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Out of the Blue
"We need to go," Sam said softly.
Casey nodded glumly, gathering her cup, the pan, and her journal, in which she'd poured out her fears, her confusion. There had still been no response from the Being whom she was absolutely certain was watching them. Couldn't fight back the tears that spilled onto her cheeks. "I hate not knowing! I mean, what happens if I wind up pregnant again? I love my babies, I'm excited about this one, but Sam, I don't think I can handle more!"
The tall colonel hugged her best friend. "I know, honey. I'm so sorry."
"Samantha Carter. Casey Jackson," Teal'c said quietly. He nodded toward the corner of the cave.
"You have come seeking answers to your questions," the woman said softly. She looked exactly the same as she had the night the team had been trying to escape from the Cave Dwellers, and then learning about their fate. Her black hair and eyes seemed even darker in the dim light given by the dying fire. Her blue robe seemed almost luminescent in the flickering light.
"Yes," Casey replied, wiping the tears from her cheeks. "I just need to know if my Quickening will…revert…to normal…I guess that's what it would be called, after this baby is born."
The woman frowned. "I do not understand."
"You changed my Quickening, so that I could get pregnant. I appreciate it, really I do. And I'm pregnant. But, I already have two babies at home. I want to know that I'm not going to have more than three," Casey explained.
The woman shook her dark head. "I did nothing to alter that special power that lies within you."
Casey's cheeks paled. "If you didn't…then…who…" She turned panicked eyes to Sam. "Oh, god, Sam, what do I do? What if…what if I'm not Immortal?" She grabbed her pack, found the pocket knife that she always carried. Slit open the palm of her hand. Watched, with not a little relief, as the blue sparks flickered over the skin as it healed. She turned back to the dark haired woman. "Do you know…is there anyway for me to find out who did this to me…for me?"
The woman smiled. "The answers you seek are in your heart. When you find them, you will know what to do." With a small nod, she vanished.
"Great! In my heart, she says!" Casey complained. "I'm going to lose my ever loving mind worrying about this!"
Sam put her arm around the slender shoulders of her best friend. "You have a few months to figure it out, before you have to worry about anything. Let's get home before that storm hits."
With a nod, more confused than she'd been when she had arrived, Casey followed Sam out of the cave. Comforted by the fact that she wasn't alone. And that Teal'c's impressive hulk was behind her, watching her six.
A A A A A A
Duncan was waiting at the bottom of the ramp when the three SG-1 team members walked through the 'gate. He bit back his comment when he saw the traces of tears on Casey's cheeks. "Case?"
She gulped back a sob. "I’m sorry, Duncan, I know I should have asked you first but you would have said no and I had to find out except that I didn’t find out…well, I did find out that the Being there didn't alter my Quickening but I'm still Immortal because I checked to make sure but I have no clue how I got pregnant, well, I know how…just not how it could have happened and now I know even less than I did!"
He couldn't help but smile as the words tumbled out of her mouth. He pulled her into his arms, hugged her tightly. "Don't you ever go through that 'gate without permission again, promise me," he said softly.
"Good. As for the other, we'll get it figured out, honey, I swear it to you." He kissed her forehead. "Now, go home. Daniel is totally pissed off, and he's not just angry at you."
She looked up at the Highlander. "Who else is he angry at?"
Casey's eyes went wide. Daniel? Upset at Stephanie? No way! "What happened?"
"Stephanie has volunteered to become a Tok'ra host," Duncan said flatly.
Yep. That would totally piss Daniel off! "Wow," she said softly.
"Yeah." The Scot shook his head, then headed back to his office.
A A A A A A
She followed Sam and Teal'c to the supply room. Helped stow the gear away. "I'm going to talk to Stephanie. She's a smart young woman. If she decided to do this, there's a reason."
Sam nodded. She had mixed feelings about the subject. Her father was alive because of the Tok'ra. She herself had carried a Tok'ra symbiote, Jolinar. Who had given her own life to save that of her temporary, unwitting…and unwilling...host. She didn't have the…aversion…that the rest of the team seemed to at the thought of a blending. "You aren't going to try to talk her out of it are you?"
