Category: Slash, Humor, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - May/June 2012
Written: August 6-7,10-15, 2006
Summary: Two teenagers, two parents, and a few days in the Bahamas.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
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) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fic(s), “Detour,” “Egyptian Erotica: Another Ten Months,” “Butting In,” and “Unexpected Miracle”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Linda, Claudia, Robert, QuinGem!
The novelty shop was bustling with activity. It was, after all, a
Saturday afternoon. Daniel was looking for something unique to
give Jennifer for her upcoming seventeenth birthday. At the
moment, he was in the candle and incense aisle, wondering if the
teenage girl would enjoy something along those lines.
As he debated on his purchase, Daniel heard two voices talking. He looked around, realizing he was hearing two people who were at the other end of the aisle. He couldn't see them, but their voices were coming through loud and clear.
“They want me to babysit again,” one girl stated. “That's all I am to my parents -- a built-in babysitter.”
The other voice griped, “My parents are so out of touch. They haven't a clue who I am. Dad thinks I'm this good little girl, and Mom thinks I'm a witch looking to get knocked up. They don't understand anything about me at all.”
The first voice laughed, saying, “Mine don't even care. They talk a lot about us being a family, but they're so busy having babies, they don't have time for me. I get paid for being their daughter.”
“Hey, there's Mick,” the second voice said.
Daniel heard the voices grow dimmer, surmising the two teens had walked away to meet up with a friend. He sighed, processing their words.
~Built-in babysitter? Out of touch? Too busy having babies?~ Daniel suddenly felt a huge weight descend on his shoulders. He and his husband had worked very hard not to make their oldest children, Jennifer and Jeff, feel like babysitters, and yet, the reality was, with twelve children, the two teens did spend quite a bit of their time watching their younger siblings. There was also no way to deny that the family had grown, since their youngest, JD, had been born on New Year's Day this year. ~Have we neglected them?~
Daniel decided to finish his shopping later, opting instead to go for a short walk around the mall. He eventually sat on one of the benches, watching the shoppers pass by. He noted a large number of teenagers and felt amazed at the 'lingo' they spoke. He didn't understand half of it. He also heard them talking, sometimes about subjects that were pretty intimate for that setting. They seemed so free to discuss anything they felt like talking about. One common thread were parents and their lack of understanding, of thinking they knew their teenage children, but really didn't, at least according to the teens doing the talking.
~Can we be that far off?~
With a sigh, Daniel stood and headed for home.
Later that night, with most of the children in the game room downstairs or in their rooms, Jack entered the nursery, smiling immediately at the sight of his husband feeding a bottle of formula to their baby son, JD. He walked over and knelt down, extending out his right hand to caress the baby's head.
“Ready to talk?” Jack asked.
“What?” Daniel replied in surprise, looking at his lover.
“You've been quiet since you got home from the mall, and I couldn't help but notice that you returned empty handed,” Jack noted.
Daniel sighed, “Jack, are we out of touch?”
Jack cocked his head slightly, asking, “With what?”
“Jen and Jeff,” Daniel replied. “I've been thinking, and, well, I know we've tried really hard not to ... I mean ...”
“Take a breath, Love,” Jack soothed. He leaned over and placed a kiss at the top of JD's head; then, he placed one on his soulmate's hand for good measure. “Just tell me what you're thinking.”
“I'm thinking we haven't really sat down and talked with Jen and Jeff for a long time. Oh, we talk to them about their day and things happening with our family, but, Jack, when's the last time we asked Jen about what happened to her this past year? She's not dating very much. Is there a reason for that? And, Jeff, sometimes ... sometimes I think he's never gotten enough attention. Neither of them complain about the demands we put on them, and with ten younger brothers and sisters, the truth is, we do have a lot of expectations for them,” Daniel explained.
Daniel looked down and saw that JD's bottle was now empty. Handing the bottle to Jack, he put their precious son on his shoulder to burp him.
Jack nodded as he stood up and walked around the room for a moment, placing the bottle on the changing table. He realized Daniel was right. Of course, he suspected he knew why Jennifer wasn't dating very much, but as a doting father with a P-90 at his disposal, that was just fine with him. He wondered why she hadn't asked for a car for her sixteenth birthday.
~It's actually a bit strange, almost un-American,~ Jack thought about his daughter's lack of interest in having a vehicle of her own.
Thinking about their oldest son, Jack realized they hadn't talked a lot about his future lately.
~Or the present,~ Jack thought. ~Not even the past.~
The father and son had gone to sporting events together, but their chats were frivolous. Suddenly, Jack discovered he had a thousand unanswered questions about their teenagers. He looked thunderstruck.
“When did that happen, Danny?” the older man asked suddenly.
“When did what happen?” Daniel responded as JD finally burped. “You look totally amazed.”
“I am *always* amazed at the miracle of you, and our children, individually, and as a brood, but that's not the reason for the look. Danny, have you noticed that Jeff is never serious?”
“Well, he is very good-natured, and he's acquiring your sense of humor, heaven help us,” the younger man replied in jest. “He really has come out of his shell. For being an only child for his first fourteen years, I think he has adjusted well.”
“Danny, I'm serious. Whenever I ask Jeff a serious question, he deflects it by joking around the issue and giving a non-answer,” Jack stated.
“You do that all the time,” Daniel pointed out softly.
“Yes, I do, but I have you to grab me by the collar, gently, or not so gently, depending on how dense I am being at the moment, and say, 'enough with the funny stuff already'. That's what we need to do with Jeff. Jen wasn't as shut down to begin with because she had two siblings, but she's still *much* more open than she used to be. She talks to us, now; Jeff doesn't,” Jack noted.
The younger man stood quietly listening as his husband continued.
“What I'm saying is that Jeff has traded his old dark shell for a light, transparent one.” Using his right index finger, Jack counted point-by-point on the fingers of his left hand. “He's jovial, he's dependable, he's respectful, he's responsible, *and* he's using all of that to keep us at arm's length,” Jack opined.
“You might be right, Babe,” Daniel sighed slowly.
“Might be?” Jack questioned.
“No, I know you're right,” Daniel admitted. “He's undoubtedly afraid of losing one of us, and he's shielding against that. I don't believe he realizes he's doing it, though.”
“No, I don't think so, either. He acts as normal for a teen as he can,” Jack responded.
“Actually, Jeff's just doing what I did, and Brianna, and to a lesser extent, Jen. It's survival tactics, that's all,” Daniel stated.
Daniel returned JD to a laying position in his arms and gently rocked him. In moments, the infant was sound asleep.
Walking over to the crib to push back the blanket, Jack questioned, “When did we forget to give Jen and Jeff special time with us like we do with all the others?”
Daniel put JD down, and both fathers made sure he was safely ensconced in the crib. They watched for a minute or two, just taking in the joy of their youngest child. Then, Daniel motioned towards the door, leading his husband into the hall and down to the den.
“I don't believe we forgot, Babe, and I really don't think either Jen or Jeff feel neglected, but at the same time, I do think we've let them down. They're at a difficult age, with a lot of pressures. In a way, we've taken them for granted,” Daniel commented as he turned on his computer.
Once it powered up, the archaeologist opened his browser and immediately went to a website he'd bookmarked earlier upon returning from his shopping trip. He pointed at the colorful and informative page.
Jack stared and asked, “The Bahamas?”
“We need time with Jen and Jeff away from here, and it needs to be someplace where they can have some fun, teenage fun. I'm thinking when their classes end, we can get away for a few days, talk with them, make sure we know what they're feeling. I ...”
“Hey,” Jack intoned softly, moving forward and placing his hands at the top of his lover's arms. He rubbed up and down gently as he smiled. “What are you afraid of?”
“That we're out of touch; that deep down inside, they feel used, like they're ... like they're just grown up babysitters. I need to know what they're wanting in life, how they're feeling about themselves, our family ... I want ... Jack, I just ... I realized today, watching the teenagers in the mall, that Jen and Jeff are faced with so many decisions out there, hard ones, and ... and ...”
“And you want to make sure we're not lying to ourselves that our oldest children are as happy as we think they are being squares,” Jack lightly mused.
“Something like that,” Daniel agreed.
“Did you pick out a weekend?” Jack inquired, looking back at the computer and beginning to scan the page.
“Well, I thought we would use Thursday the fourteenth as a travel day, then have Friday through Monday to vacation, and return home on Tuesday,” Daniel answered.
“Hotel?” Jack asked.
“I haven't gotten that far,” Daniel admitted.
Jack sat down in his lover's desk chair and began to do some searching, suggesting, “Let's see what we can find.”
“I love you,” Daniel said, smiling as he gazed at his husband.
Jack smiled as he kept his focus, replying, “Love you, too, Space Monkey.”
“Gawd,” Daniel chuckled as the two settled down to do some intensive research.
“Danny, I don't want us to be cramped,” Jack opined. “If the goal is to allow the kids to have fun and give us all some privacy and time to talk, we need space.”
“Don't they have any suites available?” Daniel asked, noting the hotel on the Grand Bahama Island had some one and two room suites.
Jack sighed, shaking his head as he answered, “All they have available is a private villa and pool. That's a huge chunk of change, Angel.”
“Book it,” Daniel instructed.
Jack looked up, suggesting, “We could try one of the other islands.”
“No, I like this one,” the archaeologist opined, smiling.
“Xanadu, it is,” Jack agreed, smiling as well as he booked the villa at the Xanadu Beach Resort and Marina. “Someday, Love, we need to go back and visit.”
“It's been a while,” Daniel responded, the lovers remembering their friends, the Filgruns, who lived on a planet Jack and Daniel had been stranded on for a while. They had named their temporary home Xanadu, and to this day, they held the place in high regard. “I miss Korsha and his family.”
“We'll ask Lya about making a little visit sometime soon,” Jack said. “Got it,” he noted about the reservation.
Suddenly, Jack let out a cackle, his face brimming with mischief as he picked up the phone.
“Jack, why do you look like that?” Daniel asked suspiciously.
“Danny, we have a very cute five-and-a-half-month old baby, and at least five potential babysitters for the little guy. This is gonna be fun!” the older man responded. “Let the baby war begin,” he said as he dialed.
“Jack, our baby is not a pawn for your fun,” Daniel chastised.
“Ah, come on, Danny. Carter and the Doc alone could make for a good mud-wrestling contest,” Jack teased.
“Jaaaaack!” the younger man warned.
“Okay, how do you want to divvy up the brood?” Jack inquired, disappointed at having his fun kaboshed by his lover.
“DAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDDDY!” a young voice cried, sniffling over the intercom.
“You figure it out,” Daniel ordered hurriedly. “I'll see what's wrong with Ash.”
Jack pressed the intercom, saying, “Daddy will be right there, Princess. You okay?”
“I fellllllllllll down,” Aislinn sniffled.
“Daddy will make it all better. I love you,” Jack said. When there wasn't a response, Jack figured Daniel had arrived on the scene, so he returned his attention to his task. A kid at heart, he whispered, “Sorry, Love; this is too good to pass up.” Automatically glancing back over his shoulder to make sure he was alone, Jack smiled as he dialed the first number. “Carter, what'll you give me for five days with JD?”
Sitting back in the chair, the major general grinned in anticipation of the 'Baby War'.
The next night, during their special family time, Jack and Daniel made the announcement of their trip.
“You guys know how Daddy and I like to have private time with each of you,” Jack began.
“Dad and I have realized, though, that we've never gone anywhere with just Jen and Jeff,” Daniel interjected.
“Jeff and Jen are gonna get to go on a trip,” Lulu surmised.
“Cool,” Jeff responded.
“Yeah, where are we going?” Jennifer asked eagerly. “Can I get a new outfit and ...”
“Whoa!” Jack admonished, raising his hands up to his face, his palms towards the children. “Here's the deal. Jen and Jeff have always been your babysitters and ...”
“We don't need babysitters,” Jonny spoke up defiantly.
“Tough. Live with it,” Jack groused, causing Jonny to do the patented Danny-Pout. He laughed, then looked at the two teens and continued, “Our goal is to spend some time with you two, talk about things.”
“Uh oh, you just want to snoop,” Jennifer teased.
“We just want to make sure we stay connected,” Daniel replied, his look both serious and caring.
“I know, Daddy. Thank you,” the teenage girl said, smiling.
“Who gets us?” Chenoa asked, wondering how the brood would be divvied up this time around.
“We're still working on the details,” Jack responded.
“Is everyone okay with our plans? Any objections or concerns?” Daniel asked.
“Jen and Jeff always watch us on vacations,” Little Danny commented. “Maybe we should go and watch them.”
“Nice try, Sproglet,” Jack chuckled, reaching over and messing up the boy's hair.
~Gawd, get used to it, Little Danny. He loves to do that,~ Daniel silently mused.
