Bijou's Big Day

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Humor, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - June 10-12, 2017
Spoilers:  None
Size:  61kb
Written:  February 26, March 15-16,25-27-30, 2015
Summary:  Thanks to Little Danny, Bijou is in for a big surprise.  Along the way, though, the young boy learns a lesson.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~

Bijou's Big Day
by Orrymain

“Whatcha' doin'?” Jack asked Little Danny who was sitting under a tree in the backyard.

“Thinking,” the Munchkin answered.

“That can be dangerous,” the father mused.  When nothing but silence loomed, Jack kneeled down on his haunches to be closer to his son.  He was a bit concerned.  The family had recently gone through another crisis, one in which Little Danny had been forced to step up to the military plate, much as his daddy often did as a member of SG-1.  To protect his parents, the boy had shot two people with a Zat gun.  “Anything I can help with?”

“Maybe later,” came the soft reply.

Jack nodded and inquired, “Are you okay?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Okay,” the silver-haired man responded as he stood up.  “You know where to find me.”

As Little Danny acknowledged the remark with a bob of his head, Jack turned and headed back to the house.

“Dad!”

“Yes?”

“Thinking is good; not thinking is what's dangerous.”

“I'll remember that.”

“Good.”

With a slight smile, Jack started to turn back around, but then he heard his name again.

“Dad?”

“Hey, you can think all day if you want,” Jack teased.

“I'm okay.  It's not about ... you know.”

“You sure?”

Little Danny nodded, his lips firm and his eyes unwavering.

“Okay,” Jack responded as he left the Munchkin to his thoughts and went about his business.

====

That night, Daniel was making his nightly rounds when he found Little Danny in a pensive state.

“Dad told me you were thinking hard this afternoon.”

“I'm trying to figure something out.”

“Would you like to talk about it?”

“Not yet,” was the boy's quiet yet honest answer.

“Well, get some rest.  Tomorrow is Calvin's party and ...”

“That's it!” Little Danny exclaimed, leaping up from the confines of his covers and speaking so loudly that both Jonny and Ricky sprung up in their own beds as well to listen.

“Uh, what's it?”

“I have to talk to Katie,” the Munchkin said, leaping out of bed.

“Hey, wait a minute,” Daniel called out.  “It's late, and you're supposed to be asleep.”

“What's going on?” Jonny asked, worried there was some type of family emergency happening.

“Daddy, pleeeeeeease,” Little Danny begged, putting everything he had into his plea as he stood two feet in front of the doorway.

“It's the pout,” Jonny observed.  “You're doomed, Daddy.”

~Gawd,~ Daniel reacted inwardly at his namesake's expression.  “Five minutes and *only* five minutes.”

“Thanks, Daddy,” Little Danny responded excitedly.

The middle Munchkin literally ran out of the room and was practically flying down the stairs when his older father narrowly escaped colliding with the triplet.

“Whoa!  What do you think you're doing?”

“Sorry, Dad, but I'm on the clock!” Little Danny apologized, quickly turning and heading for the patio door.

Both upset and curious, Jack hastily followed.  He became a bit alarmed when he watched the child prodigy turn off the security system that had just been turned on and successfully unlock the patio door in mere seconds.

“Ah ...” Daniel sighed as he joined his husband in the living room.

“Don't 'ah' me,” Jack snapped.  “Daniel, what's he doing?”

“Well, he begged me for a chance to talk to Katie,” Daniel answered.

“For crying out ...”  The general stopped his expression before finishing it and questioned, “Katie?”

The youngest beagle had chosen to stay outdoors for the night.  It was beautiful out and she wanted to enjoy the freshness of the night air.  Her mother, Bijou, on the other hand, was sleeping with JD.

“And it couldn't wait until morning?” Jack argued.

“Apparently not.”

“Daniel, why'd you let him get out of bed?”

Daniel licked his lips, let out a sigh, and turned to look at his lover as he explained, “He did the pout.”

Jack's brown eyes bore deep into Daniel's blue ones and instantly softened as he uttered an acquiescent “Okay.”

Within two seconds, both men smiled and then laughed, an acknowledgement of how Daniel's pout had been successfully passed on to a new generation.

====

“So that's what I was thinking, Katie,” Little Danny told the beagle as he held her in his arms and gently patted her floppy ears.  “What do you think?”

“Woof!” came a happy bark that was followed by licks of acceptance.

“Are you sure?  I don't want you to think ...”

Little Danny's words were cut off by Katie, who switched her position so that she was standing up on him with two paws on his knees and two on his shoulders.  She continued to give him kisses and added some smaller, quieter woofs as her answer.

The boy laughed and determined, “Okay, it's a plan!”  He patted Katie again and said, “Now don't tell Bijou.  Remember, it's a secret!”

“Woof!” Katie agreed.

“I better go back in the house.  I think Dad's mad at me.”  Little Danny saw Katie's cocked head, a sign of confusion.  “Oh, well, I sort of ran down the stairs so I could talk to you.  I almost bumped into him.  I disobeyed the rules: no running.”

Little Danny stood up and made a slower walk across the lawn and back to the house.

As the Munchkin was about to go inside, Katie zipped past him and stood in front of Jack, letting out a bit of a growl that was followed by a long stare.

The general stared at Katie with a staunch 'I'm the boss' expression, which only resulted in a hardened stare and another tiny growl from the youngest beagle.

“Okay, okay!” Jack groaned, raising his hands in an 'I give up' motion.  “I'll let it go this time.  Happy?”

Katie's bark was joyful in response.  She jumped up on Jack, happy when he leaned over so she could kiss him.

“I love you, too,” Jack declared.  “Staying in or going back out?”

Katie looked back at the door, but then ran up the stairs.

“I guess she's staying in for the rest of the night,” Daniel noted lightly.

“Dad, I'm sorry, but it really was important,” Little Danny told his father contritely.

“Gonna share?”

“In the morning,” the boy answered.  “I've got more thinking to do tonight.”

“You have sleep to do tonight,” Jack argued.

“Oh, I can think and sleep at the same time,” Little Danny pointed out brightly.  He hugged both of his fathers and then headed upstairs, calling out, “I love you.”

“Love you, too,” both men shouted out.

“Think and sleep at the same time?” Jack queried skeptically as he looked at his soulmate.

“Sure,” Daniel responded.  “I do it all the time.”

Smiling, Daniel walked up the stairs, leaving behind his very confused husband.

====

A couple of hours later, Jack and Daniel were in their master bedroom, preparing for bed.

“Daniel,” Jack spoke up with a bit of concern in his voice.

As he unbuttoned his powder blue shirt, the archaeologist looked up in expectation of more words coming from his husband.

“Did you see what Little Danny did?”

“When?”

This time, it was Jack who was glaring as he challenged, “You know perfectly well when.”

“Then why ask if I saw it?” Daniel quipped, his shining eyes communicating much more than his words.

“Sometimes!”

