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When Two Hearts Collide
When she opened her eyes it took her a few seconds to focus on her surroundings. She was facing a set of French doors, floor to ceiling windows on each side. The sun was shining, drifted through the open slats of the wooden blinds, fell over the bed where she was lying, and into her eyes. There was a tall chest of drawers near her head. And something hard, heavy, and warm at her back. Something heavy lay across her waist as well. A soft snore behind her alerted her to just what…or rather who…that hard, heavy, warm something was. His arm was around her, holding her close to his body. They were lying spooned together on his bed.
She blinked, rubbed her eyes with the heel of one hand. The sudden buzzing of an alarm above her head startled her. Brought a groan from behind her. The arm that circled around her reached up, hand searching to find the source of the unwelcome noise.
Damned alarm. Just need a few more minutes…He slowly moved toward consciousness. Warm. Soft. Something smelled… sweet. Oh, hell, had he gone to Deezers and brought one of the dancers home? He frowned. He didn't feel hung over. Didn't have that contented 'just got laid' feeling, either. In fact, he was actually feeling pretty damned aroused! Strip club? Where had that thought come from, anyway?
"I don't suppose there are any...gentlemen's clubs...in this town..."
His eyes flew open. No way in hell would she ever…she…Casey was lying beside him; she had shifted to her back, and those amazing green eyes were looking straight up at him. "'Morning," he said, smiling at her.
"Good morning," she replied softly, shyly.
He shut the alarm off, rolled to his back, rubbed both hands over his face, then reached for his glasses. "We have a briefing this morning."
She nodded. Sat up, scooted to the edge of the bed, pulled her knees up and rested her cheek on them. They were both still dressed, wearing jeans and sweaters.
"We need to talk," he said softly.
Well, it's been fun, she thought bitterly. At least she'd been able to shower. Had eaten something. Had been able to sleep. Had stayed warm. Had survived the night. She nodded.
He rolled to his side facing her, propped his head on his hand. "I'm lousy at relationships."
"What?" Her confusion was mirrored in her eyes.
He shook his head, smiled ruefully at her. "See what I mean? I don't want to blow this, Casey. I damned near did yesterday. I am so sorry for the way I behaved during that meeting. I…I acted like a total ass."
She nodded slowly. Suddenly cocked her head sideways. Images that she couldn’t understand filled her mind…a snake-like creature, well, maybe more like an eel, nasty whatever it was…dark eyes full of terror…the creature forcing its way into the woman's body…screams of pain…the same dark eyes flashing with light. Another creature…the same thing happening to a tall woman with gray eyes. He wasn't anywhere near either of the…events. "You aren't to blame. What happened to…dark hair, dark eyes?"
His eyes went wide. "Sha're," he said softly.
"Not your fault. It was…sometimes things happen for a reason," she said softly. "And…tall strawberry blonde, gray eyes… that wasn't your fault either. In fact, you managed to save several people by forcing the…the ga…guh..."
"Yes! You forced the Goa'uld to move before…he…yes, before he was ready. He had already killed twice. But he would have killed again. He had to…run away…That saved innocent lives, Daniel," she said softly.
The guilt that he'd carried over Sarah's infestation by the Goa'uld known as Osiris lightened considerably. "I should have been there for Sha're," he whispered. "She was my wife, I didn't protect her."
She chose to ignore the fact that the dark haired, dark-eyed beauty was…had been his wife. Wasn't ready to confront that particular bit of knowledge just yet. "If she hadn't been taken, you wouldn't have met Teal'c. He wouldn't have joined you in your battle against the Goa'uld. With Teal'c at…his…with him…um…he…" she frowned slightly, able to see the face, but unsure of the name.
"Apophis?" He watched her eyes…she looked as if she were staring at something just behind him. He knew she wasn't seeing the books and the artifacts on the shelves, however.
She frowned as words, images flashed in her mind with lightening speed, forcing her to struggle to keep up with the influx of information. "Yes. If Teal'c had remained Apophis'…First Prime?"
"Then chances are you wouldn't have been able to defeat him. You never would have stopped those ships before they…" her eyes went wide. "Oh, my god!"
He sat up. "What?"
She stared at him, mouth agape. "You…you and them…and they…and you…almost died…and you…and they…"
He grinned. "Okay, I've got the 'me and them' part."