“It sounds fair to me,” Brianna noted.
The almost teen's eyes turned dreamy, remembering her recent vacation with Megan Williams when they had swam with dolphins.
“Earth to Bri, Earth to Bri,” Jennifer called out, snapping her fingers in front of her sister's face.
“Oh, sorry. I was just hoping you would have a chance to swim with the dolphins like I did,” Brianna explained.
“I don't know if that's an option where we're going, Bri, but it sounds great. We'll check into it,” Jack stated.
Jonny tired of the questioning, stood up, and asked, “All in favor of Dad and Daddy taking Jen 'n' Jeff on vacation, say 'aye'.” A chorus of 'ayes' were heard. He turned back to face his parents and stated firmly, “All done. Where are you going?”
Daniel laughed as Jack bowed his head, trying not to laugh himself.
“The Bahamas,” the older man finally answered.
“Wow!” Jennifer exclaimed.
“That's awesome, Dad, Daddy. Thanks!” Jeff spoke up eagerly.
The brood's approval of the trip confirmed, the family continued to discuss the specifics before moving on to other family issues of the night.
“Jen, make sure you get everything packed tonight,” Daniel said, entering the girl's room the night before they were to leave for the Bahamas.
“Daddy, which of these would you prefer I wear?” Jennifer asked.
The teenager proceeded to hold up three different bathing suits. One followed the current fashion trend and was practically a thong that wouldn't hide much of anything. The second was a bit more of a traditional bikini of the 1960's that fully covered both the buttocks and the breasts respectfully, though it still revealed plenty of skin and her belly button. The last was a modern looking one-piece which covered her buttocks and breasts sufficiently, as well as most of the rest of her front. The back, however, was deep and bare.
“The last one,” Daniel answered, adding, “but I wish the back was higher, Jen.”
“But ...?” Jennifer prodded.
“It's fine, for me,” Daniel said with a smile. “I can't answer for Dad, though.”
“I know,” Jennifer acknowledged. “I just wanted to see which one you were happiest with.”
Daniel nodded and headed down the stairs. He paused, looking back up towards his daughter's room. He tilted his head to one side, wondering about that twinkle in the teenager's eyes.
~I wonder what you're up to,~ Daniel thought. ~Ah, on second thought, I don't think I want to know ... yet, anyway.~
Bright and early Thursday morning, Jack and Daniel were giving good-bye hugs and kisses to their children as well as giving out lots of last minute reminders to 'behave'.
In the end, it had been decided that Chenoa and Lulu would stay with the Wilsons, Brianna next door with Mrs. Valissi, helping her with some handiwork around the house, and David with General Hammond, even being allowed to accompany his grandfather to the SGC.
Lou Ferretti was on downtime, so he and his wife, Carolyn, were taking the twins to their house.
With Sam having to be off-world on a mission for at least two days, the Shanahans were 'excused' from 'brood duty', as Jack called it.
The winner of the 'Baby War' turned out to be a surprise -- Teal'c! The Munchkins promised their parents to make sure the Jaffa didn't wash JD's diaper down the drain like they'd heard he'd done with them once upon a time. Teal'c would be staying at the Jackson-O'Neill home with the four children and the menagerie of family pets. Janet had promised to drop by to check up on things whenever she could, although she also had two shifts scheduled at the SGC during the time Jack and Daniel would be gone with their oldest children.
“Watch out for Polly,” Jack warned about Ptolemy, their wisecracking Hyacinth Macaw.
“DAAAAAAD!” Little Danny huffed.
Jack laughed as he messed with his son's hair and said, “She'll always be Polly to me, Son.”
“She's Ptolemy, and she's a queen,” Little Danny insisted. “Teal'c, Ptolemy is ...”
Jack shook his head, watching as the child prodigy began a lecture on the grandeur of the Hyacinth Macaw that now resided in their recreation room.
“Good luck, T,” Jack said.
“Dad, we'll miss the plane,” Jennifer whined, checking her watch.
After one more round of good-byes later, the four headed for the airport.
Jennifer stood at the edge of the balcony, her arms leaning against the railing. She felt the gentle breeze of the late night air run through her. She smiled, then sighed contently as she looked out at the beach and ocean in front of her. The teenager was wearing a tan sundress and sandals, her long, brown hair accentuating it perfectly.
The family had arrived a few hours earlier. They'd unpacked and done the usual walk-through of the facility, making sure they knew where the fire exits were as well as becoming familiar with their surroundings. They'd enjoyed a nice dinner and now were relaxing in their villa.
“Hey,” Jack called out as he approached.
Jennifer looked back and smiled, responding, “Hi, Dad. Isn't this the best?” she asked as she turned back to face the beach. After a moment, she realized her father was staring at her. “What? Is there catsup on my mouth or something?” she inquired, automatically putting her hand to her face.
Smiling, Jack replied, “You're a beautiful young woman, Jennifer.”
“Young woman?” the teen replied in surprise. “Dad, I didn't even think you knew I wore a bra.”
“Jennifer, let's not go there,” Jack mused, feeling a tad out of place whenever the discussion involved female undergarments.
Laughing, the girl responded, “Thank you for saying it.”
“I wouldn't have said it if I didn't mean it,” the silver-gray-haired man said as he struck a similar pose to that of his daughter.
“Thanks, Dad,” Jennifer spoke. “Do we have plans for tomorrow?”
“We don't have any plans, Jen. We're just going to see where the days take us, with one exception,” Jack answered.
“I know, Dad. We're here to spend some time together,” Jennifer acknowledged.
“Can't pick a better place to do that than in Xanadu,” Jack spoke, enjoying the quiet moment.
“I bet you miss JD,” the girl supposed, playfully nudging her father with her shoulder.
“Sure do. I miss all of your brothers and sisters, and when I'm with them, and you aren't there, I miss you. You know that, don't you, Princess?” Jack inquired, glancing over at his daughter for a moment.
“Sure, Dad. Don't be silly,” the girl spoke, dismissing the comment.
“It's true, Jen. Geez, you're growing up so dang fast,” Jack sighed.
Jennifer took a step over towards her father, who instantly put his arms around her.
“I know Danny and I didn't get to see you as a baby, but you'll always be our little girl,” Jack opined.
“Dad, you're getting mushy, and we haven't even been here twenty-four hours yet,” Jennifer replied, smiling at the love her father was bestowing on her.
“Get used to it,” Jack teased, placing a kiss on her forehead.
“Dad, tell me a story about the stars. Any story ... about one of the constellations,” Jennifer requested.
Looking up at the sky, Jack searched for a story, finding it when he saw a familiar constellation amid the stars.
“Jeff ...” Daniel began the next morning, having approached the boy as he was finishing up his orange juice in the kitchenette area. “How about taking a walk with me on the beach this morning?”
“Sure, Daddy,” the teen replied, rinsing out his glass.
A few minutes later, the two were walking barefoot along the edge of the ocean, letting the incoming tide rinse their feet. Both of them carried their shoes in their hands, letting them dangle along their sides. There were already several people out on the beach, some sunning themselves, others swimming, and a few engaged in a game of volleyball.
“... And, Chely wants to go to Stanford,” Jeff spoke about Chely Tillison whom he'd met at school last September.
“Stanford is an excellent college,” Daniel opined. “Do you have a preference?”
“I'm not sure,” Jeff said, bending down and picking up a seashell. “Jenny will love this one.”
Daniel recognized the diversionary tactic and said, “Stop a minute, Jeff, and look at me, please.”
“Did I do something wrong, Daddy?” asked the teen, sensing a shift in the conversation he was having with his younger father. He put the shell inside his shoe to protect it. ~Wouldn't be a good gift if I break it.~
“No, you didn't do anything wrong, but you're doing what people do. We adapt to survive and protect ourselves,” Daniel spoke as he looked straight into the boy's eyes.
“I don't understand,” the young man said with a frown on his face.
“Have you noticed, Jeff, that whenever the subject turns to Jeffrey and *his* wants, needs, and desires, that you deflect and avoid the issue with humor and misdirection? You're good at it, very good, in fact, so good, that it took both Dad and I this long to see it.” Daniel smiled, looking down at the water rolling off his feet and shaking his head as he acknowledged, “I was a master at hiding from myself. I was always fine, the best little boy in the world who had no needs at all. Just give me a dry corner to sleep in, an old blanket, and a crust of bread, and I was fine. I was grateful if I wasn't kicked, and if I got through a day with no one picking on me or making fun of me, I felt like I'd won the freakin' lottery. It's no way to live, Jeff. Trust me, I know.”
“Gee, Daddy, I'm sorry if I've ...”
“Shh,” Daniel hushed as he placed his finger over his eldest son's lips. “There's nothing to be sorry for. If anything, Dad and I need to apologize to you.”
“What for?” Jeff asked.
“For assuming that you had worked through all your grief over losing your parents. We've talked about your dad, but we've really neglected to ask you about your mom. She passed away when you were young, and your dad had a career to fulfill and his own grief to deal with. I suspect you just sucked it up and pitched in; you were probably Dad's little helper, making sure everything was as okay as it could be at home and with him. Am I right?”
The teen nodded, fighting back tears.
Daniel continued, “It's okay to cry, Son. I heard you tell the Munchkins and the Spitfires that when Jack was missing. Let it out, and we'll sort through it then.”
Letting his shoes drop to the sandy ground, the archaeologist put his arm around Jeff's shoulder, and his son finally let the tears come that had been bottled up inside since his mother had died. As his own shoes joined Daniel's and his other arm went up in a hug, he wept for the loss that he had not allowed himself to feel -- for his mother, his father, and the life he would have had. He cried tears of shame for the betrayal he felt in his heart for wishing they hadn't died, because Jack and Daniel had been so wonderful to him, and he cried tears of joy and gratitude for being part of such a large and loving family. When he finally let go of Daniel about ten minutes later, a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
“Wow, and thanks, Daddy. I feel so much better,” Jeff said, unable to stop a final sniffle. He reached for a handkerchief in his pocket as he thought, ~Geez, I must look like a baby.~
“You're welcome, Jeff. I don't want to turn this into therapy, because we're on vacation,” Daniel replied. “Just let me say a couple of things: tears are healing, but they do not automatically bring clarity, *and* it takes revisiting old hurts more than a few times to really make peace with them and move on. You might want to talk to Jen about your feelings; I'm sure she could identify with some of them.”
“I will, Daddy, but they'll keep for a couple of days. We *are* on vacation,” Jeff commented, smiling.
“One more thing,” Daniel began as he bent down, picking up their shoes. As he handed Jeff's sandals to him, he spoke, “Dad uses humor to deflect things, especially when something hits close to home.”
“Yeah, I know. It's all a cover, though,” Jeff replied.
“Just remember, as easily as you know that about Dad, we know that about you ... now. We're always here for you. We love you. Remember that, okay?”
“I will,” the teenager promised.
Daniel smiled, then motioned to his right with his head. The two continued walking, having resumed their prior positions, Jeff nearest to the ocean and Daniel to his right. They returned to their conversation about Jeff's future.
“Jeff, what would you like to study?”
The teenager shrugged, but Daniel patted the boy's shoulder with his free hand and gave him a smile of encouragement.
“Daddy, I love architecture,” Jeff spoke. “I feel 'drawn' to it,” the teen said, smiling at the pun; however, seeing Daniel was not going to be deterred from the seriousness of the conversation, he continued, “but I'm not positive about it. I love photography, capturing just the right hue of the dusk or the mood of subjects who don't even know they're being photographed.” He let out a sigh, saying, “I like flying, too, but I feel a little ... um ...”
“Conflicted?” Daniel asked.
Jeff nodded as he let out a confirming smile.
“Jeff, Dad and I will support you in anything you want to do, and, uh, maybe you don't want to just do one thing,” Daniel commented, a tiny smile on his face.
“Daddy, your studies were all linked together. The things that I'm interested in aren't,” Jeff replied.
“Maybe; maybe not, Jeff. It all depends on what you want to do with your gifts,” Daniel spoke. “Do you want to be high profile, like Alex, or do you want to focus on one area as a business and keep the others as relaxation?”
The high profile reference referred to Alex Dennison, the designer who had been in charge of Jack and Daniel's home renovation in 2009. Alex had since become a good friend of the entire family and had encouraged Jeff's interest in architecture.
“That's what I'm trying to figure out,” Jeff responded, twisting his mouth to one side. “Daddy, about J-O ...”
“Jeff, J-O is my dream, a wonderful, magnificent, magical dream that Dad embraced and, well, made his dream, too. You have your own dreams to follow. We don't want you worrying about continuing the company. I think Little Danny probably will handle that, anyway,” Daniel chuckled.
