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 The Devil In the Details

Chapter 9

Wednesday, 1530 hours

When the door opened and Gemeti slipped inside, Daniel and Casey had finished translating the Goa'uld, the Ancient, and part of the Asgard texts. It seemed that the content was basically the same, and while it wasn't a warning, it did declare Shu to have a price on his head for the destruction of an entire planet. There was no hint concerning how he'd accomplished the dastardly deed...although Daniel was aware that a Goa'uld mothership could destroy a planet from space.  Apparently the act had put him on the most wanted list of every known civilization. And a few they'd never heard of before.

"Lady Ca'see must prepare for dinner," the lo'taur said, using the words that Ba'al had insisted she speak. He'd warned her not to speak of the banquet. Nor was she to mention his other guests.

Daniel glanced up. "Go ahead. I just want to finish these three lines."

Casey nodded, gave him a kiss, then rose to her feet. "If you're not there in thirty minutes, I'm sending someone for you."

He grinned. "Thirty minutes. I promise."

She wasn't wearing her watch, but she knew that it had been several hours since breakfast. It seemed that they'd been allowed to work through the midday meal. Either Ba'al hadn't wanted to disturb them, or he'd forgotten about them. That's a lovely thought. If each day was to pass as this one, she just might emerge from this situation with her sanity intact.




It was difficult not to react to the sight of the gown that was hanging from the door of the wardrobe. It was the green gown that Ba'al had made available for her when he had captured her. No doubt all of the gowns he insisted she wear were still around. She hated wearing them...the silk hid nothing, and she'd never been allowed to wear anything beneath them, although she had eventually rebelled and worn the underwear that resembled bikini panties.

The large tub was full and waiting for her...she slid into it gratefully. The warm water felt wonderful, and eased the ache in her shoulders, one she hadn't even been aware of. The water was unscented, although she could feel the softness that indicated some sort of oil had been added. Casey relaxed, closed her eyes. As much as she didn't want to admit it, she could quickly become accustomed to this.

She had no idea how long she'd been in the water when the lo'taur next appeared. Gemeti helped her dry, the towel warm and fluffy, then waited patiently while Casey applied her lotion. Daniel's favorite, from Victoria's Secrets. She sat still as the lo'taur brushed her hair. Two small braids were woven from the hair at her temples, then pulled back. The clip that the small slave reached for held an emerald the size of her thumbnail.

"I will go for your husband," the slave said as soon as Casey was dressed. She avoided looking into the blonde woman's eyes. She was aware that the man named Dan'yel would not be allowed out of this room for the remainder of the evening.

Casey smiled and nodded. Decided to read while she waited for Daniel to arrive and get ready. When the door opened again, she looked up, expecting to see her husband and the lo'taur. Frowned slightly when the guard who had been with them all day entered the room.

"Lord Ba'al has sent for you," he announced.

"Daniel isn't ready yet. Give us about thirty minutes," she replied.

"Lord Ba'al has sent for you," the Jaffa repeated. "You will accompany me. Now."

Well, hell! Just when she thought that the bastard was going to behave in a decent manner, he decided to go all Goa'uld on them. She huffed a sigh. The snake probably wanted a chance to be alone with her, she thought disgustedly. She studied the Jaffa. Watched him raise his staff weapon. Okay, so being stubborn wasn't a bright idea right now. The sudden thought that maybe Gemeti had arranged this so that she could be alone with Daniel, offer her assistance as he bathed, had her hands curling into fists. Not with my man! The little bitch made one wrong move, and regardless of where they were, she'd take her down!


"Keep your aluminum pants on," she muttered, rising to her feet. She was surprised to find another Jaffa waiting in the corridor. Well, she had an escort she couldn't easily slip away from. This was just annoying!


A  A  A  A  A  A


Ba'al smirked openly as Zeus entered the pretentiously decorated dining hall. He didn't bother to rise in greeting, simply dipping his head in acknowledgement of the other Goa'uld's presence. He waited until Zeus was seated at the opposite end of the lavishly garnished, food-laden table before speaking. And then, it was to one of the guards who stood waiting nearby. Not quite an insult, but certainly close enough to have his enemy's eyes narrowing slightly. "Bring my other guests now."