Casey looked over at her best friend, her surprise evident in her eyes. "No! Why would I do that? Stephanie's intelligent, she's probably studied the Tok'ra fully, and I'm sure she knows exactly what to expect. I just want to make sure that any reasons she has for making this decision are…sound ones."
"Good idea," Sam agreed. "Okay, so I'll see you tomorrow."
"Without a doubt," Casey smiled. She turned to Teal'c. "Next time, I take you with me."
The huge man smiled. "I believe that would be prudent."
With a giggle and a wave, she headed toward the Center. Daniel wasn't there. In fact, the Blazer was missing from the parking space. After talking to Arlen Whitman and Ramir, she learned that Daniel's favorite grad student had taken the day off. A quick call confirmed that Stephanie was at 'home'. And garnered her an invitation to the young woman's room. Casey hadn't even been aware that she'd moved back into the barracks. The last she had known, Stephanie and Todd were sharing an apartment in Templeton Court.
Stephanie opened the door. "Hi, Mrs. J!"
The first thing she noted was that the young woman had been crying. "Hi, Stephanie." She stepped into the room when the young woman waved her in. Turned to face her. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. I just…I just thought people would…understand," Stephanie replied. She sat down on her bed.
Casey sat down in the chair beside the small round table. "And they don't."
"Todd called me an idiot. Doctor Jackson thinks I'm too young and stupid to know what I'm doing, President MacLeod doesn't think I understand what I'm getting into, Mike and Terry seem to think I'm selling out and going to work for the enemy…" She took a shuddering breath.
"Tell me why you want to do this. I'm not here to judge, or try to talk you out of it," Casey said, holding her hands up. "I just want to hear the reason, or reasons, that would cause you make such an…interesting…decision."
She studied the blonde woman for a moment, then nodded. "I've been fascinated by the Tok'ra ever since I learned about them. They've been fighting the Goa'uld for centuries…eons of time! When did they become the Tok'ra? When did they decide that the Goa'uld, and the 'Empire', were wrong? When did they realize it was possible to co-exist with their host in a truly symbiotic way?"
She smiled. Yep, Stephanie had done a lot of research, and thinking about the Tok'ra. "So this is just…curiosity?"
"No," Stephanie said, shaking her head. "I…I'm not sure I can put it into words."
"Just do your best," Casey said softly, encouragingly.
"I want what you have. You and Doctor Jackson. Someone to be with…all the time. Someone who knows me inside out, who understands me. I…I'm tired of being alone…being lonely. Then…there's the knowledge. They know so very much! It must be…it must be just mind boggling! And the longer life span is a plus, too."
Casey frowned slightly. "Stephanie, you aren't doing this just because you and Todd broke up, are you?"
"Oh, god no! We broke up ages ago," she replied.
Ages. Couldn't have been more than a few weeks…okay, a couple of months at the most, Casey thought. Obviously the young woman wasn't broken hearted over the breakup. Still… "You said that you're tired of being alone and lonely…You're a beautiful young woman, Stephanie. I'm certain that there is a man out there, just for you. I happen to believe in Destiny," she smiled.
Stephanie smiled in return. Although it was a small, sad smile. "So do I."
There was an entire story behind that statement, Casey realized. But she wasn't going to pry. "Are you prepared to have someone in your mind all of the time?" she asked gently.
"I think that the symbiote and the host must have a way to allow one another a bit of privacy," Stephanie said.
"I never really thought about it," Casey confessed. "But if there's not?"
"Let me ask you something, Mrs. J. Does it bother you to 'feel' Doctor Jackson in your mind all of the time?"
Whoa! Now that was something she really hadn't thought about! She could 'feel' him, he hadn't blocked her, even as angry as he had become. She reached out tentatively, shyly. Couldn't help but smile at the soft, tender touch in return. "No, I guess it doesn't," she admitted. "But we're not…sharing…my mind, or my body. And I happen to be very much in love with Daniel. I doubt that you'll have the same sort of relationship with your symbiote."
