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The Simple Necessities of Life
Daniel watched as the ribbon just seemed to wrap around her slender fingers on its own accord. A few tugs and a deft twist, and there was a red ribbon rose. It joined the others on the table, waiting to be taped to one of the now carefully wrapped presents.
She looked over at him, couldn't help but smile. He was leaning on one arm, palm up, the elbow of the other arm resting there, his chin resting in his hand. He'd been watching her since she'd brought out the storage container filled with ribbon and floral wire. "You must be bored by now," she said softly.
"Nothing on television?" Truth be told, she had no idea what might be on at this time of the morning. She'd rarely had a chance to find out.
"Not that I'm interested in watching. I'm enjoying the view from right here," he added, flashing that sexy, half-shy smile.
She shivered imperceptibly. That smile could make her knees weak and her pulse race. "Let me know when you're ready to eat."
"I'm always ready," he said, his smile turning mischievous, his blue eyes flashing with desire.
"You are insatiable," she replied.
"Only when it comes to you. Or when you come."
Her eyes flew from her fingers to his laughing blue orbs. "Daniel!"
She couldn't stop the smile that spread over her face. "You know, talk like that can get you into trouble."
"What kind of trouble?"
"Cuffed to the bed trouble." She saw the shiver that moved over him. "Of course, there's always the possibility that while I'm trying to get you cuffed down, that you'd turn the tables on me."
"That's very possible," he agreed. "Wanna go fool around?"
"I'd rather get seriously down and dirty," she tossed back.
"Put the ribbon down, Casey."
"Because I'm taking you to bed."
His voice was strained. No doubt the anaconda was already at full mast. She finished the rose she'd been working on. Put the ribbon and floral wire aside. "Let's go fly to the stars," she whispered.
He was on his feet, scooping her into his arms before she was fully aware that he had moved. She planted kisses along his jaw, nibbled on his earlobe as he carried her to the bedroom.
They were barely settled onto the bed, kissing one another, when the shrill sound of the phone broke the stillness around them. Daniel muttered Egyptian curses beneath his breath as he reached for the annoying instrument. Barely refrained from barking at whomever was on the other end. "What?"
Sitting in his living room, Jack started slightly, then grinned. "Sorry to catch you at a bad time."
"I'll pick you and Casey up tomorrow at around three-thirty."
"I don't want to know, do I?"
"Probably not. Pack light. See you tomorrow."
Daniel hung up, shook his head slightly. "I don't suppose you can see what Jack is up to?"
Casey couldn't help but giggle. "Sorry. Of course, right now, Jack is the furthest thing from my mind."
"Really. So what's on your mind?"
She leaned over and began to whisper.
Four rapturous hours passed before hunger drove them back to the kitchen. After a quick meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato-macaroni soup, Casey finished decorating each package, while Daniel cheerfully cleaned up the kitchen, whistling as he loaded the dishwasher, wiped down the counters and the breakfast bar.
A A A A A A
The late afternoon and evening had been spent baking cookies. With the delivery of the 'cookie bags', as they were being called around the SGC by the very grateful recipients, she could concentrate on the favorites of her teammates. The molasses cookies and Basler Lekerli that Jack loved. The fudge for Sam. Oatmeal chocolate chip for Teal'c. And the snickerdoodles and Spritz cookies for Daniel. She even managed a batch of chocolate walnut, which had quickly become a favorite of her own. Half a dozen large tins were lined with waxed paper, and the cookies gingerly packed into them, ready for the journey to Minnesota.
Jack's admonishment to 'pack light' had her tugging at her lip. Daniel had located a box in the garage large enough for the tins of cookies. Then there were the dozen or so brightly wrapped gifts piled on the table. Would it be possible to get enough clothing, and their individual toiletry bags into one duffel bag? Possibly, if she packed very carefully. Would that be 'light' enough?
With that thought in mind, she pulled her slightly larger duffel from the closet. Began gathering the clothes they would need. Realized immediately that packing sweaters and jeans, as well as underwear and socks and bathrobes for the two of them would require both duffel bags. "Daniel?"
"What?" His voice was a slightly muffled; he was in his den, answering last minute emails, making certain that his staff knew exactly what needed to be done during the week he would be away.
"Just how 'light' does Jack mean? There's no way I can get all of our clothes into one bag, and then there are the cookies and the presents, which we absolutely have to take, unless we open our gifts before we leave which would totally ruin Christmas, I mean to be there and have the tree and everything and no presents would be a bummer but I suppose we could open all but maybe one gift each, and then we'd still have something to unwrap-" His finger stopped the flow of words. She hadn't even heard him enter the room.
"Don't worry, Angel. We'll take it all."
"I wish I knew just how he's expecting to get all of us and our stuff up there if we're not driving!" she huffed.
"We're probably better off not knowing," Daniel replied dryly.
