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A Taste of Things to Come
May had passed quickly, in spite of the fact that Casey had been required to remain in bed. As soon as Dr. Montigue had released her, she had sent the kids to her mother's, then spent the night making love to Daniel until he was exhausted. Not that he was complaining! June had come and gone, they had celebrated Gamma's Independence Day, today they were preparing for their annual anniversary barbecue.
"Can you help me for a minute?"
He tossed his pen onto the desk, pushed back from the desk. She was standing in the doorway, one hand on her lower back, the other caressing that basketball sized belly where his son continued to grow. "What do you need?"
"For you to dump the potatoes into the colander."
"I can do that," he grinned.
"I was certain that you could," she replied.
"You're not trying to do too much are you?"
She rolled her eyes. It was a darned good thing she would never be going through another pregnancy. Daniel hovered worse than any mother-hen she could think of. "No, I'm not trying to do too much. I bought the cookies. I bought the cake. The only thing I'm making is the potato salad and the baked beans."
He knew that the beans weren't that difficult…she'd started them the day before, cooking the white navy beans in the crockpot all day, then adding all the ingredients that would make them spicy and rich and absolutely delicious, and they had been simmering all night. The aroma of those beans had filled the kitchen, and he couldn't help but lift the lid and take a peak at the dark brown beans and bubbling sauce.
"Leave it alone," she said, hiding her smile.
"Are they done?"
It looked like she had peeled and diced the entire ten pound bag of potatoes. He lifted the heavy stock pot, carried it to the sink, muscles straining against the weight, and slowly poured the boiling water through the colander. There was no way all of the potatoes would fit in that thing.
"Stop," she said, taking the full colander and dumping the potatoes into one of the bowls she had sitting on the counter. "Okay."
He dumped the remainder of the water and potatoes. Sat the stock pot on the counter. "How many onions did you chop for all of that?"
He shook his head. She always cooked enough to feed the entire population of the SGC. Granted, her potato salad was a big favorite. She'd just made some for the Independence Day party at the MacLeod's last Saturday. "Need any help?"
She smiled up at him. "I think I can-" she stopped, her smile growing wider. She grabbed his hand, pressed it against her belly. "Your son is doing the rumba again.
Daniel couldn't help but grin when he felt the movement. He pressed his fingers against her. Yep, that was definitely a leg pushing out there. "Take it easy, son," he said softly, his hand moving gently over the swell of her belly. "Give Mommy a break, will ya?"
Nicholas and Emily had walked into the kitchen at that moment, both raced to their mother's side, eager to feel the baby that moved inside her. "That baby moves a lot," Emily announced.
Casey giggled. "You and Nicholas did too. That's a good thing."
"Good thing," Nicholas repeated, nodding his blonde head. He poked at the firm roundness of his mother's belly. "Baby bwotha!"
"That's right, Little Man, that's your baby brother," Casey said, running her hand over his hair. "Okay, show's over. I have to get the potato salad made."
Daniel leaned back against the island, arms crossed over his chest as he watched her, listened to her explain what she was doing - and why - to her two inquisitive children. He marveled at her patience, at her innate wisdom. She was always able to answer their questions in a way that they could easily understand. He looked down and smiled when Emily wrapped her arms around his waist, put her head against him. He dropped his arms, put one around her slight body.
"Daddy, after baby Ethan gets here, will you put another baby in Mommy's tummy?"
"No, I won't, Princess."
"Because you, and Nicholas, and Ethan are the only babies we want," he replied.
"'Cause we're special?"
He grinned. "Because you're very special."
She held her arms up, giggled when the strong arms she had depended on all of her life lifted her up. She didn't care if Amy said she was too big for her Daddy to hold. She liked it when Daddy held her! She planted a zerbert on his cheek. Giggled again when he gave her one.
"Up, Daddy!" Nicholas demanded.
Daniel bent over, let the tot wrap his arms around his neck, then stood up again, his arm beneath his son's hips. He shifted Emily slightly. A random thought crossed his mind. Just how in the hell was he going to hold onto a third one? He glanced at his daughter. She was by no means too heavy for him to lift, but she was five now. Casey had suggested that it was time for him to stop carrying her. Maybe he'd have to do that. That thought nearly broke his heart. Oh, he had known that the day would come when he would no longer pick her up and carry her. He just hadn't expected it to be so damned soon! He had to fight back unexpected tears at the thought that his little Princess was growing up. It wasn't fair…he wasn't ready for her to be so grown up, not yet!
Casey turned around, smiled at her husband and children. Took note of the suspicious shine in those beautiful blue eyes. 'Daniel?'
'She's growing up so damned fast!'
'I know, Sweetheart. That's the way it goes.'
'I'm not ready.'
'Neither am I.'
