Not Just Another Day

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Angst, Drama, Mini-H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - July 8, 2013
Spoilers:  None
Size:  46kb
Written:  June 13-16,18, 2013
Summary:  It's the eighth day of July and for anyone who loves Daniel Jackson, that means one thing: it's not just another day!
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s):  “Tripping the Light Fantastic - The Reality,” “Mexican Adventure”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Irina, Candice!

Not Just Another Day
by Orrymain

For the Jackson-O'Neill clan, life was good these days.  They had just returned from spending several days at their cabin, which was now more of a small compound of cabins, a place where their growing family and friends could all go and meet for special get togethers and yet still have their own privacy.  The family's friend and designer, Alex Dennison, had outdone himself, creating a combination castle and pirate ship-like boat dock for their yacht that also doubled as a dorm for the children, a communal area for cookouts, and much more.  The place was more magical than ever, and yet, when Jack and Daniel wanted nothing but alone time and privacy, their little cabin was still there and while slightly upgraded was basically still just a humble little frame of wood that felt like home to both of them.

Always unassuming, Daniel wasn't expecting much today.  The family was tired and most everyone had talked about sleeping in late and just lounging around the house, playing with the zoo and otherwise relaxing.  With everyone gone and together the last few days, there was no way anyone could plan anything too fancy anyway.

It was early morning, and for some reason, the archaeologist couldn't sleep.  In a strange reversal, it was his husband who remained under the warm covers of their bed and Daniel who suddenly found himself on the Aerie, looking up at the breaking dawn.  He was barefoot, wearing old gray sweatpants that were torn in a couple of spots, including the left knee and on the side of the right leg.

~Pretty fashionable,~ Daniel mused at what he considered to be a pair of yucky pants to be wearing.

The archaeologist's white T-shirt fit snugly over his broad shoulders and torso, accentuating the supreme fitness of the wearer, even today, when he was celebrating his 48th year of life.

With his knees drawn up part way, Daniel's arms were outstretched, his hands interlaced loosely and hanging comfortably over his knees.  He looked forward a moment, wiggling his toes and smiling.  How life was so good for him now and how happy he felt.  How such joy filled his entire being from morning to night, every day and every night of his life.  It was a dream, a wonderful, exciting, incredible dream, and he was living it.

Yet, life had not always been that way for the scientist.  Though a happy boy when his parents were alive, that happiness had faded when Melburn and Claire Jackson died while setting up an exhibit in New York City.  Daniel had been just eight years old at the time and that event and several miserable years of being in the foster care system afterwards had made him lonely and discontent.  He'd thrown himself into his studies, excelling in everything, going to college early, and earning multiple PhDs.  He was a genius, but one who earned little respect in those days when most thought he was a crackpot spinning his wheels about pyramids being landing pads for alien spaceships.

Fiddling with his wedding ring momentarily, Daniel let out a chuckle.  He remembered a brief incident from his seventh birthday, something he'd only recalled recently when oldest daughter Jennifer had misplaced a diamond ring that Jack and Daniel had given her for Christmas.  She'd been distraught for hours until she finally found it in the pocket of a sweater she hadn't worn in months but had pulled out when rearranging her closet not long ago.  It never failed to amaze Daniel how his memories of long ago sometimes resurfaced after decades of having been buried in his subconscious.

//Flashback//
The Jackson family was in Egypt once again, Melburn and Claire both actively engaged in a search for historical revelations about an ancient civilization.  They were part of a team of eighteen, broken into smaller sub-groups as they worked and sought out artifacts that would speak to them about the past.  With the couple, as always, was their young son, Danny.  He was a curious and active child, eager to help his parents and learn what all that they were doing.

This very hot summer day had been like many others lately where the workers had risen early, had breakfast, and then gone to their tasks, using their tools to unearth whatever finds they could.  Danny had tagged along with his mom for most of the day, kneeling by her side, handing her tools, asking her questions: lots and lots of questions.  Claire didn't mind, of course.  She answered every query with patience and love.

When the sun was storming over the area and it was just too hot to continue, the digging ceased and the teams returned to their tents to relax and talk about their progress.

Being a family, the Jacksons had their own tent.  They'd taken some time to cool down and chat as others were doing nearby.  Danny began talking to his father, who held him in his arms as he sat on a chair.  He wanted Melburn to tell him a story.

“What kind of story?”

“Any story, Daddy.  Your stories make me happy.”