She closed her mouth. Glared at him for a second. "Bite me. I've never met an honest-to-goodness-saved-the-freaking-planet hero before!" she snapped.
There was no way to stop the laugh that erupted. "I don't know about the hero part," he said.
"I do! I just saw the whole damned thing! You…and Major Carter, and Teal'c, and Colonel O'Neill…you were damned near dead…but that…box thingy saved you…and they made it back, and you made it to…wherever…geez Daniel, you guys save the planet on a regular basis!"
He shrugged, could feel the heat in his cheeks at her wide-eyed awe. "Just doing our jobs," he muttered.
Suddenly she understood just how important what happened in the…SGC…was. She would just have to find a way to deal with the pain of not being with the man who was her Destiny. Her own happiness was inconsequential compared to what was happening there! She turned, put her feet on the floor, stared out the window at the mountains in the distance. Even if she couldn't be…happy…at least she could be part of something important. Could fulfill her own Destiny. She jumped when she felt his hand move gently up and down her back.
He had to touch her. No choice. Hand moving on its own. The warmth of her body sent sparks of electricity up his arm, down his spine. Straight into his rising cock. "Casey?"
She took a deep breath. Here it comes, she thought morosely. The explanation on why he could never become involved with her. That he didn't love her…wait…before they had gone to sleep, hadn't he said…told her…"Hmm?"
"I swear I'll try to do better."
Now that left her totally confused! She turned around to face him. "Better?"
"I know I hurt you yesterday. I have no excuse…well, I was scared shitless, but-"
"Scared? Of what?"
"Falling in love with you. Losing you. Every woman I've loved has been hurt because…of me." The conversation, he noted, was moving back to its beginning. He needed for her to understand the depth of his fear. He laced his fingers with hers, held tightly to her hand.
She shook her head. "Not every woman, Daniel. I saw what happened to…Sha're. Yes, it was horrible. But it wasn't your fault. She…" Casey closed her eyes, tried to interpret the new influx of images that were flooding her mind. "Her...her um... destiny…she…someone named…Ra …he would have killed her, and all those with her. She lived longer than she was…fated to, all of them did…because of you and Colonel O'Neill…and she was so happy…just a short time, but so much happiness. When she was…taken…she fought. Then…pregnant…so ashamed…after the birth of her…son…She weakened the…um…Goa'uld. Just enough to protect a village of people. After that…" she shook her head, opened her eyes. "There was a battle for control. Sha're was strong, but she wasn't strong enough. After saving that village…" she shook her head again. "She was only a shadow of who she had been."
He closed his eyes as a flood of emotions washed over him. Love for the beautiful woman who had been given to him, and had accepted him…loved him…so willingly. Anger that she had been taken. Guilt that he hadn't been there to protect her. Grief for losing the beautiful woman who'd been his wife, if only for one short year. Fear, and worry, from the changes he'd felt in her when he'd found her pregnant with Apophis' child on Abydos. Gratitude for helping him accept what had to be when Teal'c saved him from Amaunet. Knowing that she had been able to protect a group of people…even though she had been lost, gave meaning, a reason, for the whole damned mess. Sha're would have told him that it was a most equitable trade. And that it was an honor to be able to protect others. She would have borne any horror gladly, knowing she had saved just one life. He remembered the whispered declaration of love before she died. Her way of saying goodbye to him; the last glimpse, the last breath of the woman Sha're had been. In that moment, lying on his bed in his apartment in Silver Springs, his hand clutching the soft fingers of the woman who was his Destiny, he said his final goodbye to Sha're. He opened his eyes.
The tears in those cerulean blue depths brought tears to her own. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.
"Thank you," he whispered.
"I never knew…never would have known that Sha're…that her death…that being taken as a host to Amaunet had…had a purpose."
He still loved this Sha're. Deeply. More than he would ever be able to love her, she was sure.
"Yes, I loved her. I loved her so very much," he said softly, seeing the fear, the sadness in those amazing pools of emerald green. "I was never in love with her."
She had no idea how to respond to this revelation, so she chose to remain silent.
"I've fallen head over heels in love with you."
