Luck of the Irish
Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - November 15, 2010 - January 25, 2011
Written: February 6-11, March 14, May 31, July 17,28-29, 2005 Revised for consistency: August 31, September 1-3,14, 2007
Summary: The Munchkins and twins learn more about their Irish heritage as Jack tells a tale that enlightens beyond even his own expectations!
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) The major historical event mentioned in this fic did occur in Ireland. For more information, search the web or encyclopedias for the Irish Uprising in 1641.
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) A special thanks to KT for her Irish-ing the appropriate sections!
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Claudia, QuinGem, Tamara, Allexandrya, Carol, Linda!
Luck of the Irish
Daniel turned off the truck's engine and twisted around to face the
Munchkins. In the cab of the truck, all secured in their seats,
wearing warm parkas and gloves, were Jack and Daniel's triplets --
Jonny, Little Danny, and Aislinn. They were four years old now
and loved going on little expeditions with their parents, like this
outing to Best Buy.
Included on the list for the excursion were batteries and a new DVD player, which would be a surprise present for Lulu, one of the three children Jack and Daniel had just adopted. The parents had discovered that Lulu loved to dance, especially ballet, so they had decided to set up a mini-dance studio for her. The new DVD player would be hooked up to a large monitor so she could study famous dancers as well as her own progress.
“Okay, Munchkins, what's the rule?” Daniel asked.
“Stay 'gether,” Jonny immediately answered.
“And?” Daniel prodded.
“No running,” Aislinn responded brightly.
“And?” the careful parent inquired, staring at his namesake.
“Stay with you,” Little Danny responded.
“Good.” Daniel smiled encouragingly at the Munchkins, helped them out of the vehicle, and said, “Let's go.”
Inside the store, Daniel selected the appropriate DVD player and added it to his cart. He found the batteries they needed and then placed a set of replacement cables for the VCR in his den in the metal cart.
As the family headed toward the checkout counter, Aislinn gasped.
“What's wrong, Ash?” Daniel asked.
“Dad! It's Dad!”
Daniel looked around, but didn't see his husband anywhere, so responded, “Ash, Dad isn't here.”
“Look,” the little girl said, pointing to one of the shelves.
“Dad!” Jonny exclaimed.
“Is Dad,” Little Danny agreed.
Daniel chuckled as he picked up the box set of DVDs and assured, “No, Munchkins, this man is an actor. See,” he pointed to the name on the box, “this is for a television show that used to be on a long, long time before you were ever born. It's called 'MacGyver'.”
“Looks like Dad,” Aislinn insisted.
“Dad cover' ops,” Jonny explained.
Daniel tried unsuccessfully to suppress a chuckle as he responded, “No, Jonny, I promise. This is someone who acts for a living; he's definitely not your dad. Besides, Dad is much more handsome and definitely sexier.”
The archaeologist gave himself a little kick. Talking about how sexy his husband was, was not a smart thing to do in front of the children or in a public place, especially considering how susceptible he was to reacting to thoughts of his silver-gray-haired fox's sexuality. It could get very embarrassing, very fast, if he wasn't careful. Fortunately, none of the children responded to the 'sexy' comment.
“Too much hair,” Little Danny observed.
“Buy M'ver,” Aislinn requested, having a hard time pronouncing the name.
“I don't know,” Daniel said as he read the DVD box.
“Yeah, Daddy, please,” Jonny said. “Want to see Dad do cover' ops.”
“It's ... co ... never mind.” Daniel reviewed the box set which was for the final season of the show. “Okay, why not?” he agreed, putting the set in the basket.
“Thanks, Cass,” Daniel said shortly after arriving home.
“My pleasure, Uncle Daniel. I'll be home for a few more days. Can we have lunch one day; I mean, just you and I?” the redhead asked hopefully.
“Sure. Anything wrong?” Daniel inquired, wondering if he should be concerned about the young woman.
“No.” Cassandra glanced over her shoulder to make sure no one was listening and then elaborated, “I want to talk to you about Dominic, but whatever you do, please don't tell Uncle Jack.”
“Don't ... tell him ...”
“No, I mean, you can tell him we're having lunch, just don't tell him about Dom,” Cassandra explained. “You know how he gets.”
Daniel chuckled and then asked, “Cassie, is everything okay? I mean, you're not getting ...”
“Cold feet? Oh, no, no way! I love him to death, but I want to ask you about, uh, well, something. Uncle Jack? Well, if I ask him, he'll ...”
“Go ballistic?” Daniel surmised with a smile.
“You'd think he'd be more, um, tolerant now that we're engaged, but ...”
“But he loves you and wants the best for you,” Daniel completed.
“I know, and that's Dom. Gotta go!” Cassandra said, eager to get on with her day, which involved finalizing plans with her mother. “Oh, they're mad at me I think, but I took out TT and put them in it.”
“Any special reason why?”
“I hate to tattle on my niece and nephew, Uncle Daniel, but they were a bit on the spirited side today.” Cassandra sighed and added with a shy smile, “And Dom called, and I really needed to talk to him, but I wanted to make sure they didn't get into anything. I was still talking to him when I heard you drive up.”
“Not a problem.”
“Smooth it over for me?”
“I will,” Daniel promised, giving his niece a kiss goodbye.
Cassandra was in the process of finishing up her graduate degree while also preparing for her upcoming wedding. While home, she had leaped at the chance to babysit the twins while Daniel was with the Munchkins. Jack, meanwhile, had taken all of the older children to the ice rink for a hockey session.
“Daddy, watch 'Gyver?” Jonny asked after Cassandra had gone.
Daniel decided it would be okay, so he read the children some of their choices, and the Munchkins decided on a two-part episode called, “Good Knight MacGyver.”
“Like King Arthur!” Little Danny commented.
“I Sir Lan'lot,” Jonny proclaimed, remembering that the last time they played a game, his Munchkin brother was the beloved Lancelot.
“That's Sir Lancelot, Son,” Daniel corrected.
“Yadda, yadda,” Jonny responded, plopping down on the floor.
Daniel snickered, desperately trying not to laugh, but failing.
“Daddy, what funny?” Little Danny asked.
“Uh, your dad,” Daniel answered, figuring it was a safe answer since everyone always said Jack was funny.
As he began to put the DVD in the player, Daniel was interrupted by his daughter.
“No, Daddy, on big TV. Please?” Aislinn asked, walking towards the family's large recreation room that had a sixty-inch plasma screen TV in it.
“Good idea, Ash,” Little Danny commented.
“Okay, let's go,” Daniel quickly agreed, waiting for Jonny to get up and follow his siblings into the huge room. “Yadda, yadda,” he snickered as he trailed behind the Munchkins.
Once in the rec room, Daniel lowered the TV and turned on the DVD. Then he prepared some snack mix for the children to munch on while they watched from their seats on the large sectional sofa. To play it safe, he opened up one of the sectional pieces and pulled out a TV tray on which to put the snacks. With a final caution to be careful of the tray, he started the show.
With the triplets happily ensconced in front of the TV, Daniel went outside and 'freed' the twins from ToddlerTown, the extra large portable play area he and Jack had built.
“Daddy, we had deal,” Jenny whined.
“I know, Princess, but we had to modify the deal a little, remember?” Daniel prodded.
“How come?” Ricky inquired.
“Dad and I agreed that when you're home, as long as you do as we say, that you no longer have to stay in TT. We also said that when you're at the SGC, you *do* have to stay in TT because it's our workplace, and a lot of things are happening there all the time, right?”
