Possessions

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - the future
Spoilers:  None
Size:  36kb, short story
Written:  July 6-10,13,18,25, 2017
Summary:  Possessions: the act or fact of possessing; domination, actuation, or obsession by a feeling, idea, etc.; the feeling or idea itself.
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) Thanks to my readers who provided some of the specific possessions for this fic.

Possessions
by Orrymain

“I can't believe how much stuff is still up here on the rafters,” Jonny Jackson-O'Neill put forth.

“There are twelve of us, Jonny,” Aislinn reminded.

“Plus Dad and Daddy, Bij and Katie, Mittens and Calico ...”

“Little Danny, I know you aren't little anymore, but if you list every pet we ever had, we'll be here all night.”

Little Danny smiled.  He was a big talker as a child, a teenager, and a young adult. Some things never changed as he was still a big talker.

“I inherited Daddy's talk gene.”

“That's for sure,” Jonny teased, laughing lightly afterward.  “I have Dad's stubborn gene.”

“That's the understatement of the decade,” Aislinn joked, though she was also quite serious.

“Do you think we should try to organize this mess?” Jonny asked.

“Not tonight.  I'm tired,” Aislinn admitted.

“When does your plane leave, Ash?” Little Danny questioned.

With a sigh, Aislinn admitted, “I pushed it a back a day.”

“You did?” both Jonny and Little Danny asked, each beaming at the news.

“I miss you guys.”

The comment let to a quiet but emotional moment.  Aislinn was making another trip to India, something she did often as a tribute to Kayla Armentrout, the Munchkins' mother.

“Hey, guys, look at this box,” Jonny requested as he pulled it closer to the center of the trio.

The three closed the gap between them and stared at the rectangular box that was simply labeled, “Possessions.”

“That's Dad's handwriting,” Little Danny observed.

“Let's take it in the house,” the oldest Munchkin suggested.

“But it's Dad's box,” Aislinn argued half-heartedly.  “Okay, let's take it inside.”

====

With the box on the table in the kitchen nook, the Munchkins began their exploration when Jonny took off the lid.  The contents were in several different yellow envelopes, some quite faded and others still looking pristine.

“Look, it's an old tablet,” Aislinn observed.  “Will it still work?”

“Sure,” Little Danny opined.  He picked up the tablet and examined it more closely.  “We'll probably need a new battery.”

“See what kind it takes,” Jonny requested.  “We're bound to have at least one of whatever it needs.”

The Munchkins laughed.  They had several scientific wonders in their family which meant there were a few places in the house where an appropriate battery might be found.  First, though, an attempt was made to turn on the device with the existing battery, but as expected, nothing happened.

Little Danny pulled out the battery and showed it to his siblings.

“The great battery hunt is on,” Jonny announced.  “I'll start with JD's room.”

“I'll look in my old room.  Jenny has a ton of those things in a box somewhere,” Aislinn offered.

“I'll take David's room,” the middle Munchkin stated.

====

It took about twenty-five minutes, but with the right battery found in Jenny's assorted box of old batteries, the Munchkins were again in the kitchen.  Jonny put in the battery and pressed the 'on' button.

“Hey, it works,” the oldest Munchkin called out.

“We got lucky,” Little Danny expressed.  “So, what's on it?”

“Look,” Jonny said, turning the tablet so his siblings could see it.

“Dad made videos?” Aislinn queried.

“They're organized,” Little Danny noted.  “Maybe it's a clone,” he teased.

“You know better than that,” Aislinn negated.

As one, the triplets declared, “Daddy helped him,” and then they all broke out into laughter.

Jonny sighed and pressed the first video, entitled, “The First Video.”

“Is this thing on?”  Jack tapped on the screen and muttered something about hating technology.  “Okay, kids, this is your old man and I can hear everyone saying I'm not old, but let's face it, by the time you see this, your old man is gonna truly be by every definition known to the universe your old man.  I hope I'm still around and kicking, but there's a reasonable chance I've moved on.  Now, don't get all sappy on me.  I don't care where in Netu I am, I've had the best life and even with the regrets, I've been darn lucky.”

