Bijou and Katie's Big Adventure
Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - December 26, 2016
Written: October 27-29,31, November 1-2,4-5,15, 2009
Summary: Bijou and Katie come to the rescue and end up having quite the adventure. Meanwhile, Daniel worries, Jack and Jonny plot strategy, and the rest of the brood does a bit of both.
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) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Claudia, Tammy, Mama Bear, Navi, Adrienne!
Bijou and Katie's Big Adventure
It was chilly but clear in Colorado Springs on this day after
Christmas. After the hustle and bustle of the holiday, the
Jackson-O'Neills were spending the morning at their nearby park.
Bijou and Katie, their much beloved beagles, were present as well,
running and playing with the children. They even played with the
kids who were under twenty-one, much to their delight.
The family had actually walked to the park, wanting to get some exercise after spending most of the last few days inside their country-style, comfort-enhanced home. As long as the weather held up, they were even going to have a picnic brunch there.
After a time, Bijou and Katie were wrestling, just having some good mother and daughter playtime when Katie stopped and ran a few steps to their right, looking towards the other end of the park.
Shaking herself briefly, Bijou trotted over, stopping next to her daughter to see what had interrupted their play.
“She can't be more than eight weeks old,” the mama beagle pointed out about the little puppy in the distance.
“Ut!” Katie gasped. “Mama!”
In a flash, Katie sprinted towards the other side of the park. Bijou let out three stern woofs of warning and followed, quickly catching up to her baby and then taking the lead as they ran with all their might.
“Daddy!” Little Danny called out, pointing at the thundering canines.
“What is that man doing?” Daniel heard himself say in disbelief, already on the move following the observant beagles.
Little Danny screamed, “Don't hurt that puppy!” and began running as fast as his legs would let him.
“Dad, we need the truck,” David called out.
“Jen, watch the kids,” Jack ordered instinctively as he and David began to run back to the house.
“Watch what kids?” Jennifer asked incredulously, since every single member of the family was now running towards the action. “I can't run that fast,” bemoaned the young adult. Fortunately, she was able to catch up to JD. “Whooooa, you,” she called out, reaching out and stopping the youngster. She picked him up and continued to follow the children in a more sedated run. “JD, you need to stop growing.”
JD simply giggled and urged, “Go fast, Jen.”
“Right, fast,” Jennifer sighed as she hurried as fast as she could to catch up to the others.
The Jackson-O'Neill children were growing up, meaning their little legs weren't all that little anymore. The Munchkins were ten, and the Spitfires nine. Lulu had just celebrated her twelfth birthday, and Chenoa was eleven. Tomboy Brianna was sixteen now, and David fifteen. Catching up to these fleet-footed kids just wasn't as easy as it used to be for twenty-one-year-old Jennifer.
Jeff, who was a year younger than Jennifer, had taken off immediately and was just about to catch up to Daniel as they gave chase.
What had set the family off was the sight of a man yelling at a puppy. He'd actually thrown the puppy into his car, threatening to kill it for making his life so miserable. Just as he was about to close the door, the smart puppy had jumped out, which was quite a feat for her tiny body.
“I'm gonna twist your scrawny neck until you can't breathe anymore,” the man threatened as he tried to chase down the little black dog.
“Grrrrrrrr!” Bijou shouted, jumping on the man and pushing him out of the way.
“You runt!” the man screamed as he took a swing at the mama beagle.
“Mama is not a runt,” Katie argued as she neared the fight. “*I'm* the runt,” she corrected proudly as she growled and bit at the man's right leg.
“Run!” Bijou ordered the frightened puppy.
The man was tall and burly, a real heavyweight. He managed to kick Katie away, causing her to roll over a couple of times.
“Little One?” Bijou called out, running to her. “Are you all right?”
“Just ... knocked the wind out of me, Mama,” Katie answered as she rested for a second on her back.
Just then, the dogs heard the whimper of the puppy as the man slapped her and then reached down with one hand. The beagles knew what he was going to do. He was going to strangle the dog with his bare hand.
“Over my dead body,” Bijou called out, lunging at the nasty brute and biting him in the hand.
“Mama, let's go!” Katie shouted, harnessing her hidden strength and standing up. “Puppy, come with us. We'll protect you.”
The beagles had to push the other animal at first. In fact, for a while Bijou had to keep nudging the weary and wary puppy, actually butting her behind a few times to keep her going as they dodged the man. Fortunately, he was so big that he wasn't a fast runner and now the three dogs were sprinting at full speed, the puppy not sure where she was going, but just moving as fast as her young paws would take her. She instinctively knew she was safe with the strange dogs. After all, they had such cute, floppy ears.
Meanwhile, Jeff passed Daniel, looking back and asking, “You okay, Daddy?”
“Yeah, sure, fine,” Daniel gasped as he took a breath. ~Okay, not twenty anymore.~ He paused and corrected, ~Gawd, not even forty anymore.~
Jeff ran swiftly, wondering why he'd never gone out for track, and finally caught up with the potential puppy murderer. He grabbed him from behind, knocking him down.
“Get off me!” the man ordered, wriggling under the extra weight.
“No, I don't think so,” Jeff responded, not even out of breath.
“Nice going, Son,” Daniel praised as he arrived on the scene, panting as he leaned down to put his hands on his knees. ~Not even forty-five anymore.~
“If this is your son, Mac, tell him to get off me before I get him off myself, and you won't like it if I do it myself.”
“Jeff,” Daniel instructed. As soon as the college student got up, the well-built archaeologist took his place. “Don't ... say a word. You're scum in my book.”
Daniel wanted to say more, but just then Brianna caught up to them, and right on her heels was Little Danny, who apparently harbored a secret talent -- being a faster runner than anyone had yet realized.
“You're a bad man!” Little Danny accused. “I saw you kick Katie,” he sniffled. “And I heard you threaten that puppy.” He looked up at Daniel and asked, “Daddy, where's Katie? And Bij? And the puppy?”
Daniel looked around, not seeing any of the dogs in sight. The chase had gone on for blocks, and he knew the canines were running for their lives.
“It'll be okay,” Daniel assured, though it came out in an insecure whisper. “Bij and Katie are okay, and they're just ... they're protecting the puppy.”
“We need Uncle Pete.”
“Uncle Pete?” Jeff asked, amused by his younger brother's sudden suggestion.
“To put him in jail,” Little Danny stated angrily as he pointed at the burly man. “And to put out an all points missing beagle report.”
“Bro, they're okay,” Jeff confidently told Little Danny, going over to hug his extremely upset brother.
“She laid on the ground, Jeff, for a long time. Katie might be really hurt,” Little Danny cried.
“Katie's resilient,” Daniel proclaimed, positive about the beagles. “She got up and ran, fast. She, she's fine.”
“Are you going to get off of me, Mister, or do I have to push you off?” the man warned in question, the gruff threat mumbled through the grass that the man's face was buried in.
Reluctantly, Daniel stood, knowing he really had no right to keep the man down. He doubted the police could do anything to detain the man for his threats.
“I'm gonna sue you,” the man threatened, dusting off his clothes. “Those crappy dogs bit me, twice,” he claimed, pointing at his hand and leg. “I'm gonna have those beagles destroyed.”
By now, the entire brood was present and the man's words caused every one of the children to gasp, some of them breaking out into tears.
“I don't think so,” Daniel stated about as angrily as he ever had.
“No, you're right. I'm gonna do it myself,” the man sneered.
That was the last thing the man had the opportunity to say since Daniel decked him with one punch, sending the man down to his back.
“Just shut up!” Daniel ordered as he knelt down over the man again. “You aren't touching our dogs. Trust me; you aren't ever going to get near them.”
With that, the usually passive archaeologist hit the man again, knocking him out. Silently, he wondered what it was about this year. It wasn't even two months ago that he'd been forced to do the same thing to the evil Kevin Guyer. As he recalled, it was a chilly day on that occasion, too, though the winds were blowing more then.
The kids cheered their daddy on, something that was a little disturbing to the archaeologist, though also understandable, which is why he decided to let it go and not make a big deal out of his actions; at least, not at the moment.
“There's Dad!” Aislinn cried out in relief.
Jack and David stopped, tires screeching, as they scrambled to get out of the truck to see what had happened.
“Jen, didn't I ask you to watch the kids?” Jack questioned, glancing at his daughter's tousled appearance.
“I did, Dad. I watched them as they ran really fast in front of me while I was carrying JD. Problems?”
Jack had to chuckle, though it was brief. He got the message and smiled in support of his daughter's situation. Then he and Daniel walked to the side to talk for a moment.
