If The Fates Allow

By Tarra O'Neal & Flotternz

Email: Tarra_ONeal@msn.com & flotternz@yahoo.co.nz

Status: Complete

Category: Romance, Slight Angst, Holiday

Pairings: Sam/Jack, Daniel/Janet, Jonas/Cassie (but you have to read to find out the how and why of J/C!!)

Spoilers: Small for Broca Divide and WoO; Rite of Passage, Meridian, Abyss, {speculative for Paradise Lost, Changeling, Prophecy, and Full Circle.}

Season: 7/8

Rating: PG-13

Content Warnings: For cryin' out loud, it's Christmas, nothing bad can happen!

Summary: Our response to the Christmas Challenge 2002. Sometimes one night, or one special day can change everything.

Disclaimer: Sadly we don't own SG-1, or that lovely graying, brown eyed Colonel...*sigh*! Oh woe are we!! Anyways... Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate Productions, MGM/UA, Viacom, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions and the Showtime and/or Sci Fi networks. No infringement is intended to the above parties. This is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. No trees or snowmen were hurt in the making of this story.

File Size: 211 KB

Archive: Jackfic, SJD, DJA please; and our own site: Dyiallias 2

Authors' Note: (Tarra) I sorta begged Saz to do this one. I had never written a Holiday story before and really wanted to do one. I had to really REALLY get her into the Christmas spirit (I still don't think I am there yet *g*), I even impressed her in my knowledge of Christmas songs *vbg*!! *hehe* So on this one we combined the Sam and Jack 2002 Christmas Challenge with the Dan and Jan 2002 Christmas Challenge...ya know the whole 2 birds with one stone thing...Anyways the requirements of the challenge were: For Sam/Jack: 1.) start with the dialogue, "What do you mean that's not allowed?" 2.) Contain NO MENTION of "regulations" 3.)Contain LOTS of tinsel 4.) Have Jonas as a member of SG1 (though Daniel can certainly make an appearance), and 4.) Have a Sam/Jack kiss.
For Dan/Jan: 1.) include the dialogue, "Looks like I've been a VERY good girl this year." 2.) Contain two of the following: star, angel, reindeer, snow-man, snow-woman,
Santa, candy cane, tree, stocking, (and/or) elf; 3.) Be POST "Meridian" (i.e. be set in season six or future), and 4.) Have a Dan/Jan kiss.

Feedback: Sweet! We love it! The more we get the more we write. J

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If The Fates Allow
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Through the years
We all will be together
If the Fates allow,
Hang a shining star
On the highest bough,
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now

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"What do you mean that's not allowed?" Jack O'Neill whined in his best ten year old voice.

"I'm just saying Sir, you can't shove lots of tinsel into a snow blower, shoot it out, and expect it to end up looking decent." Sam reasoned with her smart, yet sometimes childish CO.

"You're just no fun Carter." Jack sulked as he began stuffing his somewhat ancient snow blower with handfuls of the shiny tinsel. He was determined to make this the best Christmas yet, and decorating was the first step. "It'll work ... trust me."

Sam shuffled beside him eyeing his every move. "So where did you get the idea for this anyway?"

"Television," Was his short reply.

"A Do-It-Yourself show," she asked suddenly interested. She liked those shows herself.

He grunted as the clump in his hand got stuck on the lip of the snow blower's tube. "Not exactly."

"Martha Stewart Living?" Sam prodded.

Jack gave her a disgusted glare before turning back to his task. "Okay. Where did you get the idea for this?"

As Jack turned away from her to grab some more tinsel he mumbled his reply, hoping she wouldn't hear, and hoped she would leave it at that. Not likely. "What was that? I didn't catch that, Sir."

"Smmmfffnnf."

"I still didn't hear what you said." Sam said with a slight smile on her nearly frost-bitten face.

"I said The Simpsons! For crying out loud! Lay off a guy would ya Carter!"

Sam's smile disappeared as she digested this new information. She knew he was nuts over the primetime animated series. But this was taking it a BIT too far. "You drug me out in the freezing cold to watch you pull a stunt you saw on a cartoon? I can't believe ..." She halted to take a calming breath and tone her voice down, as she was sure his neighbors heard her outburst. "Sir...you should really rethink this. Just because you saw Bart Simpson do something on TV doesn't mean it will really work."

"Don't worry Carter. I have it all planned out. If anything they stole the idea from me. And besides ... it was Homer, not Bart." Jack pulled his most charming grin, the one that made her melt and want to concede to anything he wanted. Which is what she did.

"Fine. But this means you have to help me do something." Sam smiled sweetly.

"And what's that?" He asked as he crammed the last handful of tinsel into the tube.

"Bake." His head shot up at her simple reply.

"Bake? As in cookies, cakes, pies? That baking?"

"Yes, that kind of baking," She answered his thinks-he-knows-it-all smirk.

"Guess I'll have to anyway. You'll need all the help you can get." He chuckled.

Hands on hips she faced him, brows raised. "I never said I couldn't bake. Baking is different from cooking."

Jack gripped the starter cord of the snow blower and gave it a pull. Over the roar of the machine he gave Sam a grin as he yelled "Surrrrre, Carter!"

Sam stood back, her hand going to the pocket of her coat to make sure she had her cell phone. Just in case she had to call 911. She crossed her arms and observed Jack's little decorating foray. As he aimed the snow blower at the nearest tree in his yard he gave way with the blow effect on the piece of machinery. Metallic strands shot out landing on branches randomly throughout the tree.

The instant effect was breathtaking. The way the tinsel hung and sparkled through the snow on the branches, it looked like genuine icicles. Jack shut the blow lever
off and turned toward another slightly snow covered tree. He repeated the blowing process; the clumps of tinsel separating immediately as they were shot forth from the tube and falling lightly on the branches. Jack continued on through his front yard until he was pleased with the result.

When he shut the blower off completely and turned towards Sam and swept his arms out gesturing his handiwork. "See what'd I tell ya."

Sam couldn't help but grin at his antics. She could tell that he was having fun, and she wasn't going to ruin it for him. She thought back over the last few months. They'd gotten closer since they found out what Hammond did for them, but they'd each been hesitant to take the first step. Subconsciously she knew it was that they were afraid to lose what they did have. Friendship was a unique thing, something to cherish. She didn't know how Jack felt about it, he never let on about much, but she was afraid that if a romance with him didn't work, then they would not only lose that chance, but also their friendship with it.

Right then though, Sam was happy with what they did have. They'd become close friends since Daniel came back. Spent more downtimes together, joked with each other more, and basically enjoying each other's company. Like now.

"It looks great. I underestimated the influence of The Simpsons." Sam smirked.

"Yes you did, but I won't hold that against you. And it looks like it's time for me to save all those holiday treats from your baking escapade." Jack rolled his eyes as he pulled a mock serious glower making Sam laugh.

Jack bounded through the snow to his garage to stow his snow blower. He found Sam sitting on his front stoop, her arms wrapped around herself shivering as she gazed out over his yard.

"Well are you coming inside, or are ya just gonna sit there and morph into a Popsicle?" He asked as he extended his hand to pull her up. He smiled warmly down at her and she ducked her head and ran out of his grasp, racing through the mounds of snow in his yard. The unexpectedness shocked him, but only for a moment as he followed closely behind her, grabbing up handfuls of snow as he went. She crouched behind his truck, as the first snowball took flight. She scooped up a clump and launched it at him, hitting him square in the face. While he wiped the frigid wetness away with his gloved hand, he glanced up with an unwavering look.

"This means war, you know." He crept towards his truck in a determined manner. Sam had two choices, she could run, or she could give in. She chose to hop in his truck and lock herself in. She knew it wouldn't protect her for long, but it should hold him at bay for a while. She grinned like the Cheshire cat out the window at him, that is until he held up his key ring with the key that would open the door.

Jack inserted the key into the keyhole, twisted it expertly and the lock popped up, making Sam's eyes bulge as realization dawned. She scooted to the edge of the seat and grasped the door handle. Jack swung the door open and dove into the cab of the vehicle. He had just grabbed hold of the edge of her coat, when the door behind her opened and she tumbled out. He heard a soft thud and a muffled curse.

"Carter?" He called frantically. From his vantage point he couldn't see anything. He maneuvered around until he was upright again and he gracelessly lurched out of the truck. He saw Sam lying in a crumpled mass on the ground; her bright yellow coat a sharp contrast to the bright white of the snow.

He scrambled around her and laid his hand on her shoulder. "Carter, answer me. Carter?"

It happened too fast for him to comprehend; there was a flash of yellow and flesh and before he knew it he was lying on his back in the snow, with Sam straddling him, pinning his arms above his head.

"War huh?" Sam cocked a brow and a mischievous grin plastered her face.

It was then he realized that only one hand was pinning his above his head. He gave a jerk of surprise when her other hand tugged at his collar, and a sharp gasp left his throat as something ice cold was unceremoniously dumped down his shirt.

Snow, he realized quickly as the warmth of his flesh rapidly melted the ice, leaving his shirt soaked. Her eyes were dancing wickedly in the moonlight as she watched his reaction to the unwelcome surprise she had just given him. This changed things.

"Witch!" He growled low in his throat, trying to make his voice sound menacing despite the laughter that snuck into his tone. "I'm gonna make you pay for that!"

He moved suddenly, freeing his hands from her grip, grabbing her waist and twisting. A small squeak was elicited from Sam as he pressed her down in the snow, pinning her small body between his knees, her arms held tightly at her side.

Jack could feel an evil grin spread across his face as he scooped up a large handful of snow. Sam's eyes widened and she started to squirm underneath him. "You wouldn't!"

He snorted. "Wouldn't I, Carter? This is war after all."

A small smile flitted across Sam's face. "Alls fair in love and war?"

"Oh yeah." He answered gravelly as his hand snuck up underneath her shirt and he deposited his handful of snow on her warm skin. Sam's eyes widened and her mouth formed an 'oh' as the frigidness attacked her skin. She bucked against him trying to ward the coldness from her body. In her effort she only managed to wreak havoc with Jack's body.