“My dad wanted me to be a pilot, like him,” Jeff remarked about his birth father. “At least, that's what he said when I was young, but I'm not big on the military.”
Jeff had been honest with Jack and Daniel about his dislike of the military from the beginning. He had nothing against serving one's country or the institution itself, but he wasn't a believer in wars and some of the actions taken by the military in the name of freedom.
“I'm sure he would want you to be happy, Jeff,” Daniel intoned, jumping over a small accumulation of driftwood that the tidal waters had brought to shore.
“It's expensive, Daddy,” Jeff spoke, finally admitting to one of his concerns.
Daniel nodded, acknowledging, “Education always is, but you're entitled to it. Son, Dad and I have been very lucky, and we've indulged our family with a lot of ... toys, things that are fun, but not vital to life. An education is vital, and that's our first goal. We'll help you achieve your goals; all you have to do is prove to us that you're serious, and if you want, you can get ten degrees.”
“Is that how many you have?” Jeff smirked, knowing his younger father had at least four PhDs to his credit and probably several bachelor of science degrees in various subjects.
“No, but, uh, I have a few,” the archaeologist admitted. “Jeff, do you think you love to fly enough that you could do it every day of your working life, as a pilot for an airline, a free-lance pilot, or as a flight instructor?”
“I guess I really don't love it that much, so that would put flying in the hobby and not the career category,” Jeff deduced, adding, “but I think I'd like to learn as much as I can about flying and airplanes.”
“Okay, you have more clarity that you did five minutes ago, so, tell me what you've researched and what you're thinking about.”
“Well, I would like to study architecture for sure. Alex says ...”
The father and son continued their discussion, each enjoying the opportunity to toss out ideas. A decision didn't have to be reached for a while, but they were accomplishing something. Jeff was being reassured that his dreams were his own to be realized and whatever decision he reached would have the support of his parents, and Daniel was being blessed with learning the desires of his oldest son. It was definitely a worthwhile hour that the two spent on the beach.
As Daniel and Jeff were on their way back to the villa, they saw some boys ogling a girl. The banter was peaceful, but seductive. There was definitely a lot of playful flirting going on.
“I wonder which one she likes,” Daniel pondered.
“She's hot, wow!” Jeff remarked, shaking his hand in front of him symbolically. Seeing Daniel's look, he said, “I'm on vacation. I only want Chely, but I can still recognize a hot chick when I see one.” ~Wish she didn't want to date other guys, though.~
Daniel laughed, “Just remember, she's somebody's daughter and maybe somebody's sister.”
Jeff shrugged, not thinking much about the comment.
“Race you to the lobby,” Daniel challenged, surprising his son as he took off in a sprint.
“Hey!” Jeff called out, quickly bursting into a run.
Through the sand, the two ran towards Xanadu, each dodging various obstacles. It was close, but Daniel beat Jeff by a couple of feet.
Breathing heavily, Daniel leaned over, resting his hands on his knees. His shoes dangled near the ground.
Jeff was breathing hard, too, though, he only hunched over part way as he recouped from the unexpected race.
“Gee, Daddy, you *can* run!” Jeff spoke.
“Thanks, but, uh, why are ... why, uh, are you so surprised?” Daniel said, still getting his breath.
“I'm not, not really,” Jeff said as he straightened. “I'm just used to you and Dad letting the little ones win at races.”
“We don't *let* them win; we encourage them to become better,” Daniel said, walking a fine line of technicality. As he straightened, he asked, “That doesn't make sense, does it?”
“Yes, it does. You're a parent!” Jeff quipped, putting on his shoes and walking inside the lobby.
Daniel cocked his head for a moment, then nodded and spoke quietly, “I guess that says it all.”
“Not even over my dead body!” Jack spoke in horror.
“But, Dad, this is what all the girls are wearing,” Jennifer argued. “Just look out the balcony.”
“I don't care about the other girls,” Jack refuted. “You are *not* wearing that. Do you understand?”
“It's the style, Dad!” Jennifer maintained.
“It's three triangular pieces of material and a few feet of string that together wouldn't cover my hand,” Jack contended.
“What's going on?” Daniel asked as he and Jeff entered the villa.
Jack simply extended out his arm to point at their teenage daughter.
“Oh,” Daniel stated, blushing slightly as he saw Jennifer in the thong-like bikini she had brought with her. ~I think I know where this is going.~
“Woo Hoo, Sis! Wow!” Jeff said, letting out a whistle.
“Thanks, Jeff,” Jennifer said, bobbing her shoulders slightly as she smiled.
“Jeffrey, go to your room,” Jack ordered.
“What?” the young man questioned in utter bewilderment. ~Does he think I'm five years old?~
Daniel chuckled as he suggested, “Jeff, why don't you change and get whatever you're taking with you.” To Jack, the archaeologist chided, **Jack, be calm. I just had a very meaningful talk with him, and you're spoiling the mood.**
“Sorry, Son,” Jack replied. Smiling, he nodded his head in the direction of Jeff's bedroom and requested, “Go on, and get changed. Your sister will be ready in few minutes.” **At least, I hope she will be, if she brought something decent to wear.**
Jeff nodded and headed for his room.
Jack and Daniel had decided that the bulk of their first day in the Bahamas would be a 'free' day, one in which they'd allow their teenage children to enjoy the beach and mingle with other tourists, if they wanted to. They'd discussed the rules, though the teens were well aware by now of all the usual safety precautions.
Thus, while the teens enjoyed the beach, Jack and Daniel would enjoy some peace and quiet, and possibly take in some beach time themselves, though they would make sure not to hover over their children.
“Jennifer, change -- now!” Jack ordered.
“Caveman!” Jennifer jested. “You'd think we lived back in the B.C. times,” she whined calculatingly as she headed for her room.
“Did you hear that?” an exasperated Jack asked. “B.C. times -- what is that?”
“Yeah, Babe, I did, but it'll be okay,” Daniel assured. ~I'm guessing she comes out in that other one that doesn't quite cover as much of her as we'd like.~
Sure enough, a minute later, Jennifer emerged in the second bikini she had showed her younger father back in Colorado Springs.
~Oh ... there's more of her to cover up than I thought,~ Daniel mused, recalling that Jennifer hadn't modeled the three swimming suits, but had only held them up.
“No, Jennifer,” Jack stated as calmly as he could.
“Dad, it covers up what it's supposed to,” Jennifer insisted.
“Nice try,” Jack cackled. “I want something that leaves your privates to the imagination. There's not a lot to imagine there,” he stated.
“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jennifer lamented, turning around and winking at Daniel as she headed back to her room.
~Poor Jack,~ Daniel silently mused, knowing what was coming next.
“She knows better, Danny. When did she buy those *scraps*?” Jack asked in dismay.
“I'm guessing she borrowed them from friends,” Daniel answered.
“It's time we take a closer look at her friends then,” Jack squawked as he paced the room in disbelief.
“Don't overreact, Babe,” Daniel urged.
“Is it safe?” Jeff asked, walking out of his room, wearing his red swimming suit and a white T-shirt. In his hand was a small tote bag of various items he wanted with him on the beach, such as a portable radio, a puzzle book, and the latest issue of his favorite photography magazine. “I don't want to interrupt the fashion wars.”
“No war. She loses,” Jack barked.
“Jack!” Daniel warned.
Jennifer interrupted, asking, “How's this, Dad?” She twirled around, saying, “And before you answer, it's the last one I have.”
Jack growled as he took in the lavender one-piece suit. The back was way too low for his liking, but at least her buttocks and chest were fully covered, and it would take some imagination to mentally undress her as he was sure all the teenage boys would do.
The older man groaned, turning to go into the kitchenette area for a drink.
“I'll take that as a seal of approval,” Jennifer smirked, feeling quite pleased with herself. She walked up to Daniel and surprised him by planting a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you, Daddy,” she spoke quietly.
“For not ratting me out,” Jennifer whispered. “I knew if I just brought this suit that Dad would go ballistic, but by ...”
“Bringing the no-suit suits, he'd let this one pass,” Daniel surmised. “They aren't yours, right?”
“I borrowed one from Sheila's sister and one from Amber,” Jennifer spoke about her friends.
“You ready, Sis?” Jeff asked, knowing they were expected to stay close together while separated from their parents.
“Ready, Bro,” Jennifer chimed, grabbing her bag of essentials and leaving the villa with her brother.
Daniel chuckled as he walked to the kitchenette. He stopped at the little table that was there and sat down. A minute later, Jack joined him, a bottle of chocolate milk in his hands.
“So early in the morning?” Daniel teased about the beverage.
“Danny, was I just 'had' by our daughter?” Jack questioned.
“You were played like a string on a violin, Babe,” Daniel confirmed with a teasing smile.
Jack just nodded and took a swig of his dairy brew.
As the day progressed, Jack and Daniel were continuing a tradition they had started in the first year of their romantic relationship. Whenever they traveled for recreation, they engaged in two new activities, one selected by each of them. First up was Jack's very unusual pick.
“I can't believe we're doing this,” Daniel intoned.
“Hey, you like me to smell good,” Jack commented confidently as they prepared to mix their own perfume fragrance.
The lovers were at the Perfume Factory, located in the International Bazaar. The factory was actually inside a replica of an old Bahamian plum and white mansion, which was quite an attention-getter. They'd gone on the tour and now they were about to create their own fragrances.
“Woodsy?” Jack asked as he considered what scent he wanted to achieve.
“Too bad they don't have one for grizzly bears,” Daniel teased. “I think you're spicy.”
“You be spicy, and I'll be woodsy,” Jack suggested.
The lovers proceeded to blend their chosen oils with alcohol to dilute the intensity of the fragrance.
“We could get one of these for home and have perfume parties,” the older man quipped as he watched the special mixing apparatus do its job.
“Jack, you've officially lost your mind. Think about Colonel Rappaport and what he'd think if he could see you now,” Daniel remarked.
Jack laughed, saying, “Rappaport's been afraid of me for years.”
“True,” Daniel admitted as they moved to another area where they'd pick out the bottle that would house their new scents.
“I'll call mine 'Bear Woodsman',” Jack decided, having selected a very manly-looking atomizer for his creation.
“Mine will be ... uh, 'Me',” Daniel decreed with a smile.
“Me?” Jack asked.
“Well, it's for me, created by me, so why not call it 'Me'?” Daniel asked logically.
Jack bobbed his head slightly, agreeing to the rationality of his genius lover.
Their task completed, the couple was each given a special certificate of mixology, proclaiming each of them an official 'Nose' and an official member of the Order of Discerning Fragrance Users.
Jack stared at his atomizer, now appropriately labeled, 'Bear Woodsman', shook his head, saying, “We need a bag to hide this.”
Daniel just laughed, “Coward.”
“Hey, Rappaport could show up!”
“Right, Jack,” Daniel responded dryly as they exited the factory. “Come on, Nose, we need to check in with Jen and Jeff.”
“I'm going to lay out over there,” Jennifer told her brother.
Jeff laughed, “Good choice, Sis.”
“It's just a spot,” Jennifer stated nonchalantly.
“I don't suppose those guys over there have anything to do with your choice,” Jeff teased.
“Of course not,” Jennifer said as she picked up her tote.
“Ah, you could sun over there,” Jeff pointed to another area. “It's more peaceful.”
Jennifer grimaced at Jeff's suggestion, seeing two grandmotherly-type women and three definitely older men situated there.
“Very funny, Jeff,” Jennifer responded, throwing her tote over her shoulder and strutting towards the area where the teen boys were.
Laughing, Jeff mumbled, “Have fun.”
The teen then decided to go for a swim before settling in to his own chosen spot on the beach. Before he'd put his things down, his cell phone rang.
“We're fine!” Jeff greeted over the phone.
Hearing a chuckle, Jack stated, “Just making sure everything is okay.”
“We met some nice kids this morning and just hung out. We just had lunch,” Jeff reported.
“What's on tap for the afternoon?” Jack inquired.
“Jen's showing off for the guys, and I'm going for a swim,” Jeff announced, suddenly aware when he heard his father's growl that maybe he should have worded his sentence a bit differently. “She's sunning,” he added. “It's okay, Dad.”
Jeff could hear Daniel calming his husband, and the next thing he knew, it was his younger father on the phone.
“You two have a good time, Jeff. We'll be back at the hotel in a few hours,” Daniel stated informatively.
“The beach is great, Daddy. Jen and I might play some volleyball later with some kids we met, so if we're not visible when you get back, make sure you check out the area where we saw the guys playing volleyball this morning during our walk,” Jeff replied, knowing that upon their return to the hotel, Jack and Daniel would immediately want to verify their children were safe.
“Okay. Bye, Son,” Daniel said.
