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Casey plumped up the pillow before she put it on the couch. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather sleep in the bed?"
Muriel patted the young woman's arm. "Absolutely."
She tugged her lower lip between her teeth. "It just doesn't feel right," Casey protested.
Patting the clean sheet that now covered the sofa cushions, Muriel settled onto the middle of her 'bed'. Casey obediently sat down beside her. "This is the first time I've slept somewhere that isn't my own bed in over thirty years. Marvin didn't like to travel. I don't know why. So, to be honest, I'm a bit excited about sleeping here. I've heard other women talking about it, complaining when their children or grandchildren wouldn't put them in a 'proper bed'. I'd sit there, envious that they were able to travel somewhere, to visit family. Sometimes I'd even tell them to be grateful that they had family to visit!"
She couldn't help but smile. "I think we should probably see about finding a folding bed, or investing in a sofa-sleeper. You're going to be here a lot, I promise," Casey said softly. The look on Muriel's face...a combination of hope, disbelief, and happiness, had her leaning over and kissing the elderly woman's cheek. "Then we can sleep on that, and you can have our bed."
"Oh, pshaw! This sofa is just fine!"
"Not for Daniel's grandmother, it isn't!" Casey retorted. "You should have a proper bed when you're here!"
"And just what makes a 'proper bed'? Dear, this sofa is very comfortable. These are very expensive sheets, I can tell that, and are so very soft. The blanket will keep me warm. The pillows are fluffy, just the way I like them. I'd say that's a 'proper' bed, wouldn't you?"
"I just don't want you to feel...I want you to feel as welcome as you are," Casey said softly.
Muriel blinked back her tears. She had hoped that Daniel would be willing to speak with her. Hadn't allowed herself to even think about becoming a part of his life. Both he and this sweet young woman, his beautiful wife, were insisting that she was just that...a part of their lives. In just a few short hours, they had let her know that she was welcome, and had done so with open arms. "Thank you, dear."
Casey blinked back her own tears, sensing the woman's emotions...her happiness. Her surprise. Her absolute joy in finding her grandson. "I'm sure you're tired. If you need anything, just help yourself, or call out if you need us."
"I will, thank you."
With a look that relayed the fact that she still wasn't comfortable with the sleeping arrangements, Casey smiled, and made her way towards the bedroom. Daniel had finished in the bathroom, went to bid his grandmother good night; he smiled at his wife, patted her fanny as they passed in the kitchen.
Casey washed her face. Brushed her teeth. And admitted to her reflection that there was no way in hell she could make love with Daniel's grandmother sleeping...or trying to sleep...in the living room. Particularly since she and Daniel, mostly her, she thought, weren't the most quiet couple in bed.
Daniel was already in bed when she entered the bedroom. He watched her strip, felt that familiar stirring in his groin.
One glance told her that he was ready and willing. "So...your grandmother," she said softly, crawling onto the bed beside him.
"Yeah. Imagine that," he said, still dazed by the evenings events. He put his arm around her as she snuggled close.
"Stud Muffin, I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I can do anything...I mean...your grandmother. She's right out there."
He smiled. "We'll be quiet. I can even turn the stereo on...keep it low. Would that help?"
She glanced at the stereo that sat waiting on the dresser. "Well...I suppose it might."
"We managed to make love with Teal'c in the next room, and Sam and Jack in the room below us," he pointed out.
"True. But they're our friends. She's...she's your grandmother!"
"Old ladies are notoriously hard of hearing. I'm betting that unless you scream tonight, Grandma isn't going to hear anything anyway. And if she's a sound sleeper..."
She burst into giggles.
He grinned, then kissed the tip of her nose. "Casey, if you're uncomfortable, and don't want to do anything, we won't."
"I don't want you to suffer," she replied immediately.
"I'm not going to die if we don't make love tonight. Tomorrow...no promises," he teased.
She snuggled closer. "I think tonight, I just want to snuggle," she whispered.
"I think that sounds nice," he whispered in return. Wondered how many nights she gave in to his desires, in spite of her own needs. Was simultaneously awed, humbled, and chagrined at the thought. He reached up an turned off the light.
"Your grandmother is very sweet."
