Change Comes Curiously

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - May 4-7, 2019
Spoilers:  None
Size:  61kb
Written:  September 2-5,9,11, October 11-17,20, November 8,11, 2017
Summary:  While Jack and Daniel enjoy a weekend at home with most of their brood, Janet takes Chenoa and Lulu on a rewarding trip that ends with an evolution of sorts.
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) Thanks to Ali for once again assisting me with the technical part of this fic!

Change Comes Curiously
by Orrymain

“Morning,” Janet Fraiser chimed as she entered the Jackson-O'Neill home.

“Top of the morning to ya, Doc,” Jack spoke in an Irish brogue.

Indeed, it was just 6 a.m. when the physician arrived.  She had her red hair back in a ponytail and wore a sleeveless brown top with white shorts that had a dark-colored belt.  Along with her comfortable but standout checked sneakers, she had on a lightweight long-sleeve white jacket.

“Looking good,” Jack praised with an appreciative smile.

“Thank you, General,” the woman replied with slight flirtatiousness.  “Where's your husband?”

“Daylight has barely broken.  He's sound asleep.”

“Aunt Janet!” Chenoa and Lulu called out excitedly as they bounded down the stairs.

Hugs exchanged, the redhead questioned, “Ready to go?”

The girls nodded as they pointed to their overnight bags that were by the entryway.

“Then let's put the pedal to the medal.”

“Bye, Dad,” Chenoa spoke as she enjoyed a hug and a kiss with Jack.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Princess,” Jack responded as he rubbed her back before releasing her from the embrace.  “And you, too,” he added with a smile as he took Lulu into his arms.

“I'll miss you and Daddy, and the brood, and the zoo,” Lulu declared as she enjoyed her father's caress, hug, and kiss.

“It'll be too quiet without you and your sister.”

“Dad, it's never quiet at home.”

Everyone shared a chuckle as Jack walked his daughters to the door.  Just as the girls stepped out, another voice was heard.

“Daddy, you didn't have to get up for us,” Chenoa stated, though inwardly she felt joy that he had risen to see them off.

“Sure, I did.  Hugs,” Daniel requested, opening his arms and feeling peace that he was able to hold the two girls for a moment and say his goodbyes before they left on their trip with Janet.  “I love you both very much, and I already miss you.”

“It's only for two days,” Janet called out with an amused voice.

“Hi, Janet.”

“Hello, Daniel.  Listen, we need to get going or we'll end up right in the middle of traffic, which is the whole reason for leaving this early.”

“Sorry,” the archaeologist acknowledged.

“Bye!” the Curly Tops expressed, both smiling and waving at their parents as they hurried to Janet's car.

With the girls safely situated, Janet backed out of the driveway and headed for the freeway.  She was treating the dancers to a weekend retreat at one of the best spa resorts in Colorado.  It was located in Vail, an approximate three-hour drive from the Springs.  The first day would be one of adventure, working out, enjoying the outdoors, and taking fun exercise classes.  The second day, though, would be one of pampering in the high-class spa.

The reason for the reward was that Chenoa and Lulu were recently given special recognition for their unique choreography in their routines, especially in their ability to blend their individual specialities which included tap dancing and ballet.  The girls weren't considered to be the best dancers, though they often placed well in any competitions they entered, but as the years passed, they were known for creative fusions of different dance styles that made their performances interesting and unique.

With the females gone, Jack closed the door and a yawning Daniel headed back upstairs to resume his sleep.

====

Janet and the sisters were having a lively discussion about hairdos and makeup when the physician's phone rang with the sound of a heartbeat.

“One minute, girls,” Janet interrupted.  “Doctor Fraiser here,” she greeted, using the hands-free device in her vehicle.

“Doctor, you asked for an update on Captain Stringer,” a nurse spoke over the phone.

“Yes.  Go ahead.”

The nurse relayed the man's vitals and the results of an MRI scan.

“Good, Kathy.  Doctor Warner can handle it from here.  Thanks for the call.”

“Have a good weekend, Janet,” the nurse said, using a more familial tone now that the business was done.

“I will.  See you Monday,” Janet responded, disconnecting the call.

“Aunt Janet, why did you become a doctor?” Lulu asked curiously.

“I was a rebel,” Janet laughed.  “No, seriously, after high school, I wanted to travel before college.  I wasn't totally sure what I wanted to do with my life yet, and I thought maybe if I saw some of the world, it might help me decide.”

“So, what did you do?” Chenoa questioned.

“I didn't have the money to travel on my own, so I joined the Peace Corps.  I'd grown up hearing about it and always thought it was fascinating.”

“I don't know what that is,” Lulu admitted.

“I'm afraid it doesn't get the PR that it did at the beginning when President Kennedy created it.  The Peace Corps began as a way for young Americans, college students, graduates really, to go overseas, to underprivileged countries and help the people, teach them how to have a better life.  That's the short form,” Janet laughed.

“Where did you go?” Lulu inquired.

“I went to Malawi.  That's in Southern Africa.”

“Are you okay, Aunt Janet?” Chenoa asked when her aunt turned silent.

“Malawi still has a low life expectancy.  We know so much, medically, now, and still there are places on this planet where it's almost a miracle to live a long, productive life.”  Janet drew an audible breath and tried to continue.  “Anyway, while I was there, I saw people acting funny, not amusingly, but oddly.  I didn't know what it was.  People I'd talk to and knew to be rational suddenly became confused.  Friends began to argue over nothing.  Their personalities changed.”

“How come?” Lulu asked.

“It took a while, eventually, I found out the cause: East African trypanosomiasis.”

“I don't even think I could say that,” Chenoa remarked as her face grimaced at the sound of the name.

“A lot of people call it the sleeping disease,” Janet told the girls.  “It's caused by being bitten by a tsetse fly.  It can be handled, as long as you are treated for it.  Otherwise, death can occur within months of the bite.”

“Ew,” Chenoa expressed.

“People died who shouldn't have,” the doctor lamented.  “When I returned home, I knew what I wanted to do.”

“Be a doctor,” Lulu piped up.

“Exactly, and I made rare and exotic diseases my specialty,” Janet affirmed.

“I wish I knew what I wanted to do,” Lulu sighed.

“You have time, Sweetie,” Janet assured the teenager, who was now fourteen-and-a-half, ten months older than Chenoa.  “One day, you'll just know in your heart what matters most to you.”  With a smile, she suggested, “Maybe you'll become a famous dance choreographer.”

“Maybe,” Lulu chuckled.

“We'll be a team,” Chenoa added with a smile.

As she made the transition from Highway 470 to Interstate 70 westbound, Janet observed, “We're making good time.  Maybe we can add a Yoga session to the schedule.”

====

Back in Colorado Springs, the normally busy kitchen was still with the only noise coming from Ptolemy, the family's beautiful hyacinth macaw.

