Oshkosh U.S.A.

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - July 28-30, 2006
Spoilers:  None
Size:  32kb, short story
Written:  July 4,8-10,12, 2004  Revised for consistency:  July 20-21, 2007
Summary:  Jack and Daniel take Jo to the big experimental air show in Oshkosh, where they run into some friends.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) 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.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it is a sequel to my past fic(s), “Paradise”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, Drdjlover, QuinGem, Carol!

Oshkosh U.S.A.
by Orrymain

Daniel's eyes were closed as he relaxed.  He was at ease, enjoying the sensation of drifting weightlessly through time.  He smiled, thinking about his lover.  Opening his eyes, he looked over at Jack and saw a perfectly serene look on the older man's face.  Every time he saw that look, Daniel knew they had made the right decision.  Here, in the air, maybe more than anywhere else, Jack was in control and at peace.

The couple had already taken two trips in their new plane, a Meyers 200A.  The first had been a trial run to Laramie, Wyoming and the second a quick trip to Las Vegas, New Mexico.  Now, Jo, as they called their plane, was gently carrying the lovers on their first flight as the official owners of the aircraft.

“Any regrets?” Daniel asked.

“Not a one.  By the way, thank you,” Jack spoke.

“You've thanked me at least a hundred times so far,” the younger man replied.

“Get used to it.  This is a big, huge honkin' 'thank you' thing you did,” Jack said smiling.  After a moment, he stated, “Danny, I've been thinking.  It's been a while since I actually took care of a plane, so I thought I'd I take a course in maintenance.  They offer some at the airport.  Actually, Neil mentioned that he teaches one.  He said ...”

Daniel smiled some more.  He hadn't seen his husband this passionate about a hobby in years.

~Why did I take so long to do this for him?  Gawd, he's done so much for me.~

The younger man was just glad they had finally made the decision to buy the classic aircraft.  He had to admit the plane was a beauty, and he loved their name for her -- The Flying High, nicknamed Jo for Jackson-O'Neill.

Neil Patterson, the prior owner, was a great guy.  He had only sold the plane because of a heart condition that required him to cut back on pursuing his passion of flying.  He had kept meticulous records of the 1960 airplane's history, and he and Jack had spent hours discussing Jo and flying in general.

“So what do you think, Angel?”

“I think you should do it,” Daniel opined happily.

As the couple enjoyed their flight, Daniel put on some music, mostly instrumental songs by Kenny G and John Tesh.  The lull of the notes made for a soothing background as they traveled.  They chatted off and on, and for a while, Daniel read.

Time seemed to fly by, and soon they had reached their destination -- Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  The event was the annual gathering of the Experimental Aircraft Association which Jack's old Academy buddies, Dale Rancolini and Sean Douglas, had mentioned at a recent reunion in Denver.

Jack taxied the plane to the appropriate area, still impressed by the smoothness of Jo's takeoffs and landings.

“Made it, safe and sound,” the older man commented.

“There was never any doubt of that, Babe,” Daniel said confidently as he exited the aircraft.

After getting their bearings, the lovers decided to venture out and start enjoying the show.  They checked in and then strolled around the area, finally coming upon the EAA AirVenture Museum.

Laughing, Jack said, “It's just for you, Danny.”

“It's a museum, Jack; it's for everyone,” Daniel corrected, rolling his eyes.

The couple went inside, perusing the exhibits for a while, and then they walked around the Pioneer Airport buildings, which was a bit like taking a trip back in time, showcasing some vintage aircraft in what had been the environment of the day.  They observed some of the projects being carried out in the restoration shop and even took a short helicopter ride over the grounds, just to get a good overview of the place.

The air show, which had started as a small venture years ago, was now huge, and having never attended before, Jack and Daniel figured the flight was a good way to get a nice idea of the true size and scope of the area.

Afterwards, the lovers enjoyed lunch and then gathered with other observers for the daily air show, which began around 2 p.m.  They weren't disappointed.  The program featured some daring and exciting maneuvers by the participants.  Jack was impressed by the Marine Corps Harriers, among others, as they performed precision aerobatic routines.