Jack looked away for a minute before looking again at the tablet with a camera.

“Here's the thing.  I kept a lot of things close to the vest, including some of these little trinkets, but these things are my life, or part of my life.  I figured someday some of you might want them.  They've been in this box for a long time, I imagine.  Danny found them one day when he was moving some things around in the garage, and I imagine that's how you found them.  Little surprises are always fun.”

All of a sudden, the kids heard Jack calling out to their daddy.  It was a debate over what to have for dinner.  Jack wanted pizza, Daniel wanted Chinese, and the beagles just wanted something meaty.  Once Daniel acquiesced to a supreme pizza, Jack smiled, pulled out his phone, and ordered Chinese.

“Chinese will make Danny happy, and I'm all for making my geek happy,” Jack spoke.

The Munchkins smiled throughout the discussion and order process.  Then Jack resumed speaking.

“I don't think he knew it was recording,” Little Danny opined.

“Me, either.  Lots of times Dad forgot to pause recordings,” Aislinn recalled.

The video continued with Jack saying, “The point is, if I left these things in the box, you'd be wondering whose they are and why I kept them.  I guess that's normal.  I have a box of my grandfather's things, Grandpa O'Neill's, and to this day, I'm not sure why he kept some of those things or whose they were, so I'm sparing you kids that quandary.  I'm gonna tell ya, if you want to listen.  So, with some help from your much more technology capable daddy, let's see if we can get this done.  Go to it, kids.  See what's in the box, and hey, remember, I love you, all of you.  Call your old old old old old old man sometime.”

The video ended and the Munchkins were quiet, each taking a private moment before proceeding.

“Okay, let's all pull out an envelope,” Little Danny suggested.

Aislinn opened an envelope and laughed, “It's teeth.  Look, baby teeth, or young teeth anyway.”

Every tooth was protected in plastic and marked with a name and date.

“This is Charlie's.”  Aislinn continued pulling out packets.  “Hey, this one is Dad's.”

“Dad kept his own tooth?” Jonny inquired.

“It's not his handwriting,” Little Danny observed.

Aislinn found a few more packets of teeth, ones that were labeled as belonging to Jonny, Jenny, and JD.

“Here's a note,” Aislinn stated as she read it.  “Oh, wow.  Jonny, that's the first tooth you lost while playing hockey.  These are all first hockey teeth.  Oh, that's Grandpa O'Neill's writing because that's the first tooth Dad lost playing hockey.”

“Aren't we a few short?” Jonny chuckled.

“Maybe it's because not all of our first teeth were knocked out by hockey.  I never lost a hockey tooth, that I know of,” Aislinn mused.

“That's because no one shot the puck in your direction,” Jonny replied.

“Not my fault,” the girl said with a grin.

“You were a girl,” the oldest of the three reminded with a whine.

“And I still am,” Aislinn responded with a sensual quality to her voice.

“Tell me about it.  Do you know how many *chats* I've had with your *boyfriends* over the years?”

“You have not.”

“Me has,” Jonny asserted playfully.

“Jonny!”

“Hey, I have to protect my sister.”

“I can protect myself,” Aislinn spoke with confidence.  Then she smiled and said, “Thank you, my overly protective big brother.”

“He helped,” Jonny replied, nodding at Little Danny.

“You didn't?”

“I kept it peaceable,” the middle Munchkin teased.

“Oh, you two!” Aislinn chastised, though she couldn't help but smile.  After a moment, she inquired, “Little Danny, what do you have?”

The middle Munchkin opened the envelope, reached inside, and pulled out a picture.

“It's SG-1,” Little Danny reported with a big smile.  “There's Aunt Sam and Teal'c, and Dad and Daddy.”

“Daddy's hair was really long,” Aislinn observed.

“Aunt Sam's is the shortest I remember seeing it,” Jonny noted.

“Teal'c doesn't have any hair,” Aislinn laughed.  “Is that O'Malley's?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Little Danny noted.  He flipped over the photograph and recognized his dad's handwriting.  “Dad says it was their very first team night out, and it was O'Malley's.  He said Teal'c didn't know what to order, but he did.”

