Million Dollar Baby

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - November 2008
Spoilers:  None
Size:  35kb, short story
Written:  April 12-14,17,19-20, 2007
Summary:  J-O Enterprises has a chance to land a whopper of a deal, but is the price too high?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Photo included on the website courtesy of I.M. Mueller.
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Pam, Jodi, Melissa, Linda, Sara, Claudia!

Million Dollar Baby
by Orrymain

“Who could that be?” Daniel asked out loud as the phone rang, interrupting the wrestling game he had just started with Jonny on the living room floor.

“Jonny pick up,” the two-year-old toddler stated as he climbed off his younger father.

“Ah, wait a minute,” Daniel said, jumping up and hurrying after the youngster.  “I think I can handle it,” he added with a smile.  “Hello.”

Jonny watched as Daniel talked on the phone.  His older father and the rest of his siblings were all out of the house.  He had lost track of where they all were, but he'd laughed when his Aunt Janet left with Aislinn and Jenny, not realizing she wasn't supposed to take Aislinn with her that day.  She'd been red-faced upon returning with the youngest Munchkin.  As for Aislinn, she'd just giggled a lot at having had a little adventure at Janet's expense.

Sighing, Daniel hung up the phone.  He knelt down and smiled regretfully at the oldest triplet.

“Jonny, Daddy has to go to the office, and you have to come with me.  I'm sorry we can't stay here and wrestle some more.  I don't even have time to drop you off at Aunt Janet's, so ... you're with me, okay?”

“'Kay, Daddy,” the little trooper stated.

Standing, Daniel grabbed his jacket.  He knew he should change into more business-like attire, but from the sound of Megan's voice, time was of the essence.  Having quickly helped Jonny put on his shoes and jacket, they took the twelve minute journey to the offices of J-O Enterprises in the Silver Fox.

====

“Hey, Megan,” Daniel greeted, taking the business file that Megan held out for him.  He smiled at Karissa, who had come over and taken Jonny off to play.  “I really should start keeping a change of clothing here,” he lamented as he walked into his office.  He was dressed casually, in brown pants and a short-sleeved tan shirt.  “Remind Jack and I to do that,” he requested.

“Daniel, he'll be here any minute, and I have to tell you he's very demanding,” Megan Williams, the Director of Operations for J-O, spoke.

“And you're sure he's legit?” Daniel questioned, sitting down and reviewing the file, flipping up one of the pages to read the next.

“It's Aubenny LaMont.  I've seen his pictures in the papers and the magazines,” Megan answered.

“Okay.  No pressure,” the archaeologist sighed.  “Why'd he call us?”

“All he would say was that we were recommended and that he needs action today, as in 'yesterday',” Megan stated.

“Yesterday?”

“That's what he said.”  Looking toward the open doorway, Megan leaned forward, her hands on the edge of her boss's desk and stated, “He doesn't dabble in petty cash.  If we can land this account ...”

“Yeah, I know,” Daniel replied.  “Uh, can you thank Karissa for looking after Jonny, and ask her to keep a close eye on him.  He seems to have inherited every ounce of sneakiness Jack possesses and then some,” he mused with a smile.  “Oh, and keep him outside.  It might rain later, so I'd like him to get some fresh air while he can.”

“Will do,” Megan said, smiling as she straightened up.

“Thanks.  Let me know when Mister LaMont gets here,” the business owner requested, his focus now solely on the file he was reading.

====

About ten minutes later, walking unannounced into Daniel's office and ignoring Megan's greeting completely, Aubenny LaMont stood at the front of the archaeologist's desk and said, “So, you're the *great* Daniel Jackson.”

“Uh, I don't know about ... great,” Daniel said, looking off to the side for a second, then putting down the file he had still been reviewing and standing up.  “I am ... Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, actually.”

Not shaking hands, the man sat down and stated forcefully, “Doctor Jackson, I'm not fond of what you do with your personal life, but I'm a business man.  I have to make the choices that are right for the growth of my companies.  I prefer not to work with society's rejects and queers, but, in this day and age, I have little choice.”  He paused, grimacing at a photo on Daniel’s desk of Jack with the brood, and said, “Just keep it out of my face.”

