Dolphin's Edge

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - September 25-28, October 10, 2014
Spoilers:  None
Size:  56kb
Written:  February 18-21,23, March 3,9,12, 2011
Summary:  Sometimes life isn't fair, something Brianna has a hard time struggling with while working with dolphins.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Classic, Ali, Mama Bear, Navi!

Dolphin's Edge
by Orrymain

On this fairly bright day, Jack was outside, giving his truck a good cleaning.  Assisting him was his namesake, Jonny, who had just turned eight years old.

As he scrubbed the inside of the truck bed, Jonny called out, “Dad.”

“Yes, Son?”

“Did you know that Aunt Sam created a brand new acid that will dissolve anything?”

“She did?  Great, I guess,” the father replied as he diligently washed down one of the wheels.  ~Since when is he interested in science?~

“But she has a really big problem.”

“What's that?”

“She can't find anything to keep it in.”

Jack lowered the hose, greatly reducing the amount of pressure with which the water was flowing.  He stared at the sandy-haired boy, who was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

“Good one,” Jack praised.  “I believed you.”

Jonny let out a “Yes!” along with a slight fist pump.  A second later, the young jokester felt cold water all against his body.  Vehemently, he whined, “Dad!”

“If you can't take the water, get out of the truck.”

“You're funny, Dad.”

“I used to be.”  Jack mumbled teasingly, “She has nothing to keep the acid in.  Of course not.”

Hearing the muttered grumbling, Jonny piped up, “Yeah, 'cause the acid dissolved it.”

“Yeah, I get it, Jonny.  Chip off the old block,” Jack chuckled.

“I'm not an old block.”

“No, you're just a chip.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.  Just clean the truck.”

~I got him,~ Jonny thought pridefully to himself.

~Geez, he really had me.  I was buying it.  You're losing it, O'Neill,~ Jack groaned internally.

Just then Jennifer drove up in her Mini-Cooper.  Chenoa was the first to get out of the car, but she quickly reached back and took out two big shopping bags.

“Cleaned up, eh?” Jack asked the Curly Top.

“We found great stuff for Bri's birthday,” Chenoa advised her father.

“What'd you get her?” Jonny queried, popping up from the back of the truck.

“How come you're all wet?” Chenoa questioned curiously.

“I told a joke.”

Jennifer laughed out loud and, upon seeing her father's chagrinned expression, surmised, “Must have been a good one.”

“I got Dad good, Jen,” Jonny boasted.

“I know a joke,” Chenoa offered.

“Hit me,” Jack beckoned.

The young dancer took a breath and asked, “What's the difference between a fish and a piano?”

“I give up,” Jack answered quickly.

“You can't tuna fish.”

Jennifer giggled, as did Jonny.

“Princess, that's a winner,” Jack complimented.

“Noa, let's put these things inside the house,” Jennifer suggested.

“Okay, Jen,” Chenoa agreed as she began to walk towards the door.  “I know a great place where we can hide them so Bri won't find her presents.”

“Ah, Dad,” Jennifer began, glancing at the rear panel of the truck.  “You missed a spot.”

“I'll ...” Jack groused playfully, acting like he was about to douse his daughter with water from the hose.

Laughing, Jennifer ran towards the house, dodging her father's intentionally
'mis-aimed' firing of the hose water.

“Dad?”

“Yes, Son?”

“Does being an old block mean you have bad aim, too?”

“Smart aleck,” Jack groaned as he made a direct hit on his son, setting off a round of massive playtime.

====

In the backyard, David, Little Danny, and Ricky were sitting in the tree house having a very important discussion.

“It's a rock,” Ricky stated.

“But it's not just any rock, Ricky,” David advised his sibling.

“It's a calcite rock,” Little Danny elaborated.

“Calcite on dolomite, actually,” David clarified.

“Huh?” Ricky questioned.  “Looks like a rock to me.”

David chuckled, “Calcite is a mineral and dolomite is a rock, and this is special because they are with each other.”

All of a sudden, a voice called out, “David?”

Standing, David hurried over to a window and looked out.  On the grass staring up at him was his younger father, holding a sack of apparent trash.

“Sorry, Daddy.  I'll do it in a little bit.”  David saw the stare.  “I'm teaching Ricky about calcite on dolomite.  That's the rock we found in Tennessee, remember?”

“I remember.”

“Ten minutes?”

“Ten,” Daniel agreed, though his tone was stern.

As David returned to his spot, Ricky giggled, “Trash stinks.”

“Your turn is coming, Bro,” David reminded.  “Anyway, both the mineral and the rock have the same hardness.”

====

Meanwhile, Daniel headed for the game room to check on the children who were playing in there.  Aislinn and Jenny had a few friends over, and they were making the most out of the various games and activities that were part of the game room.  As he stood in the doorway watching the fun the kids were having, he heard footsteps.

“Daddy, I finished reading my story,” Lulu stated, referring to the book, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” by Jeff Kinney.

“Great.  Did you like it?”

“Yeah, it was good.”

Daniel took Lulu's hand and together they walked over to the sofa and sat down, their bodies turned in as they faced each other.  He wanted to discuss two issues, one being the book itself and the other being Lulu's ability to read it.  This was because Lulu had a reading disorder related to the phonology of the words.  She'd been diagnosed with it a couple of years ago, and since then, she'd been very successful at overcoming the disorder.  Still, she had to work hard at it, and her parents were very attentive to her situation.

“Any problems reading it?”

“Not very much.  I used all my techniques.  I had to look up a few words for their syllables, and I asked Jen about a couple of things earlier.”

“Okay, tell me about ... Greg.”

“Well, Greg had a bad attitude, Daddy, and I don't like some of the things he says, but it's a funny book, and I think because he's writing in his diary that he can say whatever he wants.”

“So, free expression?”

“Diaries are personal.  It's a place where we can say anything and no one knows what we say but us.”

“Is that okay?”

The nine-year-old thought for a moment and then nodded her head as she opined, “It's not what we write down in diaries that matter, Daddy, it's what we actually do and say that counts.  Sometimes, writing things down makes us feel better.”

“It sure does, Lil' Bit,” Daniel responded, reaching out and gently rubbing the girl's cheek.  “A+,” he graded, smiling when he saw her grin.  “Ash and Jenny have some of their friends over.  Why don't you go play with them?”

