Dad Versus Daddy

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Mini-Angst, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - November 3-21, 2008
Spoilers:  None
Size:  53kb
Written:  November 10-11,14, December 8,17-18, 2004  Revised for consistency: August 11, 2007
Summary:  The Mouseketeers face a crisis.  Can they each handle their problems without hurting their fathers?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Hanky Warning!
2) 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.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fic(s), “Stargate”
5) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, QuinGem, Drdjlover, Linda, Pepi!

Dad Versus Daddy
by Orrymain

Jack lined up the three oldest Jackson-O'Neill children in the living room of their home and ordered, “Mouseketeers, sound off.”

“Geez, Dad, don't you think you're taking this Mouseketeer thing a little too far?” Jennifer asked, grateful this wasn't something her father did every day.  ~He must have watched one of his 'Mickey Mouse Club' videotapes this morning.~

“A rebellion?  Give me back your ears!”

Jennifer sighed, then relented, knowing she'd never make it out of the house until she went along.  When her father was in a playful mood, there was no stopping him.

“Jennifer!  I'm going to school, and immediately after school, I'm going by Bev's for about an hour or so.  I'll be home by five o'clock in time for dinner, but if I get delayed, I'll phone, and, no, I won't accept a ride from strangers.”

Jack nodded his approval and then looked at the second child expectantly.

“David!  I have my homework in my backpack, and Daddy is picking me up at my school and then taking me to buy new shoes.”

Jack smiled, turned his attention towards the youngest Mouseketeer, and prompted, “And?”

“Noa!  No go school yet.  Play Bij and K'tie,” the curly-haired blonde giggled.

Jack picked her up and said, “And I just may join you!”  The youngster was too young for regular school, but she did have a special class she would be going to that afternoon.  Until then, she was free to play at home with the beagles.  He gave her a kiss and refocused on Jennifer and David, saying, “We love you.  Have a good day.”

At that moment, Daniel walked in from the kitchen and handed David his lunch.

“Thanks, Daddy,” the boy spoke.

“Jen, do you need any money?” the younger father queried.

“Nope, Dad already gave me some.  Gotta go!”

Within minutes, Jennifer and David were on their way to their respective schools. Both were attending new schools this year, closer to their new home, and each were making new friends as the school year progressed.

True to her giggled words, as soon as Jack had put her down, Chenoa began playing with the two beagles.

Meanwhile, Jack and Daniel remained busy as bees, tending to the Munchkins and the twins.  With five children under the age of three, there was always a lot to do.

Mid-morning, the phone rang, and it was Jack who had answered.

“General O'Neill, this is Gloria Payne.”

Jack and Daniel liked the Payne family and were pleased that the Payne's daughter, Chloe, and Chenoa liked each other.  They had attended kindercamp together, as well as some other programs for youngsters, and were currently enrolled in the same educational play camp, which had begun the week before.

“Mrs. Payne, top o' the mornin' to you.”

The woman laughed at the Irish brogue she heard over the phone, and then said, “General ...”

“Mrs. Payne, call me Jack.”

“And I'm Gloria,” Mrs. Payne replied in kind.

“Gloria, it is.  What can I do for you?” Jack asked jovially.

“Well, actually, Chloe asked me if she could go to the park and play for a while, and she asked if Noa and Tia could come along.”

“Tia Gentry?”  Jack chuckled, opining, “She's a cutie.”

“Yes, she is.  If it's all right with you and Daniel, I can pick Noa up in about thirty-five minutes.  I thought, too, we'd stop and get some ice cream.”

“Can't go wrong with ice cream!” the general exclaimed.  ~That's another reason I like the Paynes -- they love ice cream.~

“My mother is visiting, and absolutely insists that any play date has to end with ice cream.  I think it's part of her religion!”

The two parents chuckled, and then Jack put her on hold while he checked with Daniel and Chenoa, who was eager to go play with her friends and have an ice cream treat.

“Gloria, it's a date,” Jack spoke when he released the call from 'hold' status.

The arrangements were finalized, and Gloria arrived on schedule to pick the toddler up for her afternoon play date.  She'd then take Chenoa with Chloe to their afternoon 'school' session, and Jack would provide the 'pick up' service at the end of class for the girls.

====

“It was so awesome,” one boy said.

Another seven-year-old boy added, “And next month we get to go camping.”

“Sounds like fun,” David interjected after listening to his friends talk for several minutes about an event both had just attended.  “What are the Adventure Guides?”

“David, you should join,” the first boy replied.  “The Adventure Guides is a lot of fun.  We do lots of neat things with our fathers.”

“I'd like that.  How?”

David's friends talked about their small group, which was part of the YMCA.  The boys and their fathers met twice a month at one of their homes, doing all kinds of activities.  David found himself totally enthused by it and was looking forward to participating; that is, until the conversation took a left turn for him.

“My dad said we might even go rafting next month.  Do you think your dad will want to join?”

“My dad?”  David was grateful when the boys were called back to class.  ~My dad?  I have two dads.  Who do I ask?~

====

“Sheila, did you see that cute guy eyeing you in science class?” Jennifer questioned as she and two friends walked down the hallway of the campus.

“Of course.  Isn't he awesome?  I'm hoping he'll invite me to the dance this month,” Sheila replied hopefully.

