I Said ... I Want a Bra!

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - January 29 - February 1, 2016
Spoilers:  None
Size:  43kb, short story
Written:  August 27-31, September 1-2, 2014
Summary:  A rite of passage is sometimes tougher when a father has to be a mother.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s):  “Alison”

I Said ... I Want a Bra!
by Orrymain

“Daddy,” Jenny called out, running up to the archaeologist and tugging on his arm.

“One minute, Jenny,” Daniel requested since he was trying to finish up a phone conversation.

The eight-year-old looked around for her older father, but not seeing him anywhere nearby, she spoke out again, “Daddy, something's wrong with Ash.”

Daniel looked down at the Spitwire and saw the worry on her face so he quickly ended his call and went upstairs to the girls' room to check on Aislinn.

The youngest Munchkin was still in her bed with the covers pulled up so that they covered a third of her face.  Her back was to the center of the room, meaning she was facing the wall as she laid on her side.

Sitting down at the side of the bed, Daniel put his hand on his daughter's arm and asked, “Ash, what's wrong?”

“I need to stay in bed today, Daddy.”

“Are you sick?”

“I feel bad.”

~Interesting response,~ Daniel thought.  He felt his daughter's forehead.  ~Normal.~  Then he asked, “Does anything hurt?”

“No, Daddy.  I just need to rest, okay?”

“Your doll club is today.”

“I know,” the little girl responded.

“Ash, if you stay home, you probably shouldn't go to Alison's party tonight, either,” Daniel stated, fairly certain that should rouse the Munchkin since Alison was her best friend and it was the girl's birthday.

“I'll feel bad tonight, too.”

“Okay, Sweetie,” Daniel replied softly.  He stood and leaned over to give her a kiss.  “Let us know if you need anything.  I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Daniel left the triplet's bedroom and returned downstairs.  He stopped by the kitchen to ensure that Jennifer and Brianna were on schedule with the breakfast preparation and then he walked directly to the study where he knew his lover was.

“Jack.”

“Daniel, I hate tiles.  I want my overlook back.”

Daniel smiled in amusement and responded, “Vista, Babe, it was called Windows Vista.”

“Same thing,” Jack claimed.

“Get over it,” Daniel urged.  It had taken him years to convince Jack to get a new computer and when he did, his lover had done nothing but complain about Windows 8 that operated somewhat differently than the much older Vista system. “You know how to use it and you know it.”

Jack looked over at his Love who had sat down on the sofa.  His husband wasn't playing the 'I'm not good at modern technology' game with him per normal.  Something had to be amiss.

“What's up?” the general asked.

“Ash is still in bed.”

Perplexed since the children were notorious for being ready on time for the first meal of time, Jack noted, “It's almost time for breakfast.  Is she okay?”

“She says she feels bad.”

“Temp?” Jack questioned.

“Nope.”

“Tummy ache?”

“No,” the younger man answered succinctly.

“Earache?  Headache?  Flu symptoms?”

“No, no, and definitely no.”

“What's up?” Jack repeated.

“She's not sick.  There's something else going on.”

“Daddy intuition?”

“Daddy observation,” Daniel corrected.

“Sounds wonky, Angel.  Ash has a bunch of stuff on her calendar today that she loves *and* she has that sleep over tonight.  She's been talking about for weeks.”

“I know,” Daniel agreed.

“Of course, I'm not sure missing the party would be a bad thing,” Jack groaned.

“Jack, making it work, remember,” Daniel said pointedly.

Alison Goodman and Aislinn had become instant best friends upon meeting at a local park two years ago.  Unfortunately, her parents were against same-sex couples and originally refused to let the girls play together.  Were it not for Alison's father being stationed at Cheyenne Mountain, Aislinn's heart would be broken.

“I still have pull.”

“Jack, you're not going to get him transferred to Siberia.”

“No,” the general stated with a mischievous grin, his mind reeling with alternative possibilities that could be much worse.

“Jack!” Daniel chastised.

“Danny, every time that woman comes near us, I feel chills,” the older man commented about Alison's mother.

“So do I, but Ash and Ali are ignoring it, so we should, too,” Daniel put forth.  “We've done a good job of it so far, all of us, which is all the more reason why we need to determine what has our daughter feeling bad.”

“You're right,” Jack conceded.  “We don't allow her to stay overnight at the Goodman's too often.  She'd wouldn't miss this.”

“No, she wouldn't,” Daniel agreed.  Silence filled the room as the parents each contemplated their daughter's situation, but neither could come up with a reason for her odd behavior.  “Uh, one of us needs to stay home with her today,” Daniel finally noted as he checked his watch.

“I'll do it.”

Daniel laughed, “I figured you'd volunteer.”

“Are you claiming I have an ulterior motive?” Jack questioned, a look of innocence on his face.

“Reports.”

