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The Power of Love
Duncan led her up the path, his hand holding hers tightly. He looked back at her and smiled. He was at last getting what he wanted, what he had waited now forty-five years to have. He had been patient, but Casey knew the exact moment that patience had run out, and he had made up his mind that they would put off the Ceremony of Fire no longer. It had been two days ago, when he had come into the living room of the house they shared in Seattle...
She had been sitting on the floor, tears streaming down her cheeks, the stereo playing loudly behind her. She was singing with Meatloaf, "...I want you, I need you, but there ain’t no way I’m every gonna love you, but don’t be sad, two out of three ain’t bad..."
When she had looked up to see Duncan standing in the doorway…pain haunting his brown eyes, his jaw working…her heart had broken just a bit more, knowing what was expected of her. Knowing where her heart lay. He had said nothing, he merely turned around and left the room. Casey knew that she should have gone after him, tried to explain, tried to…tried to do something. Instead, she had remained where she was, playing the song two more times, singing with it each time. That evening dinner had been a tense, silent affair. They were cleaning the kitchen when he quietly informed her that he had contacted the SGC, and that they would be leaving for PX3-695 as soon as they arrived there.
"I’ve made the reservations. Our plane to Colorado Springs leaves at nine in the morning." He had pushed her hair over her shoulder, preventing her from using it as a shield for her face. "It’s time Casey. It makes no sense to keep putting it off." She had nodded, then quietly gone to the room she now shared with him. She had curled up on the bed and cried, silently aching for a man who could never be hers again. When Duncan had come to bed sometime later, she had allowed him to pull her close. He hadn’t attempted to make love to her. For that she had been grateful.
He had waited for so long, had been so patient with her, so gentle with her feelings. It had been two years since she had left the SGC Beta site with him, and they had only begun their physical relationship a few weeks prior. That was only because she had promised Sam that she would finally move on, make a life with the Duncan. Her best friend of forty-five years had died a few days after she made that promise. Duncan was a tender, considerate lover. But it was Daniel’s touch for which she craved. She tried desperately to conceal those feelings from the man who loved her so very much.
A A A A A A
She looked around, remembering the last time she had been here. And felt that ripping pain in her heart, the pain that was never far from the surface, the pain that she had learned to hide from Duncan. The planet looked the same as it had the last time she had seen it. Not even the temple had changed. Casey couldn’t explain why she had such feelings of unease. She couldn’t shake the feeling that although everything looked the same, something was very different.
He helped her onto the stone altar, kissing her gently on the lips, then climbed up to lay beside her. As had happened before, they began to levitate, and the fires began to burn around them.
Something is definitely wrong, she thought. Her body should be burning, she should be reaching for Duncan through the flames. But she wasn’t. And she couldn’t. "Daniel," she whispered. She felt herself falling, and she dropped to the ground.
Suddenly a light flashed around them. The flames disappeared, as if doused by water, and standing in front of the temple were three people she had thought she would never see again. And they looked exactly the way they had when they had last been on this planet together.
"Daniel!" Not caring if the man she saw was an apparition or not, she ran into his arms. He felt like Daniel, he smelled like Daniel, and when he pulled her into his arms and kissed her, he tasted like Daniel.
"I don’t understand! She is my destiny!" Duncan cried out, as if to the gods. His heartbreak was tangible.
"She's my wife!" Daniel nearly shouted in return. "I will not let you take her from me!"
"You cannot stop the prophecy. She will be my wife!" Duncan yelled at the blonde haired man, who was now holding the woman he loved.
Oma was suddenly standing between them, facing Duncan. "Casey has chosen not to follow this path. Your own path now lies in a different direction from hers. But you will not be alone." Oma turned, and a figure stepped from the shadows.
For a moment the Scot could only stare at the woman who stood looking at him, confusion in her blue eyes. "Tessa!"
"Duncan?" The French woman was wide-eyed with confusion.
"Could somebody tell me what’s going on here?" Casey said, looking around. She looked pointedly at the woman who stood with them, a soft glow emanating from her.