“Thanks, Daddy!”

The archaeologist was thrilled with Lulu's responses and her progress.  Her reading disorder was now more an inconvenience than a halting event that caused the little girl to feel inferior and insecure.  Feeling good, he rose from the sofa to make a phone call.  He had a few phone calls to make, and if he timed it right, they'd be done before General Hammond returned from the zoo with JD.

====

Some 950 miles to the west, Brianna was scuba diving in the Pacific Ocean.  She had gone to Monterey, California to help Doctor Katalski with some research.  He was one of two marine biologists who Brianna had met while on a trip with Megan Williams Awad in 2011.  The trip had really instilled in the young girl how much she wanted to work with dolphins for the rest of her life.

Brianna giggled when a Bottlenose dolphin swam right up to her and seemed to want to play a game of 'tag'.  Inside, she felt so alive.  Unfortunately, she knew it was time to swim in and, looking over at two of the other research assistants, she saw them motioning for her to go ashore with them.

~I hope you're here when I come back,~ the tomboy thought hopefully.

--

Once on the beach, Brianna began to remove her gear.  She was so energized that she couldn't help but ramble a bit.

“Rainbow's so amazing.”

“Your dolphin,” Katalski acknowledged with a smile.

“Well, that's what I named him, which I guess is silly since he'll probably be swimming away any day now.”

“Yes, dolphins migrate very slowly.  Rainbow and his friends have been in this area for a few weeks now.  They'll move on very soon.”

“I think he's staying for me,” Brianna replied, half teasing and half wondering if it might be true since the Cetacean had connected with her from their first meeting in the cold waters.

“Bri, you know it's possible.  Dolphins form tight bonds with humans, and they protect them,” Katalski reminded.  Then he addressed his entire team.  “We'll review our latest results and prepare for the next observation tomorrow morning.”

====

Later in the day, three members of the team were in the water on their own time, just playing and having a good time.  Two were adults, and the other was Brianna, who was the youngest member of the research team.

Rainbow caught sight of Brianna and returned to play.  It was fifteen minutes of pure joy for the teenager.  All too soon, it was time to go in.  She gave Rainbow a loving hug and began the swim in, following behind the adults.

Then joy began to turn to horror.  Something told Brianna to turn around and when she did, she saw a diver appear from around a twisting rock.  Her heart raged when she saw the diver fire an underwater rifle.

Brianna screamed in terror as she saw Rainbow floating dead to the bottom of the ocean, his beautiful gray body riddled with bullets.

~Rainbow.  He killed Rainbow!~

The diver turned and headed away.

~Can't let him get away.  Murderer!~

Full of ire, Brianna followed the dolphin killer.  Meanwhile, the two adults on her team reached the beach and waited for Brianna to appear.  When she didn't, they returned to the water, but they were minutes behind her and uncertain of her course.

~Kick.  Focus.  Don't let him get away.~

Moving faster than she ever had underwater, Brianna kept the diver in her sights.  She was only a minute behind him when he swam up to the beach on the other side of the cove where the research was being conducted.  When she surfaced, the man had already taken off his breathing apparatus and tank was laughing with a friend, who was in street clothes.  As fast as she could, the traumatized teen removed her gear to allow her freer movement.

“That's a real piece of work,” the pleased diver stated, referring to the weapon he was in the process of handing of handing over to the other man.

Taking hold of the high powered underwater rifle, the man saw a girl running towards them and asked, “Hey, who's that?”

The teenager was like a person shot out of a cannon.  She charged the dolphin killer, hitting him with all of her strength.

“Kid, back off!” the diver ordered as he stepped back a few times as a result of the girl's assault.

~Can't.  Hate.  Killed Rainbow.~

Brianna was not about to be deterred and her ability to think rationally was displaced by her rage of what see had witnessed.  The anger within her swelled to an all time high.

~Not working.~

Suddenly, the teen realized she wasn't getting anywhere.  Her pounding against the man's body wasn't doing any good.

~Teal'c.~

That quickly, Brianna switched gears and used some of the moves the Jaffa had taught the Jackson-O'Neill children over the years.  Her adrenaline was pushing her onward.  She wanted revenge; she needed it, not that she was capable of thinking about that at the moment.

The second man didn't want any part of Brianna's wrath.  He turned and ran, taking the automatic weapon with him.

“Murderer!” Brianna shouted as she kicked the man where it hurt the most.  “You killed an innocent creature.  You're scum!  No ... good ... scum!” she shouted at the top of her lungs while kicking the man with each word.  “I hate you!  You don't deserve to live!”

Seeing the man cower, Brianna wanted nothing more than to make him disappear.

“*Crap!*”  The teenager stopped.  She'd hurt the diver; she knew that, but to do more would mean that she would be stooping to his level, and she refused to do that.  ~Can't be like him.~  Breathing heavily and keeping focused on the diver, Brianna twisted a spot on a waterproof bracelet that she wore at all times when on her dolphin excursions.  “*Thor!  Thor, I need you!”

Instantly, the Asgard leader beamed down and blinked twice as he asked, “Brianna, is there danger?”

“Him!  He's a danger!  Do something.”

Brianna was choking on her words.  In fact, she went to the side of a rock and vomited.

Withi Brianna still emptying her stomach, Thor approached the man, who was grimacing in pain, and asked, “What have you done?”

The man was agape and could only stare at the gray alien.

Just as Brianna returned, looking pale and weakened, a whistle was heard.  She twisted her body around and saw a lifeguard and a few other people running towards them in the distance.

“Thor, you'd better go.”

“I will not be far.”

That's when the members of the research team emerged from the waters, having finally caught up with the teammate.

“Bri, what the heck is going on?”

The teen's eyes that just a moment ago had been sad, confused, and angry were now devoid of any feeling.  She sank down into the sand and buried her head in her hands.

====

In Colorado Springs, Daniel answered the ringing phone from his den, where he was listening to music with Little Danny and Jenny.

“Hello ... this is Daniel Jackson-O'Neill ... yes ...”

Daniel stood up as he stared straight ahead and walked towards the Tree of Life that hung on his wall, the framed ancestry full of family pictures, including one of Brianna.

Little Danny and Jenny exchanged a look.

“Someone's in trouble,” Jenny whispered to her brother, who nodded in agreement.

