Kayla

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - May 18, June 27 - July 8, 2004
Spoilers:  None
Size:  46kb
Written:  December 8-9, 2003, January 17-18,30, February 25, March 10, 2004  Revised for consistency:  March 4-6, 2007
Summary:  Jack and Daniel meet a very special young woman.  Will she become the mother of their children, or are they in for a big disappointment?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
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), “Daniel Meets His Match”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Charlotte, Drdjlover, Claudia, Jackette, Quingem, Jessi, Kalimyre!

Kayla
by Orrymain


Kayla
by Orrymain

====
May 22, 2004
====

“Home at last!” Jack happily exclaimed.  “I'm bushed.  Those women can drive the sanest man crazy.”

“They're just excited, Jack.  They like to celebrate,” Daniel rationalized.

“How'd we get roped into being the only two men at Gianelli's baby shower, anyway?” Jack questioned as he took their leftover goodies into the kitchen.

Daniel sighed, “Teal'c.  He thought it would be funny.”

“Ah, yes, the Jaffa.  Paybacks.  We are so going to get even, Daniel.  Three hours with pregnant women, playing diaper games.  Definitely payback time,” Jack declared as he rubbed his hands together swiftly, his mind already working on a way to get back at Teal'c for tricking them into attending the baby shower.

Daniel smiled and walked to the patio door, letting Bijou and Katie into the house.  He quietly greeted them and then walked outside and sat on the patio step.

After putting the goodies away, Jack talked to the beagles for a few minutes and then joined Daniel on the patio, saying, “Penny for your thoughts.”

“That'd make my thoughts pretty cheap, wouldn't it?”

“Okay, wise guy, a bazillion dollars for your thoughts, but you'll have to float me a loan; don't think my bank account is quite that high,” the older man mused.

Daniel looked down for a second and chuckled.  Then he leaned over and gave Jack a kiss.  How he loved Jack and his crazy sense of humor.  He was happy with his life and ready to look forward again to his future with Jack and the family they wanted to have.

“We've been so distracted with our ... nightmares,” Daniel looked down again briefly, “that we haven't had a chance to talk much about our family.  Jack, we promised ourselves we'd start planning, but like always, time just ... passes by.  There's always something else that seems to be more important, but being at the shower today, it made me think about our children.  We need to actively plan, Jack.  We can't do it off the cuff, or maybe I should say, I don't want to do it that way, like we manage to do with so many other things.  It's not fair to them, or to us.”

“You're right,” Jack agreed as he took hold of Daniel's hand and, using his thumb, gently caressed it.

Daniel continued, “We need to decide what we want to do -- babies or older children -- and when.”

“I thought we decided on both?” Jack asked.

“We did; just confirming, and we're doing the babies first, right?” Daniel asked.

“Yes, but we didn't decide on the how.”  Jack looked around and then continued.  “Danny, our lives are so private.  I'm not sure I could stand to share with someone else who might have power to influence our kids.  At the same time, I really want you to have a genius of your own.  I want you to see that head sticking out as the baby is being born and to know that it's a part of you.  I want you to hold that little life in your arms and feel the heart beating, see the chest moving in and out, and know that sweet, innocent life is here because of you.”

Daniel nodded as he considered his lover's words and then replied, “Jack, I don't think it would be fair to shut out the mothers.  I agree with you about our lives, and like you, I don't really want to change that.  In fact, I'm not sure I can, but our children deserve to know their parents, all of them, including the ones who give birth to them.”  He took a deep breath as he stared out towards the fence.  “So, if we go that route and decide to use a surrogate, you need to know that I would want our children to have that connection with their birth mother even if it means we sacrifice a little.”

“It might be a bigger sacrifice than you think.”

“I don't know how else to do it.  I need the mothers to be just a little bit involved, for our children,” Daniel opined.  ~I can't do it any other way.~

Jack breathed deeply and looked out into the yard.  Bijou was rolling over on her back, wiggling like crazy.  He figured her back itched and she was trying to make it go away.  Katie was in her play yard, digging for some buried artifact.  He watched as Katie found a small ball and took it over to the mama beagle, showing it off.  Then the two tumbled down onto the grass, pawing each other as they played.

Jack smiled, watching the mother and her child, and finally spoke, “Okay, we find a surrogate mother or two, willing to give birth to our children and retain a connection, but also willing to let us call the shots, and Danny, we have to make sure of that.  These have to be *our* children.”