“Right,” Jenny acknowledged, bobbing her head as she continued to look at her father as if giving him a reprimand.
“Okay, well, we had to modify our agreement for situations when one of your caregivers is here alone with you and the Munchkins,” Daniel explained, silently hoping Jenny and Ricky wouldn't pick up on his embellishment of the situation. He held up his hand to fend off the objection and said, “Five young children is a lot of responsibility. When there are two adults, plus your older siblings, we can watch you and make sure you're safe. When it's just one person, like it was today with Cassie, well, it's a lot.”
“Not five, Daddy, just,” Jenny corrected, pointing at her brother and then at herself.
“Okay, I know, but Cassie had an important phone call, and she wanted to make sure you two were safe. I realize you didn't like it, but she did that because she loves you.”
“It just Dom,” Ricky stated.
Daniel nodded, but said, “Cassie and Dom are getting married, remember? They have a lot to talk about. Now, you're spending less time in TT as you grow up. How about we give Cassie the benefit of the doubt and just go on with our day? Okay?”
Jenny pursed her lips as she thought about it for a minute, and then, finally, she said, “Okay. Daddy, you play with us now?”
After playing with the twins, as well as with Bijou and Katie, for a while, Daniel eventually decided he'd better check on their cats, finding Mittens under Jennifer's bed and Calico on Lulu's bed. He also made sure Bogey was secure in his cage and that Bagel was in her hutch.
~All present and accounted for!~ the archaeologist thought about his happy family.
Roughly an hour later, the three-year-old twins ran through the kitchen and into the rec room to see what their siblings were watching.
“Dad!” Ricky said eagerly, looking at the image on the screen.
“Shhh!” Jonny shushed. “Wanna see Merlin.”
~If they only knew the truth about Merlin,~ Daniel thought silently in the kitchen as he cleaned.
“But it's Dad!” Jenny exclaimed.
“Not Dad; long hair,” Aislinn explained logically.
“Looks like Dad,” Ricky insisted as he stared at the long-haired character on the screen.
“Dad no work for Fee-it 'Dation,” Jonny argued, referring to the Phoenix Foundation that MacGyver eventually worked for in the fictional series.
“Look!” Jenny pointed to the screen and observed, “Do cool stuff.”
Aislinn began to doubt herself and said, “Yeah, Dad do cool stuff.”
“Dad not 'Gyver,” Little Danny stated.
Jonny leaned over and whispered into Little Danny's ear, “Secret mission.”
“Oh.” The budding genius considered his brother's theory, but then said, “Daddy said not Dad.”
The twins settled down on the floor, resting on one of the comforters in front of the older children. All five were fascinated by the story, but all five were also studying the interesting and creative man who looked and sounded like their father.
Every time Daniel checked on the children, they were all calm and totally involved with the show. He sneaked a peek at the screen and smiled.
~He does look like Jack; but Jack is sexier. Gawd, Jack with long hair. No, thanks.~
Thirty minutes later, Jack and the rest of the children walked in the door, though all of them quickly dispersed to their rooms or other parts of the house.
“That was awesome, Dad. Thanks a bunch!” Brianna stated.
“You're welcome, Bri,” Jack responded with a smile, loving the happiness he was seeing in the tomboy's face.
“Hi, Daddy,” Brianna chimed as she hurried by Daniel and went upstairs.
“Looks like the outing was a success,” Daniel observed, having walked into the living room to greet the returning family members.
“Yeah. She finally believes I know more than that hockey's played on ice,” Jack laughed before greeting his husband properly with a long, lingering kiss. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Daniel sighed happily, leaning in for an encore.
“Where are the little ones?”
Daniel grinned mischievously and said, “In the rec room.”
“Go see,” Daniel urged.
~Hmm. He's got that twinkle in his eyes. All is not as simple as it appears.~ Jack entered the rec room, curious as to what the youngest of his brood were so fascinated by. “Hey, Mun...”
“Shhh!” Jonny said, putting his fingers up to his lips.
“Look -- knife!” Little Danny said in awe. “Just like yours, Dad.”
“'Gyver really meet King Arthur,” Aislinn said.
“Wow,” Ricky added.
“Dad, you on TV,” Jenny informed her father as she pointed at the screen.
~Not that guy again,~ Jack cringed slightly. “Where'd you get this?”
“Daddy bought it,” Little Danny explained. “'Gyver went back in time.”
“Met King Arthur,” Jenny said.
“And Merlin,” Jonny added enthusiastically. “Like Merlin. Merlin jealous of you.” Jonny covered his lips; then whispered. “Oops. Secret mission, huh, Dad?”
“This was a TV show,” Jack attempted to explain.
“Looks like you, Dad,” Aislinn maintained.
Jack shook his head and refuted the claim, saying, “That was only a made-up story.”
“But 'Gyver saved Merlin and the princess,” Aislinn said.
“Found out about Angus,” Little Danny added as the credits for the episode began to roll down the TV screen.
~Let's see if some reality can pull them out of this TV fantasy,~ Jack wondered. “You know, one of your ancestors was called Angus, and he rescued his best friend from certain death.”
“Really?” Jonny asked as his eyes lit up.
Jack grinned, replying, “Really. Would you like to hear about it?”
“Yeah!” the children chorused.
Turning off the TV, Jack settled into the middle of the sofa, and then all five of the youngest Jackson-O'Neill children crunched together around him.
“Okay, let me tell you about Angus Duncan O'Neill and his best friend, John Jackson. It was a long, long time ago in a faraway land, a land of leprechauns, potatoes, and three-leaf clovers. The country was Ireland, and the year was sixteen hundred and forty-one. It was the middle of October, cold and rainy when ...”
//The Legend of Angus and John//
“Rory, Darlin', calm down,” Adele requested of her husband.
“I cannae calm down, Adele. Those English Protestant swine lord ov'r us like masters. 'Tis our land. We work it with our blood and our sweat, and they take the profits. It cannae continue ere more,” Rory stated as his blood boiled at the events.
“Alas, 'tis nae we can do,” Adele lamented.
“Aye, but there is, and 'tis up to us, and all of Eire to take back what is ri'fully ours.”
“T'would lead to naught but bloodshed,” the woman argued.
“What would ye have me do, Lass?” Rory begged. “Our crops are failin', they've fined us for when we dinna attend their church, and now they've devalued what little land they've left us with. For the love of Mike, where will it end?”
“Angus, the bairns,” Adele called out to her oldest son, nodding over toward their children.
“It is for the wee ones that we must fight, Adele. It is for Angus and Ty and all our young lads, that we must stand up for ye own kin.” Rory walked to his worried wife, putting his hands on her shoulders. “Dinna fret, Darlin', we are O'Neills. We are Eire.”
Twelve-year-old Angus finished milking the cow and was preparing to sweep out the barn when he heard a noise outside. Putting down the broom that was in his hands, he slowly crept to the barn door to see what was happening. He saw his father and three men, all appearing very animated. He focused as much as he could, trying to make out their words.
“'Tis in three days, Rory. Are you 'in'?” Clancy McCleary asked.
“We have nae choice, Clancy,” Rory sighed exasperatingly. “I'm in.”
“Good,” Thomas O'Callahan responded. “I cannae afford to feed my family e'er more.”
“Aye. Me lads, they're good lads they are, but they need to be able to work the land, their land, and go to church, their church. I will fight for me lads as me Da fought for me, and I will kill those who rape us and our land,” Rory added, fire in his eyes.
