Just Another Tuesday
Category: Slash, Drama, Angst, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - June 2, 2015
Written: March 5,7-11,23, 2009
Summary: A trip to nature's splendor ends up putting two of the brood in unexpected danger.
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) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Tammy, Mama Bear, Irina, Adrienne!
Just Another Tuesday
Whistling as he carried in a bag of groceries and, as a treat for
himself and Daniel, a six-pack of beer, Jack felt good inside. He
was loving life today. The kids were happy and healthy, his lover
was happy and sexy, and even the members of the J-O zoo were happy as
they squawked, squealed, whinnied, swam, hopped, meowed, and barked
their way through the morning. His choice to shop early had
resulted in fast service, and now he was back home and ready to take on
whatever the next second brought.
The next second happened to bring a ringing telephone. Putting down the bag and beer, the retired Air Force general made his way to the phone, which was sitting on the counter beneath some of the cabinets.
~Someone forgot to put the phone back,~ the silver-haired man thought as he picked up the cordless object. “O'Neill,” he answered in rote.
“That's not right, Dad,” a familiar voice complained.
“It's not?” Jack joked, knowing what was coming from the youngster on the other end of the phone. “I was born with that name. How's it supposed to be?”
“*Jackson*-O'Neill,” a chipper-sounding voice corrected from the other side of the phone, the caller preferring the use of the full name rather than the shorter 'maiden' name, so to speak.
“Always and forever,” Jack replied with an amused smile. “You are definitely correct about the name. Let me start over.” He cleared his voice and stated cheerfully, “Jackson-O'Neill.” He could almost feel the smile that he knew was emanating from the child. Feeling playful and mischievous, he asked,“Who's this?”
“Dad, it's me.”
“Meeeeeeee!” the frustrated young voice repeated animatedly, his eyes rolling backward, his body sagging, and his right hand flailing outward as he talked to this father. “You know!”
“I do? Meeeeeeee who?” Jack queried, trying not to laugh.
“Me, your son.”
“I have a few of those,” Jack teased. “Which one?”
“We've established that I'm Dad, but we're still trying to determine who you are,” the father stated as dryly as he could while still trying not to laugh.
“I know who I am,” the boy asserted strongly, his brow furled by the way the conversation was going.
“That makes one of us.”
“Dad!” the disgruntled eight-and-a-half-year-old child exclaimed as he tapped his right foot on the carpet in the room where he stood.
“See! You know me,” the boy argued in an 'aha' tone.
“You told me you were one of my sons, and I'm going along with that, but you still haven't told me which one,” Jack retorted while returning to the bag and beginning to put the groceries away. ~Think I'll put this on speaker,~ he told himself, putting the phone down to make it easier to perform his task.
“You don't know me?” the boy asked, sounding vulnerable for the first time.
Jack paused for a second as he put the milk away. It was time to end the game.
In a soft and steady tone, the happy father responded, “You're my son, and I love you.” Jack could sense the smile on the other end of the phone. “What's up, Sport?”
Still grinning, Jonny stood up a little straighter. Being called 'Sport' had always been a special endearment. He and David had both been the recipient of the moniker, which had once been held just for Charlie, Jack's firstborn who had died so tragically years ago. He had no doubt now that his older father knew exactly who he was talking to.
“I knew you knew it was me, Dad,” the sandy-haired boy stated.
“I knew you knew I knew it was you,” Jack retorted.
“Jonny, why the phone call?” Jack asked, certain there wasn't a crisis or his namesake wouldn't be engaging in all of the silliness that they'd already gone through.
“Mrs. Gray wants to know if Ash and I want to go with her to ... um, it's a place. Ash wants to go, and I want to go, so can we go?”
Jack chuckled and asked to talk with Eleanor Gray, wife of Marvin Gray. The two had a son, Eddie, who was the same age as the Munchkins. Jonny and Aislinn had gone over to the Grays for breakfast and to play for a while. The Grays lived about fifteen minutes away and had met the Jackson-O'Neills a year or so ago at the neighborhood park.
“Sounds great, Ellie,” Jack opined after listening to the day's itinerary. “Do you need another helper?”
“Thanks, Jack, but Elma's coming, and we should be able to handle it. It's just the five kids.”
“We'll look for you around six then,” Jack concluded.
Eleanor and her sister, Elma, were planning on taking Eddie and two of his cousins out exploring to an hour just outside of Colorado Springs. Seeing how interested Jonny and Aislinn were upon hearing about the day's plans during breakfast, Eddie had asked his mother if they could come along. That's what had prompted the phone call.
“Look for who around six?” Daniel asked just as his husband had ended the call.
“Jonny and Ash are exploring nature today,” Jack answered, giving his lover the details of the trip.
“Oh,” Daniel responded dryly. With his back to Jack, he smiled and glanced around. “Of course, that's how it happens, you know.”
“How what happens?” Jack asked as he put the lunch meat in the refrigerator.
“Boys. Girls. Nature,” Daniel responded cryptically, seeing his Love's smirk out of the corner of his eye.
“Daniel, they're too young for that.”
“*That*!” Jack exclaimed. “The boy-girl stuff.”
“Tell that to Ash and the line of boys who do her bidding, when they aren't telling her that they hate her,” Daniel mused.
“Then what the heck are you talking about?”