“Bye Dad and Daddy,” Aislinn called out as she waved and then turned her attention to her friends as they walked away.

“Daniel.”

“Hmm?”

“By my count, that's twelve.”

“That's what I counted, too,” Daniel replied as he smiled and waved one more time at Aislinn as she looked back briefly at her parents.

“You sure we didn't miss one?” Jack queried.  “There's not one hiding under the sofa or in a closet, ready to spring out and surprise us?”

“No, they're all gone.”

As Aislinn completely disappeared from site, Jack shut the door and locked it.  He turned to his lover and noted the darkened eyes and the lustful leer.  Then the lovers kissed, with a long, deep meandering of their tongues while their hands began to roam.

“Oh, yeah,” Jack expressed, liking the feeling of his lover's fingers in his hair and all over his head.

Daniel's eyelids flickered open and shut until his eyes widened and he blinked in shock.  Then his kisses ebbed, turning into an amused chuckle.

“Daniel!”

Smiling, the archaeologist pointed up to the top of Jack's head and that's when the general realized something was amiss.

“Oh, for crying out loud.  Polly, *move it*,” Jack barked while trying to ignore his husband's amusement at the situation.

With a squawk, Ptolemy advised, “Polly want a cracker.”  After another squawk, she repeated, “Polly want a cracker.  Move it.”

Daniel burst into laughter, doubling over with his hands over his abdomen.

Jack growled, upset at the sensual mood that was broken, and then relented by saying, “I'll give Polly a cracker when Polly gets *off* my head.”

“Cracker,” Ptolemy repeated as she flew through the living room and into the recreation room where her cage was located.  She flapped her wings when she saw Jack approaching.  “Move it.”

“Don't press your luck, bird,” Jack warned as he pulled out a box of cracker-like treats and handled her one.  “And that's *all* you're getting,” he put forth with an evil scowl, cackling as he closed the cage of the door.  As he walked away, he ignored the macaw's squawking objection.  “Gotcha'!”

Still amused, Daniel was grinning as he stood by the stairs that led to the second floor of the house.

“Enough already,” Jack sighed.

“It's okay, Babe.  I needed the laugh.”

“Sure, you did.”

“Of course, now I need something else.”

The wanton look was back, and Jack responded appropriately, beginning a carnal round of love in the afternoon.

====

In Vail, Janet and the girls checked into the hotel and began their adventure with a walk around the grounds.  After hours in the car, they wanted to stretch and enjoy the awesome outdoor weather.  After that, they each enjoyed a smoothie before beginning their workout sessions with a class called Barre Rhythm.  It was right up the Curly Tops' alley as it was a music class that featured ballet barre, combining Pilates, ballet, and fitness.  Weights were used for toning and every muscle group was focused on as the females learned about techniques to hone a finely shaped body.

“Aunt Janet, I wouldn't tell Dad about the body shaping thing,” Chenoa said as the three exited the class.

“Why not?”

“He'll freak.  He still says Ash can't date until she's thirty ... maybe.”

After a healthy laugh at Jack's overprotectiveness, the trio took the Total Body Circuit class which was an hour of utilizing functional movements designed to assist in improved coordination and balance as well as strength and power.  Using items such as medicine balls and kettle bells, attendees were urged to work hard and fast in what would also help them with endurance.

From there, the three attended a climbing class.  While Janet was familiar with climbing, it was new to the teenagers.  As such, the physician decided to start with the Foundations Climbing Class which allowed the girls to learn all the basics, including how to use the harnesses and ropes.  Along with familiarizing themselves with the wall, they also learned the basic wall climbing technique and how to belay a climbing partner to keep a lead climber safe from falling.

The sisters then experienced their first climbs on the wall while Janet watched.

With nightfall occurring, the three closed out their workout day with a run around the grounds.

“I can't wait for tomorrow,” Lulu sighed as the three returned to their hotel room.

“You've both earned a relaxing day in the spa,” Janet advised.  “You're going to love what I have planned for us.”

“Can we start now?” Chenoa asked.  “I'm tired.”

With a laugh, the redhead mused, “So am I.”

“I want a bath,” Chenoa sighed from the stink of her sweaty body.

“There's a nice, roomy sunken bathtub waiting for you,” Janet replied.

“And I'm next,” Lulu chimed in.

“Okay, I'll order room service for after our baths and then we can settle down and watch a movie.  How does that sound?”

“It works for me,” Chenoa responded.

“Me, too,” Lulu added.

Their plans made, Janet and the girls finished out their first day at the lodge taking it easy, though the teens didn't make it even halfway through the movie before falling asleep.  Janet didn't mind as she opted to conclude her evening with a long, cozy bubble bath, though she knew she needed to do one more thing before the night was through.

====

“We had a great day and both of your daughters are sound asleep.”

“Thanks, Doc,” Jack spoke over the phone.  “Hey, are you outside?  I hear water.”

“Actually, Jack, I'm enjoying a soothing bath with lots of bubbles.”

“I'm not sure I want to know anymore.”

“You don't,” Janet replied.  “Goodnight, General.”

“Goodnight, Colonel,” Jack joked, using the physician's military rank which he virtually never did.  As he hung up the phone, his naked lover exited the bathroom after finishing a nighttime shower.  “Now that's what I'm talking about.”

“If you're lucky,” the sensuously wet archaeologist responded.  “Who was on the phone?”

“Doc.”

“Problems?”

“No, she just knows how we are.”

“You mean she didn't want you calling and disturbing them later.”

“Maybe, but they had a great day and all's well.”

“Not here.”

“Huh?” the silver-haired man questioned.

“I'm ... cold.”

With a huge grin, Jack stood and ambled over to his undressed husband and replied, “I ... may have a way to fix that.”

A reminder of their first lovemaking session from years ago, the words were tender and poignant, until Daniel broke the spell by saying, “Fix it, and hurry.”

Jack obeyed, making both men extremely satisfied and fulfilled.

====

The next day, Janet, Chenoa, and Lulu began their day with a hearty breakfast, followed by a ninety-minute massage that used only organic and biodynamically grown plant-based products.  The skilled staff displayed their expertise with different techniques that brought forth a soothing feeling of relaxation while also relieving tension in the muscles and increasing circulation.  Warm stones and herbal oils added to the pleasing sensation of the massage.

“... and Chloe's decided to be a fashion designer,” Chenoa stated about her friend, Chloe Payne, after which she awed from the sweet rub against her back.

“She likes weird stuff,” Lulu replied.

“It's good to know what you want in life.  It gives you a direction to start out with,” Janet asserted.

As the trio relaxed during the masseuses' work, Janet heard a regretful sigh from Lulu.

“Anything wrong?”

“No, but I wish I knew what I wanted to do.”

“I assumed you wanted to be a dancer,” the doctor responded.