With a smart salute, the guard hurried from the room to obey.

Zeus raised an eyebrow, waiting, as was proper, considering his position as invited guest, for Ba'al to speak to him. Watched as his host poured more wine, tasted it, then signaled that a goblet should be filled for him.

"I'm pleased that you have agreed to join me," Ba'al said at last.

"No doubt," Zeus replied drolly. "I also have no doubt that the invitation comes with as many strings as a puppeteer winds around a wooden doll."

"You wound me with your suspicion," Ba'al countered.

Zeus snorted, took a sip of the wine. It wasn't as good as what his own wine cellars had to offer, but it would do. "So will we continue to dance around one another, or shall we cut to the heart of the matter?"

"You have been long absent from this galaxy," Ba'al replied. "I merely welcome you home, brother to brother. And offer information of what has transpired during your...extended...absence."

"Forgive me if I don't believe you," Zeus said quietly. He had no doubt that Ba'al would indeed sit and tell him all that had happened, making himself the victor where little claim to victory could be made. He'd already heard the rumors that the Goa'uld who now watched him carefully was poised to take complete control of the galaxy. Nor did he doubt the fact that his return had changed Ba'al's plans, at least for the moment. Which was the real reason for this little dinner party. A challenge would be issued, hidden among lies and phrases meant to impress and confuse. Ba'al had always been subtle, until the fire of his anger had been lit. His instincts told Zeus that he was about to be surprised, and not in a good way. His hand tightened over the knife still hidden in the sheath on his hip. His hand could throw the weapon in the blink of an eye, experience and practice would see to it that the blade found its intended target...the throat of Ba'al's host. And the symbiote within.

Ba'al sighed. "I suppose, given the circumstances, I would be just as wary. I admit I would be rather disappointed if you weren't so...cautious."

The clanking of armor announced the arrival of at least two Jaffa. Four of the armored warriors entered the room, completely surrounding Ares.

The table had been arranged in such a way that the head of it was the first thing anyone entering the room would see. One was required to turn to see who was seated at the foot of the banquet table.

Ares barely hid the raw anger, the boiling hatred that filled him when his eyes met those of the Goa'uld to whom he had been forced to swear allegiance. He stood defiantly for a moment, his dark eyes never moving from those of Ba'al. A quirk of the other's eyebrow had him dropping to one knee. Live today, in order to battle tomorrow, he told himself once again. Ba'al didn't know of his recent...acquisitions. Ares wasn't yet ready to strike back at the viper who had bested him. But he'd made a start. Soon. Very soon.

"Do say hello to my guest," Ba'al said, a predatory smile on his face.

Turning his head, Ares met the angry gaze of his father. Well this was one evening that seemed to be going from bad to worse! He slowly rose once again, looking from one to the other, waiting for the battle of words to begin.

"The son of Zeus dares to bow before another?" Zeus demanded coldly. If the damned arrogant upstart bowed to anyone, it should be him!

"He chose to kneel before me, rather than die," Ba'al said silkily.

"I chose to live in order to fight another day," Ares spat in return. "I will kill you, Goa'uld!"

"I think not," Ba'al replied easily. He turned his attention to Zeus. "I believe it has been some time since you have seen your 'son', has it not?"

"Not long enough," Zeus grumbled under his breath. "It is my choice, not his, that has prevented our paths from crossing."

"Ah, yes, I see," Ba'al said. "Better to avoid him than to be forced to end his life, as has been demanded by those you would consider members of your 'house'."

Ares' hands curled into fists. Was well aware that Hera nagged constantly on that particular subject. He glanced at Zeus. If his father made any sort of move against Ba'al, he'd be certain to finish it!

All eyes were drawn toward the door when the sound of Jaffa armor once again filled the air. Two guards entered. Their ward was as taken aback by the presence of Ba'al's guests as they were of hers.

"Holy Hannah!" Casey whispered.

Ba'al felt his entire body harden. Wearing the green gown that brought out the deep color of her eyes, and accentuated every luscious curve of her slender body, Casey looked absolutely breathtaking. He stood to his feet, held out his hand. "Good evening, Casey. Your beauty is unsurpassed, and you honor me with the gift of your presence."

