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The Price of Peace
The man who watches as the world moves by,
Doesn't see the widow weep, or hear the orphan cry.
The man who enters into the fray, although his heart might break,
Understands that sometimes the right decision is damned hard to make.
The man who watches as the world moves by,
Can't understand the reason, or meaning, or why,
That the man who enters into the fray, though his heart might cry for ease,
Understands that often war is the price we must pay for peace.
"The Price of Peace"
by Robin K. Harper
Daniel walked into the bathroom. Casey was standing in the middle of the narrow room - naked; Nair on her legs and armpits, and she was plucking her eyebrows, using a small hand mirror to see what she was doing. He grinned. "Maintenance day, huh?"
"Yep," she replied, not stopping what she was doing. Every four or five days, she would take the fifteen minutes required to use Nair to keep her body smooth, and while the lotion worked its magic, she would pluck her blonde eyebrows. She had always referred to the task as 'maintenance'.
"Want some help?" he asked eagerly.
She had to smile. Daniel always wanted to help when it was time to trim that narrow vee of curls that covered her mons. He usually wanted to do more than that as well. She usually let him. "I'll think about it."
"Let me know when you're ready to get in the shower," he replied.
Her smile widened. She always showered to rinse of the depilatory cream from her body. "Someone has to keep an eye on the kids," she reminded him.
"I'll put on the 'Monsters, Inc.' DVD. They'll never even notice we're not there," he said.
"I'll think about it," she said again.
He grinned, and walked into the tiny room where the toilet was. When they had first moved in together, just before they got married, Casey would lock the door when she did what she called her "maintenance". The first time she had forgotten, and he had walked in to find her in the middle of her routine, she had started crying, embarrassed that he had caught her, had seen her in such a condition. It had taken him the rest of the day to calm her down. He glanced over his shoulder. Now she didn't care if he sat and watched her. Which he had done on occasion. Amazing what a few years of marriage could do to a couple, how…relaxed…it could make them around each other. He finished up, zipped up and flushed. She had put the tweezers down. And picked up those small, very sharp scissors. "Let me," he said softly. He knelt in front of her, and carefully trimmed the tight curls. She would use another cream around her 'bikini' area, to keep it soft and hair-free. The tube was already on the counter. Before she could protest, he carefully applied the cream to that sweet skin. "How long?"
"Four minutes," she said.
"I'll be right back."
"Better make it 'Toy Story'. Nicholas pays closer attention to it," she said with a smile. She set the timer. She had this routine down to a science. When the timer went off, she would be ready to rinse all of the cream from her body.
She was under the water, rinsing off when he stepped into the shower behind her. She felt his hands on her hips. She shook her head. "What we women do in order to look attractive to a man," she sighed, giving her skin one final dousing with the warm water.
"And we men appreciate every bit of it," he replied.
"You'd better," she teased.
His hand was moving between her thighs. "Smooth…soft…sweet," he whispered in her ear. He began caressing her, making her ready for his already engorged shaft. His lips moved over her shoulder, smiling against her skin when she shivered. His heart beat faster to know that his touch aroused her, pleased her…his soul soared to know that only his touch was welcome.
She turned around, ran her hands up his arms, across his shoulders, down his chest, his body trembling beneath her fingers. She wrapped her hand around his swollen manhood and stroked it gently. "I was thinking about shaving completely," she whispered.
He shook his head. "I like knowing I'm with a woman. It turns me on to feel those curls there, to know what's waiting just below them." As he spoke his fingers were moving over and through the soft, tight curls, then slipping back between her thighs.
"Absolutely sure," he replied, just before his lips captured hers in a kiss. One hand continued to stroke that sweet, soft, and now honey-covered skin, the other caressed her breasts, first one, then the other.
"I think you'd better take me now," she said softly. "I need to feel you…I want you inside me."
His body shivered at her words. He took her hands, kissed each palm tenderly, then put them against the wall, leaning her forward slightly. When he had pushed into her, he put his hands back on top of hers, his mouth moving against her shoulder and neck. He moved in and out of her, her hips coming back to meet his every thrust. One hand slid slowly down her arm, over her breasts, massaging them gently, then down her belly, coming to rest on those curls that he loved; the other wrapped around her fingers, held them tightly.
"Please," she whispered, needing his touch to help her find the release she was working toward.
"Since you asked so nicely," he whispered in return, letting his fingers find, then caress that hard, swollen nub at the top of her folds. "How's that?"
"Oh, yes, that's it, right there," she breathed. Her hips were moving back and forth with more speed, toward his fingers, then back against that hard shaft that filled her so completely.
He used his thigh to push against her leg, letting her know that he wanted deeper access to her body. She responded, spreading her legs farther apart. "Oh, god, that's it," he moaned, pushing deeper and harder with every thrust. He kept his leg against hers, felt it when her thigh began to quiver.
