A Worm's Life

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Humor, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - Six Springs, 2007-2012
Spoilers:  None
Size:  20kb, ficlet
Written:  August 23-27, 2006  Tweaked:  September 16, 2007
Summary:  Fishing, a father, a little boy and his two siblings, and lots of squiggling worms -- it's a combination that isn't as simple as it sounds.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Linda, Robert, Claudia, QuinGem!

A Worm's Life
by Orrymain

====
--Spring 2007
====

The sun was out, though it was still a bit chilly, and the Jackson-O'Neills were planning to enjoy a fun and relaxing day at their Minnesota cabin, a place that had provided Jack and Daniel with peace and serenity, even before they'd become lovers.  They wanted to pass that same harmony on to their children with regular visits to the secluded paradise.

“Ah, yeah!  Now, this is the life, Son,” Jack spoke happily as he leaned back in his chair.  He smiled down at Little Danny, who was intently focused on his older father as he sat in his infant seat.  “What?”

Little Danny clapped and pointed at Jack's head, at least that's what it looked like to the Air Force general.

“It's a hat.  Every fisherman has one just like this.  I'll have you know it's a classic,” Jack expounded about his tan hat that was adorned with all kinds of fishing gizmos and gadgets.

Little Danny laughed, letting out a pbst-like snort of disbelief.

“Everyone's a critic,” Jack sighed.  He leaned down and informed, “Time for your first fishing lesson.  This is a pole; it'll be one of your best friends for life.  Normally, I use a lure, but for the opening of fishing season, it's more fun to play in the dirt.”  Inwardly, he chuckled, ~I have my own fishing season -- when the sun is out, and the ice is melted.~

Keeping an eye on his son, Jack went to the side of the dock, where the moistened grass met the edge of the lake.

“Here, we go!” Jack announced triumphantly, returning with a jar that now contained six or seven crawling worms.

Little Danny stared at the glass, fascinated by the creatures.

Jack shook his head, saying, “You're just like your daddy; it's just a worm.”

Just after Jack took one of the worms and stuck it on the sharpened edge of his fishing pole, Little Danny let out a wail.  He was crying so loudly that Daniel ran out of the cabin to see what had happened.

“Did something bite you?” Jack asked, having tossed down the fishing pole to rush to the baby's side.  He examined the infant carefully, finding everything normal and intact.  “Are you hungry?” he questioned, retrieving a bottle.

Little Danny dutifully took a sip, but then pushed it away, still sobbing.

“Maybe it's his diaper,” Daniel suggested, a little out of breath from his mad dash down to the lake.

“I just changed it ten minutes ago,” Jack replied, lifting their son out of his protective seat to check on that possibility anyway.  “Dryer than my deodorant.”

“Jack, that doesn't make any sense,” Daniel snorted.

“Yeah, well ... he's fine, Love,” Jack spoke.

“I'd better get back inside,” the archaeologist commented.  “Jonny and Ash are almost done with their breakfast.”

Jack nodded as he put their son back down in his infant carrier.  He then picked up his rod.  Checking on the baby, he saw all was well.  Then he checked on the worm, the end of the fishing pole coming into Little Danny's sight.

Once again, the infant began to cry.

“Are you afraid of the worm?” Jack asked.  “There's nothing to be afraid of.”  He took the worm off the hook and placed it in his hand, showing it to the baby.  ~We'll use logic; that'll work.~

Seeing the worm in his father's hand, Little Danny clapped and smiled.

“Okay, let's try this again,” the silver-haired man suggested as he stood and put the worm back on the hook.  Suddenly, he heard another wail.  He looked over at Little Danny and stared in disbelief.  “What?  It's a worm!”  ~You're bucking an O'Neill tradition!~

“JACK, WHAT'S WRONG?” Daniel shouted from the edge of the front porch, Aislinn in his arms.

“I DON'T THINK HE LIKES FISHING,” Jack replied.  ~How can a son of mine not like fishing?~

“MAYBE IT'S TOO COLD OUT FOR HIM, JACK.  BRING HIM INSIDE,” Daniel shouted, turning to go back to the inside of the cabin.

Jack waved his agreement; then sighed, “You must be sick or something.  That's it!”

====
--Spring 2008
====

Jack bounced Little Danny in his arms and then leaned over to pick up his fishing pole and tackle box.