Zeus had risen to his feet as well. He would know those green eyes anywhere! "You!"

Ares barely held himself in check. "Why do you allow this Tau'ri to move about so freely? She is dangerous, and should be penned like the wild animal that she is!"

Ba'al had expected Ares' outburst. He was, however totally unprepared for Zeus' reaction. "You have met my Beloved?"

"Don't call me that," she muttered, automatically, the protest as natural as breathing.

Two pairs of dark eyes swung in Ba'al's direction. "Your 'Beloved'? And when did this momentous and glorious event take place?" Zeus growled.

"It hasn't," Casey replied flatly. "And it never will!"

"This woman attacked me!" Ares shouted. "I demand satisfaction! Give her to me, that she might be properly punished!"

"Oh, get over yourself," Casey huffed, her shock sending common sense on a quick coffee break, and leaving her temper in control. "So I shot you in the nuts. Big deal. I was aiming for that little thing you call a pecker, but I'm not so good with small, moving targets."

Ba'al was unable to keep the roar of laughter from escaping. Ares looked as if he were on the verge of having an apoplectic fit. Zeus was staring at the beautiful woman who stood just inside the door, with malice burning in his eyes. He couldn't have wished for more revealing responses from his guests.

"This h'as and her companions nearly destroyed my ship!" As soon as the words hit the air, Zeus cringed mentally. He hadn't wanted anyone to know of the extensive damage that three Tau'ri had wreaked on his flagship.

Ba'al was nearly beside himself. He knew what had happened between Ares and SG-1. To learn that that team had also proven themselves a nuisance to Zeus was more than he could have hoped for. He moved toward the woman who held his heart, and had caused such havoc among his enemies. "Come, join us, Beloved."

"Don't call me that." The words were once again so automatic she wasn't even aware of uttering them. Casey glanced around. She was in enemy territory...alone. Jaffa guards lined the walls at regular intervals, and her 'escorts' were still beside her. To mouth off now, even though she sorely wanted to tell Ba'al that she'd rip of his head and shit down the hole if he called her 'Beloved' one more time, would probably not be the best course of action. Instead, she looked over at Zeus. Offered her hand. While common sense was returning, her temper was still in fine form, and still leading. "We've never been formally introduced."

So this was the seer Ba'al had set his sights upon. His interest was obviously not requited. His anger dissipating in the wake of the beautiful smile, and the gaze from those breathtaking green eyes, Zeus smiled, took the soft hand between both of his. That she was attempting to goad Ba'al offered him a glimpse of how little control Ba'al actually held over her. "I am Lord Zeus."

"I'm Casey Jackson." She gasped slightly, her breath catching in her throat when Zeus lifted her hand to his lips, and subtly licked her knuckles, under the guise of bestowing a simple kiss to her fingers. The bastard was just too damned good looking, and charming to boot. This was one Goa'uld with whom she needed to be very, very careful.

For the moment, Zeus was overcome by the sweet scent of spring flowers and vanilla. A scent that had never ceased to arouse him. He remembered exactly where he'd first experienced that heady aroma. All of his sources informed him that Hathor was dead. Yet this young woman was wearing the perfume that had made men willing pawns in Hathor's hands. He closed his eyes, kissed her hand a second time.

Ares snorted derisively. "I see that the little whore has managed to captivate the mighty Zeus."

Ba'al was standing near enough to him, having moved to greet Casey. He struck out, his hand impacting on Ares' cheek. Which caused that man to stumble backwards slightly. "Enough! You will not speak of my Beloved in such a manner!"

"I will speak the truth whenever I see fit," Ares hissed.

"Do so again, and I will personally cut your tongue from your head! And I will see to it that you are unable to leave that host!" Ba'al returned hotly.

Casey started, her eyes going wide, glimpsing once again the temper that Ba'al hid so well. Realized that his feelings for her had kept him from reacting the same way each time she'd goaded him while he had held her prisoner. For one moment, she was damned glad that he'd gotten over his anger with her. Had he not, she'd be in serious trouble. The comment regarding the host poked at her slightly. Something that she needed to ask Jacob/Selmak about, she was certain. She filed it away, to discuss with Daniel later.

