Community Mess Up

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - March 1-5, 2018
Spoilers:  None
Size:  42kb, short story
Written:  May 17-21, June 7, 2014
Summary:  The Munchkins and the Spitfires face a tough decision, prompting Jack and Daniel to make one of their own.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s):  “Evil Winds”

Community Mess Up
by Orrymain

“Jack, Daniel, what do you want to do about the Benson project?” Karissa Lewis questioned hurriedly as the three stood in Jack's office at J-O Enterprises early Thursday morning.

“Benson,” both men echoed in contemplation.

“Give it to Bibi,” Daniel instructed about one of the company's original and most trusted employees.

“She already has the McIntire dig to coordinate *and* the Mendocino site studies that are due in three days,” the experienced office manager reminder.

“No choice,” the archaeologist insisted.

“We need her to dig deep,” Jack put forth.  “Overtime.”

“She already is; everyone is,” Karissa responded with a firm nod that was accentuated by her strong eyes.

“We know,” the hardworking scientist acknowledged.  “Tell her to do the best she can.”

“Juggle,” Jack added as Karissa turned and left the office.  “Everyone's juggling right now,” the retired general noted as he seemingly by rote picked up three apples and began juggling them in his hands.

“Jack.”

“What?”

“Stop juggling my apples.”

“What?”  Realizing what he was doing, Jack let out a small, “Oh,” and ceased tossing the red apples, returning them to the fruit bowl where he'd found them.  “Danny, how'd we get into this mess?”

“Easy.  You agreed to do a favor for Clark, I agreed to do one for Professor Evans, and we both agreed to help Abayomi.  Add that to the previously scheduled projects, the one delayed by the transportation strike and the other by weather, and we've got ourselves into a ... a ... a ...”

“... jam,” Jack completed for his lover.

“And don't forget the opening of the new Cheasapeake office.”

“Like Megan would let us,” Jack snarked.  “That woman's been a slave driver.  You'd think she owned J-O.”

“She's happy to be back in the game full time, Babe.”

“Back to business,” Jack suggested as he glanced toward the door and knew who was waiting beyond them.

“Right,” Daniel agreed, picking up the next important file that needed to be reviewed.

====

“Okay, that's the best we can do,” Daniel determined as his pow wow with his husband and business partner concluded.  “What about the important dividends?” he asked with a small smile.

Jack again turned to face the door for a moment before answering, “I'll take the Spitfires to their party at the Lapierre's , and ...”

“... and I'll make sure the Munchkins get to the gym.”

“Grace said she'd take the twins to meet up with the Munchkins by the end of their class,” Jack noted about Grace Lapierre, mother of Little Danny's best friend, Carrie.

“Okay,” Daniel agreed.

With so many things on their agenda for the day, the lovers shared an all-too-brief kiss goodbye and separated.  After exiting his office, Jack went by Karissa's office to collect Jenny and Ricky.

“Kids, let's ... what are you doing?” the general questioned the twins.

“Filing,” Jenny answered.  “Karissa says she's swamped, so we offered to help her.”

Jack sauntered over, worried the children were playing and would disrupt the much-necessary backup files and reports.  Glancing over Ricky's shoulder, though, he noted everything seemed to be in order.  He looked over at the Munchkins, a question mark on his face.

“We're organizing the mailers,” Aislinn explained.  “This pile goes to all our current clients, this one goes to the maybe clients, and this one is the lost-cause-but-what-the-heck clients.”

“Lost cause?” Jack asked.

“Rissa says they're happy with their firms, but that you never know, so we should remind them who we are and how great J-O Enterprises is,” Little Danny explained with a smile.

“That's good,” the general agreed with an admiring nod.  “You could be playing, you know.”

“But she needs help, Dad, and we're part of J-O, too, aren't we?” Jonny responded assertively.

“Yes, you are.  Daddy and I thank you for pitching in,” Jack said just a tad emotionally.  “But ... Spitfires, I've got a schedule to keep and you're expected at the Lapierre's, so you've filed your last paper for today.”

“Mitchell, Mitchum, ... uh ... Mittleton.  There it is,” Jenny announced, placing the file she'd been holding into its proper slot.  “We can go now, Dad,” the redhead advised.

“So glad.”  Amused, Jack nodded toward the door, following the twins out and leaving the triplets in the capable local manager's office.

====

Meanwhile, Daniel returned to his own office to make several important phone calls.  An hour or so later, the Munchkins entered his office and settled on the floor in a corner, playing a quiet game of cards.  They'd finished their task for Karissa, who then had a couple of meetings scheduled in her office which mandated the children relocate to their father's much larger workspace.

