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When the Darkness Comes
An hour later they were all in the infirmary. Casey had refused to let go of Daniel, terrified that if she did her nightmare would return, and be real. Dr. Montigue sedated her, then ran several tests, including every brain scan he could think of. They were waiting for the results.
She was finally sleeping peacefully, although Daniel still held her hand, unwilling to leave her side.
The doctor came into the room, a frown on his face. "Daniel, has Casey been suffering from any nosebleeds lately?"
"No, not that I…wait…yeah, last weekend. It bled a little bit. Why?"
Montigue stuck an x-ray on the lighted panel on the wall. All of them could see the tiny object lodged almost behind her right eye. "Whoever put this in there knew exactly what they were doing. There are no injuries, not even the tiniest of tears, to show that it had been implanted."
"So much for PY2 498 being uninhabited," Jack said, shaking his head. That was the only place she had been, without the rest of the team, and she had been there alone for almost a week.
"So, what’s this thing doing to her?" Daniel asked.
"I’m not sure. From what I know so far, it seems to trigger her subconscious. Everything she fears, everything she imagines, everything that is in her subconscious becomes…real…very real to her."
"It’s making her crazy?" Jack asked.
"No, not crazy. Not even delusional. She might think the dreams are real, but she was suspicious enough to try and find out what was happening to her. While she’s awake, in control of her rational thoughts, she can tell the difference between the dreams and reality. Although from what Daniel has described of her behavior for the past few days, that difference, that line, is becoming increasingly blurred. She’s still dealing with all of the emotional issues from that mission Daniel was just on, so she’s more vulnerable to these…nightmares…right now. Not discussing this with anyone hasn’t helped. That’s only added to the paranoia."
"Well, we can all take the blame for that," Duncan said softly, tears standing in his eyes. "If we had trusted her, she’d be able to trust us."
Jack rubbed a hand over his face. He and Duncan had talked about the damned distasteful thing they had done. Agreed that Casey had probably suffered more than any of them realized. She had been lied to so convincingly, it was no wonder that she was having difficulty separating reality from a nightmare.
"I’ve been able to…enter…her dreams before, change them, do you think that I could do that now?" Daniel asked.
Dr. Montigue looked at him. "Let’s find out."
Daniel laid down beside her, pulled her close. He waited until the doctor had hooked them up to various monitoring devices, then took a deep breath and picked up her hand. He held it to his lips, waiting to be drawn into her nightmare.
He stood beside her, watching his dream self make love to Neferteri, doing so many of the things that he and Casey had done together. He walked over to the bed. "She’s not here, Angel. She’s dead. That isn’t me. See?" He pushed his hands through the figures that groped and tumbled on the bed. They faded around his hands. "It never happened, Angel. Never. You are the only one, babe. You’re my Chosen." He held out his hand to her, waiting for her to take it...holding his breath, counting the seconds before she responded. Her fingers tentatively touched his.
"It’s not real?" her eyes were wide, her voice not more than a whisper.
"No babe, it’s not. Do you want to see what really happened?"
She hesitated, then nodded. He moved back to join her, put his arm around her, let her see what had really transpired between him and the Goa’uld.
She watched, tears falling down her cheeks. She took a deep breath, forced a smile. "That didn’t last long enough to get good and started!"
He smiled at her. "I just wanted to get it over with."
She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Love you," she whispered.
"Love you, too, Angel."
He opened his eyes, kissed her fingers again. "One down," he said softly. The next one was more difficult. The images shifted, changed, refused to remain in place long enough for him to enter. Finally, nearly exhausted, he gave up.
"She doesn’t have enough ‘information’ to make, or create a full dream, or nightmare. Only thoughts, fears," Dr. Montigue said. "While she has these…nightmares, the activity of her subconscious brain becomes almost erratic. And, according to this scan, that thing inside her is broadcasting everything that she sees, hears, thinks, or smells, during her dream state. I wouldn’t have thought to check on that, had it not been for Doctor Fraiser and Colonel Carter’s reports on Urgo," he smiled. "And, since this hasn’t shown up in her last two pre- and post- mission check-ups, I’m thinking that it’s just recently been activated. Which would definitely account for her behavior the past few days."
