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"...I can't live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore…"
Harry Nilsson "I Can't Live (If Living is Without You)
She forced her eyes to open. She was so cold, and so damned sleepy! "Yeah?"
Teal'c pulled her closer against his large frame, trying to keep her warm as the temperature in the room continued to fall. "I am sorry that we are unable to escape this time."
"So am I, T," she replied. She fought back the tears. "He's going to fall apart, you know."
"Do you think…do you think he'll ever get married again?"
"I do not. You are his Destiny. He will not find the love, the strength, the happiness with another woman that he found with you."
That thought comforted her somewhat. Selfish of her really, she knew. But somehow the idea of him loving someone else was too painful to contemplate. She didn't want Daniel to forget her, to replace her. She continued to hold to him, felt him holding her, felt his gentle, familiar presence. Too bad he couldn't use the Fire…The Fire! Yes! Why hadn't she thought of it sooner? "Daniel! Fire! You used it to get Sam and me off of that trader's ship!" She was so intent on getting through to him that she shouted out loud.
Teal'c sat up, kept Casey close for the warmth. "Do you believe he can save us?"
"I hope so, T." She closed her eyes as she reached out and caressed him. "Call the Triad, Daniel…they can help you!"
A A A A A A
Daniel was gathering the gear that had been left behind, running his fingers over the straps that held the pack to her back. She was still 'with' him, her sweet, soft presence like a salve on his aching soul. He dreaded the emptiness, the loneliness that he would feel when she was…he shook his head. He couldn't even think the horrible words, finish that cruel, painful thought. He followed Dym slowly, leaving his heart in a dark room, where the sunshine of his life was trapped.
'Daniel! Fire! You used it to get Sam and me off of that trader's ship!'
He stopped walking. "Hold up," he said, his voice quavering slightly. Jack and Sam turned to face him.
'Call the Triad, Daniel…they can help you!'
A small smile lifted the corners of his mouth. He was The Chosen, if he couldn't save his own Wife…"Triad? First? I…uh…I need some help here," he said softly.
A soft light began to glow beside him. He recognized the three beautiful Beings that appeared. "What is it that you require, Chosen?"
"I need to use the Fire to get Casey and Teal'c up here. Case told me to call you," he replied.
First lowered her eyes. Wanted so badly to disobey in order to help The Chosen. Knew that to do so would mean punishment not only for herself, but for her Companions as well. "I am sorry, Chosen, we are not allowed to interfere in this way. If you are to save them, you must do it on your own."
His heart was pounding against his ribs. Panic was setting in. He shook himself, forced himself to remain calm. "I did it before, I can do it again," he said determinedly. He reached out to her, tried to find her. He could feel her, sense her…there! She was there! 'Angel, can you feel me?'
'I feel you.' She sounded groggy.
'Focus, Casey, concentrate. You have to reach back to me, Angel. Come on, you can do it!'
Casey looked up instinctively when she heard the cracking sound. Water began to flood into the room. Another snap, and the room seemed to explode.
Just when he was about to 'grab' her, she was suddenly 'gone'. He could feel nothing, searched frantically, found only darkness …emptiness. "Casey! No! No! Casey! Answer me! CASEY!"
"We must leave now," Dym insisted, fear and panic in his voice, his eyes. They could hear the sounds of walls giving way as water rushed toward them. "The city is collapsing!"
A A A A A A
He opened his eyes. He was lying on sand. Warm, white sand. He sat up, instinctively reached out for her with his mind as well as with his hand. He found only emptiness with both.
Feeling as if his heart had been wrenched from his chest, he began to sob. There was no doubt this time. None at all. The tunnels, and the control rooms, were completely buried under rubble, and two vertical miles of ocean.
Jack held Sam while she cried, one hand reaching out and rubbing the top of Daniel's shoulder as the young man wept bitter tears. His own cheeks were wet. He could see the water boiling and churning about five miles from the shore. He watched, his grief a racking pain knowing that one of his best friends, and the wife of his other best friend, a dear sweet friend in her own right, were gone.
Daniel made it to his knees, could barely see the ocean for the tears that filled his eyes. He too, watched as the water swirled and eddied furiously. She was down there, in all of that aquatic chaos. He pulled himself to his feet. He was going after her. She was Immortal. All he had to do was get her to shore…He staggered into the surf. Tried to fight off the hands intent on holding him back. "I have to get her, she's down there! I can get her!" he screamed, both with pain and determination.
"No, Daniel, you can't. There's a couple of tons of city on top of her," Jack said softly.
Sam dialed the 'gate. She went to Daniel's side. "We have to go home, Daniel. There's nothing more we can do here, not yet." She wasn't sure that they would ever be able to retrieve her friends. That thought brought another stab of grief to her heart, more tears to her eyes.
