Author: Orrymain and special guest co-author, Mama Bear!
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - July 14 - August 24, 2012
Size: 34kb, short story
Written: October 1, 2007, April 22-23,25,27, May 1-2, 2010 Tweaked October 23, 2011 Tweaked Again July 6, 2017
Summary: The Jackson-O'Neills are trekking across America when faced with a family crisis --rebellious cats.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) This is part of the “Wanderin' in the USA” road fic in honor of Jack and Daniel's universe readers. Thanks for your support!
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Tammy, Navi, Irina!
4) Thanks to Danae who recognized two timeline errors in the story. I fixed one right away and absolutely forgot about the other until recently. Eeks! Well, years later, it's finally fixed.
Wanderin' in the USA
Chapter: Cat Rebellion
by Orrymain and Mama Bear
The Jackson-O'Neill family was away from Colorado Springs, happily enjoying a trek across America. With them were Bijou and Katie, their two precious beagles, but the rest of the zoo, which included an assortment of animals from guinea pigs to two cats, Mittens and Calico, remained at their home, where they were being tended to by a variety of close friends. It was the Shanahans, Sam and Pete, who had the primary pet watch duty.
One night after the family had been gone for only a few days, Sam and Pete were relaxing on the couch in the living room when they heard a strange sound.
Sam looked around to see what the cause was and when she realized what was happening, her eyes widened and she called out loudly, “Mittens, *no*!”
“Oh, boy,” Pete responded as he observed Mittens scratching the back of Jack's favorite chair . ~Jack's not going to like this. I wonder how attached he is to that chair?~
Sam immediately hurried over to the chair and picked up the mischievous feline. She carried her over to the scratching post that was in a corner of the room.
“This is for you to scratch on,” Sam reminded the alpha cat of the family as she gently placed her on the floor.
Mittens let out an unhappy sound and began to work her claws into the scratching post.
“Looks to me like she's working out on a punching bag,” Pete mused as he walked over to his wife's side.
“I wonder if she's mad at the general?” Sam questioned curiously, amused at the cat's apparent anger.
“Why would she be?”
“The trip was his idea,” Sam pointed out, well aware that the Jackson-O'Neill zoo was as smart as the humans much of the time.
Pete shrugged and then led his wife back over to the sofa so they could relax some more.
During the month that the family had been gone, Sam and Pete witnessed both Mittens and Calico doing things that they'd never done before, and all those things seemed to be retaliatory toward Jack.
One incident happened a few days ago when Sam had walked into the living room and saw Calico up on the mantle, looking down at a picture of Jack. That wouldn't have been unusual, except that the picture in question was now resting on the floor and the cat was hissing at it.
Now, the Shanahans were taken aback as they stared at the comforter in the master bedroom.
“It gives the general a chance to get a new one,” Sam put forth meekly with a slight gulp.
“Half a one,” Pete quipped.
Sam giggled, sighing as she walked over and shooed both Mittens and Calico off the bed. Quickly, the cats scurried away obediently.
“Don't just stand there, Lover. We need a bag,” Sam stated as she took in the torn up comforter, or rather, the half torn up comforter.
As he began to turn for the door, Pete joked, “Maybe we can sell the film rights -- 'Revenge of the Cats'.”
“I can't believe how they are singling out the general's possessions.”
Laughing, Pete replied, “Gorgeous, did I tell ya what happened yesterday with the mail?” Seeing his wife shake her head, he expounded, “When I brought in the mail, I set it on the counter while I checked the fish tank and fed the little swimmers. A few minutes later, I heard a noise and looked over. It was Mittens tearing up Jack's new National Geographic.”
Sam shook her head in amazement at the ongoing incidents.
“Be back with a bag.”
“Better make it a large one,” the blonde suggested.
“Sir, the pets are fine, except ...” Sam began while speaking with Jack on the phone.
“Except what, Carter?” Jack questioned curiously.
“It's ... the cats,” Sam answered hesitantly as she sat down on the couch. ~Oh, boy. How am I going to explain this?~
“Carter, I have things to do. Are they fine or not?” Jack asked, a bit worried that cats were sick or injured.
“Uh, well ...”