“Excuse me, but you're in *my* office of *my* company, and if you want to utilize the services that J-O has to offer, then courtesy is a must,” Daniel spoke, politely but firmly, as he stared at the seated man.

LaMont hunched forward slightly as his head raised in rebuke, his arrogant aura permeating the room, and said, “I have the ability to write you a check right this second for one-*million* dollars.  I'm starting up a series of projects that could establish this little rag shop of yours as a leader in the industry.  I'm prepared to do that, Doctor, based on the recommendation of a good friend of mine, but I won't be censored.”

~One million dollars?~ Daniel pondered silently as he sat down and stared at the man.  “Mister LaMont, our company's brief history speaks for itself.”

“Spare me the commercial.  Now, here's an overview of the projects,” LaMont said, opening his briefcase and pulling out a manila envelope that was clearly stuffed with papers.  “Review this, and meet me in my office in Denver at 3 p.m. sharp.”  Closing his briefcase, he stood and ordered, “Don't be late, Doctor, and ... put on a suit.”

As the tycoon began to walk out, Daniel hurried around his desk and stated, “Excuse me, Mister LaMont, but ...”

“Ah, of course, here's my retainer, Doctor Jackson,” LaMont said, pulling out a pre-written check and handing it to Daniel.  “Three o'clock sharp, appropriately dressed.”

“Yes, bu...” Daniel's mouth dropped as he looked at the check.  It was for three-hundred-thousand dollars.  “Ah ...”  When he looked up from staring at the large check, Aubenny LaMont had disappeared from his sight.  “Wow.”

“Daniel, what happened?” Megan asked, hurrying into Daniel's office after LaMont had blown by her as he'd made his exit.

The archaeologist handed Megan the check, then slowly walked outside.  At the other end of the backyard, Karissa had been watching Jonny, who was currently engrossed in following something in the grass.  Seeing his father, though, Jonny's face lit up.  His smile was huge, and he suddenly got up and began toddling as fast as he could towards Daniel.

Daniel knelt down on his haunches, reaching out his arms for the little boy.  As he neared his goal, Jonny reached out with his right hand.  In a flash, Jonny was lovingly wrapped in Daniel's arms.



As his father stood up, holding him, Jonny looped his arms around his father's neck, squeezed tightly, and said, “I love you, Daddy.”

~I think I needed that.~  Daniel replied, “I love you, too, Jonny.”  As Jonny pulled back a little, Daniel stared at the happy face.  “You look like you've been having fun.”

“Daddy, saw big bug.”

“Really?”

“Like bugs.  We go look bugs?”

“Daniel?” Megan interrupted, calling from the back door, curious as to what had happened with Mister LaMont.

Daniel turned and saw the woman, the check still in her hand.  He knew she needed to be given instructions.  He briefly debated calling Jack and checking with his husband before making a final decision, but then decided there was little point.  He was sure Jack would agree with him on this.  He looked back at Jonny.

“We don't really have a lot of bugs in Colorado Springs, but I know a few places they might be hiding,” the archaeologist spoke in an alluring tone.

Jonny gasped, “Daddy show Jonny?”

Daniel chuckled and walked toward Megan, saying, “Megan, I'd like you to make a phone call for me, please.”

“Sure.”

“Call Mister LaMont.  Tell him his check is being returned.  Take care of that, also, please.  Tell him ... tell him J-O Enterprises doesn't need his type of business, or his million because ...” Daniel paused, looking at the brown-eyed toddler with the eager expression on his face.  “We already have our riches, right here.”

“Where money, Daddy?” Jonny asked, looking all around.

“Right here,” Daniel answered, putting his right hand over his son's chest.  He added, “You're our million dollar baby.  Actually, all of your brothers and sisters are our riches, our ... billion dollar brood.”

“Not baby,” Jonny whined.

“Okay ... our ... million dollar toddler.”  Seeing the boy smile, Daniel looked at Megan and informed, “Megan, Jonny and I had plans to spend the day together, and that's what we're going to do.”  Hugging Jonny a bit tighter, he said, “We're ... going bug hunting.”

Megan smiled, unable to resist the love she was witnessing in front of her between the father and son.