“A story for my Danny, it is,” Melburn agreed, taking time to think before starting.  As he thought, he glimpsed his wife sneaking outside the tent for a minute.  He smiled inside, knowing what was in store, but outwardly, he remained straight faced.  “This is the story of the little boy who was loved so much that his parents couldn't bear to ever be without him.”

Danny grinned and hugged his father.  He loved him so very much.  Melburn was his hero and he could do no wrong.

“One day, the little boy wanted to go with his parents to the Zenith Pyramid ...” Melburn began, making up a place for his tale.

The story went on, Danny being totally enthralled by it and hanging on his father's every word.  Towards the end of the tale, Claire quietly returned, though she remained at the opening of their tent.  She nodded to her husband, a smile on her face.  She listened, not wanting to interrupt the story.  Her heart was glad, seeing the bright smile on her son's face.  These times were so precious to her, when she could watch the two men in her life clinging lovingly to each other.  She only regretted that they didn't have more time for such moments.  Their work was time consuming and often difficult.  She and Melburn had often questioned whether it was right to bring their son into dangerous places and situations where there were usually no other children around and harm was potentially everywhere.  In the end, they always decided that their son needed to be with them just as much as they needed to be with him.  No matter what, they were a family, and the three of them would not be torn apart for any reason.

“... so together, the mother, the father, and their little boy climbed to the top of the pyramid, where no one else had ever gone before, and they did it together because the mother and father just couldn't survive without their very special little boy who they love very, very, very much!  The end.”

“Na-huh, Daddy,” Danny corrected.

“No?”

“It's just the beginning.  We have lots of pyramids to climb.”

“We do at that, Son,” Melburn agreed, hugging his son and patting him on the cheek.

When Melburn looked up, Claire went into action.  Removing the smile on her face, she replaced it with one of panic and fear.

“Mel!  Where is it?  It's gone!  I can't find it!”

“What is it, Claire?”

“My ring, Mel.  I can't find my ring!”

Melburn and Danny sprang up to help the woman look for her wedding ring.  They searched briefly in the tent, but then Claire said she must have lost it while helping one of the others clean up a few minutes earlier.  She was frantic with her concern.

The family approached the area where Claire thought her ring might be.  Young Danny knew they hadn't worked there that day, but he didn't question his mother's comments either.  He must have missed something, he told himself.  After all, his parents never lied, not ever.

“Danny, dig there.  Please, Son, you have to find it for me,” Claire begged, her long face showing her despair.

Danny focused all of his energy into digging where he'd been told.  He didn't want his mother to be sad.  He put everything he had into digging, his young arms working like the paws of a dog, swiftly pushing the hot sand to the side.  He was so intent on his actions that he didn't notice when Claire walked over to join her husband, a big smile on both of their faces, nor did he see when she reached into her pocket, retrieved her wedding ring, and then started to put it back on her finger.

Claire's motion was stopped by Melburn, who took hold of the ring, gazed lovingly into his wife's eyes, and whispered, “I love you,” as he slid the ring back onto her finger.

The couple shared a quick kiss before looking over at their baby who was working so hard.

“I found it,” Danny said as his heart beat with joy.  “Well, I found something, Mommy.”  He frowned as he realized his mistake after moving more dirt out of the way.  “Mommy, it's not your ring.  It's a box.”

“Goodness, Danny, what type of box?”

“It's wrapped, like a present,” Danny observed as he pulled the box out of the sand.  “It has my name on it!”

Danny stared at the box and then held it up for his parents, who were now right behind him, to see.

“Maybe it's for another Danny,” Melburn stated.  “Is there a Danny here?” he called out to the others who had quietly joined the Jacksons and were all standing around in a semi-circle.

“Daddy, I'm the only Danny here.”

“Then it must be for you.”

“In the sand?” the boy asked, his tone high in pitch.

“Better open it,” Claire suggested.

Confused, Danny did as his mother said and tore open the festive wrapping, ripping it into several pieces as he sought to see what was inside.  When he opened it, a Jack-in-the-Box sprung out.  The springy toy played 'Happy Birthday' and held a sign that Claire had affixed to it previously that said 'Happy 7th Birthday, Our Little Pharaoh!'

“It's my birthday!” Danny called out enthusiastically.  “I forgot!”

“Well, we didn't,” Melburn laughed.

With that, a big party began, with the entire team showing up to wish their youngest member a happy birthday.  There was plenty of cake and treats to enjoy and everyone had made some little something to give the child as a gift.

