The Little Ones
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - Mid-April 2011
Written: June 19,24,26-27, July 18-19, August 4,15, 2005
Summary: Cassandra visits the Jackson-O'Neills and can't take her eyes off the children. Is she just enjoying her stay, or is there something more?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) There are many sites that provide information on 'Street Smart Kids'; this is one of them: http://www.savecalifornia.com/getactive/streetsmart.php
2) 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.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fics, “Lost,” “Room for One More,” and “It's Raining ... Kids?”
5) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: QuinGem, Claudia. Allexandrya, Tamara, Linda!
The Little Ones
“My bambina!” Jack exclaimed as he walked out into the front
yard. He had a huge smile on his face, and his arms were spread
wide. ~She's so grown up.~
“Uncle Jack!” Cassandra exclaimed as she ran into her surrogate uncle's arms. “I've missed you so much,” she said.
Jack hugged the young woman tightly for almost a minute before pulling back to look into her eyes.
“Mrs. Luca, are you happy?”
Cassandra's grin was gigantic as she responded, “Very. Dominic is the perfect husband.”
“Second perfect,” Jack teased, earning him a giggle from the young woman. “Let me help you with this stuff.”
“Thanks, Uncle Jack.”
Jack walked to Cassandra's car and began to carry in her luggage. The lovely redhead had finally married her long-time beau, Dominic Luca, at the beginning of the year. While Dominic had found a great job upon college graduation, unfortunately for Cassandra's family, it was in Salt Lake City, Utah, which meant she didn't get to see her mother, Janet, or her surrogate family as often as she used to. In fact, this was only Cassandra's second visit to Colorado Springs since her marriage, and it had come unexpectedly after a phone call just one day earlier.
At first, Jack and Daniel were concerned that Cassandra and Dominic were having marital problems, but Janet had assured them that everything was fine, explaining that Cassandra and Dominic were totally happy and committed to each other. Thus, Cassandra's arrival at the Jackson-O'Neill homestead was a bit of a mystery, especially since she had asked to stay with them and not with her mother.
“Dominic is going to try and come up for a couple of days for the weekend. I hope that's okay.”
“Of course, it is, Cass. I'm surprised you were able to tear yourself away from the young stud!” Jack quipped.
“Uncle Jack!” Cassandra blushed. Softly, she admitted, “It wasn't easy, but ...”
“But what, Cass?” Jack asked pointedly, sensing something was wrong.
“Nothing. Where's Uncle Daniel and the brood?”
“With this hot spell we're in, they're playing croquet in the backyard,” Jack teased.
They were having unusually high temperatures in the Springs for the month of April. Normally, temperatures averaged in the high fifties, but the last couple of days, it had been in the mid to high sixties. The weather forecasters were predicting the unusual weather pattern might continue for another week or so and could even get into the low to mid-seventies.
“Do you mind if ...” Cassandra's words trailed off as she motioned towards the front door.
“Go ahead; I'll put everything in the guest room.”
“Um, Uncle Jack ...” Cassandra paused, a question in her eyes. Hesitantly, she asked, “Could I stay in the spare room upstairs instead of the guest room?”
“In the middle of the brood? You may never get any sleep!” Jack warned lightheartedly.
Cassandra smiled and said, “I miss them.”
“Okay, if that's what you want, but remember, that means you fight for the bathroom!” Jack teased.
“I can handle it. Thanks, Uncle Jack!” the young woman said with a smile as she hurried inside the house.
~Something's going on, Cass,~ Jack thought as he pulled out the luggage. ~Geez, she brought enough luggage to stay a month!~
“Love your hair, Cassie,” Aislinn said as she sat on the edge of the bed.
Cassandra was sitting behind her, one leg underneath her as she brushed Aislinn's long hair.
“Thank you, Ash. Your hair is beautiful, too,” Cassandra remarked. “It's so thick; I love it!”
“You make me look pretty,” Aislinn commented.
Cassandra leaned forward, encircling the four-and-a-half-year-old with her arms. She turned her head to face the little girl and smiled.
“Ash, you are so pretty whether or not your hair is combed.”
Aislinn smiled brightly and began to giggle.
Cassandra laughed, too, and continued to brush the little girl's hair.