"Yes, she is. She's harboring a lot of guilt as well."
"There's not a thing for her to feel guilty about. I can't imagine how difficult life must have been for her. Marvin...I'm sorry Daniel, but he just doesn't deserve to be called 'grandfather', or 'grandpa'-"
He smiled in the darkness.
".-wasn't an easy man to live with. I realize that back when they got married women were expected to keep their husbands happy, even if it meant their own heart and soul just shriveled up and died. But it's not right! He denied her the chance to be a part of your dad's life, a part of your life. That's just...wrong!"
"I agree. But it's the past, Case. Nothing we can do will change it. All we can do is move forward."
"Present and future," she said softly.
"That's what Dad says, when he starts getting angry about not being told about me. He says he just concentrates on the present and the future."
"That's all we can do."
"It's still not right."
His smile widened at the petulant tone of voice. She'd probably fret over the time lost between him and his grandmother as often as she did about that lost time between her and her father. "I know."
"I think I'm going to like Aunt Janelle."
"Really?" The admission surprised him, given some of the things Gary had told them regarding his aunt.
"Mmmhmm. She was trying to act all pissy...but her eyes were twinkling."
Casey always watched a person's eyes...because the eyes were the window to the soul. She'd learned at a very young age that a person's eyes often said what their words wouldn't, or couldn't. Her own beautiful eyes told him far more than her words often did.
"Should be interesting having her here for dinner tomorrow night."
He felt her move. Knew she was looking at the clock.
"Okay, tonight. Oh, Daniel, listening to you and your grandmother, it was just...awesome," she said softly.
"It felt pretty awesome, too."
"I just hope that Jack and Rachel have worked things out."
"Rachel? That's his sister's name?" It was a good thing he was accustomed to the fact that she could bounce back and forth between topics of conversation, or he'd be mentally worn out by now, he thought, grinning into the darkness.
"Yep. She was so angry...she was going to storm in and demand that he explain things that he couldn't, even if he wanted to."
"What stopped her?"
"I told her I'd kick her ass all the way back to where she came from if she hurt Jack."
He grinned again. Kissed her forehead. "Why do I have the feeling that you said more than that?"
"I didn't say much. I just...well, she was so damned certain that she knew what was going on, but she doesn't have a clue, but as his sister she should know Jack, and that would be all she needed to understand that he'd always do his best, do the right thing."
"Just because two people are related, or grow up in the same house, doesn't mean that they know one another," he said quietly.
"How'd you get so smart about families?"
"I watched them a lot," he admitted.
On the outside, looking in, she thought, a twinge of guilt prodding her for bringing up painful memories. He'd told her that no matter how kind a foster family was...and he'd been blessed with at least two very nice families, if only for a short time...he'd always been on the outside, looking in. Never really a part of any family he might be staying with. She pressed a kiss to his chest.
Her gentle caress let him know that her thoughts were traveling the same path as his own...memories of foster families moved through his mind. He'd told her about all of them. The good, the bad. The indifferent. It was all in the past. He'd survived. He'd suffered a hell of a lot less than she had. He had her. She was all he'd ever need to be completely happy.
She was cuddled up as close as she could get, laying almost completely on one arm. Her free hand moved over his jaw, her fingertips gently caressing his face. It wasn't meant to be arousing, he was well aware of that. Even if he did feel the heat caused by the gentle touch of her hand. His own hands moved over her, the arm around her shoulders pulled her tighter against his body, his other hand moved up and down the arm that rested on his chest. "You know what?" he asked softly.
"I like snuggling."
He closed his eyes. He would never deny the fact that, if given the choice, he'd rather make love before snuggling. Or after snuggling. Or before and after snuggling. But given the circumstances, just having her near him was enough. For the moment, anyway.
A A A A A A
Rachel had just settled into bed when someone tapped on the door. "Yes?"
Jack peeked into the room. "Just checking to make sure you're comfortable."
She smiled. "I am, thank you."
He leaned against the doorjamb. "Dinner was...nice."
"Yes, it was. I've never eaten such good Mexican food!"
He grinned. "José Muldoon's is a favorite around here."
"I still say the last name is Irish," Rachel replied, her grin matching her brother's.
