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It's Hard to Say Goodbye
The team was eating breakfast together, although Sam spent half of it on the cell phone talking to the technicians in the labs four levels above them. Duncan had informed Jack that the Persephone would be in orbit in less than an hour. Then…SG-1 would take the fight to Dagon. Teal'c had contacted Master Bra'tac, and the Jaffa had agreed to send the Hak'tyl to help defend Beta. But the Jaffa Ai'emain was busy defending one of the new Jaffa home worlds from Burien. The battle was going well for the allies of the Tau'ri; Bra'tac had sent a message to Casey, telling her that she would have yet another name to add to the growing list of defeated false gods. The team was happy to learn that another snake was about to bite the dust.
The Phoenix II was going to deploy the satellites that would protect Gamma, and would stay in orbit to see that Dagon didn't get close enough to knock any of them out, should SG-1 fail. SG-6, and SGI-3, would go along with the flagship team, to take out the two ships that accompanied the Goa'uld. All three Marine teams were on alert, two in position at the space station, one remaining on the base, in the 'gate room.
For all intents and purposes. Gamma, and the SGC Colonies, were preparing for war. Robert deValicort had been notified, and was already prepared to go public with any news or warnings should the need arise. He wished the SGC teams well, telling Jack that he would prefer not to have to go on television and ruin a perfectly lovely autumn day. The general had agreed that SG-1 would do their best to see that it didn't happen.
Sam closed the cell phone and sighed. "Well, it's up to Brad and Jim, now," she said quietly. Both men had left NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in order to work for Stargate Command just six months before the program became public knowledge. They had brought with them a team of the brightest minds, and the blonde colonel was thrilled to have them at Gamma, essentially working for her. If they couldn't get the satellites launched in time, and functioning properly, not even her assistance would make a difference.
Casey watched as SG-6 ate their own breakfast; talking, laughing, joking. And fought down that feeling of impending doom. For just a few seconds, the feeling that she would never see the four men alive again washed over her.
"Case?" Daniel asked softly.
She stared at the back of Tony's head, a slight frown on her face.
"Casey?" Daniel said again, a bit louder.
"Talk to me, Angel," he said softly, wrapping his fingers around hers.
"I…I'm not sure," she admitted. "I think something is going to happen…something bad…to 6," she replied.
Jack glanced over his shoulder at the team. "I'll tell Evan to keep his eyes open and his head down," he said quietly.
The young blonde Immortal nodded. "Yes, please. Tell them to be very careful…maybe…" she closed her eyes, trying to 'see' more of what she was feeling. "Tell them to stay together. If they become separated…" she shivered. "They have to stay together," she whispered.
With a nod, Jack excused himself to go talk to the men. All of them glanced in the direction of the table where SG-1 sat, all of them giving Casey a 'thumb's up'. She smiled, returned the gesture, and wished that the nagging fear would go away.
There was time for one last cup of coffee. Major Parker and 'the boys' joined SG-1, and the teams finished off a pot of the strong, black beverage. None of them were aware that it would be the last time that the teams would be together.
A A A A A A
"We're using the Asgard beaming devices," Jack was saying as the three teams bound for the Persephone, and eventually three Goa'uld motherships, waited in the 'gate room. "We're going to beam directly into the engine rooms, plant some C-4 and drop a few grenades. Then we beam out. Persephone will open fire when the ships start exploding, so that we can guarantee the most damage, and that the Goa'uld doesn't escape. Quick in and out. I don't want any team on any ship longer than fifteen minutes. Any questions?"
"Alternative plans, just in case," Sam asked, a twinkle in her eye.
"Run like hell," Jack replied, grinning. Everyone in the room chuckled. "We could 'what if' this thing to death. Under these conditions, there is no way to predict what might go wrong. If something goes wrong, the team in trouble will deal with it then. We've all had to think and come up with solutions under fire; this will be no different, if we get caught. We all have the armbands that will keep us invisible to their sensors for an hour. That's forty-five minutes longer than we should need. Any other questions or comments?"
"Casey will take a look just before we beam over to the Goa'uld ships," Daniel said. "Anything that we need to know will come up then."
Jack nodded. "Okay, SGI-3, ring up."
The four members of the team stepped into the center of the ring transport. With a whoosh, the rings descended, and the team disappeared into a burst of bright light.
Casey looked at the members of 6. She couldn't fight that nagging feeling. She walked over, took Tony and Texas' hands in hers. "You guys be damned careful, please!"