Oma smiled. "When Daniel Jackson ascended, he refused to merely observe. He insisted on helping those he loved. That is why we returned him. We could not allow him to continue to break rules that were put in place by necessity. But he reminded us that it is our duty to do what we can to preserve life in this galaxy. We must be careful in how we do this, but we must never shirk that duty. There are times when it is appropriate to…‘help things along’. You and Duncan were ‘programmed’ to fulfill the wishes of a group of people who had no thought for the pain their plans would cause." She turned again to the Scot, who was looking from Tessa to Casey and back again. "We have watched you, Duncan MacLeod; your life has been one full of sacrifice. You loved Tessa, she was taken from you before her time as a result of the false Game. We have made her Immortal, so that she can forever be at your side."
Tessa raced to Duncan, grabbing his hands in hers. "I don’t understand," she said, looking around.
"I promise to explain it all later," Duncan replied, his arm going slowly around her shoulders.
"Uh, what about us?" Jack asked.
Oma turned to him, a smile on her face. "You have also been made Immortal. The four of you have hearts so tightly entwined with one another that it is difficult to separate you. You also have made great sacrifices. You have saved your planet, and dozens of others, from the Goa’uld and other evils repeatedly. Each of you offered your own life in order to save the other, without hesitation, countless times. Jack O’Neill and Samantha Carter denied the love they felt for one another in order to serve and protect others." She turned to Casey. "Even in death Daniel offered to take on all the pain you bore, wishing only your happiness, so that you could join with Duncan MacLeod in joy and love. You offered your own life for his, your belief in his goodness and his ability to help others strong and unwavering. Over many years we have watched you all sacrifice for one another, protect one another, love one another. We had forgotten the power of such love. So great has this lesson been that we have come to realize that such great sacrifices, such selfless love, deserve great rewards. We can do nothing less than offer you the greatest of gifts, Immortality."
"And Teal'c?" Sam asked.
"His heart is also intermingled with yours. Teal'c has not yet left the plane of your existence. But he has chosen to join you on this path."
"What’s the price?" Daniel asked, voicing the question all of them were thinking. Nothing this important, this…good…no matter what the reason it was given, was free. He glanced over at the Highlander, and pulled Casey closer.
"The price is that you must continue to fight against those who would be oppressors, to fight against the evil that is among us. You will carry on the battle. You will do so together, as you have always done."
In a flash, Oma was gone, and the six of them stood alone on the planet.
"Duncan, what’s happening? Where are we? The last thing I remember-" Tessa said, fear in her voice, clinging to the front of his shirt.
"It’s a long story, sweetheart, we’ll talk about it later," Duncan replied. He had his arm around Tessa, but his eyes were on Casey.
Casey couldn’t believe that once again she had avoided the Fire Ceremony with Duncan. She did love him, in her own way. But she wasn’t in love with him. Her heart, her soul still, and would always, belong to Daniel. She reached into her pack, and groaned. "Uh, guys, I hate to be a party pooper here, but just how the hell are we going to leave here? I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention when I packed…we…uh…don’t have a GDO," she said. She avoided looking at Duncan. He knew exactly why she hadn’t been thinking clearly when they had left, and the Fire, which wasn’t even burning in them, was not the reason.
"Oma!" Jack called, looking around.
"We could try an old fashioned SOS," Sam said. "If I can reprogram the crystals in the DHD to emit controlled pulses, we can open the gate, send in the SOS with our old codes, and see what happens."
Daniel nodded. "You know that whoever is running the SGC now won’t be able to resist coming to find out what’s going on."
Casey was looking at the altar, a frown on her face. "Duncan, why aren’t the fires burning? Why isn’t there a Ceremony of Fire? Shouldn’t you and Tessa be going through the rite?"
Duncan looked down at Tessa, then at Casey. "I don’t know."
Trembling, Casey walked over and hesitantly touched Duncan’s arm. And nearly shrieked with relief when nothing happened. Although she didn’t make a sound, the look in her green eyes was enough to cut him like a knife. He hid his feelings behind his hooded brown eyes.
"Maybe Oma ticked off the Immortals by changing everything that they had set up, and now they won’t allow the ceremony to be performed." Daniel offered. He wondered briefly if her actions, so unlike her, would cause conflict between the Immortal Council and the Ascended.
