Consanguinity

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - February 10-12, 2012
Spoilers:  Collateral Damage
Size:  58kb
Written:  August 25-28, September 25-29, October 2,4-7, 2007
Summary:  Alex and Sunny host an eye-opening dinner party.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “Blowout”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Melissa, Jo, Sara, Claudia, Carol, Linda!

Consanguinity
by Orrymain

“So these are the triplets,” Daniel said reverently from his seat on the comfortable white sofa.

In the archaeologist's hand was a five-by-seven framed photo of three of Alex Dennison's younger siblings.

Alex nodded.  This was the first time since making Colorado Springs his home base that he'd brought out the photograph and shared it with anyone, except for his girlfriend, Soncirria Suvulpo, known as Sunny.

Alex and Sunny were hosting a dinner party at Alex's condominium for a few friends.  It had been a lovely evening, and now it was down to just three couples:  Alex and Sunny, Jack and Daniel, and Sam and Pete.

Somehow, the conversation had turned to children, and, in a rare display of chattiness over his past, the designer had rambled on about happy childhood days, ones that had occurred before his widowed mother had married the despicable Edward Steele, a man who had subsequently repeatedly raped and abused the triplets, as well as one of their cousins.

Elyse Dennison's eight oldest children were all out on their own or in college when she'd married Steele.  Most of them had rarely returned, but when they had, they hadn't noticed the torment the triplets had gone through, and neither had the three youngest children confided in them.

When Elyse had found out the truth, it was too late to prevent harm from coming to the children.  In despair, the thirteen-year-old triplets and their cousin had attempted suicide.  Spending only one night in a local hospital, they'd returned home.  What happened after that was anyone's guess.

One week later, Edward Steele's body had been discovered in with the trash, and the triplets had vanished.  Elyse had acted like they'd never existed, eradicating them from her mind and her home.  No sign of the triplets existence could be found within the Steele homestead.  Then, without warning, she hanged herself.

Alex had been in Tahiti at the time, combining business with his first vacation in a long time.  There was a thirteen-year gap between him and the triplets.  When he came home, life was never the same.  He had a thousand questions and absolutely no answers.  To this day, he didn't know what had happened to his siblings.  The police had assumed the worst, that they'd been murdered by either Steele or Elyse.

“I can't believe my mother would kill them.  I don't know what she did or what she thought when they disappeared.  I do know she went out of her mind and that she loved them; she doted on them,” Alex sighed.  “The problem is that the police believe the triplets may have suffered some brain damage because of the suicide attempt.  They believe Mom ...”

Alex couldn't continue.  He so rarely allowed the emotion and memories of his past to surface.

“I think they're alive,” Sunny opined.  She had one arm around her boyfriend's shoulder and the other was caressing his left arm as they sat on the love seat facing the bigger sofa where Jack and Daniel were.  “We just have to keep looking.”

“I did that; for years, I looked for them, but there's never been any sign of them.  There were rumors for a while.  Neighbors said things about Mom ... that she sold them or had been involved with the black market.  Some people whispered about her just dumping them in the woods somewhere, making them fight for their own survival.  Some ... think she killed them.  I can't believe any of those stories.”

“And you shouldn't, Alex.  No one knew your mother better than you.  She had a terrible shock, finding out about all those years of abuse that your siblings had gone through, but going a little crazy is a far cry from murdering your own children,” Sunny stated strongly.

From her spot on the sofa, Sam inquired, “Have you searched the adoption databanks and boards?”

“Sam, I assure you that I contacted everyone I could think of.  Over the years, I've done it all to try and find them; nothing,” Alex replied, shaking his head.  “It's no use,” he spoke dejectedly, remembering the years of futile searching.

Pete was standing, having just gotten a refill of wine for his wife, and refuted, “Alex, you never know.  In my line of work, I've heard some crazy stories.”

“I can imagine that a police detective like yourself does hear about a lot of unimaginable things,” Alex replied with a sad smile.

“Have you continued to look?” Daniel questioned as he returned the framed photograph to its owner.

“Not in a while.  It's no use, Daniel,” Alex said.  He shook his head, saying, “I've done everything I can think of; there just isn't anything left to do.”

“Hey, Mister Negative, that's no way to be where family is concerned,” Jack admonished.  “You have to fight, Alex,” he added more gently.

“Alex, he's right,” Sunny opined.  “Think about it.  The triplets are adults now.”

“Nineteen,” the anguished man clarified.  “If they were alive, they could have found me.”

“Honey, you're afraid, and I understand that, but, if you give up on them, you'll never forgive yourself.”  Suddenly, Sunny stood and walked over to the computer area and sat down at the desk.  “There must be sites that deal with this.”

“There are: several,” Sam affirmed, getting up and walking over to join the other blonde woman.  “I've had to research some adoption sites before.  Google it.”

Sunny did a search and, with Sam looking over her shoulder, reviewed the listing of possible websites that could be of help.

“There are a lot of sites,” Sunny noted, clicking on one of them that she felt drawn to.

“Sunny, you're wasting your time,” Alex argued lightly, not having left his spot on the sofa.  He felt torn, part of him needing to hope for a miracle and the rest of him firmly trying to squash any and all hope in an effort to protect himself from disappointment.  ~I shouldn't have started talking about them.~

“I'm going to try something,” Sunny said.  “Alex, when is their birthday?”

“Give it a shot,” Jack urged.

“June,” Alex sighed.  Seeing the expectant looks, he completed, “The fifteenth ... 1992.”

“Let's just see if anyone with that birthday is registered with this website,” Sunny said as she began to review the results.

“It's a waste of time.”

Sunny glanced up at Sam, who nodded encouragingly.  Turning back to the computer screen, the long-haired blonde continued searching through the results and then froze.

“Alex, come here please,” Sunny spoke, her voice hitching.

Jack and Daniel stood immediately, also sensing the emotion in the woman's voice.  They quickly walked over to review the screen, and then they looked back at Alex, who hadn't moved.

“Alex?” Sunny called out.

Slowly, the designer rose and walked over to join the others.  His heart was pounding, and he could barely breathe.  He stared into Sunny's eyes and saw she was both scared and excited.  Cautiously, he let his eyes glide over to the large monitor and began to peruse the listing that Sunny had highlighted.

“My name is Sofia Bronson.  I'm 19, and I was born on June 15, 1992.  I'm not sure where.  I don't think I was born Sofia.  I think my name was Anna or something like that.  I think I have more siblings.  I remember the number three, but I'm not sure why.  I don't remember much, but I know I'm adopted.  Benicio, are you out there?  Do you know who I am?  I remember that name -- Benicio.  I also remember another word.  Maybe it means something to someone.  The word is kiki.  I remember kiki.  Please contact me.”

