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When Two Hearts Collide
The lights were beautiful. The apartment building was set among a dozen other such buildings, but at the edge of a comfortable neighborhood of single family homes. The night was clear, and they were bundled against the cold. Daniel had tucked her gloved hand into his pocket, wrapped firmly by his own leather covered fingers.
"Oh, look," Casey said softly. They stopped on the sidewalk in front of a large, two story home. The Christmas tree was sitting in the bay window. Inside, visible to anyone who bothered to look, a family was gathered around a piano. It was obvious that they were singing. "That's a Norman Rockwell painting if I've ever seen one."
He smiled. "That's what a family should look like."
"Not necessarily," she replied. "Family can be any group of people who care for each other, love each other…need one another."
"Good point." They walked on, commenting quietly on the displays and colorful lights. "I never did thank you for taking care of that…situation…with Cassie."
"I didn't take care of anything. All I did was talk to her. Acknowledged that what she felt was real. Because it was…still is if I don't miss my guess. But she'll move on. In fact, I won't be a bit surprised to hear more about Robert Anderson tomorrow."
"I thought they were on winter break right now," Daniel said. In his mind, if Cassie wasn't in school, boys weren't a part of her life. A view he would soon be challenged to face…and change.
She giggled. "They are. Have you never heard of phones, or malls?"
He grinned. "If I'd just known…" he shook his head slightly. "How do you tell a young woman that you don't see her 'that' way, without hurting her?" He was well aware that his reaction to Cassie's kiss had broken the teenager's heart. He'd been so shocked that he'd reacted instinctively, not having time to think about how he should respond to the situation.
"You don't. Because to tell her that you don’t see her 'that' way is going to hurt, no matter what words you use," Casey replied. "I think she understands that you don't see her that way. I told her that you'd consider it betraying Janet if you did."
"Very innovative. Makes me look like a good guy," he added.
"That’s because you are." She shivered.
"Let's go home. I'm ready for hot chocolate."
A A A A A A
They were in the middle of their second game of Scrabble, Casey was insisting that Daniel could only use words from the English language, found in the Webster's Dictionary, he was arguing that every word of the American English language had been taken from some other source, when the doorbell rang.
They exchanged a glance. They weren't expecting anyone. There was no reason for any of their friends to stop by tonight. Jack, Sam, Teal'c, and Janet had been thrilled to be invited to spend Christmas day with the couple. It had been decided that gifts would be exchanged when they were all together, after the meal…something they were all looking forward to, thanks to Daniel's glowing reports of Casey's culinary skills. To that end, she'd spent the majority of the day preparing for that meal. Two pumpkin pies, one apple pie, and at least four dozen of six different types of cookies, including decorated cut-out sugar cookies, had been baked. Bread had been cubed, seasoned and toasted for the stuffing. The turkey was waiting in the refrigerator, along with two kinds of cranberry salad. The sweet potatoes and white potatoes had been diced, and were sitting in bowls of water in the fridge. Daniel was certain that none of them were going to be able to move after Christmas dinner. The doorbell rang a second time.
Daniel climbed to his feet and went to see who was there. Opened the door to find a smiling Cassie and a tall, blond haired young man. "Cassie?"
"Hi, Daniel! Is Casey home?"
He bit back his grin. Whatever had happened in that lab before Janet and Sam had joined them…and Casey had refused to tell anyone what had been discussed…it had resulted in a deep and growing friendship between the teenager and the woman he loved. "Yeah, come on in." He stepped back, let the two into the apartment. "Case, we have company."
"Cassie!" Casey was pleasantly surprised when the young woman greeted her with a hug. "What brings you here?"
"Well, we were getting ready to go to Christmas Mass with Robert's family, and I wanted to stop by so you could meet him," Cassie explained.
Casey glanced at the young man. He was staring at her. Uh oh. She stepped closer to Daniel. "I'm glad you did, Cass."
"Robert, this is Casey. Didn't I tell you she looks like a movie star?"
The young man nodded. "Yeah, but you're still prettier," he said quietly.
Score one for Robert Anderson, Casey thought happily, watching as the teenager blushed prettily, obviously pleased.
"Casey, this is Robert."
Cassie giggled. "The one and only."
She leaned close to Cassie. "You're right, he's a hunk," she said in a stage whisper. Noted that the young man's cheeks went pink, and his eyes lit up as they remained on Cassie's face. "It's nice to meet you, Robert."
"'Ma'am'…oh lord, I am now officially old," Casey moaned.
Laughing, Cassie introduced Daniel to her boyfriend. Gee, she'd never noticed that Daniel was getting…old! He had lines around his eyes that she hadn't noticed before. He was still drop dead gorgeous…for an older guy.
Casey watched the young woman's eyes. Yep, she was seeing Daniel clearly now. "So, can you stay for a cup of hot chocolate?"
