Pivotal Modifications

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating: PG-13
Season: Beyond the Series - May 13-24, 2019
Spoilers: None
Written: April 21-22, 2018, January 8-10,13, 2021
Summary: Jack and Daniel have an important decision to make, while at the same time, some of the brood approach them with a pointed inquiry.
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 does reference my other fic(s): “Blowout,” “Lost,” and “Change Comes Curiously”

Pivotal Modifications
by Orrymain

“Jenny, this is fantastic work,” Daniel praised as he returned her essay. “Your research was really good. We're going to have to step up our game for your June project.”

“Thanks, Daddy,” the redhead acknowledged with a smile. She stared at her paper. She was satisfied and happy for the recognition of her hard work. Her mind began to mull over a thought she'd been having for a quite a while. ~I wonder what Dad and Daddy would say.~ She sighed, ~I wonder what they'd do.~

====

That night, Jack and Daniel made their rounds together, visiting with all of the children for a varying amount of minutes. They began with Aislinn and Jenny in the girls' bedroom. From there, they went to the boys' room.

Waiting for the door to close, Jenny sprung off her covers and nearly flew over to Aislinn's bed.

“Jenny, what's wrong?” the twelve-year-old triplet asked as she sat up.

Facing her sister, Jenny answered, “Ash, I need to know what you think, what you really think, and maybe more than that, what you want.”

“About what?”

“We both received A's on our essays.”

“Everyone did,” Aislinn stated with a shrug. “Even JD.”

“There's nothing 'even' about it. JD's super smart.”

“He's very good with science and math,” Aislinn opined. “He struggles with history a little.”

“We all have our specialties.” After a pause, Jenny continued, “Here's the deal.”

Aislinn listened as the Spitfire, only one year her junior, expressed her thoughts on an important subject, one the Munchkin had an interest in as well.

====

Long after the brood, including the girls, were fast asleep, Jack emerged from his study and went in search of his lover. He went up three steps before a small woof drew his attention.

“Katie, girl, are you ratting out my husband?”

“Woof,” came the silent response as she looked out into the backyard.

Jack went to the patio door and observed a familiar site, that of Daniel sitting Indian style on the lawn as he faced the house.

“Trouble?”

Katie shook her body, which Jack accepted as an answer. There wasn't any real trouble, but Daniel had something running through his mind that required a one-on-one between him and nature.

“Okay, girl, let's see what's up.”

Jack opened the door, allowing the beagle to run out in front. She immediately landed on Daniel's lap and enjoyed the rubdown he automatically began to give her. Then Jack sat down across from his Love and smiled. There was silence on this night where the temperature was still in the mid-fifties with just a slight breeze coming from the north.

~Enough with the quiet.~ As he, too, patted Katie, Jack inquired, “A kiss for your thoughts.”

“That's definitely better than a penny,” Daniel returned as he leaned forward to enjoy the quick but satisfying exchange. “I'm contemplating the future of our homeschooling.”

Completely understanding, Jack confided, “Danny, I'm out of my math scope for a couple of the kids. Math's been my thing, but ‘thing’ is about to be on empty.”

“When Noa came to me and said she wanted to be nurse, I pulled out her evaluation stats. I wanted her to see how far she's come and how intelligent she really is. Jack, I know IQ is important, but environment is equally important.”

“Maybe more,” the general suggested.

“We've never expected any of the children to be any better or worse than the other. We created our lesson plans on the assumption that what they didn't know, we could help them learn. Maybe one of the most important things is that they've learned from one another in ways I'm not sure either of us really know. On paper, Chenoa and Lulu are on par with each other. They, uh ...”

“Danny, if you're going where I think you're going, you're going to have say it. Noa's and Lulu's IQs say they shouldn't know half of what they know. They aren't little geniuses, and while we don't like to use that term, the label applies to every kid younger than the Curly Tops in our home.”

“What you just said,” Daniel acknowledged, nodding his agreement. “But they know, Jack. They've worked so hard over the years and they've absorbed what they've learned. They don't have any limitations, not any more than the Munchkins and the rest.”

“I agree. Why are we having this conversation?”