Jack coughed.  It was true.  He was scheduled to make a procedures review at the couple's company, J-O Enterprises.  It meant writing multiple detailed reports on the findings.

“You know me and reports, Danny.”

“Yes, Jack, I do, which is why I knew you'd volunteer to stay home with Ash,” the archaeologist stated as he stood up.  When he reached the door, he turned and stated slyly, “I'll have Karissa rearrange your schedule so that you can do the reports the next time you're in the office.”

“Daniel!”

“Hide the tiles, Babe.”

Jack groaned, “Yeah, but then I couldn't complain about the dang things.”

====

Late that morning, Jack checked on Aislinn, who hadn't moved much from the position Daniel had found her in earlier.

“Princess, come talk to your old man,” Jack beckoned from the foot of the girl's bed.

Lethargically, Aislinn pushed the covers away and scooted over to sit by her father.  She sat on her knees and immediately felt a strong arm going around her.

“Still feeling bad?”

“Uh-huh.”

After performing his own quick check, including the traditional hand on forehead temperature check and a quick check of the girl's pulse, Jack reminded, “Your missing out on your doll club meeting.”

“Jenny will tell me about it.”

“She can't tell you about Alison's party.”

“I know.”

“Ash, tell me all about it,” Jack requested.

“About what, Dad?”

“Look at me,” Jack demanded lightly, shifting a tad so that he and Aislinn were facing each other.  He put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed gently.  “We've always been able to discuss our problems together, no matter what they are.  You've got a problem.  Time to share.  Let me help.”  He saw her head drop and could feel her despair.  “Hey,” he said, reaching out and putting his hand beneath Aislinn's chin.  “Daddy and me love you.  There's nothing you can't tell us.  Come on, Sweetheart, trust your old man.”

“I miss Mommy.”

Jack was a bit taken back.  He hadn't seen that one coming.  The Munchkins were just seventeen months old when their surrogate birth mother, Kayla Armentrout, was killed in a car accident.  The entire family kept Kayla alive in their memories all the time, but this was the first time Jack could recall her being referred to as an excuse for being sick.

“I do, too, Princess.  Your mommy was a wonderful woman, full of adventure, and she loved you to pieces.”

“I need a mommy.”

~Ah!  This isn't about Kayla exactly.  Time to do a bit of probing,~ Jack opined.

“Can't do anything about that, Ash, but you have a dad and daddy who will do anything in the world for you.  What's happening?”  Jack smiled warmly and added as reassuringly as possible, “Whatever is wrong, we can fix.  Now, take a deep breath and tell me all about it.”

As Jack withdrew his hand, Aislinn's head lowered and she whispered in her softest voice, “I want a bra.”

Jack cocked his head, not certain what had been said.  In fact, his Munchkin's words were so quiet, he'd wondered if she'd spoken at all.

“What did you say?”

In a loud burst, Aislinn looked up and answered, “I said I want a bra!”

“A bra?” Jack echoed as he automatically scanned his little girl's frame.  ~Flat as a pancake,~ he observed.  “Ash, you're only nine.”

“See!  I knew you wouldn't understand,” Aislinn whined, crawling away from Jack and disappearing under the covers.

“Ash.  Ash!  Aislinn, we're going to talk about this, but I'm not going to talk to a comforter.  *Now!*”

Reluctantly, the Munchkin removed the bedding from her face and retorted, “We don't have to talk about it.”

Supportively, Jack refuted, “Yes, Ash, we do.  Tell me why.  Why do you think you need a bra?”

“I'm nine, Dad.”

“Why else?”

Aislinn sighed, putting her hands over her eyes.  She felt so embarrassed and she just knew her dad would never understand, ~not a billion, katrillion years.~

“Give me a chance,” Jack pleaded.

“I do too need a bra, and my friends have them.  You're a man, you don't know,” Aislinn nearly cried.

“I'm a man, guilty as charged,” Jack agreed.  “Ash, why is this so important to you now?”  He waited for an answer, but only silence was heard.  “Sweetheart, what happened?”

“Nothing,” Aislinn sighed.  Then, with a gasp, she admitted, “I feel funny being the only one of my friends not to have a bra.”

With that revelation, the timing clicked for Jack.  Aislinn's change from a bubbly little girl to a distraught potential bra wearer had come after she'd attended gymnastics class.  She'd had to change clothes in a locker room along with her friends.  Though he was sure she was far from the only member of the gymnastic group not to be blooming enough to wear a bra, at least now he understood where it was coming from, especially as he reluctantly took mental note of some of Aislinn's social group and how some of the girls were overtly beginning to show some development.

“Okay.  We'll get you a bra.”

Aislinn nearly jumped off the bed and eagerly asked, “Before three o'clock?  And ... and, oh, Dad, before the slumber party tonight?”

