Curious Christmas

by Pip

Summary: Christmas is a very curious time of year for a toddler.

A/N: Yesh, it's happened again...I've started another series! -gasps in not so surprised shock- I was totally inspired to write this when I was reading over something and it said 'baby's first christmas'. I figured it would be kinda neat to write what Hayden's first Christmas was like (meaning the first one she would kinda remember, where she would pick up on the traditions of the holiday season), both through her experiences and through the feelings Daniel and Vala have when she has those experiences. Anywho, this is what came of it.

And I decided since there are so many different little 'traditions' that go with the Christmas/Holiday season, that this series will be broken up into individual parts dealing with each 'tradition'. I don't have a set amount of parts yet (ofcourse I don't!), but I'll only be posting the parts after I've 'finished' each one completely. And of course I'm gonna try my damndest to get them all out before the big day (thank god the semester is over and I'm back home for the holidays! Lots of prospective fic writing time!). So when the parts of posted here, they will be complete little stories that you can enjoy!

So I hope you love them all!

Part 1: The Christmas Tree

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New Tastes

She eyed the bowl on the counter beside her. She wasn't sure what it was, but it looked interesting. Reaching her hand out, she planned on finding out how interesting it was.

A larger, slender hand stopped hers just before it connected with the stuff.

"Nope." The accented voice of her mother commanded gently. "I don't think so."

Hayden pouted, trying to wiggle her hand out of Vala's grasp. She eyed the bowl once more.

"Hayden, quit it." Vala commanded again, this time more firmly. "You know you don't stick your hand in things..." She slid the bowl down the counter a little, away from the toddler. "It's gotten your father in trouble for years." She laughed at her comment and turned an amused smile on her daughter.

The little girl was giving her an uncomprehending look.

Vala laughed again and shook her head. "Anyway, you wouldn't have liked this stuff much." To prove her point, she stuck her finger in it and then placed the finger in her mouth. She tried to make a disgusted face, but it turned to one of consideration. Tilting her head to the side, finger still in her mouth, Vala let go of Hayden's little hand and grabbed the bottle sitting beside her.

She uncorked the bottle and turned it upside down over the bowl. A little more than she intended poured out, but Vala just shrugged and moved to taste it again. "Better." She mumbled around the finger once again in her mouth, a grin coming to her face

"Try." Hayden pointed at the bowl.

Vala looked at her, then at the bowl. She rolled her eyes. She'd done nothing to persuade the kid it wasn't good - in fact she'd done just the opposite. "No, Hayden."

Pouting her lips, Hayden pointed emphatically at the bowl once more. "Try!" She ordered.

"Hayds, no." Vala emphasized, taking her daughter's hand in hers gently. She looked into the pouty, tear-filled grey-blue gaze and sighed in defeat. There was no way she could deny that look. And besides, the moment Hayden tasted what was in the bowl, she wouldn't want to 'try' again - at least not for a long time. "Okay, okay - don't cry. You can try it."

The weepy look faded instantly, and Hayden bounced in place. "Try!" She repeated happily, scooting closer to the bowl. Vala rolled her eyes again, realizing she'd been played by her own daughter using her tricks.

"Your daddy is gonna kill me." She muttered playfully to the young face, taking her tiny hand and placing it over the bowl. Hayden moved to plunge her entire hand into it, but Vala was quick to stop her. "Ah! No, no...one finger." She made sure the point got across by gently folding all but her little index finger into a fist. Grey eyes found grey-blue and repeated the point. "One finger."

Hayden nodded towards her mother then turned her attention back to the exciting stuff in the bowl. She grinned eagerly as Vala guided her finger into the cool, slushy liquid and back out. The moment she let her hand go, Hayden plucked the finger into her mouth.

Vala fought to suppress a laugh at the way Hayden's face went from happy to disgusted. She wasn't going to laugh - she was trying to make a point.

"Ack!" Hayden coughed as she pulled her finger out, tongue hanging over her bottom lip as if it'd been wounded somehow. She gave her mother a long-suffering glance. "-ater..."

Shaking with laughter, Vala nodded and picked up her glass on the counter just beyond the bowl. Stepping up to her girl, she wrapped her tiny hands around the cup. "Soda...small sip." She said, holding her hands around Hayden's as the young girl brought the edge to her lips hastily.