Angus backed away, returning to his chores. He'd heard such talk before, but it had never been like this. There was something in the air. This time was different.
This life was all he'd known, so Angus didn't quite understand the anger his father's generation felt. He'd heard the stories of how his grandfather had been one of the wealthiest landowners in Ulster, and how he fought against the tyrant James I when the English king tried to levy unjust fines and control the people. He'd heard how, for fighting against the English tyranny, virtually all of his grandfather's lands had been confiscated and doled out to English Protestants in the pay of the king.
It never seemed quite real to Angus. He spent his days doing his chores, helping his father with the crops during the day, and assisting his mother with the younger children at night. Then there were his studies -- reading and arithmetic.
~’Tis cannae be the only way,~ Angus thought. ~Ma don't like fighting, but Da says we have to protect our own. I cannae be certain. I dinna know what is right.~
//Pause in the Legend of Angus and John//
“Angus confused,” Little Danny said.
“He sure was. He was just a young boy, living in a world that was hard and about to turn violent,” Jack commented.
“Ma and Pa will protect him,” Aislinn said, full of assurance.
Jack smiled and ran his hand to push her blondish brown hair out of her eyes.
“Life was very difficult back then,” Jack explained. “Angus' parents were in a no-win situation.”
“What happened next?” Jonny asked eagerly.
Jack answered, “Angus had to make a choice, too. Just like his parents did, when the twenty-second of October came around, he found himself having to make a life or death decision. He was either going to be very brave, or very stupid.”
//The Legend of Angus and John//
“Have a careful, Rory,” Adele said, fear in her heart. “May God nae weaken your hand!”
“Guard the croft,” Rory told his wife, looking at their home with great pride and affection. It may not have been much, but the O'Neill house was warm and sturdy. “Use this, woman!” he said, handing her a musket. “Lads,” Rory called to Angus and Ty, the eldest of their eight children. “Protect your ma and your clan. By the by, I'll be back.”
Angus watched his father leave, knowing he was about to join with others to take on the powerful English. He prayed his father would be safe.
As the day passed, Angus felt as if he were suffocating. Quietly, he pulled his brother aside.
“Ty, you dinna have need of me 'ere. You watch the croft. I'm going after Da.”
“Nay, Angus ...”
“Dinna tell Ma until she asks it of ye,” Rory told Ty.
Before his brother could ask to join him, Angus slipped away from the house and headed past their neighbor's farm towards the town. He was totally unprepared for what he was about to see. He hadn't even reached the edges of the Englishmen's lands before he saw the bloodshed.
Men were being slaughtered in the streets, and the cries of the women echoed through the air.
The boy searched for his father, but didn't see him.
“NOOOOOOO! PLEASE DON'T KILL HIM!” a voice rang out in horror.
Angus turned to his right and saw three men stabbing another man to death while a young boy tried unsuccessfully to fight them off.
“NO! HE'S MY FATHER ... PLEASE ... NO!” the voice pleaded, a desperation and fear in his words that cut through Angus' heart as he listened.
The man on the ground and the boy were clearly English, the boy's accent far from the brogue of the native Irish. Angus winced as he heard the boy pleading for his father's life. It was no use; the boy's father was a bloody shell by the time they were through. Suddenly, the tableau froze as the men realized their victim was dead. The boy, as if sensing he was next, took off.
“Round 'em up!” one of the men yelled, but the boy ran, hiding behind some gunny sacks stuffed with flour at the side of a building.
Angus was horrified, his youth disappearing as he watched the nightmare unfold.
“Take them to the bridge; dinna tarry,” a man ordered.
Angus watched a group of rebelling Irishmen round up some eighty or ninety women, children, and old people. They pushed and prodded the crying and disheartened English Protestants towards the River Bann, and as they walked, many were robbed and even stripped of their clothing.
Almost like a magnet, Angus found himself following the group as they marched. He couldn't believe his eyes.
“Mother!” Angus heard from his far left, seeing the same boy from before dart towards a beautiful brunette.
“My boy,” the woman cried upon seeing the child. She had a cut on her cheek and blood was dripping down her face. “No, Johnny, go away. You must go!” she shouted, but the boy wouldn't leave.
Ignoring her words, the boy ran to his mother who took him to her breast immediately. Somehow, in the middle of the group being marched to who knew where, she was able to crouch down for a moment. She wiped away the boy's tears and smiled.
“Johnny, you must live. You must try to get away. Wait for Uncle Thomas. He'll come, and until he does, you must survive.”
“Bbbbbut, Mother ...” the boy stuttered through his tears.
“I love you, Johnny. I love you with all my heart.” The heartbroken mother quickly took off her locket and handed it to her son. “Take this, and always remember how much I love you, and how much your father loves you. You're our Love, Johnny. Now go! Go before they ... just go. Live, Son ... live!” She shooed away the crying boy. ~I love you, my darling boy. I love you.~
“Round up the lad!” one of the Irishmen called out.
A group of three men chased the youngster. Angus followed the group which came to a sudden halt when the boy was forced to stop, trapped by a dead end in the town. The boy turned around, his chest heaving in and out, tears running unchecked down his face.
“Dinna let him away,” the man repeated, more calmly now that the boy had nowhere to run to.
“Nay! Wait!” Angus called out, running past the men and standing in front of John. “'Tis me carra,” he claimed, calling the young boy a friend though they had yet to speak.
Angus drew himself up to his full height, all five feet of it, and spoke the words as if they were some kind of sacred doctrine that would fend the men off.
“Get outta o' the way, lad,” the Irishmen barked, moving forward in a threatening manner.
“Nay,” another called out.
“'Tis O'Neill's lad. We dinna wanna get on his bad side. O'Neill will deal with the Protestant scum.”
Angus released a breath as the three men backed off and disappeared from their sight. He turned around and faced the scared blue-eyed boy.
“Me name 'tis Angus Duncan O'Neill; pleased ta meet ya.”
“My ... my name is John Eric Jackson; and ... my father is dead.” Angus found himself hugging the saddened boy. “Where are they taking my mother?”
“I dinna keen. Do you want to keen?” Angus asked, willing to follow along with John to find out where they were taking his mother and the others.
“Yes, I must,” the teary-eyed child answered.
The boys stayed at a safe distance as they watched a terrible thing occur. The Protestants were marched onto an old wooden bridge that was then set on fire.
“My mother,” John cried, instinctively moving forward.
Angus put his arm around the boy's shoulder, holding him back. John would only be killed if he went out there now. He wished he had words that could make it better, but he had none. All they could do was watch as the group screamed, some jumping to their deaths in the water below, mostly dying from exposure, and others being burned to a crisp. Young John had spotted his mother, who refused to scream. Instead, she stood calmly on the bridge, and let death take her.
When it was over, and the Irishmen had dispersed, Angus and John made their way to the remnants of the bridge.
“I must find her,” John insisted.
“You cannae. Me thinks they might come back. Would nae she want ye to recall her as she was, John?”
“She was beautiful, Angus.” After his new friend nodded, John said, “I have nowhere to go.”
“Aye, come along,” Angus protectively urged his new friend.
Angus took John home, but when he got there, his father had just returned, full of boisterous tones and words.
“We did our kind proud, Adele, taught those Protestant swine a lesson they would'n'a e'er forget,” Rory bragged. “We sent a message to that tyrant on the English throne: we are taking back what belongs to us.”
“Surely, they nae all bad, Da,” Ty said.