“Jack, there's nothing the police can do, and ...”
“What?” the older man responded, seeing the concerned and slightly panicked eyes of his Love.
“The girls bit him, twice.”
“They were protecting themselves and that puppy,” Jack asserted.
“You know that, and I know that, and our brood knows that, but he's going to show up in court with exaggerated medical reports and scars,” Daniel pointed out.
“Who is he?”
“Well, let's pull in a favor or two and see if we can scare the crap out of this jerk,” Jack said, whipping out his cell phone.
“Babe, Pete can't do anything and you can't ask General Landry to ...”
“Oh, ye of little faith,” Jack interrupted, walking away from his lover. “Carlton, you still in the business?”
“Long time, Jack,” came the calm reply of the man who had assisted Jack several times over the years in what was best described as Black Ops situations.
“Yeah, well, I need a favor.”
“You'll owe me.”
“I can handle that.”
“Fill me in,” the mysterious Carlton requested.
From a few feet away, Daniel had a hunch with whom his husband was talking. He was fully aware that Jack had utilized the man's services before and on more than one occasion. Jack had never shared the man's name or their history, and quite frankly, Daniel really didn't want to know. Whatever was about to happen, the archaeologist was certain that the dog abuser was about to experience something he'd never encountered before and it was bound to be life changing.
“Within the boundaries,” Jack concluded over the phone.
“Scared stiff, but unharmed.”
“It wouldn't hurt if you could convince him to move to Transylvania or somewhere, either,” Jack added.
“What happened to your guts, Jack?”
“You already know, Carlton. Just do it.”
“Whatever you say, Jack. They'll be on the scene in thirty. That's the quickest I can get things moving.”
“Good enough.” Jack closed up his phone, but still held it in his hand as he returned to Daniel's side. “We're gonna see if we can scare him smart.”
“Smart as in ...”
“... as in leaving us alone and hopefully leaving the state. You in?”
Daniel nodded as he agreed, “Yes. He threatened the girls, Jack. I mean, I believe him. I really believe he'll try to ... to ...”
“Hey.” Jack reached out, pulling his lover into his hold. This wasn't something they usually did openly like this in front of other houses where children were. The couple still believed in individual choice and in parents having the right to teach their children about relationships in their own time and way. However, right now Jack's primary concern was his fearful husband, so he took him into his arms to reassure him. “*Nothing* is going to happen to our girls. There's not a chance in Netu.”
Pulling back, Daniel replied, “He hurt her.”
Looking back at the unconscious man, Daniel clarified, “He kicked Katie. She didn't move for a little bit.”
“Maybe we should rethink the no harm thing,” Jack returned forcefully as he walked past Daniel and over to the children who were surrounding the man, should he wake up.
Jonny had one foot atop the man's chest, as if to keep him down should he rouse.
“We have to find them,” Ricky asserted, turning to his fathers. “We need search parties.”
“Hey,” Jack interjected brightly. “I almost forgot.” Flipping open his phone, Jack hit the speed dial and waited for the greeting. “Carter, red alert -- beagles. We need them tracked -- now.”
~Their collars,~ Daniel sighed thankfully, feeling so grateful for that gift of protection which Jack had done years ago when both had feared for the safety of their dog children.
“What's happening, Sir?” Sam asked as she stood up from the table. “Sammy Jo, get your fingers out of the pudding.”
Jack groaned as he turned to Daniel and quipped, “This isn't how it used to be.”
“What isn't how it used to be?” Daniel asked.
“Sammy Jo is playing with the pudding,” the general explained.
“Oh,” Daniel mused.
“Carter, this is a red alert,” came the urgent bark from her commanding officer.
It didn't matter whether or not SG-1 was disbanded or not. It didn't matter that Jack was retired, or that Sam had commanded her own team and eventually worked in other capacities at Stargate Command. It was a constant. No matter what, Jack would always be Sam's CO, and she would always be his second-in-command. Nothing would ever interfere with that dynamic.
“Sir, I'm sorry, but my children ... never mind,” Sam sighed, used to Jack's ways. “I'm on it.”
“Thank you, Carter,” Jack replied politely, hearing the sigh from the other end.
“She does have a family now, Jack,” Daniel reminded, stating the obvious.
“I know,” Jack replied nonchalantly, secretly getting a kick out of any time when he caught his 2IC being domestic.
“Dad, Daddy, we have to find Bij 'n' Katie,” Little Danny pleaded, his eyes wide with worry.
“Son,” Jack began, kneeling down. “The girls have GPS tracking in their collars. Aunt Sam is getting a fix on them now. As soon as she calls us back, we'll go get them.”
“Katie was running full speed,” Daniel added hoping to assuage his namesake. “She wasn't limping or anything.”
“That doesn't mean she's not hurt,” the archaeologist's namesake rebutted.
“Let's think positive,” Jack urged. “Right now, I want all of you to go back to the park with Jennifer and Jeff.”
“What about ...”
“Brood, no arguments. Daddy and I are going to take care of this dog abuser here and then we'll come get you.”
Reluctantly, the children headed back to the park, though they weren't happy about it at all.
Jonny glanced back at his parents and the burly man and whispered to his brother, “Don't worry, Little Danny. I'm working on a plan.”
“Good. We have to find them, Jonny.”
“We will,” the older Munchkin replied, already running through options in his mind.
Several blocks away, the three fleeing dogs took sanctuary behind a group of large evergreens that divided two residences.
“Thank you,” the little puppy said, lying down and panting. She had a solid build, much better suited to a slow trot rather than an all out sprint; and she was at an awkward stage of her development when her legs hadn't quite grown long enough to match her body length. ~I'm tired.~
“Who was the man?” Bijou asked.
“He stole me from my mother,” the puppy cried. “I want my mommy.”
“I understand,” Bijou replied gently, lying down next to the puppy. “What's your name?”
“Mommy called me Gili, but she said when they gave me away, I'd probably get a new name. Why can't I keep my name?”
“Jack and Daniel will let you keep it,” Katie stated as she scratched behind her ear for a moment. ~Ouch. My leg hurts, but I'd better not say anything right now because I’m pretty sure Gili will think it is her fault.~
“Who are Jack and Daniel, and who are you? Where's my mommy?” Gili asked, her vulnerability evident as her voice quivered.
“They're our humans, and we love them,” Bijou answered, moving even closer to the scared puppy. “I know your mommy loves you very much. I remember when I was taken from my mommy. It was very hard, but the human who took me loved me, and we played a lot.”
“Was that Jack and Daniel?”
“No, his name was Jeff. He still plays with us sometimes. He has a wife who doesn't like dogs very much.”
“She's nice, though, as long as you don't mess up her house,” Katie added.
“Katie, she's shaking,” Bijou told her daughter. “She might be ill. Help me keep her warm.”
“Yes, Mama,” Katie acknowledged, moving to Gili's other side and making a beagle sandwich out of the little puppy.
“Better?” Bijou inquired.
“What kind of dogs are you? I've never seen such pretty dogs before, except for my mommy,” the puppy inquired.
“We're beagles, sporting and hunting dogs, but we don't believe in hunting,” Bijou stated.
“Who wants to run down a poor fox or watch a human kill a defenseless bird, or Bambi's mother?” Katie added in a rhetorical quiz, shuddering at the thought.
“I remember seeing Bambi on a strange box.”
“It was probably a TV. You'll get to used it,” Bijou responded. “Better even more now?”
“Yes, except I'm really hungry. I haven't had anything to eat in a long time,” Gili lamented.
Bijou and Katie both looked around, but didn't see anything that could help them.
“Mama, I'll find her something,” Katie offered, knowing something had to be done about the lack of food.
“Katie, be careful. You know how other humans can be,” Bijou warned, gently rubbing her nose along Katie's cheek.
“I'll be careful, Mama,” Katie responded. She smiled at the puppy and said, “I'll be back, Gili. Everything is going to be okay.”
While Katie searched for food, Bijou stayed by Gili's side, the two taking shelter behind the tall and bulky evergreen bushes; that is, until they heard the sound of another human calling out to them.
“Hey, scat! Go home!” a man called out.
Though the homeowner didn't sound as threatening as the burly man who had taken Gili, the small puppy's trembling increased. Realizing that Gili would no longer feel safe here and not in the mood to take chances, Bijou told Gili to follow her. They'd have to find shelter elsewhere.
“Look for my Katie; she won't know where to find us,” Bijou requested, slightly concerned about having to relocate in this manner.
As Carlton's men left with the burly man and the burly man's truck in a quest to encourage him to rethink his abusive threats, Jack and Daniel returned to their family at the park.
“I want all of you to go home with ...”