She readily obeyed Vala this time, taking a tiny sip to erase the taste from her mouth. As the cup was pulled from her grasp and place beside her on the counter, Hayden glared up at her mother. "Ucky, mama."

Vala grinned, much to Hayden's annoyance, and leaned in to place a kiss to her forehead. "I told you, babygirl." Her hands wrapped around the little body. Before she could say anything else, the bellowing of her name from across the house had Vala looking over her shoulder. "What?!"

"Come here please!" Daniel's voice was strained and a little muffled.

Turning her attention back to Hayden, Vala grinned at her. "Should we go see what daddy wants?"

Hayden nodded eagerly. "Daddy!" She thrust her arms up, indicating she was ready to be picked up.

"I'll take that as a yes." Vala laughed, hoisting the little girl up into her arms and bracing her against her chest. "But we're not gonna tell him about your little taste-testing, are we?" As Hayden tilted her head curiously, Vala pointed back to the counter and bowl then brought the finger to her lips. "Secret." She whispered as she started toward the entryway, trying to make the message clear.

It took a moment but Hayden finally nodded and mimicked her mother's action. "Ikret."

Vala grinned and rubbed her nose against Hayden's. "That's right. You're so smart, Hayds."

This was something Hayden definitely understood. She grinned and nodded happily. "Yes."

"Okay, you've definitely heard that too much." Vala laughed, placing her hand into dark brown hair and kissing her daughter's forehead again. "But people wouldn't say it if it wasn't true." She murmured affectionately, resting her forehead against Hayden's. The little girl giggled.

"Vala!" Daniel's shout was now louder, pretty much above their heads, as Vala brought them to a stop at a wooden set of stairs coming down from the attic.

Hayden looked up at the hole in the ceiling curiously as her mother called up to it. She was sure that's where her daddy's voice had come from.

"I'm right here, darling."

Thumping sounds followed from above and dust trickled down from the hole. Hayden blinked as it rained on her. She closed her eyes as Vala instinctively brushed the stuff off her face, never looking away from the hole.

"Are you sure it's up here?" His voice now sounded farther away, and Hayden's brow furrowed in confusion. She looked at her mother for some kind of explanation, but Vala seemed more focused on what he was actually saying.

"It has to be up there, Daniel." Vala adjusted Hayden to rest against her hip.

More thumping and shuffling was heard. "Well, I'm not seeing it."

Vala sighed and shifted her feet. "Are you sure your eyes are open?"

"Ha, ha - you're a riot." The thumping got closer to the opening. "Seriously, Vala - You're positive the damn thing is up here?"

She sighed again, giving Hayden a look. The little one blinked at it. "You're the one who said it wasn't in the closet in your office, and we wouldn't put it in the garage. You checked the basement already. Where else would it be?"

Vala looked up as she finished rambling, and Hayden followed suit.

"I don't know..." Daniel sighed, slightly frustrated. Finally, his head came into view as he looked out of the hole. Hayden grinned happily at finally being able to see him.

She clapped her hands, bouncing in her mother's arms. "Daddy!"

Daniel grinned. "Hey cutie." He waggled his fingers at her. She thrust her arms upward, letting him know she wanted him to take her. He shook his head. "No hunny."

"Down, daddy!" Hayden whined, tears coming to her eyes. She struggled in Vala's tightening embrace, making her displeasure known.

Vala pulled her in tight to her body. "Hayden..." She warned, but the girl refused to let up. She just continued to struggle and started to really cry. Vala sighed and looked up at Daniel.

He gave her an apologetic smile, then looked at their daughter caught up in her tantrum. "Hayden Lynn Jackson!" Daniel barked in a tone that was a mix of years of knowing Jack and his own memories of his father calling out his own name in the same manner. Hayden quieted up immediately, though tears still slipped from her eyes. She looked up at him.

"Down?" She ventured one more time in a hopeful tone, sniffing loudly.

Daniel shook his head and gave her a stern look. "No, not after that performance." He moved back into the main part of the attic, and Hayden frowned as he disappeared from view. "Why am I not seeing this thing?" He called out again, whining in a way that rivaled his daughter.