That night, the last thing the child had said to his parents before drifting off to a happy slumber was “I love birthdays, Mommy and Daddy.  They're fun.”
//End of Flashback//

Daniel smiled, so happy that memory had returned to him.  He thought about the irony of having been given a Jack-in-the-Box and wondered whatever became of it and all the other gifts he'd received.  More than likely, he realized, his grandfather, Nick Ballard, had thrown them out.

~I don't blame you for anything, Nick, but I wish we'd been closer, and I ... I just wish you'd made other choices,~ Daniel lamented about his mother's father who had been far too distant from his life and who a few years earlier had died after an unpleasant reunion with Daniel in Mexico.

His mind having turned to Nick, Daniel's feelings switched gears, the loving memory of that Egyptian surprise birthday party now replaced by a lonelier time when he was a teenager.  He'd freed himself from years of foster care misery by becoming emancipated and being accepted into college.  He'd wanted to get as far away from New York as he could, so he'd applied to and been accepted at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  With a scholarship award he'd received for translating some Phoenician poetry and side jobs, he'd manage to make the cross country trip and relocate to the west coast to start his college education.

Dropping his head down to his knees as he hunched forward somewhat, Daniel thought back to his first year of freedom, to that summer when continuing on with his studies was the only vacation he wanted.

//Flashback//
Two semesters were done and completed in Daniel's quest to obtain his degree in philology.  He had begun at UCLA just after his sixteenth birthday and was already on the fast track.  His professors were stunned and impressed with his genius and work ethic.  So studious was he in learning the classical languages, including their history and linguistic elements, that he'd already gotten permission to take advanced courses and was even assisting some professors in his efforts to learn as much as he could as fast as he could.  After all, he had plans to follow in his parents' footsteps.  Archaeology would be his next degree.  It wasn't even a question in his mind.

Right now, though it was summertime and the vast majority of the freshman students were enjoying a few months off before beginning their sophomore year, Daniel, however, was one of the students attending the summer term.  He had no reason to take time off.  Learning was his salvation and his relief.  Education was virtually his only passion.  He had questions he wanted answers to, and to get the answers, he had to study as much as possible.

Daniel's social life was practically nil.  There were many reasons for that, most of which he didn't want to even contemplate, but sometimes, when days were slow, he couldn't help himself.  Today was Thursday and normally things were bustling all about, except for a variety of oddball reasons, things were all-too-calm, a fluke even.  One professor was ill, one class was cancelled due to environmental reasons, and another was held, but dismissed early without explanation.

For a while, Daniel studied in the library, but maintenance was being done during the summer break, making the area nosier than usual.  He decided to return to his dorm and study there.  That failed as well, thanks to his loudmouth roommate who was celebrating the weekend early and was already drunk.  It was a reality Daniel tried to ignore on the weekends when the other man enjoyed his beer addiction with regularity.

~I give up,~ the student relented in his mind, deciding to take a walk on campus.

The shaggy-haired teenager maintained a slow but steady pace, ambling leisurely, his mind wandering from theory to theory until he nearly bumped into a tree.

“Hello, Tree.  I'm sorry I almost took off some of your bark.”

Daniel laughed at himself for apologizing to a tree.  He looked around, thankful no one had noticed.  With nowhere to go, he sat down on the grass and leaned his back against his sturdy and forgiving friend.  A leaf fell at his feet.

“Thanks, but I'm not hungry.”

A gentle breeze whiffed through the air, causing the leaves on the branches to rustle ever so slightly, as if responding to the scientist-in-the-making.

Though his small learning world seemed to be a standstill on this day, the campus was full of student life.  As he sat, Daniel watched the scenes play out.

Three friends played Frisbee on the other side of the lawn from where Daniel sat.  They laughed with one another, each trying new tricks with the circular object.

A young couple was strolling leisurely, oblivious to the presence of others.  They held hands, their faces bright with smiles for the other.

At a table, four students appeared to be studying, all with books open and notebooks present.  Some took notes as their discussion remained lively.

Two girls jogged by, talking as they got in some exercise.

At another table, six girls were giggling loudly as they ate late lunches.  They were obviously watching their male counterparts, laughing and ogling many of the young men as they passed by.

Daniel sighed at the other students, all engaged with one another, having laughs and exchanging ideas.  He tried to remember the last time he'd actually had a non-classwork related conversation.  He'd tried with his roommate on the first day that he'd moved in, but it only took a minute for things to fall flat.