Daniel grinned and responded, “They're liable to come home with a new pet. A frog maybe.”
“*No* new pets,” Jack groused. “We have a big enough zoo as it is.”
“You let them go. It'll be all your fault, Babe,” Daniel teased, walking over and giving his lover a peck on the cheek. “I'll go see where we can put a new cage.”
“You do that,” Jack snarked, growling when Daniel laughed on his way out of the kitchen. “He thinks he's so cute.” Suddenly, the general smiled and cocked his head, admitting out loud, “He is cute. Darn cute. Sexy cute.” Feeling his body reacting to his thoughts, he quickly put away the last of the refrigerated items he'd purchased and headed after his husband. “Danny! Angel!”
Love was in the air, and in a few minutes, it would be busting out all over the Jackson-O'Neill master bedroom.
Later that afternoon, Jonny and Aislinn had just finished a snack with their hosts and were now enjoying the hot day. While Eleanor and Elma cleaned up the picnic area, Elma's teenage daughter, Edwina, accompanied Eddie, her younger sister Eldora, and the two Munchkins on a walk.
The area where the children were walking was several yards from the edge of the South Platte River. There was a path adorned by a multitude of trees where people often walked. This area followed the curve of the river, while the nearby highway veered northward. On the other side of the winding path was a great deal of brush. It was quite a bit beyond it that the highway ran.
The brush was golden in color this time of year. It was beautiful. When walking the path, you could hear the swish of the river and, in the distance, the rush of any cars that might be going by.
“How come all of you have 'E' names?” Aislinn asked Eddie curiously.
“I dunno,” Eddie answered with a shrug.
“I know why,” Eldora volunteered. “Nana's favorite letter is 'E', so she named all her kids with 'E' names, and she made Daddy go along.”
“How about your mommy?” Aislinn questioned.
“She does what Daddy says. He brings in the bacon,” Eldora explained.
“And he buys the bread,” Eddie added with a nod.
Jonny grimaced, trying to figure out what the boy meant.
“He means Daddy's the bread winner,” Eldora translated. Running over to look closer at the river's edge, she added, “They musta had a bread-baking contest or somethin'.”
“Eldora, don't get so close,” Aislinn called out.
“It's okay,” the girl returned confidently.
“No, it's not,” Jonny groaned, going over to the girl and pulling her away. “You might fall in, and there aren't any adults around.”
“Hey!” Edwina objected, taking part in the conversation for the first time in the last fifteen minutes.
“She's alive!” Eddie snarked. He leaned over to Aislinn and whispered, “All she thinks about is boys.”
“I heard that, Runt,” Edwina retorted, a look of warning and all kinds of kid torture on her face.
With Eldora away from the river's edge, the kids continued their walk. They had another five minutes or so before they were supposed to turn around and return to the picnic area. It wasn't an official picnic area, but was just a place off the highway that had room to sit down and enjoy food and the scenery. It wasn't uncommon to see more than one group of people stopped around this particular spot.
“Hi, Daddy,” Little Danny greeted, a smile on his face as he stood at the doorway to the den.
“Sproglet!” Daniel greeted, putting down his pen and spinning his chair around. He stood up and met his eager son halfway. Picking the boy up, he gave him a kiss on the cheek and asked, “Did you have fun?”
“It was great fun, Daddy,” the boy answered and then began to expound on his trip to a science fair with one of the homeschooling families the children often studied with.
“You know, I hate to say this, but you may be getting too old for this,” Daniel observed as he continued to hold his growing namesake. ~I like doing it, though.~
“It's okay,” Little Danny responded, hugging his father and enjoying the closeness, even though a part of him agreed that he was getting too big to be picked up all the time. ~I like it, though,~ he sighed happily to himself. “I wanna go tell Jonny about th...”
“He's not here, Son. He and Ash went with Eddie's family on a ... nature outing.”
Little Danny grinned, knowing the possibilities of such a trip. When Jonny went on nature trips, he often tried to bring home some creature. It was second in the family lore to Little Danny's practice of helping animals everywhere.
The middle Munchkin almost always had some member of the animal kingdom that he was helping to transition from either poor health or the loss of a home to a bright, new future. At the moment, he was tending to a blue jay that had flown right into their patio door.
Splatter, as Jonny had named the bird, was within a couple of days of taking flight once again, after a lot of love and care from the child nurturer and a visit to the family's vet.
Seeing his namesake's grin, Daniel knew what the boy was thinking without any words having been spoken. It was clear to both father and son that Jonny would return home with some living creature hidden in backpack that he'd acquired on his nature outing.
“Yeah, that's what I tried to tell your dad, too,” Daniel chuckled about the silent agreement. ~I just hope it's something that doesn't require a lot of attention.~
Just as the group of youngsters was about to turn back for the picnic area, Aislinn gasped and called out, “Jonny, look!”
Jonny ran forward, getting a closer look at the car that seemed to be slowly sinking. He had no idea how long the car had been there, but it couldn't have been that long.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Edwina exclaimed, seeing a woman in the car, her head leaning over the steering wheel.
“There's a little girl in the car, Jonny!” Aislinn exclaimed, running over to her brother and pointing out what she was seeing.