Daniel continued, “If Mister LaMont cares to *request* a meeting next week for an explanation, we'll oblige, but we aren't working for him, and his money isn't what matters.”  After a short pause, he added, “You know what?  Never mind.  I'll make the call myself.  I have a few other choice things to say to Mister LaMont.”  Putting Jonny down, he said, “Jonny, I'll be back in five minutes, and then we're going on an adventure.”

“Oh, boy!” Jonny exclaimed, jumping up and down excitedly.

====

~Money is not what J-O is about,~ Daniel reminded himself as he walked into his office and pushed the door, intending for it to shut, though it remained slightly ajar.  Taking a calming breath, he dialed the number and, when answered, requested, “Mister LaMont, please.  This is Daniel Jackson-O'Neill of J-O Enterprises.”

After a short pause, the secretary informed Daniel that she would be putting him through to LaMont's cell phone.

“LaMont,” the business man answered curtly.  “I'm surprised to hear from you, Doctor Jackson, given we have a meeting scheduled for three.  I really don't ...”

“It’s Doctor Jackson-O’Neill,” Daniel interjected calmly.  He switched to speaker phone and put down the hand set, unaware that Megan was listening at the door, curious as to how Daniel was going to dispatch the disagreeable business man.

“Yes, well, what is that couldn't wait until three?  I'm a very busy man, Doctor Jackson,” the tycoon spoke impatiently.

“It’s Jackson-O’Neill, Mister LaMont and, uh ...”

“Jackson, we've been through this.  I wish to know nothing of the perverseness of your private life.  Personally, I find it distasteful and intolerable, but, as I said, I have had to endure such ... abnormal associates in the business world before.  It will not interfere with our agreement.  I can make you a very rich man.  Now, about my projects.  Firstly, I demand you address me as ‘Sir’ for all business transactions, and ...”

Megan was fuming behind the door, quite upset by the man’s comments.  This man's ego was apparently as big as his wealth.  Somehow, it just didn't seem fair.
 
His anger heightened, Daniel stood up, his hands gripping the edge of his desk as he interrupted the odious man, saying, “Mister LaMont, I am, in fact, calling to resolutely and emphatically reject your offer.”

~Go, Daniel, go!~ Megan cheered silently.

“But ...”

“Sir,” Daniel cut in with the most condescending tone he could muster.  He was so angry, his mind overflowing with all the things he wanted to say.  Knowing just what would get to this guy the most, he smiled to himself as he channeled his spouse.  ~I’ll make you proud, Babe.~  Taking a deep breath, he began, “My *husband* and I ...”  He stopped, hearing the sharp intake of breath on the other end of the phone.  “Yes, *Sir*, my *husband* and I are firmly refusing your offer and will return your check immediately.”

“Your business sense must be sorely compromised, Jackson, as is your sexual preference ...”

“Oh, please spare me the ignorant speech.  Firstly, I've worked for the military for over ten years, so believe me, I’m well acquainted with narrow minded, ignorant bigots such as yourself.  My *husband* and I have dealt with far worse than what you've thrown at us today.  You don't intimidate me.

“Secondly, you are, without a doubt, the most offensive, abhorrent, selfish, and egotistical individual that I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.  Okay, maybe just top five, but you're definitely in the top five.  You've been fortunate enough to amass an incredible amount of wealth; unfortunately for you, you're wrong if you think that writing a check gives you some entitlement to control the lives of others.  Believe me, *Sir*, I've had more people than you can imagine try to manipulate me, and in some very diabolical ways.  For you to be counted among the top five on the list of power-hungry, delusional, out-of-touch, and self-absorbed ... lifeforms is quite an achievement.  

“Your money does not interest us, LaMont.  We cannot be 'bought', and, frankly, I believe that you need us more than we need you, which is too bad for you because under no circumstances, will I let J-O Enterprises be man-handled and bullied in any way by an affiliation with you or your company.”

“How dare you ...” LaMont began, shocked and clearly disgruntled.

“No, *Sir*,” Daniel interrupted.  “How dare *you*!  You know nothing about me or my husband; yet, you judge our life with utter contempt.  You’ve insulted and offended me, my family, and my staff.  They're all inexcusable acts, and I will not subject any of us to your highly unprofessional and distressing prejudice.”

