Meddling

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - June 14 - September 29, 2014
Spoilers:  None
Size:  64kb
Written: September 14-16,18-20,22, 2008 Revised: September 25, 2008 Tweaked: December 26, 2009
Summary:  Just what exactly did happen to Peter Hamilton's parents, and what will be the fallout?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Thanks to Frank for pointing out an important oversight in the original story.

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 fic(s), “The Wicked Witch of Broadmoor Bluffs” and “The Mystery of Broadmoor Bluffs”
5) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Jo, Irina, Tammy, Keri, Mama Bear!

Meddling
by Orrymain

====
--June 14, 2014
====

“She's no good for you, Baby,” Miriam spoke, her hands on her son's cheeks.

“I'm not a baby,” Peter spoke, grabbing his mother's hands and pushing them away.  “I'm through, done, finished with this.  I've tried to be your son, because Jen asked me to, but no more.”

“Think about what you're saying,” Royce advised in warning.

“I am; I have.  You've never been here for me.  The precious Board and your society friends: they've always been more important.  You didn't raise me; Nana did.”  Peter stopped, his mind recalling the nanny who had been more of a parent to him than either of his parents; that is, until she quit and just disappeared from his life.  “I'm not your son anymore,” he stated emotionally.

“Then you don't care about that nice suit you're wearing or ...”

“No, I don't,” Peter interrupted his father.

“It's that whore's fault,” Royce spat in anger.

“Father, I hit you once.  If you disrespect Jennifer one more time, I'll ...”

“You won't do anything, Boy,” Royce stated, glaring over at his son.

“I'll do anything to protect Jen.  I love her, and I forbid you from ever going near her again.”

“Forbid?” Royce shouted.  “Forbid?”

“You heard me!  I'm leaving, and if you ever want to see me again, you won't bother Jennifer or her family again.”

Peter turned and headed for the door.

“Peter, stop!” Miriam exclaimed, running after her son.  “It's that girl's fault.  You're better than her!”

Suddenly, Peter stopped.  He turned, looking at his mother with such disdain that it sent chills up her spine.

“No, Mother, I'm not, and neither are you.”

Peter walked out, leaving his parents alone.

“Royce, do something.”

“What do you have in mind, Miriam?”

“We have to get rid of that girl.”

“I agree.  Are you suggesting we ...”

“I'm suggesting we do whatever it takes to free our son of that albatross, once and for all.”

“All the way?” Royce asked.

“We must.”

The two parents stared at each other, totally overtaken by what they were saying.  It was unimaginable to be talking about such a thing.  It would be unthinkable to act on it.

“We must,” Miriam repeated determinedly.

“There won't be any turning back, Miriam,” Royce pointed out.

“What else can we do?”

“What else can we do?”

“This,” Royce announced, making a phone call to his banker while his wife just shook her head and paraded around the room.

When the call ended, Miriam lambasted her husband, criticizing his actions.

“That won't do any good,” Miriam claimed.

“Money talks, Miriam.  You certainly respond to it quick enough,” Royce spat.

“We're not talking about me,” Miriam spoke with frustration.  “We have to assure that our son marries someone appropriate and not military trash.”

“You have to be sure, Miriam.  This isn't something you can undo.”

“Coward.”

“No,” Royce refuted.  “I just want you to be sure.”

“Do you have another idea?” Miriam challenged.

“There's no turning back,” Royce reiterated.

The unhappy and determined couple of status stared at each other, their hearts cold and their faces full of the misery that was their lives.  Here they stood, contemplating murder, the murder of Jennifer Jackson-O'Neill, and all because, in their minds, she wasn't good enough to continue on the Hamilton name.

“Royce, have some backbone,” Miriam finally urged.

“Why don't you?” Royce dared in reply.

“You're a little weasel, Royce.  You can't handle anything that's not on the agenda of a board meeting,” Miriam spat.  “*I* know who to call.  He'll take care of her.  Do you think you can at least manage to get the cash we'll need?” Miriam challenged sarcastically as she headed for the phone.

With a sneer, while walking towards the window to put more space between himself and his devilish wife, Royce responded, “Don't belittle me, Miriam.”

A sudden flash of light stunned the Hamiltons, stopping both of their movements.

“I am sorry, but I cannot allow you to harm Jennifer Jackson-O'Neill.  Much like her fathers, she and her siblings are of great importance to the universe.”

“Who ... are you?” Miriam stuttered, trying to reconcile what she was seeing with her limited world view, as she stared at the small alien seated in a throne-like chair.

“I am Commander Thor of the Asgard ship, The Daniel Jackson.  A place of confinement has been arranged.  We will beam there now.”

“Beam ...” Royce looked around, startled to realize that he and his wife were no longer in their palatial mansion “... wh...where?”

“The location is unimportant.  Everything needed to sustain human life is here,” Thor advised unemotionally. “Food and beverages will be beamed in three times a day.”

“This is nothing,” Miriam whined, having gotten her bearings and no longer afraid of the alien lifeform that had brought her to this barren room.  “This drab little place is for peons.”

“As you say,” Thor said with a tiny bob of his head.  “Goodbye.”

“Wait!” Miriam called out, hurrying forward, only to see the alien disappear.

The twelve-by-twelve room had a single twin bed, one small table booth with bench seating on just one side, a toilet, one small vanity that included just the basic essentials of hygiene, a small shower with no curtain or door attached to it, and a few other odds and ends.  There was nothing to brighten the room, nor was there anything frilly or luxurious, like the items decorating the couple's mansion.  For the first time in years, the Hamiltons were in what they felt was a slum with only the bare necessities of life.

====

While Jennifer and Peter Hamilton were declaring their love for each other that evening, the rich and snooty Hamiltons were perplexed and horrified by their current situation.

“That creature can't possibly expect me to sleep in that little bed,” Miriam whined.

“Us, Dear.”

“Excuse me?”

“One bed, Miriam,” Royce pointed out, annoyed at their low-class environment and yet amused by his wife being so out of joint about it all.  “It's going to be the two of us.”

“Certainly not,” Miriam sneered.

“I am not sleeping on this cold floor,” Royce stated as he sat down on the bed, patting the mattress.  “Reminds me of college,” he said quietly.

“We haven't slept together in years, and I am *not* about to invite you into my bed again now,” Miriam spouted.

“Invite?” Royce snickered.  “I'm here, and I'm not moving.”  He looked down at the floor, which had only one small circular area rug by the shower.  “You're welcome to sleep on that, if you like.”

“You wouldn't dare.”

“I would, and I am.”

“You were never a gentlemen,” Miriam spat, turning around and looking for a door that was non-existent.

“You have a lousy memory, Miriam,” Royce sighed, lying back on the bed, putting his hands behind his head and closing his feet.  “You'll be senile soon.”  After a beat, he thought, ~Look at the bat.  Her feathers are being ruffled, and she doesn't have any of the staff here to help her.~

“Just shut up, and get us out of here!” Miriam screamed at her husband.  ~Selfish idiot of a husband.  Why Mother let me marry that twerp is beyond me.~

“How?” Royce asked, his eyes widening as he realized, perhaps for the first time, just who he was married to.

Not having an answer, Miriam threw her hands up into the air and began to pace the small quarters that confined the couple.

