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Standing in the Dark
They were all in the conference room. Methos had been in contact with Ashnan; she reported to him that Nergal had just attacked Laurel. That Goa'uld had already lost her fleet, had barely escaped during the first battle with him. She was demanding that her 'brothers and sisters' come to her aid. Ashnan had also reported than none of the other System Lords were willing to assist her, all of them had suffered losses, and were concerned with the protection of their own home planets and interests.
"I'm thinking that if Methos and Hathor come to her rescue, we'll get some mileage out of her obligation to us," the young/old man said.
"What about the Persephone?" Duncan asked.
Methos pondered the question for a moment. "The agreement was that the Tau'ri would ally themselves with the System Lords until Nergal was taken out. I can…demand…that you honor the treaty."
Jack nodded. "We're set to let them know that we found Casey, and that she had been tortured, but not killed. I don't know how many of these System Lords know that we're Immortal, but if we can play it down, if they don't know, they won't be tipped off."
"How many ships does Nergal have now?" Sam asked.
"Just the one…that we are aware of," Methos replied.
"Okay, get the Phoenix and Hak'tyl to Laurel's territory. We'll see if we can't knock this bastard out before he has a chance to rebuild," Duncan said. "Casey, part of the deal was that you would be returned to Daniel. You head for the Persephone with the rest of SG-1."
She smiled, slipped her fingers into Daniel's hand.
"Tell me what you feel, Case," the Scot said.
She closed her eyes, reached out. Recoiled when she 'felt' him. "He is really pissed off…he went back to his planet…was totally ticked to find his palace and compound leveled. He's… he's trying to fight back the part of him that realizes that he's in a precarious position. Part of him is still…aware," she reported. "I think he's as crazy as Framone was. Definitely not playing in the real world with the rest of us." She was certain that his use, rather his overuse, of the sarcophagus was the reason for his insanity. Framone had used his just as frequently, and he had definitely been squirrel bait!
Jack nodded. "Good. If we can strike now, and strike fast and hard enough, we might be able to wipe his sorry ass out for good. The others won't be a problem."
"Snake free zone," Casey giggled.
"We'll party for weeks," Daniel added with a chuckle.
Duncan grinned. "Okay. Let's do this. SG-1, you have a go. I'll have Kyle contact Wade."
The oldest of the Second Race of Immortals nodded. "I'll head on over to the Phoenix now."
She sighed as they geared up to ring to the Persephone. She had never been anywhere but the ring transport of the ship. Daniel told her that he…or rather they…had officer's quarters, the room was small, but had its own bathroom. She didn't care if they had to sleep in sleeping bags on the deck in the cargo bay, as long as they were together.
"Anything wrong, Case?" Jack asked when he heard her.
She shook her head. "Nope. Just happy to be back with the team. I'll be happier when the Tok'ra have 'killed' Hathor and Sam is back with us."
Jack laughed. Sam had been the one to come up with the plan for her eventual 'return' to SG-1. "No happier than I'll be."
Daniel kissed the side of her face as he braided her hair. "I'm certainly glad you're back on the team, and not Methos' consort."
"I heard Methos say he was going to miss all your smartass remarks, and how much fun the two of you had trying to keep the other snake-heads thinking that you were fighting him," Jack grinned.
Casey giggled. "It was fun. But I'm more than ready to give up that 'fun' to be with you guys. Less chance of some freaking Goa'uld taking me again."
"Indeed," Teal'c smiled. "I believe that it would be impossible for Nergal, or any other System Lord, to get near you at this time. Daniel Jackson would destroy them with the power he has as The Chosen."
The archaeologist grinned. "You have that right. With luck, I'll be able to send him a jolt or two."
"I have the feeling you want to do more than that," Jack said quietly.
Daniel's blue eyes became guarded. "Payback's a bitch," was all that he would say.
A A A A A A
The crew of the Persephone was thrilled to meet Casey, relieved that she was alive and well. She was in the mess hall, getting a cup of coffee when a young woman with strawberry blonde hair and warm brown eyes approached her.
Casey smiled. "That's me."
"Um…well…I just wanted…I thought that you would…" the young woman stammered.
"Let's sit down here, shall we?" Casey said softly. She offered her hand to the young woman. "I'm Casey. And you are?"
"Oh, geez…I’m sorry…I'm Lieutenant Bennet…um, Sherry Bennet."
"Hi, Sherry. It's nice to meet you. Now, take a deep breath, and tell me what it is that you wanted to tell me," Casey smiled.
Sherry couldn't help but smile in return. "It's about Doctor Jackson. He…when he thought you were dead, he was completely torn up. One of my friends was on the officer's deck, he said…" she dropped her eyes.
"It's okay, Sherry, you can tell me. This goes no farther than you and me," the young Immortal promised.
"Tim said that Doctor Jackson screamed for almost an hour, that they could hear him calling out your name. He was…devastated. I'm one of the comtechs, I was on duty when he collapsed right against the console. I'm just glad you're alive, and well. When he came back to the bridge…" she shuddered as she recalled how cold his eyes had been when Daniel had asked her about getting a message to Gamma.