The busy morning ticked on, the children sometimes running errands inside the building for their harried daddy and at other times relaxing and playing.  Around noon, the Munchkins were back in Daniel's office.  Jonny was working out a new military strategy, Little Danny was reading a book, and Aislinn was playing Solitaire.  Daniel was on the phone, trying to put out yet another fire caused by a transportation strike that was prohibiting needed equipment from reaching a project site.

At that point, Karissa tapped on his door, entering a bit urgently and nodding at her boss, her look expressing a need for his immediate attention.

Pointing his finger upward in a signal that he'd be just a minute, Daniel gave final instructions to the staffer on the other end of the phone and then hung up.  He took just a nano-second to take a breath to prepare for whatever it was about to come his way.

“What is it, Karissa?”

“There's an Air Force colonel outside, and he says it's vital that he see you ... *right now*.”

“Me?  Not Jack?”

“You, and he's looking very serious.”

Daniel looked over at the children, who were listening, though not overtly.

“Let him in,” the archaeologist told the woman.

As Karissa moved away, Daniel stood up, his mind racing with wonder about the unexpected visitor.  Seeing the officer enter, he nodded and said hello.

“Doctor Jackson-O'Neill, I'm Colonel Pav Rakowski, currently attached to Cheyenne Mountain under General Landry.”

“How can I help you, Colonel?”

The six-foot-three redheaded officer looked over at the children and then back at the archaeologist.  His eyes narrowed and his voice lowered when he spoke next.

“Sir, it would be better if we spoke alone.”

“Colonel, my company is in the middle of a very stressful time.  I have a lot to do.  If you have something to say to me, say it.”

“The kids ...”

“They have clearance.”

The colonel stood back, totally taken aback by the comment, but he still felt uncertain and suggested, “I really think it would be better if the children left the room.”

“I have a phone call to make in two minutes,” Daniel stated, completely ignoring the colonel's response.

Realizing he had no choice, the fair-complected man opened the envelope he'd been holding, removed the contents, and held them out towards Daniel as he advised, “We need you to translate these.”

The expert linguist cocked his head slightly as he focused on the writing he could observe without taking the papers into his possession.

“Goa'uld,” Daniel noted.

“Yes, Sir,” the colonel acknowledged, looking over at the children yet again.

“Colonel, I don't work for Cheyenne Mountain anymore, and before I retired, I made sure that an abundance of my ... of the archaeological and anthropological staff were also well versed in Goa'uld.  Don't tell me there isn't someone at the Mountain who can't translate this for you.”

“With all due respect, Doctor, there are circumstances at the base that currently require much of our staff to be off-...” the colonel again looked over at the children, “Sir, please can we talk alone?”

“Daddy, I think he means they're off-world,” Aislinn interjected, a sweet, innocent smile on her face.  “Maybe they're visiting the Hedronix or ...”

“Ash!” Daniel chastised, though his admonishment was not harsh and was, in fact, laced with pride at her supposition.  “I told you, Colonel, my children have clearance.”

“Sir, our personnel have other obligations that are pressing.”

“What about Sam?” Daniel queried.  He blinked and elaborated, “Colonel Carter-Shanahan.”

“Diarrhea, Sir.”  Hearing the triplets snicker and seeing Daniel's confused look, the colonel explained, “Her youngest children have acute diarrhea, her son the flu, and her daughter has Fifth Disease which she says is nothing to worry about, but apparently the colonel has been experiencing nausea and ...”

“Oops,” Daniel let out softly, knowing from his most recent conversation with his good friend that she was a bit afraid she might be pregnant again, something she wasn't counting on or necessarily eager for since she had her hands full with four children and a dog.  ~Of course, she might just have food poisoning since Pete's been cooking their meals lately.~  As the colonel's mouth opened to speak further, Daniel held up his hand and interrupted, “I get it, Colonel.  Sam's not available.”

The archaeologist took hold on the papers, reviewed them briefly, and then called out, “Danny.”

Little Danny's eyes widened as he put down his book and prepared to join his father.  He wasn't sure why he was being called over, but he knew it was something serious, as did his siblings.  As the child prodigy aged, his parents had taken to removing the “Little” moniker when more responsible and serious situations were being addressed.

“Yes, Daddy?” Little Danny prompted as he joined his father and the colonel.

“Translate this,” Daniel instructed, handing over the papers to his namesake.

“Sir!” the colonel objected.

“Trust me, Colonel, he can do this.”

“But ...”

“He's my son,” Daniel advised as if that were all that needed to be said.

“Those documents could contain sensitive material.”

“He knows Goa'uld very well, and as I've told you already, he has clearance,” Daniel responded firmly.  “Look, Colonel, I have a business to run.  My son does the translation for you or you find someone else to do it.”  When the officer simply stared, the father looked at the young boy and instructed, “Don't make assumptions.  If there is anything you aren't sure of, ask me, but I know you can do this.”