Her eyes moved back to Zeus. He was looking just as angry as Ares. Not a good thing. Although...she smiled sweetly. If she had to be here...might as well have a bit of fun! Ba'al had been seated at the head of the table. It was obvious that Ares was to sit in the chair on the room side of the table. Rather than move toward Ba'al, she stepped closer to Zeus, pointing toward the empty chair near the wall. "Am I supposed to sit there?"

Zeus smiled, and walked beside her around the table, held the chair for her as she settled onto it, eased it forward gently. And enjoyed the view down the top of the gown. He could barely make out the pink tips of her nipples as she had leaned forward slightly. He shivered imperceptibly. His thoughts turned toward ways of seducing this beauty, and taking her to his bed.

The look on Ba'al's face had worried her. As long she as in his 'care', there was nothing in the treaty that would prevent him from beating her...or even torturing her. She had no desire to visit his room of horrors, for any length of time! Being returned to the SGC in the 'same physical and mental condition' didn't mean that he wouldn't abuse her, and then insist that he was abiding by said treaty, by using the healing device on her. Which, she thought idly, wouldn't actually be necessary. But any such abuse could possibly expose her Immortality. Not a good thing. So she gave him a little wink, and hoped he'd read whatever he wanted into the action, as long as it kept him from being angry with her.

Ba'al watched with growing agitation. Once again she had spurned him. This time, she had done so in the company of other Goa'uld...those he considered his enemy. Before his anger could take hold, however, she looked at him, and winked. The smile on his face was automatic. The fluttering of his heart failed to give him pause.

Of course! he thought, absolute delight washing over him. Her gift of sight had given her the knowledge of his plans. Her actions spoke clearly...she knew her place was at his side. She would charm his enemies, keep their attention focused on her, while he moved in for the kill...learning their secrets as they panted over her beauty, responded to her sensuality. How he loved her! Ba'al made his way around the table, reached for her hand, overjoyed when she lifted it toward him. As Zeus had done, he took a clandestine taste of her soft skin. Squeezed her fingers gently, letting her know by his touch that he understood what she was doing.

So far, so good, she thought nervously. When Ba'al turned to seat himself once again, she stole a look at Zeus. Was unable to stop the blush that rose to her cheeks when he openly winked at her, and tossed a rakish smile in her direction.

Zeus settled back in his chair. The lovely pink flush on her cheeks was very becoming, he thought, watching as she glanced at him again. Would that same flush cover her cheeks, her breasts, when he made love to her?

Casey looked around the table. "Where's Daniel? Why isn't he joining us?"

"Daniel?" Zeus asked.  That name had been used by the older of the two men he had tortured, the name of the sandy-blond haired man...

"My Husband," Casey replied sweetly.

Ah, yes. He had recognized the connection between the two. Hadn't known that the two were actually married. Zeus looked at Ba'al, then began to snicker. "It seems that you need to make certain your...Beloved...doesn't have other claims to her heart before you go around declaring her to be yours."

"I am Ba'al," he said coldly. "I am a god. I take what I want, what belongs to me!"

Ares snorted loudly. "Or what belongs to others, through trickery."

"That your ships were left nearly abandoned, and your Jaffa had no will to fight is not my concern," Ba'al retorted.

"Ahem," Casey cleared her throat loudly. "Where is my Husband?"

"He is dining in his chambers," Ba'al replied shortly. He gave a sharp nod, and the slaves who had been waiting in the shadowy corner of the room hurried forward, and began to serve their master and his guests.


"Because it is what I wish," Ba'al said.

"And if he requests that I join him?"

"He will be told the truth. That you are otherwise occupied."

"Oh, not a good move, Ba'al," Casey said, secretly elated. She would declare the treaty null and void right this second, and most happily ring back to the SGC! "Remember the treaty?"

Both Zeus and Ares jerked, their eyes narrowing as they looked at their host. "Treaty?" Zeus asked loudly.

"He didn't tell you?" Casey asked, turning her attention to Zeus. "Ba'al signed a treaty with the Tau'ri of the First World. Basically, we're supposed to be working together to take you out. Personally, I think it was just a way to keep us from killing him. We were getting too close, you see."