“I understand.  I'll be there as soon as I can ... no, ah, we have a plane ... right ... thank you for calling.”

Absentmindedly, looking like a robot on remote control, Daniel pressed the button that disconnected the long distance call and let his arm fall limp, his fingers barely keeping the cordless phone in their grip.  He continued to stare at the family pictures.

“Who's in trouble?” Jenny asked perceptively.

The simple query brought the archaeologist back to the current reality.

“Ah, listen, we're going to have to finish our Beatles appreciation another time,” Daniel spoke apologetically as he walked over to the desk and placed the phone on its base.  Then he went over to the to the CD player and completely turned off the system.  “Um, would you two go downstairs and find Dad, and tell him to come upstairs, to the master bedroom ... please?”

“Daddy ...”

“We'll talk about it later,” Daniel interrupted.

“Is it Bri?” the Munchkin asked.

“Are you going somewhere in Jo, Daddy?” Jenny asked about the family's small plane.

“Quick trip.  Go on and get Dad, please.”

====

“Daniel, what's going on?” Jack inquired as he entered the master bedroom and saw his lover putting on his jacket.

“Babe, we have a situation,” Daniel responded, his stern and formal tone indicating the seriousness of what was happening.  “Bri's, uh ... in jail.”

“*What?*”

“Jack, they're just holding her until I get there,” Daniel soothed.  “Doctor Katalski tried to get her released to him, but they want one of her parents to get her.”

Briefly putting his hands over his face, Jack asked in a tight voice, “Daniel, why is our daughter behind bars?”

“Don't be overly dramatic,” the younger man warned, knowing his Love was fighting the same basic instinct he had regarding their family: protect.  “I don't know what happened except ...”

“Except what?”

“She beat up some man.  That's all I know.”  Daniel picked up his keys and gave Jack a quick kiss.  “I'll let you know when I know.”

Jack spun around and called out to his Love who was already in the hallway, “Call me!”  He ran his hand along his neck and groaned, “Beat up a man?  Why?”

====

As Daniel ran through his preflight checklist, he wondered what had happened to provoke Brianna in using her self-defense skills on the attack.  From the brief bit he'd been told on the phone, he surmised that she had used techniques Teal'c had taught her and the rest of the brood over the years.

~Those methods and skills are only supposed to be used to defend yourself or others, Bri,~ Daniel thought, symbolically communicating his feelings to the tomboy.  ~What happened?  There has to be reason.~  He sighed and spoke aloud, “A big reason.”

As the plane left the ground, the archaeologist thought about how scared his daughter must be.  That concern morphed to his worry as he pondered scenario after scenario of why his daughter would act in such a way.  Yet, he never came close to the actual reason for Brianna's behavior.  He would have to find that out once he landed and made his way to the police station.

====

“Your father's here,” a policeman announced after opening the door of a small room.

As soon as Daniel walked in, Brianna ran to him and began to sob.

“Whatever's wrong will be okay,” Daniel promised as he held his daughter securely.  “We'll fix it.”

“You can't fix this, Daddy,” Brianna half cried and half yelled.  “Daddy, he killed Rainbow, for no reason.  I saw him die right in front of me.  Why, Daddy?”

Daniel could barely make out what Brianna had said, her sobs so intense and emotional that her words were garbled.

“Let it out, Bri,” Daniel urged, having the patience needed to wait to finally get the entire story when his daughter was ready to tell it to him.

====

“I'm really sorry, Doctor Katalski,” Brianna stated in a near whisper as Daniel kept his supportive arm around her.

“It is not the first time I've seen something like this, Bri.  It is wrong, and it is hard on our hearts, but if you are to continue your work, but you must learn to face the darkness.”

“Thank you for watching out for Brianna,” Daniel stated, shaking the scientist's hand.

“It is easy, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill.  She loves the dolphins as I do; maybe more even.”

As Daniel and Brianna began to leave the hotel, one of the adults called out to her.

“Bri, wait a sec!”

“Daddy, this is Nick.  He's works with Doctor Katalski,” the tomboy intoned, her emotions still causing her distress, something she was trying not to think about by simply shutting out the world as much as possible.

The two adults said their hellos.

“I thought you might like this,” Nick stated as he held out an envelope.  As the teenager blinked a couple of times and began to open the envelope, he elaborated, “I took it this morning.”

Full of uncertainty, the teenager opened the yellow container and pulled out a large photograph.

“It's Ra...R...”  Brianna again broke out into tears, unable to speak clearly.  She threw her arms around Nick and cried, “Thank you,” before turning and running swiftly towards the door.

“She and Rainbow connected the very first day we were here,” Nick told Daniel.  “This morning, they were just playing.  I'm not sure why I took it.”

“Thank you,” Daniel expressed quietly but appreciatively before he turned and followed his daughter outside.

====

Daniel watched compassionately as Brianna walked to the edge of the ocean.  She had the photo of Rainbow 'kissing' her clutched to her chest.  Still not devoid of tears, she fell down onto her knees, lowered her head, and cried some more.  Daniel's heart was breaking, and he wasn't sure if he'd made the right decision or not to bring Brianna back to the ocean before heading home, but she'd made the request, and he just hadn't been able to say 'no'.

After fifteen minutes, Daniel figured it was time to move in, so he began a casual progression forward.

“Sweetheart, it's time to go.”

Brianna nodded, her face red and wet from her crying.  She looked out onto the ocean and began to speak.

“Rainbow, I will never forget you, and I promise you that I will work my entire life to try to make sure that no other dolphins are murdered so savagely as you were.  You're part of me, Rainbow.  You were so beautiful.”  Brianna stood up and whispered, “Goodbye.”

Daniel hugged the tortured young girl and then slowly they headed for the rental car.

====

Halfway through what had thus far been a quiet flight from Monterey, Brianna suddenly spoke.

“I remembered something today, Daddy, something I'd ... forgotten ... about my mother.”

“Care to share?”

Staring down at the envelope she had yet to let go of, Brianna explained in a hush, “I was just four or five.  I had a cat; actually, he was just a kitten.  I called him Hobo.”

“You never mentioned ... Hobo before.”

“I wiped him out of my mind.”  Brianna looked over at her father and queried, “Isn't that a horrible thing to do?  I pretended he never existed.  Until today, it was like he'd never been born.”