Little Danny looked at his siblings and all of them said in unison, “Steaks!”

“Hey, wait a sec.  There's something else in here.”  Little Danny retrieved the item and showed it to the others.  ~Who would have figured this?~

“Dad kept a napkin?” Aislinn giggled.  “I didn't think he'd keep something like that.”

“Jonny, your turn,” Little Danny instructed.

“It's a bullet,” Jonny observed as he held the item in his hand.  “There's a paper here,” he added.  With an incredulous expression, he mused, “It's the bullet the doctor took out of Dad when he was shot the very first time.”

“Ewe,” Aislinn expressed.  “Men are strange for keeping stuff like that.”

“Do we know how many times Dad was shot?” Little Danny wondered.

“Probably as many times as Daddy had concussions,” Jonny returned.

“Daddy and concussions are synonymous,” Little Danny mused.

The brood members continued going through the items in the box and in doing so discovered a photo of the very first plane Jack flew as a licensed pilot, a tooth he broke when eating Sara's not-so-tender steak from their first month of marriage,
Charlie's first drawing with his coloring going outside of the lines, some “The Wizard of Oz” collectibles, and a signed poster from “Wormhole X-treme!”

There was one other envelope, but the contents were wrapped with dark paper and a written message for the finders to watch the associated video before opening.

“Okay, now I'm curious,” Little Danny put forth.

“Me, too,” Jonny admitted.

“Me, three,” Aislinn giggled.  “Find the video.”

Little Danny searched the video listing and found one that read, “Oh ye of curious minds.”

“Dad is so funny,” Aislinn responded.  “That has to be it.”

When the video began, Jack was fidgeting a bit and looking around before he began, “Okay, kids, here's the thing.  Daddy and I always said we were just like any other couple.  You've heard the story until I'm sure you're sick of it, but the truth is what it is.  We were both heterosexual men, married, and we *love* women, but incredible as it seemed, we realized we were soulmates.  Everything after that is history, as they say.  Couples do a lot of things, as all of you know by now.  Part of the craziness is ... love notes.  Now some adults wouldn't dream of letting their kids witness that feeling in writing.  It's certainly private, but let me tell you something I don't remember telling you guys.”

“I can't wait to hear this,” Aislinn spoke.

“Do you think those are love letters?” Jonny questioned.

“We're about to find out,” Little Danny asserted.

“When I started getting serious about women, I had a lot of fun.  Now, it may surprise you to know that your old man had his share of offers from the fairer sex, in high school, in college, and in the Air Force.  I had brown hair then and I was ready to go all in, and I mean ... all in.  Then one day, I was in my dad's den and I found this shoebox.  Guess what was inside?  You got it, love letters.  It was snooping, but I couldn't resist.  I had no idea my dad was such a romantic slob.

There was this one letter I'll never forget.  Apparently, the folks were going through a rough patch; never knew, not a hunch, not a glimmer, that they weren't always happy love bugs.  Billy and I were apparently little tikes when the trouble happened.  Dad wrote Mom a love letter that said he was scared of losing her.  He said he'd waited to find her when they first got together, the perfect woman.  The thing is, she wasn't perfect, but neither was he.  He realized the joy of their love was experiencing the highs and lows and working through their problems.  He didn't want anyone else.  He didn't want to grow apart and go out and do the dating thing because he said he'd done that and found the love of his life already.  He told Mom it was about coming together and overcoming with just that right person.  Then he said a lot of mushy stuff.  I suspect it worked since they were the two happiest, most in-love parents of the neighborhood.

“That's what love is, kids, loving and experiencing ... together, and working through those hard times.  Daddy and I had them, in those early years, not so much after we had all of you.  We knew how lucky we were to have each other.  I think what my dad wrote contained some wisdom for me.  It made me think hard about what I wanted, so, while I talked a good game, I never actually *did* the big dating game.”

There was a pause as Jack looked down slightly and smiled.  He was clearly remembering something very pleasant from his past.