"Okay, now I'm worried."
He grinned, kissed the tip of her nose. "Just think of it as an adventure."
"Daniel, with what we do for a living, adventure is the last damned thing I want on my vacation!"
He chuckled, kissed her again, and returned to his interrupted task. No doubt whatever Jack had in mind would not be met with the most appreciative audience...not if he wasn't willing to tell them up front what was going on. He did, however, have faith that his friend would never let them down.
A A A A A A
The next day he was forced to re-evaluate that faith. Daniel shook his head slightly. "You're sure that thing is safe?"
Casey was looking at the helicopter with something akin to terror in her eyes. "Oh, no! I am not getting on that thing! I don't care how great the paint job is!"
Sam was eyeing the craft as well. "There isn't going to be room for everything, is there?"
Teal'c had said nothing, but the look he tossed in Jack's direction was enough to let his teammates know that he wasn't any more impressed by this mode of transportation than they were.
"Relax, Radar! This is no different than the Pave Hawk you've flown in before," Jack said soothingly.
"Except it's about thirty years older," Pete tossed in, unable to keep the grin from his face. Which faltered slightly when the slender blonde went pale, took a step backwards and grabbed onto her husband's arm. "Really, ma'am, it's safe. I take skiers up to the top of the mountains almost every day from the opening of the season until it ends...sometimes even in the summer, if there's enough snow left."
That caught her attention. "Really?"
Pete nodded. "Heli-skiing. I take folks up into virgin country. They ski down."
She shuddered slightly. "That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen!"
The pilot couldn't help but chuckle. "I don't accept just anyone. I take up only the best, those who know what they're doing. Most of my customers are repeats...I take them up on a regular basis during the season, year after year. I know them, they know me."
On the snow covered ground of the private airfield, beside the helicopter, were the assorted duffel bags, boxes of wrapped Christmas gifts, the box that held the tins of cookies, and what looked suspiciously like snowshoes. If she was counting correctly, five pairs of snowshoes. Now just why would they need those? Oh, she knew that it was cold and snowy in Minnesota. But just how damned deep was the snow if those things were required? And just how 'isolated' was Jack's cabin, anyway? Did she really want to discover the answers to those questions enough to get into that...that helicopter?
Daniel put his arm around her shoulders, pulled her close. "Come on, babe. Adventure, remember?"
Casey glanced at Jack. "If I die in that thing, I'm going to haunt your ass like you won't believe!"
Jack grinned from ear to ear. "Promise?"
She rolled her eyes. "One day, boss, I'm going to snap. And when I do, it's not going to be pretty!"
Pete's co-pilot, business partner and best friend...a man who insisted on being called 'Chief', a leftover from his Navy days rather than his Native American heritage...began to chuckle. He knew only that the gray haired man was an old military buddy of Pete's. And that the people with him were the man's 'team'. There had been no details offered, none had been expected. Whatever those people did, they were close. Tight knit. Not one of them moved an inch without the others being aware of it, even if it was subconscious. He'd watched them unload the big, dark green F250 in a way manner that screamed of their experience in doing such a thing. "Ma'am, would it make you feel any better if I called on the Great Spirits to protect us?"
"It might," she replied tersely.
Chief nodded solemnly. Walked to stand in front of the
helicopter, raised his arms and spread them wide. "Great Spirits, this
u[man] who dances with the tomoobi[sky], seeks
protection, and comfort for the soul of the nami[woman] who entrusts her life
into my hands. Give us the strength of the kuutsuu[bison], and the wisdom of
the mupits u[owl], and the speed of the tabu[rabbit]."
Jack leaned close to Pete. "That's not just some mumbo-jumbo is it? Radar is sure to pick it up if it is."
Pete looked at his old friend. "Radar?"
"Yeah. She's a psychic." Noting the look of disbelief on Pete's face, he shook his head slightly. "Don't ask. Just trust me when I tell you she's the real deal."
"Okay...if you say so. No, it's not mumbo jumbo. It's a prayer he says often, when we get a skittish customer. It always puts their minds at ease."
With a nod, Jack waited for the co-pilot to rejoin them before turning to Casey. "Good enough?"
The seer studied the Native American for a moment. "Good enough. Thanks," she said softly, directing her gratitude toward Chief.
"Is there going to be room for everything?" Sam asked again.
Pete looked over the jumble of gear waiting beside the open bay door of the helicopter. "Should be." He glanced over his shoulder at Jack, then looked at Chief. "Jack is a pilot. Mind sitting this one out?"
Chief grinned. "Nope."
The pilot nodded. "There'll be enough room," he told Sam.
"What about the flight back?" Jack asked.
"No problems," Pete responded confidently. "Big Blue and I are old friends. She won't do me wrong."
"Well, campers?" Jack asked, looking at the still somewhat sullen faces of his team.