“I agree,” Daniel laughed.  Growing serious, he sighed, “Yeah, I saw it.  Any idea when he might have learned the correct procedure for operating the security system?”

“Observation?” Jack returned.

“Maybe.”

“Should we be worried?”

Upon reflection, Daniel opined, “I think he probably has seen us do it enough that he remembers it.”

“His photographic memory,” the general surmised.

“Well, we don't really know how photographic his memory is, but he is, uh, well ...”

“... a genius,” Jack completed for his hesitant lover.  “What about the code?  He put in the right one.”

“Yes, but we change it frequently.  We changed it ...” Daniel paused as he sought to recall on which day the code was last altered.

“Last Friday, when Little Danny was waiting impatiently for us to go to the office.”

“Exactly,” Daniel confirmed.  “He was excited about getting to see the artifacts Bibi brought back from Argentina.”

“He heard us,” Jack determined.

Daniel nodded as he finally slid off his shirt and reached for his blue pajama top.

“Do we change the system?” the general pondered aloud.

With a bit of uncertainty, Daniel responded, “I think so, only because if he knows, it's possible some of the other children might.  Jack, it's not that I don't trust them.  The Munchkins are almost eleven, but as mature and intelligent as they are, they're still children.”

“I'll call Carter in the morning and see if she has a way of doing a minor improvement.”

“And, Babe, we need to be more careful when talking about the codes.  We've been a little lax in that department.”

Jack chuckled as he admitted, “Because we know they are mature and because we do trust them.”

“But we need to protect them, and even if they don't understand why we're changing the system, we have to be responsible.”

“The kids all have plans for most of the day on Thursday.  Maybe Carter can do her techno thing while they're gone.”

The couple shared a smile that acknowledged both their pride in the brood and their concern.  Then they finished putting on their pajamas and snuggled in together for a good night's rest.

====

The next day was full of preparations.  Little Danny's head was exploding with ideas to make his vision come true, and he was enlisting the aid of many to make sure things went the way he wanted.

“Dad, you have to think of something,” the Munchkin demanded.

“Me?  This was your idea,” Jack returned.

“But you're good at strategy and this takes strategy.”

“It does?” the father asked dubiously.

“Yes.  Katie needs to be here, so you need to think of something that Bijou will believe.  It's your job,” the boy charged as he began to walk out of the study where the conversation was taking place.

“Son ...”

Little Danny turned around and folded his arms across his chest.  He stood firm as his blue eyes bore into his older father's.

~Okay, this is crazy,~ Jack thought about the Daniel-like stance the boy had taken.  “I'll do my best.”

With a smile, Little Danny replied, “Bijou is counting on you and so am I!”

Jack covered his face with the palms of his hands and turned around, shaking his head while thinking, ~He's turned into a monster.  He's just like his daddy!~

====

“Daddy, I don't have time to do it myself.  Besides, you're better at it than I am,” Little Danny pleaded as he stood by his younger father's chair in the den.

“Jeff's the family expert on photography,” Daniel reminded.

“But Jeff's not here, and you are,” Little Danny argued.

“Little Danny, I want to help, b...”

“Good!  Here are some pictures, and some discs, and some music I picked out.  You'll do great, Daddy.  Thanks for helping!”

Before Daniel could say another word, the Munchkin was out of sight.

~Okay, what just happened?~

At that moment, Jack walked in and saw the strange look on his lover's face, prompting him to inquire, “Danny, you okay?”

“Babe, I ... I think I just saw ... I mean, I ...”

“Saw what?”

“A ... mini-me!”

Daniel looked down at the items his son had bestowed on him and stared in disbelief.

Jack looked around, confused.  Finally, he shrugged and decided perhaps it was better to leave his husband to himself.  Besides, he had a phone call to make.

====

As he held the phone in his hand, Little Danny implored, “Please, Mrs. Valissi!  Can't you and Andie go to your bridge club on Tuesday instead of Monday?  It's really important.  Andie needs to be here.  It wouldn't the same without her.”  The boy's face lit up as he replied, “Oh thank you.”

Little Danny put a checkmark by the woman's name and then made his next call.  This one was to his Aunt Sam.  It would be followed by more calls to people on his list.

====

“Jen, Noa, how's it coming?” Little Danny asked as he walked into the sewing room that was upstairs.

“We're going as fast as we can,” Jennifer answered without looking up from the sewing machine.

“Yeah,” Chenoa agreed, not having a breath to say anything more.

“They aren't big shirts,” the boy rationalized.  “Just remember Bijou is counting on you, but no pressure.”

“Little Danny, has anyone ever told you you're a slave driver?” Jennifer asked with a frown.

“No.”

“Well, you are.”

The boy laughed at the joke as he examined the results of the girls' sewing.

“Shouldn't this be straighter?” Little Danny  inquired as he examined a work in process.

“We're not done with it yet,” Jennifer explained.

“Oh,” the Munchkin acknowledged.  “Are you sure you have all the right sizes?”

“Little Danny?” Chenoa called out.

“Yes?”

“I gave up my recital today for this, and I don't mind, really I don't.  I love Bijou and she's much more important than my recital.”

“I know.  Thank you, Noa.”

“And I love you.”

“I love you, too, Noa.”

“Little Danny?”

“Mmm?”

“Get out!”

The boy's head jutted back a little, but then he turned around and left his sisters to their tasks.

====

Little Danny entered the projects room and walked around the table where Lulu, Aislinn, and Jenny were working on signage and decorations.

“Don't forget we need a really big one to hang between the trees,” Little Danny told the trio.

“David said he'd help us with that when he gets home from shopping with Bri,” Aislinn replied.

“I like that, Jenny, but it needs more color,” Little Danny opined.

“I know.  I'm not finished yet,” Jenny groaned.

“Lulu, we have those paw stickers that would be good on the ones you're doing.”  The room was silent while Little Danny walked over by Jenny and suggested to her, “Maybe here and here,” as he pointed to specific spots on the poster board.

“Okay,” Jenny agreed politely, though she was gritting her teeth.

“Ash, I still think ...”

“Little Danny, not one more word,” Aislinn ordered her brother.  “You've been in here three times already.  If you want to do this yourself, do it.  If you want us to do it, go read a book or something.”

“Ash!”

“Little Danny!”

The male Munchkin took a reluctant breath as he left his siblings to their artwork.

====

Undaunted, Little Danny sought one of his older sisters upstairs.

“Bri, let's double check the list,” Little Danny called out as the sixteen-year-old was putting on her jacket in her bedroom.

“Little Danny, we've already checked it three times,” Brianna replied.  Seeing his relentless stare, she let out a big sigh and reached over into her purse to retrieve the list.

“Thanks,” Little Danny responded as he took possession of the list and began his review.  “Don't forget to get different sizes of the treats.  Everyone's a different size.”

“I'll remember.”

“The red ones are okay to get,” the boy stated, pointing to the item in question on the list.  “We don't need the black ones.”

“I know.”

“Don't forget to buy the all-natural kind.”