As the car began to gurgle its way down, the woman inside the vehicle began to scream, which caused the child to cry out loudly, too. Jonny wasn't sure if the woman knew they were there or was just screaming for help. He figured she must have just come to because her head had shot up suddenly and she was looking all around as she yelled for assistance.
Eldora began to sob at the sight she was seeing, and Edwina was running around frantically, her hands on her head as she shouted at the top of her lungs.
“Jonny, we have to do something,” Aislinn stated calmly.
“I know,” Jonny agreed as he ran to the very edge of where the river met the sloped levee. “We have to go get them,” he stated bravely, well aware that no one else was around who could help.
“Jonny, you can't,” Aislinn argued. “Look at the water.”
Jonny's eyes carefully took in the area as he studied the situation with great concentration. They were further down the path from the safe areas to swim, and he could see that his sister was right -- the current was too strong for him to go in on his own. He looked back toward the path and beyond it. He didn't know if the car had perhaps spun out of control from the highway beyond the path or what had happened.
~Not important to know how,~ the sandy-haired boy told himself.
Jonny listened carefully and couldn't hear any other cars passing by or any people in the area. Of course, with all the shouting and crying going on, it was difficult to even hear himself think.
“*Help us*!” the woman screamed, panic etched in her yell of terror.
Edwina and Eldora were both still screaming, too, while Eddie watched the car, confused as to what to do.
“Jonny, all the windows are open,” Aislinn observed, pointing at the car again.
Jonny looked at Edwina and stated urgently, “We need to help them.”
All Edwina could do in response was to cry and scream even more than she had been.
“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jonny groaned. He tried to calm the oldest among the group down, but it didn't do any good. Finally, imitating his oldest father's best command voice, he ordered, “Go get your mother and tell her to call 911.” When the teen just stood there, he shouted, “*Move!*”
Stunned, Edwina turned and went running back towards the area where the group had picnicked earlier. She was screaming with her arms flailing all about the entire time.
“Useless,” Jonny sighed, removing his backpack at the same time. “I'm glad I brought it with me.”
“Jonny, what are we going to do? That little girl is scared; she's still crying,” Aislinn noted about the child she was focused on.
“We're going to rescue them,” Jonny answered confidently. The noise from all the sobbing was affecting his ability to think clearly. Besides, they did need another body to make his plan work. “Ash, get her to stop crying,” he requested about Eldora. “We need her help.”
Nodding, Aislinn hurried over to Eldora, who was standing a few feet behind and to the left of her brother.
“Stop crying. We have to help them.”
Still Eldora kept crying.
“I'm sorry,” Aislinn sighed.
“Why?” Eldora asked, her loud sobs continuing.
“For doing this,” Aislinn answered just before she slapped the girl with the palm of her right hand.
“Ow!” Eldora exclaimed, her hand on her cheek but no longer crying. “Why'd you do that?”
“Are you crying now?”
The girl was surprised as she realized she was suddenly almost calm.
With a smile, Aislinn added, “See!” Tapping the girl's arm to entice her to follow, she reminded, “We have to help Jonny.”
“Crap,” Jonny whined.
“What's wrong?” Aislinn asked.
“I don't have my rope,” Jonny answered, remembering now that he hadn't returned it to his backpack after the last time he'd captured Mean Spy Hammond and tied him to the chair in the kitchen. ~I flunked 'always be prepared',~ he berated himself.
“The car isn't in that far. Let's just go get them,” Eddie offered, excited at the prospect of being a hero.
“The current is too strong,” Jonny refuted. “We're not big enough.”
“What are we going to do?” Aislinn queried, worried that they were running out of time to rescue the people in the car. She look over at the car and gasped, “The water's rising; we have to hurry.”
“I know!” Jonny exclaimed, pulling out his duct tape.
“Huh?” Eddie questioned in confusion.
“Duct tape me,” Jonny instructed. He was glad he had a new roll of duct tape in his backpack. It was an indulgence his parents had never fought for some strange reason. “I'll wrap it around me, like this,” he said, beginning to roll the tape around him.
“What good does that do?” Eldora asked.
“Find something else to wrap the tape around,” Aislinn instructed, having picked up on her brother's idea. “It can't be us.” She paused and suggested brightly, “One of the trees.”
“Pick one that's back a ways, Ash,” Jonny ordered. “We need room to move.” Now completely encircled in duct tape, he turned to his friend and instructed, “Eddie, keep unrolling the duct tape. Don't let it touch itself.”
Nodding, Eddie took the tape, and the two boys worked on unraveling the thick roll. As Jonny went closer to the water, Eddie moved further back.
“Here!” Aislinn called out.
If Jonny moved, it would mess up all the duct tape that was loose, so he remained in place, trusting his sister to make sure he was secure.
Eddie and Eldora carefully moved to Aislinn's location, still unwrapping duct tape. Jonny had to have room to get out to the car, so they had to make sure they unrolled enough duct tape to give him that freedom. At the same time, if they needed to pull him in, they had to be sure they could pull on the duct tape and that it wouldn't come loose.
With Eldora holding the gray tape halfway between Jonny and the other children by the tree, Aislinn and Eddie rolled the other end of the duct tape around the chosen tree.
“Okay, Jonny, but be careful,” Aislinn warned. She looked at Eddie and stated sternly, “Watch the duct tape on the tree. If it starts to come loose or anything, you have to tell me and make sure I hear, okay?”