“I love to dance, but I want it to always be fun.  You have to work too hard to make it a career.”  Lulu let out a big sigh and added, “I didn't mean that how it sounded.  Working hard is a good thing, but with dancing, you have to put in so much time.  That's not sounding right, either.”

“I know what Lulu means,” Chenoa put forth.  “Dancing is a passion, but we don't want it to be our job.”  She frowned.  “I don't think I said that right, either.”

With a chuckle, Janet interjected, “It's all right, girls, I do know what you mean.  It really doesn't have anything to do with your passion and love for dance.  It's more about priorities and choosing a career path that you love and yet doesn't threaten your fun.  A lot of people love medicine, but they don't want it for a career.  They worry about the risks that come with the job or dealing with bureaucracy.  I know a few people who are passionate about healing, but the sight of blood or a dead body is something they can't handle.”

“Dad joined the Air Force because of Uncle Billy, and Daddy's an archaeologist because of his parents,” Lulu stated, after which she sighed again.  “Jonny and Little Danny want to be archaeologists and join the Air Force.  Ricky wants to be an architect like Jeff and Alex.”

“Jenny wants to be the oldest living bachelorette,” Chenoa giggled.

“Everyone seems to know what they want to do except for me,” Lulu lamented.

“And me,” the other Curly Top returned.

“Girls, you're teenagers and you have a lot of time to figure this out.  Don't rush it.”

Lulu sighed, a feeling of dissatisfaction in her heart.  Even so, she quickly became amused by Janet's storytelling of an event from her youth.

Chenoa remained curious as well about her future career, but she was content to let the subject go in favor of thinking about her last conversation with her Jaffa boyfriend, K'hang.  Smiling, she closed her eyes and let the pleasant feeling of the massage add to her pleasure.

====

The afternoon was spent enjoying a complimentary lunch from the bistro, going for a leisurely walk, and spending lots of time in the outdoor Jacuzzi.  The spa delight ended with a session from a personal coach specializing in holistic healing and nutrition and a final thirty-minute massage.

Then Janet pulled out her hair and makeup kit, prompting smiles all around.

“Oh, this will be fun,” Chenoa declared with a broad smile.  “You're the best hairdresser ever.”

Janet laughed, “Remember, the best way to change things up and start anew is with a new hairstyle.  Believe me, I know.”

Both Chenoa and Lulu had the same style of curly hair with small twists all over.  Chenoa's blonde waves resembled a young Shirley Temple's, while Lulu's were similar, only she had black hair.

“How about we keep those beautiful curls, but give them a twist?”

“Twists are still curls, aren't they, Aunt Janet?” Lulu inquired.

The girls' aunt laughed and answered, “In a literal sense, yes, but I'm speaking figuratively.  What I'm suggesting is that we keep your curls, but change the presentation.”

“Oh,” Lulu chuckled.

The three had a great time as Janet gave both Chenoa and Lulu a new hairdo that incorporated their natural curls but with a new vibe.  She took Chenoa's curls and spiraled them before pinning some of them back and creating a lovely updo that framed the dancer's face perfectly, and for Lulu, she softened the curls into a wispy bob that gave her a fresher and more subtle look.  The teens raved about their styles and their aunt's ability to always do something fun with hair.

In their robes, the three ended the styling session listening to the sounds of old time rock and roll.  They danced and pranced all around, singing gaily and laughing freely much of the time.

Then the gals dressed up, ate a late dinner in the lodge's bistro, and topped the night off with more girl talk and yet another movie in their room.  This time, they all stayed awake until the end and were happily full of popcorn and their favorite beverages.

====

At the Jackson-O'Neill home in Colorado Springs, Sunday morning began with a bang.

“Jonny, you broke it!” Aislinn accused in a huff.

“I didn't mean to, Ash,” the oldest Munchkin groaned as he bent down to pick up the broken pieces of glass.

“Jonny!  The central vac, not your hands,” the youngest triplet chastised as she went to controls and retrieved the unit.  “Here, you do it.”

“It wasn't my fault.”

“It was so!”

“You should have given it to me.”

“Jonny Jackson-O'Neill, since when do you want to arrange a vase full of flowers?”

“Hey!” Jack called out as he entered the recreation room and approached the two siblings.  “General Jonny, report!”

“Ash wouldn't give me the vase.”

“Dad, I wanted to arrange the flowers and all of a sudden, Jonny pulled the vase out of my hands and it fell.”

“Son, explain.”

“I, uh, I, um, I, well, I ...”

“Yeah, that's what I thought,” Jack interrupted.  “Clean this up and you're on KP duty tonight, by yourself.  Understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” the youngster sighed as he readied the central vac to pick up the pieces.

“Remember, we have a zoo.  Don't miss the tiniest piece of glass,” Jack advised.

“I won't, Dad.  I promise.”

“Very well.  See to it,” the father responded in his best general-to-airman tone.

As Jack walked away, Jonny looked over at Aislinn and moaned, “He demoted me.”

With a grin, the female Munchkin replied with satisfaction, “Yeah, I know.”

====

After a leisurely breakfast at their Vail resort, Janet and the girls began the journey home.  They were traveling along Interstate 70 near Corral Creek when their conversation was cut short after Janet spotted a car off the side of the road.  At first glance, the car looked abandoned, with no one in sight and no outward sign of trouble, but something caused Janet's stomach to churn.  She had to stop and check it out.

“You girls stay in the car.”

Janet exited the vehicle and hurried over to the other car.  She peered through the driver's side window and gasped.  She ran around the Buick and attempted to open the door on the passenger's side, but it was stuck.

“Noa, Lulu, come quick,” the physician called out.  “Help me pull this door open.”

“On three,” Chenoa called out, used to watching per parents and siblings do a count when trying to do things like this that required a unity of strength.  “One.  Two.  Threeeee.”

The females pulled as hard as they could and were grateful when the door opened.

“There's a man,” Lulu said to her sister, referring to a man slumped over the seat.

Janet reached for the man's neck and felt a weak thready pulse.  Using all her might, she pulled the bald man out of the car, dragging him a few feet away and placing him on his back.  He looked to be in his fifties and was somewhat overweight.  Her first thought was a heart attack had befallen the driver and caused the accident.  She checked for his pulse again and found none.  Immediately, she started a heart massage.

“Lulu, get your phone and call 9-1-1.  Noa, get my bag.  It's in the trunk.”

“Yes, Aunt Janet,” the blonde acknowledged as she ran back to her aunt's car while glimpsing from the side of her eye that Lulu was running, too, eager to get to her phone that was in the backseat of the vehicle.

“What do I tell them?” Lulu shouted as she picked up her phone.

“One patient, possible heart attack; doctor on scene; need an ambulance or air-flight copter; our location: I-70, between Vail and Copper Mountain.  Look around, Lulu, and give them any landmarks that might help them identify where we are.”