When the doorbell rang, Daniel pressed kisses on the faces of his children, then put them down, laughed when they raced ahead of him. He could barely remember days of loneliness; days so empty, nights so dark that they blurred into one another like a bad dream, filled only by missions and mission briefings and research…the heartache constant in its presence. He had a family now. How amazing was that?
Emily had flung open the door, and Jack and Sam, with Evvie and Amber in tow, walked into the house. Sam was carrying two bowls…she kissed Daniel's cheek, and then disappeared into the kitchen.
"Got the grills going yet?" Jack asked.
"Not yet. Guess I should get them started," Daniel admitted.
The four children had already raced outside, yelling and shouting with glee. Jack watched them, a smile on his face. "Doesn't get much better, does it?"
"No, it doesn't," the young archaeologist agreed. "I'd say we found paradise, my friend."
"I'd say you're right," Jack replied. He followed Daniel through the living room, onto the deck and down to the patio.
Daniel opened the bag of charcoal, moved the metal grate, and dumped a heap of the black charcoal briquettes into the brick fire pit. He carefully arranged them, gave them a squirt of starter fluid, and dropped a match onto them. When the flames had died down a bit, he replace the grill, then turned on the gas and hit the igniter switch on the gas grill. Hamburgers and hotdogs would be cooked on it, and soon, because the kids would be hungry before the chicken was anywhere near done. There were two pork roasts this year, they would be done when the group was ready for dinner.
"So, it's eleven years," Jack said, watching the young man's face. Last year at this time, Casey and Teal'c had been declared dead, were still trapped in the ruins of the Oannes' underwater city.
He turned to look at his friend, saw the concern in those brown eyes. "I'm doing great, Jack. I have two beautiful kids, and my gorgeous wife is giving me a second son. And I have good friends - friends who care about me. Friends I care about. Life is damned good."
Jack grinned. "Yeah, I'd say so. Think she'll make it 'til the end of the month?"
"I have no idea," Daniel answered honestly. "She seems…big…like she did just before Nicholas was born. I'm just hoping the boy waits until after my birthday."
"You sure seem determined to fill up the month of July!"
He laughed. "Not intentionally!"
Jack opened a beer, perched on the edge of the picnic table. "I told Evvie and Amber about Charlie," he said softly.
Daniel nodded. He'd known that the girls had been asking questions about why they didn't have a 'boy baby'. And if they were going to have one. Sam had been in a quandary, not knowing exactly what to tell them about Jack's first marriage, and his son.
"They wanted to know if Charlie was upset because I had them. I told them that Charlie was darned glad to have two little sisters. Evvie wanted to know about Sara. What do you tell a four and a half year old about divorce?"
"What did you say?"
The older man shrugged. "I told them that Sara and I loved each other, but that Charlie's death hurt us so much that we just couldn't stay together. Then I told them about meeting Sam, and falling in love with her."
"They'll understand when they get older," Daniel said.
"Evvie said that maybe Charlie knew that her Mommy and I were supposed to be married, so he left in order for Sara and I to divorce."
"Yeah. Pretty deep for a little girl," Jack agreed.
"Case believes that everything happens for a reason, good and bad," Daniel said slowly. "She thought she was a terrible person for being glad that she and I got together."
"How in the hell does that make her a terrible person?" Jack asked.
"Because for it to happen, Sha're had to be taken by the Goa'uld, had to die," Daniel replied softly. "I told her that she was not a terrible person. That she and I were destined to be together, and nothing would have stopped it from happening."
Jack studied his young friend. "You really believe that?"
Daniel squinted up at the deep blue sky, then looked at his friend. "If things had been…different, I would have felt like an ass…but yeah, it would have happened. Even if Sha're hadn't been taken, I would have returned to Earth with you."
"So you don't think that during the year you were…" he twirled his finger in a circle, "all glowy light, Sha're might not have found someone else?"
"I never really thought about it," Daniel admitted. He reached for a beer, opened it, took a sip. "I don't know…I mean, I was back almost before she would have had the one-year remembrance ceremony."
"Doesn't matter, Daniel. Chances are, she would have found someone. Sha're wasn't the type to be alone."
"What makes you say that?"
The older man shrugged. "Just some of the things Skaara said."
Curious, Daniel sat down beside his friend. "Like what?"
"She was more or less engaged to some guy named Rabine when we showed up. Before him was another guy. Nothing bad, or anything. Skaara said that as soon as she was of age, Sha're always had at least one suitor. That she didn't like the idea of being alone."
He'd never known that. Well, he knew that Rabine loved her, but he'd never known that Sha're had been in love with him. He wondered if she sought comfort from the dark haired man when he was off exploring, when he was spending day and night in the temple, translating the Abydonian Cartouche. Then wondered why the thought didn't bother him as much as it should…or as much as he believed it should.
