Category: Slash, Mini-Angst, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - June 24 - July 15, 2006
Written: July 1-3,5,8, 2004 Tweaked July 28, 2004 Revised: July 20-21, 2007
Summary: Jack and Daniel attend an unofficial Air Force Academy reunion where things don't go smoothly, but while there, Daniel makes a discovery.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fic(s), “A Matter of Choice” and “Ten Months”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: QuinGem, Claudia, Drdjlover, Jo, Carol!
Though it had drizzled earlier, the rain had stopped, pleasing Daniel,
who was out running errands. He missed the sunshine, glancing up
at the cloudy sky as he turned down the street where he and Jack lived
and hoping the sun would poke through soon.
At the front door, Daniel noticed the mail had been delivered and took it from its slot, carrying it into the house along with the purchases he'd made while out.
Daniel left the bags in the entranceway of the home he shared with Jack and began to sort through the various bills, letters, and publications while walking toward the kitchen. Just before reaching the counter that separated the dining nook of the kitchen from the living room, he stopped, seeing a letter addressed to Jack. He recognized the name of the sender, Dale Rancolini, as one of Jack's Academy buddies. His husband had spoken highly of the man whenever they had talked about those days.
The archaeologist put the mail down on the counter, except for the letter, and then walked upstairs. He leaned against the doorframe of the master bedroom, smiling at the sight he beheld. Jack was resting on the bed, both Bijou and Katie on his abdomen and chest, sleeping soundly.
“What watchdogs,” Daniel said softly.
Bijou looked up, as if taking exception to the comment.
Smiling, Daniel said, “Sorry. You knew I was here, right?”
The mama beagle immediately jumped off the bed and ran to him. It was her version of, 'Of course'.
The archaeologist knelt down and petted the canine, rubbing behind her floppy ears for a few moments.
“I'll take some of that!” Jack exclaimed, leaning up on his elbows from the bed to look at his lover.
Daniel looked up at Jack and laughed, “You can scratch behind your own ears.”
“You love Bij more than me,” the resting man pouted.
“Woof!” came the loving 'thank you' from Bijou.
“I get no respect,” Jack whined as he fully sat up, holding Katie in his arms, who licked his face in response. “Ah, ya mutt,” he laughed, putting the youngest dog down.
Bijou woofed again, getting Katie's attention, and the two ran downstairs.
“Smartest dogs in the world,” Jack noted, standing and walking over to Daniel, who was still in the doorway.
“I agree, but what makes you say that now?”
“They just left us alone,” Jack spoke as he took his husband in his arms.
“Mmm, yeah. Smart dogs,” Daniel agreed as the lovers began to kiss, not just something sweet and tender, but a joining to grew in passion and depth. “Mmmm, gawd, you're good at that.”
“You, too,” Jack chuckled as they parted. “Get all your errands done?”
“Yep, all done, except that I couldn't decide on the lawnmower, though. I think you need to look at them.”
“Hey, how can it be so hard to buy a mower?”
“These days, it's like buying a car. Come with me tomorrow, and I'll show you what I mean,” the younger man requested.
“Okay,” Jack agreed, moving back a bit. He had intended to take hold of his lover's hands and that's when he noticed the letter. “What's that?”
“Your mail, your highness,” Daniel teased.
“Yeah, wasn't it?” Daniel smirked.
“I'll get you, Doctor Jackson,” Jack said as he began to wrestle with his lover.
“... O'Neill,” Daniel completed as the twosome landed on the floor.
“Jackson-O'Neill. Get the name right,” Daniel said as they rolled around lightly, playing their game.
“Oh, yeah!” Jack expressed, smiling with pride as he looked down at Daniel.
It wasn't legal yet, but Mark Kingston, the couple's lawyer, was in the process of submitting all the necessary paperwork that would officially change their surnames to Jackson-O'Neill, something they'd decided to do once they knew they wanted a family.
“Well, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill, we can continue this or ...”
Daniel sighed as he answered, “This is one of those times that I don't want the 'or', but we've got a lot to do today.”
After a final kiss, the lovers stood up. Jack picked up the letter that had fallen from Daniel's hand during their brief wrestling match and walked to the corner of the bed.
Sitting down and starting to open the letter, Jack pondered, “I wonder what Dale wants. Haven't talked to him in years. Geez, I think the last time Sara and I were still married.”
Daniel sat down next to Jack as the older man read the letter. He saw the smile appear on his husband's face, and there was a brightness in his warm brown eyes from whatever was inside.
“Danny, Dale retired, and he and his wife have moved to Denver. They're having a reunion -- ten of us from the Academy who hung out a lot together,” Jack informed.
“No, not them. Different group of friends,” Jack answered the unspoken question.
Daniel was remembering another group of Jack's old buddies that he'd just as soon forget. Years earlier, that particular impromptu reunion had resulted in near disastrous results for Jack and Daniel's relationship.
“Man, Kent Stevens, Sean Douglas, Kevin Spencer ...”
Jack listed some of the names Dale had mentioned he was inviting. His voice was light, cheery. Clearly, the general liked these men and was intrigued by the possibility of seeing them again.
“When is it?” Daniel inquired.
“Saturday. He says there'll be a barbecue, and they have a pool if the weather holds up. Spouses invited,” Jack informed.
“You should go,” Daniel opined.
“Me? You mean 'we'.”
“Jack, these are your Air Force buddies,” the younger man reminded, not wanting to stir up problems for the couple, even if Jack was retired now.
“So? Look ... 'bring your spouse'. You're my spouse.”
“Jack, they might not ... I mean, you don't know how they'll react.”