Just beyond the doorway, Daniel stood, leaning against the wall. Cassandra and Aislinn were in Aislinn's bedroom, the one she shared with her younger sister, Jenny. Daniel had come upstairs to check on his daughter who hadn't been seen since going upstairs to get her brush after asking Daniel to brush her hair a while earlier.
~Looks like you found a better offer,~ Daniel silently chuckled. When his internal chuckle settled, though, he began to think about Cassandra and her visit. ~You've spent so much time with the children during this visit. You always have, but this is different. What's going on, Cassie?~
Any concerns Jack and Daniel may have had about the health of Cassandra's still-new marriage were totally dissolved after Dominic arrived for a two-day visit.
While the young man took plenty of time out to play with the children, even helping Jenny to build a birdhouse, it was clear his focus was on his bride. The newlyweds never stopped touching, and their constant looks and giggles told of an unknown but wondrous future between two people who were very much in love. When the young half-American, half-Italian man left to return to Salt Lake City, the parting had been sweet and tender.
“Jack, we have to find out what's wrong. It's obviously not Dominic,” Daniel commented to his husband the night Dominic left.
“No, it's not him. I watched him like a hawk, Danny; he's totally devoted to her,” Jack said as he sat down on the edge of their king-size bed. As he leaned over to remove his shoes and socks, he added, “I can't figure it out, but she's hiding something.”
“I don't know that I'd call it hiding,” Daniel debated as he removed his shirt. “But there's definitely something. Have you watched her with Ash and Jenny?”
Jack sighed as he sat up straight, tossing his socks onto the bed.
“Yeah,” Jack sighed. “She's clinging to them.”
“Jack, Cassie said something about staying another week.”
“I know,” the older man responded as he removed his own shirt. “I love having her here, and she's more than welcome, but she should be home with her husband. They're newlyweds, for crying out loud.”
“And that means we need to start pressing the issue,” Daniel noted.
“Unearth the buried,” Jack responded.
“Get to the root of the problem,” Daniel said dryly, removing his pants.
Jack stood to take off his pants, and said, “Determine the cause.”
“Get to the bottom of it,” Daniel stated.
“The only bottom I want to get to is this one,” Jack teased as he pounced on his lover, pulling Daniel's buttocks to him.
An unresisting Daniel laughed as he and his husband let their passion flame, fusing their willing and eager bodies together as one.
The next afternoon, with Jennifer and Jeff in the backyard, riding herd over their younger siblings, Cassandra stood in the kitchen, making some fudge.
Jack and Daniel walked through the dining nook to the kitchen. Daniel remained at the doorway, leaning against the frame while Jack went to his left, where a triangular butcher table was. He looked outside for a moment, and then took up his position, hunching forward on the table with his elbows against the wood tabletop. On the uniquely-shaped table was a platter filled with cookies the young woman had already made.
Sampling a few of the morsels, Jack asked, “Cass, will you marry me?”
Cassandra laughed, and Daniel rolled his eyes, warning, “Ignore him, Cassie; he's incorrigible.”
“Which is why you love him so much,” Cassandra said, glancing to her right to look at Daniel as she stirred her ingredients together.
“Guilty as charged. Someone has to do it,” Daniel offered in his defense.
“Hey!” Jack barked, though neither Cassandra nor Daniel responded with anything more than a chuckle. As the chuckling settled, Jack looked over at Daniel who motioned with his head, extending his chin out slightly. It was a signal to get to the point. “Ah, Cass,” Jack began. “We need to talk.”
“Sure, Uncle Jack. What is it?” the young woman asked while continuing her task.
“Cass, we love you to pieces, and having you here has been a hoot.”
“But?” Cassandra asked tentatively as she looked over at Jack.
“But,” Daniel answered, “why are you here and not at home with Dominic?”
Cassandra sighed. She knew she had to tell them now, but still, she hesitated.
“Cassie,” Daniel said as he stood with his hands in his pockets, “we've noticed how closely you've, uh, well, stuck to the children. I mean, you're watching them, closely.”
Cassandra stopped stirring the mix. She pushed the bowl closer to the wall, then reached down to her apron and wiped her hands. Biting her lip slightly, she turned around, looking first at Daniel and then at Jack.
“I'm sorry, but I needed to be here, to see them, and ... and I wanted to talk to you about something, but I wasn't sure how.”
