General Jonny Comes of Age

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Action, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - May 12, 2018
Spoilers:  None
Size:  38kb, short story
Written:  February 20-23,25, March 4-5, June 2-3, 2017 Revised: December 9, 2017
Summary:  Jonny Jackson-O'Neill finds himself in a pickle, a very serious one.  Will he survive a perilously newsworthy adventure and if so, will his actions meet the approval of his parents?
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 other fic(s):  “General Jonny” and "Evil Winds"

General Jonny Comes of Age
by Orrymain

It was midday in Colorado Springs and at the moment, eleven-year-old Jonny Jackson-O'Neill and his friend, Jerry Portman, who was the same age as the Munchkin, were walking along the sidewalk on their way back to their respective residences, having spent an hour at the home of a friend who was laid up with a broken leg.  Now that the brood was older and each one owned a smartphone, Jack and Daniel were giving them more freedom.  This long walk to the home of Clint Lindsay was proof of that.

“I wonder whatever happened to Penny,” Jerry pondered as the boys approached a tan-colored house that was six blocks away and across the street from the Jackson-O'Neill home.

“They moved, didn't they?”

Jerry shrugged, not aware of whatever became of the Hoagland family.  A year ago, he often saw Penny and her younger sister, Meg, playing outside.  Time flew by and one day he realized it had been months since he'd seen the two.

“We don't play up here very often,” Jonny pointed out, a reminder that he didn't know the neighbors along this stretch of road very well, if at all.

As the friends were halfway past the driveway entrance, Jonny heard a noise that alarmed him.

“Jerry, did you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“I think it was a girl.”

“Power of suggestion, Jonny,” Jerry theorized.  “Mom's gonna skin me alive if we're late getting home.  I'll be on KP duty for a month.”

Jerry's father was retired from the Navy, which explained his KP reference.  He and Jonny became pals years ago with both boys loving to discuss planes, ships, weapons, and military tactics.  As he grew up, Jerry wasn't as dedicated to the military world as the Munchkin was, but he still loved planes and ships very much.

Jonny felt uncertain.  Actually, he felt uneasy, a feeling that swept over him unexpectedly.  His gut was churning, and his dad had always told him to trust his gut.

“Come on,” Jonny urged, tugging on Jerry's arm encouragingly as he started to walk up the driveway.

“Jonny!” a reluctant Jerry complained, though he followed his friend to the front door and watched as the Munchkin rang the bell.

“I didn't hear anything,” Jonny noted.  “It must be broken,” he surmised while rapping on the front door with his fist.

“See, no one lives here anymore,” Jerry opined, eager to get home.

“I heard something, Jerry,” Jonny insisted.  He walked away from the door and went to the side of the house.  “There!  I heard it again.”

Jerry hated to admit it, but he'd also heard the sound.  It was a scraping noise, like the rasp of metal against a hard surface.

The windows all had frayed shades covering them, except one of the lower slats in the window Jonny approached was pushed back slightly.  In fact, two other slats were partially bent, enabling the curious child to peek through, though something cylindrical was blocking a full view of the interior.

Jonny's reaction to what he saw was a shocking gasp that caused Jerry to edge closer and attempt to see what was inside.

Jonny began to tap on the window in an attempt to get the attention of the two girls he saw inside the kitchen.

Hearing the taps, the girls crouched down in fear, their bodies now out of the boys' sight.  Instantly, their hands went around the other and they began to tremble.  They hushed themselves to a shaking silence.

“Penny, it's me, Jonny Jackson-O'Neill, and Jerry Portman.  We want to talk to you.  Penny!” the child called out urgently.  “I don't like this, Jerry.”

“Where'd they go?” Jerry asked as his eyes searched the small area between the bent slats.

“We'd better go get my parents,” Jonny suggested.

As they were about to walk away, the children heard an approaching vehicle.