“Because it's been a while since we've updated the brood on their status and I have a sense they're wanting to know again.”

“They've only needed to hear it a couple of times.”

“Yes, but they're growing up. Okay, JD's still very young, but the Munchkins and the Spitfires are pre-teens. Jack, I gave Jenny a lot of praise for her studies this afternoon. She was happy, but I, I got a vibe from her.”

“You? You got a vibe.”

“I've been married to you for too long,” Daniel teased dryly, causing his lover to chuckle for a few seconds.

“Besides, it’s May. Their friends are all graduating from whatever grade they’re in and having parties. We’ve only done that one time, and it was an incredible event for all of us.”

“But you think hearing about all this grade advancement stuff is influencing our kids.”

“I think our children are surrounded by other children who are used to annual grade reviews and moving up every year. We’ve never had that type of back and forth discussion about grade status. We talk eagerly about their studies, but we have a thing about labels and, gawd …”
“You’re trying to say we have a hard time with out brood including a bunch of geniuses.”

“Something like that.”

“I’ll give you that.”

“It’s my fault and always has been,” the scientist admitted. “I’ve always wanted them to have what I didn’t, a, pardon the word, normal childhood. I love teaching them. I love how they love to learn. I want them to achieve, but I always want them to be kids while they are kids. There’s time for learning to their hearts’ content ... when they grow up.”

Jack noticed two things as he listened to his Love. First, Daniel used the word ‘kids’ when he talked about the brood, and to Jack, that meant the archaeologist was wanting to emphasize the more innocent and playful attitude of the brood. Second, Daniel’s eyes lit up when talking about the kids loving to learn. There was some conflict there, perhaps in the natural pride of having some very intelligent children along with the desire for the brood to spend time with friends and have youthful adventures, both of which didn’t exist for Daniel.

“So …” the younger man prompted with a pointed stare.

“Okay, we update them. They have a right to know where they are.” Jack chuckled and then opined, “And so do we.”

“Where they are,” Daniel sighed. “You're running out of math you feel comfortable to teach and I'm not sure where to go in science. There's a lot to choose, but the topics are way above high school. They are all proficient in English and they speak more foreign languages, at least on a basic conversational level, than most children or adults. Jack, what I’m saying is that lately we’ve been teaching college level material for all of them, except JD.”

“Little geniuses,” Jack mused. “I still think it’s the collaboration.”

“How they work together?”

“Yeah, and it’s us, too.”

“What do you mean?” the archaeologist questioned.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while, too,” Jack confessed. “Do you remember when we first started this homeschooling gig that we had class with the kids separated based on their ages, more than anything else. We’d set lesson plans for each group.”

“I remember.” Daniel blinked and then slowly he cocked his head to the side. “We don’t do that anymore, except for JD.”

“That’s my point. Somewhere along the line, those kids merged. They helped out their siblings to the point that it was harder to say which genius was smarter than the others, and even Noa and Lulu held their own.” Leaning forward a tad, Jack expressed with some surprise, “Danny, we’ve been teaching these kids as one unit for a while now and they’ve risen to the occasion.”

“They have, and I’m … happy and I’m … I don’t know what I am,” Daniel admitted with a shrug.

“Hey, we have a full day tomorrow. How about we get some sleep?” Jack put forth, knowing the discussion wouldn’t be resolved in one outdoor talk.

“Yeah, we should do that.”

“After?” Jack probed with a lusty voice.

“Definitely after.”

With that, Katie led the way back inside the house, after which the parents adjourned to their bedroom for some lovemaking and rest.

====

The next day was quite busy for the Jackson-O'Neills, but Wednesday was much calmer. At one point, Jenny entered the game room where all of the younger children were.

“Meeting: tree house: now,” the redhead called out, causing the brood to exchange looks and shrugs.

Immediately, the children headed out of the game room.

“Did you tell Dad and Daddy?” Jonny asked.

“Not yet.”

“Okay, I'll tell them and meet you in the tree house.” The Munchkin, who considered himself to be the brood leader and actually was considered as such by his siblings, even the older ones, headed for the garage where his parents were tinkering on their motorcycles. “When do I get to ride one?”