====

During the first week of their confinement, the Hamiltons spent the days fighting or not saying anything at all.  True to his word, Royce slept on the bed, leaving Miriam to the floor and the area rug.  To their amazement, every day new clothing appeared.  Once they changed, the dirty set disappeared.  It was the same with the towels.

“That creature must believe in cleanliness,” Miriam opined as she watched the current day's clothing vanish in front of her.

“Creature,” Royce stated quietly as he stood by his wife.

“What?”

“Miriam, since we've been here, we've argued about everything, and we never once talked about the fact that some ... creature from heaven knows where has done this.”

“What is there to say?”

“It's an ... alien, Miriam!” Royce exclaimed, shaking his head and turning around.  “We've been kidnapped by an alien and all we're doing is arguing about this room.”

“You want to talk about some funny little creature from Mars or wherever, fine!” Miriam shouted.  “Why didn't you stop him?”

“Stop him?” Royce shouted.  “I'm not sure who you think I am, but I am just a man, not an ... alien hunter.”

“Not much of a man, if you ask me,” Miriam commented sharply.

“I'm the head of multiple billion-dollar corporations,” Royce countered.

“And you'd have nothing without me to keep you going.”

“You!  Ha!” Royce taunted.  “You and those snobbish twits get together and talk about makeup and costume balls.  When's the last time you really did anything that mattered?”

“Don't use that tone with me, Royce Hamilton.”

“I'll use whatever tone I please with you, Miriam.  You lost your hold over me years ago,” Royce announced.

“Yes.  She was a redhead.  I remember.”

“At least she had some humanity in her.”

“Humanity?” Miriam yelled, walking up and slapping her husband on the face.  “Stealing my husband is being humane?”

“Husband is a name, and you can't steal something that doesn't have a home someplace else,” Royce responded.  A second later, he added, “You haven't cared about what I do for a very long time.”

“I learned from you, Husband Dear,” Miriam sing-songed, a nasty expression on her face.

“Look in the mirror, Miriam.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“An entire summer of tennis lessons and you still can't return a serve?  Somehow, I don't think volleying was on the lesson plan with that hustler.”

“I didn't think you'd noticed,” the woman said curtly.

“I didn't,” Royce spat, walking over to the bed as a new round of silence began.

====

Hours after Peter Hamilton was arrested for the supposed murder of his parents, the disgruntled couple was still continuing with their angry arguments.  No part of their past was going untouched, and no part of their hearts were visible.

“You never once thought of me when you were making that merger with Quietel,” Miriam accused.

“I didn't even know where you were, Sweetums,” Royce replied sarcastically.  “You were having another one of your month-long migraines in Tahiti.”

“Fiji,” Miriam corrected.

“I stand corrected,” Royce responded antagonistically.  “Unfortunately, you didn't give me your direct number.  I got your assistant's assistant's helper when I tried to contact you.”

“Don't be ridiculous,” Miriam refuted.  “My assistant's assistant does not have a helper.”  After a beat, she continued, “She's called ...”

“Miriam, shut up.  I really don't care what she's called.  I couldn't get to you, so I assumed the merger wasn't of interest.  After all, I'm sure you were more interested in the lifeguard flavor of the day.”

Indignantly, Miriam argued, “You knew it was important to me and my family.”

“Your family,” Royce said, a sarcastic chuckle following his words.

“Watch your tone, Royce,” Miriam threatened.

“Will you run home to Mommy?” Royce spoke with an evil playfulness.  “Please say yes.”

“Mother is dead.”

“Yes, I know,” Royce stated dryly.

As Miriam sneered at the man she'd been regretfully married to for twenty-three years, silence took over the room once again.

====
--July 1, 2014
====

The case against Peter Hamilton, and Jennifer, had finally been dropped, and life was beginning to return to normal for the Jackson-O'Neills.

“Danny, you're quiet tonight,” Jack observed as he laid down next to his lover in their tent.

Daniel chuckled, “Every time we go camping and sleep in a tent, I get nostalgic.”

“Me, too.  Nothing like being on some alien planet with no showers and nothing but MREs to eat,” Jack teased.

“I think we should go.”

“Go where?”

“I don't know -- somewhere.”

“A mission?” Jack questioned, surprised by the comment.

“Well, we still go through the Gate to visit our friends, but ...”

“I don't believe it,” Jack laughed, his hands clasped together behind his head as he looked at his soulmate, an affectionate smile on his face.

“I told you I get nostalgic,” Daniel explained.  “It's been over a year now.”

“Yeah,” Jack sighed with just a hint of sadness in his expression.  “The brood.”

“Right,” Daniel sighed with that same slightly sad tone and look that his husband had while speaking.  “Jack, are we wrong to choose security over ...”

“... being shot at, risking our lives hourly, and living in tents?”

Daniel chuckled, “Yes.  Gawd, you sound like me.”

“That's a good way to sound,” Jack responded, leaning over to kiss his Love.  “We can always go.  We're still on call.”

“We'll always be on call,” Daniel replied.  “It's just ...”

“You miss it.”

“When I'm in tents, yes,” Daniel laughed again.

“Space Family Jackson-O'Neill,” Jack said quietly as he stared up at the tent's center rim.  “Jonny wants to go big time.”

“So does Little Danny.”

“They want a real mission, Love.  They love going to visit the Nox, but ...”

“What did we do?” Daniel groaned.  “They're just like us.”

“Jen's program keeps expanding.”  Suddenly, Jack let out a groan, causing Daniel to give him a funny look.  “It's that blasted city in the sky.  The Nox let her visit that dang thing all the time, and you and I haven't even been close to it.”

Amused, Daniel replied, “She's earned their trust.  She's never told us one thing about their city.”

“We have great kids,” Jack remarked.  He'd always be frustrated about not having been invited to the Nox city, but he was so proud of Jennifer for staying true to her promises to the Nox.  “Great kids.”

“They're getting older now.”

Jack laughed in disbelief while shifting over to lean on his right side as he looked downward at his lover and said, “Angel, we took the Munchkins off-world when they were five.”

“Good point.”

“Danny, let's go on a mission.”

Laughing, Daniel responded, “You think it will be that easy?  Just call up General Landry and say, 'hey, we want to go through the Gate?'”

“Hank would never say 'no',” Jack stated confidently.  “Not to us, anyway.”

“With the brood?”

“With, without,” Jack replied with a shrug.  “Both.”

Daniel reached up and pulled his lover's lips to his, the kiss searing through him like fire.  It wouldn't take much to ignite their passion, once their talking was done.

“One more time,” Jack agreed.

“One for us, and one for the brood.”

“Danny, you've changed,” Jack commented, only half teasing.

“No, not really.”  Seriously, Daniel explained, “Lotan might say we were acting contrary to our true function.”

“To be shot at?” Jack laughed.

“Yes,” Daniel laughed in reply.  “Babe, this may sound pretentious, and it is, but we *are* the Stargate.  I mean, it's in us; it's a part of us.  Even before we were ... us, we were friends because of the Stargate.”

“I wanted us to be together.”

“So did I, and we are,” Daniel said, reaching up and kissing his soulmate.

“But?”

“No 'buts',” Daniel replied.

“But ...” Jack prodded.