“Okay, Daddy, I'll do right now,” Little Danny agreed, hurrying over to a table in his father's office and getting on with the task.

“Have a seat, Colonel.  As I told you, I have a call to make.”

Daniel turned around and returned to his duties as co-founder of J-O Enterprises while the somewhat flustered military man reluctantly sat down and stared at the tween who was now translating classified military documents written in an alien language that the majority of the world still did not know existed.

~I was warned about Doctor Jackson,~ the colonel sighed inwardly.  ~And I was told he's the easy one to deal with.  If he's this tough, what is General O'Neill like?~

“Daddy, can Ash and I go find something important to do, too?” Jonny inquired, tired of his fake strategies and a bit envious of his brother's sudden urgent task.

“Sure,” the company owner agreed.  “Just don't leave the building or make any financial decisions unless you plan to take it out of your inheritance.”

“Funny, Daddy.”

“Go on,” Daniel permitted with a smile, allowing himself a quick moment to enjoy the joy that came with being Jonny's and Aislinn's parent.  ~Back to work,~ he groaned internally.

====

Colonel Rakowski sat nervously in the chair across from Daniel's desk, his eyes focused on the eleven-year-old boy who he'd been told could decipher the Goa'uld language.

~I don't get how a kid can do this.  I'd better contact ...~

A gasp from the boy in the question resulted in Rakowski jerking forward in concern and asking, “What's wrong?”

Staring at the papers, Little Danny answered cryptically, “I don't know if I can tell you.  Be right back.”

The youth stood up and began to walk toward his father, but he stopped suddenly, turned around, and retrieved his notes, preventing the curious colonel from reading them.  Finally, he hurried over to his father.

Daniel, who had heard the gasp as well, stopped inputting his own notes on his laptop.  He was making progress on the projected timeline for Abayomi's latest job that J-O was handling, but there was still plenty of preparation to do before he could turn it over to his staff for handling.

“Daddy,” Little Danny whispered, motioning for his father to lean in even as he was trying to go forward so he could say what he needed to in a confidential manner.  He cuffed his hand to hide his face and spoke in a hush into daddy's left ear.  “Earth could be in trouble,” the boy communicated.

The linguist listened intently to the rest of his son's message, letting the words resonate within him momentarily before ordering, “Let me see the papers.”

Without hesitation, the boy handed over his translation and watched as Daniel carefully read the Goa'uld message.

“Colonel, where did you get this message?” Daniel inquired anxiously as he rose from his chair.

Standing, the man replied, “I'm not at liberty to answer that.”

“Would you prefer to report back to the Mountain *without* knowing what this says?” Daniel challenged, holding up the Goa'uld writing.

“You can't withhold the information,” Rakowski dared with a confident rise of his head.

“What information?” was the calm query from the scientist as he not-so-subtly folded his arms, essentially hiding the translation from the colonel.

“Doctor Jackson ...”

“Jackson-O'Neill,” Little Danny interjected with some snarkiness.

“You have the translation in your hands,” the colonel stated in annoyance.

“This?” Daniel responded, uncrossing his arms and holding up his son's work.  “This is just some ... doodling of Little Danny's.  He's just a boy, you know, playing.”

“That's blackmail.”

Daniel stared directly into the colonel's eyes and stated sharply, “In sixty seconds, I have to get back to work.  Now, where did you get the Goa'uld message?”

“It was intercepted by the Tok'ra counsel.”

“Garshaw?” Daniel quizzed about one of the long-time heads of the Tok'ra.

“I don't know,” came the frustrated response.  Rakowski sighed, “One of the Tok'ra operatives on a galaxy outpost relayed the report to the leadership.”

“*How* did you get it?”  Daniel noted the pointed stare and, holding up his hand, negated, “Never mind.  Politics never changes and neither does the government, local, state, federal, global, or galactic.”  He took the papers Little Danny had translated, reviewed them and the text they were taken from one more time, and then added a personal note.  Then he put all the documents into the original folder and sealed it.  Walking over to the officer, he suggested strongly, “Colonel, it is my highest recommendation that you speed, don't stop for red lights, and otherwise return to Cheyenne Mountain as quick as you can.  Further, that as soon as you check in, you deliver this envelope to General Landry personally. Tell him he needs to read the contents immediately.  *Don't* give this to anyone else.”

“What's the problem?  What do the papers say?” the worried officer beckoned anxiously.

“General Landry: as soon as possible.  Go!”

Panicked, the colonel took the envelope and practically ran out of the office, leaving the father and son alone.

Concerned, the child prodigy asked, “Daddy, what's going to happen?”