“I met Sara right after that, and I knew she was the right one.  I didn't want to fool around with that crazy dating game because I'd found the right woman.  My point is that sometimes wisdom comes from unexpected places, like your parents' old love letters, so there you go.  They might not be what you're expecting.  Daddy and I did a lot of ... writing between the lines, but there's a few goodies in that pile.  No, you don't have all of them, but I think something is better than nothing.

“Kids, I hope you're all happy and in love, but if you're needing a reminder of how good good can be, read a few of these and maybe you'll learn something.  I love you.  Happy reading ... and don't tell Daddy!”

The triplets laughed at the last part.

“You don't really think he'd give us these without Daddy's permission, do you?” Aislinn questioned.

“With our parents, Ash, you never know,” Jonny chuckled.

“Let's read them later,” Aislinn suggested getting nods from her brothers.  She watched her big brother reach for and take hold of the picture of their dad by his first plane.  “He's proud of you, you know.”

Jonny glanced up at his sister and replied, “I hope so.”

“Jonny, you're just like him.  Geez, it was never a secret whose genes you had, or Little Danny.”

The trio laughed and then Jonny asked, “Did you two ever open it?”

Shaking his head, Little Danny answered, “I took the envelope upstairs and put it in my safe box.  I've never opened it.”

“Not me, either,” Jonny returned.

“I don't think any of us have ever even talked about the records,” Aislinn put forth.

“I remember Ricky looking for something once, a long time ago,” Jonny began.  “He said something like, 'oh, this is that thing', and just kept looking for whatever he was looking for.  That's the only time I ever heard any of us say anything about it, until today, and Ricky's packet was still sealed.  I did notice that.”

“Ash?” Little Danny asked.

Also shaking her head, Aislinn responded, “Never, and I don't want to.  I guess I don't need to know.  I don't care, I really don't.”

“I don't think any of us care,” the middle Munchkin put forward.

“I think they were right to give it to us when Doctor Syl closed her office,” Aislinn opined about their longtime pediatrician, Sylvia Preston, “because we might need to know for our children, but all I ever needed to know was that Dad was Dad, Daddy was Daddy, and Mommy was Mommy.”

“Yeah,” Little Danny agreed.

Laughing, Aislinn chuckled, “But of all of us, I think you two are pretty obvious.  The rest of us are a toss up.  I just think we are a more obvious mix, but you two ...” she trailed off, chuckling.

“I don't know, Ash,” Jonny spoke quietly.

“Jonny, look at you.  You're the spitting image of Dad, and Little Danny looks just like Daddy, and that's just the physical.  You act just like them, too.”

“I guess it would ironic, kinda odd, but sometimes I'm not certain,” Jonny confided.

“Explain, Jonny,” the other male Munchkin requested.

“I wanted to be just like Dad ...”

“The little general.  You were so cute, Jonny, but you sure took it seriously,” Aislinn mused.

“Yeah, I was a power-hungry three-year-old,” Jonny admitted.  “But I really loved what Daddy stood for and his compassion.  I wanted to be like him, too, and, well, I hope I am.”

“Oh, Jonny, you are,” Aislinn asserted, standing up, reaching over, and giving her big brother a kiss on the cheek.

“We don't know for sure,” Little Danny put forth.  “Hey, I love to fly, too.”

“You could find out, if you wanted to know for sure,” Aislinn reminded.

“Why, Ash?” Little Danny questioned.  “It's like you said, I know who my parents are, and I know they are the very best, ever, in the whole wide universe,” he spoke in a childlike tone that concluded with a chuckle.  “What more do I need to know than I was loved so much by three really wonderful people.

“Me, too,” Jonny agreed.  “As Dad would say, I don't friggin' care whose DNA I have.  I have love, the greatest love, from our parents.  I miss them.”

“Jonny, look at that picture again.  It looks like something's stuck to it,” Aislinn stated.

“I think you're right,” Jonny said as he now saw that there were two photos.  “They must have gotten stuck toge...hey, there's two more pictures stuck to the back of this.”