~Bingo!~ Jack laughed, his sixth sense having been proven correct.  He knew the doll club met at three and, of course, Alison's overnight birthday party would require changing clothes more than once.  ~Peer pressure can be a killer, even for well-rounded kids.~

“Get dressed, Princess.”

Smiling, the youngest of the triplets inquired, “Dad, do I have to go to the mall?”

“What's wrong with the mall?”

“They know me,” Aislinn spoke with a tiny voice.  ~I'd like to be invisible right now.~

“You want to go where we've never shopped before?”  Immediately, Jack saw his daughter's face light up.  ~That would be affirm,~ he determined.  “There's bound to be some place in this town we haven't shopped yet.”

Jack expected a grin in response, but what he saw was more concern on the Munchkin's face.

“You're not going to take me, are you?” Aislinn asked meekly.

“Me?”

The question was intended to be a joke, but like a lightning bolt striking, the father realized he had a problem.  He started reviewing the list of family and close friends who could normally be called on for such an intimate outing.  Sam was off-world, something of a rarity for her anymore now that she had a family, Janet was on vacation, Sara was in the midst of a teaching assignment, and Mrs. Valissi was once again in Italy to visit her son.  He'd spoken with a very pregnant Cassandra earlier that morning and knew she wasn't feeling very well, so he didn't want to impose on her.  Jennifer had college classes, including an afternoon exam, and Brianna was in Denver taking a Stress and Rescue diving scuba diving course.  Neighbor Mitzi Miller was working for one of her volunteer groups, which left only Grace Lapierre in Jack's estimation.  However, he also knew that Grace was prepping for her daughter Carrie's big party that night.  In fact, Daniel's calendar called for him to take Little Danny to the Lapierre home before dinner so that the Munchkin could not only have dinner with the family, but help out his best friend with whatever was needed.  He briefly considered calling on J-O's Karissa Lewis, but she was swamped with work and he decided it wouldn't be fair to ask her to get behind for personal reasons that weren't even her own.

“Yep, me,” Jack told Aislinn.  “Hey, I can handle it.”

“How embarrassing,” Aislinn lamented, letting her body fall down to the bed with a thump as she covered her face.

“Have some confidence in your old dad,” Jack requested.  “Get dressed.  We have a bra to find.”

“Oh gawd!” Aislinn expressed, mimicking her daddy.

“Aislinn, language!”

“Daddy says it,” the little girl rationalized.

“Is your name Daddy?”

“No.”

“Language!” Jack warned.  “Up!” he ordered.  As he stood and headed for the door, he called out, “We'll eat lunch out afterward, but I want you to eat an apple, orange, or banana before we leave.  Your choice.”

“Okay, Dad,” Aislinn responded, sounding a bit downtrodden.  ~Gawd, this is going to be so embarrassing.  My dad the general is gonna buy me a bra.  Can I just hide?~

====

Downstairs, Jack drew a big breath and then turned on his computer.  The tiles were not an issue as he went directly to the Internet.  A quick search presented him with several options of small boutiques as well as large department stores that had escaped the use of the Jackson-O'Neill credit cards thus far.

Again without any difficulty, the general did a search for dads buying their daughters bras.

~Intel,~ the general thought as he searched for advice on what to look for.  ~Measure her?~ he echoed upon reading some of the suggestions.

Determined to succeed in his quest, Jack clicked on the 'how to' link, but quickly became uncomfortable reading about band size, bust size, and especially cup size. He was having a hard time accepting the fact that his little Munchkin was growing up.  He considered canceling the shopping trip.  After all, he was certain Aislinn didn't really need a bra, but only wanted one because some of her closest friends were apparently wearing them now.

~Dang peer pressure,~ Jack silently cursed.  Though he attempted to read through the information, he was having an adjustment problem.  It wasn't that he couldn't comprehend the directions, it was that he didn't really want to because it meant accepting Aislinn transitioning from little girl to tweener.  That he just couldn't do, not yet.  ~Forget this,~ he told himself, turning off the computer.

For a couple of minutes, Jack paced around his study, much like his husband often did when trying to work out a problem.  Finally, the general stopped and straightened himself as upright as possible.

~If I can fight the Goa'uld, I can buy my daughter a bra.~

With that, Jack went to check on Aislinn.  They had a mission to accomplish.

====

In his truck, Jack waited to ensure Aislinn was completely buckled in.  None of the Munchkins had to be in special car seats anymore as all three were well beyond the weight requirements.  Once she was secure, he gave her two options for their mission.  One was a small shop downtown and the other was a large clothing store that was not in any of the malls where the family had shopped before.

Quietly, Aislinn debated the pros and cons of the choices.  She liked the idea of the small boutique, but then she might also feel like all eyes were on her if there weren't any other shoppers present.  The bigger store would have more people, but then again, she was certain she wouldn't be the center of attention, either.  Ultimately, that was why she told her dad to head for the big store.

“Your wish is my command,” Jack chimed as he started his truck.

