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In Your Own Backyard
When the creatures…beings…demons, whatever they were, had been destroyed, whatever had been interfering with communications between them and the Phoenix disappeared. Marine 2 began the task of bringing the supplies to Lake One. They set up their own camp, and within four hours three biologists, five physicists, two mathematicians, and four engineers were also setting up tents. The team had uncovered the ship again, and stood back and listened to the newly arrived scientists exclaim over the find. The engineers were already in the pit, standing on top of the ship, digging around it carefully, anxious to have it completely unburied.
Duncan looked around. "Do you want to bring the ATVs home?"
Jack glanced around. "We have an extra one," he pointed out. With Carly back in Hope, the vehicle she had ridden would have to be taken aboard the Phoenix.
"Two extra, actually. I'm heading up to the Phoenix. We'll take the extra ATVs."
The colonel looked at his team. "I don't know about you, but I think I'd rather just hitch a ride myself."
Weary, the others nodded in agreement. "Does this mean we still get four days of down time?" Casey asked.
The Highlander grinned. "I'll give you two."
"That is so not fair," the young Immortal complained.
"How about two days on Langara?"
She grinned. "Okay, that I can handle. Three nights and two days in Kelowna City."
"Wait a minute!" Duncan objected. "I never said…"
"You said two days, Mac. Deal with it."
Her teammates began laughing. "Yeah, you did say two days," Sam said.
"And days have nights," Jack added.
"Can't count the day we get there, because it will be late planet side by the time we do," Daniel threw in.
Duncan looked at Teal'c. "Well?"
The Jaffa raised an eyebrow.
"What smartass remark do you have to add to this argument?"
"I do not make 'smartass remarks'," Teal'c replied somewhat indignantly. "You are displeased because my teammates have made valid points against which you cannot argue."
Casey burst into giggles. "Touché!"
The Scot rolled his eyes. "That was a smartass remark if I've ever heard one!"
"Let's go home and get packed, kids," Jack said, still grinning.
A A A A A A
Three hours later, Casey was sitting on the balcony of their room, looking over a large park. Even though the hour was late, there seemed to be quite a few people still sitting on the numerous benches, or walking the winding paths among the well-tended gardens.
Daniel watched her for a moment, admired the way the moonlight danced over her hair, thought about how soft her skin looked, then stepped through the open door and handed her a plastic cup filled with the Merlot he had brought along. "Penny for them," he said softly.
She started, then looked up at him and smiled, accepted the cup, sipped the wine. "To be honest, I wasn't really thinking about anything. Just watching the people."
He settled into the chair beside her. "It's warm tonight," he said, after a few minutes of peaceful silence.
A frown creased his brow. She had been uncharacteristically quiet since they had talked about Sha're. "Case, are we okay?"
"What makes you ask that?"
He sighed. "You haven't said more than ten words to me since we ringed up to the Phoenix. This is the first time you've said anything since we checked in." He shrugged. "Usually the first thing you want to do is take a shower and…"
She smiled. "We're more than okay," she replied softly, wrapping her fingers around his hand.
"Then why are you so quiet?"
One slender shoulder moved up and down.
He sighed again. "Is this about Sha're?"
"No." Well, not all of it was.
"Jack had to deal with being back in an Iraqi prison. He was so horribly beaten! Sam was raped. You were beaten. But Teal'c…" she broke off.
His fingers tightened around hers. "What about Teal'c?" he asked softly.
"In one of the…sessions, I guess is what they were, you were chained on a wall beside him. I was brought in and-" she shook her head.
"And raped," he finished flatly.
She nodded. "I didn't…well, I broke…sort of went catatonic I guess…and…well, you started screaming at him, that you hated him, called him a 'Jaffa freak'. That nearly broke him, Daniel! He values your friendship. He's close to each of us, but the friendship with you he treasures, because he still holds himself responsible for what happened to Sha're. That you're able to forgive him, be his friend, is hard for him to believe, to accept."
Another frown. "This is what's bothering you?"
Once again that slender shoulder moved up and down. "Teal'c is quiet. Strong, - physically he's like a…giant. To know that he's as passionate…I think we forget just how deeply he feels sometimes," she replied softly.
"Do you think I should say something to him? He's aware that you…witnessed…what each of us had to go through. Maybe I should let him know that…that he and I are okay?"
She pulled her lip between her teeth. "I don't know," she admitted. She turned to face him in the dim light that reflected from the lamp inside the room. "I think you should do whatever your heart tells you to," she said after a minute.
He nodded. Stared down at the park below them. It had been difficult in those first days after returning from Chulak. Knowing that the large man had been the one to take Sha're from him. Thinking that Teal'c was responsible for Sha're being infested with a Goa'uld. In his heart, in the deepest part, he had understood that Teal'c had not chosen Sha're on Abydos. Apophis had. Amaunet had made that final, fateful choice.