"Maybe not, but we'd be best of friends," Stephanie replied.
Casey very cautiously reached out, just barely touched the young woman, needing to ascertain that there weren't issues that might be clouding her judgment. Could find nothing but…excitement. "So, are you ready for the tests you'll have to undergo?"
Stephanie smiled. "I don't think it's anything I can study for. I don't think there will be any problems, either. I mean, I don't want to put the others down or anything, but the symbiote I'm joined with won't have to spend the first few days with me just healing my body. We can use that time to…get to know one another."
"What if you absolutely hate the symbiote?"
"I doubt that would happen."
Probably not, Casey thought. No doubt there was a way for the snake…er…symbiote to make sure that the host was…complaisant. And there were the tests…to determine the personality of the host. She was sure that the Tok'ra would try to match host and symbiote if at all possible. "You're probably right. So, this is something you really want to do?"
"More than I've ever wanted to do anything in my life. More than I wanted to be an archaeologist," she said softly.
Well, that tied things up, didn’t it? She and Stephanie had talked before, and the young woman had told of her dream to be an archaeologist from the time she'd been in second grade, and a man had visited the school she attended, in her home state of Oklahoma; an archaeologist who had held her spellbound with his stories, and the most fascinating things she'd ever seen. "Well, then, I'm glad you're getting the opportunity to do this. I'm sorry that you've been so hurt by the reactions of your friends, and the people you work with. But try to remember, the Tok'ra haven't always dealt fairly with us. They've caused a lot of grief."
"Not the Tok'ra, Mrs. J. Talek. He alone caused so much trouble."
Casey smiled. "He didn't do it all alone," she pointed out. "Well, I'm going to get home. I have a very angry archaeologist to deal with."
"I'm so sorry," Stephanie said immediately.
"He's upset at you. He's furious with me!"
"With you? Why?"
She tucked her leg beneath her. "Well, I just found out I'm pregnant-"
She laughed. "Yeah, well, Daniel wasn't exactly thrilled, and then there was the whole 'who's the Daddy issue'-" She laughed harder at the look on Stephanie's face. "It was this really big mess…"
A A A A A A
When Casey left the young woman forty minutes later, she was convinced that Stephanie knew exactly what she was doing. And that she was doing exactly what she wanted to do. She sighed, and went back into the mountain, to Sam's lab. She needed a ride home, and hopefully could get one soon. She wanted to be there before Daniel arrived…a phone call had already confirmed that her mother had still been there with the kids. Who would be spending the night with their grandparents. She had an apology to make.
Sam was more than willing to use taking Casey home as an excuse to leave early. She dropped the blonde off in front of her house, and drove down the street to her own home and waiting daughters.
Casey turned back the bed, took all of the candles and put them in the bedroom, and the bathroom. She lit them, so that the sweet aroma would permeate the air. Daniel had insisted on buying half a dozen sandalwood candles…which always served to remind her of those four amazing days on Alteria. She tossed several towels into the dryer, ready to warm them. A bottle of wine and a wine glass in the bathroom. Bath salts at the ready. She took a quick shower. Put on his favorite lotion and teddy, brushed her hair until it was soft and shiny. 'Daniel?'
'Do you know what time you'll be home?'
'About ten minutes.'
She ran to the laundry room, and turned on the dryer to warm and fluff the towels. Heard the garage door opening as she pulled them out, warm and fluffy and ready to use. She grinned, and scurried to their bathroom to wait.
A A A A A A
Perfect? He sighed. No doubt she was being sarcastic. Although…nope, considering how his day had gone, he wasn't assuming anything! She was probably still pissed at him. That was okay, he was still upset with her. Not as angry as he'd been when he'd left that planet, but still…He opened the door. Could smell the faint fragrance of…that was sandalwood!
He was grinning when he opened the bedroom door. Candles burning, bed turned back. She was in the bathroom, beside the tub, where water was running, filling the room with the sweet scent of jasmine, on her knees, head down like a good Little Slave. "Hey, gorgeous," he said softly.
"Hey, handsome," she replied.