Jack and Daniel exchanged a concerned look. Daniel shrugged, and Jack flexed his shoulders slightly.
“Cass, I don't think you've ever been afraid to talk to us.” Jack motioned with his head, giving an encouraging nod, and asked, “What's up?”
Cassandra nodded, walking by Daniel out of the kitchen and into the living room. The lovers followed, letting their surrogate niece get her thoughts together. At the moment, she stood at the patio door, watching the Jackson-O'Neill children as they played outdoors. While the weather had cooled for a couple of days, it was on the rise again, meaning the children had lots of opportunity to play in the sunshine.
Finally, Cassandra turned around and sat down in Jack's favorite chair, or more accurately, she sat on the edge of the seat, with her hands clasped together in front of her.
“In the apartment complex where we live, one of our neighbors is Bonnie Ebersole. I've mentioned her, haven't I?” Cassandra asked, her face tight with tension.
“Yes,” Daniel nodded, joining his husband in sitting on the sofa. “You, uh, said she even liked to play chess.”
Cassandra nodded several times before continuing, “Well, Bonnie has a daughter. She's four,” Cassandra said, looking back towards the door. She smiled as she caught a glimpse of Aislinn running. “Um, Connie, that's Bonnie's daughter, was with some friends at a park close to us when she was kidnapped. From what they've figured out, a man lured her away by offering her candy. He raped her.”
The two men stared at Cassie in horror for a moment before reacting.
“Cass,” Jack said, shaking his head with anger and disgust at the event.
Jack certainly understood the young woman's behavior now.
“She's alive, but he hurt her -- bad, and, uh, well, I ... I had to see them,” Cassandra said, standing and returning to watch the playing children from the patio doors. She stood with her arms folded across her chest. “Uncle Jack, Uncle Daniel, I know Teal'c has taught them self-defense. I know you've stressed how important it is to follow the rules, and I know they're brave little kids, but they are still little kids. I keep seeing some stranger offering Noa an ice cream bar, or some man holding out a bag of chocolate for Ricky, or maybe some man tells Little Danny there's a hurt cat nearby. I see Ash reaching out for a piece of gum and being snatched away, or Jenny wanting to see what makes some gadget run and being carried off.”
Cassandra turned and looked at the two men who had helped to raise her.
“I know you've taught them, but have you really told them the dangers out there?”
Daniel blinked a few times before looking at his husband, and it was Jack who responded.
“Cass, T's done a great job with them, and we have a system. They have a password and ...”
“Uncle Jack, if a man walked up to Little Danny and said a wounded kitten needed his help, what do you think Little Danny would do?”
“He'd ...” Jack looked at Daniel. “Danny?” he asked, a bit of alarm in his voice.
Jack was reasonably sure that their children wouldn't be bribed with food, but in the scenario that Cassandra had just given, he couldn't be sure that Little Danny's heart wouldn't rule his head.
“I don't know,” Daniel answered truthfully before getting up off the sofa and pacing the living room. “He'd ask for the password. We know that from that time we had to have Sergeant McAllister pick him up from Jerry Clark's house.”
Proudly, Jack laughed, “Sproglet even made McAllister show his ID.”
Daniel couldn't help but chuckle, too, as he said, “And then he made him describe Grandpa and got frustrated when Jason didn't know General Hammond was Grandpa.” Daniel sobered, though, as he saw Cassandra's worried look. “But if some man had a wounded animal ...”
“What if it wasn't a complete stranger, but someone they'd seen or knew?” Cassandra asked. “What I'm trying to say is that I know you two have done so much to protect them, but I think you need to do more. I don't want Ash to go through what Connie has; I don't want that for any of them. They're smart; they're so smart. Please, let's teach them.”
“Teach them?” Jack asked as he stood up. “What do you mean?”
“The irony about Connie's abduction is that the next weekend, Bonnie was going to take her to a safety seminar. They have these all the time, sessions that teach kids about the dangers out there in a way that doesn't scare them, but does help them to understand. I've checked; there's going to be one here next month. Please take them.”
“The whole brood?” Jack asked.
“Well, the little ones, including Noa and Lulu,” Cassandra suggested.
Jack sighed, and, looking at Daniel, he could see his husband was in favor of it.
“Here's a thought. Let's have our own,” Jack offered.
“What?” both Daniel and Cassandra said.