“That's just great.  They've stuck me with a child nerd,” the roommate had sneered as soon as he'd seen Daniel and learned he was just sixteen.

The conversation went further downhill from there.  As he thought, Daniel recalled having a few decent, albeit brief conversations with the woman who was in charge of the library.  Then there was the cab driver who brought him from the airport to the campus in the first place.

In actuality, Daniel didn't fit in with any of his fellow freshmen students nor any of the other UCLA students.  He was the youngest student on campus that year.  He was slender and smaller than most, still growing in fact.  It was true.  Since enrolling in college, he'd grown another inch.  Though rich in knowledge related to his studies, he was less than well versed on the hobbies and activities of the other students, most of whom were at least two years his senior and most at least three years older.  If the male students weren't talking about sports, which Daniel was not skilled in and couldn't care less about, they were usually bragging about their conquests, but Daniel barely knew what it was to be out with a girl.  He felt awkward listening to the stories.  While some of the girls thought he was cute, he was just too young for them.  For some, he was like their little brothers and college women just didn't socialize with little brothers on campus.

The sound of birds chirping got the man's attention.  He looked up and saw a pair of bluebirds resting on a limb.  There was something wholesome and sweet about it, like a sense of family.  Daniel felt sad when the birds flew away.

~Everyone leaves.~

The involuntary thought took Daniel to a dark place, one where he'd replayed that horrible moment when he watched his parents die, buried under a concrete block at the New York Museum of Art.  He recalled eating waffles at a restaurant with his grandfather shortly after the passing of his parents, wondering if he would be going on digs with him from then on.  He soon learned that would not be the case.  His mind went to the Simpson family.  He lived with them for less than a year during a period when he was emotionally bereft of love.  He wasn't speaking verbally, keeping his thoughts from the world and his pain to himself.  Still, he loved the family, and their daughter Suzanne somehow managed to get him smiling every now and then.  It all ended when Mister Simpson was transferred and Daniel was yanked out of the home without warning.

~They all leave.~

Daniel knew acquaintances, but people he could call friends were essentially non-existent.  He was alone in the world, with only facts and theories to be at his side.  He didn't even have anything to remind him of his parents.  He felt his love for them, but he'd been so traumatized by their deaths that his memories were buried deep within him.  He felt like a stranger on this big ship called Earth.  It was full of millions of people, none of whom stopped to give him the time of day, unless it was to insult or tease him.

With his long hair, less-than-threatening look, and usually soft speaking tone, Daniel was viewed as a pushover, a weakling, and more than likely to many a homosexual.  The taunts and slurs had been tossed his way for years.  The fact that he was the peaceful sort and kept his nose buried in books didn't help his reputation any.  He was considered an oddball and he was completely on his own.

~Why am I always alone?  Why isn't there anyone who understands?~

Daniel sighed.  Why was he feeling so blue?  Why couldn't he concentrate and plow through the distractions at the library, his dorm room, and even here in the open campus?  He happened to glance down and caught a glimpse of his watch and that's when it hit him.  He saw the date: July 8.

“Oh,” the student said out loud.  ~I forgot.  Why should I remember it anyway?  It's just another day.  It's always been just another day, a date on the calendar.~

Sitting despondently, Daniel felt more separated from the rest of the human race than he ever had.  It was his 17th birthday and there was no one to wish him well, no one to offer a hug or even a handshake, and no one to give him a present.  All he had was himself and a pile of Slavic language research to get through for his Friday classes.

~I hate the eighth of July.  I think I'll just skip over it from now on.~

Still, as grown up as Daniel wanted to be at that moment, he was still a teenager, a wandering youth searching for a home, for a place to be with others, and for someone to care he was part of the Good Ship Earth.  A tear rolled down his cheek.  Quickly, he brushed it away.  The last thing he needed was for any of his presumed peers to see him sitting by a tree, sulking and crying.  He pulled his knees to his chest as tight as he could and leaned his head forward.  It wasn't blood he felt running through his body, but moisture, the wetness of tears and a childhood that had passed him by.  The knots in his stomach grew tighter, his muscles constricting in an attempt to scream of his loneliness.  It was no use.  Try as he might, Daniel cried, keeping his head hidden and his sobs as internal as possible.  He had to be tough.  He couldn't be weak.  He didn't want another beating like the ones he'd received in foster homes.  He was on his own in life, with no one to rely on but himself.  How he wanted a hug, just a short embrace from someone, anyone who cared.