Casey's heart clenched in pain at the thought of what Daniel had gone through. "Thank you, Sherry. I…I know it was difficult for him. I thought I was going to be beheaded, I had enough time to…tell him that I loved him, and goodbye. I'm just thankful that the bastard didn't do it."
"I think Doctor Jackson is pretty grateful, too."
She couldn't help but giggle. "I'd have to agree."
Sherry glanced up at the beautiful woman, then back into her coffee cup. "Can I ask you a question? You don't have to answer…but…well…I guess most of us…the women I mean…well he is good looking…is he…I was just wondering if he's as…"
She bit back a smile. "He's an incredible kisser, an absolutely out of this world lover…he's sweet and generous…does that about cover it?"
The young woman blushed. "Mostly. One of the nurses…well, she's seen him in his… underwear…and she said…well…"
Casey lost her struggle not to laugh out loud. "Better than Adonis," she smiled. "I don't call it his 'anaconda' for nothing."
Sherry's eyes went wide. "Really?"
"Just don't let anyone know that I said so," Casey said, winking conspiratorially. "He gets pissy if I talk about…personal… things."
"I understand. Mrs. Jackson…"
"Casey, please," she interrupted with a smile.
The young woman beamed at her. "Casey, were you…were…well…were you afraid?"
"Sherry, I was terrified. I don't think I've ever been more afraid in my life, and I've had some frightening things happen to me over the years."
"Starting with being kidnapped right there on Earth," Sherry said. She blushed brightly. "I've read everything there is about you."
"About me?" Casey was incredulous.
"Yes, ma'am. You're a real hero…er…heroine. All the girls in the Academy want to be just like you."
Casey was shocked. "You're kidding, right?"
Daniel, who had been coming in for a cup of coffee, paused at the door, watched as his wife talked with the young woman, watched Casey's eyes go wide with disbelief. She hadn't seen him, so he risked moving closer to hear what was being said, smiled to hear that his wife was a role model for young women.
Sherry shook her strawberry blonde head. "No, ma'am. You and Colonel Carter are such heroines, and…well, you're beautiful and feminine, too. We all…well, we strive to be like you; brave, talented, beautiful…" she broke off when she saw the look of disbelief on Casey's delicate features.
"You know you are! If you weren't so nice and sweet, most women would hate you! I mean, every guy on this ship is already panting after you! I wish I was half as pretty as you are! I mean, you could be a high fashion model, or an actress, or both!"
She shook her head. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I think you're a very pretty young woman, Sherry. You don't need to wish to look like me. That would be a step in the wrong direction!"
The young woman's eyes went wide. She'd studied psychology as part of her course requirements for a communications officer. She knew enough to recognize low self-esteem when she saw it. That this beautiful, legendary woman would suffer from that affliction…"Mrs. Ja…er…Casey, I think you should take a long look in the mirror, through your eyes, and not the eyes of…someone else."
Casey smiled. "I see me in the mirror every day. I know exactly what I look like."
Sherry shook her head. "No, ma'am. I don't think you do."
Daniel bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing out loud at the look on Casey's face. He stepped a bit closer to the table where the two women were sitting, standing in the shadow cast by one of the vending machines.
"You have the looks, the style…the…class…that all the rest of us can only hope and wish for," Sherry was saying.
"I don't think you're looking at me…objectively. I have plenty of flaws."
The young woman snorted. "Name one."
"I'll name several! My neck is too long…I look like a freaking giraffe. My ears are kinda big…Dumbo thing happening there. My boobs are too small, my butt is flat, my knees are knobby, my hair is so limp it's ridiculous…"
Now it was Sherry's turn to stare in disbelief. "You have got to be kidding! I would love to have a neck as graceful as yours! I don't see anything wrong with your ears at all! Your hair is gorgeous, I wish mine was that thick! I think the rest of you is just fine too! So do all the guys around here! Most of the 302 pilots have posters of you hanging in their lockers! I think every guy around here as been to at least one of your websites, and my friend Tim has over fifty images of you on his computer!"
Daniel was finding it nearly impossible not to laugh. Casey's eyes couldn't get any wider. And he was going to have to check into this poster thing. Maybe he'd get one for his locker on Gamma!
Casey had nearly choked on her coffee. "You have got to be kidding!"
Sherry shook her head. "Come on, I'll show you!"
Daniel managed to scurry into a nearby hatchway, avoiding detection. Coffee could wait. He followed, being careful that the two women didn't see him. This could be very…entertaining. Besides, he wanted to see those posters as well.
There were six pilots on the Persephone, for the six F-302s that had been purchased from one of the largest plane manufacturers in the US. And by coincidence, all six of them were in the locker room when Sherry knocked on the door. One of the pilots, a tall young woman with short brown hair and laughing hazel eyes, who just happened to be her best friend, called for them to enter.
