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When Two Hearts Collide
Kelley walked into the apartment, stared at the strange man leaning against the kitchen counter, sipping coffee and talking to Jared. "What the hell?" she asked softly.
The young blonde stepped out of the bedroom, several blouses on hangers in her hands. "Hi, Kells."
The tall red head bristled. "Don't you 'hi, Kells' me! Where the hell have you been? I came home Sunday morning to some half crazed note about needing to get something important done, to trust you, and that you'd be gone for a couple of days! What is going on, and who is that?" She pointed at Daniel.
Casey giggled. Stepped over to where Daniel was leaning casually, stretched up and kissed him. "This is Doctor Daniel Jackson."
"They're getting married," Jared said smugly, having already learned that Daniel intended to make Casey legally his as soon as possible...and that he wanted a ring on her finger immediately, proof that she belonged to him. Had learned that Daniel would spare no expense putting the ring of her dreams on her slender finger. Which, upon learning, was when he had told the archaeologist the best place to go for that special ring.
"What?" Kelley screeched. "When did this happen?"
Kevin began to laugh. "Next question, we already asked that one."
"It seems to have happened a few hours after they met…in Silver Springs. Colorado. Which is where she drove," Jared said.
Casey looked from man to man as they spoke. "So, tell me, any idea what's going to happen next?"
Jared grinned at her. "Yep. But I promised Daniel I wouldn't tell."
Her eyes flew to the face of the man she loved. He grinned at her. She could see the amusement…the glee…in his incredible blue eyes. Her green eyes narrowed. "What are you up to?"
"Six foot, last time I checked," Daniel replied easily.
Jared and Kevin hooted with laughter.
Kelley grabbed Casey by the arm and dragged her into the bedroom, slammed the door behind her. "I was worried sick about you!"
Casey dropped the blouses on her bed, hugged her best friend. "Kelley, I am so sorry. I never intended for that to happen. Miss Eloise-"
The redhead's jaw dropped. "Miss Eloise?"
"She's…um…she's my spirit guide," Casey said softly.
"Oh, my god! It's happening, isn't it?"
She nodded. Two weeks earlier she had awakened in the night, gasping for breath, shaking like a leaf. She hadn't been able to remember details of the dream that had haunted her, only that something…dramatic…had occurred. Kelley had been there to comfort her. And Casey had told her roommate, her best friend, that something important, something major, was about to happen. Something that would change her life forever. "Destiny, Kelley. Miss Eloise told me that no matter how hard I might try to fight it, what's happening is my Destiny. He's my Destiny. I feel it, Kells, I felt it the first time I looked into his eyes. And I did fight it. He was fighting it too. But…" she shrugged. "He kissed me, Kells, and in that instant I realized I would never love any one else. Never want anyone else. I…I walked out of the darkness and into the sunlight for the first time. He told me he loved me, he held me, I've never, ever felt so safe…so warm…so loved."
Kelley dropped down onto her own bed. "I can see it in your eyes. They've never had that…light…in them before. So you're leaving?"
Casey sat down beside her friend. "What he does, what I'm going to be doing with him, is more important than you could ever imagine. Life and death important, Kells. He's a bona fide hero. As in…" she glanced down at her hands. "Don't tell anyone. No one."
"I promise," Kelley said softly.
"He's helped to save the planet," she whispered.
"Just believe me," Casey replied.
The redhead studied her roommate for a few minutes. "I believe you. Let me help you pack," she said. "I guess, in a way, this is all working out for the best."
"I spent Sunday with Mom. She's leaving the house to me. I…I don't think it's going to be long," Kelley said, her voice catching.
"Oh, god, Kells!" Casey hugged her best friend. "I'm so sorry."
Kelley forced a smile. "Don't be. We had a really nice day. A long talk. She's ready to go…she's so tired. Ricky will get all of Dad's stocks. I get the house. She…she asked me to move back home, so we can spend her last days together. I took a leave of absence from work."
"I'm surprised Jan agreed to it," Casey said.
"No more than I am. But I told her that I'd quit if that's what it took. I, uh…I told her I had no idea where you were, and I didn't know if or when you were coming back. I really didn't, Case," she said apologetically.
Casey smiled. "It's okay, Kells. I won't be going back. Well, just long enough to give her Daniel's address, so she can send my check there."
"So, tell me what you can."
The two women talked, and carefully packed Casey's clothes and all of the toiletries that remained in the tiny bathroom. With Kelley's help, she managed to get everything in her duffel and the garment bag.
"I'm going to miss you," Kelley said.
