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When Two Hearts Collide
When the wake-up call came, the lovers discovered something else they had in common. A distinct dislike of early mornings. Daniel was determined that they would shower together, the pleasure of washing her, being washed by her, was one he would not willingly give up. There was no time to make love. But the soft caresses as they cleansed one another were enough.
She dried her hair while Daniel shaved. Put on what little make up she wore while he gathered their things from the bathroom. They pulled on jeans and sweaters, finished packing, and were heading for the lobby by seven forty-five. While he checked out, she took the duffels to the car, tossed them into the backseat, and pulled the car beneath the portico outside of the office. The nearby IHOP was their next top, Casey opting for coffee and toast, Daniel having coffee and a bowl of cereal.
It was just after nine when Daniel pulled into the driveway of an older home on the west side of Tacoma.
"We won't be able to stay long," Casey said softly as they walked up the steps of the porch. "Besides, traffic will be a bitch, and if we have to be at McChord by eleven, we'll have to be on the freeway by ten."
"No problem," he replied.
Casey knocked on the door. Smiled through her tears when Vicky opened it, the older woman's reed thin arms reaching for her.
"Kelley called me this morning, filled me in on what you've been up to," Vicky smiled.
"Mom, this is Doctor Daniel Jackson. Daniel, this is Vicky Campbell, Ricky and Kelley's mother. She's been like a mother to me, as well," Casey said softly.
"I'm pleased to meet you," Daniel said, carefully taking the slender hand that was offered to him.
The woman turned her full attention to Daniel. "It's nice to meet you," Vicky replied. "Ricky told Kelley you're a good man. That's the highest form of compliment my son gives."
"He's a fine man, himself," Daniel said, smiling at her.
The auburn haired woman ushered them into the living room. It was filled with a lifetime of memorabilia, pieces that her grandmother had collected, and her mother had collected, and that she had added to over the years. "Can I offer you anything? Casey, I know you want coffee."
"Actually, Mom, we can't stay long. We have to be at McChord in just a little while," Casey replied.
Vicky nodded, settled down in the rocking chair that sat in one corner of the room. "I was going to ask you if you were sure, if you were happy, but I can see it in your eyes."
Casey blushed, glanced at Daniel, laced her fingers with his as they sat on the sofa. "I didn't know it was possible to be so happy," she admitted.
"That's what your eyes are telling me," Vicky smiled. "Kelley said that Miss Eloise…visited…you Saturday night."
The young blonde nodded. "She told me that…she said I have a Destiny to fulfill. And that Daniel is a part of it."
The older woman nodded. "I've known for a long time that you weren't meant for a work-a-day job in Tacoma." She pulled at the fabric of her blouse sleeve, not looking at the young woman. "Are you going to say goodbye to your parents?"
"I haven't spoken to them in ten years, why start now?" Casey replied, her voice sharper than she intended. "I haven't made any secret about where I am. Sheryl has seen me half a dozen times, and never even bothered to say hello."
"I understand, honey, I do," Vicky said. "And you have every right to feel that way. Has she told you anything about her childhood?" the woman asked, turning to the man sitting on the sofa.
"I met her mother once. When I'd driven Kelley up to Western U. Casey had arrived at about the same time." She shuddered. "The horrible things that woman said!"
Casey blushed brightly.
"I’m sorry, honey. Thinking about that is probably the last thing you want to do," Vicky apologized.
Daniel was burning with curiosity. "May I ask what happened?" he asked softly.
"The dorm was co-ed. The guys lived in the north wing, girls in the south wing," Casey said softly. "When…she…when she realized that, she told me that if I was going to…" her cheeks went crimson, and she turned her head.
"She was standing in the commons area, which was full of students and their parents," Vicky said softy. "She told Casey that if she was going to spread her legs for every man that walked by her, she should be smart enough to finance her education on her own."
He could feel the color drain from his face. "Oh, god," he murmured.
Vicky nodded. "According to Kelley, that was one of the…kinder…moments."
His arm went around her shoulders, pulled her close to his side. Felt her body trembling. "She never knew you, Angel," he said softly. "Or she wouldn't have said those things."
The older woman smiled approvingly. The anger that had flared in those blue eyes had been intense. She had the feeling that if Helen Webster ever crossed paths with Dr. Daniel Jackson, she wouldn't walk away unscathed.
"That was the last time I saw her, saw any of them," Casey said softly. "I couldn't take any more. When she…after that, I didn't want any more to do with them. I guess the feeling was mutual. They never even bothered to say goodbye. I'm not even sure when they left that day."