"Anyway, when you ascended, I figure that Sha're would have returned to Abydos. After you descended, she probably still would have married this Rabine character, and you still would have been single when Casey dropped into your arms."
"Maybe. Sha're would have waited until after the ceremony to remarry. My return would have changed that," Daniel said.
"Look, you hadn't been back six months yet when Casey came into your life. Even if Sha're had waited, I doubt that you would have been in any kind of happy, healthy relationship. I mean, it took a month to get all of your memories back," Jack pointed out.
"Anubis was raising all kinds of hell."
"So you wouldn't have returned to Abydos."
Daniel frowned. "Probably not. But who's to say Sha're would have? After five years on Earth, she might have decided to stay."
Jack took another drink of beer. Shook his head. "Nah. She was too much a daddy's girl."
That was certainly true, Daniel thought. Whatever Kasuf said, she believed; whatever he expected of her, she did. She would believe whatever he told her, if Kasuf had already decided that the young archaeologist was right. "Okay, so she would have gone back to Abydos. Had the one year remembrance ceremony. Then found out I was alive. She would have come back to the SGC immediately."
"Probably. Doesn't mean she would have run back into your arms immediately," Jack said. "What I'm saying, Danny-boy, is that Sha're would have come back, but it might not have been all peaches and cream. And so finding Casey wouldn't have made you feel like such an ass after all. It might even have been a…relief…for all parties involved."
"Possibly. But that's neither here, nor there. Right now all that matters is what I have. Casey. The kids…all three of them-" he broke off and chuckled. "Never thought I'd have three kids."
Jack grinned. "Hell, Space Monkey, I never thought I'd ever see you with one!"
"Look who's talking!"
The grin widened. "Damned lucky, aren't we?"
"Damned lucky!" Beer bottles clinked together, and they took healthy swigs. "I told you about Casey having that…conversation with Frank Webster, right?"
"Yep." Jack had become nearly immune to the odd things that happened around him on a daily basis. That immunity had began during the first year of going through the Stargate. It didn't mean he wasn't occasionally surprised. But nothing…fazed him. Certainly not since Daniel had become The Chosen One.
"Seems she had a little tête-à-tête with Sha're when we were on Langara the last time," Daniel told him.
He nearly spit a mouthful of beer across the yard. "She what?"
"Yeah, I guess Sha're showed up and they talked."
"Me, mostly. I guess. She won't tell me what all was said. Something tells me I don't want to know."
Jack studied the young man. Then nodded. "Sleeping dogs."
Casey finished with the first bowl of potato salad, and had started on the second. "So anyway, I told him that I think it's a great idea, and I like the idea of staying home for a couple of months after the baby is born."
Sam nodded. "From what we can find out, Penatil is a Goa'uld without a home. Well, I guess he's staying on his home planet, but Jordan totally destroyed his palace and everything around it. Right now he has one mothership. He's not going to do anything for awhile but try to rebuild."
"He still has the know-how to build Kull warriors," Casey pointed out.
"True. But he needs the resources, the laboratories and the Jaffa to guard it, not to mention enough to bribe a Goa'uld queen into becoming a breeder for him," Sam pointed out.
"As long as he can't do that, he's not going to be much of a threat. Jordan, however-"
"Is also rebuilding," Sam interjected. "Last word we had from Methos is that with Penatil down for the count, the other snakes are racing to rebuild. This little civil war has cost a lot of them. Several are in not much better shape than Penatil. Those who are don't dare cause trouble for fear that the others, weak or not, will join together."
Casey looked over at her best friend. "Do you ever think about…her?"
Sapphire blue eyes filled with tears. "I think about both of them," she said softly.
"Our kids managed to undo what we screwed up," Casey said softly. "But god, what they suffered!"
"I know," Sam whispered. "I mean, I know that that future has been changed…avoided…but …We talked a bit, while we were waiting for word from Potter. Those kids went through hell. Jack's…execution-" her voice caught, she cleared her throat. "It haunted both of the girls. Evvie said…she told me that…"
"Told you what?"
"It seems that Methos and Emmie were…a couple. And that Evvie was sleeping with Wade. I think they were looking for…father figures."
Casey was staring at Sam. "Methos? And Emily? Oh, I'll kill that Old Man!"
Sam grinned. "I was pretty surprised too. Evidently Evvie has a crush on her Uncle Daniel. And Wade…"
"Looks just like him," Casey finished. "Well, considering that you and Methos, Wade, the kids and my folks were pretty much the resistance, I guess it's to be expected. I can't help but think that Nicholas, Richie and Ethan probably had a girl or two tucked away somewhere."
