Cassie decides that earth traditions need to be kept and organises a special Christmas Day in Atlantis - in turn she is rewarded with a surprise herself...
John arrived back from Tegalia having spent the day ferrying a science team and Rodney to study the ancient 'wraith repellent' device to enable them to reverse engineer it. Being in the company of scientists for several hours on end, barely understanding the bulk of their conversation, was extremely dull and he had resorted to taking a long and equally dull stroll around the city on his own waiting for them to complete their task. He wished that Cassie had come with him, but when he had asked her she had told him that she already had plans but would not give him any further detail.
He shut down the jumper and after waiting for the science team to gather their gear together, he made his way down to the gate room to find Elizabeth already there.
“Where's Cass?” John grumbled, assuming she would have been in the gate room to meet him. Elizabeth's answer was non commital. “Oh, she'll be here soon.”
“So, where is she? Maybe I'll just go meet her...”
“She just had a few things to do John. Why don't you go and shower and by the time you're done, I'm sure she'll be back.” Elizabeth did not meet his eyes and suspicion began to blossom. “Back?” he had picked up quickly on that word. “Back from where?”
Elizabeth pushed him toward the door. “Go shower John, you'll see soon enough!” Grumbling about the fact that no one ever told him anything and not appreciating the not so subtle hint that his long day on Tegalia had taken a toll on his personal hygiene, he went to take a very quick shower returning to the gate room in time to hear the stargate activate. Knowing that his science team had been the only offworld mission scheduled that day, John's eyes narrowed and he looked pointedly at Elizabeth, but she refused to meet his eyes.
He gritted his teeth and took a calming breath, mentally bracing himself for whatever was about to step through that stargate. For one brief moment, the thought did cross his mind that there would never be a dull moment in their relationship, for through the stargate stepped Cassandra Devon, rock star, clad in sleek black pants, over which a gorgeous bright pink wool coat rested over her now almost 6 month pregnant stomach, matching pink woollen cap perched atop her glorious curls and kick ass high heeled pink leather boots. He could barely see her behind the piles of boxes and bags she was laden down with, but it was what rolled after her that had him mentally debating his sanity. Rolling smoothly behind her was a large transportation module completely filled with shopping bags of all sizes and colours. There was a resounding crash as her precariously piled boxes tumbled over and she landed amongst them, somewhat inelegantly, a beaming smile on her face.
John, feeling the beginnings of a headache, waded though the scattered boxes and reached down to haul her out, automatically dusting her off and straightening her skewed cap. “Oh God Cass, I think I'm going to turn around, go back to the jumper bay, slap myself several times then come back to the gate room and perhaps all this will be … gone... and it'll be a bad dream that's just … gone. What on earth is all of this?” His gaze flickered to Elizabeth who was trying her best not to smile and really not succeeding at all.
“Am I the brunt of some base joke or something? I'm pretty sure it says Colonel somewhere on my uniform, but do I get any respect around here... no sirree, not any.” Muttering to himself he began poking through the boxes and heard Ronan's deep chuckle as he entered the gate room. “Sheppard! You gotta learn to control your woman!”
Cassie rushed over to John to stop him poking around further and threw her arms around him and in spite of himself, he hoisted her into the air, marvelling at how light and tiny she still was even with her pregnancy now very evident. As he placed her back on the ground, his hands went to her stomach, so firm and rounded now and he couldn't help but smile at the sparkle in her eyes. “Shopping sweetheart? About a year's worth, judging by this lot. Earth today, was it?” He found anger to be redundant and a waste of energy... she was... just Cassie.
“Christmas John! Tomorrow it's Christmas Eve and I am planning the biggest, best Christmas ever! Look, I've bought presents for every single member of the Atlantis team, and tomorrow you and Ronan are going to go to the mainland and find the biggest Christmassy type tree you can find...”
“...we are?” John raised his eyebrows at Ronan who shrugged.
