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The Darkness Within
"I had a dream, which was not all a
by George Gordon, Lord Byron
"Mommee! Ceweal!" Nicholas demanded, banging his spoon on the tray of his highchair.
"Juice, Mommy, I want juice," Emily said, pulling a glass from the dishwasher and holding it up.
"Just a minute, Nicholas; Emily Rose, put that down right now. Stay out of that dishwasher," Casey said, walking toward the pantry. She found the Cheerios, opened the box on her way back across the kitchen and poured a generous amount on the highchair tray when she reached it. She closed the box, took the glass from Emily's hand and put it on the counter, and put the cereal away. She grabbed two sipper cups, searched through a drawer for a seal, picked up the spoon that Nicholas tossed onto the floor and kept Emily from falling when she climbed onto one of the barstools. She turned around to see Daniel standing in the hall doorway, leaning against the doorframe watching her, hands in his pockets, a smile on his face. "What do you want?" she asked with a sigh.
"Coffee. Can I get into the dishwasher?" His eyes were dancing with laughter.
"Can you run faster than me when I grab that rolling pin?" she asked, one eyebrow raised slightly.
He laughed out loud and pulled her into a hug. "Probably. Go take your shower, babe. I'll take care of the kids."
"Let me fix breakfast first," she replied, hugging him back. She pressed her lips against his throat. He had just shaved. He hadn't used cologne. He smelled delicious. Tasted pretty doggone good too. "Eggs or pancakes?"
She shook her head and smiled. "Should have guessed." She opened the pantry door and grabbed the sealed container that held the already mixed dry ingredients. All she had to add was the milk, the oil and whip the egg whites. She had done the same thing for pancakes. It was an idea taken from the Food Network, and one that she gladly shared with her equally busy friends. And now that making waffles was a little less time consuming, they were a favorite. His anyway, although Emily was also beginning to choose waffles over anything else. She glanced at her son and smiled when he greeted his father with a loud 'Daddee!'. Daniel Nicholas Jackson would eat anything that was put in front of him.
Daniel went over to talk to the baby, running his hand over the top of that blonde head, then pulled the waffle iron from the cabinet, poured a bit of cooking oil on a paper towel, and coated the metal grids. He plugged it in. From experience he knew that it would be hot and ready by the time the batter was mixed.
"Mommy! Juice!" Emily complained.
"I'll get it for you, Princess," he said, dropping a kiss on her little blonde head as he walked to the refrigerator. "Apple or grape?"
"Could you put some apple juice in Nicholas' sipper cup?" Casey asked.
"You're welcome. Here you go, Princess." Emily still drank from a sipper cup as well, although she no longer needed the lid.
"Thank you, Daddy."
"You're welcome, Princess." He filled the sipper cup, double-checked to make sure that the lid was on tight, gave it to his son. "Here you go, Nicholas." The tot grinned at him, drooled a bit…hmmm, must be cutting another tooth, Daniel thought, and lifted the cup to his little lips.
Daniel poured that much needed cup of coffee, took a sip. Casey made the best coffee he had ever tasted. He thought it might just have something to do with the way she filled the water reservoir on the coffee maker. She let it run down her finger. She said it kept water from spilling all over. Knowing how sweet she was, he was sure that was the secret. He turned around and leaned against the counter. "How long will you be with Duncan this morning?"
Ever since the mission to PX9 869, known to the inhabitants as Arconia; when Duncan, Jack, and Daniel had disregarded her warnings, and the resulting nightmare that they had all endured, not one team on Gamma would walk through the Stargate before Casey Jackson had done a 'search', and Duncan MacLeod gave them a 'go' and bid them Godspeed. Which meant that at least one morning a week was spent in his office, going over planned missions with him and Jack.
"Shouldn't be too long, only three missions are planned for this week," she replied, whipping the egg whites with a whisk. "Why?"
"Just wondering. We're bringing the last of the crates from the warehouse, and I'd like you to be there. You recognize enough languages to sort things out," he said.
She smiled, poured batter into the waiting waffle iron. That she recognized, or spoke any language other than American English was due to his diligent and loving instruction. "And you'll be working on notes for your book, right?"
He grinned. "Have to get it all down while it's fresh in my memory. Babe, I can make waffles. Go shower."
She giggled. "You can cook waffles. The last time you made batter, we could have bounced them to Alpha and back!"
"Ha ha. Bite me."
"Love to," she whispered. She put her arms around his neck, pulled him close, gently nipped at the muscle behind his ear, delighted when she felt the shiver that moved through his body. Before he could respond, she skittered away from him and headed down the hallway to their bedroom and bath.