"I'm going to miss you, too. Let me know when…when…" she lowered her eyes.
"Give me the phone number, I'll call as soon as-" Kelley broke off, tears filled her eyes. "I told Jared and Kevin that it's a big house, and that I'd like for them to share it with me. They've agreed."
"What about Ricky?"
Kelley smiled. "Ricky's heart has been in Texas since he left the Navy. He'll be heading that way as soon as…as soon as it's all over. With my blessing," she added softly.
Casey nodded. Her stomach chose that moment to rumble. "Daniel and I were going to go to Red Lobster…"
"Go. Alone. You two need time to get to know each other," Kelley smiled.
"Funny, Janet said the same thing," Casey replied, smiling as well. She opened the door, heard Daniel laughing.
"...so, there she stands," Jared was saying, "pool cue in her hand, like a bat, ready to swing at the first one who got near her."
"Oh, lord," she mumbled, knowing instantly what the dark haired man was talking about. Remembering the night that Kenny Vincent had changed from platonic friend to…stalker.
Kevin was laughing. "Yeah, she had this look in her eyes, and so Kenny, idiot that he is, steps closer!"
"She repositions the cue like she's about to make a shot, and pow! nails him right where it counts!" said Jared, who was sitting beside Kevin, their hands entwined on the table; laid his head on Kevin's shoulder as he laughed. When he had regained his composure, he wiped his eyes.
"Kenny hit the floor, hands on his crotch, moaning and groaning, and then," Kevin looked up at the blushing blonde and winked, "then she says, 'what's wrong, Kenny, I thought you said you wanted me to play with your balls'."
Daniel was nearly beside himself laughing, could visualize the scene. "Almost makes you feel sorry for the bastard!"
"Almost," Jared agreed between fits of laughter. "The sad thing is, the asshole kept stalking her."
"When did it end?" Daniel asked, knowing somehow that it had ended.
"He showed up one night, drunk as hell, must have been in September. Nearly beat the door down," Jared said, his dark eyes glittering at the memory. "We knew that Casey was alone over here, so we told him that she wasn't home, invited him in for a drink while he waited for her."
"Then we had a little…discussion," Kevin grinned. "It's amazing what a man will agree to when he's stripped naked and staring at pruning shears sitting right…there."
"Ouch," Daniel grinned.
"Hey, I was hoping the bastard would keep fighting," Jared admitted. "I told him that we'd know in an instant if he ever bothered Case again, and that if I had to find him, I wouldn't need pruning shears to get the job done."
"I take it he believed you," Daniel said.
"Yeah, he did," Jared grinned. He looked up at Casey. "So, you did you get packed?"
"Mmmhmm," she replied. Daniel had reached out for her, pulled her close to his side as he sat at the table with her friends. She put her arm around his strong, broad shoulders. "I have everything packed except for my candles, stereo and CD's."
"I think we have a couple of boxes," Kevin told her. "I know we have a shit-load of newspapers. Certain people never took them to the recycler's like he was supposed to."
"Kiss my ass," Jared replied.
"Later," Kevin grinned, not looking at his lover.
Kelley groaned. "Hey! What have I told you two about that? No flaunting the love life in front of those of us who don't have one!"
The two men chuckled.
Casey's stomach rumbled again, bringing the blush back to her cheeks.
Daniel stood to his feet. "On that note," he said, grinning at the men still sitting at the table.
Kelley offered her hand to Daniel. "I don't know if I'll get to see you before you leave. Take good care of her."
Daniel took the hand, squeezed gently. "I promise." He followed Casey into the bedroom, grabbed the duffel and the garment bag. She picked up her purse. "Is this it?"
She nodded. "I'll come pack my stuff tomorrow. We'll have to get my boxes out of storage."
"Bring them to our place," Kevin said. "One of us will be around when the truck comes to pick them up." Daniel had already told the men that the Air Force was picking up the tab for Casey's move. And that a truck would be arriving within a day or so to pick up her things.
"Thanks, Kevin," she said, giving his forehead a quick kiss. Giggled when Jared leaned over and offered his cheek, patting it with the tip of his index finger. She placed a kiss just above it. "See you guys tomorrow. Kelley, I promise to make it over to your mom's before we have to leave."
"She'll like that," Kelley smiled.
"Let's go, babe. I'm starving." From the look that he gave her, no one in the room doubted that food was not all that was on the good doctor's mind.
With a wiggle of her fingers, Casey followed Daniel out of the apartment. Watched as he stuffed her luggage into the trunk beside his duffel. He opened the car door, held it for her, leaned in and fastened the seat belt, taking the time to kiss her before closing the door and hurrying around to get behind the wheel.