“Look, our kids will learn better here. Let's learn what we need to know, maybe hire a couple of experts and bring them here.”
“We could include some of the neighborhood children,” Daniel suggested enthusiastically.
Cassandra smiled and responded, “That would be great. There's so much stuff to do in the backyard that we can separate the learning with play sessions, to keep their attention span up.”
Daniel walked to Cassandra and hugged her, gratefully telling her, “Thank you, Cassie.”
“I just love them so much, Uncle Daniel. It's like they're mine.”
Pulling out of the embrace, Daniel smiled and said, “They are. They're Kayla's and Sam's and Janet's and Sara's and yours. All of you have been wonderful role models and mothers to them. Jack and I are very lucky to have you in our lives.”
“Ah, Uncle Daniel,” Cassandra said bashfully.
“Let's start planning. Cass, who do we need to call?” Jack asked as he walked to a cabinet and pulled out paper and pen.
“Well, first ...”
The three adults sat down and began to plan. Before the day was out, they'd made several phone calls to set up the session. That night and the next day, they talked to several of the neighbors, most of whom were eager to participate in the event.
The stage was set, and in a few days, the Jackson-O'Neills would be hosting their own neighborhood safety class for all the younger children.
The sun was out on what the weather experts said would be the last of the hot spell days. After five warm days in a row, the weather had returned to normal, but another warm front had hit, and this was the tail end of it. In actuality, today was anticipated to be the highest of all of them, topping out at seventy-five degrees.
With the help of a local organization that specialized in teaching children how to protect themselves, the Safety Faire, as it had become known, was in progress.
Dean Moran, one of the instructors, took a padded protector and placed it in front of him.
“Okay, we've talked about what to do, and my son, Kyle, has shown you how to do it. Now let's all try it. How about you go first?” Dean asked a little boy seated near the front.
The boy was eight-years-old and with great determination, he kicked the protector.
“Good! Okay, you're next.”
Aislinn stood and approached the pillow.
“What's your name?” Dean asked.
“That's a pretty name,” Dean said. “Okay, Aislinn, remember when we talked about hitting a bad man?” He waited for her nod and then asked, “How do you do it?”
“With our palms, like this,” Aislinn answered, holding her palms flat and moving forward.
“That's right. Now do it, really hard,” Dean instructed, holding up the protector a bit higher.
Aislinn gently palmed the device.
“Aislinn, I know you can do better. Don't be afraid. If I'm a bad man, then you have to try and hurt me. Come on, now. Put some girl power into it, and let me hear it!”
Aislinn looked over at Jack, who nodded and said, “Use all your might, Ash.”
Focusing on the black cushion, Aislinn grunted as she quickly attacked the item -- right palm, left palm, and right palm again -- each contact resulting in a grunt.
“Good!” Dean praised, smiling. Moving on, Dean called on Jonny. “Okay, young lad, give it your best shot. There you go -- right leg, left leg, right leg, left leg!” Dean instructed.
Jonny made loud noises as he bolted his legs into the air, one at a time, causing the black pillow to move back with the impact of each kick.
“Nicely done!” Dean exclaimed, impressed at the boy's skill. ~I think he's done this before.~
“I good at cover' ops!” Jonny said with pride, causing Dean to look a bit surprised. He looked over at Jack who just smiled and shrugged. “Okay, next!”
After some playtime and snacks, the children were gathered round again. This time, it was Yolanda Morton talking with the youngsters.
“Let's say you're in the mall, and you get separated from your parents. Or maybe you're in a park, or at the zoo. Clarice, who would you look for to help?”
The ten-year-old quickly answered, “A policeman.”
“That's a good choice, and the police are our friends, but many times, they are in their cars and out doing their jobs. It's not always easy to find one. Who else? Yes?” Yolanda said, pointing to one of the children raising their hands.
“A fireman!” Ricky suggested. “Firemen good!”
“They sure are,” Yolanda responded, “but like policemen, they are usually at their station houses when not out doing their jobs. Now think -- who do you trust?”
Chenoa bounced up and down from her spot and called out, “Dad and Daddy!”
Yolanda smiled as Jack and Daniel beamed.
“Yes, we trust our parents, but remember, they aren't there. We've lost them. So if you're looking around, trying to decide who to trust, who would you go to?”