"No worries, Case," Tony assured her. "We'll kick some Goa'uld ass, come back and hit Rinaldi's and do some drinkin' and syncin'."
She smiled. "I'll hold you to that!"
"Don't worry, Casey. Piece of cake," Texas said, squeezing her hand tightly.
"We're forewarned. And forewarned is forearmed," Major Parker told her. He squeezed her shoulder. "You just make sure you and that old man who runs your team can keep up!"
"I heard that, Parker," Jack growled, although his brown eyes were laughing.
"Remember, stay together, no matter what," she said softly.
"Won't be able to pry us apart with a crowbar," Trenton promised her.
Satisfied that the men were amply warned, and understood the dangers, she nodded, and returned to stand between her husband and Teal'c. She felt the large hand of the Jaffa on her shoulder. As he did so often, he understood her disquiet. His simple, gentle touch was enough to let her know that he was there, should she need anything at all. She reached up and laced her slender fingers with his wide, square ones.
"Okay, 6, you're next."
Casey looked up at the control room. And shivered.
Duncan didn't miss the expression on her face. "Talk to me, honey," he said quietly.
"We get one chance. Shut Hope down for the day, send everyone home to be with their families. If we fail…" her voice trailed off. "If we fail, Hope will only have a matter of hours. Better to die with family," she said softly.
His heart lurched in his chest, even as he picked up the phone to call Robert. He was also calling Tessa. She could bring Richie and his parents to the mountain. He'd have her bring the DeSala's and the Jackson children, as well as Mrs. Peterson and the O'Neill children. In a flash of blind panic, he decided that every one working in the mountain would be allowed to bring their families inside. It was the only place where they could survive an attack. And if Dagon did arrive at Gamma, someone needed to survive in order to fight the snake-headed bastard. "They'll be here when you get home," he said softly.
She nodded, smiled at him. "Thanks."
"Let's go, campers," Jack said quietly. He glanced up at Duncan. The two men shared a look of quiet determination, just before the rings pulled SG-1 to the Persephone.
A A A A A A
The ship was on full alert. The fighters were manned and standing by. Three new F302's had been added to the wing, along with seven new pilots. The craft themselves could be refueled in a matter of minutes. A fresh pilot and navigator, and the war birds could fight for hours on end. Something that the 'brass' hoped would be an advantage should they have to fight head-to- head with Gliders.
Sherrie was working at the com station when SG-1 came onto the bridge. She smiled brightly when Casey smiled and winked at her.
"Aten-shun!" Everyone on the bridge came to full attention.
"At ease," Jack said, walking to stand behind the captain's chair. He shook his head when Colonel Bradshaw started to step away. "Status?"
"Every station reports ready. Green across the board, sir," Jim Bradshaw reported.
"Good. Get us to those ships, colonel, yesterday," Jack said quietly.
"Yesterday, yes sir. All ahead full. Give me hyperdrive best time."
"Hyperdrive in twenty seconds…fifteen…ten…nine…eight…seven…six…five…four…three …two…" counted the helmsman.
"Engage hyperdrive," Col. Bradshaw ordered. The view out of the front window changed as the ship began to move through space faster than the speed of light. "ETA to coordinates, just under thirty minutes."
"Let's go get ready," Jack said quietly.
SG-1 met up with the other two teams, and quickly began to arm themselves with C-4, shrapnel and concussion grenades, and extra magazines of armor-piercing bullets for their P-90s. Daniel braided Casey's hair, then tied a do-rag onto his own head.
"Okay, Casey, take a look and tell me what we're walking into," Jack said softly.
Daniel met his wife in that warm meadow. 'Be careful, Angel,' he whispered, pulling her tightly against his chest.
'Always,' she whispered in return. She began to search. Damn it! That bitch had managed to get a black cloak around those ships again. "Send me your Fire, Daniel," she said, her voice full of anger.
With a grin, he did just that, holding her tightly, sending his Fire to her slowly.
Okay, cupcake, she thought irritably, let's see just how good you are. Casey moved around the shadowy place that hung among the stars that was moving toward the Persephone as quickly as the Persephone was moving towards it. She called up the Fire, and began to pummel that dark cloak. Within seconds huge holes began to appear. She could see the Priestess looking around, her eyes full of worry…and fear.