“Daniel, I love you. I'm proud of you. This is not going to be like it was in Phoenix when I acted like the biggest jerk in the world,” Jack stated confidently.
“I know that. That's not what I meant,” Daniel responded.
“If you don't want to come ...”
“No, that's not what I meant, either.”
“I don't want you to be uncomfortable,” Jack said, his eyes clearly dimming at the thought of his husband not going with him.
“Jack, you idiot,” Daniel said, reaching over to cup his husband's face and then kissing him. “I'm not ashamed of us. I was only thinking that you could go, have a fun afternoon with your old buddies, and they wouldn't have to know.”
“I *want* them to know, Daniel. This is who I am. Brigadier General Jack Jackson-O'Neill, retired and happily married to the most wonderful man in the entire universe. I worked hard to get here, and there is no way in Netu, I'm turning my back on everything I love for one afternoon,” Jack asserted, leaving no room for argument.
“Gawd, I love you.”
Jack grinned, knowing he'd won the battle, and verified, “You're coming then?”
“Yes, but, Jack, be prepared, okay? Sometimes ...”
“You need to give them a chance. They won't be expecting this,” Daniel warned.
“I love you, Angel,” Jack whispered, leaning forward and guiding Daniel backwards.
The older man had just decided the 'or' could wait, and it did.
As Jack and Daniel walked up to the door of Dale's home in Denver, Jack looked up at the cloudy skies and opined, “No swimming today.”
“Why not? If the pool is heated, it won't matter,” Daniel replied, getting a nod from his husband.
“You're right, and at least it's not raining like it probably is at home,” Jack chuckled, the forecast having called for light rain and the possibility of a thundershower that afternoon.
Holding a six-pack of beer while Daniel held a bottle of wine as gifts for their hosts, Jack rang the bell. After a moment, a woman with stunning jet black hair opened the door, a smile on her face as she did so.
“Hi, I'm Jack Jackson-O'Neill and ...”
“Oh, yes, Colonel O'Neill. I've heard so much about you. I'm Nancy, Dale's wife.”
“It's nice to meet you, Ma'am, but I wouldn't believe a word you've heard,” Jack joked.
The woman laughed and then assured her visitor, “I'm sure it's all true. Where's your wife?”
Nancy looked around the two men expectantly, causing Daniel to fidget a little. They hadn't even gotten through the door, and it had already begun.
“Uh, this is Daniel Jackson-O'Neill,” a smiling Jack introduced as he looked at his husband.
“And this is for you, Mrs. Rancolini,” Daniel said, holding out the wine.
“Oh, thank you. All the men have been bringing ... beer,” Nancy said, gulping as she noticed what Jack was holding. She smiled politely, saying, “Thank you. Why don't you two come in.”
After Jack and Daniel entered, Nancy shut the door and began, “So, Mister Jackson ...”
“Doctor. He's a doctor, Ma'am,” Jack corrected boastfully. “Daniel has so many initials after his name now that the President is thinking about making the alphabet an endangered species.”
“Jack,” Daniel responded shyly, folding his arms, and bowing his head.
“He's a little shy about being a genius.”
“Jack!” Daniel glared at his husband this time. “She doesn't need a list of my degrees.”
“I can get you one, Ma'am, if you ...”
“Jack, stop. Gawd, you're incorrigible,” Daniel sighed, not wanting to be the center of attention, especially today, though at the same time, it made him smile inside that his lover was that proud of him.
Nancy couldn't help but laugh. She liked these two men. Her thoughts were cut off when another one of the wives entered the foyer of the house.
“Nancy, we can't find ... oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you had more guests out here.”
“That's all right, Kay. This is Kay Spencer,” Nancy introduced with a smile.
“Kev's wife?” Jack asked enthusiastically.
“Yes, that's right.”
“Get out of town! Who knew that ugly grease jockey could get a good looker like you,” Jack praised with his Irish charm, resulting in Kay blushing.
“Kay, this is Jack ...” Suddenly, Nancy realized the significance of the hyphenated name she'd been given. She paused, her eyes staring at the two men as if she couldn't believe what was going through her mind. “I'm sorry, Colonel. Did you say ... I mean, I'm sure I must be wrong, but I thought ...”
“You heard right,” Jack said seriously, realizing that Nancy had just made the connection. “The name is Jackson-O'Neill.”
“But didn't you say your name was ...” Nancy asked Daniel.
The archaeologist nodded and confirmed softly, “Jackson-O'Neill.”
“Oh, my,” Kay said.
There was a brief, awkward silence as the reality settled in, but Nancy smiled and informed, “The men are in the backyard. Just go through the living room and follow the hallway. The patio door is on the left. You can't miss them.”
“That's for sure. I'm not sure who is older, Kevin or our youngest son,” Kay laughed.
Jack nodded, and Daniel followed as they worked their way through the house according to Nancy's instructions.
**Jack, maybe I ...**
**No. It'll be okay, Danny.**
“JACK! You old dog!” Dale exclaimed, standing from the redwood chair he had been seated in and heading towards his friend.
“Dale, you're alive ... I think,” Jack teased.
Dale called out to his guests, who were scattered throughout his yard, “Guys, look who's decided to circulate with us peons.”
“Peons?” Jack asked.
“Hey, Jack!” Kevin greeted, stepping forward as did many others.
Daniel lagged a few steps behind, watching as Jack was greeted by Dale and the other guests. Apparently, they were the last to arrive, and he was well aware that they had been thirty minutes late.