As Janet massaged the man's heart, Chenoa returned from the car.  She stared at the unconscious patient for a moment, thinking that he looked a little bit like her grandfather.  It made her stomach drop and gave her chills.

“Noa, open my bag and get the ambu-bag out.”

While Chenoa nodded and moved closer, kneeling down opposite Janet, Lulu made the emergency call and gave the operator the information, including Janet's mobile phone number.  Since a physician was there, the call ended with Lulu being advised that an ambulance was dispatched.  As she walked closer to where Janet was tending to the man, the teen, by happenstance, glanced in the front seat of the patient's car.  Seeing something that might be important, she went to it and retrieved the item.

“Aunt Janet, I found this on the floor of that man's car.”

“What is it?” Janet asked as she continued to work on the stranger.

“It's ... nitroglycerine, but it's a spray?”

“Yes, okay.  He probably realized he was about to have an attack and pulled over to take his meds.”

“I thought people took pills.”

“Sometimes, Sweetheart, but we also prescribed sprays.  The spray is pre-measured and all the patient has to do is spray under the tongue.”  Janet was working hard and urged the man to live.  “Come on.  Breathe.”  

“Is this it?” Chenoa asked about the medical tool.

“Yes.  I need you to listen to me carefully and put the ambu-bag over this man.  Are you ready?”

“I think so.”

“Be ready,” Janet ordered seriously.  “Fit the bag over his mouth ... yes, and now over his nose and ... good, good.  Noa, I need you to gently tilt his head back.”

“But ...”

“You can do it.  Tilt his head back so his chin is pointing upward.  A little more.  There you go.  Now, when I tell you, squeeze the bag.”

“Squeeze it?”

“Yes.  We're going to get him breathing again.  Work with me, Noa, and we can save his life.”  Janet glanced over to Lulu and instructed, “Lulu, I need you to keep track of the time and how long we're working on him.”

Lulu nodded and immediately focused on her watch, making sure she was precise and accurate about the start time.  Then her attention was drawn to the procedure she was witnessing.  She was fascinated as she watched her sister work in tandem with their aunt.  Every action was carefully timed, Janet's compressions and Noa's squeezing of the ambu-bag a magnificent example of teamwork.  She'd heard of an ambu-bag from television shows, but hadn't seen one in person until now.  It was just a mask fixed to a balloon, but as she listened, she learned how that simple object was pumping air into the man's lungs.  She was amazed by the process.

“Noa, is your hand cramping?”

“No, Aunt Janet.”

“Be sure.  Lulu can take over if you get tired.”

“I'm good.  I promise.”

“Good girl,” Janet responded, giving Chenoa a quick smile, but then quickly refocusing on her task.

A minute passed and then Janet became aware the man was breathing on his own.  She sat back and let out a big breath and a sigh of relief.

“You can stop, Noa.”

“Is he okay now?”

“He's breathing.  Lulu, how long?”

“Two minutes and twenty-three seconds.”

“Okay, we're good.”  Janet looked over at her assistant and requested, “Help me move him.”

Janet instructed Chenoa on how to assist in getting the man into the recovery position so that his airway would be clear and open.

“I'm going to move his hand up here while you put his other hand up against his cheek.  Let's go.”  After getting the man's hands in position, Janet began to pull up the man's leg on Chenoa's side.  “Noa, keep that hand in place.”

“Okay.”

The doctor then gently pulled the man's upraised knee towards her, causing him to turn onto his side.  She then straightened his bent knee so he was resting more comfortably on the ground.

“Noa, move his head back gently to raise his chin.”

When Chenoa did as instructed, Janet moved upward and checked to make sure there were no obstructions in his mouth.

“What are you doing, Aunt Janet?” Chenoa inquired.

“Just making sure he wasn't eating or chewing something that could block his airway.”

“Oh.”

“He's clear.”

“Do you need help?” a woman and her daughter asked as they ran to see if they could be of assistance.

Janet looked around, seeing a couple of cars had stopped.

“Please, just wave the ambulance over,” Janet replied, hearing the sound of the ambulance in the distance.

====

Sunday for Jack and Daniel was turning out to be one of the crazy days, especially when Ricky and Jenny began a row of their own.

“Ricky, I don't want to do it.”

“It'll only take a minute.”

“No!”

“Why not?”

“Because I don't want to, that's why!”

As the voices grew louder, Daniel happened to be walking by the library, where the Spitfires were having their argument.

“Jenny, why?”

“Anything wrong?” Daniel asked as he entered the room.

“I want to take a picture of Jenny, but she won't let me.”

“You're arguing over taking a picture?” the archaeologist inquired with surprise.

“She's my sister, and I want a picture of her on my desk.”

“You already have a picture,” Jenny countered.

“But it's an old one.  We're older now, and you're taller.”

Daniel smiled as he listened to the children go back and forth.  The twins were extremely close and their arguments were often about harmless things, such as the one going on now.

“Jenny, why don't you want your picture taken?” Daniel asked.

“I'm doing my homework.”

“But it will *only* take a second,” Ricky returned forcefully.

“Ricky, why can't it wait until later?”

The boy simply shrugged, prompting Daniel to chuckle inwardly.

“Son, let Jenny finish her homework and then she'll let you take her picture, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy.”

“Jenny, are you okay with that?”

“Sure.  I want a new picture of Ricky, too.  He's grown, too.”

“Okay, no more arguing,” Daniel instructed as he left the library.  He glanced back and smiled as the twins exchanged a quick hug.  ~If that's the worst thing they ever argue about, they'll be lucky.~

====

“You can reach me here,” Janet told the paramedic, handing him her card.  She watched as the ambulance pulled back onto the interstate and headed towards the nearest hospital.  “Okay, girls, let's get back on the road.”

Janet put her arms around the teenagers as they headed towards her car.  Lulu was still holding her phone while Chenoa was carrying the black medical bag.

“You both did great.  I needed you both, and you didn't let me down.”

“Is that man going to be okay?” Lulu questioned.

“I think so.  His vitals were good when they put him in the ambulance.  You saved a life today, girls.  Feels good, doesn't it?”

Both teens nodded and were still processing the events.

“How about we stop at the next town and get a triple-decker sundae?”

“Oh, I'd like that,” Chenoa giggled, eager for the midday treat.

====

Jack and Daniel were in the living room when they heard a surprising sound.

“I don't believe it,” Jack told his lover.  “Didn't we say it was going to be quiet with the Curly Tops gone?”

“That's what you said.”

After a moment, the general quipped, “I didn't believe me, either.”

The two fathers headed outside to the source of the raised voices which, surprisingly, belonged to Little Danny and JD.

“You invaded our space,” the Munchkin loudly accused.

“Did not; just want to share,” the youngest Jackson-O'Neill returned loudly.

“You're shouting.  People who shout want to take, not share.”

“Wrong, overconfident-breath!”