“Dad, we're not little kids anymore,” Jonny argued. “We should split up into teams, like during the gift race this year. We can cover more ground that way. I think Jen's team should go ...”
Jack smiled at his namesake, admittedly proud of his well formulated strategy plan. He listened as the general-in-the-making outlined the blocks that each of the five teams should cover, the fifth team being Jack and Daniel.
“Good thinking,” Jack praised when the sandy-haired boy finished his outline. Before anything else could happen, Sam called. “Where are they?” he asked, getting straight to the point.
“I'm getting two different readings, Sir, and both are moving.”
“Hold one,” Jack instructed. “Jeff, do you have your cell?”
“Yes, Dad,” the young man answered, pulling out his cell phone.
“Carter, I'm going to conference this call with Jeff's cell phone,” Jack advised as he began the process. “Jen, your cell?”
“Right here,” Jennifer affirmed, waving at the requested device.
“Kids, since we have a read on the girls, I want to divide up into three teams. Daddy and I will take Bijou's readings. Jeff, your team will follow Katie. Jen, your team will take a third track, starting here and going by observation. Carter will triangulate and tell us where to search.” Looking at the brood, he ordered, “You know how we think. Get in a team.”
Daniel smiled inwardly as he watched the children split up into the three teams. They'd done it quickly and efficiently, dividing themselves up so that there was an appropriate balance of older and younger children.
“JD, maybe you should go with us,” Daniel suggested, concerned about the youngest member of the family.
“Jen needs me, Daddy,” JD insisted.
~My aching back,~ Jennifer mused. “Of course, I do, JD,” she stated with a smile, having a strong sense now of what it meant to be a mother.
“Keep the cell phones open,” Jack called out as a final reminder as the family began to track their beloved beagles and the puppy.
Katie ventured carefully through the neighborhood. She sensed she was going further away from her home, and she really wasn't sure where she was anymore.
~We ran so fast and so far. We might be lost, but Jack and Daniel will find us. I know they will.~
Though certain of her eventual rescue, the beagle was still afraid. Finally, she saw a little girl playing outside with a woman who Katie surmised must be her mother.
~I'll try to pout like Little Danny does,~ the beagle determined, working on getting her eyes to droop sadly and her mouth to have just the right sag to it. ~There! That should do it.~ As she walked forward, Katie made use of something else, too. ~My leg hurts so much. I won't cover that up right now.~
Limping a little and looking as sad as she could, Katie cautiously approached the mother and child. She didn't want to frighten them.
“Doggie!” the little girl chuckled. “Hungry?” she asked, seeing Katie staring at the hot dog in the girl's hands.
“No,” the mother warned, drawing back her daughter's hand. “That dog might be a stray.” She sighed, seeing the woebegone look on Katie's face. “Are you hungry?”
“Woof!” Katie answered as pitifully as she could.
“Here,” the mother said, taking the hot dog from her willing youngster and gently holding it out towards the beagle.
Katie gently took the offered tidbit, turned, and started to run. She stopped suddenly, dropped the hot dog and turned back, yapping out two appreciative barks.
“You're welcome,” the mother mused, smiling at the little beagle.
“Bye!” the little girl waved.
“Woof!” Katie responded, picking up the hot dog and heading back to the evergreens as fast as she could.
“Bijou, I'm so tired,” Gili called out, slowly trailing behind the mama beagle.
The two dogs had been covering a lot of ground. Worse, Bijou had lost Katie's scent.
~It's the wind and all that garbage,~ the beagle sighed, her sensitive nose picking up all kinds of odors and scents that resinated from the trash cans that had been placed out on curbs for pickup the next day. “Lie down here, Gili,” she ordered, leading the exhausted puppy into a flat box that was by a fence.
Bijou arranged the newspapers to cover their bodies. Just as Gili had fallen asleep and the mama beagle was feeling slightly relaxed, the box closed.
In a flash, the beagle realized the two weren't in a box but a suitcase, and now it was shut. She didn't know whether to bark or not, nor was she certain how long she and Gili would have air to breathe.
~I don't have a choice,~ Bijou opined.
Just as the beagle was about to bark, the suitcase was picked up by a human, causing Bijou's head to fall against the side. It was just a hard enough tap that she closed her eyes, falling unconscious. Gili was right on top of her, shivering and thinking the beagle was dead. She cried softly, hating the life she now had and longing for those days when her mother had kept her warm and fed.
“Sir,” Sam called out urgently. “Bijou's signal has gained speed. I ... Jack, she's not on the ground anymore. She can't be. She's going ... Sir, she's going at least twenty-five miles-per-hour.”
“Crap!” Jack exclaimed.
Initially, Jack believed the beagles would be found quickly. From Sam's first GPS report, they weren't that far away. Something had happened now. Someone had taken Bijou.
“Jack, someone's taken her,” Daniel expressed with worry in his voice that quickly spread all over his face.
“Angel, maybe they're taking her to a vet.”
“She has tags. Why haven't they called?” Daniel asked.
“Maybe they have,” Jack asserted, his eyes pointing out the obvious.
Getting the message, Daniel reached for his cell phone to check for messages on the couple's answering machine. It was the regular land line number that was on the girls' tags.
“Nothing,” Daniel sighed after running through the messages.
“We need the truck,” Jack stated. As he and Daniel ran back towards where they'd left the truck, Jack gave the update to the teams. “We'll follow Bijou's track in the truck. Jen, I want you to pick up this track on foot. Jeff, keep searching for Katie. She's still on foot.”
As he started the truck, Jack reached over and squeezed his Love's hand while assuring, “We're going to find them, and they're going to be perfectly okay.”
Daniel just nodded and stared out the window. He'd seen how hard Katie had been hit, and it was making him churn inside. He also feared the implications of what Bijou having been taken in a vehicle might mean. Sam had just reported the vehicle was gaining speed and might be headed towards the highway. This was making the archaeologist feel absolutely ill. He didn't know what was happening with his precious pups.
~Please let them be okay,~ the archaeologist pleaded from the depths of his heart and soul.
Being distracted by odors and scents much as her mother was, Katie wasn't sure of her path, until she saw the evergreens. With joy, she ran to the spot, only to be stunned to discover that her mother and Gili were no where in sight.
“Not another one,” the homeowner sighed. As he tried to wave the beagle away, he shouted, “Hey! Out! Go on!”
Katie backed away, the hot dog still in her mouth. She didn't know what to do or where to go. Her leg hurting for real, she marched on, hoping to catch a glimpse of Bijou and Gili.
~Oh, Mama, where are you?~
“Jen, Katie's track is where Bijou's was originally,” Sam reported, giving the oldest member of the brood the address.
“We're on it, Aunt Sam,” Jennifer replied, still carrying JD in her arms as her team searched. “Double time,” the young woman instructed her team, bouncing JD in her arms.
“I can run fast, Jen,” JD advised.
“Okay, hold my hand,” Jennifer replied as she put the boy down. “Let's go; fast, fast.”
“Carter?” Jack called out anxiously.
“Sir, it's slowed again. I ... it's the landfill,” a concerned Sam reported.
“The dump?” Daniel questioned nervously.
Jack sped up, fearing the worst but not wanting to admit it.
“Sam, keep monitoring,” Daniel instructed. “Any news on Katie?”
“We're almost to the address,” Jennifer called out on the phone as the prolonged conference call continued, keeping the family and Sam connected throughout the ordeal.
“She's still moving, but at a much slower pace,” Sam advised the trackers. “Jen, she's about a half mile north of that address.”
“We're hurrying,” Little Danny called out for his sister as his sprint intensified. “Katie? Katie, where are you? We're here, Katie!”
“Hey, what's going on?” the homeowner to the right of the evergreens asked, seeing the children scurrying all around.
“Mister, have you seen our dogs? They might be hurt,” Little Danny asked politely, tears welling in his eyes.
“Beagles and a small black thing?”
“That's them,” Jennifer affirmed as she approached, hope lacing her voice. “Where are they?”
“They were here. They went off that way, but that was a while ago,” the man reported.
“Were they hurt?” Little Danny inquired fearfully.
The homeowner sighed, regretting that he'd let his annoyance of the dogs burrowing into his bushes upset him.
“I'm sorry; I didn't notice,” the man sighed with remorse.
Little Danny nodded and then ran to the next house with Jenny following close behind.
“Miss, is there anything I can do to help?”
“If you see them, please call us.” Jennifer pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down her younger father's cell phone number. If the man had anything on his mind other than genuinely being helpful with the beagles, he'd get a big surprise when Daniel answered the phone. “Thank you.”