The dark haired priestess trembled. She didn't know what was happening, only that there seemed to be a…power…greater than she had ever encountered before. Dagon had been furious when he learned that for short time his ships had been visible…and vulnerable. The acolyte who had betrayed her breathed no longer. But the damage had been done, she dared not fail her god now. The raven haired woman looked at the chalice that sat on the altar beside her, shaking hands picked it up and lifted it to trembling lips.
Have a good friggin' swallow, Casey thought angrily, and shook the ship around the woman. Smiled with grim satisfaction when brown eyes went wide as the contents sloshed into her mouth and down her naked chest. Turned her attention toward the ship where Dagon sat, his arrogance filling the air around him. She gave it a good shake as well, just for good measure.
The Priestess was fighting, trying desperately to re-establish the cloak around her god's ships. Terrified to know that the power greater than hers, greater than that of her god, was attacking them once again. She dared not tell Dagon of her fears, that she could not continue to protect the ships. Instead, she concentrated, focusing her powers so hard that her nose began to bleed, and crimson drops oozed from her tear ducts. She screamed out in pain.
With little more than a flick of her fingers, Casey tore the cloak to shreds once again. However, the Fire that Daniel was sending was so hot, so powerful, that she couldn't continue to hold it in her body, not without harming herself. "Pull it back," she gasped, her body shaking like a leaf, both in the transporter room, and in that meadow.
Daniel carefully, quickly began to pull back the Fire he had sent her. His arms tightened around her. "Move back, Case. Pull away," he commanded her softly.
She took one last look around. Dagon was pacing the pel'tak, his eyes peering into the darkness of space. She could feel his anger. His determination. Good grief, were any of these freaking snakes sane? This one felt as evil as Nergal, perhaps more so, and just as crazy as Framone. Crazy, arrogant foes were the most dangerous, for they were the least predictable. As soon as the thought crossed her mind, she decided to follow her instinct. She reached out slowly. "Hold me, Daniel, hold me tight," she whispered.
Not pleased that she was still 'looking', he tightened his grip on her, both physically and mentally. "I have you, Angel, I'm not letting you go," he whispered in her ear.
His mind was cold, evil, twisted. She moved carefully, slowly. Was certain that she caught a glimpse of Steven, his eyes wide with shock, seeing nothing, as he sat in a corner, rocking back and forth. She shivered, and felt conflicted for several seconds, part of her feeling the need to comfort him, another part more than willing to leave the rat bastard who had tried to rape her alone in his misery. The better part of her won out, and she spared a few seconds to ease his fears, just the tiniest bit. 'Keep your Jaffa close at hand,' she whispered. 'They need to be near the pel'tak of each ship, if you are to succeed.'
Slowly, carefully she withdrew, making certain that she was not being followed. The Priestess was still struggling to re-cloak the ships, but was failing miserably. The swift, precise attacks had left her weak, and the overdose of the herb she used to induce her trances was filling her mind with terrifying images that continued to distract her.
When she opened her eyes, she sagged in Daniel's arms. "That was fun," she said, smiling shakily.
Jack took one look at those green eyes and started grinning. "I take it that you just…shook things up a bit."
"Oh yeah. Knocked that black-haired bitch for a loop, and convinced ol' Dagon that he really needed to keep all the Jaffa near the pel'tak of each ship. Or he'd blow the whole deal," she said, her grin matching that of her best friend and CO.
The general laughed, reached out a hand and squeezed her shoulder. "Now that's what I like to hear!"
"Are you all right?" Daniel asked softly, still supporting her weight with his arms and chest.
"I'm fine. A little out of breath, but I'll be ready to go when we're close enough," she replied. She ran her fingers along his jaw, for just those few seconds she was alone with him. Her eyes smiled up at his, and she sent her love to him, softly, tenderly… felt his returned, gentle and warm.
"Goa'uld ships in sight," Colonel Bradshaw's voice announced over the intercom. The Persephone, hidden by its cloak, was now matching the speed and course of the three Goa'uld motherships; a silent, deadly shadow.
Jack turned to the young SF who would be responsible for beaming each team directly to the engine rooms of each ship. "Okay, get us there," he said, giving the young man a brief smile.
With a nod, the young man began to make calculations based on the coordinates of three ships, fed into the computer from the navigator on the bridge. The layout of each engine room was carefully diagramed, and the numbers that would mean a safe arrival flashed on the monitor screen. "Got it," he said.
"Let's go, campers. Remember, in and out. Quick, quiet, home in fifteen," Jack said firmly.