"No, thanks," Cassie replied. "We only have a few minutes, the church they go to is just a few blocks from here."
"Oh, that must be where the bells are. I love the sound of church bells," Casey said.
"Well, we have to go. See you tomorrow!" Cassie bubbled.
"We'll be here," Casey replied.
The teenagers were gone as quickly as they had arrived.
"Wow." Daniel said, shaking his head. "That was…strange."
"No it wasn't," Casey said, settling back down on the floor at the coffee table, ready to play Scrabble again.
"It wasn't?" He sat down, helped her turn the tiles face down.
"Nope. It's a woman thing. Letting me know that I won round one. She's still in the game, just going after a different prize," Casey explained.
"You're her first real love, Daniel. Even if it wasn't a mutual thing, she did love you. I, however, am the one who has your heart, your love. So, I win round one. I get her first love. But she's not giving up on love. She's focusing on someone new, someone more…attainable. Looks like she has him, too."
"He looks a little old for her. Do you think Janet has met him? I know how these guys are, and that kid has some experience, trust me. If he even thinks about touching Cassie, I'll rearrange his face! Cassie isn't old enough-" he broke off. Casey was rolling on the floor laughing. "What?"
"You're too funny. I'm quite certain that Janet has met Robert," Casey replied, wiping tears from her eyes. "Cassie wouldn't have been allowed out of the house with him if she hadn't. I think Robert is a fine young man. And as for the other…well, Cassie is a smart young woman. Her mother is a doctor. I think she has all of the information she needs on how to deal with certain… situations. Not to mention that Sam and I gave her ideas that worked for us."
He grinned. "Such as?"
With a flash of wicked humor, Casey slid close to Daniel, put her head on his shoulder. "I know you love me," she said breathlessly, "and that you want me to prove my love to you. And I really want to do that. But I want it to be perfect. I want my first time to be something I'll remember and treasure forever. And I want to be sure that we're both protected, I don't want to get pregnant because I have plans to go to college-"
"This is starting to sound like I'm not going to get laid," Daniel said dryly.
"Smart boy," Casey giggled.
"News flash. That won't work forever. He's going to start pressuring her to find the perfect place, and time, et cetera," Daniel warned. "He might even try to plan that 'perfect' evening."
"There are ways to deal with that, too."
She looked into his eyes. "You keep saying you love me, that you respect me. But you keep pushing me to do something I'm not ready to do. I assume that you've had your way with other girls, and if so, well, just to clue you in, I'm not that type. I don't drop my pants for every guy who asks me out. I'm beginning to believe that you don't love me at all. You only want me for sex. And since you've been with so many other girls, how do I know that you won't give me some disease if I do decide that I want to be with you?"
"Ouch! Now I'm left defending myself, professing my love-" he stopped. "You're good!"
Casey giggled. "Yes, I am. Those are just my ideas. You should have heard some of the things Sam and Janet suggested!"
Daniel laughed. "Then I suppose I should relax and trust Cassie to be able to handle herself, and the guy she's out with?"
"Exactly. She also knows what to do if there's a guy who just won' take no for an answer."
"And that is?"
"To get to a safe place if at all possible. To keep her cell phone nearby and call you, Jack and/or Teal'c immediately, no matter what time it is."
He nodded. If that call ever came, the world would be short of one punk creep. No doubt in his mind. "Good."
"Now, are you going to stop cheating and play a fair game of Scrabble?"
"Me, cheat? Oh, that's going to cost you! I do not cheat!"
"You do so!"
"I do not cheat. Just because your vocabulary is limited to the English language-" He broke off at the look in her green eyes.
"You just wait, cupcake," she said. "Next year, I'm going to wipe the floor with you."
He burst into laughter. He'd already started teaching her Goa'uld. She had unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and had thrown herself in to learning the language with as much enthusiasm as she seemed to do everything in her life. He couldn't help but wonder what kind of vivacious woman she would have been if she'd had parents who would have nurtured her, encouraged her. "There are other games we could play."
"Spin the bottle. Post office. Doctor…"
She began to giggle. "I suppose you were a regular participant in those games as a child?"
"Nope. Never got to play them. I was never invited to the parties."
"We really should try them. Just so we can say we've played them."
"I have no clue what the rules are."
"We'll fake that part."
"Works for me," she said, just before his lips claimed hers. The bells that began to ring at midnight from the church two blocks away weren't the only ones ringing. It was after one when they fell into happily exhausted sleep.
A A A A A A
Daniel stood looking at the tree, and the gifts beneath it. Those that she'd wrapped had such intricate bows on them…some looked like roses, others were so delicate, made with such thin ribbon that it seemed that breathing on them could destroy them. She'd worked for hours on those bows, every night that week. She was an amazing woman, his Wife.
"Well, do I look okay?"