“Don't tear them,” Aislinn warned.

“Ash,” Jonny complained.

“Sorry.”

“It's okay.  Okay, here we ... look, Danny,” Jonny requested.

“It's our pictures.”

“Your first flight pictures, when you were second lieutenants,” Aislinn remarked.  “I remember seeing those.”

“I didn't know Dad kept these,” Little Danny commented.

“You two are very handsome in uniform.”

“It has its advantages,” Jonny chuckled slyly.  “That was a fun day.”

“Just you and me and clouds,” Little Danny recalled with a smile.

“Then it wasn't so fun,” Jonny stated solemnly.  “I don't know how Dad did it.”

“Daddy always said the brain is full of compartments and Dad had a lot of compartments deep inside his brain and that's where he had to put it all.”

“It came out sometimes, though.  I could always feel his pain, but I never understood, until I was there.”

“The greater good,” Little Danny sighed.  “That's what the government calls it.”

“I call it something else,” Aislinn interjected.

“I loved being a little general, but the real thing, doing all those things you have to do to really get there, I'm not sure I like all that.  That's what my dream was, though, to follow in Dad's footsteps and make him proud.”

Little Danny reached out and grabbed his brother's hand as he replied, “Jonny, Dad's proud, and so is Daddy, of all of us.  You don't need to follow his footsteps doing all that covert, greater good stuff.  All Dad wants is for us to be happy, and it's okay to change directions.  Keep thinking about Dad, I mean, he actually did take classes and he became a legitimate archaeologist, and how old was he when he did it?”

“I don't remember,” Jonny answered, “but what I do remember is how happy Daddy was when he found out.”

“How did Dad keep that a secret from all of us, anyway?” Aislinn wondered.

“He lied,” Jonny chuckled, “but none of us knew.  I think it was probably one of the best Christmas presents Daddy ever received.”

“Jonny, the point is, you'll always be General Jonny, the little general, but if you don't want to be a brigadier for real, none of us will care, and neither will our parents and the rest of the brood.  We change, Jonny, just like Dad changed.  In the end, he hated guns.  Once we were grown, he got rid of all of them.”

“I think he still has one or two,” Jonny mused.

“I think so, too, to protect Daddy and the girls,” Aislinn sighed.  “Jonny, whatever you decide, we're here and we'll support you all the way.”

“Thanks, Ash, Danny.”  Jonny paused and shook his head.  “I just can't stop thinking about all that pain Dad hid from us for years.  Now I really understand why the very mention of Iraq makes him grimace.”

“He does that with other countries, too.  I can always tell when he's struggling,” Aislinn lamented unhappily.  “I wish Thor could take those memories away.”

“I wonder if they have the technology,” Jonny pondered.

Little Danny smiled and suggested, “Let's ask JD.  He'll know, or he can find out.”  He waited a moment and said, “Jonny, we'll help you, too, in any way you need.”

“I know.”  Still thinking about his future, Jonny shared more of his uncertain reflections.  “I love the Air Force.  That's real to me, and I really do want to make general.  I want to lead and make a difference the way Dad and Grandpa did.  I can do what's required; I've ... done some of it, but it turns out I'm not so cool with having done it.  You know, the gene thing, when I think about the Air Force, it's all Dad, and I'm totally certain of my future, but then I think about my feelings, and I'm not so sure because Daddy's words, all the things he taught us, and the passion he has about people and rights, they're exactly what gives me a reason to question my choices.”  He chuckled, “And I love playing in the dirt with ... toys as much as you do, Little Danny.”

“I know you do, Jonny.”  The middle Munchkin paused a few seconds and opined, “They can help you sort it out.  Our parents are great at that.”

“Yeah, they are,” Jonny agreed.

Aislinn told her conflicted brother, “Whenever I'm confused about something or just want a sounding board, I always think about Dad and Daddy.  Growing up, they told us we could go to them about anything, and I think we all have.  Jonny, if you want Dad to talk you out of being in the Air Force, tell him, and I'm sure he'll have a thousand reasons to give you, but if you want him to convince you to stay, he'll have a thousand reasons why you should; and if you just want that sounding board, he'll listen and let you make your own choice because that's how he is, and Daddy, too.  They're always there for us.  We just have to go to them, not so Dad can fix it, but so that Dad and Daddy can listen and guide us in whatever way we ask of them.”