Daniel smiled, letting out a tiny snort of acquiescence, and spoke, “But ... just like we overcorrected with the girls when the Munchkins were born, just like I was too protective for a long, long ... long time with the brood, just like ... like when we worried so much about telling the children what school grade they're in, it's, well, it's too much the other way.”

“Denying *part* of our true functions?” Jack put forth.

“Yes,” Daniel acknowledged.  “I'm not sure we're showing our children everything that we should be, about us.  Jack, it's not about risks; it's really not.”

“It's letting them into our world, in a weird sort of way,” Jack theorized.

“All I'm saying is that the Stargate is part of us, and they may be children, but it's ...”

“... in their genes,” Jack said with a grin.

“All of theirs,” Daniel sighed.  With a chuckle, he asked, “Who knew adoption meant morphing genes?”

“We've got a lot on our plates.  Business is booming,” Jack quipped.

“And I love our life.  It just needs to honest,” Daniel responded.  “I mean, we need to be honest, true to our ... function, including and excluding the brood,” he clarified, smiling as he recalled past missions where being true to himself, or the team, had come dramatically into play.

“Daniel, can you be a little clearer?  My brain cells are older than yours,” the older man sighed.

Chuckling, the younger man asked, “An occasional trip through can't hurt, can it?”

~Now that's a question I understand,~ the retired general responded inwardly.  “Let's think on it,” he suggested, knowing that time would have their answer. “Hey, you evaded my question.”

“Question?” Daniel asked.  “Oh, quiet,” he chuckled, considering their conversation.  “I was just thinking about Peter's parents.”

“Their little plan failed,” Jack replied with suspicion.  “The kids are in love and happy.~

“What if something did happen to them?” Daniel queried, still thinking about Peter's parents.

“Danny, why are we talking about those idiots when we could be ... you know?”

“I was just answering your question.”

“Daniel?”

“Yes, Jack?”

“Remember to keep saying that.”

“Saying what?”

“'Yes, Jack,'” the older man answered with a glint in his eyes.

“Yes, Jack,” Daniel mused.

“Daniel?”

“What?”

“Shut up!”

====

“Shut up, Royce!  Just shut your lying mouth right now!” Miriam yelled.

“You can sure dole it out, Sweetums, but you can't take it, can you?” Royce sneered.

“I never had an affair, not one!”

“Well, neither did I!”

“What would you call it then -- recreation?”

“The same as what went on with that plastic anatomy toy of yours!” Royce spouted angrily, his arms flailing in the air.

“He paid attention to me!”

“So did she!  To me, I mean!”

“All you care about are Hamilton holdings,” the hostile woman shouted.

“You drove me to it!” the man accused.

“No, I didn't!”

“You kept saying we had to do this and do that -- build the company,” Royce reminded.

“Oh, shut up, Royce,” Miriam ordered, turning her back on the man, a gesture that Royce had come to recognize as the end of the argument for the moment.

====
--August 8, 2014
====

“We're going to be broke by the time we get back, thanks to those idiots you've put in charge recently,” Miriam complained, venom oozing from her being as she began yet another argument with her husband.

“It was your idea, to keep the profits for us.  'Recycle the help', you kept telling me,” Royce replied, his voice calmer than that of his wife's.

“Don't push this off on me.”

“You brought it up.”

“We're talking about our business!  Who do you think is running things?” Miriam asked.  “It sure isn't our son.”

“You did this to him, Miriam.”

“Did what?” the woman questioned with disdain.

“Drove him away.”

“Me?”

“You and your hatred for that girl,” Royce clarified.

“Don't be hypocritical, Royce.  You were agreeing with me.”

“About what?”

“That we needed to ... to ...”

Stunned by what she was about to say, Miriam couldn't complete her sentence.  Instead, she turned around and walked over to the shower area, sitting down on the area rug.

~I wonder what Velma is up to?  Did Judy divorce Dean?  Who is running my businesses?~ Miriam wondered, putting aside what she'd been thinking about a minute before and allowing herself to escape the reality of her immediate circumstance.

====
--August 20, 2014
====

“What do you think?” Jennifer asked eagerly as she showed off her new a-line dress with a V-neck.

“Revealing,” Jack groaned.

“Dad, please?”

“He's gonna love it,” the reluctant father admitted.

Instantly, Jennifer's smiled broadened, and she turned to face the mirror, doing yet another critique of the special outfit.  She sighed as she faced her father again.

“Too revealing?”

There was something in his daughter's eyes that took away all of Jack's bark.  He walked over to the young woman and put his hands on her shoulders, which were mostly bare.

“Jen, he'll melt in your hands.  It's perfect,” Jack pronounced with a nod, leaning forward to kiss her on the forehead.

“I really love him, Dad,” Jennifer confessed unnecessarily.

“I know, Princess.  You do know the lad won't be home for a couple of days?” Jack teased in his Irish brogue, slightly amused by the fashion show, which had been going on for an hour now.

“I just want it to be perfect,” Jennifer replied.  Growing serious, she questioned, “Dad, can I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything,” Jack replied as his arms fell back to his side.

“Normally, I wouldn't, but I think Peter's getting worried about his parents.  It's been an awfully long time,” Jennifer pointed out.  “It's just ... you and Daddy have so many connections, both on and off the planet,” she added a bit hesitantly. “Could you maybe try and see if they are out there, somewhere?”

“Daddy and I already did that, Sweetheart,” Jack averred with a sigh.  “My contacts can't find any trace of them.  It's like they fell off the planet.”

“Off the planet?”

“Figure of speech,” Jack explained.

“But not a cliché?” the brunette teased.

“Never!” Jack chuckled.  “No luck in that department, either.”

“Not even Thor?” Jennifer questioned hopefully.

“He's out of the galaxy or something,” Jack answered.  “Frey'r wouldn't say much more.”

Jennifer sighed and bit her lip in regret before throwing her arms around her father and saying, “Thank you for trying.”  She gave Jack a kiss on the cheek and added, “I love you, Dad.  Tell Daddy thanks for me, too.”

The young woman took a couple of steps away, staring in the mirror, and then gasping, “Shoes!  I don't have shoes!”

Jack rolled his eyes, thinking, ~Only a closet full.~

====

After working for J-O Enterprises on a remote dig, Peter had returned to Colorado Springs.  Jennifer's dress had been a big hit, too, when they'd gone out to celebrate his return.  When the time had come for the young man to return to Oxford, he announced his decision to take over Hamilton Industries.  The companies needed his guidance, even if he felt ill equipped to do the job.  The various Board of Directors were all looking to him for direction, and he'd found that he just couldn't turn his back on them.  Reluctantly, he'd told Jennifer that he felt it was his obligation to stay, and so he had.

For the last several days, Peter had prepared himself to take over.  In two days, the day after Labor Day, he would officially take the reins in earnest.

Unaware of their son's sacrifice, the Hamiltons had continued their shouting matches.  They'd called each other names and accused the other of adultery and all sorts of nasty doings.  Their only peace had come during those periods of silence.

At the moment, Royce was seated on the bed, as he spent much of his time, just staring at the blank wall on the other side of the room.  He figured this must be hell, this small, gray room of misery that was nothing but one endless argument with his wife.  He looked over towards the shower area and blinked.  Just that fast, life began to change.