“That won't happen, Sheila,” Mary Beth said.

“Why not?” Sheila asked.

“Yeah, why not?” Jennifer echoed.

The school had bi-monthly dances, which even Jack admitted were well chaperoned from what he'd learned upon talking with school officials.  Jennifer had missed the opening dance, so was eagerly looking forward to the November event.

“It's a father-daughter dance.”

“Father-daughter?  Isn't that like a throw back to the Dark Ages?” Jennifer asked.

“More like the Stone Age,” Sheila remarked, sighing.  “There goes my hot date, but at least my dad knows how to move.”

Embarrassed at the prospect of a date with their fathers, the teenagers continued to discuss the dance.  All knew that in spite of their protestations, they would attend.  The school was trying various activities to promote parental involvement.  Other activities focused on mothers, but this one was designed for the fathers and their daughters.

“You're going to come, aren't ya, Jen?” Sheila inquired as they reached Jennifer's locker.

“Sure, it'll be fun.  I'm sure my ... oh no,” Jennifer sighed.

“What, Jen?”

“I don't know who to ask,” Jennifer answered, opening her locker and changing out her books.

“Your father, silly!” Sheila chuckled.

Smiling, Jennifer closed her locker door and explained, “I have two fathers.”

Jennifer had only recently begun to hang out with Sheila and Mary Beth, and the topic of her background hadn't really come up.  So far, they'd been too busy discussing their favorite pop singers and the current fashion trends to talk in much detail about their families.

“What?  Oh, another split home.  Ask your mom who to invite,” Mary Beth said a bit flippantly.

“No, you don't understand.  My mother is dead.  I mean, my mother and father, my birth mother and father, died in a car accident.  My brother and sister and I were adopted recently.”

“So ... ask your new dad,” Mary Beth suggested.

Sighing as she leaned against her locker, Jennifer revealed, “I have two dads.”

A bit frustrated, Mary Beth said, “Jen, you can only have one father who has custody of you.”

“No, I have two fathers, Dad and Daddy.”

Mary Beth looked at Jennifer quizzically and asked sharply, “What are you talking about?”

“Mary Beth, I don't know that I can say it any clearer,” Jennifer stated.  “I have *two* fathers for parents,” Jennifer spoke, annoyed at her friend while also dealing with her internal struggle over her dilemma.

“Your parents are ... gay?” Sheila asked, surprised.

“They don't like labels, and neither do I,” Jennifer stated, looking back and forth at her two girlfriends.

“Wow,” Sheila responded.

“What wow?  That's disgusting.  I have to go,” Mary Beth said as she turned and walked away hurriedly.

~Okay.~  Jennifer had witnessed Mary Beth's entire demeanor change in a few seconds.  She had a strong feeling that she'd just lost a friend.  ~Her loss.  I don't need friends like that.~  She looked at Sheila, waiting for her to walk away, too.  “Sheila?”

“So, two dads, huh?  That must be different,” Sheila commented.

“It is, but they're both great.  If it weren't for Dad and Daddy, my brother and sister and I would have been separated.  They kept us together, and ... they really are great.”

Cocking her head to the right, Sheila questioned, “Which one is the better dancer?”

Jennifer smiled.  It didn't look like Sheila was running anywhere.

“I don't know.  I've only danced with Dad, but I don't want to hurt Daddy's feelings.  I don't know what to do, Sheila.  How do I choose?”

The girl suggested, “Let's make a list of the pros and the cons.  Come on.  Let's get to the cafeteria and get a table.”  Sheila started to walk towards the room, but then she realized Jennifer hadn't followed.  She stopped and looked back.  “Is something wrong, Jen?”

“You're, um, okay with it?  I mean, with who my parents are?”

Sheila thought for a moment, then shrugged as she answered, “Sure, it's all about family.  My best friend, Sally; she's on her third dad.  Her mom can't seem to make up her mind.  My step-cousin, Rachel: she's got a dad in name only.  Jen, you've got parents who are present and accounted for; so what if they're the same sex?  I guess I'm not very big on labels, either.  So, come on.  Let's go make that list.”

Jennifer smiled brightly and joined her friend, sensing that she and Sheila would be friends forever.

====

Jack and Daniel were still experimenting with various programs for Chenoa, who was too young for regular school, but they felt she needed some time outside the home to interact with others.  One they had agreed to try was a special program for toddlers, ages three to five.  Chenoa was the youngest member of the class that met for three hours each afternoon.  They had signed her up for one three-month session, just to see how she liked it; and how they liked it, too.  With friends like Chloe in the class, they were hopeful.

This was the second week of the classes, and so far, everything was going great.

A woman leading the afternoon session reminded, “Okay, children, remember Parent's Day is next Friday.  We'll show off our arts and crafts and sing our special song for them.”

Chenoa beamed at the thought of showing off for her fathers.

“Here's a piece of paper with all the information on it,” the leader spoke.

The paper explained the regular meeting room would be undergoing some construction work so the presentation would be in the recital hall, which was a smaller room.  The note added that they would have other Parent's Days in which both parents would be welcome.

“Because we can't meet in here due to the construction, we'll only have space for one parent per child,” the woman stated.

Chenoa's smile faded, and her shoulders drooped.