“Who's Benicio?” Pete asked.

“Me,” Alex responded.  “It's my middle name.  Alicia liked to call me that.”

“Not Anna?” Daniel questioned.

“Ana Alicia,” Alex clarified.  “Mom and I were the only ones who called her Alicia; everyone else called her Ana.”

“What about kiki?” Sam asked curiously.

No one had ever seen Alex so taken aback before.  He kept staring at the screen, his eyes transfixed to the words in the post of the adoption forum.

“When she was a baby, she used to kick a lot.  It drove me crazy.  She just had to keep moving those legs.  I yelled at her one day to stop being so kick happy.  She tried to say the words back to me, but couldn't really talk yet.  Instead of kick, kiki came out.  I started calling her that whenever she was being a pain in the neck, the way little sisters can be.”

“Nicknames are love,” Jack stated, his words managing to finally pull Alex's focus from the screen.

Nodding, Alex confirmed, “A lot of love, Jack.”  He refocused on the computer post, memorizing every word of it.  “Why wouldn't she remember?” he asked thoughtfully.

“Alex, you answered that yourself earlier,” Sam answered.

“I did?” Alex answered.

“If Carter says you came up with the answer, believe her; even if you don't know what it is,” Jack rambled, getting a stare of rebuke from his lover.

“Brain damage,” Sam responded.  “If your siblings did suffer brain damage, then their memory could definitely be affected.  The fact that she mentions both numbers and names shows there is some recall; she may actually remember more and just need ...”

“A nudge?” Jack suggested.

“There's always the chance she's blocked the memories herself,” the archaeologist put forth.  “Maybe she's ready to deal with them now, and that's why she's posted on the forum.”

“This is surreal,” Alex said, turning and walking away.  “It can't be her, not after all this time.”

Sunny stood up and went to her boyfriend, leaning her head against his as she wrapped her arms around him.

“Honey, answer her,” Sunny urged.  “You won't know whether it's really her or not until you talk to her.”  She sighed, feeling the tenseness in the man's body.  “Alex, if it is Ana Alicia, she needs you.”

Alex turned to look at his girlfriend.  He smiled nervously and let out a tiny whiff of air as he stared over at the computer.  With a self-motivating nod, the designer made his way to the computer and sat down.  Breathing harder than was normal for him, he replied to the post.

“Dear Sofia,

My name is Alex, and I believe I may be your brother.  If this is true, your name is Ana Alicia Dennison.  May we meet?

With deepest respect and high hopes,

Alexander Benicio Dennison”

Alex added his contact information, including his cell phone number.  Then he hit 'send' and sat back, staring at the screen.

“Alex, she may not see this for a while.  It could be days before she checks to see if anyone has responded,” Sunny stated quietly.

“You're right, Sunny,” the designer said.  Taking a breath as if to kick start himself, Alex stood and smiled at his guests.  “Anyone for another drink?”

“Actually, Alex, we need to go,” Sam commented.

“We should get going, too,” Daniel added, believing that the man could use some time alone, or just with his girlfriend.

The six talked for a few minutes and the departing couples were just putting their coats on when Alex's cell phone rang.  Normally, he would have just checked to see who it was and responded appropriately, but, for some reason, all he could do now was stare at the small electronic device, which was sitting over on the bar.

Everyone looked at Alex expectantly, but since his heart had stopped, the man couldn't move.

Blinking once, Sunny slowly walked over to the bar and picked up the cell phone.  She walked over and held out the phone in her hand.

“Maybe it's Byron,” the former beauty pageant queen offered.

Alex took the phone, realizing he was overreacting.  He was certain that he was being overly dramatic.  Smiling, he checked the caller ID, only when he did, his heart stopped again.  He didn't recognize the number.

“Alex?” Sunny prodded.

Feeling silly, even now, Alex answered the call, “Alex Dennison.”

“Benicio?” a small, trembling voice asked.  “Is that you?”

“Kiki?”

“Kiki?” the woman echoed.  “It's a name.  I'm not crazy.  It's ... it's my name.”

Jack and Daniel stared at each other, as did Sam and Pete.  Both couples were torn as to what to do.  Should they leave, or stay?

“Alex, we're going to ...” Daniel began, motioning with his hand that they were going to leave.

“No!” Alex objected, reaching out and stopping the archaeologist from moving.

“No?” Ana Alicia, otherwise known as Kiki, asked.

“No, not you, Kiki.  I have friends here, and I very much want them to stay,” Alex stated, looking the Jackson-O'Neills and the Shanahans in the eyes as he implored them to stay.  “Kiki, where are you?”

“Michigan.”

“Michigan,” Alex repeated.

“I'm attending Hillsdale College this year.  Benicio, is it really you?  The funny thing is that I'm not sure who 'you' is, but I really have this ... this feeling deep inside of me that's just bursting to find out.”

“Me, too.  I'm in Colorado Springs at the moment.  Maybe ... Kiki, hold on,” Alex requested.  “Jack, Daniel, I hate to impose, but is there any way you can fly me to Hillsdale, or maybe bring Kiki here.”  He paused, saying, “I should ask her first.”  He spoke into the cell, “Kiki, would you ...”

“I heard you, Benicio.  Yes, I'd like to see you, and ... not here.  How?”

“Alex, whatever you need,” Jack spoke, giving his friend a nod.

“My friend, Jack, has a small plane, and he's going to pick you up.  He's an Air Force general, Kiki, so you can trust him.”

**He hasn't dealt with many military types,** Jack quipped.

**Jack, be quiet.**

“Okay,” Sofia responded.

“Kiki, I could come with Jack, but I think we're both a little nervous.  I have a nice condo here; it would be more relaxing for us to ... meet here, instead of on the campus or at an airport.  Do you agree?”

“Oh, yes, Benicio,” the woman responded.  “My stomach has a billion butterflies in it.  I think you're right.”

Over the next few minutes, the arrangements were made, after which Alex and Ana Alicia hung up.

“Are you okay?” Daniel asked as Alex wandered around the room, shaking his head and trying to come to terms with what was happening.

“It's her.  It was her,” Alex spoke in a whisper.  “Sunny, my baby sister is alive.”

For the next thirty minutes, Alex, Sunny, and the two other couples sat and talked.  Actually, Alex did most of the talking, while the others listened.  For the first time in years, the designer recalled memories of his sister.