Casey gasped, felt her heart begin to pound against her ribs. Felt something…warm…move over her body. As if she were waking up, stepping into the sunshine for the very first time in her life.
He watched her eyes, the surprise that filled them. Had he irreparably damaged any chance with her? Had his actions in that meeting totally destroyed what might be…might have been? "I need to know…do you think you'll ever be able to love me?"
"Love you?" She could see his fears, his doubts. Knew that he was allowing her to see what he felt, needed for her to see, to know…to understand. "Done deal there, pal," she replied. Yep. She was definitely in love with the archaeologist. In spite of her best efforts to resist.
His eyes went wide, then he grinned. "Really?"
"Forever," he said softly.
"Forever," she replied, her voice barely above a whisper.
He reached out to cup her cheek, ran his thumb over her full lips. He was going to kiss her. Because he'd explode if he didn't. "C'mere," he whispered.
She leaned toward him. Watched the blue of his eyes darken with desire.
He watched the tip of her tongue moisten her lips. Felt as if he had just been hit with a few thousand volts. Or amps. Whichever caused electrocution, he could never remember which was which. Watched her eyes flutter closed just before those sweet lips touched his. The impact of that gentle contact was akin to being hit with a zat'nik'tel!
The shockwave that hit her as a result of her lips touching his rolled over her, surrounded her, enveloped her. She was a virgin, true. But she'd kissed a man before. A couple of boys when she had been younger. It had been nothing like this!
Sweet, so damned sweet! He moved his tongue over her lips, begging entrance to her mouth, needing to touch her, taste her.
The sensation of his tongue against her lips made her gasp. She felt him move forward gently, slowly. She opened for him, shyly, not quite sure what to expect, what to do. She'd never experienced a kiss this passionate, filled with such…need.
If kissing her was this good, making love to her was going to kill him! He could feel her hesitancy, her…shyness. Didn't want to frighten her. It took every ounce of self-control he could muster to keep from grabbing her and shoving his tongue down her throat. He stroked her, caressed her mouth with his tongue, let his lips move over hers gently, softly.
She'd never experienced desire as deep as the need that overwhelmed her. She let him take from her until that need was too great to fight. Her tongue began to move against his, sought and found entrance to his mouth. She tasted him, touched him, just as he'd done to her. Her need drove her, encouraged her, directed her. So good, she thought, he tastes so very good!
He allowed her time to learn his mouth, but the desire to taste more of her was too strong. He battled with her for control of the kiss, the struggle turning him on, making his aching cock strain against the zipper of his jeans. His hand moved from her cheek to the back of her head, holding her while he took from her, gave back to her; felt her take from him, give back to him.
Her nipples ached. There was heat between her thighs like she had never experienced before. She wanted to be naked, and she wanted him naked, and she wanted him on top of her…and where did the bells come from?
His ears were ringing. He'd never kissed a woman and had his ears ring before…Goddamn it! He groaned, pulled away from her. Her eyes were still closed, her lips parted slightly, dark pink and swollen from his kisses. He groaned again. "What?" he barked into the receiver after he yanked the phone from its base.
In the mountain Jack O'Neill grinned. "Good morning to you too, Space Monkey. Not interrupting anything, am I?"
Daniel looked at Casey. Her eyes were shining with love…and lust…and hope…and oh, god I love her! "Yes, you are. Now what?"
"You do remember that we have a briefing this morning, right?"
"Yeah, at eight."
"It's seven fifty-five, Danny."
Daniel sat up, looked at the clock. Shit! He'd forgotten to reset the alarm! "Yeah, we're on our way." He let the receiver clatter back into the cradle. "We have to go," he said. He reached out, put his hand behind her neck, pulled her in for one more kiss, before he reluctantly let her move away. "Later," he whispered.
She nodded. Oh, swell. She'd burn like this all day, and worry about the fact that she was a virgin and no way in hell could she satisfy a gorgeous, sexy, virile hunk of man like Dr. Daniel Jackson. If his kisses were anything to go by, she'd be dead by the time he finished making love to her!
He sat up, pulled his boots on. "We'll have to grab coffee at the base. We are so late," he moaned.
"It's my fault. I…you got up in the middle of the night to look for me."
"Not your fault, babe. I'm the one who forgot to reset the alarm."