“Jen, there's a paw print here in the mud,” Jenny called out from a spot where the grass met the sidewalk.
Jennifer walked over and observed the paw print. It was the right size.
“Okay, we're going the right direction. Keep looking,” Jennifer encouraged her team.
“Carter, we're at the dump,” Jack advised. “Can you pinpoint Bijou's location?”
“Sir, I'll need to input your GPS signal.”
“For crying out loud, you know you can do that,” Jack groaned, even though he understood Sam's unspoken request for his permission to enter the needed information.
“Yes, Sir,” Sam acknowledged as she began to plug in the information. “Petey, not now, please ... Okay, you can have a banana ... no, not a chocolate bar ... Petey, that's an order.”
Jack had to smile at how life had changed for Samantha Carter-Shanahan, whose reproductive organs had done a fine job, both in not being detrimental to her military skills and in producing two beautiful children.
~Sorry, Carter. That was too good of a line for you to live down: reproductive organs on the inside instead of the outside. It's not like we can do it over and erase that line from existence,~ Jack mused inwardly.
“Sam?” Daniel prodded, wanting to be patient and yet unable to remain silent any longer.
“It'll be up in a moment, Daniel,” Sam promised. “Okay, to your right, about one-hundred yards.”
To the couple's right, however, was a pile of debris, trash, and waste. Obviously, Bijou was one dumping aisle over.
“Go back around,” Daniel instructed urgently. Deciding it was taking too long to get the truck in gear, the archaeologist hopped out and began to run, shouting out, “Bij! Bijou!”
Jack grunted one time at his husband's actions but didn't really think it was a bad idea. Carefully, he did a U-turn and headed for the spot where Sam had directed them to go.
“Aunt Sam, she's not here,” Little Danny sniffled into the phone, becoming more upset with each passing minute.
“You're right on her track, Little Danny,” Sam refuted. “If she's hurt or scared, she might be under a patio or hiding.”
“But she'd hear us,” the boy argued.
“No, she won't,” Brianna sighed. “Look, Katie's collar,” she pointed out, stooping down and pulling the collar from some thorny pushes. She had to work at it, though, and actually scratched her hand because the collar was so entwined with the bush. “There's a piece of hot dog here, too.”
“She must have been stuck in here somehow,” Jennifer theorized. “I don't know what to make of the hot dog, though.”
“She was hungry, Jen,” Jenny stated with an aggravated huff. “Sorry, I'm just upset.”
“Me, too, Jenny,” Jennifer responded with a smile, releasing JD's hand after he tried to pull loose and then watching as he walked over to give Jenny a comforting hug.
“Dad, Aunt Sam, Jeff,” Jennifer called out into her phone. “Katie lost her collar. It looks like she got stuck in a thorn bush. I'm not sure how she could get out on her own, but it's here, and she's not.”
“Jen, keep looking,” Jack ordered. “Daddy's out of the truck and I'm about to catch up with him. We're hot on Bijou's trail.”
“Copy that,” Jennifer returned, shrugging when her siblings looked at her in surprise for making the military-like response.
Daniel saw a man in a green button-down shirt and black denim jeans about to get back into his truck to leave the dump and called out, “Excuse me.”
“Yeah?” the man responded while turning around to the voice behind him.
“Have you seen a dog, or maybe two dogs?”
“Here? At the dump?” the man laughed.
“Look, we've been tracking our dog. She was in a residential neighborhood and then in a vehicle, according to GPS.”
“You're ...” the man began, though his sentence trailed off as something obviously occurred to him.
“What?” Daniel asked anxiously, seeing the man suddenly make a face as certain irregularities of the past hour started to make sense to him.
“That suitcase was awfully heavy; it shouldn't have been.”
“We had it out front. I only had a few newspapers in it. Look, it was only out there for maybe a half-hour while we were going through junk,” the man said.
“Bijou!” Daniel called out, looking around anxiously. “Where's the suitcase?”
“Over here,” the man beckoned, running over to where he'd unloaded his junk. “Under all of this bedding.”
“Daniel?” Jack called out as he hurried over after getting out of the truck.
“She's under here, Jack, in a suitcase.”
“A suitcase?” Jack shook his head in amazement, but he didn't waste a second. “Bijou! Hey, Girl, let us know you're there. Bij...”
“Woof!” came a muffled reply.
“Wait!” Jack exclaimed. “Did you hear that?”
The three men stopped their frantic digging, all listening attentively.
“Bijou, say something,” Daniel shouted.
“Woooooof! Woof, woof!”
“She's in there.”
“Ah, man, I'm sorry,” the man apologized as he helped to toss his things aside. “I had no idea. Thirty minutes, max. It's a little suitcase, too.”
“What color?” Daniel asked as he worked.
“Gray with white stripes,” the man answered, hoping the misplaced dogs were all right.
“Aunt Sam, we're going to start knocking on doors,” Jennifer advised.
“Let me know the house numbers as you go up,” Sam instructed, agreeing with the decision but wanting to have the specifics as they went.
“Okay, we're going to start with this one where we found the collar,” the young woman stated.
“Got it,” Sam responded, making a note of the house number Jennifer had just given her.
“There it is!” Daniel exclaimed, climbing up on a mattress to reach the suitcase. Snapping it open, he cried out, “Bij, are you okay?”
“Woof!” Bijou responded, happy to be in Daniel's protective arms. “Woof!” she said, her nose pointing back at Gili.
“Jack, the puppy,” Daniel stated.
“I got her,” Jack assured softly, not wanting to frighten the young puppy anymore than she already was. “She's shaking like a leaf.”
“I love you so much,” Daniel sighed, holding the beagle as tightly as he had Jonny and Little Danny after they'd been lost for a day many years ago. “You scared me.”
~I was scared, too, and I hit my head,~ Bijou thought, feeling better after Daniel began to gently rub her head.
“How is the puppy?” Daniel inquired of his husband.
“I think she's okay, but she's still shaking.”
“Look, I'm really sorry,” the man apologized.
“It's not your fault,” the archaeologist responded. “Thank you for helping us.”
“If there's anything else I can do,” the man offered.
“Thanks,” Jack returned, just happy to have found one of the two missing beagles.
As the man began to leave, Daniel called out, “Uh, hey! We have another beagle. Her name is Katie. She's still lost. If you see her,” he paused, motioning to Jack.
“... give us a call,” Jack completed for his Love. “That's our business card and ...”
“... and if you'll write down my number on the back and give us a call if you see her,” Daniel requested, cutting Jack's next words off.
“Sure,” the man agreed, getting out a pen as Jack continued to comfort the puppy.
“No one's seen her,” Chenoa sighed after the group had knocked on the doors of ten houses on both sides of the street.
“Where are you going?” Jenny asked Little Danny as he kept walking.
“To the next house,” Little Danny answered. “And then the one after it, and the next one, and the next one.”
The emotional but brave youth was determined. His siblings nodded and just that quick, they resumed their search.
“Don't worry, Bij,” Daniel spoke softly as he held her while Jack headed the truck back towards the search area. “We're going to find Katie.”
“I'm sorry, Bijou. It's all my fault,” Gili sighed as she sat quietly between Jack and Daniel.
“No, it's not, Gili. My Katie is a very ingenious beagle, and Jack and Daniel won't rest until we find her.”
“They're nicer than that man who tried to ...” Gili let out a whimper and covered her nose with her large bear-like paws.
“Hey, puppy,” Daniel called out soothingly, reaching over to gently pat the puppy. “It's okay. You're safe now.”
“She’s so adorable, Jack,” Daniel observed as he buried his fingers in the soft black fur and massaged the back of the puppy's neck. She had a black body and head, but a white chest. The end of her nose was white, too, and a trail of white fur ran along up between her eyes. She also had a tiny patch of brown fur over each eye as well as little brown patches on her cheeks between the white and black fur. She had a fat little nose which she clearly had yet to grow into although it was currently buried under her front paws. The black fur on her legs morphed into brown fur, ending with white tips on her feet.
~He is nice,~ Gili thought as Daniel continued to utter soft reassurances. As she leaned more into the sensitive touch of the archaeologist, she sighed, ~That feels so good.~
By the time Jack and Daniel met up again with their brood, all of whom were now together, half of the kids were in tears. They'd covered several blocks in all directions and had knocked on every door. No one had Katie and only one recalled seeing her at all and when they had, she had still had her collar on.
Little Danny was crying when he saw Bijou and ran over to her.
“Is she okay, Daddy?”
“We're going to take her and the puppy to see Pam as soon as we find Katie,” Daniel answered.
