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When Two Hearts Collide
With four women in the house, it didn't take long for the leftovers to be stored away, and the pots, pans and dishes washed.
Cassie was sitting on the floor beside the tree. "Wow, where did you get these gifts wrapped? Those bows are way cool!"
"Casey made them," Daniel replied proudly.
"Is there anything you can't do?" Cassie asked. She'd already discovered that the woman wrote poetry, Daniel had told them about the contests she'd won in college. And that she played the drums.
The slender blonde smiled. "I can't paint. I can't sew. Don't do needlework of any kind. Can't sing-"
"Bullshit," Daniel said softly.
"I'm terrible at math, wouldn't know an atom if it walked up, slapped me and introduced itself, haven't got a clue what the names of the stars and constellations are, and I couldn't fix anything mechanical if my life depended on it," Casey continued. "I know squat about foreign languages."
"Some of us are blessed with artistic talents," Sam said. "Others are blessed with analytical minds that make science our forte. Or, like Daniel, make historical facts and myths, and languages easy to learn and remember."
"What about the rest of us?" Jack asked, grinning.
"You're not as dumb as you pretend, Uncle Jack," Cassie said. "You know a lot of stuff!"
"Hear that? I know stuff! So when I tell you stuff, I expect you to listen to me," Jack said teasingly.
Cassie giggled and shook her head.
"Since you're already beside the tree, would you like to play Santa?" Casey asked.
"Hand out the gifts," Casey explained.
While Janet, Sam, and Cassie had finished with the kitchen, Casey had slipped into the office and penned a quick poem about new friends from far away places. She'd taken an art course that focused on calligraphy, and she'd made it as pretty as possible, given the time that she had. Thank goodness Daniel had a supply of 'good' paper on hand for his reports. It was this gift, which had been rolled and tied with an intricate red bow, that was the first to come out from under the tree.
Jacob read the poem out loud. "Casey, that's beautiful, thank you."
She blushed, shrugged slightly. "You're welcome," she said softly.
Gifts were exchanged, exclaimed over, some of them meant to be 'gag gifts', and resulted in laughter and teasing.
She'd used her first paycheck, which General Hammond had precipitated for her, to buy Daniel's Christmas gifts. A set of classic 'children's' stories…she'd been appalled to discover he had never read Moby Dick, or Tom Sawyer, or Huckleberry Finn, or Tale of Two Cities, or Robinson Crusoe. The leather bound books had been expensive, but the look in his eyes had been worth it. He'd kissed her and declared them the perfect gift. He'd winked at her when he opened the new desk set. He had laughed out loud when he opened the package that contained several pairs of silk boxers. She had one more gift to give him, hesitated to do so in front of company, not at all sure how he would react.
Daniel had given her two new CD's, a book on ancient myths, and a new bathrobe of soft, green silk. Her eyes went wide when he handed her a small package. Sam and Janet were beaming, thrilled to see that he had followed their advice. "Here, Angel," he said softly.
Casey cradled the small box in her hands. Suspected that it was jewelry. She looked up at him, her eyes shining. "Thank you," she whispered.
"You're welcome. Now open it," he said softly.
Shaking fingers carefully pulled at the ribbon, unfolded the paper. Looked up at him when the velvet box came into view. She opened it slowly. Gasped out loud, her eyes wide. Inside, nestled safely on a bed of black velvet, was a set of diamond stud earrings. "Oh, my!"
"Do you like them?" he asked anxiously.
She couldn't speak around the lump in her throat. She could barely nod.
"If you don't like them, we can take them back, get something else," he said gently.
"No! I love them!" she said, no one in the room missing how she pulled that small box against her body. "Oh, Daniel, they're beautiful," she sighed.
He waited for the 'but'. Sure enough…
"But you didn't have to do this! You've given me so much…"
"Casey, are we ever not going to have this conversation when I give you something?"
She stared at him. "I could go all gold-digger on you, you know!"
Jack snorted, then laughed. "That'll be the day!"
Daniel grinned. "C'mere, you," he said softly. Put his arms around her as she settled into his lap. "I've told you before, and I mean it…I want to give you the best of everything. It's not like they were that expensive," he added.
He put his finger on her lips. "Do you like them?"
"I love them," she whispered.
"Say thank you, Casey."
"Thank you, Casey," she intoned obediently, bringing hoots of laughter from their audience.
She giggled, hugged him tightly, pressed a kiss against his neck. "Thank you for the most beautiful gift I've ever received," she whispered.