In that moment, the despairing young man solved his problem by wrapping his arms around himself, tucking them in between his chest and his still pulled-up knees.  Not necessarily knowing what he was doing, he was hugging himself, something he would continue to do for years subconsciously.  Sadly, Daniel knew that the only one he had in the world was himself.  He was his own father, mother, and friend.  He was the only one who cared enough about himself to hug himself, so that's what he did.

~Gawd, I'm so pathetic,~ Daniel thought, his hands tightening on his body.  ~That's enough.  I need to study.  I will study.  That's where I belong, with books.~

Even so, Daniel didn't move, not that hour and not the next.  With a stoic expression, he sat motionless, self-hugging, as night fell.  He turned off his brain, trying not to feel anything because the pain of the absence of love was too hard to deal with, at least at the moment.  When he finally stood, he vowed never to let another birthday get to him.

~It's just another day and no big deal.  I wasted a lot of time today.  I won't do that again.~
//End of Flashback//

“Just another day,” Daniel echoed sadly.

“What's just another day?” Jack asked, startling his lover.  ~Like that's true ... not!~

Jack sat down slightly behind his husband, immediately putting his arms around Daniel's waist.  Just as instantly, the younger man leaned back into Jack's protective embrace.

“I love you,” Daniel declared softly.

“I love you, too,” Jack returned, kissing his Love's nape.  “You weren't here when I came up.  Where were you?”

“College.”

“Which one?” Jack chuckled as his hands gently caressed Daniel's abdomen.  Laughing more, he asked, “When?”

“UCLA, 1981-82,” Daniel answered.  “It was a ... a lonely time.”

“You were, what, sixt...”

“Sixteen my freshmen year.  Well, maybe it was my freshsophmen year,” the younger man mused.

“You did double duty.”

“Fast tracked.  I was always on the fast track.  It ... it was all I had, Jack.”

“Not anymore.”

“I know,” Daniel responded with a bit of a happy sigh that came out much like a pleased chuckle.  “Jack, it's such a difference, who I am, what I have now versus then.  It's all part of me, though, and I can't just ... forget it.”

“You don't have to, Love, but when you go there in your mind, just make sure you know you aren't alone.  I'm always with you and so are our kids.”

“So don't let it get too dark, right?” Daniel replied.

The question didn't need a response.  Besides, Daniel turned to look at his husband, resulting in a tender union of their lips and a forever gaze that answered the question much better than words ever could.

“The kids are up,” Jack announced suddenly.

“I thought they were going to sleep in.”

“It's after nine.”

“That's sleeping in?” Daniel questioned in shock.

“Oh, forgive me, Doctor Jackson,” Jack began, “I forgot that to you sleeping in means noontime.”

The lovers laughed and kissed again, a bit more passionately this time around.

Daniel couldn't believe his luck now in having so much love in his life.  He also realized that he'd just wasted way too much time dwelling on a time when he wasn't so fortunate.

“Little Danny asked for Krispy Kremes, and the rest of the brood went for it.  I told them 'yes'.”

“Softie.”

“A 'yes' every now and then keeps them fooled,” Jack teased.  “Come on.”

The two men stood and made their way downstairs, finding the brood waiting for them in the living room.  Several appeared to still be wearing their sleepwear.

“Daddy, we're having Krispy Kremes,” Little Danny called out eagerly.

“So I heard.”

“Can I go with you to get them?”

“Uh ... me?”

“Pleeeeease,” the middle Munchkin pleaded.  “I got dressed just so we could go together to get the donuts,” the child explained with bright eyes and an eager voice.

“Looks like you're hired to make the run,” Jack noted with a shrug.

“Lucky me,” Daniel replied, taking the keys that Jack held out in his hands.  “Let's go.”

As Daniel and his namesake headed for the door, Jack called out, “Daniel?”

“Yes?” the archaeologist responded, turning back to face his soulmate.

“Shoes.”

“Huh?”

“Shoes,” Jack repeated, nodding down toward the younger man's bare feet.

Daniel looked down and then rolled his eyes.  With a look of disbelief, he walked by his lover, returning the man's keys.

“I won't need these now.”

As Daniel disappeared up the stairs, Jack laughed, “Daddy and his shoes.  Do you know he almost left his boots on a planet once?”

“Really?” Lulu snickered.

“A little place called Kheb.”