Smiling, the leader spoke, “Okay, it's been a good day.  Let's review what we learned.”

====

As the youngsters cleaned up and readied themselves to meet their parents at the end of the session, Chenoa was still confused.  She heard a couple of the other children talking about which parent to ask.

“Both come,” Chenoa said to them.

“No, Noa, you can only ask one parent,” the older child stated.

“Yeah, just one,” the other older child chimed in.
 
The toddler didn't understand what construction meant, but what she did know was that she had to make a choice.  She was totally deflated.  How could she choose between her two fathers?

As Chenoa sat on a bench, waiting for Daniel to pick her up, she sat quietly, fidgeting with the note the teacher had given her.  She felt afraid and sad.

Recognizing the Silver Fox as it approached, Chenoa stood up, the crumbled notice from the teacher falling to the ground.

====

The next day Daniel was in his den working on his laptop.  He had some emails to respond to, including one from Yazid about the upcoming project in Mexico.  As he typed, he heard a tiny whimper.  Turning his swivel chair around, he saw Katie sitting at the den door, her tail wagging a mile a minute.  He smiled.

“Come on in, Girl.”

Katie ran in and jumped on Daniel's lap, giving him a slew of kisses, causing him to laugh as he petted her.

“Okay, okay.”  Daniel held her in his arms, turning her so he could rub her belly.  “You just love that, don't you?”

“Woof!” came the pleased answer.

“Hmmm.  I'm getting a sense that this isn't just a routine visit, Katie,” the hardworking man commented.

“Woof!” the youngest beagle responded, jumping off Daniel and going halfway to the door.  She turned, her tail wagging as quickly as it could.  Her eyes were bright.  “Woof!”

“Let me guess.  You want to go for a walk?”

Katie ran around in circles excitedly.

Chuckling, Daniel replied, “Okay.  Let's go see what's happening downstairs.”

Daniel had barely stood up when Jack walked in holding Bijou, whose tail was also wagging wildly.

“Hey, Danny, Bij wants to ...”  When Daniel began to laugh loudly, Jack asked, “What's so funny?”

“The smart little things just double teamed us,” the archaeologist stated.

“Huh?”

“Bij wants to go for a walk, and she just cajoled you into taking her for one, right?”

“Well, she was so cute and insistent,” Jack replied a bit defensively.

“And her daughter has learned well,” Daniel said, looking down at Katie who laid down and rolled over.  “Right, Miss Innocent.”

“What's the verdict?” Jack asked.

“Jen's home.  Why don't we let her and David watch the children for a few minutes,” Daniel suggested.

“I still get nervous,” the older man admitted.

“Me, too, but she's been following the rules, as has David.  We have to respect that and treat them accordingly,” Daniel put forth.

“Okay, let's go.”

====

At the park, Jack and Daniel played with their beagles and then watched as the dogs ran around nearby.  They never went too far away.

“Jack, I think they wanted some quality 'us' time,” Daniel remarked.

“Looks like it,” Jack agreed.

“Woof, woof ... wooooof, wooof, wooooof!” Bijou and Katie barked, standing a few feet away and staring at their owners.

“Babe, I think we've just been challenged.”

“Okay, you mutts, you're on.  Here we come!” Jack warned as he took off his jacket and gave chase.

For the next fifteen minutes, the four played an eager game of Tag, until Jack collapsed onto the ground and exclaimed to Bijou and Katie, “I give up!  You win!”

Triumphantly, the two beagles stood on Jack's torso and sat down.  Daniel laughed as he pulled his body up to a seated position on the grass.

“This has been fun, Girls, but we've been gone a long time.  We better go home now,” the archaeologist stated.

Obiediently, Bijou and Katie walked to the park bench where their harnesses were, waiting for Jack and Daniel to put them on for the walk home.

As Daniel put on the harnesses, Jack checked his watch and commented, “Whoa, we have been gone too long.”

“No, just longer than we've ever been gone before when the children have been home alone,” Daniel said hesitantly about their thirty-five minute adventure, which still had several more minutes to go before they'd reach home.

“Nervous?”

“No ... gawd, yes.”

“Let's go,” Jack said.

====

The couple breathed a sigh of relief as they approached their house, and all looked well.  As they headed for the front door, Jack stopped them.

“Oops, Danny, let's go around back so I can get the ladder.  I want to get that limb off the top of the house.

During the last big storm, a part of a tree branch had fallen on top of the house.  It wasn't heavy or big, but was just large enough to look funny and be annoying to the eye.

The lovers went to the gate and opened it, both surprised at the loud noise that began to blare.

“Wha...what?” Daniel questioned as he looked all around.

“Oh, geez, she has the alarm on,” Jack realized as the blaring grew louder.

To the couple's horror, they'd just set off their own security system, the alarm loud and grating.

Daniel hurried to the patio door, shouting, “Jen, turn it off!”  Seeing none of the children in sight, he pulled out his cell phone and was about to dial when his phone rang.  He saw the caller ID was their home number.  “Jen, it's us.  We're in the backyard.  Turn off the security system, please.”

“Yes, Daddy.”

There was a pause, and then the alarms silenced.  Daniel unlocked the back door and ran inside.  He called the security company and explained it was an accident, apologizing.  He was about to call Sam when his husband interrupted.