His heart was pounding against his ribs. Five minutes. Just five minutes, that's all he needed. And he'd keep his hands in his pockets to keep from hitting the bitch. "I don't understand how someone like that was allowed to adopt," he said, shaking his head with disgust.
"I suppose that during the inspection visits, Helen was able to put on a convincing show for the social worker."
"I remember that Christmas," Casey said softly. "I came here with Kelley. It was the first time…" she broke off again. Brushed tears from her cheeks. "It was the first time I had a gift with bows on it. When Grandma Rose would bring over my Christmas gift…she…she would open it. And if it was something really nice, it went to Sheryl. Grandma was angry about that, and eventually she'd just wait until I went to her house, and then she'd take me to town and buy me something. Usually clothes…Sheryl couldn't wear my stuff. I was skinny, and Sheryl…wasn't."
Vicky brushed tears from her cheeks. "I never knew that," she said softly.
Casey smiled. "That Christmas is the first holiday I remember with fondness. Grandma Rose did her best…but whenever…when she was around, it was miserable for everyone."
Every piece that she offered of her past created a dark, bleak picture. It was all he could do to keep from pulling her onto his lap and promising her that the darkness was gone forever, that she would never suffer like that again. He determined in that moment that he was going to do his best to make up for all that she had endured.
"I have something I'd like to give you," Vicky said, reaching for a long, narrow box. Wishing she'd wrapped it, had put a bow on it. "Kelley thought it was an excellent idea."
Casey crossed the room, took the box and opened it slowly. Gasped out loud. Lying on the black velvet inside was a pearl necklace. "Oh, my!"
"That strand of pearls belongs to me. It was a graduation gift from my parents. The strand that had been my grandmother's, and then my mother's, will go to Kelley."
"I can't take this!" Casey objected.
"Yes, you can. You've been like a daughter to me, you've helped Ricky and Kelley so much." She looked at Daniel. "She sat in that hospital room for two days when the doctors were running all of their tests. She understood that my kids needed to…escape, needed to find a way to deal with the…news. She never left my side."
He smiled. Typical Casey, he thought proudly. His heart swelled with love for her.
"It was no big deal," Casey murmured.
"Yes, Casey, it was. It meant a lot to me," Vicky replied. "You'll need pearls for your wedding. Please, I want you to have them."
Her hands were shaking as she carefully closed the box. She'd never received a gift of such magnitude. It wasn't just the gift, it was the emotion behind the giving of that gift. "Thank you," she whispered. She hugged the older woman, careful not to hold her too tightly.
"Now, if you need to be at McChord, you'd better be going. The radio said traffic is backing up."
Casey nodded. "I…I just want you to know…I…"
Vicky reached out and cupped her cheek. "Me, too, honey."
Once more the slender blonde hugged the auburn haired woman. "Tell Kelley I'll call her this weekend with the phone number and address."
Vicky smiled. "I will. It was nice to meet you, Daniel. I wish the best for both of you."
"It was a honor to meet you, and thank you." He smiled at the woman, held her hand for a brief second, felt the slight squeeze against his fingers. He understood the unspoken message, and nodded.
Casey brushed tears from her cheeks. "Goodbye, Mom."
A A A A A A
She hadn't said a word since they'd left the house. He glanced worriedly at her as he inched forward in the traffic. "Babe, are you all right?"
"Pearls, Daniel, she gave me pearls!"
He smiled, reached for her hand. "The heirloom strand is going to Kelley," he pointed out.
"She loves you, Case," he replied.
"When…when the time comes…" she took a shuddering breath. She'd known that the woman liked her…was fond of her. She had never suspected that Vicky could…did…actually love her!
"We'll be here, if at all possible. I promise. Even if we miss the…ceremony, we'll come back so you can say goodbye," he said softly.
She nodded. It was just possible that they would be…somewhere else…when the final moment came. She knew that Daniel would bring her back so that she could at least lay flowers on the grave. "Pearls," she whispered, shaking her head.
He tightened his fingers around hers. Dark and bleak and painful. Her life had been a hell on earth. Never again, he vowed silently, mentally promising her the best, and only the best, for the rest of her life.
A A A A A A
The car was returned to the Avis lot, and a cab called to take them the rest of the way to the base. They arrived not quite twenty minutes before the plane was set to take off. Their duffel bags and Casey's garment bag were checked through, and when the young Airman in charge of accepting tickets began to berate Daniel for being so late, the archaeologist tossed his ID and security badge onto the counter. The young man entered the information into the computer, gulped twice, and apologized for any 'misunderstanding'.
Casey had put just a tiny touch of perfume behind each ear. Daniel had to stand close to her in order to smell it. And it was driving him crazy. "You smell good," he whispered when he sat down beside her.