Her body was on fire, every touch, every caress, every thrust adding heat to the flames that were consuming her. She let her head drop back against his shoulder when that whimper filled her throat.
"Give it to me, Angel," he whispered.
With a cry, she surrendered to the fire, let it overtake her, until the flames turned into waves of pure pleasure. She trembled against his body.
He put his hands on her hips, increasing the tempo of his movements until the fire in his body exploded, sending him hurtling over the edge of the cliff and into the abyss of pure, sweet pleasure. He kissed her neck. "Love you, Angel."
"Love you, too. We'd better hurry up and get out of here, we need to check on the kids," she said softly.
They washed each other tenderly, giggling and kissing as they did so. Ten minutes later Daniel walked into the living room, wearing only his blue jeans, and dropped down onto the sofa to watch the last few minutes of Toy Story with his children. Both were giving rapt attention to the movie.
When Casey emerged from the bedroom, Nicholas ran to greet her. "'Ungry, Mommy!"
She leaned over and picked him up. He was getting heavy. He already weighed almost as much as Emily did. "Hungry? Nicholas, you had breakfast less than two hours ago!" And a rather large breakfast it had been for an eighteen-month old. He had eaten a whole waffle, half of a banana, and had two sipper cups of milk and one of apple juice.
"'Ungry!" the little boy insisted.
She shook her head. "You're gonna eat us out of house and home," she grumped good-naturedly. "Okay, let's see what we can find."
She filled a sandwich bag with grapes and orange sections, let him take it outside to the play center to eat. Emily was already swinging. Nicholas toddled happily around the yard, singing a Sesame Street tune, and munching on the fruit.
"He's eating again?" Daniel asked, watching his son through the open patio door for a moment.
Casey sighed. "Yep. Which means he must be going through another growth spurt. I just bought that boy clothes and shoes. I'm betting that by the end of next week he'll need more."
"Just means he's healthy," Daniel replied. "I wish Emmie would eat as well." Emily was like her mother, she ate very little. Dr. Montigue was concerned that she wasn't putting on weight the way she should; she was in the lowest percentile in that category, although she seemed perfectly healthy.
"We can't force her to eat, Daniel. It will only make her sick," Casey responded.
"Well, maybe if her Mommy ate more, she'd eat more," he replied. Casey didn't eat enough to keep a parakeet alive. It was a constant worry to him…even though he knew that she was Immortal, he couldn't completely tamp down the fear that her health could suffer from her poor eating habits. It wasn't that she didn't eat the right things, she loved her fresh salads and fresh fruit. But she never ate enough…of anything. Three or four bites at dinner and she was finished. He had to force her to eat breakfast, and she only ate lunch if he ate it with her. It had been a problem ever since he had known her. It seemed to be getting worse lately, and he had no clue as to why.
She rolled her eyes. This was a discussion they had had many times. "I eat as much as I can hold. I refuse to force feed myself or my daughter just to placate you," she said. She turned back to the counter, wiping it carefully.
He wrapped his arms around her narrow waist. "I just worry about you, Angel. Both of you. Because I love you. If anything were to happen to you or Emily, I couldn't handle it."
She turned in his arms. "I know. Just don't worry so much. When she's hungry, she'll eat."
"What about you?"
"When I'm hungry, I'll eat."
Before he could respond the telephone rang. He hurried to answer it. "Hello?"
"Daniel, you and Casey need to get to the base. Sam and I are on our way," Jack's voice said bluntly.
"Why, what's up?"
"Seems we've found life on R3X 114," was the reply.
"Not exactly sure, but they're advanced enough to have protective gear against the cold, from what the MALP images show."
"We'll be there as soon as Erin gets here," Daniel replied.
"Okay. Meet us in Duncan's office."
"Will do." He cut the connection, then hit number one on the autodial. He let his mother-in-law know that they were possibly going on a mission, and they needed her to watch the kids, then turned to his wife. "MALP shows evidence of advanced life on R3X 114," he said.
She gasped. The initial images had shown that particular planet to be nothing more than a sheet of ice. "How?"
"I don't know. Guess we'll find out soon enough," he replied. "Let's go tell Emmie."
Casey nodded, and followed him into the backyard.
A A A A A A
They each looked at the images that the MALP had returned. In the last batch, three people were moving around the machine, obviously curious about it's presence. It was difficult to determine whether they were men or women, they all wore heavy parkas, mittens and what appeared to be scarves that covered the bottom half of their faces.
"When we turned the camera to follow them, they seemed to realize that they were being watched, and began to wave," Duncan said. He turned on the monitor behind him, let the team view the film footage that had been taken.