~Wow, he's good!~ Megan thought, still 'hiding' near the door.

~Now, to end this with a flourish,~ Daniel thought.  “If you'll excuse me, *Sir*, I have far more important matters to attend to.  I promised to spend the day with my son, which I fully intend to do, and then I am going home, tucking all *eight* of my children into bed and spending the night making love to my husband.  Good day,” he concluded abruptly, pressing the button to disconnect the call.

Leaning over the desk, Daniel took a deep breath, feeling strangely liberated, though he wondered if he'd taken it too far.

A moment later, Megan tapped tentatively on the door, walking in slowly.

“You heard?” Daniel stated, sensing from her expression that she'd been nearby the entire time.

“Wow, Daniel!” Megan exclaimed.  As her boss smiled nervously, she continued, “That was incredible!”

“Maybe ... stupid?  I mean, uh, a million dollars.  You could have had a decent office.”

“I *have* a decent office, Daniel.  I'm proud to work for J-O Enterprises,” Megan replied with a genuine smile.

Standing tall, Daniel smiled and said, “Megan, if you need me, I’ll be with my son, all day.”

The archaeologist walked past Megan, who gave him a pat on the back for a job well done.  He went outside to be enthusiastically greeted by Jonny as they began their bug hunt.

====

“That one is called a mayfly,” Daniel said.  “Watch fast, though.  She won't be around long.”

The father and son had been at the creek for a couple of hours.  They'd walked, talked, played, rested, and now they were studying some of the different life found in the waterbed.  It had become chilly, with a brisk breeze, so they had put on light windbreakers.

“How come?” the little boy asked.

“Uh, well, basically, they just ... mate, drop their eggs into the water, and die.”

“How come?”

“That's what they do,” Daniel answered.

“What mate?” Jonny asked.

“Mate?  Well, they ... kiss.”

“Like you 'n' Dad?”

“I ... guess you could say that,” the archaeologist answered.

“You 'n' Dad make eggs?”

“No, no, no ... definitely ... not,” Daniel answered.

“Why not?”

“Oh, look, Jonny, it's a crayfish,” Daniel called out, pointing to where several rocks were clumped together in the creek.  He was grateful when studying the crayfish became more exciting than talking about Dad and Daddy's eggs, or lack thereof.  ~Not ready for that one.~

====

Daniel and Jonny were lying on their bellies, staring into the water of the creek, getting a good look at some of the smaller creatures that could be easily missed without being down so close to the ground.

“Daaaddy, what that?” Jonny asked, looking into the water, a look of wonder on his face.

The archaeologist looked to find what his little boy was so enraptured with; finding it, he smiled.

“That's a caddisfly.  They're in the same family as butterflies and moths,” the father spoke.

“Bugs have fam'y?” the boy asked.

“Uh, kind of,” Daniel answered.

“What it doing?”

“Well, like a butterfly, caddisflies undergo complete metamorphosis, which includes an egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  They ...”  Seeing Jonny's stare, which reminded him of his husband's many 'you're prattling' glares, he chuckled and stated, “It's changing how it lives.  You see, it begins as an egg, then becomes a soft-bodied larvae.  This one is green, but sometimes they're cream-colored.  Then the larvae ... well, he grows up, you might say.  He grows wings and, inside, his organs develop.”

“Like 'coon?” Jonny asked.

“Yes, just like a cocoon,” Daniel affirmed.

“He coming out,” Jonny stated.

“Yes, he's using his mandibles -- that's uh, his jaw, and it's very sharp -- to cut and wriggle his way out of the cocoon.  Keep watching, and you'll see him swim to the surface of the water.  It won't take long.”

Jonny was entranced as he watched the metamorphosis taking place.  Two minutes later, he gasped, moving to sit on his knees, his head automatically sinking lower for a better look.

Protectively, Daniel placed his right hand on his son's back, wanting to make sure he didn't fall into the creek.

“Daddy!”

“There it is, Jonny.”

“Not pr'ty like but'fly,” Jonny noted.

“No, they tend to be a little drab,” Daniel agreed.