"I don’t care who she ticked off," Casey said, holding tightly to Daniel’s arm. "I’ll fight the entire universe in order to stay with you."
They all heard the gentle laughter...
A A A A A A
Casey opened her eyes. She couldn’t remember the last time she had slept so well. She looked around, the blue walls reflecting the sunlight that poured in through the windows. She smiled, stretched…Blue walls? The last time her bedroom had had blue walls was…
She looked over at the figure of the man curled beside her. She ran her fingers through his hair. Daniel! Tears filled her eyes, and she leaned over and kissed his jaw, his day-old beard rough against her lips. "Good morning, sleepyhead," she whispered softly.
She rubbed her cheek against his hair. It had been so long…
"What time is it? We don’t have a mission brief until two o’clock," Daniel mumbled, rolling over, pulling his pillow under his cheek.
Mission briefing? She smiled. When he was half asleep, Daniel was liable to say anything. Casey slid out of bed. She slipped her robe on, and padded barefoot into the kitchen. She picked up the remote control and turned on the TV, flipping through channels until she found the news, an old habit she hadn’t followed for nearly twenty years. It was amazing how easily it all came back, how familiar it felt. She grabbed the oversize coffee mug that she had given Daniel for his birthday, just four days after their wedding, and began to fill it with the rich-smelling coffee the automatic coffee maker had ready.
"…sunshine throughout the rest of the week. Looks like the Fourth of July will be another spectacular Colorado day…and that’s the news and weather for July 1st 2005."
The mug slipped from her fingers and crashed to the floor, the ceramic shattering into pieces and sending coffee into an ever-spreading puddle. Casey stared at the television. Three days before their first wedding anniversary!
"Casey, are you all right? What happened?" Daniel said, coming from the bedroom, his hair mussed, eyes barely opened and still puffy with sleep.
She turned to him slowly, her eyes, always so expressive of her feelings, revealing her shock. "Oma sent us back to just before our first anniversary!" she whispered.
"What?" Daniel looked at the floor. "Babe, go the other way around, there’s glass here," he said, tossing down a handful of paper towels to absorb the coffee, then heading for the closet to get the broom. "What happened?"
Casey raced around the island, grabbed Daniel by the arms. "Oma sent us back! It’s July 1st, 2005!"
Daniel stared at her. "Oma? Sent us back from where? Case, what are you talking about?"
Casey shook her head. "I can’t believe it! First she makes you and Jack and Sam and Teal'c Immortal, oh, and Tessa, too, and then she sends us back."
"Babe, you’re not making any sense! You were having a dream, that’s all."
"No, Daniel, it’s not a dream! Don’t you remember? We were on PX3-695 again! Duncan and I were about to complete the ceremony, but I couldn’t do it this time either, and then Oma…"
Daniel put his arms around her and pulled her into his embrace. "Casey, it was just a dream."
Casey pulled away, and started to pace. "Daniel! She made you Immortal! She said we had to keep on protecting the innocents, that we had all sacrificed so much, and because I wouldn’t follow the path that others laid out before me, I could choose my own, and I chose you, and I even offered to take your place after you died, and she said they had learned great lessons from us and our love and that great sacrifices deserved great rewards and that’s why-" the words tumbled from her mouth in a rush. She stopped at the look on his face.
Daniel laughed, heading back towards the closet. "Babe, that’s one hell of a dream. But that’s all it was. Let’s get this cleaned up, and then I’ll take you out for breakfast."
Tears of frustration filled her eyes. "IT WAS NOT A GODDAMNED DREAM!" She stormed into the living room and threw herself onto the couch.
He turned and stared at her. She had never sworn like that before. Nor had he ever heard her raise her voice like that. He leaned the broom he had just grabbed against the wall. He walked into the living room, watched how she pulled her lower lip between her teeth. That alone told him that something was bothering her. He sat down on the couch beside her, tugged at her until she was leaning against his chest, his arms holding her tightly. "Okay, Babe. Take it slow. From the beginning."