She smiled. "Thank you. Sexy guy I know bought this perfume."
He grinned. "Sexy, huh?"
"Oh, yeah. Very. Makes me hot just thinking about him," she whispered.
The woman was great for his ego, he thought happily. That she believed what she said was in those amazing green eyes. He lifted her fingers to his lips, kissed her fingertips tenderly.
Just as they had on the flight to Tacoma, Daniel was sitting beside the aisle, which allowed him the chance to stretch his long legs occasionally. Casey was again sitting in the middle. Their seat companion on the return journey was a young Airman who was going home for the holidays. He and Casey began to compare notes on holiday traditions, their favorite Christmas carols, and whether or not fruitcakes were actually edible. Daniel was content to listen, chuckling at her quick wit and offbeat sense of humor.
A A A A A A
Jack was waiting for them at Peterson Air Force base…just a stone's throw from Cheyenne Mountain.
"Jack," Daniel said, as he watched the man approach, the name a greeting as well as a question.
The older man grinned. "General Hammond wants Casey on base ASAP. He has some folders he wants her to…examine."
She knew instantly that they were mission files. She smiled. "As soon as I get my luggage-"
"Already taken care of," Jack replied. As he spoke, an Airman approached, carrying the aforementioned bags.
"How did you do that?" she asked, wide-eyed.
Jack laughed. "Rank," he replied.
"Yeah, well I wasn't going to say anything," she retorted automatically, then blushed.
"You are so not funny," Jack replied. His cheek was twitching.
"I'm so sorry, Colonel," she said quickly. "It just sort of slipped out."
The gray haired man began to chuckle. "Guess I opened the door for it, didn't I?"
She smiled when she realized that he wasn't upset with her. "Yes, you did. And I'm never one to pass up a good opportunity."
"Great. That's all I need. Another smartass on the team," Jack grumped playfully. "I suppose you'll argue with me every time I turn around, too."
"Not every time," she said. "Just when you're wrong."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Smartass."
A A A A A A
Daniel had taken her as far as the general's office, then told her he needed to check his email for several pieces of research information he was expecting. He told her that General Hammond would see to it that she had an escort back to his lab when her meeting was over.
General Hammond stood to his feet when Casey knocked timidly on the door. "Welcome back, Ms. Webster."
"Thank you, sir. And please, call me Casey," she said softly.
The man nodded. "Very well, Casey. I have several folders, possible missions that several of the SG teams will be going on. I'd like for you to take a look at them."
She settled into the chair in front of his desk. She opened the first folder, examined the images taken from the MALP. Read the summary of what the robotic 'scout' had learned. She frowned slightly. "This is very boring."
"I'm sorry, Casey…" the general started, a frown on his face as well.
Casey glanced up. "Oh, no sir…not like that. I mean…this feels…boring. I'm not sure what the team will find. But…boring. Maybe they should take a deck of cards or something while the tests are being conducted."
He fought to hide his smile. "I'll make a note of that."
The second folder elicited the same response. The third folder made her nervous. She closed her eyes…'reached out' to see what she could find near the Stargate. "Oh, god," she said softly. "Rifles…hunting rifles," she murmured.
General Hammond was scribbling notes as she spoke. "Why hunting rifles?"
"Big…black…furry…nasty teeth…they have to be very careful not to be bitten by those things," she said softly. "There's…oh god! There's a village nearby…several children…they've been hurt…poison…natural in the beast…they're dying…" she opened her eyes. "Please, sir, I think we can help them if we can get the right medical care to them. And those things have to be killed."
He nodded. "I'll send a team as soon as I can get one together."
She smiled. "Thank you," she said softly.
The fourth folder brought an even more violent response. She cried out, began to shake. "Metal men! Ambush! Oh, god… they're killing them! Before they can move away from the Stargate!"
The Texas general's face went pale. He realized that Casey didn't know what Jaffa were, or looked like. The description was enough to let him know that that was exactly what she was seeing - an ambush by Jaffa. Had he sent a team through, they most certainly would have been killed. "I believe we'll just scrub this mission," he said quietly.
When her heart had stopped pounding so hard and fast, Casey opened the last folder. "Sir, have you ever met these people before?"
"No, we haven't," he replied.
"Deceit…they're…" she looked over at him, cocked her head sideways. "Colonel O'Neill has already warned you about these people. He…walked…no…that's not right…backwards…he…back…he came back to tell you…message…bloody message…"
The general felt his blood run cold. A note had come through the 'gate, in Jack's handwriting. There had been blood on it, the blood of both the colonel, and Dr. Jackson. It had simply said 'don't go to', and had given the address for a planet. That designation had been locked out of the dialing computer.