"Do you blame him for taking Sha're?"
He examined the question, and his feelings, carefully. "No. No, I don't. Teal'c had as little choice in the matter as Sha're had. When we were able to get Klorel out of Skaara, I was able to spend a few minutes with him. He told me that Apophis was pointing out which of the people he wanted taken. Teal'c was…following orders. When he selected Sha're from among all of those women on Chulak, there was a chance that she wouldn't be chosen, and that he could get her back to Abydos without Apophis knowing about it. The other women in the room became slaves. In a way, he was giving her a chance, a slim one, but a chance."
She leaned against him. "The entire situation sucked. Teal'c was as much a slave, a prisoner, as any of the other slaves, as…controlled, as Sha're was by Amaunet."
"Yeah, he was," Daniel admitted. He lifted her hand, kissed her fingers. "So are you all right now?"
"I think so," she said, then sighed heavily. "Maybe."
"Talk to me, Case," he whispered.
"I just…I don't think…" she stood up, moved to lean against the railing that surrounded the balcony. Turned to face him in the moonlight. "I've never had the…confidence…to go after what I want. I can now, but only because of you. But when we first met-" she broke off, shook her head. "Had you walked away from me, no matter how much I loved you, I wouldn't have had the courage to go after you."
Okay, really confused here, he thought. What the hell does this have to do with anything? "Go on," he encouraged softly.
"I'm guessing that if Sha're hadn't been taken, chances are you still would have returned to Earth to work with the program. Especially if Skaara had been taken. So Sha're would have come with you."
"I'll agree with that," he said.
"After seven years on Earth, eight years together, by the time I came into the picture, there was no way that Sha're would have just stood aside."
Daniel smiled. Sha're had indeed a fighter. She had had a temper that equaled Casey's. "And?"
"Something…major, something…drastic…would have had to have happened, if Destiny was to be fulfilled. I'm thinking that if something had happened to Sha're at that point in time, you would have grieved for a long time, not been ready for any type of relationship."
"I would have gone back to Tacoma. Probably had my head taken by some Immortal."
He frowned again. "You're my Destiny, Case. I'm yours. We would have gotten together, somehow, some way. Even if Sha're had been with me on Earth."
Casey shook her blonde head. "I understand about the Destiny thing. But what I'm saying is, sometimes we avoid…or ignore our destiny, or don't even see it, because of circumstances around us. And I think that we have one chance to grab at it before it's gone."
"So you're saying that if things hadn't happened exactly as they did, we wouldn't be together?"
He put his cup on the small table beside him. Reached out, took her cup and sat it there also. Stood up and wrapped his arms around her. "Case, the first time I looked into your eyes I knew. I felt something that I had never felt with any other woman in my life. Not even with Sha're. Want to know what I think would have happened?"
"I think that we would have gone on that mission to rescue you. You would have dropped into my arms. And I would have known that you were my Destiny. And I think it would have been difficult, but I would have found a way to be with you. Sha're was an incredible woman. She believed in Destiny, too. And I think that being the woman that she was, knowing that you and I were destined to be together, she would have…freed me, to be with you."
She shook her head. "You don't give yourself enough credit, Doctor Jackson. Sha're would have fought long and hard to keep you."
He grinned. "Maybe. But, Angel, she couldn't have fought and won against Destiny."
Pulling away from him, Casey turned and looked down on the park again. Continued to battle with the guilt that plagued her.
"What else is wrong?" he asked instinctively.
"I'm a horrible person," she whispered.
"I see," he replied, slipping his arms around her waist, pulling her back against his chest. "What makes you say that?"
"Because I’m glad that things worked out the way they did. Which means that I'm glad that Sha're was taken from you. I mean, it's a horrible thing that happened to her, but if it hadn't…" she shivered.
"I don't think that being glad things worked out the way they did means you're happy that Sha're was taken. I think that you're just accepting what has happened, good and bad."
"Don’t have much of a choice, do I?"
"Casey, everything happens for a reason," he said softly. "I understood that the minute I met you."
She turned around in his arms. "Really?"
She continued to struggle with thoughts, with feelings that left her questioning herself; had her wondering when she had become so cold-hearted.
"You're not a horrible person, Case," Daniel said. He took her chin in his hand, lifted her face, looked into her eyes. "My Destiny, Angel. You're my Destiny. And I've known that from the minute I saw you. My heart, my soul reached out to yours immediately."
"Because you were free to do so," she replied patiently.
"When we met, I was still grieving, still dealing with her loss. All of my memories had returned, but I had to deal with losing her all over again. She was still there, Case. Sha're was still very alive in my heart when you fell into my arms."