“When you have your driver's license,” Jack answered.

“But that's forever.”

“Not as forever as it might feel like,” the father negated.

“Jenny's called a brood meeting in the tree house.”

“Thanks for letting us know,” Daniel returned. “Is there a problem?”

Jonny shrugged and responded, “I don't know. She didn't look upset or anything. Maybe she wants more space for her doll collection.”

As the Munchkin walked away, the parents hid their chuckles, but not by much.

====

Jonny entered the tree house and took his spot, sitting down on the floor. Before he could say anything, Chenoa made an inquiry.

“Why aren't Jen, Jeff, Bri, and David here?”

It was Jenny who explained, “One, they aren't home. Two, this is about us, not them.”

The response resulted in some frowns, but mostly curiosity.

“This brood meeting is in session. Remember, we're the brood and we stick together, no matter what. Anything said here, stays here, unless we need to tell Dad and Daddy. If someone feels they need to tell them something said here for any reason, we never get angry. Our family is always about truth and honesty, and Dad and Daddy have always said we can tell them anything. We can. Jenny, you have the floor,” Jonny advised.

The Munchkin didn't always start their brood gatherings like this, but he was getting a sense from the spirited redhead that the topic might be sensitive in some way. Thus, he reminded his siblings that their meetings were private, and yet, they did not circumvent their parents' rules and guidance.

“The subject is us and our future,” Jenny began. “It's also about Dad and Daddy and how much they love us and want to keep us safe.”

“Is there a bad guy around?” Ricky asked his twin.

“No, but you know how Dad and Daddy are about bad guys and the danger we're in because of the Stargate.”

“It's not the Stargate,” Little Danny refuted. “It's people who want the power they believe they can get from the Stargate.”

“Right,” Jonny concurred.

Jenny looked at her brothers and sisters and put forth, “I want to know how you feel. Maybe I'm the only one.”

“That doesn't matter, Jenny,” Aislinn stated. “If only one of us feels a certain way about something, it matters.”

Jenny nodded and then went directly to her point. She truly needed to know if she was alone in her feelings or if others felt like she did.

====

“Are they still up there?” Jack asked as he approached his lover, who was still as he stared out at the tree house.

“Yes. Two hours, Jack. That's a long time for one of these meetings.”

“No point in wondering. They'll tell us when they're ready.”

Daniel let out a tiny chortle and agreed, “They will. It's the waiting that gets to me sometimes.”

“I thought that was my line.”

“Jack, do you ever think we've acquired each other's bad habits?”

Jack laughed, “All the time, Angel,” and walked away.

Smiling, Daniel took one more look at the tree house and then went upstairs to his den. He let go of his want to know what was so important for his children and reclaimed his more normal patient demeanor. When there was a need for him to know, the children would tell him. He truly believed that and so his apprehension ebbed and he focused on other things.

====

“You really think now’s the time?” Jack questioned his lover as he exited the bathroom of the master bedroom.

Sitting on the bed where he was removing his shoes, Daniel answered, “Yes, I do. In fact, I think it’s overdue, and I think we both know it. We have to make it official.”

“Paperwork,” Jack groused as he put on his pajamas.

“It goes with the territory, Babe,” Daniel professed while unbuttoning his light blue shirt.

“I’ll agree they’ve earned it, but where does it leave us?”

“With twelve awesome children we’ll always be proud of and who love us.”

“You’re so smart,” Jack smirked. “Okay. We’ll do the necessaries tomorrow when the kids are out.”

Daniel nodded, pleased that he and Jack would have time to accomplish their tasks without interruption since all of the children had obligations outside the home starting after breakfast.

“You sure you want to put on those pajamas now?” the archaeologist asked with luring eyes.

“Pajamas? What pajamas,” Jack mused as he quickly removed the clothing.

From then on, the night was full of the passion as only Jack and Daniel could feel.

====

The following afternoon, the couple finished their review, having verified their findings independent of each other. The thorough examination began right after their morning meal, with only two brief breaks. Finally, the work was done.

“This hurts,” Jack whined. “I feel so dang old.”