“I don't know, Son.”

“Are you and Dad going to help?”

Gently rubbing his son's back, Daniel shook his head and responded, “No, we're not.  We have our world to think about right now.”

“Bet they wish you'd help.  If Tezcatlipoca does what he says ...”

“Come over here,” Daniel requested as the boy's words trailed off.  He guided his son to the sofa that was in his office.  Sitting down as did his namesake, Daniel explained, “Earth has plenty of protection.  Aunt Sam, Uncle Lou, Colonel Cornell, Grace ...”

“Ice and Colonel Davis,” Little Danny interjected about Marc Reynolds and Paul Davis, his long-time military partner.

“Yes,” Daniel affirmed.  “They're younger, stronger, and more aware of the current status of universal events.  It's their job now to protect the planet.  Our job, Dad's and mine, is to protect you and your brothers and sisters.”

“And the zoo.”

“And the zoo,” the archaeologist acknowledged, smiling as he thought about the various family pets.

“If General Landry asked, would you help?”

Daniel's sigh was deep and heavy as he admitted, “Probably, but don't worry about that.  SGC is full of men and women to keep us safe.”

“Daddy, should I tell Jonny and Ash what the paper said?”

“Well, we don't keep secrets from one another, but do you think it really matters?”

“We won't know what happens, will we, unless it's bad,” the youth surmised.

“And then it really wouldn't matter, would it?”

“But it's up to me?”

“It's up to you,” Daniel concurred.

Little Danny nodded and then turned around to join his siblings, leaving his father to consider whether or not he should call his husband about the current state of intergalactic affairs.

~Nah.  We've talked about this.  Besides, no one's asked us to ... butt in.~  Daniel returned to his desk and prepared to return to his various archaeological work tasks.  Just a minute into firming up the timeline he'd begun earlier, he sighed and sat back in his comfortable chair.  ~Maybe we should try to contact Quetzalcoatl.  He might know something.~  He reached for the phone, but then retracted his hand and stood up.  He paced the length and width of his office five times before he stopped dead in his tracks.  ~Okay, Jackson, who are you?  Father of twelve plus zoo and co-owner of a major archaeological firm or frustrated civilian who can't leave the military to battle the evils of the universe?  Make up your mind, and make it up fast.~

Looking over at a picture on the wall, the archaeologist smiled and resolved his brief conflict.  The truth was he was both men and while that sometimes put him in the middle of his own internal desires, there was no real struggle.  He was a husband to the man he loved, the father to the brood he held dearer than life, and a human toy to the critters that allowed him to 'own' them.  They all meant more than all the curiosities of the universe.

~General Landry can contact Quetzalcoatl, and SGC can handle a small uprising from an old Aztec god whose just vying for attention,~ Daniel determined.

Finally, Daniel returned to work, finishing the initial preparation for Abayomi's job, and making some related phone calls.  Just as he was about to attend a short status meeting to catch up with the rest of his staff, the civilian's mind wandered back to his decision.  He let out a small groan as another thought permeated his brain.

~That's assuming General Landry and his staff actually read Little Danny's translation, take it seriously, and pay attention to what I added.~  His hand on his office door, Daniel closed his eyes.  “Crap” was the single utterance heard as he emerged from his office and for the meeting room.

====

Later in the afternoon, the Munchkins and the Spitfires were with other children at a local gym.  The triplets had participated in a special gymnastics class with the twins arriving only a few minutes before the class was over.  After the session ended, a short party was being held in honor of the volunteer instructors who helped to make the classes possible at a reduced and sometimes even free cost to children in Colorado Springs.  The Jackson-O'Neill children were currently under the watch of Mitzi Miller, a long time family friend and neighbor.  None of Mitzi's kids were there, but she was in attendance as one of the volunteers being honored.  Also present were Chenoa's good friend, Chloe Payne, and her mother.

“Ash, guess what?” Jenny called out as she sprinted across the glossy wooden floor to talk to her older sister.

“What?”

“Chloe's going to the doll exhibit!”

Aislinn's mouth opened as her eyes widened.

“And guess what?”

“What?” Aislinn gasped, still getting her head around the fact that Chloe was getting to attend the private invitation-only showing of some of the world's most expensive and elaborate dolls from around the world.

“Mrs. Payne said we can go with them!”

“We can?”

“Yes!  But we have to go *now*!”

“Now?  Now?  Now?” Aislinn echoed in exuberance, her body spinning around as she sought out her brothers.  “There!” she exclaimed, pointing through the crowd at the boys.  “Hurry!” she called out to Jenny even as she started to run across the floor.

“Jonny, Jenny and I are going to see the dolls?”

“Huh?” the boy responded, not understanding the extreme joy he was seeing on the girl's face.