Casey heaved a sigh. "I suppose we should get started. I'd like to be in Minnesota before midnight."
Pete gave a chuckle. It seemed that convincing the slender blonde had been the key to getting the others to cooperate. It took less than ten minutes for him and Chief to have the gear loaded, ready to go. One by one the passengers climbed in, taking the headsets offered to them.
Jack settled into the second seat in the cockpit. It had been years since he'd co-piloted a helicopter. With a full cargo deck in the back, no doubt his assistance would be required a time or two. Empty, the craft would be much easier for one man to operate. In seven days, Pete would fly to Minnesota for the return trip, and he'd be able to co-pilot once again.
The helicopter seemed to groan in protest as it slowly lifted off the ground; Chief stood beside the two pickup trucks, holding his hat on his head with one hand, the other giving a thumbs up. The team exchanged nervous glances when another groan, and a muffled 'pop' could be heard. When the pilot didn't seem concerned, the group allowed themselves to relax...well, they weren't sitting as rigidly...waiting for something to fall off of the craft, explode or implode, or any of the other myriad of disasters that they could collectively imagine happening.
The helicopter was several hundred feet in the air before she dared to take a deep breath. They were on their way. Casey snuggled as close to Daniel as she could get, more from fear than the chill that was in the air of the passenger compartment of the helicopter. Teal'c and Sam sat across from her, offering encouraging smiles. It was going to be a very long evening.
A A A A A A
The flight, including two refueling stops; one in Nebraska, the other in Iowa, saw the team crawling out of the helicopter at twelve-thirty that night. They were on the narrow lane that led from the main highway to the even more narrow dirt driveway that ended beside Jack's cabin. It was the only place clear enough for Pete to land. It meant carrying their gear nearly a mile and a half, in the dark. But Jack had flashlights, and it was a road, even it if wasn't more than just a path worn into the earth by years of consistent travel. The tire tracks in the packed snow were recent. The nearest year around neighbor was a family friend, and Tom was great about checking the cabin on a regular basis.
Casey glanced around. There was plenty of snow, which apparently was the reason for the snowshoes. Jack informed the team that it would be better to wear them, even if they weren't actually needed, than to come upon drifts that they could sink into. Although the snow was only a few inches deep, it would wear them out quickly trying to walk through it, he said. So they dutifully attached the snowshoes to their boots...fumbling a bit with the leather straps as they tried to adjust them in the dark.
She picked up her duffel, Daniel grabbed his, slid the strap over his shoulder, and picked up the box that held a few groceries. Along with their individual bags, Jack and Teal'c were each carrying a box filled with gifts, Sam was carrying a smaller box that contained the smallest of the Christmas presents. Casey picked up the box that held the tins of cookies. Jack had promised that they could drive into town the following morning and stock up on supplies. What they would drive, she had no clue.
"Should there be lights on?" Daniel asked nervously when the cabin came into view.
"Yep. I called the guy who takes care of the place, told him to turn on the water and the heat, and to leave lights on for me," Jack replied.
Well, that was a good thing, he sighed. He glanced at Casey. She'd be chilled to the bone by the time they reached the front porch. They could have a cup of nice hot coffee as soon as they reached the cabin. Jack said he'd brought coffee; Daniel just wished he'd remembered to stick a package of his own blend into his duffel bag. He'd thought about it, but in the last minute rush of getting everything into Jack's truck, he'd forgotten.
The tall pines, with their light blanket of snow, glistened in the beams from the flashlights that each of the team members carried. There was no moon in the sky, the new moon was two nights away; the night dark and still, lit only by the multitude of twinkling stars. There was such a prevailing feeling of peace that Daniel could feel himself relaxing. Maybe Jack was right. Maybe this was exactly what they all needed. A bit of time away from the SGC and all of the tension that came from working in that facility.
Once again his eyes went to his Wife. He knew for certain that Casey could use a break. She'd been unusually frustrated with the database, he'd heard her muttering curses under her breath, and at least three times right out loud as she'd struggled with it during the previous week. The amount of research required was astounding, and the more they learned, the more there was to learn. She was meticulous, insisting that no detail should be overlooked. While it would make the database the most comprehensive collection of information on every known god and goddess in the mythologies of every known civilization ever assembled in one place, the work required was staggering. No doubt her still frazzled nerves, emotions left raw after the harrowing missions they'd endured...the whole fiasco with that painting...her insecurity concerning the new archaeologists in the department...were more to blame for her outbursts than the database itself.
Listening to the sounds of five pairs of snowshoes crunching over the hard-packed snow, Casey began to feel more relaxed than she had been in weeks. Before she realized it, she was humming the tune of 'Winter Wonderland'. Wasn't surprised when Sam began to sing, the two of them making up any words they didn't know. Which brought guffaws and teasing from the male members of the team. By the time they were climbing the wooden steps to the front porch, they were all out of breath and laughing loudly. It was a good thing there weren't other people nearby, who could have been disturbed by the rather boisterous group, she thought.