An expression flashed over his face, a heatedness appearing in his gaze, causing Sam to cease her movements. He lowered his head; Sam's lips parted as her eyes fluttered closed.

A rather large shadow appeared over them, accompanied by a subtle cough. Sam's eyes flew open, glazed as they were, they held a smile. Jack turned to see what had amused her and came face to face with ... four booted feet. He looked higher and saw the pleased glances of their two alien teammates. Teal'c had a slight quirk about his mouth and Jonas had his usual ridiculous grin about him.

"O'Neill. We have arrived to join in decorating for the holiday festivities." Teal'c offered as an explanation for their unexpected visit.

Jack turned his gaze back to Sam and smiled apologetically as he lifted himself off her as discreetly as possible. "Great! We were about to go bake. I'm sure we can find something to keep you guys busy in the kitchen."

He turned and caught Sam giving him a 'No' motion with her hands. When Teal'c and Jonas noticed she halted and pasted a bright smile on her face. Jack chuckled and indicated for Jonas and Teal'c to lead the way to his house. As Sam and Jack walked side by side, he leaned over and whispered, "What was that about?"

"You haven't seen those two in a kitchen before have you?"

Jack glanced at the backs of their two alien friends. "No, is there something I should be aware of?"

Sam pulled a mock scowl and she met his eyes. "Let's just say it's not a pretty sight."

"Ahh." Jack understood immediately. "So we'll give them something else to do. No big deal."

The night air was filled with Sam's light laughter. "What you don't know is you just got their hopes up. I told them I'd never let them near a kitchen again. I'll let you break the news to them."

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Janet couldn't help but smile as she watched the couple standing in the front yard decorating the trees. They looked so at ease with each other, so comfortable in each other's company. They hadn't looked that way in a long time, too long, and it was a relief to know that they had finally gotten past their differences.

So much had changed in the last year, and none of it had been expected in the least. She was just glad that things had settled down somewhat, that they could all go back to the way they were. That they actually had time to spend Christmas as friends.

"Where should I put this Janet?"

Janet turned at the sound of his voice. This had been the hardest thing of all to get used to. Being a doctor it was totally impossible, serving at the SGC only made it minimally more possible, but it had happened. Daniel Jackson was standing there, alive and well, flesh and blood, body and soul.

She couldn't help but look at him for a moment. He'd been back for six months, but it was still hard to believe he was there. He'd been dead for a year. Yet he looked like the same old Daniel, except for the fact that he wasn't wearing glasses anymore.

And he was holding an angel in his hand. How ironic. He had almost been their angel. He had been there when they needed him, in his own little way. And in his own little way he had appeared to them all when they needed him the most. When Jack was captured by Ba'al, when Sam was trying so desperately to save Jack from Maybourne, Teal'c when he was trying to come to terms with losing his symbiote and to Jonas, even, when he was haunted by visions. Janet couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness that he had never visited her.

"I was there for all of you Janet, even if you couldn't see me, I was there," his voice was low, meant only for her ears, and not for the first time she wondered if he had some of his old 'powers' left.

Caught by surprise, Janet could only smile pitifully as she dragged her gaze from his cerulean eyes. How am I supposed to reply to that? Instead she chose to remain silent. "How about we finish putting up the decorations?" she suggested dismissively.

A thick, uncomfortable, silence enveloped them, but she could feel his penetrating gaze on her as she began to sort through the box of tinsel and streamers. Eventually he sighed, his frustration obvious. "Sure," he murmured quietly.

Janet couldn't explain why she felt the way she did. She didn't know why it hurt that he had 'appeared' to everyone else and not her. It was irrational, but she couldn't help herself. He didn't even know Jonas! It came to her then. She felt left out.

She must have been crouching there staring into the box of decorations longer than she thought, for the next thing she knew a hand gently touched her shoulder. She looked up to see the concern etched in his features. He seemed to be the same Daniel that she'd always known; only now he had an air of experience about him. He seemed wiser, not so much the innocent, naïve archeologist she first met seven years ago. "You cried."

Janet must have looked confused at his declaration, because he continued. "The night I ascended. You cried."

She dropped her head and stared at her hands, not really sure where the conversation was heading. "Of course I cried. We all did."

"That's not the only reason though is it?" She could definitely tell he'd been in the presence of ubiquitous beings; he'd taken up talking in riddles.

"I don't know what you're talking about." She said trying to veer the conversation away from something she'd tried her best not to think of in over a year. Something she'd only realized when Daniel was so violently taken from them. Something she'd told no other soul about.

Daniel crouched down beside her and turned her to face him. His hands on her knees the only contact he initiated. "I think you do know what I'm talking about. It's something I thought about many times. And it only took me ascending to a higher plane of existence to admit it to myself."

Janet lifted her eyes and saw the truth reflected in his honest gaze. Can I tell him after all that's happened? She dropped her head again finding her hands interesting again. She toyed with the Mother's Ring that Cassie had given her. Daniel's hands moved and encased her small ones in his larger ones. She still couldn't meet the blue eyes that seemed to pierce her soul.

Janet was having a hard time explaining the way she felt, so she thought to start at the beginning. "When Cassandra was ill, you said that you were there for me, if I needed you. It took me a while to recognize that I did need you. But then when you came back from Kelowna everything happened so fast, and then you were gone, and I realized I never told you. And that I would never get the chance again."

"But I'm back now, Janet," he said, his voice so low she had to strain to hear him. "You have a second chance to say whatever it is that you have to say."

She tore her eyes away again and resumed her study of her hands, or more specifically of their joined hands. "It's different now Daniel."

"How is it different?"

Janet's head snapped up, her eyes flashing with cold anger. How could he not know how much things had changed? Did he have no idea how much his death changed everything? "You died Daniel. We buried your body in a plot in the Colorado Springs cemetery. We mourned, we ached, and we went on with our lives, lives that were hollow without you in them, but we had to move on. And then you came back to life!"

"Yes. I'm back now, and I'm not leaving," Daniel responded. "I've been given a second chance too."

Janet pulled her hands away from him, feeling her anger and frustration increasing. "It's weird Daniel," she sighed.

"Weird?"

"Weird," she replied flatly, fighting hard to force back the tears that were threatening to fall. "You were dead Daniel. Gone. That you're sitting here right now goes against everything that I've been trained in. I mean, look at you, you defied death! Can you honestly tell me that it isn't weird for you too?"

"No," Daniel replied honestly. "Because I wasn't dead. I ascended; I was alive on another plane of existence. Only my body died. My consciousness didn't die and as far as I'm concerned I didn't die either. But I saw you all mourn, I saw the effect that my leaving had on you and if I could have done something to ease your pain I would have."

"But you couldn't, Daniel, and now you have to accept the fact that it's going to take us all a while to get used to this," she told him, motioning towards his body.

"I know," he replied softly, reaching out to touch her cheek. "But why are you so upset?"

The touch tipped her over the edge, causing the tears that she had been fighting so hard to keep back to fall. "Because I failed you. I was your Doctor and your friend and I couldn't save your life."

Daniel's arms encompassed her shoulders, pulling her to his chest as she began to weep in earnest. "You did everything you could; there was no way that anything short of a sarcophagus could have saved me. Don't you ever blame yourself for what happened to me, because in the end it was my choice."

"It went against all my ethics though Daniel!" she wailed, her voice slightly muffled by his chest.

"If Jacob had healed me, what sort of quality of life would I have had? I would have been horribly scarred; I would have preferred to have died!"

"I still would have loved you," she blurted, instantly realizing she had said too much. She was thankful that her face was still buried in his all too comfortable chest. She froze when she felt his fingers stroking through her hair, but continued to talk in an effort to save face. "We all still would have loved you."

"That's beside the point Janet," Daniel told her softly. His head was so close to hers, his lips brushing her cheek, his breath sending an involuntary shiver down her spine.

"Then what was the point?" she breathed.

"That I chose to leave and go with Oma Desala, and that I chose to come back to all my friends, to resume my life again."

"I know that Daniel," Janet sighed, pulling out of his embrace and standing up. "But it's still going to take time. You have to understand that."

She turned her back to him, hugging her arms tightly around herself as she looked once again out the window. It took her a while to spot Sam and Jack, but she couldn't help but once she did she found it hard not too. Sam was straddling Jack, a grin on her face so large and mischievous that Janet could see it from the house.

Suddenly Jack moved, pinning Sam underneath him playfully as he scooped up a handful of snow and shoved it up her shirt. She wriggled beneath him, stopping quickly as they both seemed to notice the precarious position they were in, the closeness of their bodies, and they lost themselves in each other.

"Not everyone has it as easy as them," Daniel said softly, again seeming to know what was on her mind and forcing her to look back at him. How did he do it?

"Easy?" she scoffed, "They never had it easy. There was always something in the way. Something's always stopped them from being together!"

"Not anymore." His voice was so soft, so knowing. "But at least they always knew that they would be there for each other. They had some idea that their feelings for each other existed. They didn't have the fear of their feelings not being reciprocated because they knew how the other felt. Fear of rejection is the hardest thing we all have to deal with."

His face was so open, so knowing. He looked so young, sitting there, those beautiful blue eyes looking up at her, but they no longer held the innocence and naivety that he had held for so long. His time spent with Oma Desala and her people had touched him in a way that she would never understand except for the self-assurance and the wisdom that he now seemed to carry with him.

He was still the Daniel that they all knew, yet he was different now.

"I haven't changed as much as you think Janet."

Daniel stood up, closing the gap between them in two steps. He towered over her, his gaze penetrating yet somehow comforting. She could feel his concern for her, yet she couldn't bring herself to meet his eyes. The thought of her eyes being the window to her soul, the knowledge that if she met his and he would see everything that she felt, gave her pause.