“Bye, Daddy,” Jeff replied, disconnecting the call and putting his cell phone away. He glanced over at Jennifer, currently poised like the classic femme fatale on the beach and chuckled. ~Dad would kill you, if he could see you.~
Laughing, Jeff proceeded with his own beach fun.
“Danny, are you sure you want to do this?” Jack asked as they waited to receive final instructions.
The younger man chuckled, “It'll be a piece of cake, Babe, especially for an expert parachutist like yourself.”
“Yeah, but I was jumping out of a plane, not tied to a boat,” Jack whined a bit uncharacteristically.
“You two ready to go?” the boat driver asked.
“We're ready,” Daniel answered cheerfully.
“Speak for yourself,” Jack droned.
“You can stay here. Don't worry, I'll explain to the children that you're just being more careful in your *old* age,” Daniel teased.
“Dem's fightin' words, Youngin',” Jack wistfully replied, making sure his life vest was secure. “Lead on!”
Laughing, the couple settled in to their harnesses as they prepared to go parasailing for the first time. They were using a tandem bar hooked to their seats, meaning Jack and Daniel were going up together via the same parachute and boat. Waiting for them to be secured was the boat driver who would be launching them into the skies.
“Ready!” the man on the jetty indicated to the driver.
“We're off!” the driver spoke enthusiastically.
As the boat accelerated, the lovers were lifted skyward. They went higher as the boat achieved greater speeds. There was a lengthy tow line, so they were able to get up quite high. In almost no time at all, the colorful parachute was high over the seas, and the lovers were marvelling at the waters and shoreline below.
**This is incredible, Jack,** Daniel communicated.
**Breathtaking,** Jack agreed.
**Jack, be honest. You were just giving me a hard time earlier, right?** Daniel inquired about Jack's hesitation to participate in the event.
Daniel could hear the silent laughter as Jack responded, **Yeahsureyoubetcha, Dannyboy. This is fannnnnnnntastic!**
The lovers enjoyed their sail through the skies, so much so that when the boat decreased its speed and the crew reeled them in, landing them back on the platform from which they had taken off, they vowed to come back one more time before returning home to the States.
“Jen and Jeff have to do this,” Jack urged as he got out of the harness.
“Definitely!” Daniel agreed.
“This was a great choice, Love,” Jack spoke about his lover's choice of something new for them to do.
“I thought we were due for a little adventure,” Daniel replied.
“My genius!” Jack exclaimed as the two thanked the crew again and then headed back for their villa.
Jeff returned from his swim, drying himself with his beach towel as he returned to his spot on the sand. He looked over at Jennifer, chuckling at how she was surrounded by four male teens.
~Move over, Annette~ Jeff thought about the 1960's beach party icon, Annette Funicello. It was amusing, until Daniel's words echoed in his mind. ~What was it Daddy said?~
“She's somebody's daughter, and maybe, she's somebody's sister,” Daniel had spoken about a good-looking girl Jeff was watching at the time.
“Yeah, she's *my* sister!” Jeff said aloud, suddenly not very fond of how the boys were gawking at his sister. He could see lust in their eyes. ~Not with my sister, you don't,~ he thought, fully aware of what they had to be thinking and wanting from Jennifer.
“You really like this?” Jennifer asked coyly, enjoying the fuss the boys were making over her.
“Hey, Sis,” Jeff said, barging in unabashedly.
“Who are you?” one of the boys asked.
“I'm her brother,” Jeff answered. “That's why I said, 'Hey, *Sis*',” he added snarkily. ~You're gone.~
“Jeff, don't you have something to do someplace *else*?” Jennifer asked, her voice a bit agitated at the intrusion.
“No, sure don't,” Jeff replied enthusiastically. “Not a thing.”
“Jeff!” Jennifer exclaimed, full of exasperation at her brother's sudden imitation of a magnet attached to her.
“Your sister would like some privacy,” another of the boys said.
Smiling, Jeff motioned with his head for the boy to join him. He walked a few feet away and, mimicking his older father, put his arm around the teen's shoulders.
“Listen, that's my sister you're trying to make a move on, and I'm here to tell you that it's just not going to happen,” Jeff said confidently. “Um, let me tell you a secret. Something Jen doesn't like anyone to know.”
“Yeah? What?” the boy asked curiously.
“Mono,” Jeff stated cautiously, nodding his head at the boy. ~Okay, so she doesn't have it anymore, but she used to.~ He glanced back at his sexy-looking sister and remarked, “She earned it, too.” He smiled deceptively. ~Well, she earned it in that twisted Mary Beth's mind, anyway.~
Jeff smirked as the boy took a look over at the teenage girl and the three boys still flirting with her.
“Aw, who needs the competition, anyway,” the boy bemoaned, walking away and looking for other 'game'.
~One down, three to go,~ Jeff thought as he returned to his sister and her would-be paramours.
“What happened to Gary?” Jennifer asked.
“Oh, was that his name?” Jeff answered casually. “He's over there,” he answered, pointing at the boy next to another teenage girl.
“Oh,” Jennifer said, arching her back as she lay on her beach blanket. “It sure is sunny out. I'd better put on some more sunscreen,” she stated.
“I'll help you,” one of the boys spoke eagerly, taking the bottle of sun block from the girl and happily applying it to her bare back.
“You help with the back, and I'll help with ...” another boy began to offer.
Jeff ran his hand across his mouth, nodding and smiling at all the attention his sister was getting. He walked closer to the other two boys, taking a position almost directly between them.
Casually, Jeff whispered, “Yeah, wait until our father sees you. He's sort of crazy, you know. Avid member of the NRA.” He smiled, thinking, ~Okay, that's a lie, but necessary. Dad wouldn't mind. He'd probably get Aunt Sam to come up with a fake membership card, and tell me to flash it around.~ “You should see what he did to the last guy who dated Sis. Whew!” he said, looking upward at the sky. “He was an octopus, and Dad lost his cool.”
“He did?” one of the two boys asked.
“What did he do?” the other teen inquired.
“I'm not supposed to tell, but Dad paid all the medical bills, and the judge suspended his sentence. It was just a few broken bones after all,” Jeff intoned with a grimace. ~Another lie, but he would pay if he really had done it. Is my nose growing?~
“Uh, see ya,” the second boy spoke, quickly leaving the area.
“Yeah, like later,” the first boy stated, sprinting away.
Grinning, Jeff turned and faced Jennifer, whose mouth was open as she gaped at him.
“Jeff, what did you say to them? Where are they going?” the teenage girl queried suspiciously.
Jeff shrugged as if he knew nothing about it and basically ignored the question. Instead, he smiled innocently at the remaining teenager who had just finished applying the sun block to Jennifer's back. He was ready to make his next move, when the other teen spoke first.
“Let them go, Jen. They're idiots for leaving you alone with me, but now that they have, let's take advantage,” the teen boy spoke. He sat down in front of her, his back to Jeff, and gazed into her eyes. “You and me are gonna have a good time.”
“Over my dead body, pal,” Jeff interrupted, physically moving forward, reaching down, and grabbing Jennifer by the hand, forcing her to stand up.
“Jeff!” Jennifer shouted rebelliously.
“Stop looking at her that way!” Jeff spat harshly to the other teen.
“Or what?” the boy snorted, giving Jeff an odd look.
“Or I'll flatten ya!” Jeff said, putting up his fists.
“Oh, Jeff, stop it!” Jennifer sighed, leaning over to pick up her towel and accessories. “Honestly, you're as bad as Dad!”
“Hey, Daddy wouldn't like the way this jerk just undressed you, either,” Jeff claimed, relaxing his stance a bit.
“Dad *and* Daddy?” the surprised teen asked.
“Yes!” both Jennifer and Jeff barked.
“I'm out of here,” the teen replied, putting both of his hands in front of his chest as if waving off bad spirits.
“DORK!” Jeff shouted out at the fleeing teenager.
Jennifer put her right hand on her hip, holding her items in her other hand, and disgustedly asked, “Jeff, what were you friggin' doing?”
“Such language, Jennifer!” Jeff admonished with a smile.
“Oh, fiddlesticks!” Jennifer exclaimed, looking up at the sky and then hurrying by her brother, physically pushing him aside. “Dad and Daddy are bad enough, but now, you? Geez, what am I going to do?” she whined as she swiftly moved away.
Jeff shouted out in response, “WEAR DECENT CLOTHES!”
The two teens had just returned to their villa, their fathers walking in only moments later to the sound of their two oldest children in the midst of an argument.
“We were only talking, Jeff,” Jennifer claimed with a raised voice.
“I saw you showing off your bare back, Jen,” Jeff argued.
“He was putting on sun block,” the girl said, throwing up her hands and letting out a scream. “You're worse than Dad!”
“Whoa! Did I just hear my name taken in vain?” Jack asked, shutting the door behind him.
“Dad, I saved Jen from some marauding boys,” Jeff stated, beating his sister to the punch. “They were ogling her. It was in their eyes.”
“They were not!” Jennifer exclaimed. She turned to Daniel and, pointing at her brother, declared, “Daddy, he was just horrible!”
“Calm down, Jen. What happened?” the younger man asked.
Jennifer relayed the entire tale from her point of view, after which Jeff gave his version. Both stories were basically the same with one notable exception -- the intent of the gawking boys. To Jennifer, they were all just getting to know each other. To Jeff, they were ready to pounce and deflower his sister.
“Good job, Jeff,” Jack said, patting the boy on the back.
The two objections caused Jack to shrug and say, “Sounds to me like Jeff was just trying to protect you, Jen.”
“I didn't need protecting,” Jennifer replied sternly.
“You sure the heck do,” Jack insisted, his eyes looking the pretty and more-shapely-every-day teenage female over.
“Oh, for crying out loud, Dad. He's showing more than I am!” the girl exclaimed, again pointing at her brother and his beach attire. “It's not fair for you to let Jeff parade around, displaying his assets, while you want me to be dressed like a nun!” Seeing Jack's look of 'So?', she groaned, grabbed her things, and retorted, “If you're so sure I'm a spectacle, I might as well make sure I look like one!”
A moment later, the girl disappeared into her room.
“Danny, what do you think she meant by that?” Jack asked, feeling a bit uneasy about the fleeing commentary.
“I have *no* idea,” Daniel admitted. He stood still for another moment before turning his attention to their son. He blinked as the light dawns, then commented, “She's right, Jack. We're using a double standard.”
“Right?” both Jack and Jeff questioned incredulously.
“Jeff, you're not wearing conservative swim trunks, anymore than Jen is wearing a swimsuit from the fifties. It shows more skin than we'd like, but, uh, well ...” Daniel paused, waving his hand toward the boy's mid-section. “It may not display the full ... package, but it, uh ... you know.”
Jack stared at his lover for a moment, than looked over at Jeff. He widened his eyes as he considered the twist in the conversation.
“Crap, you're right,” the older man admitted.
“What?” Jeff asked.
“Son, you and Jennifer stay here. Danny, we're going down to the gift shops,” Jack intoned firmly.
“We are,” Jack reiterated, heading for the door.
Daniel shrugged, giving Jeff a smile before following his lover.
With Jeff in his room and having been told about their parents unplanned shopping excursion, Jennifer retrieved a couple of items from the kitchenette and then went into the bathroom.
~They're always telling me what to do, treating me like I'm two. This is so not fair. I'm wearing a freakin' one-piece suit. Okay, so it has a bare back, but everything is covered, and did they see all the other girls my age on the beach? They were wearing bikinis. Okay, so they think I'm a spectacle. Fine, I'll be a spectacle!~
Angered by the unfairness of the situation, Jennifer opened her bottle of conditioner, plus the packages she'd taken from the kitchenette.
~Jeff was bulging out all over the place. How is that different?~
Mumbling, Jennifer mixed some conditioner along with the contents of the packages and then applied it, thoroughly covering every part of her hair.
“I can't believe this,” Jack grumbled. “Danny, all they have are these little scraps,” he said, holding up some very skimpy bikinis.
“They have these,” Daniel pointed out, displaying some little girl's swimsuits.
Daniel nodded at his lover, conveying a silent, but important message.
“She's not a little girl,” Jack sighed, as if he'd never even considered the fact that their daughter was now seventeen.
“Jack, the truth is, most of her friends have a lot more ... freedom in their dress and how they live ... wait, hear me out,” Daniel spoke, putting the palm of his hand on Jack's chest to stop the older man from interrupting. “Jen doesn't want to be like them, but she also doesn't want to be a pilgrim. Isn't there a compromise? In fact, isn't that exactly what Jen did with her swimming attire?”
Jack took a deep breath, then turned and examined all the bikinis that were on display and on the shelves to be sold.
“She planned that, didn't she?” Jack spoke, recalling the three different outfits.
