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Happy Birthday, Darlin'
Casey closed the door to the jeep, took Emily's hand. "Do we have to do it today?" she asked softly, almost timidly. She followed Daniel, who was carrying Nicholas, into the brand new three-story mall. The Grand Opening had occurred while SG-1 had been relaxing on white sand beaches in Langara. Fifty-seven stores and specialty shops that promised shopping heaven. The stores were from three planets: Earth, Langara, and Terra. Over half were Terran and Langaran. And one of those Terran shops just happened to be an old fashioned barbershop. With the very unimaginative name of 'The Barbershop'. This would be the first stop on their way to explore the new venue.
"Casey, he looks like a little girl!" Strangers thought so, too. Like that very nice lady at Murphy's the other day, who had told him that his daughters were adorable. That woman thought his son was a girl! "Yeah, we have to do it today. I need to get my hair trimmed up, so he can get his cut too. It'll be easier for him if he sees me get my hair cut."
"He does not look like a little girl! He looks like-" she argued.
"Your baby boy." He heaved a sigh. "He's going to be two in July, Case." Daniel would never have admitted that the reason she wanted to keep his son's hair long was the very reason he wanted it cut. Nicholas wasn't a baby anymore. At least, not technically. And he wanted the boy to look like his son. "You and Emmie can go check out a few of the boutiques while we're getting our haircut," he said gently.
She shook her head stubbornly as they approached the small shop. "I want to be there. He might get scared and need me."
He barely controlled the urge to roll his eyes. "Nicholas will be fine." He pushed open the door and stepped inside.
A man with a receding hairline and a small goatee greeted him. Everything about the man was average…forgettable. But he had a winning smile and warm, friendly eyes. "Good day, sir! You're here for a haircut, yes?"
"Yes, I am," Daniel replied, smiling in return.
"Well, it won't take long. Your beautiful wife and lovely little girls can wait over in the lounge area if they like," the man said.
Daniel glared at her. She cringed. Okay, maybe Nicholas' hair was a little long…and maybe it did tend to hang in ringlets in the back…but it was so cute! He looked adorable! Sort of like a very, very young Brett Michaels, sans the make-up, of course. And she had always liked Poison. She refused to meet Daniel's eyes. She knew only too well what she would see in those amazing blue depths. She was not in the mood for an 'I-told-you-so'. "Um…Nicholas needs a haircut, too," she said softly.
"Oh, please forgive me," the barber said, his face red, his hands fluttering in his nervousness.
"No problem," Daniel replied, looking at the tot, and then at the barber with an understanding smile. "Hey, Nicholas, want to get your hair cut? I'm getting mine cut."
"Cuts hair, Daddy? Wike you?" Nicholas asked, looking around in wide-eyed wonder.
"Just like me, son," Daniel said quietly.
"If you'll just have a seat, sir, I'll cut your hair, and your son can see that there's nothing to it," the man said, smiling in return.
Daniel put the child in his mother's arms, and sat down in the barber's chair. "Just watch how easy it is, Nicholas," he said, smiling up at the little boy who looked so much like him. The barber flipped out the cape and covered him with it, fastening it securely around his neck. "Just clean up the edges a bit, not too short on the sideburns," he instructed the barber.
Nicholas had three fingers in his mouth, the other hand clinging to Casey's shoulder, and a handful of her hair. His eyes grew wider when the barber picked up the comb and the scissors and began to snip at the ends of his father's hair. He watched closely, the 'snip…snip…snip' of those scissors the only sound in the room. "Hurts, Daddy!"
He chuckled. "No, Little Man, it doesn't hurt."
The tot continued to watch, was fascinated by the buzzing sound of the clippers as the man worked on Daniel's sideburns. A soft, round brush whisked over his face, neck and ears, to remove any loose hair, and the haircut was finished.
The barber smiled over at Nicholas. "Ready to get your haircut now?"
Nicholas nodded, and leaned toward Daniel.
Daniel stood up, took Nicholas into his arms as the barber put a padded board over the arms of the chair. For a few seconds, it seemed that Nicholas had changed his mind, clinging tightly to the front of Daniel's shirt, but he allowed his father to sit him on the board, and let the barber put the cape around him.