“Whoa!” Jack interrupted.  ~Where the heck did JD learn that?~

“Hi, Dad,” Little Danny responded with a smile.  “Hi Daddy.”

“Hi!” JD spoke, waving his right hand in an arc in front of him.

Confused at the smiles and calm voices, the fathers exchanged a questioning glance.

“Ah, what are you doing?” Daniel asked with a slight lilt in his voice.

“Oh, this is a scene from for our play.”

“Play?” Jack echoed.

“Oops!” Little Danny laughed, as did JD.  “We haven't actually asked you yet, but the brood wants to do a show.”

“Okay, when?” Daniel inquired.

“We're not sure,” JD answered.

“Maybe right before Memorial Day, or maybe after, but we're practicing, for whenever is,” the triplet advised.

“Sounds like a ... harsh scene,” Daniel noted.

“It's a comedy,” Little Danny responded.

“That was a comedy?” Jack wondered dubiously.

“You'll see,” Little Danny replied.  “Did you need us?”

“No, no,” Daniel stated as he motioned with his head for Jack to retreat.

“Carry on,” the general told the children as he walked away alongside his soulmate.  “A comedy?”

“I'm sure that's why they're practicing,” Daniel mused.

“All I know, Angel, is that I'm ready for Noa and Lulu to get back so it will quiet down.”

Laughing, the archaeologist retorted, “Now that's comedy, Babe.”

====

Soon enough, Chenoa and Lulu returned and told their family all about their adventure with the unconscious driver.  It tended to overshadow their fun in Vail because of the excitement in saving the man's life, especially since Janet checked on the man after arriving home and phoned the teens to let them know he was fine and expected to be released from the hospital the next day.  It left the girls feeling very happy.

The Jackson-O'Neills finished off the day as usual, with Jack and Daniel making their rounds, after which the younger children immediately fell asleep.  The older ones stayed up a bit longer and then found their way to peaceful slumber, except for Chenoa and Lulu.

After their parents left their room, the two teens talked a bit more about their exciting weekend with their aunt.  Then Chenoa walked over to her sister's bed and climbed in next to her.

“Lulu, I want to tell you something.”  Chenoa shared her feelings and thoughts with her fellow Curly Top, after which she bit her lip in anticipation.  “Lulu, tell me true.  What do you think and how do you feel about it?”

Meanwhile, Jack and Daniel relaxed together for a time, each reading a book as they snuggled on the sofa with opera playing softly in the background.  They had no clue about the teens' conversation as the night ebbed away.  Then they, too, went to bed.

====

Later, after hours passed and it was the wee hours of Monday morning, Chenoa climbed out of bed.  She picked up her smartphone and went downstairs to the dance studio.  Looking around, she sighed.  She danced for a few minutes, not a complete routine, but rather, individual movements that she particularly enjoyed.  With another sigh, she plopped down onto the floor and sat Indian-style, the phone held in the palm of her right hand.

The teenager didn't look at the clock.  She knew only that it was either very late or very early.  The house was silent, not even a single member of the large family zoo making a noise.

Hesitant but determined, Chenoa dialed the number she wanted and waited for the answer.

“Grandpa, can I talk to you?”

“Of course, Noa.  Are you okay?”

“Yes, and so is everyone else,” Chenoa stated so the man wouldn't worry.  “Grandpa, Aunt Janet said that man is going to be okay.”

“That's good,” the retired general responded, having heard about the incident shortly after the teenagers arrived home.

“Aunt Janet said he's alive because of us, that he would have died if we didn't stop and take care of him.”

“I'm sure that's true.  You and Lulu stayed calm and helped her a lot.”

“He looked a little like you.”

“I don't know if that's good or bad,” Hammond chuckled.

“It's a good thing,” Chenoa replied with a smile.  “I remember when you had your heart attack.  That was so scary.”

“I'm sorry you had to go through that, but I'm glad you all were there,” Hammond responded about the brood.

“I didn't really do anything.  I just took care of JD.”

“Sweetheart, you were only seven.  You did plenty.”

Again, Chenoa smiled and also let out a happy sigh before saying, “Grandpa, it really felt good to help that man.”

“Saving a life always feels good.”

“Will you come for a visit tomorrow?  Or is it today?  I'll make you lunch.”  Internally, Chenoa prayed, ~Please come, Grandpa.  I need to see you.~

“I'd love to come.”

“Thanks, cause I really want to see you.  I love you, Grandpa.”

“I love you, too, Noa.”

“Tell Grandma 'hi' and that I love her, too.  Oh, she can come to lunch, too.”

Hammond laughed and responded, “I'll do that.  I love you, Noa.”

“Night.”

Chenoa hung up the phone.  If she had her druthers, she'd see her grandfather right now.  She felt a need to do so, even if it was an irrational desire.  She remembered when her neighbors, the Svensons, died.  That was two years ago.  Her heart ached for the loss of the kind couple.  That was the first time she felt this need to talk with her grandfather, to be assured he was alive and there for her.  She was older now and understood the inconvenience of asking her grandpa to get out of bed, dress, and drive a good forty minutes to her house.  Yet, that's what she wanted.  This time, though, there was more to it.  She wanted to talk to him more about her feelings.

~He'll be here for lunch.~

====

A yawning Daniel entered the kitchen.  Even though it was dark out and still very early in the morning, he was hungry and determined to indulge himself with his favorite coffee and a sandwich.  Hearing a light squawk, he looked over into the recreation room where he noted Ptolemy, the family's hyacinth macaw, was in her tree perch where she tended to sleep.  Since macaws usually slept in trees in their natural surroundings, the family made sure Ptolemy had a very realistic tree-like environment for her rest.

Ptolemy gave a little squawk and again and, to Daniel, it looked like she was pointing.

The archaeologist walked closer and asked, “Ptolemy, are you trying to tell me something?”

The bird didn't use words to answer, but ruffled her feathers in the direction of the dance studio.

In response, Daniel said, “Okay.  I'll check it out.”  Uncertain where exactly he was headed and why, he headed towards the front of the house, passing the train room where he first saw light ahead.  He leisurely went by the projects room where he could now hear a soft voice talking.  He walked on until he reached the doorway to the dance studio.

Chenoa looked up and smiled softly at her father.

Daniel returned the smile as he walked in and sat down across from his daughter.  He, too, took the Indian-style position, which was actually a favorite pose of his.

“Did you hear me talking to Grandpa?”

“Just the very end.”

“I needed to talk with him for a minute.”

“It didn't sound like Grandpa objected.”

Shaking her head, the teen affirmed, “No, he wasn't mad.  I asked him to come over for lunch.  Is that okay?”

“Of course.”

“I just needed to hear his voice.  Sometimes ... well, I needed to talk to him,” the girl repeated.