“She knows you like a book, Babe, and she knew if she walked in wearing what really is conservative for this era, that you'd still go berserk. She doesn't want to wear a thong, but she's a beautiful young lady, Jack; she's not a child, and we *have* to stop treating her like one, or we're going to lose her.”
Suddenly, Jack made a startling discovery. His expression changed as he processed his new-found awareness.
“That's why we're here, isn't it?” Jack asked. He shook his head, saying, “We're here to get back in touch with our oldest children. Instead, I'm trying to get her to be ten years old again.”
Daniel smiled to acknowledge his husband's words and then added, “Why didn't we make a fuss over what Jeff was wearing? He wasn't ... hanging out, but ...” Picking up an item from a shelf, he held up what was essentially an athletic supporter made of Spandex with the added piece to make it a thong. “He could have been wearing this.”
“I had no idea, Danny, none at all. Jen's right about the double standard.” Jack let out a snort and echoed, “Double standard. Geez, he was showing off more than Jen,” he admitted. He began searching through the bins, finally pulling out something he could live with. “Do you think she'd like this?”
“She'll probably fall over and die of shock,” Daniel mused. “Jack, she doesn't want a bikini, at least not yet. Maybe next summer. Right now, she just wants us to notice that she's growing up; that's all.”
Jack nodded, then motioned towards the exit, all the while thinking, ~Gotta sneak back here and get one of those for my Danny -- in blue!~ Quickly, though, he reined in his thoughts so his husband wouldn't 'overhear'. ~Wonder how Teal'c's doing with JD?~
“Is she hibernating or something?” Jack groused about their daughter.
“She said she'd be out in a minute,” Daniel replied.
The couple had been back in their villa for over a half-hour and were anxious to speak with both of their children. While Jeff had been reading a book on the balcony, Jennifer had been out-of-sight when their parents had returned.
Jeff noted, “She hasn't said a word to me since before you left to go shopping.”
Jack walked to the door and tapped on it, calling out, “Jennifer, now would be a good time.”
“I'm coming already,” Jennifer responded a bit sharply. ~What did I do?~ she bemoaned, looking at her image in the mirror. ~Okay, well, I guess I am what they wanted me to be.~ She stood up straight, held her head up high, and glided into the living area of the villa. “You called?”
Jack's face sagged, his eyes going as wide as silver dollars, as he stood, transfixed. Daniel's mouth opened, and his eyes blinked three or four times as he stared in disbelief. Jeff stood up, his book dropping noisily to the floor. He cocked his head back in surprise.
“JENNIFER!” Jack shouted.
“Uh, Jen?” Daniel asked.
“Now, that's rad,” Jeff chuckled.
“Yes, Dad? Daddy? Thank you, Jeff,” Jennifer responded, regally walking past them all and sitting down on the sofa. “What's the meeting about?”
“Oh, I don't think so,” Jack spoke, his voice strained. “You get up off that sofa and get that ... *whatever* it is out of your hair now.”
“You wanted me to be a spectacle, Dad. Now, I am,” Jennifer retaliated calmly. ~Gawd, I hate it, too.~
“Jennifer Renee Morgan Jackson-O'Neill, you will *not* live to see another name added if you *don't* get up off of that sofa *now!*” Jack ordered.
“Jack,” Daniel interrupted, moving in front of his lover. **Shhh!*** He turned to face their daughter. Smiling, he asked gently, “Jennifer, what were you thinking?”
Jack did a double take at his soulmate, surprised by the question.
“Daddy, I'm only being what you and Dad expect ...”
“Jennifer, we've had this discussion, if you recall,” Daniel spoke. “Now, I understand you're angry at us because of the double standard we were applying, and I want to apologize for that because you were absolutely right.”
“I was?” Jennifer responded, amazed. “I mean, of course, I was,” she added more confidently.
“Dad and I had just decided that we needed to show you more respect, that you were growing up and, uh, are a young lady who needs to be treated as such. Tell me this, Jen, what would you say to you right now?”
Jennifer sighed, “That I'm an idiot who lost her temper and did a stupid thing. I'm not a young lady, Daddy. I'm a spoiled, rotten child who is messing up our wonderful vacation. I'm sorry.”
“Teenagers,” Jack chuckled.
Daniel looked back in surprise, and both Jennifer and Jeff looked at their older father with question marks etched on their faces.
Jack reached forward and patted his lover on the back a few times as he walked in front of him and took a seat next to Jennifer.
“Jen, being a teenager is about growing up. You make mistakes, but that's how you learn. I'm glad you realize that what you've done was a response to your anger and frustration,” Jack spoke calmly.
“I was so upset, Dad. If I'd thought about it a little more, I know I wouldn't have done this. Gawd, I just hate it!”
“Is that dye, Sis?” Jeff asked, wondering where she had managed to get purple and orange hair dye.
“No, it's just Kool-Aid,” the teenage girl replied, yanking on her long hair with her right hand.
Jack put his arm around her and tugged her close, prompting Jennifer to lay her head on his shoulder.
“Growing up is hard, Jen, for parents, too,” Jack spoke, a wry smile on his face. “You *are* a young lady, and I need to accept that. I'm not promising to change overnight, but I'm going to try and accept that you won't always be our little girl.”
“You're wrong, Dad. I *will* always be your and Daddy's little girl -- always,” Jennifer declared softly.
“Gee, do we have to get all emotional here?” Jeff queried, feeling a little bit out of place.
Daniel sat down next to Jeff on the sofa that was opposite the one Jack and Jennifer were on.
“Jeff, I have a hunch I'm the one who might have gotten you to go a little bit overboard on the beach,” Daniel suggested.
Jeff nodded, confirming, “Yeah. Everyone is someone's daughter or sister. I don't want Jen to be taken advantage of or used, especially after what Peter Hamilton did.” He looked over at his sister, adding, “And, I'm not saying he's a bad guy, Jen. I know you're friends with him now, and he seems like he's changed a little, but he hurt you. Sappy and gushy or not, you're my sister, and I ...”
“You want to protect me,” Jennifer completed. She left her seat beside Jack, taking the spot on the other side of her brother. She placed a kiss on his cheek as she rubbed his arm. “Thanks for being a big brother ... little brother.”
“Jen, are you sure that ... Kool-Aid will come out?” Daniel asked.
“Yes, but it will probably take a few days; maybe even a week or two. I'm sorry. I wouldn't want to be seen with me, and ...”
“Hey,” Jack quickly interrupted. “You're our daughter, and we are always proud to be seen with you. In fact,” he began, glancing at his watch, “it's time for dinner. Let's change and eat down in the dining area.”
“People will stare,” Jennifer admitted hesitantly.
“Let them,” Daniel spoke, smiling.
“Just let me take a quick shower and change into some appropriate clothes,” Jennifer replied, getting up and heading for her bedroom.
“I need to change, too,” Jeff added as he got up and went to his room since he, like his sister, was still in his swim attire.
“Be out in a jiffy,” Jennifer stated a few moments later, emerging from her bedroom with her chosen attire for the evening and heading for the bathroom.
A few minutes later, Jeff exited his bedroom wearing a pair of dark blue shorts and a light blue shirt.
Ten minutes after that, Jennifer exited the bathroom wearing an airy black dress with purple flowers on it that matched her hair.
“Typical girl,” Jeff remarked. “Always have to accessorize everything to match.”
Everyone laughed at Jeff's teasing, and then the family headed off to the hotel's restaurant.
What had begun as a rebellious stunt by Jennifer had now morphed into a tender family moment. Their trip was far from over, but Jack and Daniel both felt they'd already learned a lot about their children.
After breakfast the next morning, the four Jackson-O'Neills went down to the main level. They sat at an umbrella-covered table and were immediately served with some complimentary fruits to nibble on as they relaxed.
Sitting back in his chair, wearing white pants and an orange-themed Hawaiian style shirt, Jack tossed an orange up into the air and, upon catching it, said, “This is the life.”
Jennifer had on a lovely sleeveless multi-colored dress that had two ties which criss-crossed her neck and back. She had her hair up, pinned beautifully in layers. Atop her head was a floppy white hat, which was actually very stylish for this time of year. She was quite a sight for the male population to behold.
“Can we move here?” Jennifer teased.
“I can see the Munchkins and the Spitfires playing on the beach,” Jeff laughed. The teenage boy was wearing black shorts and a tan shirt. “Sand castles and booby traps everywhere,” he mused as he imagined his siblings combining play with covert activities.
Clad in blue pants and a blue-themed Hawaiian shirt, Daniel laughed, “Sounds about right. I don't think it would be safe for the tourists.” He was about to take a bite out of a banana he'd just peeled back, but he stopped, leaning forward and placing his arms on the table. “Jeff, Jen, I have to ask this.”
“What, Daddy?” Jennifer asked as she relaxed in her chair.
“Dad and I rely on you two a lot to watch over your younger brothers and sis...” Daniel began.
“Oh, Daddy, not again,” Jennifer sighed.
Daniel looked over at their daughter in surprise.
“I know you didn't adopt me to be a babysitter, and I know you both do count on me to do a lot of babysitting, but I like it. I love my brothers and sisters, and, well, it makes me feel good to know they do rely on me.” Jennifer leaned forward, smiling at each of her fathers before continuing, “Does it interfere sometimes with what I'd rather be doing? Okay, yes, sometimes I don't want to stay home. Sometimes I'd rather be listening to music or working on the loom than keeping Jonny from tying up Ricky or ...”
“When did Jonny tie up Ricky?” Jack interrupted, a bit alarmed.
Jeff laughed, “Last week. He said he was practicing knot-tying techniques.”
“Knot-tying techniques?” Both Jack and Daniel questioned.
“We've got to talk to that boy,” Jack stated as he looked at his lover.
“Anyway,” Jennifer said, attempting to get the subject back on track. “I don't feel put out about taking care of the brood. What about you, Jeff?” she asked, turning to her brother, who was seated next to her.
“I like taking care of the brood,” Jeff responded in a surprisingly quiet voice, bowing his head slightly.
“Son, is something wrong?” Jack asked from his spot across from the boy.
Jeff looked up and smiled. He looked at Jack and then at Daniel, then he glanced over at Jennifer.
“Jeff?” Daniel prodded.
“I was an only child once. I like *not* being an only child. Like Jen said, sometimes I wish I had more time to play basketball or work on my photography, but I wouldn't trade one minute of the time I spend with those crazy kids for anything in the world,” Jeff answered, his tone a bit emotional.
Daniel reached over and placed his hand on the boy's lower arm. He squeezed it lovingly and smiled.
“Okay, I, we, just wanted to make sure,” Daniel stated.
“You've made sure before,” Jennifer commented. Then she added, “Actually, it is kinda nice that you talk to us about it sometimes. I know a gal whose parents never ask her, and they actually demand more of her than you two do of us. I feel sorry for her.” Suddenly, Jennifer laughed. “Dad, honestly!”
To break the emotional tension, Jack had picked up an orange, a kiwi, and a cantaloupe and had begun juggling them.
“How can you do that?” Jeff asked. “They aren't the same size.”
“Talent, my boy, talent!” Jack exclaimed with pride as he continued his juggling exhibition. A minute later, he concluded the show, surprised when guests at other tables broke out into applause. He stood, bowed dramatically, and intoned, “Next show in two hours.”
“Jack, sit down,” Daniel ordered under his breath.
As the family laughed, they continued to enjoy their time together in the Bahamas.
“Jen, let's stop here for a while,” Jack called out to his daughter later that morning. The two were taking a leisurely bike ride, just taking in the land they were vacationing in. “There's a bench.”
“Okay, Dad,” Jennifer agreed, slowing and then jumping off the bike. She patted her dress and commented, “I think I should have changed before we did this.”
“You look great,” Jack praised. “In fact,” he said as he put down the kickstand on the bike and walked over to the girl. “You're beautiful.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Jennifer responded with a lovely smile that made her even more beautiful.
“How's Hamilton?” Jack asked as they sat down.
“Peter?” Jennifer asked, surprised Jack would inquire about her friend.
Peter Hamilton had been Jennifer's first real infatuation. She didn't consider him a first love, and they had never really been boyfriend and girlfriend, either. Still, she had liked the boy for a long time, and he had given her her very first kiss, brief as it was. Then, she'd convinced her parents to let her go out on a date with the older boy. Jack and Daniel had been reluctant, but they felt they had no choice but to let her.
Sadly for Jennifer, her parents had been right. Peter had made multiple unwelcome advances, and Jennifer had essentially decked him. With time, though, things had settled. The wealthy boy had apologized and, with Jack's and Daniel's consent, had resumed a friendly relationship with Jennifer. Though Peter had asked if they might date again, the girl had refused, suggesting they remain friends only. That agreement had occurred last Thanksgiving. Now, Peter was in England, attending college.