"I see." Zeus looked from Casey, to Ba'al, and back again.

"Oh, it gets better. If either party breaks any part of that treaty, it's immediately null and void," Casey explained. "Technically, I could-"

"We need not discuss the treaty here, or now," Ba'al said sharply.

Okay, time to pull back, Casey thought. Considering that his eyes had started glowing, a little groveling might be a good thing. Too many Goa'uld and Jaffa in the room to dare to piss any of them off to the degree where they might do something rash...like use those damned ribbon devices...or slit her throat. "Forgive me. I was just trying to point out that technically, if Daniel asks for me, then I'd be required to join him."

He frowned. One moment she was behaving as if they were mortal enemies. The next, she was using those green eyes and soft voice to charm him. He glanced at his guests. They were both staring at her. Once again the thought that she was doing her best to keep Ares and Zeus off balance crossed his mind. While he'd had no intention of allowing the existence of the treaty to become common knowledge, no great harm had been done by exposing it. "Of course. For now, shall we find a more pleasant topic of conversation?"

"Such as why you've invited your enemy to dine with you?" Casey asked.

Ba'al's frown deepened. The invitation had been sent, and accepted, as part of the carefully orchestrated positioning of themselves and their troops. While Zeus was busy eating, and sparring verbally with his host, his ship was being carefully scanned, his computers being investigated...hacked into, Ba'al thought was the phrase the Tau'ri used. Zeus was aware of what was going on, and would no doubt see to it that the number of ships and Jaffa would be easy to find, although their exact locations would be carefully hidden. Just as the information regarding his own armies had been judiciously placed, so that what Zeus found would be exactly what Ba'al wanted him to know. It was a way of bragging about the size of one's armies, without being crass enough to simply come out and do so.

Casey cocked her head sideways. "Game? This is all part of a game?"

Three pairs of dark eyes locked on her, two showing more surprise than the third.

"I suppose you might call it that," Ba'al allowed. He sighed. Casey didn't understand the machinations of the Goa'uld Empire, the posturing and the ceremony with which so many things were done.

"I see. So, this is just your way of announcing to Zeus that you're going to kill him?"

His lips twitched slightly. "In a way."

"And yet, you'll let him walk away, return to his ship?"

"It is the way things are done."

"Are there any rules against me popping him off right here and now?"

"'Popping him off'?"

"Killing him."

The smile that had been tugging at his lips escaped. Ba'al chuckled. "I don't believe there are."

Zeus' eyes went wide. Was this a bit of the trickery that Ares had complained about? Protocol would prevent Ba'al from striking him down. His 'Beloved' was not Goa'uld. And thus not bound by the rules of the Empire. Would the slender beauty actually kill him?

Casey turned her attention to the Goa'uld who watched her so carefully now. "Don't worry. I have no intention of killing you. At least, not yet."

It was impossible not to laugh at the unadulterated mischief that he could see dancing in those heart-stealing green eyes. "I am quite relieved to hear that."

"Although, according to the treaty-" she broke off, looked at Ba'al. Smiled coyly. "I don't know enough about the Goa'uld Empire, and the...rules...that govern it, and I'd so hate to make a faux pas."

"What is this, 'foe pah'?" Zeus asked.

"A bumbling social mistake, a breach of etiquette," Casey replied.

The Goa'uld laughed. "I do not believe a beautiful woman such as yourself capable of doing any such thing."

One slender shoulder moved up, and then back down. "It's been known to happen."

Ba'al studied her. Smiled when her eyes sought his own. Was this her way of acknowledging what she had done, admitting that her actions had been a mistake? Was she silently asking for his forgiveness? A flood of hope washed over him. "If you had ever made such a...faux pas...I believe anyone would be willing to forgive you."

For one moment, the look in his eyes took her breath away. There was such love there! Love as deep as what she saw reflected in Daniel's beautiful blue eyes. Oh, good grief! Couldn't he have just stayed pissy? It would have made her life a hell of a lot easier! She barely suppressed her desire to heave a sigh of frustration. Instead, she lowered her eyes.