“Little Danny, you're a great little brother, but we've been over this three times already.  I have it covered,” Brianna assured.

“I just want it to be perfect.”

“I know,” Brianna replied calmly as she reclaimed the list.  “If I have questions, I'll call you, okay?”

“Okay.”

Brianna smiled at the boy for a moment.  Then she walked over to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“Why'd you do that?”

“Because you have the best heart of anyone I know.  It's gonna be great.  Don't worry so much, okay?”

“I'll try.”

“I'll be back soon,” the girl promised.  “Now where's David?”

“He's waiting for you downstairs.”

“Great!  See ya later,” the teen said as she exited her bedroom.

Little Danny ambled out of the room slowly.  He walked down the long hallway with his head down.

“Something wrong, Son?” Jack asked, nearly bumping into the downtrodden child near the girls' room.

“Dad, I think everyone's mad at me.”

Jack kneeled down so he had to look up at the boy instead of the other way around.  At the rate the children were growing, though, kneeling was almost putting him at too much disadvantage.

With a confident smile, the father assured, “No one is mad at you, Danny.”

“Are you sure?  Bri just kissed me.”

“And that makes you think everyone is mad at you?”

“Well, it's how she did it and when.  I mean, we were going over the shopping list.”

Jack smiled, though he really didn't see the connection between the sisterly kiss and Little Danny's assumption that the family was mad at him.

“I just wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything,” the Munchkin continued.

The last comment helped the general to piece together the problem, enabling him to respond, “Son, you're just trying to get everything right, but you might want to remember that the entire family was thrilled with your idea this morning when you explained it to us.  Think about what your siblings have done today to help out.  Jen canceled a gabby girl session with her friends, Noa backed out of her recital, Jonny postponed his time on the shooting range, and that's just for starters.  Ricky didn't even get a piece of Calvin's birthday cake because you wanted to get home to work on this little surprise.  I think everyone had plans for today and no one griped when you asked them to stay home and help, did they?”

“No, they didn't.”

“Ease up a little on the spot checks.  You've done your job.”  Jack grinned as he patted the boy on the abdomen while saying, “You've been a great little general.”

“That's Jonny!” Little Danny objected.

“And it's you, too,” the father asserted.  “Today, you've been the general, passing out orders.”

“I don't want to be Jonny.”

“And you're not, but what is it that you and Jonny are always telling Daddy and me?”  Jack waited a moment, watching as the child processed and thought about the statement.  “You're both of us, Daddy and me, hopefully more of the best, but either way, as much as you're like your daddy, you're like me, too, when you need to be.”

“Is that ... is that why this feels so funny, Dad?”

“Funny?”

“I was really happy this morning when the brood said they'd help, and you and Daddy, too, but this afternoon, I've felt funny.”

“Not like yourself?” Jack guessed.  “Little Danny, Daddy ran his own department at Stargate Command.  He had as much as responsibility as I did, just in different ways, and his authority was pretty much equal to mine.  I'm more the in your face type.  I bark out orders and expect them to be carried out.  What do you think Daddy did?”

“He probably asked them to please get it done.”

“Yeah, and if it was super important like this, he hung around to make sure it got done, but he stayed in his office and waited.  He only jumped in when he was asked or it was obvious someone wasn't going to get it done.  He led quietly.  His team didn't want to let him down, not because they were scared of him, but because they wanted him to be proud of them.”

“Dad, I don't think I'm the little general type.  I mean, I guess I could be.”  The boy sighed, “I guess that's what I've been doing today, but it's only because I love Bijou so much that I ... I ...”

“You want everything to be right for your surprise,” Jack completed for his son.  “There's nothing wrong with that.  Danny, when you need to be a general, be a general.  It's in you and you can pull it out when it's necessary, but the question for today is, do you need to be a general?”

Little Danny shook his head and then threw his arms around his father, saying, “You're the best general in the world, Dad.  I love you.”

“I love you.  Now, I came up here to tell you that I talked with Pam and she's going to squeeze us in tomorrow.  We're a go!”

“That's great.  Thank you, Dad.  Um, I have to go do something.”

Standing, Jack stepped aside and replied, “Carry on.”

“Thanks!” the Munchkin responded as he hurried off.

Jack watched and smiled as he thought about the sensitive nature that was the essence of the middle Munchkin.

~He's just like his daddy.~

====

Downstairs, Little Danny opened the front door and waved his arms, hoping to stop Brianna from driving away.

“Bri, wait,” David instructed from the passenger seat of Jeff's truck which Brianna was allowed to drive whenever Jeff was away at college.

Brianna gently hit the brakes and then looked out towards the driveway.

“Little Danny, what are you doing?” Brianna asked as she saw the triplet running to the truck.

“You're gonna get fried,” David added, knowing the boy had broken the rules in running outside without one of their parents or an older sibling.

“Bri, I wanted to tell you that it's okay if you mess up.  If you forget something, it's all right.  Okay?”

“Um, sure, okay.  Thanks, Little Danny.”

The Munchkin grinned, backed up onto the driveway, and waved happily at the two teenagers before turning around and going inside the house.  As it happened, he ran smack dab into his older father again.

“Sorry, Dad, but I had to tell Bri something.”

Jack said nothing as the eager Munchkin walked around him and headed upstairs.

====

Entering the sewing room, having run all the way to it from downstairs, Little Danny gasped, “Jen, Noa, thank you for working so hard.  You know, it doesn't really matter if everything is straight and perfect.  I know they'll appreciate whatever you can do.  Thanks!”

“Jen, what was that?” Chenoa asked her sister.

“I think that was a little boy who realized that, for just a little while, he had a very big head.”

“Huh?”

“He's not being a brat anymore.”

“Oh, I'm glad,” Chenoa replied as she continued her sewing.

====

That evening there was a family meeting during which Katie had the most important assignment of all: keeping her mother distracted and away from the meeting.

“I think it's working,” Aislinn observed as she stood at the window.  “They're chasing a squirrel.”  She turned and saw Little Danny's wide eyes.  “Little Danny, you know the squirrels always get away.”

“I know, but it's still scary,” the boy responded.  “Okay, first.  I'm sorry about how I was earlier today.  I was sorta bossy, but it's just because I was anxious.”

“It's okay,” Aislinn returned on behalf of the family.

“We're happy to help with the surprise,” Lulu added.

“I thought you were great!” Jonny piped up boldly.

“You would,” Aislinn snarled at the sandy-haired boy.

Smiling and confident he had been forgiven by his family, Little Danny asked, “Who wants to go first?”

The meeting commenced and the family discussed their progress on all that needed to be done for the special surprise.  It was going to be close, but everyone was sure they'd be ready to go by the designated hour.  When the meeting ended, Daniel and the children walked away, but Jack reached out and gently turned Little Danny to face him.

“See,” Jack began quietly.  “They want to make Bijou's big day a success because they love her and they don't want to let you down, either.”

“Dad, how do you know when you're being a good leader and when you're being a ... a ...”