The admission stunned her. "But you said you fell in love with me right then!"
He smiled. "I did. I took one look into your beautiful green eyes, and I knew in that instant that I loved you, wanted you."
She shook her head stubbornly. "If Sha're had been alive…"
"If Sha're had been alive, waiting on Earth for me, I still would have fallen, Casey. I'd have felt like a heel, been miserable until I figured out a way to deal with the situation, but I still would have been in love with you," he insisted.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I had never fallen for a woman like I did for you. Never needed a woman like I needed…still need, you. Sam and Janet had tried to hook me up with a couple of women. It was…really bad. All I could do was sit and compare them to Sha're. When I met you, I didn't think about Sha're until I walked back into my office and saw her picture sitting there."
"But if she had been alive…" Casey protested.
Daniel shook his head. "I still wouldn't have thought about her until that moment, Case. Which would have bothered the hell out of me. When I sat in that room, held your hand while you were unconscious, all I could think about was how beautiful you were. How much I wanted to get to know you…how much I wanted to kiss those pink lips…touch you, hold you. You filled my senses, Casey, filled my mind, my heart, until I didn't know anything but you, couldn't see anything but you. If Sha're had walked into the infirmary at that moment, I never would have noticed," he said. He acknowledged to himself that the fact was true. He took a deep breath. "If Sha're had walked into that room, I still would have sat there holding your hand. Because I couldn't let you go. You were…you were that part of me that I had been looking for all of my life."
"She would have persuaded you to go home, she would have made love to you, and you would have forgotten all about me."
"You don't give yourself enough credit. Don't you see? I couldn't leave your side. I didn't leave your side until after Sam had used the healing device on you, and you were sleeping so peacefully, and she dragged me to my office. Even then, my senses were reeling, Casey. From the minute you fell into my arms…right up to this very minute, you're all I can think about. You fill every place in my heart, in my soul. When we're apart I can close my eyes and smell you, taste you, feel your skin beneath my fingertips. That has never happened before, not with Sarah. Not with Sha're."
She remained silent, still convinced that she was right.
"I was back in the SGC about three hours after Apophis took Sha're," he said softly. "Jack took me home with him…obviously I had nowhere else to go. We talked; I told him about my life on Abydos, about Sha're. I couldn't smell her, or taste her, hell, even her face was beginning to blur in my mind. I would dream about her, think about her…but…I could lose myself in work, and not think about her for days at a time. Then when I…remembered…her, I'd feel so damned guilty. I would lay in bed at night, trying to remember what it had been like with her."
"I suppose that damned Hathor-gene is what keeps me on your mind," Casey said.
"I don't believe that," he argued. "After you came to the SGC, I would lay in bed, thinking about you, and I could remember every tiny detail. Everything that you had done or said that day."
"Yes, because it had just happened…"
He put his finger against her lips. "Just before I took Sam and Jack and Kawalsky to the temple where I had found all of those Stargate addresses, Sha're kissed me. She had never kissed me like that before. Hours, just a few hours later, I couldn’t remember her taste…or exactly how her lips felt against mine. Whenever we're apart, for hours or days, I can close my eyes and remember everything. Feel it, taste it."
She pulled her lip between her teeth.
"Sha're is gone, Casey. I will always love her, always hold the memories of my year on Abydos with her as precious. I’m in love with you. Crazy, head-over-heels in love with you."
"I'm being stupid about this whole thing," she sighed. "It's just that-"
"You were so excited to see her." She turned again, gripped the iron railing so hard her fingers turned white.
"Yes, I was. Every damned month, she had to sit in a tent with three of her family elders. I couldn't see her, talk to her…touch her for five days. Did you see all of…it?"
"No, why?" No, when he had reached for Sha're, his eyes glistening with love, with desire, she had pushed away from those images as quickly as she could.
"Because Sha're didn't like oral sex. She never would have done…that. The first thought, when she touched me, was that she always did that after her 'hell week'. Then I knew, in that instant, that something was wrong. I saw you - your eyes, your smile. Realized that you were the one who always wanted me…relieved…before we went to bed after your period, so that we could take our time, enjoy one another," he said softly. "It was you, Angel. I was thinking about you."
"Why does it hurt so damned much?" she whispered.
He smiled, pulled her back into his embrace. "Because you love me. If I had to see you with someone, with Kenny, when you and he first met, it would hurt me," he whispered in return.
"Being so damned insecure."
"I think we've talked about that. I'm the one that helped to cause that insecurity, Case."
"Can we stop talking about this now?"
"What do you want to talk about?"
"I don't want to talk at all," she whispered.
"Sounds like my favorite subject," he grinned. "Come to bed, Angel. Let me love you."
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