<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>
In Your Own Backyard
"What's wrong, Daddy?" Emily asked, wrapping herself around Daniel's leg as he stood near the cave entrance, watching twilight fall over the beach that led to the lake.
He sighed softly. How much could he tell her that she would understand? How much could he tell her without frightening her? Where was Casey? She was always better with these questions than he was! "We're not sure, Princess," he said quietly.
"Is there a mean nasty snake out there?"
The innocent question had his heart jumping into his throat. That was the last thing they needed…for there to be a damned Goa'uld involved in this! Especially with the kids present! Damn it! If only Casey wasn't being blocked, then we'd would have a better idea of what was going on! "No, Princess. We don't know what is out there."
"Why is Mommy crying?"
He jerked. "She's crying?"
He looked around, caught Teal'c's eye, gave a nod of his head. "Could you take over for a few minutes?" he asked, when the large man approached. "Casey's upset, Emmie says she's crying."
"Take care of Casey. I will keep watch," Teal'c said quietly.
"Thanks," Daniel said, squeezing the Jaffa's upper arm before hurrying toward the tent that the Jackson family occupied.
Casey was sitting on their sleeping bags, her legs drawn up, her cheek on her knee. She continued to try to reach out, continued to 'bump' into the darkness that surrounded her psychically.
Daniel settled down beside her, pulled her into his arms. Her cheeks were wet with tears. "Hey, what are these about, hmm?" he asked softly, drying her face with his fingers.
"I'm useless, Daniel! I have absolutely nothing to offer to help get us out of this! I can't see anything!"
"That is not true! You are not useless!" He pushed to the back of his mind the fact that her presence had not been…required…earlier in the day because of her inability to 'see'. She had often told him that her gift was the only reason she was a part of SG-1. He had always argued with her. She was bright, intuitive…even without her 'sight', and she was damned good in a fight. She was a valuable member of SG-1. Part of his brain added 'with her gift of sight'. The other part refused to acknowledge the partial truth of that thought.
"I feel useless. I feel-" she broke off, shook her head. She had never realized how much she had come to depend on her ability to 'see' around her.
"You feel what, Angel?"
"Blind…afraid…just…afraid," she whispered.
"Don't be afraid, Case. I’m right here," he whispered in reply. "Come on, let's get the kids fed their dinner."
"Would you mind doing it? I just…I can't…I can't face them, Daniel. Not as long as I'm…useless."
He hugged her tightly. "You are not useless, Casey. We all know that." He sighed when she remained silent. "Okay. I'll get the kids fed. I'll bring you something-"
"No. I’m not hungry," she said quickly.
"Casey, you have to eat."
"Really, Daniel, I'm not hungry. I think I'd just like to be alone. Maybe I'll do some writing," she said softly.
He sighed again. If she was going to write, that meant a poem. One that would help her deal with her feelings, her pain. Her fear. He wanted desperately to help her, didn't have a clue what to do. "I'll check on you in a bit," he said finally. He hugged her tightly once more, placed a kiss on her forehead, and left the tent.
Jack looked up when the young archaeologist strode toward the fire.
"We need to talk. Now," Daniel said, his voice firm. He didn't wait for a response. He walked out of the cave, toward the rocks that hid the opening from the lake itself.
With a glance at Sam, a slight shrug of his shoulders, he followed the young man. "What's up?"
"If SG-1 does anything as a team, she goes. Or I stay with her," he said bluntly.
"Come again?" Jack said. He often pretended to be more confused that he actually was. It kept people on their toes, and was usually pretty useful when dealing with snakes. He was totally confused. For real this time.
"Casey is in the tent crying. She refuses to come out. She doesn't want to face any of you because she has it in her head that she's useless right now. Because she's can't 'see' anything. She is totally convinced that her gift is the only thing that she has to offer the team. This afternoon we pretty much confirmed that for her," Daniel growled.
"Oy! That is not the reason I wanted her to stay at camp! She's a damned good shot, she's quick, and she can deal with…oh, for crying out loud!" Jack whirled around, stomped into the cave and headed straight for the tent where one of his team members was hiding. He ducked his head, entered the tent. "Casey?"
She hurriedly wiped the tears from her face. "Jack?"
He took one look at her, the dejected look in her tear filled eyes, felt his heart begin to ache. "I think I need to explain something to you."
"And that would be?"
"This afternoon I left you in camp, while the rest of us went up into that room. I left you there because I knew that Duncan couldn't keep an eye out for Tessa, and Carly, and five kids alone. I also know that you're trained. You could have dealt with any threat that came up. With your kids involved, I knew that you were the most dangerous weapon that Duncan had at his disposal. It would be nice if you weren't being blocked, true. But you're a hell of a lot more than that to my team, and I don't want you to ever forget that! Do you understand?"
