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Standing in the Dark

Chapter 9

Methos gave Ashnan and Laurel, who was on Ashnan's ship, a report on how he had demanded that the Tau'ri honor the treaty that had been signed. "Their ship should arrive at anytime." He looked over at Sam, gave her a sly wink. Which did not go unnoticed by the dark headed Goa'uld beside him.

"I am in your debt," Laurel said, nodding her head regally in his direction. "And to you Hathor. Your arrival, I'm sure, has precipitated Nergal's withdrawal from my territory."

"You say that Casey Jackson was found alive?" Ashnan asked, a small frown on her face.

"Yes. She had been tortured, Jackson is very upset about that. But she is alive," Methos replied.

"Soon, my love, you will bring your Beloved back to your side," the dark haired woman purred. And you will share her with me again, she thought, her body reacting to the 'memories' she had of time spent with Methos and his consort and lo'taur.

Methos looked at Sam, then to Ashnan. "She will be carefully guarded. Not that I care. Her continual struggle against me was becoming…tiresome." Just out of spite, he looked at Sam again, and smiled. He could tell by the look in her eyes that she knew what he was up to. He watched her stand up, walk over to the table and pour two chalices of wine.

"I knew you wearied of her," Sam, said, handing him a chalice, sipping daintily from her own. "Perhaps Nergal did you a favor in that respect."

Ashnan's dark eyes narrowed, she shifted closer to Methos. "I would say that time spent with him would make her more…malleable, to your wishes. He is quite…brutal. She would count herself lucky to be back at your side."

Sam couldn't hold back the laugh that burst forth. "She is at the side of her husband. She will be content nowhere else."

Those dark eyes narrowed farther. "I thought you were going to capture Daniel Jackson, for yourself."

With a smirk, and a glance at Methos, Sam shook her head. "I have found other…entertainment."

Angry now, for Methos had not spent another night with her since just before the battle with Nergal, she rose to her feet, stomped across the room, then back. She folded her arms over her full breasts. "Tread carefully my love," she said, glaring at Methos. "You are accepted here only because of me. I am the most powerful System Lord in this sector. Do not anger me!"

Methos stared coldly at her. "Do not threaten me, Ashnan. Especially when you speak lies within those threats. You are not the most powerful. Nergal is…still. Penatil has more ships, more Jaffa, more territory, than you. His power, thus, is greater than yours. Don't anger me, Ashnan, or I will destroy you."

Her cheeks paled. "I do not believe that you would do such a thing. Especially while Nergal is still a threat to all of us. We must stand together to defeat him."

"Do not test me," he replied, his voice as menacing as his eyes. He looked again at Sam. She smiled at him, then stared at Ashnan.

The Goa'uld shivered. Hathor had managed to rekindle his love for her, it seemed. Ashnan raised her chin slightly. She would still have him. Methos was an enigma. A puzzle. And she was determined to solve it.


A  A  A  A  A  A


On the Phoenix, Wade and Becca were engaged in a game of Texas Hold 'em. He had wanted to speak to Casey, and to his brother, to ascertain that they were both well. The debriefing had been painful for everyone, but he knew that Casey, and Daniel, would continue to suffer long after that meeting had been adjourned. He was surprised at the need to see for himself that Daniel was all right. They had communicated as often as possible, and Daniel had written long emails to him, telling him about their parents, things that he could remember. Methos had assured him that as soon as the Persephone was within range, he would request to meet with the Tau'ri.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Casey was working out in the gym when the three al'kesh came into view. She could still see the damage to Ashnan's ship, but it was being repaired, even as she watched. She shivered.

"It's okay, babe. It won't happen again," Daniel said softly. He was working with the weights while she worked out on one of the cross-trainers.

She stopped, stepped off of the machine, grabbed her towel and wiped her face. "Never say never, Daniel."

He nearly dropped the weights he held in his hands. "Talk to me, Casey."

"It's nothing."

Daniel carefully put the weights back on the stand. When he reached her, he put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. "One word that you're in danger and we're heading back to Gamma. I can't go through that again. I won't go through it again. We'll retire from the SGC just like we've talked about before."

She looked up into his blue eyes. Saw his concern, his worry…his determination. "He's angry, Daniel. And he's blaming me. If…when…he knows that I'm alive, he'll…he'll try to get to me."