“Wow!” Jonny said, jumping up as the new adult life flew by him.

“Yeah ... wow,” Daniel agreed, smiling at his son.

====

“You good frog, Daddy,” Jonny laughed as Daniel leaped over him again.

Jonny climbed over his younger father, who scrunched up as small as possible, becoming 'one' with the ground to help ease his son's 'jump' that was more like a climb and a crawl.  They'd been playing leap frog for the last few minutes.

“Well done, Jonny!”

“We just like them!” Jonny stated, toddling over to a group of frogs.  “He big.  Bet scare Ash 'n' Jenny with frog.”

“Ah ... let's just not do that,” Daniel advised parentally.

“Be fun, Daddy,” Jonny claimed.

~Like father, like son,~ Daniel thought, recalling his adventure with Jack several years earlier when both had been transformed into little boys for a week, and Jack had decided upon a similar use for a frog.  “I tell you what.  You ask Dad about it.”

“'Kay!” Jonny replied happily.

~Have fun, Babe!~ Daniel chuckled.

====

“Okay, Jack ... We'll be home in another hour or so ... Love you, too,” Daniel said, disconnecting the call.  “Time to go now, Son,” he called out.

“'Kay,” Jonny said from his spot just a couple of yards away.

Daniel had been watching the boy, whose back was to him, bending down and staring at some rocks.  The boy had been clearly entranced by something all through his father's phone conversation.

“You like the rocks?”

“Just rocks,” Jonny answered, shrugging as they walked back to where they were parked.  “Like bugs bet'r.”

====

Daniel carried Jonny out to the Silver Fox and settled him in his toddler seat, saying, “Let me adjust ... Jonny, what's ... what ... Jonny, what's in your pocket?”

The archaeologist watched in amazement as his two-year-old son pulled out a small brown-striped lizard and held it up like it was his most prized possession.

“This Bogey.”

“Bogey?” the father questioned curiously.

“Bogey friend.”

“Oh, where did you ... find Bogey?”

“He by rock.”

“By the rock,” Daniel said, nodding.  That explained his son's brief interest in the rocks.  ~But ... I just don't know.~  He looked at the lizard lying comfortably in Jonny's hand, making no effort to escape and return to the wild.  He looked more closely at the creature, which had small spikes along its sides and looked as though it had fairly dry skin.  ~It looks like a baby, and it's definitely not a lizard native to this area.  Maybe it's an escaped pet?~  He looked around, but there were no nearby homes that the lizard could have come from.  ~More likely, the owners dumped him here when the novelty of having an exotic pet wore off.~



“Bogey need home,” Jonny said.  “Home me, 'kay?”

Daniel smiled at the boy's request.  It was the soft brown eyes that did him in; they were all too reminiscent of his older father's.

“Okay.  We'll stop by the pet store and get a few things,” Daniel agreed.  ~It's just a lizard.  Jack won't mind ... I hope.~

As they headed back towards town, Daniel asked, “Jonny, where did you come up with the name Bogey?”

As he watched Bogey crawling along his arm, Jonny just shrugged and answered, “He look like Bogey.”

“Makes sense,” Daniel chuckled.

====

“That's a Bearded Dragon,” the clerk in the pet store stated.  “From the looks of him, I'd say he's a baby.”

“No baby; toddler,” Jonny refuted.

“Jonny, he's talking about ... Bogey,” Daniel responded, tapping his son lightly on the shoulder.

“Oh.”

“What do we need?” Daniel asked the animal specialist.

“Well, quite a few things, if you want ... Bogey here to live a long and happy life,” the man answered.

“He grow with me,” Jonny stated with confidence.

“That's certainly possible,” the man agreed.  “Bearded dragons have lived as long as fifteen years in the right environment.”

“That long time,” Jonny responded, tilting his head to watch Bogey crawl on the counter.  “I'll be big as Daddy,” he added excitedly as he spread his arms as wide as they'd go to illustrate the size.

Laughing at his son's antics, Daniel inquired, “Where do we start?”

“A habitat,” the clerk replied.

“Hab...ha...what?” Jonny questioned.