He gave her no choice. She could feel his fingers slide under her chin, cupping it gently as he forced her to raise her head, to meet his eyes. What she saw there made her emit a slight gasp. He may hold much more knowledge than when they first met, but right then she saw a flash of his old vulnerability.

Could it be? Did he actually feel the same? Janet could only watch him, unable to find her voice. His fingers still cupped her face, his eyes still burned into hers. She couldn't move, had she even wanted to.

"There's another reason why I came back." Daniel's voice was so low she had to strain to hear it.

Janet's knees turned to jelly; her stomach began to do playful little flip-flops. He couldn't be meaning what I think, could he? But the lingering doubt ebbed away as she continued to gaze into his eyes. It could only mean one thing. There was no way to mistake that look.

"Yes," he breathed, looming in closer to her so his heady scent washed over her. "It was selfish, but I came back anyway," he whispered, his warm breath washing over her face. "Because what I really wanted was right here, it always had been."

A sob rose in her throat, only to catch as he leaned into her and gently pressed his lips against hers. Her eyes unwillingly slid shut as she felt herself caught up in a sudden influx of emotions.

All the remorse and grief she'd undergone over a year before seemed to seep away as he gathered her into his arms. His warmth and strength flowed into her as his love enraptured her. This was what she'd had missed out on. This is what she had wanted all those months ago and could never bring herself to tell him. This is what she lost when he ascended. This is what she never had before that moment. This is where she belonged.

Janet snaked her arms around his neck as he pulled her closer to him. In that moment, it seemed the year's time that had separated them hadn't existed. They each came alive at the other's touch. His lips caressing over her welcome ones; her fingers massaging the sensitive skin at the nape of his neck.

He picked her up slightly, to be more level with her, just as her legs gave way. Not realizing she'd done it, she'd wrapped her jeans-clad legs around his waist, her arms still confidently about his neck. Intense as it was getting, Daniel groaned when he heard the telltale sign of the back door slamming shut. He pulled back slightly, still nibbling at her bottom lip, making her whimper.

The sounds of laughter and footsteps were heard coming from the back of the house. Janet seemed oblivious to it all, as Daniel was still driving her mad with his mouth. He whispered her name more than once before she was coherent enough to respond. When she finally did, she was quite breathless.

"I think we've got company." He whispered against her mouth, her lips still trying to make contact with his own.

"What ... makes you say ... that?" She managed to capture his bottom lip, suckling on it.

Daniel chuckled at her obvious disinterest. "Because they're all standing in the doorway staring at us."

Janet turned towards the entrance way to see four surprised pairs of eyes staring back at them. She could feel herself blushing a bright red as they all looked on.

Jack O'Neill, being the most unserious person of the group thought to break the silence. "It looks like the living room is a bit crowded right now. Hey Carter, don't we have some baking to do?"

The group turned and left as quickly as they appeared, but not before Janet saw the approval in their eyes. She turned back to Daniel and caught him looking at her, minus the shade of embarrassment she was so obviously displaying. "I see you don't get humiliated as easily as you used to."

Daniel gave her a grin that she had missed and longed for, for so many days and nights. "So some things do change."

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Jack leaned over the counter in his kitchen, balancing precariously on the barstool. He was watching Sam pull a cookie sheet out of the oven giving him an excellent view of her rather nicely shaped behind. He rubbed his hand over his face trying to sway those thoughts aside. She'd nearly done a number on him earlier, and here he was feeding those thoughts. It wasn't as if he couldn't feel that way now without feeling like he was in the wrong; it was just he wasn't for sure how Sam felt about it all. If her reaction to their near kiss earlier was any indication, she seemed all for it. But that could have just been the heat of the moment.

Sam laid the cookie sheet on the counter top and began putting the cookies on the cooling rack. She turned towards the refrigerator and pulled the bowls of colored icing out.

"Can I lick the bowl?" Jack asked.

Sam glanced up smiling and shook her head. "I had to promise that to Jonas and Teal'c since you went and broke their hearts."

"Hey I'm not the heartless person that wouldn't let them help." Jack defended himself as he reached his hand towards the closest bowl, swiping a dollop of icing on his finger earning him a glare from Sam.

"But you did want a kitchen left right?" Sam moved the bowl further from his hand.

Jack winced and managed to swipe more icing before Sam took the bowl out of his reach. "Ahh good point."

Sam began filling the icing dispenser and put some cookies on a plate. "I will let you decorate the cookies though. And if you're good at it, I may let you have what's left in the dispenser."

"Sweet!" Jack grabbed the icing tube from her and the plate of cookies. He ducked his head as he went to work. He looked up briefly to grab the candy sprinkles when he saw Sam watching him intently. She had a look on her face he hadn't seen in so long he wasn't sure he'd ever seen it before. "What?"

"Nothing. I'm gonna go see how the guys are coming with the popcorn and cranberry garland. I'm hoping they didn't eat more than they strung." Sam walked to the doorway and turned at his voice.

"What if I mess up with the icing?" Is that all I can come up with? Geez Jack!

"Then you can eat it." At the sudden gleam in his eyes accompanied by the grin that melted her insides, she went on. "That doesn't mean you can 'mess up' on every one."

His chuckle followed her out of the room, leaving him alone with lots and lots of icing. He smiled wickedly. Nah, I won't do that to her. He went back to icing the Snowman and candy cane shaped cookies, when an idea came to him. It would be a leap, he knew, but as neither of them had made a move so far, what could it hurt? He could always blame it on the massive intake of sugar from the sweets he'd already had.

With a steady hand he set about writing in icing with the neatest script he could manage. He messed up a couple of times, but couldn't be bothered to eat his mess-up cookies. He finally achieved one perfect cookie when he heard Sam's voice behind him. "Well the guys managed to use at least half of what they started with on the garland. Unfortunately the other half 'mysteriously' disappeared. Teal'c's words, not mine. I swear he's gaining your sense of humor every day."

She came around the counter and leaned over trying to see what he'd done. "Do you want to show me your masterpieces, or can the artist not be bothered?" She grinned.

"No, it's okay, I'll show you. Just promise not to laugh." Jack uncovered the one he'd gotten right. Sam looked at it intensely. In his neat icing scrawl was 'Jack *heart* Sam'.

"I love it. Do ... do you still feel that way?" Sam met his eyes, hers suddenly watery.

"Of course I still feel that way. I never stopped feeling that way." Jack explained passionately.

"I was afraid that you had. That's one reason why I was afraid to pursue ... something, after we were given the go ahead."

"What were the other reasons?" Jack couldn't help but be curious of what held her back.

"The other one ... I was afraid to lose what we did share. I value our friendship above everything else and I'm lucky to have been given the chance to serve with you these last seven years. I didn't want to risk that if we didn't work out; even though it's something I've wanted for the longest time. Let's just say I'm a coward when it comes to relationships." Sam drifted off as she stared at his little gift to her.

"Sam ..." Her head shot up. It was the first time in a long time that he'd used her first name. "You're not a coward. You're cautious. And I can't fault you with that. In fact it's one of the things I love most about you. You don't just jump into things without thinking it through thoroughly. You wouldn't be you, if you did." He stood up and walked around the counter to stand in front of her. He let his hands rest on her shoulders, and she lifted her face to look at him. "If you think I'm worth it, I'm willing to give us a try."

Sam searched his face that was full of hope and love. "I think you're worth it. And I want to give us a try too."

At her response he pulled her into his embrace. She laid her head on his shoulder, relishing in what he was making her feel. She heard his voice whisper in her ear. "Ya know what? I think we're gonna be good together."

Sam smiled against the soft fabric of his shirt. "Ya know what? Me too."

They were getting real comfortable in each other's arms when they heard laughter and voices floating from the living room. "Think we'd better check on the boys before they eat us out of the holidays?" Jack nipped at her ear softly.

"Mmm, yeah I suppose." She sighed and giggled when his lips went to her neck.

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Jonas giggled as he watched Teal'c shovel another fistful of popcorn into his mouth. He hadn't meant it to sound so girly, but he was willing to blame it on the jug of eggnog that Colonel O'Neill had handed him when he had kicked them both out of the kitchen. It had been delicious, and it had lasted him all of ten minutes.

He was tempted to go back into the kitchen and ask for another pitcher of the drink, but he and Teal'c hadn't had the best timing tonight, and he had a feeling that his presence in the kitchen would not only be awkward but unwelcome as well. So he remained where he was, threading popcorn and cranberries onto the string that Sam had supplied them with.

"So, Teal'c, you've had a few more Christmas's on Earth than me. What exactly do they use to make this eggnog?"

The Jaffa looked up from his threading, his eyebrow arching ever so slightly. "I believe it is primarily made up of eggs, milk, nutmeg and vanilla essence. Though it is my previous experience that O'Neill also adds a generous amount of rum and whiskey to his eggnog as well."

Rum and whiskey? That explains why I feel so … chirpy. He grinned suddenly. "I like it," he announced. "Why is it not consumed at times other than Christmas?"

"I do not know," Teal'c responded, gathering another handful of popcorn.

"Because it's a Christmas drink," Cassie's exasperated voice broke in. "And they only drink it at Christmas."

"But why?" Jonas asked.

"How should I know?" she asked rhetorically, and sounding more impertinent with each passing moment, "I'm still trying to get used to it myself," she shrugged, her attention going back to the T.V.

Jonas turned back to Teal'c and rolled his eyes, a gesture he had recently picked up from Colonel O'Neill, primitive yet strangely communicative in its own small way. "Teenagers!" he muttered, another term he had picked up from O'Neill. It seemed they didn't change no matter what planet you were on.

"I heard that!" came the indignant response from Cassie.

"I meant for you to hear it," Jonas retorted. He had to admit that he enjoyed this interplay that was so common between the members of his team, his new family.

Cassie snorted, and crossed her arms over her chest. "Thanks," she muttered, but he caught the small smile that graced her face, before she smothered it.