Yes! She had wanted his forgiveness! Now that she had it, he would begin once again to win her love. Ba'al wanted to shout with joy.

Zeus had watched the silent by-play. Could see in her eyes what he was certain the love-smitten Goa'uld at the other end of the table had missed. She was playing a game as well. No doubt just trying to survive. She was, after all, sitting in the viper's den, from her point of view. That thought, that cognition did not stop him from forming his own plans to bed the beautiful and charming Tau'ri. She was a warrior, he'd been witness to her abilities as such personally. She was as brave as any Jaffa he'd commanded. Now he was seeing her as the woman she also was. A very alluring package, all in all.

Ba'al poured wine for Casey himself, waving away the slave who had raced forward when he reached for the gold chalice and the heavy carafe. "This is the wine you were fond of the last time-" he broke off, glanced at Zeus. "When we were last able to be together."

Casey remembered the wine. It had been good. She'd tried to be careful about how much she ate and drank in the Goa'uld's presence, never sure if or when he would begin to slip the ker'nish'ta to her once again. When he refilled his own cup, she was certain it was so that she'd be assured that it was safe for her to consume. She smiled, lifted the chalice in salute, and took a sip.

"So you have spent time with Ba'al before?" Zeus asked. He pulled his knife from the sheath on his hip, carved a chunk of meat from what looked like a leg of lamb. What it really was, he could only guess. He dropped the meat onto the plate in front of him, sliced off a thin strip, poked it with the tip of the blade, and offered it to the slender beauty seated beside him.

She had to lean toward him to take the offering. Her eyes widened with surprise when he moved it away from her slightly, requiring her to move even farther, unaware that her gown had slipped down, barely covering her breast.

The sudden flaring of lust had him hard in an instant. He would have this beauty in his bed, knowing that the passion that had echoed in her voice as she sparred verbally with Ba'al would be translated into every movement when making love.

Chewing slowly on the meat...which was delicious; Ba'al served only the best, she thought...she was able to avoid the question until she could decide just how to answer. Keeping Ba'al pacified seemed to be her best bet for the moment. When in doubt, tell the truth, Daniel always said. Just don't go into detail. "Yes," she replied softly.

Dark eyes met over the table, one pair smirking, the other curious. "As his guest, or as his prisoner?"

Ba'al's smirk became a frown. He watched Casey carefully, held his breath waiting for her answer.

She hadn't been his prisoner. Not exactly. She'd been able to roam at will, for the most part. "Ba'al treated me with the utmost...kindness," she said softly. Kindness that had surprised her. She didn't see the smile that returned to the face of the Goa'uld who sat just as deeply in love with her as he had been when she'd been taken from that Viking village.

Which told him absolutely nothing, Zeus thought. He studied his opponent...his rival for the attention of the beautiful blonde. Noted the smug set of his lips. "Did he please you when he took you to his bed?"

Casey nearly choked, taking a deep drink of wine before replying. "We were never...intimate," she admitted.

"I see." It was all he could do to keep from laughing. Ba'al must be losing his touch if he couldn't get between the legs of one of his prisoners, for certainly that's what Casey had been.

"He respected me, and my wishes," Casey said. The look of amusement on Zeus' face made her just the tiniest bit angry. And she was not about to examine that feeling, not ever! There was no way in hell that she was defending Ba'al! She was just being honest about what had happened! "Ba'al was most...gallant."

The knowledge that he had never held her, never touched her, never tasted her stung just as much as it always did when he was confronted with those facts. Her response to Zeus, however, hinted at a much deeper relationship than one of captor and prisoner. "When one loves deeply, such respect comes with ease," he said quietly.

Casey glanced at him. Once again was taken aback at the love in his dark eyes. "Very true," she replied softly. Daniel treated her with such kindness, such respect...the reflection of his love for her.

Now this was interesting. He had no doubt that Casey didn't for one moment reciprocate the obvious feelings that Ba'al had for her. Yet she spoke as if they were lovers, or at the very least, close friends. How was it possible that a Tau'ri, one who was obviously an enemy of Goa'uld, could...or even would...befriend one of that enemy? Zeus pondered what he knew. The mention of a treaty...could Ba'al be contemplating the betrayal of all Goa'uld? Would he do so, in order to become the strongest in the galaxy? He snorted silently. Of course he would!