“Crap!” Jonny exclaimed, literally pulling on Jerry's orange shirt and yanking him toward the back fence and out of sight of the vehicle's driver.  He listened intently to the noises of the car in the driveway, his heart suddenly beating out of his chest when he realized the driver wasn't heading for the front door, but towards the rear of the home.  “Go!” he ordered in a whisper, pushing Jerry over the fence and following close behind.  ~Need more basic training.  That fence was almost too high for us, and I'm tall.~

The maturing youngster was lean and somewhat lanky.  Like his older father, he had a rapid metabolism that allowed him to eat hearty meals without ever gaining a pound.  He now stood five-feet, two-inches tall and weighed about ninety-five pounds.  Though he didn't have Jerry's more muscular build, Jonny was strong.  Another sign of his age was that his sandy-blond hair was now brown.  He didn't mind that, not after he saw pictures of his dad as a child and then as an adult, Jack's hair having also transitioned from sandy-blond to brown before becoming silver-gray during his time at Stargate Command.
Quickly, the boys scampered to the edge of a wooden overhang.  They saw a pile of wood and hid behind it.  Then Jonny heard a ring, frightening him.

“Turn off your phone,” Jonny urged as he immediately switched off his own phone.  He'd only had his own smartphone for a couple of months and there were strict rules surrounding its use.  Breaking the rules could mean that all of the younger children would lose phone privileges, something Jonny was highly aware of all the time.  ~Dad and Daddy are gonna kill me, but if we get caught ...~

Hearing the back gate open, Jonny's thoughts about his punishment ebbed into silence.

~It's Mister Hoagland,~ Jonny acknowledged as he saw the man enter and walk towards the pile of wood.  ~Ut oh!~

Suddenly, the oncoming man turned and used his key to open the door at the rear of the home.  There was a screen door that needed to be opened first.  It was noisy, but the regular door was quiet upon opening.

Jonny and Jerry let out big sighs of relief.  They started to inch their way back to the fence, but the next noise they heard chilled them to the bone.

“Penny screamed,” Jerry whispered.

“Listen, Jerry, she's begging him not to hit her.  We need to get my parents *now*,” Jonny stated while reaching for his phone, but then he heard the sound of shoes stomping against the wooden floor of the home's living room.  The man was coming.  “Back up.”

The kids returned to their original positions and kneeled down as low as they could.

“Get out there, and hurry it up,” the man spat as he practically tossed on thee of  little girls out onto the lawn.

It was Meg, age four, with short, loosely curled hair that reminded the Munchkin a little bit of his sister, Lulu.  She was dark complected, her face wet with tears.

“I said to hurry up,” the man ordered in a hushed shout.

Crying, Meg got up onto her feet and walked to a corner of the yard.

“Jonny, she's going to the bathroom.”

Jonny was horrified and more frightened than he'd ever been, not for himself, but for Penny and Meg.  His mind again went to Lulu, who once suffered great physical and mental abuse by Kevin Guyer, her foster father.  Jonny's blood ran cold to think the same kind of cruelty was happening to tiny Meg and her older sister.

Still crying, the girl, wearing a ragged tank top and shorts that were torn on the side, walked slowly back to her father.

“Did you cover the hole?”

The girl nodded, her head going up and down five times as her hands clinched together in front of her.

“Get in here.  It's Daddy time.”

Jonny didn't like the sound of that at all, especially when he saw the little girl shake her head and back away three steps.

“Don't wanna,” Meg sniffled.

“Fine.  Get in here.”  A moment later, he cackled, “I like your sister better anyway.”

When the girl entered the house, the boys again started to move forward, but then they were stunned when the man walked outside, the screen on the back door bouncing twice before it stopped, though the door did not lock into place.  He pulled out a cigarette and began to smoke it, huffing and puffing it like there would be no tomorrow.  He was a muscular man, easily noticeable because now all he had on was a bodybuilder-style white sleeveless T-shirt with his ragged blue jeans.

The man began to walk towards the wood pile again, causing the boys' eyes to grow with fear.  He heard a noise that prompted him to veer off in another direction to check it out.  As he got further away, Jonny and Jerry crawled along the back edge, hoping to make a run for it.  Their plan was foiled when the man began to turn, but he let out a big yawn and stretched, his face looking upward.

Having nowhere to hide for safety, the boys entered the house, being careful not to let the screen door clatter against the door jamb.  Hunched over, they headed for the front door, thinking they could escape that way.  Five feet from the exit, the boys stopped, terrified by what they saw.

The front door was literally barricaded and behind the old blinds the boys saw from the outside were windows with bars across them.

“Jonny, we can't get out.”