“...and I have decorations, all the best Christmas food you can think of and Chef is going to give me some special cooking lessons tomorrow and let me help him, party stuff... oh, it's going to be so much fun.” She bounced up and down in excitement and John steadied her. “Easy love, junior's liable to pop right out! Christmas eh? I had sort of forgotten... I guess we're used to constant reminders back on earth with advertising, music, decorations on houses and in the streets, it almost passed us by. So... you snuck off to earth for the day and brought all that?”
“Well, only some of it. I gave Jack a list a couple of weeks ago and he had a lot of it waiting for me at the SGC, but I wanted to personally select gifts for certain people. Oh John, our first Christmas on Atlantis and our first Christmas together.. how could we not celebrate it?” She turned in a giddy circle, hat flying off her head and she was contagious, Ronan grinning and shaking his head.
“Christmas eh John? Sounds like a fun tradition... can't wait!”
John awoke early the next morning, grumbling when he reached over to draw Cassie closer to find the bed empty and her side cold. Grumpily he got up, not used to waking up alone any more, wondering where she was at such an early hour. He showered quickly and made his way to the mess hall and immediately smelt the delicious smells that were beginning to waft out the kitchen and through the hallways. A whirlwind in a tiny red velvet dress, black tights with a cute santa hat raced towards him and threw herself into his arms.
“Merry Christmas Colonel Sheppard!” and she buried her face in his neck and he had no choice but to laugh. Setting her back on the ground he recalled the solitude of previous Christmas's, having not been close with his family for some time and feeling a warmth that this year he had someone special, hell for that matter, lots of special friends, to spend the holiday with.
“You, my adorable little elf are enough to turn even the good santas... bad!” She giggled and led him into the kitchen to show him the preparations that Chef, his kitchen staff and Cassie had been doing since the wee hours of the morning. The industrial sized ovens were filled with several turkeys and basting hams, roasting pans filled with succulent vegetables were awaiting their turn, fresh loaves of bread were rising on benches and various pies for dessert were in stages of preparation. “Look John, Chef taught me to make pumpkin pie!” Jubilant she dragged him over to one of the benches where pastry was being rolled to fit into pie shells. He swiped at her face to remove a streak of flour. “Yeah kiddo, you're wearing half of it! Come and have breakfast with me Cass, then you can put me to work...”
He pulled her back out to the dining area, watching as she took a selection of the breakfast food, a glass of milk and the one cup of coffee she was allowed under his eagle eye, then took his own selection and sat down to join her. Her eyes sparkled as she filled him in on details and plans for that day and he was left with the lingering hope that she would not tire herself out before the day finished. Satisfied that she had eaten enough, he allowed her to rattle off the list of intended chores for the day, and mentally groaned. It did not sound like much of a holiday.
“If you and Ronan can go to the mainland and find a tree – it has to be HUGE...”
“... ah Cass, it still needs to be able to fit in a jumper...”
“... ok, so really big then, and can you please bring back Keisha and the other Satedan children, I have gifts for them and I want them to experience an earth Christmas...”
“...ok, so giant Christmas tree AND lot's of kids... jumper's gonna be full...”
“... ok, so more than one trip then. When you get the tree mounted, I have loads of decorations all in boxes in the rec room, that's where I would like you to set up the tree and all the kids can help decorate with you and Ronan...” She quietened only after he silenced her with a kiss.
“Mmmm... ok, so that was kind of nice... and you look very hot this morning Colonel Sheppard with that sexy raspy beard...” she giggled as he smacked her lightly on the bottom.
“And you sweetheart, look absolutely adorable and if I don't leave now to begin my long list of duties as your personal slave for the day, I may just stay... and be your personal slave for the day...” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, leaned in for another kiss and with a quick salute left the mess hall to find Ronan.
It was nearly lunchtime when an excited squeal heralded the arrival of Keisha and some of the younger Satedan children. “Cassie! Colonel John told us all about Christmas and Santa. Will Santa come to visit? Will he bring us presents?” Cassie hugged her little friend, offering smiles to all the Satedan children who clustered around her. “Yes love, Santa knows where all the little boys and girls in the whole universe are, and if you've been good and kind, he'll be along later to visit and he will bring something special for you all.”