Ba'al watched Zeus. Whatever that Goa'uld was thinking, it was hidden behind a mask of bemused interest. No doubt his enemy was trying to determine what his plans were. The unexpected presence of a Tau'ri had had the desired effect. Zeus didn't know what to think, nor would he be able to speculate on what was about to happen.

Ares watched both of his companions. The little bitch had enchanted both feeble-minded Goa'uld. He smirked silently, raised his goblet to his lips in an effort to hide his smile. She'd be the death of both of them. He would do nothing to stop her. And when the mighty Ba'al, and the great Zeus were dead, he'd take what had once belonged to them, and would be the most powerful of all Goa'uld. This little witch would serve him, and her husband would be the host to Thanatos.

Casey was trembling. She was walking a tight wire above a pit of vicious animals. If she slipped and fell, she'd be destroyed in a heartbeat. What she needed was to be in Daniel's arms, if only for a little bit. To tell him what had happened, what had been said. His understanding of the Goa'uld Empire would help him to shed light on what was going on. And maybe even find a way out of the damned treaty that kept them prisoner on Ba'al's ship.


A  A  A  A  A  A


The room was empty when Gemeti led Daniel back to the quarters he and Casey were staying in. The lo'taur refused to look at him, mumbled something about bringing his dinner, and then fled. His heart dropped to his toes. Something was so not right here!

He poked his head into the bathroom. It was still the slightest bit steamy, he could smell the faint aroma of her lotion. The clothes she had been wearing were in a pile on the floor beside the tub. Alarmed now, he grabbed her duffel bag. He knew what she had packed, because he'd watched her pack it. Remembered their discussion about laundry facilities on a Goa'uld ship. Everything was still there. Everything. Unless she was running around naked, Ba'al had her in one of the gowns she'd been forced to wear when he'd held her prisoner before.

With a sound that was a cross between a growl of anger and a sob of pain, he strode across the room in four long strides, began go beat on the door. "Open up, goddamn it! Open this door!"

A Jaffa Daniel hadn't seen before responded to the repeated hammering of his fists. Stared coldly at the Tau'ri.

He was fighting equal parts rage and panic, struggling to maintain enough to control to speak as calmly as possible. Yelling at a Jaffa was never a good idea. Casey was somewhere on this ship...alone with Ba'al. Fuck good ideas. "Where is my Wife?" he demanded angrily...and loudly.

"She is the guest of Lord Ba'al. He requested her presence at a banquet he is giving."

"Take me to her."

"My orders are to remain here. I was told that you were not to leave this room."

"Then go get her."

"My master has given me specific instructions. He told me-"

Daniel glared at the Jaffa. "I don't care what your 'master' told you. I want to see my Wife. Now."

The Jaffa adjusted his position, which was blocking the doorway to the quarters where the Tau'ri archaeologist was staying. Ba'al had given orders that he was not to leave the room. "You must remain here."

"Tell Ba'al this is a violation of the treaty. If Casey isn't here in the next ten minutes, I'm declaring that treaty null and void!" Daniel hissed.

He knew about the treaty, of course. The two Tau'ri were on the ship because of it. He also knew that his god would honor it only as long as it suited him. "I will tell him," the Jaffa said. Just before closing the door, and locking it.

Daniel ran a shaking hand through his hair, began to pace the length of the room. If that bastard was hurting her...One fist smacked into the palm of the other hand. "That's right, Ba'al. You screwed up this time. I'm going to kill you, and there won't be enough left to toss into a sarcophagus!" he muttered angrily.

He glanced at his watch. Two more hours before the scheduled check-in. The thought that Ba'al could break orbit, kill him, and take Casey sent a shiver over his frame. He'd hated this idea from the very beginning...even knowing they had no choice, he'd searched frantically for a way to avoid this very situation. Jack, if you're going to do something, now would be good, he thought desperately.


