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The Power of Love
"And it don't take money, don't take fame
Don't need no credit card to ride this train
It's strong and it's sudden it can be cruel sometimes
But it might just save your life
They say that all in love is fair
Yeah, but you don't care
But you know what to do
When it gets hold of you
And with a little help from above
You feel the power of love
You feel the power of love…"
"The Power of Love"
by Huey Lewis & The News
Casey looked around the cluttered office. The books on his desk were still open, notes half-finished beside them. She fingered the paper, smiling at his shorthand. She walked around the room, touching the artifacts, pushing closed a drawer in one of the three filing cabinets that stood crowded together on one side of the room.
She dropped down into the worn chair he always sat in, pulling the sweater left there days ago around her shoulders. It smelled of him. Forty-three years. She'd had forty-three wonderful, exciting, happy years with him. She leaned back and closed her eyes, fingering the half-heart pendant that she had worn since their first Christmas together. She let the memories flood over her…
Years of serving on SG-1, together with Sam and Teal'c, until Jack had retired, and Sam had resigned her commission in order to be with him. By then, Daniel was more interested in researching and translating the growing piles of hieroglyphic artifacts than going off world. He was made Chief of Staff of the Off-World Archaeology Department, and the two of them had worked together on the ever-growing supply of artifacts that the SG teams brought back through the Stargate with them. Casey was more than ready to have him stop going on missions - every close encounter with the Goa’uld making her more aware of his mortality; terrifying her that she would lose him long before she was ready to let him go. How many times had she died to ensure that he lived?
Having been Ascended, and then being put into the sarcophagi of various System Lords on those horrifying occasions when he failed to move fast enough, had kept him healthy, and looking much younger than he actually was. He had just turned sixty when a casual remark made by a waitress, referring to Casey as his daughter, sent him to the CO of the SGC, demanding to move permanently to the Beta site. There were as many missions being performed by teams from there as were at the SGC, and they had only three archaeologists. And there, the presence of Immortals was well known. SGC Beta had two teams that consisted exclusively of Immortals. When the CO of the Beta site had learned of Doctor Jackson’s request, the man had pulled every string, called in every favor, and secured the transfer. They had lived here ever since.
Daniel had taught her everything he knew about archaeology, and how to translate a variety of languages. She had learned to speak and read Goa’uld as fluently he. Their life together had been quiet, and if, in the past few years, the sex had become a little less frequent, a little less ‘intense’, it had still been every bit as satisfying. She had been happy. Wonderfully, deliriously happy.
Everything had been fine, until two short weeks ago...
Daniel had caught a cold, and had at first refused to see the base doctor. He had been poked and prodded so much during his time as a member of SG-1 that after leaving the team, getting him in for his annual physical had been no small feat. But at seventy-seven years of age, Casey was not about to let him ignore the hacking cough that had developed. For more than three weeks they had argued about his need to visit the infirmary. By the time she was able to get him to agree to go see the doctor, three days ago, his cold had developed into viral pneumonia. She had stayed with him every moment. When the end had come, he had looked up at her, his blue eyes, a little cloudier than they had been when she had first met him, filled with love, and called her ‘his Star’. She had told him that he was going to get better, so that she could get him home to bed.
"You’re such a hussy, Casey Jackson," he had smiled, just a bit tiredly.
She kissed his lips. "You love me anyway, Daniel Jackson."
"I damn well do love you." He gripped her hand more tightly, and with a final sigh, slipped away from her.
She pulled the sweater tighter around her shoulders, breathing deeply of the scent left there by his body. The pain tore at her, and with a wail, she gave in to her grief and began to sob.
A A A A A A
The days passed in a haze. Colonel Doctor Samantha Carter O’Neill, Retired...Jack’s widow for over ten years now...had arrived at SGC Beta as soon as she'd received the message from Casey, which had the news of Daniel's death. She'd helped the grieving widow organize the funeral, and even helped her box and move all his artifacts and files to the new research center. Casey couldn’t bear to have them in the house, not now. Their presence only accentuated his absence.
Today, she was going to bury the man she had loved for forty-three years. She sat at her dressing table, staring at her reflection, not seeing the visage of a twenty-nine year old woman staring back at her. She was dressed, but could not seem to move from the room. She'd been so restless the first night she had come home without Daniel that she hadn't thought she’d ever be able to sleep in their room again. Now she couldn’t leave it.