“Miriam, you're shaking,” Royce commented in concern.

“Nice of you to notice,” Miriam spat as she warmed herself with her arms.  She closed her eyes and then turned her head in disbelief when she felt her husband's arms around her.  “Come get in the bed.”

Miriam nodded, allowing her marital foe to lead her to the bed where the sheets and warm blanket were.

“What?” Miriam sighed, seeing the bedding disappear.

“New ones will come now,” Royce assured.

A second later, new sheets appeared, but none of the warmer bedding was transported to the room.

“*I need that blanket!*” Miriam shouted, her head looking up towards the ceiling.

“My jacket,” Royce spoke, taking off his jacket that disappeared even as he was sliding it off his arms.  “What the heck?”

Frustrated, but too chilled to do anything about it, Miriam sat down on the bed.  She was exhausted.  She looked up in surprise when her husband sat down next to her, lying them both down gently.  He wrapped his arms around her.  The heat of their bodies next to each other was the only warmth available.

Quietly, Miriam lay her head against her husband's shoulder for the first time in many years.

Silence of a different kind filled the room now.  The couple laid together, contemplating this strange feeling until both fell asleep.

====

Hours later, the couple was sitting on the bench at the tiny table where their meals appeared every few hours.  They'd eaten, and Miriam had taken the pill that had appeared on her plate.  After all they'd been through, the two figured the alien pill couldn't hurt.

“Are you feeling better?”

“Very much,” Miriam replied, feeling a chill of a different kind when her husband removed his arm.

Sensing her reaction, Royce tentatively put his arm back, wanting to smile but afraid to when his wife leaned back against him.

Once again, the room fell silent.  For a change, the couple didn't want to fight, and both were worried that if they uttered a word, that's exactly what would happen.

====

“You sleep here tonight,” Royce offered, pointing toward the bed.

“Why don't we ... share?” Miriam bravely countered.

“You sure?”

“It's not like we haven't shared a bed before.  We do have a son,” the woman pointed out.

“Yes, we do,” Royce affirmed needlessly as he nodded and then began to undress.

A minute later, Miriam did a double take, certain she'd mistaken that look.  Had her husband just eyed her the way she remembered from the days when they'd met?

~No.  Don't be an idiot,~ the weary woman told herself.  ~It's been almost twenty years since he's looked at me that way.~

At the same time, Royce shocked himself when he'd realized that it had been a long time since he'd really looked at his wife.  She was older now, but so was he.  Still, she was a stunner.  She was tall and slender, but with curves in all the right places.  Her eyes were still that midnight black that matched the very first lacy lingerie he'd purchased for her.  Her neck was noble and elongated her body, like a fine swan.  There were no wrinkles, except for one, at the edge of her eye.  To him, it gave her character.

~You are still beautiful, Mirie,~ the man thought, using the nickname he'd given his wife long before they'd wed.  ~When's the last time I called you that?~

Neither saying a word, the couple got into the bed and eventually succumbed to sleep.

====

When the Hamiltons awoke the next morning, both were lying on their sides, facing the other wall.  Royce was spooned behind Miriam, his arm protectively around her.

“I'm ... hungry,” Miriam announced nervously.

“Food is always a good fallback,” Royce sighed as he sat up, somewhat pushing Miriam away.

As she also began to sit up, Miriam snapped, “What's that supposed to mean?”

“You'd rather eat than talk.”

“Talk about what?”

“Nothing,” Royce sighed as he got up and headed for the shower.

“Royce, I'm ... sorry,” Miriam stated suddenly, seeing the man stop in his tracks.  “I'm just very nervous all of a sudden.”

Turning around, Royce queried, “Why?”

“I'm not sure,” Miriam whispered, holding her hands covering her chest.  “I suddenly feel vulnerable.”

Royce returned to the bed, sitting down next to his wife.  Minutes passed before either spoke again.

“What happened to us, Mirie?”

Miriam snapped her head towards her husband as her breathing labored for a moment.

“Mirie?”  Miriam smiled and noted, “You haven't called me that in a long time.”

“It's been a long time since we've talked,” Royce pointed out.  “What did happen to us?”

“I don't know,” Miriam answered.  “One day we were dreaming of our future, and the next day, we ...”

“We became our parents,” Royce stated.

Miriam nodded, agreeing, “Yes, you're right.”

“Your mother,” Royce bemoaned, shaking his head.

“Don't criticize my mother,” Miriam responded curtly, standing up and walking away, thereby ending the couple's conversation as well as any immediate hope for reconciliation.

====
--September 12, 2014
====

After their one brief moment of gentleness together, Royce and Miriam avoided speaking for three days.  After that, their arguments began again.  These were even worse than their other rows, which were centered more on their business and/or just silly, catty things.  Now, their attacks were more personal, insulting every little thing about the other and their families.

The marital warriors were intensely engaged in their most heated battle yet when Miriam shouted in question, “Then why did you marry me?”

“Because I love you.  Why else?”

There was a dramatic pause as the two just stared at each other, their eyes connecting in a way they hadn't in years.

“Love me?  Present tense?” Miriam asked more vulnerably than ever.

“Yes,” Royce admitted, letting emotions from deep inside come forth.  “I don't know why, Mirie, but I've never stopped.”

“It's not possible,” Miriam denied, shaking her head and walking around.  “Mother said this marriage wouldn't work.”

“We said it would,” Royce reminded his wife.

Spinning around, Miriam responded, “Yes, we did.”

“We haven't done a very good job with our marriage, Mirie. We may still be married, but if this were a business, I would have liquidated our assets years ago.”

“It's not a business.”

“Is it a marriage?”  Royce walked forward until he was in his wife's personal space.  He stared into her eyes and took her hand while speaking, “Mirie, do you realize we've become so disassociated from each other that, not only do we not know each other anymore, but our son hates us?”  He paused, his eyes showing how vulnerable he, too, was now. “Do you realize we were talking about having a beautiful young woman murdered because we thought that she wasn't good enough for Peter?”

“Don't say that!” Miriam exclaimed, bowing her head.

“Mirie, we have to talk about it.  We can't pretend we were talking about an agenda for a board meeting.”

“That's what we've done, Royce.  We've turned our marriage into a board meeting; that is, when we've seen each other.”

“Peter's the price, Mirie.”

“I know.”

“Maybe it's time to dissolve the business,” Royce suggested.

“I think you're right,” Miriam agreed as she stared deeply into her husband's eyes.

With a sigh, Royce began, “Then there is nothing to lose.  I want to tell you the truth about Ingrid.”

“And I want to tell you everything about Trevor,” Miriam responded, seeing her husband nod.

====

“Jen, are you with me?” Peter asked the lovely young woman he was facing.

“Of course, I am.  You're going to get Hamilton Industries on its feet, and then you're going to continue with your own dreams.”

“It might take a while,” Peter admitted.

“Then it takes a while.”

“Thanks for coming with me,” the young heir to a fortune replied.

In another few minutes, Peter Hamilton would be heading for Denver for a major meeting with the stockholders.  He'd be revealing the plans he'd made over the last several weeks to take the companies forward and provide a stronger chain of leadership with more empowerment across the board.