"So take it out," Jack said.
"I can’t. When I tried to reach it, the thing only buried itself deeper."
"Won’t her Quickening take care of it?" Daniel asked.
Duncan shook his head. "If it’s been in her this long, it’s something that the Quickening can’t get rid of."
Dr. Montigue nodded his agreement. "Daniel, I want you to try something. I want you to try to make contact with whoever is monitoring her."
"How do you know somebody’s watching?" Jack asked.
"When we tag animals, we watch them, follow their signals," Daniel replied. "Okay, I’ll try."He closed his eyes, took her hand in his.
He felt himself drawn in, watched as several scenes of him being tortured, changed, turned into a Goa’uld flashed by him. "Those images are false. They never happened," he said softly. He looked around, hoping to find her. There, in the corner of this…room. Sitting with her back to the wall, her knees drawn up, tears on her cheeks. He sat down beside her, pulled her against his side with one arm. "It’s just a nightmare, babe. It never happened."
"Of course he would say that! He’s one of us now! He’ll tell you anything to complete his mission!" Osiris spat. the Goa'uld shimmering into existence directly in front of them. "He doesn’t love you, Tau’ri. He belongs to us!"
Neferteri appeared beside her. "He belongs to us," she hissed. "He likes to take us together, likes to watch us together before he…"
"Enough!" Daniel shouted. "Casey, look at me, babe," he said. He gently turned her face towards him. "Look in my eyes, babe. What do you see?"
She stared at him. "Love."
"That’s right, babe. I love you. Only you. I burn for you, Casey. Only you. You read the report. You know that they’re lying. They’re dead, babe. They can’t hurt you any more."
The two Goa’uld began to scream, the noise horrible and terrifying. Daniel stood up, faced them. "You’re dead, Osiris. Casey killed you. I killed you, Neferteri. You’re dead. Powerless. Now…Go!"
The two Goa’uld began to fade, until they were completely gone.
"Who are you? Why are you doing this to my wife?" he asked, standing in the middle of the room.
"We know about the device. We’re working on a way to remove it."
"You will not do that. You will damage her if you try. You have not the technology to safely retrieve the transmitter."
"Transmitter? So, you’re tracking her, studying her?"
There was no reply.
"We’re explorers, peaceful explorers. We seek to meet others, learn from them, learn about their technology, their culture. We would like to meet you."
Again there was no reply.
"Why would a culture as advanced as yours seems to be want to harm others?"
"We do not seek to harm."
"But you are harming her."
"The pain, the doubts, the insecurities were already present. We merely study these things. Tell us, why would you willingly deceive her? Why would you, who claim to love her, hurt her so deeply?"
Daniel went back over to sit by Casey. He pulled her into his arms. "It wasn’t my choice to deceive her. We are fighting an enemy, one who has great power. Sometimes…we… sometimes sacrifices must be made. So that we can win this battle, so that we can remain free."
This received no reply.
"I know I hurt her. I know I hurt her deeply. But I carry pain every bit as deep for what I did, what I was…forced… to do."
"Then this was not done…willingly?"
Daniel hesitated. "I knew what I was doing, I knew what would be…expected of me… so in a way, it was willingly. But I didn’t realize that my friend…our friends…weren’t able to tell her what was happening. I didn’t know that she believed my…charade…to be the truth."
"She has forgiven you for this?"
He paused. They had discussed the mission. But they had danced around the heart of the matter; she had never said the words that his soul needed to hear. He wasn't sure she was ready to say them. "I don’t know. I think so. I hope so. I try to be worthy of her forgiveness. I do know that she loves me, and that we’ve been very happy, as happy as we were before that mission. Until these nightmares started."
"Please, if we come to your planet, will you meet with us? Will you remove the device?"
Suddenly Daniel was surrounded by images, her life before him, her life as a slave, their life together. The images moved so quickly they were a blur, his eyes able to see and understand only a fraction of them.
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