Brianna looked around, feeling a bit odd. She knew the answer, and yet it was something she'd never had. Still, she couldn't keep quiet and said, “A mom with children.”
“That's absolutely right. A mom with children is probably the safest person you could approach because as a mother, she's going to help you just like she'd want someone to help her child if they were lost.” Letting the information seep in for a moment, Yolanda paused and then asked, “Who else might you trust?”
“I know!” David said, raising his right hand up high. Seeing Yolanda's nod, he answered, “Grandpa or Grandma.”
“Very good,” Yolanda praised. “A grandmother is your next safest bet.”
“And Grandpa!” Jonny insisted sternly.
“Um, yes, but always go with the grandmother first.”
Jonny scowled, but didn't say anything else.
“I can't hear you!” Dean called out, cupping his right ear with his hand.
“SAY NO! GO! YELL! TELL!” the children shouted loudly.
“Again!” Yolanda called out, shouting with the kids.
“SAY NO! GO! YELL! TELL!”
After another minute, Dean and Yolanda applauded, both smiling and then moving to stand in front of the youngsters again.
“We've talked about a lot of things today,” Yolanda began. “And we've practiced a lot of skills to help protect us, but we also want to spend a few minutes talking about strangers. So, tell me,” Yolanda said, clasping her hands together, “are strangers bad?”
“My mommy says not to talk to strangers,” one of the seven-year-olds answered.
“Yeah, Daddy say that, too,” a five-year-old added.
“Well, sometimes that's true, but not all strangers are bad. What we need to learn is how to tell a good stranger from a bad stranger. For example, the mom with her kids in the park. She's a stranger. Who can tell me why we trust her?”
“'Cause she has kids,” Clarice answered.
“Exactly, which is what we talked about earlier. How about a woman who says she has candy, but it's in her car?”
“No go,” Jenny answered, shaking her head.
“That's correct. Never go with a stranger to their car,” Yolanda stated.
Dean picked up the pace from there, stating, “Kids, adults are never going to ask you for help or for directions. If an adult comes up to you and says that they need you to help them find someone, to show them someplace, or to help with something, *don't* go.”
“Maybe they need help,” Little Danny said.
Dean knelt down and smiled at Little Danny.
“Danny, an adult knows how to get help without asking for it from a young child. If someone approaches you, they probably aren't doing it for good reasons.”
Yolanda added, “Adults who are up to no good will use anything they can to lure you away -- candy, toys, animals ...”
“Animals?” Little Danny asked with wide, horrified eyes.
Dean nodded and replied, “Yes. They might ask you to help with a wounded animal or to help them find their dog. Maybe they'd ask you to help them rescue a kitty trapped in some bushes ...”
“Mittens!” Aislinn interjected, remembering how they had found their cat in the bushes at the park.
“That's how we found one of our cats,” Daniel explained, giving a few more details as well.
Yolanda got back to the point, saying, “Children, you must remember that adults don't go to children for help about things like this. They go to other adults. It's very, very important that you remember that.”
Jack whispered to his husband, “Danny, we need to talk to Little Danny some more about that. He's not looking convinced.”
With his arms crossed in front of his chest, Daniel nodded as he replied, “He's picturing Mittens or another bird or ... who knows what. This was a great idea of Cassie's. I'm learning a lot about our children and what we need to guard against.”
“So the key is that if anyone tries to touch you where your bathing suit would cover, that's a bad thing. Bathing suits cover up our most private areas, and no one should be trying to touch them,” Yolanda explained softly.
Dean added, “Kids, if it makes you feel funny. If your stomach gets butterflies, and you feel like running, then go with your gut and run if you can, and if you can't, then when you find your parents or another adult -- the mom with kids, the policeman, the grandmother -- tell them.”
Lulu squirmed a little as she sat, something that immediately caught the attention of her parents.
“Jack, I'm going to go get her,” Daniel said, not liking the uneasiness he saw in their young daughter.
Jack nodded, sure that in his abuse, Lulu's last foster father had probably touched her in a lot of places he shouldn't have.
Daniel made his way around the kids, grateful Lulu had sat down in the last row. Gently, he touched her upper arm.
“Hey, Little Bit,” Daniel said softly. “Would you like to come with me for a few minutes?”
Lulu smiled, and when Daniel picked her up, she immediately lay her head on his shoulder.