~But Katie got scared after that transformer went out. It sounded like a bomb had gone off. She needed reassurance.~
The archaeologist smiled at the memory. He had suggested to Jack that they take Bijou and Katie to their neighbor's house for reassurance. The girls loved Mrs. Valissi and would be comfortable there, but Jack had insisted they stay, not caring if they were late or not to the barbecue. Daniel didn't really care, either, and it made him love his soulmate even more that he was willing to be late to a reunion just so they could comfort their youngest family member.
Jack had held the beagle close for over twenty minutes, talking quietly to her and refusing to budge until he was positive she was calm and okay. Then, they had taken the dogs to their neighbor's, “just in case she gets scared again,” Jack had said.
“Heard you made general, Jack,” Dale said loudly.
“Someone at the Pentagon lost their mind. It was a fluke,” Jack said nonchalantly.
“No, it wasn't. He earned that star,” Daniel said adamantly.
“You're prejudiced,” Jack lovingly accused.
As Daniel shrugged, Sean Douglas asked, “Hey Bud, where's your wife?”
“Um, first, skip the Bud. That's not me. Never was. Second, she's with her husband. Great guy, by the way.”
“Sorry, Jack,” Dale said, regret in his voice.
Jack spoke enthusiastically, “I'm not.” He reached out for Daniel, who took his hand, moving in a few steps to stand beside his lover. “Guys, this is Daniel ... Jackson-O'Neill ... my husband.”
Dead silence loomed over the backyard as nine stunned faces stared at Jack and Daniel. Some of their eyes were wide. A few looked surprised. A few seemed truly shocked. A couple had a look of complete acceptance. One pair of eyes, however, were dark and very cold, looking at Jack with hatred. Those were the eyes Daniel focused on with concern.
Then Dale laughed loudly, “Oh, I get it. That's a good one! You were always great with a joke. Remember, Guys?”
“Yeah. You had me going there,” Sean said, shaking his head at having been taken in.
“What a prankster,” Kevin stated, adding, “I remember when you ...”
“I'm serious, Kevin,” Jack interrupted as he squeezed Daniel's hand. He looked at Dale, stating, “Daniel and I are married. Do you want us to leave?”
Dale said nothing, still coming to terms with something he had never expected.
“Get out,” Kent Stevens spoke up.
Daniel took a deep breath. The words came from the man with the cold eyes that were full of hate, a hate he could still see now.
“Calm down, Kent,” Dale said, briefly looking back at the man.
“CALM DOWN? He's a disgrace to the military, and he's a queer. He has no business being here with *men*.”
“Kent ...” Kevin spoke, but before he could say anything more, Kent lunged at Jack.
Fortunately, Dale and some of the others quickly held Kent back.
“Jack, let's go,” Daniel urged, not wanting to disturb the party any more than they had.
“No,” Dale called out. Turning to Kent, he said firmly, “Kent, you're welcome to stay, but Jack here has been invited to this shindig, and I for one want to do a little catching up.”
“With his kind?” Kent sneered.
The tone told Dale there would be no peace at a get-together that included both Jack and Kent. He had a choice to make. It surprised him how easy his choice was.
“Get out, Kent,” Dale ordered.
“HE'S A FREAK,” Kent yelled, trying again to get to Jack.
Kevin, Sean, and Thomas Moreland continued to hold the angry man back. With a nod from Dale, they escorted the violent man inside the house.
Dale turned back to Jack and Daniel, saying, “I'd like you to stay.” Looking around at the others for an affirmation and receiving it via nodding heads and a few smiles, he added, “*We* would like you to stay.”
Jack nodded, but asked again, “Are you sure?”
“Very. Jack O'Neill, married to another man. Who would have thought it?” Dale asked, astonished but smiling.
“Jackson-O'Neill,” Jack corrected. “We've both changed our names.”
**It's not legal yet,** Daniel reminded.
**It will be, and I don't care if it's legal or not, Danny. It's who we are,** Jack replied.
“How long have you ...” Brad White asked, his hand waving out in front of him.
“Married or together? We've been together almost nine years. Best friends before that,” Jack answered.
“We still are,” Daniel insisted.
“Yep. Daniel's right. Of course, he usually is. We got married in November of 2003. Actually, it's been exactly ...”
“He counts the days,” Daniel teased, cutting his husband off mid-sentence.
“I do not.” Seeing Daniel's stare, Jack shrugged and said, “What? So I'm glad we made it legal.”
“Me, too ... at least, it's legal in some parts of the world,” Daniel agreed, a smile on his face.
The three men who had escorted Kent out returned, hearing the last part of the conversation.
Kevin said, “You were a general and ... um ...”
“We don't like labels,” Jack answered, “but, yes. No one knew. Well, almost no one.”
“How the heck did you manage to hide it, Jack?” Sean asked curiously.
“By hiding in plain sight. As best friends, we did everything together anyway. Daniel was practically living at my house long before we got involved,” the general informed.
“I did live at your house, Jack.”
“But it wasn't our house then.”
“I always thought of it as ours.”
“But it wasn't,” Daniel pointed out.
“It was in all the ways that mattered,” Jack countered.
Daniel smiled, stopping himself from continuing the banter, especially having seen Dale and the others watching them from the corner of his eye. Jack moved at that point, releasing Daniel's hand and putting his arm around his waist, tugging him close.
“I just can't believe you got away with it,” Thomas stated, shaking his head in disbelief.
“I didn't tell. They didn't ask. Yadda yadda,” Jack commented.
“I guess it might have been different if you were military, Mister ...” Brad began.
“It's Doctor,” Jack corrected.
“Jack, don't start,” Daniel chastised, dreading the degree discussion again.
As Jack laughed, Brad asked, “You're a doctor?”
“Of archaeology,” the archaeologist answered.
“And ...” Jack prompted, earning him a glare from the younger man.