“Why were his boots off?” Jonny queried curiously.

“It was a Zen thing,” the military man explained.

“Huh?” Jonny responded.

“Spiritual,” Jack clarified.  “Kinda like being in a church.”

“The planet was a church?” the little general asked.

“Never mind, Son.  We'll tell you all about Kheb sometime.  Daddy will explain the Zen stuff,” Jack spoke, ending the subject.

“Let's go,” Daniel called out as he took the stairs two at a time on the way down, smiling briefly at his husband as he walked by.

Jack smiled.  His Love had also changed his clothes, discarding the raggedy attire for a short-sleeve navy blue V-neck pullover shirt and jeans.  It was both casual and appropriate for the day.

“We'll be waiting,” Jack called out as Daniel and the Munchkin walked out of the house.  With a nod to the oldest Munchkin, he ordered, “Go!”

Lickity split, Jonny hurried to the front window, kneeling down and peeking out, yet doing it on the sly, being sure he wasn't seen.

Jack stood, whistling, while the brood remained in their positions, no one saying a word.

“Gone!” Jonny called out.

In a flash, robes were thrown back revealing that the children were already in their street clothes.  As each pair of slippers flew off, the kids scurried behind the sofa to put on their regular shoes.  As he watched, Jack began with the commands.

“Okay, Kids.  Let's get this show on the road.  We don't have that long.  Bri, Mrs. V's.  Jen, Carter's.  Lulu, stick with JD.  Jeff, David, the gazebo.  Noa, Spitfires, the garage.  Ash, the robes and slippers.  Jonny, you're with me.”

Everyone scattered, all well aware of their individual duties and the very short timetable they had to get everything done.

====

“Daddy, let's go to the drive-thru one,” Little Danny suggested.

“The store is closer.”

“But I really *love* going through the drive-thru,” the boy stated enthusiastically.

“You do?”

“It's fun.”

“Oooookay, sure,” Daniel agreed, not really understanding why his almost seven-year-year son suddenly had a thing about drive-thrus.  ~One week it's save the ducks and the next week it's donuts from drive-thrus,~ he mused to himself.

Smiling, Little Danny felt good.  He was winning all the way around.  First,  he was getting some nice one-on-one time with his daddy.  Second, he was in his Daniel's little silver sports car which was exciting to ride in; and third, he had just successfully accomplished the second part of his mission: getting Daniel to go to the physical Krispy Kreme location that was quite a ways from the family home, thus providing Jack and the brood more time to get everything ready.

====

The house was buzzing with activity, particularly the backyard.  Jack had just brought in previously well-hidden boxes from the garage, handing them over to Sam Shanahan to handle since the contents were her department on this day.  He walked around, checking in with each team of adults and children to ensure there weren't any glitches or problem.  He checked his watch, uncertain of just how long they had.

“Jack, a hand,” Lou Ferretti called out from a corner of the yard.

Jack nodded and sprinted over to assist his friend.  When he was done, he realized Little Danny had to have been successful with his second objective.

~Good job, Son.  You got Daddy to take you with him and to go to the KK store.  Now, keep him there.  We're counting on you.~

====

Daniel drove up to the window and began to place his order which he intended to be two-dozen donuts, including a dozen that were chocolate-covered glazed ones, but as he began to speak, his namesake spoke up, interrupting him.

“Daddy, let's get some donuts for Aunt Sam and Uncle Pete.”

“I guess we could, but they probably already ate,” Daniel replied.

“But maybe they haven't.”

Daniel shrugged and replied, “I can't argue with.”  Inwardly, he mused, ~... especially since I've used that line myself a few hundred times.~  To the order taker, he added, “And we'll take two maple bars.”

“And Mrs. Valissi,” Little Danny suggested with a smile.

“And Mrs. Valissi,” Daniel echoed as he stared at his happy son.  “Uh, Miss, and we'll also take a Key Lime cheesecake.”

“And Mrs. Miller.”

“Mitzi?” Daniel asked about one of their neighbors.

“She loves donuts, too,” Little Danny replied.  Seeing Daniel just staring at him, the boy called out so as to be heard through the ordering speaker, “Can we have five glazed cinnamon donuts, please.”

“Five?” Daniel questioned, though while his mouth moved, nothing came out.

“Oh, and we need some for Uncle Lou.”

“Of course, we do,” Daniel mumbled as he listened to his son shout into the speaker once again.