“That was way cool,” Jack said when it was over.

“Just don't you ever try any of that, especially with me in the plane,” the archaeologist warned.

“Piece of cake.”

“No, it's not, O'Neill, and I repeat, don't you ever try any of that.”

Jack gave Daniel a quick kiss and whispered, “Yes, Dear,” which earned him a glare from his husband.

Next, the two men headed over to look at some of the home built aircraft that were on display.  They were amazed at the planes they viewed, and the patience it must have taken to put them together.

“I can't believe Sean actually built his own plane,” Jack stated.  “I didn't know he had the patience.  He was always an action guy, liked to keep on the move.”

“I wonder how long it took him,” Daniel said.

“Maybe I'll give him a call, now that I've gotten a closer look at these,” Jack responded.

“You should, Jack.”

Daniel was glad Jack was getting involved in flying again, and having visited with some of his old flying pals, he thought his lover would enjoy spending more time with them to share a common passion.  So much of Jack's life was focused on the younger man, and it's not that Daniel was complaining, because he wasn't, but he sometimes felt guilty.  He knew deep down in his soul that the closest thing to him in Jack's heart was flying.

~Or maybe fishing.  No, flying.  Fishing.  Both.~

The couple's next stop was Fergus Chapel to get a look at the Memorial Wall.  The monument was a tribute to aviators who had inspired others to fly.  Those honored were nominated by their families and friends as a sign of appreciation for the honoree's contributions to aviation.

“That's a lot of names,” Daniel commented.

“Good people, I'd bet.  People who loved to fly and shared that passion with others.”

“Jack, what's that?” Daniel asked as he pointed towards the east.

“I think that's Compass Hill,” Jack answered as he looked off into the distance.  “It's supposed to be a great place to relax and take in the view.”

“Shall we?” Daniel queried with a smile.

“After you,” Jack agreed.

====

At Compass Hill, Jack and Daniel studied the full-size sculptures of a four-member family on an aviation outing.  The bronze forms were a tribute to the values of the family.

“This is to celebrate the family,” Jack read, looking at some literature the couple had downloaded from the internet before leaving Colorado Springs. “Compass Hill is designed to celebrate this worldwide family and its values of quality, innovation, and the freedom of personal flight.”

“It's a wonderful tribute, Jack,” Daniel said, leading his soulmate over to a bench where they sat down for a few minutes.

“Yeah.  Flying is magic, Danny.  It should be a family affair,” Jack agreed.

“I wish the girls were here,” Daniel said, missing their beloved beagles.

Jack squeezed his lover's hand, saying, “They'd hate it here, Danny.  There are too many loud noises and disturbances.  Besides, with all the planes and people, it's dangerous, too.”

“I know.  I'm not sorry we didn't bring them.  I just miss them,” the younger man sighed.  Seeing something he hadn't noticed since they had walked to Compass Hill, Daniel looked closer at the rectangular objects and pointed out, “Jack, some of these bricks have names on them.  I wonder what that's about.”

Jack reviewed the literature they'd been given, learning that the bricks were a way to contribute to the EAA and express one's love of flying.

Jack smiled and asked, “What do you think?”

“I think it's worthwhile,” Daniel replied.

Having decided to purchase a brick to commemorate their experience, the soulmates made a note to take care of that the following day since it was now too late in the day to do so.

From their spot, Jack and Daniel saw several planes landing and taking off, and as they watched, Jack talked about some of the different aircraft, pros and cons.

Daniel enjoyed the lecture because his lover was so passionate about what he was saying.  The older man's eyes were shining, and his voice was full of excitement.

~I'll never regret buying Jo,~ Daniel thought.

After a while, Jack smiled and said, “I sound like you.”

Daniel chuckled, “And I love you for it.”

The lovers just gazed into each other's eyes for a moment, and then Jack suggested they go back to their own plane, saying, “We'd better get our tent up, Danny.”

Jack and Daniel had decided to experience Oshkosh the way the adventurers did, by pitching a tent over the wing of their plane.  While they could stay at a hotel or motel nearby, the most ardent visitors camped out.  Dale and Sean had both said it was part of the overall experience, so the Jackson-O'Neills had agreed to do it that way, too.