“Live with it, Babe,” Daniel teased.

“They say time marches on, Danny, but does it have to march on in unison?”

“You’ll be fine.”

“Will you?”

“Yes, because I have to be and so do you,” Daniel opined strongly. “Okay, our results agree. We also have Sam’s verification as well as Paul’s.”

Paul was Paul Davis of Stargate Command. He’d been asked to be a completely independent judge for the situation, just in case Sam’s participation was questioned in any way.

“So, we’re ready?”

“If I don’t drop dead in shock before we get this stuff finalized.”

“Home stretch, Jack.”

“I can’t believe how calm you are about this.”

“I am, now. Ask me how I am in a couple of weeks,” Daniel lightly joked as he closed the book oi records that was opened and picked up some papers. “Let’s eat.”

“Food helps,” Jack agreed.

====

Days went by until another Sunday made its way into the lives of the brood. It began with a hearty breakfast, a casserole prepared in advance and then re-heated, by Brianna, Ricky, and JD. That was followed by a bike ride, something the Jackson-O’Neills loved to do together on nice spring days. After that, the kids were free to do as they wished. Then came lunch, and when that was over, there was a short homeschooling session where assignments were handed out for the upcoming week. The kids were also given test results from the exam taken the previous Friday, and essays turned in the week before were returned with grades of A or B for all.

After the quick school session ended, several of the children went to the backyard to play or hangout while their parents tended to their household chores, as well as checking in with their office.

Sometime after three in the afternoon, Jack went to the kitchen for a light snack. He chose an apple. As he bit into it, he looked out the window and felt good. His kids appeared happy and were playing leap frog; that is, all but two.

Jenny was sitting on one of the swings, while Little Danny was seated on the swing to her right. They looked to be engaged in a serious conversation.

“Think about it, Little Danny,” Jenny urged. “They’ve been teaching us calculus. Most of my friends don’t even know what that is.” She sighed, “They don’t even know how to pronounce the word.”

“Yeah, but calculus is taught in high school a lot.”

“Sometimes,” Jenny acquiesced. “Okay, what about our essays?”

“What about them?”

“They want us to write about controversial things now, to take a side, and then defend our choice, like in a debate.”

“You asked for that,” the Munchkin reminded.

“I know, but that wasn’t for essays, that was for our extra activities. The point is that we aren’t being assigned easier subjects anymore.”

“So?”

“We’re eleven and twelve, Little Danny,” the Spitfire reminded. “My friends are doing essays on their vacations and favorite books.”

Little Danny sighed, unable to argue with his sister. Still, he didn’t quite have the need to know that she did.

“Jenny, when we get there, they’ll tell us,” the child prodigy stated. “It’s not like they don’t want us to know. All that matters is that we’re learning.”

“Maybe, but I want to know, just for me.”

“Ask them.”

With a frustrated groan, Jenny admitted, “I want all of us to know.”

“Spying on our brood?” Daniel quipped when he entered the kitchen for a refill of coffee.

“Angel, something’s up, and I think it started with that tree house meeting last week.”

“We already know that,” Daniel responded. “We’re waiting patiently, remember?”

“Okay, I’m not being so patient right this second. Look, Jenny’s conspiring with Little Danny.”

Daniel looked out the window and negated, “Babe, they’re talking. What’s wrong with that?”

“My gut says it’s a conspiracy.”

“Well, let me know when they’re about to attack,” the archaeologist teased as he poured his mug full of his favorite Arabian Mocha coffee mix and headed back to his den.

====

A few days later, Daniel found his husband staring up at Muffin the dinosaur in the game room. None of the kids were inside, so the general was alone with his thoughtful stare.

“Is Muffin on the attack?” the archaeologist mused.

“He's being strategic.”

“About?”

“Daniel, the hairs on the back of my neck are on edge and my gut is telling me it's about to rain.”
 
“That's not in the weather report, for today anyway,” Daniel refuted. ~Lots of rain for tomorrow, though.~

“Maybe not for Colorado Springs, but it is for the Jackson-O'Neill residence.”

“You're thinking about that meeting in the tree house last week,” Daniel surmised.

