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A Change Will Do You Good
Casey stared at the living room floor. What had once been the Sunday edition of the Hope Sentinel was now small pieces of paper, strewn all over the floor, on the coffee table, and the sofa. "Oh, Nicholas, I don't believe you did this!" she muttered. She turned to look at her son, who was now standing in the kitchen, pushing the swinging closure lid on the bullet styled trashcan that stood at the end of the island. "Daniel Nicholas!"
The tot jumped, looked at her, then grinned.
"All right, mister, leave that alone!" She began to gather the scattered paper.
"Whoa, what happened in here?" Daniel asked, coming in from the deck. He had been cleaning the grill, and needed more paper towels.
"Your son, that's what happened," she grumped. She carried handfuls of the paper to the trashcan. Nicholas watched for a moment, then picked up a small piece of paper and toddled to the can. He put it inside. "That's my good boy," she said, smiling at him. "Help Mommy clean up your mess."
Daniel watched for a minute, grinned, then went on with what he was doing. Emily had loved flushing things in the toilet. So far, that hadn't happened in months. They were hoping that she had passed that 'stage'. Now it looked as if Nicholas would take up the slack and keep them hopping by tearing up every paper he could get his hands on. He made a mental note to keep everything on his desk pushed back so that his son couldn't reach the papers there. Kids were certainly keeping their life…interesting.
Casey found the last bits of paper and threw them away. "You realize, young man, that I hadn't had a chance to read that paper yet? You leave the papers alone!"
"Mommee!" Nicholas said, pointing at her, just as Emily used to do. "Mommee!"
Her heart melting, she scooped her son into her arms. "That's me, my sweet baby boy. But you still have to leave papers alone."
She finished vacuuming the living room, then turned just in time to see Nicholas dropping something into the trash. "Daniel Nicholas!"
The toddler looked up at her and grinned.
She took the lid off of the trashcan and pulled two stuffed animals, four blocks, and two of the plastic cars that were usually in the sandbox from among the trash. Thank goodness they had a garbage disposal where all of the disgusting things were taken care of. She took the toys to the counter and wiped them off, there were a few cans in the trash. When she turned around, Nicholas was standing by the can, the lid swinging back and forth. "Daniel Nicholas Jackson!"
Daniel shook his head. Whatever his son had done now, he was in big trouble. He sighed. Better to find out now, as to wait and have her tell him what 'his' son had done. "What's wrong, babe?"
She turned to face him, fire in her eyes, her hands on her hips.
Uh oh. She was totally pissed off.
Casey went to the trash can, pulled the lid off, and gasped. Laying on top of the cans, the paper scraps and other assorted trash, was one of Daniel's reference books. From the shelf in the living room. "This is what's wrong!"
Daniel took one look at the book, then at his son. "Daniel Nicholas! You leave my books alone!" He grabbed the book, brushed it off, then returned it to its place on the shelf. And noticed that one other book was missing. He looked at his son's smiling face. "I'd better not find that book ruined, mister!" He dug through the trash. There it was. Right below the empty tomato sauce can. The hard, clothe bound cover bore spots of red. "This book is nearly sixty years old!" he grumbled. "My father used this book!"
Casey took it and carefully wiped the front of it off. Most of the stains were removed. Three remained. "I suppose this means we have to move everything up one shelf?"
Daniel was staring at the book. "Doors. I want bookshelves with doors. That lock."
She bit back a smile. "I think that's a good idea. In the meantime-"
"In the meantime, keep an eye on him!" Daniel realized his mistake immediately. The hands were back on her hips, and flames danced in her eyes.
"Excuse me? And you're here to do what? Am I mistaken, or is he not your son as well?"
"You know what I mean. You're in here with him more…"
"I see. Sure. I'll take care of it. Like I always do!"
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"It means that you're either outside on the deck playing with your grill, or in the shed doing who knows what, or in the den buried in work, oblivious to what's happening around you. I deal with everything around here!"
Casey and Daniel turned in unison to the open French door.
Emily stood there, tears on her face, her little hands pressed against her cheeks. "No! No fighting!"