“They appear to be ... mad at you, Sir,” Sam informed Jack. ~I'm so glad he's on the other side of the country right now.~
“What are you talkin' about?” the frustrated general snapped.
“Well, Sir, since you left, they've been a little ... aggressive where your things are concer... Mittens, no!”
“Uh, she was just scratching the back of your chair ... again.”
“Mittens has been using the back of your favorite chair as a scratching post pretty much since the day you guys left,” Sam explained. Then she relayed everything thing else that had happened, concluding with, “... and about an hour ago, Calico managed to get a hold of one of your woolen scarves and turned it into a ball of yarn.”
“How do you know it's one of mine?”
“The big 'J' embroidered on it was a hint,” Sam replied dryly.
“Okay, Carter, I get the picture. The cats aren't too happy with us leaving them and they are retaliating by being a little destructive,” Jack commented, thinking he knew the truth of the matter.
“Not 'us'; you,” Sam clarified.
“Huh?” Jack questioned, feeling totally confused.
“The cats are only getting their revenge on things belonging to you, General,” Sam reminded. ~I think he is only listening to half the things I've said. I could have sworn I clarified that point at the beginning of this conversation.~
“The trip was your idea Sir,” Sam explained.
“Carter, are you trying to tell me that cats are staging a mutiny against me because they know that this trip was my idea?” the general queried, clearly still not believing the cats' behavior was directed solely to him.
“Yes, Sir,” Sam affirmed just as Mittens jumped onto the couch and laid down on the back of it near Sam's head.
“That's nuts,” Jack claimed.
“Hisssssss,” Mittens snarked upon hearing Jack's voice.
“What was that?”
With a low cat growl in the background, Sam answered, “That was Mittens, Sir. She just heard your voice.”
“I'm just saying ...”
“Dad, can we go get the ice cream now?” Jenny asked as she tugged on Jack's shirt.
“I gotta go, Carter. I have a small mutiny of my own here. It's ice cream time, and they can't start without me.”
Sam chuckled, “Give my love to Daniel and the brood.”
“Will do. Hold down the fort, and keep those crazy cats out of trouble.”
“I'll try. Goodbye, General.” Sam let out a sigh as she let the phone drop to her side. Reaching behind her, she cajoled Mittens off her shoulders and into her lap. As she gently caressed the feline, she asked, “Are you really mad at the general?”
Another loud hiss filled the air.
“Gotcha.” Sam smiled, scratching the kitten behind the ears. ~Note to self: do not anger the zoo.~
“We don't have a choice, Gorgeous. We have to call the guys and see what they want us to do.”
“You're right,” Sam sighed as she retrieved the cordless phone from the counter and then sat back down on the couch next to her husband. Taking a deep breath, she dialed, hoping the general would have his cell phone on him. “Sir, it's me.”
“Hello, me,” Jack chuckled, pleased with himself for the joke. “How are things going?” he asked while watching Daniel and the kids playing tag.
“That's why I'm calling,” Sam replied. ~This is going to get interesting.~
His sixth sense kicking in, Jack queried, “I am not going to like this am I?”
“Spill,” Jack commanded, not wanting to beat around the bush.
“Sir, I have a ... I have to be out of town, if you know what I mean, for a few days, and ...”
“I really don't want to hear this Carter,” Jack groaned.
“Pete has to go to Denver for three days. He tried to get out of it, but his superiors insisted he has to go. I've already checked with Janet and Teal'c, but Teal'c will be with me, and Janet's working a couple of double shifts. I'd ask Mrs. Valissi, but she's under the weather.”
“Carter, can't you ...”
“No, I can't. General Landry is also insisting. It's the cats I'm worried about,” Sam admitted. “I'm afraid if we leave the cats ...”
“Carter, I am not hearing you.”
“Sir, I think ...”
“Carter, I said ...”
“ ... the cats need to be there with you.”
“Doesn't anyone know how to follow orders anymore?” Jack questioned rhetorically.
“I'm sorry, Sir, but with the way the cats have been acting towards anything that belongs to you, I'm afraid that a daily visit from Janet or anyone just won't be enough to comfort them,” Sam explained.
Jack sighed heavily, well aware his second in command, as he still thought of her, was right. The cats were rebelling and probably suffering from separation anxiety.