“We'll find Katie, Bijou. I promise,” Little Danny vowed, knowing that none of the Jackson-O'Neills would give up their search until the youngest beagle was home again.
“Is this how you found it, Bri?” Jack asked as Brianna showed him the collar.
“I don't see how she could have gotten out of it, Dad,” Brianna responded. She looked at the puppy and smiled. “Can I hold her?”
“Be gentle. She's still shaking,” Jack stated as he released the puppy into Brianna's care.
“Danny,” Jack called out as he approached his husband, who was surrounded by most of the children, all of whom were giving lots of love to Bijou as she remained in Daniel's hold. “Katie couldn't have squeezed out of this. I don't buy it.”
“So, you're thinking someone took the collar off of her.”
“If she was caught in the bushes, maybe that's the only way they could get her out,” Jeff suggested.
“But we've gone to all the houses,” Aislinn interjected.
“Was everyone home?” Daniel questioned.
“No,” the youngest Munchkin answered.
Little Danny gasped and noted, “No one was home where we found her collar.”
“And there were other houses where no one answered that were nearby,” Jenny added.
“Daddy, what if someone found her and took her to a vet, or to the pound?” David inquired in a suggestive and hopeful tone.
“She's chipped,” Daniel stated, hesitantly handing the mama beagle over to Jeff to hold. He again took out his cell phone and called home, scanning the messages. “Gawd,” he sighed heavily, closing his eyes in an emotional release. “They have her.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, the family made their way back to the truck.
Jack was grateful that as a fluke, he didn't have the shell on the back of the truck as he so often did when he drove it. He'd removed it a few days ago when he was hauling Christmas presents all over Colorado Springs and just hadn't put it back on yet.
“Kids, we're about to break the law. Understand that I'm not happy about it, but right now ...”
“We have to get Katie,” Little Danny interjected emotionally, wiping a tear from his eye.
“She's our first priority, even if we get a ticket,” Jonny added.
“Yeah. JD, Spitfires, in the backseat. Bri, give the puppy to Jenny to hold once she gets buckled in. Everyone else, squeeze into the back of the truck. You are *not* to move about.” Jack headed for the driver's door. “Carter, you still there?”
“Yes, Sir,” came the crisp reply.
“I sure did, General. I'm sure Katie is anxious to see you,” the blonde replied with confidence.
“Thanks for your help, Sam,” Jack stated with sincerity. “You saved Bij. I ... thank you.”
With the call disconnected, Jack looked back and noticed the entire family was staring at him.
“Your Aunt Sam is a peach. She'll always be there for you, for all of you. Never forget that,” Jack told his children.
As Jack disappeared inside the cab, Jennifer and Jeff exchanged a look, as did most of the children. There was a lot of love between the Jackson-O'Neills and the Shanahans, but it wasn't always acknowledged in as open a way as Jack had just done.
“Dad loves Aunt Sam like we do,” Chenoa opined.
“He's a marshmallow, just like Daddy says,” Aislinn giggled.
As the family traveled, Jack was going slower than he would normally. After all, his family was riding in the back of the truck, something that decades before had been perfectly normal, but which now was illegal. Still, he felt he had no choice, and since his lover hadn't spoken one word in objection, obviously, Daniel agreed.
“Danny, any idea if Pam is in today?” Jack asked as he pulled the truck to a halt at a stop sign.
“Crap,” Daniel replied, reaching into his pocket to pull out his cell. Pam Lawrence was the family vet and while they trusted her entire staff, he really wanted her to be there when they took the three dogs in for a checkup. “Lara, is Pam in today? ... okay, well, we've had an incident today. We'll be bringing in Bijou, Katie, and a ... a new little friend ... yes, an emergency ... probably an hour ... thanks.”
“No,” Daniel answered dejectedly, snapping the phone close.
Two minutes passed and Jack finally called out, “Daniel, if you ...”
“I'm on it,” Daniel replied, again flipping open his phone. He had to look up the number as he didn't often call it. “I just hope she's in town.”
Jack and Daniel were calling Pam at home and were about to ask her to make a special trip to her veterinarian hospital. They didn't want to interfere with her plans, but their dogs were family, and for family, they'd do anything.
“What'd she say, Daddy?” Ricky asked when Daniel finished the call.
“She'll meet us there,” Daniel answered, breathing a sigh of relief.
“What did we interfere with?”
“A big family gathering,” the archaeologist answered. “She made it out to be nothing.”
“I heard everyone in the background. We're definitely pulling her away,” Daniel pointed out.
“She loves Bijou and Katie, too,” Jenny stated as she patted the puppy.
“I know,” Daniel acknowledged, still feeling guilty that he was pulling Pam away from her party.
“Stay here,” Daniel ordered the family. “Little Danny,” he called out, signaling for the boy to join him.
“I was gonna come anyway, Daddy,” Little Danny confessed as he joined his father.
“That's why I called you,” Daniel responded with a smile. He looked up at his family and over to Jack, who was patting Bijou and the puppy in the truck. “We'll be right out.”
Going inside, Daniel and his namesake approached the counter.
“Can I help you?”
“We're here for Katie,” Little Danny stated quickly. “Where's our dog?”
“He's anxious,” Daniel explained. ~So am I.~ He smiled and elaborated, “I'm Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, and we had a call that ...”
“Katie! Katie, where are you?” Little Danny called out, not willing to go through protocol.
“Woof!” came a very familiar bark.
“That's Katie!” Daniel exclaimed, shrugging at the girl and following his eager son, who was already running towards the back to find the precious beagle.
“Katie! What happened?” Little Danny asked as his fingers went through the cage and were licked by the happy beagle.
“Katie, we were so scared,” Daniel stated, smiling at the beagle.
“Woof!” Katie responded timidly. ~I'm sorry, but I knew you'd find me.~
“I take it this is your dog?” the technician asked, seeing the little reunion.
“Yes, Katie,” Daniel answered. “Somehow she got out of her collar,” he elaborated, holding it up.
“The family that brought her in said she'd gotten stuck in some thorn bushes. They couldn't get the collar loose, so they unbuckled it.”
“That's what we figured when we found the collar,” Daniel responded. “Ah, if you have their address or can get word to them ...”
“Tell them we love them for taking care of Katie and bringing her in,” Little Danny completed for his daddy. “We'll give them a reward, if they want. They can have all my money. I ...”
Little Danny broke down into tears, causing Katie to whimper since she couldn't comfort him. Daniel knelt down and held the boy close.
“I need to see your ID,” the technician requested. “Then I can release Katie to you. There are some fees.”
“Not a problem,” Daniel responded while still holding his emotional son.
Seeing Daniel's ID and knowing it matched the paperwork, the tech opened the door, put a rope leash on Katie, and handed her over to Little Danny. She laughed at the happy reunion, which warmed her heart.
“How is she?” Daniel asked quietly as they walked to front of the building.
“She has a few cuts from the thorns, and she's hurt her leg. Nothing serious, but she may limp for a while.” Trying to be casual, the tech inquired, “Do you know how she injured her leg?”
“Some ... man was threatening to hurt a puppy. Our dogs took off after him, and he ...” Daniel paused, trying not to get angry again and yet unable to stop himself. “He kicked her or pushed her. I just saw her fall and roll over. She was still for a minute.”
“Maybe we should run some more tests. I can get the doctor.”
“No, um, I ... we've already called our family vet, and she's going to meet us at her hospital.” Daniel smiled sweetly and added, “No offense.”
“None taken. I'm glad you're being so thorough,” the tech replied, amazed at the care the father and son were paying to the beagle.
“Katie wants to see Bijou, Daddy,” Little Danny stated.
“Go on,” Daniel instructed, knowing Jack's eyes would be glued to the door, not to mention those of the rest of the family. “Ah, about the family ...”
Outside, a huge cheer went up when Little Danny emerged with Katie, not to mention some excited barks from Bijou and Gili. The family was back together again, and all were very grateful.
With the brood waiting anxiously in the foyer, Jack and Daniel were in the examination room with Bijou, Katie, and Gili. Pam was just finishing her examination of the puppy.
“She's healthy,” Pam pronounced as she put the puppy on the floor with the beagles.
“How old is she?”
“I'd say about eight weeks,” Pam answered.
“What?” Jack exclaimed, looking at the puppy who was not really that much smaller than the two beagles.
“She's a Bernese Mountain Dog, Jack,” Pam advised with a smile. “As an adult, she will be more than twice the size of Bijou and Katie so believe me, she is only eight weeks old at the maximum. We need to get her on a shot schedule right away.”
“We need to find her a home right away,” Jack commented, stepping back when the beagles began to grumble. In fact, he watched as Bijou and Katie placed themselves in front of Gili, both glaring at Jack. “Hey, we've got dogs -- you!”