Raising the remote she flicked channels, grunting and quickly changing it again. She sighed loudly, Jonas could tell it was an excuse to draw their attention to her, but he had already been watching her. He could tell she was trying to act bored and disinterested, though why, he had no idea.

"Why don't you come and help us out?" he suggested.

Cassie glanced over at them, her lip curling with obvious distaste. "No I think I'm quite alright doing this, thanks though Jonas," she sniffed.

Jonas grinned stupidly; he could tell she was pretending, that she was actually bored. He guessed that stringing popcorn and cranberries onto a length of string didn't hold much interest to her. It didn't really hold much for him either, but it seemed that no matter what room he went into there was a couple there that obviously wanted to be left alone. It didn't leave him much else to do.

"Do you want to do me a favor then Cas?"

He didn't miss the small spark of excitement that crossed her face, but he had no idea how to interpret it. It was gone almost as soon as it appeared, replaced with the typical teenage indifference that he came to expect from her. "Sure, what do you want me to do?"

Jonas picked the empty jug up off the table and held it out to her. "Can you go into the kitchen and ask Jack if he can make me another jug of eggnog?" he asked, flashing her his most charming, dimpled, smile.

Cassie rolled her eyes as she straightened in the armchair. "Why can't you do it?" she whined.

"Because you said you would!"

"Fine. I'll do it if you let me have some," she snorted, standing up and tugging her tight-fitting t-shirt down, not quite fast enough to cover the glint of silver in her belly button.

Jonas couldn't help but stare at it, at her. He had known her for nearly two years, he had seen the way that the rest of the team had regarded her, as a child, a niece, a daughter, and as such his perspective had been blurred somewhat by that of his friends.

Yet unlike them, he had also seen beyond their perceptions of her, seen the young woman, vibrant, beautiful and smart. He had empathized with her, because in essence she, like Jonas and Teal'c, were all the same. Aliens, now living on Earth because they were no longer welcome on their home worlds. In Cassie's case, all her people were dead. The three of them were all different, and as such shared a commonality that the humans of Earth could never comprehend and would never understand.

It was this that did not taint his view of her like it had his friends. It was this that kept his eyes glued to her navel, to the one thing that was truly human, that stood out in its own small way her need to be like everyone else on this planet and to just fit in.

That, and this was the first time he had ever seen one with his own eyes, and not in a photograph or on TV.

"What?" Cassie asked, her voice sharp and holding a slight reprove in its tone.

Jonas swallowed, realizing suddenly that his staring was inappropriate, and that if a certain Colonel happened to walk into the room right now he would be a dead man. "I … aah … I haven't seen one of those before. In person I mean … with my own eyes," he told her lamely, pointing in the general direction of her belly button.

Cassie flushed as she glanced down, and tugged her t-shirt down to cover it up. "Oh. I … mom doesn't know that I got it done," she whispered, meeting his eyes. "Do you think you could keep it a secret? She'll kill me if she ever found out."

Jonas swallowed deeply once again as his eyes were drawn back to her belly, which was now covered by her shirt. He felt guilty that seeing it had given him a small thrill of excitement, and that it had changed his view of Cassandra Fraiser forever. She was no longer the child that everyone thought she was, but a woman.

"Sure," he croaked.

A grin lit Cassie's face as she bounded out of the room. "Thanks, Jonas!"

Jonas scrubbed a hand across his face, his eyes sliding shut as he struggled to control his suddenly surging emotions. Most of all he was trying to hide the stupid, lop-sided grin that had appeared on his face in reply to Cassie's, from the friend that he had just remembered was sitting right next to him on the floor.

"Do you think that was wise, Jonas Quinn?" Teal'c's voice rumbled. Was that disapproval in his tone?

Jonas glanced at the Jaffa. "Was what wise?" he asked stupidly.

Teal'c fastened those perceptive brown eyes on him. "I believe you know what I am referring too. Cassandra Fraiser is a child, and the daughter of our friend. Do you think it prudent to flirt with her?"

"What?" Jonas snapped in disbelief, though a small part of him knew his friend was correct. That little interplay went a little further than harmless bantering. "Oh come on Teal'c! You of all people have to have noticed that she's not the child she was when SG-1 rescued her from Hanka."

The eyebrow arched again. "Indeed I have, she has grown into a fine young woman, but you must remember that our friends do not see her the same way and are extremely protective of her interests."

Jonas would have to have been blind and stupid not to notice the warning both on the Jaffa's face and in his tone. "But I haven't done anything!" he argued.

"That I know," Teal'c responded. "But I observed the way that the both of you looked at each other, I am merely warning you that every action has its consequence, and I do not wish to see any unpleasant consequences befall you."

Jonas sighed and broke eye contact with the Jaffa. He knew his friend was right, and until five minutes ago he would never had considered otherwise. But what if every one had one person that they were fated to be with? What if the person he was fated to be with was untouchable?

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Everyone sat around living room basking in the warmth that the fireplace offered, listening to the soft sounds of Christmas music emanating from the stereo. The lights on the beautifully decorated tree were sparkling in front of the picture window, the pine smell wafting throughout the room.

Sam and Jack were ensconced together under a throw blanket on the sofa cuddling. Daniel had his arms wrapped around Janet as they reclined on the love seat.

Janet spied Cassie lying in front of the fireplace fast asleep. "I don't know about the rest of you, but that one's beat. I should probably get her home."

"I should probably go too." Daniel said rising. Jack's head popped up from his resting place next to Sam's. "Don't go guys. Stay here tonight. I've got plenty of room. You were gonna come back in the morning anyway. It'll save you a trip back."

"I don't know..." Janet edged.

"Say yes. Come on Danny ... Doc. What do ya say? Someone can stay in the spare bedroom. Teal'c and Jonas usually take the sofas, but the floor's pretty comfortable." Jack prodded.

Janet shared a look with Daniel and he smiled down at her. "Okay, I guess we'll stay then."

"Great!" He returned back to nuzzling with Sam, not afraid to show how he felt for her anymore. No one seemed to notice besides, as they were involved in their own thoughts or musings.

Daniel stretched and yawned and made to get up. "I think I'll go make the bed in the spare room and grab some shut eye."

Janet leaned up from where she was still held in his arms. "I'll go help you." They both rose and retreated to the other end of the house. The looks they shared before departing together didn't go unnoticed by Sam or Jack.

Sam giggled as she buried her head against Jack's chest. He would never get tired of having her near him. He wasn't sure how slow or fast she wanted their relationship to proceed, but no time like the present to find out. "I think I'll head off to bed too. What say you help me?" He dropped his voice so only Sam could hear his question.

She lifted her face and caught the expression in his eyes. It was hopeful yet held an air of fear and rejection. "I would love to help you." The smile he gifted her with was all that she needed to know how he felt about her.

They stood, and Sam took the blanket they'd discarded and laid it over Cassie's sleeping form. Jonas had already taken up residence on the love seat that Daniel and Janet had vacated. It seemed he could sleep anywhere. "G'night boys. Behave and don't keep the neighbors awake." Jack called behind him as Sam followed him down the hallway.

When she stepped inside his bedroom she realized it was the first time she'd ever been in this intimate of a background with him. Sure they cuddled on the sofa, but this was different. This was where he slept, where he dreamed. Of her? She hoped.

This was his private space, and he had invited her into it. It was like he was opening his life to her, opening himself to her. It was a small gesture, but it meant so much to her and she knew that it was how he meant it to be. He had invited her into his inner sanctum.

The door closed quietly behind her and she turned to see Jack standing next to it, across from her, only a couple of feet away, his eyes burning into hers. Her stomach began to flutter nervously as she held his eyes, his emotions for once completely open to her. She knew he could see the same on her too.

He looked nervous too, apprehensive, as he moved past her to settle himself on the edge of the bed. Her eyes followed him as he moved across the room, as he sat on the bed facing her, but she made no move to follow him. Her mouth felt suddenly dry.

After so long believing that her feelings, their feelings, were inappropriate, it was hard to accept that what they were about to do was once essentially wrong. It was all okay now, they could do this, but the doubts still lingered. It was hard to put aside seven years worth of repressed feelings; it was even harder to be able to act on those feelings without fear of repercussions.

But they could now. They could be together.

Jack patted the bed next to him. "Why don't you come and sit down, Carter?"

The use of his affectation didn't go unnoticed by Sam, but she chose to ignore it. Old habits died hard, and some were more difficult to curb than others. It was going to take them both a while to get used to this new change in their ever-twisted relationship.

Nervously she crossed the floor and perched herself on the bed next to him, her hands clasped tightly together in her lap. It felt like a dream. It was a dream that she had dreamt many times, but now it was real. Their time had finally come.

His hand snaked over hers, stroking gently across the back of her hand, across her white knuckles. "This is … strange," he finally managed to say, his voice barely above a whisper. He had just leant voice to exactly what she had been thinking.

A small smile graced her lips and she looked at him, meeting those beautiful chocolate eyes. "I don't know if I'd call it strange," she whispered in response, "but I guess this is what it feels like to have seven years worth of dreams finally come true."

Jack's hand moved again, settling on her thigh, the touch sending a shiver of electricity coursing through her body. He answered her shy smile with a grin. "Yeah I guess it does. I never in a million years thought we would actually end up here, and now that we are, I'll be honest I don't know what to do from here."

"Neither do I," Sam breathed.

"I feel like a teenager on my first date," he laughed disparagingly. "But I've been married, and we've been friends for years!"

Sam twisted slightly on the bed so she didn't have to crane her neck to look at him. "I know what you mean. But this is all different isn't it? Now we run the risk of having our hearts broken-"

Jack reached out and pressed a finger to her lips. "I want you to know that I'd never hurt you in any way, Sam."

"I know that, Jack."

He smiled, almost shyly, and pulled his fingers away from her lips. "Good," he whispered, leaning in closer to her. "And I don't want you to ever forget that."