“Do you remember when we first showed the kids this room?”

“Jenny was scared of the dinosaur.”

“It almost turned her bright red hair white,” Jack remarked. “The boys solved the problem by letting her name this giant thing, and what did she do?”

“She gave it a friendly, soft, lovable name,” Daniel answered. “She took her fear and made it go away, the same way she once did with grasshoppers.”

“She faced that grasshopper dead on, and she won.”

“So, what's the point here?”

“Jenny called that meeting,” Jack reminded.

“And?”

“And it's gonna rain,” Jack said, glancing over at his lover. “I don't know why, but that little Spitfire needs something.”

“She'll tell us, Jack.”

“The question is when.”

“Soon, I think.”

Jack looked a bit longer at his Love and asked, “You sound very sure of that.”

“It's what you said, and what we both know. They don't keep secrets from us. When it's time, they'll come to us.” Daniel glanced up at Muffin and then shifted the conversation. “Speaking of Muffin, sort of, would you like to help me with the shopping list?”

“Yeah. Froot Loops.”

“Jack, that's printed at the top of the grocery list in all caps.”

“As it should be.”

Daniel shook his head as the two men headed for the kitchen to kick off formulating the grocery list.

====

“Hey, Dad and Daddy,” Jeff greeted the next afternoon. “Where’s the brood?”

“Backyard,” Jack answered succinctly. “Is that them?”

“This is them,” Jeff affirmed, handing over the thick package he was holding. “Chely picked out the frames.”

“We could have done that,” Daniel put forth.

“She wanted to contribute.”

“Tell her thanks,” Jack spoke on behalf of himself and his husband.

“I’d like to stay, but I have an appointment,” Jeff advised. “Do they look okay?”

“They’re, uh … terrific,” Daniel replied.

Jeff gave his older father a look. It was one of understanding. While the brood would be thrilled, their parents would be hiding some sadness at the advance.

“I’ll see you later,” Jeff said quietly as he departed the home.

“Still calm?” Jack asked.

“Let’s eat,” was the non-response.

“Food works,” the silver-haired man agreed. ~I’m guessing a good five-pound gain before this is over and done with.~

====

The next day Jack’s predicted rain came when Jenny approached her parents right after dinner.

“Are we having a family meeting tonight?” the Spitfire inquired.

“Do we need one?” Jack questioned.

“We do,” Jenny stated with a firm tone and stern stare.

“Be there in ten,” Jack advised. When the youngster walked away, he told Daniel, “This is it.”

“I know,” the younger man sighed. “Do you ever miss the craziness, Jack? I mean, when we had five children all under the age of two?”

“Those were the days,” Jack concurred. He drew his lover close and continued, “But these are the days, too. We can’t keep them in our grasps forever.”

“Gawd, Jack, we’re acting like it’s over, and it’s not,” Daniel proclaimed. “This is just a new chapter. Nothing’s going to change, not that much.”

“You’re right. We’d better join the kids before they track us down.”

The soulmates headed for the living room, though they weren’t certain if the brood would be there or in the recreation room. Both places were used for family meetings on a regular basis.

====

A few basics were discussed at the start of the meeting and then Jack stated, “Daddy and I understand that Jenny wants to bring up a topic for discussion. Red, the floor is yours.”

“Dad, Daddy, we, the brood, well, most of us; I mean, not Jen or Jeff or Bri or David,” Jenny began a bit nervously. “Anyway, after lots of discussion and debate, we’re together in solidarity.”

**Discussion and debate,** Jack conveyed to his lover. **That’s why they waited so long. They weren’t in agreement.**

**Solidarity: explains why the older brood is here, too, even though Jenny specifically said they weren’t part of this,** Daniel surmised.

Jenny’s bit of rambling caused some laughter and it seemed to ease her apprehensiveness.

“We’ve all been doing excellent schoolwork,” Jenny stated. “You’ve both complimented us a bunch lately, and, well, it seems like we’re doing really well on tougher subjects, but the problem is that we don’t really know for sure.”

Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, both feeling fairly confident that they knew where the discussion was headed. If so, rain would turn to sunshine quickly.