Aislinn took a deep breath and then explained the show and its significance to her brother.  As she did so, Little Danny and Ricky had both joined the family assembly.

“We have to call Dad and Daddy,” Jonny reminded as he pulled out the community phone.

The cell phone had been given to the five youngest children to use when they were out.  It prevented Jack and Daniel from tagging along with them on walks to and from the homes of their friends.  They often carried it at times like this as well, when they were out but not with an adult in their extended family circle.

“Dad, it's Jonny.”

“Everything okay, Sport?”

Jonny smiled.  He loved being called Sport now and then.  It always reminded him of his big brother, Charlie, his father's first born who died so tragically years before the brood was ever conceived.  To Jonny, the nickname was an honor.  He always wanted to live up to the heritage of the name, too.

“We're having fun at the gym,” Jonny reported.  “Dad, Mrs. Payne has tickets for that fancy doll show that Ash and Jenny want to go to and ...”  The little general gave his father all the particulars.  “So, can they go?”

Aislinn and Jenny were focused solely on Jonny's every moment.  Both girls crossed their fingers and even their arms in hope.

“Sure, they can go, but I want them to call me on your phone before they leave.  I'm not sure where I'll be or what Daddy is doing, and I don't want them getting home with no one there.  Got that?”

“Yes, Sir!” Jonny responded, saluting before laughing since he realized his father the general couldn't see him.

“At ease, soldier,” Jack commanded with a chuckle of his own.

“Dad, how could you tell I was standing at attention and saluting?”

“Just remember, I see and hear it all.  Gotta go!”

“Yes!” the two girls exclaimed, both doing fist pumps and then jumping in rapture.

At that point, Mitzi called out to the kids to join her.

“Ash, you'd better get Mrs. Payne to see Mrs. Miller so she knows you're going with her.”

“We gotta hurry, too,” Jenny reminded, knowing Chloe and her mom were planning on leaving the gym within a few minutes.

As the girls sped off, the boys walked over to where Mitzi was and heard pleasing news themselves.

“My cousin says you boys are welcome to go with him, providing it's okay with your parents, of course.”

“Oh boy!” Ricky exclaimed, grabbing the community phone from Jonny and dialing before anyone else could say a word.  “Daddy, it's Ricky.  We're still at the gym.  Everything's fine.  No one's sick or lost or anything, and there's no bad people here.”

“Ricky, breath,” Daniel ordered from the other end of the phone, having noticed that his son had barely taken a breath in rattling off the information.  ~I should tell that to myself.  What was I doing anyway?~

The youngster took a breath and explained to his father that the kids had been invited to see an authentic NASCAR racing car.  They would even be allowed to sit in the car and have their pictures taken.

“Let me talk to him, Ricky,” Mitzi requested, holding out her hand.

The woman explained what was going on and how her cousin, whom Jack and Daniel had both met and visited with over the years when the man was in town on business or to spend time with relatives, was associated with the racing team that owned the vehicle.  She pointed out that she wasn't able to take the children herself, but that all of them, the Munchkins and the Spitfires, could go with her cousin.  Then she handed the phone back to Ricky.

“Son, it's fine, but give me a call before Mister Trammil wants to leave.  I'm not sure of our schedules for the rest of the day.”

“I know,” Ricky acknowledged.  “You want to make sure someone is home when we get home.”

“That's ... that's very perceptive of you, Ricky.  Call me on your phone.”

“Okay, but, Daddy, about the ph...”

“Oops, I forgot,” Daniel was heard to say over the phone, though is comment had been directed to Karissa.  “Have fun.  Love you,” the father said before disconnecting the call.

“We can go!” Ricky exclaimed.

Within a couple of minutes, the excitement had leveled off among the children.  Mitzi and Mrs. Payne were comparing notes while the kids gathered their possessions and readied themselves for their exciting adventures.

“Ut oh,” Little Danny uttered nervously.

“Ut oh what?” an alarmed Jonny asked.

“Daddy told us to call him before we go home.”

“We will,” Jonny promised.

“Dad told Ash and Jenny to call him before they go home.”

The other four children stared at each other as reality sank in until, in unison, they sighed, “Ut oh.”

“What are we going to do?” Aislinn asked in near despair.

“We can use Mister Trammil's phone,” Little Danny suggested about the NASCAR worker's smartphone.

Aislinn's shoulders dropped and she just starred at her fellow Munchkin.

“It was just an idea,” the child prodigy rationalized.

“They'll see we aren't calling from our community phone,” Jenny put forth.

“And they'll think we've been kidnapped or something,” Aislinn said dejectedly.

“Even if we tell them we're okay, they'll think we're being forced or something,” Little Danny added.  He noted sadly, “I don't even think they have Mister Trammil's phone number.”