“I wish,” Aislinn mumbled under her breath.

“What's that, Princess?”

“Thank you, Dad,” the girl returned with a small smile.  ~Maybe I should have asked Thor to get me a bra; that might be less embarrassing.~

====

Entering the store, Jack held a reluctant Aislinn's hand.  The store was full of customers, all going about their business, though to the little girl, it felt like everyone was staring at her.  For the father, he felt a twinge of confusion.  There were several clothing areas to choose from.  He'd shopped in the child's area of stores frequently, but he'd never seen a bra there.  The truth was, he never would have noticed such a thing.

~Bra shopping is not a dad thing,~ the general sighed inwardly.  For the parents of the brood, they'd manage to bypass such milestones for their youngest daughters, thanks to Sam, Janet, and Sara.  Jennifer, of course, was a natural go-to person for the younger girls and thankfully, she loved helping them as they grew up.  ~Maybe I should have let you miss that exam, Jen.~

To Aislinn's horror, her father stopped at the cosmetics counter to ask the woman which department carried the desired item.  Looking anywhere but at the woman or her dad, Aislinn felt like hiding under the mirrored display case that circled the cosmetics area.  She happily walked away when she felt the tug of Jack's hand.

~I should have stayed in bed,~ Aislinn lamented to herself.

====

Arriving at the correct department, Aislinn was pleased to see a lot of customers milling around.  She'd noticed sales signs all over the store, so she figured that might be one reason why the store was so busy.  As she looked around, she could only see two salesladies, which clearly wasn't enough for the many shoppers in the juniors area.

Jack tried to get the attention of a clerk, but both representatives were still with other buyers.

“Shall we look around?”

“Noooo!” Aislinn gasped and then actually moved to stand behind her tall father.

Jack decided to wait patiently until the customers who were there before him were helped.  Since Aislinn was content to simply stand where they were by the main cashier counter, he opted to not push the issue and just wait.  In his mind, he ran through the morning paper's crossword puzzle.  He was still trying to figure out number twenty-six down (a thirteen letter word meaning a towering French dessert).

“Do you need some help?” one of the clerks asked, interrupting Jack's search for the puzzle answer a couple of minutes later.

“Uh, yes, Ma'am, I need some help,” Jack responded.  In a flash, the general wished he was off-world, battling Replicators or even the Ori, anyone and anywhere than where he was at the moment.  “I need a bra.”

Right when Jack answered, an announcement played over the loudspeaker.  Combined with the noise caused by the crowd, the woman was unable to understand her customer clearly.

“I'm sorry, can you repeat that?”

“I said I need a bra.”

The timing was off yet again as the store advertised their sales.  It didn't help that Jack was speaking in one of his more quiet tones.

“Sir, I couldn't hear you.  Can you speak up?”

“*I said ... I need a bra!*”

“Daaaad!” Aislinn whined, crouching down to hide as the entire crowd of shoppers turned and stared in her direction.

~Just my luck, everyone shuts up when I open my mouth,~ Jack groaned.  “Ma'am, my daughter needs a bra,” he stated, undeterred by the reaction or his daughter's attempt to hide.  “Ash, stand up.”

As Aislinn stood, the sales lady scanned her body and then coldly observed, “She doesn't need a bra.”

“Oh gawd,” Aislinn responded quietly, truly wishing she could just disappear.

This time, Jack ignored his daughter's choice of words and gave the sales clerk his best general glare while refuting, “She needs a bra, one of those training things I read about on the Internet.”

The woman again gave the little girl a once over and, shaking her head, argued, “She's not ready for a bra of any type.”

“Lady, my daughter wants a bra and she's gonna get one.  *Now!*”

The command of Jack's voice startled the woman.  He hadn't shouted, but it was the confident, intense tone of a general who was not going to take no for an answer.

Taking one step closer to the woman, Jack demanded, “Get my daughter a bra now ... please.”

“Of course,” the clerk agreed, stepping back and going around Jack to look at Aislinn again.  She reached out to take the girl's hand and instructed, “Come with me.  I'll have to measure you and then we'll find something appropriate for you.”  As she felt Aislinn's hand in hers, she looked over at Jack and added, “Unless you want to come with us and measure her yourself.”

“No, Ma'am, I leave that to you and my daughter.  I'll just wait outside the dressing room.”

The woman nodded and led Aislinn away.

Jack watched carefully and began to follow once the two females were well on their way to the dressing room area.  He noted which room Aislinn had entered and kept an eye on it while waiting.

“If you like, you can wait over there,” the other sales clerk told Jack.  “We have seats.”

