness came from the realization that she was a danger to the ones she loved, to the man who held her very heart and soul in his strong, warm hands. Something that she never would have been aware of if not for Camulus. Maybe, she thought, she owed the Goa'uld a debt of gratitude. She fought the urge to snuggle back against him. She needed to wean herself from him, his touch, his kisses. She had very little time to do so. And it wouldn't be easy! When he moved closer, she nearly cried out from the anguish that filled her heart. If she was going to do this, she decided, she had best start now. Waiting until his breathing was once again slow and steady, she slipped from the bed a final time, stopping at the hall closet to grab a pillow and blanket. She needed to learn how to sleep alone.
He sat up, listened to the sounds of her moving in the living room. Enough of this shit! Something was wrong…very wrong. He tossed back the blankets, left the warmth of their bed, padded barefoot and naked down the hallway. He stopped when he saw her sitting on the couch, her legs drawn up, her cheek resting on her knees. Yep, she was crying. "Case?"
She jumped slightly, quickly turned her head away from him, tried to wipe the tears away. "I thought you were asleep."
"I was. Until I got cold."
The fact that she hadn't been out of bed more than a few minutes flashed across her alcohol-addled brain. The effects of the Southern Comfort prevented her from realizing he had been awake for some time. "I just need time to…think," she said softly.
He eased his tall frame down beside her, tried to pull her close. Frowned when she resisted. The smell of bourbon on her breath was no surprise. "What's wrong?"
Casey shook her head. She couldn't tell him, couldn't let him know what she had planned. He would try to stop her, and God help her, she wouldn't be able to resist. She would find herself allowing him to talk her out of what she knew must be done…for his own good…his own sanity.
"Talk to me, Angel," he pleaded softly.
"It's nothing, Daniel. Please, go back to bed. You need your rest," she replied.
"I can't sleep without you beside me," he said.
"You'd better learn-" she broke off, jumped to her feet.
Alarm bells began to go off in his head. "Casey, what is going through that head of yours?"
"Nothing," she replied, wincing as the lie fell from her lips.
He stood up, moved to stand behind her, frowned when she slipped away from him. "Are you mad at me?"
Her green eyes filled with tears as she looked over at him. "No! Oh, no! I’m not angry. Just…" she pulled her lip between her teeth. He was so good at getting out of her whatever problem was plaguing her. Years of experience had made him a master at slipping past her defenses.
He moved slowly. Waiting until she was staring into the backyard. When he was close enough, he slipped his arms around her and pulled her close, held her tightly even as she tried to struggle. "I love you, Angel," he whispered, pressing his face against her neck.
I shouldn't do this, she thought, her arms slowly winding around his shoulders. I should step away…I need to get used to not having him hold me like this. She closed her eyes, breathed deeply of his masculine scent. Was unable to hold back the tears. Three days. She would have three days with him. And then…she shuddered. Wondered if she would be able to survive without him.
"Shh…it's okay, Angel," he whispered, his voice muffled against her skin. She was clinging to him, her sobs shaking her slender frame. Goddamned Goa'uld anyway!
"I love you," she whispered through her tears. "I love you so very much!"
"I love you too, Case," he replied. Part of him was appalled that he would even consider doing what he was about to do. But there was something more than just the death of a Goa'uld going on, he could feel it. He moved slowly, caressed her gently, couldn't help but smile when he felt her soft, gentle presence in his own mind. He tried to look without her sensing him. Could 'see' only that she was troubled…worried…about something. "Do you want to talk?"
She pushed her face against his neck. God, she would miss this! Being held by him…touching him…holding him…"No," she whispered.
"Let's go back to bed," he said softly.
She managed to pull away from him. "I'll be in soon," she promised, once again cringing mentally from the lie.
He pushed a strand of long, blonde silk behind her shoulder. "I'll sit here with you."
She shook her head. "No, that's all right. I promise, I won't be long."
The fact that she wouldn't meet his gaze alerted him to the fact that she was hiding something from him. But to push now would result in an argument that would do more harm than good. He didn't want to leave her alone, not without knowing what was wrong. But she had left him with no other choice at the moment. With a sigh that let her know he wasn't happy about the situation, he ran his hand over her face, slowly turned and left the room.
She sank down onto the sofa, buried her face in her hands and began to weep. She didn't know he was standing in the shadows watching, his hands clenched into fists with the need to help her, hold her.