“I think they're open to not being exclusive anymore,” Daniel observed, not at all upset at the prospect of adding to the family's animal zoo, as long as Bijou and Katie were okay with the concept themselves.
“Daniel, I know that Little Danny has brought home stray after stray, but I absolutely draw the line at our *dogs* bringing home strays.”
For the first time ever, Bijou growled at Jack.
“How about the Shanahans, Cassie's family? They don't have any pets,” Jack pleaded.
Once again, Bijou growled, and this time she was joined by an unhappy Katie.
“Mama, we found her and we're going to keep her, aren't we?” Katie asked her mother.
“Yeahsureyabetcha,” Bijou assured, adding another growl in Jack's direction. ~Just for effect.~
“Okay, okay. If you feel so strongly about it and you want a pet, you can have a pet, but *you* get to train her, and if she pees all over the carpet ...”
Bijou and Katie both glared, light growls escaping from their snouts.
“I'll ... clean it up.”
Both Pam and Daniel laughed at the exchange.
“Babe, you're all heart,” Daniel teased. “You have no intention of giving up this puppy, and you know it.”
“Danny, not in front of the dogs,” Jack mumbled out of the side of his mouth.
Bijou and Katie both let out happy woofs and began to nudge the puppy lovingly.
“They risked their lives for her, Jack. That makes the puppy family now,” Daniel asserted.
“You got that right,” Jack agreed, bending over to pat all three dogs before standing to continue with Pam's analysis of the three dogs' health.
The family went home, after which Jennifer and David went on a McDonald's run, since no one wanted to cook lunch. First, though, the siblings went by the park to pick up their things from the morning. Surprisingly, everything was still there, just how they left it. Evidently, no one else had decided that a chilly morning was the best time to play at the neighborhood park.
Next the two Mouseketeers headed for PetSmart to get some puppy food. The rest of the new dog supplies would be purchased later. Quite honestly, everyone was too emotionally worn out from the morning's trauma to go shopping.
Neither Jack nor Daniel had discussed Carlton's handling of the burly man since their initial talk when the man had been essentially arrested by the Jackson-O'Neills. They'd made their desires known and to date, Carlton had never gone against Jack's wishes. Quite frankly, both men were in the process of wiping the abusive human from their minds. What mattered to them was that their girls, and the puppy, were healthy and safe.
As they waited for the fast food, those at home doted on the three dogs. Bijou's X-rays had been fine and Pam's advice was just to watch her for a couple of days, though she didn't expect any problems. Katie had sprained her leg, but as long as she relaxed and didn't overdo it, she'd be fine soon enough. As for the puppy, she needed nourishment and shelter, something the Jackson-O'Neills were happy to give her.
“Bij, Katie, you sure? You know we love you first and most, always,” Little Danny declared as he talked with the girls privately for a minute. As he received lots of kisses, he laughed. “You're right. We do have lots of love to give.”
Two woofs of agreement later, and the three rejoined the family in the living room.
“She needs a name,” Lulu stated.
“Barbie,” Jack joked.
“I have a name,” Gili spoke up, though it was very obvious that the humans didn't speak dog. “Bijou, Katie, please don't let them change my name. Mommy gave it to me and it's all I have left of her.”
“Hey, girl, it's okay,” Aislinn soothed. “She's shaking again.”
Suddenly, Bijou and Katie began to bark.
“Settle down,” Jack urged. “Both of you are supposed to relax and stay calm, so just settle down and tell us what you're trying to say.”
The beagles stared at each other, trying to figure out how to communicate.
“I know!” Little Danny called out, sitting on his knees in front of the girls. “Do you know what her name is?”
Two more eager woofs were the boy's response.
“Okay, how are we supposed to know her name?” Jack asked skeptically.
The family stared at one another until Aislinn looked at JD and giggled, “He has a bunch of names.”
“JD was named after family,” Ricky returned.
“How'd you figure out our names?” Jenny asked.
“We've talked about that,” Jack answered. “You all know who you're named after, or why we picked ...”
“Picked,” Daniel interrupted. “Jack, the baby name book.”
“Daniel, you're not seriously suggesting that we ...” Jack paused, seeing nothing but seriousness on his soulmates's face. “It might not even be in there.”
“Do you have a better idea?” the linguist challenged.
“Didn't we throw that book out?”
“We kept it, just in case,” Daniel responded as he tried to remember where he'd seen the book last.
Jack saw a bunch of excited faces and decided to nip their excitement in the bud by holding up his hands and saying clearly, “You're an even dozen, and that's enough.”
“You could go for a baker's dozen, Dad,” Brianna stated mischievously.
“Maybe we'll get rid of one,” the general groused as he stared at the unafraid and totally amused tomboy.
Rolling his eyes at his lover's ridiculous threat, Daniel told his family, “I'll go get the book.”
“I can't believe he knows where it is,” Jack sighed.
“Maybe he *does* want a baker's dozen, Dad,” Jeff mused with equal mischievousness as Brianna's. “If looks could kill,” he chuckled a few seconds later as he stared at his un-amused father.
“What's a baker's dozen?” Ricky asked.
“Thirteen,” Jonny answered.
“It means we're gonna have another baby,” the oldest Munchkin stated.
“Hey, no, we're not. No bakers here. Get that out of your minds right now,” Jack ordered, fully denying the concept. When one of the children began to speak, he stuck out his finger and interrupted, “Ut! Not another word about babies.”
“Aba, Abbie, Abby, Abeni ...”
Bijou and Katie stared at each other. It was going to be a long time before Daniel reached the 'G' portion of the book.
“Becca, Becky, Bedelia, Belinda, Bella ...” Brianna sighed as she paused her reading. She saw the blank look on the beagles' faces. “I have a hunch I'm not even close,” she sighed. “Belle, Bellini, Bern ...”
The family continued taking turns, each member reading names for fifteen minutes. It was definitely a long afternoon, interrupted only by lunch and potty breaks. Even the dogs were tired, lying down and yawning.
Bijou and Katie listened as Jack took his next turn.
“Dabria, Dacey, Dae, Dagmar ...”
“Mama, we have to do something. I'm bored,” Katie groaned with a yawn.
“You're right, Little One,” Bijou agreed as she sat up.
“Hey, am I close?” Jack asked, seeing the dogs moving.
Bijou stood up on her hind legs and used her paw to move the pages of the book.
“You've got to be kidding?” Jack questioned the beagle incredulously. **Danny, get in here.**
“What's going ... on?” Daniel asked, the children all following him and watching in disbelief.
“I think we're going too slow for her,” Jack observed. He looked at Bijou and asked, “Want me to help?”
“Woof,” Bijou agreed, sitting down and waiting expectantly.
“You're on the E's. Is it an E name?”
“Grrrr,” Bijou responded.
“Grrrr,” was the canine answer.
“G?” Jack asked.
“Woof! Woof!” Bijou asked, standing and wagging her tail, as did Katie.
“Good job, Mama,” Katie praised happily.
“Okay, G it is,” Jack agreed. “Let's see ... Gabby, Gabri...”
“Grrrr,” Bijou interrupted.
“Jack, it's not a 'Ga' name,” Daniel translated.
“I figured that out,” Jack responded, flipping over a few pages. “Geri, Germ...”
“Okay, how about ...” Again, the general went ahead a few pages until it hit upon another combination. “Giacinti, Gianina, Gil...”
“Jack, look,” Daniel interrupted, walking forward. The beagles had sat up again, but they weren't barking. “We're close. Keep going, but slowly.”
“Gil,” Jack read. “Danny, they're almost salivating.”
“Very close,” the linguist acknowledged.
“Gilana, Gilda,” Jack continued, saying each name slowly while observing Bijou and Katie carefully after each name. It was clear they were ready to pounce at any second. “Gilen, Gillian, Gin, Ginger ...”
“Grrrr,” Bijou groaned, lying down in frustration and rolling over.
“Something's wrong,” Daniel deduced. “It's not in the book.”
Bijou hopped up and ran over to Daniel. Katie followed and stared up at the archaeologist.
“What do we do, Daddy?” Jonny asked.
“It's not in the book,” Chenoa sighed, repeating her younger father's realization.
“Well, we get them to tell us,” Daniel stated as he sat down on the carpet, motioning for the beagles to sit in front of him. “When Jack said Gilda, he was close, right?”
“Woof!” Bijou answered.
“But Ginger is too far, right?”
“So, it's a Gila...something?”
“No, Daddy,” Little Danny answered. “They're just staring. Bij, is 'Gil' the right sound?”