“A home,” the man clarified, smiling at the little boy.  He looked at Daniel and added, “He'll need room to roam.  You can get a glass aquarium tank with a screen top; that would work nicely.  It needs to have a lizard carpet.  Later, you can get some sand, but he's still too young for that.  Oh, you might be able to train him to drink from a dish ...”

Daniel listened carefully to the lesson the clerk was giving on the care and wellbeing of the new family pet.  He looked at Jonny, noticing that he was listening closely, too.  Seeing the look of devotion in the boy's eyes, he knew they had to go full tilt on the lizard's new habitat and accessories.

“For food, you'll want to feed him a mix of insects, preferably crickets and silkworms, and greens ...” the man continued.

“Huh?” Jonny asked, confused.  “Feed Bogey color?”

The man chuckled, then explained, “Not a color, but leafy vegetables, like squash, roman lettuce, turnip greens, and parsley.”

“We have that, Daddy?”

Daniel nodded assuredly, then motioned for the clerk to continue the impromptu lesson.

====

“Lil' Danny, come see,” Jonny called out as he ran into the house.

“Wow!  He cool,” Little Danny opined as he studied the creature his brother was holding.

Just then, Aislinn toddled into the living room, her older father behind her.

Jonny snickered, then turned around, holding out his new pet and saying, “Ash, this Bogey.”

“Aaaaaahhhhhhhh!” Aislinn screamed, running backwards into Jack, clinging to his leg and trying to hide behind it.

“Hey, what's going on?” the older father questioned.

“Uh, Jack, can you help me, please?” Daniel called out from the front door.

“I have my hands full, Love,” Jack responded as he kneeled down and tried to calm the shaking little girl.

Frightened by the creature, Aislinn continued to mutter, “No, no, no!”

While Jonny snickered, Little Danny ran to Aislinn and said, “Ash, it pet.  No hurt.”

“You sure?” the youngest Munchkin asked, peeking out from behind Jack and looking over at the creature.

“Me sure,” the boy said.  “Come see,” he said, taking her hand and leading her over to their brother.  “Jonny, not nice scare Ash,” Little Danny reprimanded.

“It fun,” Jonny responded.  “Ow!” he expressed when the little girl kicked him in the shin.

“Ash!” Jack chastised, though trying not to laugh.  “And don't look so smug, Jonathan!” he added.  “Little Danny is right.”  At that point, he headed for the front door to finally help his lover.  “Daniel?”

“It's a lizard, Babe.”

“I know that!  What I want to know is why it's in our house,” Jack stated.  “Where'd he come from?”

“Uh, well, originally, Australia,” Daniel answered, then laughed.  “Jonny found him.  Will you help me with this stuff, or do you expect me to stand out here all evening?”

“Sorry,” Jack laughed, taking some of the supplies from his husband.

“It all started at the creek ...” Daniel began, walking inside the house and smiling as he saw Aislinn holding the reptile, even though it was a bit tentative.

====

“A lizard?” Jack laughed later that night.  “Well, it had to happen sooner or later.”

The children were all long since asleep, and now their parents were readying themselves for bed, too.

“I was surprised to see it, but, Jack, you should have seen his expression,” Daniel spoke.

“I did, Love, tonight when he spent ten minutes telling me how much fun it is to watch Bogey crawl all over his body,” Jack laughed while unbuckling his belt.  “Did you get everything we need for proper lizard care?”

“I think so,” Daniel answered, thinking that with all the things they had purchased from the pet store, Bogey was the most spoiled lizard in Colarado Springs, if not the entire United States.

--

“So, I think Ash understands now that she can't change her adult caregiver without permission.  Poor Doc,” Jack laughed about Aislinn's little adventure that morning.

“She did it on purpose then?” Daniel questioned.

“Yup,” the older man answered.

“Are we going to let her get away with it?” the younger man answered.

“Yup,” Jack answered, though it was more subdued.  Looking over at his husband, he said, “Danny, we didn't notice.  How can we be that upset with her when we, okay, me, helped her get into Janet's car?”

“Good point,” Daniel agreed.  “It's just ... who goes with who changes each day.”

“I'm amazed I remember where I'm supposed to go everyday,” Jack laughed while doing some sit-ups.  “I'm so out of shape.”

“We have eight children, Jack.  How can you be out of shape?”