“Brat?” Jack asked.  He chuckled while explaining, “That's a term I heard today.”

“I don't need to know who said it because I was being one, well, kind of one,” the boy agreed.

“I said it,” Jennifer confessed, having heard the conversation.  “I forgot my notebook,” she explained as she picked up the item from the coffee table.  “I was telling Dad about your eagerness earlier.”

“I'm sorry,” Little Danny sighed as he bowed his head.

“Hey, it's okay.  I'm a brat sometimes, too, and it's all for a good cause.  Besides, you figured it out.”

With that, Jennifer leaned over and gave the boy a kiss before walking out of the room.

“Another kiss,” Little Danny responded with concern.  “I was worst than I thought.”

Jack chuckled and asked, “You understand now, right?”

“Yes, but how do I know if I'm being a general and not a leader?”  Little Danny gasped in frustration.  “I didn't mean it like that, Dad.  Sometimes, I don't know how to say what I want to say.”

“You do great, Son, and I know exactly what you mean,” Jack assured.  “The way you know the difference is exactly how you knew it this afternoon.”

“Because I didn't feel right?”

“Yep,” Jack confirmed.  “Daddy always says you have to be true to yourself and when you aren't, you feel it in your heart and your soul.  I'm not great at this sometimes, but you have to listen to yourself, to what's in here,” with a fist, he tapped against his heart, “as much as you listen to voices.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Little Danny replied, leaning in for a hug.  “I meant what I said today.  You're the best general in the world because you can be a general and a leader without being a brat,” he transitioned into a huge grin, “when you want to.”

Jack kissed the top of his son's head and returned, “I love you, Little Danny.  Trust me, tomorrow will be a roaring success.”

“I know it will, Dad, because I have the best brothers and sisters in the world, too!”

Smiling, Little Danny turned and headed upstairs.

~Growing pains: how to mix two worlds,~ Jack thought to himself.  ~Not easy, my boy, not easy, but you'll figure it out.  Heaven knows you have more sense than I do, times ten.~

====

“It's just you and me, girl,” Jack told Bijou as he affixed her leash.  “Don't give me that look.  It's special time.  You know how Danny and I like to spend time with each one of our kids individually.”  He waited and saw the beagle cock her head in confusion.  “You're one of our kids, too, and I want time alone with you.  Objections?”

Bijou's ears slapped around her head a few times.

“I hope that's a no,” Jack teased.  “Listen, we need to run you by the vet first.”

“Woof?” Bijou asked curiously.

“This is why,” Jack answered, holding up the canine's left paw.  “I saw you running after that squirrel.  You ran full speed up to the fence, banged hard against it, and limped a little after.  I want to make sure you're okay.  Any problem with that?”

Bijou gave Jack a kiss and sat patiently, waiting for the command to walk with him out the front door.

**We're off, Danny.**

**How'd it go?  Did she buy it?** Daniel questioned about the dog by Jack's side.

**Piece of cake,** Jack responded happily.  **She believed every syllable.**

**She did limp a little,** Daniel put forward seriously.

**Yeah, I know.**

**Jack?**

**I hear ya.  I'll have Pam give her a full exam, just to be sure she's okay.**

**I love you.**

**I love you, too.**  By this point, Jack and Bijou were outside, nearing Jack's beloved truck.  ~Individual time with the girls,~ he thought.  ~You know, it's actually not a bad idea.  Make a note, O'Neill: check with Daniel about this.~

Jack ensured Bijou was secured on the seat next to him.

“Ready for our afternoon out?”

“Woooof!  Woowoof!” Bijou responded.

“Yeah.  I'm excited, too,” Jack replied, reaching over and giving the beagle a loving rubdown.  “Okay, here we go!”

Jack started the Ford pickup and backed out of the driveway.  He needed to be away from the house for three hours to allow the family to prepare.

====

“They're back!” Ricky called out as he stared through the front window.

“Everyone hide!” Little Danny ordered enthusiastically.

--

Outside, Bijou jumped out of the truck and barked.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Jack agreed.  “How about a nap?”

“Woof,” the dog agreed.

Jack and Bijou walked calmly to the front door where the general used his key to gain entrance to the home.  Inside, Jack removed Bijou's leash and watched as she calmly headed for the living room.

~This is gonna be fun,~ Jack thought as he trailed after the dog.

Bijou leisurely entered the living room where she was stunned to see many of her favorite human and canine friends.

“Surprise!” the group exclaimed, along with several dog versions of the word.

“Woof! Wooooof!” a happy Bijou replied, running to the middle of the room and greeting her animal friends, though her first stop was to her daughter to exchange a warm kiss.

“Happy Birthday, Bijou!” Little Danny wished happily as he leaned over to give the dog a hug.

“Mama, we're having a birthday party just for you,” Katie told her mother.

Bijou was completely surprised and so thrilled to see everyone here just for her.

The humans laughed at the animals and how happy they were to see one another.

“They act just like we do,” Janet mused.

“Doctor Fraser, I didn't know you and Teal'c got a dog,” Colonel Paul Davis stated.

“We didn't get him, Colonel,” the petite physician began.  “He got Teal'c and I was part of that package.”

Sam laughed as she recalled, “Gee, it was funny.  I was with them when it happened.”

“Do tell,” Jack requested, the story being a favorite of his these days.

“We were with Sam and Pete at the park,” Janet told Paul and his life partner, Marc Reynolds.  “Out of nowhere, this little dog comes up to Teal'c and starts yapping.  You should have seen Teal'c looking down at this little guy, giving him that tough Jaffa 'get out of here' glare, but that little dog didn't go away.  You know what he did?”

“He jumped on Teal'c's boots and held on for dear life,” Sam laughed, her vocal expression growing into a roar the more she thought about it.

“Sam!” Janet complained.

“Sorry, Janet,” the blonde responded with fake contriteness.

Janet expounded, “Teal'c would shake his boot and that little dog held on with all its might.  It was incredible.  When we were leaving, he kept holding on.  What could he do?”

“He picked up the dog, threatened to throw it in the garbage can, and that yapper simply gave him about a hundred licks,” Jack told Paul and Marc.

“General!” Janet groaned, displeased at her friends stealing the thunder from the funny story.

“Sorry, Doc.”

“And you weren't even there,” the doctor bemoaned.

“But it's in my head,” the general responded.

“With all due respect, General, I'm not even sure your brain is in your head,” Janet smirked.

“Ouch!” Jack responded.  “Touche, Doc!”

“We took the dog home and he follows Teal'c around like he's his mother,” Janet told the group.  “He tolerates me, but he sure loves that Jaffa of mine.”

“Yorkies are known for barking,” Marc stated.  He took a moment to check on Logan and Diego, the boxers that belonged to him and Paul.  Seeing them playing happily with another guest dog, he returned to the topic and asked, “That yapping doesn't bother Teal'c?”

“He doesn't yap when Teal'c's home,” Janet returned.  “But boy does he yap when he's not.”

“What's his name?” Paul inquired.