“They're nae but lackies of the bloody English king, Lad. They're invaders and tyrants who stole our land. They have even broken with their God. They are nae welcome here anymore, not a one. Ya keen?”
Hearing those words, Angus took John to the barn and set up a place for him to sleep.
“I'm verra sorry; 'tis the best I can do,” Angus told John.
“Thank you,” the boy said, lying down on the hay and closing his eyes.
As Angus climbed down the barn's loft, he heard the sniffling above.
~'Tis nay a pig, Da. He is like me; he is just a lad.~
//Pause in the Legend of Angus and John//
“Ash, it's just a story. Do you want me to stop?” Jack asked as his little girl cried. He noticed Jenny was crying, too. Actually, now that he looked, all of his children had tears running down their faces, even Jonny who was trying hard to act tough and had his arm around Little Danny protectively. “Maybe this story wasn't a good idea.”
“No, Dad. Hafta know how it ends,” Jonny said.
“Poor John,” Jenny sniffled.
“It's sad, but John be okay?” Aislinn asked hopefully, wiping a tear away.
Jack nodded, but suggested, “Let's wait until you guys are a little older to finish the story.”
“Noooooo!” came a chorus from all five children.
“Just sad, Dad,” Ricky said, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.
“Happy ending?” Aislinn asked again.
Jack sighed, hoping Daniel didn't walk in and see this or he would be dead meat.
“Okay,” Jack said, giving in to his children's wishes. “Angus managed to keep John hidden in the barn for a few weeks. John was good at hiding, and he didn't eat much so Angus was able to sneak out food to him. During those weeks, they talked a lot and found out that as far as little boys went, they weren't really very different. Angus was twelve, and John was ten, but they both loved to run and play, both liked to sleep outside, and both loved to go hiking. They realized they had more in common than not, and finally, Angus decided that he had to stand up to his father.”
“Adopt John?” Little Danny asked.
“Well, what he did was ...” Jack said, continuing the tale.
//The Legend of Angus and John//
“Angus, are you sure? What if he kills me?” John asked with uncertainty flowing through him.
“'Tis me Da; he willnae,” Angus promised. “I do swear to ye, Johnny; ye will be safe 'ere. 'Tis ye home now.”
“But your Da, Angus. He doesn't like Englishmen.”
“Dinna trust me, Johnny?” Angus asked, his eyes staring straight into those of the young English lad's.
“Why should I trust someone who can't remember my name?” John challenged.
“Aye, Johnny, even your ma called you Johnny,” Angus replied.
John smiled, and then a bit hesitantly, followed Angus to the house.
“Ye wait 'ere,” Angus stated from the front of the house. He went inside where his mother was preparing the evening meal and his father was fixing a shovel. “Ma, Da, I must speak wi' ye,” Angus informed the couple.
“What is it, Lad?” Rory asked.
“Da, I 'ave made me a new friend. ‘Tis an honest and true lad and a keen worker,” the Irish boy spoke assuredly.
“’Tis well and good, Angus,” Adele responded.
“He's ... an orphan.”
“Oh, the poor bairn; 'tis verra sad,” Adele commented, her heart already going out to the youngster.
“Where does he live, Lad?” Rory asked, his heart also feeling compassion for the homeless child.
Angus gulped, then standing tall, answered, “Here.”
“What say ye, Angus?” his father asked, certain he had misheard his son's words.
“Da, his name is Johnny. 'Tis me friend, and his parents are no more. He needs a place to live. He can help in the fields, Da, and with the bairns, Ma.”
“What e’er became of his kin?” Rory asked, not yet convinced.
Angus answered quickly, “His da was stabbed, and his ma burned.”
Rory frowned. He didn't recall anyone who had suffered such a fate. Then realization dawned.
“Wha'? A bloody Englishman?” the angry father asked.
“Glory be, Rory, be still,” Adele stated as firmly as was proper.
“Da, please,” Angus pleaded. “He has done ye nay in anyway.”
“He's English; they took our land, those ...”
“Da, Johnny has done nae ill,” Angus said, daring to interrupt his father. “'Tis only a lad, like me. Ye 'ave said many a time that bairn cannae sin. 'Tis nae true, Da?”
“Angus, ye be twisting me words,” Rory argued.
“Rory,” Adele said, her eyes speaking with a warning. “We are talking of Our Lord's teachings, and our beliefs. Ye cannae go ag'in that now.”
Rory looked at the cross that hung over the fireplace and nodded. With a sigh, he asked, “Is the lad 'ere?”
“Yes, Da,” Angus answered, hope in his heart that his friend would be accepted by his parents.
“Bring him,” Rory ordered.
Angus walked quickly to the door, opening it, and saying, “Johnny, come on.”
Anxiously, Johnny followed his friend inside the humble home.
“What be your name?” Rory asked formally.
“John Eric Jackson,” the boy answered quietly.
“How old ye be, Lad?”
“Ten,” John answered quietly.
“How did ye meet mi'lad?” Rory inquired with an intimidating tone.
John gulped and blinked, but then answered truthfully, saying, “He saved me.”
Rory looked at his son and commanded, “Explain.”
Angus told his father exactly what had happened. As he did so, Rory maintained eye contact with young John. The boy didn't flinch, except to wipe back a tear when Angus spoke about how his mother had died.
“Rory, Darlin',” Adele pleaded.
“He will be your responsibility, Angus,” Rory told his son.
“Me Darling love or Saints above, ‘tis a lad, nae a pet,” Adele reminded, earning a glare from her husband.
The spirited redhead was more outspoken than most women of her place, but then Rory, in spite of his bark, was more tolerant as well.
Rory grumbled under his breath and then sighed, “Fine, ye be now an O'Neill.”
“No, Sir,” John said. “I am grateful for your kindness, and I will be honored to be part of your family, if you'll have me, but my parents bore me, and I will not dishonor them. I am a Jackson.”
Rory considered the matter, his heart softening slightly at the boy's loyalty to his mother and father.
“Ye do 'ave pluck and courage, Lad, but who are ye loyal to -- King Charles or Eire?”
John glanced at Angus, then back at Rory, and responded, “My family may hail from England, but I, Sir, am Irish.”
Rory smiled and proclaimed, “Then ye be of good stock, Lad. Welcome.”
//Pause in the Legend of Angus and John//
“See, happy ending,” Aislinn said with a smile, her tears gone.
“Is there more?” Little Danny asked.
Jack considered stopping there, but there was, indeed, more to the tale.
“They best friends 'ever?” Aislinn asked.
“In their hearts, yes,” Jack answered. “They grew up as brothers and were inseparable, but the fighting between the Irish and the Protestants continued. A few years later, the English sent thousands of soldiers to retake control of the land in Ireland. One of these men was John's uncle.”
“Johnny left Angus behind?” Jonny asked in surprise.
“It's not that simple,” Jack said.
“But Angus saved Johnny's life,” Little Danny argued.
“And then Johnny saved his,” Jack said informatively.
“How?” Ricky asked.
“Well, like I said, an army of soldiers arrived in Ireland in 1646. Johnny's uncle was just one of thousands, and as they fought to regain their control over the land, there was a lot of fighting, and this time, the Irish were losing. So one day ...”
//The Legend of Angus and John//
It was five years later, and Angus and John were working the harvest when neighbors ran toward the house.
“Rory, Adele, grab your bairns and flee!”
“What be it then, Clancy?” Rory asked in a raised voice.
“The English are comin'; they're just south of here. We fought, but there are verra many of them. The cursed tyrant called in reinforcements from Scotland. Thousands of 'em, Rory, and they are headed this way.”