“Well, the Spitfires are off and running,” Jack announced, rubbing the palms of his hands together as he and Daniel returned from seeing the last of their children off for the day.  “Are you sure you want us to come, Peter?”

“I need people I can trust, Sir, and aside from Jen, there isn't anyone else I trust more than you and Doctor Jackson-O'Neill.  I'd really like your assessment of how the meeting goes and your views on how the stockholders and board members react.  You're both very good at reading people.  Please, I could use your help.”

“For whatever it's worth, we're happy to give it,” Daniel responded.

====

“There's no turning back now,” Peter sighed as he looked out at the large room full of stockholders and board members from all over the world.

“We'll be okay,” Jennifer spoke encouragingly, giving her boyfriend a kiss on the cheek and then giggling lightly as she brushed away the lipstick impression, trying to lighten her Love's mood.

“This isn't the life I wanted for us, but I have a responsibility to all those people,” the young man stated.  “I'm sorry, Jen.”

“Stop apologizing.  We'll be fine.  I love you, Peter.”

“I love you, too, Jen.”

With a nod of gratitude to Jack and Daniel, Peter headed for the front table.  At his request, Jennifer and her parents followed, taking their seats on the left side of the podium.  A minute later, the meeting was brought to order.

====

“This is a great new day for Hamilton Industries.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Peter Hamilton.”

Peter began his speech feeling more nervous than ever.  He hated what he was doing, but he just hadn't found any other responsible options.  He didn't want a life of agendas and board meetings for Jennifer, any more than he wanted it for himself, either.  This was the point, though, where he was formally going to lay down the gauntlet and take charge of everything involving Hamilton Industries. There was no turning back.

From now on, Peter Hamilton would be wearing a business suit, Armani yet.  There wouldn't be any more digs for J-O Enterprises, and he feared he'd never again have the time or opportunity to continue his passion of working with Habitat for Humanity.  Just a few more seconds, and he'd be telling the world that he was now officially the man in charge.

“And so today, I make a pledge ...”

“To marry that beautiful young thing next to you,” Miriam Hamilton shouted out from the side doorway.

“Mother?” Peter called out in shock.  “Father?”

Peter couldn't believe what he was seeing.  Not only were his parents together, alive and well, but they were smiling, laughing, and holding hands.  Even their appearance was different.  Instead of wearing her hair up, his mother's long locks were flowing in a stylish cut that accentuated her facial features.  Their dress was more casual, too.

Royce had on a pair of Levi's with a white shirt and navy sport coat, while Miriam had a colorful scoop neck top and also wore jeans.  She was wearing sandals that were flat and not her normal high heels.  This was something Peter couldn't ever recall seeing.

“Mister Hamilton!” one of the board members called out as the room buzzed in reaction and company photographers began snapping away.

“Chris, it's good to see you,” Royce greeted jovially, reaching out to shake the man's hand before continuing towards the podium.

“Mother?  Father?” Peter called out again, still stunned by the presence of the couple.

“Peter, my darling,” Miriam greeted, hugging her son and then taking his face in her hands.  “We are so sorry.  We've cheated you, but no more.”

“No more,” Royce repeated, patting the boy on his upper arm.  “Son, we love you, and you don't belong in this world.  Heck, neither do we.  Hold on a sec.”

“A sec?” Peter echoed, shocked.  ~Mother and Father don't talk like that.~

Royce took the podium and announced, “Folks, we're glad you're here.”

~Folks?~ Peter echoed in his mind.  ~I'm so confused.~

Peter's father continued, “Today is a new day for Hamilton Industries.  Today, we're announcing our intention to completely restructure our organization.  My beautiful wife and I have dedicated our lives to making Hamilton Industries one of the strongest in the world.  Now, it's your turn to keep us there.  With your approval, Christopher Nolanz will become the acting CEO of Hi-Co, and he will lead the way towards a successful future.”

“Mother, what is he saying?” Peter asked.

“We decided to dissolve the business,” Miriam answered, smiling brightly.

“What?” the confused young man responded.

“We'll explain everything later, Peter.”

Royce continued, “As for Mirie and myself ...”

“Mirie?” Peter called out, looking at his mother in total surprise as he had never heard the nickname before.

“That's what your father called me when I was a young girl, Peter,” Miriam whispered.  “I'm going to use that name from now on.  It's more me.”

~More her?~ Peter queried internally, wondering if he was dreaming.  ~I don't think these are my parents.~

“We're celebrating our anniversary,” Royce continued.  As some of the more enthusiastic attendees called out, wanting to know what anniversary, the man answered, ”Our third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth ... and all that have followed and all that will follow.  We never wanted this life.  It was something we did to please our parents.  It was the worst mistake we ever made, and now we're correcting that error.  We're walking away from the day to day operations of Hi-Co.”

The buzz of the room was louder than ever, and Peter's confusion was stronger than it had been even a minute ago.

“Our son, Peter, has no desire to continue as CEO of Hi-Co, and we have no intention of forcing him to do anything he doesn't want to do.”  He turned and looked over at Jennifer.  “I suspect, too, that he'd rather spend time in meetings with this young lady, talking about their future together than listening to some of you huff and puff in the boardroom.”

“Royce, let's get out of here,” Miriam suggested gently.

“Folks, Christopher will be in touch, but for now, this meeting is adjourned.  Thank you for coming.”

“I...I  jus...just don't understand,” Peter stammered.

“General, Doctor, Jennifer, would you please do us the honor of coming to our home?  We have a lot to discuss.”  Looking at Jennifer, Miriam added softly, “I know we don't deserve your tolerance or understanding, let alone your forgiveness, but it would mean the world to us, if you'd come.”

“Of course, I will,” Jennifer agreed, smiling when the other woman smiled in response.  “I'm not sure I can wait an hour to find out what's going on.”

“Oh, you won't have to.  Let's go,” Miriam giggled as she and Royce walked towards the door, arm in arm.

“My mother just ... giggled,” an astounded Peter observed.

“I gotta hear this,” Jack said as he eagerly followed the Hamiltons.

The group walked into an elevator and pressed the button to the ground floor.

“Mother, what's going on?” Peter asked tentatively.

“Are you going to tell us here?” Jennifer questioned.

“No, Dear,” Miriam said with a smile.  All of a sudden, she looked up and called out, “We're ready, Thor.”

“Thor!” Jack and Daniel called out in unison.

**We should have guessed Thor had something to do with this when we couldn't contact him, Jack,** Daniel communicated, with only a snort of disbelief in response.

In a flash, the group was in the living room of the Hamilton home in Broadmoor Bluffs.

“Thor?” Daniel called out, staring at the Hamiltons.

“Wow!  I'm going nuts,” Peter said, looking around and wondering if there'd been something in his tea that morning.

“Peter, you're white as a ghost,” Miriam observed.

“It's okay, Peter,” Jennifer assured her boyfriend while gently taking his hand and squeezing it.

“She's right,” Miriam stated.  “We have a lot to tell you, and much of it is unpleasant,” she continued.  “Peter, Jennifer, after hearing this, you may never want to see us again, and Royce and I wouldn't blame you, but we can't keep this from you.”

“No, we can't.  We're going to tell you everything,” Royce asserted.  “Please, sit down.”

