I was saving this for Shipmas 2009, but I got impatient. Reviews are really appreciated, and answered.
Thanks loads to Pol for beta-ing me.
At the Zoo
Jack couldn't stop a contented smile spreading across his lips as he watched the rapt attention on the young girl's face. Her brown eyes were sparkling with wonder as she listened to the short talk on penguins. This day at the zoo had been fun, being able to see the animals from a child's perspective and not just any child, an alien child, who had never seen such strange and unusual animals. It was apparent to Jack that Cassie had found her favourite animal. The zookeeper was talking in a monotone about how penguins form monogamous pairs when a cold hand was placed within his. Looking down he met Cassie's questioning gaze. Smiling at her Jack ignored the protest of his knees as he squatted down to her level
"What is it honey?"
"What does mon…mon…"
"Yeah that, mean?" she cocked her head to one side waiting for an answer
"Well monogamous means…um…how do I put this?" He looked around trying to get inspiration. His eyes fell upon his three other companions for the day, walking towards them with steaming cups. He smiled slightly as the young woman laughed at something the man to her left was saying. Jack smiled slightly. Despite their being on Earth, Carter was flanked, almost protectively, by the other two members of their team. He looked into the patient gaze of the 12-year old beside him. "It means that you have one special friend, and you both look out for each other and are there for each other."
Cassie looked at him a small frown playing across her forehead. "Does that mean that you aren't allowed any other friends?"
"No honey. It means you are only allowed one special friend. You can have lots of regular friends."
Cassie seemed to relax at this news "I was worried that it would mean I couldn't be friends with you anymore."
It was now Jack's turn to look puzzled. "Why would you say that Cassie?"
"Well you look after Sam and are always there for her. I thought it meant that she was your special friend. I thought that it meant I couldn't be your friend." Jack tried to hide his startled look from the smiling girl. He reached out and put his hand on her shoulder as he stood. He was about to reply as the rest of the team reached them. Cassie turned toward the large Jaffa, his gold brand hidden beneath a bright red woolly hat.
"Cassandra Fraiser, I have brought you hot chocolate to keep you warm." He bowed slightly as he proffered the polystyrene cup towards the little girl. Cassie's smile widened as she took the hot drink.
"Careful sweetie, it's hot." Sam Carter's blue gaze worried over the young child.
The young man that had made Carter laugh looked at Cassie "Why don't we go and sit on that bench over there." He pointed to a white park bench underneath a bare tree. "You can still see the penguins from there." This fact seemed to appeal to Cassie as she carefully carried her cup toward the bench. Teal'c and Daniel escorted her with Sam and Jack bringing up the rear.
Sam seemed to suddenly remember that she was still holding the second cup she had walked over with. Meeting her CO's warm gaze she handed the steaming cup of coffee to him.
"Thanks Carter, really need this."
He blew gently at the hot liquid and took a tentative sip. "Mmmm that's good. It's getting a bit chilly isn't it?" Looking over the rim of the cup, he couldn't help stealing a glance at the Major beside him. Her short blond strands just peeking out the back of her blue bobble hat, her cheeks pink from the cold.
She turned toward him, her blue gaze meeting his warm chocolate brown one. She smiled as she took a sip of her own coffee "Well, there are only two weeks until Christmas, Sir. And they are predicting a white Christmas."
"Don't remind me Carter. Have you got your Secret Santa present yet?"
Sam rolled her eyes skyward "I can't believe Sergeant Harriman actually got his way and organised the SGC Secret Santa this year. He's been bugging the General every year to run it. So who have you got?"
"No, no Major, it's a secret remember?" He gave a small smile as he waggled his index finger at her before taking another sip of his steaming drink. A small laugh broke the conversation between them as he looked toward Cassie, gently removing Daniel's glasses from his face. They were steamed up from the hot drink he was gently blowing on to cool. Cassie kindly wiped them on the edge of her pink scarf and handed them back to the archaeologist.
"I think it's about time to leave, don't you?" Jack's voice broke into the happy chatter. Cassie's face fell as she got off the bench. "Don't look so down. It's getting colder and we'll be seeing you again in a couple of days." Cassie's crestfallen look pulled at Jack. He couldn't deny the little girl anything but he was freezing and he still had his Secret Santa present to buy. The gifts were being exchanged in two days and he still didn't know what to get.
As they were walking out of the zoo, Jack could just over hear the chattering voice of the 12-year old, explaining to Sam all about penguins.
"…and they are mon…mon…only ever have one special friend." Sam's eyes twinkled as she lifted her head slightly, her smile widening as she found Jack's humorous gaze.