“That's what I want, Jack.  I don't want to share custody.  I just want our children to know her, I mean them.  They have a right to know her, and the moms have a right to watch them grow up, but they are ours,” Daniel agreed.

“Next little problem,” Jack began.  “We've been saying mothers, plural, which is natural because we want two babies, but if we have them at the same time, using surrogates, we're talking two adults, Danny.  We'd be letting two strangers into our lives.”

“I know,” Daniel sighed, realizing how difficult that would be for both of them.

“Or,” Jack suddenly continued, “do we try and find one special lady to have our children?  Danny, one mom might be easier to accept, but the down side is that then our babies would be separated by a year or two.  Of course, I don't know if there is anyone out there willing to do that, but we won't know if we don't make inquiries.  What do you think?”

Daniel leaned his head against Jack's shoulder as he thought and answered, “Let's try to find one, Jack.  Maybe it'll be easier.  I mean, think about it.  Two babies at one time might be more of a challenge, and ... the timing might not go as we think, anyway.”

“One problem, Love.  We can't really look until I retire, and that's going to delay things quite a bit, not to mention finding one woman willing to give so much of herself, to carry a child for us not just once, but twice ... well, she'd have to be pretty incredible.  We may not be able to find such a person.”

“We have to try, Jack.  Please, let's try,” the younger man requested passionately.

“Okay, Angel.  We keep our eyes and ears open, do some research, and do as much as we can now.”

“And, in the meantime, we can research the medical facilities and the clinics, and we should probably check out the law statutes.  The more we're prepared, the easier it should be on us.  Plus, the clinics might be able to help when we're ready,” Daniel suggested.

“That's my genius.  And ... what about Syl?  She might have a connection, too, that could help us.”

“And that's my Silver Fox, always thinking ... with one part of you or another,” Daniel teased his husband.

“Speaking of that other part, how about we ...?” Jack looked longingly at his husband.

“I love that part ... lots.”  Daniel smiled as they kissed, and then the couple headed upstairs.

====
June 27, 2004
====

“Great party, Janet.  We needed a bit of fun,” Jack stated.

The lovers had just returned a couple of days ago from their cabin, but the trip hadn't been all fun.  Instead, the alien drug still festering inside Daniel had once again reeked havoc with his system when he had made the bad decision to start taking caffeine pills.  The end result had been nasty and taken days to recover from.  Back home now, the couple was getting back into the swing of things, beginning with Janet's lawn party.

“I'm glad you decided to come,” Janet replied.

Jack nodded, responding, “Time to rejoin the real world.”

Janet spoke, “I understand; you two have had a tough time this year.”

“I guess with the sunshine there's always a bit of rain.  We've had nasty times, Doc, but, geez, look at him.  He's beautiful, and I'm crazy in love with him.  There's not a thunderstorm in the world that can chase our blue skies away.”  Jack noticed Janet staring at him, her mouth a bit open.  In fact, she reminded him of that guppy look that Daniel often had.  “What?” he asked.

“Why, Colonel O'Neill, you've turned into a poet.”

Jack laughed, looking down for a second, almost shyly, “No, you just haven't known me that way, but Daniel does.  Speaking of my husband, I think I'll go drive him bonkers for awhile.  Excuse me.”

Janet grinned as she watched Jack sneak up on Daniel, dousing him with a cup of water he had picked up on the way over.  Daniel had been chatting with Cassandra and several other friends towards the middle of Janet's backyard.

“Jack, you are so dead!” Daniel called out as he chased Jack around the yard.

Most of the guests were SGC personnel, and Janet saw their smiles and total acceptance of the playful antics of Jack and Daniel.  Only a handful knew the truth about them, and even fewer were aware that they had gotten married in late 2003.  Over the years, all present had come to know one thing, though, that Jack and Daniel had a treasured friendship that few of them understood and that most of them wish they shared with someone.

As the evening progressed, several of the guests ended up on the lawn, sitting on chairs or on the ground.  Daniel was on the green grass, leaning back on one hand, his other resting over his right knee, which was drawn up partially.  Jack sat on a green chair just opposite him.  To Daniel's left were Monica and Kim, two nurses from the Air Force hospital who were also sisters, Megan Williams, Kevin Chandler (Monica's husband), Kayla Armentrout, Cassandra and her boyfriend Dominic, Carolyn Ferretti, and, on Daniel's right, Janet.

Eventually, the subject went from toddlers and their terrible twos to having babies.