“Time to catch some fish,” Jack spoke as they walked outside.  **Danny, we're going fishing.  Can you get the door?  My arms are full.**

**Sure thing, Love.  Good luck,** Daniel communicated via their special non-verbal way of talking.

“It's a beautiful afternoon,” Jack spoke as he headed for the small dock that was just behind and to the left of the family's cabin.

Minutes later, Jack had everything ready to go.  He sat the toddler down on the dock with orders to stay still.

~Geez, I hope you're better than your daddy is at taking orders,~ Jack silently thought.  He sat down opposite the little boy and showed him the fishing pole, explaining all the parts.  ~Look at you focus.  It's like you understand everything I'm saying.~

“Pole!” Little Danny stated, pointing at the item.

“Yeah, for the fish,” Jack responded, waving his right hand out towards the lake.

“Fish,” the youngster echoed.

“Lots of fishies,” Jack said, leaning in to tickle the toddler for a moment.  The boy's laughter caused him to laugh as well.  ~Of course, there really aren't any fish; uh, any real fish, that is, in this lake, but, uh, that's my little secret, or not.~

“Dad!” Little Danny stated, lightly slapping his father's hand.

“You got that right!” Jack happily acknowledged.  “Okay, worm time!”

Jack stood, reaching down to take his son by the hand and then leading him over by the wet grass, where they began their search.

Of course, Little Danny wasn't sure what they were doing, but he simply did what his older father was doing.

“Here we are -- one big, fat, juicy worm!” Jack said, proudly holding up the creature in front of his face.

“Worrrrrrr,” Little Danny tried to say.

“Wormmmm,” Jack enunciated, getting nothing but a stare from the boy; that is, until he reached behind him, grabbed his fishing pole, and began to hook the squiggling worm onto the pole.

“Noooooooooooo!” Little Danny began to sob.  “Worrrrrrr!”

“Son, it's a worm.  We use worms to catch fish,” Jack explained.

“Worrrrrrr,” Little Danny cried.

“Son ...”

The boy's cries continued until, finally, Jack lowered his fishing pole, completely separating it from the location of the worm.

“Is this what you want?” Jack asked, giving his son the worm.

The toddler looked down at the worm in his hand; then turned and ran several yards away.  He looked back at his father, then hid the worm safely in the grass.

“Wor -- run 'way,” Little Danny spoke quietly, his arms flailing out in front of him as he urged the brown being to crawl away to safety.

Jack just shook his head and said idly, “Worms can't run.”

**Babe, I need you.  Jonny and Ash are having a food fight.  Help!** Daniel called out.

**Be right there.**  Jack picked up Little Danny and headed back towards the cabin.  “What is it with you and worms?”

“Wor ...” Little Danny hesitated, finally finishing his encouragement for the escaping worm with a simple, but heartfelt, “Go!”

“It's worm, and I'm sure he's long gone by now,” Jack sighed as they walked towards the long, wooden porch in front of the cabin.

====
--Spring 2009
====

“It's just a worm!” Jack exclaimed as Little Danny stared at him, his arms folded across his chest.

“No use worms,” Little Danny insisted sternly.

“It's just a worm!” Jack repeated.  “Worms are destined to be a fish's food.”

“No true,” Little Danny argued.

Jack stared down at his and Daniel's genius son.  Earlier in the year, they'd had their eyes opened as to just how intelligent the little boy was.  He already knew elements of several foreign languages, and he loved to read.  They also believed that he had a photographic memory, which helped his intelligent brain to process even more information.  The boy was a genius; that was clear.

Little Danny continued, “Lots worms -- horsehair, segmented, spiny-head, arrow, velvet ...”

The military man sighed as he listened.  When Little Danny used his photographic memory, he could recall all kinds of information and speak in near-perfect English. Right now, he was listing off different types of worms.  Then Jack's eyes widened as the two-and-a-half-year-old boy began a lecture on spiny-head worms.  If he didn't end it soon, he was going to be inundated with a post-graduate course in worms.

“Okay, but we do use worms to fish,” Jack interrupted.

Little Danny shook his head, his eyes closed as he held his ground.

“Son ...”

“No use worms,” the little boy maintained ardently.

With a sigh, Jack released the worm and opened his tackle box to get a lure.

“Lure for fish,” Little Danny said, nodding.

“Of course, it is,” Jack replied.  ~Next year, we're using worms, or my name isn't ... what is my name?~

====
--Spring 2010
====

“Just worm, Little Danny,” Jonny commented.

“Worms living,” Little Danny insisted.  “I do alone if you no help.”

“I help,” Jonny sighed.