“Neither can Penny and ...”  Jonny stopped and warned, “Shhh.”  His ears honed in on the sound, tiny cries and sobs that were trying to be stifled.  “It's Penny and Meg.  Come on, Jerry.”

“Jonny, we have to get out of here.”

“Not without the girls,” Jonny insisted, his bravery and morality coming ahead of any fear he may have felt at being caught by Hoagland.

Jonny's and Jerry's eyes panned the house and every soft step they took was done only after they'd scanned their surroundings.  The house was very warm, but that wasn't the worst of it.

“It smells so bad in here,” Jerry mentioned as he scrunched up his noise in disgust.

“I don't want to know what it is,” Jonny remarked, taking full control of the situation and employing the skills learned from his fathers, Teal'c, and others to survive the perilous circumstance he was in.  The crying had stopped and he wasn't sure from where in the house the noise had come.  “Go left, stay close to the wall, and down low.  Don't make a sound.  I'll go to the right.  We have to find the girls and then we'll get out of here.”

General Jonny, sometimes referred to as the little general, was far from the size he'd been when first given the nickname almost seven years ago.  He loved the moniker and worked very hard to be worthy of the title that was originally bestowed upon him on by Colonel Marc Reynolds.

Jonny and Jerry split up, each moving slowly in opposite directions.  The Munchkin could hear his heart beating.  He wondered if his parents' hearts beat as fast when they were about to do battle.  Then he heard the sound again, sniffling, but he could tell it was sniffling that was trying to be curbed.  He followed the sound and turned left into a bedroom.

“Penny!  Meg!” Jonny called out in a raised hush.

“Jonny, go home.  Get out of here!” Penny ordered.  “He'll hurt you, if he catches you here.”

The girls' were on the floor, their little hands in chains.  Cockroaches were crawling along the bottom wall trim and there were cobwebs hanging from the corners of the room.  There wasn't a bed, just a few sheets, mostly torn, scattered on the floor.  Two pillows were nearby.  There was a bowl of water, but no cups.

~They have to drink out of that like dogs or cats,~ Jonny gasped to himself.

“Jonny, go home, and don't tell anyone.  He'll hurt us, Jonny,” the long-haired Penny pleaded, the strands of her black hair matted and disheveled.  Unlike her sibling, Penny's skin was fair and pale.  The eight-year-old's eyes were hazel, while Meg's were black.  “Jonny,” she nearly cried in fear.

Jonny looked up from the horror of the filthy room and studied the young girls.  He could see faded bruises and he saw how dirty they and their clothes were.  He hadn't noticed Meg was dirty like that when he'd first seen her outside.

“Go home!”

“No,” Jonny argued as he made a full circle around the room, looking for something to help him.  The youngster began to feel panicky and he was swallowing hard and often as his desperation for a solution grew.  ~General Jonny, focus!~ he ordered himself, taking a big deep breath and releasing it slowly.

The trick was something his daddy taught Little Danny one time, and Little Danny later taught it to some of his brothers and sisters, including the oldest Munchkin.  The calming technique worked, and Jonny sprung into action.

~I so dumb sometimes,~ the child lamented as he sat down and took off his left shoe.  He reached into the shoe pulled out a pick.  ~Thank you, Aunt Sam, and thank you, Dad and Daddy, for letting me carry it,~ he thought about the gift given to him by Sam last Christmas.  It was the newest tool for Jonny's growing arsenal of emergency supplies that began with duct tape.  The boy rarely went anywhere without duct tape.  “I should have thought of this right away,” Jonny admitted in a quiet voice as he put on his shoe again.

“What you doing?” Meg sniffled.

“Picking the lock.”  Jonny worked as fast as he could.  ~Shoulda given me more lessons, Aunt Sam.  I paid attention, though.  I did.  I can do this.  Help me, Mommy.  Mommy, please help me.~

His eyes were bright and Jonny let out a gasp when in the very midst of his plea to his birth mother, Kayla Armentrout, the lock on Meg clicked open.

“Jonny, are you in here?” Jerry called out.  “I couldn't find ... oh, ewe ... what ...”

“Jerry, shhh!” Jonny urged.

Then the screen door was heard, banging twice.

Jonny caught his breath, afraid to breath.  His fingers worked faster than ever.