====

As evening fell, Jack and Daniel had set up their plane to their satisfaction and decided to take an evening stroll, just to see all the different kinds of planes now parked in the huge plane camp.  After an hour or so, they were heading back to where Jo was parked.  The two lovers were holding hands, enjoying the summer breeze that filled the evening air.

Several yards behind them, a man took notice of the two men.

“Nance, isn't that Jack and Daniel?”

Nancy Rancolini looked at the direction her husband, Dale, was pointing.  She saw the two men and smiled.

“I think you're right, Dale.  I can't be sure from here, but that looks like Daniel from the back,” the woman said joyfully.

Dale stared at her and shook his head.  At their Denver barbecue, once Jack and Daniel had left, the remaining guests had endured the wives ongoing chatter about how cute and nice the archaeologist was.  He could tell now that his wife hadn't forgotten Daniel at all.

“They *are* holding hands,” Nancy pointed out.

“So are we,” Dale reminded his lovely wife.  “You know, Jack and Daniel are not the only same-sex couple in America.  That may not be them.”

“You know that's not what I mean.  It's just ... they're the first I've ever known.”

Dale continued to watch the two men as he spoke, “I was surprised when Jack told us.  He was always so macho.”

“He still is, Dear, from what I can see.”

“You wanna say 'hello' to them?” Dale asked.

“Yes, of course,” the woman answered.

Dale sped up their walking pace to a near-sprint, and when they were close enough, he called out, “YO!  JACKSON-O'NEILLS!”

Jack and Daniel both stopped and turned around, completely surprised, but each loving the sound of their hyphenated name.

“It's Dale!” Jack said to Daniel, and then he called out, “HEY!” and waved his hand invitingly.

After the foursome exchanged greetings, Jack suggested, “Dale, Nancy, how about coming and taking a look at our plane.”

“You bought a plane?” Dale asked, smiling at his old buddy.

Nodding, Jack confirmed, “Yeah, Daniel found her.  Jo is a beauty.”

====

Arriving at the site where Jack and Daniel had pitched their tent, Dale immediately laughed, “It's blue!  You actually found a blue plane.”

“No, we had her painted,” Jack clarified.


“I can certainly see why,” Nancy replied with a soft voice, carefully observing Daniel as he stood near the aircraft.

Dale stared at his wife and asked, “You can?”

“It brings out his blue eyes, Dale.  That's obvious.  See how crystal blue they are,” Nancy observed.

Jack positively radiated with pleasure, while Daniel wished he was one of the bugs crawling along the grass.  The young man mumbled an “Oh, gawd” and then leaned his forehead against his lover's shoulder.

The silver-haired man loved it, the freedom he and Daniel now had, and he loved that Daniel, though still very shy and private in public, was more open now, open enough to do what he just had -- to lean against Jack for support, even about something that was a bit silly.

“I told you, Daniel.”

Dale and Nancy both chuckled as they watched the two.

“You and your blue fetish,” Daniel said with a sigh.

“You mean my Danny fetish,” Jack corrected.

“Jack!”

More laughter ensued, and then everyone sat down to visit for a while.

“You monogrammed her,” Dale observed, looking at the plane's tail.

Jack looked over and said, “Danny's idea again.”

“But Jack figured out the design.”

“Design?  Danny, it's a circle with our initials,” Jack refuted.

“It's still a design, and, as you may recall, we argued for quite a while over the font, color, and whether or not the letters should be on or in something, or alone.  We ...”

“He's right,” Jack interrupted, cutting off the lecture.  “I designed it.  Thank you, thank you very much,” he said, doing an impression of Elvis Presley, causing the other three, including Daniel, to laugh.

When their visit was over, the two couples made arrangements to meet again the next day.

“Ready for bed, Love?” Jack asked

“Yeah.  I'm really enjoying this, Jack,” Daniel sighed, looking up at the night sky and then over at their plane.

“At least we beat the temptation to call and check on Kayla and the girls,” Jack stated, looking down at the ground.