Her heart shivered at the endearment. She had her boots on. She picked up her coat, followed him down the hallway. Her purse was on the sofa. She grabbed it, glanced around the sunlit room. Class. Money. And maybe, just maybe, she'd fit in here anyway.
A A A A A A
General Hammond ducked his head and grinned when Daniel and Casey rushed through the door, still wearing their coats. The young archaeologist hadn't even taken time to put on the requisite BDU. Jack didn't bother hiding the grin that nearly split his face. Sam was smiling as well, her eyes shining with happiness for her best friend. Teal'c was nodding with approval. None of them had a clue how the two had managed to get together. All of them were very glad that they had.
"Sorry," Daniel muttered. "I forgot to reset the alarm."
"Don't make a habit of being late for briefings," General Hammond said, doing his best to sound and look stern. "Now that Ms. Webster is here, I'd like for her to see Doctor Fraiser. But before we do that…" He opened a folder. "Ms. Webster, I have some forms here that need your signature. Non-disclosure forms. What happens here is classified, and all personnel are required to sign, and abide by, these contracts. If you're willing, that is."
Casey scanned the pages. Already knew that she would do whatever was required of her. Because she belonged here. She knew it. For the first time in her life, she was exactly where she was meant to be; doing, or would be doing, exactly what she was meant to do. She took the pen that the general offered, and carefully wrote her name on the indicated line on each page. She slid the papers back to the general, who smiled warmly at her.
"Would you mind taking a look at this information? Tell me what you see, if anything," he said, grabbing a second folder, inside which was the report about and the images from P5X 729.
With a nod Casey took the folder. Read the report. Didn't understand half of it. Looked at the images. Began to giggle. "Sandcastles," she said, smiling.
"Excuse me?" Hammond said, confusion written plainly on his face.
She glanced up, her cheeks flushed pink. "I'm sorry," she said softly. "I just…well, it looked like people walking out of that… the…Stargate!" she gasped. "That's a Stargate!"
The people at the table exchanged surprised glances. Looked at Daniel.
"Not a word, I swear," he said.
She shook her head slightly. Looked at the images and began to giggle again. "It's just that the sand is blowing so hard, and it's so very fine that as soon as they step through, they get all covered, and they look like a giant sandcastle. And the…the robot thingy with them, it looks like a sandcastle too!"
Smiles flickered around the table. "Do you…sense…any danger?" the general asked.
Casey frowned. Began to reach out, unaware that she was even doing so, until she found herself standing on that planet, with the two orange suns, and the wind, and the sand.
"Don't worry, Sunshine, you'll get used to it," Miss Eloise said, smiling at her.
She whirled around to see the tiny, white haired woman standing behind her. "How…I…I…how in…I don't understand!" Casey stammered.
Miss Eloise cackled. "I'm not sure how it works either. I just know that it does."
"You tell me, Sunshine."
"I have no clue."
"Search, Casey. Reach out and tell me what you feel," the old woman said gently.
"Hot. Windy. Blowing sand. It would ruin the equipment." She moved over the surface of the planet. Knew what they were looking for…hoping for. "There's nothing here. What was here was sandblasted away long ago."
She nodded. Reached out and grasped a gnarled hand with both of hers. "Will you…?"
"As long as you need me, Sunshine."
She opened her eyes. "What you're seeking isn't there. The sand…it just…"
"Erosion," Sam said, nodding.
Casey smiled. "It took centuries. You could probably still find small pieces. But it's not there any longer."
The general nodded. "All right. Thank you, Ms Webster."
She smiled, shrugged slightly. "That's what I'm here for."
General Hammond smiled at her. "Glad to hear it," he said softly. "The president-"
"The president wants proof before he'll agree to let me work here. It's a CYA thing," Casey said, grinning slightly.
"C-Y-A?" Teal'c asked, frowning.
"Cover Your Ass. In this case, the president is covering his," Casey explained.
"Politicians are good at that," Jack grumped.
General Hammond bit back a chuckle. He motioned to the airman who stood guard at the door. "Take Ms. Webster down to the infirmary."
"Yes, sir. This way, ma'am," the young man said.
Daniel grabbed her hand, squeezed her fingers before letting her move away from the table.
She smiled, her heart doing flip-flops in her chest when he winked at her. She turned to follow the uniformed guard.