“Good idea,” Daniel praised.
Together, the father and son worked on sounds. It took a while, but they ascertained that the first sound of the puppy's name was 'gee'.
“Daddy, if they were responding to 'Gil' names, then the second part must start with an 'L' sound.”
“I agree,” Daniel responded.
Once again, the linguist and his protege son began to work phonetically until they received affirmative woofs.
“So it's the 'Lee' sound.”
“Gili!” Little Danny called out.
Bijou and Katie began to dance around, though Katie was moving gingerly, and the puppy jumped up into Little Danny's lap.
“Is your name Gili?”
“Arf! Arf, arf, arf!” Gili responded happily.
“Way to go, Son,” Jack praised. “You, too,” he laughed at Daniel's look at being left out of the praise. Then he noticed the looks on the beagles' faces. “For crying out loud!”
“Good job, Bij, Katie,” Daniel told them as he grinned and reached out to scratch their ears.
“What does Gili mean?” Lulu asked curiously as she held her cat, Calico, in her arms.
“Ah, it means ... joy, my happiness, and rejoice.”
“It's Hebrew,” Little Danny added.
Daniel arched his eyebrows in surprise, but affirmed, “Yes, it is.”
“That was hard work,” Jack stated, standing up. “I'm hungry.”
“You're always hungry,” Daniel teased.
“Do you know how long we've been reading?”
“Hours,” Daniel acknowledged. “It's time for dinner.”
The parents looked at each other while the children all glanced at one another. In almost perfect unison, the fourteen Jackson-O'Neills shouted out the same single word: “Pizza!”
After their pizza dinner, the entire family was gathered together in the recreation room, still spoiling the three dogs. They'd also called the Shanahans, inviting them over, so once Pete arrived home from his shift, the family of six joined in the reunion.
“So what kind of mutt is she?” Pete asked about the puppy as he played with her.
“Pam says she's a Bernese Mountain Dog, which means she's gonna top out somewhere between seventy-five and a hundred pounds,” Jack answered.
“Wowza,” Pete laughed. “She's gonna be a big one, Jack.”
“Yeah. She'll be about twenty-five inches tall by the time she's done, too,” Jack noted. “We'll need a bigger dog door,” he laughed.
All of a sudden, Gili slipped out of Pete's hold and headed over to where Kevin was sitting on one of the floor pillows. When she looked up at him, the autistic youngster smiled. She climbed up into his lap, which made him laugh out loud.
“Hi, Gili,” the eight-year-old boy greeted, giggly at the puppy's kisses.
The adults all shared a look. Kevin continued to make awesome progress. Initating conversation, even with a dog, was a great sign that things were still going in a positive direction.
“Mommy, it's a doggie,” Kevin giggled, pointing to said puppy.
“And she likes you,” Sam replied gaily.
Pete sat down on the floor next to his son, helping to facilitate the play between Kevin and Gili.
For the rest of the evening, Gili stayed with Kevin who uncharacteristically had more interaction with everyone in the room, especially the new Jackson-O'Neill dog.
Later that evening as Jack and Daniel were making their goodnight rounds, Bijou and Katie walked over to Gili as she sat quietly in one of their beanbags.
“Gili, what is it?” Bijou asked.
“You look a little sad,” Katie observed.
“I think he needs me,” Gili responded. “I felt something when he was playing with me, something special.”
“Did it make you want to laugh for no reason?” Bijou asked.
“And did your heart jump just because he smiled at you?” Katie questioned.
“It flip flopped,” Gili acknowledged.
“You belong with Kevin then,” Bijou explained.
“I thought I belonged with you,” Gili responded, feeling very confused.
“We can see each other all the time,” Bijou told the naive puppy. “The Shanahans live right behind us. We're all family.”
“We love you, Gili,” Katie added. “We'd love for you to be here every second and be part of our zoo.”
“That's what Jack calls all of us critters,” Bijou clarified, seeing the confused look on the young pup. “But when your heart beats so fast that you think you'll die if you don't get a hug right this second from your human, then you belong with that human.”
“Is that how you feel with Jack and Daniel?” Gili queried innocently.
“All the time,” Bijou affirmed.
“And with Little Danny and all the children,” Katie added. “But, well, I have a very special bond with Daniel. It's hard to explain. We came into his life at a very crucial time. He loves us with every fiber of his human body. My heart pitter patters every time he looks at me. It does with Little Danny and the brood, too, but just a little bit more with Daniel.”
“You love us, don't you, Gili?” Bijou questioned.
“Very much, and the humans here.”
“But with Kevin?” Bijou prompted.
“I think it's like you and Daniel, Katie. My paws couldn't get to him fast enough, and when he tickled my tummy, I felt so good inside. I didn't even want a biscuit. I just wanted him to keep holding me.”
“Then it's all arranged,” Bijou stated. “You'll be Kevin's dog, and you can come and visit us all the time.”
“But they're gone,” Gili sighed.
“Trust us,” Bijou replied. “Katie, Dear, we must get Jack and Daniel to understand. Any ideas?”
Katie looked around the living room as she thought. She remembered back to the afternoon when her humans had read out of the baby name book.
“Yes, Mama, I do have an idea. You get Jack and Daniel, and I'll work on my idea,” the youngster instructed.
“I'll be right back,” Bijou responded, heading upstairs to locate the couple.
“What are you going to do, Katie?” Gili questioned as Katie moved away from her.
“I need that picture up there,” Katie sighed, looking on the mantle. “We need a way to get Jack and Daniel to look at the picture.”
As Jack and Daniel closed the door to the girls' room, they were confronted by the mama beagle, whose tail was wagging wildly and who kept sprinting from where they stood to several feet away and then back and forth.
“You want us to follow you, right?” Daniel asked.
His answer was Bijou charging even further away.
“That's a 'yes', Daniel,” Jack pointed out. “Lead the way, Bij.”
“She's not upset, so it can't be an emergency,” the archaeologist surmised from the dog's enthusiastic call.
“Agreed,” Jack replied as he continued to follow Bijou.
“Okay, we're here,” Jack chuckled as Bijou joined Katie and Gili.
“Family meeting?” Daniel asked, kneeling down in front of the three dogs. “What's on your minds?”
“Katie, Dear, you're on,” Bijou told her daughter.
“Yes, Mama,” Katie answered. The youngest beagle jumped into Daniel's arms, surprising the archaeologist and almost knocking him over. “Stand up, Daniel.”
“Danny, I think she wants you to hold her.”
Standing, Daniel mused, “Whatever gave you that idea?”
Using her paws and wiggling her body, Katie made motions towards the mantle. The movements made it a struggle for Daniel to hold on to her securely.
“Okay, okay, hold it, Katie,” Daniel instructed. “I know you're doing this for a reason.” He looked over where the dog's body was shifting towards the most. “The mantle? Is there something on the mantle you want me to see?”
Katie gave Daniel a slew of kisses, which made him laugh.
“That's a 'yes',” Jack remarked, walking over to the mantle. “I've got this one.”
“Piece of cake,” Jack answered, picking up a photo of the Shanahan family. “You want us to call them, don't you?”
“Woof!” Katie barked and then gasped, as if she hadn't intended to bark.
“It's okay,” Daniel comforted. “The children are exhausted. They're probably all asleep by now.”
“The Shanahan twins are probably asleep,” Jack told the dogs. “You sure this can't wait until tomorrow?”
Bijou headed to the patio door, which was her answer.
“Carter's gonna shoot me,” Jack sighed as he walked to the phone and hit the speed dial.
“Hey, Pete. Glad you're still up,” Jack greeted cheerfully.
“You could say that,” Pete groaned, silently bemoaning the timing of this little chat.
Jack cleared his voice while thinking, ~Bad choice of words.~ He grimaced slightly, but continued on with his task. “The girls are demanding a pow wow.”
“It's a dog revolution,” the general reported.
Daniel saw Jack smile, but it was a funny smile. He didn't need to have his ear to the phone to know what Pete was saying. After all, the archaeologist had heard Jack say similar things when being paged to the Mountain in the middle of the night, or at other inopportune times.
Finally, Jack hung up the phone, letting out a 'whew' as he walked back towards his lover.
“They were ...”
“Oh, yeah,” Jack answered. “Girls, you'd better make this good, or Dad and Daddy here are gonna be fish bait for Uncle Pete.”
“What's he mean?” Gili asked the beagles.
“He's just being funny, Gili. Jack talks like that a lot. He's all about the love, though,” Bijou assured as Gili and Katie joined her at the patio door.