"Possibly. Stranger relationships have been known to occur." Teal'c and that control room tech, for one, he thought.
"Jack...thank you. For tonight," Rachel said softly.
He shrugged self-consciously. "I didn't do anything."
"Yes, you did. You forgave me. And you gave me a chance to get to know you."
"I guess later is better than not at all," he mumbled. He was not about to examine what was happening. He'd roll along with it, and figure it out later. When he could sit alone, and come to terms with the situation. It was still cold, but maybe he'd take a few days and go up to Pappy's cabin. Do a little fishing.
"And that is entirely my fault."
"No, Rach, It's not. I could have picked up the phone. I knew where you lived."
"I didn't give you much of a choice. I told you I never wanted to see you again. Being the man that you are, you honored my wish," she replied.
"You're my sister. I-" he broke off, stared at the floor. Sometimes, it was just better to tell the truth. Even if it did hurt. "I couldn't tell you what you wanted to hear. What you needed to hear. No excuse I could have offered would have made a difference to you."
"No, it wouldn't have. Not then. Now...now it just doesn't matter."
"Too bad we get all of this great wisdom and experience after we need it, eh?"
She smiled. "Yeah, that's a bitch."
"Nobody said life is fair." He winced. It sure wasn't fair that Rachel had beaten breast cancer, only to have it return. "Damn...I'm sorry, Rachel."
"There's no need to be sorry."
"You're positive you don't want to take the chemo?"
"I'm positive. I told Bob I don't want to live the last few months of my life being so sick that I can't enjoy it, being so miserable that I want to die."
He nodded his understanding. "Yeah, that's not much of a choice, is it?"
"Okay, well, I'll say goodnight. We'll figure out our itinerary for tomorrow while we eat breakfast."
"Sounds good to me." She wiggled her fingers at him, he closed the door. She sighed. He'd asked if she could stay the weekend. She'd said yes without giving it a second thought. While her brother and the woman he loved were dancing, she'd taken the opportunity to call Bob. Who was thrilled to hear that things were working out between the siblings, even if he wasn't so happy to learn she wouldn't be home until Sunday night. They'd never been apart, except for the times she was in the hospital, either giving birth to their children, or when she'd had the lumpectomy. He has to learn to sleep without me, she thought. And shivered slightly. What would 'dead' be like?
Jack shucked his sweatpants, climbed into bed beside Sam. Grateful that she'd wanted to stay with him. He let her pull him close, took the comfort she so quietly offered. "A damned mountain full of gizmo's and gadgets. You'd think there'd be one that could cure her. If we just had a sarcophagus..." he muttered. "We really need to steal a couple of those."
"They're more dangerous than they're worth," Sam reminded him. "Look what just a couple of weeks exposure did to Daniel. And there will always be those who would abuse something like the sarcophagus, no matter the warnings. Just remember what the Goa'uld have become, because of those damned things. Dad said that eons ago, the Tok'ra used them to heal wounds that the symbiotes were too weak to heal...usually after battles. But when several became addicted, and became violent..." she shivered, remembering Daniel's reactions, the things he'd said, when the team had finally made it home after escaping Shyla's clutches. He'd almost died...but not before he'd attacked Janet, and almost shot Jack.
"True." He buried his face against the soft skin of her shoulder. "I want to do something...but I can't!"
Sam frowned. The beginnings of a plan started to form in her mind. "We'll figure something out," she said, almost absently, tightening her arms around his shoulders.
He pulled away far enough to look at her. She had the same look in her eyes that she got whenever she was trying to solve a problem. "Sam?"
"What are you thinking?"
The question was so...atypical...that she jerked. "What?"
"You've got that look. You're thinking."
She smiled. "When I have it figured out, I'll let you know."
"In the meantime?"
"In the meantime...do you want to go to sleep, or fool around?"
"Ooo...I get a choice?" he teased.
"If you're not careful you won't!" she threatened playfully.
"You know me, Sam. I'm always careful."
Making love was an affirmation of life. Right now, she needed that reassurance. She'd read an article that stated there were two types of women in the world: those who had breast cancer, and those who were afraid of getting it. She hated being afraid of anything.