"Please, can I have a lock of his hair for the baby book?" Casey asked softly.
"Of course, ma'am." The barber cut a length of hair from the back, wrapped it in a tissue, and handed it to her.
Casey fought back tears as the man continued to cut those adorable locks from her son's head. Her baby was gone now. In his place was a toddler, a little boy who looked even more like his father.
Nicholas giggled and laughed, and had to be told several times to sit still when the barber used the clippers. Within minutes his hair was cut and styled just like Daniel's. He pointed at the mirror and laughed, then pointed at Daniel's reflection. "Daddy!"
Daniel laughed, and picked him up. "Now you look like my son," he declared happily.
Casey took Emily and waited in the mall corridor while Daniel paid. She needed a second to catch her breath. When he came out, Nicholas had a lollipop in his mouth, and one for Emily. She willed herself not to cry when she looked over at her baby boy.
"Case?" He'd seen the tears in those green eyes.
"He really looks like you now," she said softly. In fact, Nicholas looked like a pint-sized, carbon copy of his father.
"Yeah, the barber mentioned that," Daniel beamed proudly.
She reached up and pushed away the one tear that had managed to escape.
"Aw, babe, don't cry. He's still your baby boy. He just looks like a boy now," Daniel said gently.
"I'll never have another baby, Daniel! Nicholas is the last baby I'll hold in my arms! I just needed him to stay my baby for a little longer!" She would not cry, dammit! And certainly not here!
Daniel stopped walking, caught her arm and turned her to face him. "Case? Angel, what's wrong? What's really bothering you?"
"I'll never have another baby! I want another baby!" Her eyes went wide, her mouth a perfect 'O'.
He stared at her. He had to force himself to close his own mouth. "You what?"
"I…Daniel…I …I have no idea where…that…came from!" she stammered. Never had the idea of having another baby crossed her mind! At least, not consciously! Evidently it had been lurking there, in her subconscious. The unexpected revelation left her a bit breathless…and suddenly Nicholas' haircut wasn't quite as…upsetting…as it had been a few minutes ago.
He looked at her, noted that she had been as surprised by her outburst as he had been. "We'll talk about it later. Okay?" he asked softly.
She nodded. "Okay." Took a deep breath. "Shall we get one of those strollers…or let the kids walk?" she asked, nodding toward the kiosk that rented strollers for use in the mall.
He looked around. "Let's get a stroller. If they want to walk, they can. If they get tired we'll have it."
"Good plan, Doctor Jackson," she said, looking up at him. She smiled.
"You're okay?" He reached out and caressed her cheek. Smiled when she pushed her sweet face against his palm.
"I'm fine, Daniel. Really. And I brought my credit card," she said, her eyes full of light, and no tears, once again. For now she didn't even want to think about what she had said, or why she had said it.
"Did you hear that, Nicholas? Mommy's ready to shop. You realize this means that we'll be hauling packages back to the jeep at least twice," he said conspiratorially, his head close to his son's.
"Mommy shop now?" Nicholas asked, looking down at his mother from his place against his father's shoulder.
Daniel chuckled loudly. "Oh, yeah, Little Man. Mommy is gonna shop 'til she drops."
Casey giggled, and took Emily's hand. "Come on, Baby. Let's show your Daddy just how well we can shop!"
The first store they went into carried a variety of artwork…from paintings to statues to blown and twirled glass. Emily was absolutely taken with a frame of colored glass, a representation of a peacock proudly fanning its feathers. It was meant to be hung in a window, so that sunlight would shine through and create patterns of color on the walls and floor of a room.
"Mommy, it's so pretty," Emily said, her blue eyes glued to the framed glass.
"Yes it is, Baby." The myriad of colors; blues, greens, yellows, and reds, really was beautiful.
"My window don't gots one of those," the little girl continued, still staring at it.
"Your window doesn't have one of those," Casey corrected gently.
"That's what I said!" Emily declared, looking at her mother as if the woman had suddenly taken leave of her senses.
Daniel bit his lip in an attempt to keep from laughing out loud.
Casey smiled, crouched down beside her almost four year old daughter. "Would you like to have one of those for your window?"
Emily's face and eyes lit up with pleasure. "Oh, yes Mommy! Please?"