“What did you remember, Bri?”

Brianna looked out the window, wiped away a tear, and answered, “She killed him.  My mother was high on drugs.  I didn't really understand that then, but I know that's what it was now.  She never liked Hobo, and one night when she was doped up out of her mind, she killed him.”

“Killed him?”

“She kept saying Hobo was a ... a snake-like monster.  I tried to hold him, but I was so little.  She screamed he was a snake and he was going to eat her.  She took Hobo into the bathroom and ...”

When Brianna's voice trailed off, Daniel reached over and took her hand.

“Your mother had a lot of issues, Bri.”

“I still forgive her, Daddy, but I let Hobo down.”

“You were a little girl, Sweetie.”

Brianna and her sad eyes looked at her father as she replied, “And Hobo was a little kitten with no one to protect him but me, and I couldn't, just like I couldn't protect Rainbow.”

“Bri ...”

“I'm going to keep my promise to Rainbow, Daddy.  More than ever now I want to study dolphins and really know them, and when I get my degree, and when I really am able to work all the time with them, I'm going to do everything I can to protect them.  That man had no reason to murder Rainbow.  He was playing a game.  Destroying a beautiful life meant nothing to him.”

“Ah, Bri, about that man.  You need to fill in a couple of blanks for me.”

“I know.  You and Dad are going to be mad at me, but I had to do it, Daddy, or I couldn't ever live with myself again.”

Daniel squeezed Brianna's hand, and then she took a big breath and told her father everything that had happened.

====

It was well after midnight when Daniel and Brianna walked inside their house.

“Danny?  Bri?” Jack called out, putting down the book he was trying unsuccessfully to read, and heading towards the entranceway.

“Dad!” Brianna exclaimed, letting herself be totally engulfed by her older father.

“Are you okay, Princess?”

“No, but Daddy says I will be,” Brianna sniffled as she pulled back.

“You wanna talk?”  Jack asked as he unconsciously checked his daughter over for injury.  ~No sign of physical harm.~

“I'm really tired, Dad.  Can I just go to bed?”

“Sure,” Jack agreed.  ~But big signs of emotional distress.~

Brianna gave her parents another hug before she walked laboriously up the stairs.  When she was out of sight, Jack turned and saw his husband sit down on the living room sofa and close his eyes.

“Danny, what happened?”

“I'm sorry I couldn't call, Jack.  There just ... wasn't any time,” Daniel lamented.  “Jack, our children, I mean Bri ... and Lulu, too, it feels like they've been ours forever, but we have to remember that we've only had them for four years.  Bri's first nine years were a nightmare, and no matter how happy she is now, and Lulu, geez, Jack, you know the sick things that were done to her, I ... I know they're happy now, that they have a good life with us, but those nightmares will always be a part of them, no matter what.  Gawd, I'm rambling.”

“Nothing new,” Jack teased gently as he sat down on his lover's right.  ~Crap, this is bad,~ he thought.  Daniel hadn't been so unclear in his speech pattern in ages.  That's how Jack knew the severity of the situation.  He had to work through all that his lover had said and make it comprehendible.  ~The gist is that Bri and Lulu are happy now, but they weren't before we adopted them.  Nightmares reside deep within.  Noted.~

“All I'm saying is that it's part of them, and we're lying to ourselves if we think that it's not.  The nightmares never totally disappear.”

“I guess you'd know about that better than I would,” Jack replied, rubbing his lover's back for a moment.

“Yeah,” Daniel sighed.  He paused, gathering the strength to explain.  “Long story short for now.  Bri made friends with a dolphin she named Rainbow.  Earlier today, well, yesterday afternoon, a man with an automatic underwater rifle decided to use the dolphin as a target.  There was no reason, Jack.  He was just looking for something to shoot, and he picked the dolphin.”

“Bri saw?”

“Yes.  She swam after the man and when she caught him, she unleashed every pent up emotion in her life and hit him, and when that wasn't strong enough, she used Teal'c's more ... advanced moves to keep the man down.”  Daniel cocked his head slightly and elaborated, “Jack, she used Chuk'ga, only she left out all of the ... mind elements.”

“In other words, she beat the crap out of him without thinking about what she was doing.”

“More or less,” Daniel answered unhappily.

“How hurt was he?”

“Bruises and a fractured rib.”

“Are we looking at a lawsuit?  Is Bri ...”

Daniel raised his hand to stop the myriad of questions he knew was coming and interrupted with, “No because there was some ... outside help here.”

“More words,” Jack requested.

“Thor.”

“I need more than that.”

“Yes, well, speaking of nightmares,” Daniel began.  “Remember that little Men in Black device of Thor's?”

“Not one of my favorite memories.”

“Nor mine,” Daniel agreed.  “Jack, Bri was so angry on the beach that she used the communication link in the bracelet to call Thor.”

“And?”

“And he popped in.  More than that.  Apparently, Bri was so upset that she just wanted the man gone, but once she was in the holding room, she knew that wasn't realistic.  Thor beamed in for a second time, and they had a chat.”

“Chatting isn't high on Thor's 'to do' list,” Jack quipped.

“No, but ... after all these years, he knows us pretty well, and he made a suggestion to Bri that she went along with.”

“He zapped him,” Jack surmised.  Almost like playing a game, he guessed again.  “He sent him to some desolate planet in the middle of Nowheresville?”

“The man who killed Rainbow is now a diehard defender of dolphins.  He's about to become an activist, devoting his time and money to protecting ocean life.  Thor took away his memory of seeing him and altered the memory of what happened on the beach.”

“What did he tell the cops?” Jack questioned curiously.

“That it was a misunderstanding, that he didn't know how he acquired his injuries, but surely, it wasn't a harmless-looking thirteen-year-old girl, and that she had come along and shouted for help.”  Daniel cocked his head, adding, “Of course, none of that is true, but he believes it now.”

“What you're telling me is that the man who killed for no reason is now going to be ...”

“Probably one of the biggest advocates for protecting ocean life in the country; maybe the world.”  With another sigh, the archaeologist added, “Brianna said as much as he wanted him dead, and she did, that when Thor suggested the ... Men in Black device be used, she realized all the good he could do.”

Jack looked over towards the mantel, centering in on a photograph of the Mavericks, better known as Jeff, Brianna, and Lulu, who were all adopted at the same time in the fall of 2010.

