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A Change Will Do You Good
"…A change would do you good
A change would do you good…"
"A Change (Will Do You Good)" by Sheryl Crow
Daniel was building a nice pyramid of charcoal briquettes in the brick barbecue grill in the back of the yard, keeping one watchful eye on his daughter. Emmie was playing on her 'play center'…what a pain in the ass that thing had been to build! Four to five hours the instructions had said. Ha! It had taken him, Jack, and Teal'c a full weekend to get it together. But it was worth it. Every penny for the materials, not cheap to get the pressure treated lumber and then the swings and the slipper-slide and the teeter-totter! Worth every minute of sweat and banged thumbs and scraped knuckles. He watched his daughter for a minute. My daughter. Those two words still made his heart jump and jitter in his chest.
"'Watch me, Daddy!" she called.
Daddy. His heart soared as high when he heard Emily call him 'Daddy' as it did when Casey called him 'My Heart'. Her enunciation had improved greatly since she had started preschool. Preschool. That was another of those words that did funny things to his insides. His precious baby girl was three years old and in preschool. And loving every minute of it. LouAnn Dononvan, one of the teachers at 'Little Stars Preschool', had put Emily with the four-year olds the second day. His daughter was going to be like him, it seemed.
She climbed up to the 'tree house' section of the play center, and then, making sure he was still paying attention, jumped into the deep sand below it. "I can jump high!"
He grinned. He was pretty sure she meant she could jump from high. It was actually four feet. "You're a brave girl, Emily!"
She beamed at him, looking so much like her mother it took his breath away. "I'm a brave girl. An' a ark'lo'gist, just like you, Daddy!"
"Yep, just like me, Princess." That Emily had been the one to discover the scepter of a mythical goddess, actually a Goa'uld named Darilla, was part of the mission log for the visit to P7X 411. Just when he thought it wasn't possible to love them any more, or be more proud of either of the two females in his life, they did something to prove otherwise. He had been so proud of Emily that day that he nearly couldn't contain it all.
He turned back to the job at hand. He had to get these nice, square pieces of charcoal into nice glowing coals that would cook the platters of meat that Casey had waiting. When they were barbecuing for family and friends, especially at a party like today's anniversary get-together, both grills would be in use. He'd put the chickens and the pork roasts out here, they took longer to cook, and the slow fire from the coals would make the meat tender and flavorful. He grinned at that thought. Over the years he'd become pretty doggone good at this barbecuing stuff! He gave the briquettes a squirt of lighter fluid, and dropped a lit match down on top. The fire caught quickly. He carefully put the metal grate back into place. He had already moved the gas grill, it was sitting just a few feet away, so that he wouldn't have to run from the deck to the back of the yard and then to the deck again. He started it, so that the lava rocks would be nice and hot for the burgers, hotdogs, and shish-ka-bobs that would go on it. What didn't fit there, he could put over the coals in the brick grill.
Two soft arms wrapped around him from behind. "Hey, handsome."
"Hey, gorgeous." He leaned back slightly, just to feel her breasts pressed against his back. The sensations sent Fire up and down his spine.
"I think everything is ready."
"Grills will be ready in about ten minutes or so," he replied. He turned around, pulled her into his embrace, kissed the tip of her nose. "Happy Anniversary, Angel."
"Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart."
Their anniversary had actually been on Thursday, and they had gone to dinner at Curly's, just the two of them. They had opted to celebrate today with family and friends, holding the annual anniversary barbecue that everyone had come to expect, and always enjoyed. Last night all those wonderful people they called family, and a few close friends, had come over to celebrate Nicholas' first birthday. It had been hilarious watching him dig both little fists into the small chocolate cake that Casey had baked for him, then try to stuff both at once into his mouth. After he had been cleaned up, he found ripping the wrapping paper from his gifts to be great fun, more fun than what was inside the colorful gift wrap. He had pulled apart paper and bows all evening, laughing with absolute glee. His son was a year old. My son. Yep, two more words that made his heart beat faster. He looked down into beautiful green eyes that were so full of love that it took his breath away. For one brief moment that black, cold, empty feeling that had filled him, when he thought that Nergal had beheaded her, washed over him. So close, he thought. He had come so damned close to losing her this time that it terrified him to let her out of his sight now.
She watched the emotions that filled his eyes, flickered over the handsome features of his face. There was no mistaking the pain, the grief that filled them for one fleeting moment. He was remembering those long, dark hours when he had thought she was dead, decapitated by that madman, that insane Goa'uld. She had whispered goodbye to him, convinced that she was about to die, beheaded because she refused to let pure evil touch her, take her, rape her…destroy her. She hadn't wanted to die, was terrified to die, but she couldn't let that monster touch her, hold her. Her mind would have…she just wouldn't have survived, she knew that. She could well imagine how devastated, how empty he felt, the pain he felt, when he believed her to be gone, forever. She had suffered pain nearly as great when she thought she had lost him to Neferteri. She well understood the darkness, the coldness that had wrapped around his heart, his soul. Her own heart ached to know that he had suffered so, she struggled with guilt for putting him through such an ordeal. She tightened her arms around his waist. "I'm here, Daniel. And I'm never leaving your side. I love you," she said softly.