A  A  A  A  A  A


She was teetering on the edge, one false move and it would be all over. Still, if Ba'al was going to insist on her company, he could just deal with it! If she had to sit here and play dinner party with Goa'uld, she was going to enjoy it! Her own ire at the situation overcame her common good sense once again. Casey looked from Zeus to Ba'al, and back again. "You must have women throwing themselves at your feet."

Zeus smiled. "What makes you say such a thing?"

One slender, bare shoulder moved up, then down. "You're very easy on the eyes."

"I do not understand," Zeus admitted.

She flashed a smile at the Goa'uld. "You're very handsome. Where I come from, the word 'hunk' would be used. You are, you know. A hunk."

The Greek god threw his head back and roared with laughter, puffing visibly at the compliment. "That you notice my humble appearance pleases me," he said, still grinning.

"A little hard not to notice," she replied. Ass. You know just exactly how good looking you are! She turned her attention to Ba'al. Who looked as if he were on the verge of exploding. "I find your eyes much warmer, I like the lighter brown."

The anger that had been raising its head dissipated quickly. "As I find your eyes intriguing," Ba'al said softly.

She looked from one to the other. Wondered if what she was about to say would be the last thing she uttered for three days. "When you take a host, is size important?"

Zeus frowned. "I prefer a host of certain height," he replied.

Casey shook her head. "Not the size I was talking about."

Ba'al gasped. Surely she wasn't asking about the length and girth of their individual manhood!

"You, I've seen," she continued, glancing at Ba'al. Her attention lit on Ares. "Seen you, too." she said, earning an angry glare. She looked over at Zeus. "Average, and very small," she said in a stage whisper, nodding first at Ba'al, and then at Ares, ignoring the angry glares from both.

Once again Zeus found himself laughing out loud. "Perhaps I shall have the opportunity to...impress you."

"Perhaps," she murmured demurely. Unless you're hung like my archaeologist, it ain't happenin', cupcake!  

Once again Ba'al found himself fighting his anger. Did the woman know what she was doing to him? He felt drained from the constant change of his emotions, from delighted to furious and back again, with each comment that she uttered. His heart continued to insist that as off-balance as he felt, so did his guests. She was attempting to confuse them, mixing her flattery with insults. She was doing so, his heart claimed, in an attempt to make his enemies comfortable, before he moved in for the kill.

The Jaffa who'd been tasked with guarding Daniel Jackson hurried into the room. He stopped at Ba'al's side, leaned over so that what he said would not be overheard. "My Lord, the one named Jackson is demanding to see his wife. He claims he will report that the treaty has been broken in his next communication with his people."

Ba'al slammed his fist on the table. The treaty would remain in place until he was ready to make a move! He dared not break it just yet...if the Asgard were nearby, and he was aware that they were, their opinion could be sought by the Tau'ri. Every piece had to fall at once, in the correct order. And those pieces weren't yet set where he needed them. "Very well. Take her to him."

Casey was overjoyed to learn that she would be joining Daniel. "It's been...interesting," she said, fluttering her fingers in a wave just before following the Jaffa out of the room. She felt her two escorts fall into place behind her. She practically ran over the Jaffa in her haste to get to the room where her husband waited.




When the door opened, Daniel was standing just inside the room, his fury written on his face. It disappeared into a smile when he saw her standing there. He barely had time to register what she was wearing...to note that every luscious curve was emphasized, that her nipples poked proudly against the silk, and that the gown barely disguised the soft curls at the apex of her thighs. Before he could say a word, she was in his arms.

"Oh, Daniel," she breathed, clinging to him, scarcely aware of the door closing, and the distinctive sound of the lock engaging.

"Are you okay?"

"I am now."

"What happened?"

"You're going to love this!" She tugged on his hand, led him to the table. A tray loaded with food was sitting there, she helped herself as she began to detail what she had seen and heard.

It was impossible not to laugh at her descriptions of the room, her imitations of the Goa'uld, her play by play of what had happened. He'd gladly give up six months wages to have seen their faces as she baited each of the snakes, insulting them and stroking their egos all at once. But what she'd learned was enough to give him an idea of what their 'host' was hoping to accomplish. If Yu didn't show up, and soon, they might not have any choice but to try and assassinate Ba'al. And that wasn't going to be easy to do. 

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