Kelly, Kevin, and Jared stood at the window watching. "He's the real deal," Kevin said softly.
"Yep." Jared replied. "She's happy. I've never seen Casey happy before. I've never seen her so…alive; so…animated. Never seen her eyes sparkle like that."
"None of us have," Kelley said softly. "Whatever it is that he's doing, it's good for her. And what they'll be doing is important, I know that. She has to go with him, she's destined to go with him."
Kevin shook himself slightly. "She's moving to Colorado. Not another planet, for crissakes. We can go visit any time we want."
"I always wanted to visit Denver," Jared said.
Kelley grinned. "I have the feeling that we will be, soon."
The two men looked at each other, shared a knowing smile. "No doubt," Jared said quietly.
A A A A A A
It was late enough that there wasn't a wait at the restaurant, which was a good thing, they were both hungry. The waitress led them to a booth, left them with menus, a promise for the coffee Daniel requested, and a smile.
Casey had watched the woman flirt with Daniel, and the way he had smiled. He hadn't really flirted back, but…that smile alone would keep a woman trying! She shivered slightly. She didn't have a prayer of holding his attention…not for long. Not a handsome man like Daniel. Too many beautiful women out there, all of whom would be eager to know…and please…the archaeologist. She wasn't a pretty woman, lord knew she'd been told that often enough! She battled daily against being what she had been accused of all of her life, and there was always the chance that one day she wouldn't be able to…control…that side of herself. How would he react when she lost that battle? Stupid question, she thought, shaking her head mentally. Without a doubt he would want her out of his apartment, out of his life. Daniel wasn't the type of man to fall for a slut…a whore…a tramp. She pulled her lip between her teeth. Could feel the happiness she had experienced for a few lovely hours, almost a full day, slipping away from her. She couldn't do it. She had to tell him the truth.
When the waitress returned with the coffee and a basket of cheddar biscuits, she took one, tore it into pieces, put none in her mouth.
Daniel watched her, had seen her pull her lip between her teeth, a sign he recognized as one of uncertainty, or fear. "Casey, is there something wrong?"
She hadn't intended to, didn't want to look into his eyes, but when she looked up, they were focused on her, and she met his gaze. The concern in those beautiful blue depths was her undoing. Tears filled hers, and she nodded slowly. "I can't stay with you," she whispered.
He felt as if someone had punched him in the gut. The pain was physical. He sucked in a breath. "Why not?" he asked softly.
"You deserve someone better…someone who has an education, who's pretty…who isn't…" she dropped her gaze to her trembling fingers. "Someone who isn't a slut."
It felt as if his world was tumbling out of control. He had finally found the woman of his dreams, his Destiny; he'd let her into his heart, and now, within hours, he was losing her! "I couldn't find a woman more incredible than you. Someone as smart, as brave, as…talented. Casey, I don't know who told you that you're not pretty, or what you see in the mirror, but believe me, I couldn't find a woman as beautiful as you. As for being a slut…I thought you said you've never…" he waved his hand slowly.
"I haven't," she replied.
"Then how in the hell can you be a slut?"
"My mother was," she whispered.
He shook his head. "I don't understand," he said, his frustration reflecting in his eyes.
"I was abandoned on the steps of a church, I was five years old before I was adopted. I…she told me…" Casey took a deep breath. "Only a slut, a whore would have a baby and abandon it. And, well…I can't help what I am…I was…I was born that way, I guess."
"Who in the hell told you that?" he exploded.
She jumped, her eyes wide. "My…um…my adoptive mother."
"Well she's wrong!" Daniel slid from the seat he was on, moved to sit beside her. He reached out, gently cupped her cheek, caressed it softly, then took her chin in his hand. "You are the most beautiful, special woman I've ever met. Do you know how honored I am that Fate has chosen you for me? How lucky I am? I don't care what your adoptive mother told you; you are not a slut, or a whore! Babe, I know that you understand what those…names…imply. How can you believe that of yourself when you've never been with a man…ever?"
Casey was mesmerized by the love in his blue eyes. Her heart reached for the comfort his words offered her, took it slowly, began to wrap that warmth around her. "I was always bad," she whispered.
"I don't believe that," he whispered in reply. "I…the letter I received covered some of this…that Daniel felt it important that I know how horribly you've been abused…that I understand how deeply you've been hurt. I know that you suffered every day with that…woman. I know that your Grandma Rose was the only thing that kept you from losing yourself completely in all those lies."