~I bet the general gets here in record time,~ Daniel thought, firmly believing that an early phone call from Chenoa would result in an immediate home visit.  ~He always knows when she needs him.~

“Daddy?”

“What is it, Sweetie?”

“It felt really good helping Aunt Janet.”

“You saved a man's life.  That's a, a really big deal,” Daniel returned.

“I love to dance; I'll always want to dance.”

~Okay, she's trying to tell me something,~ the father thought.  “But?”

“Daddy, when I dance, I feel free and there's nothing bad in the world.  It's like everything goes away except for the movement.  It's wonderful, Daddy.”

“You're very good at it, Noa.”

“Not as good as the really good dancers, but I can dance what's in my heart.  I don't need to be a great dancer because dancing is an extension of me.  Does that make sense?”

“It sure does.”

“But ... Daddy, I remember when Mister and Mrs. Svenson died and how we watched the paramedics try to save Mrs. Svenson, and I remember when we were with Grandpa and he had his heart attack.  I was so scared.  I didn't do anything but take care of JD.”

“Someone had to, Sweetie.  That was an important job and it let the others do what they needed to keep Grandpa alive.”

“I know, but ... seeing that man who looked like Grandpa and helping Aunt Janet, I ...”

Daniel smiled and urged his daughter to continue, saying, “Go on, Noa.”

“Something ... something happened, Daddy.  I felt ... I keep saying I felt good, but it's more than that.  Today, I mean yesterday, I did something really important.”

“Yes, you did.”

“I remember everyone who helped Dad when he was paralyzed and you when you had those awful tumors.”  Chenoa sighed, “We need people to help us when we're sick and injured.”  She closed her eyes and looked away.  “That sounds dumb.”

“It's not.  Noa, everyone processes events in their lives in different ways and at different times.  Always listen to your heart.”  Daniel saw Chenoa turn her head to face him.  “If you follow your heart, and what you're doing isn't hurtful to anyone, especially to yourself, then you'll always be happy.”

“Dad loves the military.”

“Yes, he does.  He's very loyal to the Air Force, in spite of disagreeing with how its run sometimes.”

“You love archaeology.”

“Yes, very much.  I suppose part of it comes from being a part of the digs and exploration my parents were doing when I was a boy.  I can feel them with me sometimes.”

“Bri,” Chenoa stated quietly.

“What about your sister?”

“She knew in an instant she wanted to work with dolphins.  I mean, when she went on the trip with Megan, she knew.”

“Yes, she sure did and she's remained dedicated to that.”

Chenoa looked into her father's eyes and admitted, “I sorta broke another rule.”

“You did?”

“I looked this up on Dad's computer in the study 'cause I didn't want to wake up Lulu,” the blonde confessed as she pulled out something from her robe pocket and handed it to her father.

Daniel reviewed the folded piece of paper his daughter printed out before going into the dance studio.  When he was done reading, he looked across at Chenoa and, for the first time, saw a young woman, a teenager who was growing up and facing her future.  She was always so sensitive and vulnerable, likely the result of losing her birth parents unexpectedly before she was even two years old.  He smiled as he nodded subtly.

“Daddy, I want to be a nurse.  It feels so right to me.  Like Bri with the dolphins, I just know it's the right thing, and I want to start learning now.”  Chenoa sighed and admitted, “I know it's sudden.  Lulu and I have both been talking about what we want to do when we grow up, but we didn't a have a clue, and then ...”

Seeing the shrugging teenager, Daniel responded, “Change comes curiously, Sweetie.  In a second, a world can change, and people along with it.  It sounds like that's what happened to you.”

Chenoa nodded, believing her father's words, and then she sighed a more downbeat noise before probing with vulnerability, “Daddy, am I smart enough?  I mean, I don't if I have the brains to be a nurse.”

~She's scared, but she wants this,~ Daniel opined as he looked into his little girl's eyes.  Her brown eyes were beautiful, full of trust and hope.  She wasn't a baby anymore.  She was becoming a young woman.  Normally, he'd talk to his husband before doing what he was about to do, but he believed his course of action to be correct.  She needed support beyond words, so, returning the paper to her, Daniel stood up and instructed, “Wait here.  I'll be back in a few minutes.”

Chenoa waited, studying the printout she'd made and wanting desperately to move forward with her education, but she worried she was too slow.  She'd always been slower; at least, that's how she felt in a house full of geniuses.

When Daniel returned, he had a paper in his hand.  He sat down, only this time, he sat next to the Curly Top with his legs sprawled out to his right so he could be close to the teenager.  He held out the paper so Chenoa could see.

“Noa, this is a summary of your schoolwork, year by year.  Yes, you were a little behind when we started homeschooling, but, Honey, look at this.  Today, you're doing the equivalent of a high school senior.”

“I am?” an astounded Chenoa queried.  “But I thought I was just doing freshman work.”

“Yeah,” Daniel sighed.  “I guess Dad and I need to bring everyone up to date again.”  He rattled the paper lightly to get the girl's attention refocused on it.  “Noa, you know several languages well enough to get by in several countries, and you know a few expertly.  You're very good at math.  Sweetie, you already know algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus.  You're probably better than I am.”

“Daddy!” Chenoa rebuked with a chuckle, not believing it.

“Believe me, Sweetie, Dad's the math expert.  It was never my thing.”  Taking another breath, Daniel continued, “The point is, Noa, that after a slow start, you've put your all into your studies.  Look at the graph for history, social studies, and literature: all at the top.”

“But I'm not smart like Jenny and Little Danny, or David, or ...”

“Noa, one of your siblings said once that you and Lulu were as intelligent as the rest of the children who supposedly have higher IQs.  The reason was sound: we teach all of you the same.  We require everyone to do their best, and everyone does.  You work and study together, help each other, and learn when you don't even realize you're learning.  Chenoa, an IQ is a number, just a number.  What you experience and what you put into learning, that's what matters.  You are an intelligent young lady, and you can be whatever you want to be.  You want to be a nurse?  Okay.  We can help you prepare by directing your studies accordingly.  That will help, but all it truly takes is your determination and effort.”

Somewhat hesitantly, the teen questioned, “Do you think I could be a doctor one day?”

“Absolutely.  You are capable and intelligent.  It doesn't matter if you want to dance, save lives, or ... be a clown,” Daniel joked.  “If that is what is in your heart, and you're willing to work for it, then you can be that person.”

“Daddy, will you and Dad let me be a volunteer?  I know it's a lot, because you'd have to take me to the hospital a few days a week and then pick me up, unless you'd let me ride the bus.”

“No, I think we'll skip the bus.  Sweetie, Dad and I will make it work, and we have some of your older siblings to help out sometimes.”

“They may not want to; the hospital isn't that close.”

“Yes, they will.  You could ask Aunt Janet for help, too.”

“No, Daddy,” came the immediate reply with a firm shake of the head.  “I'll ask her for help if I don't understand something, but I don't want the hospital to let me be a volunteer just because I'm Aunt Janet's niece.”