“Bra'tac,” Janet laughed.

Paul and Marc exchanged a curious look and then both broke out into laughter.

“That wasn't exactly the response Master Bra'tac had,” Jack interjected.  “I don't think the Big Guy has been forgiven yet for naming a human mutt after a legendary Jaffa warrior,” he chuckled.

--

“Sorry I was gone so long, Tootie,” Jonny told his unofficial girlfriend as he handed her a cup of punch.

“That's okay, Jonny.  Lincoln and King have been getting to know Bra'tac,” Tootie Oliver responded.

The Olivers had two beagles, both male.  The dogs had become instant friends with Bijou and Katie upon their very first visit a little over four years ago.  Tootie's mother, Rayna, and her siblings, Cliff, Julie, and Vanessa, were all present at the party.  Only her father, Carl, couldn't attend due to work obligations.

“Jonny, don't you think Bra'tac is an unusual name?”

“For an earthling,” Jonny agreed, smiling afterward.

“You're so funny, Jonny,” Tootie giggled before sipping her drink.

--

“Those two are a hoot, Daniel,” Pete commented about Jonny and Tootie from across the room.  “Are you hearing wedding bells?”

Daniel replied, “I think it's a little too early to be thinking about that, Pete.  They aren't even teenagers yet.”

Pete nodded as he and Daniel continued to talk and watch the others.

--

Several of the dogs began to bark and the adults laugh as Sam's puppy, Gili, and Mrs. Valissi's thirteen-year-old shepherd-collie mix dog, Andie, wrestled a bit, rolling around on the carpet.  Gili, a Bermese Mountain Dog, was already seventy pounds at her young age.  Fortunately, she was an extremely gentle dog and the rustle and tussle with Andie was mild and in good fun.  Both exchanged nose rubs when they were done.

“Andie may not be a baby like you, Gili, but she's not ready for pasture yet, either,” Mrs. Valissi told the playful pup while patting both dogs.

--

“Has everyone said hello?” Brianna asked.

“I think so,” Sam answered, looking around the room at the guests.

“Not the humans,” the teenager chuckled.  “I meant the dogs.”

“Dogs, listen up!” Jack barked.  “Have y'all said your hellos?”

Surprisingly, every dog present barked their answer, including little Bra'tac, whose yap was louder than the bigger dogs' arfs.

“Great!  Let's take it outside!  Move!”

Obediently, Bijou and Katie led their friends to the back door, which David opened.  He smiled as he watched the canines trot outside.

“Woof!” Bijou barked approvingly, seeing the signs, balloons, treats, and games that the Jackson-O'Neills had set up for the party.

Streamers that pictured paw prints and partially wrapped dog bones were hung all over the backyard which further made the event festive.

The first part of the event consisted of doggie playtime.  All of the pets simply ran around the yard, chasing each other, rolling around, and tossing various toys up in the air.  The kids got into the act as well, throwing Frisbees and balls for the dogs to chase.

Meanwhile, the humans chatted amongst themselves as they observed the dogs at play.

Toward the end of the doggie playtime, each animal was given the shirts that Jennifer and Chenoa made for them.  Both seamstresses had to make one or two on the spot alterations, but for the most part, the shirts fit the dogs beautifully.  At this point, the official birthday party photo was taken, thanks to the auto-timer mechanism of Jack's camera.  In addition, the general activated the burst feature so that several photos were taken in quick succession.  Hopefully, one very good picture would stand out with both humans and canines having appropriate expressions on their faces as they posed.

====

“Jack?”

It was the first free moment the couple had been able to have together since the birthday party began.  Well aware of his lover's concern, Jack smiled.

“She's fine.  Pam said Bij's showing a few signs of age, but she's not concerned.  In fact, she's confused.”

“Confused?”

“Same old thing.  Bij and Katie don't show the normal signs of their ages.  She doesn't understand it.”

“Bij is fine?”

“Better than fine,” Jack assured, sensing Daniel wasn't interested in hearing about Pam's confusion.

“Good,” Daniel replied, smiling as he walked away.

~Yeah,~ Jack signed inwardly.  ~I guess I don't want to think about it much myself.~  Seeing Logan and Diego plop down onto the grass, he called out, “Hey, you boxers.  No stamina?”

Logan simply rolled over onto his side and Diego let out a yawn in response,  prompting many present to chuckle.

“Is that how they guard your condo?” Jack asked Paul and Marc.

“They're a little low key.”

“Like human, like dog.”

Marc started to reply, but found his mouth covered by his lover's hand.

“Think cold, barren wasteland,” Paul warned Marc.

Free to speak, Marc drew a breath and stated, “You're so right, General.”

Jack just chuckled and walked away.

“Paul, he's not going to call in favors to have you or me transferred somewhere.  He's retired,” Marc asserted.

“Are you sure?”

“That he's retired?”

“No, that he won't get one of us transferred,” Paul clarified for his soulmate.

“Jack?  Hey, we're all friends now.  He'd never do that.”

“Are you sure?” Paul repeated.  “He gets bored, Marc.  Remember what he did Marcuson last month?”

Marc's eyes widened as he thought about the event Paul mentioned.

Paul could see the recollection playing through Marc's eyes and continued, “Yeah. When Jack gets bored, no one is safe.”

Nodding, Marc advised, “Shut me up anytime, Paul.”

“I'll do that.”

====

Fifteen minutes later, the honoree wandered into the living room.  She was looking for one of her guests.

“Woof!” Bijou called out to Eleanor.  “Come on, Eleanor.  Little Danny says we're going to play a game.”

“I don't know,” Eleanor, an English bulldog who was also part American bulldog, responded as she looked up at Sunny Dennison.  Sunny was seated on the sofa while holding her infant daughter, Daniella, in her arms.  “Daniella may need me.”

“She's fine.  See, there's Ash and Lulu with her, too.  We're all really good with babies around here.”

Eleanor let out a ruff-ruff of laughter, having learned how big the Jackson-O'Neill family was, but then she remarked, “I'm not sure Alex would approve.”

Bijou looked over at Alex, who was standing behind the sofa, chatting with Jennifer about the special flooring he was considering for a client's home.  The beagle approached the designer, sat down in front of him, and tapped her paw against the bottom of her leg.

“Hello, Bijou!  Happy birthday!” Alex said with a smile as he looked down.

“Woof!  Woo...woof...woof!”

“Uh, I'm still not very good at dog,” Alex admitted.  “But I can tell you have something on your mind.  I'd appreciate a hint.”

Bijou obliged the human.  She began by tugging gently on his pant leg and then running to the door.  Just as he was to speak, she ran over to Eleanor and, from behind the bulldog, nudged her towards the patio door.  Then she took a position halfway between Alex and the door and sat down.

“Woof!” Bijou concluded.  “Come on, Alex.  You know what I'm saying,” she communicated with her eyes.

“You're right, but talking design with Jennifer is always a pleasure,” Alex responded.  “Excuse us, Jen,” he requested politely.  The casually dressed man walked in front of the sofa and suggested to his wife, “It's beautiful out, Sunny.  Most of the other guests are outside, too.”

