Category: Yet another mirror universe for the SGC. Sorta…
Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and all their characters belong to MGM, Showtime and Gekko Productions.
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Notes: All words in italics are phonetic foreign words, mostly Greek.
Summary: And now we party!
++ Darya ++
In a wonderful, stupefied daze, I walked back the way I'd come, forever altered by what had transpired here. There was a part of me that hadn't really believed that this ceremony would change me all that much. That part of me was wrong. I was giddy, lightheaded and euphoric. Karen was trembling where she jostled against me as we walked, and her tight grip on my hand was over-warm and damp.
And she was radiant. Breath-takingly radiant, in fact. Anyone could see it. And she was all mine. The thought made my heart skip a beat and I gripped her hand even tighter. White Jordan almonds pinged off us both, but we were oblivious.
“No almonds in the house,” Art bellowed, gently pushing us both from behind. “There are puppies on the premises!”
Then the back door flung open to reveal a wildly grinning Cory, who raised two slender glasses of clear liquid with a jovial, “oopa!”
The whole gathering bellowed the celebratory toast back and we were in the kitchen, the burn of ouzo making me gasp. Even Karen looked shocked at the power of the classic Greek liquor. “Damn,” she squeaked. “Your brothers are even eviler than you, Art.”
Even I couldn't quite make out the Greek-sounding mutter she aimed at said brothers, but it made them crack up. The entire place smelled like an old-world eatery and Cory imperiously shooed all parties into the dining room that opened into the massive living room. There was a feast there, all manner of Greek food prepared with talent and love.
Sizzling meats, heaps of dolmades, stacks of freshly-made pitas, colorful spreads, fluffy salads, a massive cauldron of lemon soup, it was overwhelming. “Oh Cory,” I breathed reverently. “How did you do this? How can I thank you?”
He just chuckled and swatted me in the butt to get me moving. “Grab a few bites so that Daniel can quit hovering and put that damn camera to use. And the only thanks I need is my yaya, smiling up in heaven.”
The few morsels I could wolf down were incredible tasting, but all too brief. The wedding party was herded off to the far side of the living room, where bright lights shone on the magnificent stone fireplace.
++ Karen ++
Everything smelled so good! Sure, I'd had Greek food a few times, but this was a classic feast. Daniel flinched when I growled at his hurrying, but I went along, still inhaling the handful of stuffed grape leaves I'd managed to grab. Pictures were a whirlwind, some of them with the gang of us standing formally, some goofing off, others a combo of both. At some point, I yanked Dare up against me, lost to loving and carnal burn in her eyes, the two of us swaying together in a dance only we could hear.
Then Art and Sam dragged me off to change clothes, while the dinkys did the same to Dare. Only then were we allowed to eat, and Cory's kids brought out a massive platter stacked high with delicacies for the two of us. The entire party sat around the TV and alternately 'ah'ed, booed or laughed at the memories Daniel had captured with his fancy-ass digital camera. Dare and I remained pressed close on the couch, feeding each other bits of savory Greek food. I was particularly enamored with the taffy-like koufeta, blanched almonds cooked in honey and brandy. Especially when Dare pulled my fingers into her mouth to clean them of the delicious wedding treat.
It was particularly difficult to keep my mind focused at that point.
There were some truly wonderful shots that Daniel had managed to catch. There were a handful of stills where Dare and I had been totally lost in each other, and the rest of the wedding party was watching us with varying levels of 'awww' and amusement. My personal favorite, that was going to slay Dace, was the boot shot. All of us, lined up like Rockettes, skirts or pant legs tugged up to show off the collection of black leather motorcycle boots. There was a great shot of me wrapped around the Lady, kissing her face, while Tessa laughed beside us, and one of me doing a monster-movie impersonation behind the Farazell's, Emily looking b-grade movie actress terrified. The Dinky's cuddled up cheek to cheek, and a shot of each of nine us each holding a squirming puppy. There were several of just Dare and I, holding Emily between us, and some close ups of our three hands, rings gleaming.
By the time we had gone through all the pictures, we had worn ourselves out, and there were new guests to greet and socialize with.
++ Kim ++
“So, can I request a dance with the bride?” I asked softly.
I felt that penetrating gaze on me, sizing me up, and I weathered it stoically. This was Dare's life-partner, and I really did want to stay on her good side, despite my earlier attitude. Karen was a striking and remarkable woman. It was easy to see the bond between them, and I had rescinded my initial misgivings.