“Okay, Ash,” Eddie acknowledged.
With a nod of encouragement, Aislinn ran over to Eldora to make sure she was in a good spot. Then the youngest Munchkin took a spot closer to Jonny. She, too, was holding the tape, ready to pull her brother to safety, if necessary.
Jonny waded into the water. He was glad now that he was a bit taller than other boys his age. He wanted every inch he could get. Soon, he realized that they were further down than he'd thought. Up by the picnic area, he could have walked to the car and opened the door, with only his body from the waist down being wet. As he went in deeper, he realized he was going to be up to his neck. He had to be calm and go slow, just like his fathers had taught him. He knew he was an expert swimmer for his age and could handle the situation, just as long as he concentrated and remained calm.
The Munchkins and the Spitfires had all started swimming as babies. They took lessons annually to improve their abilities and sometimes participated in swim meets at the local swim club. Water was second nature to them.
“Lady, are you okay?” Jonny asked as he reached the door.
“I can't get it off,” the woman gasped, her desperation numbing her fumbling fingers.
The young rescuer tried to open the door, but it was jammed. He wished his Aunt Sam was there. She could open anything.
“Help!” the woman screamed hysterically.
“I can do it,” Jonny volunteered. He tried again to open the door, but he couldn't get it to budge. “Lady, is it locked?”
“Is the door locked?”
“No,” the woman finally answered, her response coming out like a three-syllable word.
“I can't get it open,” Jonny reported, causing the woman to reach up to her head, grabbing her hair and calling out loudly.
From the Munchkin's perspective, the woman didn't appear to be badly hurt, but she was bleeding from a cut on her forehead, and when she wasn't screaming and trying to pull her hair out, she was mumbling things about having to get home for dinner and her husband being mad if she were late.
Jonny had a feeling she was just scared, but he also thought she might have a concussion. He spotted a bit of blood on the steering woman from where she might have impacted her head. Silently, he recalled times in the past when his parents had had concussions and realized that could explain why the woman was muttering and not being as responsive as he'd like. His thoughts were pulled from those memories when the little girl in the backseat let out her loudest cry yet.
Looking at the girl, Jonny smiled and assured, “Little girl, it'll be okay. I'm here, and I'm going to rescue you.”
With the windows wide open, water was just up to the top of the car doors. Jonny was tall, but he could easily pass through the open window, and he was certain he could unfasten the lady's seatbelt.
Jonny turned his head towards the levee and called out, “Ash, make sure there's lots of room. I have to go inside.”
“Jonny, I ...”
“It'll be okay. Just make sure there's room, okay?”
Aislinn nodded, looking back to check the slack. She was confident they'd left enough loose tape that it wouldn't interfere with what her brother was about to do. Still, she felt like they needed some extra strength.
“Jonny, Munchkin power!” Aislinn called out encouragingly and also as a reminder.
Jonny looked over and nodded at his sister. He closed his eyes for just a moment, as did Aislinn. Silently, both willed their fellow Munchkin, Little Danny, to them. It was their own private power of three.
In his bedroom, Little Danny gasped. He'd been reading a book. Putting it down, he assumed a different sitting position and closed his eyes. He concentrated as hard as he could, so much so that he was squinting when Daniel walked in, armed with a basket of clothes belonging to the boys.
Silence filled the room as Daniel began to put away the laundry.
“Lady, lean your head back,” Jonny ordered and then climbed over her. He tried to unlatch the device without going all the way in, but he was at a bad angle, and the panicking woman was beginning to pull on him. “Lady, don't!”
Relieved when the trapped woman nodded and released her hold on him, Jonny climbed all the way inside the car to get to the passenger side. He frowned when he couldn't get the seatbelt to release its hold on the frantic accident victim.
“We're going to die,” the overly emotional woman cried out. “My daughter!” she yelled, hearing the cries of the girl in the backseat.
“No, we're not, Lady. I have Mac with me.”
Jonny reached into his pocket and pulled out his Swiss Army Knife.
“I'm not supposed to use it without an adult present. Lady, will you watch me?” the smart child asked with a grin, wanting to distract the woman. “I don't want my parents to get mad at me.”
The distressed woman calmed slightly and actually laughed, though it was a nervous, desperate sounding laugh.
“So, I have your permission?” Jonny asked, knowing his repertoire had achieved its goal.
“Yes, definitely,” the woman responded, trying to glance back at her daughter, who was still crying, but wincing at not being able to move freely.
While the driver tried to calm her screaming child by talking to her, Jonny worked carefully to cut through the thick seatbelt. The water was rising, or rather, the car was sinking. His head was barely above the water. Time was running out.
“*Jonny, hurry!*” Aislinn called out anxiously.
“Got it!” Jonny exclaimed. “Let me get out first,” he told the lady, climbing over her. “Okay, now you.”
The woman continued to fumble, and Jonny was concerned the concussion was worse than he thought. Finally, though, she was able to climb out the window. Immediately, she tried desperately to open the back door to get her daughter, but she couldn't.
“I ... it won...it ...” the confused woman cried, even as she pulled with all of her might on the door handle.
“Lady, get to the levee,” Jonny ordered, believing the distraught and injured woman was more of a hindrance than a help at the moment.