Heads nodded in the affirmative. SG-1 was the first, beaming to Dagon's ship. The five teammates stood shoulder to shoulder to shoulder, P90s at the ready. Jack nodded, and in a flash of light, the team left the Persephone, and reappeared on the Goa'uld ship. Four Jaffa were in the engine room, taken totally by surprise when five strangers appeared in their midst. Four quick bursts of gunfire and the room was secure. Casey and Teal'c stood guard at the door, watching for any Jaffa who might have heard the noise from the strange weapons.
Jack looked down at the engine core. "Get that C-4 planted," he ordered Sam and Daniel. He stood guard as well, there was a door that opened just across from the catwalk from where he stood.
Sam and Daniel moved around the room, placing charges on critical equipment, their boots echoing softly on the metal grated floor. "Done," Sam whispered. With a nod, Jack pulled two grenades from his vest.
"Oh, shit!" Casey mumbled.
"O'Neill, a full squad of Jaffa approaches," Teal'c hissed.
"Let's just step back, shall we," Jack said calmly. The team slid behind columns, and into the shadows as much as possible.
When two Jaffa came into the room, Teal'c quietly grabbed them from behind. Their necks were snapped before their brains had time to register that they were being attacked. He tossed them down to the lowest deck of the core.
The familiar clank of the Jaffa armor continued to echo in the corridors around them. Jack could only assume that the enemy was aware of their presence. The C-4 had been set for five minutes. They had to do the job and get out, or they were going to get caught on a ship set for destruction. He signaled his intent, slid on his belly to the edge of the catwalk, and dropped two grenades. Before they detonated, he dropped two more, then rolled away to find protection from the resulting explosions. The ship lurched around them.
Scrambling to stand together, so that they could be beamed out all at once, they began to fire at anything and everything that moved passed any of the open doorways. Casey sent the signal, and within seconds they were on the Persephone, safe and sound.
SGI-3 returned, not more than three minutes later. SG-6 had yet to signal. The teams waited beside the control console, all of them anxiously counting off the seconds. "I've got contact," the young SF reported. "But I can't get a lock on them. Some sort of interference."
"Tell them to get to the escape pods," Jack barked.
The message was sent, a static-y reply received, and once again everyone in the room held their breath. "I have escape pods from all ships," was the report.
Jack raced toward the bridge, the rest of his team on his heels. "Tell me what's going on," he said as soon as he was close enough to be heard.
"All three ships have suffered critical damage, although none of them have been completely destroyed. We picked up no less than thirty escape pods being released, I don't know how many from each ship. Closest habitable planet is thirty-nine million klicks away. Pods will be there in ten hours."
"Okay, we have to be there before those pods arrive," Jack said. "Casey, tell me if we got the bastard."
Daniel's long, strong, slender fingers wrapped around her hand. She closed her eyes, searched each pod carefully. Smiled when she found each member of SG-6. "Dagon is still on his ship. I've found SG-6. They're okay, they're in pods."
"The others?" Jack asked softly.
She frowned. "Women, mostly. Three…scientists, I think. Dagon is…he's giving orders. He's going to take his ship to that planet."
"Blow him out of the sky," Jack ordered.
The mothership that had been in the lead position suddenly dropped back, and the other two ships opened fire on the Persephone. "Evasive maneuvers," Colonel Bradshaw ordered. "Fire all torpedoes at targets."
"That rat bastard," Casey hissed.
"Don't say it," Jack warned.
"He's getting away," she said.
"Didn't I just say don't say it?"
"Jack, we have to get to that planet and get 6 out of there," Daniel said softly.
"I know, Danny. 1, take positions. No offense, colonel," he said quietly.
"None taken, sir," the man said, willingly relinquishing command to the general. Everyone knew what SG-1 was capable of, especially with Doctor and Casey Jackson working together.
"Teal'c, get us out of here. Sam, jam everything you can. Jacksons, blow those damn ships out of the way," Jack said calmly.
Casey and Daniel stood in front of the window. She put her hands on his back, sent her Fire to him, felt him take it slowly, gently. She could feel his body shake as he allowed the power to build up before hurling the first white-hot fireball into the nearest ship. Coupled with the damage done by the explosions in the engine compartments and the torpedoes that had impacted, this new means of attack caused the ship to disintegrate into pieces. The second ship, nearly as crippled as its sister, began to pull back, trying to flee certain destruction. They were too slow. Another white-hot fireball, and a stream of blinding white light blew it apart as well.