“Angus, Ty, John, come quickly,” Rory ordered.
Angus was now seventeen and courting a lass named Irene. John, now fifteen, was like a son to Rory and Adele. They had learned to love him, as had the seven other O'Neill children.
“I'll pack,” Adele said.
Rory stood firm as he said, “No, we stand our ground.”
“The bairns,” Adele responded anxiously.
“We must fight, Adele.” Rory looked at his children and then he bent down and picked up a mound of dirt. “This,” he held out the dirt he held in the palm of his hand, “is our land. We've worked it eighteen hours a day, six days a week, every year of our sainted and blessed lives. 'Tis ours. The English have their own land; they dinna need ours. Your ma has taught you to respect your brethren, to do as the Bible says and turn the other cheek, but some things are worth fighting for. Land, our land, is part of us. This,” he jutted out his hand, walking to each of his children and holding it close to their faces, “is our sweat, our past, our future. It is O'Neill.” Rory looked to John. “And it is Jackson. If we do not fight for our homes, for that which is us, then there is nothing. We must fight.”
“Da is right,” Angus professed.
“Da is right,” John agreed, sharing a look with his brother of the heart.
Over the years, John had come to understand and agree with the grievances of the native Irish. He considered himself a true son of Ireland and was beginning to hate the English who refused to leave them alone.
They set up a fortress as best they could, but the onslaught of Englishmen proved to be too much. When it was over, Rory lay wounded in the fields, his son Ty, dead at his side.
“We die together, brother,” Angus said as he prepared for the final battle.
“No, Angus. Please forgive me, but I cannot allow this,” John said.
“Brothers, always,” John spoke in a cracked voice, putting his hand on Angus' shoulder.
The English soldiers, bent on vengance, were about to lay into the remaining O'Neills when John ran in front of the lead soldier, leaving Angus behind.
“Johnny, nae!” Angus called out.
“I am John Eric Jackson. I am English; my father's name was Oliver Jackson, and he was granted these lands by King Charles I and the English parliament. I demand you stop this, now.”
“Get out of the way,” one of the men said, aiming a pistol at him.
“No, wait,” another man said. “What did you say your name was?”
“John Eric Jackson, son of Oliver and Elizabeth. My uncle is Thomas Bennett Jackson.”
The soldier with the pistol started a little. Obviously, the name was one he could not afford to ignore.
The other soldier turned to John, telling him, “Your uncle will be marching this way in a day's time. He has been looking for you.”
“I, uh, will be waiting,” John said, nodding his head.
“Stand aside, boy.”
John knew standing aside would mean the deaths of his friends, friends who were family now.
“No, I cannot. They have raised and protected me. They gave me a home after my parents ...”
“After they butchered your parents. You owe them not!” one of the men shouted in hatred.
~You can't talk of butchering the innocent. I can see the blood on your hands.~ John glared at the man. “I do. I owe them everything, for I, too, would have been killed if not for my brother,” he said, pointing to Angus. “He risked his life to save mine, and I will do no less for him now.”
Giving the fifteen-year-old a filthy look, the soldier lowered his pistol, but then he warned, “They have five days to leave, or they will be executed for treason.”
The soldiers marched on, having left their orders. The O'Neills, like so many others, would be forced into exile, having no choice but to leave everything they had worked their lives for behind.
Two days later, John stood, a man at fifteen, but unable to stop his eyes from watering.
“I love you, Ma,” John said as he hugged Adele. He walked to Rory. “Will you be all right?”
“I'm a tough man. It would take more than some Englishmen's knife to do me in.”
“I'll miss you ... Da,” John said emotionally.
Rory reached out to shake John's hand, but then he pulled the young man in for a hug.
“Glory be, ye are as much my son, as much an O'Neill, as any of my children. I love you, Lad.”
Both swallowed hard as their hands remained clasped. Finally, John nodded, and said goodbye to his Irish brothers, leaving Angus for last.
“I'll walk you out,” Angus said.
“Are you going to marry Irene?” John asked as they walked.
“I dinna keen. Da is not yet certain where we will go, and Irene's da tis nae if he wants to stay or go. They may yet fight it out.”
“You are my brother, and my best friend, Angus,” John proclaimed.
“As ye be. I will ne'er forget ye, John Eric Jackson.”
“John, it is time,” Thomas Jackson stated from several feet away.
“Yes, Sir,” John answered. He looked at his brother of the heart and said, “If I marry, my first born son will be named Angus in your honor.”
“As will mine be Johnny,” Angus said.
The two young men hugged, and then John said, “I shall never forget you, Angus.”
“Maybe we'll be meeting again on God's green earth. We are brothers,” Angus announced proudly.
“I hope so.” John started to get into the buggy, but instead, he went to the back, pulling out a cloth bag. He reached inside, taking something out, and hurried over to his friend. “Angus, I want you to have this.”
“What tis?” the young man asked, unable to see it until Johnny removed his hand, leaving the item in Angus' palm.
“It's my mother's locket. She gave it to me that day we met, shortly before she was forced to walk onto that bridge. It's my most prized possession, and I want you to have it.”
“Nay, Johnny, I cannae,” Angus said, shaking his head, knowing just how treasured the item was to his brother.
“Yes, it's a symbol of our bond and that which brought us together. Please,” John encouraged, his eyes begging.
“If tis your wish, but wait one moment.” Angus ran into the house and returned a minute later. He handed his friend a small wooden bird. “It be the lark. You've always told me I should be a furniture maker and nae a farmer, because I'm ...”
“Good with your hands, and you should, Angus.”
“I carved this lark with me own hands. Keep it as a remembrance of our bond and that in our hearts, we'll never be further away than the sound of the lark in the meadow,” Angus spoke softly.
“I will treasure it always,” John promised.
“John, there is no more time,” Thomas called out.
“Goodbye ... Johnny.”
Seconds later, Angus waved vigorously as his friend rode away. He was full of regret and already missed John terribly. Though he was full of hope that they'd meet again, in his heart, he knew they would not.
//End of the Legend of Angus and John//
The Jackson-O'Neill children were all crying again, their sniffles loud and full of sadness.
“Hey, don't cry,” Jack begged the triplets and the twins. ~Danny is gonna kill me!~
“Did they see each other again?” Little Danny asked as he sniffled.
“No, never again,” Jack answered truthfully, though he was tempted to alter the tale just to stop the children from being so upset. “John returned to England with his uncle, and a few days later, Rory packed up the O'Neills and came to America to start a new life. Angus and John never saw each other again, but each left a legacy never to be forgotten.”
“Did Angus have a son?” Jonny asked.
“Oh, yeah, several, and true to his word, he named the first one John, the second one Eric, and the third one Jackson.”
“Funny,” Jenny said, wiping her tears away.
“I know it sounded like a sad story, but, hey, they were best friends, and no matter what happened, they remained best friends.”
“Brothers,” Jonny corrected.
“Brothers,” Jack echoed.
Jack picked that moment to look up and saw Daniel staring at him from the front of the rec room. Apparently, at some point in the story, the younger man had come in and sat on one of the sectional pieces while Jack talked.
“Hey,” Jack called out, wondering how long Daniel had been there.
“Jack, why are our children crying?” Daniel asked, though he knew the answer.
Aislinn scooted off the sofa and ran to Daniel, throwing her arms around him, saying, “Sad, Daddy. Angus and John best friends, but John go 'way.”
“I heard,” Daniel whispered, rubbing his daughter's back.