“I'm fine, thank you,” Jack replied.  There was a certain amount of trust in letting a stranger be alone with a child in a dressing room.  Considering his interaction with the store associate, Jack was beginning to question his decision.  ~Man up, O'Neill.  She's your daughter.~

Just as the father was about to approach the dressing room and intervene, the second clerk spoke, “I want to apologize for Gizelle.  She's a little on edge today.  Her husband is undergoing surgery tomorrow and she's very worried.  Really, she's an excellent associate.  I've never seen her react how she did with you.  We have lots of girls like your daughter, who really aren't ready for bras but want them.  Can I guess?  Her little friends are starting to wear bras and she's feeling left out.”

“Yes,” Jack affirmed, feeling a little better about things now.

“We were very busy when you arrived, but it's slowed now.  Would you like me to check on your little girl?”

With a nod, Jack watched the clerk walk deeper into the dressing area.  He heard her call out and then peek inside.  He could also hear Gizelle finishing up the sizing.  What really made the father more at ease was hearing Aislinn giggle, her first laugh of the day.  Though he didn't have any intention of disengaging from his observation, he did feel more at ease, especially when the second clerk returned a minute later.

“She's ticklish,” the woman spoke about Aislinn.  “Everything's fine.  I'm going to find a couple of bras that might work for her.  Does she have any colors she especially likes or dislikes?”

Jack answered the question and then continued to wait.

====

Still standing in his watchful spot a half-hour later, Jack had seen both sales clerks going in and out of the dressing room, each carrying small bundles with them.  He'd received assurances that it was normal for first time bra shoppers to take a while to find the perfect bra.  He'd called out to Aislinn a few times, her responses always along the line of being fine and to please leave her alone as she was embarrassed enough already.

Forty-five minutes after disappearing into the dressing room, Aislinn emerged and uttered a curt, “We can go now, Dad.”

As Aislinn walked by expectantly, Jack turned and cocked his head in surprise.

“It's normal,” Gizelle advised the father.  “She made her decision,” the clerk told Jack, holding up the plastic container that once held the folded up training bra.  “Don't expect her to want to show you or talk about it with your husband.”  The woman smiled and explained, “Ash told me her mother was dead.  She said that while you and her daddy were the best parents in the world, she didn't want to talk about this with you, but she is happy you listened to her and brought her here.  So, General, when she avoids you two for the next week or two and acts more private than usual, let her be.  She'll be fine soon enough, but she may not want to be touched much right now.  Oh, she may want to exchange this for another type of bra.”  With a smile, the woman elaborated, “Sometimes the girls feel uncomfortable in their first bras, even the ones like these.  It should feel better and normal in a month or so, if not sooner, but humor her if she feels a need for a trade-in.”  Finally, she concluded, “Just give her some privacy and let Jennifer or one of her aunts check on her.”

“Did she tell you our life story?” Jack queried after hearing the woman's very detailed and accurate rundown of his family.

Gizelle laughed, “It's easy to confide to strangers when going through something traumatic like this.”

“Traumatic?”

“To a young girl, it can be, absolutely.”

“I don't recall my other daughters acting like that when they got their bras,” Jack stated.

“Were you with them?”

“No, their Aunt Sam took them shopping and ...”  Jack sighed in acquiescence.  “Maybe I pretended they were okay.”

“Or maybe they were.  There's no 'normal' for this type of thing, General.  Every little girl reacts differently.”

“Thank you, Ma'am,” Jack stated with a nod of his head.

Jack saw the woman shift position and motioned for him to turn.

“I have my eye on your daughter,” Gizelle assured.

The father took a look at Aislinn, who was avoiding his gaze.  He decided to trust the woman and turned his body.

“This is what it looks like,” Gizelle stated, holding out a training bra.  Keeping her eyes on the little girl, she noted, “She didn't want this white one, but the style is exactly the same.”

The silver-haired man felt obligated to observe the bra carefully, though he also knew he'd get a chance when he did the laundry.

“Thank you again,” Jack expressed with satisfaction.  He was grateful the woman showed him what Aislinn had opted for and also that, true to her word, her eyes were on his precious daughter.  “Should we get two?” he asked after handing the bra back to the clerk and turning back so he could see Aislinn himself.

“It might be more convenient,” the saleslady answered.  “She did mention liking another color, but she went with her absolute favorite.  Her third choice was ...”

“Get us one of each,” Jack instructed.  “It gives her options.”  He walked over to the Munchkin, leaned over, and whispered, “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Dad,” Aislinn replied without lifting up her head or looking at Jack.

“Do you still want to go to lunch or would you rather go home and prepare for your doll club and Alison's party?”

“Can we go home?” Aislinn answered, still not looking at her dad.

“Sure, Princess,” Jack responded as he straightened up.

“Dad?”

“What?”

After Aislinn motioned with her finger for him to lean back over, Jack did so.

“Will you tell Daddy so I don't have to?”

“Do you want me to?”  When Aislinn nodded, Jack assured, “Then I will.  Do you want me to ask Daddy not to mention it?”

“Would you?”

“Yep.”

“Dad?”