~Stay focused.  Don't think about anything.  Pick the lock.  Pick the lock.  Pick the ...~

Penny's lock opened and Jonny helped to pull the chain away, while Jerry helped Meg.

“He's in the house, Jonny,” Penny eked out as she trembled.

“Come on.  Don't make a sound,” Jonny ordered.  “I'll take point.”

“What?” Penny asked.

“Shhh!” Jonny warned, putting his finger in front of his lips.

With the Munchkin leading the way, the children carefully inched along the wall until they reached the archway that led to the living and dining areas that were practically one.  Jonny closed his eyes in a quick prayer of thanks when he realized the man was nowhere in sight.  They couldn't escape out the front door or any of the barred windows.  There was only one way out.

“Jerry, stick with Meg.  She's your responsibility,” Jonny told his good friend.  “Penny, you're with me.  Stay close to me, all the time, no matter what,” he whispered.

Every step felt like a mile to the children, but soon they were at the back door.  Jonny motioned for the kids to get down like he did.  He spied out the bottom of the screen, his eyes searching for the dangerous man.  Then he gulped.

~He has a gun.~

Cyrus Hoagland was sitting on a bench, cleaning a pistol.  The sight caused Jonny to consider a retreat, but where would the group retreat to that would be safe?  He was certain the man would come inside soon, and when he did, he'd find them and who knew what might happen then.

The Munchkin kept his eyes on the target, but he asked quietly, “Does he do this every night?”

“I don't know.  He goes outside a lot; then he comes in and we play ... a game,” Penny spoke quietly.

Jonny turned for a moment to look at her and saw Penny's head drop and her lip quiver.  He had to get the girls to safety.  He scanned the room and spotted a bunch of dirty blankets over a chair.  He tried to calculate if there would be room for all four of them to hide under the blankets.  He had to chance it.  He couldn't lead the girls outside when Hoagland was sitting so close with a gun in his hands.  He had to wait until the man entered the house and went into one of the other rooms.

“Don't make a sound, nothing; be quiet.  We're on a mission; you can't make any noise on a mission,” Jonny told all three of the other kids.  “We're a team.  We do everything together and we don't leave anyone behind.  Okay?  Shhh!” he reminded again.

Jonny looked out the door again and saw Hoagland still sitting on the bench, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and his pistol in his left hand as he cleaned it with a cloth.  The group leader led his team to the chair covered with blankets.  He told Penny and Meg to crouch down and not to move.  There wasn't room for him or Jerry to join the girls there.

“Don't even twitch your noses,” Jonny ordered the sisters.  “Jerry, can you squeeze behind the sofa?”

~Me?  Behind there?~  Jerry looked over at the space between the sofa and the wall.  There wasn't much room, but he thought the could do it.  “I'll pretend I'm a toothpick.”

Jonny wanted to laugh, but knew he couldn't.  With Jerry and the girls taken care of, he positioned himself in the most precarious of the hiding spots, one that would allow him to track Hoagland's movements once he came inside.  He went beside three stacked boxes and an old beat up secretary's desk.  It was a narrow piece of furniture with a roll top and three drawers.  The problem was that if Hoagland decided to walk from the living area to the kitchen, he could easily see the Munchkin.

The familiar sound of the screen door banging caught the attention of the four children, all of whom were essentially holding their breaths.  Jonny's eyes followed the predator as he leisurely walked inside and made the turn to go through the archway that led to the bedrooms.  It was also good news when Jonny saw that the man turned left, meaning he wasn't going to notice his daughters were gone right away.

Waiting just ten more seconds, Jonny moved out, returning to the chair.  He motioned to Jerry, and the boys helped the girls get out from the coverings.  They hurried in silence to the screen door and Jonny ever so gently opened it.  The girls went out first, and then Jerry.  Jonny looked behind him before going outside and carefully making sure the screen shut quietly.

“Go!” Jonny ordered, his voice low but urgent sounding.

The kids ran to the gated fence, quickly realizing it was locked, a chain preventing the gate from being opened.

“I forgot how tall it was,” Jonny whined, but he didn't pause to worry about it.  “Jerry climb over the fence.  I'll lift up Meg.  You have to catch her, Jerry.  Hurry!”