"According to Evvie, Nicholas practically had a harem. Ethan was so involved with his study of Daniel's work that he rarely surfaced to even interact with anyone. She said that Nicholas was very protective of his younger brother. Richie seemed to have a couple of girlfriends, and a boyfriend."
"You realize we're gossiping about something that will never happen," Casey said, her eyes dancing with laughter.
"I know. Did you and Emily get a chance to talk?"
"Yes, we did."
"That girl was furious with you."
"I know. She said that seeing Daniel and I together reminded her of how much we love each other, how much we rely on one another, lean on one another. She said it helped her to understand what I had gone through." Casey finished the second bowl of potato salad, looked up at her friend. "I would you know."
Sam instinctively knew what the young blonde was talking about. "I know. He fell apart when you were…dead."
"So I've heard."
"Just before you came back, he was working in his office…well, not really working. He was sitting there, staring at his computer monitor," Sam said softly, her eyes seeing not Casey's kitchen, but Daniel's office, and the grieving man sitting behind his desk. "I stopped by to see if he wanted to get some lunch. He looked up at me, tears running down his face, and he told he that he didn't have a clue how to get in to change the database. That you always took care of that for him. I offered to help him, but he refused. He said he needed to figure it out. That he had to learn how to live without you, even if it killed him. Then he looked at me, and said, 'it will, you know'. I knew he wasn't eating, that he was having trouble sleeping, that he was drinking…I swear Casey, if you hadn't come back when you did…"
Casey wiped a tear from her cheek.
"Jack told me that we had to keep an eye on him. That when he started trying to go back to the planet, we had to make sure we stopped him. Or he would have killed himself trying to get to you."
"He told me that he thought about it," Casey said. "We've gone through so much…I hate what my absence did to my family," she hissed.
"Honey, it wasn't your fault," Sam said, putting her arm around slender shoulders.
"I know. Or at least, my head does."
"Evvie and Amber know about Sara and Charlie now," Sam said, knowing that the heart wrenching subject of Casey's death, and Daniel's depression over it, weren't things she wanted to talk about. Nor did Casey seem eager to continue the conversation. "How much they understand, I don't know. Evidently they must have overheard a reference to one or the other. Jack was great, he sat on the floor with them, explained who they were, what had happened. Evvie nearly blew him away though. She looked up at him, and said, 'Daddy, maybe Charlie had to go to heaven so Sara would divorce you. So that you and Mommy would get married.'"
Casey's eyes went wide. "That is a very deep thought for a four-and-a-half year old!"
"Very! Jack laid in bed for hours last night thinking about it," Sam said. "This morning he asked me if I believe in fate, or destiny. I told him that after watching you and Daniel, I certainly didn't doubt it. Then he muttered something about easier ways to get down the right road. I asked him if he'd like to try for a boy. He said absolutely not. That he had been given a son, and that hadn't worked out."
"Oh, god, that poor man," Casey said softly. "What about you, do you want another baby?"
Sam smiled. "I have Evvie, and Amber. They're growing up so quickly. I also have Jack. Who will never grow up."
The young blonde giggled. "So true. I wanted another baby. To be honest, I don’t even know why. I do know that I don't want any more! I will be totally pissed if I'm 'blessed' with any more 'surprises'!"
"From what you said, the Ascended understand that," Sam pointed out.
"Yeah, the Ascended do. But which other group will decide to 'reward' me for something I've done?"
Sam giggled. "Interesting rewards."
"That's one word for it," Casey giggled. She ran her hands over her belly. "This pregnancy started out a bit rocky, what with not knowing how it had happened. But Daniel has been flying high ever since he found out for sure that he's the father."
"Daniel has always wanted a family," Sam said, nibbling on a cookie. "The first couple of years we worked together, when we would go into a village, he would always watch the children, the mothers. I know he was thinking about Sha're, wanting to find her, have a family with her. After Sha're died, he still watched the kids. He told me once that he'd always dreamed of having a family of his own. Then he got this really sad look on his face, and he told me that he'd figured out that it was never going to happen for him."
"I've told him, again and again, never say never," Casey giggled.
Sam crossed her arms over her breasts, leaned back against the counter. "I never really thought about having a family. I was too busy studying, too busy trying to please…impress my father. Then I started working at the SGC. I was in love with Jack, but I didn't think that we'd be together soon enough for kids to be an option…I mean, I understood that he would have to retire before we could get together. If not for Oma, I never would have let myself think about it."
The blonde colonel grinned. "Now I can't imagine life without them."
The doorbell rang, announcing the arrival of Teal'c and Carly. Who were followed in quick succession by Duncan and Tessa, and Erin and Aaron. Within thirty minutes the yard was full of friends from the SGC and throughout Hope, and the celebration was in full swing. Everyone cheered when Daniel led Casey in their 'anniversary dance'. And wished them many more happy years together.
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