“Daniel, what are we going to do?”

“About?”

“She hurt a man,” Jack responded.  “Look, I would have beat the crap out of him, too, but I'm not a kid anymore.  She is.”

“I don't know, Jack.  I really don't.  I guess we have to do something, or maybe ... maybe Teal'c.”

“At least we know she can take care of herself.”

“All of the children can, which has nothing to do with the fact that we'll always worry about them anyway,” Daniel put forth.

“It's a parent's duty to worry.”

“Guess I'm doing my duty then.”  Daniel leaned back, his eyes focused upward at the ceiling.  He faced his Love and asked, “Do we need to talk to Thor?”

“I think he did a good job, Danny.”

“Me, too.”

====

Thirty minutes later, Jack slowly opened the door to Brianna's room.  The lights were out and the blankets were pulled taut to her head.  He walked to the edge of the bed and stood watching the young girl.  He couldn't help but remember how she'd been when they first met.

“So tough,” Jack whispered.

“No, I'm not,” Brianna negated softly, turning around to reveal a once-again wet face.  “I'm not tough at all, Dad,” she sniffled.

Jack sat down and quickly had an arm full of vulnerable tomboy.

“Rainbow was the most beautiful dolphin I'd ever seen, Dad.  He loved me, and I loved him.”

“I believe you, Princess.”

“I lost it, Dad.  I saw that man fire, and I saw Rainbow's life just bleed away, and I lost it.  I wanted to hurt that man so much.”

“You did, and we need to talk about that.”

“Did Daddy tell you about Thor?” Brianna queried.

“Yes.”

“I had to call him.  I didn't know what else to do.”

“Bri, we don't have a problem with that.  It's what you did to that man.  You hit him so hard that you fractured his rib.”

“He killed Rainbow.”  Brianna stared her father straight in the eye and asked, “What would you have done?”

“Beat him to a pulp,” Jack answered truthfully.  “But that doesn't make it right.”

“There wasn't anyone else there, Dad.  There was no one to fight for Rainbow, and I owed it to him, and to Hobo. Did Daddy ...”

“Yes, Bri.”

Brianna was nestled into Jack's safe hold.  Life was so complicated, and right now, no one seemed to know what the right thing to do was.

“Doctor Katalski will probably never let me work with him again.  I guess I can't blame him.”

“He was responsible for you, Bri.”

“And that's the only reason I have any regrets about what I did, Dad, and even then, I have a hard time regretting it.”

The two settled into silence, the silver-gray haired man rocking his daughter until she slipped into an uncomfortable sleep.

====

As the sun rose that morning, Jack and Daniel let Brianna sleep in.  They gathered the rest of the brood together and explained a short version of what happened.

“You aren't going to punish her, are you?” Jonny asked.  “That man was bad.”

“Jonny, if you're being attacked or if you're protecting a family mem...” Daniel trailed off, having caught a glimpse of Bijou and Katie as they sat together in between Little Danny and Chenoa.  He turned away, swallowing hard.  “I ...”

“Danny?” Jack questioned tenderly, his hand reaching over to his husband's shoulder.

“Jack, if someone hurt the girls, or any one of our zoo, I might do the same thing,” Daniel admitted in front of the entire family.  “And I know that you ...”

“Yeah, I would.”

“Rainbow was family to Bri.  She loved that dolphin the way we love our zoo.”

“Rainbow was part of the zoo, Daddy ... to Bri,” Little Danny put forward.

The conflicted parents were more confused than ever.  How could they teach their children restraint when in this instance, they had a hard time believing that they themselves would have done anything different.

“Woof!” Bijou opined with a quiet bark.

“Kids, violence is something we want to live without.  Do *not* use this as an excuse to fight.”

“We protect one another, Dad, and we never leave anyone behind, not even our dolphin,” Jonny refuted, taking ownership of Rainbow as an extended member of the zoo and sounding so much like Jack that Daniel had chills flow through him.

“No fighting,” Daniel reiterated, though his words were spoken quietly.  His heart wasn't in it, but he still insisted, “Fighting is never the answer.  Bri had alternatives.  She just ... she just didn't see them at the time.”

The brood looked at one another, not really convinced, but knowing they needed to go along.

“Okay, let's just be aware for the next few days,” Daniel requested.

“Give Bri room,” Jack added.  “Do your homework, but we're not going to have any classes today.  Go on.”

The kids went on their way, leaving the parents alone except for Katie, who jumped up onto Daniel's lap.

“Jack, I was all ready to ... lay down the law and then I saw the girls.”

“I know, Angel,” Jack acknowledged, reaching over to pat Katie the same as his husband was doing.  “It's hard to preach something when you don't believe it.”

“I do believe it.  It's just ... exceptions.”

Jack nodded, knowing that there were exceptions to every rule and hurting their animals was a definite exception to the 'no fighting' rule.

“So ... what are we going to do?” Daniel asked, more uncertain than he'd been in years about parenting.

“Right now, we take care of our kids, the two-legged, the four-legged, and even the feathered one,” Jack stated, adding on the last part as he saw Ptolemy climbing on her cage.

This time it was Daniel who nodded, while at the same time bringing Katie closer to his chest as they began to play a bit more intensely.

====

After finishing his school assignments, Little Danny had an idea.  He looked for his parents, but Jack had gone out to run a few errands, and Daniel was on his cell phone engaged in a business conversation with Karissa Lewis at J-O Enterprises.  The child prodigy was just too excited to wait, so he broke the rules, willing to take his punishment if his parents so desired.

~Bet it's in Dad's study.~  The child prodigy walked swiftly to the study and approached the desk.  ~They always keep the num...~  He smiled.  ~Here it is.~

Picking up the phone and using the number that he'd found in the list of emergency phone numbers on his dad's desk, Little Danny dialed.

~He likes Bri.  He'll help.~

When a man answered the phone, Little Danny earnestly went after his goal, identifying himself, asking several questions, and ultimately making a special request.  If he succeeded, he'd contact his big brother later and proceed further with his plan.

“Thank you,” the boy concluded, disconnecting the call.  ~I hope it doesn't take them very long.~

====

Two hours later, Little Danny was ready for the next stage in his plan.  He opened the communication program, engaging the webcam in the process.