The woman began to panic again, and Jonny didn't think they had time for that. Water was up to the little girl's head as she sat in her car seat, crying hysterically.
Aislinn apparently realized the same thing. Letting her hold on the duct tape go, she waded out into the river, though she stopped much shorter than her brother had gone.
“Take my hand,” Aislinn requested to the distressed woman, stretching her arm out as far as she could and still feel safe. “Please take my hand. My brother will get your little girl. Please,” she implored.
The dazed, confused, and frightened woman took the little girl's hand and allowed herself to be taken to the shore.
“Sit down, 'kay?” Aislinn requested, hurrying over to pick up the duct tape again.
The woman almost fell to the ground. She felt so lightheaded and dizzy. She wasn't even sure where she was. Was that her daughter crying? If so, why? Where was her baby? Everything was a blur. Who was the child who had just told her to sit down? She strained to concentrate on the noises around her, but her head was spinning. She feared she was about to pass out.
Jonny was already in the car again. If there was one thing he was good at, it was getting out of car seats. He hated the things and was happy he'd finally grown out of them, physically and legally.
“I've got you,” Jonny told the rescued girl, who was still crying and clinging to him nervously. “How old are you?”
“Fiiiii...five,” the little girl sobbed. “My br...brother,” she said, stunning Jonny.
The little girl nodded and pointed at the other side of the car. There, his head in the water and not in a car seat, was a younger boy, no older than two years old.
Jonny gasped. How long had the toddler been under water? Why hadn't he seen him sooner? For that matter, why wasn't the boy in an appropriate car seat? He couldn't worry about the answers. He had to take action, and he had to again risk his sister to do so.
“Ash, hurry. Come help her. There's a baby in here!”
Aislinn's eyes widened as big as they could and again she left her position. Jonny held the five-year-old just long enough to make sure Aislinn had taken her hand.
“Be careful, Ash.”
Aislinn took the girl to safety, depositing her in the crying mother's arms.
The woman cradled her emotional daughter, but she was still confused.
“Hush, now. Mommy has you,” the woman kept telling her little girl, rocking her as she sat on the ground. ~What's happening?~
As the mother and child sat safely together, Aislinn turned back towards the river. She knew she needed to help Jonny, and they didn't have time to secure her in duct tape. Still, they did have a lot of excess, so she twirled around one time, hoping the duct tape would adhere enough to the dry part of her dress, and hurried back to the car.
“I've got him!” Jonny exclaimed, handing the quiet toddler to his sister.
Aislinn held the child, thoughts of her youngest brother, JD, flowing through her. This child was so still and quiet. She wanted to cry, but she couldn't. She had a job to do. Carefully, she made her way to the riverbank.
“Jonny, hurry!” the youngest Munchkin called out as she opened the toddler's mouth and cleaned it out, letting her fingers just lightly brush against the boy's lips.
“Remember to do it how Aunt Janet taught us,” Jonny reminded as he settled in place.
“Okay, let's watch,” Aislinn suggested anxiously as the two focused in on the boy's chest to see if it was rising at all.
“Ash, listen,” Jonny instructed, seeing no movement of the chest at all.
Aislinn leaned over, putting her ear right up against the mouth and nose. She couldn't hear anything and shook her head to indicate the response.
“Two breaths,” Aislinn stated, more to herself than to anyone else.
“What are you doing?” Eldora asked just as Eddie ran over to see what was going on.
The mother practically jolted upright, as if suddenly realizing her baby was near death. Her frantic cry went ignored by the kids, who had to focus on what they were doing.
“CPR,” Jonny answered. “Make sure that lady and her little girl are okay,” he ordered as he waited for Aislinn to finish.
“The air is going in, Jonny,” Aislinn reported.
“I paid attention just like Aunt Janet told us,” Aislinn assured.
“Eddie, move,” Jonny ordered as he repositioned himself a little bit, wanting more space.
“I hear people coming,” Eldora reported, turning around.
“Ash, count for me,” Jonny requested as he began chest compressions.
“... twenty-nine, thirty. Jonny stop!” Aislinn ordered and then gave the toddler two breaths.
“What's going on?” a man called out.
“My baaaaaaby!” the woman screamed, trying to get up but not being able to.
“Mommmmmy,” the crying child called out anxiously.
“They were ...” Jonny began at the same time the woman had screamed.
Just then, the toddler coughed.
As the man got closer, he surmised the children had been giving the toddler CPR.
“I'll take it from here,” the man stated calmly.
“He's an EMT,” Eleanor reported as she took in the scene, looking over at the injured woman and the child clinging to her and then heading over to check on them.
“He was just about to leave when Edwina ran up to us, screaming,” Elma elaborated.
While the man checked on the toddler and the two adults went over to help the mother and her daughter, Jonny and Aislinn smiled at each other, both feeling very good about what had happened. Then they held out their hands and held each other's. Closing their eyes, they whispered, “Munchkin power!”
Back at the house, Little Danny smiled and called out a tiny sounding, “Munchkin power!”
“Son?” Daniel asked, hearing the phrase while putting away the last piece of laundry in the boys' room.
“Jonny and Ash had an emergency, but it's okay now, Daddy,” Little Danny reported casually as he climbed off his bed. “I'm gonna go play with Bij' and Katie, okay?”