~Maybe it would be okay for a few days,~ Jack opined. “Carter, I'll make the arrangements. When exactly are you leaving and when will you back?”
A few minutes later, after concluding the call with Sam, Jack pulled his lover aside.
“Is something wrong?”
“Mrs. V picked a lousy time to come down with a case of the summertime flu,” Jack lamented.
“Nothing. She'll be fine,” Jack answered before getting down to business. “Danny, Carter and hubby are both unavailable for a few days. We have to have Thor bring the cats here for a visit until they get back.”
“Well, we know we want to end up in Texas eventually. There's a lot of camping grounds between here and there, so maybe we can just camp for a few days,” Daniel suggested.
Jack nodded and looked on the bright side as he opined, “The brood will love having the furry beasts here for a visit.” With the decision made, the general retreated to the bedroom portion of the RV and pulled out the Asgard communication device. ~I just hope he doesn't have the answering machine on.~
Two days later, Sam and Pete had all the cat supplies ready to be transported from the Jackson-O'Neill house to the family's RV in northern Oklahoma.
The supplies included cat food, kitty litter, a few toys, and CatTown, nicknamed CT, which was a feline version of ToddlerTown. They were also sending the cats' harnesses so the felines could be taken for walks in the fresh air.
Suddenly, there was a flash of bright light.
With a slight bow of his head as an acknowledgement, Thor questioned, “Are the cats ready?”
“They sure are,” Sam replied, motioning at the carriers sitting on the floor next to the supplies.
Thinking that the cats would get scared during transport, it had been decided the night before during a phone conversation with Jack and Daniel that Mittens and Calico would be transported in their carriers. That way they could see they were safely with their family before being allowed to roam around the RV.
“Don't worry, Mittens and Calico, you will be with the kids ...”
Sam's statement was cut off as the bright beam of light appeared again and Thor, the cats, and their supplies all disappeared.
“Why does he do that?” Sam questioned, getting only a shrug in response from her husband.
After leaving Branson, Missouri, the Jackson-O'Neills were tooling through Northern Oklahoma. They knew they wanted to end up in Texas so were taking a leisurely and sometimes crisscrossing path to get there. Knowing the cats were coming, the lovers had found a nice camping ground to stay at for a few days. In their estimation, it was the safest thing to do.
Jack was in the RV awaiting the arrival of the pets, while Daniel had taken the kids and canines outside for a game of Frisbee. The couple wanted the cats visit to be a complete surprise for the brood.
“Sir, Thor 'picked' up the cats twenty minutes ago. They should have been there by now,” Sam reported when Jack called to check on the delay.
“Well, they're n...”
Finally, the flash of light Jack had been waiting for appeared, and in the middle of the RV living room stood Thor with the cats and their supplies.
“Carter, they just arrived,” Jack informed the blonde colonel. “Have a safe trip.”
With the phone call over, the general turned his attention to Thor and the feline members of his family.
“Here are your cats, O'Neill,” Thor stated unnecessarily.
“It's about time. Where have you been? Carter said you picked them up twenty minutes ago,” Jack questioned the little gray alien.
“I had a few things to discuss with them,” Thor explained.
“The cats? You had a discussion with cats? About what?” the general interrogated, baffled by the Asgard's actions. ~Wonder what the little gray butt has been up to.~
“Do you not talk to your pets, O'Neill?”
“Sure, but ...”
“Then why should I not talk to them?”
Jack considered the query for a moment and then asked, “What did you talk about?”
“It was a private conversation,” Thor answered calmly.
“I have things I must attend to,” the Asgard leader interrupted, disappearing a moment later.
“I hate it when he does that,” Jack told the air. Then he looked down at the cat carriers and the four eyes starring at him. “Hey, Mittens and Calico.”
Jack knelt down in front of the carriers, surprised when the response to his greeting was a hiss from the tri-colored cat and a growl from Mittens.
“Look, I get it. I do, but we had to leave you home. It was for your own good, to keep you safe,” Jack quietly explained.
Both cats just turned away, refusing to look at Jack any longer.
“Okay, be mad,” Jack concluded with a sigh. He thought for a few seconds and then smiled. “I know what will make you two happy. I'll be right back.” He hurried to the doorway of the RV and called out, “Daniel, they're here.”