“I never thought I'd conceive.  I can't believe how long it took Phil and me,” Kim said, referring to her pregnancy that finally resulted in the birth of her son, Darren, now age two-and-a-half.

“It's not always easy,” Monica said in sympathy for her sister's difficulty.

“We considered adoption, but the list was so long.  We almost went the surrogate route.”

“Oh, I'd love to do that someday,” Kayla chimed in.

“Be a surrogate?” Janet asked.

“Sure.  I think it's the greatest gift you can give someone,” Kayla answered, sincerity in her eyes and voice.

“Wouldn't you want to keep your baby?” Daniel asked quietly.  ~How could anyone not?~

“Oh no!” Kayla refuted, shaking her head.  She laughed, “I'm not the mother type, but I'd really like to experience the birth process.  I almost feel like it's a necessary experience as a woman.”

“You'd make a great mom, Kayla,” Cassandra opined with confidence.

“Thank you, Cass, but I'm really not Mom material.  I have plans, and they don't include raising babies, but like I said, I'd love to give that gift to someone.  I remember when I was younger, only six or seven actually, that I saw something on the news about a couple who hadn't been able to have children and they used artificial insemination and finally got their dream.  It was still early on for the procedure, but even though I was young, I couldn't help but think that it would be cool to make someone's dream come true that way.”

“You might change your mind after you have the baby,” Jack said, almost accusingly.

Undaunted, Kayla responded, “Yes, I might.  I don't ever make assumptions.  People change, as do our priorities in life, but I've been pretty consistent in following through on things I've cared about and wanted as a little girl.  My so-called maternal instincts aren't any greater today than they were years ago.  So, yes, anything is possible, but I honestly don't see that happening.”

“I don't think I could give up a child,” Kim said with sadness.  “It would be too much like giving up a part of myself.”

“I think of myself as a link, Kim.  What I would be doing is providing a biological link for two parents who would provide the child with a loving home.  How could I regret being a conduit for love?”

“You really wouldn't want to see your child ever again?” Cassandra challenged, unable to imagine herself ever doing such a thing.

“Oh, Cass, I don't know that I'd go that far.  I'd like to be the baby's friend, to be there so he or she could see their maternal heritage, know the history that words or statistics can't provide, but I don't want to be the baby's mother.  I wouldn't be good at it.  I want to be on the go.  There's so much I feel compelled to do.  Motherhood just isn't one of the things calling to me in that way ... except to give the gift.”

“You seem so passionate about things, Kayla,” Daniel noted, looking her straight in the eye.  “I bet you'd change your mind after spending some time with your baby.”

“I doubt it, Doctor Jackson.  I've watched a bunch of my friends get married, and a lot of them have babies now.  After forty-eight hours of babysitting and being around the kiddies so much, I'm ready to go.  I've been like this for a long time.  So, while I'm not naive enough to rule anything out, I sincerely doubt it I'd change my entire life style to settle down and raise a child.”

Daniel nodded, an acknowledgement of her remark and then looked at Jack who was already staring at Daniel.

**She's an incredible woman, Love.**

**Yeah, she is.  Seems ... very sure of herself, Jack.**

**I wonder if she means what she says,** Jack pondered.

Cassandra's words drew Jack and Daniel out of their private communication as she sighed, “I can't wait to be a mom!”

“You can wait a little longer, Sweetheart,” Janet warned with a smile.

~She'd *better* wait a little longer,~ Jack thought silently.

“Don't get paranoid, Mom,” Cassandra intoned with attitude as Dominic started to look uncomfortable.

The conversation continued on, with Jack and Daniel left staring at each other for a minute or two in a silent unity, both pondering their future and the young woman they had just met.

====

“Danny, what are you doing out here at 2 a.m.?” Jack asked as he sat next to his husband on the grass in the middle of their back yard.

“Just thinking,” Daniel responded, his hands petting both Bijou and Katie as they lay at his feet.

“It's a little cold to be out here thinking, isn't it?”

Daniel looked up at the stars.  His eyes were wide, almost like a child seeing the night sky for the first time.

“It's a big, big universe,” the younger man commented.

“I can't argue with that, but it's also a freezing one.  Danny, it's cold out here, and you don't have a coat on,” Jack complained.

“Neither do you.”

“That's because I wasn't expecting to find my husband stargazing on the lawn in the middle of the night.”

Out of the blow, Daniel spoke, “Cassie said she's twenty-three.”