“Will we see him?” asked Keisha anxiously. Cassie hid a smile, recalling the look of horror on Rodney's face when she co-opted him to be Santa with Radek Zelenka his elf assistant. “Oh, I'm sure he will make his presence known. Now come with me kids, we're going to have a look at the tree that Ronan and John brought back. Kalen spoke up. “It is a very big tree Cassie and it would hardly fit in the jumper. Colonel John was saying a lot of bad words.” Cassie hid another smile. “I'm sure he was, Kalen!”
Cassie and her young entourage arrived in the rec room to hear Ronan and John laughing, grappling with each other in play fighting mode, and pelting each other with Cassie's carefully chosen Christmas decorations. Tapping her foot, she raised a sardonic eyebrow which got their attention fairly quickly, and they straightened up quickly, hands behind their backs hiding the slightly damaged decorations, twin guilty looks on their faces.
“We're... uh... just deciding what to put where...” John offered with a quick sideways glance at Ronan who shuffled from foot to foot like a naughty schoolboy.
“I can see that John.. it is good to see such important decisions are being made with such maturity. Now, perhaps you could bring your mental age up a notch or two and allow the children here to assist with the decorating, in perhaps a more mature manner... hmmm?”
John grinned. “Now you sound like that hot fifth grade teacher I had... man... I'd like to see her in a Santa outfit... mmmm.” Knowing he was deliberately gunning for trouble, he sidestepped her quickly, only to find his arm twisted up behind his body in an excellent imitation of a move that Ronan particularly excelled at. “So, Ronan... I see you've been teaching my lady here, a few tricks.”
“Just evening the playing field Sheppard. And speaking of that, come over here Cass, I need you advise on this particular decoration.” Cassie let John go and he rubbed his shoulder slightly. That had actually hurt! Ronan appeared with a piece of mistletoe, maneovering himself in front of Cassie. “John explained the significance of this particular decoration and I'm thinking that this is the only time I'll get away with this, so...” He held the mistletoe over her head and leaned down to give her a very non brotherly kiss on the lips.
Cassie looked a little stunned, John's face was like thunder and Ronan smiled in satisfaction. “Yep! I get now, why he can't keep his hands off you... just saying...” He laughed as John lowered his head and charged at him, hitting his midriff and sending them both sprawling. Both of them came up laughing and Cassie just shook her head and said “Ronan? FYI, that was a rather pleasant experience, but you just used up your free pass... got it?”
“Loud and clear Mam!” laughed Ronan and offered John a hand to pull him up off the ground, signifying the end of play and back to work.
Cassie arrived back in the rec room two hours later, arms pile hgih with colourful boxes and parcels that she and Teyla had finished wrapping together. “Will you put those down woman!” John moved quickly to remove some of the boxes as she could barely see over the top of her load. “Get someone to carry those for you, and that's an order...miss!”
Stamping her feet slightly she retaliated. “Order huh? Since when do you give ME orders Colonel John Sheppard.” She sidestepped him, bending down to lower some of the boxes and came up rubbing her lower back. Groaning, John clenched his hands to stop himself throttling her. Teyla followed with another armful of parcels and together they arranged them under the tree.
“Are those from Santa?” Keisha asked excitedly. Cassie gave her back another rub and smiled at her. “No sweetheart, Santa will bring his special gifts later, after dinner. You guys have all done a fantastic job with the tree, it looks stunning. And who was the brave person that put the star right at the very top?”
“It was me!” Keisha spoke up proudly. “Ronan lifted me up high so I could just reach. Colonel John said it was the most important job of Christmas!”
“And he was right Keisha, it is a very important job, and you did it so well honey.” Cassie's eyes shone and she moved over to John to give him a hug and he reached around to her back to knead his fingers into the small of it, where he had seen her rubbing it earlier. “Hurts huh?” he murmured when she tensed a little. “Nothing hurts on Christmas John, that's a rule!”