Casey told him everything, told him about their life together, his work at the Beta site, his death, her despair, her reluctance to complete the ceremony with Duncan, Oma’s appearance, and their reunion.
Daniel was frowning by the time she was finished. "You say she made us Immortal?"
"That’s what she said."
"There’s only one way to find out," he said. He stood up and went into the kitchen. He opened a drawer and pulled out a large butcher knife. He knew Casey well enough to know that when she knew she was right, she wouldn’t back down. She wasn't backing down now. Even though his intellect, his brain, hadn’t quite caught up, his heart knew that she would never lie to him about something like this. His heart had no fear.
"Daniel, what are you doing?" she asked, with trepidation in her voice. She moved to stand beside him.
"Gonna find out if Oma did make me Immortal." With that, he plunged the knife deep into his abdomen.
Casey screamed, caught him as he fell to the floor. He looked up at her, whispered his love, and died in her arms. Casey began to sob, terrified that perhaps it had all been just a dream, and that she had lost him again, forever. She tossed the knife across the room. What have I done? Oh, goddess, what have I done? She rocked back and forth, his head against her shoulder, sobs pouring out of her. If he was truly dead, then she was going to find an Immortal, make the challenge, and die, also. She could not, would not live without him. Her heart refused.
Fifteen minutes later he gasped, and sat up. Casey was still crying, He pulled her into his lap. "Shh…it’s okay, baby. I’m right here. You were right," he whispered.
The relief that she felt knew no bounds. She couldn’t even be angry with him for putting her through such agony. "I told you it wasn’t a dream," she pouted, tears still wet on her cheeks as she carefully cleaned the blood from his belly and chest.
Daniel got to his feet, pulling her up with him. "You know what this means, don’t you?" he whispered against her hair as he held her tight.
"I never have to let you go." He lowered his head and kissed her.
Casey melted against him. It had been so long, so very long, since she had been in his arms. Her body began to respond even before he moved his hands to her breasts. She pulled at the boxers he wore, stained now with his blood, desperate to feel him in her hand once again. "Oh, Daniel," she whispered.
Daniel pushed her robe from her shoulders. It floated to the floor, covering the puddle of red that his death had left. He kissed her jaw, her cheek, her neck, the spot just behind her ear that always made her shiver. He kissed her collarbone, his tongue tracing a path to the valley between her breasts. He picked her up and carried her into the bedroom, mindful of the broken glass and coffee soaked paper towels still on the floor.
"I missed you so very, very much," she whispered, holding onto his neck tightly. "When you died, I died. My body kept going, but my heart, my soul, were with you." She began to cry, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Shh, it’s okay. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere without you, babe," he said, laying her on the bed, slipping the ribbon straps of the teddy off her shoulders, the filmy material still wet with his blood, pushing it past her hips. He managed to get his boxers off, and then he began to kiss her again. She opened her legs, put them around his waist. He was amazed at how ready she was for him.
Casey gave a small gasp as he entered her, the feeling so warm, so familiar that it brought fresh tears to her eyes. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you, My Star," he replied, whispering in her ear as his body moved within hers. Within minutes she was crying out, moaning his name as her climax rocked her body.
Daniel increased his pace, and she was crying out again when he jerked and moaned, his own orgasm complete.
Their breathing had barely returned to normal when the phone rang. Daniel rolled to his back, keeping her with him, not wanting to leave the warmth of her body. He reached for the receiver. "Hello?…Duncan?…Yeah, she’s here." He frowned and handed the phone to Casey.
"Duncan?" Casey said, her heart pounding against her ribs, wondering what the Immortal wanted, praying that he wasn’t about to demand that she honor the prophecy of the Immortals in spite of what Oma had said and done.
"Casey, I just…Tessa is here," Duncan said, his voice full of confusion. "Did what I think happened… happen?"
Casey closed her eyes and smiled. "Yes, Duncan. It did. Oma sent Tessa back to you. She did it because I refused to follow the path the others had chosen for me." She didn’t want to give him time to think about the implication of her words. She decided to focus him on the task that Reggie had set for him. "You have to stop the Game, Duncan. Do you remember that?"