Rolling her eyes, Vala leaned down and placed Hayden on the bottom wooden step. Her eyes softened at the guilty look the little girl gave her. "You know he doesn't like that, Hayds." She whispered, wiping the snot from the little nose with the sleeve that fell over her hand.

"Daddy mad?" Hayden asked quietly, looking up toward the hole above her head.

Vala wiped the tears from her daughter's cheeks. "No, he's not mad. But tantrums aren't going to make him happy."

Blinking, Hayden sniffed. "Antums?"

Running her fingers down her cheeks to indicate tears, Vala pouted for show. "Crying." She said dramatically like she was throwing one herself. Hayden couldn't help from giggling.

"Hunny, you're absolutely positive?" Daniel called out again, sounding desperate.

Vala shook her head to the attic entrance, then looked at Hayden. "I want you to stay here." She pointed at the spot the toddler occupied on the step. "Do you hear me, little one?"

Hayden looked at her mother's serious face and nodded. Her eyes followed her mother as Vala started up the steps.

"I mean it." A finger pointed down at her. "Don't move an inch."

She watched as her mother disappeared into the hole.

"Okay, let's find it so you can go hold your daughter." Her mother's voice reached her ears.

"Vala, you left her down there by herself?" Daniel asked in a disbelieving tone.

"She's at the bottom of the stairs. I told her not to move." Hayden smiled as her mother's head came into view as she checked to see if she was there. "And she's sitting there, waiting like a good girl."

Her father's head appeared next to Vala's. Hayden smiled at him as well.

Daniel pointed down at her. "Stay right there."

She nodded as Vala leaned and whispered "She understands" into his ear.

"I just don't want her trying to climb up here or wander off without us." He whispered back. "She is our daughter."

Hayden watched her mother nod and push Daniel away from the hole. The rest of their conversation became muffled, and she brought her attention to the hallway around her. Her gaze drifted to the bedroom just off from the stairs to her left. Hayden looked longingly into her room, where all her toys were. But she didn't move because her mommy and daddy told her not to.

The sound of a loud bang made her jump and look up. She watched with uncertain eyes as a scraping noise worked its way towards the hole. Dust rained down around her and she coughed. Suddenly, her daddy's jean covered legs appeared at the hole. He started coming down the steps backwards, one end of a long brown box in his arms.

Daniel stopped halfway down the stairs. "Stop, Vala...Stop, stop." He breathed, looking down at Hayden at the bottom. Holding the box up with his knee, he pointed to the wall. "Hayds, baby, move to the wall please." His voice was strained from holding up the box. As Hayden stood up and tentatively stepped over to the wall, Daniel nodded. "Stay right there, hunny."

Hayden watched on curiously as her parents hauled the rest of the box down the steps, down the hall, and out into the living room. She waited patiently for them to come back and get her. The last thing she wanted to do was make daddy unhappy again.

"How could you not have seen that?" Vala said breathlessly as she wiped her hands on her jeans as they walked back up the hall, Daniel in front of her.

Daniel shrugged. "I could swear it was in a totally different box last year." He moved to push the stairs back up into the attic, effectively closing the hole at the same time.

She laughed as she stepped up to Hayden and snatched her up into her arms once more. "You were too drunk last year to possibly remember what the box looked like."

Turning an impish grin on Vala, Daniel stepped up to her and gave her a soft kiss. "Maybe that's it." He smiled down at Hayden and took her from her mother. "Come here, pooh."

Hayden happily moved into his embrace. Looking up into his smiling face, she gave him an apologetic gaze. "Sorry, daddy."

He tilted his head in confusion. "What for?" Daniel asked, heading down the hall towards the living room. Vala fell in beside him.

"Antum."

Daniel stopped at the word, looking at Vala, who was smiling softly, then at Hayden. "You apologizing for throwing that tantrum?"

She had to think on what he'd asked, but Hayden nodded after a minute. "Yes. Daddy mad 'cause antum." She added quietly, guiltily.

"Oh, no." Daniel laughed reassuringly, kissing Hayden on the forehead. "Daddy's not mad about the tantrum. I don't like when you throw one, but I could never be mad at you, Hayds." His blue eyes looked into hers to see if she understood. "Actually, you're making me happy - You're learning new words."

"New words?" Hayden questioned curiously. Her brow furrowed as she considered the words. "Antum, new words?" She asked if she had gotten it right.