His grin broadened as he watched her walk away. God, what that woman could do to him! He struggled to control his body, decided that he would make her pay later for teasing him so. He watched the steam rise from the waffle iron. Casey had taught him that when the steam stopped, the waffle was done. He had taught her about archaeology and languages, she had taught him about happiness and love…and how to cook, at least a few things. As far as he was concerned, he had come out much better off in the deal.
Casey stepped under the running water. Daniel usually didn't rush her, he must be anxious to get back to his writing. He refused to bring it home, saying that he had a family who needed his attention when he was here. That alone told her that the work would consume him…at least while he was in his office in the mountain…until it was finished. Already three publishers, two of them from the biggest publishing houses in the US, were 'courting' him for exclusive rights to the manuscript. She was so proud of him. She had opened a special email account just to handle the flood of inquiries that came to him from archaeologists who spanned the galaxy. At least twenty a day came in from Earth. Langara was always good for at least a dozen, the same for Terra. Alpha and Beta requested his assistance on something at least once a day. One day he would realize that he just couldn't deal with all of them and still do the work that he loved: translating and examining artifacts. When that day came, he would be forced to make a very difficult decision.
She washed hurriedly, then dried and applied her favorite lotion. She pulled on her favorite jeans, they were a little snug in the ass, which drove Daniel crazy…thus the reason they were her favorite. A cropped tee shirt, her pendant, her gold stud earrings and she was ready to go. She slid her feet into her sandals on the way out of the bedroom, her hairbrush in her hand, going over her long hair as she walked down the hall.
Daniel was on his second waffle, the kids were already finished, having split a waffle between them, and Erin had arrived by the time she walked back into the kitchen. "I kept one warm for you." He opened the oven and took the plate and sat it on the counter.
"Thanks, Sweetheart." She put the hairbrush on the counter by the telephone, grabbed a fork and the syrup, and ate half of the waffle before pushing the plate away. She didn’t miss the look that her husband and mother shared. Neither of them thought that she ate enough. Dr. Montigue had told her that while he wouldn't object to her putting on five pounds or so, she was healthy, and had no reason to worry. Her Immortality and her active lifestyle kept her in peak physical condition.
The preschool bus, something that the teachers at the Little Stars Preschool had just recently started, picked Emily up from in front of the house. Daniel made sure she was on board safely, then hurried to the garage. Casey had already started the jeep.
A A A A A A
Jack, Sam, and Teal'c were waiting at the curb when Daniel stopped the car. The team had decided to carpool, switching off each week, so there was still the opportunity to sneak off to the lake. Daniel and Casey had discovered the fun of closet sex, and there were two closets in the Center that were perfect for their twice a week trysts. That he called her and made a 'date' for each only made her look forward to them all the more.
Talk on the way to the base centered around the upcoming mission that the team was going on, a covert operation to try and take out three of Penatil's ships. Two other SGCI teams would be going, each team boarding a ship and planting explosives. Daniel was apprehensive about the entire thing; the last time they had been on such a mission he had nearly lost Casey forever. They had, however, discovered their ability to communicate telepathically during those terrifying hours. Thoughts of the upcoming mission, and the past one, had him reaching out to her, seeking the comfort that only her gentle touch could provide. Her love wrapped around him, warm and soft, filling every inch of his being with peace.
Once inside the mountain, and a stop to change into the obligatory BDUs, the team went their separate ways; Daniel to his office, Sam to her lab, Teal'c to the gym…where he would lead the first two classes in training similar to what young Jaffa went through. Jack and Casey headed for Duncan's office.
A A A A A A
The Highlander looked up from the mountains of files and paperwork that covered his desk as they walked in. He nodded, then bent back over the file he was studying. With bemused smiles, Jack and Casey each took a cup from the cup rack on the wall and helped themselves to the coffee from the pot on the table near the door, then sat down in the chairs in front of the desk.
A quiet 'Hmmph' from the Scot had Casey giggling. "Problems, Mac?"
He looked up, glared at her for a minute, one eyebrow raised, then went back to reading.
"That is exactly why I refused command of the Beta site," Jack said quietly. "Paperwork could drive a sane man nuts."
"Okay, I'll bite. If a man is already nuts, what would the paperwork do to him?" Casey asked, a glimmer of laughter in her eye.
Jack snickered. "What's a word that describes someone who's moved past being nuts?"
"I’m not reading too loudly, am I?" the aggravated CIC asked sharply.
"Nope, not at all, go right ahead with what you're doing," Casey replied calmly, sipping her coffee.
Jack ducked his head and grinned. Of all the people who worked on the base, only Casey was brave enough, or maybe it was foolish enough, to bait the Highlander, even when he was in a bad mood. Often, when he was so disposed, her gentle teasing put a smile on his face. He glanced at the man who was technically his boss, but treated him with respect and deference, often making him feel as if he were the one actually in charge of running Gamma SGC. Duncan's cheek was twitching.