“The age difference between us made me a combination father figure and brother, I suppose, but we played around a lot.  Kiki.  Kiki is alive,” the amazed designer spoke, looking at his girlfriend and feeling completely astonished and overwhelmed.

====

“Sofia?” Jack questioned as he approached the dark-haired college student.

The nervous looking girl was standing right where she'd told her brother she'd be, by the picnic table just outside one of the buildings near where the private planes parked.

“General Jackson-O'Neill?” the girl asked softly as she pulled her warm jacket more tightly around herself, reminding Jack of Daniel in his self-hugging days.

“Yes, Ma'am,” Jack confirmed, taking out and showing her his ID.

The female nodded after checking the identification card, pleased that Jack had actually held the photo ID out for her to review carefully, rather than flipping it back into his wallet after a mere second or two as some officials tended to do.

“I saw you fly in.  That's a nice looking plane.”

As Jack escorted Sofia to the plane, he asked, “Do you know a lot about planes?”

“Nothing, but I'm so nutty right now.  I'm a little, well, a lot nervous,” Sofia admitted.

“So is he,” Jack said with a reassuring grin as they continued to walk.

====

“I doubt he was really going to run you over with a bulldozer,” Sofia responded, smiling at the latest tale Jack was telling her.

“Sofia, if he could have gotten away with it, he would have done it.  Danny and I have never been his easiest clients.”

“A designer,” the female said thoughtfully.  “I remember something.”

Jack wasn't really sure whether or not to try and prompt the memories of the young woman seated next to him in the Meyers 200A aircraft.  She was a beautiful girl, about five-feet, five-inches tall, with shoulder-length black hair that was layered and wavy, and hazel eyes that blended in with her fair complexion.  They'd had an intelligent conversation about current affairs, but until he had decided to tell a few 'Alex stories', everything had been kept pretty formal.

Early in their conversation, the pilot had casually let slip the fact that he was married to another man and had been relieved to find she didn't even bat an eyelid.  In fact, he had the impression that it had helped her relax around him, and he suspected that even if her conscious mind didn't remember her past, her subconscious remembered a great deal, something that her next words confirmed.

“I have these images,” Sofia continued.  “I don't understand what they mean.  They scare me,” she spoke, her voice becoming more frantic.

“Sofia, there's nothing to be afraid of.  Alex is a straight-shooter, a good guy.  He's your brother, and he'll help you figure out whatever's happened in the past.”

The girl looked at the pilot and smiled as she nodded appreciatively.  Still, she felt odd.  She wasn't afraid of Jack or the man she was about to be reunited with, but she was scared.  She just didn't know about what.

====

“I've never been this nervous,” Alex complained as he paced the condo while Sunny and Daniel looked on.

“This is a good reason to be nervous,” Daniel replied.  “I mean, you have a right to be.”

“Daniel's right,” Sunny opined.

“What if she doesn't like me?”

“Alex, she's your sister,” Sunny reminded.

“Yes, but ...”

A knock on the door interrupted the designer's words.  As Alex stared, Sunny walked to the door and opened it.

“Hello, I'm Sunny,” the shapely woman greeted, extending out her hand to college student.

“My name is ... Sofia,” the young woman replied, walking in the door with Jack behind her, carrying her overnight bag and a large tote.

“Alicia,” Alex called out.

Immediately, the girl turned to face the speaker.  The two stared into each other's eyes, exploring and looking for a connection.  Alex walked two steps forward, and the young woman responded with two steps of her own.  Still, their eyes remained connected.

Jack put down the luggage by the sofa and moved to stand by his husband.  Sunny closed the door and walked forward, but remained a comfortable distance behind the other woman.

“Alicia?” the woman finally spoke, breaking eye contact as she stared down.

“Mother and I were the only ones to call you Alicia; the others called you ...”

“Ana, with one 'n',” the girl completed, looking up at Alex.  “Why do I remember that now?”

“It's really you,” Alex said, moving forward another step.  He waited for a sign, any sign, that the woman recognized him.  Finally, he saw her eyes widened and a look of amazement appear on her face.  “Alicia,” he spoke calmly, taking another step forward.

“Benicio?  Oh good heavens, Benicio!” the woman exclaimed, jumping into her brother's arms.

“Kiki, I love you.  I prayed for this,” Alex spoke, breaking down into uncharacteristic tears.

Minutes later, holding each other's hands, Alex and his sister sat down next to each other on the sofa.  Introductions had been made, so now, across from them, Daniel sat down, while Jack sat on the arm of the furniture piece.  Sunny was preparing sandwiches and drinks for everyone in the kitchen.

“Where do we start?” the woman asked.

“How about your name,” Alex replied.  “You were born Ana Alicia Dennison.”

“On the phone, you called me Kiki.  I remember that, but I thought it was just a crazy word.”

After explaining the background of the name, Alex asked, “What do you want me to call you?”

“I think ... Kiki,” the girl spoke.  “Somehow, it sounds ... carefree.”

Daniel looked at his husband, fear in his eyes for what the girl might be recalling at the moment.  Her words had drifted, and she now had a faraway look in her eyes.

Suddenly, Kiki snapped back to the present and looked at her brother, asking, “I called you Benicio, but Jack calls you Alex.  Is that what you prefer?”

“Most people do call me Alex, but you've always called Benicio, Kiki.  Please, call me whatever makes you happy,” the young woman's brother responded.

With a nod, the girl asked, “Why don't I remember?”

“You will, slowly.  I'll help.”

“We'll all help,” Daniel interjected.

====

“Sofia, why did you post that message on the forum now, versus last year or two months ago?” Sunny asked as the group snacked on their lunches as they sat around the glass dining table.

“My folks finally let me out,” Kiki answered quietly.  “Um, please, everyone, call me Kiki.  I ... I like that name.  It ... is my name.”

Nods were seen all around as the adults processed the request in their minds.  No one wanted to offend the woman, so they were glad she'd expressed her wishes just now.

“What do you mean, let you out?” Jack questioned, a bit concerned by the wording of the girl's response to Sunny's question.

“You see, the first thing I really remember is living with my parents in South America. I was ... sick for a long time, I think.  It's all kind of a haze.  My father works for a major financial institution, and he was heading up the operations there.  They never wanted me to come back to the States.  I wanted to come.  It was obvious we'd lived here, even if I didn't remember.  A few months ago, my father was transferred back here.  It was odd, though.  He didn't want to come; neither did my mother.”

“Why not, Kiki?” Alex asked.