"Case?" Sam’s voice was soft. The older woman walked into the room. Sam was still tall, but her once blonde hair was white, she had deep creases around her eyes and mouth. She put her hands on the younger woman’s shoulders.
"Oh, god, Sam, how do you deal with it? How do you cope with the pain?" Casey asked hoarsely, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Sam’s sapphire blue eyes misted for a moment. "You take each minute as it comes. And hang on to every precious memory."
Casey nodded numbly. Take each minute as it comes. Each empty minute without him. It was too much to ask.
"Casey, it’s time to go," Sam said gently.
She wasn’t sure how she made it through the service. Daniel was buried with every honor they were able to bestow upon him. She had endured the receiving line, listening to trite pleasantries and condolences until she'd wanted to scream. She'd barely touched the food Sam had given her at the gathering after the funeral. Finally, she was safe at home, sitting in Daniel’s den, his sweater once again wrapped around her shoulders. She could hear voices, knew that Sam and Teal'c and General Richards were still in the living room. Probably a few of the archaeologists from the research center as well. She heard Methos’ voice, had felt the "buzz" when he arrived, but lacked the energy...and the interest...to go and greet the Immortal.
The last time she had seen Duncan MacLeod, it had been in the 'gate room at the SGC, right after returning from PX3-695. She had nearly wound up married to the Highlander that day, in the Ceremony of Fire. But because of his love for her, he had been able to help her stop the rite, and allowed her the life she'd had with Daniel. She had neither seen nor spoken to him since, although Methos always kept her up to date on where he was, and what he was doing.
She closed her eyes. "Hello, Duncan."
"I just came to offer my condolences," he said softly, stepping into the room.
The words made her wince, brought a rush of pain that filled her to the core. Casey opened her eyes and looked at him. He was every bit as handsome as he had been the first time she had seen him, although he was wearing his hair shorter now. She had a flash of jealous anger, seeing him looking so healthy and handsome, while Daniel had aged before her eyes. Why couldn’t it have been Daniel? her heart cried. Why couldn’t the man I loved more than life have been an Immortal? "Thank you."
"I came as soon as I heard. I’m sorry I missed the service." He watched her, noted how pale she was, the bruises under her normally bright green eyes. He wondered when she had last slept, or eaten. "Casey-"
"Damn you, Duncan MacLeod, the man just died! I just buried my husband of forty-three years! You couldn’t wait to beat a path to my door, could you? I suppose you have the 'gate dialed now, don’t you?" she screamed at him, rising to her feet, her hands clenched into fists. She never noticed that the low murmur of conversation from the other room came to a halt.
"All I was going to say was, if there is anything I can do for you, just let me know," the Scot said, his voice full of compassion and love. He ached to reach out to her, to hold her, to breathe in the sweet smell of her.
Casey put her hands to her mouth. "Oh, god! I’m so sorry, Duncan, I had no right…" She began to cry.
In two steps Duncan was beside her, pulling her into his arms. "Shh…it’s okay, Casey." He held the woman he had loved, the woman he had yearned for, for the past forty-three years, held her while she cried for another man. Nearly four hundred and sixty now, Duncan was acquainted enough with losing loved ones to know that what Casey needed now was to be able to talk about him. He led her to the chair she had been sitting in, eased her into it, then sat down on the floor in front of her. He took her hand, resisted the temptation to kiss it, and smiled up at her. "Tell me about it. Tell me about your life with Daniel."
He watched her eyes light up as memories poured out of her. He listened as she told of archaeological digs that they had gone on, mostly 'off-world'; the first time Daniel tried to teach her how to eat with chopsticks, the comical and messy results. She talked about the Caribbean cruise they had taken, how Daniel had been seasick for most of it. She laughed about their experiences painting the house they had lived in off-and-on for nearly thirty years. She told him about Daniel’s part in making the Stargate program public knowledge, about the collegial conferences where he was the featured speaker, finally vindicated in the eyes of the scientific community. She told him of the missions they had gone on, and her constant fear that Daniel would be taken from her too soon. She talked about their work together, about the new research center that he had been instrumental in setting up.
Casey wiped a tear from her cheek. "I knew when he caught that cold, somehow, that he was leaving me. The man was seventy-seven years old! He should have gone to the doctor when he first got sick! But he refused, and now…now…" she broke down into sobs once again.
