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This Thing Called Love
She watched him, and giggled again. "If you could just see how funny you look!"
Daniel was standing at the kitchen sink, his arm as far into the turkey as he could get it, which was almost to his elbow, rinsing it under the running water. "Ha ha. Are you going to help hold this damned thing or not?"
She reached into the sink and grabbed the turkey by the wings, moving them back and forth in mock flight. "Fly, turkey, fly!"
He cracked up laughing. "Casey, we have to get this turkey cleaned and stuffed."
"You’re right, sorry."
"No you’re not," he grinned.
"You’re right, I’m not. Ready for the stuffing?"
It took them nearly thirty minutes to get the turkey stuffed, trussed and into the oven. They took a shower, taking time to make love. Casey needed to relax, and Daniel knew from experience that if he made love to her before she had to face the rest of the day, she would do so with less tension.
It didn’t take Casey long to have the rest of the dishes for the meal ready to cook. The sweet potatoes were layered with butter and brown sugar, ready to be baked, the green bean casserole needed only to be warmed in the microwave. The white potatoes were cut up and ready to be boiled, the dinner rolls only needed a few minutes in the oven. The cranberry sauces and salad were already in serving bowls in the refrigerator. She stood back and looked at the table. The china glistened, the crystal sparkled. A cornucopia of fruit and vegetables was arranged in the center of the table; small votive candles nestled among the leaves and foodstuffs would add warm light. Daniel had made sure that the clutter in the living room had been picked up, even Emmy’s playpen had been moved out of the room for the day. She lit candles in the bathrooms and the living room. The doors to the den were closed…two toddling little girls would find it too inviting to leave them open. The door to their bedroom was closed as well. She nodded as she looked around. Everything was ready.
Now it was time to get dressed, for family would be arriving soon. Emily was wearing a navy blue velvet dress with a sailor’s collar edged with lace. She also had on white tights and black patent shoes. Daniel was in his navy blue suit, complaining about being forced to wear a tie. When Casey came into the kitchen, he was almost disappointed. She was beautiful, she was always beautiful no matter what she wore. Usually it was something short and revealing. Today, however, she was wearing a soft, gathered skirt in pale blue that ended just above her ankles, showing off her three-inch heeled, white leather granny boots. A soft white sweater tunic went over the skirt, with a wide white leather belt around her narrow waist.
"You look great, Sweetheart," she said, leaning up to kiss him.
"So do you. What happened to the green dress, or the black one?"
"I found this outfit in Langara. Don’t you like it?" She spun around.
"It’s okay. You look beautiful. What happened to the green dress?"
She giggled. Daniel liked her in the green dress. He liked taking her out of the green dress as well. "Well, maybe you’ll like what’s under it."
His eyes widened. "What’s under it?"
"You’ll just have to wait until bedtime." She laughed at the pained look in his eyes.
"Just a hint?"
She shook her head. "Can’t have you distracted and at half mast all day."
He couldn’t help but grin. "You’re a sadistic Little Slave."
"You love me anyway, Master."
He grabbed her and kissed her. "With all my heart."
The doorbell rang. Emily pulled at her skirt to go potty. She looked up at him. "You, door; Emily, come with me, Baby," she said.
As seemed to happen at every holiday meal, everyone arrived at once. It was, as always, joyous chaos that reigned. Duncan and Tessa were the first to arrive, followed by Methos and Oma. Aaron and Erin were right behind them, and Jack and Sam came in only minutes later. As usual, the women all brought at least one dish with them. Daniel watched as Casey stuffed more into the refrigerator, or onto the already crowded counter. They would all gain at least five pounds today, and that was just for the sit-down part. When they attacked the leftovers later they would add another pound or so. That didn’t even include the desserts, of which there appeared to be half a dozen.
Emily and Evelyn were already running through the house shouting and laughing. Daniel pulled the bathroom doors closed, explaining the latest flushing disasters, bringing much amused laughter.
Methos, a beer in his hand, was leaning against the entertainment cabinet, listening to the Jacksons and O'Neills comparing notes on their daughters. He watched Casey, something he had become an expert at doing. He was seeing Oma - sleeping with her; but still that slender blonde haunted his dreams, his thoughts. He looked down when Emily tugged at his black trousers.
"Wup!" she demanded, her little arms held out to him.
He grinned and picked her up. "What do you want, Little Brat?"
"‘Eeffos, see you long time!" she said, shaking her little blonde head.
"I know. I’ve been busy," he replied. She looked too much like her mother. Only those blue eyes kept him from thinking of her as Casey.
"Wuv you," she declared, and hugged his neck tightly.
His arms automatically tightened around the child, he buried his face against her soft baby hair, closed his eyes for just a second. He had very little experience with children, but this particular child had wrapped his heart around her finger almost immediately. Just like her beautiful mother had done. When he opened his eyes, Casey was looking at him, a soft smile on her face. His dark eyes locked with her green ones for just a second. He shifted Emily in his arms, looked around the room. Oma was looking at him, a smile on her face. How could she love him, even when she knew that he was in love with Casey? He shook himself mentally, reminded himself to be busy elsewhere at Christmas time. Emily was wiggling, anxious to get back to playing. He couldn’t help but plant a kiss on the top of her blonde head as he lowered her to the floor.