She had to smile. He sounded just like he had when he had been 'instructing' her during the 'boot camp' he put her through so many years ago. Like a drill sergeant. His words soothed her heart. Daniel had told her basically the same thing. But Daniel loved her, wasn't the most objective person to consult on the issue. "Thanks, Jack," she said softly.
"Case, I'll be the first to admit that your gift is very valuable to us. But it's not the only thing you have to offer the team. You have damned good ideas, you're damned good in a fight…although I could live without some of the snake-baiting you do," he teased gently.
"I am not the only snake-baiter on the team!" she objected.
Jack sighed. "I know. I think you took lessons from Danny."
"I was talking about you."
He raised an eyebrow. "Me? When have I ever baited a snake?"
She began to giggle. "Do you want the full list, or just the highlights?"
He laughed. "Okay, so maybe I've done it once or twice."
When she had stopped giggling, she reached out and hugged his shoulders. "Thanks, Jack."
"You're welcome, Casey. Next time you think I'm leaving you behind, talk to me about it. Okay?"
"I will," she promised. "I was thinking…Colonel Bailey already knows something is wrong. There's a chance she might go back to Gamma, pick up a team, and set them down at the last spot where she had communication from us. It's what I'd do, in her position," she said, shrugging.
Jack grinned. "Yeah, it's what I'd do as well. Suggestions?"
"We should have somebody meet them. Let them know what's going on. Let Colonel Bailey know we still need those supplies. It will be a bitch having to haul them here, but it's better than running out of food and water, especially with the kids along."
"What about taking the kids back, having her pick them up and take them home?"
She smiled. "Guess that's why they pay you the big bucks."
He patted her knee and laughed. "Come on, let's go tell the team what we came up with."
Casey stood to her feet. She grabbed Jack's hand as he started to turn away. "Thanks, Jack."
He let his hand move over her face. "You're welcome, Casey."
When the two approached the fire, Daniel noted that she was smiling. Whatever Jack had said, he had managed to get through to her. She sat down beside him. "Have the kids eaten?"
"Yeah. They shared a chicken potpie. Nicholas didn't seem to like it. He said it wasn't a chicken potpie, because it didn’t taste like Mommy's chicken potpie."
"So, are you okay?"
"Mmmhmm. I hate to admit it. But you were right."
He smiled. "Told you so. Just wish you would have believed me."
"Sometimes I need to hear things from a more objective point of view," she said.
"I know," he admitted.
"Okay, folks, listen up. As soon as the kids are finished eating, we're going to hop on the ATVs. We're going to go back to the last place where we were able to communicate with the Phoenix. Have Colonel Bailey pick them up. Then we're going to come back here and find out what is going on," Jack said quietly. He looked at Teal'c. "I'd like you to stay here. We're leaving camp set up. If Carly would like to stay, I don't have a problem with that."
The Jaffa nodded. He looked at his wife. "Do you wish to remain?"
The Spanish woman smiled. "Part of me would like to remain with you. But I know that it is possible that I might become a liability to you. I will return to Gamma. And pray for your safety."
"I'd like to stick around," Duncan said. "Tessa and Richie will go up to the Phoenix."
Jack nodded. "Okay. We'll have Kerry send down supplies. We'll have to figure out a way to get them from there to here. First thing is to get the kids to safety."
Casey hurriedly packed the bags that held the clothes she had brought for her children. "You'll be going up to the Phoenix with Auntie Carly and Auntie Tessa. Meemaw and Peepaw will meet you in the SGC and take you home," she told them, as they watched, wide-eyed. The children were all aware that something was happening, they could sense it in the worry they felt from the adults.
"I dig with Daddy," Emily protested.
"I know you wanted to, Baby," Casey said softly. "But right now it's not safe for you and Nicholas to stay here. I promise, we'll go on a dig, all of us together, and you'll get to make wonderful discoveries with your Daddy."
"I stay here and dig now," the little girl insisted.
Casey pulled the child into her arms. "Nothing would make your Daddy happier than to have you help him, Emmie. But we love you too much to let you be hurt. We don't know what's going on here, and that's dangerous. There is no way that we'll let you stay where it's not safe."
The little girl contemplated for a moment. She made her decision, nodded, hugged her mother, than pulled away. She would talk to her Daddy directly about this. He'd let her stay! She was an ark'lo'gist, just like he was!
She watched her daughter scurry from the tent, smiled at her disappearing back. Knew exactly what she was up to. With a shake of her head, she finished the task at hand, then pulled her son into her embrace.
Daniel looked up when Emily approached. He had been going over the list of supplies that he was expecting to have ringed down, trying to decide if he needed to add anything. "Hey, Princess."