“I'm game,” Sunny agreed, rising gently from the sofa.

“Woof!” Bijou added, looking over at the bulldog.

“Oh,” Alex expressed.  “I think I understand.”  He looked at his pet dog and said, “Eleanor, this is a party for Bijou.  Sunny and I will make sure that Daniella is cared for.  Go play!”

“Ruff!” Eleanor replied thankfully.  “What game are we going to play, Bijou?”

“I'm not sure,” Bijou answered as she walked side-by-side with Eleanor to the backyard.

Sunny chuckled, “Eleanor thinks she has to stay by Daniella's side every minute.”

“It's nice to have her so attentive, but Eleanor needs her own playtime,” Alex opined.  “If she's not too tired, I'll take her for an extra walk tonight.”

“She'd love that,” Sunny responded.  “But you know what she really likes the most.”

“Sunny, Eleanor cannot drive the jag,” the man spoke about his fancy jaguar car.  Seeing her loving gaze, he sighed, “Okay, I'll let her think she's driving to the park.  Satisfied?”

“Alex, don't play so tough.  You know you let her drive.  You just don't think I know that you do.”

“How do you know?”

“I'm a woman,” Sunny responded, giving her husband a confident look and then walking outside.

Alex, somewhat mystified, watched his wife exit the room and then uttered, “Amen to that” before joining the others in the backyard.

====

“Time for Trivial Furball!” Jack called out, waving for everyone to gather round.  “Son,” he called out with a nod.

“This game shows how well we know our dogs,” Little Danny announced.

“Piece of cake,” Jonny said with a grin as he sat on the grass behind the animals.

“But to answer, you have to be the first to get your dog to do a trick,” the child prodigy continued.

“What trick?” Susie Shanahan signed with her hands.

“It will be different every time,” Little Danny answered, both verbally and with his hands.

The game played out for roughly fifteen minutes with the funniest bit coming when Teal'c tried to get Bra'tac to speak.  The usually talkative Yorkie suddenly was as quiet as the proverbial lamb.

“You make no sense, Bra'tac.  You speak when I do not want you to and do not speak when I do.”

“Don't let it get to you, Big Guy,” Jack soothed, putting his arm around the Jaffa.

Suddenly, Bra'tac began barking.

“It is too late,” the Jaffa told the little dog.

Still yapping, Bra'tac took his usual spot atop Teal'c's boots until finally, the alien reached down and picked him up, receiving several kisses upon doing so.

“Human dogs make no sense,” Teal'c opined.

“Dogs aren't human, Teal'c,” Chenoa told her favorite alien.

“The're better than humans,” Jenny added as she ran by.

“Yip!” Bra'tac agreed.

====

“Are they all off?” Jennifer asked her siblings assigned to the current task.

“One second,” Ricky called out as he gently lifted Diego's front right leg to pull off the shirt.  “You'll get it back later.  We just don't want you to get it dirty,” he told the dog.  Looking up at his sister, he advised, “Okay.  We're ready now.”

Seeing and hearing the affirmations, Jennifer called out, “It's time!”

On cue, the humans began to sing “Happy Birthday” to Bijou while Brianna emerged from the house, carefully carrying the birthday cake to the picnic table.  The vanilla cake featured white icing and a picture of Bijou drawn in icing.

“Wow, Bri!  That looks wonderful,” Lulu praised.

“Thanks for helping me, Lulu.  I'm not sure I would have finished on time if you hadn't been my sous chef.”

Daniel patted both of his daughters' backs as he complimented, “There's a lot of love there.”

“It took hours, but it was worth every minute,” Brianna responded.  She turned her attention to the reason for the cake and stated, “I hope you don't mind, Bij, but I only put on the number of candles for your basic canine years.  If I did the actual number, we'd start a fire.”  Brianna chuckled and then urged, “Blow 'em out, girl!”

“Make a wish, Bijou,” Little Danny instructed.

Bijou sat for a moment and then woofed.  Her wish had been made.  After that and with the Munchkins doing most of the work, the sixteen burning candles atop the cake were successfully blown out.

“What did you wish for, Mama?” Katie inquired.

“Now, Little One, you know birthday wishes remain silent inside your heart.”

Katie gave her mother a kiss and then anxiously stated, “I can't wait for a piece of the cake.”

“Guest dogs, come up and enjoy,” Brianna called out.  “I've made each of you a really special treat I call, Surpearise Pudding.  You're gonna love it.”

“Do we trust her?” Logan asked his brother, Diego.

“I'm hungry,” Diego responded, leaving the other dog behind.

“I hope it tastes good,” Logan sighed as he followed.

Handing the dishes to the individual dog owners to give to their animals, Brianna explained, “I found this recipe online.  It's a mix of oatmeal and pears with some juiced bananas and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Oh, it does have a little bit of vegetable oil in it, too, but not much.”

Brianna and the humans waited to see what the dogs would think of the treat.  Soon, laughter was heard throughout.

“Good enough for you, Logan?” Diego smirked to his brother.

Logan simply licked his chops.

--

“I can't do it,” Little Danny sighed, unable to cut the tasty cake since it would mean cutting into an image of his beloved beagle.

“I'll do it,” Jonny offered, taking the knife and preparing to jab into Bijou's icing paw.  He paused and lowered the knife.  “Crap.”

Aislinn, Chenoa, and even David had all attempted to serve up the decorated dessert already.  It was time for an adult to step in.

Taking the knife, Jack looked down and decided where he'd make the cut.  His follow through was swift and painless to the large rectangular cake.

“There you go,” the general said, removing a piece and placing it on the table.

“You cut a corner, Dad.  It doesn't count.”

“Yeah, Bijou's picture isn't in the corner,” Aislinn pointed out.

Brianna walked over and chuckled, “It's okay, guys.  I had a feeling you might have issues with that, so ... boy I hope this works ...”

The teen stopped talking as she carefully cut around the image of the birthday beagle.  She reached for a platter and then used two large spatulas to gently raise the image and place it on the plate.

“That was cool!” Jenny exclaimed.

“I used fondant, a quadruple layer of icing, and some candied pieces to give it support,” Brianna explained.  “I wasn't sure it would be cohesive enough to remove, but whew!”

“Nice!” Jack observed with an approving nod.

The teen sighed, “I'm not sure what you're going to do with this, though.”

“We'll worry about it later,” Jack replied, smiling when Jonny jumped in to finish cutting up the cake.

“No worries, Babe,” Daniel interjected.  “We'll just freeze it.”

“Then what?”

“It will be frozen.”

“That makes sense ... not.”

“It's okay, Jack.  I'll take care of it.”

“Daniel, why freeze the cake?”

“Because no one is ever going to cut into that picture of Bijou.  You know that, I know that, our children know that, and so does everyone listening to us right now.  We'll freeze it.”

“Like a time capsule!” Little Danny exclaimed enthusiastically.