Snowshoes were removed, and lined up against the log wall of the cabin. Jack opened the door, ushered the team inside.
The main room of the cabin was much larger than the outside suggested, she thought, glancing around. She could see the kitchen through a wide door, a light was shining over the kitchen sink. The cabinets looked like they had been painted white, were possibly even the old fashioned metal type, but she wasn't certain. The door to the room beside the kitchen was closed. Rather steep stairs divided the large space of the main room in half, leading up to what looked like a small landing. The main room had an open ceiling, the exposed support beams adding to the rustic feeling. A dark brown leather sofa, the back covered by a bright, multi-colored throw, sat across from a massive stone fireplace. A wide, overstuffed chair and ottoman covered in a dark maroon plaid sat beside the hearth. Heavy wooden tables held lamps, and an assortment of books filled the bookcase at the far end of the room, beside the closed door. On the other side of the open staircase, the dining table was a long, plank affair, with two benches on either side, and ladder-back chairs at either end. Drapes that matched the chair and ottoman hung at the windows, and all were open at the moment. There were wide, double-hung windows on either side of the door, and on the wall opposite of the fireplace, in the dining room. Two narrow windows flanked the stone fireplace, no doubt allowing more than enough sunlight into the room.
"Jack, it's beautiful," Casey said softly, feeling the peace that seemed to fill the very structure itself.
"Thanks," he grinned. "It's home away from home."
Duffels and boxes were settled onto the floor or table as the team continued to look around. Coats were taken off, hung on the board full of pegs on the dining room wall between the front door and the window.
Sam barely stifled a yawn. "I hate to be a party pooper, but who sleeps where?"
Jack nodded at the closed door that opened off of the living room. "That's my...um...our room," he told her. "There's a small bathroom off of it. There are two rooms upstairs, and another small bathroom. The three of you will have to share." The amenities had been added just before his grandfather had handed him the deed to the place. He'd wanted the cabin to be as alluring as possible to his grandson.
Daniel nodded. "Not a problem."
"If I know Dotty, the beds are made, clean towels are out, and there's probably something for breakfast in the fridge," Jack continued. "I made arrangements for a rental...got an SUV. It should be out back. We'll go into Gonvick tomorrow and pick up what we need. It's not a big town, last I knew the population was still under three hundred, so it will be just simple supplies."
"Sounds like a good plan, boss," Casey said. She turned her head when a yawn overtook her.
"Okay, campers, let's get some sleep," Jack said gently.
With quiet goodnights, duffel bags were claimed, Jack and Sam disappeared into the main floor bedroom; Teal'c, Daniel and Casey climbed the stairs. One of the rooms had a double bed, the other a set of twin beds. Teal'c gave a slight nod, then disappeared into that room.
A A A A A A
Casey dropped her bag onto the bed. The room was small, and the ceiling sloped with the angle of the roof. She sat for just a moment. "I always thought Baldwin Street was relatively quiet," she said softly. "It's absolutely silent here!"
"It is peaceful," Daniel agreed. He sat down beside her, pulled off his boots.
She located her ditty bag, slipped into the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth. A soft tap at the door announced Daniel's arrival just before he stepped into the room. They hurried through their routines, wanting to vacate the room for Teal'c's use as quickly as possible.
The bathroom was small, not much more than a few inches wider than the old, clawfoot bathtub that sat against the far wall. There was a shower nozzle and hose attached to the faucet, and a shower curtain that could be closed around the inside perimeter of the tub. The toilet was old, and stood a few inches higher than its modern cousins, and a narrow pedestal sink sat beside it. There was barely enough room for the two of them to move around one another.
Daniel sighed. Chances were, taking a shower together would be difficult. He supposed he'd survive...for a few days. The memory of how Jack's eyes had danced with excitement when they'd all agreed to join him here made him smile. For his best friend, he'd endure. After all, it wasn't like he wasn't able to be with Casey at all!
The walk in the cold, night air had chilled her. She was still shivering slightly. A quick check to see how many blankets were on the bed resulted in her spreading out the quilt that had been folded neatly at the foot.
Daniel couldn't help but smile as he watched her strip and then huddle down beneath the bedclothes. Casey normally slept wrapped around him. When she was cold, however, she usually wound up on top of him. He wasn't complaining, mind you. He just knew that tonight he'd be holding his Angel close, keeping her warm. And her intimate position would result in at least a dozen hot, wicked dreams.
A A A A A A
Jack grinned into the darkness as Sam cuddled close to him. Seven days. He had 'his kids' here at the cabin for seven days. He couldn't wait to introduce them to ice fishing!
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