“I love you and Daddy, but I kinda miss Mommy right now.”

“Honey, that's okay.  Mommies are better at some things than dads and daddies are.”

Aislinn nodded her agreement and said nothing more, so Jack again stood up straight.  When Gizelle returned, he paid for the three bras and held out his hand, uncertain whether or not the Munchkin would take it or not.  He smiled when she did and leisurely guided her back to the truck, deciding along the way to play her favorite CD by Chloe Agnew on the way home.

====

Dinner was done and the children at home were all occupied with various activities.  Little Danny was still at Carrie's house while Aislinn was happily at Alison's party where she'd remain overnight.

“So mum is the word,” Daniel surmised as he sat on the sofa in Jack's office where the couple was catching up on each other's day.

From behind his desk, Jack nodded and confirmed, “That's the advice that was given.”

“Okay.”

“Danny, who has the laundry detail this week?”

Daniel thought for a moment and answered, “Noa and David.”

“Why don't we change that to Jen and Ash this week and maybe Bri and Ash next week?”

“We've kept the children on the same chores in back-to-back weeks before, so that should work.”

“What?” Daniel questioned seeing a reflective expression on his Love's face.

“I miss Kayla,” Jack admitted.

“Yeah, she should be here,” Daniel agreed, a wave of sadness and regret sweeping over him.  “We're lucky to have the support of a lot of women who can help the girls, but it's not the same, Jack, and we're lying to ourselves if we think it is.”

As he doodled silently on the paper in front of him, Jack suddenly stood up, nearly kicking his chair back against the wall.

“What?” Daniel asked with curiosity.

“Kayla.”

“Yes.”

“Danny, the tapes, the ones she did for the Spitfires,” Jack put forward.

Kayla had recorded several videos for the Munchkins during and after her pregnancy and she'd done the same for the Spitfires.  Many of them had been viewed repeatedly by the children over the years.  It let them truly experience their mother, hearing her voice and watching her demeanor.

“I'm not ...”

“Daniel, wasn't there one tape she wrapped in a note and told us it was for the girls in the future, just in case.”

Sitting up, his alert heightened, the archaeologist recalled, “She told us on the note that we'd know when.  I'd forgotten about it.”

“It's gotta be for times like this,” Jack surmised.

“Let's find out.”

The couple hurried upstairs to the den where some of the tapes were located, including the one being discussed.  They'd never shown this particular recording to the children or watched it themselves.

“Here it is,” Daniel stated, holding the videotape that was surrounded by a piece of paper and rubber band that kept it secure.  “Yes, she says this is for the girls when they are at that sensitive age.”

Having already turned on the TV and VCR player, Jack headed for the door of the den, closing and locking it.  Meanwhile, Daniel inserted the video and sat down.

“Danny, we need to get these tapes converted to DVD like we did the others,” Jack suggested.

“I agree,” the younger man responded as he clicked the play button on the remote control.

“Here I am again,” Kayla began, a huge smile on her face as she rubbed her bulging belly.  “Fellas, I know you know exactly what to do with your boys as they grow up, but little Ash could prove to be more of a challenge.  She's a girl, you know.  <giggle>  I have a hunch there's another little girl here.  I haven't told you that, but it's a feeling I have, so that makes two girls.  Guys, trust me, there are times when a growing girl needs her mother.  I know what I've said about you being their parents.  That's how it is, but I'm a girl.  I know these things, so when the time comes, and you'll know when that is, please play this tape for your daughters.  I also know you'll want to watch it all first, but trust me, this is just for them.  You'll just be uncomfortable listening.  It's a mother-daughter thing.  <more laughter>  Jack, Daniel, the truth is that mommies are better at some things than dad and daddies are.”

“Danny, turn it off.”

“What?”

“Turn it off now!” Jack ordered, standing up and walking over to the DVD player to turn it off manually.

“What's wrong?”

“Kayla, she's here.  I mean, she's ... crap, I don't know what I mean.”

“Okay, okay,” Daniel replied, standing up to approach his lover.  He put his hands on Jack's abdomen and smile.  “Take a breath and tell me what the heck you're talking about?”

“Daniel, at the store that's what I told Ash, word for friggin' word.”

“That mommies are ...”

“... better at some things than ...”

“... dad and daddies are,” both men spoke in unison.

“I vote we give this tape to Ash, unseen,” Jack stated.

“I agree, but what about Jenny?”

Jack sighed, “Jenny's not there yet.”

“Noa is,” Daniel suggested.

“What about Lulu?”

Daniel smiled as he walked to the electronics equipment and removed the videotape.  He carefully put it back in its protective sleeve.

“Jack, Kayla was a great mother to the Munchkins and the Spitfires while she was here.  She was a good friend to Jen and David, and she treated Noa like a daughter, too.”

“Noa thinks of her as one of her mothers,” Jack concurred.