Casey had suggested a game of charades, boys against girls, and Sam was trying to pantomime "Gone with the Wind". Tessa guessed it almost immediately.
Now it was the guys turn. Daniel was trying desperately to get them to guess "Rambo", but the men just weren’t getting it. Aaron and Erin, who had opted to sit out so that they could keep an eye on the girls, called time.
"Rambo!" Casey cried out, laughing so hard she was almost crying.
"Not fair! You and Daniel have that link thing going," Jack declared.
"Oh, Jack, I didn’t need a link to figure it out. He did a ram…and then a bow…Rambo!"
"Oh, that’s what you were doing!" Duncan groaned.
"I say we find a game more suited to our…intellect," Jack grumbled.
"You want to play patty-cake?" Casey asked, her eyes wide. Tessa, Sam, and Oma squealed with laughter.
"You are so not funny, Jackson," Jack replied.
"I thought it was hilarious," Casey retorted.
"You would," Duncan said.
She whirled to look at the dark haired man, his eyes were dancing with mirth. "Watch it, Highlander. I’ll sic The Chosen on your sorry butt."
"Hey, leave me out of this," Daniel said, throwing his hands up in mock surrender.
Casey smiled and went to where he stood, wrapped her arms around his waist. "I thought you were supposed to protect me," she teased.
"You’re on your own when you pick a fight, babe," he grinned, wrapping his arms around her.
"Some protector you are," she huffed playfully.
He kissed the tip of her nose.
Emily had crawled onto Tessa’s lap, and hugged her neck. "Wuv you ‘Essa."
The French woman’s eyes filled with tears for just a brief moment. "Love you, too, Emily," she said softly.
"Hey, where’s my hug?" Duncan asked. Everyone laughed when Emily looked around the room, as if looking for the hug. He held open his arms, the child launched herself into them.
Evvie stood looking at Tessa, a finger in her mouth. Then with an angelic smile, climbed into the woman’s lap. She settled herself, content to play with the pendant that the woman wore.
"Well, you seem to be a baby magnet today," Duncan teased her.
Tessa started, looked at him. They had made love so gently, so beautifully before getting ready to come here, she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, it was the time, the one time that she would finally get pregnant. She pushed the thought from her mind. She had been disappointed every month for two years. No way was she going to get her hopes up.
Casey watched her face, knew instinctively what she was thinking. She hoped that the woman would conceive soon…if she hadn’t already.
The women began to gather in the kitchen when Casey went in to put the sweet potatoes in the oven, and start the white potatoes. She had already boiled the turkey neck, and would use the stock to make the gravy. After exclaiming over the table, the group of women agreed with Casey that setting everything on the island and serving it buffet style would be the easiest way to serve the huge quantity of food available. Daniel carved the now roasted turkey while she finished the gravy and arranged all of the food on the counter. It was overflowing.
When she began to light the votive candles, Daniel opened the wine and filled the glasses. Everyone sat down at the table first, Sam, Jack, Tessa and Duncan on one side, Aaron, Erin, Oma and Methos on the other, Casey and Daniel in their customary places at each end. The girls were in their high chairs at each end as well.
Casey picked up her glass. "I’d like to give thanks this year for family, friends, and most important in my life, Daniel and Emily."
Daniel smiled, winked, and picked up his glass. "I’ll give thanks for family, friends, My Chosen, and my daughter."
Jack followed suit. "I give thanks for family, friends, Sam, and Evvie."
"I give thanks for family, friends, Jack and Evvie," Sam said softly.
"I give thanks for family, friends, my darling daughter, my precious granddaughter, and the man who loves and protects them. And Aaron," Erin said, her eyes twinkling.
"I give thanks also that my beautiful daughter is a part of my life. For family, friends, Emily, Erin…and I suppose I should be grateful for such a good son-in-law," Aaron teased.
"I give thanks for family and friends…and new beginnings," Oma said, looking at Methos.
Methos cleared his throat. "Yeah, well, if we have to thank somebody for something, I’m thankful that Casey is a good cook," he said in typical Methos fashion. "And that there are women…rather, one woman…willing to put up with me." He winked at Oma. She blushed prettily.
Duncan grinned. "I’m thankful for family and friends, and for my beautiful Tessa."
Tessa smiled at him. "I’m thankful for family and friends, for Duncan, and for the life we’ve been granted here on Gamma."
"Amen," Casey said quietly. "To another year of blessings," she said softly.
"Hear, hear," Daniel said.
Glasses clinked against one another, the toast was drank to, and then the group moved toward the island, plates in hand. Happy confusion filled the house as plates were loaded, and they settled back at the table to partake of all the food that had been prepared. Declarations of appreciation filled the air when first bites were taken.
"You’ve done it again, Angel," Daniel said quietly, lifting his glass and saluting her with it.
"Thank you," she replied, her eyes shining with love and happiness.
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