"So, uh…she spent the night at your place, huh?" Jack asked, that wide grin back on his face.
Daniel grimaced. "Does anyone remember her saying that she emptied out her checking account for gas money to get here?"
All of his companions nodded. "Yes, she said she did that immediately following the discussion with her spirit guide," Teal'c said.
"Yeah, well think about that for a minute," he said. Watched as frowns began to crease faces. Nodded when he could see that they were beginning to understand. "Yeah. I found her in the parking lot at Piggly-Wiggly. She was sleeping in her car. Hell, she was so cold when I found her, she was damned near unconscious. It took me five minutes to wake her up."
"Oh, lord," Jack moaned.
"I should have arranged quarters for her," General Hammond said, surprise…and guilt…on his face. "If she'd come here from off-world, I'd have done so without a second thought. But she was from…" he shook his head.
"And we assumed that she would've made her own arrangements," Daniel finished.
"To be fair, she did drive across country alone. She's a very capable, independent woman," Sam said softly.
"And living on the freaking edge," Daniel muttered. He shook his head, waved one hand in a dismissive gesture when he saw the curious looks around him. "That's something for her and I to work out," he said softly.
"The normal background check on Ms. Webster was done yesterday, I had it started after our first discussion with her. I also had the process expedited," General Hammond said. He opened another folder that sat in front of him. "It's not complete by any means, but it's a start. I normally wouldn't share this information with you, but as she's going to be working with you-" he glanced up, looking for any objections that might not be voiced, but would be present in the eyes or the expressions of the team members. Saw nothing but acceptance, and curiosity. "I'll let you know what I've learned. According to records, she wasn't more than a few hours old when she was left on the steps of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Tacoma. She was placed in the orphanage. Adopted at age five by Frank and Helen Webster. What neighbors we could find informed our agent that home life for her was unhappy at best, abusive at worst."
Daniel nodded. "My letter says she was abused as a child, more emotionally and mentally than physically, although there was some physical abuse."
The general nodded his understanding. "She's always been a hard worker. One neighbor indicated that she was babysitting regularly at age thirteen. Teachers all liked her, and several made comments about her ability to solve complex problems in rather unique ways. Two years at Western Washington University. Declared anthropology major."
"That's right up your alley, Danny," Jack said, grinning at his best friend.
The young man grinned in return.
"This is what I find very interesting. Her roommate in college, one Kelley Campbell, who also was forced to drop out due to finances, incidentally, has an older brother who was Navy Seal. His military record is impressive. Nearly fifty classified missions. It seems that Ms. Webster learned how to play laser tag and paint ball with this Richard Campbell. From what we learned, the two were considered quite formidable. They took first place in several paint ball tournaments."
Jack was frowning. "Paint ball tournaments are sort of like civilian training exercises, sir. Most of them are run by former military personnel, and I've heard they can be grueling."
"I've heard the same, Colonel. According to our agent, Ms. Webster and Mr. Campbell went on a two-day exercise in northwest Idaho. They were given forty-eight hours to traverse fifty-seven miles, most of which was rugged, mountain terrain, avoid capture, and take out three specific targets. They succeeded, in spite of the efforts of nine other teams to stop them, or slow them down."
"I'd like to see for myself what she can do, sir," Jack said.
"I agree. So I want you to arrange an exercise. We have a group of young recruits coming for training. Let's see how well they can do against her," the general said.
"I'll see to it, sir," Jack agreed.
"She'll need to move her things here, sir," Daniel said quietly.
General Hammond sat back in his chair. "I suppose that someone should accompany her," he said, his eyes revealing none of the emotions he was feeling. He was remembering the way Daniel had rushed out of the room the day before. He had a feeling he knew what was about to happen.
"I'll go, sir," Sam said immediately. Daniel hadn't wanted to take her to her car yesterday, let him sit this trip out as well.
"Very well, major," the general replied.
"With all due respect sir-" Daniel began.
"I believe it would be better for Major Carter to accompany Ms Webster." General Hammond said. Just to let the man know he hadn't approved of his behavior after that meeting, or during it for that matter.
"No, sir. If anyone goes with Casey, it will be me." Daniel said firmly. His jaw was set stubbornly, his eyes dared anyone, including the general, to argue with him.