“Sure,” Daniel answered, confused as the boy smiled and headed out of the room. ~Munchkin power? An emergency?~ The archaeologist just shook his head, assuming his namesake had been playing. ~He misses them; probably wishes he'd gone with them.~
Letting their hands go, Jonny and Aislinn looked over, seeing everything was okay with the woman and her children. With the crisis over, the brother and sister could resume normal status, and that meant one thing.
“Ash, I told you to stay on the shore,” Jonny chastised sternly, his hands on his hips.
“You needed me,” the little girl spouted as she stared down her brother.
“Yeah,” Jonny admitted. “I couldn't get the door open, and it was hard to climb over that lady.”
Aislinn waited a moment, a sisterly smirk on her face. She wanted this to be well timed.
“What?” the boy asked, unable to take the superior expression for another second.
“You should have just gone to the other side of the car,” Aislinn stated with a smile. “That window was open, too, remember?”
“Now you tell me,” Jonny growled before the two laughed and fell into a hug, after which they began to take off the duct tape.
“Uh oh!” Little Danny expressed quietly.
The Munchkin had been waiting anxiously for his brother and sister to get home, so he'd been lingering by the front door for the last fifteen minutes.
“Uh oh, what oh?” Jack asked. He'd been in the living room and was about to go upstairs when he'd caught sight of his genius son looking out the front window. “What's so fascinating?”
“Jonny and Ash are home,” Little Danny answered, though he was clearly hiding something.
“And?” Jack asked with a prolonged pronunciation.
“You'll see,” Little Danny answered cryptically just as there was a knock on the door.
“Right,” Jack responded skeptically while walking to the door and opening it. Not suspecting anything, he shouted out, “*Dan...iel.*”
“Mister Jackson-O'Neill?” a policeman inquired to a stunned Jack.
“Hi, Dad,” Aislinn greeted sweetly as she walked in.
“Hi, Dad,” Jonny echoed, following Aislinn inside. “This is our friend, Officer Edmonds.” He chuckled to himself, ~This is our day for 'E' names.~
“Jack, did you bellow?” Daniel asked. He saw the returning Munchkins and began to say, “Hel...lo,” stopping any further comments when he saw the policeman at the door.
“This is our daddy,” Aislinn introduced, smiling.
“Little Danny, guess what?” Jonny questioned excitedly as the three Munchkins went into a huddle, lots of whispers, gasps, and wide eyes evident as they talked privately.
“Hello,” Daniel repeated nervously, his focus slowly shifting from the chatting triplets over to the police officer.
“Problem?” Jack asked the police officer with equal nervousness.
“A policeman just brought our children home,” Daniel stated out of the corner of his mouth. “I'd say there must be a problem.”
“Not necessarily,” Jack replied while smiling at the officer.
“Everything's fine,” the officer assured, adding, “Thanks to your children.” He smiled at the confused faces and asked, “May I come in?”
“Certainly,” Jack responded.
Over the next ten minutes, Jack, Daniel, and Little Danny heard about the extraordinary actions of Jonny and Aislinn while on their nature outing.
“Aunt Janet's gonna be happy,” Little Danny remarked proudly, hugging his fellow Munchkins. “Wish I could have been there to help.”
“Yeah, me, too,” Jonny sighed with discontent. “Those other kids aren't good in a crisis.”
“Edwina just screamed, and she's as old as Bri,” Aislinn added. Then she smiled and added, “But you *were* there, Little Danny. We couldn't have done it without you.”
The triplets smiled, reached in to put their hands one atop the other, and then cheered, “Munchkin power!”
Jack and Daniel returned from seeing the officer out and stared at their children. They'd heard the last part of the conversation and were curious, but right now they were more happy that their kids were safe than they were intrigued by the discussion. Immediately, they scooped up their Munchkins, holding them tight in a five-way hug, which wasn't all that easy to do.
“We're very proud of you,” Jack stated.
“And we love you *so* much,” Daniel added emotionally.
“Hey, where is everyone?” Aislinn asked, looking all around.
“There over at Cassie's,” Jack answered. “She's trying out a new organic pasta recipe on them.”
“What about us?” Jonny whined as the hug ended and the children were returned to the floor to stand on their own feet.
“We were just waiting for you two,” Daniel assured. Seeing the dirt and trace evidence of the children's adventure, he requested, “Uh, change your clothes first, please, and then we'll go.”
“Daddy!” Jonny exclaimed.
As Jonny rolled his eyes, Jack explained, **The clothes are a symbol of their heroic acts.**
**Oh, so, uh, show off time?** Daniel replied via the couple's special non-verbal communication.
**Awards. Like a merit badge,** Jack clarified.
“Okay,” Daniel acquiesced, smiling and following the children to the door.
“We'll call Aunt Janet from Cassie's,” Aislinn suggested as she opened the door and knelt down to pat Bijou and Katie for a moment, as did her siblings, before continuing on.
Daniel paused as he got outside. Jack had done the same thing, and now the two were just standing on the wooden patio deck, staring at the triplets as they walked over towards the special gate that connected their backyard to Cassandra's residence.
“They didn't hesitate to do what they did, did they?” Daniel questioned quietly, his arms folded across his chest as he stood watching the young heroes.
“Would we?” Jack challenged.