"I'm sorry-" "I'm sorry-"
She giggled. "I should have told you where I was going."
"I should have tried harder to understand what you were worried about," he replied softly. He sat down on the edge of the tub. Turned the water off. "I don't think I've been more afraid for you than I was today."
She knelt up, put her hands on his thighs. "I'm sorry for scaring you like that. I…I'm not sure I was in any real danger though," she said thoughtfully.
He stared at her. "Care to explain how a two ton, prehistoric bear wasn't a danger to you?"
"I was never alone in that cave."
He frowned. "She was there?"
"The entire time. She finally responded to my question."
She hadn't wanted to get into this…at least, not so early in the evening. She had known it would come up, that she'd have to tell him what she had learned. "She didn't do it," she whispered.
He could see the fear in her eyes. Cupped her chin with his hand, gently forced her head up so that she would look at him. "It's okay, Angel. We'll figure it out." Her smile blinded him. Her arms nearly choked him as she hugged his neck. He pushed his face against her hair, held her tightly. "I love you, Casey. Carly is right, no matter how you managed to get pregnant, it's a time to celebrate. Maybe-" he broke off.
"Maybe?" she coaxed softly.
"Maybe this baby is going to be…special."
"I hope not," she replied.
"I have a child prodigy. I have a Dennis the Menace. Special I don't need. If this kid comes out with super powers or something, I'll run away from home!"
He couldn't hold back the laugh that bubbled up. "If that happens, I'll join you!"
She sighed. Tapped her temple. "The answer is there. That woman told me it's in my heart."
Daniel frowned slightly. "Let's take a bath. Make love. Worry about this tomorrow."
"Have I ever mentioned the good ideas you have?"
He grinned. "Once or twice."
"You have wonderful ideas, Doctor Jackson," she breathed.
"Glad you like them, Mrs. Jackson."
A A A A A A
It was after midnight. They'd made love half a dozen times before hunger drove them from the bed to the kitchen.
"At some time in the very recent past, I've come across someone who had the ability to alter my Quickening," Casey said popping the last bite of grilled cheese sandwich into her mouth.
"I agree. But we've gone through all of the mission reports-"
"Whatever happened, happened right here," she insisted.
Daniel looked at her. "You're sure?"
"As much as I can be," she replied, shrugging.
"Which is more than we had thirty minutes ago," he pointed out.
She glanced up at him. "What?"
He was well aware of the fact that often 'answers' came to her without her actually realizing it. "Casey, you just told me that whatever happened to you, happened here. In this house."
"Damn, I hate when that happens!" It totally annoyed her when things came out of her mouth that she wasn't even aware of saying!
"What, when things happen here?"
"No, when I get these…things…answers…whatever, in my head, and it goes straight out of my mouth before I even have a chance to see it!"
He couldn't help but chuckle. "Well, at least you get the answers."
"Not specific enough," she grumped.
"Once we figure out what happened here, we'll have the answer."
She frowned. "Nothing has happened. Not that I can remember."
Daniel was sorting through his own memories. Paled slightly. "Do you know if you can contact that woman…the Ascended woman who knocked you out to talk to you?"
"Knocked me out?" Toren! She'd thought that Toren had pulled her to the astral plane…and instead the woman from her dream had been there…and… "I can try."
He met her in that sunny meadow. "Don't wear yourself out," he said gently.
"This from the man who was begging me to ride him just about an hour ago?" she giggled.
"Smartass. You know what I mean."
She leaned up to kiss his chin. "I know. Don't let go of me."
She reached out, listening, looking. She didn't even have a name for crying out loud! All she could do was concentrate on the way the woman had looked. Which was suspiciously similar to the Being in that Cave…"Hello? I really need to talk to you," she called softly.
Suddenly she was standing on top of a mountain. Very familiar territory. She smiled, turned around to face her companion. This woman had very deep blue eyes, not the onyx eyes of the woman in the cave. The hair was just as dark though, and their bone structure was certainly similar. "We need to talk."
"I see that you have become pregnant."
"Then it was you who changed my Quickening."