Daniel fought them every step of the way, determined to get to the ocean, determined to save his Wife. It wasn't until they were walking down the ramp that the grief wrapped itself around him and squeezed the very breath from his lungs. He dropped to his knees, chin on his chest. He couldn't think. He couldn't feel. He couldn't breathe. Not without Her.
Duncan met them, his eyes full of worry as he watched them standing there, dripping wet, and missing two team members. "What happened?"
"They waited too long. Sam did what she could…the controls were in two separate rooms, had to be worked together," Jack said, dropping onto the end of the ramp, his head in his hands. "The tunnels to the rooms started collapsing. We barely made it back to the city…Casey and Teal'c…" he broke off, shook his head.
"It's my fault," Sam whispered hoarsely, her blue eyes wide and full of guilt. Her slim frame was shaking. "Daniel told us to get out, and I wanted more time, I was sure I could fix the damned thing…then the lever Casey was adjusting broke…it's my fault."
Duncan swallowed, blinked back tears. "Is there a chance for recovery?"
Jack shook his head. "They're buried under several tons of city and two miles of ocean," he replied.
Daniel pulled himself to his feet. Jack's reply filtered through the pain, cut him to the quick. "I have a message for Carly," he said, his voice flat, lifeless.
"I'll call her in," Duncan said gently. "Go to the infirmary, get checked out. We'll debrief later."
A A A A A A
He stood in the shower, let the water mix with the tears on his face as it ran over him. He rubbed his hand over his chest. It hurt so damned bad, the ache was unbearable! It wasn't until he heard Duncan come in and tell Jack that Carly was waiting that he realized the water had started to turn cold. How long had he been standing there? He shut the water off, grabbed a towel, wrapped it around his lean hips. He walked toward the lockers, felt himself sway as the pain hit him yet again. Jack said nothing as he pulled the younger man into a hug. The two men stood there, crying on one another's shoulders, clinging to each other for support.
"I'm so sorry, Daniel," Jack said softly.
"Yeah, so am I."
"Look, if you want me to talk to Carly…"
"No. I'll do it." Daniel pulled on the jeans and shirt he had worn to the base earlier in the day, before they went on that damned mission…before…before he'd lost his sweet, beautiful Casey. He fought down the raw pain that threatened to take control again. There were things that had to be done, had to be said.
A A A A A A
Carly was waiting in the conference room, tears streaming down her olive-tanned cheeks. Duncan had told her what had happened, and that Daniel had a message from her husband. She stood to her feet when he entered the room. The man looked like hell, she thought. He hadn't even bothered to comb his hair. It was okay to look that bad. It matched how she felt, how she was sure he felt.
"Carly…I-" he looked away, shoved his hands into his pockets, then stared at the floor. "Teal'c loved you, Carly."
"I know he did," she said softly.
"He…uh…he wanted you to know that he loved you, and that he was honored to be your husband." Daniel told her gently.
She dropped back onto the chair she had been sitting on, her arms crossed in front of her. She rocked slowly back and forth. "Do you…do you know if…if he…if they…did they suffer?"
Daniel closed his eyes, felt the hot tears fall onto his cheeks. "I don't know, Carly. I don't think so. It seemed to happen…fast."
She nodded. "Thank you, Daniel."
He said nothing, just turned and left the room. He made his way to the elevator, took it to the top, stepped out into the warm sunshine of the day. He ran his hand through his hair, glared at the sun. It should be raining, his mind raged. Cold and rainy and miserable. She was gone, his sunshine was gone! He crawled into the jeep, reached over and caressed the seat where she always sat, at his side. She wanted a new jeep…riding in this one bothered her now…they hadn't had time to look…maybe this weekend…The pain snapped closed around him again, squeezed until he cried out, held him prisoner as he sobbed, his arms wrapped around the steering wheel.
Daniel had no idea how long he had been sitting there. His shoulders and arms ached from gripping the wheel so tightly, clinging to it as if it could protect him from the grief that overwhelmed him. Shaking fingers put the key into the ignition, and he started for home, to face the most difficult task of the day.
A A A A A A
The pain in his chest only seemed to worsen the closer he got to that gray clapboard and brick house she loved so much. It would never be home again. Not without her. When he stopped in the driveway he wasn't sure that he could force himself to go inside. Emily and Nicholas ran to the jeep, pulling at the handle, trying to open the door.
He finally managed to get out, kneeled down, pulled his children against his chest and held them tightly.
"Where Mommy is?" Emily asked, a frown on her little face.
"Let's go inside, Princess. I need to talk to you and Nicholas, and your Meemaw and Peepaw."