“Bijou's image will be found decades from now in our freezer,” David stated with a smile.

“Woof!” Bijou added happily.

“This is nuts,” Jack put forth.

“Are you going to cut the cake?” Daniel asked.

Jack let out a huge, reluctant, “Noooo.”

“Are you going to toss that image of Bijou into the trash?”

With a growl, Jack answered, “No.”

“How about we freeze it and put it on its own shelf?” the archaeologist suggested with a smile.

“Works for me, Danny.”

“Good answer, Jack,” Daniel retorted as the guests chuckled lightly.

“Cake!  Let's eat,” the general called out and then placed a kiss on his Love's cheek.

“Thank you,” Daniel acknowledged as he picked up a piece of cake to enjoy.

====

“Here you go, Lincoln,” Jenny stated as she put down a blanket.  “Jen and Noa made these, too, just like they did the shirts.  You get to take it home with you.”

Lincoln rolled over in a display of happiness and then took his place on his new blanket.  He loved its size, not too big and not too small.  In fact, it was perfect for him.

Meanwhile, Chenoa kneeled down in front of Andie and said, “I hope this fits right, Andie.  I wasn't sure about your neck size.”  Patiently, the shepherd-collie waited as the girl affixed a beautiful plush scarf around her neck.  “There.”  Chenoa smiled as she observed, “I think I guessed right.  Take a look.”

Andie cocked her head as she stared into the mirror that Chenoa held in her hand.

“You did a wonderful job, Chenoa,” Mrs. Valissi complimented.

“What do you think, Andie?”

“Voooff!” Andie praised.

“Great!” Chenoa responded.  “Daddy's going to take your picture now, okay?”

The curly-haired girl hugged the large dog and then stood to take another scarf to the next dog on her list.

====

After an hour, Jonny called out, “Presents!”

“Woooof!” Bijou responded, jumping up in joy.

“Presents are a big thing around here,” Jack spoke quietly as he stood next to Alex.

“That doesn't surprise me, Jack,” Alex replied with a smile.

Everyone gathered around the doghouse where the presents had been placed.

“Okay, Bijou, which one first?” Little Danny asked the birthday beagle.

Bijou looked over the mountain of gifts and nudged a bright purple one that was on the right hand side of the pile.

Immediately, Ricky grabbed the gift and placed it in front of the dog while asking, “Want some help?”

“Woof!” Bijou responded in the affirmative.

Ricky pried off the ribbon, but then Bijou took over, ripping away the colorful paper.  As she worked on that, the Spitfire looked at the tag to see who the gift was from.

“This is from Mrs. Valissi and Andie,” the boy told the group.

“Voooff!” Andie stated excitedly.  “I hope you like it, Bijou.”

“You know I will,” Bijou responded before managing to tear open the box.  “A new tug toy!  Look at all this rope.  This is great, Andie.”

The next several minutes found Bijou the recipient of many presents from the other guests and her human family.  When she opened the gift from the Dennisons, it created a bit of a stir that began with Jack simply staring at Alex.

“It's a parka, Jack.  Dogs wear parkas,” Alex claimed.

“With diamonds?” Jack questioned skeptically.  “That's a designer parka, Dennison,” Jack responded.  “That thing cost more than my house.”

“That's an exaggeration,” Alex negated.

“Diamonds?”

“To be honest, Jack, I got a deal on it.”

“A deal?”

“A few years ago, I decorated a new home for a clothing designer.  I ran him to him recently and he agreed to help me out.”

“We only planned this shindig yesterday,” the general pointed out.

“Okay, the truth is he was going to make Daniella a special outfit for her birthday in September, but when Little Danny phoned about the party, I knew I didn't have time to shop, so I gave him a call.”

“Your designer buddy made that in a day?”

Nodding, Alex added, “And sent it by special courier.  It arrived about an hour before we left to come here this afternoon.  Bijou's worth it, isn't she?”

As the designer walked away, Jack smiled, but thought silently, ~She'd better not get a big head over this.~

Just when Jack was getting used to the idea of Bijou parading around in a diamond-clad parka, he heard a second happy bark.

“Katie, I just couldn't give one of these to Bijou and not make sure you had one, too.”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack exclaimed while the others chuckled at his reaction to Alex's announcement.

“Mama, look!  There's one for me, too!” Katie exclaimed joyfully, barely able to stand still as Aislinn put the matching parka on her.

Both parkas were navy blue with black lines of various widths as part of the pattern.  White faux fur warmed the necklines.  They had detachable hoodies and D-rings for easy leash attachment.  Actual diamonds were interlaced along the black lines and along the edges of the parkas.

“It's beautiful, Katie, and so are you,” Bijou complimented her daughter.

Alex grinned as he looked at Jack and let out a shrug while saying, “I couldn't resist.”

“That designer must have a lot of time on his hands.”

“Not really,” Alex responded.  “He's off to London.”

“Show biz on the West End?” the general snarked.

“No, Windsor Castle,” Alex corrected with a tauntingly smug expression.

As the group laughed and Jack let out a playful groan, Bijou and Katie paraded around in their new parkas, letting all of their animal friends feel and sniff them.

====

When things settled down, the party switched to the recreation room where Daniel lowered the big screen television and inserted a DVD into the player.

“In honor of Bijou, we thought we'd share some of our special moments and memories with her, and Katie, since they came into our lives,” Daniel told the group.

As Daniel pressed the remote to play the DVD, he walked over and sat down on the sofa next to his husband.  He smiled when Bijou jumped up on his lap to watch the video with him.

While the adults also sat on the sofa sectional pieces, the children intermixed with the animals on the floor pillows and ottomans.  Jonny and Tootie shared a pillow with her dog, King, for example, while Kevin Shanahan and Jenny shared another floor pillow with Gili.  Eleanor stretched out on the floor with Ricky and Susie lying down on opposite sides of the bulldog.  Everywhere a person looked, there were kids and dogs relaxing and watching the special tribute to Bijou.

The group eagerly enjoyed the presentation, smiling as a collection of photographs appeared to the music given to Daniel by his namesake.

====

After the video, the humans and dogs went outside one more time, just to stretch and visit.  Daniel, however, went upstairs to his den where he had a special project to complete.  He knew he needed to work fast as some of the guests had commitments that required them to leave at half pass the hour.

--

“Daddy, are they done?” Little Danny asked as he hurried into his father's den several minutes later.

“The last one is printing now, Son.  We're just going to make it.”

Little Danny hugged his father as he said, “I knew you could do it, Daddy.  Thanks for helping me.”

“Jeff could have done better.”

“But you did your best and you always say that as long as we do our best than it's okay.”

Daniel smiled at the boy and then checked the printer.

“All done.  You go back downstairs and I'll make sure these everything makes it into the bags.”

Little Danny glanced at the last photo to print and then happily left the room.

====

The birthday party had been a rousing success.  Eighty-five minutes after it began, Little Danny stood up on the bench of the picnic table to get everyone's attention.