Shaking her head, Kiki munched on a carrot stick and then answered, “I don't know, but despite all their protests, they had to come back if Dad wanted to keep his job.  Then they really didn't want me to go to college.  They always liked me staying close to home, but Hillsdale is a conservative college and not really in the middle of things, so they let me go.”

“You're an adult,” Jack interjected.  “You're free to go where you want.”

“I know, and I think that's why they relented.  It's just ... I know they're afraid of something.  I'm not sure why they're afraid, but it was in their eyes when I left.”  Kiki paused, looking at Alex.  “Benicio, my parents are good people, but they have secrets, things they don't tell me.  I've never understood why I don't remember my childhood, and I've learned not to ask them, but they're kind people.”

“Kiki, let's take it a step at a time,” Alex suggested.  “Did you start Hillsdale in the fall or ...”

“No, just this semester,” the woman answered.  “I needed to get away from them.  I have to figure out what's in my mind!” she exploded, suddenly standing up and walking away, her hands raised to her head.  “Images.  So many images I don't understand.”  She turned around and yelled up at the ceiling, “WHY DON'T I UNDERSTAND?” and then she began to cry.

Alex hurried to his sister, taking her into his arms as he attempted to calm her.  Minutes passed as she cried, trying to understand a past she didn't comprehend, nor really even remembered.

“I'm sorry, Benicio,” Kiki sniffled as she used the handkerchief he'd just given her to dry her eyes.

“You can cry all you want,” the designer replied.

Walking back to the table, the young woman explained, “In the last year, these flashes have gotten stronger.  When I got here, I had to try and find ... me.”

“Kiki, did your parents tell you that you were adopted?” Daniel questioned.

“No, they've never said a word, but I'm sure of it.  I've always been sure of it.”  Kiki looked over at Alex and said, “Triplets: A little while ago you said I'm a triplet.  Where are my brothers?”

“Brothers?” Alex questioned.

“My brothers.  I'm the youn...oh, heavens, I remember that I'm the youngest, and they ... they are boys.  I'm right, aren't I, Benicio?”

“Yes, Kiki, but I don't know where they are.  The three of you disappeared.  I was in Tahiti,” Alex sighed regretfully.

“I want to remember,” the girl said, her frustration taking hold.  She began to lightly tap the sides of her head.  “Why?”

“Kiki ...” Alex began.

“Um, may I make a suggestion?” Daniel interrupted.  After Alex and Kiki both nodded, he leaned forward and continued, “Alex, Kiki, I know you're both anxious to ... to fill in the pieces to this puzzle.  You must have a thousand questions for each other, but I'm thinking maybe Kiki should be examined.”

“The Doc?” Jack asked, believing her to be the best one qualified for what his lover was thinking.

“Examined?” Kiki questioned in surprise.  “I'm not sick.”

“He's right, Kiki,” Alex said, hating the frightened look in her eyes when she faced him.  “There might be a physical reason for your memory loss.”

“We need to be sure of what the problem is; find out whether or not there is something physically blocking your memory,” Sunny commented.

“All right,” Kiki agreed, though she was still reluctant.

“Alex, we think Doctor Frasier would be of help,” Jack stated, pulling out his cell phone.  Seeing the man's nod, he hit the appropriate button and walked a few steps away, waiting for the call to be answered.  “Doc, I know you're home, but we need a favor.”

====

“Danny, you have that look,” Jack said, glancing over at his lover as they walked to their vehicles.

“I was thinking ...”

“Jack, Daniel, did you want us to follow you, or ...” Alex unintentionally interrupted.

“Jack, I'll meet you at the hospital.  Excuse me,” the archaeologist spoke, hurrying to his silver sports car.

“Danny?”

“I'll see you there,” Daniel called out, getting into his car and quickly driving off.

“He'll meet us there,” a chagrined Jack stated.

====

“Doctor Jackson ...” Hammond began as he and Daniel walked hurriedly down the corridor.

“Sir, please.  We have the technology available,” Daniel argued.

“She's a civilian with no prior knowledge of this facility,” the bald-headed man spoke firmly.

“And she still doesn't need to know about the Stargate or where the technology came from,” Daniel asserted.  “She won't ask.”

“Mister Dennison will,” the lieutenant general pointed out.

“Actually, if it helps his sister, I suspect he won't care, and, if he does ask, we'll ... think of something,” Daniel insisted.  “Sir, we can prevent this girl from going through years of traumatic therapy just to find out what happened.”  He looked to the side, cocking his head slightly as he admitted, “She'll probably need therapy anyway, but it'll be something that can really help her move forward in her life.”

“And just what is this tragedy, Doctor, that you're so eager to risk our security on?”

“I'm not sure.  We know some things,” Daniel began.  He took the liberty to tell Hammond the little bit that they knew about the Dennison triplets and what had happened to their parents and step-father.  “General, at one time or another, in spite of the rules that govern the SGC, we've all gone outside the boundaries.  I realize that Alex and his sister haven't done anything to ... save the world, but they are a part of the world we're saving every day, and we have the chance to help them sort through their pain a little quicker than they would otherwise.”  He paused; then added, “I'm not asking for us to reveal the existence of the Stargate or the SGC.  What I am asking, is that Janet be allowed to use the technology we got from the Galarans to make Kiki's memories clearer.  We can just say it's experimental and have them sign the usual confidentiality statement.”

Hammond sighed, stopping their progression towards his office.

“You're asking me to allow the memory recall device to be used on a young woman we know nothing about.”

“Check her out,” Daniel stated simply.  “Sir, every day we're out there fighting for the right to exist.  This young woman is fighting for the right to live her life.  She doesn't know what her past was like.  We can help her.”

“And how is she going to react when she does remember?”

“I don't know, but at least she'll remember, and maybe we'll be able to locate her brothers.”

“Why is this so important to you?”

“It's not,” Daniel replied, adding, “Except that every now and then it feels good to help someone; and I guess I can relate to her.  I know what it's like to not really remember things; to have flashbacks of things that are horrific and not know what they mean.”

~Yes, he does,~ Hammond thought as he let out a sigh while staring at the archaeologist and considering his argument.  “Set up whatever is needed in one of the VIP rooms.  Keep them restricted to ...”

“Thank you, Sir,” Daniel spoke, smiling at the man and then hurrying away before the general could even complete his sentence.

====

“Daniel, where are ... what?” Jack inquired, speaking into his cell phone, his first question having been interrupted by his husband.

The general was standing with Alex, Sunny, and Kiki by his truck, having just arrived at the Air Force hospital where they were to meet up with Daniel and with Janet.

“Jack, bring them to the Mountain.”