“Who's here?” Little Danny called out, thinking the statement odd since no one was in the area except for the family.
With a smile, Daniel answered, “You'll see. Brood, back in Betsy.”
Not quite understanding what was happening, the children headed for the RV, which was also known as Betsy.
“Mittens!” Little Danny exclaimed excitedly as he ran to the carrier containing the cat he had found in the park years ago.
“Calico!” Lulu called out only a second later as she hurried to her beloved multi-colored cat.
Happy meows began to fill the air, along with lots of chatter from the children.
“Hold it,” Daniel commanded stopping the kids in their tracks. “I know you are happy and excited to see the cats, but we have to go over some rules before you let them out of their carriers.”
“Family meeting. Have a seat,” Jack ordered, preparing to relay the instructions that he and his lover had worked out privately after learning about the impending feline visit.
Once the brood was seated, the parents began the cat safety lecture.
“First, whenever we are not in the RV, the cats have to be confined to the cat area that Pete built,” the older father stated firmly.
“Second, everyone is to make sure that the door and all windows are securely closed when the cats have free time in the RV. If someone needs to leave Betsy during that time, they must make sure that someone is watching both cats before leaving *and* they must knock and wait for an okay signal to enter before coming back in,” Daniel instructed.
“Brianna, you'll be responsible for cleaning the litter box twice daily,” Jack added. “David, you'll make sure that they always have food and water.”
“All their supplies are right here,” Daniel added, motioning towards the cat supplies a few feet away. “Their harnesses are here, too, so we can take them outside occasionally.”
“When we do take the fuzz balls outside, Jen and Jeff will be the ones holding the leashes.”
“But ...” Little Danny began, though he quickly stopped his protest when he saw Jack's face. ~General eyes; decision final,~ the five-and-a-half-year old told himself.
“Now does everyone understand the rules?” Jack asked, his eyes going from child to child.
After receiving a round of eleven yeses and a giggle from the baby, the parents gave Little Danny and Lulu the okay to release the cats from their carriers.
The cats walked around greeting and rubbing against each child and both dogs. Both animals warmly greeted Daniel and then continued on their way to explore the RV. Both also completely ignored Jack.
“Hey, what am I -- chopped liver?” Jack called out to the felines.
“If you were, they'd love you,” Jennifer chuckled, starting a round of laughter from the whole family.
“Very funny,” Jack replied. Inwardly, he was hurt that the cats seemed to hate him, but he tried to act like it really didn't matter. Checking his watch, he added, “Dinner in an hour. How about we try that steakhouse we saw about two miles down the road?”
“Great idea, Babe,” Daniel agreed. “I think JD needs to be changed,” the younger father added, noticing the youngest Jackson-O'Neill seemed uncomfortable as he sat on the floor and played with his blocks.
“I'll do it, Daddy,” Jennifer offered, getting a smiling nod from her younger father.
After almost forty-five minutes had passed, Jack called out, “Brood, time to put the cats in their play area so we can go to dinner.”
“Okay, Dad,” David called out, gently rousing Mittens, who had been sleeping on his lap for the last ten minutes as the boy watched TV.
“I'll put Calico in,” Chenoa responded as she picked up the feline, who had been walking past her when Jack made his announcement.
“The cats are secure, Dad,” Jeff advised as he closed the RV door and locked it a few minutes later. “Bij and Katie are playing guard dog,” he chuckled, looking back at the beagles as they looked out of the partially open windows in Betsy.
“Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to dinner we go,” Jack sing-songed as the family climbed into the truck.
“You do realize this isn't the most legal way to travel,” Daniel pointed out.
“We're in Okie land, Danny. Riding in pickup trucks is the way of life around here.”
“Right,” the younger man responded glibly, just hoping they didn't get stopped and end up having a huge ticket to pay. “Youngest ones inside the cab,” he called out as a reminder, inwardly amused at the audible sighs of the Spitfires, who were clearly disappointed at not being able to ride in the back.
“Daddy, can I let Mittens and Calico out of their play area?” Lulu asked when the family returned to the RV a couple of hours later.
“Sure, Lil Bit,” Daniel agreed. “Just leave the door open so if they need to use the litter box they can.”