“So, there's no doubt in my mind that Lulu, Bri, and Jeff would have been her children, too, just like JD is.”

“Agreed,” Jack responded.

“Look, why don't we give the tape to Ash and let her make the decision about who watches it with her.  She might want Jen or just Jenny or no one, but that's okay.  It needs to be her choice.  It's, gawd, Jack, this is between our daughter and her mother.”

With Jack in agreement, the parents decided on a game plan and then proceeded to prepare accordingly.

====

Sunday afternoon, the Jackson-O'Neill family was at home after a morning of running various errands.  As the brood settled into various activities, Jack and Daniel decided it was a good time to follow through with their plan to show Aislinn the recording Kayla made for her.

“The perfect place for it,” Daniel declared as he finished the setup and then sat, waiting for Jack and Aislinn to join him.

As predicted, Aislinn had avoided close contact with her parents.  She was happy to have her bra, but felt self-conscious about it, especially when someone touched her back and could feel the added fabric.

Jack had teased Daniel that the training bra “looked like a big band-aid” more than anything else.  Despite the joke, both men wanted Aislinn to be comfortable. With most of their female extended family unavailable, they'd only had a chance to speak a bit with Sara and Jennifer, who both affirmed what the two clerks had told Jack at the store.  It was just a little waiting game for the Munchkin to feel comfortable and then things would return to normal, such as normal was for this unique family.

“What's going on, Daddy?” Aislinn asked as she walked into the Bird's Nest.

This was a small area located upstairs above the enclosure for the family's large plasma TV that could be raised and lowered in the recreation room.  The private perch was a special place for the girls to have times away from the boys or just to be by themselves.  In fact, it was a tight squeeze for the two fathers to sit comfortably inside.  Truth be told, neither Jack nor Daniel entered the Bird's Nest much.  The girls were always the ones responsible for cleaning the room.

Sitting on the floor Indian-style, Daniel was holding a portable DVD player.  Inside was a DVD onto which Kayla's special videotape message had been transferred.

“Ash, this is from Mommy.  It's one of the recordings she made when she was pregnant with Ricky and Jenny.  Dad and I haven't watched it because Mommy left us a note and said this was a very special message just for her girls and she asked us to play it for you when you were ready.”

“We think you're ready,” Jack interjected from his spot on the stairs just outside the room.

“Now, you might want to ask Jenny to come up and watch it with you,” Daniel suggested lightly.

“Or Noa and Lulu,” Jack added.

“Or maybe even Jen and Bri,” Daniel continued.  “It's up to you.  None of them know about this message yet.”

“Daddy, is Mommy talking about bras?” Aislinn asked meekly.

“I don't know, Sweetie.  She just asked Dad and me to trust her, that what she had to say was just for you and Jenny.  Well, she didn't know for sure about Jenny, but she told us she felt like she was having a girl.”

“Mommy's a mommy to all of us,” Aislinn opined.

“We agree,” Daniel responded.  “It's up to you to keep it to yourself for now, or ask one of them, or two, or all of them to come up here.”

“Princess, you don't have to watch it in the Bird's Nest.  Daddy and I just thought you might want to view it here since this is your special space.”

“We're going to go now,” Daniel said, handing Aislinn the DVD player.  “You know how to work this one, right?”  When she nodded, he said, “Good.  We love you.”

Daniel stood up and joined Jack outside the Bird's Nest.  Both men looked at their little girl and wondered where the years had gone.  Then they walked downstairs, leaving Aislinn alone.

====

“You sure we did the right thing?” Daniel questioned Jack as they sat on the sofa in the living room.

“Yep.  You?”

“Yes.”

“Danny, did you cut out her message to us at the beginning of the recording?” Jack asked.

“For this copy, yes.  I did the edit right after Kayla stopped talking to us.”

“You didn't happen to ...”

“No, we agreed it's a message to our girls from their mother.  It's private and ...”

At that moment, Aislinn appeared.  She looked at her parents briefly before walking over to the patio door and opening it.

On the patio deck, Aislinn called out, “Jenny, can you come here please?”

The parents watched as Aislinn whispered something into Jenny's ear.  The Spitfire looked surprised, but nodded.  Walking by Jack and Daniel, Jenny waved to the men and disappeared up the stairs.  The Munchkin began to follow, but stopped.  Turning around, she walked outside again.

“Noa!  Lulu!”

Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, not the least bit surprised by their daughter's apparent decision to include the younger females in the brood.

“Okay, Ash,” Lulu replied to what was spoken into her ear.

“She did?” Chenoa asked in surprise.  “Can I ...”

Before the Mouseketeer could finish her query, Aislinn whispered more to her, causing Chenoa to smile.

The parents watched as Chenoa and Lulu headed upstairs, presumably en route to the Bird's Nest.

As she passed by her parents, Aislinn stopped again, facing Jack and Daniel as she said, “Jen and Bri are older.  Is it okay if they watch Mommy's message later?”