Sam was sleeping beside him. His body was satiated from the love they'd shared. His mind, however, refused to let him rest. He grabbed the remote for the television, made certain that the volume was low, and began flipping through channels.
"...greatest little invention to hit the market. And now, for just nineteen-ninety-five, plus shipping and handling, the 'Wonder Duster' can be yours! But wait! There's more..."
"...don't care what he said. You've been lying to me all along. Now, you tell me where the girl is, or so help me I'll slit your throat..."
"...I love you! Don't you see that? We can make it work if we really want to! You just have to be willing to try!..."
"...bases are loaded, and Griffey is coming to bat. Mariners are showing their stuff tonight, and we can only assume that their delight in having..."
"...one of the most beautiful necklaces I think we've ever sold here on CVC. And ladies, this necklace..."
"...fire was burning out of control by the time firefighters arrived. The loss is estimated at four hundred thousand dollars. Police don't believe arson was involved..."
"...the senator has been unrelenting in his desire to see this bill passed. And we know that the American people understand that legislation such as this is needed..."
Right. More freaking laws to ignore like all of the laws already on the books. Best law would be the one to make politicians Public Enemy Number One.
"...house is a lovely Tudor. As you can see, Bob, the owners have been carefully restoring this beautiful piece of architecture to its original state. This staircase, for example..."
He sighed. Ran a hand over his face. It just wasn't fair. Somewhere, inside Cheyenne Mountain, was the miracle that Rachel needed. His sister was dying, and because of national security and clearance issues, he'd be forced to stand back and watch it happen. It just wasn't fair!
A A A A A A
Muriel stared at the strange ceiling above her. Examined every moment of the time spent with her grandson. Oh, how like Melburn he was! Her heart clenched, as it always did when she encountered the fact that her son, her precious first born, had been killed. Far too young to die. Taken from her...both of her boys stolen away from her. Parents weren't supposed to outlive their children! It just wasn't right!
Once again she struggled with the feelings of anger that coursed through her. Marvin Jackson, you were a mean old bastard! she thought. Shook her head mentally. She'd loved Marvin. Even when he was complaining, or criticizing, she had loved him. As the years had passed, however, she'd lost the starry-eyed wonder she'd felt when Marvin first began courting her. Had seen him as he really was. Controlling. Set in his ways. Opinionated. She'd seen his arrogance. Become accustomed to his inability to show love...the love that she had never once doubted was there. Resigned herself to a quiet, passionless life. Had learned to live with him, even when the love had...cooled; left to stagnate in his silences. She'd understood him. Had forgiven him for those things that had hurt her. But she would never forgive him for keeping her from Melburn. From Daniel.
She reached up and wiped away the tear that had fallen onto her cheek. She hadn't expected Daniel to welcome her so...completely. She hadn't really known what to expect. Her hope had been at the very least to have a chance to meet him...to explain. Oh, there had been hope that he would be willing to visit her occasionally. Maybe call her once in awhile. The smile that tugged at her lips was the reflection of the joy that filled her heart. She had the feeling she'd hear from him, and Casey, on a very regular basis. Her smile widened. Good thing I have that guest room ready.
Closing her eyes, she snuggled down a bit on the couch. It really was quite comfortable. She'd been up so early, and it had been such a busy day. She'd made her first flight ever! To be honest, she thought, it had been a bit disappointing. There really hadn't been much to it. She did realize that flying first class was different from flying coach. Susan and Helen had flown a couple of times. Always coach class. And both complained loudly about the small seats and how crowded it was. Susan would just be green with envy to learn she'd flown first class! A tiny chuckle escaped at that thought.
Yes, it really had been a very busy day. A very wonderful day...
A A A A A A
Janelle punched the pillow behind her head. Gary needed better pillows, she thought, trying to get comfortable. She'd known the minute she saw him that he was upset. Given the fact that he hadn't received her message...and she was no old fool, she knew he was able to check them without coming to the apartment...he'd been shocked to see her standing in that horribly decorated waiting room. Visitor's lounge, that young soldier...or whatever he was...had called it.