“Daniel ...” Jack began, pausing as he walked away a few feet for some privacy.  “What are you talking about?”

“Tell them ...”

====

“I've never been inside a mountain before,” Kiki spoke nervously as she sat on the bed in the VIP room.  “At least, I don't think I have,” she added with a hint of a smile at her own expense.

“We just think of ourselves as little moles, running around,” Jack teased.

“Jack, Daniel, let me get this straight,” Alex requested.  “There's a device that will help Kiki remember?”

“Let me explain, Alex,” Janet interrupted.  Under General Hammond's orders, she was about to do a lot of bending of the truth, but it was for a good cause, so she was willing to do what was necessary.  “Over the last decade, I've been doing a lot of research on the mind and our mental capabilities.  The government has always been interested in that kind of thing,” she spoke teasingly.

“The government is into everything,” Jack retorted.

Janet continued, “I've developed something that helps with memory recall.  This little chip,” she held up a tiny, circular object, “sends out a pulse to the brain, and it helps to stimulate the memory part of the brain.”

“There must be more to it,” Alex responded.

“Alex, do you want to know how the blasted thing works, or do you want to help your sister find out the truth?” Jack questioned, hoping to quell the designer's curiosity.

Though uncertain about the technology and while having a feeling things were not quite what they seemed, Alex agreed, deciding to simply trust his friends.

“Just relax, Kiki.  We need to start by you thinking about something recent, just anything,” Janet guided.

====

“What can you see, Kiki?” Janet questioned gently as her patient sat quietly, her eyes closed.

About fifteen minutes had passed, and, so far, Kiki had guided Janet and the others through her most recent memory of visiting the movies with her college friends.  Now, the doctor was gently working on getting her to remember a little further back.

“I can see a man,” Kiki explained.  “He's asleep on a bed.”

Alex was stiff and unmoving near the closed VIP room door.  He was fighting an internal battle of wanting to hear what Kiki remembered and wanting to desperately run away down the corridor.  Sunny, as always, was by his side, offering her unwavering support.

Jack and Daniel stood on the other side of the room by the dresser.  They were side by side, leaning against the wall; close enough to touch shoulders.

Kiki's lax expression suddenly tightened, and she frowned as the memories crept into her consciousness.

“I hate him,” the young woman spat.  Her eyes flew open, and she locked them onto Alex's.  “Why would I hate him?  Who is he?” she questioned forcefully.

“Kiki,” Janet prompted, before Alex could answer.  “Just relax, Honey.”  Smiling, she added, “Just let the memories come to the surface.  Are you all right to continue?”

“Yes,” the college student answered, seeing nothing but kindness and support in the doctor's eyes.

“Okay, close your eyes, and think back to the man on the bed.  What does he look like?”

“I can see him,” Kiki said.  “I'm ... I'm in a motel room, I think,” she explained. “There's just a room with a bed, and I can see a car park out the window.  He's just lying there on his side.  He's ... he's ... naked from the waist down.”

Alex shuffled and crossed his arms in a perfect imitation of Daniel's self-hug.  Sunny rubbed his back soothingly, her compassionate eyes glued to Kiki.

“Okay, try to think back a little further,” Janet encouraged.

“Okay,” Kiki whispered.

After several minutes of deathly silence as Kiki concentrated on her memories, her breathing suddenly quickened, and she gasped out, “I'm in the bathroom.  I'm leaning against the door.”  She paused as her eyes grew fearful.  “He's coming,” she cried out.  “He's coming to get me.  I can't hold the door shut; he's too strong.  He's shouting at me.  I can't hold the door.  It's opening,” she cried, tears now streaming down her face.  “NO!”

“Kiki!” Janet spoke with a raised voice, keeping her speech calm and steady, but stern.  “Stay with me.  You're here in this room, with us.  Remember?”

As Kiki's eyes shot open, she fell into Janet's arms and cried out her fear.  Alex stood perfectly still, breathing hard and unable to take those few steps forward to comfort his sister.

“Alex, it's okay,” Jack reassured, seeing his friend's turmoil.  “Leave this to Janet.”

“Shhh, it's okay; it's okay,” Janet assured the young girl.  Releasing Kiki from the embrace, she explained, “This technology can create some very realistic sensory recall.  It might seem very real, Kiki, like it's happening now, but it's not.  Okay?  This is just a memory.  You're safe here, and no one is after you, all right?”

“Y...yes,” Kiki stuttered.

Daniel uncrossed his arms, slipped his hand down between his and Jack's bodies, and held on to his husband's hand tightly.  Jack glanced over at him worriedly, but saw only empathy and understanding in his eyes. As he met Jack's questioning look, a quick nod of his head and a squeeze of his hand let the older man know that his soulmate was okay.

“Just relax, Kiki.”

Although she felt afraid of what her memories were revealing, Kiki wanted to continue.  She looked up at Alex, who gave her a small smile of support.  Closing her eyes, she concentrated on that bathroom door.

“The door's opening.  I'm crouched on the floor.  He's coming in,” the somewhat frightened woman gasped.

“Concentrate, Kiki.  Just the facts.”

“He's trying to pick me up.  I'm struggling, but he's just too big.  I can't fight him,” Kiki relayed, slightly calmer now.  “He's pushing me down onto the bed.  I'm trying to get away.  I just want to get to the door, but I can't.  He's holding me down, and he's so heavy, I can hardly breath.  He smells of sweat and alcohol; it's making me sick.”

Alex took a shuddering breath and turned to face the door, his arms gripping tighter around his torso.

“He's ripped my shirt, and his hands are ... his hands ... I can feel him,” Kiki cried. “I can feel him, and it hurts so much.  I can't get away.  Mother, where are you?  I need you.  Why can't you see what he's doing to us?” the agonizing woman sobbed as the horrifying images of her past flooded through her mind.

“It's okay, Kiki.  Shhh, it's okay.”

====

“How is she?” Sunny asked several hours later when Alex emerged from the guestroom in his condo where Kiki had finally fallen asleep.

With the aid of the alien device, which had been honed and modified extensively since its discovery many years earlier, Kiki had recalled much of the abuse she, along with her brothers and cousin, had endured .  She'd sobbed through the memories of the repeated rapes and threats of despicable deeds.

While layers of fear still prevented the girl from remembering all of the events, she had finally recalled pieces of the night when the four teenagers had decided to end their lives, but the pieces were still just fragments, resulting in scattered pictures of what had occurred, meaning that there were still a lot of questions about that night.  After that, she didn't remember anything until being adopted by the Bronsons.

“It's my fault,” Alex spoke, his voice cracking.  “I should have been there.”