“First,” Miriam began, sitting down on the other side of Jennifer.  “I owe you the deepest, most profound apology known to mankind.  I had ugly, nasty thoughts about you, all of which were unfounded and based on my own misery.  I don't know if you can forgive me ...”

“Us,” Royce cut in to clarify from his seat in his large, comfortable, and extremely expensive recliner.  “We share the blame.”

“Us,” Miriam corrected, smiling at her husband.

~What is going on?~ Peter wondered, having never seen such kind expressions on his parents' faces.

“After Peter walked out on us that night, and, Son, I'm very proud of you for standing up for yourself and for the woman you love,” Miriam looked over at her very confused son before refocusing on Jennifer, “I was angry, frustrated, and completely irrational.  I believed that you had stolen my son from me and that you were some little, pardon me, tart from the slums just waiting for your chance to take him down to your level.”

**Jack, let her talk.  She's apologizing, remember?** Daniel communicated, sensing his soulmate's inward anger and that he was about to take issue with the woman's statement.

**I'll let her talk,** Jack replied.  ~Until it's time not to let her talk anymore.~

“This isn't pretty, but I turned to my husband and said that we had to do whatever it took to prevent that from happening.”

“I don't understand,” Jennifer responded.

“We were talking about doing *anything* to keep you from Peter.”

“Mother!” Peter exclaimed.

“Please let me finish, Peter, and when your father and I are done, if you never want to see us again, we'll understand,” Miriam requested calmly as her eyes began to water.

Seeing this, Royce attempted to take over, but Miriam looked at him lovingly and told him she needed to say the words, and then she did by just coming right out and saying it.

“We were talking about hiring someone to kill you.”

**Jack!** Daniel exclaimed mentally, physically reaching over and keeping his lover from standing up and creating a stir.

“Oh, I see,” Jennifer responded uncertainly, not really knowing what to say or how to feel.

“Mother!”

“Neither one of us said the word then, but we both agreed that action had to be taken, and then, a miracle happened.”

“A miracle?” Jennifer questioned.

“Thor appeared.  Of course, we didn't know who he was then.  He was just this little creature, sitting in some chair, and telling us that he couldn't allow us to harm you.”

Royce picked up the story, saying, “A few seconds later, we were in prison, or so it felt to us.  A small, drab room with no amenities present whatsoever.”

“For weeks, we did nothing but fight.  We called each other names and lashed out with years worth of venom.  It was hell,” Miriam stated.  “Then one day, I thought I saw Royce looking at me like he did when we'd met, so very many years ago,” she said, a tear rolling down her cheek.

“For the first time in a long time, I saw Mirie's beauty.  I'd forgotten,” Royce admitted with sadness.  “Jennifer, we'd grown apart.  We've rarely seen each other over these past ten years.  I went my way, and Mirie went hers.”

“Peter has told me about that,” Jennifer responded.

“Peter's paid the price for our selfishness and inability to stand up to our own parents,” Royce stated with regret.

“Father, what do you mean?”

“We've never told you how we met,” Royce noted.  “I was seventeen.”

“And I was having my sweet sixteen party.  It was a very big deal in my family.  Society was everything.  We did everything just so and always when we should.  I hated it.  For my party, all the boys were there, all being gentlemen.  I could smell the hypocrisy and the stuffy suits they were going to become.  Then Royce asked me to dance.”

“I was a rebel.  I knew I wasn't supposed to, but I butted in.  Mirie was incredibly beautiful, and her smile lured me to her.  I had to dance with her, whether or not I was on the dance card.”

“And he did,” Mirie giggled.  “Oh, it was quite the stir, but the Hamiltons were giants in the Society's stratosphere, so no one complained too much.  I certainly didn't.  We giggled through four straight dances and then he asked me to sneak out later and meet him at the boathouse.”

“You're kidding, right?” Peter asked lightly, strangely drawn into this tale, which was something he never could have imagined in his life.

“It was positively daring, and I couldn't wait.  We spooned,” Miriam laughed, her expression so wondrous that everyone in the room began to smile, even Jack, who then had to remind himself this was the same woman who had been on the verge of putting out a hit on his oldest daughter.

“We were inseparable after that,” Royce stated.  “The day Mirie turned seventeen, I proposed.”

“Seventeen?” Jennifer asked with wide eyes.

“The wedding would take at least a year to plan.  We both knew that,” Miriam explained.  “Jennifer, everything had to be done a certain way in our families.  We had a status to protect.  Big wasn't big enough.  We actually were going to elope at one point.”  She paused and looked over at her husband thoughtfully.  “Royce, why did we change our minds?”

With a sigh, Royce responded, “We thought we'd never become our parents.  They were insisting on the wedding being even bigger than the Morgans, remember?”

“Yes, I remember now,” Miriam sighed about the wedding that had been the sensation of the Social Register the year before.  “Our wedding was to be symbolic: two big Fortune 500 families, merging together, creating the ultimate conglomerate,” she said with disdain.  “We made the mistake of thinking that if we gave in and let our families create a spectacle of our wedding, the rest of our lives would be ours.”

“We were so young,” Royce interjected.

“We thought we were invincible,” Miriam continued.  “Once we got married, we fought so hard to ... did we, Royce?”

“Not hard enough, Mirie,” Royce acknowledged.  “Our parents put a tremendous amount of pressure on us to be the perfect society couple.  Our two families were among the ten biggest families in the circle.  Everything we did was scrutinized.”

“Peter, when you were born, we were so happy.  We loved you so much, and we were determined not to lose the fight, but it just got harder and harder.  Mother hired nannies for us and ...”  Miriam gasped, looking over at Royce.  “Royce, Leticia.  We must find her.”

“Jennifer's parents already did, Mother,” Peter advised.

“You did?”

“Yes, Ma'am,” Daniel responded politely.

**Why are you being so dang polite?** Jack snapped.

**Calm down, Babe.  She's being sincere.**

**The eternal optimist,** Jack sighed about his husband.

“Oh, thank you so much,” Miriam spoke appreciatively.  “We were so horrible to that young woman, and others.”  Turning to her spouse, she suggested, “Royce, we must find all of the former members of our staff and apologize for treating them so shabbily.”

“Wonderful idea, Mirie.  I'll put it on our list,” Royce replied, taking out a notebook and writing it down.

For the next hour, Royce and Miriam Hamilton explained in sad detail about how they had lost themselves, slowly losing their willpower to fight their parents and the huge expectations for their future.  Their parents had never let up on them, and one day at a time, the couple's love had been covered up by a myriad of social and business responsibilities.  They'd lost their fight, with Royce pulled to this board meeting and Miriam to that club meeting.  Eventually, both took over the various obligations of their parents, and once that happened, their mundane future had been cast.

“If Thor hadn't locked us up in that room, we never would have found ourselves again.  I don't know much about that little alien, but we'll never forget him,” Royce added.

“Or be able to repay him, if that was in any way possible,” Miriam added.

“You finally started talking,” Daniel surmised.

“After weeks of name calling and hiding behind what we thought was the truth,” Royce acknowledged.

“Neither of us are proud of our actions over the years.  We'd become so distant with each other, and yet we were still playing games.  For my part, I flirted and dallied with a number of men,” Miriam confessed.  “There were multiple indiscretions, but only one affair, brief as it was.”