"You're welcome, Angel," he whispered in reply. He knew that Christmas had been just one more day in her life, the only bright spot a few hours spent with her Grandma Rose. Had been thrilled to see the light shining in her eyes, as excited as a child as she opened each gift, so thrilled with each thing she received…thanking the giver so profusely that there was no doubt that she truly loved the gift.
Casey pulled herself to her feet, took the long narrow package from behind the amplifier, where she'd hidden it. Handed it to him shyly.
"What's this?" he asked. Noted the uncertainty in her eyes. Somehow he knew that of all the gifts he'd received, this was going to be the most special.
"It's sort of for both of us."
He tore the paper away from the box, grinned to see the name of the same jeweler on it. Opened it up. Felt his heart stop. He'd seen these before. Had even seen couples who had them. Could remember thinking he'd just be glad to have someone in his life, someone to declare to the world that he belonged to, and that she belonged to him. How old had he been at the time…nineteen…twenty maybe?
Oh, god, he hates it! She knew that she should've just left well enough alone! She'd seen them, and it had seemed so perfect, but she hadn't been sure…she should have just…
"Oh, Case, it's perfect, they're perfect!" he said softly.
"What's perfect?" Cassie demanded to know.
"Yeah, what is it?" Jack asked.
Daniel pulled one of the pendants from the box. It was half a heart, and Casey's name was carefully inscribed in the filigree that decorated it. His name was on the other half, and the two pieces fit together to form a perfect heart.
"Oh, wow," Sam said softly.
He pulled it over his neck, then pulled her down for a kiss. "Thank you," he whispered.
"You're welcome," she replied. The look of love in his eyes made her heart race. He liked it! He really did!
"Put yours on," he said, handing it to her. Watched as the silver of the platinum half-heart settled between her breasts.
"Casey, you have a knack for finding the perfect gifts," Janet said, holding tightly to the basket of bathing supplies that she'd received from the young woman. It wasn't a prepackaged affair…no, Casey had carefully selected each bottle of bath oil, or bath salts, the candles, and the CD of relaxing music, loufa sponges, the bottle of wine. She couldn't remember telling the slender blonde about her love of baths, and how she took them in order to relax after a hard day in the infirmary. Perhaps her 'gift' had helped her to know that.
Sam's gift from the couple had been a black motorcycle helmet. The constellations that made up the Stargate address for Earth adorned it in silver, and the words 'Born to be Wild' were emblazoned in gold across the front. She had been absolutely delighted with it.
Jack had received a new rod and reel…the best available according to the sporting goods salesman Casey had talked to. For a few minutes he'd done nothing more than run his fingers over them. And then he'd told her that he had been looking at that very reel. Her eyes had filled with delight that the gift was so well received. She had even promised him that she'd drag Daniel along and they'd go to the lake near his cabin, so that she could watch the reel in action. A thing of beauty, he'd told her.
When Casey had announced that Teal'c had a great DVD collection, but no music, she'd asked Cassie to give the tall man his gifts. A portable CD player with headphones, top of the line as well, and an eclectic selection of CD's had been his gift. His dark eyes had sparkled with mirth as he thanked her. And then he had proceeded to put a CD into the player, and donned the headphones. He missed completely the jesting that went on when Cassie opened her gift from Jack.
Cassie's gift had been perfect as well. During the course of the conversation on the day the team had regained consciousness, Cassie had described her frustration with finding the 'right' make up, and knowing how to put it on. Tucked inside a twin sweater set had been a gift certificate for a 'make-over' at a local salon. Sam, Janet, and Casey were going to go along as well. Cassie had declared that she wanted the four of them to have lunch together, and make it a 'girl's day'. Janet had been thrilled.
"Yes, you do," Sam agreed.
The slender blonde shrugged. "Simple observation," she said softly.
"I believe that your…intuition…aids that observation," Selmak said.
"I agree," Daniel replied, his fingers moving over the pendant.
"Is everyone read for pie?" Casey asked.
"Oh, yeah!" Daniel replied immediately.
"Yep, bring it on," Jack said, leaning back and patting his stomach.
After pie was eaten, a game of Pictionary was started. It was nearly eight when the phone rang, and a certain young man was asking to speak to a certain young woman. Which sparked an entire conversation…and debate…concerning Cassie and dating and young men and shot guns. Sam, Janet, and Casey were laughing at Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c when the men declared that they knew how to move without being noticed, and that it might be a wise decision to follow her on dates, to make certain she was safe.
