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Happy Birthday, Darlin'

Chapter 2

Daniel glanced around the corridor before he went into Jack's office. Sam and Duncan were waiting there for him.

"Does she suspect?" Sam asked immediately.

"Nope. She doesn't have a clue," Daniel grinned. "Where's Teal'c?"

"Teaching a class. He was already scheduled to teach it, and asking Casey to do it might have resulted in her getting too nosy," Duncan replied. "So we'll fill him in on the details later."

The young archaeologist nodded. "He can let Carly know, it's risky enough having Tessa coming here today," he admitted. "If Case finds out either of them were here, she's gonna want to know why."

Tessa slipped into the office at that moment, glancing over her shoulder. "I think I managed to get in here without too many people seeing me," she announced. She dropped her purse to the floor, sat down wearily.

"You look tired, Tess," Sam said, concern in her voice and on the soft features of her face.

"I am. Between the Gallery and the Museum, and Richie, I feel like I'm running in circles," the young French woman admitted.

Daniel frowned. "Tessa, if this is going to be too much of an imposition-"

Tessa sat up straight. "Daniel Jackson, how dare you! Casey is one of my best friends! There is no way that I'd allow you to throw a surprise party for her and not include me in the planning!"

Duncan grinned. "Bet you won't make that mistake again," he said.

The young archaeologist chuckled. "Not likely!"

"So, where are we?" Tessa asked, ready to get down to the business of planning the aforementioned party.

"I called Curly's and reserved the banquet room, and the menu is taken care of. Two special shipping containers from Ivar's will arrive Saturday afternoon our time." Daniel replied. Duncan nodded, made a notion on the small notepad in his hand. "I'm still waiting on a call-back from Esteban's, but I don’t dare let them call me here, or at home either, for that matter," the archaeologist added.

"I'll call them, and take care of it," Tessa assured him.

"Now, about the entertainment," Sam said, smiling broadly.

Daniel grinned. "I guess all those Time magazine articles helped. I talked to their manager. He said he'd talk to the guys. I got an email-"

Jack cleared his throat. "Who got the email?" the older man grinned.

"Only because Case would have found it if I had given them my email address," Daniel argued. "Anyway, according to their manager, they're willing to come to Gamma and do a 'private' performance."

The general chuckled. "It seems that a couple of the band members are SG-1 fans…more specifically…uh…Casey Jackson fans. When they found out that Danny wanted to hire them to do a birthday performance for her, they jumped at the chance…and cut their fee in half!"

"So they'll be here?" Sam asked, her eyes wide and bright. She was a 'Deliver The Goods' fan, too. That Mark Diamond was definite hunk material! He could sing pretty darned well, too!

"Yep," Daniel grinned.

"Oh, Sam, I checked on that…um…special item that we had discussed…it's not only doable, Carly has it taken care of," Tessa said. "For the club," she added with a wink.

"Good." Sam was grinning from ear to ear.

Daniel frowned. "What special item?"

Sam and Tessa exchanged looks, then giggled. "Never mind, Daniel. We'll take care of it," Sam said, her blue eyes dancing.

The men looked at one another. Something was up…and none of them were sure they really wanted to know what it was.

"Now, Casey has lamented that she doesn't have the opportunity to dress up often enough, so Sam, Carly and I have decided to make this a black-tie affair," Tessa continued.

"You have got to be kidding!" Jack protested.

Daniel rolled his eyes. "I knew it. I just knew it! She insisted that I buy the damned thing. Now I'll actually have to wear it!"

Duncan was snickering. "Hey, do you want me to tell you how many times I've had to wear a tux over my lifetime?"

"They didn't even have such a thing for most of your lifetime," Daniel countered.

The Highlander laughed. "I've still worn a tux more often than the two of you have even gone out."

"You will all wear a tuxedo, and you will all be devastatingly handsome," Tessa said. "Casey showed me her gown, and she deserves to have a reason to wear it."

Daniel thought about the shoes that went with that gown. And wished fervently that he hadn't! "Okay, so it's going to be a formal party. About the cake…should we have it at the restaurant, or Esteban's?"

The group discussed the pros and cons of having Casey's birthday cake at each venue. It was decided to have it at the club, where the band members could join the celebration, something that Casey was sure to love. Sam and Tessa exchanged giggly glances. Not a thing wrong with having two birthday cakes! Especially when only one would be…edible!

"What are you giving Casey for her birthday, Daniel?" Sam asked.

He grinned, and looked at Jack. That man opened up his desk drawer and pulled out a jeweler's box. Daniel took it and handed it to Sam. Tessa moved to stand beside her.

Sam opened the box and gasped. "Oh, my god! They're beautiful!"