His lips descended on hers. Her eyes fluttering shut as she craned her head back and her lips parting slightly to welcome the first touch of his lips to hers. He angled his softly on hers. He tasted her sweetness. She tasted his muskiness. It suddenly brought back memories for each of them about a kiss they'd shared not so long ago, yet was also an eternity ago. It was different this time however. It was gentler and not rushed. It held promise, so much more than the unbidden lustfulness as before. Though in Jack's case, he had one memory up on Sam in the kissing department. He still hadn't told her about that. Maybe he would someday. But right then he couldn't be bothered with talking.

If it was possible to feel each other's emotions in that one kiss, they experienced it. They could feel their anxiety, excitement, vulnerability, and love. After seven years of refusing to admit that what they felt for each other was love, neither of them were going to deny it now. They'd held back too long, their friendship suffering from the tension that had built over the last few years. Now was the time to release that tension, to express fully what they felt for the other.

Sam's hand that was resting on his chest, tugged impatiently at his shirt that was tucked into his jeans. When her hand found its way under the constricting fabric, Jack groaned deep in his throat. The rumble in his chest made a giggle bubble up from inside Sam. They broke the kiss simultaneously and looked at each other. The suddenness of it made both of them burst into laughter.

"Well nothing like a mood breaker." Jack grinned down at her.

"Sorry." Sam grinned back blushing slightly.

Jack's grin remained on his face as his eyes moved along her body. Once his eyes reached hers again, he waggled his brows at her, making her giggle again. "Jack," her tone was warning in between giggles, "what are you doing?"

"Something I've been wanting to do for a long long time." His grin turned feral as his gaze moved over her languidly.

"Jack...?"

Before she realized it, Jack had her on her back on his bed and he was assaulting the sensitive skin of her neck with his lips. She emitted a slight squeak which soon turned to a contented moan. "Oh ... Jack."

"Hmm?" His tongue swirled around the little indentation above her collarbone.

"Don't stop. Don't ever stop." Sam wriggled underneath his.

"I don't plan to, baby, I don't plan to."

His lips wandered along her collarbone and down to the open collar of her shirt using his hands to unbutton and push it aside. He kissed his way along the soft mounds of her breasts. Sam leaned up to help him remove her shirt, and then reclined again on the bed. Jack gazed down at her and his throat tightened at the intensity of emotions that was boiling to the surface.

"You are so beautiful, Samantha." He breathed into the dense atmosphere surrounding him giving him a heady feeling.

Sam smiled up at him, a brief glimpse of her earlier shyness showing through. "I love you." It was all he needed to hear from her. Even if she never said the words the look she gave him was all he needed to know how she felt about him. The look he'd seen on her face many times before today. The one they so conveniently pushed to the background. But no more. This was their time. Their beginning. Fears were pushed aside as they conveyed to the other what they wanted.

"Jack. Make love to me." Sam's voice was soft to his ears, but no less confident about their change in relationship. He lowered his head once more to meet her sweet lips. He tasted her inside out. His tongue swept along her lips and met her tongue in a duel of passion. His hands glided along her side, causing goose bumps to arise on her bare skin.

They lost all sense of time and place as they made love into the early hours of Christmas morning.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Daniel and Janet turned down the bed in silence. Occasionally she would peek at him through her lashes before ducking her head again when she noticed he was looking at her.

He couldn't help the smile that lifted his mouth. He never thought he would ever be standing here like this. He had briefly let his mind wander on the possibility before he ascended, but then everything happened so fast. Then he started 'visiting' his friends. First it started with Jack, then Teal'c, and Sam, and even Jonas, who he'd never really considered a friend until now.

He visited Janet, but he never let her see him, never let her know he was there. He wanted to make sure she was okay, that she was getting on with her life like the rest of his friends had showed signs of. But a few times he'd caught her sitting and staring into space, like there was a void in her life. At first he had no idea what it could possibly be, but then one night when she was home by herself, he found her crying. He just thought she'd had a bad day, but then he'd heard her use his name, along with a few curses, demanding to know why he wasn't there.

It was in that instant when he found out how she felt about him, that he discovered his own true feelings. He visited her more often after that. Knowing that he shouldn't, and that he couldn't even really let her know he was there, but in some small way he felt that she knew he was there, somehow without really knowing.

That's when the Others started becoming suspicious of his actions. Oma had given him a lecture and an admonition, repeating to him what he already knew about interfering. But still having his curious nature, and being concerned about his friend, particularly one he considered more than a friend, he didn't heed their counsel. They descended him, warning him that once the deed was done, he would never be worthy of ascension again. It was fine by him, but he didn't tell them that.

The process was somewhat mentally painful, but after a few hours in his newly descended body and his own mind he felt like his old self again. Albeit with the knowledge he'd gained since he'd been in the company of the Others. Something he could probably thank Oma Desala for, though knew she'd never admit to it, or offer her help again.

He gazed now at the woman he'd secretly been keeping an eye on for months. She'd turned her back to him and had stripped down to her panties and the t-shirt she'd had on under her sweatshirt. He swallowed hard, as he looked at her perfect body. Her golden skin, the way her hair grazed just above her shoulder blades, her beautifully toned legs.

He'd suddenly lost the ability to breathe and think. It wasn't that he was embarrassed, far from it. Here was the woman he cared about, and if he were to admit it, loved, standing before him, half dressed and suddenly shy. Very out of character for her, but he liked seeing this new side of her. A side he fully wanted to explore and get to know better. It seemed his rough and tough doctor had a softer side.

He walked around the edge of the bed towards her. As he reached her he rested his hands on her shoulders. He caught the look of uncertainty in her eyes, and he pulled her into his embrace to dash any of her doubts aside. Though it seemed like a dream, it was all real. At that moment, he couldn't imagine being anywhere else but with Janet.

He smoothed his fingers across her back, noticing the way it made her shiver. His lips moved to her temple, softly placing delicate kisses along her hairline.

Tracing little patterns as she went, Janet's hands moved over his back. He shuddered involuntarily at her innocent touches. Or maybe not so innocent, once he thought about it. He felt her small yet powerful frame melt into him. His lips traveled down the side of her face. He placed lights kisses on her closed eyes, her cheeks, nose, chin, and eventually her lips. Hers opened immediately to his as soon as they touched, causing molten fire to course through his veins.

His tongue asked silent entrance into her mouth, and she thankfully obliged. Daniel lifted her in his arms and carried her the remaining distance to the bed. He lay her tenderly on the bed and lingered over her, her rich, deep brown eyes looking back at him lovingly. "Daniel, promise you won't leave me ever again."

The softness of her voice and the intensity of her gaze worked its way further into his heart. "I can't promise I will be with you for the rest of your life. But I will love you for the rest of mine." His hands cupped her face, tears of joy and understanding slipped from her eyes. He kissed the wetness from her cheeks, joining his lips with hers once more.

Slowly they removed the rest of their clothing, relishing in the feel warmth and love that each other offered.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Cassie awoke to a loud thump a few feet away from her, realizing she'd fallen asleep on the floor. Blearily she opened her eyes, her vision adjusting to Jack's living room being lit by only the fire place and the lights on the Christmas tree. She turned her head to the sofa and saw that Teal'c was reclined on it Kel-no-reem-ing. She heard a muttered curse to her left and swiveled her head to the sound. What she saw there made her muffle a giggle. Jonas was on the floor in front of the love seat tangled in his blanket. She saw arms flailing and legs kicking, causing her to have pity on him and offer her assistance.

She flung her blanket off and crawled over to him on her hands and knees, still too sleepy to try to stand. When she reached him, she grasped the edge of the blanket that had somehow gotten twisted around his head. Pulling it down, she smiled when she saw the look on his face. He looked shocked, and embarrassed that he'd been caught in a humiliating position.

"What happened?" She whispered.

Jonas got a blank look like he was trying to remember, then he giggled. "It seems ... I have fallen ... and can't get up."

Cassie tried to stifle her giggle but failed. "How much eggnog have you had Jonas?"

"Errr ... a few ... or ten ... or twenty. I can't remember." He emitted a half laugh-half snort and then he fell silent. His eyes drifted closed. Cassie thought it would be a good time to help him back on the love seat before he really did fall back to sleep. She shook his shoulder jostling him causing him to open his eyes again.

"Huh?"

"Let's get you back on the sofa, okay."

He looked around confused. "I thought that's where I was."

Cassie sighed. This is going to be a long night. "No. You fell off remember?"

His brow wrinkled in deep thought. "I did?"

Cassie exhaled deeply, exasperated. She pulled him up by his shoulders, untangling him from his blanket as she went. When she'd accomplished that small task she helped him get back on the love seat, albeit it was quite a struggle. Once she had him laying down again she settled the blanket over him again. She let her hand linger on his shoulder when she tucked the blanket around him. Something in her snapped, for the next thing she knew, she was kissing Jonas. And he was kissing her back.

She pulled back when she'd realized what she'd done, blushing furiously. Jonas had an odd look in his eyes, making her feel even more minuscule and mortified. "What made you do that?" His voice soft and suddenly sober.

Cassie shrugged and looked away. "I don't know. I've wanted to do that since I first met you." She sighed. "But I knew you wouldn't go for it, seeing me as nothing more than a kid."

"I don't see you as a kid." He told her. He didn't know where it had come from, but at that moment he saw her more than the daughter of a friend and colleague. Maybe it was the eggnog. Or maybe not.

"You don't? That's surprising." Cassie had the most integral desire to go bury herself under her blanket and wish time could turn back. She knew that she'd done something that a lot of people would be well displeased about. Maybe her mother had been right. Maybe it was the hormones. She'd been single ever since Dominic had broken up with her a year earlier. She'd been too busy in school besides. Now she was trying to decide on whether she wanted to go onto a second semester at the university, or to pursue something else. She hadn't really been too interested in guys. That is until she'd met Jonas. But he was older than her, and though he may be cute and have a kind heart, she wasn't sure he could see her any other way but as a child.

"Why's that?" He could tell she was berating herself silently.