“Danny, I've got Carter,” Jack said, motioning to the cell phone in his hand.  “No, Carter, everything's fine.  Thanks for checking.”

Jack and Daniel each took a big breath.  Their system was complex and loud, and they were sure they'd hear about the false alarm from the neighbors.  Still, in spite of the craziness, they were glad to know it worked, even the connection Sam had rigged that would alert her whenever the alarms sounded.

“Why'd you go around the back?” Jennifer asked as she led her siblings carefully down the stairs to join their parents.

“I was going to ... don't turn this on me,” Jack snapped.  “Why was the system on?”

“Did something happen while we were gone?” Daniel asked with concern.  “Jack, we stayed at the park too long.”

“That's obvious.  From now on ...” Jack began, his upset obvious.

“Gawd!” the teenager exclaimed.  “Dad, I always turn it on when we're all inside the house, unless I'm expecting someone.  After that satellite guy recently, I just thought it would be a good idea, especially because there are so many of us.  I can't win with you two!” she cried, running to her bedroom.

Angrily, David defended, “Jen does a good job of watching all of us.  Why are you mad that she is doing what you've taught her, and me, to do?”

Leaving Jack and Daniel standing silently by the buffet, David ushered the younger children outside to play.  They watched as he set up ToddlerTown and put the five youngest children inside.

“Too old!” Jonny announced, not wanting to go inside.

“No, you're not, Jonny.  I have to help Chenoa water the plants, and I can't do that and watch all of you at the same time.  No breakouts!” David ordered.

Daniel sighed, “Jack, we just made a huge mistake.  We were wrong.”

“Big time,” Jack agreed.  “We've drilled security into her head from the moment we brought the Mouseketeers home, and just because it caught us off-guard and was inconvenient.”

“And David's, too.  We worry too much.”

“No, parents worry; that's natural; but what you said earlier is true: she's earned our trust and our respect, and from now on, we have to make sure she knows that,” the older man stated somberly.

“Agreed,” Daniel said.  “David, too, though we can't leave all the children with him yet, but he's never let us down, and he's a great helper for Jen.”

“They've been through the Stargate; they understand the risk even better than before,” Jack sighed, feeling like a heel for his overreaction to having set off the security alarm.

“Come on, Babe, let's go apologize to Jen.”

====

“Jen, may we come in?” Daniel asked as he tapped on her door.

“Like I could stop you,” the teenager groused.

“Say 'no',” Jack said through the door.

“You can come in,” Jennifer sighed as she sat up on her bed, holding a large pillow in front of her protectively.

As Jack and Daniel each went to a different side of her bed and sat down, the younger man spoke contritely, “We were wrong, and we came to apologize.”

“Apologies aren't always easy, Jen, especially for me,” Jack said.  “However, this time, I, we, owe you one.”

Easing up just slightly with her grip on her pillow, the teen responded, “I would *never* put my family at risk.  I always turn on the system unless I know someone is coming, or if we're downstairs, but the Munchkins wanted to play in their room, and I just thought it would be safer if the system was on.”

“It was a good choice, Jen, and we're proud of you.  We just ... worry because we love all of you so much,” Daniel replied.

“It would kill us if anything happened to you or to your brothers and sisters because we were careless,” Jack added.

“Like ... leaving them with me,” Jennifer said defensively.

Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, knowing the girl's feelings had been deeply hurt because of their inappropriate reactions.

“No,” Jack refuted.  “Leaving you with the brood isn't being careless; i's being smart.  We're sorry, Jen.  We sold you short, and we apologize.”

“It's okay.”

“No, it's not,” Daniel said.  “Maybe you can forgive us for being a little paranoid.  You did everything right.  We just overreacted because it was unexpected, and we ... gawd, the neighbors.  That alarm is loud.”

“I feel like a heel,” Jack sighed.  “We jumped on you, Jen, for doing exactly what we've taught you to do.  That's our shortcoming, not yours.”

Slowly, a smile emerged on the teenager's face and she responded, “I love them all so much, and ... you, two, too.  I would never endanger them.  Please believe that.”

“We do,” Daniel said, reaching out and taking hold of her hand.

Jack leaned over and placed a kiss on her cheek, after which he stated, “We trust you, Jennifer.  Peace?”

Jennifer nodded and agreed, “Peace, Dad.”  She tossed the pillow to the end of the bed and pointed out, “By the way, when you're gone, David is pretty strict with the babies, too.  I know he gives in a lot when you're around, but when you're  here, he doesn't have to be forceful.  He knows the difference, and so do they.”

“Yeah, we just saw a piece of that, too,” Jack sighed.

Just then Jennifer's cell phone rang and she spoke, “I think that'll be Sheila.  Can I invite her to dinner some time?  I'd really like you to meet her.”

“Sure,” Daniel answered.  “Just decide when, check with us first about the date, and then you can invite her.”

“Thanks, Daddy.”

As Jennifer answered the phone and began her conversation with Sheila, Jack and Daniel moved to the door.

“Jen,” Daniel called out.  Seeing her pause, he said, “We love you.”

“I love you, too, Daddy.”  A moment later, her parents were gone, and Jennifer spoke, “See, Sheila.  They are the best parents.  How can I only ask just one to the dance?  It's too big of a deal.  I hate this!  I just hate this!”