~Okay.~  Jack's eyebrows raised in surprise, and he shook his head at the sudden change in topic.  “Who?”

“Kayla.  I ... liked her, Jack.”

Jack reached over and caressed Daniel's cold cheek, saying, “I liked her, too.  She seems very level headed, like she knows what she wants.”

“Jack?”

In his lovers cerulean blue eyes, Jack saw hope and want.  All of a sudden, he knew exactly what the topic was.

The older man smiled, nodded, and agreed, “We'll check her out, but right now, let's go back to bed.”

“Jack, this ... drug.  Are you really sure Janet can find an answer?  I mean, should we even be thinking about our ... our ...”

“Our family?” Jack questioned.  “Heck, yes, Daniel.  We are gonna beat this thing.  We know what triggers it now, and we know the warning signs.  It's no different than a thousand ...”

“Illnesses?” Daniel put forth.

“It doesn't matter what you call it; whatever it is, we'll gonna deal with it.  Now ...”

“Bed,” both men said together with smiles on their faces.

Arm in arm, the couple walked inside their home and returned to the warmth of their bed.

====

A few days later, Jack read the report that had been delivered by special courier a few minutes earlier.  It paid to have those contacts in high places.  Of course, Sam could have found the same information, but this was still a private matter.  He didn't want to involve others, just yet.  He studied the brief overview carefully.

Kayla Armentrout, age 23, born August 18, 1980 in Alexandria, Virginia.  No siblings.  Father was a doctor, mother a teacher.  Both deceased.  Skipped two grades in elementary school, and another in junior high school.  BA in Liberal Arts, Masters in English.

No credit problems.  No history of trouble anywhere.  No known medical conditions.

Frequent traveler.  Last trip was to India, eight months.  Before that, Japan for four months.

There was no reference to earned income, however, or to what she did when she traveled.

Jack put the report down and visualized the young woman again.  She was an attractive brunette, about five-feet, six-inches tall, weighed about one-hundred-thirty pounds, and had brown eyes.  She was intelligent, perky, and confident.  She had gone from topic to topic with ease, hadn't been afraid to admit ignorance in some things, but had also stood her ground in others.  She had a nice laugh and a healthy smile.  All in all, Kayla Armentrout seemed like a lovely young woman.

~We need to know more than a few facts written on paper,~ Jack decided, knowing that facts and the memories of one lawn party did not a mother make.

====

The next day, after discussing the report with his husband, Jack sauntered into Janet's office.  It was towards the end of the day, and Janet was eager to go home and get into a hot tub, especially since the next day was the fourth of July, which meant downtime.  She wanted to get an early start on her beauty sleep.

“Hi, Doc.”

“Colonel, what brings you here?” the physician asked casually.

Jack looked around, making sure they were alone, and answered, “Daniel and I would like to buy you dinner tonight.”

“Kind of late for an invitation.  Ever think I might have a date?” Janet questioned with spirited eyes.

“Well, actually, we figured it was Cassie who probably had the hot date, and you might welcome a free meal.”

Janet groaned, “You two are a real riot.  Where and what time?”

====

“Fellas, you didn't bring me here to go over old war wounds, so what's up?” Janet asked as she ate a piece of coconut pie.  All night long, the three had chitchatted and gossiped their way through dinner, and she knew this was more than just a friendly meal.  Jack and Daniel exchanged a look as Janet eyed each of them.  “Guys?”

“How well do you know Kayla Armentrout, the gal who was at your party last weekend?” Jack asked.

“Very.  Why?” Janet asked as she used her napkin to wipe her hand.

“Do you think she's level-headed and responsible?” Jack asked, ignoring Janet's inquiry.

“Very much so; and I ask again, why?”

Jack trudged onward, questioning, “Do you think she meant what she said about being a surrogate and giving the baby up?”

~Interesting.~  Janet sat back and paused before answering, “Kayla's my niece.”

Jack and Daniel exchanged another look, an intense one.  Janet's curiosity was growing by the second as she studied her two friends.

The SGC doctor continued.  “All I can tell you is that from an early age, she knew exactly what she wanted and that to get what she wanted, she had to work for it. She has set goal after goal for herself, and reached each of them, never living off of others, but earning her own way.  As for the baby issue, Kayla has never expressed a desire to be a mother that I am aware of.  All she has ever talked about is traveling, learning about different cultures, and seeing the world, experiencing as much as she can.  For the record, she's done just that for the last several years.”