“Okay, story time is over,” Jack said. “Upstairs. I think you all need a nap.”
“No like naps,” Ricky whined.
“Take one anyway,” Jack said. As Jack motioned his children towards the hidden rec room stairs, he stopped and looked at Daniel, who still had a funny expression on his face. “Are you okay, Love?” Jack asked.
“Hmm-mmm,” came the soft but tentative reply.
“Hey, you've been quiet all night,” Jack said as he walked outside, sitting down next to Daniel on the patio steps.
“Where are the children?” Daniel asked softly.
“Getting ready for bed; actually, a few of them are shining their shoes, which I don't understand.” Jack shrugged, thinking it was peculiar behavior, but he shrugged it off and added, “Ah, a couple of them are doing homework.” When his lover didn't respond or say anything for almost a minute, he prodded, “Danny?”
“Jack, that story you told today ...”
“What about it?” Jack asked.
“It's true, isn't it?” Daniel asked, though again, he already knew the answer.
“Of course, it's true, at least, according to my grandfather, it's true. Why?”
Daniel sighed and explained, “A very long time ago, my father told me a story about his great, great, great, great, great, great, great ...”
Jack chuckled, “That's a lot of greats, Love.”
“Yeah, but anyway, Daddy told me a story about his great-times-seven grandfather, John Eric Jackson, and his best friend, Angus Duncan O'Neill.”
“You're kidding me?” Jack asked, a bit taken aback by the comment.
Daniel shook his head and continued, “John Jackson returned to England. He got married, had a bunch of children, and he kept his word, too. He named his son, Angus. He tried to find Angus, but like you said, the O'Neills went to America. He never forgot his best friend, though. He told his son about the man he was named after, and he made Angus promise to pass the story down. It went through our family for generations. I remember my father said it would sound silly, but that his father had made him promise, and he ...”
“He made you promise, too,” Jack deduced.
“Yeah, he did; I just forgot. When I heard you telling it to the children, I remembered it. I'm surprised I hadn't thought about it before now because Daddy used to tell me that story every couple of months. He said it was important for me to remember. It's a crazy world, Jack.”
“I was named after your great times whatever grandfather,” Jack chuckled in amazement. “Danny, there hasn't been a generation that has gone by of O'Neills, where there wasn't at least one was John or some variation, in honor of John Jackson.” He paused and then added in agreement with his husband, “The Fates ... it's just crazy.”
Daniel smiled as he spoke, “Same with the Jacksons. I asked Daddy why I wasn't called Angus, since I was their first-born son. That's when he told me that two years before I was born, Mom had a miscarriage. She lost the baby in the final month of her pregnancy, though, and they'd been calling him Angus the entire time; so, when she miscarried, it felt as if their son had died.”
“Crazy world,” Jack said again, still in awe of this unexpected connection to his husband.
Daniel leaned his head on his husband's shoulder, and when he did, Jack placed a tender kiss on his silky hair.
“Jack, do you think we should have named one of our brood Angus?”
Jack chuckled and responded, “No. There's no need to anymore, Danny. Angus and John's descendants are truly brothers now, and we have Jonny.”
Daniel chuckled, “They are, aren't they?”
“Best friends and brothers,” Jack proclaimed happily.
“Just like John and Angus, Jack.” The lovers sat quietly for a moment; then Daniel again spoke in a soft tone. He was a bit overwhelmed by his thoughts. “Jack, you left out something.”
“Daddy told me that years later when Angus was dying, he asked his oldest son to find John and return the locket. It's not that it was all that valuable, but he felt it belonged in the Jackson family.”
“I didn't know that,” Jack replied.
“Angus' son traveled to England and was able to find the Jackson family, only ... this is just too weird.”
“John had died, and, uh, weird, but it was within days of Angus, but he had always kept the wooden bird. When the sons met, they exchanged the items, so that the locket was back in the Jackson family, and the bird with the O'Neills. They were going to try and stay in touch, but never did.”
“A wooden bird,” Jack said thoughtfully, his eyes staring straight ahead at nothing. A minute or two passed, both men deep in thought, and then Jack let out a tiny sound. “Danny, you're not going to believe this.”
“I think I have the bird,” Jack revealed with a look of sheer awe.
“The wooden bird, the, uh, lark?” Daniel asked, thinking it would be incredible if it were true.
“Yes. My grandmother always used to talk about this relic of a bird. I never connected it with the story my grandfather told me, but ... Danny, I'm sure that's it.”
“Is it still together? I mean, decay and ...”
“Actually, it was showing signs of wear, but my grandmother had it restored. I have it in a box with her things,” Jack stated.
“Here?” Daniel asked, shivering at the strangeness of the revelation.
“In the rafters,” Jack explained.
“After you, Love!”
Making sure Jennifer and Jeff knew they were in the garage and therefore needed to be 'on watch' for their siblings, Jack and Daniel went into the garage and began to search through the boxes on the rafters. It took a while, but finally, Jack found the one he wanted. Carefully, he handed it to Daniel, who eased the box to the garage floor.
When Jack joined him, the two opened the box and searched through it.
“Here, look at this,” Jack said when he found the object.
“Wow,” Daniel said, taking the item and studying it.
“Danny, you're looking at that thing like it's an artifact.”
“1646, Jack. It *is* an artifact,” Daniel stated as he continued to examine the lark.
“Good point,” Jack chuckled in agreement.
“Jack, we need to have this authenticated,” the archaeologist spoke, still focusing on the object.
Daniel nodded as he responded, “Sure. I'm going to ask Megan to make the right contacts in the morning. Um, that is, if you agree.”
“Of course, I agree.”
The couple carefully put the centuries-old item in the smaller box it had been kept in, and then Jack put the storage box back on the rafters. Together, they went into the study.
“Uh, Danny, Love, maybe the den is a better place.”
“The children won't bother it in here,” Daniel refuted.
“Maybe not the kids, but ...” Jack pointed to Calico and Mittens, both playing on the sofa that was in the study. “They love it in here,” he added with a sad-looking smile that was part frustrated wonder that their cats seemed to like him so much and part enjoyment of being popular with their felines.
“You're probably right,” Daniel said, already pondering the next-best place.
“It happens,” Jack quipped as the two headed upstairs to Daniel's den.
The lovers secured the wooden box in the den, and Daniel wrote a few notes about the history of the piece that might help Megan have it authenticated.
“I wonder what happened to the locket,” Jack said as he relaxed in Daniel's recliner. There was a pause, and when Jack looked over at his husband, he saw a sweet smile on Daniel's face. “What?”
“I was just remembering when you made this little sanctuary for me and how I asked for you to put in the recliner. I wasn't sure you'd ever really use it, though.”
“Danny,” Jack said in a chastising tone.
“I know,” the younger man responded. He got up and surprised Jack by sitting on his lap, putting his arms around Jack's neck. He leaned in for a kiss as his lover's arms caressed his waist. “I can't tell you how happy it's made me. I mean, sometimes I bury myself in here, and I ... gawd, I'm sorry, but I almost forget you're here, and then I glance over, and there you are, watching me with a smile on your face, or reading a book, or maybe just playing with the girls, but you're here, and it ... it just ... I love it, Jack. I love it that you're here with me, even when I don't know you're here.”
“I like being here. It's comfortable, and I love you,” Jack replied, his eyes shining with love.
The couple kissed and let their hands explore each other for a few moments; then Daniel finally got around to answering Jack's question.