Jerry did as asked and waited, while Jonny, noticeably grateful for the first time that he was taller than the average kid his age, though he also knew that average was just a word, something he'd learned mostly from his daddy, easily raised up young Meg and eased her over the fence into Jerry's raised-up hands.

Jonny started to help Penny, who surprised him and was able to raise herself up over the top of the fence once Jonny gave her a little push.

“Jonny, come on!” Jerry urged anxiously.

The Munchkin began to climb the fence when he heard the deep voice yell.

“*Hey, you, stop!  Where are my kids*?”

“*Runnnnnnnnnnnnnn*!” Jonny ordered just as he got over the fence and dropped down.  “My house!” he shouted.

“Ouch!” Meg cried when she fell.

“I've got you!” Jonny called out, stooping down and picking up the girl.  ~I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.~

“Oh, jeepers, Jonny.  He's got a gun!” Jerry shouted, having looked back for a second.

“Run, Jerry, Run.  Penny, *move it, move it move it!”

With the man yelling as he chased the children, a gun in his hands, the kids ran as fast as they could.  Jonny was scared he might fall or drop Meg, but he wouldn't, and he couldn't.

~I can do this.  I have to do this.  Help me.  Please help me.~

Finally, the Jackson-O'Neill home was in sight.  Jonny couldn't wait to get onto his own property.

“*Code Red!  Code Red*!” Jonny shouted at the top of his lungs, hoping someone inside would hear.  He didn't have keys to the house; none of the younger members of the brood did.  It simply hadn't been necessary, not with the way Jack and Daniel parented and with their strict rules and security measures.  The boy prayed they group would reach the door before Hoagland could catch them.  “Open the door!  Open the door!”

“What's going on?” Daniel asked when he opened the door, having heard the shouts.  He was about to go in search of Jonny anyway since the boy was late and wasn't answering his phone.  “Wha... what's happening?”

“Close the door!  Turn on the security system!” Jonny ordered as he and Jerry practically flew by the archaeologist.  Realizing the danger and believing there was no time to explain, Jonny called out, “Never mind.  I'll do it,” and ran towards the kitchen to activate the system.

**Jack, get down here NOW,** Daniel communicated.  “Jerry, go in the living room and sit down, please.”

“Okay, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill,” Jerry replied, eager to sit down and get away from the door.

Gulping, Jonny ordered, “Tell Dad to get his gun!” as he turned to go inside the kitchen where the system could be activated and had screens that allowed the family to see what was happening all around the home.

“What?” a startled Daniel queried as he followed the youngster.

“He has to have a gun here, somewhere.  Daddy, please, tell Dad to bring his gun,” Jonny requested as he reached up to gain access.

“Stop,” Daniel ordered.  He reached over and handled the controls that raised up the blackboard that covered the controls when not needed.  He activated the security system and then looked down at Jonny.  “Okay, it's on.”

“Daddy, the gun!”

Daniel stared deeply into the eyes of the Munchkin.  The boy was afraid yet stern.  He wasn't a playing a game.  Jonny had way too much respect for guns now to ever joke about them.  Realizing this, Daniel acted without hesitation.

**Jack, get your gun.**

“What the ...” Jack said out loud.  He was three steps down the stairs when he heard Daniel via their special communication.  **Danny?**

**Do it, Jack.**  Daniel ordered.  Then he grabbed Jonny, placing his hands on the boy's shoulders.  “Talk to me, now!”

“Mister Hoagland has a gun and he's chasing us.  That's Penny and Meg, Daddy.  You don't know what he's been doing to them.  It's like Lulu and worse.  They were in chains when we found them and they go to the bathroom outside.”

Daniel's heart sank.  He looked over at the girls and their ragged outfits.

“Daddy, what's going on?” Jeff asked as she entered the kitchen, near the security area.  He'd just graduated from college and was home while he weighed his future options.  “Hi,” he spoke softly to the two shaking girls, who looked up at him with bulging eyes of fright.

A banging on the door drew everyone's attention, but Daniel focused on the two shivering girls.  He saw their fear, and their bruises and lacerations.

With the rest of brood gathering, Daniel was about to say something when Jack entered, his gun hidden inside the jacket he'd put on.

“Daniel?” came Jack's strained query.

“Dad, we have to save them,” Jonny demanded, running to stand directly in front of the authentic general, though he was almost in tears while he pointed over at Penny and Meg.