“He's fine, Dad. He's not so crazy about Oxford, though,” Jennifer stated.
“Too many stuffed shirts?” Jack inquired.
“I don't know. I guess so,” Jennifer shrugged.
“Jen,” Jack lightly prodded.
“He says he misses being in the Springs,” the teenager noted.
“Misses the Springs, or you?”
“He's still in your heart, Princess. You can deny it if you want to, but he's there,” Jack opined.
“Peter's a good friend, and that's all he is,” Jennifer responded, bowing her head slightly for a moment.
“You don't miss him then,” Jack stated.
“Well, maybe a little, but he's awfully far away, Dad. Have I told you about Mike Gabriel? He's in my calculus class, and he's very nice. I think he's going to ask me out,” Jennifer intoned.
“Do you miss Peter?” Jack asked, refusing to be diverted.
“A little,” Jennifer admitted. “He's really changed, Dad.”
“Maybe that's worth something then,” Jack put forth.
Jennifer gave her father a look of disbelief and remarked, “Why are you always on his side now?”
Jack put his arm around Jennifer's shoulders and tugged her close, saying, “I'm on your side, Princess.”
“So, I can date Mike?”
Jack laughed, “Invite him over for dinner, and we'll see.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Jennifer said as she rested her head against her older father's shoulder.
“Are you ready for a car yet?” Jack asked.
“What?” Jennifer asked, confused.
“You've never asked for a car, and when we asked you if you wanted one, you avoided the question. How come?” Jack inquired.
“Oh, I don't know. I like walking, and if I really need to go somewhere, you and Daddy let me use the SUV,” Jennifer responded.
“There's nothing more to it? Most of your friends have cars, don't they?” Jack asked.
“Some of them,” Jennifer acknowledged. “I don't know, Dad. I guess when I start college, I'll need one, but ...”
Jack felt the shrug against his body. He and Daniel had both been surprised that Jennifer had never asked for a car. In fact, she'd never really been that interested in having one. She did pass her driver's test almost immediately after turning sixteen, and they had deemed her a safe and cautious driver based on various trips in which they'd had her do some of the driving. They trusted her, and she had chauffeured the younger kids from time to time as well as running some of the family errands.
“Just not into driving?” Jack surmised.
“Does that make me a reject?” Jennifer asked.
“No, Sweetheart, it doesn't.”
“Um, if it makes you and Daddy feel better, I am saving up for a car,” Jennifer confided.
“Jen, if you need money to ...”
“No, Dad. It's okay,” Jennifer assured.
Jack smiled, thinking, ~That must be it. She wants to buy it herself. I can understand that. Way to go, Princess.~
“Thanks for the game,” a good-looking female called out at Daniel, waving enthusiastically.
Daniel nodded and waved back, watching the woman and three others walk away. He and Jeff said good-byes to a couple of others and headed back for their villa. While Jack and Jennifer had gone on their bike ride, Daniel and Jeff had been playing volleyball with some folks on the beach.
“I have a hunch Dad wouldn't like Michelle,” Jeff opined.
“Why do you say that?” Daniel asked.
“The way she was looking at you,” Jeff chuckled.
Jeff laughed, saying, “Dad has a jealous streak a mile wide, Daddy. We all know it.”
Daniel sighed, deciding not to pretend it didn't exist. He was, however, grateful that Mr. Jealousy had toned down a lot over the years.
“Speaking of jealousy,” Daniel began.
“I'm not jealous,” Jeff stated forcefully. “Maybe a little,” he reluctantly agreed. “I like her, Daddy. I like her a lot.”
The topic of conversation was Chely Tillison. She and Jeff had met at the beginning of the school term, and they hung out together a lot, oftentimes with plenty of friends around. They dated casually, going to school dances and to the movies, but it was always just friendly. Everyone knew the two liked each other, but even after all these months, they weren't officially a couple. While Jeff sometimes held her hand, and they were physically comfortable with each other, the teens had never kissed.
“Have you told her that?” Daniel asked, his head bowed slightly as they walked.
“Sort of,” Jeff said. “I mean, well, kind of.”
“Sort of, kind of?” Daniel asked, glancing over at his son with a probing smile.
“I get a little ... tongue-tied when I get to the mushy stuff. She knows I like her,” Jeff insisted.
“Jeff, never assume, especially with someone you care about,” Daniel spoke.
“Daddy, did you date ... ah, never mind,” Jeff said, shaking his head.
“Why don't we sit down over here,” Daniel suggested, sitting down on the top of a short stone wall. When Jeff joined him, he said, “I know I haven't talked a whole lot about ... girls and dating. Your dad is better at that. He was popular in school and did his share of dating.”
“We don't need to talk about this, Daddy,” Jeff said, not wanting his younger father to feel uncomfortable in any way.
“Jeff, I'm okay with my past. I didn't have the best adolescence in the world, but it's what I had, and now, I have you, your brothers and sisters, and the best husband in the universe. I'm not the best one to advise you on how to talk to a girl.” He paused for a moment, then confided, “I didn't really date. I was the geek with the big glasses, and I was always too young because I graduated early. There was Sarah in college, but ...”
“Is she the one Jen told me about once?” Jeff asked, then further clarified, “Something about running into her in Egypt, and she was ...”
“Not happy to find out Dad and I were together,” Daniel answered in confirmation as he looked out over the sea. “We only dated a couple of months, and, to be honest, she was the aggressor in that relationship. I was kinda shy, and my priority was my studies.” He sighed as he thought back, then continued, “And, Sha're, well, she was given to me, which sounds archaic in our civilization, but on Abydos, that was a tradition, a show of respect or appreciation.”
“It was an honor for Sha're,” Jeff assumed.
“Apparently,” Daniel said, letting out a tiny snort. “I didn't think she was getting much, but I realized I had to accept the gift, or she'd be disgraced. Uh, the good thing was that we hit it off. She was very bright, and she had a way of drawing me out.”
“How'd you tell her that you loved her ... the first time?” Jeff asked curiously, knowing from past references to Sha're that Daniel had truly loved her.
Daniel chuckled, “She was teaching me how to make yaphetta flour. You have to grind it just right. I wasn't very good at it at first, and I ended up getting it all over me and Sha're. She just laughed, not at me, but at how ridiculous we both looked. I just looked at her and told her. I don't know if I'd said it before, but that time, it was from my heart, and she knew it.”
“Maybe I should teach Chely how to make yaphetta flour, whatever that is,” Jeff wondered.
“Maybe you shouldn't try to complicate it, Jeff. You aren't committing for a lifetime by saying, 'I like you', but, trust me, if you don't say the words, you can't expect her to know,” Daniel stated.
“But we've spent a bunch of time together. We laugh and just hang out. She's even good at basketball,” Jeff stated.
“So, she's a buddy then,” Daniel surmised leadingly.
“She's ... oh, geez, Daddy, is that what she thinks?” Jeff stood and walked a few feet away before turning around to look back at his father. “Do you think she thinks we're just friends?”
“I think she doesn't know what to think,” Daniel opined. “You had that crazy first meeting with the brood at the bookstore, but you never followed up with it, not as a boyfriend. You've never made her feel like you're going to the movie with her because you want to be with her, and just her. It's been an entire school term, Jeff, and you didn't, as Dad would say, stake your claim. If you like her, you're going to have to find a way to tell her, or you have no right to be upset if she starts to date your classmates.”
“How come I've been so dense?” Jeff asked, sighing as he shook his head and stood with his hands on his hips.
~No, can't say it,~ the archaeologist silently mused, knowing that the flippant remark on the tip of his tongue was a line Jack would have said and that it would have led to a banterous round of silliness, or jealousy, or maybe both. Standing up, he answered, “When we commit by admitting our emotions, we put ourselves on the line. We're out there, saying 'here I am'. Then we just have to wait and see if we're invited inside or get the door slammed in our faces.”
“I'm not afraid,” Jeff replied.
“Then why haven't you told her?” Daniel asked, staring directly in his son's eyes.
“Because I ... because ... be ... gee whiz, Daddy,” Jeff whined.
With a reassuring smile on his face, Daniel patted Jeff on the back and then motioned towards the hotel. The two began heading back to their private villa.
“I guess I am a little afraid, but not of the words, but of losing her. Maybe she doesn't like me the way I like her,” Jeff suggested.
“That's a possibility, but you won't know until ...”
“I tell her that I like her,” Jeff surmised, his face suddenly displaying the 'Aha!' look of just having had an insight. “This would be a good example of the 'transparent shell' we talked about before?”
Daniel nodded, saying, “It keeps you safe, but it also prevents you from making real connections with people.”
“Whatever happened to women's liberation that we studied in school?” Jeff inquired.
“It's out there, Son,” Daniel spoke. “It's possible, though, that Chely likes being chased. Maybe she's traditional. I'm sure there are other girls in your class who are more direct.”
“I don't think Chely is the type to want to stay at home,” Jeff said doubtfully.
“You don't know that, Jeff,” Daniel refuted as he walked with his hands in his pockets. “People can be very much one way in their public lives and quite different at home. How many men do you suppose there are leading corporations, commanding military forces, and making decisions every day that affect the lives of millions, who turn into 'Yes, Dear' henpecked husbands the minute they walk in their front door? It's the same for women. They may want a seat on the board, but still have the door to the boardroom opened for them.”
“That doesn't seem fair,” Jeff opined.
“Being fair is largely a matter of the cultural perceptions you were raised with. Do you think it was fair for Sha're to be given to me as a gift? If I had self-righteously refused to accept her, she would have rejected by her society. They wouldn't have recognized that I turned her away because of my society's customs. She would have been an outcast, which means she would have had two choices: slave or prostitute. We say, 'How unfair', but that is how that society was -- patriarchal.”
“That's why you didn't say 'no',” Jeff surmised.
“I couldn't hurt her. She didn't even understand,” Daniel responded. After a moment, he added, “People are complex, Jeff, and they have to decide how they will live in the situation they find themselves in. That woman on the board I mentioned a moment ago could be the most wallflower wife because being submissive to her husband makes her feel like a woman, whereas another woman wants a partner who will treat her like an equal, in the boardroom *and* the bedroom.”
“How do you know what to do?” the teen queried.
“You don't always, but if you are true to yourself, and if you openly and honestly communicate with the people who matter to you, you won't go wrong very often.”
“Whew, that's complicated! I don't know how Chely feels about women's liberation, what her ideals of marriage are, if her parents are conservative or liberal ...”
“All good subjects to discuss with a girlfriend, right? But first ...” Daniel began, giving his son a encouraging nod.
“But first ... I have to let her know I want her to be my girlfriend,” Jeff completed with a grin.
“That would be a good idea,” Daniel agreed.
“I take after my fathers, all *three* of them,” Jeff intoned lightheartedly.
“Enough serious talk for one day?” Daniel asked.
Jeff nodded his agreement, then said, “I'm hungry.”
Daniel laughed, “Relationships and hunger do go hand-in-hand. Let's see if Dad and Jen are back yet.”
“I wish Bri was here,” Jennifer commented during the twenty-minute ride on the ferry boat that was taking the Jackson-O'Neills from Port Lucaya to the south shore of the Grand Bahama Island.
“The concierge said there are all kinds of opportunities for scuba diving, too,” Jeff noted.
Jack and Daniel stood off to the side, enjoying the great weather and time together.
“Bri's really been studying her sciences,” Daniel commented.
“She's doing great at Scoooooby Doo school, too,” Jack remarked, intentionally mis-speaking the name of the Denver scuba school the young girl was regularly attending as she continued her quest to become a certified scuba diver and, eventually, a marine biologist.
As Daniel laughed, Jennifer called out, “There's the dock.”
For the next little while, the foursome looked around, seeing all that Unexso had to offer. Then they embarked on their swimming with the dolphins adventure, each of them going into the lagoon where they were guided through a variety of dolphin behaviors by their guide.
“This is great!” Jack called out. “Hey, Flipper, jump!” he ordered a dolphin, laughing enthusiastically when the critter did as commanded.
“You've finally found someone to follow your orders, Babe,” Daniel called out.
“And it's a fish!” Jennifer roared.
The group spent almost a half-hour with the aquatic animals before leaving the protected environment to get ready to return to their villa.
“I wish we could have stayed longer,” Jeff lamented.
“Now, I know why Bri rants about her trip with Megan,” Jennifer noted. “Dad, Daddy, you have to bring her here. I read in one of their brochures that they have trips out to the ocean, too. Bri would love that.”
“We'll see,” Jack responded, looking at Daniel and knowing the trip would probably occur sometime in the next year or so.
After changing back into their street clothes and then collecting the photos they'd had taken, Jack, Daniel, and their oldest children headed back to Xanadu.