“I love you, Lulu,” Daniel said as they walked into the house.
“Da...” Lulu stopped. Looking at Daniel, she saw her Daddy. That man she had once called 'Daddy Kevin' never resembled what a daddy should be. She bit her lip and then said, “Kevin bad.”
“Yes, Princess; he was very bad,” Daniel agreed, feeling a bit like his husband at the moment and half wishing there was a Goa'uld around that he could take out his anger on. He sensed her distress, but he also realized what she had just done. It was the first time when speaking about 'Daddy Kevin' that she had just used the man's given name. ~You're going to be okay, Little Bit. I promise.~
“But now I have a Dad and Daddy, and you protect me,” Lulu said confidently, trying to make herself feel better.
“That's right,” Daniel said, gently rubbing her back.
Lulu moved her head to look into her father's eyes as she spoke, “Kevin doesn't scare me anymore.”
“You're safe, Lulu,” Daniel promised, bouncing the growing child in his arms.
“I'm okay now, Daddy. I was scared, but not now.”
Lulu gave Daniel a big smile, threw her arms around him, and then motioned for him to put her down. When he did, she ran back to the door, but before she opened it, she looked back at Daniel.
“I love you, too, Daddy,” Lulu said, opening the door to retake her spot on the lawn.
Taking a big breath, Daniel returned to Jack's side.
“Is she okay?” Jack asked.
“She just needed a quick reminder that she's loved and safe here,” Daniel answered.
“SAY NO! GO! YELL! TELL!” the children shouted again, all laughing as they fell to the ground.
They had just finished up a game and were practicing what they had learned.
“One last thing,” Yolanda admonished. “Remember, not all strangers are bad, and not everyone you know is good. Think about where you are, what you're doing, and what the adult is asking you to do. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, get away as fast as you can. If the adult is a good person, they won't mind. They'll understand if you yell in front of them. You must protect yourself when your parents aren't around to do it for you.”
“You've all been great,” Dean stated happily. “Tell me one more time. What do you do when an adult approaches you and tries to get you to go with them somewhere?”
A chorus of, “SAY NO! GO! YELL! TELL!” rang out.
“And what if they grab you, and you can't just say 'no'?” Yolanda asked.
“Kick and run!” the boys and girls said in scattered voices.
“Thank you for being such good listeners today,” Yolanda said as she and Dean applauded the neighborhood youngsters.
“Ice cream!” Jack called out, resulting in numerous cheers from the children.
Cassandra held Jenny in her arms as they sat on the park bench. Next to her was Ricky.
“Okay, Jenny, if I weren't here, and you were lost, who would you go to?”
Jenny grinned and said, “Daddy!”
“Very funny,” Cassandra giggled, seeing Jenny point over by some trees where Daniel was talking to David and Aislinn. “Pretend Daddy and Dad aren't here. None of the family is here. Look around, and tell me what you would do.”
Jenny looked all around the park, which was pretty crowded since it was a fairly pleasant morning.
“That lady,” Jenny said, pointing to a woman sitting on another bench.
“Why?” Cassandra asked.
“She have babies. She a mommy; help me.”
“That's right. I'm so proud of you, Jenny,” Cassandra said, hugging the girl. “Ricky, your turn.”
Ricky smiled in anticipation. He knew they were there to talk about what they had learned at the Safety Faire over the weekend.
“I ready!” the toddler said, sitting up straight at the edge of the bench with his hands flat on his thighs.
“Ricky, look at all the people in the park. Pretend there are no mothers here. Who would you ask for help if you needed it?”
The little boy swayed his body to the right to look over in the corner of the park and leaned back the other way against Cassandra to see the other end. He twisted his little body around to look behind him, and finally, he studied everyone in front of them.
“I goooooooo ... her!” Ricky exclaimed.
“Tell me why,” Cassandra instructed.
“She look old. Think she's grandma!”
Cassandra laughed and put her arm around the little boy.
“You did very good, and I think she's probably a grandmother, too.”
Over by some trees, Daniel, David, and Aislinn were talking over various scenarios.
“Ash, what if you and David were here at the park, and for some reason, neither Dad nor I were here with you. Let's pretend that you got separated from David and ...” Daniel looked around, finding a 'fake' suspect. “... and that man came up to you. He tells you that David's been hurt and asks you to go with him. What are you going to do?”
