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B is for Birthday

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“Next year I’m doing cupcakes.”

Jonas looked up from his intent study of one of Kanan’s mission reports when Janet Fraiser made her announcement. The SGC’s doctor swept into the briefing room carrying one of the institutional orange cafeteria trays, setting it with a flourish on the large table. He eyed the contents of the tray curiously—a half a dozen paper plates with large slices of white cake covered with at least an inch of white frosting embellished with brightly colored frosting roses.

“Yum…cake.” Sam immediately perked up. She sat at the opposite end of the table with an open laptop, surrounded by even more of the copious hand-written notes the Tok’ra had reluctantly turned over to them. Only Teal’c remained unmoved, his only acknowledgement of the doctor’s entrance a low grunt.

“What’s the occasion?” Jonas asked. He’d discovered that his new friends celebrated a wide variety of occasions with cake, sometimes not needing any reason at all to indulge in the sweet treat.

“Cassandra’s birthday.”

“I didn’t think you’d have so much left over,” Sam commented. Standing, she stretched and then leaned across the table. “Is there one without too much frosting?”

Doctor Fraiser smiled and carefully selected one of the plates, and sticking a plastic fork into the cake, slid it across the table to Sam, who immediately took a huge bite of the cake. Jonas thought the frosting looked just as thick on the piece the doctor gave Sam, but didn’t say anything. He’d also discovered that the women on Earth were very similar to the women on Kelowna and neither group appreciated when their eating habits were questioned.

“Jonas?” Doctor Fraiser smiled at him. “Would you like a piece?”

“Sure,” he responded. “It looks good.”

Fraiser handed him one of the larger pieces, thick with creamy frosting and two huge purple roses.

“Teal’c?” the doctor asked next. The Jaffa grunted again and Fraiser apparently interpreted his response as a yes, because she selected another large piece and set it down on the table next to Teal’c.

“Cassandra is your daughter, right?” Jonas commented, studying his piece of cake and trying to determine the best plan of attack.

“Yes,” Fraiser answered. “It was her birthday yesterday.” Her voice was dry as she continued. “And as you can see, there is plenty of leftover cake.”

Finally deciding to avoid the large frosting roses for the time being, Jonas managed to get a forkful of the moist white cake. “You had a party for her?” he asked.

“Did we have a party, Sam?”

“I suppose if you can call getting Cassie to blow out the candles and spend ten minutes with her mother and aunt a party before she went out with her friends, then yeah, I guess we did.”

Jonas looked curiously between the two women; the description didn’t sound like much of a party but both women were smiling and didn’t seem too upset. “Ah…that sounds nice.”

Fraiser laughed. “Don’t worry, Jonas. That’s perfectly normal behavior from a seventeen year old.”

Since he’d first read the old report of SG-1’s mission to Hanka, he’d been curious about the other ‘alien’ on Earth. “It sounds like she’s adjusted to her new home then?”

“Oh, we’ve had our ups and downs,” Fraiser commented, her expression turning serious. “Especially last year, when Nirti’s genetic meddling manifested itself.”

Teal’c growled something unintelligible and all heads momentarily turned to the Jaffa, who was now glaring at whatever image was on the computer monitor in front of him, the plate that held the cake now empty, only a few crumbs left as evidence there had been any cake at all. Fraiser shook her head and then smiled again, picking up the tray. “But yeah, all in all, I’d say she’s a pretty normal teenager.”

“I’d like to meet her some time,” Jonas added, before Fraiser left. “After all, we aliens need to stick together.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jonas’ idle comment stuck with her all afternoon, niggling at her through post-mission physicals and the resultant paperwork and now on her drive home, ‘we aliens need to stick together’.

It had been years since Janet Fraiser had thought of her adopted daughter as an alien. Even through everything that had gone on the year before with Nirti, Cassandra had been and always would be her daughter. And while she knew she didn’t think of her daughter as an alien, Jonas’ comment made her wonder if Cassandra thought of herself as an alien.

Janet turned into her driveway, the light shining from every window in the house in the early evening twilight, along with the faint sound of music which was no doubt blaring from somewhere inside, reassured her that her daughter was home. Letting herself in the front door, the loud music of Cassie’s current favorite group assaulted her ear drums. Dropping her brief case on the closest chair, Janet immediately turned down the volume on the CD player.

“Cassandra?” she called. Kicking off her heels, she peeked into the kitchen—no Cassandra. Hanging up her coat next, she walked in her stocking feet to the foot of the stairs and called again. “Cassandra?”

Satisfied when she heard the thump of feet hitting the floor, Janet went back into the kitchen, opening the fridge and surveying the contents. It looked like there was enough leftover broccoli chicken casserole for two. She glanced over at the dishes stacked in the sink, that is if Cassie hadn’t already eaten.

“Cassandra!” she called again. “Have you eaten?”

This time she was answered the sound of thumping footsteps down the stairs and her daughter appeared in the doorway, her purse slung over her shoulder, her hoodie over one arm and her iPod hanging from her hand. “I’m meeting Josie and Stephanie at Martino’s,” she announced, naming a local pizza parlor.

Janet shut the refrigerator door and studied her daughter. She was dressed as she usually was, low slung jeans with a short sleeved knit shirt that didn’t quite meet the top of her jeans, exposing a fashionable sliver of her midriff and scruffy red tennis shoes that were currently all the rage. She had her long, brown hair held back from her face with two butterfly clips, a look of mild impatience on her face.

“Have you finished your homework?” Janet asked.

“Yeah,” her daughter replied. “And before you can ask, yes I cleaned my bathroom too.”

Janet smiled slightly; she waged an ongoing battle with her daughter regarding homework and chores, no doubt along with Josie and Stephanie’s parents. “All right,” she finally answered, “just be home by ten.”

“Mom!”

She wasn’t surprised by the automatic protest and her answer was always the same. “School night, honey. You know the rules.”

“Right,” Cassie grumbled, setting her iPod and purse on the kitchen table and shrugging into her hoodie. “Ten o’clock.”

Janet followed her daughter out of the kitchen and into the living room, waiting as Cassie opened the front door when she remembered her troublesome thoughts over Jonas’ earlier comment. “Cassandra, wait.”

Cassie paused, the front door open and her hand on the screen door. “What?” Before Janet could answer, there was the honk of a car horn. Cassie looked quickly out the door and turned back at her mother, obviously eager to leave. “Stephanie’s here, Mom. I have to go.”

“This won’t take long.” Janet ignored the annoyed look on her daughter’s face. “Do you feel like an alien, honey?”

“Well…duh, Mom,” Cassie said, with a slight eye roll. “I am an alien.”

The familiar frustration of trying to have a serious conversation with her daughter filled her, but Janet wasn’t going to give up. “No, I mean, do you feel like you don’t belong here, with me.”

The horn sounded again and Janet expected Cassie to make a run for it, when the girl surprised her by letting go of the door handle and giving her a quick hug. “Mom, I may have been born in Toronto, but my home is here with you.” And with that pronouncement, her daughter made her escape, the screen door slamming behind her.

Janet waited, feeling slightly bemused, in the open doorway and watched as Cassie bounded down the stairs and across the lawn, the two girls waiting in the car waving and talking excitedly as Cassie got into the backseat. Cassie leaned out the open back window, their eyes meeting across the expanse of the yard and mouthed ‘I love you’.

The unsettled feeling that had plagued her all afternoon immediately vanished and Janet waved, watching as the car carrying her not-so-alien daughter and her friends disappeared down the street.

The End