"How would you have felt if the father and uncles of the girls you dated had done that?" Casey asked Jack, casually assigning the men their specific 'roles' in Cassie's life.
"Dead," the colonel retorted, "If they'd caught me doing some of the things I was doing! Which is exactly why we're not letting Cassie go out with these guys without back up!"
Sam snorted. "It's not a mission, sir," she said. "Jack," she amended, when he had looked at her. They'd decided that, having died saving a planet, the president could just come up with a way for them to be together. And he insisted that she call him by his name, not his rank.
General Hammond was backing them all the way concerning their relationship, and even Jacob/Selmak were getting into the debate. Casey had asked to speak to the president when the general had been on the phone to him, much to the amusement of the military man, although her teammates had stood with mouths agape. She'd made a few 'observations', and then told the man that of course he could give them permission, he was the President of the United States!
"Well, we'd better treat it like one," he retorted. "I know what those boys are like!"
"Mom, Robert is on his way over to get me. We're going to go ice skating at Grant Park with Melissa and her boyfriend, and Jake and Connie, and Susan, and Mindy and Terry," Cassie announced.
Janet raised an eyebrow. "Supervision?"
Brown eyes rolled. "His mom will take us, his dad will pick us up and we'll be in Grant Park. There will be like hundreds of people around," Cassie replied.
"I do not want you leaving the skating area," Janet warned.
Cassie rolled her eyes. "Where would we go? It's too cold to get far from the heaters and bonfires!"
"All right. Home by eleven."
"Eleven is good," Cassie responded quickly. "Can I go wait for him downstairs?"
Janet glanced at the frowns on three male faces. Bit back her grin. "Sure, honey. Have the doorman call up before you leave."
"I will, I promise!" The teenager bounced over to hug her mother. "Thanks, Mom."
Cassie hugged those who had been her family for seven years. Hugged Casey tightly. "Thanks for everything," she whispered.
"You're welcome," the slender blonde whispered back.
With a flutter of fingers, the teenager grabbed her coat, and dashed out the front door.
"As soon as Jerry calls up…" Daniel started.
"We'll know she's on her way. And you're not leaving this apartment," Casey said. "Anyone else for some leftovers?"
"I should probably head home," Jack said, faking a yawn.
"No way," Sam said, shaking her head. "You're going to leave Cassie and her boyfriend alone."
"Boyfriend," Jack said, pulling an imaginary arrow from his chest. "She's not old enough."
"She's fifteen," Sam replied.
"She shouldn't be dating yet," Daniel said.
"It's not a date, she's with a group of friends," Janet pointed out.
Jacob grinned. "Now you know what I went through."
The aroma of food brought the men to the table, and sidetracked them from the topics of dating, and Cassie, and Cassie's dating.
It was ten-thirty before Janet insisted that she had to leave. Sam and Jacob followed, and Jack and Teal'c left within minutes of them.
Casey put the last load of dishes into the dishwasher. "I'll clear the table tomorrow," she said, yawning.
"That's okay by me," Daniel replied. He put his arms around her. "Have I told you how much I love you?"
"A few times," she smiled.
"I love you," he said softly. "It was a perfect day, Casey. Absolutely perfect."
"I thought so, too. I've never had a perfect Christmas before," she sighed.
"This is just the first, Angel, I promise."
"I like that idea. I'm gonna go get ready for bed."
He nodded, kissed her, then watched her walk down the hallway. He unplugged the Christmas tree lights, turned off the lamps. Walked into his office and dropped down in the chair. He held the pendant up, looking at it. Held it to his lips for a few seconds. There was so much love in this gift that it was tangible. He let that love move him, followed it into daydreams of days… years…decades…considering what they were now…centuries to come. Immortal! He would have her at his side forever! Because a love as strong as theirs was, as special as it was, couldn't fade, could it? There was something that he wasn't remembering, something that Oma had told him. He was certain that he'd remember it. Something that soothed his fears. She was his Beloved. Forever. He looked at the pendant again.
"Daniel, is something wrong?" she asked softly, standing just inside the door of the office. He was frowning, staring at the pendant. Maybe he really didn't like it?
He turned around, smiled up at her. "Nothing is wrong, babe. In fact, everything is…perfect. I was thinking, though. Maybe we should get another set of these pendants and put them away. I mean, eventually these are going to wear out, and I want to make sure that we always have them."
Tears filled her eyes. She settled onto his lap, kissed him until she could feel the need to do more building inside her. "You say the sweetest things, the most perfect, sweetest things," she whispered. "I love you."
"I love you, too. Forever."
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