Daniel turned his head to look at his lover and then shook his head. The Munchkins were their children, and they'd done exactly what their parents would have done in similar circumstances.
“Duct tape,” Daniel mused as he finally stepped down off the deck.
“We'd better order a new case,” Jack chuckled as he followed. “That boy goes through duct tape like ...”
“... like you go through Froot Loops,” Daniel joked.
“Very funny,” Jack droned.
“You had a long day,” Daniel commented, tucking in the oldest Munchkin.
“It was fun,” Jonny replied. “Daddy, tomorrow can we build a fort?”
“A fort?” Daniel echoed with a smile. “Sure.”
“I'll help!” Ricky volunteered from his bed.
“Me, too,” Little Danny answered.
Daniel finished his goodnights, telling the boys that Jack would be in shortly. Then he headed for Brianna's room, to visit with her for a few minutes as he continued his nightly rounds.
Having just come from the girls' room, Jack popped in to say goodnight to the boys, interrupting their chatter about the fort they'd build the next day. He gave them a few ideas and then settled them down again. He laughed when Ricky fell asleep even before he'd gotten his goodnight kiss. With Little Danny's eyes shut and sounding like he was about to doze off, Jack sat down on his namesake's bed.
“You and Ash did good today, Son.”
“Huh?” Jonny questioned with a yawn. Then he realized what his older father was talking about. “Oh, yeah, thanks.”
Jack chuckled at the nonchalance of the response. Jonny and Aislinn had truly been heroes. He and Daniel had been told earlier that, were it not for the children's swift action, there was no doubt that the toddler would have died. The doctor speculated that another sixty seconds under the water in the backseat would have been fatal, and the EMT had said that their CPR techniques were excellent for their age.
Of course, it had been lucky that the EMT had even been there. Almost if by divine intervention, the man had pulled off the road, close to where the picnickers had stopped. He'd had a flat tire. He'd just finished changing it and was about to continue on his way when Edwina's scream caught his attention.
As for the mother, she was spending the night at the hospital. Not only did she have a bad concussion, but she'd been in shock, and the combination of the two had caused her confusion and strange behavior. Still, she'd phoned from her hospital bed, crying as she thanked Jonny and Aislinn for saving the lives of her children. Her husband, too, uttered his sincere and emotional thanks.
As yet undetermined was the reason for the toddler having not been secured in a car seat. Interestingly to Jack and Daniel, both Jonny and Aislinn had gone on about that a great deal during the telling of their adventure at Cassandra's home. Both seemed to think the mother should be punished for putting the boy at risk, though they were also sympathetic to her, having seen how loving and tender she'd been with the children before leaving the accident scene.
Regarding the accident itself, no one knew yet what the cause of it was. The woman had reported hearing a loud bang just before losing control of the car. Beyond that, no one knew anything at this point, except that the entire family was grateful to the Jackson-O'Neill kids.
“You're welcome,” Jack responded to the little boy. “Daddy and I are proud of both of you.”
“Little Danny, too, Dad, but ... <yawn> ... just did what we had to,” Jonny proclaimed.
“It was very brave,” Jack refuted. “It was quite a day.”
“Nah,” Jonny denied. “'Twas just another Tuesday,” he added as he rolled over onto his side. “Night, Dad.”
Amused, Jack pulled up the blanket to ensure that Jonny was as snug as the proverbial bug in a rug. He leaned over and gave his son a kiss.
“I love you,” the father whispered, patting the boy's arm and then heading out. He looked over at the frog in the cage and shook his head. “Jonny, about Hero here,” he began, referring to the croaking creature Jonny had named Hero.
“We can take him to the creek after we build the fort, okay?” Jonny yawned. “Just teasing,” the boy admitted with his last waking breath.
Jack laughed at the boy's joke, bringing home a frog just to drive him nuts.
~Sounds like something I'd do; bug 'the man' whenever you can,~ the retired general mused as he closed the bedroom door behind him.
A few minutes later, Jack climbed up to the Aerie and approached his lover, putting his arms around Daniel's waist and kissing the nape of his neck.
“Hmmm. Feels good,” Daniel sighed contentedly as his hands clasped his husband's.
“What a day,” Jack remarked, shifting to stand beside his lover, his arm around the younger man's waist.
“Jack,” Daniel began a bit hesitantly.
“The Munchkins. Do you think they ... y'know, communicate like we do?”
Jack sighed, shrugging at the same time. He'd never thought about it before. Frankly, he didn't want to. He could feel a headache coming on now just from the initial thought of trying to think about it.
“I mean, uh, it's proven that twins and close siblings can sometimes feel pain in the other, and they finish each other's sentences and such, but ...” Daniel paused, bowing his head as he muttered, “I don't know.”
“They're our kids,” Jack responded simply.
“What?” Daniel asked, looking over at his lover.
“Daniel, they're our kids. I don't understand how we ... communicate, but we decided a long time ago not to question it, so I don't.”
“Me, either, but you have to admit that it's ...”
“... odd,” both men spoke in unison.
“Jack, this afternoon, I walked into the boys' room with some of the laundry. Little Danny was sitting on his bed in a ... a yoga, Zen-like pose. His eyes were closed, and he was,” Daniel cocked his head to the side, “I don't know, concentrating really hard. Then he called out 'Munchkin power', opened his eyes, and smiled.”