He turned around. She was wearing a short red skirt, with a silky red and black sweater. Red heels with ankle straps adorned her feet…god he loved ankle straps! What the hell was it about them that turned him on so? "You look beautiful," he replied softly.
She looked him over, his hands were shoved into the pockets of his black, pleated Dockers, a dark blue sweater stretched over his chest. "You look great," she said, smiling at him. "Did you check the turkey?"
"Yep. Did just what you told me to do."
"Good." She glanced around, making certain that the room looked 'just right'. The boxes that contained her belongings had arrived. Daniel had immediately set up her stereo, putting it, and the baskets of CD's, in the lower half of the TV cabinet, and setting the speakers on the tops of the oak units. Her cookbooks, and the copper pots, and ceramic mixing bowls and Grandma Rose's crystal and china had been put away. Her books had joined his in the already overflowing glass-fronted bookcases. Her candles filled the room, as well as the bedroom, and even the bathroom. The tea jar that had belonged to her grandmother was on the sofa table. And two canvases that she'd found and fallen in love with in college were now in frames, and hanging in the hallway. They were simple paintings, just ordinary flowers and stems and leaves. Nothing at all noteworthy. But Daniel had agreed that they were lovely, and had allowed her to hang them. There were other things that remained in boxes for now, in the bottom of the closet in the small bedroom that served as his office. But she was moved in, and it showed.
He followed her into the kitchen. "Need any help?"
"Yep. I need you to get down the china and crystal."
With a grin, he obligingly complied with her wishes, handing each piece to her carefully as she listed what she needed. He watched as she spread out a linen damask table cloth, and carefully folded the napkins. She'd picked up a few pieces of blue spruce from the lot where they had purchased the tree, getting them for free, after pointing out that no one else wanted them, and the lot owner was only going to throw them away. Now she was putting a long piece of parchment paper, something he'd not even known existed until he met her, in the middle of the table, and arranged those pieces on it. She put three red, six-inch pillar candles in the center of the greenery, and half a dozen white votive candles along the outer edges. Next she put a few of the left over ornaments among the fragrant needles. The final touch was a bit of tinsel that she seemed to weave around it all and through it. The simple centerpiece was beautiful. "You're an artist, Case," he said softly.
She smiled. "I just watch a lot of home decorating shows," she replied. She arranged each place setting, her fingers caressing the china that had never been used during holidays when she was growing up. Grandma Rose hadn't trusted Helen Webster to not have a hissy fit over some imagined slight and start throwing things, as she did in her own home.
The handwritten place cards were tucked into the napkins. He'd been to a few formal dinners in his life. The tables hadn't looked half this good! If…when…the Stargate became publicly acknowledged, and he was able to reclaim his 'place' in academia, Casey would be the perfect hostess for the teas and luncheons and dinners that would be a part of moving in that circle once again.
The doorbell rang, and their friends began to arrive. Janet and Cassie were the first. "Impressive!" Janet declared, taking in the tree and the table. And the sprig of mistletoe that was hanging in the middle of the entry.
Casey managed to maneuver Cassie beneath it, and caught Daniel's eye. He grinned and nodded, then stepped forward.
"Merry Christmas, Cassie," he said, kissing her on the forehead.
"You too, Daniel," she replied, kissing his cheek.
Janet looked at Casey. Mouthed a silent 'thank you'. Casey smiled.
Jack and Teal'c were the next to arrive. Jack sniffed appreciatively. "Smells good," he commented, watching as Daniel hung the coats in the closet. The coffee table had been cleared, the items usually in place there tucked safely in the office. Plates of cookies covered the space. "Cookies! Homemade?"
"Yep," Daniel replied.
"Sweet!" Jack grabbed a handful, bit into one of the molasses cookies. "Oh, man! Just like my Grandma O'Neill used to make!"
Teal'c helped himself as well, telling Casey that her culinary skills were indeed as commendable as Daniel had indicated.
Sam was the last to arrive, an apologetic look on her face, and her father standing beside her. "I'm so sorry, Case," she whispered, after introducing Jacob…and Selmak, to her friend. "I didn't get a chance to call-"
"Not a problem," Casey whispered in return. "Daniel, could you please get another place setting out?"
"Sure, babe," the archaeologist replied, disappearing into the kitchen.
"Please excuse me for a moment," Casey said graciously. It didn't take her five minutes to have another place card ready. She moved three of the settings, and satisfied that everything was 'just right', took the time to check the turkey before joining her friends in the living room.
"Casey, everything is lovely," Janet said, sitting on the arm of the chair beside Teal'c. She'd finally had that talk with him, and had been treated to a hug and the admission that he admired her as well, and was honored to be considered one of her close friends. The longer they had talked, the more she understood why Sam found the Jaffa easy to confide in. And she'd done so. And had received advice that she was seriously considering.