One thing was for certain, Gary hadn't been exaggerating one whit when he'd told her that Casey was beautiful. Spitting image of her mother, he'd said. Brenda. That had been the mother's name. She'd seen the way his eyes lit up when he spoke of Brenda. The guilt and the pain that filled them as he explained what had happened. There was no doubt in her mind, had that poor little thing not run away, Gary would have married her on the spot. He probably should have attempted to do that sooner.
What you should have done, old woman, was offered to help pay for his schooling. Had she done that, she was certain Gary would have felt more able to marry that poor little thing before she was forced to return home for the summer. She sighed. Hindsight was always twenty-twenty. Wasn't that just an annoying fact of life? Well, the very least she could do would be to make certain that Casey was welcomed into the family properly. Which meant a proper family reunion. She'd have to call Flo and find out what her schedule was. Then there were the kids...now that could become difficult. Thanksgiving. Yes, that would do nicely. Not soon enough, but if she sent out the word now, everyone would have plenty of time to make arrangements to be at her house for Thanksgiving.
Satisfied with her plans, she closed her eyes. Poor little thing. That man who called himself her father should have been knocked senseless. She snorted quietly. Although it seemed that the fool had no sense to begin with. How people could be so damned cruel to their own children, all in the name of some cockamamie religion, was beyond her. And there was no doubt in her mind that the strict, unyielding manner of her father was what had sent Brenda on the run. What a shame. What a tragedy. Poor little thing.
And Casey. Well, if that skinny little thing wasn't the epitome of rising above all the bad in life, she'd eat her hat! Even in just the brief moments she'd seen the girl, she could tell. Casey was a strong one. Full of love. Full of life. She'd have to make certain this Daniel was good enough for her.
She sighed. She needed to find a nice gift shop...to pick up something for this new niece of hers. Something special...
A A A A A A
Rachel curled around the extra pillow. Willed herself not to cry. The day had been a roller-coaster ride of emotions. She'd been angry when she left St. Paul. Determined and angry. She was going to have her answers. Confront the man she thought her brother to be. She would have her satisfaction. Only to arrive and be told immediately by a stranger, someone who knew her brother better than she, that the man she perceived didn't exist. She'd learned that Casey had been absolutely right about him during the dinner she'd shared with Jack and Sam.
She thought about what he'd said...that communication hadn't been the best in their home. Maybe it had been true...for him. She couldn't help but wonder if anyone had taken the time to really listen to Jack...to hear what he was saying.
Pappy had. She had no doubt of that. Pappy had always listened. Not that she'd actually talked to her grandfather often. She'd always been too busy. Just one more regret to add to the very quickly growing stack that she had been so certain hadn't existed. What a fool I was, she thought, to think I could get through life with no regrets!
They were making an attempt, she and Jack. Her parents, God rest their souls, would probably be thrilled to learn that the tension that had always been tangible between them was fading away. Leaving behind two people who really weren't sure what to do next.
At least I've made peace with him, she thought. She wouldn't have to lay on her deathbed, wishing she'd taken the steps to end the years of bitter silence between them.
Fifteen years! She'd never met Sara, doubted that she ever would. And Charlie...she'd had a nephew and never knew it. Never met him. Would she have been able to comfort Jack during those horrible days after his son's death?
Rachel, you are a bitch. She took a deep, shuddering breath. She had a lot to make up for, and very little time to do it. She would start, she decided, by making breakfast for her brother and Sam. She'd always been able to whip up a damned good breakfast.
Her thoughts turned to the woman she knew was in Jack's bed. Sam hadn't said a lot during dinner, leaving the conversation to flow between the siblings. Was she always that quiet, or was she simply watching someone who could be a potential threat to the man she loved...someone liable...and very able...to hurt him? Jack loved Sam, there was no doubt about that. And the love was very much reciprocated. Too bad she wouldn't be around when the two married.
Another shuddering breath. So much time wasted. Because she'd been so certain she'd known what Jack was thinking, what he was doing. When in fact she hadn't known her brother at all.
She still had a few months. She was going to do her best to get to know her brother, she thought. Give him a chance to see her in a different light as well. Maybe, just maybe, he'd have better memories of her when she was gone. Ignored the voice in her head that mumbled about the best laid plans of mice and men...and women dying from breast cancer.
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