A little later he was passing the infirmary and paused abruptly in the doorway when he noticed Cassie sitting on one the beds , Carson standing in front of her strapping a monitoring system to her stomach. Alarm sent an instant fist into his stomach and as Carson stepped back he saw John.
“Don't worry Colonel, she's just getting a little back pain and I just wanted to hook her up to a monitor to make sure nothing was happening sooner than it should be.” There's some sign of contractions...” at John's gasp of alarm he hastened to reassure him “...but I am positive that these are just what we call Braxton Hicks, sort of like practice contractions. Admittedly they don't usually happen this early which is why I think it prudent to hook her up to a monitor. To be completely honest Colonel, I'm really just using this as an excuse to get to her to take a small rest.” Carson had seen the worry in John's eyes and catching the unspoken plea in Cassie's eyes, he sought to quickly reassure him.
John took her hand and tipped her chin up with the other one. “You ok Cass, really? You need to let me know when something like this happens.” He searched her eyes, not completing convinced that he was getting the full story.
“Actually John, I am a little tired and am happy to use this time to take a little break and lie down so that I can have extra fun tonight. Now go John, I need you to make sure Rodney is ready to do his Santa thing and you tell him that if he dares to chicken out I will personally pull out every armpit hair one by one...” she said this cheerfully and John grimaced in pain. “And John, can you please go tell Chef I will be back soon to help him...” she shuffled herself down the bed a little. “... see? Resting now... you can go, my gallant knight in shining armour...”
“OK Cass, sarcasm... now I know you're trying to get rid of me... You are a witch Cassandra Devon, albeit a beautiful one, but a witch nonetheless.”
“Oh, you have no idea John and I do have more than one spell up my sleeve so leave now before I turn you into something unspeakable.”
Carson smiled at their interplay but frowned at her after John left. “Why didn't you tell him lass?”
“It's Christmas Carson. No worries, no problems, no issues.. just one day.” Sighing, she lay back and closed her eyes.
Cassie allowed herself a precious hour of rest, then in front of Carson's somewhat censurous eyes, she disconnected the monitors, gave her stomach a little tap with a threatening message to 'stay put' and went about the rest of her afternoon's duties which included checking that Chef and his staff had completed the Christmas dinner and helping them arrange it on platters for transportation to the rec room, giving the rec room a last once over to make sure it met with her final approval, checking that Rodney and Radek had clear instructions as to when to make their appearance and that all Santa presents were accounted for and finally making it back to their personal quarters to hurry John along where he had gone to take a quick shower and change into more formal attire. She found him standing in front of the mirror, struggling with the top button of his shirt, a bowtie tossed negligently on the bed. He had balked when she suggested formal attire, but gave in gracefully, especially after she brought out the armpit hair threat... that sounded rather painful. Laughing, she reached up and pushed his hands away, buttoning the top button herself, then reaching down to get the bowtie and expertly tied it in place. His hand reached around her waist to secure her while she reached up and feeling the swell of flesh stretching around to the tightness of her stomach, he pulled tighter so that she came up hard against him.
“You are incredibly beautiful Cassie, I don't think I could ever get sick of just looking at you.” She had changed into a floor length gown of sequinned red that sparkled alluringly as she walked, with a long slit up one leg showing a tantalising amount of thigh. He reached down and ran his hand experimentally up the slit. “Mmm, no stockings... I like...”
She playfully slapped his hand away. “And you Flyboy... wow... I will have to get you into a suit more often. You look amazing.”
“Getting me out of it sounds like more fun...” he leered suggestively dipping his head to kiss the low neckline of her dress.
She laughed and pulled away from him, heading towards the door, but paused as she got there. “John?” she said his name softly.
Shrugging on his tux jacket, he met her eyes in the mirror as he straightened it. “Hmm??”
“Nothing... Just wanted you to know that I love you...” She turned and went out the door leaving him staring after her feeling slightly off balance. She had rocked his world.