~Please answer, Jeff,~ the Munchkin urged from his heart.  While he waited, he did allow himself a moment of relief, knowing that he wouldn't be punished for using the computer and making the call to his big brother.  The children were allowed to contact Jeff at their discretion as long as they had computer time left in their day's allowance of usage.  ~I have lots of time left.~

“Hey, Bro.  Listen, I'll call you back in ...”

“Ice cream.”

There was nothing more sacred to the Jackson-O'Neill children than ice cream.  Saying the word now, so out of context, was one of their many codes to communicate need.  This one meant no physical danger, but still, there was something important to be discussed.

Putting down his backpack, Jeff took a seat and responded, “Fill me in.”

The second oldest of the brood, Jeff was currently attending college at the University of Cincinnati where he was in the architecture program.  This was the first he was hearing about Brianna's experience.

“How's she doing?”

“She's been in her room all day, Jeff.  Dad and Daddy told us to leave her alone, at least today,” the Munchkin answered sadly.  “Jeff, I know what we can do to make her feel better, just a little.”

“Okay, Bro.  I have class in an hour, but I'll skip it, if I have to.  What do you need?”

Little Danny smiled and then sent his brother a file over the computer as he expounded upon his idea.

====

Brianna had been in bed all day, getting up only to go to the bathroom and to indulge her fathers' wishes that she at least eat an apple and drink some water.  It was a few minutes before dinnertime when Little Danny's project was finally done.

The Munchkin tapped quietly on his big sister's door, but she didn't respond.

“Bri, it's me.”

Still, there wasn't a response.

Determined, Little Danny entered his sister's room without her permission.  He walked over to the bed, going to the furthest side since that's the way Brianna was lying.

“Bri,” Little Danny called out.  He knew she was awake.  He could feel it.  Trying not to disturb her too much, he climbed up onto the bed, lying down and facing her.  “Bri.”

“Please leave me alone, Little Danny.”

“Na-huh.  You're my sister, and I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Brianna sighed as she opened her eyes.  “You're going to stay here until I do whatever it is you want, huh?”

Little Danny just grinned.

With that, Brianna sat up, bringing her legs to tuck against her chin in a somewhat self-protective pose.  Before she could even react, she felt herself totally engulfed in a Munchkin hug.

“More than anyone, I know you understand,” Brianna spoke in a hushed tone.

“It hurts, huh?”

“So much, Little Danny.  I wish you could have seen him.  I have a picture, but it's not the same as being there, watching.  He was so graceful.”

“I brought you something, Bri.”

The tomboy watched as Little Danny went to her computer and inserted a DVD.  On it was the special project that he and Jeff had been working on all afternoon.

As the DVD began, Little Danny quickly rejoined his sister, watching her as much as he was viewing the surprise.

The music to Flipper, a popular 1960's TV show, began with images of a dolphin jumping in and out of the water.  Brianna's eyes widened and she found herself crawling to the end of the bed.

“Little Danny, that's ...”

“Rainbow,” the boy affirmed.

“I'd know him anywhere.”

For ten minutes, there was nothing but music that highlighted the dolphin at play, both above and below the surface of the water.  Then there actual scenes of Brianna interacting with her Cetacean friend.

Openly, Brianna cried, quickly feeling the warmth of Little Danny's arms around her.  Both continued to watch for another five minutes.

Members of the research team were seen at times, talking about their tests and observations.  Much of the footage was raw, but it was all accurate.

When the main portion ended, Doctor Katalski appeared on the DVD.

“Brianna, when we met three years ago, I sensed something special in your love of the ocean.  You have respect for the lives and the natural elements.  You love the dolphins.  I told you when you left that you must accept that pain of what you will see if you choose to continue your educational pursuits.  I hope you will.  The loss of Rainbow will remain with you for the rest of your life, but it is my fervent hope that you let Rainbow motivate you to move forward.  Honor and respect Rainbow in his passage as you did as you bonded with him over the past week.”

At that point, the scientist waved over Nick, the team member who had given Brianna the photo of Rainbow.

“Bri, Delvina and I retrieved Rainbow.  We got to him before ... you know.  He's pretty intact.  We have him on ice, in case you want to say goodbye.”

Doctor Katalski took over, saying, “Brianna, like a tossed rider and his horse, you must return to the ocean.  We have three more days here in Monterey.  Please consider returning to help us close out this project.  I need you.  Your dolphins need you, and you need them.”

One last scene of Rainbow appeared.  It was the still image of him kissing Bri, the moment that Nick had managed to capture for all time.

Brianna's body vibrated with her intense emotions.  She sobbed unabashedly as she stared at the still image.  She went on like that for a few minutes, the image having been paused by her brother.

Finally, the Munchkin inquired, “Are you okay, Bri?”

Hugging her brother tightly, Brianna cried, “I love you, Little Danny,” only this time with a bit of a smile on her face.

====

Long before sunup the next day, Jack, Daniel, Brianna, and Little Danny were headed in Jo for Monterey while the rest of the family was under the watchful eye of their grandfather for the weekend.  It was a fairly quiet trip as Brianna dealt with her internal struggles.

Soon enough, the four were at the research site on the beach.

“He's in here,” Nick advised, leading the family into the area where the dolphin was being preserved.  “We cleaned him up, Bri.”

Brianna whispered her thanks and walked inside the room.

“Son, are you sure you want to go in?” Daniel asked his namesake.

“Bri needs me; she needs all of us,” the little boy responded, knowing the sight of the dead dolphin would be difficult to take, but believing that he had to in order to be supportive.

“Oh, Rainbow,” Brianna sniffled.  She opened up the top of the container and ran her hand along the cold skin.  “I'm so sorry.”

--

At the back of the room, Jack inquired of Nick, “What happens to him next?”

“After Bri leaves, we'll dispose of him.”

“You can't do that,” Daniel heard himself say.  “Jack, she can't handle that.  Look at her.”

“We can bury him,” Little Danny suggested.

“Bury a dolphin?” Nick questioned.

“They buried Moko in New Zealand,” the little genius pointed out.  “I read about it in the encyclopedia.”

“That's right,” Nick acknowledged about the New Zealand dolphin that had died in mid-2010.

“Not sure where we'd do that,” Jack interjected.

“Cremation,” Daniel offered.  “Do you think Bri would like that?”