“Dad and Daddy will get all panicked and ground us for a week,” Jonny surmised.

“Then they'll feel guilty and give us extra ice cream,” Jenny asserted.

“What are we going to do?” Aislinn questioned, her face drooping practically to shoulders.

The five kids stared at the floor and then at one another, all coming to the same conclusion.

“We know how they are,” Jonny summed up.

“Maybe we can call Thor and ask him to clone the phone,” Ricky suggested, only partially teasing.

Aislinn and Jenny shared a look and then the Munchkin conceded, “We won't go to the doll show.”

“Ash, that's not fair,” Little Danny responded.  “We'll skip the NASCAR car.”

“Mrs. Payne only has tickets for us,” Jenny returned.  “But thank you, Little Danny, for the offer.”

“Yeah, thank you,” Aislinn agreed.  “I'll go tell Mrs. Payne.”

“Ash, maybe we can wait in the car or something,” Jonny called out to his sister's back.

Aislinn turned and shook her head, her eyes sad and facial expression one of sad defeat.

“Dad and Daddy wouldn't like that, either,” Ricky spoke dejectedly.

“I wish we had two community phones,” Little Danny expressed with regret.

“Me, too,” Jonny agreed.

“Me, three,” Jenny interjected.

“Me, four,” Ricky sighed, staring at the floor.

“We should just go home,” Little Danny proposed quietly.

Nodding, Jonny sighed, “We'll go home with Mrs. Miller.”

“Okay,” Ricky concurred.

“No, Ash and I want you to go.  We shouldn't all miss out,” Jenny negated.

The mood was downtrodden, especially when both Mrs. Payne and Mitzi, having learned about the conflict from the children, unsuccessfully tried to reach Jack and Daniel to avoid the sadness.  Unfortunately, Daniel had just left the office and had his phone off while driving; at the same time, Jack's phone had gone straight to voicemail since he was meeting with Clark, who only had twenty minutes available to discuss the financial aspects of the job J-O doing.

Ultimately, the boys went with Mitzi's cousin while the girls went to the Miller house as originally scheduled and waited until one of their fathers returned to their own house.

====

“Jack, we have to do something,” Daniel opined later that evening as the two were still going over work in the archaeologist's den while most of the children were moping in their rooms.

“Yeah.  It felt like Death Valley in here tonight,” the older man replied.

“Ash and Jenny missed out on a chance to go to a show that would have been really exciting for them, and the boys ...”

“... the boys went to their thing and had a terrible time.”

“How could they enjoy the NASCAR experience knowing Ash and Jenny weren't able to do what they loved?” Daniel offered.

“They could have called us,” Jack reasoned.

“Babe, you know they're right.  If they had called from a strange phone number, we would have worried, no matter how much they tried to assure us.  We would have both left our jobs and called out the guard.”

“Daniel!”

“You know what I mean, Jack.”

“Yeah, yeah, I do,” the general admitted.  “Are you thinking what I'm thinking?”

“They're almost twelve.”

“Most of their friends already have phones.”

“... which means nothing to us, but ...”

“... but it helps us con ourselves that we're doing this for the right reason,” Jack concluded.

Jack and Daniel weren't big believers in children owning any type of cell phone, but Jennifer had owned one almost from the day of her adoption.  Jeff, too, had one, and both Brianna and David had been given cell phones as they matured.  Then in November of 2016, the parents gave mobile phones to both Chenoa and Lulu after Lulu's perilous confrontation with her one-time foster father, Kevin Guyer.  Now it would be the Munchkins and the Spitfires turn to take possession of the technical device.

“Let's check our schedules for tomorrow,” Daniel suggested, pulling out his smartphone and opening up his calendar.

“What about JD?” Jack questioned.

“JD?”

“Daniel, if we do this, he's gonna be the only kid without a phone.”

As Jack smiled, Daniel chuckled.  Their youngest child was still only six years old and nowhere near ready to be given a cell phone of any type.

====

“Tezcapuwhat?” Jack questioned as the lovers relaxed on their roof deck, enjoying a few minutes of private time before turning in for the evening.  They were in an old, customary position, with Jack leaning against the wall and his Heart seated in front of him and in his loving embrace.  “Who?”

“Tezcatlipoca,” Daniel repeated.  “He's an Aztec god.”

“I thought we got rid of those.”

“We ... got rid of Ra.”

“And a whole lot of his relatives.”

“Anyway, Tezcatlipoca is the son of Ometeotl.”

“Omelet?”

“Jack, focus.”

“I am.  This stuff gives me a headache.”

“Do you want to know?” Daniel asked softly, thinking perhaps Jack had made a decision not to pay attention to any foreign, as in off-world alien foreign, matters.