“Hey, what are you two doing over there?” Jack asked, looking over at the children as they talked by the porch.  “It's fishin' time!”

Jonny and Little Danny hurried to the dock.

“I have a surprise for you,” Jack announced, pulling up a canvas, revealing new fishing poles for the boys.

“Wow!” Jonny expressed gleefully as he ran over to the poles and picked one up.  “Look, Lil' Danny.”

Little Danny picked up his pole and said, “Thank you, Dad.”

“You're welcome,” Jack responded.  “You're getting to be big boys, so Daddy and I wanted you to each have your own poles.”

“We fish'men,” Jonny proclaimed, his eyes shining as he examined his new piece of equipment.

“And fish'men need worms,” Jack added, moving over to the worm-populated area that was just to the left of the dock.

Suddenly, Little Danny dropped his pole and flew by Jack.  He stopped, turned, and held out his arms, palms facing his sportsman father.

“No kill worms for fish,” Little Danny stated firmly.

“Son ...

“Jonny!” Little Danny admonished.

“Oh, okay,” Jonny replied, regretfully putting down his pole and then running over to stand next to his little brother in a sign of unity.

“Little Danny, we've been going round and round on this since you were in diapers,” Jack began.

“No more diapers; big boy; save worms,” Little Danny stated.

“They're worms!” Jack exclaimed incredulously.  “And they don't need saving.”

“We save worms,” Little Danny maintained.  Noticing his younger father and Aislinn walking towards the dock, he called out, “Ash, hafta save worms.”

Aislinn began to run, joining her brothers as fast as she could.

“Since when do you like worms?” Jack inquired as the girl took her place by her brothers.

“No like, but hafta sport bro'ers,” Aislinn stated.

Jack blinked, thinking, ~Brothers I got, but sport brothers?~

Seeing his lover's confusion, Daniel communicated, **Support, Jack -- she's supporting her brothers.**

**I knew that,** Jack replied, cocking his head to the right slightly.  He looked at the three children and stated, “Now, look, we're fishermen ...

“Fishergirls,” Aislinn corrected.

Jack stared at the middle Munchkin, not sure what to say.

“We're fisher...people, and worms are part of the trade.”  Jack watched in frustrated amazement as three stubborn children shook their heads.  “Fine, we'll use lures,” he acquiesced, turning around and heading for the tackle box.

As Jack walked away, Jonny, Little Danny, and Aislinn joined together in a circle.  They placed their hands atop of each other's and then cheered, “Munchkin Power!”

Jack turned and glared.

Daniel mused, “Give it up, Babe.”

“I refuse to be defeated,” Jack insisted.  ~I'll get them next year!~

====
--Spring 2011
====

~This is the year,~ Jack thought with a smile.  He had everything prepared.  Out on the dock was his favorite fishing chair, plus three small chairs for the Munchkins.  The rest of the children were on a hike with Daniel.  The tackle box was already there, and this year, he'd gathered up the worms himself before the children had even gotten up.  They were squished together in a bottle by the fishing poles.  ~It's a great day!~

Wearing his lucky cap, Jack gathered up the Munchkins, and the four of them went to the dock.

“Okay, so the worms ... the worms ...”  Jack looked all around for his worms, but all he found was an empty bottle.  Full of suspicion, he looked back at the triplets.  “Who copped my worms?”

“Worms be free!” Little Danny declared, nodding his head abruptly.

“Worms not for fish,” Jonny added firmly.

“Worms belong in ground,” Aislinn stated.

The three children were lined up, all with their arms folded in front of them and all wearing stern, forceful expressions on their faces.

“Worms are tiny, little, squiggly things, just made for fishing,” Jack refuted.

“No fish; just drown in'cent worms,” Little Danny argued calmly.

“Yeah!” Jonny agreed.

“Yeah!” Aislinn added at the same time.

Inwardly, Jack glowered at the rebellion, but then he reached into his pocket and replied, “I gotcha!”  He pulled out a small jar, waving it in front of the children as he advised, “Always come prepared.”

Little Danny gathered his siblings into a huddle while Jack watched.  Then they lined up again.

“We no fish with worms,” Little Danny stated.

“We go read book with Daddy,” Aislinn informed forcefully.

“We no watch Simpsons!” Jonny exclaimed.

“That's harsh,” Jack responded.  He sighed, looking at the jar.  “You sure are lucky.”

With that, Jack released the worms.  As he did, the Munchkins cheered, jumping up and down.