"Because I'm eighteen. And all the other guys that Mom works with sees me as nothing more than a little girl." She couldn't meet his eyes. She couldn't put herself through seeing the rejection she knew would be reflected there.

"What's the big deal about being eighteen? Besides I'm not like the other guys." The tone she heard in his voice caused her to whip her head around and look at him. She didn't dare kid herself. No one over the age of twenty could actually be interested in her. Could they?

"You don't think I'm too young?" Cassie asked in awe.

"No, not really. You remember I'm from another world. I don't share too many beliefs that Earth people share."

Cassie suddenly smiled. Jonas noticed it, and making his mouth lift in a similar fashion. "What's so funny?"

"Look at us. A pair of aliens discussing the attributes of attraction. Doesn't it strike you as strange?" Cassie cocked her head her hair wispy against her shoulders.

"Strange? Once you've been labeled as strange, nothing really seems that ... strange. Interesting maybe. Amusing, yes. Something worth exploring, definitely. But strange ... no." Jonas' expression gained an air of seriousness, as he extended his palm, resting it against her cheek.

She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch. This was like nothing she'd felt before. Sure she'd had boyfriends and made out and stuff. But nothing prepared her for the onslaught of emotion that overwhelmed her at just his simple touch. This was the first real relationship she'd had as an adult; if that's what she could even call it yet.

She leaned towards him and felt his warm breath caress her skin. She parted her lips instinctively knowing and wanting what was going to happen next. She felt the first hesitant brush of his lips against her own. The gentleness nearly brought tears to her eyes. She was overcome by the intenseness that was conveyed in his tender kisses. She brought her hand to his neck, threading her fingers through his short hair. She was touched at his actions, he wasn't rushing her, and it was as though he was waiting for her to initiate anything further. She broke off the kiss again, this time she wasn't humiliated in the least.

She rested her forehead against his. She was hesitant about mentioning her concern, afraid she would get the same reaction that she gotten from other guys, which initially caused her to put relationships in the background. "Would it bother you to take this slower?"

Jonas' eyes softened and he gave her a small smile. "We can take this at whatever pace you want."

"Thank you." Cassie lowered her eyes, as a moment of shyness overtook her. "Would you hold me?"

Jonas shifted on his side to make room for her as he lifted his blanket. Cassie lay down beside him putting one arm around his waist and tucking the other one against his chest. Jonas wrapped his arms around her pulling her close. As she rested her head against his shoulder, he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.

Cassie fell asleep feeling safe and secure and cherished in the arms of the man that caused her revelation in the early twilight hours of Christmas morning.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Jonas woke to a sensation that he had not experienced in a long time, too long, the feeling of another warm body spooned against his. It was almost enough to make him forget his aching back, and the fact that there was no feeling whatsoever in his arm. He certainly wasn't about to complain.

Cassie moved against him, snuggling deeper into his arms as she murmured quietly in her sleep. Now, this is what life is all about, he thought to himself as he slid his arm across her belly and buried his face in her hair, unwilling to wake up completely.

"Merry Christm-," a cheery voice sounded from the doorway, "What the HELL??"

Jonas jumped at the sound of the Colonel's sharp, and extremely surprised voice. He lifted his head, forcing his bleary eyes to open and look at the man whom he had come to think of as a friend. The look on the older man's face made Jonas' stomach crawl into his throat.

"Oh, hi Jack," he said lamely, noticing that his voice sounded slurred even to his own ears.

The colonel's cheeks seemed to redden slightly as he stepped down into the living room and loomed above them. "Cassie, wake up!" he barked, sounding every bit the Colonel that he was.

Cassie jumped in his arms, the top of her head impacting Jonas' nose and lip. He grunted in pain, his hand shot up to cup his nose. She slid out of his hands, sitting up and still seemingly oblivious of Jack's glaring presence above her. "Oh Jonas! I'm sorry. Let me have a look!"

She reached out and pulled his hands away from his nose, concern written across her face. Jonas couldn't help but let her tend to him. His eyes drifted up to Jack, whose eyes had widened to the size of teacups. Was that steam coming from his ears?

"Your nose is bleeding Jonas."

"Cassie!" Jack's voice was severe, and angry.

Jonas watched as Cassie flinched and turned to look at the Colonel. "What's up Jack?"

He was amazed at how calm and nonchalant that she could come across. She seemed unperturbed by the fury that showed on Jack's face, or at least she appeared to be. In fact, she looked like honey wouldn't melt in her mouth. She just continued to fascinate him. He, himself, was growing increasingly nervous and uncomfortable by the looks that Jack kept firing his way.

"Would you care to explain this?" Jack asked, his tone rising yet another octave as he motioned between Jonas and Cassie.

Jonas jumped as Cassie's hand snaked over and her fingers intertwined with his. Is she trying to get me killed? He couldn't help but noticed the way that the Colonel's eyes narrowed menacingly as he watched them, his eyes flashing back and forth between them.

"What's there to explain?" Cassie responded, a little too sarcastically for Jonas' liking.

Jack's mouth opened and snapped back shut again in disbelief. Jonas groaned softly and closed his eyes to escape the look on Jack's face. He would be very surprised if he survived the morning, let alone the day. Why hadn't he just paid attention to Teal'c's warning?

Because he'd given up too much to have to give up her as well.

"Oh, I think there's a lot Cassie," Jack said, his tone cold, but his voice raising even further.

"Jack? What's going on?" Sam's soft voice called from the hall. She appeared at the stairs to the lounge, her eyes fell on Jonas and Cassie. "Oh."

A small smile graced Jack's face as he glanced up at Sam, but it didn't last long as he fixed his cold stare back on the couple on the loveseat. "'Oh' is right Sam. I came down here to find these two wrapped about each other."

"Oh," she responded quietly as she walked down the steps to stand next to Jack.

Jonas swallowed deeply, trying to suppress the sinking feeling that suddenly appeared in his belly. Jack alone was a scary proposition, but Jack and Sam was entirely too much to handle. The moment her eyes caught his and her arms crossed over her chest he knew there was going to be hell to pay.

"We didn't do anything, if that's what you're wanting to know," Jonas told them, his voice muffled by the hand that was still clutched to his nose trying to stop the flow of blood.

Jack leaned in closer to him, his eyes flashing irritably. "If you didn't do anything, then why were the two of you snuggled up on my loveseat?"

"It's not against the law Jack!" Cassie snapped. "And it's none of your business!"

Jonas was certain there was steam coming out of Jack's ears now as he rounded on Cassie, his face turning a deep shade of scarlet. "You're under my roof … it is my business. Do you want me to go and wake up your mother and make it her business too?" he snarled.

Cassie blanched, and Jonas couldn't help but feel a small swell of disappointment when she pulled her hand out of his. "No I don't," she responded quietly. "Because at the moment your anger is enough for me."

"Then explain to me what the hell is going on here!"

"Jack." Sam's voice was soft, but Jonas could hear the warning in it. He watched as she reached out and touched Jack gently on the arm. The change in him was instantaneous, and fascinating to watch, as Jack straightened up, his expression calming.

"Isn't it obvious, Jack?" Cassie seemed to have calmed down too. "I like Jonas, and he likes me, and we're gonna make a go of it."

"What?"

"You heard me Jack," Cassie retorted. "It's my life, and it's my decision isn't it?"

Jack sighed, and scrubbed a hand across his face. He glanced over at Sam, whose face had remained carefully neutral since she had walked into the room. "No, it's not Cassie. You're still a kid, and Jonas is a lot older than you."

"Still a kid?" Cassie snapped indignantly. "I'm eighteen Jack. I'm in college. I'm capable of making my own decisions. Besides, you're a good one to talk about age differences!"

Sam's head snapped up, her eyes wide with surprise. Jack's reaction wasn't much better as his eyes drifted between Cassie and Sam. Jonas had the sinking feeling that Cassie had gone too far with that statement. He closed his eyes and tried to pretend that he wasn't in the room. A hand fumbled its way back into his, and he opened his eyes to find Cassie sitting there, an indignant look on her face.

As the silence ensued the tension in the room increased. Jonas shifted uncomfortably, the pain in his nose forgotten as he tried to think of some way they could extricate themselves from this situation without alienating their friends at the same time. All he drew was a blank.

His eyes followed Jack as he turned and moved across the room to settle in an armchair facing them. Sam perched herself on the arm of the chair, her hand gingerly touching Jack's thigh. "She's right you know," she told him quietly, effectively breaking the ice.

Jack sighed. "Yeah I know. Kinda destroys my argument doesn't it?"

Sam grinned down at him, squeezing his thigh as she leaned down to brush a kiss on his cheek. "Yeah it does."

"Thanks," Jack grunted.

"So it's okay then, isn't it?" Cassie squealed.

Jonas could feel Cassie fidgeting next to him, and he couldn't help the grin that had begun to blossom on his face. Maybe things were going to turn out better than expected. He slid an arm across Cassie's shoulders and hugged her to him.

Then he saw Jack's eyes narrow. "I didn't say that, did I?"

Jonas' heart sank. Pulling his arm from Cassie's shoulder he shifted forward in his seat. "Colonel, I want you to know that I would never hurt Cassie in any way. I would never force her into anything that she doesn't want to do, I respect her too much."

"I don't really think that's the point Jonas," Sam spoke softly. "Jonas, you should know better, I mean, don't you have any reservations about being with somebody so young?"

"If I did, Sam, I wouldn't be doing this," Jonas replied. "But I come from a different society, and my beliefs are not necessarily the same as yours and therefore you shouldn't judge me, or Cassie for that matter, by your standards."

"You have to see where we're coming from Jonas," Sam stated.

"Then you have to see where I am coming from, because I gave up everything when I left Kelowna, and I'm not going to give up Cassie without a fight," he told them, with steel in his voice that he hadn't known he possessed.

He had to admit that both Sam and Jack looked surprised. They shared a look, and a small smile, before turning their inscrutable gazes back on Jonas and Cassie. "It's not us that you have to convince really, is it?" Sam asked.