Jack was referring to Kayla Armentrout, the woman who was pregnant with their child, thanks to artificial insemination.  The girls, of course, were their precious beagles, Bijou and Katie.  As they'd eluded to earlier at Compass Hill, the couple never liked leaving the canines behind.

“Jack,” Daniel said softly.

The older man looked over, staring at his husband.  He noticed the cerulean blue eyes were totally focused on him, looking for truth.

“Okay, I confess,” Jack sighed.

Daniel laughed, leaning over to share a kiss before admitting, “I called, too, when you were looking at that one exhibit in the museum that fascinated you.”

“Daniel, we'd only just arrived then.”

“I know.”

With a chuckle, Jack informed, “I called when you made your pit stop.”

“We're pitiful, Babe,” Daniel lamented as he leaned into the comfort of his lover.

“Nah, we're just concerned for our family,” Jack spoke.  After a moment, he added, “And we're pitiful.”

Laughing, the two men prepared for bed, eager to explore the magic of Oshkosh more the next day.

====

The next day, Jack and Daniel went through the NASA building and dropped by the flea market area where Jack found something he couldn't resist, a figurine of a beagle flying a plane.

Daniel laughed as he watched his husband, remembering the various decorative beagle pieces Jack had purchased while on their honeymoon in Australia.

~No, he didn't miss the girls, and he doesn't now either.  Na-uh.  No way.~

Daniel snickered at his silent mockery, drawing Jack's attention.

“What?” the general asked.

“Give it up, Jack,” Daniel said, reaching into his pocket for his wallet.

“What are you doing?” Jack questioned.

“You know we're buying it, so I'm just moving things along,” Daniel said, pulling out a twenty dollar bill.

“It's cute, Danny.”

“And it looks like Bij.”  As Jack shrugged innocently, Daniel paid for the item and got a bag they could use to carry it in.  “You're just a sap, Jack.”

“And you're not?”

“We aren't talking about me.”  Jack stared at his lover accusingly.  “Okay.  I'm a ... sap, too.”

The lovers headed for the Theater in the Woods to hear some of the featured speakers, including a former test pilot and some current record-holders for various flying feats.  When that ended, they dropped by the area where the quilt block contest was being held so they could view some of the very intricate designs on display.

“My grandmother used to make quilts,” Jack recalled.  “She even belonged to one of those quilting circles.  I remember that whenever I visited my grandparents, on Wednesday nights, all the ladies would come over and work on their quilts.”

“I wish I known her.  Every time you talk about her, she sounds so ... perfect,” Daniel spoke.

“She was a character, a free spirit.”

“With great country sayings,” Daniel said, thinking back to some of the pearls of wisdom Jack had quoted over the years.

“That's true.  Look at this one,” Jack said as he pointed to a colorful block that had won an award a year or two earlier.  “I can't imagine how long this must have taken.”

Daniel read the plaque below it and commented, “It's celebrating the entire Oshkosh event.  This would be great framed.”

The multi-colored patch pictured various types of aircraft flying and on the ground below, visitors at the various campgrounds.

Next, the couple had lunch and made their contribution to Compass Hill by buying a Summit brick.  They had it inscribed 'The Jackson-O'Neills', which made both of them smile.

The afternoon was divided between examining the international displays at Federal Pavilion, observing some of the fastest and most unique aircraft at the Aeroshell Square, and taking a look at some of light sport planes that were on display at the Sport Pilot Center.

“We don't have time to do this right, Jack.”

“I know, but now that we have Jo, maybe we can come back again,” Jack put forth.

“You're right, and at least we've managed to get a good idea of what happens here, but there's no way to take all this in just two days.”

“That's why it lasts a week, Dannyboy,” Jack said smugly.

“I think I'll sell the plane,” Daniel teased.

Jack laughed, gave his lover a quick kiss, and then led the way to the spot where they were to meet Dale and Nancy for dinner.

====

“Oh, you can never see all the air show has to offer in a weekend, Jack,” Dale said strongly as they walked to where his plane was parked.

“That's what I told Daniel.”

“So you'll just have to come back next year,” Nancy said, a smile on her face.