“We free worms forever!” Little Danny exclaimed.  “Right, Dad?  No ever use worms 'gain.”

Jack let out a huge sigh, stating, “I know when I'm beat.  Lures 'r' us from now on.”

“YEAH!” the triplets cheered as they slapped their hands together, watching as their father released the worms onto the grass.

“Now, can we go fishing?” Jack pleaded.

“I catch big fish,” Jonny exclaimed.

“Mine bigger,” Aislinn commented.

Little Danny chuckled.

The truth was that there were no fish in the lake, and everyone knew it.  Still, the youngster hadn't liked seeing worms dangling from hooks.  They were living creatures, and just like his younger father, all life was precious to him.

~Yeah, run away, Worms,~ Jack thought as he watched them slithering into the grass area.  ~You've been liberated -- by the Munchkins.~

“No, mine bigger.  I always catch biggest,” Jonny insisted.

Jack laughed, listening to the triplets carry on.  Just like always, at the end of the fishing session, they'd have an imaginary fish weighing.  It was a crazy life, but it was the best life Jack Jackson-O'Neill could ever have asked for.

====
--Spring 2012
====

Jack sat back in his chair on the dock at the cabin and smiled.  He was surrounded by the Munchkins and the Spitfires, all lined up at the edge of the dock, their poles hanging in the water.  Bijou and Katie, the family's two beloved and very protective beagles, were watching attentively, keeping an eye on the little ones.  Inside the cabin, Daniel was tending to their infant son, JD.  The other kids were all playing games in front of the cabin, under the supervision of the oldest children, Jennifer and Jeff.

The general blinked a few times as he smiled at the good life he was living.  Then he thought he heard something.  He looked over at the grass and saw rows and rows of worms, all lined up.  The squiggly creatures were making a strange sound.

~Can worms talk?~ the general wondered.  He squinted, trying to make out what they were saying.  He leaned to the side, attempting to hone in on the low sound.  ~Wha...what are they saying?~

Jack stood, walking to the edge of the dock.  He was sure he was seeing things.

~Must be thousands of them,~ Jack observed.  He knelt down, seeing more worms than he had ever seen in one place at one time in his life.  They were 'standing' upright on one end of their bodies, bowing in unison with the other end. He leaned in closer, thinking, ~They *are* saying something.~

Finally, the odd noise became distinct -- “Little Danny, our savior!  Hail Little Danny!  Little Danny saved us!  Little Danny, our liberator!  He is our god!  Long live Little Danny!”  Then the entire assembly of worms turned toward Jack and angrily shouted, “The destroyer!  Consume the destroyer!” as they moved towards him.

Jack blinked again, suddenly aware that Little Danny was shaking his arm.

“Dad, wake up.  Daddy get mad if you don't watch us,” Little Danny said, looking over towards the cabin where Daniel was leaving the cabin with JD and about to join the family on the dock.

Jack carefully looked over at the grassy area, seeing nothing unusual, just the normal grass.  He smiled and nodded at Little Danny, the savior of worms.

~Maybe My Danny is right -- I should lay off the SciFi channel a little,~ the somewhat-confused father thought.  Jack shook his head at the silly dream, but couldn't stop from stealing another look at the grassy area.  ~Little Danny, he's one of my heroes, too!~ he agreed, getting up to greet his husband.

“How's it going?” Daniel asked.

“Great.  No worms,” Jack smirked.  After sharing a kiss with his husband, he took JD into his arms and walked over to where the younger kids were fishing.  “Time to learn all about fishing, Son, and the first thing to learn is that worms ...” He paused, seeing Little Danny looking up at him.  With just the smallest furtive glance at the grassy area, he opined, “Worms are living creatures.  What we use to fish are lures.  Right, Son?”

“Right, Dad!” Little Danny replied with a smile and then turned his attention back to his fishing.  “Jonny, I've got the biggest one today!”

“We're not done yet, Little Danny,” Jonny said.  “I'll catch a bigger one in a minute.”

“Not bigger than mine,” Aislinn stated, reeling in an imaginary fish.

“That's a whopper, Ash,” Jack praised.  “You're a shoe-in for the biggest fish today.”

“Wow, Ash!  You did get a big one,” Jonny acknowledged.

“It's bigger than mine,” Little Danny spoke, patting his sister on the back in support.

Daniel laughed at the antics, but he felt good inside.  He shared a tender gaze with his lover, and then life went on, and for the Jackson-O'Neills, every moment was an unpredictable joy.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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