Cassie sighed. "No, but it would be easier if you gave us your blessing," she said, her voice filled with apprehension. "I mean, I'm not a child anymore and the sooner you all see that and realize it, the better. But I am going to need your help with Mom. Are we going to get it?"

Jonas felt his belly tighten convulsively as Sam and Jack glanced at each other, their expressions unreadable. If he hadn't been watching he might not have noticed the small nod that passed between them.

"Fine," Jack growled finally, "I'm not keen on the idea, but we can't stop you. But Jonas, I swear if you do anything to hurt Cassie in anyway you'll be answering to me. Is that clear?"

The warning in his tone was unmistakable, but he barely noticed it in his sudden, overwhelming glee. Next to him, Cassie squealed and threw herself into his arms. He couldn't help but hug her tightly back in his own excitement. He knew that Sam and Jack's disapproval wouldn't have stopped them, but it did make it a lot easier on them now.

He grinned madly at the other couple sitting opposite them. "Thank you … and Merry Christmas."

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Janet's eyes popped open as someone rapped loudly on the bedroom door. She felt a moment's disorientation as she realized that it wasn't her bed that she was sleeping in, and that she was naked and draped over a warm, naked, body. She smiled happily as memories of the previous night washed over, and wished that she could spend the rest of the day here in bed, in the security and comfort that the arms of the man she loved offered.

The door was pounded on again. Janet groaned softly to herself. It seemed her first wish was not going to come true. "Who is it?" she snapped.

"It's me Mom," Cassie's voice sounded muffled through the door. "I need to talk to you."

Janet twisted her head to glance at Daniel. He was still asleep. The man could sleep through an earthquake, she thought ruefully. "Can't it wait?"

"No it can't."

There was something about Cassie's tone that broached no argument. Sighing softly to herself she slid unwillingly out of Daniel's arms and the bed. Daniel groaned softly as her weight moved off him. "Just let me get dressed, okay?"

"Sure."

She sat on the bed for a moment, still half asleep, her eyes roaming the floor and the mound of clothes that lay there trying to sort hers from Daniel's. A hand touched her back, stroking gently, and she felt a tingle run up the length of her spine. "Whatcha doing, Janet?"

"Cassie wants to talk to me," she whispered back to him. Turning, she leaned over him and pressed a kiss to his forehead. "Merry Christmas."

A smile slid across his face, and he opened his eyes slowly, the look in them making her heart stop. "Merry Christmas to you too, beautiful," he murmured sleepily.

She grinned in reply and turned away from him, resuming her search for her underwear. "How about we get dressed and find out what Cassie wants to talk about so early in the morning."

Janet could feel his weight shifting on the bed as he sat up, and risked a glance over her shoulder at him. He looked adorable. His eyes blinking sleepily, his hair mussed and completely naked. She could definitely get used to waking up to this every morning. For a long, long time.

"Are you decent yet Mom?" Cassie asked impatiently.

"We're getting dressed, Cas, give us a minute," Janet snapped. The girl could be pushy sometimes.

Standing, she gathered their clothes up and tossed them in a pile on to the bed, all the while feeling Daniel's eyes watching her. "What are you looking at?" she smiled as she pulled on her underwear.

"You," Daniel murmured, his eyes mischievous and his tone managing to be seductive.

Janet flushed. She was still going to have to get used to taking compliments. It was all so new and different, and wonderful. She allowed her eyes to roam his body, well, what was visible above the sheet. She grinned. "You're not so bad yourself. Now hurry up and get dressed."

"Okay, okay," he muttered, tossing the sheet aside and standing so he could pull on his boxers. Janet couldn't help but look, and smile.

They dressed quickly, and in comparative silence, the knowledge of the teenage girl on the other side of the door and growing more impatient with each passing moment fuelling them on.

Finally, when they were both dressed, Janet quickly checked her appearance in the mirror and stepped towards the door. She was a couple of feet away from it when it opened and Cassie stepped in, obviously having grown tired of being made to wait. Janet stopped in mid-step as she dragged Jonas into the room behind her and closed the door. Janet felt her brow furrow in confusion as Cassie turned back to her, her expression nervous and certain. Jonas looked like he would rather be anywhere else but there. What on Earth is this about?

"Cassie?" she asked, her bewilderment belayed in her tone of voice. "What's going on?"

Cassie smiled, the gesture looking unnatural and forced on her worried face. She glanced quickly at Jonas, and Janet didn't miss the little squeeze that Jonas gave her hand. Her daughter's hand, clutched in Jonas' much larger hand. Her heart began a slow crawl down to her ankles as Cassie spoke, and the realization began to set in.

"You might wanna sit down Mom."

Janet nodded dully, her mind working in overtime trying to comprehend what was actually happening here. She had a sinking feeling that she didn't really want to know the truth, although deep down she already had an inkling what it was. A hand gripped her arm, guiding her backwards until the backs of her legs came into contact with the bed, and slowly guided her until she sat on the bed. Her eyes were still glued to their joined hands.

"You're not going to tell me what I think you are, are you?" Janet asked quietly, with an unmistakable shake in her voice.

Cassie grimaced, and looked away. Janet's heart sank in disbelief and disappointment. Her daughter was dating Jonas Quinn? It was too bizarre, too unreal, and so wrong. She felt herself shaking her head, but she couldn't find her voice. Jonas was too old for her, he was their friend, he was an alien. He couldn't date her daughter; she was still a child for cryin' out loud!

"Yes I am." Cassie's voice was steely and rich which the determination that now filled her face. "And all I want is your blessing Mom."

"My blessing?" Janet snorted, finally regathering her composure. "I'm not giving you anything until you explain yourself!"

Cassie sighed. "I just went through this with Jack," she muttered. "What's there to explain? Jonas and I are attracted to each other, and we decided to give this a try."

"A try?" Janet repeated. She knew that Cassie was trying to be blasé, that it was anything but them just giving it a try. But the underlying factor was that Jonas had a good ten years on Cassie, and it just didn't seem possible that he was looking for anything permanent. She turned her angry gaze on Jonas. "You're too old for her Jonas, what are you thinking? I'm not going to stand by and let you hurt Cassie. She's just a girl!"

Jonas shook his head. "Janet, we just went through this with Colonel O'Neill," he told her, reiterating Cassie's early words. "And you don't seem to have a problem with the age gap between Sam and the Colonel."

"This is different," Janet snarled through gritted teeth, realizing that the part that annoyed her the most was that he seemed to genuinely care for her daughter. "Cassie is just a child, Sam is a grown woman."

"I am not a child," Cassie snapped angrily, releasing Jonas' hand and stepping closer to Janet, her face going red, "and the sooner that you realize that, and accept that I am capable of making my own decisions and that I can actually think for myself the better, because I've made up my mind, and all I want is for you to give me your blessing."

The words were like a cold slap to the face. The only other time Cassie had spoken to her like this was when she had been infected by Nirrti's retrovirus, but never had she spoken with such vehemence and determination that she just had. The worst part was that however much she didn't want to accept it, her little girl had grown up, that she was now a woman and not the scared girl SG-1 had brought back with them from Hanka.

Where has the time gone? And when did my little girl grow up?

Daniel's hand touched her shoulder gently, squeezing lightly, reassuringly. Gradually she brought herself to meet here daughter's eyes again. She couldn't help the slight widening of her eyes as she noticed Jonas's arm draped lightly over Cassie's shoulders and her head resting under his chin. She also couldn't help the thought that they did actually look really cute together.

"If you've made your decision why do you need my blessing?" she asked softly, trying to voice her opinion, even though she already knew that her decision was being swayed.

Cassie's face looked pained. "Because you're still my mother and your opinion, and your approval means everything to me."

"And me too," Jonas said quietly.

Janet glanced back at Daniel, to find him watching her, his eyes filled with concern. He nodded slightly, as if to tell her what she already knew, that she should give her daughter her blessing, but then again, he had always done whatever Cassie wanted, he was a sweetheart that way. He was a sweetheart in every way.

The thought caused a small smile to appear on her face, and provoked a grin in him. She dragged her gaze back to her daughter and sighed. "I can give you my blessing, but you're going to have to accept that it's going to take me a while to get used to this. A long long while."

She was certain that Cassie only heard the first part of what she said, because she had barely finished her sentence when Cassie threw herself into her arms. "Thank you, Mom," she whispered, pressing a kiss to Janet's cheek.

Janet couldn't help the small laugh that escaped her. "How about we go into the Living Room and start our Christmas," she said, hugging her daughter back.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"Can we open presents now?" Came the enthused voice above the din and chatter. The request came not from Cassie, but from Jonas. As the morning progressed, Jack became aware that those two really were made for each other. Both were enthusiastic and youthful. Neither had run out of things to talk about, always having something to say to one another. If Jack were to admit it, it was quite refreshing. Though he wouldn't tell them that; it'd ruin his image.

"Yeah go ahead Jonas. Knock yourself out. Give us old folks a break." Jack grinned.

"Yeah you need one after what you guys were up to last night." Cassie smirked under her breath.

"Hey I heard that!" Jack exclaimed.

"I meant for you to hear it." Cassie shared a look with Jonas before they both burst into laughter. Jonas pulled her to him and his lips landed on hers in a quick kiss.

"Eh eh eh! Do I need to separate you two? Come on, get on with the presents, will ya?" Jack couldn't resist giving them a hard time. He'd calmed down considerably since he first found them tangled together on his love seat. Of course Sam had a hand in that. If she hadn't been there with him, he probably would have done something he would have eventually regretted. Thankfully nothing overly terrible had happened.

Jack was sitting in his favorite chair with the woman he loved propped on his lap. They'd been like that most of the morning; inseparable. Hugging her closer to him he took in the sight around him. Daniel had his arms wrapped around Janet. Those two hadn't really been a surprise. Sam had told him she'd had an inkling along time ago.