“Yeah, I suppose I could let you have one dance,” Karen finally replied in that lazy, predatory way I was beginning to associate with her. “Since you've known her so long, I suppose I can trust you not to steal her away.”
“Not with her new girlfriend here,” Dare teased, grinning broadly at me. She leaned in to press a light kiss to Karen's lips, then turned her dazzling smile on me. “Shall we, Legs?”
Feeling that emerald, hunting cat stare on me, I dragged my pal to the makeshift dance floor that had once been the dining room. “She's really good for you,” I murmured as we danced to some cheesy 80's tune I couldn't quite place.
“You could say that,” she ginned wildly, glancing over at Karen again. From the corner of my eye, I could see the tall redhead watching us lazily, that same grin on her face. The pleasantly unsettling grin that I shook off. “So...”
“Tell me more about Kerry.”
The question made me glance over to where my date sat, talking to X and Janet. Kerry was holding her own admirably, considering she knew fewer people at this gathering than I did. Hopefully she wouldn't be too wiped out when we caught that dreaded red-eye back to Chicago in a few hours. “What else can I add that you haven't already heard?”
“It just seems a little weird that you dragged her all the way out here, after only knowing her for… what has it been? Two weeks?
“In the social or biblical sense of the word?”
“Kim! You always were a dirty old dog.” I merely rolled my eyes, not ready to explain the effect Kerry Weaver had on me, because I didn't understand it myself. “It just seems a little sudden. Jan's got Art and I've got Karen. Were you feeling a little left out?”
“That's not it at all. I really like Kerry and I wanted her to meet my three best friends ever.”
“Why do I sense you're not telling me everything here?”
I stopped dancing and looked at her archly. “What gave you that idea, Dare? And don't even try to shrinky-dink me. I know you too well for that.” I started to dance again, casting a smile in Kerry's direction.
“Oh, don't sulk because I'm curious. I mean, you haven't told me much about her, and then you just show up at my wedding with her on your arm. And now you're dancing with me instead of her? And you left her to the whims of X and Jan?”
I couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up. “Oh she can hold her own, trust me. She's the Alpha Bitch around her ER. She'll do just fine. Besides, X is already madly in love with her.”
“She's straight, isn't she?” Dare cut right to the chase.
“She was,” I replied smugly.
“You really are insane, aren't you? And if you haven't learned by now, I'm not going to tell you 'I told you so' until you call and tell me she's left you for some man.” Her words were harsh, but oh-so-true. Then she smiled and shook her head at me. “But this is my wedding day and I'm not going to let this little history lesson ruin it for me.”
“Know it all,” I retorted affectionately and pressed my lips lightly to her nose. “Spend a little time with her and you'll see that you're wrong this time.” I knew she couldn't resist the challenge, and to make it even more appealing, I added in, “Dare ya.”
“Bitch!” In that oh-so saccharine sweet voice.
And from across the room, we heard X exclaim in his queenliest voice, “whore!”
Then Janet echoed his tone with, “slut!”
At this point I was obligated to jump in with, “hussy!”
And the four of us dissolved into gales of delighted laughter, made worse when Davie chimed in from the kitchen, “trollop!”
Poor Kerry looked utterly confused as did the rest of the gathering. Then X lightly touched her arm, right where that crutch cuff usually rested. I couldn't tell what he was saying, but I knew by the smile on both of their faces that he was charming her and making her feel better before he and Jan came over to join us. Our arms intertwined, we danced in a little group for a few minutes, and it felt just like old times, before all the drama of our adult lives had set in. We rearranged ourselves slightly so that Dare was cradled between us, and we leaned in for a group kiss. Both X and I managed kisses on the top of her head, while short little Janet had to settle for her chin. The sentiment brought a giggle to Dare's lips, which we'd hoped for.
“Never thought another wedding of yours would get the four of us back together again, hmm?” X asked softly. Dare shrugged and blinked back a few tears. “Girl, cry if you want, but don't complain to me when that beautiful makeup job is ruined, okay?”
“Hey, Dare?” We automatically all turned at the now-familiar male voice, after all, he'd ordered us around for what felt like hours for the wedding shots. The flash made my vision swim and X rubbed his eyes.
“Daniel!” Darya hollered.
“Love you, Dare,” he crowed and scampered off.
“I swear...” she muttered.
“Don't you even start, Dare,” Janet replied smoothly. “You're the one that asked him to take pictures, remember?”