====

“Jack,” Daniel said in a tone that told his husband something was wrong.

“Hey, Babe, come join me,” Jack replied, patting the empty space next to him as he sat on the patio steps of the backyard.

The five youngest Jackson-O'Neills were playing outside with the girls helping Jack to keep watch.  The three oldest children were at their various schools.

Jack reached out and took Daniel's hand in his as he asked, “What's up?”

“Have you noticed anything strange with the Mouseketeers?  I mean, the last couple of days, they've been ... I don't know ... they're just awfully ...”

“Quiet and distant.  Every time they look at me I feel guilty, and I haven't a clue why,” Jack acknowledged.

“It's all three of them, Jack.  I actually caught Noa crying this morning,” Daniel informed.

“Crying?” Jack asked, looking at his spouse in alarm.  “Did she tell you why?”

“No, just something about singing a song; but it's not just her; I mean Jen and David ... there's just ...”

“Something's wrong,” both men said in unison.

“I'll talk to Jen when she gets home from school,” Jack offered.

“And I'll take David,” Daniel offered.  After a silence, he whispered, “Jack ...”

“Danny, they love us, and we love them,” Jack assured.

“Maybe they aren't happy with us.”

“Daniel, they're happy; we've been through a lot together already.  You *know* they're happy being part of our brood,” the older man stated with confidence.

“It's just ... we're not exactly ... normal.”

“To Netu, we're not.  Danny, this crazy world doesn't even know what normal is anymore.  Besides, I thought you didn't like labels.”

“I don't.”

“Normal is a label,” Jack stated pointedly.

Slowly, a smile emerged on the archaeologist's face, followed by a chuckled, “I love you, Jack.”

====

“Hey, Jen, how's it going?” Jack asked, picking up a figurine from a shelf on the teenager's wall and starting to bob it up and down in his hands.

“Dad!  Geez, and it's going just fine,” the teenager answered, grabbing the item from her father's hands and putting it back on the shelf.

Jack put his hands in his pockets and then raised his right hand, rubbing it across his nose for a second before speaking, “Jen, I would hope, that is, Danny and I hope, that you, David, and Noa know how much we love you, and that you can trust us.”

“Dad, you know we do.  I really have homework I need to do, so if this is just some ... checkup, everything's fine.  Really, it is.”

“You sure nothing's bothering you?”

“Dad, I have homework,” the teenager insisted, her pen tapping against her notebook.

“Sure.  I'll,” Jack waved his hand in the air, “just be going then.”  He walked to her door and started to pull it shut.  “We're here for you, Jen, in case you ever need to talk about ... oh, just anything.”

“Daaaaad!”

Jack nodded and finally closed the door, quipping quietly, “Well, that went well,” as he headed downstairs.

====

“David, it's about time to go to bed,” Daniel said, walking outside where David was looking through his telescope from his spot on the patio porch.

Jack and Daniel had set up an area that was just for the young boy's telescope and equipment so that he could look at the stars just like Jack did from the roof deck.

“It's such a clear night.  Please, Daddy, another half hour,” the youngster requested.

“Okay, um, David, is there anything bothering you?”

“Bothering me?  No.”

Immediately, the boy looked through the telescope.  Daniel could see his hands fidgeting, and he recognized the evasive tone in the boy's voice.  It was a tone he'd often used himself to avoid sensitive subjects.

“David, at school, they're ... I mean, the other children, they aren't teasing you about ... anything?”

“No, Daddy.  I'm fine.  Hey, look at this.  Come look, Daddy.”

Daniel smiled and allowed himself to be lured into a discussion of the stars.

====

The family tucked into bed, Jack and Daniel snuggled together on the sofa.

“Any luck?” Daniel asked.

“Struck out big time.  You?” the general asked hopefully.

“Never even made it up to bat.”  Daniel smiled, saying, “You know, before I met you I never used sports analogies.”  He laughed at the smug look on his lover's face and then sighed, “I still feel it, Jack.  There is something wrong.”

“We could try Noa.”

“No, I don't feel right about that.  She's been so upset; I don't want to make it worse,” Daniel responded.

“A family meeting?” the older man suggested.

“We have to do something.”

====

The next day, Daniel made a quick stop by the grocery store to pick up a few items they were running short of.  In the cereal aisle, he smiled and greeted Gloria Payne, who was doing her weekly shopping.

“We almost ran out of Froot Loops.  In our house, that's a sin,” Daniel joked, picking up a few boxes.

“I know what you mean, only Chloe is a Lucky Charms fanatic.  Daniel, will you be at the Parent's Day on Friday, or is Jack going?”

“Parent's Day?” Daniel questioned, not having a clue what the woman was talking about.

Gloria saw the blank look on his face and filled him in on all the details.

“Maybe Noa lost the papers,” Gloria commented.

“Maybe.  Thanks for telling me,” Daniel stated.  ~Gawd, the poor little thing,~ he thought, realizing exactly why she'd been so upset recently.~

====

“Jack, I need to talk to you,” Daniel stated, walking into the living room and moving quickly to put the groceries on the counter, not bothering to put them away.

“I'm right here.”

“No.”  Daniel looked around, smiling at their youngest children.  “In the den.  Um, put the babies in the ToddlerTown, and turn on the monitors, okay?”