Duncan pulled her from the chair into his lap. Casey’s mind flashed on a scene, in a different room, right after her first death. She pulled away from him and stood to her feet. Duncan cursed himself. It was so hard to be near her, and not touch her, especially now that Daniel Jackson was no longer between them. He had loved her for forty-three years, and during that time she had loved another man. Methos had told him that she never asked after him, but that she would listen to anything that the oldest Immortal had to say about him. His feelings for her, if anything, were stronger. He had to give her time to grieve before he could set out to win her. It wouldn't be easy.
"Are you staying here at Beta?" Casey asked, once more in control of her emotions.
He nodded. "For now." He watched her reaction to that news carefully. She only nodded, then turned to the window. It was long after sunset, she couldn’t see anything outside, but she could see Duncan reflected in the glass. Even in the reflection she could see the hunger in his eyes.
"I guess I should leave. May I see you tomorrow?"
Casey started to refuse him. Daniel had only been gone for a week. Her emotions were too raw, the pain still too new, to be able to think of any kind of future without him. But in her heart she knew that Duncan had been waiting, that they were destined to spend eternity together. She wanted no part of it. But putting it off would not change what had to be. "That would be fine."
The shy but excited smile he gave her made her glad that she had acquiesced. She took his hand. "Please don’t rush me. I love Daniel with every fiber of my being. It will take me time to be ready to…move on."
Duncan didn't miss her use of the word ‘love’, rather than ‘loved’. He knew that Casey had loved the man, but perhaps he hadn’t realized how deeply. He sent up a silent prayer that his patience would endure until the fire in her burned for him alone. "We have all the time in the universe," he said softly, skimming the back of his fingers against her cheek.
When finally the house was empty, save for Sam, Casey crawled into bed. She hugged Daniel’s pillow, burying her face in it, breathing in the scent of him. It wasn’t as strong now. At some point since her arrival Sam had changed the sheets. "I love you, Daniel Jackson," she whispered. She closed her eyes, and tried to pretend he was lying beside her. But it was no use. The bed was too cold, too empty. She cried herself to sleep.
A A A A A A
She had expected the Highlander to be at her door the first thing in the morning, but it was nearly three in the afternoon when he arrived. Casey welcomed him into the living room, sat down in a chair across the room from him, hugging herself tightly.
"How are you today?" he asked quietly, the message of her body language as clear to him as if she had spoken.
She shrugged. "I feel dead inside."
Duncan nodded. "I know the feeling."
He nodded again. "Have you eaten anything?"
Casey was touched that he would even think to ask. She shook her head. "I’m not hungry."
"Casey, you have to eat something," he said softly. He paused, then decided to take the risk. "Would you go for a walk with me?"
She hesitated, for a brief second wondering why he would ask that, knowing that she was a married woman. Then the pain hit her. She closed her eyes as it washed over her. Daniel was gone. She was a widow.
Duncan watched the emotions play over her delicate features. He could see the pain in her eyes when she finally opened them. Her nod was barely perceptible.
She went to the kitchen, where Sam had gone when Duncan had arrived, and told her that she was going out. "It’s just a walk," Casey said, as if justifying her actions.
"Casey, it’s okay. You need to get out. Except for the funeral, you haven’t left this house since Daniel-" Sam broke off, seeing the flash of pain in the younger woman’s eyes. The tall woman stood up and pulled Casey into a hug. "I know you’re hurting. I know you don’t want to hear this, you need to grieve…but…don’t die along with him."
Casey snorted. "I can’t die, remember?"
"You know what I mean."
Casey nodded. "I know what you mean, but I think the advice is a little late. I’m already dead, inside. Without Daniel, there is no life."
Sam shook her head. "When Jack died, I didn’t want to go on. I didn’t want to get out of bed, or get dressed, or…live. But then I realized that we had shared twenty-seven wonderful years together. And that Jack would have wanted me to keep living. Daniel would be madder than hell if he knew you were carrying on this way. Forty-three years, Casey. You had forty-three years. Treasure them always. Don’t be afraid that by living you’re being unfaithful to Daniel. It would be more unfaithful to him to crawl inside yourself and give up on life. Daniel loved life, he celebrated life. Don’t let him down."