“I hope so, but ...” Daniel paused, not sure he wanted to continue, but he saw the curious looks, so he continued on.  “It's just, we're ... we're, uh, starting a family and with a baby, I ...”

“You two were serious?” Nancy asked as she stared at them.

At the barbecue, Jack and Daniel had announced their upcoming parentage, but, for some reason, not everyone had been convinced that they were being serious.

Apologetically, Nancy stuttered, “Oh, uh, I didn't mean that how it sounded.  I'm sorry.  This is new for me, and I hope you understand that it has nothing to do with either of you.  I just ... well, it's new.”

“It's okay,” Daniel assured her.

Nancy's reactions weren't fake or phony, nor were her words accusatory or condescending.  This was indeed new to her.  In her life, she had never really had a chance to socialize with a same-sex couple.  Her husband only recently retired, that 'type' of couple just hadn't been a part of their lives.

When the friends reached the plane, Dale spent several minutes showing it off and answering Jack's slew of questions.  As for Nancy and Daniel, they stood back watching their spouses having a great time talking about things they personally knew little about.

After a while, the Rancolinis walked Jack and Daniel back to their plane and then made themselves comfortable so they could all chat some more.

“This is the way to go, Jack,” Dale remarked about the camping out.

“I think you're right.  We had a great time last night,” Jack noted.

“Good weather helps,” Daniel opined.

“True, but it's not like we haven't camped out before,” Jack added.  “In fact, I'm a little surprised it's been so much fun.”

“I thought you liked camping, Jack?” Dale asked.

“I do, but Daniel and I have probably camped out three or four times a week for years.  Still can't believe lying on the ground was so much fun last night.”

“That's because it was our choice last night, Jack.  We weren't on a mission.”

Jack nodded in agreement.

“Mission?” Dale asked, a bit surprised.  “Daniel, you're not military, are you?”

“Uh, no, but as a civilian, Jack and I were on the same team.  We ... worked together.”

Dale looked at Jack, who said, “Cheyenne Mountain.”

“NORAD?” the man questioned, a bit surprised at the revelation.

“No, it's ... classified,” Jack answered.

“Oh,” Dale said as he sat back in his lawn chair.  “Hot stuff then.  It's hard to imagine.”

“Like a hot potato,” Jack quipped.  He took hold of Daniel's hand as they sat side by side on the grass next to Jo.  He smiled with pride as he said, “He's saved the world many times.”

“Jack, don't start,” Daniel pleaded.

“You're so shy,” Jack teased, moving forward to kiss his husband.

“Can I ask you two a question?” Nancy asked from her spot next to Dale.  Quickly, she added, “And I'm asking because ... well ...”

“Go ahead, Nancy,” Daniel encouraged.

“Jack, you were married.  Were you always ... gay?” Nancy inquired a bit hesitantly.

“I'm not gay,” Jack fired back quickly.  “I'm just me.  Daniel was married before, too.  We didn't ever consider a same-sex relationship before we fell in love with each other.  It's hard to explain, and I'm not good with words.”

“Yes, you are,” Daniel objected, but he looked at the Rancolinis and explained, “We don't like labels.  I don't know what we are, except that we're two people who fell in love.  We're us.”

More calmly than his first remark, Jack picked up the conversation, saying, “It just happened, Nancy.  We worked together, became best friends, and then we fell in love.  There's nothing unique about that.  For Daniel and me, it just happened that the person we fell in love with is the same sex.  Does that make us homosexuals?  I don't know.  We've both been married, been with women, so does that make us bi-sexual?”

“We don't think about it,” Daniel jumped in, “because we don't see ourselves as being defined by any generalization or label.”

“Look,” Jack said, leaning forward, clasping his hands together in front of him.  “I know a lot of people would call Daniel a geek.  I tease him myself.  Well, he is, but he's not the stereotype that label implies.  Dale, I wasn't kidding.  If Daniel wasn't the courageous man he is, you'd be dead ... or worse, and don't ask.  It *is* classified.  I wasn't exaggerating about any of it.  What we've seen, it's pretty incredible, and Danny, here, he's saved the human race.  Geek?  Oh, yeah, but he can rip you in two.  Trust me, I've trained him.”