"I got them on Langara. Same jewelry store where I got her opals."

Sam lifted the diamond earrings from their bed of black velvet. Four princess cut, one carat diamonds were suspended on a platinum 'rope' barely one sixteenth of an inch in diameter. There was at least one half inch between each diamond, with the first diamond having the post that would fit into her ear, and the final diamond at the end of the 'rope'. The earrings were nearly two and a half inches long. "She's going to love them," she said.

"I hope so. I'm going to give them to her early, so she can wear them with her dress, since she'll be getting dressed up," Daniel said.

"Just decided that, didn't you?" Duncan teased.

"Yep," he grinned, unabashedly.

The phone on Jack's desk began to ring. "Hello?...Thanks, Becca." He looked up at his friends. "Scatter. She's on her way down."

Duncan and Tessa raced for his office, Sam ran for her lab, using the back elevator to get there. Daniel slipped through the bathroom that connected his office to Jack's. He had just flopped down onto the chair behind his desk when he felt her. He couldn't help but smile at her soft presence.




'Here or the cafeteria?'

'Cafeteria. I think I'm hungry too.'

He grinned. 'I'll meet you there.' His grin broadened when she caressed him gently. He caressed her in return, the feeling so amazing that he felt as if he could fly. Like he did every time they caressed one another mentally. He had worried that she might 'find' information about her party in his mind. But when he realized that she would never 'search' his mind without his knowledge…and consent, he relaxed. He'd found out during their stay on Langara that she had never, not once in her life, had a birthday party. He planned to remedy that. He was going to throw her a party she wouldn't forget.

He was whistling as he walked down the corridor, his hands in his pockets. He was certainly glad that he had been able to get everything together so quickly. Amazed that the 'special guests' were available on such short notice. And absolutely relieved that he wouldn't have to hide this from her for more than three days. With her 'ability', she was apt to sense something was going on. He had Erin's promise to keep her…distracted…enough that he could pull this off.

Daniel looked around when he entered the cafeteria. She wasn't here yet. Two familiar arms wrapped around him from behind. He leaned back slightly against that sweet body.

"Hey, handsome," she said softly, hugging him tightly for a second.

"Hey, gorgeous." He turned enough to get his arm around her shoulders, then led her to the counter. "Want a sandwich?"

She nodded. "And a salad. Doesn't look like they have any chocolate cake," she said, scanning the dessert section.

"There's chocolate pudding," he suggested, looking over the desserts.

"That is not chocolate cake," she informed him with a smile. "Oh, cool…fruit bowls!" She took a sandwich, roasted turkey, he noted, a small tossed salad, ranch dressing of course, and a bowl of fruit.

He put a ham sandwich on the tray, grabbed a bowl of coleslaw, and a bowl of chocolate pudding. Which he would wind up sharing with her, no matter how much she insisted she didn't want it. Two cups of coffee and the tray was full.

"Hi, Doctor Jackson," said the elderly woman who served as the cashier. Duncan had offered her the job when her son, a crewmember of the Prometheuswhom she had been living with, had moved to Gamma withwas killed in action on one of the missions the ship had been on. Ruthie, as she was called by one and all, reminded him and Casey of Emma Hanks, their beloved neighbor when they had lived on Baldwin Street in Silver Springs, and a friend they both missed.

"Hey, Ruthie! How was your date last weekend?" Daniel asked as he paid for their lunch.

"Please! He was way too young for me! What do I have in common with a sixty year old?" she asked, waving her hand. "Find me a man my own age. Wait, most men my age are dead. Maybe I'd better rethink this dating younger men thing," she said, a gleam in her blue eyes.

Casey giggled. "Get him young enough and you can train him," she suggested.

"Now that's a splendid idea, Casey! Thanks for reminding me of that!" Ruthie laughed.

"We women have to stick together," Casey replied, winking.

"And on that note, have a nice day, Ruthie," Daniel grinned, heading toward 'their' table.

"You too, Doctor Jackson," the older woman chuckled.

He sat down, began to divide up the food so that he could put the tray on one of the nearby, empty tables. He watched as Casey began to eat, thrilled to see that her appetite had returned at last. She was still teaching aerobics, and he had been worried that she wasn't taking in enough calories to be able to maintain her very active lifestyle without having some sort of breakdown. He knew she was Immortal. Not eating enough could affect an Immortal just as it could a mortal, Duncan had informed him. There would be no permanent damage to her body, but she could suffer a physical collapse just the same.

"We finally have all of the crates out of the warehouse," she said between bites of sandwich and salad.

"Good. It only took three years to do it," he replied.

"And the help of three very energetic, hard working grad students," she said, smiling. "I got to see Ramir's scar today."