X and I waited for the next round of friendly insults to kick in. But Dare simply took a deep breath and smiled at us. “Legs, why don't we go talk to your date, like you'd suggested?”
++ Kerry ++
I still had to wonder why Kim had brought me along. The sense of being so… exposed was making me a little jumpy.
She and Xavier had wheedled endlessly at me to come along, and watching their faces light up when they talked about the friendship the quartet had was enough to convince me. It made me long for such closeness in my life.
“Hello.” The small, soft voice came suddenly from my left and I glanced sharply to see who it was. The little girl, Darya's daughter… what was her name again? “I'm Em'ly,” she said, looking sheepish. “But f'got your name.”
I couldn't help the grin at her attempt at grown-up conversation. “That's all right, Emily, there are a lot of people here. It'd be easy to forget. My name is Kerry. Aren't you supposed to be sleeping? It's very late.”
A jaw-cracking yawn made her eyes water, and she smiled wearily at me. What a charming child. “T'much 'nergy,” Emily murmured as she scrambled up into the chair Janet had been sitting in and curled up with her blue blanket. The sleepy grin on her face turned solemn as she stared at the crutch resting against my chair. “Wha's that for?”
“It helps me to walk.”
“Why? You hurt?”
Ah, the innocent candor of small children. “Kind of. I got very sick when I was a little girl, and when I was better, my leg was hurt, so I couldn't walk right anymore. That's why I have the crutch.”
“Does it hurt?”
How to answer that? Truthfully, I suppose. “Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't.”
“Is that why you don't dance with Aun' Mim? Do you like Aun' Mim?”
++ Darya ++
“Emily baby,” I exclaimed in surprise when I saw that she had snuck in. Behind me, Kim chuckled at the stereo looks of surprise from daughter and girlfriend. “You hush,” I muttered.
“Coudn't sleep,” Emily grumbled as I scooped her up and plopped into the chair. “Was talking to Kerry. I like Kerry, Mommy.”
“Me too,” Kim murmured flirtatiously, and gave Kerry a quick peck that left the red-head flushed in embarrassment. “Come dance with me, gorgeous?”
Hypnotized by Kim's charms, Kerry docilely followed her away from the table. I admired the proud strength in her awkward walk. Crutch or no crutch, she moved like someone who could take your head off. Good, Kim needed someone to kick her butt on occasion. Emily had grown heavy in my arms, and I wondered if she might have finally dozed off. But no, after a brief reprieve, she suddenly blazed to life, making me 'whuff' as she spring-boarded away with a squeal. “Mim! Dance with Em'ly now!”
Startled by the invasion of the fine and private interaction she was having with Kerry, Kim nonetheless managed to scoop up her attacker and hold her so that Emily could dance with both women.
A familiar presence at my back sent a pleasant shiver down my spine. Gentle, teasing fingers on my nape made my whole body react like I hadn't been touched in anxious years. “At least she behaved most of the party,” Karen chuckled softly, her breath warming my ear. It took a real effort not to moan at the combination of teases. “It's nearly midnight, but I don't have the heart to drag her off to bed again.”
“At least she slept for a couple of hours,” I agreed. “But she hardly sees Kim at all anymore. She was around constantly that first year and a half of Emily's life.”
“And Emily remembers that,” Karen agreed easily, and moved to sit in the seat that Kerry had so recently occupied. “She certainly has Kerry wrapped around her little finger.”
I couldn't stop the giggle bubbling to the surface. “Kim or Emily?”
++ Art ++
I had just come in from the trailer, where I'd been checking on Sam and the twins, to find my wife surrounded by her oldest friends. Intrigued by the delighted joy on her face, I found myself wandering over to stand behind her and press a gentle kiss to the crown of her head. She turned a wide grin on me and beckoned me to join them. Settling in the chair she'd just vacated, I couldn't help my grin when she plopped herself in my lap and got comfortable.
“You'll excuse me, Kerry, but I really don't get to do this in public all that often,” Janet explained, rubbing her cheek against my chin.
The petite redhead smiled shyly in response, glancing over at Kim. “Not a problem, Janet.”
“So, you must have some horror stories from the trenches,” Janet stage-whispered conspiratorially and Kerry grinned.
“Oh yeah. People in Chicago are insane.”
