Red Alert

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Humor, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - March 26. 2011
Spoilers:  None
Size:  29kb, ficlet
Written:  April 23-27, July 30-31, August 4,21, 2005  Revised for consistency:  September 7, 2007
Summary:  The Jackson-O'Neills, all thirteen of them, go grocery shopping.  Will the store survive?
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 betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, QuinGem, Cassiopeia, Linda!

Red Alert
by Orrymain

“We need another check stand open, Kurt,” Belle said as she began to help the next customer in line at the supermarket.

Kurt, the assistant manager of the store, looked around and agreed.  They had five stands open, but each had a minimum of three customers waiting.

“Susan and Geoff to check stands,” Kurt called over the PA.

It was Saturday, and the store was buzzing, getting busier by the minute.  Taking a brief moment, Kurt looked out the huge windows, just enjoying the sunny mid-morning.  He smiled, seeing a mother with her child.  As a new father, the sight warmed his heart.  Just when he was about to refocus on his duties, his eyes widened.

“Oh, no!”  Turning, Kurt shouted out, “Red Alert,” to the checkers.  As quickly as he could, he went to the PA system.  “Attention all workers, red alert!  Man the produce aisles, the frozen food compartments, and, for goodness sake, make sure the cereal aisle is covered!  Red alert!  I repeat, red alert.  This is *not* a drill!”

Workers who were stocking shelves stopped their tasks, feverishly moving the boxes back to the stockroom.  Department managers hurried to be out on the floor, stationing any free personnel in the most critical positions, though being a Saturday, many were busy working the check stands as either checkers or baggers.

Customers stared in wonder, some alarmed, some confused, and some amused.

One curious woman who had just paid for her groceries asked the assistant manager, “What's going on?”

“Nothing to worry about, Ma'am; just taking precautions,” Kurt reassured.

“For what?  Is the President coming or something?” the customer teased in jest.

“No, Ma'am, it's just the Jackson-O'Neills, all thirteen of them,” Kurt said, motioning to Jack, Daniel, and their eleven very animated children, who were just entering the store.

“Oh, my goodness.  Is that a ... a little league team or something?” the woman asked in shock.

“No, Ma'am, that's a family,” the man responded.  ~Bless them all, but while that's being done, heaven help the store survive, too.~

“Oh!”  Not sure what to say next, the woman carried her bag of groceries towards the exit.  As she passed Jack and Daniel, she said, “They must be a handful; the store is on 'Red Alert'.”

Jack laughed with pride, saying, “Thank you, Ma'am.”

“Jack!” Daniel exclaimed, frowning at his husband.

“I love it, Danny,” Jack chuckled.  “They go crazy whenever we bring in the entire brood.”

“There's a reason for that,” Daniel said hesitantly, not wanting to think about what was bound to happen over the next hour.  “I still say we should have ordered the groceries and had them delivered,” he commented, repeating an earlier conversation.

“Too boring.  Let's go have some fun!” Jack exclaimed enthusiastically as he pulled out the carts.

Daniel shook his head at his husband, the child.  The last few weeks had been unusually uneventful for the family, and the thirteen of them had simply enjoyed being a family.  Usually, for large shopping, they had the store deliver.  Sometimes, though, they went on family shopping trips, as they were today.  While the children had been given the 'be on your best behavior' lecture, it still promised to be an adventure.

Over the years, from the birth of the Munchkins on, anytime Jack and Daniel took all the children grocery shopping, something unique had happened.  For some reason, the brood seemed to lose their usual good manners and common sense when they shopped together.  It rarely happened when they went in smaller groups, but when it was the entire family, it was as if a switch was flipped and the normally well-behaved children went into 'risky play' mode.

Jack theorized it was being close to all that sugar, having once explained, “It's the epitome of a sugar-high.”

Daniel didn't know what to think, and he did his best not to think about it.

Today, the family was dividing up into four groups.  Jack, Daniel, Jennifer, and Jeff were the 'shopping leaders', or, as Jack called them, 'the big cheeses'.  Assigned to Jack were Brianna, Chenoa, and Ricky.  Daniel had Lulu and Jenny by his cart.  Jennifer was responsible for Jonny and Little Danny, while Jeff had David and Aislinn in tow.  Each group had their own shopping list.

Daniel logically thought that splitting up the family would make for a quicker excursion.  Mischievous Jack, however, supported the team approach for other reasons.

~Divide and conquer,~ Jack laughed inwardly.  ~Attack from all sides; the store doesn't stand a chance.  Let's see, score is seven for the brood and zippo for the store.~

“Jack, maybe we should split up Jonny and Little Danny,” Daniel wondered quietly.