The banging of the door continued.

“Jeff, take the girls upstairs to the girls' room.  I want *all* of you to go there, close the door, lock it, and do *not* come out until Daddy or I call you.  Is that understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” several of the kids called out.

“Get Jerry.  He's in the living room,” Daniel told his son.

The children, including Jerry, hurried upstairs to safety while the beagles remained with Jack and Daniel in the kitchen.

“Woof?” Bijou asked.

“You two stay with us,” Jack answered.  He walked over to review the security camera that was keyed onto the porch.  “Is that Hoagland?”

“Jonny says it is,” Daniel answered.  “I hardly recognize him.”

“What the blazes is going on?”

“According to Jonny, think Lulu, only worse,” Daniel responded.  “This may be the one time I regret that Sam and Pete are in Europe.”

“Call the police, Danny,” Jack ordered as he headed for the front door.

“Jack, you aren't going out there,” Daniel stated as he reached out to stop his husband's movement.  “This is our home, and our children are upstairs.  We have this security system to protect them.  If he does anything to ...”

“Where'd he go?” Jack asked as he reviewed the other screens.

Suddenly, the alarm system blared.  Not long thereafter, Daniel answered the phone and requested the police be alerted and come to the home.

“There he goes!” Jack called out before sprinting to the door.

Daniel knew why Jack was insisting on going outside.  He didn't want Hoagland to get away.

“Oh, crap,” Daniel sighed in his best mimicking of his husband before he followed the quick moving general.

Cautiously, Jack headed out the door, his gun now in his right hand.  Daniel grabbed the only thing reachable between the front hallway and the entryway: an umbrella.

~Like this is going to help me,~ the archaeologist lamented.  “Bijou, Katie, guard the house.  This is a bad man.  Got it?”

The beagles growled and became erect, their tales straight back in full alert mode.

“We'll be back,” Daniel told the beagles as he went outside to assist his lover.

As in their days with SG-1, the couple moved in harmony as they sought out the depraved man.  They went down three blocks before progress was made.

**Jack, I see him.**


**Behind the Ellison's Chevy.  Look, you can see his feet.**  There was a pause and then Daniel advised, **Jonny says he has a gun.**

Jack looked back at Daniel and then shook his head at the situation.  The good news was that it was obvious Hoagland wasn't trained for this kind of thing.  He'd chosen a lousy hiding spot and with the headstart he had, the man should have kept running.  He might have escaped by the time Jack and Daniel actually began their pursuit and caught up to him.

Taking a deep breath, Jack took a position behind a brown Toyota, while Daniel kneeled down one house away from his soulmate, behind a tree.

“Hoagland, give it up!” Jack shouted.  “The police will be here any minute.  You don't want to make this worse than it has to be.”

**No movement, Jack,** Daniel reported since he had the best view of the child molester.

“You know, that's fine.  You stay put.  That way I don't have to kill you, you friggin' S.O.B.”

The man stood up, the gun in his hand, as if to challenge Jack.

**Careful,** Daniel warned.

“Just stay there,” Jack cautioned Hoagland, while he remained shielded by the car with his gun firmly aimed at the man.  “Here come the cops!” he said as the sirens blared louder with each second.

**They're here, Jack,** Daniel advised.  He knew Jack's focus was solely on Hoagland, but Daniel could see the three police cars coming to a grinding halt.  **I hear another patrol car coming from the other direction,** he noted.

Immediately, Jack eased his posture and put the gun back inside his jacket.  Several officers slowly and carefully took control of the situation, begging Hoagland to toss his gun over onto the grass and get down on his knees.

Jack and Daniel didn't move from their locations.  The scene was too volatile.  They couldn't be sure what Hoagland would do, nor did they want to chance the police confusing them with the villain.  What they did know was that violence had come to their neighborhood, to the very street that was their home, and somehow, they'd missed it.

The couple heard the negotiations, the orders from the police, the raging man's refusal to give up his gun, and then the shot.  It was one shot.  Hoagland pulled the trigger, shooting himself in the head and slumping to the ground.  He was dead before he fell.


It was forty minutes later before Jack and Daniel were allowed to return to their home and when they did, two female police officers were with them.

“Bijou, Katie, it's okay.  Everything's fine now,” Daniel told the beagles as they walked inside.