As Jonny nodded, Little Danny added, “I just like being with them, telling them by thoughts.  Talking with them gives me clarity, and I love them so much.”

After a minute of contemplation, Aislinn smiled and said, “You know, I don't really need to leave tomorrow.  I could push everything back a few days, a week even.”

Jonny looked over at his brother, a question on his face as he said, “Me, too.”

“I can go one better, and it's exactly something Dad and Daddy would do.”  Little Danny reached for his smartphone and, after checking his watch, called J-O Enterprises.  He dialed a direct line and waited for the woman to respond.  “Dora, it's me, Dan...Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill.”

Dora King laughed and responded, “How can I help you ... Little Danny?”

“Connect me to the company speaker.  I have an announcement.”  Little Danny waited a sec and added, “Can you put this out to all of the offices?”

“Sure can.  Give me a minute ... One moment ... another few seconds ... okay, you're live and on the air at J-O Enterprises, nationwide!” Dora mused dramatically.

“Hey, everyone.  I hope you're having a great day,” Little Danny spoke, his voice filling the air in all parts of the various office buildings.  “This is Little Danny, and I'm speaking to you while here in Colorado Springs with Jonny and Aislinn.  Our parents taught us very early on that J-O was a family, and we're all about family.  We've, I mean, the three of us, have just decided to pop in and surprise our parents.  Well, I think the best way we can honor them is to express our continued appreciation to all our staffs across the country.

“Dad and Daddy were known to do sudden and crazy things, putting people before business, and that's what we're doing today.  Everyone, close up your business for the day.  Reschedule anything that is not absolutely a priority.  If there is an issue with jobs due, check with Megan, Karissa, Dora, or Ty.  They'll determine if a job can wait, or not.

“Now, what Jonny, Ash, and I want is for all of you to go home, not to your houses, but to the homes of your parents, your grandparents, or whoever raised you.  If they aren't around, visit your children, your siblings, your aunts and uncles: whoever is in your heart.  J-O Enterprises is covering all your costs: plane, bus, rental car, hotel, food.  Present your invoices when you return.  If you need an advance, let Megan, Karissa, Dora, or Ty know.  Our message: celebrate the love that was given to you by people who love you more than you know.

“Time marches by way too fast.  For the next seven to ten days, we're celebrating our parents and the love, joy, and happiness they've given us.  Happy travels!  Munchkins out!”

“Wow, that was a great message,” Dora responded.

“Make sure everyone gets where they need to go, and that includes you.”

“Thanks, Little Danny.  Tell your folks hello for me.”

When the call ended, Jonny noted, “That's gonna be a big hit in the budget.”

“You are *so* like Dad,” Little Danny chuckled.  “Guys, J-O is not hurting for clients or revenue.  We're bigger and more successful than our parents ever dreamed it would be.  Just like they did when overseeing J-O, we need to give back.  We've been so lucky our entire lives.  Most of our employees are not that fortunate.  Dad and Daddy would approve.”

“They would,” Aislinn responded.  She stood and leaned over and, like she'd done with Jonny earlier, she gave Little Danny a kiss on the cheek.  “I'm so proud of you, and I know Daddy is so freakin' happy that you, well, all of us, are doing our best to make a difference.”

“Let's get packed,” Jonny asserted.

As the three started for the stairway, Aislinn called out, “Wait.  Come with me.”

Her brothers following, Aislinn led them into the study.  She walked close to the wall opposite her dad's old, beaten up, chipped, and somewhat faded desk.  No one would ever think of getting rid of it, though sometimes the brood considered refinishing it.

“It's them,” Aislinn stated, referring to the life-size cardboard cutouts, still in pristine condition from being protected over the years, of two little boys.

“It's them,” Jonny agreed.  “Daddy has a baseball glove on.”