"Is the lecture over now?" Casey asked, the anger in her voice barely concealed.
Sam smiled. "For now. I’ll see you later. And take your jacket, it’s getting cold out."
"Yes, ‘Mom’," Casey replied. There was no levity in her response.
When she stepped outside, the cool air made her shiver. Duncan put an arm around her shoulders, but she shrugged it off, stepping away from him. He said nothing.
"So, Methos tells me that you’re running all of the Immortal teams from the SGC," Casey said, after several minutes of silence.
"Aye. After he finished with all of the translations, we determined that if Immortals were to protect the Innocent, then we needed to be involved in fighting the Goa’uld."
They walked on in silence for a few more minutes. They stopped in front of a low, red brick building. Casey stood staring at it for several seconds. "The research center," she said softly. She hadn't been paying attention to where they were going. She should have known that her feet, and heart, would lead her to the one place that Daniel was the most excited about, the most proud of. The only place on the entire base that was totally Daniel Jackson’s.
Again Duncan remained silent. He watched her face, saw the tears forming in her eyes, his own heart constricting with pain. He wanted so much to touch her, to hold her, offer her the comfort of his arms. Instead, he shoved his hands into the pockets of the long black coat that he was wearing. "I was told that this building would never have existed had it not been for Daniel."
A tear stole down her cheek. "He was absolutely obsessed with getting it built. Everything archaeological or cultural that any of the SG teams find, whether from the Alpha site or here, will be brought here for study. The Alpha site...Cheyenne Mountain, will concentrate on naquadah-based weapons and energy sources. But this is where all the archaeological work will be done. They haven’t even finished moving in yet. It will be at least another month before they’re actually working. Daniel is going to-" she broke off, hiccupped a sob, and turned away from him.
Without a word Duncan pulled her into his embrace. He pressed his face against her hair, closing his eyes as he inhaled the sweet aroma of her shampoo, and the scent that was uniquely her.
When at last her sobs subsided, she pushed away from him, her head down, wiping furiously at her cheeks. "It hurts so goddamned much!"
"I know, Casey. I know."
When she looked up, he was staring down over the valley, his own bittersweet memories filling his eyes.
"How long were you and Tessa together?" she asked, knowing instinctively of whom Duncan was thinking.
"Then you don’t know. Daniel and I were together for forty-three years. Fifteen is nothing in comparison." She realized how hateful the words sounded the minute that they left her mouth. She cringed visibly. "Duncan, I’m sorry, that wasn’t-"
Duncan put a finger on her lips. "Shh, it’s okay. When you hurt, you lash out at anyone near you. I did the same thing with Richie when Tessa died."
"How charming," Casey retorted. "I guess striking out at friends and loved ones weeds out the faint of heart and the weak-kneed, eh?"
He smiled. Her wit was still very much intact. "Good thing I have a strong heart."
Casey looked up at him, the double meaning of his words clear to her. "I think I want to go home now."
When they walked up the flower-lined path to the house, Duncan didn’t ask to come in. He merely held her hand to his lips for several long seconds. "I’ll see you tomorrow. Please try to eat something," he said quietly.
"I’ll try," was all she said.
Sam had made soup, and Casey tried to choke down a few bites. Eventually she escaped to their room…her room, and she crawled into bed.
Finally alone, lying in the bed where she and Daniel had slept…made love…just lay talking and cuddling, Casey gave in to a fresh bout of tears. She had never imagined that the pain of losing him could be so great.
Suddenly the room began to glow. A woman stood just at the foot of the bed. Casey sat up, and looked at her, somehow instinctively knowing who she was.
Daniel hadn't ascended, at least, not that she was aware. But if Oma was here…"Is Daniel with you?"
Her heart sped up. "Please, may I see him? May I talk to him?"
Oma smiled, but shook her head. "It is not yet time. You must decide if you will follow a destiny laid out for you by others, or one laid out for you by your heart."
"Oma, if you can bring Daniel back, there is still so much good he can do, so many people he can help. Please, I’ll trade my life for his. Take me instead. Please…"
Oma smiled her quiet smile, and was gone.
Casey dropped back on her pillow. Stared at the ceiling above her. 'It is not yet time,' Oma had said. That meant…she smiled for the first time in over a week. "I love you, Daniel", she whispered. She pulled Daniel’s pillow into her embrace, curled around it, and slept.
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