“Oops. I'm about to get in trouble,” Jack said as Daniel moved out of his hold. As soon as Daniel wasn't looking at him, Jack mouthed, “And of anthropology and heaven knows what else.”
Daniel noticed the focus of the others and turned to Jack, who quickly closed his mouth and acted innocent.
The archaeologist turned back and suggested, “Just call me Daniel.”
~He's so cute when he gets mad.~ Jack raised his left hand so that it was slightly above his husband's head and pointed down. He smiled and mouthed slowly and distinctly, “Certified genius.”
“I can't help it,” the older man claimed.
“Yes, you can. Use some self-control,” Daniel urged.
“Don't have any.”
“You do, too.”
“Do not,” Jack insisted.
“Nope. Not any ... where you're concerned.”
“Gawd,” Daniel said, exasperated. “Next time I'm leaving you home with the girls.” Suddenly, he froze, realizing they had just put on one of their shows for Jack's old Academy buddies. He closed his eyes and sighed, “Why do I let you do this to me?”
“Because you love me,” Jack answered as he beamed with pride.
Daniel shook his head, nervously looking at the others in the backyard as he confirmed, “He has me there. I do ... love him.”
The men laughed and then gathered around the two, leading them to where several chairs were assembled. The awkwardness was over, and from that point on, the reunion went smoothly.
After a while, the wives joined their husbands. Nancy had already filled them in about Jack's and Daniel's relationship, and they had witnessed Kent's departure from the house, so they were already used to the idea of Jack and Daniel as a couple. The women, of course, flocked to Daniel, fussing over him for the remainder of the afternoon.
“You're a lucky man, Colonel,” Nancy said as her friends chatted with Daniel. “He's a cute one.”
“That I am, Ma'am,” Jack said, smiling.
“Nance, Jack's a general now, remember?” Dale reminded.
“I'm so used to you calling him 'colonel',” Nancy replied. Looking at Jack, she said, “I apologize, General.”
“Me, too, for their lack in judgment in promoting me to this rank. I don't know what they were thinking,” Jack chuckled as the party continued.
The party had been a great success and was still going strong as evening came. Two couples had left, but everyone else was still present, scattered into small groups. Daniel had been in the living room, chatting with John Sierra and his wife about Egypt, the couple having been there several times. After a while, he excused himself to see what Jack was up to.
Four of the men -- Jack, Dale, Kevin, and Sean -- were seated near the outdoor grill. Each had a beer. Daniel ended up standing just out of their sight, next to a storage shed. The conversation had captured his attention.
“There's nothing like it,” Dale said.
“Nothing in this world,” Kevin agreed.
“I miss it,” Jack commented, his voice low and full of regret.
“Don't you fly, Jack?” Dale asked.
“Sometimes. My, uh ... assignment over the last few years didn't give me much of a chance to fly jets. I had my moments, though.”
“The real beauty is to own a plane,” Dale expressed before taking a sip of beer.
“Barb and I have one,” Sean announced. “We go flying at least twice a month; just follow the clouds.”
“Geez, I'd like that,” Jack spoke, a dreaminess in his tone.
“You sound like you really do miss it, Jack,” Kevin said.
“Yeah, I guess I do. Being up there is peaceful. Heck, you guys know how it is. There aren't any words for it,” Jack replied.
Dale agreed, then stated firmly, “You should fly.”
“Daniel and I go sometimes. He surprised me a bunch of years ago with a rental plane; went up to Bryce Canyon and watched the sunset. It was great,” the general recalled.
Dale's face matched his words as he agreed with his friend, saying, “Flying is always fantastic.”
“It is with Daniel,” Jack said softly. He got lost in memories, then suddenly became aware he had drifted away from the conversation and gave his friends a apologetic grin. “I remember looking over at him that first time. He was looking out, studying the clouds. Daniel studies everything. He was absolutely beautiful. I wanted to freeze that moment.”
“You are gone, aren't you, Jack?” Dale asked, chuckling.
“Does Daniel like to fly?” Kevin inquired..
“He says he does. I think he endures it for me,” Jack spoke, a teeny bit of regret in his tone.
“Well, my friend, you need to get a plane, start flying the skies, go to Oshkosh,” Dale opined.
“Oshkosh. Now that's a blast,” Sean acknowledged. “I've gone there for years. We pitch a tent under the wing and camp out.”
“Of the plane?” Jack questioned.
“It's the only way to do it, Jack,” Dale added. “Nance and I have gone several times. There's so much to do there. It's grown a lot, but the true adventure is to fly in and camp out under your own plane.”
“So you have a plane?” Jack asked his host.
“Sure do. Went into hock for it, but it's well worth it.”
“What kind do you have?” Sean asked.
“Cessna 421C Golden Eagle. Love it. What do you have, Sean?” Dale inquired curiously.
“All I could afford -- a Lancair IV-P.”
“You built it?” Kevin queried, his beer bottle held in the palms of this two hands as he leaned forward in his chair.
“Yeah. Now that was an experience, but it's the only way we'd have ever been able to get a plane,” Sean answered.
“Jack, ever thought about what kind of plane you'd like?” Dale asked.
“Something classic. I've thought about a Piper, I think I'd rather have a Meyers,” Jack answered.
~He didn't even hesitate with his answer; he's thought about this,~ Daniel thought from his spot near the storage shed.
“There aren't many of those around, and I would have thought you'd want something feistier,” Sean commented. “Tame was never your style,” he chuckled.
“I've had my fun with those, but when I go flying now, it's with a different purpose. I've read about the Meyers 200. They have speed and are well-built,” Jack spoke.