His feet felt as if they were made of lead, each step took every bit of effort he could muster
Erin was waiting in the garage, Aaron at her side, having received a call from Duncan. The Highlander had said nothing more than that the Ancient needed to be at the house with his wife when Daniel arrived home.
He said nothing, just looked at his mother and father-in-law, tears streaming down his face. Could see in their eyes that they knew what had happened. Perhaps not the details. But they knew that their precious daughter was dead. "I couldn't save her. I tried…but I wasn't fast enough," he said quietly, his voice strained.
Erin clung to her husband, tears running down her cheeks. Aaron nodded, his jaw working, his own face wet now.
"Daddy, what's wrong? Why are you crying? Where Mommy is?" Emily demanded to know, her little blue eyes wide, her little mouth trembling.
Daniel picked his daughter up, held her tightly, buried his face against her and began to sob.
"Come inside, Daniel," Erin said gently. She put her arm around his waist and guided him into the house. She led him to one of the chairs in the conversation room.
He sat down, Nicholas climbed into his lap to sit beside his big sister. "Emmie, Nicholas…your Mommy-" he cleared his throat, wiped at his eyes with one hand. "Something…happened… today…" Damn! Casey was always so good at explaining things to the kids, helping them to understand what was going on. Some linguist he was! "Mommy was in a room, trying to help fix a big machine, to help some people. It was underwater, and…"
"Is my Mommy dead?" Emily asked, tears in blue eyes.
Daniel looked at her, wondered how his four-year-old daughter knew about death, and could only nod.
"Daddy, go get Mommy! You can make her all better! I heard her tell Auntie Sam that you can always make her better!" The little girl was beginning to sob. "Get her Daddy! Go get my Mommy! Bring Mommy home!"
The words cut like a knife. He wanted nothing more than to do just that. "I can't, Princess."
"Why not?" Emily was crying harder now, pulling away from Daniel as he tried to hold her.
"Because…because there are too many big rocks and it's too deep in the ocean. I can't reach her." Daniel closed his eyes. He couldn't reach her. Couldn't save her. Oh, god, I failed her! When she needed him the most, he had let her down! He hadn't called on the Fire soon enough! Even though the Fire burned in his veins, he never thought about it, always seemed to forget about it. How could he be The Chosen when he couldn't even remember something that was always there?
Erin took the children from Daniel's lap, watched as the man curled up in the chair and began to wail from the pain. "Take them outside," she told her husband.
Aaron nodded, took his stunned granddaughter by the hand, picked Nicholas up, and took them to the deck. The Ancient sat down on the steps, pulled his grandchildren into his embrace. Reached out and silently raged at the heavens, at the gods, at those who would allow this to happen.
Erin sat down on the arm of the chair, ran her hand over Daniel's back as he cried. Her own tears were flowing again, and she reached up to brush them away. Never had she felt such pain. Such…sorrow. There had been many times that it had seemed that Casey had been lost…Never had she felt this depth of grief. Her mind told her that it was because never before had Casey been truly…dead. There was going to be no escape, no cure, no last minute reprieve this time. Her daughter, her beautiful, talented daughter, was dead. Only a miracle would change this outcome. And miracles were very hard to come by.
A A A A A A
Erin had wanted to take the kids home with her. Daniel refused, he wanted…needed them close by. They were all he had of Her now. Looking at Emily was like looking at Casey, the child looked so much like Her, had the same expressions, the same way of holding her head. It was both torture and sweet relief to watch her. He ordered a pizza, there was no way he was going to even attempt to cook, not tonight. It seemed that none of them were particularly hungry, anyway. Nicholas ate half a piece, the little boy not sure what was happening, sensing only that something was wrong. Emily ate two bites of one slice, then ran into her bedroom. Daniel couldn't even choke down one bite.
Snuggle time was subdued. Emily didn't want a story, and truth be told, he didn't feel like reading one. He just sat there on his daughter's bed, holding both his children, the ache inside so painful that he wanted to scream. Emily had begged him again to go back for her mother. God, he wanted to do that so badly! She hadn't relented until he snapped at her, telling her that it couldn't be done. Then he held her while she cried. Nicholas had cried too, although Daniel didn't think his son understood what was happening. He only knew that his Daddy and his big sister were crying.
Later, Daniel listened…helpless, tormented…as his daughter cried herself to sleep.
He tried to go to bed, but laying there alone, without her warmth, her soft body against him, or on top of him, he couldn't sleep. He got up, went and sat on the deck, watching the stars. She loved sitting like this, watching for falling stars, wishing on them, talking about where they had been, what they had seen.
"I love you, Angel. Forever and ever. Only you, always you," he whispered.
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