Before long, the order taker was wondering if she was being pranked, especially when the order was being placed in such a scattered way.

“Son, are we buying donuts for the entire neighborhood?”

“That's a great idea, Daddy!  We'll take two dozen of everything,” Little Danny called out loudly.  “And don't forget four dozen of the glazed hafta be hot and so do the cinnamon ones and ...”

~Maybe this is a dream,~ Daniel wondered.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, son?”

“She said we could drive to the window now.”

“What? Oh, yeah, right, sure, of course: the window.”

Daniel drove forward to the window.  Automatically, he pulled out his wallet and prepared to pay in cash. That's when the sound of the total bill thundered in his mind.

~How am I going to tell Jack breakfast cost $252.90?  For that matter, how can I tell him we bought twenty-four dozen donuts?  What the heck are we gonna do with twenty-four dozen donuts?~

Daniel was about to cancel the order when three workers appeared from around the corner with boxes of donuts.

“We thought it would be easier, Sir,” the staff worker from the other side of the window stated.

“You don't have a backseat,” one of the male workers with a stack of boxes stated.  “Should we stack them on the hood?”

Daniel gave the worker a bit of a sarcastic look and then popped the trunk.  It was going to be a challenge getting all those donuts inside the small space.  Right now, though, he just wanted to pay the bill and get out of the area.

====

“Dad, they're back,” Chenoa called out from the front window where she'd been stationed with JD for the last twenty minutes.

“Let's move!” Jack barked.  “The target is back.”

“'The target',” Jennifer chuckled as she sprinted to her spot.

“Isn't this a military op?” Brianna asked as she ran alongside her older sister.

“Come to think of it, I guess so.”

After a quick review of the personnel and the setting, Jack jogged to the living room and let out a gust of air.

“Show time!” Jack exclaimed as he waited for the door to open.

Seconds later, the door pushed inward and in appeared a stack of ten boxes and a pair of legs.  Jack couldn't help but laugh.

“Danny, are you back there?”

“Dad, we brought lots of donuts,” Little Danny advised as he held up the four boxes he was carrying.

“Uh, Babe, there are ... gawd, there are more in the car.  A little help, please.”

Jack took the boxes, still laughing, and placed them on the coffee table.

“Hungry, Angel?”

“Very funny.  I'll go get ...”

“No, we'll get them later and ...”

“Jack, the trunk is popped.”

Not having a choice, Jack returned with Daniel to the car.  He laughed harder when he realized how difficult it had been to place all the boxes into the sporty vehicle.

“How many dozen did you get anyway?”

“Twenty-four.  Do the math yourself.”

“I'll think about it later,” the general responded as he took hold of several boxes.

“I almost had to have Little Danny sit on boxes,” Daniel joked, glad his husband didn't seem to be bothered by the event.  ~Odd, but then he is a donut king.~

Back inside the house, Jack took the point, ensuring that his husband didn't veer from the needed path.  In fact, he stopped Daniel at the counter.

“Just put them here.”

Daniel put down his boxes and then noticed the blinds were closed, making the house a bit dark for this time of the day.

“Jack, why aren't the blinds open?  And, ah, where are the children?”

“I'm here!” Little Danny volunteered with a raised right hand.

“Believe me, I know that,” Daniel responded.  “He wanted donuts for the entire neighborhood.”

“Well done,” Jack praised, reaching out and messing up the boy's hair.

“Thanks, Dad!”

“What, uh, is that about?”

“I love you,” Jack expressed tenderly, leaning in to kiss his husband.

“And I love you, but I repeat, what were you two talking about?”

“Happy Birthday, Angel,” Jack wished from the depths of his heart, walking over and opening the blinds.

“Wh...wh...wh... huh?”

As Jack opened the patio door, an assembled group of family, friends, and employees began singing 'Happy Birthday' to Daniel.

~I love it when a plan comes together.~  Seeing his husband amazed and stunned, Jack's arm reached out to gently move Daniel forward.  Quietly, he spoke, “This most definitely is not just another day, Danny.  It's your birthday, and if you think we were going to forget about it and not celebrate just because we've been at the cabin and are a little tired, you're nuts.”

The backyard had a huge birthday sign hanging at the center and was festively decorated.  A large cake was on one table.  Two other tables held a slew of presents.  Everywhere Daniel looked, there was some sign that it was party time at the Jackson-O'Neill's.