Jack saw the urgent expression on his lover's face and did what was requested, putting the babies in their specially made playpen.  Then, he joined his husband in the den.  As soon as he walked in, Daniel closed the door.

“What's up?” Jack questioned.

“I think I know what's going on with Noa,” Daniel began.

“I'm waiting,” Jack responded anxiously.

“Jack, Noa's class is having a Parent's Day.  I think she threw away, or lost, the paper telling us about it.”

“Threw away?  Noa?  Why would she do that?”

Sighing, Daniel revealed, “Because it's her first Parent's Day, and because of special circumstances, she can only take *one* parent.”  Seeing Jack's perplexed look, he said, “Jack, she thinks she has to *choose*.”

“Choose?”  Suddenly, reality dawned on the retired general.  “Danny, that's ... are you sure?”

“I think so.  Mrs. Payne told me the children knew about the Parent's Day last week.  Jack, Noa has two new parents, Jack.  How can a little girl be asked to do something like that?”

Jack sighed, but now that they knew the problem, he knew they could solve it.  He turned his attention elsewhere.

“That explains Noa, Love, but what about Jen and David?”

“I don't know, but one child at a time,” Daniel insisted, wanting to stay focused on the toddler.

Nodding, Jack agreed, stating, “Let's go talk to her; she and ... you know, Danny, now that I think about it, the Mouseketeers have been spending a lot of time together.”

“Yeah, more than usual.”

“They're in Jen's room,” Jack advised.  “Let's make sure ToddlerTown is still in one piece and ...”

“You mean, let's make sure *your* son hasn't broken out again?”

“*My* son?” Jack said, beaming with pride.

Daniel chuckled, “He'd better be Special Ops, Jack, and not a prison escapee!”

“Maybe he'll be a magician,” Jack teased.

“He's beautiful,” Daniel said in all seriousness.

“Just like his daddy,” Jack responded tenderly, pulling Daniel in for a kiss.

“They're all so different, and yet ...”

“We know, Danny; doesn't matter, but we know,” the older man admitted softly about their children's heritage.

“We do.  I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

It was the closest Jack and Daniel had come to admitting out loud that they knew which of them had fathered each of their children.  They had worked hard to keep it a secret, but as the children got older, it was hard not to notice the obvious similarities to each of them.  By now, though, the reasons for keeping it a secret didn't matter.  Each man had long ago become a slave of love to each of their offspring, including those they had adopted.

====

The Munchkins and twins were having fun as they played in their secured area, so Jack and Daniel, portable monitors in hand, knocked on the door to Jennifer's room.  Entering, they found the three siblings seated on Jennifer's bed.  Chenoa was crying, and Jen was holding her.  David was seated opposite the two girls and was holding Chenoa's hands.

Jack and Daniel were heartbroken.  Obviously, whatever was going on was hurting their children much more than themselves.

“Okay, you guys, enough is enough,” Jack said, handing the monitor he was holding to Daniel, then reaching out and picking up the sniffling toddler.  She eagerly went into Jack's arms, burying her head in his shoulder.  “Hey, Princess.  Everything's okay.”

Daniel placed both monitors on Jennifer’s dresser, making sure that the volume on both of them was up; then he sat down on the bed and looked at the older children.

“We know what Noa's problem is, but we don't know what's going on with you two.  How about sharing?” Daniel requested.  When Jennifer and David looked at each other guiltily, he pleaded, “Jen, trust us.”

“I do.  We all do.  That's ... We love you, both of you.”

“And?” Daniel prodded.

When the teenager shook her head, Daniel sighed.  The archaeologist looked at Jack and nodded, wanting to fix the little girl's problem before continuing their talk with Jennifer and David.

Jack sat down on a chair, holding the toddler in his lap, while Daniel walked over and knelt down, taking one of Chenoa's hands in his.

“Noa, I saw Mrs. Payne in the store today.  She told me about Parent's Day,” Daniel spoke quietly.

The little girl sniffled loudly, crying “Noa not choose.”

“It's okay, Sweetie.  You don't have to choose.  Dad and I know you love us both.”

Jack interjected, “Noa, there are going to be lots of events as you grow up that probably only one of us can go to, but that's not a bad thing.”

“Not?” the toddler asked, rubbing her eyes with her free hand.

“No, because you know how Daddy and I like to have special time with each of our kids, so this will just be special time for one of us.  We'll always do things together, and we'll always have special moments for each of us with you, and with your brothers and sisters.”

“How choose?”

“Noa,” Daniel said.  “You don't have to choose.  You *never* have to choose.  You just tell us, and we'll decide.  You're not choosing.  We love you.”

“We love you, Noa,” Jack repeated.

The little girl finally smiled, feeling like a weight had just been lifted off her shoulders, though she still didn't know the answer to her problem.

“But sometimes ...”  Jennifer's unexpected entry into the conversation had both Jack and Daniel looking over at her in surprise.  She blinked and continued, “it's not that simple.  I mean, choosing is part of life, and if you choose one, then maybe the other will be hurt.  I, we, don't want to hurt anyone.”

Jack and Daniel exchanged another look.

“Okay, Jen, what's your story?” Jack asked insistently.

The teenager crossed her arms and looked away.