“I respect that,” Daniel responded.  “Later today, we can get Dad and take a close look at the volunteer program.”

“Thank you, Daddy,” Chenoa called out emotionally as she also threw her arms around the archaeologist.  “My heart is singing now that I really know that I want to be a nurse, and maybe a doctor.  I never ever thought that before.”  As she pulled back, she giggled, “I didn't know I was smart.”

Daniel put his right hand to his daughter's cheek and declared, “Remember, this dove can fly high and wide.  The world is yours, Noa.  There are no limits.”

Chenoa grinned and, in spite of Daniel's comment about talking over the program with her dad later in the day, like when the sun was up, she began telling her daddy all about the program at one of the local hospitals.  The one she'd selected was a new facility and they were a bit more liberal on the age requirements.  With most of the hospitals in Colorado Springs, she wouldn't be able to start volunteering for another year, but with this just-opened medical care center, she could start over the summer, as long as she was accepted.  It was a three-month program and maybe, if she did well enough, she could continue in the fall.

A knock on the front door caused Chenoa to gasp excitedly.  She leaped up and told Daniel she was sure it was her grandfather.

“I knew he'd come, Daddy.  I just knew it!”

Daniel yawned while he mentally agreed that he knew it as well.  The stars were still out, but sure enough, it was General Hammond at the front door.  He watched the bald-headed man embrace the eager teen and could feel the assurance it gave her.

Chenoa led Hammond into the kitchen and talked up a storm as she prepared some hot chocolate for the two of them to share.

Daniel never got a word in, though he tried.  Finally, he gave up.

“I'm, uh, I'm ... going back to bed.”

Hammond gave a slight nod towards the archaeologist, or Daniel thought maybe he did.  Either way, the tired father headed upstairs and quickly went back to sleep.

====

Much later that day, his tablet in hand, Daniel walked to the large table that extended from the hospitality room.  Jack was already, there, smiling at having beaten his husband to the day's only scheduled homeschooling session.  They had something special in mind, only as the children began to arrive, they could tell they were actually late to the party.

“Noa, I know you like the program at the new hospital, but maybe you should ask Aunt Janet about working at the Academy hospital,” Lulu stated as she sat down next to her sister.  She looked deeply into her sister's eyes and suggested, “The Air Force is like our extended family and maybe you could help with the Stargate.”

“I hadn't thought of that,” Chenoa replied.  “It would be like giving back for all the times Aunt Janet and her staff saved Dad and Daddy.”

“And Uncle Lou, and Aunt Sam, and Teal'c, and Paul and Ice, and ...” Little Danny noted as he entered the room.

“Little Danny, I love you, but if you list everyone we know at SGC, it'll be time for bed,” Chenoa giggled.

The child prodigy laughed and moved on by telling his sister, “Noa, I made you a list.” He put his notes in front of her while advising, “These are recommended courses.  Most of the nursing degrees are specific, but these can help you.”

Nodding as she glanced at the list, Chenoa responded, “It makes sense to know anatomy and physiology.”

“Noa, if you let me know soon enough, I can help with transportation,” David offered as he walked in.

Jack and Daniel smiled at the young man's statement.  David no longer was involved in homeschooling.  He was deep into college work and was an employee of J-O Enterprises as well.

“Hey, I can help, too,” Brianna called out.  “I have a class, so I can't stay, but sign me up for the transportation portion.”

“Thanks, Bri,” Chenoa acknowledged.

Brianna glanced over at her parents and saw the appreciative nods and then left the house.  David was right behind her, needing to get to a class of his own.

“Noa, I had an idea,” Aislinn called out as she approached the table.  She sat down and suggested, “We can make a list of everything you need to know to be a nurse and start studying it now.”

“Huh?” Ricky asked on Chenoa's behalf.

“Well, like, she needs to know biology, right?  We can find out what types of things she needs to know and then help her study ... whatever.”

“Aunt Janet can help us,” Jonny interjected, having just joined his family.  “We'll make a schedule.”

“Well, I think our work here is done,” Jack remarked softly to his lover.

“I think you're right, Babe.”

The parents plan was to speak with the children about nursing and all it entails, but the brood was far ahead of them.  In fact, the kids barely acknowledged their parents as they began to discuss ideas for Chenoa's future education and how to assist her.  Jack and Daniel were especially pleased to see Lulu taking an active part of the conversation.  They were a little worried that she might be jealous or reticent to help out, since Chenoa's desire could potentially interfere with the girls' dancing.

“We want to find the best nursing school for you, too, Noa,” Lulu interjected.  “There are a bunch of them.”

“We can go visit some of them,” Jenny put forth with a glance to her parents, who nodded their affirmation.

The chatter ceased when Janet arrived, the news about Chenoa's decision spreading through the Jackson-O'Neill universe like wildfire.

The fire ignited thanks to a comment on the phone from Ricky, who needed some help with a design project, to Alex Dennison, who mentioned it to Casey Hemmings when he dropped by a few minutes later to invite Alex and his wife to dinner with him and his partner.  Casey then shared it with Doctor Carolyn Lam as they rode the elevator together at Stargate Command, who told Janet as the redhead popped in to check on a few patients, even though she wasn't scheduled to work today.

After some discussion that included the entire family, the physician took Chenoa outside where they sat in the pod, on opposite sides of the swing.  It allowed them privacy in a quiet location in the backyard.

“Do you think I can do it?” Chenoa inquired of her aunt.

“Without a doubt, Noa, but let me give you some, well, it's not advice, but they're things I wish someone had told me when I first started studying medicine.”

With a confused frown, the teen responded, “You mean, bad things to talk you out of being a doctor?”

“No, definitely not, but you need to be prepared for the reality of being a doctor or nurse, especially the kind that I know you'll become.”

“I'm confused, Aunt Janet.”

“Well, let me make it a little clearer.  Noa, Sweetie, you're a Jackson-O'Neill and that means you care about people.  You're going to care about your patients.  You'll get attached.  You'll want to help them, and save them, but you need to remember that you can't save them all.  People die and it can be hard on the heart.”

“I don't really want to think about that.”

“I know, but you need to, if you want to go into medicine.  All the Jackson-O'Neill magic in the world will not change the fact that your heart is going to break.  You're going to cry and mourn the loss of people you only know through your work.  You might even be upset with a course of treatment, or how a family treats their sick or injured family member.  You have to hold your tongue and then just do your best to help the patient.”

“That's hard, huh?”

“Oh, yes.  It took me a while to hold back, at least long enough to graduate,” Janet admitted.  “Noa, what I'm trying to say in this case is that for those times that you do get attached, you have to realize there will be a time when you have to let go.  You keep on caring, but you have to let go and not carry it with you, or it can consume you and you won't be able to help anyone.  It's just something to remember, and if you go ahead with your volunteer work, you could realize it much sooner than you think.”