“Jenny,” Daniel interjected. “I don’t mean to interrupt and I don’t want to cut you off. Hold your thoughts for two minutes. I have to get something in my den. I’ll be right back.”

“Now, Daddy?” an incredulous Jenny challenged.

“Two minutes. Please.”

Giving his husband a quick glance, Daniel rose and made a hurried trip upstairs to his study. He sighed as he picked up the large package delivered by his oldest son earlier that day. He took a cleansing breath and returned to his family. He kept the package at his side as he and Jack sat in the middle of the sofa.

“Thank you, Jenny. Please continue.”

“I’m just saying we’re doing good in school, but where are we in school? We’ve talked about this before. We all love being homeschooled, but we don’t like being in limbo.”

“We understand,” Jack responded.

“Can we please know what grade we’re in?” Jenny requested. “And,” she paused as she gulped, “um, well …”

“Red, why don’t you give it a rest for a minute,” Jack suggested.

“Dad, Daddy, we want to know our grade levels and if we’re doing college level work or not. I think we are.”

In mere seconds, Jenny went from uncertainty to strength, her entire demeanor shifting from being anxious to being extremely confident.

“Okay and yes,” Daniel answered softly. He smiled, taking a moment to look into all of the faces in front of and to his sides. They were still kids, but they were smart kids, growing up too fast for his tastes; yet, they were his treasures and knowing where they were educationally was a right, not a privilege. “As it happens …”

“Wait one,” Jack requested. “Jenny, take a seat. You’ve done your job.”

“Thank you, Dad,” the girl replied before sitting down next to her twin brother on one of the ottomans.

“Sorry, Danny.”

“As it happens,” Daniel began again, “do you remember last month when Dad and I were at J-O for a meeting and Aunt Sam and Paul came took over the homeschooling that day?”

“Yeah, we had a test,” Little Danny recalled.
“And our essays and semester projects were due that day, too,” Chenoa recalled.

“You’re both correct,” Daniel confirmed. “There was more to that day than you know.”

“What, Daddy?” Aislinn inquired.

“Deception,” Jack answered. “But it was necessary, and you’ll understand why in short order.”

The kids were clueless and curious as they exchanged uncertain looks and questioning shrugs.

“A little reminder that we’ve,” Daniel motioned to his husband and then himself, “have always tried to give you a well-rounded education. We wanted you to learn from life, as much as from the facts we presented. We’ve taken a broad approach in this regard.”

Jack took over, saying, “Going down the list of the usual subjects, education-wise, it seems you are have done exceptionally well in math, English, and foreign languages.”

Still not knowing the direction of the conversation, the children released some comments of self-praise and happy tidings. In fact, they did it in a variety of languages that included French, Spanish, Italian, and German. David and Little Danny even threw in some Arabic.

“There have been some infrequent gaps in history, geography, and science, but otherwise, you’ve been meeting the challenges in learning. It’s been fun to watch all of you grow and soak in the knowledge,” Jack admitted.

“What are you trying to tell us?” Jenny queried, eager to hear her grade. ~I have to be at least a high school freshman. I’m sure of it.~

“Actually, Princess, we’re answering your question,” Jack responded. “Danny?”

“Okay, well, Chenoa, you’ve been remarkable. You’re two grades ahead of where you would be in regular school. You are doing tenth grade work.” Daniel looked at the other Curly Top and smiled. “Lulu, you’re also doing tenth grade work and considering your dyslexia, Dad and I are awesomely proud.”

Chenoa and Lulu grinned wildly and high-fived each other as they giggled their joy. The other children all sang out words of praise and congratulations to the girls.

“We know it hasn’t been easy, for a number of reasons, but you’ve both worked very hard and overcame whatever difficulties tried to stop you. Very good job,” Daniel raved.

“Thanks, brood, for helping me to read,” Lulu remarked. “I used to think I was so dumb.”

“You were never dumb, Lulu,” Little Danny stated. “Once Dad and Daddy figured out what was going on, we all wanted to help.”

“And you did,” Lulu acknowledged again as she and Chenoa held hands.