“Jen, trust us,” Daniel urged again, moving to sit back on the bed next to her.

“My school is back in the Dark Ages,” the girl mumbled.

“Jen,” Daniel said, rubbing gently against her arm.  “We need a little more detail.”

“They're having a father-daughter dance.  Can you imagine anything more ridiculous than that -- a stupid father-daughter dance.”

**She doesn't know who to ask, Jack.**

**That's obvious, Love.  You should go,** Jack communicated.

**Me?  You're the Fred Astaire of the family.**

“Stop it!” Jennifer demanded, earning surprised stares from her fathers.  “Honestly, if you're going to do this ... whatever it is you two do sometimes, do it alone.”

“Sorry,” Daniel said.  “Jen, both Jack and I would be honored to go to the dance with you.  You're not going to hurt either of us by asking the other.”

“But I don't know who to ask.  Don't you understand?  I love you both.  How am I supposed to decide?”

Still keeping contact with her, Daniel offered, “What if we both go?”

“Bo...both of you?  Could you?  Would you?” Jennifer asked, shifting to sit on her knees, facing Daniel but also looking eagerly at Jack.

“Sure, we would,” Jack said.

“You won't feel ... I mean, there'll be a lot of ... parents, and uh ...”

“Jen, Jack and I have dealt with prejudice for years.  We are not going to be embarrassed or hurt by it.  The important thing is ... will you?” Daniel questioned.

“No.  I want my fathers with me.  Would you both take me to the dance?”

“We'd be honored,” Daniel answered.

“I'll second that,” Jack added.

“Thanks,” Jennifer sighed contentedly, also feeling an immense sense of relief.

“Okay, Son,” Jack said to David.  “What's your problem?”

Having seen Jennifer's problem handled so easily, David quickly answered, “Adventure Guides.”  He told Jack and Daniel all about the Adventure Guides, that it was something he really wanted to do, but didn't know who to ask.  “I really want to join, but ...”

“Son, Danny and I can both do it.  It doesn't have to be one or the other,” Jack stated.

“It doesn't?”

Jack chuckled lightly, amazed that the geniuses of the family weren't that smart when it came to matters of the heart.

“No, it doesn't,” Jack assured.  “We'll check it out.  We've actually been wondering if you might want to join the Cub Scouts.”

David smiled, feeling better than he had in days.

“Listen up, Mouseketeers,” Jack said assertively.  He stood and plopped Chenoa back down onto the bed, and then he sat opposite Daniel.  He reached out and took Daniel's hand in his and smiled.  “We love all of you. There are probably going to be lots of times when only one of us will be able to attend some event or function, and maybe there will be times when you only want one of us.  You have to trust us.  Talk to us.”

“Don't ever be afraid to tell us what you're feeling,” Daniel continued for his lover.  “I learned the hard way that it's important to share your feelings with the people you love.  They help.  They really do help.”

Daniel treated his soulmate to a warm smile that communicated so much of their past and how Jack had helped the younger man to overcome so many insecurities and obstacles.

“Want both,” Noa sniffled.  “Song special.”

“You know what, Princess?  This is a special occasion, and your daddy and I aren't the best at ...”

“Jack?”

“We just told our children to be honest with us.  We need to be honest with them, too.”  After Daniel's reluctant nod, Jack looked at the Mouseketeers and spoke, “Breaking the rules is not something we condone, but for every rule, there's an exception.  I think this is an exception.”

Chenoa looked confused.

Jennifer said, “I don't think she understands, Dad.”

Jack leaned over and tickled Chenoa, promising, “Noa, Daddy and I are both going to hear you sing!”

“Yeaaaaaaaaa!” Chenoasaid, her tears finally going away.

The little girl didn't understand anything else, but it didn't matter.  Her parents were going to be there, together, and that's what mattered to her.

Jack and Daniel spent a few more minutes with the three children, both happy to see smiles having returned to their faces.

====

Heading back downstairs to make sure the younger ones weren't getting into trouble, Daniel noted, “It's awfully quiet, Jack.  I think Jonny is leading another breakout.”

“Jonny always gets the blame,” Jack whined as they walked down the stairs from Jennifer's over-the-garage bedroom.

“That's because he's always the one doing whatever it is that gets them into trouble,” Daniel replied.

“It's a setup.  He's being framed,” Jack teased.

“By whom?  Ash?”

“No, Little Danny, our little genius.”  Hearing his Love's chuckle, Jack pointed out, “You're not arguing with me.”

“Why bother, Babe?  Jonny is just like you.”

At the bottom of the stairs, Jack stopped suddenly, causing Daniel to bump into him, which was exactly what Jack wanted.

“And Little Danny is just like you.  You keep getting me into trouble, Love; don't change a thing.”

The lovers kissed and then Daniel said with a wry smile on his face, “You know, I'm not sure if I should feel all ... mushy inside, or be insulted!”

Jack chuckled, gave Daniel a little spank on his rear end, and then headed to ToddlerTown.

====

“Jack, I spoke with the head of the program,” Daniel said a while later.

“And?”

“She understands, but says we aren't the only ones in a unique situation.  She doesn't think it would be fair.”

“Daniel ...” Jack began, having no intention of disappointing their little girl.

“I know; we're both going,” Daniel said, smiling.