“How?  I mean, how does she pay for the world travel bit?” Jack questioned, leaning forward, his hands clasped together on the table as he listened attentively to every word Janet spoke.

“She's a licensed real estate agent and broker.  She's also a freelance writer and photographer.  She's had her work in various travel and photography publications and in everything from the National Geographic to Reader's Digest.  She's very good at what she does, very focused, and very, very determined.”  Janet looked at her two friends.  “Would it do me any good to ask one more time -- why the inquiries about my niece?”

Jack looked at Daniel, asking, “Danny?”

The young man smiled, wet his lips, took a deep breath, and finally explained, “Janet, after Jack retires, we ... he and I ... we ...”

“We want to have children, and we've decided to use a surrogate,” Jack chimed in, knowing if he didn't that it might take his lover at least five minutes to get the words out.

Janet's fingers nervously played with the fork she held in her hand, finally dropping it and watching it fall to the table.  It made a loud clanging sound as it touched the hard tabletop, causing a few people at other tables to look at her for a moment.

The diminutive redhead leaned back fully against her seat, stunned into silence.  After a moment, she picked up her glass of wine and sipped it.

Hesitantly, Daniel added, “And we wanted to talk to Kayla and see if maybe she might be interested.”

“In having your child?” Janet asked.

“Or mine,” Jack answered.

With a smile that was half amusement and half nervousness, the doctor responded, “You two are always full of surprises.”

“You don't approve?” Daniel asked shyly.

Now that she had regained her composure, Janet smiled.  She saw the concern and trepidation in her friend's eyes.  The two men seated opposite her with two of the bravest and most caring people she'd ever known.  And they were always up to something as they lived life to its fullest.  She could feel their hearts beating, waiting for her response.

“No.  I mean, yes, Daniel, I very much approve.  I think you and the colonel would be great parents.  I don't know if Kayla would be interested or not, but certainly, you're free to contact her.”

“We were hoping you'd say that, Doc.  Do you know how we can reach her?”

Janet reached for her purse, and pulled out one of her business cards.  On the back, she jotted down Kayla's cell phone number, and then handed the card to Jack.

“I believe she's in Salt Lake City for a few weeks, but then she's headed to Africa for some safari or something.”

“Thanks, Doc,” Jack acknowledged.

“Thanks, Janet.  It really means a lot,” Daniel spoke sincerely as his eyes sparkled with appreciation.

“Doc, no one else knows about our plans.  No one.”

“Not even Sam?”

Both men shook their heads, and Janet nodded as she took another drink of wine.

“Hey,” Janet said.  “Just thought of something.”

“What?” both Jack and Daniel asked at the same time.

“If this happens, we'll be related, in a way,” Janet chuckled.

“Would you mind?” both men again asked in unison, causing all three present to smile.

“Are you kidding?  I can't think of two men I'd rather be related to than you two.  Good luck.”

“Are you going to Hammond's shindig tomorrow?” Jack asked, changing the subject.

“Wouldn't miss it; I heard he's bringing some SF's to keep you away from the grill,” Janet quipped.

Daniel was caught off guard by the joke and almost spit out his coffee.

“Daniel!”

“Sorry, Jack,” Daniel laughed, sharing a smile with the redheaded doctor.

“Everyone's a critic,” Jack sighed as the three finished off their meal and dessert.
====

As they drove home, the lovers continued to discuss the situation.

“Jack, we can't just say, 'hello, will you have our babies?'” Daniel pointed out.

Jack sighed, “What do we say?  I'm not good with words.  I'll scare her off.”

“No, you won't, Love.”  Daniel leaned to his side to kiss his lover's right cheek and then pulled out his cell phone.  “Jack, we have to do it in person.”

“You're right,” the older man acknowledged, glancing over at his lover, who was studying their schedule.  “Danny, it's your birthday.”

Seriously, Daniel replied, “Jack, what better present can I receive than to maybe take the first real step toward our family?”

Smiling, Jack admitted, “You're right.  Instead of stopping off in Los Angeles for a day, we'll go to Salt Lake.”

“I love you, Jack.”

“We'll see Mickey again,” the older man resolved about their changing plans that no longer included a day at Disneyland.

Subsequently, Daniel arranged for two tickets to Salt Lake City.  Until then, they spent time trying to figure out how to make their request and what questions to ask to make sure they weren't making a mistake.