“Okay, Daddy,” the little girl responded.
The rest of the night went along as most nights had since the trip began with everyone settling in to read, play games, or watch TV. The cats spent the evening playing with their toys and wandering from one person to the next for attention, with one exception -- Jack. They had stopped hissing and growling at the general, but they continued to avoid him.
When it was time for the children to go to sleep, Jack and Daniel were saying goodnight to their brood. As Jack approached Lulu, Calico, who had decided to sleep curled up next to Lulu, stared at him for the first time since her arrival earlier that day.
“Night, Little Bit,” Jack spoke softly as he bent down and kissed the little girl's forehead.
“Goodnight, Dad,” Lulu replied with a sleepy yawn.
A bit hesitantly, Jack reached over to pet Calico, carefully watching her movements in case she squirmed. When she didn't react, he continued moving his hand towards the cat and patted her head. She rubbed her head against his hand and began to purr.
“See, Dad, Callie forgives you,” Lulu remarked with a smile.
Jack returned the smile, gave Calico a few more pats and continued on to the next child.
Jack entered the bedroom at the rear of the RV when Daniel was just taking off his shirt.
“Love you, Angel,” Jack whispered into Daniel's ear as he embraced him from behind.
“Love you, too.”
Jack released Daniel and started to walk to his side of the bed, and that's when he noticed that Mittens spread out on their bed.
~Let's see if I can go two for two,~ Jack thought. Reaching out to pat the feline, he was disappointed to see Mittens back away. ~Guess not.~
As his husband prepared for bed, Daniel comforted, “Babe, give her a little more time.”
“Who?” Jack asked, unconsciously placing his hands in his pockets.
“What?” Jack asked nonchalantly.
“Remember who you're talking, rather lying, to, Jack. I saw your smile when Calico purred out there. Mittens will come around, too.”
“She's just a cat; it doesn't ma...”
Daniel's facial expression indicated that he wasn't buying his lover's cover story.
“Why should they be mad at me?” Jack sighed, watching as his husband slid into bed, instantly receiving a furball of love on his stomach.
“Jack, I don't even understand why Bij and Katie know what they do, but somehow, Mittens and Calico know this trip was your idea. Apparently, they didn't like being left behind.” The archaeologist looked at Mittens and reminded, “It's not like we wanted to leave you at home, but it was for your own safety.”
Jack said nothing as he watched his lover and the finicky feline interact. He had to admit, though, that it hurt to be rejected by Mittens. When he crawled into bed next to Daniel, the cat instantly retreated to the foot of the bed, curling up next to Daniel's feet.
~Dang cat hates me. She's got a short memory; doesn't she remember the kibble I sneak to her all the time out on roof deck when no one's looking?~
The next morning, Jack was the first one up. Seeing Mittens practically plied to Daniel, he reached over to pat her, but she let out a little growl and moved up towards Daniel's head.
~Mickey D time,~ the general opined, wanting to forget about his cat problems. He figured he'd take the truck and pick up breakfast for the family at a nearby McDonald's. ~Dang cat,~ he sighed.
After dressing and doing a quick check on JD, who was sleeping peacefully, Jack left the room, closing the door so he would know where Mittens was when he left. Walking through the RV, he smiled at his sleeping family. He took note that Bijou was with Jeff while Katie was snuggling with Little Danny. Both dogs raised their heads and wagged their tails when Jack entered the room.
“Morning, Girls. Do you want to go out?” Jack asked the beagles. Seeing both yawn and lay their heads down, he mused, “I guess that's a no. I'm going out to get breakfast. Hold down the fort till I get back.”
When Jack approached the door to leave, he found the tri-colored feline member of the family sitting in front of it.
“Hey there, Calico,” Jack greeted and bent down to pet the cat. ~At least one of the cats has forgiven me.~
“Meow,” the cat repeated as she rubbed the length of her body against Jack's hand.
“I'm going out to pick up breakfast. Be right back,” Jack stated as he stood back up. He was surprised when Calico moved back in front of the door. “Come on, Callie, I have to go get breakfast before the brood wakes up.” He picked up the cat and carried her over to Lulu's bed. “Stay!”