“I'm not completely sure, but somewhere along the line, the locket was lost. My mother had it for a while when we were in Egypt, but she mailed it to Nick and ...”
“Danny, are you telling me that ...”
“Jack, don't, please,” Daniel pleaded.
The mere mention of Nicholas Ballard, Daniel's maternal grandfather, always sent Jack into an uproar. His blood pressure rose at hearing Nick's name almost as much as it used to when Mr. Jealousy heard the name Paul Davis.
“Sorry. Go ahead,” Jack sighed, getting his anger quickly under control.
“Well, there's not much more,” Daniel continued. “I don't know what happened to it. There were some thefts at the dig site, and we were going to New York anyway, and ... I don't know if she mailed it or sent it in a box or ... I don't have many of their things.”
“I know, Angel. I wish I could change that.”
“I'm thankful for the things I do have,” Daniel said as he enjoyed the caresses of his sexy soulmate against his skin.
A few loud barks and a crashing sound drew the lovers out of their nostalgia.
“Uh oh,” Daniel said.
“Back to the real world, Love,” Jack said as the two stood and went to check on their children.
~Must be a slow news day,~ Jennifer thought as she watched the midday local news report. The story was about a singing dog. ~Well, I guess a slow news day is better than one full of crime.~
The teenager refocused on a novel she was reading as she relaxed on the family's new living room sofa.
~I love school holidays,~ the girl thought as she continued her reading.
Jennifer was home because it was Thanksgiving week, and yesterday had been 'Gobble Day', as Jack often referred to it.
A few minutes later, the girl sat up straight, letting her book drop to the carpet. Her mouth opened as her eyes widened. She grabbed the remote, turning up the volume.
In shock, Jennifer stood up and shouted, “Daddy, come quick!” Just two seconds later, she yelled impatiently, “DADDY, HURRY!”
Daniel ran into living room where his teenage daughter was standing, excitedly waving her arms towards the television screen.
“Jen, what's wrong?” Daniel asked, out of breath from his run to the area from the backyard.
“Look!” Jennifer ordered, her arms flailing dramatically towards the TV. “Isn't that Grandma?”
Daniel stared at the screen, at a photo of a couple being shown. It was followed by other items, including an Egyptian funerary statue.
“What ... what is this?” Daniel asked as his heart did a huge flip-flop.
“Shhh, Daddy, listen,” Jennifer said, her hands clinging excitedly to her father's arm.
Daniel couldn't focus, however. He was in total shock at seeing the photo of his parents on the television.
“Hey, how's my ...” Jack began.
“Dad, it's Grandma and Grandpa.”
Jack looked stunned at the words Jennifer spoke, but he also saw his husband's odd expression, so he walked over to stand by Daniel. As he watched a quick recap of the items, including another view of the photograph, he put his arm around his husband's waist.
“What's going on?” Jack asked curiously.
Daniel looked at Jennifer, expectation in his expression.
“I was watching the news. It's a New York channel, and they were talking about finding some undelivered packages. I wasn't really listening, but when I looked up, I saw Grandma.”
“Let's make a phone call,” Jack said, starting to head for the phone. Looking at his husband, though, he stopped. “Hey, you okay?”
“How would you feel?” Daniel asked a bit dryly as he crossed his arms in front of him in a self-hug.
“Yeah, I'll make that call,” Jack stated, looking at Jennifer, his eyes telling her to stay close to Daniel.
~Don't worry, Dad. I've got it covered. Gee, this is exciting. I wonder why Daddy's parents were on the TV?~
“Hey, Slugger, how's it going?” Jack asked David when he walked inside the house the following Monday afternoon.
“Good. Uh, Daddy's upstairs in the den,” David said in an urgent tone. His look also told Jack to, 'Go now'.
Jack walked up the stairs, only Daniel wasn't in the den, nor was he in the master bedroom.
“He's on the roof deck, Dad,” Jennifer said. “The box arrived today.”
“I've got it covered. Take care of Daddy,” the teenager said with a smile, earning her a smile in return.
Jack walked out on the roof deck. Daniel was sitting in their usual spot, his legs drawn up and his upper body hunched forward so that his chin was resting on his hands as they sat on his knees.
Without removing his chin, Daniel turned his head to look at his lover.
“Hey. It's here,” the archaeologist said softly.
“So I see,” Jack said, sliding down next to Daniel.
In front of the younger man was a large box. It had been originally addressed to Melburn and Claire Jackson, in care of the New York Museum of Art. What Jack and Daniel had learned was that the box had gone astray, having never been delivered. The Jacksons had done an inquiry on it, but they died before getting a response.
The box, along with several other packages and a bag of undelivered mail, had recently been discovered in the basement corner of an old post office that was being demolished. While the postal service had been able to deliver much of it, several items, including the box to the Jacksons, had been a mystery, so they contacted the local television stations to run a story.
It was that story that Jennifer had seen and alerted her parents to. Jack and Daniel had contacted the appropriate people, and the box was express shipped to them, along with the standard letter of apology.
“You going to open it?” Jack asked, seeing the box was still sealed.
“I was waiting for you,” Daniel admitted, a tiny smile on his face. “You know, Jack. I'm not ... scared like I think I might have been ten years ago; actually, it's a little exciting. Inside this box are pieces of my mother and my father. It's ... a gift. I want to share that with you.”
Daniel leaned towards Jack and kissed him.
Jack caressed his lover's cheek and then said, “Let's see what mysteries lurk in the box.”
“Mysteries,” Daniel chuckled, leaning forward to open the cardboard container that held links to his past.
The box was a treasure trove for Daniel. There were a couple of relics, but most of the items were more personal, including a photo album, and, much to Jack's delight, a few letters to Mel from a friend. The letters were responses to ones Mel had written, and in them was the verification of Jack's theory that the Jacksons had intended to stay in New York for a while, that Mel loved baseball and was looking forward to teaching Daniel how to play, and that they had had plans to take a trip to Disneyland.
~I knew I loved those people,~ the older man opined with joy. “They wanted you to be a normal little boy, Danny; they just didn't get a chance to make that happen, or even to make sure you knew that.”
Daniel nodded as he folded up the last letter. Then a small, wooden case got his attention. Opening it, he discovered it contained some of his mother's jewelry. The top portion had a few rings, a couple of pendants, and some bracelets. Then Daniel began to lift the velvet divider to see what was underneath.
“Jack. Oh, gawd, Jack.”
“What?” the older man asked, curiosity filling him.
Daniel let out a huffed-like release that was part chuckle and part gasp.
“It's the locket - John Eric's locket that he gave Angus. Look.” Daniel pulled out the piece of jewelry and carefully cradled it in the palm of his hand. “It's amazing, Jack. The history alone is ... it's ... overwhelming.”
“It's a small world.” Jack cocked his head and said, “A small and crazy world.”
“It is a crazy world. Gawd, this is so crazy, but ...”
“But we learned a long time ago not to question what we can't answer,” Jack said, completing Daniel's sentence.
“Jack, we always question,” Daniel stated a bit teasingly.
Daniel explained, “We just sometimes have to let the questions go, because the answers aren't always logical.”
Looking at the locket, Jack observed, “It looks great for its age.”
“We need to have it cleaned,” Daniel stated.
“I was just thinking that John brought Angus luck,” Jack observed.
“And Angus brought John luck, too,” Daniel replied with a smile.
Jack chuckled, “You know something?”
“Actually, I know a lot of things. What did you want to know?” Daniel smirked.
“Don't tempt me.”