“Why don't you buy one?” Dale asked.
“Too indulgent. That's a big expenditure just for me. We have other things we should put our money into,” Jack said. He took a swig of his beer and smiled. “Danny and I have a new business we're trying to get off the ground. No. I can't see buying a plane right now, not for a very long time, not with our other, more important priorities.”
From his hidden spot, Daniel thought, ~Right. Like getting me a fancy sports car, building me a den that's like a luxury suite. We spend so much on me.~
Jack continued, “It's a great dream, though. Have you seen the Meyers?”
Dale shook his head, but Sean nodded, and Kevin said, “I saw one last year. Cool aircraft.”
“That's what I'd want -- a true classic, the 200A or B, I think. Blue; has to be blue,” Jack said, grinning as he pictured the plane he had in mind.
“Blue?” Sean asked.
From behind the shed, Daniel was glad that his lover didn't elaborate. Jack had a major blue fetish. He figured if he had a nickel for every time Jack said, did, bought, or thought about something, 'bringing out the blue in your eyes, Daniel', that he'd be a millionaire.
“Speaking of blue,” Dale said, “Any of you guys want another Pabst?”
The group stood, deciding to stretch, and walked to the cooler to pick up another beer.
Jack, though, decided to do a search for his lover, but he didn't have to go far. When he turned around, Daniel was standing there, smiling.
“Hey,” Daniel said.
Dale approached the couple, handing each a brew and confiding, “I'm getting used to it.” He paused, then said, “You know you could have warned us, Jack.”
“Yes, but what would you have said?”
“I honestly don't know,” Dale admitted. “I'm sorry about Kent.”
“We've dealt with worse,” Jack replied.
“A lot worse,” Daniel added.
Another couple left not to long after the plane discussion and then as 9 p.m. approached, Jack and Daniel decided they should leave.
“Ah, come on, Jack,” Dale cajoled, trying to convince him to stay longer.
The buddies were having a great time; the living room where everyone was now congregated was full of jovial and laughing adults.
“We need to home and get the girls,” Jack responded.
“Girls?” Dale asked.
“Beagles. They're great, and they're with a neighbor,” the general explained.
“Dogs. Just like children,” Dale laughed.
“Yeah, we know,” a smiling Jack acknowledged. “And we'll find out soon enough,” he said, taking note of the reactions from the people present.
Suddenly, the room was quiet, once again the guests staring at the two.
Jack cleared his throat and expounded, “We're having a family. Don't ask about the details, but soon.”
“Wow,” Dale said.
“You're a frickin' general,” Sean said, shaking head. For a moment, Daniel thought it was derogatory, but then he saw the smile and the amazed expression. “Way to go, Jack!”
“It's been a pleasure meeting all of you,” Daniel stated, relieved the day had gone so smoothly.
Ten minutes later, Jack and Daniel were finally on their way home. All in all, the couple considered the reunion a success, and they were glad they had decided to test the waters. Unlike the experience in Phoenix, this one had been positive, and, in the process, Jack had been reacquainted with some old friends that he hoped he'd stay in touch with in the future.
“Daniel, I thought ...” Jack paused, walking a bit more slowly towards his lover, who was seated at the corner of the sofa, his legs outstretched on the cushions, in the living room. ~Okay, what's he up to?~ he wondered, since Daniel had immediately slammed closed his laptop. “Whatcha' doin'?” he asked as he gently picked up his lover's legs so he could sit down.
“Nothing,” Daniel answered, smiling when his lover began to massage his legs. ~Glad I'm wearing shorts. Oh, that feels good, real good.~
“Daniel,” a suspicious Jack prodded.
“Okay, you caught me,” Daniel admitted.
“I did?” Jack asked, surprised by the admission.
“Yeah, I was writing Margo,” the younger man spoke coyly.
“*Who* is Margo?” Jack questioned, his brown eyes beginning to turn green.
“Syndicated columnist. I need her advice,” Daniel stated.
“Advice on what?” Jack asked, not pleased at what he was hearing.
“Well, I have this ... problem. You see, I'm married to this really sexy Silver Fox, but he's just all fore and no play,” Daniel stated, grinning, batting his eyelashes and licking his lips. He raised his hips for a second, immediately drawing his soulmate's attention to his mid-section, which was beginning to bulge. “More play, General, and skip the fore. Just, uh, dive right in, and don't worry about making a ... smooth landing.”
Jack grinned, forgetting completely about whatever Daniel had been doing on his laptop, and proceeded to devour his life partner, as requested. As for Daniel, he had found what he wanted just before Jack's intrusion, so was ready and willing for love, and there was plenty of that breaking out at the moment at the Jackson-O'Neill household.
“It's a beautiful plane, Neil. Of course, I don't really know much about ... planes.”
“Trust me, Daniel, this baby is a gem. A classic 1960 Meyers 200A in tip-top shape. You'll love flying her.”
“I, uh, don't fly.”
“No, my ... my husband does.”
Daniel nodded, explaining, “He was in the Air Force. He loves to fly and misses it.”
The archaeologist walked around the plane. Telling people openly about Jack was still new and a bit scary. There was always that one awkward moment, and after that, people either disappeared, became very formal, or understood. He hoped Neil was in the last category.
“Husband, eh? Air Force? Now there must be a story there.”
“Well, if he has the soul of a pilot, he'll love this plane. Now, some fly boys care only about speed, silly tricks you can do in the sky, better fire power, but if you just love to fly, this plane will take you to new heights. She's sleek and fast, and put together with love and care. They were all handmade, the Meyer's planes.”
“I didn't know that.”
“Your husband will, if he's a genuine aficionado of the magic of flying.”