A A A A A A
Daniel was staring at the computer screen, not seeing the symbols that were displayed there. He was seeing her…sitting on the sofa, in the dark, crying as if her heart was breaking. She seemed determined to keep him physically at a distance, and though she wasn't blocking him, she hadn't reached out to caress him at all, something she normally did several times a day. Casey had insisted that she needed to work in the Center today, putting together several artifacts that had arrived in pieces. When he had called there to make a 'date' with her, Susan had answered the phone. His mental 'message' was met with a brusque 'I'm really busy right now'. He sighed. Maybe she was just tired of his insatiable need for her, he thought. Lord knew that since her return he seemed unable to leave her alone for any substantial amount of time.
"Daniel, these need your signature," Julie said, entering the office with a stack of forms in her hand.
"Have you talked to Casey today?" he asked, taking the stack of papers and signing his name to each one. He was going to have to get one of those rubber stamps made, so that Julie could just stamp his name on these damned things, he thought distractedly.
"No reason," he replied. Had hoped that maybe his Wife had said something to the dark-haired secretary, something that would give him a clue about what was wrong. He sighed, reached out again to touch her. Frowned when the caress wasn't returned.
Whatever Julie had been about to say was lost when Dr. Montigue tapped on the door. "Are you busy?" the doctor asked.
"No, come on in," Daniel replied.
Julie gathered the signed forms, smiled at the medical doctor and returned to her own office.
"What's up?" Daniel asked.
"I had a visit from Casey this morning," Dr. Montigue replied. "I've been trying to decide whether or not I'll be betraying any confidences by speaking to you."
His heart dropped to his feet. She was Immortal, she couldn't be ill, his brain told him frantically. "Is she all right?"
Dr. Montigue settled into the chair in front of the desk. "Physically she's in perfect health."
Physically. Which meant…"But?"
"She had a very…interesting…question for me. One that I tried desperately to answer. I just don't think she heard what I was saying," the doctor replied.
So far, Daniel thought, he still knew squat about what the man was talking about. "Okay, what was her question?"
"She wanted to know if her pheromones would drive you to madness."
Daniel frowned. "Why would she want to know…oh, shit!"
Dr. Montigue nodded. "Exactly. She has convinced herself that if she can drive Goa'uld crazy, it will happen to you as well. I don't know that I reached her when I assured her that physiologically you are different from a Goa'uld, and that there was no danger to you. The only thing that you suffer, will ever suffer, is an addiction to her."
"Did she say anything else?"
The doctor studied the young man. "She wanted to know how long it would take to wean you from the pheromones using the serum I've synthesized."
He felt his heart plummet even further. Knowing how her mind worked, he knew exactly what she was up to. He picked up the phone. "Susan? Yeah…is Casey still there? Good. No, that's all right. It's not important, I'll talk to her later."
The older man nodded. "That was my interpretation as well," he said softly.
"She wouldn't leave now, not just before Christmas," Daniel muttered.
"No, she won't leave before the holiday. But I suggest you keep an eye on her. She is completely convinced that your addiction to her will lead to madness. And she will try to protect you from it."
Daniel nodded. When would it end? When would they be allowed to just live and love and enjoy one another without all of this…chaos? "Thanks for letting me know," he said quietly.
Dr. Montigue nodded, rose to his feet. "For what it's worth Daniel, she's worried because she loves you."
"I know," he murmured. Wondered how he was going to get through to her this time. Or if he would. Anger flared in his veins, anger at her for even thinking about leaving him, no matter how altruistic her motives. Anger that Camulus had ever showed up, leading to this mess in the first place. Anger that he felt so damned helpless to reach the woman he loved more than life.
A A A A A A
Immediately after she had cleaned up the kitchen from fixing dinner, Casey announced that she had an errand to run. She smiled at Daniel, hugged the kids, then quietly told him not to hold snuggle time for her. Even as he opened his mouth to object, she fled through the door and into the garage.
She won't leave before Christmas, his brain kept telling him. She won't.
Daniel bathed Nicholas, sent Emily in to take her bath. He brushed out his daughter's hair, then took the kids into the little girl's room for their nightly story.
"Where Mommy is?" Emily asked, her blue eyes troubled.
"I think she's doing some last minute Christmas shopping," Daniel replied. Wished fervently that it was true. Hated the fact that right now, he had no idea where his Wife was. He could 'feel' her, but as she had all day, she ignored his caresses, his 'messages' to her.
He read a Tommy Turtle story, tucked the kids in, then paced the den. He had reached out again, only to be gently rebuffed once more. All right, damn it! If that's the way she wants to play the game, fine! He threw himself into his chair, gathered the notes and photos from one of the latest missions, and sat down to do some work. Eventually he was able to focus on the information in front of him.
