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by Christi and Ryuu


Over the last year, Cassie had learned that there were a lot of advantages to having a whole host of parental-type figures in your life. For example, on holidays, it could not be denied that she was spoiled with gifts and attention. There was always someone to borrow a few bucks from, and always someone to pick you up from school or take you to the mall. She always had easily available homework help for math, science, history, and (should she require it) gym.

But Cassie had also discovered that adults required a lot of maintenance. Juggling one adoptive mother, two more pseudo-parents, and a host of friendly neighborhood uncles could be exhausting. Take today for example. This morning, Daniel had called with a pop quiz on the line of Egyptian Pharaohs. After school, Teal’c ‘wished to inquire how her track exercises’ had gone. During dinner, Jack had called to suggest that maybe she would like to go spend a night with Sam, who seemed a little down.

This, of course, had led Cassie here, waiting on Sam’s porch with a bag in tow. When the door swung open, she smiled. “Someone ordered a slumber party?”

Behind the screen door, Sam’s responding smile seemed strained. “Hey, this was your idea. A great one, but I can’t take the credit.”

Neither could Cassie really, but it didn’t matter. “I just realized that I hadn’t seen you since you got back from Washington, that’s all. Besides, mom had to work the night shift tonight and I don’t really like the babysitter much.”

Sam managed a grin. "Ulterior motives, huh?" She opened the door to let Cassie in.

"Guilty," Cassie admitted as she walked in.

"Does this mean you're paying for the pizza?"

“With what, my three dollar allowance? I might not have this planet's money completely figured out yet, but even I know that what I’ve got won't cover pizza and ice cream."

“Ice cream? Who said anything about ice cream?”

Cassie smiled innocently. “I did. Just now.”

Sam let out a mock-martyred sigh. "The sacrifices I make..."

"Oh, like you care so long as there's chocolate involved."

Sam grinned at her. "Smartass."

"So people keep telling me," Cassie acknowledged. "But then, look at my role models. Now, feed me."

Sam chuckled and put an arm around her shoulders. "Fine, fine. I give."

Soon enough, there was pizza and ice cream and a dauntingly high pile of candy to be enjoyed at their leisure. Curled up on the sofa with a red vine in one hand and a cold soda in the other, Cassie turned her attention to the task at hand. Thinking it best not to beat around the bush, as it would cut into prime movie-watching time, she asked bluntly, “So, how was Washington?”

"It was fine," Sam replied quickly. "Oh, you have Dirty Dancing?"

Cassie blinked. "Err...Mom gave it to me. And wow, are you subtle."

Sam made a face. "Cute."

Cassie grinned. "I know I am. So, give. What's up with you?"

"I'm not sure I want to talk about it,” Sam sighed.

"Fair enough," Cassie replied, biting into her licorice. "At least Jack can't say I didn't try."

"Colonel O'Neill put you up to this?"

"More or less. He just called and hinted in that way he has where it doesn't really sound like a hint at all. But it's not like I minded, or anything. I mean, either way, I get to hang out with you and there's junk food."

Sam sighed again. "You know, most of the time, you seem much too mature for your age."

"Mmm. Side effect of losing an entire planet, I think," Cassie said thoughtfully. She didn't remember much about Hanka -- Mom said that she'd probably blocked a lot out -- but just remembering that there had been a Hanka was sobering enough most of the time.

Sam studied her for a long moment before reaching out and putting her arm around the girl's shoulders. "I saw my Dad in Washington."

Snuggling into Sam's side, Cassie had to glance up at her face to see that this wasn't a happy thing. Now granted, Cassie didn’t know much about fathers. Her own father had been killed before she could remember during one of Nirrti’s nastier visits. Still, she had always generally assumed that they were good things and that visits with them were to be looked forward to the way she looked forward to afternoons with Jack. "And that wasn't good?"

She bit at her lower lip. "No."

Cassie frowned. "I'm sorry." Because that seemed to be all Sam wanted to say about the subject, Cassie idly searched for a change in subject. From her new vantage point smushed against Sam's side, she had a clear view of little but Sam's feet, and the sight made her grin unexpectedly. "Hey, you're wearing the socks!"

"Yeah, they're nice and warm-" Sam began, before stopping mid-sentence. "Wait. You know about the socks?"

"Sure! When I visited Jack, the time he had a hole in his shoulder? He was all drugged up and rambled for a long time about his Brilliant Sock Plan and how you, Saver of his Butt, deserved great things. And somehow, that seemed to mean...socks." Cassie eyed them, shrugging. "Honestly, they turned out really well considering how loopy he was when he made them."

“He made them?”

“Yeah. You know, with the needles and yarn and stuff.”

Sam blinked. "The Colonel knits?"

"Sure. He makes me stuff all the time -- this great sweater and my mittens and well, a sort of unfortunate hat, but since he made it...." Cassie let her thought hang unfinished, because really, that was all the explanation her wearing the hat needed.

Seeing how surprised Sam was to hear about this, though, Cassie began to feel nervous. "Uh. Somehow, I'm thinking that maybe you weren't supposed to know about the Brilliant Sock Plan."

"The Colonel knits," Sam repeated slowly.

Her continued shock was only cementing the bad feeling in the pit of Cassie's stomach. "Is that...unusual?"

"I thought it was all just a dream," Sam mumbled, staring at the socks.

Now Cassie was lost. Still, it seemed like a good time to cover her bases. "Um...can we just not tell him that you know? I think that would be good."

"He made these socks? For me?"

Now that was just a silly question considering the previous conversation, and Cassie smiled in spite of herself. "Duh."

Sam looked confused. "Why?"

"I told you already. Something about you deserving great things. And here, ‘great things’ seems to mean...socks," Cassie looked at them again and blinked a few times before looking away. "They really are a bright blue, aren't they?"

"Yeah. The same color as-" Sam abruptly shut up, staring at the socks with a slightly uncomfortable expression on her face.

Cassie got it – being classified herself made it easy to recognize other unspeakable subjects. "It's okay. Just...seriously, don't tell him you know, okay? I don’t think you’re supposed to and I really don't want him to get mad at me."

Sam snorted. "As much fun as it'd be to watch the Colonel get evasive about knitting, I won't."

Relief flowed through Cassie and she snuggled closer. "Thanks." She knew, rationally, that Jack wouldn’t really be mad. But seeing as Jack was the closest thing Cassie could remember to ever having a father, she’d honestly rather not risk it.

Sam, now every inch the protective adult who sensed Cassie’s discomfort, sat in silence for a few minutes, stroking Cassie's hair. ""

Feeling like she had suitably distracted Sam from whatever was bugging her (even if it had meant letting her in on Jack's secret knitting activities), Cassie smiled. "Yes, please."

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