“I've kept great records, and I'm willing to let you take her for a spin.”
“How about ... two spins?”
“Well, I'd like to surprise Jack, have everything worked out. Let him fly her not knowing she's ... ours, and then I'd to let him take her on a test flight. He's the pilot, Neil. I don't know anything about it.”
“Okay. Two flights. Would you like me to help you with a flight plan for the first one?”
“Yes, that would be great. Thank you.”
“Let's go inside.”
Daniel was thankful that Neil was part of the understanding group, especially because he had a feeling about the red aircraft. It had called out to him. He couldn't understand it and wasn't sure what it meant, but in the end, he remembered that so much of his life with Jack was the result of luck and some unknown forces that seemed to pull them from Point A to Point B.
~He's going to love it! I hope.~
At the end of the week, on a warm Saturday morning, Daniel stood in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on a picnic lunch. He'd already verified the weather was clear, not only in Colorado Springs but also where he and his lover were headed. He didn't have to worry about cloudy skies today; it was clear and going to be in the mid-nineties, if the forecast was correct.
Jack was still upstairs dressing, full of curiosity about what was on the day's agenda. All he knew was that they had plans, and Daniel was handling all of it.
Dressed in his blue jeans and his unbuttoned tan shirt, Jack walked into the kitchen just as his lover was about to place a bag of potato chips into the basket and began, “Daniel, are you going to tell me where ...”
At that precise moment, Daniel turned to see his husband. Instantly, he dropped the chips, the bag dropping to the floor.
“Oh, gawd,” the lusting man expressed, walking aggressively towards his husband. “Want.”
“What?” Jack asked in complete surprise.
Daniel pushed his lover against the refrigerator as he devoured him with kiss after kiss.
“So sexy. You should be outlawed, O'Neill,” Daniel gasped between kisses.
“Jackson-O'Neill,” the older man corrected as his tongue slipped into Daniel's mouth.
“Yeah, him, too,” Daniel panted just before starting another deep kiss, his hands fondling Jack's chest wantonly.
“Danny, you keep doing this, and we're never going to get wherever the heck it is we're going. Of course, I'm fine with this,” Jack stated just before diving in to explore Daniel's mouth again.
“OH, SHIBATWRAY!” Daniel swore, turning around and continuing to curse in Abydonian and several other languages he knew.
Confused, Jack stood and watched. He'd made out at least four foreign swear words that he knew, and he thought he recognized a couple of alien ones.
Daniel was still muttering as he picked up the bag of chips and put it in the basket.
Jack chuckled, deciding that Daniel's frustration was in the timing. The younger man had told him they had a schedule to keep, and apparently an intense fusion of their bodies wasn't on the list, or at least wasn't for the moment.
With a grin, the general said, “Geez, what you do to me, Angel.”
“I haven't done anything yet,” Daniel moaned in regret. “But I will. You can count on that.”
Jack chuckled at the forcefulness of the statement and then asked, “So, are you going to tell me where ...”
“Button your shirt. All the way ... including the top,” Daniel ordered.
Daniel glared as he spoke with irritation, “BUTTON YOUR FREAKIN' SHIRT, O'NEILL.”
“Jackson-O'Neill,” Jack laughed as he taunted his lover by sliding his fingers down his chest as he reached for the buttons to do as requested.
“Yeah, him, too,” Daniel responded, mumbling a few more swear words as he tried to calm his body, which had gone into overdrive in all of one second.
His shirt buttoned, Jack ambled over to stand behind his lover. He kissed his nape as his hands wrapped around Daniel's waist.
“You make me feel so young, Danny.”
“You are young, Jack.”
“I am when I'm with you. Where we are going, Love?” Jack asked quietly.
“You'll see. Are you ready?” Daniel questioned.
“Get the girls,” Daniel instructed.
“They're coming?” a surprised Jack asked.
“This is a family outing,” the younger man informed as he turned around.
“Okay, I'll round 'em up and move 'em out,” Jack teased.
“Jack, they're our girls, not cattle.”
Jack laughed as he headed for the living room to get the harnesses and put them on Bijou and Katie.
“I'm driving,” Daniel announced as they walked outside. “And we're taking the truck,” he added.
Jack could tell Daniel had a very definite plan for the day. He had known something was up for a couple of weeks. Daniel had been inexplicably absent a couple of times and recently, he'd been on the computer a bit more than normal, often lowering his laptop whenever Jack had walked in. For a while, the older man figured it was his imagination. Now, though, he knew that whatever it was that his lover had been doing since July had begun had been leading up to this family event.
“You're up to something, Danny,” Jack said with a smile.
“No, really?” Daniel responded dryly, then smiling as he took his spot in the driver's seat. Once the rest of the family was in place, Daniel began their commute, saying, “It's going to be a good day, Babe.”
“It already is, Danny,” Jack replied. When Daniel looked at him, the older man added, “Every day is a good day when you're here with me.”
“I love you, Jack.”
“I love you, too, Danny.”
“The airport?” Jack looked around, their destination now very obvious. “Danny, why are we going to Meadow Lake Airport?”
Daniel said nothing as he ventured to the parking area for private planes. Jack continued to ask the same question, never getting an answer.
Getting out of the truck, Daniel said, “I'll take the girls. Jack, grab the picnic basket and that box in the back, okay?”
After Jack took hold of the items, Daniel locked the truck. With the beagles on their leash, the younger man began walking towards an area where a few of the planes sat in the open. Jack obediently followed, confused and trying to make sense out of what was happening, though he wondered if Daniel had rented a plane for them, as he had done years earlier.