“Go ahead,” the general instructed.

“He's a bit player in god lore really,” Daniel noted.  “He's been associated with temptation, discord, hurricanes ...”

“He needs to go if he's the one Mother Nature is conferring with all the time,” Jack quipped.

“... and, well, basically he's considered to be the embodiment of change through conflict.”

“Is that a jaded way of saying he likes to fight?”

“He goes all out for what he wants,” Daniel responded.  “Oh, and this you'll be interested in.”

“Do tell.”

“His arch rival was Quetzalcoatl.”

“The big giant?  Deep throated misty dude who tossed that deadbeat grandpa-in-name-only out on his butt?  Him?”

“Yeah, him,” Daniel acknowledged while shaking his head at his lover's comments.  

“Daniel, are you sure Little Danny translated that message correctly?”

“He was right on it, Jack.  He didn't miss a word.  I doublechecked the whole thing.”

“So this Aztec dude thinks the universe is ripe for picking?”

“He wants to reclaim the earth.  Folklore says he and Quetzalcoatl actually created the world, but ...”

“... we know the arrogant little twits claim to have started everything,” Jack completed for his husband.

“May is the celebration month for Tezcatlipoca.  There were big, huge festivals and celebrations for him.  According to the message, he wants this year's festival to be the best ever.”

“So he's going to start the party early by invading Earth?”

“Apparently.”

“Not easy to do,” Jack opined.

“No, no, it's not, but he does have a lot of followers,” Daniel pointed out.  “His speciality, by the way, is convincing humans to, uh, self-destruct.”

“Self-des...kill themselves?”

“I'm sure there's more to it than we know now.”

“There always more, Daniel, something to explain the myth and the legend.”

“On the other hand, he's also known for cleansing people of their guilt.”

“Okay, that makes no sense.”

“Ra made sense?  Apophis?  Jack, they never make sense.”

“True enough,” Jack responded.

“Are you tempted?”

“You?”

“I asked you first,” Daniel reminded as he evaded the issue, for a minute anyway.

“Daniel, you've gotten more and more like me as you've aged.”

“Should we get a divorce?”

“Bite your tongue.”

“I'd rather do this,” the younger man argued, twisting around and initiating a deep and passionate make-out session with his husband.

When the couple settled, they returned to the issue of contacting Stargate Command.

“Daniel, we did our bit.  If we're going to die, let's just do it with our kids.  I want to save the world by saving them.  That's my fight now.”

“I agree, but ...”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Jack, if I knew for sure that General Landry took the message seriously, that he got it and read it ...”

“Let's make the call and then let's go to bed.”

“I love you, Jack.”

“Love you, Angel.”

====

Monday evening, the family was gathered for their weekly meeting.  It was a tradition started years earlier.  It was never held at the same date and time, the family being way too unpredictable for that, but a time was always picked when everyone could share problems and concerns, along with fun news.

“Okay, that's it,” Daniel announced.  “Uh, except we still need to talk with the Munchkins and the Spitfires.”

“Trouble,” David teased his siblings.

“What did you guys do now?” Brianna chuckled.

“Save it for the funny papers,” Jack ordered the older children.

“Do we have to leave or can we stay and watch?” Chenoa asked with a chuckle.

The younger children squirmed, believing they could be in trouble, though none of them could think of anything specific they'd done lately that could be the cause of punishment.

“You just want to watch them bleed,” Jack accused in a deathly tone.

“Jack,” Daniel chastised.

“Sorry, Angel,” Jack apologized.  “Stay, go, whatever you want.”

“Oh, you must not be in too much trouble,” Lulu surmised as she looked at the five kids who weren't quite convinced as yet.

“Phone,” Jack stated, holding out his hand.

“Huh?” Jonny responded.

“Hand over the community phone,” the general demanded.

“Who has it?” Jonny asked his siblings.

“It's in your jeans pocket, Jonny,” Aislinn groaned with a shake of her head.

“Oh, yeah, I forgot,” Jonny responded as he reached into his pocket and removed the phone that the Munchkins had used before dinner when they'd gone to a friend's house down the block.

Taking the phone, Jack nodded, saying, “Thank you.”

“That's it for the community phone,” Daniel advised the children.

Five long, devastated faces stared at Jack and Daniel.

“We've had enough of it,” Jack stated sternly.  “It's time for it to go.”

All of the children held their breath, not believing what they were hearing.  The Munchkins and Spitfires especially were upset.  This could be the end of their limited freedom.  They loved their parents to pieces, but they weren't babies anymore.

“And now it's time for these,” Daniel announced softly, reaching down and lifting up a bag.  He pulled out five brand new smartphones.  “One for each of you,” he said as he began to distribute the phones.