"I don't want to ever embarrass you, or be a burden, or a…or a mistake," she said softly.
"Never, Casey. You would never be any of those things. Don't you understand, you're my Destiny? I can't walk away from you, could never walk away from you, because I love you. My heart, my soul…know you, and they won't let me walk away from you either."
The tears that had filled her eyes spilled onto her cheeks.
"Aw, babe, don't cry. Please," he whispered, wiping the wetness from her face with the backs of his fingers. "I love you."
"I love you," she whispered in return.
"Then everything will be okay. Trust me?"
She managed to nod.
Daniel kissed her forehead. Gentle. Slow, easy, and gentle. The woman beside him had been so battered, so abused, that her heart, her soul, her psyche were in tatters. He would do his best to help her heal, help her see what a beautiful, amazing woman she really was. No matter how long it took. "I know she said hateful, terrible things; words that hurt you so deeply. But they were lies, Casey, all lies," he said softly. He let his thumb move over her trembling lips. "You're beautiful, babe. So very beautiful. And sweet. You've got an amazing gift, and you've got courage. And determination."
"You really think that?"
"I really know that," he replied softly. "I'll spend the rest of my life, telling you every day how absolutely amazing you are, if that's what it takes for you to believe it."
Another tear slid down her cheek. "That's the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me," she whispered. Again he reached out and wiped the tears from her face with the back of his fingers.
The waitress was hovering next to the table. "Um…should I come back?"
Daniel smiled at her. "Yeah, we need just a few more minutes."
With a nod, the woman hurried over to one of the other tables.
"Okay, what do you want?" He opened the menu that sat in front of him. They studied it together, decided on an appetizer and two entrees. He sat with his arm around her, her head on his shoulder, his fingers moving over her cheek in a soft circle. "Better?"
"Much," she replied. She could feel the warmth, the safety of his caress. "It's so new," she admitted.
"What feeling is that?"
That simple answer broke his heart. "Oh, god, Casey," he whispered. He pulled her close, held her as tightly as he could. "I do love you, so very much. More than I ever imagined I could. I know it's happening fast. But that's because it's Destiny."
"Miss Eloise told me it would be this way," she said softly.
He smiled. "Did she have anything else to say?"
The corners of her lips turned up the slightest bit. "She said that when two hearts were meant to be as one, nothing in the universe could stop it, could come between them. She told me that we've been fated for one another from the time we were born."
He nodded slowly. He'd seen enough in his journeys through the Stargate to believe in Fate, and Destiny. Their hearts hadn't just met…they had collided the first time they'd seen each other. And they were both still dazed from the impact…the understanding that they were meant for one another. "Just out of curiosity, when would that have been for you?"
She gave him a full smile. "March 23rd, 1975. What about you?"
"July 8th, 1970," he replied.
"You're thirty two. And you've already accomplished so much!"
"I guess," he shrugged.
She cocked her head sideways. "Child prodigy…you were a child prodigy."
He winced slightly. "Probably just because I always had my nose in a book. It was easier to hide from the world in books. I loved learning," he shrugged.
"You're still learning…constantly learning…so curious," she said, her eyes moving over him. "Brilliant. You're a brilliant man, Doctor Jackson."
His cheeks flushed red. "Yeah, so they tell me," he mumbled.
She laced her fingers with the hand he had resting on the table. "Believe them."
He looked at her. "I suppose that turns you off," he said flatly. "Most women aren't into intellectuals."
"I'm not most women. I'm a freak, if you want to be honest about things. Yet here you are."
"You're not a freak, babe. You have a wonderful gift."
"So do you, Daniel. Your intellect is only part of it. Your heart, that goodness that is such a part of you, your kindness, that's a part of your gift as well. Turn me off? Not on your life! You're a total package deal…brains, hot body, a heart full of tenderness …how lucky can one woman get?"
He blushed again, smiled at her. "Think so, huh?"
"Know so," she whispered. She began to study their entwined fingers, not even aware that she was tugging on her lip again.
She looked up into his eyes. "I don't want to disappoint you," she said softly.
He smiled. "You won't."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because my heart tells me so."
"Always listen to your heart," she said solemnly. "Grandma Rose taught me that."
"I think your Grandma Rose was a very wise woman."
The waitress returned, took their order, and within twenty minutes they were eating. They spent the time learning more about one another, examining their likes and dislikes, sharing memories less painful, bringing smiles and chuckles and giggles. One day, they would share the pain of their childhoods, bury those heartaches together.
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