A couple of minutes later, Pete and Sam, both in their pajamas and fuzzy house slippers, opened the security gate that connected their yard to the Jackson-O'Neill's. Just as they did so, Kevin appeared at their patio door. Apparently, he either hadn't been asleep like they'd thought or he'd awakened when his parents had turned on the backyard lights and gone outside.
Seeing Kevin, Gili bounded over to him. The two sat down on the cement patio and began to cuddle and play.
“Okay, Jack, here we are,” Pete whined. “Now tell me why we're here.”
“I'd love to,” Jack responded. He stared at Pete and then cleared his throat. Looking down at the beagles, he ordered, “Okay, tell them.”
Bijou and Katie both ran over to Kevin and Gili and then stopped, looking back at the adults.
“Come on, Jack, it's late,” Pete complained.
“If I knew, I'd tell ya,” Jack responded.
“The answer is right there,” Daniel pointed out. He walked over, knelt down, and began to pat Gili while smiling at Kevin. “She's a great dog.”
“Gili's the best dog,” Kevin responded. He surprised everyone when he added, “She's my dog.”
“Yes, she is,” Daniel agreed.
“Oh, Daniel,” Sam returned with an uncertain look on her face.
Leading the adults away so that Kevin wouldn't hear the discussion, Daniel pointed out, “Sam, that's what Bij and Katie were telling us. Look, I don't claim to understand it, but they found Gili, and they wanted her to be a part of our family. Obviously, Gili had another option to explore.”
Pete chuckled, leaning to his right to get a glimpse in between Jack and Daniel of his son and the dog.
“Gorgeous, look at them,” Pete implored. “It was love at first sight. How can you take that little baby away from Kev?”
“Pete, I know this breed and the general said it himself during dinner. That little baby is going to be bigger than Kevin in a year.”
“The kids are growing, too,” Pete argued, placing a placating hand on his wife's lower back.
“Where's she going to sleep?”
“With Kevin,” Pete answered. “Sam, it's what dogs do with little kids. All the kids already love her, and look at Kev. Think, Honey. He initiated playing and talking to her.”
“And us,” Daniel reminded.
“Kevin's bed won't be big enough for them once Gili reaches her adult size,” Sam countered.
“We'll buy him a bigger bed.”
As Jack laughed and patted Pete on the back for the great answer, Sam just sighed.
“Come on, Carter. Have we ever steered you wrong?” Jack questioned. With a smirk, he added, “Once all you had was the military. Look at you now, Colonel. You're a wife, a mother, a home...maker.”
“Not helping, Jack,” Pete groaned as Jack bust out with laughter actually doubling over.
Even Daniel was laughing, though he quickly waved out his hands and apologized, “Sam, I'm sorry. It's just, you've changed.” He grew serious, saying, “We've all changed. Trust me, Gili is going to enrich your life more than you can possibly know today.” He walked over to Bijou and Katie, leaning over for kisses and some attention. “You can't possibly know today, but you'll know soon, very soon.”
“Aw, Gorgeous, if not for Kev, for me. I want a dog.”
“Okay,” Sam acquiesced. “My father would never believe this,” she mused.
“Gili, you're home!” Katie exclaimed happily.
“I'm so glad. Thank you, but ... how will I be able to see you? I can't get through that gate when it's closed.”
Katie slumped to the ground and remarked, “Oh, Mama, more charades.”
“One more time, Little One. Let's get their attention,” Bijou instructed, though she took a big breath first. ~This has been one long day.~
“Let's go to bed,” Pete urged, stopping when the two beagles intercepted his path and stared up at him. “Okay, girls. I don't speak beagle, but is there something else we need to hear tonight?”
“Woof,” times two was the response.
“Let's get it over with,” Jack sighed. “Bij, it would sure be easier if you talked English.”
“And we think it would be easier if you talked canine,” Bijou responded with equal wit.
“Good one, Mama,” Katie praised.
“Thank you, Dear.”
The humans watched as the beagles headed for the gate, but suddenly, Daniel called out, “Wait. Ah, Katie, you're limping a little. Why don't you stay with Kevin and Gili and we'll follow Bijou?”
“He's right. I can handle it,” Bijou told her baby.
Appreciatively, Katie headed to the Shanahan patio and took her alert stance, causing Pete and Sam to smile. Their family was safe with Katie on watch, hurt leg or not.
“Bijou, what do you want to tell us?” Sam asked with sincerity.
The beagle took off towards the side of the Jackson-O'Neill home and stood by the garage door.
Before the adults followed, Pete walked up next to Jack and quipped, “Jack, are you sure those dogs aren't from outer space?”
“Sometimes, Pete, I wonder that myself.” Jack heard Bijou's impatient bark so nodded in her direction and then led the way to where the beagle had gone. “Okay, you brought us to the garage,” Jack observed.
“The door?” Sam question.
“The dog door,” Daniel stated, smiling when Bijou broke out into a couple of quiet barks and danced around. He watched as she sprinted back towards the gate. As the adults followed, he stated, “I think I know where she's going with this.”
“Do tell,” Jack urged.
“She'll stop at the gate,” Daniel predicted. When Bijou did just as he had said, he pointed out, “See. She wants us to add a dog door to the security gate.”
“Danny, Gili is gonna be one big dog,” Jack responded.
“Sam, can you put in a bigger dog door and keep it secure?”
“Gorgeous can do anything,” Pete praised, giving his wife a kiss that made her blush and smile.
“A regular door would be a security breach because of its size, but I could rig it with a sensor,” Sam stated almost rhetorically as her scientific mind began to run through potential solutions to the problem. She knelt down at the door and automatically began to pat Bijou, her hand running over Bijou's collar. “GPS.” Standing, she looked at the others and advised, “Yes, I can do it. We can rig a sensor that will only recognize the girls and Gili.”
“A doggie paw scanner?” Jack questioned amusingly.
“Yes, Sir, you could say that,” Sam replied. “It can work from both yards and let the dogs go back and forth as they please. Uh, we'll have to do the same to both of your dog doors,” she advised, referring to the garage door and the door that led from the garage to the interior of the house.
“Not a problem,” Jack answered quickly, having complete confidence in the blonde.
Pete called Katie over and knelt down in front of the beagles. He smiled and patted them for a minute before speaking.
“We gotcha' covered, girls. Gili's staying with us, and you're welcome to visit anytime. Likewise, Gili can come and go as she pleases. Sam will get those new doors done lickity split. Now, is there anything else? We were in the middle of something very important.”
“Oh, geez,” Sam chuckled nervously as she blushed some more.
Bijou and Katie gave Pete a bunch of kisses and then walked over to Gili and Kevin.
“We love you, Gili. Don't be a stranger,” Bijou stated.
“We'll teach you everything you need to know about how to train your humans,” Katie added.
“I'll miss you,” Gili sniffled though she smiled when Kevin sensed her sadness and held her close in a hug for a second.
“We'll miss you. Now it's very cold out here. Go get warm with Kevin,” Bijou ordered, giving Kevin a nudge.
“Mommy, Daddy, we're going to bed now,” Kevin called out, standing up and carrying Gili inside as the three dogs continued to dog-speak good-byes.
“Sam,” Pete whispered.
“He's never done that, Pete, not like that,” Sam noted, tears welling in her eyes as she turned into her husband so that he could hold her.
“Thanks,” Pete called out to the beagles and their humans as they departed, closing the gate behind them. “He's getting better, Sam,” he sighed contentedly as he led his wife inside the house and locked it up for the night.
In their bed, Jack and Daniel were in unusual positions for them. Both were lying on their left sides. Though they were spooned in close, Jack's arm was around Bijou, who was nice and toasty as she lay sandwiched between Jack's chest and Daniel's back. Katie was enwrapped by Daniel's strong and comforting arms as he held her close to his body. His chin was against the top of her head, making her feel secure and snug.
“Mama, they still love us, just like they did that very first day,” Katie sighed in complete bliss.
“More, Little One. They love us even more,” Bijou sighed in equal serenity and happiness.
“I love you, Jack,” Daniel crooned happily.
“Love you, too, Angel,” Jack replied. “And you, too,” he added, giving Bijou a kiss on her head.
“So much,” Daniel added, giving Katie a gentle hug as he added a kiss to the top of her head as well. “So very much.”
“I love you both, too,” Katie sighed.
“Love the love,” Bijou yawned before slipping into doggie dream land.
“Love the ...” Katie yawned as she joined the rest of the family in slumber.
Bijou and Katie had had a big adventure on this day. It had been dangerous and frightening, but in the end, they were safe, warm, and full of love with their humans, and that was just how it should be for Jack, Daniel, the brood, and the zoo in Colorado Springs.
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