====
July 8, 2004
====

“Kayla, it's Jack O'Neill.  Ah, we met at Janet Fraiser's lawn party recently.  I was there ... you know, the charming, Irish grizzly bear as Daniel calls me.  Ah, you remember Daniel?  He was the cute, sensitive, cuddly one with the blue eyes that ...?”

“Jack, stop it.  Just leave the message,” Daniel interrupted.

The older man continued, “Daniel and I are in town today, and Janet gave us your number.  We have something we'd like to discuss with you, if you have the time.”

Jack left Kayla their cell phone numbers and then they went to lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory, getting a prized spot inside the old trolley car.  Both ordered decent meals, but neither did more than pick at their pasta.

“Well, that was a good use of our money,” Jack said afterwards, nibbling on a bread stick as they walked out.

“We're nervous,” Daniel sighed just as Jack's cell phone rang.

“O'Neill.”

“Colonel O'Neill?  This is Kayla Armentrout.  I got your message.”

“Hello.  I ... we weren't sure you'd call us back,” Jack said as he held the phone between he and Daniel so that both could hear the conversation.

“Oh, I never pass up a good mystery, and my intuition tells me there's a story here.  To say I'm surprised to hear from you wouldn't cover it,” a smiling Kayla replied.

“Can we meet?”

“Sure, I'm at the Wyndham.  Room 442.  Come on over.”

“Thanks.  We should be there within a half-hour,” Jack stated.

“Looking forward to it.  Oh, and for the record, I agree.  He does have eyes that make you ... whatever you were going to say,” Kayla laughed.

Immediately, Daniel rolled his eyes, expressing, “Geez, Jack.”

“Tell Daniel I heard that, and I look forward to seeing him, too.”

====

“Wow, now I admit I wasn't expecting that,” Kayla stated as she stood, walking around the sofa, her hands moving as she spoke, and her eyes going from Jack and Daniel to the various fixtures in the hotel room.

“We're not trying to talk you into anything,” Jack stated steadily.

“In fact,” Daniel interjected, “if there is any doubt at all, any hesitation on your part that you'd want to do this, then you shouldn't, and we don't need to talk about it anymore.”

“Oh, no, I'm just surprised.  I meant everything I said at the party.  This would be a chance to do something I've wanted to do for as long as I can remember.  Besides, there's even a reason closer to my heart for doing this than I mentioned that afternoon.

“You see, my best friend and her husband found out they couldn't have kids.  They were falling apart.  The adoption list was a mile long for babies.  I mentioned to them about that story I had seen as a child, and they decided to investigate it, and ... well, they did it.

“They found a woman to be a surrogate mother for them, and they are so happy now.  It's been three years, and they are such a wonderful family.  She cries any time she talks about the gift of insemination that allowed another person to carry their child and bring him into the world.

“I've seen how much that gift of life has meant to them, and it's strengthened my own resolve to someday do something as ... as ...”

“Powerful?  It is a powerful gift,” Jack spoke sincerely.

Kayla smiled her acknowledgement, then said, “So,” as she walked back to the sofa and sat down, facing Jack and Daniel, who were both seated on the edge of the bed.  “Who is the mom, and which one of you is going to be the father?”

Jack and Daniel looked at each other.  It was the moment of truth. They had managed to broach the entire surrogate issue without revealing their involvement, but, now, they had to decide whether or not to trust this young woman they were meeting for only the second time.

“Jack?  I trust her,” Daniel said quietly.

Kayla sat back, the comment throwing her.

Jack smiled a tender, sweet expression at his soulmate, one that Kayla couldn't ignore.

“So do I,” Jack said, turning to look at Kayla, now that their decision had been made.

“Oh my word!” Kayla exclaimed, the light bulb going off without Jack and Daniel verbalizing their relationship.  “You two are ... together?”

“Meet Dad,” Jack stated, pointing to himself, “and this would be Daddy,” he added as he took Daniel's hand and squeezed it.

Daniel's breathing was a bit rapid, his nerves trying hard to get the best of him, but he maintained a calm exterior, even though inside, he was a quivering mound of Jell-O.

Kayla let out a tiny laugh, saying, “I had no idea at the party that you were a couple.”

“Ever heard of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'?” Jack questioned.

Kayla nodded to Jack, answering, “Yes, very old, out-dated concept in need of a big dose of reality.”

Daniel smiled, sensing Kayla at least understood them on some level, and further explained, “No one knows about us, except for a small group of people, including Janet.  We're ... hiding in the proverbial closet until Jack retires.”