Daniel grinned and kissed her. "Exactly. You are so smart."

Laughing, Vala moved into the kitchen. "She knows."

He looked at his daughter and she nodded in confirmation. "So she does." He smiled and followed Vala over to the counter. His blue eyes landed on the bowl sitting there.

Hayden looked at it also and frowned. "Ucky!" She stuck her tongue out in a disgusted manner and pointed at the bowl.

Once more, Daniel turned a surprised glance on her. "Excuse me?" He turned a sharp blue-eyed gaze on his girlfriend. "How does she know that this..." He pointed down at the reddish-pinkish mixture. "Is yucky? And I'm assuming this is what I think it is, considering..." Daniel left the rest unsaid as he swept a hand out to indicate the ingredients on the counter, including the bottle Vala had picked up earlier.

"Traitor." Vala muttered to her daughter, then batted innocent eyes at her lover. "She was pouting and insistent on trying it, Daniel." She pleaded. "So I let her..." As his eyes widened in disbelief, Vala rushed on. "I dipped her finger in it, that's all. And look..." She held her hand out to Hayden. "It worked - she thinks it's yucky."

"Ucky." Hayden stated firmly, helping Vala unintentionally.

Daniel let out a breath in acceptance. "Okay, fine, as long as it'll keep her from drinking any later." He reached up, opened the cabinet, and pulled out a small glass. "Now let's see how much everyone else will be drinking later." Daniel dipped the cup into the liquid. Satisfied with the amount he had, he tossed back the stuff experimentally.

Coughing slightly, he blinked, shook his head, and placed the cup beside the bowl slowly. "Wow, babe..." He wheezed.

"You don't like it?" Vala asked with uncertainty.

Daniel shook his head and cleared his throat. "No, no...it's not that." He eyed the stuff and breathed in deeply, looking up at Vala. "It's just a bit...strong."

She pouted and looked a little hurt. "But you told me-"

"I know, I know." Daniel soothed, holding up his hand. "I just forgot to take into account my 'strong' and your 'strong' are on two very different levels." When Vala's face didn't brighten up, he stepped up to her and placed his hand on her cheek. "It's fine."

Vala shook her head. "For me - for everyone else, it's gonna be too strong."

Laughing, Daniel stroked his thumb over her soft skin. "Hunny, this is us you're talking about. This stuff could peel paint and we'd still drink it..." He looked over his shoulder at the bowl. "Actually, I think this stuff could peel paint..."

She took his hand and brought it down from her face. "I'll just start over again." Vala pushed Daniel back and reached for the bowl. An arm around her waist stopped her.

"I don't think so." He murmured into her hair. "Jack would kill me if I let you waste all of that." Daniel placed a kiss into her black locks. "It's fine, Vala. Really." He laughed gently.

Vala turned around in his embrace, and fingered the sleeve on Hayden's shirt. Their daughter was watching the exchange with interest, not really knowing what they were talking about, but understanding there was love between her daddy and mommy.

"Really?" She asked hopefully.

Daniel grinned and kissed her lips. "Really." He repeated, cupping her chin affectionately. "We'll just have to put everyone up for the night..." He leaned around Vala to dip his finger in the bowl. Pulling it out, he sucked on it and grinned again. "Because after one cup of this, everyone will be way too far gone to make it home."

As Daniel turned to head out to the living room, Hayden still in his arms, Vala finally felt a smile come to her lips. "That strong?" She asked hopefully, while sounding somewhat smug at the same time.

He turned slightly in the entryway, and licked his lips. "I've got a buzz already just from what I just had." He laughed.

Vala's smile turned to a full-blown grin. "Okay then." She turned around and picked up the bowl, intending to put it in the freezer to chill. She then started to busy herself with other things they would need for later.

Shaking his head, Daniel turned a grin on Hayden. "So you wanna help daddy now?"

Hayden nodded happily, accepting the small kiss he gave her. Her face contorted into a frown at the taste on his lips. She rubbed a hand over her mouth to try and make that nasty taste go away. "Ucky, daddy."

He smiled and kissed her forehead. "Sorry, baby. It's an acquired taste." At her uncomprehending look, Daniel shook his head and grinned. "Nevermind." He laughed and carried her out into the living room to start on his next task in preparation for later that night.

A/N: Onto the next chapter!