He could feel his heart dropping. "He can try, Angel. But it won't happen. Not as long as you're with me. That's a promise."

She smiled, put her hand against his cheek. He turned his face and gently kissed her palm. "Together, always," she said softly.

"Together, always," he replied. "Now, tell me what else you're sensing."

"He's close. When Methos and Sam arrived it spooked him a bit. That part of him that is able to analyze a situation, make the decisions that will benefit him is alive and well. He's insane, but he's not crazy…I know that doesn't make any sense…"

"I know what you mean," he said.

"He's been…insane…for years…decades…maybe even centuries; it didn't prevent him from building one hell of an empire around himself. He has other planets. He has the resources to rebuild his fleet completely. And he'll do it. We need to take those other planets from him. The faster we can do that, the longer it will take him to rebuild. He's only attacking Laurel because she's close, and her ability to defend herself is the lowest."

"We'll talk to Jack and Duncan. I think we need to start visiting some planets and trying to get the people organized against him."

She nodded. "I don't want to talk about Nergal any more. Or missions."

He smiled. "What do you want to talk about?"

"I really don't want to talk at all," she said, giving him a wicked little smile.

"Really. No talking. How can we communicate if we don't talk?" He let his hands move up and down her arms. He took her hands, placed them on his shoulders. Smiled when they moved slowly up to his neck, then to his hair.

"There are other ways to communicate." She stepped closer, pressed her body against his.

"I see. I don't suppose you'd be willing to…uh…teach me…these interesting methods of communication. I am a linguist, you know." His hands were moving over her hips and ass, slow gentle caresses.

"Oh, I think I could be persuaded," she said softly, her lips just inches from his, her eyes full of fire. "First thing we have to do is take a shower."

"I can handle that. Then what?"

"Oh, I can't tell you, Doctor Jackson. I have to show you." She leaned up and gently kissed his lips.

"I think this is a lesson I'd prefer to have in private," he whispered.

"Not into exhibitionism, huh?"

He chuckled. "Nope."

"Well then, let's go shower, and then we'll begin your…lesson."

"Good, there you are!" Jack's voice filled the room. "Report just came in that Nergal is heading back this way, and Methos is coming aboard to talk to us."

Casey let her head drop onto Daniel's chest. "Have I ever mentioned Jack's lousy timing?" she asked softly, so that only her Husband could hear.

He grinned, kissed the back of her head. "Nope. But I do believe I've mentioned it a time or two."

Jack grinned at the two. "Do you two ever give it a rest?"

"I've always wondered, Jack, just what do you mean by 'it'?" Casey asked.

The older man snorted, then laughed. "You can fill in the blank any way you want, Case."

"We're going to grab a shower," Daniel said, looking over at his friend, steering the conversation into safer territory, before Casey could fill in that blank.

Jack grinned. "Quick one. I suggest separately. You'll be done sooner."

"Bite me, Jack," Casey grumbled.

"Nah, that's Daniel's job…but not right now. I promise, when we get back to Gamma, you two can get away for a couple of days."


A  A  A  A  A  A


Twenty minutes and two showers later, Casey and Daniel joined Jack, Teal'c, and Colonel Bradshaw in the conference room. Not more than five minutes later Methos and Wade walked in.

Casey saw the look of relief in Wade's eyes. She stood up and gave him a brief hug.

"I am pleased to see that you are well," he said, watching her eyes closely. He saw a flash of fear, of pain; but the warmth, the light returned so quickly that he wasn't sure it had really happened. He offered his hand to Daniel. "I am pleased to see that you are well, also."

Daniel shook his brother's hand. "Thanks."

Jack waited until everyone was seated. "So this meeting is Methos trying to convince us to honor the treaty?"

"Yep," the young/old man grinned. "I thought that Hathor should join us…Ashnan just threw a jealous tantrum. I warned her to be careful or I'd destroy her. If I can push her to attack me, we can take her out. She and Penatil are probably the strongest System Lords after Nergal, although I told her just how weak she is. I don't trust her not to turn on us the second that Nergal is taken out."

Jack nodded. "I wouldn't mind seeing…Hathor," he grinned.

"Won't we need Ashnan to take out Nergal?" Daniel asked.

Methos frowned. "I think we dealt enough of a blow to Nergal that it will take him time to get back on his feet. If we can take out the two most powerful System Lords before he can, and allow the others to divide up their territory, that just slows him down more."