“How can you say that, Alex?” Sunny asked incredulously.

“I should have gone home and taken care of my mother after my father died.  She was so dependent on him.  Instead, I came home for a few days and then returned to my dorm.  I had to get those degrees; I had to study and make something of myself.  I did, and my mother was left with no one.”

“Alex, you weren't an only child,” Daniel pointed out quietly.

“I can't speak for my brothers and sisters, or their consciences,” the designer replied.  “I was already way ahead on the education track.  Why didn't I put my mother ahead of my ego?”

Daniel glanced at Jack, knowing full well that it was going to take their friend a long time to come to terms with the horrific memories they'd heard in the VIP room of Cheyenne Mountain.

“Alex, she was a grown woman.”

“And she married Edward Steele because she was alone and with four young children.  She had no one to help her.  I was focused on angles, spaces, scale ...”

“Alex,” Sunny called out, anguished about her boyfriend's distress.

“Mother had no one, Sunny.  I let her down, and I let the triplets down, too.”

“I can't believe the torture Kiki went through; the abuse that Steele put them *all* through,” Sunny spoke, shaking her head.

“I should have been home instead of playing around in Tahiti,” Alex bewailed as he collapsed down onto the sofa, covering his face with his hands.  “Why did this happen?”

“Alex, you have a choice to make, and you have to make it now,” Jack spoke sternly.  “Do you want to wallow in a past you can't change, or help your sister?” he asked, sounding more gruff than how he really felt.  ~Have to get him out of this self-pity and guilt mode.~

“Wallow?” Alex called out indignantly, standing and walking towards the general before he realized what he was doing.  “Jack, I'm sorry,” he said suddenly.

“Sorry is only a word, Alex,” Jack responded.

“Alex, guilt doesn't get anyone anywhere, except to dark corners full of pain,” Daniel interjected.  “Kiki's alive, and now that she remembers the truth about her past, or at least some of it, she's going to need you to help get her through.”

Alex nodded, replying, “You're right, of course.  There are still so many questions.”

“Get some rest you two,” Jack suggested.  “We take off at nine sharp,” he added, motioning to his husband for them to leave.

Prior to Kiki having gone to bed, with the assistance of a prescription medication to calm her, the group had agreed to pay her adoptive parents a surprise visit the next day.  They needed answers.  Kiki insisted they'd been good parents, but she also knew they held more answers that she desperately needed.

Alex had used his contacts to arrange for a charter plane to be at his disposal for the next day, and he'd asked Jack and Daniel to come along for support.  He didn't want to impose on them again by using their aircraft; besides, the charter plane would be more comfortable for the adults than the small Meyers one.

Goodnights given, Jack and Daniel left the condo and returned to their home.

====

“Your father was transferred to Rhode Island?” Jack questioned as they boarded the plane the next day.

“He commutes,” Kiki answered.  “He didn't want us in a big city.”

“Interesting,” Daniel commented as he sat down in one of the seats.

“Kiki, are you sure you want me along?” Sunny asked.  “I don't mind staying, and I certainly don't want to intrude.”

“Sunny, please stay,” Kiki responded warmly, a smile on her face.  “I could use ...”  She paused, not knowing what the right word was, so she simply repeated her request.  “Please stay.”

Sunny nodded and settled into her seat, smiling as Kiki sat down next to her with Alex taking the seat opposite his sister.

As the flight took off, Kiki did her best to answer some of the questions in everyone's minds, some of which they'd already discussed before.

--

“No, they've never said anything about me being adopted.  I just knew.  I sensed it.”

--

“We just wanted it to end, Benicio.  He made us do such horrible things.  I ... I wish I didn't remember.  No, scratch that.  I need to remember, but I hate that man.  He's dead, right?  You said he's dead?”

--

“Mother didn't see; she didn't know.  We did such a good job of covering up for him.  We had to,” the young woman sighed.  “Once, we were going to tell.  He shoved Annetta to the ground and cut her.”

“What?” Alex asked, leaning forward in alarm.  Annetta was their cousin, and she'd never mentioned that when Alex had talked to her.  “When?”

“We said she fell on her bike, remember, Benicio?”

“I remember,” Alex said, nodding.  “She had a gash.  She had to go to the emergency room.  That was the holiday break.  I was home.”

“Yes, Benicio.”

“Why didn't I see what was happening?”

“We were good at covering it all up.  When he first started, we were going to tell you, but he ... he said if we did, you wouldn't believe us, and he'd have you killed. We were little kids, Benicio, and we believed him.  We knew what he was capable of because of what he'd already done to us, and we just couldn't take that chance.”

“I still should have seen,” Alex maintained.  Anguished, he sighed, “I don't understand.  How could I be so blind?”

Kiki looked down and then out the window.  It was a question no one could answer.

--

“I didn't go to Hillsdale intending to seek out anyone, but I felt driven to go.  One night, the images got so strong.  I felt almost possessed.  I got on the internet and found a website.  I almost couldn't breathe when I typed that post, but I knew I had to do it.  I knew you were there, Benicio.  I knew it,” Kiki whispered, staring down at her hands that were clasped together tightly.

====

“Sofia!” Helene Bronson greeted cheerfully, opening the front door and seeing her daughter coming up the walkway.

“Mom,” Kiki replied, hugging the woman.

Helene stared at the people surrounding her daughter.  She had a bad feeling.

“Who are you?”

Seeing Alex's hesitation, Daniel took the lead and introduced, “Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, Ma'am.  This is ... Jack, and that's Alex and Sunny.”

“Who are you, and why are you with my daughter?” Helene questioned, every fiber of her being telling her that these people weren't bringing her good news.

“Mom, is Dad home?”

“Sofia!” Ramsey Bronson exclaimed from the doorway.  After hugging her, he asked the same question as his wife had.  “Who are you?”

“Mom, Dad, let's go inside,” Kiki requested, starting for the door.

“I want to know who you are ... now,” Ramsey insisted.

“Mister Bronson, I don't really think you want to have this discussion outside,” Jack said, pulling out his Air Force ID that clearly showed his rank.  “Inside, please.”

Hesitantly, the tall, balding man agreed, and the group went inside the Victorian-style home.

“Sofia, what is this about?” Ramsey asked once everyone was in the parlor, or sitting room of the two-story house.

“Sofia,” the woman spoke quietly.  “That's not who I really am, is it, Dad?”

Ramsey bristled as Helene grabbed hold of his arm, a look of alarm on her face.  He started to argue, but Daniel walked forward, putting his highly practiced negotiating skills to use.