As the five kids grinned so hard that they were speechless, the rest of the brood applauded and cheered.  Even JD clapped.

“Here are the rules,” Jack began.  “Hey, listen up,” he called out when the kids seemed to be engrossed in their new possessions.  “One.  If I *ever* catch you walking down the street, talking on one of those things, it's gone.  When you are out, you are to pay attention to where you are, what you're doing, and who and what is around.  Got it?”

“Yes, Sir,” came five voices.

“Two,” Jack continued.  “Don't *ever* bring your phone to the meal table or a family meeting.  We eat together so we can talk together.  I don't want beeping or vibrating phones to be a distraction.”

“Next,” Daniel interjected.  “We *will* be monitoring your phone activity.  The rules that apply to your TV, radio, and computer usage apply to your phones.  If you have questions, I suggest you ask.”

“These are phones, not toys,” Jack reminded.  “I could care squat that two-thirds of your friends have phones.  I don't care about their birds, angry or otherwise, anymore than I care about harvesting tomatoes in Farmville.  What I do care about is your safety.”

“What Dad means is that you're growing up, whether or not we want you to, and,  uh, it's ... it's time.”

“Daddy's gonna get mushy,” Jenny whispered to her twin.

“No, no, I'm ... okay, maybe a little, but ...”

“We love you, Daddy,” Little Danny expressed tenderly, leading the charge to hug his younger father.

“Feeling cheated here,” Jack teased, earning him a round of hugs as well.  “Kids, we're trusting you to behave responsibly and courteously.”

“That means don't belittle your friends and cheat yourselves of time with them by only half listening to them because someone else is calling you.  Enjoy the moment of the present.  If it's important, they'll call again.”

“We love you,” Jack concluded.

“Welcome to the phone club,” Lulu told the five brothers and sisters.

“When do I get one?” JD asked his parents.

“Not tonight,” Jack answered, picking up the youngest Jackson-O'Neill and hugging him.

“Okay, let's get your phones set up,” Daniel beckoned as the family gathered round to be part of the fun.

====

“Are they asleep?” Daniel asked when his Love joined him outside in Katie's play yard where the archaeologist was hiding a new toy for the beagle who at the moment was upstairs with Chenoa and Lulu.

“Faking it,” Jack answered.

“Letting them get away with it?”

“So they don't get eight hours tonight.  They're over the moon, Angel,” Jack stated as he squatted down.  “She's going to like that one,” he opined about the custom-made bone that was designed in the shape of a femur.

“I figured it was unique,” Daniel laughed.  “They don't want us on their heels anymore,” he nearly whispered.

“Independence, Danny,” Jack sighed.

“You know, uh, we've made it pretty tough on them all these years.”

“We had to, and you know it.  Danny, don't start feeling guilty.  Those kids have happy, healthy lives.  If they've had to sacrifice a bit of freedom to be safe, I have no regrets about that.”

“Me, either.”

“They get it.  They've been through hell, Danny; they get it.”

“I know.”

The couple sat quietly for a couple of moments until Daniel finally finished burying the femur-like toy sufficiently.

“General Landry called earlier,” Daniel advised his husband.

“Well, we're still here so I take it Tacowhoever's party fell flat.”

Daniel let out a small laugh and nodded before expounding, “More or less.  He got away, though, and there is some concern he might try again before May.”

“We'll be ready for him.  *They'll* be ready for him.”

“It's hard, isn't it?”

“What's hard?” Jack asked.

“Being on the outside when we were once right in the thick of it.  I mean, uh, for such a long and time, all we did, Jack, was save the planet.  Every time we thought we had it, someone new came along.”

“Goa'uld, Replicators, those Ori devils,” Jack listed.  “I'm glad we're out of it.”

“But it's still hard.”

“Yeah, Angel, it's hard, but I wouldn't change it.”

“Me, either,” Daniel agreed.  “But if they called ...”

“If,” Jack laughed hauntingly.  “Hey, did Little Danny keep it a secret or did he tell the kids?”

“I don't know.  It's ... odd, really, but I never asked him about it, but ...”

“What's your hunch?”

“I think he did.”

“Probably,” Jack asserted.  “Too big of a deal not to have said something.”

“They stayed close over the weekend,” Daniel pointed out.

“I noticed that.”

“He told them,” Daniel deduced.  “I would have told them.”

“... and he's just like his old man.”

“Who's old?” Daniel teased.

“Let's go to bed, Angel.”

“Tired?”

“Nope!”

Smiles of anticipation, Jack and Daniel returned inside to enjoy their nation of two as only they could.  They were older, but they had a lot of living, and loving, yet to do.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author


AmazingCounters.com