“You two know the rules,” Jack reminded as the family prepared to go out for the evening. Seeing two glares, he continued, “Make sure any beverages given to you are non-alcoholic. Don't go anywhere where you aren't in our line of sight. No ...”
“Jack, they aren't children,” Daniel interjected. He looked at Jeff and Jennifer and intoned, “It's just we're not in the United States, and strange things can happen. Just be cautious; that's all we're asking.”
“Okay, Daddy,” Jennifer said, smiling.
“We understand,” Jeff affirmed.
“By the way, you both look *great*,” the archaeologist opined.
“I'll second that,” Jack eagerly added.
“I'm glad they like hats here. Purple and orange hair doesn't make me look my best,” Jennifer commented, adjusting the white brim hat so that it gracefully showed off her face, but covered up much of her colorful hair.
The four left for another beach on Grand Bahama Island where they would be dining at a buffet on the beach.
“These ribs are great,” Jeff commented a bit later as they tucked into their dinner.
“Best ones I've had in a while,” Jack agreed.
The family was enjoying a variety of buffet foods, including ribs, chicken, corn on the cob, and much more. Jack and Daniel treated themselves to a Bahama Mama while the teens had punch.
With the stars lighting up the night, a band played as attendees danced on the beach.
“Come on, Daddy. We haven't danced in a long time,” Jennifer requested, reaching out for Daniel's hand.
“Careful, Jen,” Jack called out. “Danny cuts a mean rug.”
“Huh?” Jennifer asked.
“Never mind. I think I'll just rest my old bones here some more,” Jack groaned at his daughter not knowing the old cliché about dancing. “Maybe I'll order some tonic.”
“Dad, if she agrees, can Chely come with us when we go camping next month?” Jeff asked, referring to a weekend trip that some of the family would be going on in July.
“I don't see why not,” Jack answered, noticing something different in the boy's eyes. “Anything you want to tell me?”
“I'm dense,” Jeff stated dryly.
Jack chuckled, “I doubt that, Jeff, but, if you mean you can be a little slow on the uptake, you're not alone.”
“I assumed she knew how much I liked her, but she's hanging with all those guys now,” Jeff sighed.
“And ... making sure you know about it?”
“Yeah,” Jeff confirmed. “She says they keep asking her out. She, um, kinda said she might go with Ben to a concert this weekend.” He paused, taking a giant sigh as he continued to realize a sad truth. “I've never really told her how much I like being with her. I want her to be my girlfriend, for real, officially, I mean ...”
“I know what you mean, and, she's a great girl,” Jack remarked.
Several feet away, Daniel and Jennifer danced as the band jammed on, playing lively music.
As they danced, Daniel drew his daughter in close and said quietly, “I haven't had as much time alone with you as I have with Jeff the last couple of days, but I want you to know you I am proud to have you as my daughter, and you can always come to me if you need me to calm the grizzly before we all talk about something.”
“Thanks, Daddy. I know you and Dad love me, but it's still nice to hear the words. I'm glad you've talked to Jeff. He needed it more.”
Daniel pulled back a bit and looked at his daughter.
“What?” Jennifer queried. “Jeff lost his mom as a boy, and never had anyone even try to fill in. I had my mom until I was twelve, and now I have Aunt Sam, Aunt Sara, Aunt Janet, Megan, and Mrs. Valissi. I don't think Jeff really stops to think about how the loss of his mom has affected him.”
The archaeologist just stared at the female he held in his arms.
“What?” the young woman asked again, in response to Daniel's dazed look.
“You know, Dad and I try our best, but sometimes we miss the obvious. Jen, you are so right. Jeff grew up without a mother; it's a fact. Jack had a great mother, and I lost mine even earlier than Jeff did, but neither of us realized that a young man of sixteen still needs a mother. It's been right in front of us all along. “Thanks, Jen,” he intoned gratefully, pulling her into a hug as their danced finished.
“They look like they're having fun,” Jeff remarked.
“They sure ...”
“IT'S LIMMMMMMMBO TIME!” the lead singer of the band announced. “Come on, Everybody -- LIMMMMMMMMMMMBOOOOOOOO!”
“Now they're playing my song,” Jack intoned, standing. “Come on, Jeff. Daddy is great at this.”
“Yeah, go, Daddy, go!” Jennifer cheered, clapping enthusiastically.
“Lower, Daddy!” Jeff called out.
“You can do it, Danny. Teal'c isn't here this time,” Jack teased, recalling the last time they had done the limbo. It had been at a Valentine's party at Janet's house. “Get your six down!”
“I might if you'd be quiet,” Daniel responded, concentrating on making the pass.
“Yes!” Jack exclaimed.
The party-goers cheered as Daniel began to blush bashfully at the applause and attention.
“Our winner!” the bandleader announced. “This one is on the house,” he said, handing Daniel another Bahama Mama.
“I don't think this is a good idea,” Daniel said quietly when he returned to his family. “That first one was a whopper.”
“Wow, look at her!” Jack exclaimed. “Now those are a couple of ...”
Jack smiled and said, “A couple of nice fire sticks. Get your mind out of the gutter, Danny.”
“I'll do that, just as soon as you keep your eyes on the fire and not the firemaker,” Daniel stated.
“I'm watching the fire.”
“You're watching her ... sticks,” Daniel objected.
“Daniel, I think you're jealous,” Jack spoke with amusement.
“I am not.”
“You are, too.”
“Not,” Daniel insisted.
“Too, Love,” Jack said, nodding for emphasis.
“I am ...”
“Tipsy,” Jennifer chuckled, completing the sentence for her younger father.
“Tipsy,” Daniel sighed. “Gawd, it was that second Bama Mahama.”
“Bahama Mama,” Jack corrected. “Let's watch the fire dancer while the bonfire burns, and then we'll head back.”
“You drive,” Daniel suggested. Then grinning wickedly, he slurred, “Take me drunk, I'm home.”
“We came in a taxi, Danny.”
“We did?” Daniel asked.
“Daddy's gonna have a headache in the morning,” Jeff mumbled to his sister.
Jennifer leaned over towards her brother and quietly chuckled, “This is fun. We don't get to see them let go like this very often. Just being crazy, I mean.”
“Yeah, it's nice,” Jeff agreed as the bonfire continued to roar and light up the beach.
“This'll be fun,” Jeff said as he mounted his horse shortly after 9 a.m. the next morning.
“Noa would be jealous,” Jennifer said, taking the reins of her horse in her hands.
The four family members were going horseback riding at one of the local stables that offered tours of the countryside. It would be a two-hour guided trail ride through an endangered pine forest, past orange groves, and through deciduous coppice and wetland along the beach and into the ocean.
“You doing okay there, Cowboy?” Jack asked with a drawl.
“Where's the start button?” Daniel joked, leaning forward and patting the horse's neck. “He's a tall one, though.”
Daniel happened to get the tallest horse the stable had. Sitting atop the animal, he was actually looking down just a tad at his lover as they talked.
“Duke Jackson-O'Neill,” Jack teased, comparing his lover to John Wayne.
“Yeah, well, just as long as I don't fall off. It's a long way down,” Daniel responded, looking down on his left side.
“We could hang back here,” Jack offered.
“What's in a Bahama Mama, Jack?” Daniel inquired.
“Hmmm, lemon juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine syrup ...” the older man listed.
“Fruit juices didn't make me woozy,” the younger man replied.
“No, but the rum, coconut rum, and cherry liqueur did,” Jack laughed.
Daniel nodded, then shook his head, positive his drinks must have had triple the normal amount of rum in them. He'd never responded quite this way to just two drinks.
~Then again, we don't drink much anymore, either,~ the archaeologist pondered.
“Just follow me,” Henry, their guide said, waving the foursome onward.
“Giddy-up, Betty,” Jack told his horse.
Jack and Daniel rode side by side as they moved away from the stables, with the two teenagers a few feet behind.
“Dad would get a horse named Betty,” Jennifer mused to her brother.
“What's wrong with Betty?” Jeff asked.
“Nothing, really, but mine is Biscuit, yours is Gemini, and Daddy's is Mohawk,” Jennifer intoned quietly.
“And Dad gets Betty,” Jeff chuckled, realizing Jack's horse had an odd name for a horse.
“Don't lag back too much,” Jack called back at the teenagers.
“Do you think he heard us?” Jeff asked.
“No. Maybe. Who knows?” Jennifer laughed as she increased speed slightly.
As they rode, Henry was several yards ahead, while the four family members were clustered together, with Betty out in front. Jack bounced his heels lightly on Betty's ribs to get her to pick up the pace. As soon as he did, Gemini and Biscuit followed suit and were close behind Betty. The horses seemed to be bantering and gossiping among themselves, having as much of a good time as their passengers, all except Mohawk.
Mohawk watched the three other horses recede in the distance with squinting eyes and dragged his right front hoof through the sandy ground a few times, letting out a few snorts followed by a dark, ominous 'whinny'.
~That can't be good~ Daniel thought, searching his memory for anything he may have read about horses and their behavior. ~Horses don't have a lot of pecking order behavior, but they do make a big deal about who is the lead horse.~
Just as that thought flashed through Daniel's mind, Mohawk bolted, running pellmell to catch up with the group ahead. He pushed his neck out so that it was parallel with the ground and his ears were lying flat against his head, making himself as streamlined as possible.
Daniel grabbed onto the pommel since the reins had been pulled out of his grasp and were now out of his reach on the horse's stretched-out neck. Mohawk was in a full throttle gallop, his front hooves digging in and pushing off just as his rear hooves caught up and dug in, propelling his front legs forward again into a full body stretch.
~What's that?~ Jennifer heard the thunderous sound behind them and was the first to turn around. “Look at Daddy go!”
“No, look at Mohawk, go. I don't think Daddy has anything to say about it,” Jeff exclaimed as their younger father zoomed past their group.
“I can't find the brake!” Daniel shouted as his runaway horse caused him to lurch back and forth.
Henry cursed and spurred his horse to run faster.
“C'mon, Kids, let's go!” Jack urged, reluctant to let his husband's runaway horse get out of sight. “Giddy-up!”
Henry led the way, giving chase to the energetic horse. As he and the three Jackson-O'Neill riders followed speed-crazed Mohawk, Daniel's position became ever more precarious. While the saddle had been properly seated on its mount, it was not meant to withstand the movement of an inexperienced rider going at full gallop with the horse in control. Daniel had a death grip on the pommel, and every lurch had caused the saddle to work itself loose. It started to slip sideways, along with Daniel.
All of a sudden, Henry's horse stopped, having thrown a shoe. As the guide stopped to check on his mount, the tourists zoomed by.
Finally, Jack urged Betty alongside Mohawk, while Daniel slipped more and more to the side, until Jack was looking at the top of his husband's head.
“Jack, BACK OFF! Stop chasing him, and I think he'll stop!” Daniel called out loudly.
“Danny, let me help you up onto my horse,” Jack encouraged.
“Forget it! I can't jump! JUST BACK OFF!”
Reluctantly, Jack complied and instructed their two teenage children to cease pursuing the horse that was speeding away with their father holding on for dear life. The saddle had now swung almost completely under his mount, and Daniel was hard pressed to keep his head from trailing along the ground. Worse still, Mohawk showed no signs of stopping.
When the forest-like terrain gave way to sandy ground, Daniel said to himself, ~It's now or never,~ and pulled his feet out of the stirrups. He counted, ~One, two, three,~ and released his hold on the pommel, miraculously managing to throw himself far enough sideways so that he fell clear of Mohawk's hooves. Now flat on his back, he opened his eyes and blinked as he took inventory of his vital body parts. ~Vision is fine, except for no glasses, so no concussion. Fingers -- they move; legs? Yep, legs work. Nothing seems to be broken ...~
Just then, Jack and the two teens dismounted and rushed over.
“Danny, Angel, are you all right?” Jack asked anxiously as he knelt down beside his lover.
“Daddy are you hurt?” Jennifer asked, kneeling opposite her older father.
“Did you break anything?” Jeff asked, standing in front of Daniel and looking down at him.
Daniel shook his head and pulled himself up on his elbows. He smiled wryly at the turn of events.
“Stay put. I'm sure Henry has sent for the cavalry,” Jack ordered.
Daniel was too dazed to protest. As the 'thop, thop, thop' drew closer, he looked over to his right and saw Mohwak contentedly munching on some grass poking up through the sand.
~You mangy nag. You should be ... nah, you're just being yourself. You wanted to make a statement, to be seen. I bet you've been ignored since you were a colt. Gawd, just my luck to have a horse with an insecurity complex.~ The thought made the supine man giggle for a second, then wince with pain. His last conscious thought was, “Why did they have to call a freakin' helicopter?”