"So, you'd have become a lunatic if you had become OIC of Beta?" Casey asked, keeping the conversation between her and Jack flowing.
"Yep. Hey, wait a minute! I'm not nuts!"
She rolled her green eyes. "Of course you are! We all are! Look at what we do for a living! We're bona fide wackos, certifiably insane, absolutely off our rockers. Nuts. Crazy. Mondo loco. Not playing with a full deck. Lights on, nobody home. Elevator doesn't reach the top floor. Three bricks shy of a full load-"
Duncan burst into laughter. "She has a point," he said.
Jack was also laughing. "Yeah. Never really thought about it that way before."
"You two really don't think much, do you? Oh…wait…I get it…the Prez, the General, no need to trouble your heads when you can have the underlings do all that pesky thinking for you!"
The men exchanged glances and laughed harder. When Casey was in a good mood, good times were to be had. When she was in a bad mood…well, searching for the farthest galaxy to hide in was always a favorite option. Thankfully her bad moods were rare. Considering that Nergal was alive, and that she knew he was a live, having her in a good mood was welcome, indeed.
She waited demurely for the two men to compose themselves. She sighed softly. "Any time today, gentlemen. I do have a couple of things I need to get done."
"You're such a brat," Duncan complained, a wide smile on his face.
"You're such an oaf."
"Ahem," Jack said, grinning broadly.
"Sorry, Jack, didn't mean to make you feel left out. You're a grouch, too."
Jack's eyes widened as he stared at her. "I am never a grouch!"
Casey gave into the giggles that had been threatening to erupt. "Wanna bet?"
With another glance at her, willing himself not to smile, Jack turned his attention to the dark haired man behind the desk. "Three missions this week. Two are fairly simple recon. The third is going to take some planning, and some luck."
Duncan nodded, reading from the folder that Jack had given him. "The Persephone can get you close enough to beam aboard. Tech lab has the suppression devices set for one hour. Seems that's the longest they can program them to work," he added. "So, you'll have one hour to get on board, get the charges set, and get off."
"We'll be using the same timers that we did a couple of years ago, although the lab rats assure me that they have all been tested several times to assure that they will function properly," Jack reported.
"What about any Jaffa who seek to join the Shakka?" Casey asked.
"Bra'tac has already contacted the few rebels he was able to locate. The Hak'tyl will be cloaked and standing by for any that wish to ring over. The rebels have the information they need to do that," Jack replied.
She nodded, satisfied that those who sought freedom from slavery to the Goa'uld would have a chance to escape.
Duncan looked at her. "All right, Case. Tell me what you see."
She closed her eyes, and 'reached out', began to 'listen'. The two planets that were due to have teams arrive for recon felt empty to her. The mission that SG-1, SGI-3, and SGI-5 were going on felt…okay. Not great. There was the possibility for some trouble, but she could sense nothing serious. All of which she told the two men beside her. She was about to 'pull back' when she felt it. Evil. Pure evil. And it was reaching toward her. With a jerk she pulled back into her mind, her body recoiling from the sudden mental impact.
Jack had his hand on her shoulder, holding her now trembling body steady on the chair, his other grasping her slender hand firmly. "Casey?"
Her eyes were wide, both men could see the haunted fear that filled the green depths. "Nergal. I…I felt him. He…he was reaching for me," she whispered.
Duncan cursed mentally. Just how much more was this beautiful woman; his sweet, dear friend, to endure? "Are you all right?"
"I think so," she said, her voice still shaky. She was still clinging to Jack's hand, drawing comfort from him.
"If you need to go home-" Duncan started.
She shook her head. "No, I'm okay. I need to get over to the Center. Two more crates are being opened today, and Daniel wants me there to get them sorted out," she replied. She let go of Jack's hand and stood to her feet. She smiled at the two men who looked at her, concern in their eyes. The smile did nothing to alleviate the fear still in her own eyes. "I'm okay, really."
"If you need anything, just ask," Duncan said.
"I will. See you both later," she said. With a wave of her fingers, she walked out the door, heading for the elevator.
"I want that motherfucker dead," Jack hissed.
Duncan nodded. "Me, too. Preferably in tiny pieces."
"I'll let Daniel know about this. It's a sure bet that Casey won't," Jack said.
With a nod, the gray haired general rose and left the office. He'd talk to Daniel when he saw him at lunch.
Casey leaned against the elevator wall. She was still shaking, inside at least. She had reached out and touched Nergal before. It had always left her terrified. Never before had she felt that evil reaching back toward her. The thought that he might 'find' her made her shudder so violently that the SF's in the monitoring room noticed. One thing was for certain. Doing 'searches' had just become extremely risky for her.
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