“Hey, look at this Cessna. It's the latest thing from what I've heard. Don't you think it's ...” Daniel began, though he quickly realized he was standing alone with the girls, his lover having veered off to the right. “Jack?”
Looking over at his husband for a quick second, Jack said in awe, “Danny, look at this beauty. Do you know these planes were hand built? They're the Rolls Royce of aircraft.”
“Oh, yeah,” Jack said, lost in the wonder of the Meyers 200A he was gazing at. “They're made of 4130 Chrome moly tubing. This baby is strong and flexible. Hmm, I'd love to fly her.”
“What makes it so great?” Daniel questioned, kneeling down for a moment to pet the beagles.
“Like I said, it was literally put together, piece by piece, not on some assembly line. Easy entry to the cabin and baggage compartment, comfortable, roomy seats, and a pretty good view. They're better on later models, but still, the 200A is plenty good. See -- it has wraparound windows.”
“Sounds great ... I guess,” Daniel responded with a shrug, not really knowing that much about airplanes.
“And that's just the aesthetics, Babe,” an enthusiastic Jack continued. “The instruments are laid out great, all the primary instruments in front of the pilot, the radios center-stacked and easily accessible, and it's quiet. Some of these planes are so noisy, but this one is just a low rumble, kinda a throaty sound. Take off is supposed to be a breeze, and even the landing gear is unique because it can ...” Jack stopped suddenly, looking at his soulmate. A bit apologetically, he said, “I was about to get very technical.”
“That's okay. You like this better than that top-of-the-line modern plane right there?” Daniel asked, motioning at the Cessna.
“It's just that it's such a well put together plane, Danny. It has a fantastic safety record, and these wonders are fast. Do you know they used to have stock plane races, and Meyers won all the time, beating Beech, Piper, and Cessna routinely? Boy, what I'd give to fly her ... just once.”
“How about a kiss?” Daniel asked.
“What?” Jack asked, turning to face his lover.
“Would you give a kiss, right here on the spot, to fly that plane?”
“Danny, are you okay?” Jack questioned, confused more than ever by his husband's words.
“Jack, kiss me.”
~Well, if that's what he wants,~ Jack thought, then doing as requested.
A bit lower to the ground, Bijou yawned and Katie scratched her ears.
“Mmm,” Daniel said, pleased with the kiss. “Since you kept your part of the bargain, I guess I'll just have to let you fly this bird.”
Daniel reached into his pocket, revealing a key ring with a couple of keys on it. He dangled them in the air in front of Jack's face.
“Come on, Fly Boy. It's a perfect day for flying.” Daniel unlocked the doors to the plane, then tossed the keys to Jack, who was so stunned, he almost didn't catch them. As Jack stood motionless, Daniel get the two dogs settled into the plane. “Hey, are you going to fly this thing, or am I?” he asked when everything was on the plane that should be.
“Danny, what did you do?”
“Jack, take me flying.”
Jack shook his head, trying to wake himself up from the dream he was having, but then walked in closer to check out the plane's well-stocked interior.
“We didn't bring all of this today ... did we?” Jack asked, glancing over at his smiling husband.
Jack looked even more closely inside the plane. There was a nice-sized basket for the two beagles, a few toys for them to play with, a special water dispenser so they could get a drink as desired, and some treats. For the two lovers, there was the picnic basket, a couple of blankets, and other items.
“Jack, this is safe for the girls, isn't it? I mean, I checked it out, but ...”
“Safe? It's definitely safe,” Jack said, reaching in and petting the beagles. Finally snapping out of his daze, he said, “Girls, looks like we're going high in the sky today,“ and then began a detailed pre-flight check. “Um, do we have an itinerary?”
“I have no clue what this stuff means, but I've been told it's everything you need to know,” Daniel said, holding out some papers he'd retrieved from his pocket.
Jack took the flight plan and reviewed it, saying, “Looks good.”
“Tell me we aren't stealing this, Danny,” Jack requested, smiling just as he started their taxi to the runway.
“A little late to ask, Jack. Let's just ... fly, okay?”
“Wow, that's smooth,” Jack remarked as the plane lifted off.
Daniel looked back at the beagles, both smiling and looking out the window.
“The girls seem okay.”
“Flying is in their blood,” Jack replied.
Daniel laughed, then turned to study his lover's face. He knew he'd done the right thing. His lover was happy. Sparkling eyes said everything that he needed to know.
“This has really been nice, Danny,” Jack said as he lay back on his husband's legs.
Daniel ran his hand through his lover's hair and leaned over for a kiss. The two beagles were lying down in front of Daniel, taking in the view of the new place.
The flight plan had taken the Jackson-O'Neills to Laramie, Wyoming. They had parked the plane at the regional airport and then set off in a rental car to find a suitable picnic area, finally settling on their current location. It wasn't as private as they were used to, but they managed to find an area not too populated with visitors.
The couple had enjoyed their picnic lunch and playtime with the girls, and now were relaxing. Soon, though, it would be time to return to the airport and head back for Colorado Springs.
“We should do this more often,” Daniel said.
“Anytime you want to rent a plane, I'm game,” Jack said, his voice soft and full of delight.
~Why didn't I do this sooner?~ Daniel thought. “Jack, I didn't rent the plane.”
Jack's eyes that had been closed in a peaceful rest flew open as he stated, “Please don't tell me we stole the plane.”
“No, Love, we didn't steal the plane.”
~He's not making any sense at all today.~ Jack turned onto his right side, leaning on his right elbow. “Daniel, what did you do?”
“Do you like the plane?”
“I love the pla...ne,” Jack stuttered, sitting up opposite his soulmate. He'd just solved the puzzle, but it was insane. ~Positively insane.~ “Danny, you *bought* it?”