Jack passed out the next bit of news, informing JD that, “You’re excellent in math and science, but you need help with history. That said, my boy, you’re in the fifth grade.”

“Wow!” JD exclaimed, soaking in the accolades of his family. They all laughed when he asked, “Is that good?”

It was Jennifer who leaned over and advised her youngest brother that, “It’s terrific. Other kids your age are only in the first or second grade.”

“Wow!” JD exclaimed again.

Daniel continued, “We believe we’re a very lucky family. Jen and Jeff worked their way through public high school, graduated from college, and are married now. Brianna overcame many challenges when she was younger, but she found a passion with her dolphins. She made Dad and I a promise about her dedication and commitment to her studies, and she’s never let us down. She graduated from homeschooling, received her diploma, and is working on achieving her goals.”

The former tomboy also received some pats on the back and good words from the family. Her self-esteem was greater now than it had ever been before.

“In 2017, our David graduated high school and he, too, is working towards his college and career goals by taking university courses and putting in some time at our company.”

Daniel licked his lips as he paused. He felt Jack’s arms around him in support.

“I’m not sidetracking from the reason for this meeting,” Daniel insisted. “I thought it was important before we continue to review where we are for everyone.”

“You’re all swell,” Jack put forth. “Go on, Danny. It’s time.”

Daniel picked up the package and opened it. He pulled out three large envelopes that were obviously sheltering something that was bulky inside them. With a sigh, the archaeologist stood and handed one to each of the Munchkins.

“Congratulations,” the emotional father praised, nodding at the children before returning to the comfort of his lover.

“Open them,” Jack instructed.

Little Danny was the first to get his envelope open and remove the object from inside. His eyes grew wide, his heart rate increased, and his mouth opened. He looked over at his parents and then his fellow triplets. They had similar items in their hands and expressions of shock and joy on their faces, much as he did.

“They’re graduates!” Jenny called out, jumping up and hugging Aislinn first, and then the male Munchkins. “I knew it! I did! I just knew it!

The brood exploded with joy. No one expected this, least of all the triplets. They wanted to know their current grade level, but none of them even contemplated that they were official high school graduates. That was true for Jenny, too, who did realize or suspect they were doing entry level college studies, but to actually be graduated was not in her mind.

“That’s why we had Aunt Sam administer the tests, evaluate them, and also grade your essays and projects,” Jack explained. “Paul did the same, independent of Aunt Sam. Then Daddy and I did our own reviews. It was unanimous between the four of us. We did the paperwork and there you go!”

Everyone was happy and ready to celebrate until Ricky piped up, “Hey, what about us?”

“Close, so close,” Daniel responded.

“Son, for all the traveling this family has done, your geography is lacking,” Jack revealed pointedly. “You need to work on that big time and maybe try to understand algebra a bit more.”

“We’re work on it together, Bro,” Jonny promised.

“Thanks, Jonny.”

“Red, almost. We’re not exaggerating,” Jack insisted. “You need to brush up on your chemistry and focus just a tad more on civics.”

“So, where are we?” Jenny asked quietly.

“Eleventh grade,” Daniel announced. “If you work on what Dad’s mentioned and keep up with everything else, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get those diplomas next year.”

Jenny was disappointed and it showed in her demeanor until David put his arm around her and said, “Jenny, I’m pretty good with chem and civics. We’ll study together, okay?”

The redhead blinked a few times and then she smiled and threw her arms around her brother, saying, “Thank you, David.”

“Hey, what’s going to happen to homeschooling?” Aislinn asked, suddenly feeling a bit sad.

“Well, Dad and I want to speak with each of you individually about your options, and, Munchkins, you have some big options to consider,” Daniel noted. “As with your previously graduated siblings, we do have your transcripts ready to go. It’s complete, from our first session to now. There shouldn’t be any problems with colleges, and if something ever does come up, be sure to come to us because we have verification for almost everything.”

“Yeah,” Jack confirmed. “You all know we’ve had Aunt Sam and Aunt Sara help us over the years, and the co-op was invaluable. They, and others who have assisted us have all written their independent evaluations of your work at various points in time.”