“She was screaming for my attention, but I couldn't see that,” Royce said.  “I had my own discreet liaisons.”

“I know you both had affairs,” Peter commented.  “You always had someone pretty or handsome nearby.”

“We made a lot of mistakes, Peter, and we're not making excuses.  We spent hours in that room, reliving moments we'd rather forget.  I told your mother about Ingrid.”

“Your secretary?” Peter queried.

“Now that's original,” Jack interjected snarkily, earning him a punch on his arm, courtesy of his husband.

“I was too busy with Hamilton Industries to find someone else,” Royce responded dryly.  “There was nothing there but convenient sex.  I got the sex, and she got the salary that was three times what most secretaries in her position make.”

“After sharing every painful moment of our past, we started talking about our future,” Miriam continued.

“And we decided it was time to let go.”

“To dissolve the business,” Miriam agreed with a smile.

“You're going to sell the companies?” Peter asked, uncertain if he was happy or upset about it.

“We need to talk about that, Son,” Royce responded.  “Hi-Co is yours, or will be.  It's up to you.  What Mirie and I have decided, though, is that we're done living for the Social Registry.  Let Forbes hang.  What I'd like is for you and Jennifer, if she is the one you want to spend your life with, to talk about what you want.”

“Then we want to have a family meeting,” Miriam said, grinning at the sound of the strange words.  “Christopher can take over Hi-Co, or we can hire others.”

“Or we can sell,” Royce stated.  “Once we figure it out, Mirie and I are going away, together, and celebrate our new corporation.”

“Our corporation of one unity,” Miriam acknowledged lovingly.

“We hope you'll support our decision,” Royce requested of his son.

“Of course, I do.  I don't care what you do with Hi-Co, Father,” Peter announced.

“Peter, what about the sports unit?” Jennifer asked, knowing her boyfriend had shown some eagerness about improving it.

“Yeah, that's right.”

“We don't need to make decisions right now,” Miriam stated.  “That's why your father and I want you two to talk first.  Just know, there is *no* pressure.  We don't want you taking over anything you don't want to, and if there's a part of Hi-Co that you want us to keep up and running, we will, whether or not you're actively working in it.”

“Son, we have a lot more to discuss, but about Oxford ...” Miriam began.

“I'll go back.”

“I hope you will, but not for me,” Royce stated.  “Education is important, but if you're interest isn't in business, change your major, with our blessings.”

“And you two have our blessings, as well,” Miriam stated, taking hold of the young woman's hand.  “Jennifer, saying we're sorry just does not do justice to you or how deeply we regret our actions and what we were about to do.”

Jennifer smiled and replied, “Well, I can't say I'm not shocked, but I've seen a lot of unusual things in this world, and beyond.”

“Once we began to let go of all that nastiness, Thor told us how much he cares about your family.”

“Always knew he cared,” Jack said somewhat teasingly.

“JD is named after Thor,” Jennifer informed the Hamiltons.

“He's named after a lot of people,” Daniel muttered, shaking his head at all of the boy's names.

“Who is this Thor?” Peter asked, confused.

“Thor, old buddy, time to show your stuff,” Jack called out.

Immediately, a familiar beam flashed, and standing by the fireplace was Thor.

“O'Neill, DanielJackson, how is young Thor?”

“He's good,” Jack answered.  “Been meddling in human relationships there, Buddy?” he quipped.

“The Asgard do not meddle.  I was doing my duty in protecting Jennifer,” Thor refuted with a blink that looked slightly indignant.

“Thank you, Thor,” Jennifer said, getting up, gently hugging the alien commander, and then placing a kiss on his cheek.

“Thor, I think you're blushing,” Jack teased.

“I think I'll do the same,” Miriam laughed.

Though Thor attempted to back away a step, the eager woman did the same as Jennifer.

“You've changed our lives, Thor.  Thank you for stopping Royce and me from making a horrid mistake.”

“Thank you from me, too,” Royce spoke, leaning over to shake the alien's small hand.

“Gentle, gentle,” Jack advised in a mumble.

“I suspect you could have just sent us to some hole somewhere,” Royce commented.

“Why didn't you?” Miriam asked.  “You haven't told us why you did this.”

“O'Neill and Daniel Jackson believe in second chances.  They would have disapproved of my disposing of you.  I studied various references on Earth and discovered that when left alone, with nothing more than each other, humans usually get to the truth.  If you were to be given a second chance, it was necessary for you to discover your truth.  You appear to have done so.  However, the Asgard will be watching,” Thor warned.

“Thor, just exactly *how* did you know what the Hamiltons were planning?” Jack asked suspiciously.  “Eavesdropping, perhaps,” he accused lightly in what was still an on-going game of just how and when Thor watched over the Jackson-O'Neill family.

“I do not eavesdrop, O'Neill,” Thor reminded sternly.  “I must go now.”

“Thank ... you,” Miriam laughed when Thor disappeared before she'd finished her statement of appreciation.

“I really don't understand,” Peter stated.

Jennifer looked at her parents and then chuckled, “Uh, well, Peter, there's something I need to tell you.”

“You're an alien?” Peter asked.  “I mean, I don't care ...”

“No, silly,” Jennifer asked.  “Dad?”

“Honey, they've met the Asgard.  It doesn't get any bigger.  We'll call Hank later so he can do all that fun paperwork,” Jack said, grimacing at the mere thought of how much paperwork had to be done when someone was added to the classified list, even though he didn't have to do it himself.

“Uh, you'll have to sign a release,” Daniel interjected.

“I still don't understand,” Peter admitted.

“Well, first things first,” Jennifer said.  “Mister and Mrs. Hamilton, if it weren't for second chances, my parents wouldn't be together, and if it weren't for second chances, neither would Peter and I.  I believe we can all learn, and I believe we all deserve that second chance, so if you can live with my very overprotective fathers probably bugging your house, or something, I'm very happy to just forget about the past and move on.”

“We aren't going to bug their house,” Jack chided.  “We'll do something, but it won't be that.”

“Jack!”

“General, you do what you must.  I'd be disappointed if you didn't.  She's your daughter,” Royce stated, looking Jack straight in the eye, without blinking.

“Yes, well, let's not dwell,” Jack responded.  ~I'll talk to Thor; make sure he keeps doing whatever it is he's doing that he claims he's not doing.~

“Peter, I have something wonderful to show you,” Jennifer said, taking her boyfriend's hand.  “In fact, I know a great place where we can have dinner tonight.”

“O'Malley's?”

Grinning, Jennifer answered, “No.  It's a place I know called The Land of Light.  They have the best feasts.”

“Land of Light?” the young man queried.

“Great folks,” Jack interjected, having a lot of fun at the moment.

“Uh ...”

“Don't worry, Daddy,” Jennifer chuckled.  “As part of the Teen Gaters, I was suppose to go there tomorrow, anyway.  I'm sure they won't mind if I come tonight.”  With an added giggle, she said, “Tup'lo loves me.”

“So do I,” Peter spoke.  Still confused, though, he began, “Teen what?  Who's Tup'lo?”

“I'll explain it all on the way to the Mountain.  Trust me.”  Facing the Hamiltons, Jennifer said, “We'll see you later.”