He pulled her tight against his chest, his arms crushing her against his body. "I know, Angel. I love you, so very much. I don't think I'll ever be able to forget that pain."
Her green eyes clouded for a moment. "I know."
Daniel knew that she did. At least he hadn't thought that she had chosen to leave him; that she was holding, loving the Goa'uld by choice. What he had done to her still haunted him. He had her forgiveness. For all of the screw-ups he had made, for all of the times he had shattered her heart, and her trust in him. She was an amazing woman, his Wife. Willing to forgive so much that had hurt her so deeply. "I love you, Casey. I love you so much it hurts."
"Right back 'atcha, Daniel." She smiled up at him. "Do you realize that nine years ago today, we were making love on that tropical beach?"
He smiled in return. "Now that you mention it, that does seem about right. As I recall, we made love on every inch of that island."
"Yes, we did. And a few inches more than once," she giggled.
"You were so damned beautiful, and it drove me crazy watching you running around naked. I never wanted to leave there."
"You didn't wear clothes either, from the time you took that suit off until we had to get dressed to go back to the SGC," she teased. "I loved watching you. You were so magnificent. You still are…absolutely magnificent," she said softly.
"You're breathtaking, Angel," he replied in kind.
"We really need to go to a nice tropical place, where we can be alone and run around naked," she said, her eyes dancing.
"I like that idea," he grinned.
"What'd I tell you? Didn't I say we'd find them somewhere with their hands all over each other?" a familiar voice said, the smile apparent in the words.
They grinned at one another, Daniel kissed her lightly, then they went to greet Sam, Jack, and their daughters.
Amber was fussing in her mother's arms. "I think we're cutting another tooth," Sam said, pulling a teething ring from the bag she had dropped onto the picnic table.
"I'm so glad Nicholas had that tooth come through before last night," Casey replied. She reached over and ran her finger over Amber's cheek. The eleven-month old girl looked at her, but didn't smile. She really must be feeling bad, Casey thought. Amber O'Neill had been born smiling, it seemed. "Poor baby. Want Auntie Casey to get you a nice frozen fruit pop?" She led Sam into the house.
"Well, Danny, nine years. How does it feel to be such an old married man?" Jack teased, a wide grin on his face. He followed the younger man back to the grills.
"Feels damned good right now," Daniel replied.
Jack didn't miss the flash of pain. "I'll bet it does. So, no nightmares, no more…freaking out?"
He shook his head. "Whatever Doctor Blackstone did, it worked. She's been fine. I've even been feeling better about…things."
The older man reached out and squeezed Daniel's shoulder. "Glad to hear that. I was afraid I'd lost both of you. Don't think I could have handled that. You've been a friend for too long. Do you realize, Danny me-boyo, that we have worked together on SG-1 for sixteen years? Give or take a day or two."
"Yeah. Doesn't quite seem possible, does it? I mean, until you really start thinking about it, and then, it feels like a miracle that we've survived this long at all!"
"I think being Immortal the past eight years might have a bit to do with that," Jack grinned.
"Probably. Thank god for Immortality!" Daniel grinned in return.
"Amen! Where's the beer?"
"Same place it always is. Coolers are under the table."
Teal'c and Carly were the next to arrive. The large Jaffa had just joined Jack and Daniel by the grills when feminine squeals of excitement echoed from inside the house.
"What was that about?" Daniel asked, frowning toward the open French doors.
"It is possible that Carlotta is showing them her ring," Teal'c said, grinning happily.
Jack laughed, and slapped the man on the shoulder. "Got that ring on her finger, eh T?"
"Indeed, O'Neill. I do not wish for her to change her mind."
Daniel snorted. "Teal'c, that could happen right up to the very minute that she says 'I do'."
"Just because you were afraid Casey was going to back out on you, doesn't mean that T should be worried that Carly is going to back out on him," Jack said, grinning broadly.
"I was not aware that you harbored such fears, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said.
The young archaeologist nodded. "I was scared to death that when it came time for her and Jack to come through the 'gate, that she wouldn't do it. When we were standing there, exchanging our vows, I was shaking, not just because I was nervous. I half expected her to tell me that she just couldn't go through with marrying me. Once she had said her vow, I was fine, I knew she'd never break it."
"Why did you believe that she would not marry you?"
"Teal'c, I have never had a woman as beautiful, as sensual, as…incredible…as Casey in my life. I just didn't think that a woman like her could…would…be interested in a man like me. I'm not saying that Sha're wasn't beautiful, she was. But that was so different. She really didn't have a say in the matter…well, I kept telling her that she didn't have to stay with me, that she could go back to her father at any time, and that I would take any and all blame. She never did."