Jack thought for a moment and asked Nick, “Is that doable?  Can we cremate the dolphin and get his ashes?”

Not waiting for the answer, an excited Little Danny made his way over to where Brianna was still saying goodbye.

“He is beautiful, Bri.”

Brianna took a breath, knowing she needed to let go.

“Bri, Dad and Daddy said we could take him home with us.”

The teenager's head turned sharply toward her parents.  She felt her heart beat louder and faster than it had all day.  She looked back at Rainbow and smiled.

“I don't want you to be ... fed to the sharks,” Brianna told her beloved friend.  A moment later, her parents stood behind the two children.  “Dad, Daddy, can we?  Can we take Rainbow home with us?”

“Bri, we can't bury him.  That's impractical,” Daniel answered.  “But we can cremate him, if you like.”

“I'll pay for it.”

“No, Sweetie,” Daniel refused.  “We'll take care of it.”

Brianna again put her hand on Rainbow, and then she leaned in and put her cheek to his elongated snout as she cried, “You'e coming home with me, Rainbow.  We'll be together forever.”

Hearing Little Danny sniffling, Daniel picked up his son and held him tight, appreciating the boy's courage and knowing his heart was breaking, not just for Brianna, but for the proud dolphin.

====

Her gear on, Brianna took a deep breath and encouraged herself by whispering, “It's for Rainbow.  From now on, it's for Rainbow.”

With that, Brianna's family and Katalski watched the tomboy bravely rejoin the research team in the water where they would be monitoring several other dolphins still circulating through this area of the Pacific Ocean.

“What about you, Little Danny?” Katalski asked.  “Would you like to swim with the dolphins today?”

“Can I?” the boy asked his parents.  He and the entire family had actually swum with the dolphins in the past.  It was something they'd done on vacation at Brianna's urging.  “Please?”

“Do you have suits for us?” Daniel asked.

“Of course.”

====

By the time her family was in the water, Brianna was involved in photographing some of the ocean life that was swimming all around.  She hadn't yet interacted with the dolphins.  Suddenly, she saw her parents and Little Danny.  It was just what she needed.

Brianna motioned for her young brother to swim over to her, which he did.  Then she took his hand and pointed to a pod of dolphins.  Using a slate, she wrote for him to follow, but to stay by her side until she signaled otherwise.

Leading the way, Brianna swam towards the pod and waited until one of them took note and swam in her direction.  She waited patiently, letting this dolphin swim around and get used to her, and then the fun began.

Jack, Daniel, and two other researchers were close by, just watching.  A third researcher was filming it all, not for study, but just for Brianna and Little Danny to have later.

After several minutes, Little Danny looked at his sister and saw passion returning to her eyes.  Inside, he was glad he'd broken the rule about making phone calls.  He respected rules, but he'd learned by example.  From his parents, he'd discovered that sometimes rules were made to be broken.

====

It was Sunday afternoon, and Katalski's team had just wrapped up the project and had already packed up their gear.  Now there was just one more obligation to complete.

“Brianna, here he is,” Nick stated with reverence, handing the teenager a box.  “And here is something I had specially made for you in honor of Rainbow.”

The gift was a beautifully designed wooden picture frame.  On the sides were carvings of dolphins standing on their tails, and along the top and bottom were carvings of dolphins swimming.

“Thanks, Nick,” the teen spoke, taking the box and picture before hugging her teammate.  She walked out to the water's edge one last time.  “I'll be back, and I will protect you, just as much as I can.”  Taking a breath, she returned to her family and said, “I'm ready to go home now.”

“Rainbow's proud of you, Bri,” Little Danny asserted, taking his sister's free hand as they walked to the car.

“I hope so.”

====

“So ... what are we going to do?” the archaeologist inquired of his equally confused general as they prepared for bed late that evening.

“You're the morals expert.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Daniel, we have to make a decision,” Jack insisted in a complete evasion of the query.

“I know that, *General*, which is why I'm looking to you for ... guidance.”

“*You're* looking to *me* for guidance on a question of morals.” Jack asked in slight disbelief.

“No, I'm looking to you to decide how we punish our children for breaking the rules, something that seems to be happening more as they grow up, by the way,” Daniel mentioned, looking off to the side as he thought about the recent trend towards entitlement by the brood.

“Why me?”

“You're the general, General.”

“And you're the daddy, Daddy.”

The lovers stared at each other for several seconds, blue eyes and brown ones not giving an inch until it happened.  Both blinked at the same time, each letting out sighs and small nuances of laughter.

“Danny, we have to face the truth.”

“We can't punish Bri and Little Danny for doing what we'd do ourselves,” Daniel proclaimed.  “I can't do it, Jack.”

“Neither can I,” the older man admitted.

“But where's the line, Babe?  Our children have tender hearts, but lately ...”

“Yeah, they have been pushing it a little,” Jack stated.

“They're ... expecting us to give them things under the guise that it's for some greater good, which it is, except that it's ... gawd, I don't know.”

“One of these days ...”

“India,” both men expressed at the same time, each knowing that the day was soon coming when they needed to fulfill their promise to Kayla Armentrout, birth mother of the Munchkins and Spitfires, and give the children a hefty dose of reality, enough to cure their growing entitlement affliction.

“Daniel, I'm tired.”

“*Too* tired?”

“Never!”

Daniel grinned and very soon the couple had put their family troubles behind them for a round of hanky panky in their own special style.

====

Ultimately, Jack and Daniel held true to their late night decision that there would be no punishments doled out for either Brianna or Little Danny.  They simply did not have the heart to inflict a negative action on their children for doing something that both fully admitted they would have done themselves.  There were more discussions about it, but for the most part, the family just wanted to move forward.

Slightly more than a week after the trip to California and almost as if Jack and Daniel had predicted it, the brood had reached an all-time high in the spoiled department, taking their material good luck a bit too much for granted.  Enough had been enough for the parents.  They had made their decision.  It was time to finally take the family to India.  Jeff had been called home from college and the family was preparing for the spontaneous trip abroad.

First, though, today was Brianna's fourteenth birthday.  No matter what, just like ice cream, birthdays were special and almost sacred in the family.  It was something passed down from Jack, who worked hard to make his lover's birthdays memorable.