Daniel put his arm around his lover's waist and gently caressed the area as he continued the conversation by saying, “And let's not forget about you, Jack ... the military hot shot, made it to general, scaring Marines and airmen, and saving the planet a few times as you did it.  How many know the real you?  The military label defines only the skills and talents, the Special Ops training ... maybe the protocol, but it isn't close to explaining the man you are, the man who has sacrificed so much for me; the guy who loves opera, spends hours at children's shelters.  The peaceful fisherman who never caught a fish because he ...”

“DANIEL!” Jack warned.  “I think they get the idea.”

“We just don't believe in anything that tries to say who we are with a single word,” Daniel spoke.  “It's ridiculous, so you can call us whatever you want.  We honestly don't think about it.  We support the freedom to love who you want, regardless of sex because love is ... it's about caring and ...”

As Daniel sighed, Jack reached over and took his hand, kissing it; then he stated, “Daniel is a very passionate man, and caring about people is a big priority for him.”

“I can see that,” Nancy responded.

“I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to lecture.  I talk too much,” the archaeologist sighed, bowing his head and feeling a little embarrassed.

“No, you don't, Daniel,” Dale refuted.

“And I hope you didn't mind my question,” Nancy said softly.  “Really, it's just ... I think you're both very nice.  I hope you'll stay in touch.”

Jack nodded and Daniel smiled, and then Dale leaned over and kissed his wife.

“Hey, I've got a great idea.  How about you two come over for dinner in a couple of weeks?” Dale suggested.

“We'd like that,” Daniel answered.

“You can tell me horror stories about the kids passing themselves off as cadets,” Jack teased.  More seriously, he asked, “How do you like teaching at the Academy?”

“Wait,” Daniel said, looking at Jack.  “I thought you said he retired?”

“I did, from running around the globe,” Dale explained.  “I told Jack at the party that I agreed to do some instructing at the Academy, at least for a while.”

“Didn't like ... globetrotting?” Daniel asked.

“Not with what I was doing, shuffling papers, or that's how it felt.  I'm not sure why the Air Force wants to hang on to me; it's not like I've done anything major,” Dale spoke, shaking his head.

“You're being humble, Dear,” Nancy stated, putting her hand on her husband's arm.

Daniel saw a gleam in her eye.  He suspected there was more to Dale's story than he was letting on.

“So, do you enjoy teaching?” Jack asked.

“Sure, but I don't know that I'm going to stick with it.  You know me, Jack.  It's not like I'm Mister Adventure, but I want to do something more than read books and grade papers.  I want some excitement in my work.  This isn't what I trained for.”

“Excitement comes in a lot of different ways, Dale,” Jack responded.

“Yeah, but it's not the Middle East, either.”

Now, Daniel knew for sure that there was definitely something in Dale's history. One second he was talking about being nothing but a paper shuffler and the next he's sounding like he was doing covert operations.

“Education is important,” Daniel stated.

“I know that, Daniel,” Dale commented, “but I'm not really the teacher type, even if I am qualified to do the job.  I don't get this gig, and I'm not sure why I agreed to it.”

**Jack, are you going to check his record?**

**My genius.  As soon as we get back, I'll check his jacket, covertly, of course,** the general mused inwardly.

**It's confusing.**

**Confusion can be part of the game.**

“Well, you did, Dale, so stop whining about it,” Nancy said a bit sternly.  “I told you that you wouldn't like it.”

“I know.  I guess I wasn't quite as ready to cut the chain as I thought,” the man admitted.

“Now that I can identify with,” Jack said.  “We retired four or five times before it took.”

“Actually, I'm not sure it did take.  They keep calling us for help,” Daniel stated.

“And, we keep helping,” Jack sighed, shaking his head and then smiling at his lover.

After a few more minutes, the Rancolinis said goodnight, Dale indicating he'd call in a week or two to make dinner plans.

====

After the Rancolinis had headed back to their own plane, Jack and Daniel prepared for bed.  Once settled in their sleeping bags, they looked up at the stars.

“This has been fun, Jack.”