"And Casey hasn't left you, either," Jack said softly.
Daniel looked toward the house again, a frown on his face. "Not that I haven't given her ample reason to want to," he replied just as softly. "Too many times, Jack. We've raced right up to the edge of that cliff too many times. This last time…" He broke off, shook his head. "Guess it will take me awhile to get past this one."
"But you will," his best friend told him. "You both will."
"Just like we always do." He turned to Teal'c. "Congratulations, Teal'c. I'm really happy for you, and for Carly."
Teal'c dipped his head slightly. "Thank you."
Duncan and Tessa, and his parents arrived, as did the Desala's. Methos and Oma arrived together, the men from SG-6 and their wives or girlfriends were next through the side gate. Within an hour, the yard and the house were full of friends and family, helping Daniel and Casey celebrate nine years of wedded bliss. There had been several rough times, a few times that they weren't sure they would make it, but they always ended up right back where they belonged, where they wanted to be…in one another's arms.
Wade heard the music and the laughter. He smiled. When he had arrived for Emily's birthday, he had been afraid that his presence would be…awkward…for his brother. To be introduced as he had been still left him feeling shocked…happy…but shocked. He pushed open the gate.
"Well, there's the missing sibling now," a voice called out. "Hey, Wade!"
He smiled and nodded. He glanced around, taken completely unawares when Emily raced up to him and wrapped herself around his leg.
"Unka Wade! Where did you go? Mommy said I had to be quiet, 'cause you was sleeping on the sofa, and then I took-ded my bath and you were gone!"
The smile became a grin. Neither Casey nor Daniel would hear of him staying anywhere but with them, even if it was on the sofa. He had been a bit late for Nicholas' party, and Casey had insisted that the cake cutting wait until he arrived. She would never know how much that simple gesture meant to him. "I had to go take care of something special for your Mommy and Daddy," he said, whispering conspiratorially to his niece.
"You got-ted them a present?"
"I sure did!"
"I can see it now?"
"Sorry, Emmie, it's all wrapped up pretty. You'll have to wait until they open it," he said. It was this gift that had been the reason he was late the night before. He had to pick it up from the artisan who had created it. He had slipped out of the house as soon as possible so that he could take it to a nearby gift shop, where he purchased a card, and have the special, unique gift wrapped, ready to give. He had run into Methos, and they had spent a couple of hours in Rinaldi's, discussing the fact that the Immortal might be resuming his charade as a Goa'uld within the next few days. He had to admit, the excitement of standing among the enemy, plotting their downfall, was quite an adrenaline rush. He could understand why his brother couldn’t give up being on SG-1. Although, he suspected that for awhile, Daniel would have gladly done so, to keep Casey safe.
He turned and smiled, accepted the soft, feather light kiss on his cheek. Funny, but for some reason her touch didn’t affect it him the way it had for so long. It was still welcome, and pleasant. It no longer caused an almost uncontrollable rush of desire, or the heart-wrenching pain that accompanied it. He shrugged mentally. Maybe understanding how much Daniel loved her, how much his brother needed her, made it easier to…let go. "Happy anniversary, Casey!"
"Thank you! Daniel is holding court over by the grills," she said, rolling her eyes. "He's the king of the grill. Just ask him."
He laughed. "I'll be sure to tell him you said that."
"Don't you dare!" She turned to the women nearby. "See? What did I tell you? Two of them! I have to put up with two of them! I deserve some sort of medal, I swear I do!" The women laughed, and with a grin, he waved and walked to the back of the yard.
"He is just as gorgeous as Doctor Jackson," Stephanie Miller said, watching him walk away. What an absolutely great ass the man had!
Casey looked at Wade, then back at the young grad student. "Yes, he is. Just as sweet and kind, too. I'll introduce you properly after while," she said with a smile.
"That would be totally awesome," Stephanie replied. Her eyes were still on Wade's retreating figure. "He's not married or anything, is he?"
"Nope. Totally one hundred percent available," Casey said. She winked at Sam and Tessa. Those two women grinned broadly, and gave her a 'thumbs up'.
Daniel saw his brother walking toward him, gave a smile and a nod. "I was about to send out the Marines to look for you. Then I thought better of it. No man wants to be pulled bodily from a woman's bed by Marines."
Wade stared at him for a second, then noticed the twinkle in the blue eyes. "I do appreciate the thoughtfulness, big brother," he replied, his own eyes full of laughter. "Unfortunately, it wasn't a beautiful woman that kept me busy this afternoon."
"Losing your touch, little brother?" Daniel teased.
"Never. Just busy with…other things," was the grinning response.
The men around watched and listened with amusement. Not long ago these two men refused to acknowledge one another. Now they were behaving like the siblings that they were. Talk turned to household repairs, vehicle maintenance, and other such 'manly' topics.
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