A A A A A A
It was nearly midnight when he turned off the light, headed for their bedroom. He stood in the doorway, staring at the bed, knowing that there was no way he could sleep there. Not without her. He went back out to the living room, sank down onto the sofa. She would be cooking all day tomorrow…today now, he thought, as the clock on the entertainment center chimed in the half-hour. Surely she wouldn't be gone much longer.
He heard the garage door open, then close. He didn't move, instead listened as she quietly entered the house. He heard the clink of her keys against the kitchen counter. Heard the cabinet door open. The familiar sound of the bottle of Southern Comfort as it touched the granite. "Get a glass for me," he said softly.
Casey jumped, put her hand over her heart as it pounded. She glanced into the living room, could barely make out his shadow on the sofa. She grabbed two glasses and the bottle. Settled into the chair adjacent him. She put the glasses on the coffee table, poured a bit into each.
"So, are you going to tell me what's wrong?"
He was angry. She nodded mentally. Good. That was good. If she could keep him angry, then this would be much easier. Easier than it had been to refrain from returning his gentle caresses against her mind, easier than turning him away when she desperately wanted to make love to him, when he had called to arrange a 'date'. Easier than it had been to walk out the door earlier in the evening. "No."
He downed the shot of bourbon. "Are you going to talk to me at all?"
"Fine. I'll talk. You listen." When she leaned forward to pour another shot, he took her glass and the bottle, slid them to the opposite end of the coffee table. "I want you sober enough to hear what I'm saying," he said calmly.
"Talk then." Her heart was breaking. She wanted nothing more than to be in his arms. Making love. She had sat on top of the tower on the base, cried as she thought about her family enjoying snuggle time without her.
"Doctor Montigue stopped by my office this afternoon."
She didn't reply.
"I won't go crazy, Case. I'm not a Goa'uld. I'm addicted to you. I always will be. And that's all right with me. I love that you give me that sweetness…that you give it only to me. But I won't go mad."
"You don't know that for sure," she whispered.
"Yeah, I do. Doctor Montigue did some extensive studying of your 'Hathor-gene' when we first found out about it. If there had been a problem, any sort of…danger, he would have found out about it then."
She shook her head stubbornly. "Madness isn't something you can create in a laboratory. Not like this. I can't risk it."
Daniel sighed. "Casey, he says that only Goa'uld are affected that way. Hell, they're already crazy anyway, it doesn't take much to push them completely over the edge. We've seen that time and again."
"I can't risk it," she repeated softly.
The anger flared again. Maybe, he thought, she needs a good shake to wake her up. The thought, the idea moved slowly through his mind. He fought against it, before admitting that it might be the only way to change her mind. "If you walk away from me, from our kids, keep walking. Don't turn around. Because we won't be there…I won't be there," he said, his voice low…firm…hard.
She blanched, felt the tears begin to fall. "Whatever you say," she replied, trying to make her voice as hard…as cold…as his.
His heart was pounding, his body began to shake. Come on, he begged her silently. Move over here by me, tell me that you're not leaving me!
It was a physical battle to remain in the chair. She wanted to reassure him that she would never leave him. But she couldn't. She would not risk his sanity!
"Casey, did you hear me?"
"I heard you."
He was holding his breath, had heard the tremors in her voice, even as she tried to sound calm. "I love you, Angel."
"I love you, Daniel. More than you'll ever know."
"Then why would you even think about leaving me?"
His pain, his frustration was in his voice as well as in his words; added to the pain in her own heart. "I can't do that to you!"
"Nothing is going to happen to me!" he said, his voice louder, sharper than he intended.
It was a good thing she wasn't trying to hold that glass. Her hands were trembling so hard that it would have been impossible to keep hold of it. "I'm so scared, Daniel! I can't let you suffer…can't let that happen to you! What about the kids? Has anyone stopped to consider the fact that these goddamned…pheromones," she spat the word, "could adversely affect them as well?"
He shook his head. It was typical of her to figure that she would cause harm to everyone around her. Another idea struck him. One that had the possibility of ending this entire mess once and for all. "If Thor could determine whether or not your worries are founded, would you listen to him?"
The idea had merit, she thought, her heart grabbing at the possible reprieve. "If you agree that when he finds out I'm right, you'll let me walk away."
"If you're right, I won't stop you," he said quietly. Had no doubt whatsoever that the little gray alien would find that he was right.
"Then we should call him."
He reached out, wrapped his fingers around hers. "Until he gets here, let me love you, Angel."
They hadn't made love that morning, she had raced from the bed before the alarm went of, showering quickly, getting the kids up and breakfast ready. "I guess you need a fix, huh?"
"I need to show you how much I love you. Need to feel how much you love me," he replied softly.
"I do, you know."
"I'll do anything to protect you."
He smiled. "I know. Come to bed, Angel."
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