Even though her special day was being celebrated, Brianna didn't want any friends over this year.  She just wanted her family nearby, which is why it was only her immediate family present, along with General Hammond, the Shanahans, the Lucas, and the Wilsons.  Of course, that was a lot of people as it was.  She'd wanted Janet and Teal'c to attend as well, but the couple were actually on a vacation off-world at the special beach SGC personnel were able to utilize from time to time.

The party was held in the morning, ending by noontime, something that was required due to the preparations for the trip to India the next day.

When it came time for the birthday girl to open her gifts, there were a few emotional moments.

“Bri, this is from all of us,” Little Danny stated, carrying a large, special box over to his sister.  “We all chipped in.”

“Opened piggy bank,” JD affirmed with a nod.

“Thank you, JD,” Brianna replied, not yet knowing what the gift was.  Then she opened it and gasped with emotion.  “It's beautiful.”

Brianna gently looked at the bronze urn.  It had the image of three dolphins swimming on the base and then there were two more dolphins extending up from the top.

“Rainbow will love it,” Brianna stated emotionally, wiping a tear from her eye.

Other gifts followed, including a pendant necklace that Daniel had had especially made using an image from the DVD Little Danny and Jeff had made.  It was a 3D pendant, with Rainbow jumping above the surface and looking as if he were walking on his tail.

====

Early that evening, Brianna quietly went to her room and put Rainbow's ashes into the bronze urn.  She placed the framed photograph Nick had given her on the right of the urn and put the hologram of Rainbow swimming that the Shanahans had given her on the left.

~Alien technology, I think,~ Brianna opined.  ~It's too precise.  Thank you, Aunt Sam.~

“Bri?” Daniel called out, tapping on the slightly ajar door.

“Come in, Daddy.”

Daniel walked in and sat down on the edge of the bed.  A few seconds later, Brianna joined him.

“Are you going to be okay on our trip to India?”

“I made a decision, Daddy.”

“I'm listening.”

“I'm not going to mourn anymore because all it does is make me cry, and that doesn't help me or Rainbow.”

“You're right.”

“That's not my decision.”

“I'm still listening,” Daniel responded.

“Can I listen as well, or is that intruding?” Jack asked from the doorway.

With a smile, Brianna patted the comforter on the other side of her.  It was an invitation that Jack quickly accepted.

“What am I listening to?” Jack teased.

“I made a decision, Dad, and I was telling Daddy what it was,” Brianna explained.

“Count me in.”

“You don't know what it is yet,” the teenager responded.

“It doesn't matter, Bri.  You're our daughter, and where you're concerned, we're always in.”

“Dad's right on that,” Daniel agreed.

Brianna nodded and looked down for a minute.  She licked her lips, a habit she'd picked up from her younger father over the last few years.

“Well, I'm going to keep on studying.  More than anything I want to be a marine biologist.  I'm going to work as hard as I can, and when I get my degree, I'm going to work on making sure humans understand the beauty of dolphins.  I know; don't say it, but that's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to be an activist, and I apologize now for whatever I might do in the future that might be upsetting, but when I'm an adult, and I can advocate for Rainbow ... and Hobo, I'm going to.  I'm going to fight with everything I have.”

“We're all in, Bri,” Daniel promised.  “There's no need to apologize for fighting for what you believe in, either.”

“We may just join you on that fighting line,” Jack added.

Holding the pendant necklace in her fingers, Brianna vowed, “From now on, Rainbow is my mojo.

“Mojo?” Jack chuckled.

“You know mojo, Dad.”  The teenager sighed, “From now on, Rainbow is my inspiration and my motivation.  I know it won't always be easy and pleasant.  Maybe ... maybe I'll see that ... you know ... maybe it will happen again, but I won't be stopped.  I won't!”

“Bri,” Daniel soothed, noting his daughter's rise in anxiety.  “We're on your side, remember?” he queried gently, rubbing her back with small, circular motions.

“I guess I'm not totally over Rainbow yet,” Brianna confessed softly, trying to calm her racing heart.

“Princess, you may never be, but it's how you use that energy and emotion that will determine whether you sink or keep your promise to Rainbow.”

“I'm keeping my promise,” the teenager reassured.  She got up and picked up the framed photo.  “I promise, Rainbow.  I promise.”

Hearing the phone, Jack got up to answer it.

“Up late aren't you?” the general questioned the caller.  

“Yes, Sir,” the reply came.  “It's the middle of the night, but I was concerned about Brianna.”

Listening, Brianna smiled.  She couldn't hear the caller's words, but her heart told her who was on the phone.  It was Conway Bell, her long distance boyfriend.  He lived in the small rural community of McBee, South Carolina.  They'd met in the summer of 2012, when the Jackson-O'Neills had taken a trip across America in their RV.  In his part of the country, it was just ten at night, but for farmers, that was considered very late.

“It's Con,” Brianna whispered to her daddy.  “He knows I'm upset, but it's been such a busy day.  I told him I'd call, but it was just so hectic.”  She heard Jack, giving the young man a bit of the third degree.  “Daddy, please.”

“Sleep well, Princess,” Daniel expressed, standing and giving her a hug.  He walked over to his husband and interjected, “Jack, let's go.”

Jack was going to give his Love a hard time, but he was only having a bit of fun with Conway.  He loved the Bell family and had no objection to a relationship between the two teenagers, especially since a long distance relationship meant he had nothing physical to worry about.

“Tell your mother 'hello' for us.  Here's Bri,” Jack stated calmly.  “We love you, Bri,” he declared, giving her a hug as he handed over the phone.

“Thank you, for everything,” the teen told her parents.  “I won't talk too long.”

As Jack and Daniel walked out, they heard their daughter begin her conversation.

“Con, I wish you could have seen him in person.  Thank you for the card.”

Closing Brianna's door, Jack opined, “She'll be okay.”

“I agree.”  As the lovers walked leisurely towards their bedroom, having finished their unusually early nightly rounds, Daniel smiled.  “We really should get some sleep.”

“That would be the smart thing to do.”

“But ...”

“I'm all in.”

Arm in arm, Jack and Daniel entered the private sanctum of their master bedroom, locking the door behind them.  They knew the next few weeks would offer little chance for lovemaking and after the strong emotions of the day, they were ready for a release, a physical one that only the coupling of their nation of two could provide.

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