“Totally up to you, Princess,” Jack answered.

“Will they be mad at me?”

“No, Sweetie.  They understand; they do,” Daniel assured.

“You won't tell them?”

“Not a word,” Jack promised, crossing his heart.

When Aislinn was gone, Daniel asked, “What do you think?”

“I give her five minutes before she rounds up Jen and Bri,” Jack responded with a smile.

Sure enough, Jenny came running downstairs and asked, “Have you seen Jen and Bri?”

“Try the hospitality room,” Jack answered.

“Thanks.”

“Messenger?” Daniel asked his lover about Jenny's appearance.

“Probably.”

Less than two minutes later, Jenny had Jennifer and Brianna walking with her.

“It's a recording from Mommy?” Jennifer asked Jenny as they walked.

“She made it when she was pregnant with me,” Jenny answered proudly.  “Ash says we might have questions.”

“We're the living encyclopedias,” Brianna joked.

“Hey, we might learn something,” Jennifer teased.

“Hold up!” Jack called out.

“Jenny, Jen and Bri will be up in a minute.  Dad and I need to talk to them for a minute.”

“About dinner,” Jack clarified.

“Okay,” the Spitfire responded, heading back to the Bird's Nest.

“Girls,” Daniel began.

“Whoa!” Jack said, interrupting his husband.  “Sorry, Danny, I said we were talking about dinner.”

“Oh, right.  How's dinner coming?” Daniel asked.

“Fine,” Brianna answered a bit hesitantly.  ~Okay, that's a weird question for right now.~

“Totally under control?” Jack questioned.

“Yes,” Jennifer answered.  “Nothing's cooking yet, we just ...”

“Good, now pay attention,” Jack commanded, cutting off Jennifer's dinner remarks.

“Look, you'll understand when you join your sisters, but you need to realize that this is very serious to them.”

Seeing the two girls with blank expressions on their faces, Jack clarified, “You might want to stop with the jokes.”

“Oh, is this about ...” Jennifer began, getting the sense that the video must somehow relate to Aislinn's need for a bra.

“Jen, we're not supposed to talk about it,” Jack interrupted.

“We made a promise,” Daniel explained.

“But ...” Jack began.

“But maybe this isn't the time for us to be lighthearted,” Jennifer surmised.

“Am I the only one who doesn't know what's going on?” Brianna asked.

“You will in a few minutes, Bri,” Jennifer told her sister.  “Dad and Daddy are right, though.  For our sisters, this is really important.  You'll get it.”

“No jokes?” Brianna concluded.

“Let's go, Sis,” Jennifer suggested, tugging gently on Brianna's arm and looking over her shoulder at her parents.  “Thanks for the warning.  It'll be okay.”

“We know it will,” Daniel responded with a smile.  Looking at his husband after their oldest daughters were out of sight, he asked, “Close call?”

“They would have figured it out, Danny, but maybe we saved a few minutes of embarrassment for Ash, or Jenny.”

“So ...”

“So ... how about a game of chess while we wait for the aftermath?”

“You're on.”

====

That night, Jack and Daniel were making their rounds, saying goodnight and chatting with each of their children.  Their last stop was in the girls' room.  After talking with Jenny for a bit, they moved over to Aislinn's bed.  Normally, one or both would sit on the edge of the bed as they chatted, but the parents had been giving their daughter plenty of physical space as they planned to do for the next several days, if not longer, so both stood as they talked.

“Goodnight, Sweetie,” Daniel said at the conclusion of their chat.

“Daddy?”

“What?”

“Where's my goodnight kiss?”

Daniel looked at Jack, a bit surprised, and then he replied, “I thought, we thought ...”

“I need my goodnight kisses and hugs,” Aislinn stated, reaching out her arms for her daddy and then her dad.  “That's better.”

“We love you, Ash,” Jack expressed for both parents.

“You're the best dad and daddy in the whole wide universe, and Mommy is the best mommy in all of Heaven.”

“She sure is,” Jack agreed softly.  “Go to sleep,” he said, pulling the covers taut and caressing his Munchkin's cheek.

Jack and Daniel left the room, both smiling.  They started the walk towards their master bedroom.

“How about that, Danny?  Our little miracle defies the experts.”

“Well, she may still need her space, Jack.  We need to realize that, so let's not overwhelm for a while until we're sure she's fine.”

“She's a Jackson-O'Neill, Angel.  We shouldn't be surprised.  She knows we love her.”

“And Kayla, too.”

“And Kayla, too,” Jack echoed, putting his arm around his lover.  “Danny ...”

“Oh yeah,” Daniel agreed.

The soulmates hastened their pace.  They had plans to join in their nation of two, putting the cares of the day behind them in their own unique and joyful way.  Life with the brood was good, if not sometimes challenging, in Colorado Springs.

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