"I stay and dig with you, Daddy," Emily said. She wrapped her arms around his neck. "I'm a ark'lo'gist. They digs."
He smiled. "Yes, archaeologists dig. But you're going back to Hope, Princess. I don't want you hurt. Mommy doesn't want you hurt."
"Mommy says it's dang'rous here," Emily said.
"She's right. If we had known, we wouldn't have come here," Daniel told her. "Now, I want you to be a good girl. Help Auntie Carly with Nicholas, okay?"
"Okay, Daddy." She gave him a 'zerbert' kiss on the cheek, and hurried to find Evvie. She already knew that if Daddy said no, there was no use in arguing about it.
It was nearly ten p.m. when the roar of the ATVs filled the air. Teal'c watched from the cave entrance as the group rode away, the headlamps of the vehicles sending streamers of light out in front of them. He lost sight of them before the sounds of the engines faded completely. He adjusted the night vision goggles, and carefully scanned the area in front of the cave, and near the lake. He could see nothing. He could, however, feel the weight of eyes upon him.
They were almost to the spot where they had stopped earlier in the afternoon, just before arriving at the lake, when Colonel Bailey made contact. The radios were working. Jack filled the ship captain in on the situation. As Casey had suspected, she had already returned to Hope, and Marine 2 was standing by to join them.
Daniel suggested having Marine 2 set up camp at the spot where they were gathered. It would eliminate the need to drag all of the supplies to the cave. They could come and get food and water as it was needed. The only boxes that would then require transport would be those filled with dig equipment.
Sam made a request for additional equipment for her own use, including a small naquadah generator. She wanted to learn more about the alien technology in that cave!
The children were kissed goodbye, and Tessa and Carly stood bravely in the center of the rings. Neither woman had ever experienced the ring transport before. Holding tightly to the little ones, they waved and smiled.
Casey watched as her babies disappeared in a flash of light. She turned to Daniel, her eyes wide and full of worry.
He smiled, and keyed his radio. "Colonel, I assume you have five little ones with you?"
"Yes, sir, Doctor Jackson," came the reply. "We'll get them to Hope safe and sound."
"Thanks, Colonel." He turned to his wife. "Okay?"
She nodded. "Let's get the boxes on the ATVs and get back. I'm ready for some sleep."
Duncan had agreed to ride out twice a day to give the Marines a report. If he were to miss one check in, they were to get to the lake immediately. Two of the ATVs were left with them, the O'Neills and the Jacksons rode together to return to the caves. Jack made sure that everyone understood the plan one last time before giving the signal to move out.
Casey reached out. "Wait!"
Jack stopped mid-step. "What?"
"I can see! Right here…I can see!"
"Look around, Case, tell me what's going on," he said quietly.
She waited for Daniel in that meadow, wrapped her arms tightly around him. "Let's go, Stud Muffin."
He grinned, kissed the tip of her nose, then slowly opened himself, offering her the strength of his Fire. In seconds they were racing back toward the lake. "Well?"
She gave a frustrated sigh. "Teal'c is okay, he's sitting in the opening to the cave. I know that there is someone…or something…out there. I just can't find them…it…whatever."
"Is it possible that they're hiding?"
She rolled her eyes. "Of course! Duh! I should have figured that out! Let me get a bit closer…" She moved closer to the lake, and the cliff. Felt as if she was beginning to fall.
"Pull back, Case, now!" Daniel ordered, sensing her sudden panic.
It took all of her strength to move away from the cliff, and back to the edge of the lake. Even there, she could feel something trying to reach for her. She raced back to the meadow, stood shaking and panting in his arms.
"I don't know if it's intentional or not. But somebody does not want me snooping around!" she told him.
"Let's tell Jack," he said softly.
"Later, maybe we'll come back here," she said shyly, glancing at the spot in the grass where they had made love, then smiling up at him.
"I like that idea, Angel," he replied, smiling in return. "Just you and me here in the sunshine." He kissed her gently, then slowly moved away from her.
Casey opened her eyes. "There is definitely somebody…or something…there. And whoever it is doesn't want me snooping around," she reported.
Jack frowned. "We need to know what's there. This place is too close to Hope if there's something dangerous hiding in those caves. Or nearby. Okay, everybody stay alert."
In his younger days, Daniel had never been a proponent of weapons. Right now, the P90 in his hand was the most comforting thing he could think of. He made sure that the extra magazines for the weapons were among the first boxes tied onto the back of the ATV.
It was nearly two a.m. when the team returned to the cave. Teal'c reported that he had been observed the entire time.
Casey reached out, felt the darkness of being blocked once again. She and Daniel were still able to communicate in their very special way, so whatever, or whoever was blocking her could only hinder her ability to 'see'. Watch rotation was decided upon, and the team settled in for the night.
<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>