“Mister Bronson, no one here disputes that you love ... Sofia, but she does know that wasn't the name she was born to.  Please, we just want to talk to you and to understand what happened.  Sofia just wants to know the truth.”

“Dad, my real name is Ana Alicia Dennison.”

“Ramsey, she knows,” Helene spoke in a haunted whisper.

“All I know is that you aren't really my parents.”  Kiki shook her head, saying, “That's not what I meant, exactly.  Please tell me the truth.”

“Who are these people?” Ramsey questioned.

“Dad, this is my brother, Benicio,” Kiki introduced, stepping back to touch Alex's arm.

“Call me Alex,” the designer spoke, trying to remain calm and rational since he still had no clue what the story was behind the Bronson's adoption of his sister.

“You're a general,” Ramsey said to Jack, wondering if this was some kind of official visit.

“Yes, although I'm not here in an official capacity ... yet,” Jack warned.

“What he means,” Daniel interjected, “is that we're friends of Alex's, and he asked us to come along.  We just want the truth, Mister Bronson.”

“You?” Ramsey asked as he looked at the blonde woman.

“She's my girlfriend,” Alex answered quickly.

“Dad, please.  I remember so much now,” Kiki spoke.  “Please tell me the truth,” she implored passionately.

“Sit down, Sofia,” Ramsey stated.

“Ramsey, we can't.”

Patting his wife's hand, the man smiled and said, “Helene, it's time.  We have to tell her what we know.”

The words surprised the other men, who had expected more of a fight, especially from the way they'd been greeted.

“We wanted a child,” Ramsey said as he and Helene sat down.  He held her hand in his.  “But I couldn't ...”  He paused; then let out a long sigh.  “We weren't able to adopt.  There are things in my past that made me a ... questionable parent in the eyes of Child Welfare.  We tried until we gave up.  Then one day, a man approached me.  I'd seen him before, at one of the adoption agencies.”

“Black market,” Jack theorized from his seat.

“He told us that there was a girl from a troubled home who needed us.  She'd been through some trauma and didn't remember her past.  We wanted a child,” Ramsey said, bowing his head.

“We love you, Sofia, but you were hurt and needed a place to heal,” Helene spoke. “She said you ...”

“She?” Daniel questioned, looking around at the others.  “Who are you talking about?”

“There was a woman with the man.  She made us promise to take good care of Sofia.”

“Did she call me that?”

“No,” Helene answered.  “She said your name didn't matter, because you didn't remember.  You were ... dazed.  She gave us money to ...”

“She paid *you*?” Jack questioned, stunned by the tale he was hearing.

“Yes, she did.  I don't know where she got it, but she gave us fifty-thousand dollars.

“Dad's life insurance,” Alex speculated almost to himself.  He looked at his sister and said, “Dad had a huge life insurance policy.  I know Mother got the pay out, but I always assumed Steele just went through it.”

“Alex, did you handle the estate when your mother died?” Daniel questioned.

With a nod, Alex answered, “Yes, but there wasn't much cash left.  She must of hid it from Steele somehow.”

“Do you think she knew he was a ...” Sunny began, pausing when she got a glimpse of Kiki out of the corner of her eye.

“Child molester?  Rapist?  Torturer?” Kiki completed, causing Ramsey and Helene to gasp in horror.

“Sofia, who is this ... Steele person?” Helene asked.

“He was supposed to be our step-father, but he was the devil,” Kiki snarled.

“Please tell us about the woman,” Daniel requested.

Ramsey and Helene described her and their meeting.  The woman's physical description matched Elyse's, but her behavior was not like the mother Alex and Kiki remembered.  It was, however, in synch with the comments made to Alex by Annetta and others.  Elyse had been paranoid and extremely nervous.  She gave the Bronsons no information on Kiki's true identity.  All she wanted was their promise that they love her and get her medical treatment.

“Did she tell you why Kiki ... Sofia needed medical attention?” Alex inquired.

“She only said she needed help; that there had been an awful accident,” Ramsey answered.

“So, you took her?” Alex questioned.

“We wanted a child, and she did need us,” Helene responded.

“Was I there?” Kiki queried.

“No.  The man said he'd bring you,” Ramsey answered.

“She just gave you the money without giving you Ana Alicia?” Alex asked.

“Yes,” Ramsey confirmed.  “Two days later, there was a note attached to the morning newspaper.  It gave an address on the outskirts of town and a time.  We went there, and there you were, Sofia.”

“Was there anything with me?” Kiki inquired.

“Nothing, Sofia.  You had a trench coat on.  You were wearing a pair of jeans and a pink shirt,” Ramsey stated.

“How did you know it was her?” Daniel questioned.

Ramsey looked at his wife; then stood up and disappeared from their sight.  Silence filled the air until he returned, holding a padded envelope in his hands.  He handed it to his 'daughter', who slowly opened it.

“The note is there.  It says we'd know her by the necklace and ring she was wearing.”

“Benicio, this was Mother's,” Kiki cried, having pulled out a simple gold chain that had three small hearts at its center.  “It was for us,” she spoke, referring to the triplets.  “One heart for each of us.”

“The ring is there, too,” Ramsey stated.

Alex looked at the ring, examining it and remarking, “It was her wedding ring to our father.”

“I was there?  What happened when you found me?” Kiki asked, her mind vague and empty about that time in her life.

“We knew we were ...”

“Breaking the law?” Jack quipped.

“At least we wanted Sofia.  We knew we could offer her a good home.  We did the best we could,” Ramsey responded.  “We brought you home.  You were catatonic, Sofia.  We took you to see a friend of ours.  He helped to bring you back to the living.”

“Weren't you afraid she'd think she'd been kidnapped, or something?” Daniel asked.

“The woman said Sofia's trauma had taken over her mind.  We weren't sure what that meant, but she said we could love her, and she would love us back,” Helene spoke.  Looking at her 'daughter', she added, “We did, we do love you, so very much, Darling.”

“From the moment you started to be aware, we told you that you were our Sofia,” Ramsey spoke.  “We never wavered in that, because you were our Sofia.”

“We never meant to hurt you, Sofia,” Helene added tearfully.

“I know that,” Kiki responded.  After a moment, she added, “But my name is Ana Alicia.  You can call me Ana.”

“Ana?” Helene asked.

As the time passed, the adults shared more information and got to know one another.  It was clear that the Bronsons loved Kiki, but everyone knew that they had broken numerous laws in their quest for a child.  Soon after Kiki had come out of her catatonic state, Ramsey had volunteered for the transfer to South America.  The family had been happy there, and they felt secure.  Kiki had been right about their hesitation in returning to the United States and, now, of course, she knew the reason why.