Daniel jerked with surprise. The young Delhi native was naturally shy, and positively tongue-tied around Casey. He suspected that Ramir harbored a secret crush on her. "You're kidding!"

"Nope, he was showing it to Terry and Mike, and I happened to walk by, and Mike called me over and asked me if your scar looked the same. Ramir didn't know about your surgery, so I told him about it. And it does look similar. Although yours seems to be…fading. Duncan said that happens…most scars remain when you become Immortal, but every time you're killed, it sort of affects them."

He shrugged. "Doesn't bother me one way or the other. Just as long as the Quickening doesn't do that to moles."

She raised an eyebrow. "Any mole in particular?"

"Yeah. The one right at the base of your spine. Drives me crazy," he grinned.

"I wasn't even aware that I had one there," she replied.

"Well, you do, and I love it," he said.

She reached out and touched the tiny mole on his cheek. "As much I love this one," she said softly. She sighed. "Want the rest of my sandwich?"

He grinned. She had eaten half of it. And the salad. Most of the fruit was gone. "Yeah, I'll finish your lunch for you." He shook his head when she dipped his spoon into the pudding. "Why didn't you get pudding if you wanted some?"

"I only want a bite," she responded, licking the spoon clean of the chocolate-y dessert. "Well, maybe two."

"Sure you don't want it all?" he teased.

"Yes, I'm sure I don't want it all," she retorted. She watched him take a sip of coffee. Watched as his eyes became guarded…distant. She felt him move away from her emotionally.

The look in her green eyes told him that she was 'seeing' something, and whatever it was, it had her upset. "Casey? What's wrong?"

She stared at him, shook her head. Looked into incredible blue eyes full of love…and worry. "I…I'm not sure. Are you…angry with me?"

He frowned. "Of course not! What would give you that idea?"

"Your eyes…so…" she shook her head. "Never mind," she whispered.

Oh, god, what the hell is going to happen now? he wondered. That familiar rise of panic started to fill his chest, wrapped its icy fingers around his heart. He reached for her hand, felt the tremors in her fingers. "Angel? Talk to me," he said softly.

"I don't know, Daniel, just…something. You looked…angry…you were so far away from me …cold…distant…not…not in love any more," she broke off, shook her head again.

Her words shook him. "Believe me, Angel, I am not angry. I love you, Casey. I love you with all my heart. Nothing is ever going to change that. You're always going to be in my heart, in my soul."

"I can't breathe without you, Daniel, I can't live without you…I need you…please…" she begged softly.

He cupped her cheek with his hand. "I'm not going anywhere, Case. Not without you. I'll always be here for you, Angel, I promise."

She closed her eyes, leaned her face against the soothing warmth of his strong hand. "I love you, don't you ever forget that. No matter what anyone might tell you, there is only room in my heart for you," she whispered. "You're the only man that I will ever love."

Daniel frowned. What she was saying didn’t make any sense…who would tell him that she didn't love him? And even if someone did tell him that, he knew that she loved him, was secure in her love, reveled in that love. "I won't forget it, Angel, I promise."

She shivered, and looked at him, her green eyes full of confusion. "I don't have a clue what all of…that…was about," she told him softly.

"It's okay, Angel," he replied. He was still caressing her cheek. The panic began to fade.

"I think…I think something may be about to happen," she admitted.

"Babe, we're off the duty roster until the middle of next month. We aren't going on any missions for awhile," he reminded her.

"Then whatever is going to happen, is going to happen here," she insisted.

"We'll stick together, Angel. Face whatever we have to together."

"Together, always," she said. She turned her head and kissed his palm, felt the sudden chill that always accompanied the deprivation of his touch when he let his hand drop.

"Together, always," he repeated softly. "Are you finished?"

She looked at what was left of her lunch. "Yep."

"Okay. Have Mike send over whatever it was you were working on. I want to get some more work done on the book," he instructed. He wanted her nearby, so that he was there, physically, if she had more of her…feelings.

She nodded. Understood without him saying the words that he wanted…needed her close by. As much as she needed to be near him. "Okay. Thank you."

"For what, Angel?"

"Your patience. Your understanding. Your love."

He smiled. "No need to thank me. I love you, and all the things that make up the incredible woman that you are."

"Even when I'm acting like a total space case?"

He grinned. "Even when you're acting like a total space case."

They gathered their trash, put the bowls, plates and spoons on the tray, and left the tray on the counter for dirty dishes. Arm in arm they made their way to the elevator and Daniel's office. He tightened his arm around her shoulders as they waited to arrive on the level they needed. Something was about to happen. And he had a feeling it was going to be difficult, for both of them.

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