As soon as Jack put the cat down, she had quickly ran back to the door. When Jack approached her again, Calico put her front paws on his left leg.
“You want to go with me?” Jack questioned.
Happy to be wanted, Jack quickly agreed. He retrieved her harness and placed it on her. Then he wrote out a note to let the family know that Calico was with him.
“We don't want them to worry,” Jack whispered to Calico.
“They are going to think I'm nuts when I pull up to the drive-through window with a cat,” Jack chuckled as he set Calico on the seat next to him.
Whistling as he drove, Jack smiled, seeing Calico put her front paws on the arm rest and looked out the window. Then he laughed when he topped at a red light and saw the reaction of the driver of the car that pulled up next to him. The man did a double take when he saw a cat looking back at him.
“That's my cat!” Jack exclaimed proudly. ~She loves me again.~
Meanwhile, Daniel had stirred and discovered his husband wasn't in bed. Figuring Jack was working on breakfast, the archaeologist slowly stretched and patted Mittens 'hello' for a minute before getting out of bed.
With JD still snoozing, Daniel looked back at the cat and opined, “Mittens, you really should forgive Jack.”
Mittens just laid her head down and closed her eyes.
Once showered and dressed, Daniel entered the front of the RV and quickly observed the eleven oldest children all looking around.
“They must be here somewhere,” Jonny commented as he looked under the front table.
“What did you lose?” Daniel questioned.
“The cats,” Aislinn answered as she looked in the play area for the third time.
“Mittens is in my room sleeping on the bed,” Daniel informed the worried children.
“What about Callie? She was sleeping on my bed when I fell asleep, but when I woke up she was gone,” Lulu stated with tears in her eyes.
“Li'l Bit, I'm sure she's here somewhere. Cats are known for finding a small space and curling up for a nap there. She'll show up,” Daniel assured as he continued on his way to the kitchen. ~I hope.~ Looking around as he walked, he asked, “Has anyone seen Dad?”
“No,” came the answer times eleven.
“I wonder whe...” Daniel began, stopping mid-sentence when he found the note on the refrigerator door. “Brood, Calico is with Dad.”
“With Dad? Where?” Jennifer asked, walking into the kitchen area.
“McDonald's. He's bringing us breakfast,” Daniel answered. With amusement he added, “The note says that Calico insisted on going with him.”
Lulu laughed, “People at McDonald's are going to be surprised to see a cat in the truck with Dad.”
“They sure will,” Jeff chuckled.
Jack pulled up to the order board and placed the usual large order through the speaker.
“Will that be all, Sir?” the voice asked over the intercom after Jack had recited the long list of breakfast items he needed.
“Meow,” was Calico's response.
“Yes, thank you,” Jack quickly replied.
As Jack pulled around to the window, Calico walked onto his lap and put her paws on the arm rest of his door so she could greet the cashier.
“Well, hello there,” the cashier chuckled as she greeted the cat. “This is a first. Connie, come here. You've got to see this.”
“What is it, Lisa?” Connie asked as she approached the window. Then she saw the calico cat looking right at her. “Hi there, Pretty One.”
The McDonald's employees fussed over Calico for a couple minutes while Jack's large food order was being prepared. They even gave Calico some scrambled eggs and cut up ham in a Chicken McNugget box.
“You're welcome,” Connie laughed.
“Actually, I think she was saying that her buddy, Mittens, is back at the RV.”
With a huge grin, Connie fixed up a second special order and handed it over, saying, “Here's Mittens' order.”
“Meeeeeeow!” Calico responded, causing everyone to laugh.
Jack thanked the two woman and joked, “You know, now she's going to want to come with me every time I go to McDonald's.”
“Here's your order,” Lisa stated as she brought several bags to Connie, who began to funnel them to Jack in his truck.
Once the entire order was placed appropriately on the truck seat, Jack instructed, “Calico, thank the nice ladies for your breakfast so we can go.”
The woman laughed and replied, “You're welcome, Calico, and good girl. Manners are very important.”
With a chuckle, Jack nodded at the workers and then headed back to the RV and his hungry family.
“Danny, that cat is never going to forgive me. She won't even look at me,” Jack groaned as he motioned towards Mittens, who was lying on Daniel's side of the couple's bed for the second night in a row. “She didn't even touch that McDonald's treat we brought back yesterday morning until Ash fed it to her.”