“X-rays show no breaks or fractures, and he doesn't have a concussion. He does have a major strain of the latissimus dorsai muscles. We've given him a muscle relaxant. I'll give him a prescription for painkillers. No strenuous activity for a few days. He'll be fine,” the attending physician finished as he spoke with Jack.
In the waiting room, Jennifer and Jeff were anxiously awaiting word of Daniel's condition. They hurried to Jack when he entered the area.
“Doc says he's fine, just sprained the ole Bela Lugosi muscles,” Jack said in an amused tone.
“What?” the teens exclaimed in unison.
“You know, these right here,” Jack explained visually, running his hands down his lower back.
“Honestly, Dad. Just wait until Aunt Janet hears this,” Jennifer spoke.
“I don't want to think about it,” Jack responded.
“Does he have to stay here?” Jeff inquired.
“Nope, he's a little over relaxed, but we can blow this joint after Daddy signs the papers. We'll have to go by the hotel and get one of his spare pairs of glasses,” Jack spoke.
Jeff chuckled, “The optometrist loves us.”
“Yeah, between Daddy and David, we pay their rent for the entire year,” Jennifer chuckled.
“I heard that,” Daniel spoke, reaching out to touch the wall as he walked slowly towards them. ~Ouch!~
“Let's go. No way is a dang horse going to prevent us from finishing our trip in style. It's time for lunch,” Daniel intoned determinedly. **Jack, go along. I'm not totally okay, but I've been worse. I don't want to spoil our time with Jen and Jeff.**
**Okay, Angel, but you lean on me the rest of the time here, and when we get home, pamper time.**
After a late lunch, Jack and Daniel took the teenagers to experience parasailing for the first time. Daniel, unfortunately, had to stay back and just watch while Jack took to the skies again. Then, the family rented a jeep to tour other parts of the island. It was a bit bumpy for Daniel, but he smiled and chatted his way through the rough spots. He was determined to make the entire trip a success.
As evening approached, the Jackson-O'Neills ate dinner in one of the hotel restaurants and then returned to their villa to play some games. Ultimately, they chose Charades, varying their playing partners from game to game.
All were wearing relaxing, casual-fit clothing, after a rather heated discussion over Jennifer's halter top and short shorts.
“Dad, we're not going out,” Jennifer had whined when she had first walked into the living area after having changed her outfit. “It's not like anyone is going to see me. Besides, it's hot.”
“I'll turn up the A/C, and *I* see you,” Jack had replied.
“You're married,” Jennifer had snorted in reply.
“Very funny, Miss Wise Gal,” Jack had retorted.
For the current game, Jack and Daniel were pitted against their children, and it was Jack's turn. Drawing the piece of paper with the 'thing' to be played, he cackled.
“I don't like the sound of that laugh, Dad,” Jeff remarked.
Jack just nodded his head as his face lit up with a naughty laugh. He stood, smirking, in front of the teenagers as he raised his hands and made quotation marks with his fingers.
“It's a quote,” Jeff stated.
Jack gave a thumbs up sign, and Jennifer shouted, “Thumbs up!”
When Jack grunted, shaking his head at the joking teen, Jennifer remarked, “I couldn't resist, Dad.”
Next Jack held up his fingers to indicate the number of words in the quote.
“Two words!” Jennifer called out.
The silver-gray haired man held up one finger, indicating the first word and then began his pantomime. In the air, he pretended to remove something.
“Shirt!” Jeff shouted.
“Jacket!” Jennifer guessed when she saw their father put it on an imaginary hanger.
“Hanger!” the teenage boy exclaimed.
Jack shook his head, putting one finger against his arm. His eyes bore into Jeff's, challenging him to figure out the answer.
“Hang. Just hang,” Jeff deduced, getting a nod from his older father.
Then Jack held up his fingers, indicating they were now guessing the second word. He stared at Jennifer, eyeing her halter top. He pointed at her chest.
“Chest?” Jennifer asked, not sure what to make of Jack's pointing.
**Jack, what are you doing?** Daniel questioned via their silent communication.
**Playing charades, Daniel,** Jack answered. He pointed at Jennifer again and then waved his hand casually at her. ~This should be easy.~
“Top!” Jeff shouted.
“Boobs?” Jennifer asked, earning her the evil eye from Jack. “Well, give us a hint.”
Jack stared again, waving and pointing at Jennifer's top half.
“Gee, Dad, we don't know. Try something else,” Jeff suggested.
Getting an idea, Jack began to strut like a woman, wiggling his hips. He pretended to chew bubblegum and twirl a purse in his right hand.
~What is he doing?~ Daniel thought, not understanding how Jack's performance tied in with the clues.
“Hooker?” Jeff guessed. When Jack turned and stared, the boy responded, “Well, that's the term, isn't it?”
“He better not be calling me a hooker,” Jennifer stated.
“Of course, I'm not,” Jack spoke.
“No talking!” three voices called out.
“For crying out loud, I'm not loose or something,” the teenage girl remarked, leaning back in her seat huffily.
“That's it!” Jeff exclaimed. “Hang loose!”
“There you go!” Jack confirmed, proudly extending out his arm.
Jennifer's mouth opened wide as she glared at her father.
“Jack!” Daniel chastised.
“I am not loose,” Jennifer said, crossing her arms in front of her.
“I didn't mean ...” Jack began.
“Jack, sit down,” Daniel interrupted, rolling his eyes.
Watching his sister glare at her father, Jeff commented, “I think that one is gonna cost you, Dad.”
“Big time,” Jennifer groused.
When Daniel stared at him expectantly, Jack asked, “What?” His response was three pairs of eyes all waiting to see how he was going to make it up to the teenage girl. “A new dress.”
“An entire outfit,” Jennifer demanded.
“That's blackmail,” Jack barked.
“You called our daughter loose,” Daniel argued, covertly wincing at the pain in his back. ~Better take one of those pills soon. Gawd, I hate pills.~
“I didn't mean it like that,” the older man refuted.
“A streetwalker, Dad?” the girl questioned.
“Jennifer, I ...”
“Jack!” the archaeologist stated firmly.
“A new outfit, but you know that's not how I meant it,” Jack maintained.
“Thank you, Dad,” Jennifer responded, smiling as she leaned forward to take another paper from the jar. She shook her torso, mildly flaunting her assets just to tease her older father. “My turn.”
“Better hope the word isn't ... never mind,” Jeff stated, smiling at their fathers.
**Jack, what were you thinking?** Daniel asked as Jennifer stood up and prepared for the next round.
**That's just it, Danny. I wasn't thinking.**
**That, I believe,** Daniel quipped. “Book,” he called out as their merriment continued.
On Monday, their last full day in the Bahamas, the family went snorkeling in the morning and then just relaxed on the beach. Daniel felt a few twinges in his back from time to time, but he had stared down System Lords, and after having done that, a few muscle aches and pains weren't about to interfere with the family trip to the Bahamas.
“Daddy, is this juvenile?” Jennifer asked as she patted the left corner of the castle.
“Making a sand castle on the beach?” Daniel questioned. “Nope. It's the most logical and rational thing to do in the world. Now, making a face of Homer Simpson on the other hand ...” he said, looking over a few yards where Jack and Jeff were working on their sand creation.
Jennifer chuckled, loving the way the day was going. A few minutes later, she stood up and walked back several steps to get an overview of the grand creation.
“Daddy, we done good,” the teen mused. “We're going to win the contest.”
“D'oh, I don't think so!” Jack called out. “Who wants an old, blah castle when you could have a sculpture of Homer?”
“I'd say about eight-tenths of the world,” Daniel answered dryly.
“Contestants, time is up,” the man serving as the host for the early afternoon event declared. “Your creations will be judged by myself, the hotel concierge, and our master chef.”
“That's an odd combination,” Jack whispered to Jeff.
“Hmmm, I don't know, Dad. Ham, schmaltz, and filet,” Jeff replied.
~Was that our boy being snarky?~ Jack looked at his son in shock. Then he roared, patting the boy on the back and saying, “That was great.”
“I think I've been hanging around you too much,” Jeff teased. Then more seriously, he added, “Actually, I'd like to do more of this, Dad. I don't mean the trip to the Bahamas, but just hanging out and doing crazy stuff.”
“That can be arranged,” Jack replied happily.
The judges reviewed all of the entries. There were twelve on this particular afternoon, mostly castles of one type or another, but then there was Jack and Jeff's Homer, a curvacious woman, a surf board, and a computer with printer and monitor.
“Third prize goes to,” the man began dramatically, “Carla and her computer. Very original, Carla.” After the applause and the awarding of a gift certificate to one of the hotel shops, the man continued, “Second prize goes to Brian and Gizelle for their surf board.”
As he applauded, Jack leaned over and whispered, “We have it made, Jeff. They like uniqueness. Homer's a shoe in.”
“Our winner for today -- Daniel and Jennifer. That's the best castle we've had built here this year. Congratulations,” the man said, handing Jennifer a gift certificate for a free meal for two in the restaurant.
“Um, there are four of us,” Jennifer bravely stated, smiling sweetly and batting her eyelashes at the man.
**Daniel, is she doing what I think she's doing?** Jack bristled.
“I don't suppose there's anyway that you can make this for ... all of us ... is there?” Jennifer tilted her head and swayed to the right just a tad. “Please?”
**Uh, that would be a 'yes', Babe,** Daniel replied.
“Anything you'd like, pretty gal,” the man said, taking the certificate back, making a notation that changed the number of free meals to four and then returning it to the teenager. “Maybe after your dinner ...”
Daniel coughed as he walked closer to Jennifer, happy that Jeff was restraining Jack by insisting they photograph 'Homer' now before anyone stepped on it.
“Have I introduced myself?” Daniel asked. Not waiting for a response, he continued, “I'm Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, and this is my *daughter*, Jennifer -- my *seventeen*-year-old daughter.”
As Daniel grinned, the man gulped and moved back, saying, “Enjoy your dinner, Sir, Ma'am, er, Miss.”
“Daddy, you're so bad,” Jennifer teased.
“Me? You're lucky Dad didn't bring a weapon with him,” Daniel responded.
“Wow, he really thought I was older, even with this horrible hair,” Jennifer noted, feeling pretty good about herself.
“Maybe, or maybe he just wanted to take advantage of you,” the archaeologist put forth.
Jennifer nodded, then looked down at their castle creation, saying, “It really is nice. This was fun, Daddy.”
“It was Dad's idea, but, I agree, Jen; it was fun,” Daniel spoke.
Just then Jack and Jeff joined Daniel and Jennifer. They took digital photos of the sand castle to go with the Homer ones, and then they decided to go for a swim in the ocean.
Their day was topped off by the free dinner, a nighttime walk along the beach, and simply lounging in their villa.
“I can't believe it's over,” Jennifer sighed as she took one final look from their balcony.
“Me, either,” Daniel commented as he stood next to her. “Jen, would you promise me something?”
“Don't let Dad and me get out of touch with you. You're growing up so fast, and sometimes, I think we're missing it. I just don't want to wake up one morning and realize we aren't communicating,” Daniel stated quietly but sincerely.
“That would never happen, Daddy. You weren't out of touch with us now. I know you think you were, but you weren't,” Jennifer stated. “You may not know every detail of my life, but you'll always know the most important things, Daddy. I promise.”
“I love you, Sweetie,” Daniel said, giving his daughter a kiss.
“I love you, too,” Jennifer replied, hugging her younger father.
“Hey, do I get a piece of this action?” Jack asked, extending out his arms as he smiled.
“Sure, Dad,” Jennifer replied, moving into Jack's embrace. “Daddy worries too much.”
“He's not alone, Jen, not on this one,” Jack replied.
“I have an idea,” Jeff suggested. When everyone looked at him, “You two can keep up with us by taking us on a trip every month. We'll be more than happy to fill you on all the details. Um, next month we can go to Paris ...”
“... and then Tahiti,” Jennifer mused.
“Germany,” Jeff stated, adding, “Holland, England ...”
Jennifer picked it up, suggesting, “Italy, Mexico, Russia ...”
“Australia,” the teenage boy commented.
“Very funny,” Jack quipped.
“We'll go anytime, Dad,” Jennifer joked.
“Of course, you will, but the only place we're going to now is the airport,” Jack intoned, ushering the two teens away from the balcony. “Homeward bound,” he stated. **Lots of pampering for you.**
**It's not that bad, but, uh, pamper away,** Daniel communicated with a smile. **You just want me off those muscle relaxants so certain areas of me won't be so relaxed.**
**Guilty, as charged, Angel.**
“It'll be good to see the rest of the brood,” Daniel noted softly. “I miss them, but I wouldn't trade these last few days with Jen and Jeff for anything.”
“Me, either, Love,” Jack agreed. “Me, either.”
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