Daniel staggered slightly when he finally lowered his hands; Casey caught him, her slender frame struggling to support his weight, held him, sent her strength to him.
"Good job, Danny," Jack said. "Okay, how far are we from that planet?"
"Twenty minutes," Teal'c replied.
"Any chance we can locate the pods that SG-6 are in and just ring them aboard?" Jack asked.
"We passed them about ten minutes ago," Sam told him. "I've worked out a trajectory, and if we can put ourselves between those pods and the planet, we should be able to 'catch' them."
"Do it," Jack said, nodding. The ship shuddered around them. "What the hell?"
"Dagon," Casey whispered. "I have no idea why his ship isn't in pieces."
"Goddamn it!" Jack swore. Just how in the hell did those freaking snakes manage to pull off such feats of sheer aggravation? "Any ideas, Sam?"
"The only thing I can think of was that they were able to pull the detonators out of the C-4 before they went off. Those grenades should have caused enough damage to keep him in one place for awhile."
"Unless he has some sort of shield around his engines we don't know about," Daniel said.
"That's possible," Sam agreed. "We were all too busy to actually watch for the explosions, to see how much damage was done."
Teal'c was diligently keeping the ship in a pattern of moves that would make it difficult for Dagon's ship to get a target lock on. They were still taking enough hits to make the ship shudder around them.
Daniel looked at Casey, a small frown on his face. "Angel, if that Priestess could shield Dagon's ships, do you think you could shield this one?"
She pulled her lip between her teeth. "I can try," she said softly.
He wrapped his arms around her. "Don't do anything that will cause you harm, or put you in jeopardy," he whispered. "I need you. You know that, right?"
She nodded. "I know."
"Love you, Angel. Be careful, please."
"Love you, Stud Muffin. I will, I promise."
She closed her eyes, locked her arms around his neck in the middle of the meadow, then slowly moved away from the ship. His Fire flowed into her body, slowly. She could see the Goa'uld mothership just above and to the right of the Persephone. Okay, now how did one go about protecting an entire freaking spaceship? She tossed about in her mind for a clue. The only thing she could come up with…she stretched her arms out, as if she were trying to embrace the hull. Concentrated on covering it with a nice, dark blanket. Soft, warm, all encompassing…
Her body was quivering in arms. He could feel her heart pounding against his chest, hard and fast. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead, her upper lip…ran down the side of her face.
"No! Pull back, Casey! Stop it!" he said sharply. He took her face in his hand. "Casey, stop!"
So hard…not strong enough…too big…ship too big…not used to this…She felt a sense of panic when she realized that she couldn't seem to 'let go'. Daniel's Fire was burning her, and with a cry of terror she realized that she no longer had control of it. It raced through her body, shot off into space, several fingers of red-hot flames impacting on the Goa'uld ship…
"Casey, let go!" Daniel begged. He could feel the heat in her body, could feel her temperature rising.
"Get her to the infirmary," Jack ordered.
He scooped his wife into his arms, ran toward the elevator. "Let go, Angel," he whispered in her ear. He began to pull the Fire back. She had lost control, it was difficult to wrap his mind around it, bring it back into his own body.
Colonel Bradshaw had called down to the infirmary, the doctor was waiting when Daniel raced through the door. He put her on the nearest bed.
"Casey, let go," he said firmly. "Back away, Angel. Come on, follow me," he pleaded. In the meadow, her eyes were closed, she was not aware of what was happening around her. In the infirmary he watched the doctor begin to hook her to various monitors, one of the nurses already bathing her face and arms with cool water.
He could feel the Fire flowing out of her, into the blackness of space, most of it encircling the Persephone. In the meadow he understood that if he could just interrupt the flow of energy long enough, it should free her enough for her to 'step back'. He took a deep breath, and placed himself between her and that glowing stream of fire. And cried out as the heat burned him, leaving open wounds on his chest. "Stop it, Casey, you have to take control," he gasped.
Sam, Jack and Teal'c had entered the room, having been right behind Daniel as he fled the bridge. Sam cried out when Daniel's fatigue shirt began to smolder, and blood began to ooze through the thick material.
Jack walked over to the bed, took Casey's hand in his. So damned hot, he thought worriedly. That can't be good! "Casey," he said, his voice loud and firm. "Stop it. You're hurting Daniel. He's caught, Casey, and you're burning him."
Daniel fell to his knees as the physical symptoms of what was happening in Casey's mind continued to wrack his body. Teal'c grabbed him and helped him to the bed beside his wife's.