After Peter and Jennifer had left, Jack asked, “Did the little guy fill you in on what happened after you folks were zapped away to Drab Land?”

“No, he didn't.  Please, tell us,” Miriam invited, pointing back to the seats.

--

“Thank you for looking after our son,” Royce stated after being updated on recent events, including the murder charges and the stolen pendant.

“And for finding Leticia,” Miriam added.

“You're welcome, but, uh, I have a question that hasn't been discussed yet,” Daniel interjected.

“What is it, Doctor?” Miriam asked politely.

“Peter and Jennifer both had ... an extremely large amount of money transferred into their bank accounts.  I was just wondering ...” Daniel asked.

“That was me,” Royce admitted.  “I'm ashamed to say I often tried to buy Peter's loyalty by enhancing his wallet.”

“I've done the same.  It usually worked,” Miriam sighed.  “He was a boy, and we ...”

“Mirie, we can't undo our past, but we can make sure we're here for him now,” Royce comforted tenderly.

“I just hope he lets us,” Miriam sniffled before drawing a huge breath to try and keep from crying.

After a pause to let the somewhat emotional couple regroup, Daniel replied, “We put the money in a special account.  We'll see it gets back to you, including the interest.”

“Doctor, please donate it to a good cause.  That's dirty money, and we don't want it anymore,” Royce requested.  “I'm sure you both know some excellent charities.”

“Actually, we do,” Daniel acknowledged lightly.

“Wait,” Miriam interjected, surprising her husband.

“Royce, we should do it.  Maybe ... maybe Peter and Jennifer have a cause they support and maybe we ...”

“That habitat thing,” Royce interjected.  “I'm sorry to say I don't remember the name.”

“Habitat for Humanity,” Jack said a bit pointedly, still not liking the 'old' attitudes of the Hamiltons, but trying as best he could to let them try to make amends.

“We can donate it to Habitat for Humanity,” Royce suggested.  “Mirie, why don't we donate some time there, too?”

“There you go,” Jack said and then frowned, wondering why he was suddenly sounding so chipper.  ~They were going to murder my daughter,~ he chastised himself inwardly.

“Dear, maybe we should do it quietly.  I agree with you, but I don't want Peter thinking we're doing it just because he is.”

“This isn't going to be easy,” Royce sighed, confused about what the best course of action would be.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Jack added.  “Just do it.”

“Yes, thank you,” Miriam responded.  “You're right.  I just, I really don't want him thinking we're trying to buy him with whatever we do.”

“Mrs. Hamilton, I believe that if you're just honest with Peter, everything will be okay,” the archaeologist put forth.

“He's an optimist,” Jack interjected.  “However, he's usually right.”

“Thank you,” Miriam announced.  “You know what, Doctor, General, do whatever you want with that money.  We have plenty more to dole out.”

“Okay,” Daniel acknowledged enthusiastically with a nod.

Jack and Daniel stood and headed for the door, the Hamiltons following.

“Just one thing,” Jack began, half expecting Daniel to stop him and yet not surprised when he didn't.  “Jen's right.  I love a success story made out of second chances, but don't misunderstand this.  If you, or anyone associated with you, hurts our daughter, you won't like the consequences.”

“Jack, we can go now,” Daniel stated, tapping on his lover's arm.

“Just so there aren't any misunderstandings.”

“None, General,” Royce replied, again standing up firmly and looking at both parents directly, as did Miriam.  “I expect nothing less.”

“I, we, hope we can become friends.  I have a hunch our children are going to have a long and fruitful future together,” Miriam spoke with a smile.

“Fruitful?” Jack queried.

“Children,” Daniel clarified.

“I *so* don't want to think about that, yet.”

“Doctor, General, one more thing.  If Jennifer allows me, I'm going to counsel her on one thing.  Regardless of what happens with Hi-Co, as Royce and I back away, the Register is going to look at Peter.  We wish we could stop that, but we can't.  He's a Hamilton, and Hamiltons have always been an integral part of that elusive club.  As a wife of a business tycoon, my advice to her is going to be simple.  Tell Society to go hang itself.  I'd like to help her not to feel obligated,” Miriam spoke emotionally.  “Will you allow me to do that?  Will you let her know what I said?”

“We will,” Daniel agreed with a nod.  Then he added, “Uh, maybe we should forget the ... formalities.  I'm Daniel, and this is Jack.”

====

A few minutes later, Jack and Daniel were in the Silver Fox, heading for home.

“Thanks, Hank.  They should be there in about fifteen minutes,” Jack advised into his cell phone.

“You just love giving me paperwork to do,” General Hank Landry replied over the phone from his desk at Cheyenne Mountain.

“Better you than me,” Jack responded.  “He's a good kid, Hank.  Let 'em go through the Gate.  Jen said she had a mission scheduled for tomorrow.”

“Yes ... 0900,” Landry responded as he looked at the next day's schedule. “I'll have SG-2 standing by.”

“Lou there?”

“Yes, he is,” Landry answered.

“Good,” Jack said, grinning, confident that Lou Ferretti would look after Jennifer on this unplanned off-world trek.

A few seconds later, the conversation ended.

“He's okay with it?” Daniel inquired as he drove his sports car.

“It's all on us,” Jack responded, referring to the responsibility of the early mission and the inclusion of Peter Hamilton in it.

“Always is,” Daniel chuckled.

“Danny, when did Jen begin scheduling missions we don't know about?”

“Probably the day after we retired,” Daniel answered.

Jack cocked his head to the side for a minute as he considered the response.  He'd also noted that Jennifer was so confident in her ability to get Peter permission to go through the Stargate that she hadn't even asked her parents to contact Landry on her behalf.

~Wonder if she's more involved than we know.~

“Don't even think that,” Daniel spoke, having eavesdropped into his Lover's mind.

“Don't do that!” Jack exclaimed with a shudder.

“You do it to me.”

“I do not.”

“Do so.”

“When?”

“When don't you?”

“That's beside the point,” Jack claimed.

“Babe, what were you just complaining about?” the younger man queried.

“I forget,” Jack answered.

Both men smiled and enjoyed their drive towards their home.

Five minutes later, Jack began, “Daniel, about Thor ...”

“Jack, give it up.  I still don't care how, when, why he ...”

“Meddles?” Jack accused.

“Okay, meddles,” Daniel agreed.  “He probably saved our daughter's life, so do you really care that he's a ... meddler?”

“Nope,” Jack answered.  Then he added, “But that's not what I was going to say.”

“Oh,” Daniel responded.  “Sorry.  What were you going to say?”

Jack smiled and replied, “He looked like a cherry Pillsbury dough boy after Jen and Mirie kissed him.”

“He's not used to all that physical affection.”

“Speaking of physical affection, what are your plans for this evening?” Jack questioned.

“Well, we have some proposals to get out, a couple of reports to read, and a performance review to plan,” Daniel answered.  He glanced over, seeing his husband's deflation.  “But I think I prefer physical affection, if you don't mind, that is,” he added with a smirk.

“Lots of it,” Jack said with a grin.

The mystery of Broadmoor Bluffs had been solved at last.  There was still a lot of story to be told, but for the Jackson-O'Neills, it was yet another happy ending in their universe of forever.

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