“What if David was really hurt, Daddy?”
“Princess, if the person is sincere, they won't try to grab you, and they won't come near you, if you back away. If something really did happen to David, or to any of your brothers and sisters, a policeman or fireman would be called, as would Dad and I. Never go with them unless ... what?”
“They know the password,” Aislinn answered.
“That's right,” Daniel said. “Ash, what would you tell the man?”
“To call you or a policeman, and that I'll wait over there with other kids.”
Daniel smiled and kissed her hand, and then he looked at David.
“Daddy, I know better than to go with anyone,” David scowled.
“I know,” Daniel said, “but humor me, okay?”
Daniel stated, “What I want you to do is show me a few of the moves Teal'c taught you last week. Pretend I'm a stranger, and I'm trying to kidnap Ash. You've been over there, studying the leaves, and when you turn around, I'm leaning over, handing her a piece of candy. Show me what you'd do.”
“Daddy, I wouldn't take candy from a stranger,” Aislinn argued, earning her a smile from Daniel. “I know, Ash, but we're pretending.”
“David, I've already refused to back away, so you know I'm a threat. Show me.”
Jack laughed and let out an “Ouch!” as he watched David miss and accidentally hit Daniel for real.
“Daddy hurt?” Little Danny asked.
“He'll recover,” Jack grimaced, his hands covering his groin.
Jack was on the opposite side of the park from Daniel. He waved over to his left at Cassandra who was watching as the twins played with some of their friends in the play area. Then he focused on the children in his care at the moment -- Little Danny and Brianna -- and went through a similar scenario as Daniel had.
In another part of the park, Jennifer did likewise with Chenoa and Lulu, and not too far away, Jeff was counseling and quizzing Jonny.
“Show me that move again, Jonny,” Jeff requested.
Jonny grimaced as he focused on the pillow Jeff was holding in front of him. He wet his lips several times and then let out a giant grunt as he did four quick kicks.
“Wow, you're strong, Little Brother!” Jeff exclaimed.
“T's a good teacher!”
“That's true. Let's try it again, but I don't want you to think about it so much. This is going to be a real life test,” Jeff said, as he put the pillow on the ground.
“No want to hurt you, Jeff!”
“That's okay. I'm a bad guy, and I'm going to try to grab you. Don't let me!”
Jeff tried to grab the young boy, but Jonny did exactly as he was taught, effectively sending his older brother to his knees.
“Did I do good, Jeff?” Jonny asked his older brother who was currently flat on his back.
“Perfect, Lil' Bro!”
Jonny beamed with pride and did a little shimmy motion as he stood.
“I protect the brood!” the little boy said, enunciating every word definitively and dramatically.
“I believe you,” Jeff chuckled as he sat up into an Indian-style stance. “Jonny, look around, and tell me who you'd go to if you were lost.”
“I've been lost; it not fun.”
“I heard about that and how brave you and Little Danny were, but danger can happen anywhere at anytime. Life changes, Jonny, when you least expect it to. Which one of all those people over there would you run to for help?”
“That one!” Jonny quickly answered, pointing to an older gentlemen, seated on the bench next to Cassandra. He was reading a newspaper and had a cane in between his legs. He was also bald. “I'd ask him.”
“Jonny ...” Jeff began to chastise before the little boy interrupted him.
“I know, Jeff. They want me go to that mommy or that old lady, but he old, too. He a grandpa like Grandpa George!”
Jeff nodded and began to wrestle with the youngster.
“So Lulu knows exactly what to do, but, Danny, I'm still worried about Little Danny,” Jack said as he relaxed in the recliner in Daniel's den. Bijou and Katie were both in his lap, vying for attention. “Hey, Girls, Whoa! Yeah ... Gotcha!” Jack teased as he played with them.
Daniel hunched forward to engage in the fray with the beagles for a minute before pulling back in his office chair.
“We'll just have to watch him, Jack. Little Danny knows what to do, but his heart is just so big. Uh, Cassie said the twins were perfect, and, uh, believe me, David has the right idea.”
“I saw,” Jack cackled.
“It wasn't funny,” Daniel said, reflexively putting his legs closer together. “Anyway, Jennifer said everything went well with her group. What about Jeff and Jonny?”