“Not enough sex?” Jack asked with hopeful eyes.

“You're insane, O'Neill!”  Daniel pointed to his lover and ordered, “Just keep doing what you're doing.  That'll be the only exercise you'll be getting tonight.”

--

“It's just ... I know what it could have meant for us,” Daniel lamented, sitting at the end of the bed shirtless and wearing just his sweatpants.  He'd just told Jack all about his initial exchange with LaMont in his office.  He was working his way up to telling him about the phone call.  “A million dollars.  Our company could have been secure forever.  Our children ...”

“Our children are secure, and you know that,” Jack spoke, walking in from the bathroom where he'd freshened up a tad after his workout.

After a pause, Jack continued, “Danny, you told me what he said in your office.  I'm surprised you took it from him.”
 
“He's Aubenny LaMont, and I was too stunned at the time to move, then he was gone.  Gawd, Jack,” Daniel sighed.  “It was a million dollars.  For a while there, I saw our children in college; I saw J-O in some big office building somewhere.  I just ... the struggle of making the company a success would be ... over.  It would be ... done.”

“So, what happened after that?” Jack asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you didn't turn his offer down in your office, so when did you?”

“I, uh, sort of, um ...” Daniel stammered.

“I’ll make it easy on you, Danny,” Jack interrupted, smiling affectionately.  “Megan called me this afternoon, yelling and screaming excitedly about how you'd phoned this guy, and, what did she say?  Oh, yeah, ‘kicked his butt!’”

Daniel’s grin spread across his face at an alarming rate as he acknowledged, “Yeah, I guess I did.”

“I've been wanting to say this ever since Megan called me, Danny,” Jack said, sitting down beside his husband on the bed.  “I am *so* proud of you.”  He put his arm around Daniel’s shoulders and squeezed tightly.  “That guy was something else, and, not only did you defend yourself, you defended me and the brood.  If anything tells me how far you've come, this is it.  I bet the guy didn't know what hit him.”

“Jack, when he left the office and I walked outside, trying to figure out why I'd let him get away with saying those things, I saw Jonny.  He just ... he ran to me and told me he loved me -- out of the blue, for no reason.  I stood there and thought -- a million dollars or bug hunting with my son?  All of a sudden, there wasn't anything to think about.  I was going bug hunting.”

Jack kissed his soulmate tenderly, after which he said, “Danny, in twenty years, Jonny will be in college.  He'll graduate just fine, like all of our brood will.  What he'll remember, though, is that his daddy put him first, that we both put him first, and his brothers and sisters, too.”

Daniel smiled and replied, “That's the thing.  Jack, after my parents died, I grew up with nothing, but our kids have everything.  I mean, uh, even if they have to dig ditches, they'll have ...”

“... our love,” both men spoke at the same time.

Jack chuckled, “Jonny sure caused an uprising at dinner, though, talking about being part of our riches -- a million dollar baby.”

“Uh, he didn't like the baby part,” Daniel reminded.

“Pardon me -- a million dollar toddler,” Jack corrected as he laughed.  “I like what you said, about our having a billion dollar brood.  It sings!”

“You aren't mad at me then?” the younger man questioned.

“Daniel, I would have decked the guy before he got that opening paragraph out.  Why would I be mad at you for protecting your family, putting that guy in his place, and making sure Jonny came first, or any of our kids, for that matter?  Family is what's most important to us; always has been, always will be.”

“He really wanted to spend the day with me,” Daniel noted about the oldest Munchkin.

“And you really wanted to spend the day with him, so it worked out perfectly,” Jack replied, grinning.

“Perfectly,” Daniel agreed.  Chuckling, he added, “I don't think we'll be hearing from Mister LaMont again, though.”

“We don't need people like him, or his money.  We have a full plate, Danny,” Jack spoke.  “J-O will grow on its own timetable.  Agreed?”

“Agreed,” Daniel said, standing to face his soulmate.  “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

“Mmm,”  Jack pondered.  “I understand scientists like yourself, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill, deal in proofs, so ... prove it!” Jack dared.

To Jack's delight, Daniel showed him his proof, and that, too, was worth far more than a million dollars to both of them.

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