“And then, we're burning the closet and raising a family.  We want children ... obviously.”

“So ... you're planning ahead?” Kayla asked.

“Yes.  One, maybe two years maximum, and then I'm out, and we get the life we've dreamed of for years,” Jack informed.

Kayla replied, “I like that, planning for parenthood.”

“We have to,” Daniel said.

“We aren't leaping into any hasty decisions,” Jack added.  “We want to be sure, of what we decide and what the surrogate mother decides.  We are and have been looking at options, all of them, but when we met you, we both sensed something.

“A ... a connection,” Daniel interjected.

Jack continued, “We wanted, no, we needed to find out if you were serious, and if you'd be open to the possibility of helping us out when the time is right.”

“I don't want to be a mother.  You realize that?” Kayla questioned pointedly.

“To be honest, Kayla, we ... well, not to sound harsh, we don't really want that, either.  This baby, babies, will be mine and Jack's.  But ... they have a right to know who gave birth to them, and I think you have a right to watch them grow up, if you want to.  I ... we,” Daniel squeezed Jack's hand, “are the parents.  We'll raise our children.  It's just ... gawd, Kayla, don't you want to see them grow?”

Kayla saw the genuine concern and caring in the young man's eyes and responded, “Yes, as a friend, but not as a mother.  I travel quite a bit, and I don't want that to change.  You two wouldn't expect me to be around a lot, would you? That's the proverbial deal breaker, if you know what I mean.”

Jack spoke up, saying, “No, at least not if you wouldn't want to be.  We would just like you to be accessible if the children want to see you.  We won't lie to them.  We would want them to know you and the gift that you would be giving to all of us.”

“Okay, I'll tell you what,” Kayla began.  “I'm going to Africa in a few weeks.  My first safari, and I'm really excited.  Then, I'm going to travel a bit there.  I'll probably be in the country for three or four months, and then I'm going to Sweden for two months.  Let's keep in touch, try to get to know each other better -- letters, phone, email.  Then, when I'm back in the States, we can meet again and see where we stand, how we feel about what you two want to do, and where I am in my life.  How does that sound?”

Jack and Daniel looked at each other, totally impressed with Kayla and her sound reasoning; they smiled, and in unison said, “That would be great!”

Kayla laughed at the two, and then said, “There's a lot to be considered.  I watched my best friend go through this, so I know a lot of the questions and considerations.”

Kayla had stood and was standing behind the sofa.  Jack stood and walked to the front of the furniture.

“We will, of course, pay ...”

“No, Colonel, you won't, and I'm sorry if I just gave you the wrong impression.  I take care of myself.  If I do this, it's for the experience, and to give, as you say, a gift of life.  I will not be paid for that.  I have no objections to you two as the parents paying for the actual expenses, the doctor visits, the hospital, whatever is involved, but, no, you will not pay my rent or my bills or otherwise give me money.  I will not accept it under any circumstances.”

Jack looked deeply into the young woman's eyes, and cocked his head to one side, asking, “You're serious?”

“Yes, I am.  I pride myself on my ability to make my way.  I live my life my way.  I work a while, and then I do what I want to do; and then I work some more so I can do what I want some more.  I have never, and will never, live off of other people, not for this, not for any reason.”

Jack and Daniel exchanged yet another look.

**Gawd, Jack, she's perfect.**

Jack smiled his agreement, and the three talked a little more.  Kayla explained that since her seventeenth birthday, she had begun her pattern of existence, working twelve to eighteen months in a variety of jobs to earn money.  She had quickly obtained her real estate license and, as Janet had explained, she was a writer and photographer, turning her adventures into wage-earning treks as well.

“Someday, I want to write a novel.  I guess it sounds campy, but I have my own great American novel somewhere inside, but that'll take a couple of years just to draft out, probably a lifetime to write.”

Daniel responded, “I'm sure you'll achieve your dream, Kayla.  You seem so determined.  I can't imagine you not getting everything you want in life.”

With a smile, Kayla replied, “Thanks, Daniel.  I'm trying.  Oh, you never told me.  Which one of you is going to be the donor?”

Another exchange occurred between the couple, and, slowly, they turned to Kayla, neither anxious to speak.

“Guys?”

Daniel stammered, “Well, originally, we were going to find two women to be surrogates.  We ... we each want to have a child that will be ... ours, but ...  but we've been thinking that to find just one very special woman to have our babies would be ideal.  They couldn't be babies together like we wanted, but maybe a year or two apart.”