Chenoa nodded as she processed the words and then she drew a deep breath while nodding with a more definitive and empowered movement of her head.

“What else do I need to know, Aunt Janet?”

“Your life as a nurse will be extremely busy.  Doctors are busy, but nurses are, too.  Today, nurses are much more empowered than they used to be.  You have to listen, Noa, for the doctor *and* for the patient.  You'll see the patient more than the doctor.  You can see things or hear things the patient tells you about their history that isn't on their.  The family may say something that will be helpful in keeping your charge comfortable.  Keeping those listening ears in full awareness can make a huge difference for a patient.”

“I can do that.  I'm a great listener.”

“I know you are,” Janet agreed with a smile.  “Listen to my words now, and remember, them, okay?  Nursing school is tough.  It can be grueling, and if you opt to go further and become a doctor, it's even worse.  You'll be stretched to your limit, but you can do it.  It may take up every second of your day, and you'll be beyond tired, but you'll keep going, and when you make it through, you'll never forget the torture.”  Grinning, she concluded, “But at the end of the journey, you'll be grateful for every lost hour of sleep and every date you gave up to study because you'll have experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life.  You'll make a difference, Noa, and you'll be helping people every day.”

Chenoa was smiling.  This is what she wanted to hear.  It was a bit scary, and she wasn't totally sure she had what it took, but even so, she believed in herself, especially after her conversation in the middle of the night with her daddy.

“Thank you, Aunt Janet,” Chenoa responded, leaning forward to share a hug.

“I'm here for you.  I'll help you however you want.  All you have to do is ask.”

“Aunt Janet, I decided to volunteer at that new hospital and not ...”

“Noa, you want your independence and you want to do it on your own.  I was the same way and if and when you decide you want to work closer with me or volunteer at the Academy Hospital *or* at Stargate Command, you let me know.”

Chenoa's eyes widened as she asked, “I can help at the SGC?”

“Yes, you can.  Sweetie, you have clearance.”  Janet laughed, “You're an ambassador to another planet, remember?”

The young girl smiled, but her thoughts were not of the world she'd dedicated time to for a few years, but of what she could accomplish by working in the infirmary of the still-secret Program.

“I could give back.”

“How do you mean?”

“We're who we are because of Dad and Daddy.  They were hurt a lot and you saved them.”

“Not just me.  I had a lot of help.”

“The Stargate has meant so much to us.  Maybe after I learn more, I can work at the SGC?” Chenoa asked, her voice more high-pitched than normal and a look of wonder and hope in her eyes, even as her breathing hitched from an unexpected flow of emotion.

“I'll make it happen, if you decide you want it.”

“I've never seen a volunteer at the SGC.  Will you have to, um, pull strings?”

“And if I do?”

Chenoa smiled and laughed, “Pull them, Aunt Janet.”

“You just let me know when.”

“I will.  Thank you.”

“It's a good thing you like to learn because you're never stop learning,” Janet added, still having a few more things she wanted to share with the teenager.

The two talked for another ten minutes and shared another hug before going back inside the house and rejoining the family.

====

“Outstanding!” Jack praised after watching the Curly Tops perform their latest dance routine.

“I'm going to take a shower now,” Chenoa told Lulu.  She smiled as she passed her father, but then she stopped at the door.  “Dad, do you like my hair like this?”

“I love your curls.”

“Daaaad, be serious!”

Chenoa's hairstyle was still mostly the way Janet styled it over the weekend, except the spirals were more lax.

“Honey, it doesn't matter.”

“She's thinking her original hair is *too* Shirley Temple now,” Lulu confided.

“Shirley changed her hair when she was a teenager,” Chenoa reminded her father.

“Listen, kids, I know ladies are big on hair and all, but Daddy and I love you however you look.”  Jack saw a bit of a disapproving glare from both of his daughters and sighed in response.  “Noa, I'll never forget those twisty little curls, but you're right.  Shirley grew up like you and Lulu have.”  Somewhat reluctantly, knowing two more of his little girls were no longer little girls, he added, “Yeah, I love the new look, wavy, subtle curl, but straighter.  It fits you.”

Chenoa grinned, jogged over to her father, and embraced him as she replied, “Thank you, Dad.”

“I love you,” Jack expressed from the depths of his heart.  He reached over and pulled Lulu into the hug while adding, “And you, too.  Are you changing your hair, too?”

“Maybe, but I'm still happy with my curly curls.”

Jack placed a kiss atop both his daughters' heads and repeated, “I love you both more than you'll ever know.”

“Shower,” Chenoa repeated with a smile before she left the dance studio.

“Stinky,” Jack teased the little dove as she disappeared from his view.  He still had his arm around Lulu's shoulders.  He smiled at her and asked, “Lots of changes, Li'l Bit.  You okay?”

“I wish I knew what I wanted to do, Dad, because I don't, but I'm happy for Noa.”

“Anything Daddy and I can do to help?”

“You already do it, Dad.”

“We do?”

With a nod, Lulu answered, “You love us.”

Jack pulled the black-haired wonder into his arms again and assured, “That we do, Lulu. That we do.”

Changes were common in the Jackson-O'Neill home as the members of the brood continued to grow up and live more independent lives.  Jack and Daniel were always proud of their children and supported their endeavors, just as the brood supported one another daily.  Right now, though, as Jack held Lulu in his arms, he could only think about how the little curly-haired girls were when they'd first met. Both were in sad situations and both quickly wove their hearts into the fabric of his and Daniel's hearts.

~They grow up, no matter how much we try to keep them kids.  Crap, sometimes reality stings.~

**Babe, you okay?** Daniel called out via the couple's unique communication ability.

**Yeah.  Our little girls are growing up.**

With a smile from his place in his den, Daniel responded, **It's life, Jack.  It's what we want for them.**

**Speak for yourself.**

**I'll meet you in the bedroom and we can commiserate for an hour before dinner.**

**Commisserate how?**  Not getting a response, Jack called out, **Danny?**

“Dad?”

“Huh?”

“I think I'm going to practice some more.”

“Okay,” Jack replied, smiling as he headed toward what he knew would be an arousing union with his husband.  At the doorway, he paused and looked over at Lulu, who was stretching for a moment.  “Li'l Bit?”

“Yes, Dad?”

“Your day is coming.  One day, soon, you'll open your eyes and see something amazing on your horizon.  When you do, we'll all be there, just like everyone was for Noa this afternoon.”

“I know, Dad.  Thank you.”

Smiling, Lulu began to practice.  Jack watched for a moment and then headed to his romantic rendezvous.

Life was changing for the Jackson-O'Neills, but it was still magical, no matter what direction the brood took because when it came down to the most basic essential, they had love, and for Jack and Daniel and their brood plus zoo, nothing was more important than love.

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

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