“All we’re saying is that while sometimes homeschoolers have issues with getting into college or their work is questioned, this shouldn’t happen to any of you.”

“We have the backup for the backup,” Jack added with a grin.

“Not to mention we’re confident all of you could pass any test a college might hand out on any high school subject to prove your profiency.” Daniel paused and grinned. “Piece of cake.”

There were more chuckles by the family.

“We’ll have to make some modifications, but homeschooling continues for the Spitfires, Noa, Lulu, and JD,” Jack added.

“Can’t we still do it?” Aislinn queried.

“Yeah, we still have a lot to learn,” Jonny agreed.

“That’s up to you, but if you commit to it, we’ll expect you to follow through,” Jack advised.

“Jen and Bri did it,” Jenny reminded.

“I would have, but I’m working at J-O, too, so I can’t,” David said with regret.

“Okay, we’ll talk about it,” Daniel replied, not feeling as melancholy as he was earlier.

“Kids, listen up,” Jack called out with a gruff voice. He stood up and put on one of best intimidation faces. He waited and then exclaimed, “Let’s party hardy!”

The kids cheered and quickly an impromptu celebration of the triplets’ graduation as well as the outstanding placement of the other children began. Calls were made to the Shanahans, the Wilsons, Janet and Teal’c, the Hammonds, and the Ferrettis, while Jennifer and Jeff both went to their homes to collect their spouses to join the festivities.

Brianna and David made a joint run to the store to buy a few party favors and snacks they were out of at home.

The evening ran late with bedtimes deferred. Music played, balloons were filled, and the Munchkins shared their excitement at being high school graduates. It was truly a long, fun-filled night.

====

“It wasn’t that bad, was it, Love?” Jack asked when both were lying in bed, holding on to each other.

“No. I guess it was the anticipation and not knowing what decisions they’re going to make,” Daniel confided. “Jack, I don’t want them going off to college at twelve years of age. They’re too young.”

“No arguments from me, but how do we justify stopping them if they want to go?”

“Age,” Daniel put forth in frustration.

“Let’s not fret it now,” Jack responded. “Little Danny might take us up on our offer.”

“He might,” Daniel agreed. “I think he will.”

“Working at J-O has been his dream, so we let him take courses here and play in the dirt.”

“Jack, you’re still incorrigible.”

“Ain’t I, though?”

“Ain’t you? Ain’t?”

“Just playing, Danny,” Jack teased. “The real question is what will Jonny and Ash want to do?”

“I’m not sure they want to work for J-O … yet.”

“Nope, not yet, but someday,” Jack concurred.

“Ash seems to want to continue homeschooling.”

“On a college level,” Jack noted. “We make the offer anyway, right?”

“For all three of them, yes,” Daniel agreed. “So, what do you think: IQ or environment?”

“A bit of both,” Jack answered. “Looking at Noa and Lulu, I have to believe in the value of environment.”

“I was sure they’d be on par with their peers,” Daniel asserted, “but I had no clue they’d be two grades ahead.”

“I’m not sure they would have been without the brood.” Jack opined, “It’s that collaboration thing.”

Daniel nodded in agreement and replied, “I was proud of them tonight. Okay, I’m always proud, but the way they all came together and promised to help the Spitfires was …”

“… friggin’ awesome,” Jack completed for his Love.

“Yeah,” Daniel acknowledged, followed by a yawn and then another.

The world of the Jackson-O’Neills changed dramatically in their minds on this day. The soulmates knew they had to make some modifications, and not just small ones, but pivotal ones, to their educational process. They couldn’t just touch on some college courses anymore, but they had to make a concerted effort to ensure all of their children were learning college material at their own pace.

“Next year,” Daniel sighed with yet another yawn. “Two more … next year.”

“We’ll get through it, Angel.”

“We will, just as long as we have each other.”

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, Jack.”

For Jack and Daniel, life in the suburbs of their Colorado city was changing, but it was all part of life. No matter what, the parents would adapt to the new needs and desires of their maturing children. After all, they had loads of love surrounding them. For the soulmates, their brood, and their zoo, life wasn’t always easy, but it was good, oh, so very good.

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

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