Jack looked over at his husband, questioning, “Has it?”

“What?” Daniel asked in surprise, turning over on his right side to face the older man.

“Danny, this is my ... gig -- planes and aircraft doohickeys.  That stuff is foreign to you.  Did you really have a good time?”

“Jack ...” Daniel leaned over and kissed his husband.  “I've had a great time.  Do I understand it all?  Of course not, but we've met some very nice people, saw some amazing aerobatics, and even went to a museum.  More importantly, we've done it together, and I've loved every minute of it.”

“You're not just saying that?”

“Jack, I don't know why you think I don't like to fly.  I do, especially with you, and it's been educational to learn more about Jo and how we can keep her in shape,” Daniel assured quietly, never losing eye contact with his soulmate.

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too.”

The lovers shared another kiss and then closed their eyes to sleep, but just ten minutes later, Jack whispered, “Danny?”

“Hmm?”

“How'd you like to learn how to fly Jo?”

“Mmm-mmm,” the younger man agreed, his eyes shut snuggly.

Jack smiled, replying, “Good.  I'll teach you, and then we'll arrange lessons, and you can get your license.”

“Okay, J'ck.  Night.”

“Night, Love.”  Jack grinned as he thought about flying the skies with Daniel.  ~If that isn't Heaven, I don't know what is!~

Dreaming of flying high with his husband, Jack Jackson-O'Neill fell asleep.

====

“Looks like we have a clear window, Danny, but let's move it,” Jack said as he began his pre-flight check.

“That was a pretty bad thunderstorm this morning, Jack.  Are you sure it's okay to fly now?” Daniel asked, somewhat concerned.

“There isn't supposed to be anything more than a light rain for the rest of the afternoon, and it's warm and sunny as we head home.  We'll be fine,” the older man assured.

“Next time, Jack, we're getting a better tent,” Daniel chuckled.

The lovers hadn't expected the early morning thunderstorm to be so heavy; as a result, they'd ended up a bit wet before taking shelter inside their plane.

Suddenly, Jack began to whistle, smiling at his lover.  It had been fun to be caught unawares by the downpour.  In fact, they had ended up chasing each other around the plane after bickering over who forgot to secure the tent, allowing the flap to move and let the rain douse them so completely.  The chase had ended up with a round of joyful kissing, followed by some morning cuddling time.  All in all, it had been one of the highlights of their brief visit to Oshkosh.

Daniel chuckled and began to hum as his lover whistled the tune of “Singing in the Rain.”

====

“Bijou!  Katie!  We're home!” Jack announced loudly, not that he had to.  The two beagles were at the patio door, tails wagging happily.  Jack let them in the house, scooping both up into his arms.  “Missed you,” he said as he got lick after lick from the two girls.

“What about me?” Daniel asked, walking in, carrying the luggage.  “You know, you could have helped here, Jack.”

“I was ...” Jack said, putting the dogs down.

“Yeah, I see,” Daniel laughed, knowing full well that Jack was eager to see the dogs.

In a flash, Bijou and Katie ran to Daniel.  He leaned down and exchanged kisses with them.

“I wish we could have taken you, but they don't allow dogs there.  You would have had to have been chained up all day, and limited to a very small area,” Daniel reminded them.

“Grrr,” Bijou commented.

“Exactly,” Daniel responded.

“Katie,” Jack called out.  “Find any new toys in your play yard?”

“Woof!”

“Show me!  Show me what you found,” Jack instructed as he followed Katie outside to see what she had unearthed in her private playground.

Daniel continued to pet Bijou, scratching behind her ears and down her long, sleek body.

“You know what, Bij?  Oshkosh was great.  Jack loved it, and so did I, but that old saying 'there's no place like home' is really true.  Being home, our family together, that's the real meaning of flying high.”

“Woof! Woof!” the beagle agreed.

Daniel laughed and gave the mama dog a kiss on the nose before suggesting, “Come on, let's go see what the kids are up to.”

Bijou seemed to laugh and trotted over to the door, Daniel behind her.  There was still plenty of day left for the Jackson-O'Neills to enjoy their own personal paradise together.
~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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