"So, we're going on a meet-n-greet," Jack said.
"Yep," Duncan replied. "We've also had readings that indicate there might be naquadah in the area. We'd certainly like to get a mining agreement, if they aren't already mining the stuff themselves."
Jack nodded. "Okay, let's go meet these folks," he said, closing the folder on the table in front of him.
"Sam, you say that the ATV's can maneuver in temperatures this low?" Duncan asked.
The blonde scientist nodded. "We ran tests in temps over one hundred-fifty degrees, and as low as minus one-fifty. We can't survive in the temps that those ATV's can run in. We have studded tires we can put on them to give us traction on the ice," she added.
"Okay, then you'll take the ATV's. Casey? Can you sense anything?" the Highlander asked.
She closed her eyes, gripped Daniel's hand firmly, and began to search. There was something …different…about these people. But she could sense no danger. "I think we need to be careful, but I can't feel anything specifically wrong," she reported.
"Okay, get geared up and ready to go. Embark in an hour," Duncan said.
The team met at the bottom of the ramp, wearing arctic gear, ready to walk through the 'gate. Supplies were already strapped to the backs of their four-wheeled vehicles.
"Good luck, team. You have a go. Godspeed," Duncan said from the control room.
A A A A A A
They stepped through the event horizon, and onto a frozen wasteland. A small sun hovered above them, making the sheets of ice around them glisten and sparkle. The air was bitter cold, and they all pulled their ski masks down over their faces. Sam and Casey were busy sending the MALP back through the gate while the men started the ATVs.
"O'Neill," Teal'c said. He pointed to several sets of footprints in the frost that covered the ice sheet. The tracks lead away from the Stargate, upward over a small rise.
"Well, let's see where they lead to," Jack said, pulling his goggles down over his eyes. He climbed onto an ATV, waited for Sam to join him.
Casey climbed onto the ATV behind Daniel, held tightly to him, her heart pounding as they sped along the ice. She reached out, touched him gently, needing reassurance, not at all sure why. His loving touch helped to calm her, filled her with warmth and love.
An hour later they stopped, and were staring at a…shed. The structure seemed totally out of place, standing alone as it was on a sheet of ice, covered with almost two feet of snow. Drifts of snow were piled along one side, totally obscuring it from sight if coming from the mountain. It was small, Jack estimated it was only about eight feet square, and around ten feet high. Whatever it was, the tracks that they had been following ended in front of it. They all lifted their goggles in order to get a better look at the…building.
"They had to get inside somehow," Daniel said, his breath making puffs of steam as he spoke. He began to carefully examine the structure. "Here! Look!" he said excitedly. He pointed to several markings.
"Okay, can you read it?" Jack asked.
Daniel studied the marks for several minutes. "I'm not sure, but I think it's a form of Sumerian."
Casey shivered, not from the cold. "That is one civilization I'm not fond of," she said softly. She felt Daniel's gentle touch, held tightly to him for just a few seconds.
"Case?" he asked, his glove covered hand touching her cheek.
"Nergal was Sumerian," she replied, her eyes on the ice beneath her feet.
"He's gone, Angel. He can't hurt you. These people, whoever they are, won't hurt you either. I won't let them," Daniel said softly. Even Nergal's death hadn't been able to erase the fear from her mind, the pain from her heart. She was still having nightmares about the Goa'uld; he did his best to change them, to protect her.
She nodded. "I don't feel anything…bad. Just…odd. Different."
"Well, we've been in a lot of odd situations. We'll be just fine," he said.
"Daniel, let's get moving here, it's not getting any warmer," Jack said.
"Right," Daniel replied. "Okay, according to this, we're looking at a 'doorway to life'. I'm assuming that this leads to wherever it is that these people live."
"Is it possible to have an entire civilization underground?" Sam asked.
"I don't see why not. It may not be as 'underground' as we think. They might have had cities before these ice sheets built up. Maybe they found a way to protect themselves from it," Daniel theorized. "It's possible that this planet has always been an ice planet, and whoever came through the 'gate originally found a way to survive living underground, and their entire civilization has always been subterranean."
"Why don’t we just go ask?" Jack said, a bit sharply. He was getting cold.
"I'm working on it, Jack," Daniel replied. He went back to reading the cuneiform marks on the wall. "If this is right, we just press here…" his fingers pushed against a large, oval shaped protrusion. Instantly a door appeared and slid open. It looked exactly like an elevator.
"Grab the gear, lock down the ATVs. We lose them, it's going to be a long, cold walk back to the 'gate," Jack said.
The ATV's were covered with thermal blankets, which were pinioned down, using rock-climbing spikes. The team gathered their gear, stepped into the elevator, and watched the door shut. Five hearts pounded with excitement, and not a little trepidation.
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