In fact, it was a carnival atmosphere, literally.  There was a dunk tank, balloon toss area, photo booth, cotton candy and snow cone makers, and more.  There were two mini-exhibits, one featuring pictures of Daniel and another that focused on a local children's shelter that doubled as a fundraiser.  There was even a plant a seed set up where guests could decorate flower pots and then plant it with the flower seed of their choice.  The finished creations could then be taken home as a memento of the party.

So many people were there with smiling faces.  As Daniel walked onto the grass, he was swooped upon by people who cared about and loved him.  There was hug after hug.

“Suz!” the archaeologist exclaimed emotionally when he saw Suzanna Simpson, his foster sister.  ~No, there's nothing foster about it.  She's my sister.~

“It's so good to see you, Daniel.”

“You, too.”

It took Daniel a long time to make it through the crowd.  At times, he wondered how so many people could fit in the backyard, but he was glad they could.

====

As the morning ticked on into midday, several participated in a variety of games. Some games were just for adults, some just for kids, and a few played jointly.  There were lots of toasts and well wishes as guests enjoyed finger sandwiches and other foods prepared by the bakery detail which Daniel eventually learned was headed up by the team of Jennifer and Brianna.

Then in the early afternoon, the focus turned to Katie, the family's youngest beagle. This was her birthday, too.  A party for her had long been planned.  That was the only festivity Daniel had envisioned happening this year.  Obviously, he was wrong.  For an hour, it was canine central with the beagle opening her own gifts and testing many of them out with Daniel, the family, and their guests.

The action then switched back to Daniel.  Inside the house's recreation room where a stage was easily formed due to the room's unique construction, the kids put on a short show with a couple of skits and a few songs in honor of their father.

By then everyone was ready for the barbecue.  Steaks, hamburgers, and hot dogs were the star players there.

Now it was late at night with the guests long gone and the cleaning detail essentially finished with the worst of the party debris.  The kids were in bed and the zoo was settled in as well.  Jack and Daniel were back on the Aerie where the day had begun so quietly for the scientist.

As they stood side by side, their arms wrapped around the other, Daniel shook his head in utter amazement and commented, “This was not how I expected today to go.”

“I told you a long time ago, Danny, that birthdays are special.”

“I know, but ... I don't know.  We had a long trip home after a long weekend in Minnesota, and we had to make sure Katie had her time.  I just ... I just thought the calendar was full.”

“It was.”

Daniel turned to face his lover, his hands on the side of Jack's frame, and asked, “When you did you plan this?”

“Weeks and weeks ago,” Jack admitted.  “I planned it like a military op.”

“I'm sure you did.”

“I admit I had a lot of help,” the older man informed Daniel as he thought about the various friends who had assisted in storing party favors, food, and equipment.  “Carter, the Doc, and Mrs. V were vital in pulling it off.”

“And Little Danny?”

“He did great, didn't he?”

“Twenty-four dozen donuts, Jack.  What are we going to do with the leftovers?” Daniel wondered.

“Lou took a few boxes home to take to the Mountain in the morning, and I sent boxes home with some of our guests.  We're down to three dozen.  I think the kids can handle it.”

“You mean *you* can handle it.”

“Love my KKs.”

“And ...”

“Love my geek,” Jack responded, kissing the man who owned his heart.

“This morning, I got lost in what was probably the loneliest time of my life.  There wasn't anyone who even knew I was alive.  Tonight ... gawd, Jack, all those people.  The general,” Daniel stated, referring to General Hammond, “our neighbors, Suz.”  He paused, smiling as he added, “Thank you for calling her.”

“She's family.”

“I thought about her this morning, too, and how things might have different if Mister Simpson hadn't been transferred when he was.”

There was a moment of reflection with a hint of melancholy over the lost innocence of young Daniel Jackson, but then Daniel reached up and ran his hand along Jack's left cheek.

“But then maybe I wouldn't have this and that would be so much worse.  I love you so much.”

“Angel,” Jack whispered as the couple kissed again.  “You know that Jack-in-the-Box you mentioned?”

“Yes?”

With a gleam in his eye, Jack suggested, “Let me show you how this Jack springs into action.”

“I'd like that.  Do you jump out of a box?”

“That can be arranged,” Jack responded as he headed for the ladder.

“Naked,” Daniel instructed.

“Now that's what I'm talking about!”

“Now that's a present I won't ever forget,” Daniel added.

Daniel felt refreshed, alive, and most definitely loved.  He was reminded yet again that July 8th was not just another day and never would be.

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

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