“Thank you, everyone, for coming today.  I'm sorry it was last minute.  I wanted Bijou to know how very much we love her.  We have lots of parties for her, but sometimes, they aren't as big as the ones we have for Katie, because Katie's birthday is the same as Daddy's.  I know she understands, but just because she understands doesn't mean it's okay.  We love you, Bijou.  Happy birthday!”

The adults clapped, the children cheered, and the dogs all woofed, arfed, yipped, ruffed, and otherwise barked.

“We have special birthday bags for you to take home, full of dog and people treats because all our dogs are just as important as the people we love.”

As the guests took charge of their dogs, putting on harnesses and leashes, David and Lulu handed out the bags of party favors.  Each bag included natural home-made biscuits, an appropriately sized Kong, one squeaker toy, and a coupon for a free pet accessory at a local pet store.  Each also took home the special shirts, scarves, and blankets that Jennifer and Chenoa had sewn.  For the humans, the party gift bag consisted of two bone-shaped Snickerdoodle cookies, an “I love my ...” button that included the breed type of their specific dog, a four-by-six color photograph of their dog wearing their new scarves, and one of the group pictures.  For the group photo, Daniel took time to ensure that the picture given to each family was one that featured the best photo of their dog.  With Jack's camera taking multiple shots, it was easy to find a good one of each pet.

The Jackson-O'Neills walked their guests to their vehicles, or in Mrs. Valissi's case, to her home, and said goodbye, grateful once again for good friends who enriched their lives.  Then they turned their attention to the cleanup, all the while chuckling at Bijou and Katie, both of whom were still enjoying their luxurious coats, even though it was far from cold.

“You two might give yourselves heatstrokes if you keep wearing those,” Jack called out.  He watched as Bijou walked over to Katie.  “What are they doing?” he asked his family.

As Daniel began to laugh, it was Little Danny who responded, “They're going inside the house.”

“Yeah, Babe, where it's nice and cool.”

“They're smart,” Jonny added.

“Smarter than average bear,” Jack singsonged.

“Bijou and Katie are dogs, Dad, not bears,” Ricky corrected.

“Never mind,” the silver-haired father groaned.  “Let's get this done so we can go inside, too.”

====

That night, Little Danny tapped lightly on Jennifer's door.  The young woman was seated at her vanity, her gaze on the mirror in which she could see the door.

“Come in.”  Jennifer waited to see who would enter.  Smiling, she greeted, “Hey, Little Bro.”

“I have something for you, Jen.”

Spinning around to face the youngster, Jennifer queried, “What is it?”

“This,” Little Danny responded, walking to his sister and giving her a kiss.

Chuckling, Jennifer asked, “What's that for?”

“Because you're my sister and I love you.”

“I love you, too.”  Jennifer watched the boy head back for the door.  “Hey, Little Danny.”

“What?”

“I think you're pretty terrific.”

Grinning, Little Danny left the room and headed upstairs.  It was almost his bedtime.  In fact, he was already in his pajamas, his robe once again just lightly on his body.  His feet, however, were bare.  The little boy yawned as he passed his own room and went down the hall to Brianna's room.  Her door was open.

“I thought you were supposed to be in bed,” Brianna remarked as she sat Indian-style at the head of her bed with books and magazines scattered in front of her.

“Daddy gave me permission,” Little Danny replied as he looked at what were to him upside down publications.  Climbing up onto the bed, he queried, “Whatcha' doin'?”

“I wish it was something to do with dolphins, but it's political science.”

“Bri, are you and Conway going to get married?”

Brianna's eyes widened as she nervously responded, “What makes you ask that?”

“I don't know.  He's your boyfriend.”

“Well, yes, but I don't really see him very much,” Brianna reminded.

“What if he really does build you a dolphin tank?”

“That's, um, not very practical,” the teenager replied about the assumed joke Conway frequently made to family and friends.  “It's fun to think about, though.”  More seriously, she questioned, “Why are asking me stuff like that?”

“Cause you're my sister, and I love you, and I don't want you to move,” Little Danny admitted truthfully.

“Don't worry.  Geez, I'm just a teenager,” Brianna commented.  “I'm not going anywhere.”

“Yes, you are, someday, and I'll miss you, or maybe I'll go with you,” the child prodigy put forth.  Trying not to mess up his sister's work, he half stood and leaned over the items.  Then, as he had done with Jennifer, he gave Brianna a kiss.  “Thanks, Bri.”

“For what?”

“Being a Maverick.  Night,” Little Danny concluded as he jumped off the bed and walked out of the room.

“Thank you, Little Brother,” Brianna spoke quietly, feeling the goodness of being wanted and remembering an early time when she had essentially runaway, only to have been stopped by Little Danny, who refused to let her go anywhere without him.  “What's a Maverick without a Munchkin, or two or three,” she laughed before returning to her studies.

====

Little Danny yawned wildly, his eyelids firmly shut, ready to fall asleep when he felt the warmth of fur against his face.  He laughed brightly as he opened his eyelids, fluttering them a couple of times.  His laughter increased as his nose felt the love relayed by a few licks against it.

“Thank you, Little Danny,” Bijou told the boy in every way she could.

“I love you, Bijou.  This wouldn't be home without both you and Katie.  You're the best beagles ever.”

Bijou cuddled in close to the boy, loving it when his arms wrapped around her.

From the doorway, Jack and Daniel watched.  The older man put his arms around his husband's waist.

“Remind you of anything?”

“Yeah, me, a lot of years ago,” Daniel answered softly, not wanting to disturb the children.  “Bijou and Katie made this place home.  Well, you, too, of course.”

“Thanks for the inclusion,” Jack teased quietly.  He and Daniel continued to watch, observing the smile on Little Danny's face and hearing the tiny snores of Bijou, who had already succumbed to slumber.  “Every boy needs a dog, or two.”

“Every boy, and every girl,” Daniel agreed.  “I'm proud of him for coming up with the party idea.”

“Where were we?”

“Huh?”

“We should have thought of that.”

“Well, we can't think of everything,” Daniel put forward.  “Bijou has always had a party, just not quite on this level.  Katie has always gotten a big party because we share a birthday and heaven forbid you let my birthday pass quietly.”

“Just making up for your youth, Angel.”

“Jack, I think you've made up for it, times a hundred by now,” Daniel asserted.

“So you're telling me to cancel the plans for next month?”

“Ah ... no.  Katie's counting on it,” Daniel stated, his gaze still on Little Danny and Bijou.

“And ...” Jack prompted.

“Okay, so am I.”

Jack patted his lover's abdomen as he drew back slightly.  He moved to the left a bit and reached out to take Daniel's hand.

“Time for bed, Love.”

Daniel smiled, took one more look at his namesake and the precious beagle snuggled next to him, and then walked away with his soulmate.

With home in their hearts, the Jackson-O'Neills settled in for another night's rest, all happy and delighted to be in such a loving home, one filled with human beings who cared about one another and a zoo of critters that made a house a home.

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

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