She stood up and looked at Daniel. "What do you think?"
He shrugged. "If she wants it, I don't see that it would hurt her to have it," he replied.
Green eyes danced with mischief. "Yeah, especially since Mommy is using her account to pay for it!"
He snickered. "Yeah, that helps, too."
"Let's find a sales clerk, Baby. Shall we have it delivered to the house?" Casey asked, taking Emily's hand in hers.
"Yep. Why drag it around when they deliver," Emily replied, parroting what she had heard her mother say on other shopping excursions.
Daniel snickered even louder now. He tried to look penitent when Casey glanced at him, but couldn't manage to do so.
The purchase was made, paid for, and delivery arranged.
Two hours later, having been in most of the stores, they were sitting in the food court, and Casey checked her list.
"I still need to find a gown for the opening of the museum. I can wear it to Tessa's gallery opening as well," she said, popping a nacho into her mouth. "We might as well buy a tux for you. I have a feeling that we're going to be attending more events where you'll need one."
Daniel groaned. "I managed to get out of wearing a monkey-suit to get married in…this is the universe's way of getting me back for that!"
She giggled. "I've never seen you in a tux. I'll bet you'll look…" she smiled and let her voice trail off as she tried to imagine the body she knew so well, adored so much, in the elegance of a tuxedo.
He had worn a tuxedo once in his life. To his senior prom in high school. It hadn't fit well - he had waited until too late to try and find one; the jacket sleeves had been a bit too long, the pants a bit too short. He had asked Becky Windom to the dance, and for some miraculous reason she had accepted. When he had arrived to pick her up, her father, who had had one too many beers, had begun teasing her about the sixteen-year-old geek she was going out with. She had changed her mind on the spot, and ran to her bedroom crying. Which resulted in a horrendous fight between Becky's parents. Daniel had run all the way home, ego crushed, fighting tears the entire way. Andrea Parker, his foster mother at the time, had ordered a pizza and made popcorn, and they had watched movies together until almost two in the morning. That memory still stung. "Look what? Ridiculous? Silly?"
"Delicious," she said softly. "Better than James Bond."
The look in her green eyes was enough to make him shiver. "Yeah, whatever," he mumbled, his heart hammering against his ribs, completely mesmerized by those beautiful eyes and the love…and flashes of lust...that he saw there.
"So, we'll stop by the Men's Wearhouse, and Special Occasions, and see what they have. Tessa said that Marie's Boutique has some lovely things, so I'll check it out, too."
"Shall we try the new Red Lobster for dinner?" Daniel asked casually. They hadn't eaten at Red Lobster since running into Kenny Vincent in the one in Silver Springs. He hadn't wanted to take her back there, afraid that it would bring back too many bad memories, stir up emotions… feelings…best left forgotten. Daniel certainly hadn't wanted to be reminded of what she endured because of that bastard…both during her marriage to him, and during the time that he was stalking her.
Casey smiled at him. She loved Red Lobster. Knew that he did as well. She was sure that running into her ex-husband at the one in Silver Springs was the reason Daniel had never offered to take her there again. "Sounds great. I'd love to have some of their cheddar biscuits!"
He smiled back at her. "You're an amazing woman, Casey Jackson."
"Not any more amazing than the brilliant, incredible man I'm married to. Doctor of archaeology. Greatest linguist alive. Anthropology specialist. If he doesn't know it, it doesn't exist."
His cheeks flushed. "What you do to me, woman," he said softly.
"What does Mommy do to you, Daddy?" Emily asked, munching away at the order of french fries she was sharing with her little brother.
"She makes me feel very loved, Princess," Daniel replied, his eyes never leaving Casey's.
Emily nodded knowingly. "Mommy loves us good."
Daniel nearly choked on his coffee. "Yeah, she does, doesn't she?" He grinned at Casey. 'You've always loved me 'good'. Makes me hard just thinking about it.'
'Keep it up, and it's going to be embarrassing for you when you have to try on pants for a tux.' She smiled sweetly, batted her eyelashes at him.
He started laughing. "That's enough to just take the wind right out of my sails," he teased.
"Yeah, well, I'm sure I could…um…blow…um…some more wind for your sails later." Her eyes were dancing.