"Thank you," the young woman replied, blushing happily.
"Just so you know," Daniel announced, "Everything is homemade. All of it."
"That's not exactly true, Daniel," she objected. "I bought the roll dough."
"But you're baking them, right?" Jack asked.
"Counts as homemade in my book," the colonel announced.
"I have some spiced cider if anyone is interested," Casey offered. "Coffee is available as well."
Requests were given, and Casey once again disappeared into the kitchen. She was busy pouring coffee for Sam and Daniel when Cassie walked in.
"He kissed me," Cassie said excitedly.
For one second she wasn't sure whether the teenager was talking about the kiss beneath the mistletoe, or Robert.
"He walked me to the door, and then…he kissed me!"
She smiled. "Was he any good?"
"Oh, yeah!" Cassie giggled.
Casey couldn't help but giggle with her. She handed two cups of coffee on saucers to the teenager. "Do you mind?"
"Not at all," the girl replied, and carefully carried the cups to the living room. Casey followed with a large tray covered with cups on saucers, full of spiced cider.
Conversation had been centered on the recent events that the team had been through. Jacob was asking questions about the Kelownans, as well as what they could remember of their 'time among' the Ascended.
"It is indeed a rare occurrence for the Ascended to become involved in such a way," Selmak said.
Casey's cup rattled against the saucer. She'd never heard a Tok'ra, or a Goa'uld speak. Her eyes were wide as she stared at Sam's father. She knew about the symbiote, Sam and Daniel had both explained the situation to her.
"I apologize for startling you, Ms Webster," Selmak said.
She smiled. "No need." She cocked her head sideways. "You're the eldest of all Tok'ra… the wisest…so why aren't you on the Council?"
Jacob's eyes went wide. "You are a seer!" Selmak exclaimed.
"Guess we should have warned you," Jack grinned.
"Yes, I am," Casey confirmed.
Selmak chuckled. "I may be the oldest, but it does not mean that I am often heard. Many of the younger Tok'ra find my advice to go against that which they wish to pursue."
"The young do not always do as they are told," Daniel said softly. Something that had been said to him, and the rest of the team, during their first encounter with the Nox.
"No, they do not. But if they were to do so, they would miss many opportunities to learn," Selmak replied.
"They resent the fact that you're willing to work so closely with the Tau'ri," Casey observed, 'looking' around the dual entity of Jacob Carter/Selmak. "And the fact that you're not adverse to pointing out when they're being idiots."
"That would be me," Jacob admitted with a grin. "There are times Selmak just can't keep my mouth shut."
Casey burst into giggles. "Now that could be entertaining!"
The stove timer went off, and she went to pull the turkey out of the oven. The mashed candied sweet potatoes went into the oven to brown the marshmallows that covered the top, and the rolls went onto the baking sheets. By the time the turkey was carved, the rolls would be ready. "Daniel, if you can start carving this, I'll get everything else on the table."
The guests oohed and aahed at each dish that went onto the table. The smell of fresh pine and the tantalizing aromas of good food filled the air. Jack was enlisted to open and pour the wine, and Janet consented to let Cassie have just half a glass, it was Christmas after all.
"If you all don't mind, I'd like to make a toast," Jack said, rising to his feet after everyone had been seated. "To family. We may be a bit unconventional, but we're as much family as any of the more conventional versions. May we always be this way."
"To hearts entwined," Daniel said softly.
Glasses clinked together, the toast echoed, and wine drank. Conversation and laughter filled the room while they busied themselves filling plates with all of the goodies that covered the table. Then silence as each of them began to sample the food.
"Holy Hannah," Sam said, closing her eyes as she savored a mouthful of cranberry salad. She loved homemade cranberry salad! "Forget Daniel, marry me!"
Casey giggled. "Interesting proposal."
"She's taken," Daniel growled.
"Forget them both," Jack said. "We'll run away to my cabin in Minnesota."
Janet cracked up. "You all are so sad! A little bit of home cooking and you're all ready to take the plunge. Casey, we'll head to Vegas. Little chapel. You, me and Cassie."
"I think they're all nuts," Jacob said. He looked at Casey and winked. "Have you ever considered the benefits of having an older man in your life?"
She was giggling hysterically at this point, her ego soaring at the compliments.
Cassie looked at Teal'c. "Aren't you going to make some wacky proposal too, because she can cook?"
"I am not," Teal'c replied. "I am more interested in her prowess as a warrior. Which she has already proven. If Casey Webster were to consider me, the rise of the Jaffa nation would be imminent."
"You mean you don't think this is the best food you've ever tasted?" Daniel asked the large man.
"I did not say that. I stated that her culinary skills are secondary to her warrior skills in my opinion."
Cassie shook her head. "Old people are weird."
The comment was met by multiple protestations about being old, and a discussion on what constituted being 'old'.
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