In the meadow Casey opened her eyes. Daniel was standing there, his eyes full of pain, his shirt burned from his body, the skin beneath it blackened; red, raw wounds bleeding profusely. She screamed. With every ounce of strength she could find, she pulled the Fire back, felt it burn her hands as it returned to her body once again. She continued to struggle with the Fire. Never had it burned so hot! Never had she felt as if she were helpless to do more than ride the waves of heat and power as they tossed her about.
On the infirmary bed, her body went into seizure, the alarms on the monitors alerting the doctor to her dangerously high temperature and heart rate.
"Send it to me, Angel," Daniel said, his Quickening dealing with his wounds. He reached out, wrapped his fingers around hers, gently took the Fire from her. Just as he thought…somehow she had continued to take from him, not enough that he even noticed, but enough that it overwhelmed her. "That's it, Angel, let me take it."
Her body relaxed, and both her temperature and heart rate began to lower once again. She sighed softly. In the meadow she dropped to her knees, totally exhausted, but in control once more.
"We won't be doing that again," Daniel vowed firmly.
"No, you won't," Jack agreed, a frown on his face. "What were you doing?"
"I asked her if she could protect…hide…the Persephone, like the Priestess hid Dagon's ships. I…she pulled Fire from me," Daniel replied. "The Fire…my Fire, is much hotter, much more difficult to handle. She lost control, and somehow couldn't shut off the flow of Fire from me. It wasn't much, I couldn't even feel her taking it, but it was enough to…overload…her mind."
"I believe it will take much practice for Casey Jackson to learn to use the Fire in such a manner," Teal'c said quietly. "She has only learned that she is capable of causing physical manifestations, such as…shaking…ships. She should not attempt to do more until she has mastered this particular skill."
Daniel gave a weak grin. "So where was this good advice ten minutes ago?"
"I was not aware of what Casey Jackson was attempting to do," Teal'c replied, in his typical Jaffa manner.
Her eyes fluttered open. She began to thrash on the bed in an attempt to free herself from the wires that were connected to her. She had to get to her Husband! "Daniel! Oh, god, Daniel! I hurt him!"
He was on his feet, taking her into his arms. "Shh, easy babe, I'm right here. I'm fine, everything is okay now." He slowly smoothed her hair away from her face.
Trembling fingers ran over and over his jaw. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she whispered.
"Shh, nothing to be sorry about," he said softly. "It's my fault, Case. I'm the one who asked you to do something you weren't ready for. I'm the one who's sorry."
She pulled herself up against him, until she was sitting on the bed, her arms locked around his neck. When she realized that his BDU shirt was scorched, and covered with blood, she began to cry. "Oh, god, what did I do to you?" Her fingers probed; ran over the smooth skin, felt the firm, strong muscles beneath.
"Shh, babe, it's okay," he repeated. "I'm fine."
"General O'Neill to the bridge," echoed over the intercom.
Jack reached over and took Casey's hand. "Are you okay?"
She forced a smile. "I will be."
"I need you, Case. I need you and Daniel focused."
"We won't let you down," Daniel said quietly.
"I promise to be as focused as I can ever manage when I'm around my Stud Muffin," Casey said, a tiny grin toying at the corners of her mouth.
Jack grinned in return. Joking. Yep, she was okay. "Haul your butt out of that bed, Jackson, we still have work to do." He turned and hurried into the corridor and made his way to the bridge. Sam and Teal'c followed him, tossing smiles at the couple on, and beside, the bed.
"Better get a new shirt and tee shirt," Casey said, her fingers once again inside the holes that the Fire had burned into the cloth.
He gasped a breath as her fingertips moved over his nipples, stopped long enough to tug gently at them. He pulled her hands away from his body, held them both to his lips. "Yeah, guess I'd better."
She went with him to the storeroom, took the burned shirts from him and tossed them into the bag kept for clothes too dirty or torn to be reused, but could be ripped into rags to use for cleaning. He pulled a new tee shirt over his head, pulled the clean shirt on and led her back into the corridor.
"Are you sure you're okay?" he asked, his eyes searching her face, watching her eyes for any tell-tale signs of fatigue or pain…or fear.
"I'm fine. Are you all right?" Her eyes moved over his face, her hands went back to his chest.
"Yep." He put his arm around her shoulders and led her toward the bridge. They had won a battle. They had not yet won the war.
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