Christmas music piped slowly into the background and the smell of turkey, ham and myserious Christmas spices whispered alluringly throughout the rec room. John and Cassie paused briefly in the doorway to take in the scene before them, the wonderfully decorated tree, now glowing cheerily with Christmas lights and the bright parcels winking underneath. The decorations caught the overhead lights and the whole room was a sparkling cavern, awash with the happy sound of laughter and good conversation. Elizabeth had been waiting for them to arrive, the last ones and as they paused in the doorway, she tapped on her glass to get everyone's attention and stood up.
“I'd like to make the first toast to this wonderful young lady here. Cassie, you have brought us so much pleasure on this special day and reminded us how important it is to embrace our earth customs and carry them on here in Atlantis. This wouldn't have been possible without you, and I doubt anyone else would have had the spirit to pull this off in such a short time. You are amazing and I raise my glass to you.”
John smiled down at her as the room erupted with cheers and clapping and hugged her to his side. His woman. “Let's go join the party Cass...”
It was a wonderful evening and Cassie managed to consume enough food to satisfy John's eagle eye and even allowed herself a half glass of champagne. The children were excited and ran around after they had eaten, touching the decorations and in awe of the Christmas lights. John went out discreetly to check that Rodney and Radek were suited up and ready to go, and came back into the rec room smiling. Taking his seat, he pulled Cassie down onto his lap and whispered in her ear. “Rodney in a santa suit.. that is a sight well worth waiting for. I think he is likely to scare them!” Cassie giggled, then watched the children's faces as the sudden tinkling of bells was heard, accompanied by a loud and hearty “HOHOHO.”
A transporter module had been decorated to look like a sleigh and Rodney rode in on this looking for all the world like bad santa, with a scowl on his face. Cassie turned her face into John's shoulder, trying to stifle her giggles and John whispered in her ear “You are so naughty – Rodney is ready to kill you!” The children however, appeared to find nothing amiss, especially since they had not seen a 'real' earth santa so had nothing to compare with. Radek made an appropriate elf and seemed more to enjoy the part than Rodney, smiling and handing out the gifts to the children and the Satedan and Athosian children learnt very quickly, the joys of unwrapping presents.
Once the children were settled and playing with the lovely gifts that Cassie had organised for them, the gifts for the Atlantis personnel were handed out and Cassie had asked that Ronan do the honours. She had chosen most of the gifts, and for Ronan she had selected a ceremonial Japanese sword, knowing his love of weapons, for Teyla she had arranged to have a dream catcher from the Huron tribe ,made especially as she understood Teyla's love of culture and mystical properties. Her gift for John was in two parts. A DVD collection of the last 20 years of superbowl finals with a signed football from his favourite player, a favour she had called in while back on earth the previous day and a simple gold chain with the inscription 'life mates forever' on the inside. She had fastened it around neck for him and she had noticed that he had tears in his eyes when he turned back to look at her, kissing her fiercely. He gently set her aside then, and going to the front of the room he cleared his throat and waited for the noise in the room to settle.
“This wonderful woman has given us a Christmas to remember, a special day in our lives, and that is what she gives me everyday that she is in my life. I don't do words or emotions well, but I wanted to do this in front of you all because you have all been as much a part of 'us' as we have.” He paused to pull out a small jewellers box and there was a collective gasp around the room, especially from the women, as his intentions became clear.
“Cassie, you are everything to me, my life mate and the only thing I want, is to wake up beside you every morning of my life, knowing that you are mine. I love you sweetheart and would be honoured if you would become my wife.”
A pin could have dropped in that room and would have been heard clearly, as they held their breaths awaiting her reply. She had risen and walked to be with him in front of that room, a beautiful woman in a stunning dress and she had gently touched his face with her hand.
“On one condition John... only if you don't threaten to kill me every other day...” The room erupted in cheers and laughter and John, shaking his head at her, pulled her close and she whispered. “Yes John...” He placed the simple ring set with fiery ruby, just like her own nature, on her finger and she held up her hand to admire the elegant design.
“You don' t seriously think for one moment that this is going to keep me out of trouble do you...?”
“I doubt it Cass... but it was worth a try eh?”
Grabbing her stomach, she leaned over and groaned. “John..?” she whispered. “I think I need to go to the infirmary.”