“I like tempting you,” Daniel spoke seductively, his hand rubbing against Jack's inner thigh.
“That kind of temptation I like,” Jack responded with a leer.
“Jack, what were you going to say?”
With a smile, the older man answered, “That you're my lucky charm, and I love you.”
“And I love you,” Daniel crooned in response.
Late in January of the new year, the Munchkins and the twins had been gathered together for a meeting.
“Where's Jen and David and Jeff and ...” Jenny began.
“Whoa,” Jack chuckled, silencing the redhead from naming off the entire family.
Jack's and Daniel's plan was to have this special session with the younger kids and then later, they'd meet with the older children and fill them in about the meeting and the reason for it. At the moment, the lovers faced the children as they sat outside in the gazebo.
Bijou and Katie were having a lot of fun, going from person to person for some loving affection.
“Do you guys remember the story I told you in November about Angus Duncan O'Neill and his best friend John Jackson?” Jack asked.
“Great story,” Jonny said, nodding.
After getting affirmations from the rest of the assembled brood that they, too, recalled the story, Jack continued, “Well, Daddy and I have made a discovery.”
“What's 'covery?” Ricky asked.
Daniel answered, “That means we found out something.”
“And what we found out was that Angus is related to me and Johnny is related to Daddy,” Jack informed the children.
“Really?” Little Danny asked.
Jack and Daniel explained the lineage as simply as they could, and then Jack asked, “Remember the gift that Angus gave to Johnny?”
“Wooden bird,” Jonny clarified.
“Right, and what did Johnny give Angus?” Jack prodded.
“Locket,” Aislinn answered.
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look. Both were pleased the story had touched their children so much that they would remember it two months later.
Opening a small box he had placed in his lap, Jack said, “Take a look,” as he carefully took out the wooden lark.
The couple had had both the bird and the locket authenticated and were able to prove that both were from the middle-to-late sixteen-hundreds. Plus, Angus had carved his initials on the bottom of the wooden bird. There was little doubt that the items supported the stories that had been told to Jack and Daniel by their families.
“And look at this,” Daniel said, holding out the locket and letting it hang from his fingers.
“So pretty,” Aislinn said.
“Pretty,” Jenny repeated.
“This locket,” Daniel began, “was the one John gave to Angus, only many years later, after Angus and John had died, their sons met, for one very brief visit, and when they did, they each returned the item to the other. It was a symbol, a way to say, 'We remember and always will'.”
The family talked a while about the visit, Daniel telling the little bit he knew, and then they told the children that the locket had been passed down in the Jackson family until it ended up with Daniel's parents. He also told them how it had been lost and only just found again by the postal service in New York City.
“So, it's always belonged to the first born daughter or, if there were no daughters, then to the wife of the first born son, and that's how my mother got it, because she was Daddy's wife, and he was the only child to his parents,” Daniel explained.
“And now, it belongs to our first born daughter,” Jack said.
There was a pause as the children assimilated the information.
“Ash, that's you,” Little Danny said excitedly.
The little girl lit up and asked excitedly, “Daddy?”
“Come here, Sweetie.”
Aislinn got up and walked over to Daniel, who placed the locket around her neck.
“It's so pretty,” the little girl said.
Daniel spoke, “You have to remember, Ash. It's important. We can't ever forget Angus and Johnny, and all the Jacksons and the O'Neills that have come since, in...including my mother and father, your grandparents.”
“Thank you, Daddy; I'll 'member,” Aislinn promised.
“Ash, you can't wear it all the time; just on special occasions, at least not until you get older, okay?” the archaeologist pointed out. “We also bought you a special jewelry box to keep it in, so it won't get lost or damaged.”
“Wow, cool,” Jonny said. “Little Danny, Angus 'and Johnny like us, brothers.”
“Yeah, cool,” Little Danny agreed.
“Ash, see?” Jenny requested, wanting a closer look at the locket.
“Jenny, come here,” Daniel requested, holding out his hand.
The toddler eagerly ran to her father and then her eyes widened as she saw what lay in the palm of his hand, her mouth opening wide in astonishment.
“This is for you,” Daniel told her. He slipped the replica of the locket that he and Jack had had made over the little girl's head. “I hope you like it.”
Jack explained, “Jenny, Daddy and I believe that John and Angus would want their story remembered by all their descendents.”
“What's 'cendits?” the redhead asked.
“Us!” Little Danny answered.
“Oh,” Jenny responded.
Daniel chuckled lightly; then said, “Little Danny's right. Descendents are all the children of John and all the children of Angus, and then all their children, and their children's children ... all the way to where we are now.”
“Us,” Little Danny said again, a confident expression on his face.
“Right,” Daniel said. “Anyway, Dad and I decided to make copies of the locket for all our girls, and we put your initials on them so you won't confuse which locket belongs to who.”
“What 'bout us?” Jonny pouted at being left out.
~That's my boy.~ Jack leaned over and ruffled Jonny's hair. “Jonny, you get to keep the bird. We bought a special case for you to display it in, and we'll hang it on the wall by your bed.” He chuckled, seeing Jonny light up at the news. “And, just like with the locket, we figured all of the boys needed a reminder, too, so we had copies made for everyone, and we put your initials on the bottom, too. They're in the house.”
“Wow,” Jonny said, feeling totally appeased now.
Daniel continued, “So later tonight, we'll have a full family meeting, and Dad and I will tell the story again, to your brothers and sisters, and then each of them will get either the locket or the bird, but we wanted to share it with you first because it was thanks to all of you that Dad and I remembered the story.”
“Dad and Daddy forget?” Ricky asked.
“Only for a while, but we won't anymore,” Daniel admitted. “Some things, we should always remember.”
“Like Mommy,” Aislinn said.
“Yeah, like Mommy,” Daniel agreed.
“Mommy like this,” Jenny said.
“She sure would have,” Jack said, smiling as he remembered Kayla Armentrout, the wonderful young women who had been the surrogate mother to the triplets and twins and who had died in a tragic car accident.
“Dad, Daddy, I keep safe, get copy, too?” Aislinn asked, smiling as she held the locket that was around her neck with her hand.
“You know, Princess; that's a good idea,” Jack stated. “Daniel, why didn't we think of that?”
“I ... don't know,” the younger man responded. Smiling at the little girl, he said, “Ash, we'll have one made that you can wear all the time.”
“Thank you, Daddy,” Aislinn responded happily.
“We help tell story,” Jonny stated proudly.
“Yeah, we help,” Little Danny added.
“You're on,” Jack chirped.
Jack and Daniel shared a smile and a silent promise that they, too, would make sure their children remembered the story of Angus and John. Their ancestors would not be forgotten, and right now, they felt confident that their children would continue to pass on the heritage that both men were very proud of.
Later that night, just before going to bed, Jack poured his husband a glass of red wine. This was the St. Julien's Daniel loved so much, from 1959, his favorite year.
As the lovers stood, gazing into each other's eyes, Jack offered a toast: “To best friends, to brothers, and to beautiful and sexy husbands.”
Daniel smiled and then offered his own toast, saying, “To Angus and Johnny, for daring to care, for being brave, and for standing up for each other. Without them, we wouldn't be us.”
Jack nodded and then toasted, “To Angus and Johnny, here's to ya, Lads, wherever you may be.”
The lovers clinked their glasses together, sipped their wine, and walked up to their master bedroom, having discovered a shared heritage neither knew they had. It seemed that the Fates had always intended for the Jacksons and the O'Neills to be together and that their families were even richer in love and blessings than either had ever known.
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