“No, I wouldn't do that.”
Jack didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed.
“Danny, I'm feeling like we're off-world and ...”
The younger man laughed and then surprised Jack by kissing him and saying, “I love you, Jack.”
“And I love you. What does that have to do with the plane?” Jack questioned, wanting some clarity to the ongoing plane confusion that was filling his mind.
“I didn't buy it, but I have a tentative agreement to buy, pending your trial run, which is ... well, what we're doing now.”
“Do you know how much this would cost?” Jack asked incredulously. ~We could do it. NO, priorities,~ he reminded himself.
“Oh, yeah. One of the reasons I've been so secretive with my laptop lately is because I've been researching. I've spent a lot of time, Jack, going over our finances -- the things we like to do, our lifestyle, the children we're about to have -- all the things we want for our future. The truth is, we may not be rich, but we're doing well. We don't owe anything ...”
“What about our business? That's going to take a chunk ...”
“I want this, Jack,” Daniel interrupted, looking Jack straight in the eye.
“A lot of reasons.” Daniel paused, knowing he needed to make his case as clearly as possible. “I want this because of all the things you've done for me. I couldn't list them all, Jack, if I tried. I wanted, for once, to do something really wild and crazy for you. I want to do this because of how you looked when you were piloting her. I love that look; it's ... Jack, in the air, flying a plane like this, that's the only time you get that same look. I want this because it will give us a freedom we're probably going to need when we have our children. We're used to going on our whim, and we have to be more careful with that now, but with the plane, we can take little trips like this. And, well, I want this, Jack, because I love you, and I want you to have what you want. For once, I want to indulge you the same way you do me, like with the Silver Fox.”
Jack blinked, something clicking in his mind, and said, “You heard.”
It was clear as day now that Daniel had overheard the discussion about flying at the Rancolini's.
Daniel smiled and nodded, saying, “Jack, you've given me everything I could ever want. Let me do this. We can afford it. Is it a luxury? Sure, but you're worth it, and it's not just for you.” He cupped his lover's face with his hands as he explained, “I love to fly with you. Being up there is incredible. There's no baggage up there. It's just ... us and the heavens. If we do this, it'll be for both of us ... and for our family.”
Daniel kissed his husband tenderly, his fingers caressing Jack's face.
“You are so amazing. I can't believe I have you,” Jack spoke, full of happy thoughts and a powerful, growing love for the man he was looking at.
“Well, you do. Listen, I have all the specifics at the house. Neil, he's the owner, is willing to let us take another test run of your choice, and, of course, we can have it checked out. He's a bit of a paper freak, so he has all the documents and flight information since he bought it. I don't know much about planes, but I tried to make sure this was the perfect one.”
“It would be except for ...”
“I already checked that out, too. If we buy it, you can indulge your obsession,” Daniel interrupted, shaking his head that he had actually taken the time to make sure it was possible.
“Yeah?” Jack asked perkily. “This red machine can be painted?”
Daniel rolled his eyes and then spoke, “Can't have you blue-deprived.”
“Geez, I love you. We'll look it over together, go over everything, and make a decision, okay?” Jack questioned happily.
“Okay. I love you, too, Jack; and one more thing. I thought we'd check out that Oshkosh event that Dale mentioned. It sounds like a lot of fun.”
“Not sure if we could get there at this late date,” Jack replied skeptically.
“Sure we can, at least for a weekend. We fly in, pitch the tent, and see what's happening.”
“Have I mentioned that you're amazing, and I love you?” Jack asked, his eyes smiling brightly.
“No. Tell me again.”
Beneath a shady tree in a secluded part of a Laramie park, Jack kissed his Love, over and over again, until it was time to go home.
“Ten more minutes, Love, and we'll be landing. Danny, did you figure a storage hangar in those figures of yours?”
“Yes, I did. I didn't know, though, if you wanted to use Meadow Lake or the Springs airport,” the younger man answered.
“Not sure. We'll discuss it when we look at the figures.”
Jack looked out over the distance, the thought of regularly going on small flights with his family warmed his heart. He found himself smiling, and then whistling.
“You're happy,” Daniel noted, a huge smile on his face.
“Danny, I've been happy since the first day you said you loved me. Right now, though, I feel like we're flying high, and nothing can touch us up here. It's like ...”
“Home,” both said in unison, exchanging big smiles.
“It's crazy, Danny.”
“I can't argue with that,” Jack chuckled, whistling afterwards for a minute or so. “She'll need a name.”
“You name your planes?” Daniel questioned. ~I should know better; he names everything.~
“Sure. Every plane has a personality.”
Daniel thought about the plane and its potential name. He reviewed their day and all the changes happening in their lives.
“Jack, why don't we call it what you said. I mean, it's how we feel,” the younger man suggested.
“Yeah, The Flying High, taking us to new heights and new adventures, together, as a family.”
Jack grinned and nodded, agreeing, “Okay, The Flying High it is.” After a minute, he added, “She needs a nickname. You know how I am about nicknames.”
“Please don't remind me.”
“I won't ... Space Monkey.”
Daniel laughed in spite of himself, and then he suggested, “How about Jo?”
“Jo? J-O?” Jack said, piecing the nickname together.
“Yeah! It's the perfect name.”
“Woof! Woof!” came two barks of agreement from their basket.
“It's unanimous,” Jack laughed.
The final decision all but made, Jack, Daniel, Bijou, Katie, and Jo returned home to Colorado Springs. It was yet another adjustment in their lives, but one that would soar with fun and adventure for the entire family as the days and weeks passed, and the Jackson-O'Neill family grew.
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