"So many 'ifs'," Casey murmured. "If he doesn't have enough resources on the other planets he controls, if we can keep him from 'absorbing' the resources of other System Lords, if we can convince the people under his control to rebel against him, if enough of his Jaffa are rebels…"

"Casey, there have always been a lot of 'ifs' when we go after a Goa'uld," Jack reminded her.

"We've never gone after a Goa'uld like this one before," she replied.

"We've knocked him, down, we just have to keep him down," Jack insisted.

She smiled. "That's the part that worries me. Can we move faster than he can?"

The men all frowned. "Anything special you want to tell us?" Jack asked.

She sighed. "I wish there was. He is on his way back here. If he's on the only ship that he owns right now, then chances are good that we'll take him out. If not, then it's going to be a race - him to rebuild, us to keep him from accomplishing that."

Sam and Becca entered the room. Everyone smiled and looked the other way when Jack greeted his wife with a kiss. "I just received an interesting message from Ashnan," Sam said as she sat down beside her husband.

"Threats?" Methos asked.

"No, more like she wanted to have a little woman to woman chat; seems she wants to know all about you, and since you aren't forthcoming with that information, she figures I'm the one to talk to," Sam grinned.

Casey was pulling her lip between her teeth. "Won't Ashnan get suspicious if both of you are here? Together. At the same time?"

Nervous glances were exchanged.

Colonel Bradshaw spoke up. "What if we invite Ashnan, tell her that we're meeting with each of you?"

"Meeting about what?" Jack asked.

"What they know about each other," Daniel said. "She'd expect us to try and play one against the other. Let's give her what she expects. She might let something slip that could actually be helpful."

Jack nodded. "Okay, get her over here. Then we'll have a nice long chat about what we're going to do when Nergal gets here."

"Better bring Laurel as well," Methos said. "She's grateful enough that she might say more than she intends, also."

Thirty minutes later, Jack, Teal'c, Daniel and Casey re-entered the conference room. Jack stared at Sam, remembering that she was supposedly taken over by a Goa'uld that he believed he had killed. Daniel looked at Methos, holding tightly to Casey, who ignored the eldest Immortal completely.

"Well, isn't this cozy," Ashnan sneered.

Methos looked sharply at her. Did she suspect? Had she figured out what they were doing?

"What do you mean?"

The woman smiled, although it held no warmth or mirth. It had taken time, but with the information she had tortured out of Nergal's spy, then seeing them all together, she finally snapped the last piece of the puzzle into place. "The great SG-1. Working together as always." She stood up, walked to where Sam sat, and roughly yanked the collar from her neck. "Now speak to us, 'Hathor'!"

Sam stared at the woman, narrowed her eyes. "I will not stand for such insolence!"

Ashnan was not the only one in the room surprised when the colonel spoke, her voice the same as every other Goa'uld.

Casey felt panic rise up in her chest. When would she have been infested? By whom? She ducked her head to hide her grin with Sam very casually, but very obviously adjusted the mandarin collar of her top, her signal to her husband, family and friends.

Sam stood, and raised her hand, aiming her ribbon device at the dark headed woman.

"This gets us nowhere," Laurel said sharply. "Have we forgotten that we have a common enemy, a dangerous common enemy?"

"Dangerous only to you!" Ashnan declared. "I am perfectly capable of beating Nergal should he dare to enter my territory!"

Methos snorted. "You are delusional. Your fleet has suffered losses, the same as the others. If Nergal were to turn his attention to you, it would be you crying for the rest of us to rush to your aid."

"Personally, I'd like to see you all kill each other. But until Nergal is taken care of, we have a treaty," Jack said, having heard Daniel's translation. He waited patiently for Daniel to translate his comments. All of SG-1 spoke Goa'uld, Daniel and Casey, as well as Teal'c, of course, spoke it fluently. But the Goa'uld didn't know that. And would hopefully become careless.

Methos stood, crossed the room to get a glass of water. Casey had been sitting near the refreshment cart. He gave her a sly wink, and she scurried to Daniel's side. That man had been on his feet as soon as Methos moved, playing his part convincingly.

Ashnan watched. She was still certain that more was going on than appeared. She had been sure that Colonel Samantha Carter-O'Neill was not Hathor. She had been wrong. But there was something…she would figure it out!

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