"These…people…victims…dying out…Sir, if you go to this planet, you'll expose Earth to the very threat that Colonel O'Neill warned against."
"Then we won't be going," the general said decisively.
She nodded. "Is that it, sir?"
"For this week," the older man smiled. "I imagine we'll be doing this at least once a week, possibly twice."
"Before any team leaves, I should…look. My…um…my letter suggested it would be prudent," she said.
"Fine. You can meet each team in the 'gate room, do a…"
"Search," she provided, remembering the information in the letter that…she…had given her.
"A search before they walk through."
"And when I'm not doing that, what will I be doing?"
"Working with Doctor Jackson. He's been requesting an assistant for some time now. You have office skills, as well as training in the field of anthropology-"
"I never graduated, sir," she pointed out softly.
"I still believe you'll be able to help him with his work." His letter had said that the Daniel Jackson of that reality had taught his wife…his Casey…to read and speak both Goa'uld and Ancient, and that she had learned several other alien languages as well, which aided in communication as well as research and translation of artifacts that were located and brought back to SGC. He smiled at the grin that covered her face.
"Thank you," she said softly.
"You're welcome. Now, I suggest you go get started."
Casey stood to her feet. "I don't suppose you have a map of this place, with a 'you are here' reference, do you?"
General Hammond laughed, picked up the phone. "Send any available Airman to my office," he said.
A young man knocked on the door. "Sir?"
"Please escort Ms. Webster to Doctor Jackson's office."
"Yes, sir. This way, ma'am."
With a smile at the general, Casey followed the young man down the corridor and onto the elevator. Five minutes later she was standing in the doorway of a room filled with artifacts, watching Daniel as he frowned at a large, stone tablet. She stood and watched him for a few minutes. Walked into the room. Leaned over and put her elbows on the table beside him. "So what does it say?"
He grinned. He'd been aware of her presence for several minutes. "I haven't figured it out yet," he admitted.
"Maybe you have it upside down," she suggested.
Daniel looked over at her. "I don't think so."
She shrugged. "Just trying to help."
"It's a language based on Ancient. But it's a variant I've never seen before," he explained.
"Which leads me back to my first suggestion."
"Smartass." He stood up, leaned against the table, arms folded over his chest.
"You're just ticked because I figured out that you're reading it upside down," she insisted. "And I'll bet it's not even important. Probably just Aunt Mildred's recipe for stewed intruders with hot shot archaeologist shish-ka-bobs."
He cracked up. "You are such a wiseass!"
"Smart and wise…you'd do well to listen to my ass," she said, wrapping her arms around his neck.
Sam had heard the laughter as she approached the door. She stopped; the sound so…rare, that she had to make sure she was really hearing it. Yep, that was Daniel…laughing as if he didn't have a care in the world. She walked into the office to find the archaeologist with his arms full of a certain blonde. "Whoa, excuse me," she teased.
Daniel looked over at his friend and grinned. "Hey, Sam."
"Welcome back, Daniel. You too, Casey," the blonde major smiled.
"Thanks, Major Carter," Casey smiled shyly.
"Um…no…it's Sam," the woman corrected with a grin. "Only Teal'c insists on calling me Major Carter."
"All right…Sam," Casey replied.
"So what's up?" Daniel asked.
"Just taking a break. I think I'm close to figuring out that generator. But I've been staring at the same components for the past three hours and I haven't come up with a logical reason for the configuration."
"It's alien technology, Sam," Daniel replied with a shrug. "It might not be…logical…from our standpoint."
"This is why I talk to you," the woman grinned. "You occasionally have a usable idea."
"Occasionally?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"It's been known to happen," Sam teased. "I need to get back. Doctor Lee is helping me with this, and he gets grumpy if I take too many breaks."
"Since Casey has had her meeting with General Hammond, I think we're going to call it a day," Daniel said, stretching slightly.
Sam grinned. She had a feeling that unless it was an emergency, Daniel wouldn't be pulling all-nighters any longer. And that was a good thing. She sighed mentally. If only she had someone…a certain someone…to go home to, she wouldn't pull all-nighters either.
Casey cocked her head to one side. Studied the tall blonde. "Don't give up hope," she said softly. "It will happen, sooner than you think."
The blonde jerked slightly. "What?"
"Whatever it was you were…wishing for…it will happen…soon," Casey replied, shrugging slightly.
Sapphire blue eyes met cerulean blue ones. Living with a seer must be downright spooky! She could see the happiness…the love that blazed in those familiar eyes. It was nice to see something besides sadness, loneliness reflected there. "I hope so," she finally replied softly.
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