Jonas had hopped up from his place beside Cassie and was digging under the tree for gifts. He pulled a few out and was sitting sprawled on the floor with them all around him. He looked a sight; just like a big kid. Cassie joined him on the floor and helped him sort through the pile. When she had a few gathered in her arms she made her way around to each person presenting to them a present.

"Here ya go Jack." She extended the gift to Jack.

"Oooh sweet! Gimme!" Jack reached for it causing Cassie to pull it out of his reach. The game went on for a couple more minutes before she finally got bored with it and gave it to him.

Sam turned around in his lap and pressed her lips to his. "You can be such a kid sometimes. But I love you for it."

Jack grinned. He loved her so much.

He heard giggles and chuckles coming from the center of the room. "Do we need to separate you two?" Jonas and Cassie echoed each other, mimicking Jack's earlier statement.

Jack grimaced, but couldn't hold it for long, as it soon spread into a smile. "Ha ha, very funny. Ya know now I am kinda regretting giving my blessing."

"Why's that Jack?" Cassie piped up, her smile matching Jonas' effervescent one.

"Because now I got two sarcastic smart asses to listen to."

Cassie leaned her head against Jonas' as she spoke. "We learned from the best."

That got chuckles and smirks from everyone else in the room, including the woman settled on his lap. "Ahh, just open your presents, for cryin' out loud."

Permission granted, everyone ripped into their gifts; some more hastily than others. Everyone pitched in and got Teal'c a new set of golf clubs with a new bag. Thrilled, he let them all know by displaying a large grin, which he'd been doing more of lately.

Daniel sat thumbing through the new archeological journals that Jack had got his hands on, through a favor from an old friend. Janet was beside him looking over his shoulder catching glimpses as he turned the pages, her new pale blue sweater wrapped around her shoulders. Jonas was enjoying his new Palm Pilot that the team had got for him. They all knew how many notebooks he went through in a month. They thought it might cut down on the paper. Jack was all for saving the environment. Cassie had loaded film into her new zoom camera and was taking snapshots, getting glares from a few and crazy smiles from certain other people.

Sam snuggled up to him lightly touching the gift that he'd gotten her. Weeks ago he saw the star shaped diamond pendent while he was out window shopping. When he saw it, it just spoke Sam's name to him. At the time he'd been contemplating taking the first step towards furthering their relationship. Taking a giant leap, he purchased the necklace, hoping she'd like it, and hoping she wouldn't think it was too much coming from just a friend. Had he known what would happen last night, he would have gotten a certain other piece of jewelry that he was sure she would welcome now. Well, there's always Valentine's Day, he smiled to himself as the thought struck him.

"Jack, I love it. Thank you, sweetheart." Sam whispered as she gazed lovingly at Jack, her fingers drifting unconsciously along the intricate chain of the necklace.

Jack leaned down and let his lips gently explore hers, oblivious to anyone that might be looking. When he pulled back, he got a gleam in his eyes. "It's what every deep space telemetrist should have."

Sam smiled warmly and leaned her head on his shoulder. "Do you like yours?"

Jack patted the jersey of his favorite hockey player. "Of course I love it. And with these," he held up the hockey tickets. "I finally got a date to a Red Wings game."

"I'd better be that date." Sam pinched his stomach making him growl playfully at her.

"Of course you are baby. Who else would I take? Teal'c? He's great company and all, but I'd much rather steal kisses from you." This earned him a grin with a matching twinkle in her eyes, which was soon accompanied by a wonderfully scorching kiss.

"Hey Jack! Do you still have some of my things here?" Daniel's voiced interrupted the searing kiss he was so enjoying. Jack broke away from the kiss grudgingly, but not before he got some ideas in his head of what he was planning on doing with Sam later.

"Yeah Danny, there's some boxes up in the closet in the spare bedroom. I think you've become familiar with the room." Jack smirked.

Daniel's mind must have been somewhere else, because Jack didn't even get a comeback or even a 'look'. He watched as he made his way quickly out of the room.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Daniel pulled the cardboard box bearing his name off the top shelf of the closet. After last night's turn of events, he wasn't about to let the moment slip away. He rummaged around in the box, pushing some things aside, and wondering why he had even kept other things. I am such a pack rat.

Once he found what he was looking for, he closed his hand around it, took a deep breath, drawing on his self confidence and then walked out the room. When he reached the entry to the living room, he stopped short and just looked around at the people filling the room. His family. The people he'd been willing to leave behind. The people he couldn't leave behind. That's why he was going to do what he'd decided. Before he lost his nerve.

He walked into the room and headed straight for Janet. She was laughing at something Cassie had said, but he got her attention when he kneeled in front of her. He held open his hand, the item sitting in his palm. Janet looked from his hand to his face and back again, repeating the action several times. Realizing that he'd shocked her into speechlessness, he opened the little velvet box. Inside was nestled a simple, yet beautifully made diamond ring. It brought tears to her eyes as she caught his meaning, even before he had a chance to voice it. Which he did eventually, once he gained the ability to speak.

"Janet, sweetheart, I know I usually ramble and take a while to get my point across ..."

"You can say that again." He heard Jack say in the background, though he didn't let it sway him.

"...But I'm going to make this simple. Janet, I love you, and you would make me the happiest man in the universe if you would do me the honor of becoming my wife." Daniel finished and met Janet's watery gaze with bated breath.

Tears streamed down Janet's face as her mouth lifted in a smile. She nodded her head earnestly, as she choked out a 'Yes' around the lump in her throat. Daniel's face lit up at her declaration and he placed the ring on her finger before he gathered her into his arms.

He felt her lips form into a smile against his cheek as she whispered. "Looks like I've been a very good girl this year."

Daniel chuckled and held her closer. She held her hand up and gazed at the ring he'd given her. "I do have one question though ..."

"It was my mom's. It was in the few things that I got of my parents' when they died. It's one of the things I kept with me throughout the years. I'm glad I did now."

Janet smiled some more as she wrapped her arm back around him and nestled her head on his shoulder. From her position she saw everyone looking at them expectantly.

The silence of the room was palpable; a pin drop would have sounded as thunder. Janet saw Cassie eyeing her intently with a blank expression on her face. After the talk they'd had earlier, she feared Cassie would hold a grudge against her about her reaction. Especially now that it was her turn.

"Mom, I think you've got some explaining to do." She replied before her face split into a wide, pleased grin.

"You're not going to let me forget that are you?" Janet asked smiling.

"Not a chance. So let's get a look at the rock!" Cassie smiled anxiously moving forward. Daniel released Janet from his embrace, but he didn't move far. Cassie was fairly drooling when she saw the sparkling stone. "Wow Daniel, you sure have great taste. It's beautiful."

Sam moved in closer to take a look at her friend's engagement ring, followed by Jack who gave Daniel a slap on the back. "Way to go Danny-boy."

"Thanks Jack. I wasn't about to let her get away from me again." Daniel answered earning him a jab in the side by his fiancé's elbow.

"I think that's the other way around. I didn't go anywhere if you'll recall, Dr. Jackson." Janet said with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Yes I remember." Daniel drifted off as he gazed intently into Janet's eyes, causing her to blush. His arm went around her shoulders, his lips finding hers in a passionate kiss, not caring that they had an audience.

Everyone seemed to take that as their cue to vacate the room. Cassie hopped up from the floor, grabbed Jonas' hand and headed off to Jack's den. Jack and Sam conveniently remembered that Christmas dinner wouldn't make itself and made their way into the kitchen. Teal'c disappeared into the game room taking his new golf bag and clubs with him.

Daniel broke apart from Janet and simply looked down into the loving brown eyes of his fiancé. He could hardly believe he was sitting here with the woman he loved, and had for some time, cradled in his arms. He counted himself as a very lucky man.

Not many men could say they had journeyed along a different plane of existence, given up all rights to their previous life and anything they held dear, and then come back to said life and get more than they ever bargained for. He had, and it was something he wouldn't take for granted again or let anyone else take lightly either. If there was something he learned while he was 'away', it was that what you thought wasn't important or worthy, only that can really hold the most value.

Janet's upturned face cocked sideways as a small smile graced her lips. "What are you thinking about?"

Daniel's hand came up and lingered on her cheek as she turned into his touch. "I was just thinking about all that's happened and wondered how the fates decided to give me a second chance at life."

"So was I. All of us were given a second chance for that matter. I think that's the best gift any of us could have hoped for. Lord knows Sam and Jack deserved it. And though I'm still a bit uncertain about Cassie and Jonas, I think they'll be okay together. I know Teal'c's had a rough time in the past year, too. And I really think you coming back helped him. You're one of his best friends and you understand him as other people don't." Janet replied thoughtfully.

"And what about us?" Daniel asked caressing her cheek with his thumb.

"I'm so happy. I never thought I could be this happy. This has turned out to be more than I had ever hoped for. It's hard to explain. I just ... I can't believe that all this has happened. It seems almost like a dream, one that I never want to wake up from." Janet said in awe.

"I know what you mean. But you know what Sweetheart, this is real, and I won't be forgetting that for a long long time. I love you." Daniel's clear blue eyes reflected the love he felt for this woman.

"Oh Daniel, I love you, too." Janet wrapped her arms around his waist and let her head rest on his chest, listening to the comforting rhythmic beat of his heart. The soft strains of a meaningful Christmas song drifted out from the radio in the kitchen oblivious to the two lovers warmly ensconced in each other's embrace.

*Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
*Let your heart be light,
*From now on our troubles
*Will be out of sight.

*Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
*Make the Yule-tide gay,
*From now on our troubles
*Will be miles away.

*Here we are as in olden days,
*Happy golden days of yore,
*Faithful friends who are dear to us
*Gather near to us once more.

*Through the years
*We all will be together
*If the Fates allow,
*Hang a shining star
*On the highest bough,
*And have yourself
*A merry little Christmas now

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

~Finis~
© Tarra O'Neal & Flotternz '02
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