“He was a happy little boy with Dad.”

“But how?” Little Danny wondered.

As one, the Munchkins exchanged looks and then answered in unison, “The Stargate!”

“There's something very real here.  I don't think it's just them drawing themselves as children.  I mean, they're together,” Aislinn pointed out.

“I bet something happened on a mission,” Jonny opined.

“I have an idea,” Little Danny put forth.  “Let's ask them when we get to the cabin.”

“I like the way you think, little brother,” Jonny responded with a smile.

“I have an idea, too,” a beaming Aislinn stated.  “Jonny, you go here,” she said, pulling her sibling to the location she wanted.  Pointing, she instructed, “Little Danny, you go there.”  She walked back a few feet and pulled out her phone.  “Okay, guys, those two little boys are smiling like crazy.  I want you to do the same.  Munchkin Power on three.  One ... two ... three!”

Once again as one, all three exclaimed, “Munchkin Power!” and then laughed.  Aislinn's camera was set on burst, so several photos were taken when she pressed the button.

“These are great,” Little Danny observed as he reviewed the photos taken by his sister.

“Let's do another one, on opposite sides,” Jonny proposed with a smile.

“Good thinking,” Little Danny praised.

“It happens, sometimes,” the highly-skilled and well-educated oldest triplet chuckled.

Aislinn took another burst shot, this one with Jonny next to their youthful daddy and Little Danny next to child Jack.

“Ash, you stand here and kneel down,” Little Danny instructed afterward.

“Thanks, Danny,” Aislinn expressed happily at the idea.  She kneeled down to be in the middle of the two boys that she believed were her parents.  “Okay, I'm ready.”

The trio took one more picture after retrieving a stand for Aislinn's phone.  Setting the timer for a delayed burst shot, the original miracle, as their parents referred to Aislinn, hurried over to the cutouts and kneeled down again for what would become a family favorite shot, featuring Jack and Daniel as little boys with their namesakes next to them and Aislinn in the middle.  With all the huge smiles, they teased they looked like the Osmonds.

“Guys, we need to get packing.”

“Always the little general,” Aislinn laughed as the three headed for the stairs once more time.

====

Little Danny was standing in front of the mantle in the living room.  He picked up a photograph of the family.  It was a big picture because it included the entire brood and the entire zoo, except for Jack the donkey.

Aislinn walked up behind her brother, put her hands around his waist, and looked around his left arm to see the picture.

“Do you ever want to go back?”

“Sometimes,” Little Danny admitted.  “We're so close, Ash.  It's hard to be apart now.”

“I know, but we get together all the time, and I know, it's not enough.”

“It was ideal, wasn't it?”

“Magical, even.”  After a moment, Aislinn inquired, “Oh, Danny, did you call someone about the zoo?”

“Jenny will be here in a couple of days, and, in the meantime, Susie is going to zoo-sit.”

“Hey, come look at this,” Jonny called out, having come downstairs using the secret staircase in the recreation room and crossing through the kitchen where he paused to look at the tablet and made a fascinating discovery.  “What is this?” he asked as he opened the folder.

“'Sci-Fi for need to know', it says,” Aislinn read.  “That's Dad again for sure.”

“Oops, it needs a password,” Jonny sighed.  “What would Dad use?”

“It could be anything,” Aislinn pondered.

After a moment of consideration, Little Danny took control of the tablet and entered, “Needtoknow.”

“Didn't work,” Aislinn sighed.

“It has to.  I mean, that's Dad style.  Oh, I know.”  Known as a child prodigy, Little Danny added, “x12” to his password.

“I thought that would work,” Jonny remarked.

“What am I missing?  I mean, we need to know and there are twelve of us.  Dad couldn't know who would find it and I think he wants all of us to find it.”  Little Danny sighed, “We're missing something.”

“Yeah, Dad!” Jonny exclaimed.  “D'oh,” he spoke brightly.

It took a second, but then the other two Munchkins laughed and exclaimed, “D'oh!” while hitting the side of their heads.