"Linny, I'd like you to meet someone," Sherry said. She puffed with excitement. "This is Casey Jackson. Casey, this is my best friend Lynda Mansfield."
Casey smiled and offered her hand to the dumbstruck young pilot. The other pilots, all men, had stopped their game of poker and were now crowding around, waiting for introductions. Sherry introduced each one, and as Casey shook their hands, they began to grin - all of them standing taller, unconsciously flexing their muscles, puffing out their chests. She had to bite back a giggle.
"Casey doesn't believe that you guys have posters of her in here," Sherry said. She glanced over at Casey.
"Uh…well…yeah, we do," Mark, one of the pilots, grinned. He took Casey to his own locker and opened the door. Five small photographs of her, and one large poster adorned the narrow metal box. The poster was a picture that had to have been taken on Langara, when they had spent time at that island resort. She was wearing her white and blue bikini, and holding her straw cowboy hat on her head as she walked through the surf on the beach. The others were all random shots of her, in all but one she was laughing. In that one, she looked as if she had just awakened.
"Wow!" Casey said softly. "I had no idea! I'd sure like to know who took all of these pictures of me!"
"Paparazzi," Mark grinned. "They always take pictures of beautiful women."
She shook her blonde head. "Daniel is going to freak out!"
"Oh, I don't know, I might get a few of those for my locker," a voice said from behind her.
She gave a squeak of surprise and turned around. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of her Husband's smiling face and laughing blue eyes. "Daniel Melburn Jackson, just how long have you been standing there? And how did you know…you big creep! You were in the mess hall!" She reached out and punched his shoulder.
He backed away, unable to keep from laughing. "Ow! Hey, I was just coming in to get a cup of coffee, and the look on your face made me curious, and then your new friend here-"
"Sherry," she interjected, still glaring at him.
"Sherry. Hi, Sherry," he said, smiling at the young woman. "Anyway, I heard what Sherry said about the posters, and I wanted to see them, too." He moved past her to get a closer look. "We were at the resort on Langara in this one," he said. He looked at the others. "I think all of these were all taken while we were at that resort." He looked back at the poster, heaved a theatrical sigh. "God, I love you in that bikini."
The pilots began to chuckle.
"Yeah, well look close, cupcake. That's the only way you'll ever see me in it again!" She turned on her heel to leave the room.
Daniel laughed. "No, it won't, sweet 'ums," he called after her.
She stopped, turned around and looked at him. Her hands went to her hips. "You are so close to sleeping alone. On the deck. In the hanger bay. Without a sleeping bag."
He laughed again, walked over to her and pulled her close. "Won't happen." He lowered his head and whispered in her ear. "I happen to know you can't sleep without me. Besides, my… uh…anaconda…would miss you."
She tried desperately not to laugh. She didn't even want to smile. She turned her head away from him. It was just too hard. She started giggling. Wrapped her arms around his neck when he pulled her tighter. "You are just impossible!"
"Yeah, but you love me anyway," he replied.
"With all my heart," she replied.
The others watched, awed by love that reflected in their eyes…knowing that for them, in that moment, no one else existed. When they finally released one another, Mark pushed forward, a marking pen in his hand.
"Mrs. Jackson? Would you…I mean…it would be so awesome if you would sign my poster for me."
She raised an eyebrow. "Don't get out much, do you?" The others hooted with laughter. She sighed. "I'll sign it for you. But I think you'd be better off with posters of really beautiful women to drool over."
Mark, and the other men, gave her an odd look. "Mrs. Jackson, you are one of the really beautiful women. Top five."
"Top three," one of the others said.
Daniel grinned again at the look on her face. He realized that he should probably be jealous of the fact that these men had pictures of his wife. Sexy, revealing pictures of his wife. But he wasn't. Instead he was…proud. And damned thrilled to know that her eyes saw only him, that she belonged to him; heart, mind, body and soul.
She signed her name to the poster, was begged to sign the others as well. She was shaking her head when she left the locker room, holding tightly to Daniel's hand. "Poor guys."
"Well, if they think I'm beautiful, they have a warped sense of beauty. Wait until a really beautiful woman crosses their path," she said softly.
"Casey, what am I going to do with you," he sighed. "You are beautiful, Angel."
"You're just a wee bit prejudiced in my favor," she replied.
He sighed again. Someday, he thought. Someday she'll be able to see herself the way others saw her, and not through the myopic, twisted sight of Helen Webster. "I'm not the only one who thinks you're beautiful, Casey."
She let go of his hand and slipped her arm around his waist. "As long as I please you, and you love me, I couldn't care less who thinks what about me," she said softly.
His arm went around her shoulders. "You please me very much, Angel. And I love you more than you'll ever know." He reached out and touched her, let her feel his love. Smiled when her soft touch filled him with warmth.
"I love you, too, Stud Muffin. You and that anaconda of yours."
He chuckled loudly, kissed her cheek, and led her back to the mess hall. He still wanted a cup of coffee.
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