The beagles' tails relaxed and they smiled at the city's women-in-blue, their tails now wagging in a friendly manner.

“We'll bring them down,” Daniel told the officers about Penny and Meg.

“Who turned off the alarm?” Jack wondered as he followed Daniel up the stairs.  “Danny, we told them not to move from the girls' room.”

“I don't know.”

A minute later, the question was answered when the parents saw Jennifer was present.  Now a happily married woman, Jennifer lived in the small house behind the Jackson-O'Neill homestead.  Naturally, she'd heard the alarm blare and came over to see what was up.  After finally locating her siblings and hearing the story, she'd turned off the alarm, aware the police were by then on the scene.

“Dad, Daddy, we were so worried,” Jennifer said as she immediately went to her parents and hugged them.

The entire brood sprang forward to do the same, except for Jeff who was protectively holding Meg on his lap, while Penny had her arms hooked around his right arm as they sat on Aislinn's bed.

“Did you get him, Dad?” Jonny asked.

Jack looked over at the young Hoagland girls and responded by telling them, “He won't hurt you anymore.”

“Promise?” Meg asked as she started to weep and lean in even closer to Jeff.

“Yeah,” the silver-haired man replied.


The long evening continued.  Neighbors were asking questions and those who witnessed the scene from inside their homes were curious and scared both.  There had never been anything like this before on their street.  No one knew what to think.  Fortunately, the police were dealing with the neighbors for the most part while they continued to investigate the scene of Hoagland's death.  They were waiting for the warrant to search the man's house, which was expected to come through momentarily.

Penny and Meg were taken to the hospital for examinations by the two women officers.  Jack also phoned his friend, Annie Glenn, who worked in social services.  He asked her personally handle the girls' case and she agreed.

Eventually, the police returned to the Jackson-O'Neill home and just as Jack and Daniel suspected, they wanted to talk to Jonny and Jerry, though Jerry was now back at home with his worried parents.  Another pair of officers were notified and instructed to conduct that interview.

With Jonny seated between his parents in the recreation room, the police asked him several questions about the day's events.  The boy gave full and complete responses.  He didn't exclude a thing, knowing that even the smallest detail can make a difference in any investigation.  He'd learned that from his parents, too, and from his Uncle Pete, the police detective.  He even showed the officers the pick he kept in his shoe.  Of course, then Jack had to do a bit of fast talking about Sam to explain the gift.

This was also the parents' chance to actually hear the full story, one in which their oldest Munchkin truly acted as a hero.  They were abundantly proud of him and they were equally afraid at the same time.  General Jonny had come of age, facing true danger on his own, except for Jerry's presence.  They were even prouder when their son actually admitted out loud that he'd been afraid, but that he didn't have a choice because of the threats Hoagland made to the girls.

Before the officers left, Jack also showed them his gun permit, which was simply a technicality, especially since he hadn't fired it and it was clear that Hoagland was the aggressor.  Of course, he was well prepared to use his status as a general to make sure any issues were resolved quietly behind the scenes, if necessary.

The brood was strong and while somewhat unnerved about the day's events, they calmly went about their evening, enjoying a late dinner together.  Two things stood out to the parents.

First, Jonny wasn't the least bit cocky or boastful about what happened.  He was actually reverent and exhibited a comprehension that his actions could have resulted in serious injury to himself, Jerry, and the Hoagland children.  He was happy to tell the story and answer the myriad of questions put to him by his siblings, but his demeanor was far different from the five-year-old who didn't really understand the danger when standing up to bad men.

Second, Lulu showed great concern for Penny and Meg.  The thirteen-year-old's ordeal as a young girl was behind her now, especially after she'd faced her own perilous situation with her one-time foster father just eighteen months ago.  Like Hoagland, Guyer was dead now, though his end came in a different way.  As more time passed from the Curly Top's nightmare, her parents saw in her an ability to help others as they struggled in difficult times.  Her compassion was as strong as Jonny's determination to free Penny and Meg.

Finally, the night was quiet inside the family home and the children were in bed.  Jennifer had returned to her house a couple of hours earlier, once her husband got home from his work.  Jack and Daniel were in bed, sitting up against the headboard as they processed the day together for the first time in a staccato fashion, using their own special oral shorthand.