By the time the group left, several questions had been answered; yet many more remained.  Regardless, Kiki wasn't ready or willing to sever her relationship with the Bronsons.  She wanted to go back to Hillsdale and spend time trying to find herself again and to learn how to live with the nightmare of her childhood.  Janet had already passed along names of psychologists who could help her, and Kiki planned on making use of the recommendations.

====

“Stay in touch,” Kiki pleaded as she hugged Alex good-bye.

“You can count on that, Kiki,” Alex promised.  “You're coming to spend your Easter break with me, right?”

“Definitely,” Kiki responded.  “When the semester is out, I want to spend a couple of weeks with the Bronsons, but then I'd like to spend part of the summer with you.”

“I'd like that very much.”

“She's beautiful, Benicio,” Kiki spoke, looking over his shoulder at Sunny.  “I can tell she loves you.”

“It's mutual, Kiki.  She's made my life ... sunny,” Alex said with a smile.  “I love you.”

“I love you,” Kiki said as the two hugged again.  “Benicio, Mother did love us.”

“Yes, she did.  We'll find our brothers, and maybe we can find out more about what happened.”

“They have to be out there,” Kiki spoke.

“They are,” Alex spoke with more conviction than ever.

“It was a pleasure meeting all of you, and, Jack, thank you for the plane ride,” Kiki said as she bade good-bye to the others.  Hugging Sunny, she spoke, “Thanks for pushing him to find me.”

“You're welcome,” Sunny replied.  “If you ever need to talk, even just girl talk, call me, okay?”

“I will,” Kiki spoke, glad that she now had several new friends and maybe even a surrogate sister in Sunny.

====

Having dropped off Kiki at Hillsdale, the group was now back on the airplane and headed for the Springs.

“Why would she be catatonic?  She was released from the hospital,” Alex spoke, leaning forward in his seat.  He looked at Daniel and sensed the archaeologist had an idea, but was hesitant to speak.  “Daniel?”

“I wasn't going to say anything, but ...” Daniel sighed.  “No one knows how Edward Steele died.”

“Are you saying Kiki killed him?” Alex questioned, sitting back in shock.

“No, but maybe she witnessed it,” Daniel put forth.  He sighed and theorized, “It's possible there was some kind of altercation that we know nothing about.”

“Mother could have confronted Steele,” Alex surmised.

“It's possible,” Daniel spoke.  “The triplets may have witnessed something that, given the suicide attempt and their past, they couldn't process.  I don't know.  All I'm saying is that something else had to have happened.”

“Because Steele ended up in the garbage,” Jack noted.

“Was Elyse strong enough to do that herself?” Sunny asked.

“No,” Alex spoke.

“We don't know that,” Daniel interjected calmly.  “Irrational people can show incredible strength.”

“Like with adrenalin,” Sunny suggested, getting a nod from the archaeologist.  “We need to find your brothers, Alex.”

“We will,” Alex spoke, believing the words for the first time in a long time.

====

“Thank you both,” Alex said, shaking both Jack's and Daniel's hands.

“We didn't do anything,” Daniel responded.

“You were there,” the designer responded.  He hugged Sunny to him and expressed thoughtfully, “You two, and Byron, pushed me to find a life.  In doing so, I not only found this beautiful, caring woman, but, through her persistence, my sister.  After working my way to the busy but lonely top of the ladder, I also discovered the value of real friendships, and that's thanks to you two, too.”

“Oh, pshaw,” Jack said, dismissing their importance in Alex's life.  “Tell us the truth.  If that bulldozer were there, you'd still run us over.”

Laughing, Alex said, “Only if you tried to get me to put a door where a door doesn't belong.”

“Night,” Daniel spoke jovially.

“Great dinner party, Alex,” Jack teased as he began to walk away.  “Maybe next time we can find my Aunt Agnes.”

“Do you have an Aunt Agnes, Jack?” Alex called out.

“No!”

Alex and Sunny joined Jack and Daniel in laughing and then watched the couple drive away in Daniel's Silver Fox.

“And thank you,” Alex crooned to his lady love.

“You would have found her, Alex,” Sunny replied.

“Not without you,” the designer spoke, giving the woman a deep, passionate kiss. “Nightcap?”

“And the night,” Sunny said, smiling, walking arm in arm with her boyfriend.

====

“One down, two to go,” Jack spoke lightheartedly as he patted his thighs.

“Jack, what about the Bronsons?”

“That's up to Alex and Kiki,” Jack responded.  “Daniel, she was sold to them, but they did give her a good home and love her.  I can understand Kiki not wanting to turn them in, but that doesn't mean I condone what Elyse did.”

“You think she killed Steele,” Daniel stated.

“If she didn't, one or more of the triplets did,” Jack responded.  He added, “And I don't think that's something Alex wants to think about.”

“Is Alex still in touch with Annetta?” Daniel inquired.

“The cousin?” Jack responded.  “I don't think he said.”  He looked at his lover and asked, “Do you think she knows more than she told Alex?”

“I don't know,” Daniel replied.  “Jack, was I wrong?”

“What?”

“The recall device?  I pushed the general for it.  I was worried about her reaction for a while,” the younger man admitted.

“Angel, anyone who remembers that kind of abuse is gonna flip out for a while.  She was fine today,” Jack pointed out.

“She seemed fine, Babe, but that doesn't mean she is fine.”  Daniel looked at his husband and asked, “But now that she remembers a lot of her past, what happens if she wakes up and remembers that last week with her mother?”

“Then she learns the truth, and Alex does, too,” Jack answered.  “Danny, we both know that burying pain doesn't help.  Dealing with it, beating it, that lets us move forward.  It's never easy, but it's life.”

Pulling the car over, Daniel leaned over and kissed his husband.

“What was that for, not that I minded,” Jack said with a smile.

“For reminding me that pain is lousy, but can be beaten.  We need to make sure we're there for Alex and Kiki, if they need us.”

“We will be,” Jack agreed.  “Are we just gonna sit here?”

“For another minute,” Daniel responded as he kissed his husband again.

“Danny, the kids will be asleep when we get home,” Jack stated, a seductive smile on his face.

“Yeah, they will be, won't they?” Daniel replied, a big smile on his face.

Happy and in love, the Jackson-O'Neills headed for home to express their love in a way that didn't need words.  They'd survived much in their past; now, they'd help their friends to survive, too.  More than that, they'd be there to help the reunited Dennisons to move forward in love.

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