Kayla sank to the bed, near the headboard, and asked incredulously, “You want me to have *two* children?”  After both men nodded, she said an amazed, “Wow.  I hadn't considered that, to be honest.  I'm not sure about that one; just being honest, of course.”

“That's what we want.  You have to be honest with yourself, in order to be honest with us,” Daniel stated sincerely.

“I need to think about that ... a lot, but we have time here, right?” Kayla questioned.

“One ... two years,” Jack reiterated.

“I guess it's too much to ask,” Daniel said sadly.

Kayla's heart melted.  She didn't know these two well, but for some strange reason, she felt close to them already.

“Maybe not, Daniel.  Let me go to Africa and take it all in.  I think what you and Jack are trying to do is incredible, especially in this mixed up world of ours.  Please don't assume I'm not interested or that I won't do it.  I just don't know yet, but, please, don't make the mistake of thinking I've made up my mind when I've only just opened myself up to the possibilities.”

Daniel smiled, liking Kayla even more.

“Well, we'll let you get back to ... whatever you're doing,” Jack laughed.  “Our plane leaves soon, so we need to get to the airport.”

“I'm honored you thought of me.”

Jack pulled out his card, and one of Daniel's.  Both of them had written extra contact information on them for her.

“Here, this is how you can reach us at any time,” Jack said as he handed the cards to Kayla.

“I'll send you mine when it's firmed up, but I always have my cell, and that doesn't change.  By the way, who goes first?” the young woman inquired.

“We haven't decided yet,” Daniel said.

“Oh, yes, we have,” the older man insisted.

“No, we haven't.”

“We have, too, Love,” Jack maintained.

“No, Jack.”

Stubbornly, Jack refuted, “Danny, you're going first.  We've talked about this.”

“And we'll talk about it some more.”

“Maybe, but you're still going first.”

“Am not,” Daniel said, shaking his head.

“Are, too!”

“Not!”

“Too!”

“Not, not, not!” Daniel insisted sternly.

“Too, too, too ... to infinity and beyond,” Jack bantered lightheartedly.

Kayla burst into laugher at the banterous display.

“Oh, gawd,” Daniel lamented as he blushed, realizing they had once again forgotten where they were.

Jack laughed abashedly, admitting, “We do that a lot.”

“Well, you let me know when you decide,” Kayla requested.

“We will,” Daniel agreed, smiling and shaking Kayla's hand and then walking to the door.

As he shook the woman's hand, Jack mouthed, “He's going first,” and headed for the door, Kayla shaking her head with laughter as they said their final good-byes.

With Jack and Daniel gone, Kayla took a deep breath and sat on the bed for a minute.  Then, she walked to her window, which overlooked the street.  She could see Jack and Daniel as they emerged from the lobby.  She watched as they stood at the edge of the sidewalk, facing each other.

Kayla saw Jack bring his right hand to Daniel's cheek, softly caressing his lover.  She could see Daniel look down for a minute, as if embarrassed by something Jack might have said.  She smiled as Jack pulled Daniel to him and kissed him, right there on the street.

Then the adventurous woman watched Daniel lean his head against Jack's shoulder, his hands going around the older man's waist, and she could sense that Jack was somehow comforting or reassuring his lover.

Kayla took her cell phone from her pocket and pressed the quick dial.

“Hi, Gina!  It's me ... <laughter> ... Oh, I was just thinking about you and little Kev.  How's the little guy doing? ... Really?  He's a handful! ... Gina, don't cry again.  I know he's a blessing ... Yes, a great gift ... I bet Kev would love a brother or sister.  Have you considered? ... oh yeah?  When? ... Oh, Gina, I'm so happy for you.”

Kayla took a last look at Jack and Daniel.  They were holding hands now, beginning to walk down the street.  She saw Jack slip his arm around Daniel's waist, and then Daniel did the same to Jack's.  She could tell they were laughing about something, and then she saw Jack give Daniel a kiss on his temple.  She smiled, as she walked away from the window and over to the sofa where she sat down.

“I remember it like yesterday, Gina.  Kev is a miracle ... Yes, I agree.  More people should be willing to help those in need ... <laughter> ... Did he really tie the cat's tail to the ... oh, no!”

Kayla continued the conversation with her best friend, having reaffirmed in her heart that the best gift you can give another person is indeed the gift of life.

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