“Smartphone,” Daniel stated.

“Status quo.”

“He had to turn it off or risk being discovered.”



“Your gun?” the archaeologist asked.

“It was a guess.”

“You had one; they all saw it.”

“Family meeting,” the silver-haired man suggested.



“Punishment, for anything?” Daniel queried uncertainly.



“Yeahsureyabetcha,” Jack quipped light.  “He gets a trip to Disneyland.”




“I'll talk to Landry,” Jack spoke, referring to General Hank Landry who was now the base commander at Cheyenne Mountain.


“Neighbors?” the younger man sighed in question.

“Crime happens.”

“The Portmans must be upset.”

“We'll take donuts in the morning,” Jack suggested.

“Food: your answer for everything.”

“It works.”



“Six blocks,” Daniel sighed.

“Tighten the reins?”


“Crap, yes.  It's who we are, Danny.  Overprotective is our middle name.”

“Status quo?”



“Keys?” Daniel wondered.

“Entire brood?”

“Even JD, yes.”

“Long overdue,” Jack sighed.




“Jack, publicity?”

“Got it covered,” Jack responded.

“Phone call?”

“While you were with the kids cooking dinner.”

“Are you sure?”

“By morning, not even the cops who were here will remember Jonny's name.”


“Do you really want to know?”




The conversation evened out when Daniel brought up Penny and Meg.

“Six blocks down the street, Jack, and no one knew the torture those little girls were living through.”

“I don't know what you want to call Hoagland, but father is not a word I'd use to describe him, ever.”

“Did you notice how Lulu was around them?”

With a smile, Jack answered, “She was right there, telling them life would get better now.”

“Jack, she gave them our phone number.”

“Yeah, I know.  That's good.”

“She wants to see them again.”

“Yeah, I know.  That's good, too.”

“General Jonny came of age today,” Daniel put forth quietly.

Jack smiled as he agreed, “General Jonny isn't a little boy anymore.”

“He's learned well.”

“They all have.”



“Why are we so calm?”

There was silence for a minute as both men pondered that odd reality, but then Jack produced his theory.

“Danny, we've survived so many crazed madmen, human and otherwise, that nothing much surprises us anymore and our kids have already endured more than any kid should, but they handle the mess every bit as good as we do.  What happened today was scary, but dang, Jonny did *exactly* what we would have done, and we both know it.  That's why we're calm.  We're not hypocrites.  Penny and Meg were damsels in distress and our son did what he had to do to save them, and, Danny, he thought it out.  He didn't act rashly.  He didn't stand up and boast that he's a little general.  He evaluated the situation and used what he had to make it work.  He even admitted he was scared, and admitting that is the first step in acting cautiously.  That's why we're calm.  We couldn't have handled it any better ourselves.”

“Agreed,” the smiling linguist spoke.




“Gawd, yes,” Daniel responded happily.


There was still a lot to be learned about the Hoaglands and how the family changed.  Something must have happened a year or so ago when they essentially dropped out of sight.  There was no sign of Mrs. Hoagland and exactly what Penny and Meg had gone through, the full nature of their abuse from their father, was yet to be realized.  All of that would come with time.

Jack and Daniel also determined that they would keep a close eye on Jonny and make sure he discussed his feelings about what he'd seen and done.  During their nightly rounds, Jonny was open about expressing his emotions, so the parents believed that was a good sign that he was handling the dramatic turn of events well.  Still, they considered scheduling a session with Lulu's therapist, just to make sure.  That decision was not yet made, but it was a consideration that was on the table.

It was a day not quite like other days for the Jackson-O'Neill family, but it was one they could survive because Jack, Daniel, and their brood plus zoo were a supportive unit that could do anything together.  In fact, they felt unbeatable and that was their family motto, that together they were unbeatable.

As it turned out, the individuals that comprised the brood could do anything on their own, too, and that was something the parents had been building in their children from the moment of the Munchkins' birth.  On this day, Jonny Jackson-O'Neill proved he had the character, strength, spirit, and know-how to represent his family well.  He was General Jonny and now the mantle he wore was proven and not just a child's amusing nickname.  Indeed, Jonny was worth every letter in the cherished title.

Tonight, life was treasured even more than usual for the Jackson-O'Neill family.  

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

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