“She'll come around,” Daniel assured confidently as he buttoned up his blue satin shirt.
“You've been saying that for two days now.” Jack let out a growl as he looked around in desperation. “Daniel, is it on the dresser?”
To his frustration, Jack had misplaced the specially designed pin that he and Daniel had exchanged during their second wedding ceremony. The lovers most always wore the pins somewhere on their attire or at least kept the pins in their wallets.
“Sorry, Babe. There's nothing here,” Daniel replied even as he did a second check of the dresser top.
“I don't get it,” Jack groused. “I just had it.”
“Calm down, Babe. We'll find it,” Daniel soothed, walking up behind his husband to give him a reassuring hug.
“Better check the bed,” the older man suggested. “I'd do it, but that dang cat would probably growl at me again.”
“Jack, that dang cat is a cat you love. Your problem is that she's just as stubborn as you are.”
“What is that suppose to mean?” Jack groused, moving over to the bed.
“It means you've missed the cats just as much as you've missed the rest of the zoo, and you *have* missed them.”
“I have not missed ...” Seeing the stare from his husband, Jack decided it was time to admit the truth. With a sigh, he sat down on the bed and confessed, “Okay, so I missed Mittens and Calico. I didn't want to leave them at home, but you know as well as I do that they'd hate being kept in here while we were out all the time. We're only staying put now because they *are* here. Of course, I've missed them. I love the furry beasts.”
Upon hearing Jack's words. Mittens jumped down off the bed, walked under JD's crib, and picked up something in her mouth. A few seconds later, she jumped back on the bed and set the item down next to Jack.
“What the ...” Jack began as he looked at the item.
“Thank you, Mittens,” Jack spoke with a smile. “Does this mean you forgive me?”
Mittens got on the general's lap, put her paws on his chest, and rubbed her face against his cheek, purring loudly.
“I would say that's a 'yes',” Daniel noted, smiling.
“I guess so,” Jack agreed, feeling relieved. ~Darn cat knows I love her.~
“And all you had to do was admit that you missed her,” Daniel pointed out.
Jack started to speak, but couldn't think of anything to say. Apparently, Daniel was right, and Mittens had been waiting for an admission that she'd been missed before forgiving the silver-haired human.
“You stole this pin,” Jack accused the cat as he held her. He smiled and added, “That's okay. We all need love, Mittens.”
Mittens purred as she accepted Jack's loving caresses for the next few minutes.
“Jack, I hate to break up this happy reunion, but we have a reservation, and we don't want to be late,” Daniel reminded his husband.
Jack chuckled. The children had planned a special meal for their parents outside. They'd actually set up a small table and decorated it with whatever they could find that would be appropriate. It was the Cafe Brood, and Jack and Daniel were to be the only patrons. Hence, their more dressy attire.
“Sorry, Mittens, but Danny's right. We can't let down the owners of Cafe Brood,” Jack chuckled as he gently picked up the cat and set her on the bed.
“Uh, Jack ... your jacket.”
Looking down, Jack happily pointed out, “It's just a little fur, Danny. Where's that rolling thing that takes the hair off?”
“In the top drawer of the dresser, Babe. I'll get it,” Daniel offered and then retrieved the item.
Soon, Jack's jacket was again fur free, and his pin was affixed to his lapel.
“We'll be back soon, Mittens,” Jack informed the cat, giving her a final pat before walking out of the bedroom. “We'll play some more in the morning before you and Calico go back home.”
Sam and Pete would be expecting the cats to return early the next afternoon, and that's when the family would continue their trip in earnest and head towards Texas in search of an adventure.
Jack smiled, almost wondering if it wouldn't be a good idea to have Mittens and Calico stay for the remainder of the family's trip. He knew that would be selfish, though. Staying in one spot was far different from being on the go. It just wouldn't be fair to the cats.
That night, the Jackson-O'Neills all slept soundly, especially Jack who had his Angel sleeping atop his chest, a smile on his face, and a purring furball curled up next to his head.
Life was definitely good for Jack and Daniel, currently in Oklahoma, as they continued going in search of America with their brood.