“If they give us a hard time, we pull her out,” Jack stated forcefully.

“Agreed.”

After a moment, Jack suggested, “Danny, let's tape it for the family.  Noa would love that.”

The two kissed, and then Daniel stepped back grinning.  Jack looked at his husband and gave him an inquisitive look.

“Okay, what gives?  You have that 'I have an idea' face,” the general observed.

“I just thought of something that might let us both go to the performance, legitimately,” Daniel answered.

====

Jack whistled, and Daniel clapped and cheered their little girl as the short presentation ended on Friday afternoon.

The general switched off the video camera that he'd used to tape the performance.  He smiled at his brilliant husband who had come up with the idea to offer to tape the entire performance for the school.  The school could then offer copies to parents.  The director of the program had loved the idea and agreed that one of them could accompany Chenoa as her official 'parent', while the other would be there as the school's volunteer cameraman.

“Who are they?” one of the older children asked the toddler.

Little Chenoa beamed and answered, “My daddies!”  She ran up to the two, still all smiles.  “See Noa?”

“We sure did, Princess,” Jack said, picking her up.

Daniel leaned in and gave her a kiss, “And you were wonderful.  We're so proud of you, Sweetie.”

Chenoa basked in their love.  She missed the stares from some of the other parents, but it wasn't important.  Right now, to the two most important people in her life -- her dad and her daddy -- she was the center of the universe.

====

“You know, I even like the motto of the Adventure Guides:  Friends Forever,” Jack said as he reviewed a brochure on the group the next morning.  “This'll be good for David.”

“I think you should sign up for it, Jack,” Daniel said as he dressed the twins for the day.

“We told David we'd both do it.”

“And we can, but only one parent can sign up, Babe, and this is more your style,” Daniel opined.

“My style?  Why?”

“Outdoors, sports,” Daniel said, shrugging.

“Daniel, you are just as capable as I am, and you've survived more in the wilderness than any of these other parents could possibly imagine,” Jack refuted.

“I know, Babe, but I think you should be the main parent we sign up.  I'll participate, and we can trade off sometimes, but I have a hunch this would be a perfect bonding experience for you and David.”

“What about you?”  Jack saw his husband's smirky smile and the knowing wink.  Daniel and David had long ago bonded through their common love of archaeology.  “Right.  What was I thinking?  Rocks!” he teased, laughing.

====

“Wow!” Daniel exclaimed.

“Now that's a hot ...” Jack began.

“Jack, that's our daughter you're talking about.”

“Oh, yeah.  Hey, put on some clothes,” the older man teased.

“Ah, Dad,” Jennifer laughed, giving Jack a kiss.  “I have clothes on.”

“Not much,” Jack spoke pointing at how much space there was between the dress hem and the girl's knees.  “Too much skin.”

“You look beautiful, Jen,” Daniel complimented about Jennifer's black dress with faux leather red belt.

“You two look great!” the teenager praised, taking in her fathers' silk shirts with matching ties and black pants (Daniel's shirt was blue, while Jack's was burgundy).

“Hey, Jen.  Big night, eh?” Sam called out, walking in from the kitchen.

“Hi, Sam!  Thanks for babysitting so Dad and Daddy can take me to the dance.”

“Don't worry about it.  You have a good time,” Sam responded.

“I will; I have the two most handsomest men taking me.”

Jack grinned, as did Daniel.

“She's prejudiced,” Jack said.

“Just speaking the truth, Dad.”

Sam watched the trio leave and smiled, having never imagined ten years ago that she'd be watching Jack and Daniel, married, escorting their teenage daughter to a dance.  In her opinion, the trio looked very dapper.

The blonde had already listened to Chenoa ranting about her school performance and how happy she had been that both her fathers had been there.  The little girl had been overjoyed when her parents promised her they'd have Sam, Janet, Cassandra, Grandpa George and, most importantly for Chenoa, Teal'c over for dinner one night to watch the videotape of her performance.  The parents had already watched it once with the rest of the children.

Sam had also dutifully admired, for both artist and parents, Chenoa's artwork, which was placed on the refrigerator for daily smiles.

While Jack and Daniel had dressed, David had given Sam the details of his first meeting of the Adventure Guides which Jack had taken him to earlier in the week.  She hadn't missed the gleam in the young boy's eyes when he'd told her about the first activity they'd participated in: archery.  Jack had hit the bulls-eye every time.  The other fathers were amazed and envious.  David had become an instant favorite of the other children, all hoping for private lessons from David's dad.

~Who'd ever believe it?  The general and the archaeologist, the men who have taken down every System Lord of note, going to school dances and song recitals.~  Sam smiled.  ~I believe it, every time I see the smiles in their eyes.~ Sam closed the front door, locking it, and then returned to the living room.  “So, Noa, tell me again about your program at school.”

“Noa happy!” the little girl exclaimed.

~That's what counts.~

“Dad whis'd,” Chenoa said happily.

“Whistled,” David translated, seeing the blank look on Sam's face.

“Daddy clap.”

“And cheered,” David interjected.

“Noa happy,” the toddler said again.

~Like I said, that's all that matters -- being happy, and in this house, there sure is a lot of happiness!~ Sam exclaimed, glad to have some part of her friends happy universe.

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