"That part I remember very well," he replied. I learned that the day I lost you, he thought to himself.
"I just wanted to make sure. Daniel has no memory whatsoever of being on the planet. I doubt that Sam or Jack do, either. Duncan, is Tessa…?"
"Yes. I wanted to be sure. Daniel?"
"Casey, do you remember being together? On Beta, and then in Seattle?"
"I just wondered," he said. I just want to know that you will remember that for a time, a very short time, you were mine, he thought. "I guess I’ll see you later. I’m in Vancouver, so I know that I haven’t finished finding all of the Immortals. The Game is still going on."
"I’m sorry," she said.
"It’s no big deal. It wasn’t that hard the first time, thanks to Reggie’s ‘answer ball’. It will be even easier this time, because I know where they are, and how they’re going to respond," he replied.
"Well, that’s good to know."
"Yes?" Was that a hint of hope in his voice?
"Keep in touch?"
She could hear the smile through the phone, as well as the feelings that he still held for her. She wondered whether his love for Tessa would survive the love he held for her. Forty-five years was a long time, much longer than the fifteen years he had spent with Tessa, and she had already been gone for six years before they met. Casey could only hope that his memories of his life with Tessa would make this…transition…easier. "Goodbye."
"Bon-jour, Casey," he replied. He could not say goodbye, yet. Perhaps not ever.
It didn’t take long to shower, and then clean up the messes that had been left in the kitchen. By one o’clock they were on their way to the base. The ride to Cheyenne Mountain was done in silence. But silence had never been a problem between them. It was as comfortable as their conversations. She looked around eagerly, seeing faces that she hadn’t seen in decades. There was Lieutenant Richards. One day he would be the CO of the SGC Beta site…
The guards welcomed her, grinning up at her expectantly. "So, Mrs. Jackson, what’s the joke for today?"
Casey looked at the young Airman for a second, temporarily confused. Then it came back to her. The fact that her irreverent sense of humor had her to telling a joke every morning when they signed in, using the wit to belie the fact that what happened deep beneath them was literally life and death. She hurriedly cast about in her mind. "Stop me if you’ve heard this," she said, grinning.
The two guards exchanged expectant grins.
"A man calls his grandfather to see how he’s adjusting to life in the nursing home. The grandfather tells him that it’s not too bad, the nurses are pretty, the food is good, and every night at bedtime he got Viagra and a cup of hot cocoa. Viagra and hot cocoa! the man exclaims. Yep, the old man replies, Viagra and hot cocoa. Well, when the man was finished talking to his grandfather, he called the head nurse at the home. What’s this I hear about you giving my ninety-year-old grandfather a Viagra with his hot cocoa, he says. The nurse says, oh yes, we give all our male patients Viagra and hot cocoa at bedtime. The cocoa helps them to sleep, and the Viagra keeps them from rolling out of bed."
The guards hooted with laughter. Daniel, grinned, just shook his head. "You are such a hussy, Casey Jackson!"
"You love me anyway," she responded, her heart thrilling to be playing their 'game' once again.
"I damn well do love you," he said, nuzzling her ear as they stepped into the elevator.
"Don’t you two ever give it a rest?" Jack O’Neill asked, stepping in behind them. "Not a bad joke today, Casey," he added with a grin.
Casey looked up at Daniel, a question in her eyes. He nodded. "Uh, Jack, we need to talk to you and Sam and Teal'c right away."
"Why, what’s up?" The general asked, his internal radar warning him that something was amiss. He hadn’t missed the exchanged looks.
"We’ll meet up with you in your office. I need to check on a computer translation for SG-7. Shouldn’t take me more than ten minutes."
Jack nodded. "I’ll meet you in my conference room in twenty."
Daniel nodded. "Casey, go get Teal'c. I’ll be going right by Sam’s lab, so I can grab her."
Casey nodded. She had to think for a second. Where would Teal'c be at this time of the afternoon? The gym! her memory supplied. She smiled as she made her way down the familiar corridors of a facility she hadn't seen in almost twenty years. Her smile became a grin as she opened the door and saw Teal'c, his muscles gleaming in the light as he worked with the free weights.
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