Jonny added the expression at the end of the password and grinned when the folder opened.  He clicked on the first file that indicated it was an introduction, and sure enough, there was Jack.

Decked out like Rod Serling, host of “The Twilight Zone,” Jack began to speak in an overexaggerated tone, saying, “You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind, a journey into a wondrous land of imagination.  Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

“That's the alternative opening to season one,” Aislinn noted.

“Listen up.  You know I love a good science-fiction story.  I have a bunch of 'em, the real story, the scoop, the Intel, all fictitious, of course.  Keep it safe and to yourself and enjoy the fantasy, if you really want to know, blood, guts, gore, deaths, strange creatures, civil wars, god wannabes: you name it, I've ... written about it here.  Eyes only, once you've crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”

“Gosh, Danny, do you think?” Jonny asked excitedly.

“Look at the first story,” Little Danny urged.

“Okay, so you've lived a pretty good life, but then you get a kick in the face.  Your son pulled the trigger on your gun and dies.  How do you survive that?  How does your wife?  How do you go on?  You don't.  You sit on the bed, hold the gun in your hand, and think it'll be over, in just another minute.  Then you hear the news about this amazing thing called a Stargate.  You don't care, but it's one way to go out and keep your wife secure for the rest of her life.  The end would be the same, but she'd be better off, in more than one way.  Then you meet this geek, long hair, won't shut up, and presses every button you have.  Geez, he asks a lot of questions.”

“Wow,” Aislinn sighed, her eyes big and wide at what she was hearing.

“Kids, this it the beginning of your science fiction lessons, should you choose to accept it.  Be warned, if you've just listened to introduction, it can be heartwrenching, violent, full of loss, devastating, but it's the truth of these tales and it's the beginning of the best days of my ... sci-fi life.  Listen up, if you're ready.  No holding back.  This is how it happened, from my perspective, and it's your chance to boldly go where few have gone before.”

“Look at all the files,” Jonny noted.

“I wonder if one of them talks about those cutouts,” Little Danny spoke with curiosity.

“Not now, guys, okay?” Aislinn requested.  “I want to see them.  We have lots of time to watch these, and like you said earlier, Little Danny, we can ask them in person about the cutouts in the study.”

“You're right, Ash.  Are you ready to go?” Little Danny queried.

“Yeah.  The sooner we go, the sooner we get there,” Jonny stated.  “Let's go.”

Jonny and Aislinn grabbed their bags and headed out of the house.  Little Danny secured the tablet, the box of possessions having already been put away.  Then he walked slowly to the entranceway and stopped at the open front door.  He turned back and looked around the house.  He smiled as his heart swelled with joy.

“I don't ever want to leave here.  Thanks, Dad, Daddy, Mom, brood, Bij, Katie, Mittens, Cal...”

“Little Danny, time to hit the road,” Jonny shouted from his vehicle.

“... ico, and all the zoo.  I'll be back.  Hey, Family, up above, take care of this place while we're gone.  It's full of love and memories.  Please take care of it for us.  Oh, I love you, all of you, wherever you are.  Bye.”

Little Danny walked out of the house and set the security alarm.  He hurried to his brother's Ford truck and hopped in.

“Minnesota, here we come,” Jonny singsonged as he backed out of the driveway.

“Okay, Ash, spill,” Little Danny encouraged.

“Yeah, who has the inside track this week?” Jonny chuckled.

Aislinn laughed and responded, “Well, his name is Michael and he's dreamy.”

The Munckins had an eighteen-hour drive ahead of them in order to reach the Minnesota compound full of cabins for Jackson-O'Neills and friends, assuming they took turns behind the wheel and didn't make any stops.  They didn't mind the long haul since at the end of the road were their parents and beloved beagles. To the now grown children that reality felt like Christmas and birthdays, all wrapped up into one.  To them, being with their dad and daddy was a welcome gift and a special joy that filled their hearts with goodness.

For the Jackson-O'Neills, whether in Colorado Springs or Minnesota or wherever the brood and their extended family were located, life was an adventure, not always perfect, but always worthwhile and always full of love.

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

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