“You do that.” Seeing the questioning look, Jack explained, “The meditating stuff.”
“Pay attention, Babe,” Daniel chastised. “When I asked him about it, he said something was up with Jonny and Ash, but that they were okay.”
Jack thought for a moment and then calmly agreed, “Okay, that's a little strange.” Within a second, though, he smiled and added, “But, Danny, they're our kids.”
“It's that simple?”
“Would you rather we wake them up and get into a long, involved discussion about silent communication that *we* don't even understand?”
“Good point,” Daniel sighed.
“Danny, yes, I'm curious. Jonny told me Little Danny helped,” Jack reported, looking outward as he let out a grunt from thinking so hard. With a smile, he questioned, “Is it any different than all of you singing that song that I heard,” he paused for emphasis, his face tightening as he echoed, “that I *heard* with every fiber of my being when I had amnesia from that avalanche?”
“No, I guess not,” Daniel responded, knowing it was a mystery but not quite able to let it go just yet. “I guess I'm curious about what they're thinking and if ... if somehow they *are* doing ... what it is that we ... do,” he concluded with a shy smile.
“Okay, we have a choice.”
“We do?” the younger man questioned in a surprised tone.
“We can talk to them,” Jack stated leadingly, his eyes bearing into his Love's to understand the implication.
“And possibly make them feel funny for standing out ...”
“And then there's the rest of the brood,” Jack pointed out, his vocal inflection prodding his lover to again deduce his concern.
“Who may or may not have the same abilities and who then may or may not feel left out, different, or not as special as we know they all are,” Daniel sighed.
“Then there's the 'or',” Jack offered.
“Let it go and see if the Munchkins bring it up to us someday,” Daniel stated, nodding at the second option. “I suppose that if we did bring it up ourselves, we'd have to tell them about us.”
“They know,” Jack asserted.
“Excuse me?” the stunned archaeologist responded.
“Maybe not in words, but do you really think our very astute and intelligent little monsters don't see it?” the older man challenged.
“Oh,” Daniel replied. “They've never asked us.”
“Maybe they figure it's just something for us.”
Daniel stared into his lover's chocolate brown eyes and thought for a few seconds before asking, “Are you suggesting that we not ask the Munchkins about whether or not they are communicating, or something, that is just between them because it's ... just something for them?”
“Yeah, that's what I'm suggesting. Let it go, Danny. If they have questions or want to talk about it, they will, but why should we interfere in something like this, *if*, and that's still a big if, they are doing the silent thing?”
“We're their parents.” Daniel saw the look on Jack's face and grimaced. “Yeah, you're right. Being their parents doesn't give us the right to poke into every inner emotion and happening of their lives, even if that's what ... gawd, that's it. I'm curious, and I just ... I really want to know.”
“For them, or for you?”
“For me,” Daniel chuckled.
“Nothing we could say or do would make a difference, Love. They're our kids, and they're doing just fine.”
“Besides, would it really do us any good to stand here and wonder about it for the next hour or so?” Jack asked with raised eyebrows.
“No,” Daniel answered. “And I suppose it doesn't really matter. If they are communicating in some way, whether it's exactly what we're doing or not, it's not interfering with their lives. The truth is, I was just curious.”
“Danny, the kids are who and what they are. That being said, I've never seen any sign of the Munchkins, or any of 'em, doing this ... thing that we do,” Jack said, his right hand gesturing back and forth between between the two men.
“I haven't either.” Daniel paused. With a burst of energy, he questioned, “But then how do you explain this 'Munchkin Power' thing with Little Danny today?”
For a moment, Jack thought, and then he answered, “I don't. Explanations hurt my brain.”
As Jack broke out into a smile, Daniel couldn't help but do the same thing.
“So, we should just not think about it,” the smiling younger man surmised.
“If there is something going on and they want us to know, they'll tell us,” Jack reiterated.
After a moment of peaceful silence, Daniel noted, “By the time we left Cassie's, they weren't even talking about it anymore. It was like they enjoyed their ... merit badges through dinner and then ...”
Daniel shrugged, not really knowing what he was trying to convey.
“Angel, they're our kids,” Jack repeated more softly.
“So you keep telling me,” Daniel stated dryly. “What does it mean this time?”
With a smirk, the older man quizzed, “How many times did we save the planet?”
The peaceful explorer stared into the eyes of his general and smiled in acknowledgement. He had to admit that while they made a bit of big deal out of it the first time, subsequent saves of Earth were almost mundane, even routine, on the surface, anyway.
“So, they're just like us,” Daniel finally replied, his mouth beginning to curve into a smile of understanding.
“For better or worse, just like us,” Jack acknowledged.
“I love our children,” Daniel declared in an emotional state that was also part humorous.
“Me, too,” Jack agreed, taking his husband into his arms, the two embracing tenderly. “Love you, too, Angel.”
“And I love you, Jack, so freakin' much.”
The married couple shared a kiss, smiling as they then gazed into each other's eyes.
“Bed?” Jack questioned.
“Tired?” Daniel asked with shining eyes.
“Not that tired,” the older man responded.
Arm in arm, the lovers headed for the ladder, Jack telling his Love about Jonny's joke with the frog as they walked. It was time to retreat to the privacy of their bedroom where their nation of two could celebrate just another Tuesday in their own special way.
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