The Texas general couldn't help but chuckle. "Very well, Doctor Jackson. Check flights from Peterson. You'll have forty-eight hours to wrap up any loose ends that need Ms. Webster's attention."
Daniel nodded. "Leaving when, sir?"
"As soon as possible this afternoon. I want you back no later than Thursday afternoon."
"Colonel, I'd like for that training exercise to be sometime next week."
"Yes, sir," Jack replied.
"Until the exercise is over, I'm taking you off mission rotation." Once again the general's blue eyes looked for disagreement. Found none. "Very good. You have your orders. Dismissed."
Sam and Jack rose quickly, stayed at attention until the general was back in his office. "If she's played paintball, she'll have some idea about weapons," Jack said, perching on the corner of the table beside Daniel. "I want to take her to the shooting range and find out just what she can do. I'll schedule that for Friday."
"Good idea, sir," Sam agreed. She looked at Daniel. "So you found her in the parking lot?"
Daniel nodded his head. "Sitting there, asleep in her car. Half frozen to death. I took her to my place, let her take a shower, managed to get her to eat something. She slept on the couch for a little while-"
"Daniel, you dog," Jack grinned.
The young man shook his head sadly. "I wish. She took off. After what happened in here yesterday…"
"Yeah, about that…what the hell was that, anyway?" Jack asked.
"Fear," the young man replied quietly. None of his teammates needed to ask what he was afraid of; they were aware of the demons that haunted him, even if he didn't realize they knew. "Anyway, we sort of talked a bit…she went to sleep on the couch, I was convinced I'd blown any chance I might have had with her…I woke up after a nightmare-"
Jack winced. He had shared a tent with Daniel often enough to know about the nightmares that haunted his best friend. Sam knew about them as well, had held him several times as he cried out his grief…his anger…his torment.
"-and she was gone. I knew she'd gone back to her car. She was sitting there crying, because the damned thing wouldn't start."
"I’m not surprised," Sam muttered.
Daniel grinned. "Biggest POS I've ever seen!" The grin faded. "She said she was alone, broke, no job, no place to go…then she asked me if there were any…how did she put that… oh, yeah, if there were any 'gentlemen's club's' in town. Seems she was offered a job like that in Tacoma, so she figured she could find one here."
"Gentlemen's clubs?" Sam frowned.
"Strip joint," Jack offered.
The young archaeologist shook his head. "No way in hell would I ever let her work in a place like that!"
"What about working here?"
Daniel lowered his head, stared at his hands. "She wasn't going to do it, she said it would hurt too much, and she didn't have the strength to fight the pain."
"I do not understand, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said a frown on his handsome face. "In what way would she be injured by merely working here?"
"Heartache, Teal'c. I already knew how she felt about me…I could see it in her eyes." He shook his head. "I tried so damned hard to tell myself that I didn't dare let myself love her."
"What happened?" Sam asked softly.
He shrugged. "I really didn't want to get involved with her. I kept telling myself I was doing it to protect her. But…" The broad shoulders moved up and down again. "I fell in love with her. When I found her crying, because that piece of shit car of hers wouldn't start…She…she was so tired, so…defeated, she didn't even fight me when I took her back to the apartment. I curled up on the bed with her, held her while she slept. Guess I got a bit of sleep too. This morning…we talked. She has an amazing gift. She…saw things…things about Sha're, things about Sarah. She even saw what we did when we stopped Apophis. Anyway…" he shook his head once again.
"It's all worked out now?" Jack asked.
"I think so."
"So what did I interrupt?"
He looked up at his friend, grinned broadly. "A kiss that damned near killed me."
"Good, huh?" Jack teased.
"Never had better," Daniel replied. He put his hands flat on the table, pushed himself to his feet. "I need to find out what flights are available, get a rental car and a room booked."
Jack nodded. "Go to it. If I don't see you before you leave, be careful."
"Yes, Dad," Daniel teased. He stood up and left the conference room, hands shoved into his pockets. He wasn't even aware that he was whistling as he walked down the corridor.
"He's got it bad," Jack grinned.
"Head over heels," Sam said, her grin matching Jack's.
"Indeed," Teal'c said, a smile on his face.
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