Casey brushed past Daniel and knelt down in front of her daughter. "Oh, Baby, we weren't fighting! We were just having a disagreement. Mommy and Daddy love each other very much!"
Daniel was kneeling now as well. "That's right, Princess. There's nothing to worry about. I promise."
Emily looked from one concerned face to the other. "No fighting!" she repeated. She turned and ran back to her play center.
They looked at one another. "I take it that she's witnessed some fighting somewhere," Casey said softly.
"That's the only place I can think of-" she broke off. "The Pierson's!"
Daniel nodded. "Yeah, they do get loud, don't they?"
Mark and Abby Pierson lived next door, had just moved there a few weeks ago. And seemed to fight continually. They'd had to explain to Emily what was happening the first time she heard the voices raised in anger, and the sounds of breaking glass that filled the air. Several times they had heard Sally, the Pierson's nine-year-old daughter, scream for them to stop fighting. Just as Emily had done.
Tears filled her eyes. "Oh, god Daniel, what did we do?"
He reached for her, pulled her against him. "Shh…it's okay, Angel. She's fine."
"I'm sorry. I'll try to do better about keeping an eye on Nicholas," she said, clinging to his shoulders.
He pressed a kiss against her hair. "I'm sorry, too, Angel. You're right. I need to help more around here."
She shook her head. "You're a wonderful father and husband…I was wrong…"
He kissed her. "No, Case, you have a valid point. I do tend to ignore things around here. I guess…I guess it's because you're a good mother, a great Wife…I guess I take advantage of that. I don't mean to…it just…happens."
"I think the idea of bookcases with doors is a wonderful idea. Glass front, I've always liked those."
He smiled. "We'll go to Hanndel's tomorrow after work," he said, referring to one of the two furniture stores in Hope.
"I'm sorry about the book, Daniel."
"It's just a book. It's still usable."
"I think we should keep the trash under the sink again. I love that trash can, and it was so darned convenient, but under the circumstances…"
"I think you're right. I'll get the old one from the shed and clean it out."
With a quick glance to make sure Nicholas wasn't shredding paper, or trying to throw something way, Casey kissed her Husband, her caress telling him without words how much she loved him.
Twenty minutes later the old plastic trashcan was back under the kitchen sink, and Daniel had taken the bullet can to the shed to store it. Eventually Casey could use it again. When Nicholas was older.
A A A A A A
She was making spaghetti sauce when Emily came into the house. "Hi, Baby. Want to help me with dinner?"
"Daddy help too?"
"Of course, Emmie. Daddy always helps with dinner," she smiled down at her daughter.
"Where Daddy is?"
"He's in his den. He'll be here in just a minute," Casey replied.
Emily looked toward the den. Without another word she marched through the open double doors. She watched her father for a minute, could recognize even at her young age that he was lost in whatever it was he was doing. She went to his side, laid her head against his arm.
"What's up, Princess?" he asked after a minute, smiling at her.
"Mommy's cooking. You help, too!"
He grinned. No doubt Casey had called in to him…and he had, as usual, not heard it. "Did Mommy send you in here to get me?"
"No, she did not," a voice said from the doorway. "I hadn't called you…yet," she added with a smile.
Daniel put his pencil down and stood up. "Let's help Mommy, Princess."
Emily took his hand and tugged, pulling him toward the kitchen.
Casey began to giggle. "I'm sorry, My Love. But I think your days of oblivion just came to an end."
He smiled. "Maybe that's not such a bad thing."
She put her arms around his waist, rested her head against his shoulder. "I don't want you to change, Daniel. Not for me, not for Emily. I love you just exactly the way you are."
His arms were around her, pulled her close. "Thanks, Angel. Love you."
"Love you too."
"What do you need me to do?"
"Cut veggies for the salad. I have to get the garlic butter made so that I can get the bread toasted."
"Cutting veggies it is," he said with a smile. "Come on, Emmie, you can help me," he said, lifting his daughter onto the counter.
She watched for just a minute, glanced in at her son, who was playing contentedly in the playpen, then, with a sigh, started making garlic butter.
Dinner was a happy affair, and Daniel and Casey both silently thanked the gods once again for the blessings that they had been given.
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