Jack sighed as he brought Bijou up to his face for a kiss. Katie picked that moment to jump over into Daniel's lap, so now each beagle had their own 'parent' to give them loving, which Jack and Daniel continued to do as they discussed the morning at the park.
“He's stubborn,” Jack answered about his namesake.
“No? I can't imagine,” Daniel said in a lightly sarcastic tone of voice.
“He wanted to go to the grandfather for help,” Jack explained, “but he did know who we'd say.”
“Jack, our brood doesn't have a grandmother. Even with Kayla having died so soon, they have Sara and Sam and Janet and, well, even Cassie, as surrogate mothers, but the only grandparent they know is ...”
“Grandpa George,” Jack answered, as he scratched Bijou's back, just before her tail. “Oh, you like that, don't ya?” Jack asked, smiling.
“I wish Catherine was closer,” Daniel commented.
“She's about the closest thing they have to a grandmother, Angel, but she's 'Catherine' to them. Hammond is just plain ole 'Grandpa',” Jack stated.
Daniel stood and paced the room, petting Katie as they walked around.
“We'll just have to hope the choices they make are the right ones, Jack. I don't think we should chastise Jonny for his choice. Like Little Danny, he knows what he was taught.”
Jack nodded and moved to the floor to wrestle with Bijou, while Daniel and Katie watched, both smiling.
“We love you, Cassie!” the Jackson-O'Neill children called out as they got final hugs and kisses from the young woman.
It was two days later, and Cassandra felt free again. The trip to the park and subsequent discussions had done wonders to calm her anxiety about the children's safety.
As Jack and Daniel walked her to her car, Cassandra couldn't hold back a few tears.
“Hey, Cass, cut that out!” Jack said as he embraced her.
“I'm going to miss them,” the young woman cried.
“You'll see them again soon,” Jack assured her.
Cassandra pulled away and hugged Daniel, whispering her love to him.
After her 'uncles' had put her luggage in the trunk, Cassandra reached out and held the two men's hands.
“Keep them safe for me. Make sure Little Danny understands,” Cassandra said in a cracking voice.
“We're going to talk to him some more,” Daniel promised. “Thank you, Cassie, for caring so much and convincing us to do this.”
“I love them, and ... and when I have my own children, I want to make sure they grow up with all of their cousins,” Cassandra said with a smile.
“Tell Dominic he'd better keep flying straight,” Jack warned.
“Oh, Uncle Jack, don't you know by now that Dominic is one of the good guys. I mean, my virtue isn't in question anymore,” Cassandra smirked.
“Bambina, that was too much information,” Jack chimed, shuddering in mock horror.
“You'll get over it,” the female teased confidently.
“Cassie, we love you,” Daniel said softly as he pulled her in for a final hug.
With tears in her eyes, Cassandra got into the car, saying, “I've just been so emotional lately.”
“Women are always emotional,” Jack quipped.
Cassandra waved goodbye as she turned on the engine and began to pull away.
“STOP!” the young woman yelled out the window just as Jack and Daniel had started to go back towards their house. Putting the car in park for a moment, Cassandra leaned over the front seat and stuck her head out the passenger window. She grinned bigger than ever before. “I wanted to tell Dom first, but I can't hide it. I'm so happy.”
“Don't say it,” Jack said too quietly for his surrogate niece to hear.
Daniel chuckled, “Jack, she's a woman now.”
“Amen!” Jack quietly exclaimed.
“Uncle Jack! Uncle Daniel! I'm pregnant! Byyyyyyye!” Cassandra waved animatedly as she put the car back into drive and headed for Salt Lake City and the father of her unborn child.
“Casssssss ...” Jack began, though his attempt to speak was fruitless since the young mom-to-be had sped off before the couple could respond to her news.
“Be calm, Jack. They are married,” Daniel soothed.
“Where did the time go, Angel? She used to be eleven,” Jack lamented.
“That was a long time ago, and now she's grown, and she's about to start her family,” Daniel spoke, placing his arm around Jack's waist as they walked to their front door. “Should we tell the brood?”
“Yeah, we should,” Jack said, stopping their forward movement just below the steps to the front door. “Danny, we have it pretty good, don't we?”
“Amen!” Daniel responded with a happy laugh.
The lovers kissed and returned inside to their waiting family. Life was definitely good for Jack and Daniel's nation of two and their loving brood.
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