"I will so get you for that!" he threatened, his body responding to the images that danced in his mind, images and remembered sensations of her incredible blowjobs. He ate a nacho, tried to regain control. "Thank you, babe."
"Loving me. Making me laugh. Filling my life with sunshine."
She smiled. "You fill my life with love and happiness." She ate another nacho, then pushed them away. Less than half of the order remained on the paper plate.
He smiled. Since their vacation, and the heart-to-heart talks they'd had, Casey was actually eating again. Which meant that she was happy, and all the demons in her soul, those devils in the shadows, had been defeated. And Emily, who emulated her mother every chance she got, was doing the same. With luck, nothing more would happen that would hurt his Wife…create more shadows on her soul for demons and devils to hide in. He thought about what he had planned for her birthday. Couldn't stop his smile from becoming a grin.
"Well, since you're so happy, let's go get you a tux," she said, gathering the remnants of their snack and throwing it away in a nearby trashcan.
Daniel groaned. "What's wrong with my black suit?"
"Not a thing," she replied. "But for black-tie events, you need a tuxedo."
"Planning on attending many of these things?" he asked. Nicholas was getting sleepy, Daniel put him into the double stroller that they had been pushing around. Emily must be tired as well, she didn't put up a fuss when he lifted her into the rear seat.
"My best friend is an artist. She's opening her own gallery, and she's on the Board of Directors for Hope's new Museum of Art and Natural History. Then there's the fact that you are on the very same Board of Directors for the very same Museum of Art and Natural History, as well as Director of the Gamma Archaeological Research Center. So yeah, I think I'll be attending a few such events," she replied. She almost giggled when he rolled his eyes at the two directorships she mentioned. He was still grumping about being on the board for the museum. She suspected that he was secretly pleased that he had been asked. He would be quite influential on what was displayed in the 'Natural History' section of the museum. As for the newly renamed Center, that was one of his greatest joys, one of his most satisfying accomplishments.
"Still don't see why I can't wear my black suit," he muttered. But he was pushing the stroller towards the Men's Wearhouse.
The store had sixteen tuxedos in stock. Two that were his size. One had narrower lapels than the other. Casey preferred it. The sales clerk called the store tailor to the front, so that measurements could be taken, and the tux altered to fit perfectly. When he was standing there in the complete outfit, she waved a hand in front of her face. He grinned over at her and winked. She responded with a wicked smile…and fanned herself faster.
'You look scrumptious.' Her green eyes were dancing, and he could see the spark of Fire in their depths.
'Think so, huh?' He was grinning at her again.
Cufflinks and button covers had been decided on, a traditional white, pleated shirt and a pair of shoes chosen as well; measurements were double-checked, and the tailor promised Daniel that the tux would be ready by the middle of the week. He objected when Casey pulled out her credit card.
"I'll get this, Case," he said, reaching for his wallet.
"Today is my treat, Daniel. I haven't touched my account in months," she replied. She signed the sales receipt, and smiled up at him. "Think you can take one last stop before we head to the restaurant?"
He grinned. "Or two. I thought there were two places you wanted to go into."
She giggled. "Just trying to keep you from thinking about how much longer it's going to be before we're finished. Let's stop at Special Occasions first."
The store was definitely a shop for women. Daniel found a bench, pushed the stroller to it and sat down. Until Casey located another one near the dressing rooms. He good-naturedly moved, and waited while the sales clerk found several dresses for her. She tried all of them on. She only came out to let him see two of them. The blue one was too…poufy…she announced. He thought it looked fine. The yellow one was too 'ruffle-y'. He thought it looked a little bit like the dresses the women wore in the movie 'Gone With the Wind'. When he mentioned that fact, she shook her head, declared she was not Miss Scarlet O'Hara, thank you very much, and went back to pull her jeans and tee shirt back on. With a smile and thank you to the clerk, she led the way to Marie's Boutique.
Once again he felt out of place, although the three women who worked in the shop recognized both of them immediately, and proceeded to treat them like royalty. When she came out in the black beaded gown the sales clerk had suggested she try on, he felt his heart stop. She looked sensational!