A flicker of movement at the foot of the stairs caught my eye and I reached over to poke Karen's shoulder and gesture. It was Anastasia with her ever-present shadow. Excusing herself, Karen went to them, and I split my attention between them and the Dinkys. There were two small bags next to Kim and I groaned internally. I had conveniently forgotten that I still had to drive to the airport yet. Janet was cackling madly as Kerry did her best to gross out the whole group with emergency room gore and I tuned her out. Fishing out my cell phone, and giving Janet a quick grope in the process, I dialed up the internet. Good, the plane was still on time.
“Still on time?” Janet asked me and I grinned wearily.
“Yeah. Remind me to smack my little sister for coming in at such an ungodly hour.”
“Speaking of the time…” Kim said reluctantly and a dissident chorus went up from the others. “Guys! You know I want to stay, but duty calls.”
Scrambling to their feet, the four members of the strangely-named Dinky Jinx hugged for a long time. That let me go to Karen and flash a warm and respectful grin at the Lady. “If you need a nap, Taylor, now's the time to do it. When Zo gets here, she'll want to get everyone all riled up.”
Karen chuckled throatily. “Thanks for the warning. Drive carefully, it's gonna be icy tonight.”
“Will do. See you guys in a few hours.”
++ Janet ++
I had insisted on accompanying Art to the airport to keep her company. Kim and I chatted quietly while Kerry dozed against my old friend's shoulder. They were a cute couple, but would Kim's lousy luck with women continue? At the airport, hugs went around and we shooed Kim and Kerry off to their gate.
Now, we waited.
“I suppose it's too cold to go cuddle in the car,” I sighed wistfully and Art bumped shoulders with me, smiling that heart-melting smile. Since we might run into someone we knew, we were plying it platonic in the airport, but I hated it.
A sudden flash made both of us jerk, and I blearily pried my heavy head from Art's shoulder and tried to blink my vision back into focus. Only to see a grinning Zo lowering her camera. “Too cute,” she explained and reached out to tug us both up into a big hug. Yammering enthusiastically about school, pets, politics, food and things my tired brain was too weary to follow, Zo dragged us to the luggage claim and then to the car. The girl's energy was a force of nature, and when I commented on it, she laughed and laughed.
After wrestling the keys from her sister's hand, Zo drove us carefully back home, obviously leery of the ice and snow. All and all, I felt quite safe, despite her California-girl status. Once more, I was awakened, this time by the engine dying and Art gently caressing the nape of my neck. The whine died mid-breath and I moaned happily. Scooping me out of the car, Art treated me by carrying me to the door and across the threshold. While Zo squealed at her brothers, I tugged Art down to be kissed thoroughly. “Good memories,” I explained and basked in her smile.
“What? No dancing?” Zo was cackling and I heard Dare's voice mutter something back. In the living room, both my old pal and Karen were rubbing sleepy eyes and peering up at Zo. “Fine,” she sighed melodramatically. “I'll do this the easy way.”
Zo yanked a roll of plastic from her coat pocket that unfurled to reveal something compressed tightly into a vacuum-sealed bag. Yanking it open let the contents free and the newlyweds were suddenly covered in an avalanche of crumpled currency.
“That's all the one dollar bills I've earned since I got the invite,” Zo explained and ginned wickedly. “Congratulations.”
We laughed and laughed and laughed.
++ Darya ++
It had been a magical day, full of love and happiness. In the wee hours of my first morning married to my dearest love, I lay sleepless and thoughtful. Emily had wandered in some time ago, rumpled and whining to be close to her mommy and Kryn. There was no way either of us could refuse and she now lay dead to the world atop Karen. I was curled along the side of our mutual hero, looking into my baby's peaceful face. Shifting my eyes up a foot, I could watch Karen sleep as well. How drastically my life had changed.
Em would have liked Karen. She would be so proud of the little girl she had been second mother to. At times like this, I could almost feel her presence nearby, loving and calm. She had been very different from Karen, laid-back and serene to Karen's intensity, yet their magnetism were very similar.
It was good that I could be happy again. As long as I lived, I would never forget my first love, her soul was forever a part of me. But I had grown another heart to replace the one I had lost, and I felt like a new life.
In the kitchen, I could hear the Goldston clan laughing and talking together, the sweet strains of the ancient Greek language soothing to my ears. It made me think about my estranged parents, and the joy of having Davie here. Funny how things worked out… Though I really wish that Emily could have known her grandparents. Ah well, I would not have my father's prejudices passed on to my daughter.
I had been born into a family that I had moved on from.
Another had been torn apart by sudden tragedy.
Now, just maybe…
Third time was the charm.