The woman smiled. "Yes. It was a small…token…of our…appreciation, for what you were willing to do for us."
"It would have been nice if you had warned me," Casey replied dryly.
"I apologize. I had thought the surprise would be…exciting."
"Oh, it was exciting all right. My Husband was just overjoyed. Couldn't believe he was the father until we had a DNA test run."
"I am so sorry! It was not our intention-"
Casey waved a hand, flashed a smile. "It's okay, really. He's excited now, starting to strut around again like he did when I was pregnant before. Like he's the only man who ever managed to knock up a woman."
The woman giggled. "We…sensed…your desire for another child."
"Yeah, about that. I'm not going to have any more surprises, am I?"
"No. I was given permission to allow this only once."
She nearly sagged with relief. "Thank you! You don't know how relieved I am to hear that! I want another baby…not more babies. I…thank you," she said softly.
The woman reached out and caressed Casey's flat belly. "This child will follow the footsteps of his father. Your children will be instrumental in saving the Immortals."
That didn't sound so bad…exactly. "The Immortals will be in danger?"
"The Immortals are in danger," the woman responded. "Do not worry. All will become clear soon."
She shivered. She absolutely hated it when someone told her that! "I suppose pointing out the fact that my children are only four and two years old means nothing."
The woman smiled again. "Time does not travel as you would see it."
More riddles. She hated riddles! Maybe Daniel could figure it out. "They'll be safe?"
"Your children will do that which they must do."
Hated the not getting a straight answer thing too. Hated it, hated it, hated it! "But my babies will be safe?"
The woman smiled, and with a wave of her hand, Casey found herself back in that sunny meadow.
She shook her head slightly. "Hold me," she whispered.
He pulled her close. It was never a good sign when she returned from a search and the first thing she did was to beg him to hold her. Whatever it was, it had her trembling like a leaf in the wind. "Do you want to talk here?"
She shook her head. "I need a drink. But I'll settle for coffee," she said, before he could voice the protest that was in his eyes.
He nodded. "Love you, Angel."
"Love you, too."
She opened her eyes. "Well, you were right. Seems it was a thank-you for taking care of the mess that Simmons left."
She'd told him about the desire of the Ascended to see that Dagon and Toren be stopped, and that the woman who had been banished from the Ancients be killed, in an attempt to fend off the interest of Beings on higher levels of existence. He frowned, waiting to hear what had her so upset. "But?"
"She says…she said that this baby will follow in your footsteps."
Daniel grinned. "And having another archaeologist in the family is a bad thing?"
She smiled. "No. But she said that the Immortals are in danger."
"Babe, we already know that. Until we know for sure that Penatil can't duplicate what the NID was trying to do-"
"She said my babies would be 'instrumental in saving the Immortals'," Casey said, her voice trembling. "The fact that they are literally just babies didn't seem to matter. She also said that 'time doesn't travel as I see it', and that my babies would 'do what they must do'."
He frowned. Even a perceived danger for his children had his temper flaring, his senses on alert. "Nothing else?"
"Nope. That was it."
"As long as Penatil doesn't head this way, we…they…will be okay."
"I should have let you turn his sorry ass to a heap of ashes," she hissed, pushing her hair back with one hand.
He smiled, reached out and rubbed her back. "Yeah, well, I'll get another chance. I promise to do it then."
She nodded. Glanced at the clock. "Guess we should try to get some sleep. We don't want to oversleep…Stephanie is leaving tomorrow…today."
That was one subject he didn't even want to discuss. "I know," he said bluntly. "I have to look for a replacement."
"You'll never be able to replace her. The best you can do is hire someone to take over the job she was doing."
Daniel snorted. "Won't be easy."
"I know. But you'll find the people we need."
"I hope so."
"Let's go to bed. I'm tired."
He scooped her into his arms. "You should have said something earlier," he said, scolding her gently.
"I wasn't tired earlier," she replied.
He grinned, kissed her, and carried her to bed. Snuggled together, they drifted to sleep, worries about what they were facing, and what might lie ahead for their children supplying fodder for nightmares.
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