She was wearing a halter-style, hand beaded gown, with a two-tiered asymmetrical hem that rose half way up her left calf, and had a low cut waist in the back, leaving a fair amount of her soft skin showing. It clung to every curve as if it had been made just for her. She turned left and right, looking at herself in the three-way mirror. She turned to face him. "What do you think?"
"Angel, I think you look amazing." His eyes moved over her appreciatively.
She smiled. "It's not too much, with all the beads?"
He shook his head. "It's…stunning, Case. You're beautiful in it."
The sales clerk smiled. "You can't get a better review than that! We can have it altered to fit better here and here," the woman said, turning Casey back toward the mirror, her hands pulling the dress tighter against the slender body.
Daniel thought the dress fit fine before. Seeing how it would fit once the seamstress had finished with it left him breathless.
"I'll take it," Casey said, smiling happily at her reflection.
"Does this mean we can eat now?" he teased.
"As soon as I find shoes," she replied, wiggling her eyebrows at him.
He laughed, crossed his arms over his chest and settled back on the upholstered bench. "I'll just wait here."
She giggled, and followed the sales clerk to the display of shoes. Thirty minutes later, she had found the perfect pair…black velvet, quarter vamp pumps with ankle straps, a rhinestone-encrusted heart on the vamp, and three-inch stiletto heels. She put the shoes on, walked over to where Daniel sat waiting. "Well? Do the shoes look okay with the dress?"
Sweet Jesus! He felt his mouth go dry. What the hell was it about ankle straps that turned him on so? And peeking at those brightly painted toes had him fighting an erection. He cleared his throat. "They look fine, babe."
She had seen the flames that danced in those incredible blue eyes. Yep, he likes 'em all right! She bit back her giggle. "These are the shoes," she said to the sales clerk.
Daniel watched her feet as she walked back to the dressing room. Damn! He'd have to talk her into wearing those shoes for him when they were alone. Nothing else, just those shoes. He moaned mentally at the images of her that danced in his head, and struggled to regain control of his body. He was relieved when she came back out in her jeans, although they were the pair that hugged her ass tightly, which always turned him on. By the time she had signed the sales receipt, he was able to stand and walk. Barely.
He had her wait at the door while he went for the jeep, Nicholas had fallen asleep, and they had enough packages that he didn't want to have to carry the toddler and bags. He stopped in front of the mall entrance, turned on the hazard lights, and opened the jeep doors as she pushed the stroller out. One of the attendants from the stroller rental booth hurried to help them, then took the stroller back inside.
She settled back in the seat, tired, but happy. She reached over and slipped her fingers into his hand. "So, did you survive?"
He almost laughed out loud. He damned near hadn't survived seeing her in those shoes! The little minx knew it, too. He'd seen it in her eyes. She was well aware of how…turned on…he'd become by those sexy little things. "Survive what?"
"Your afternoon at the mall," she replied, watching his face. Wondered how long it would be before he asked her to wear her new shoes for him. She had the perfect teddy to wear…a new one…black see-through lace. She'd drive him wild!
"With my sanity intact," he replied, grinning at her. Mostly intact, anyway. His sanity, that was. He was still fighting his cock for his blood supply.
She giggled. "You looked so fine in that tux, I wanted to ravish you right there!"
"Ravish, huh? Sounds…interesting," he replied, his grin getting broader. Nice to know that he turned her on as much as she turned him on.
"Yep, ravish. I wonder what would have happened if I had dragged you back into that dressing room and had my wicked way with you?"
"We never would have been allowed to shop there again," he deadpanned.
She giggled hysterically. "At the very least!"
Daniel pulled into the parking lot at Red Lobster. "Hey, look who else is here!"
Sam and Jack were just getting out of their Suburban. Daniel honked and waved. Smiles lit both O'Neill faces.
He found a parking place, lifted a still sleeping Nicholas from his car seat, and the Jacksons joined the O'Neills for dinner. Sam lamented the loss of Nicholas' curls with Casey, but Jack announced that he looked quite handsome, and much more like the little boy that he was. Once again Casey and Emily ate heartily, not exactly everything on their plates, but enough that Daniel felt he could stop worrying about them.
It was nearly eight-thirty when they arrived home, and after baths and snuggle time, both Daniel and Casey were tired enough to be ready for bed themselves. Cuddled together, they let sleep gently claim them.
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