~Heck, they'll be half the fun.~  Jack made a face and said, “Nah, you know how they like to be together.  If we split them up, we'll spend an extra half-hour chasing them down as they try to find the other one.”  ~Hey, that's great logic.  You did good, O'Neill.~

“Good point,” Daniel naively agreed.  “But, Babe, this time *you* get to face the store manager when the boys do, uh, well, whatever they end up doing.”

Making sure the groups were prepared, Jack sent their offspring out unto the land of the aisles.  Daniel sighed; Jack smiled.

“Danny,” Jack said just before heading off in the direction of the meat department.  “Do you get the feeling we're being watched?”

Daniel studied the group of employees, some at check stands and some stationed at nearby aisles, and smiled.

Denial was the emotion of the moment as Daniel replied, “No, Babe.  I think it's your imagination.”  Lookin around again, though, he couldn't quite shake off the feeling that they were been watched.  ~No, I'm just being paranoid.  Never mind.~

“You're right, as always.  We're off to see the wizard.  Meet you in Emerald City,” Jack teased.

Daniel laughed, “Careful of that yellow brick road, Jack; sometimes it can get a little slippery!”

====

It didn't take long for things to get eventful, and slippery.  Over near the condiments, Jennifer was adding things such as catsup, mustard, pickles, and olives to her cart.

“We need flour and sugar,” the teen told her charges, glancing down at her list.

“I'll get it,” Little Danny offered, running down the aisle to where the sugar was.

“Whoa, Danny, I'll get it for you,” Bill, one of the workers who was 'guarding' that aisle, said.  ~I can just see you trying to climb the shelf and falling.  Not on my watch, Kiddo.~

Bill handed Little Danny a bag of sugar.

“Heavy,” the little boy observed about the five-pound bag that he had to use all his energy to hold.  As the turned around, he said, “Thank you.”

“Little Danny, toss it to me,” Jonny urged with a smile on his face.

“Nooooooo,” Bill's warning trailed off.

In a split moment, Little Danny had tossed the bag towards his brother, who missed it.  As it fell towards the ground, it snagged on a sharp hook that normally held special items.  As it hit the ground, the bag opened, sugar spilling out in rapid motion.

“Oops,” Little Danny laughed, giving a Bill an apologetic look.

Undeterred, Jonny grabbed a bag of flour that was on the bottom shelf.

“Little Danny, we try again,” Jonny said.

Once more Bill realized what was happening too late, and his cry of “No!” came just as Jonny tossed the bag to Little Danny.  Unfortunately, Jonny's swinging toss which began as he bowed low and gained momentum by swinging the bag between his feet, threw it a little too high, and it sailed over Little Danny's head.  Jennifer and Bill both leaped forward to catch it, but crashed into each other while the bag caught on the corner of the shelf just above Little Danny.  Flour came pouring out, much of it landing on Little Danny who got a bad case of the giggles.

“You look like a ghost, Little Danny,” Jonny laughed.

~Oh, no!~  Jennifer looked at her giggling brothers and groaned.  Bill helped her up, and she looked at the two Munchkins, asking, “Don't you have something to say?”

The boys looked at their sister and then at Bill, who was eyeing the flour in a dispirited fashion.  They immediately became contrite and looked up at Bill with sorrowful expressions.

“We're sorry, Bill,” Little Danny said quietly.

Jonny added, “Yeah.  We no mean to make mess.  It just ... happened!”

Bill smiled affectionately at the two.  'Red Alert' or not, he knew they hadn't meant it.  He'd worked at the store for years and had watched the boys grow up.  He just couldn't be upset with the mischievous youngsters.

“I know; it's okay.  I'll have this cleaned up in a jiffy, and,” Bill looked around to make sure no one else was looking, “no one will be the wiser.”

Bill began working on the clean up, feeling rewarded by Jennifer's grateful expression.

“We need new bags, Jen,” Jonny said.

“I'll get them,” Bill spoke quickly.

“Sorry they broke.  I'll get another bag of sugar,” Little Danny offered.

Shaking her head, Jennifer responded, “Uh, no, thanks, Little Danny.  I'll get them.  We need bigger bags anyway.”

With the sugar and flour in her cart, Jennifer collected her brothers and headed for the next aisle.

====

Over in the produce section, Daniel was weighing the peas, while Lulu gathered up some grapes.

“Red or green, Daddy?” Lulu asked, picking up a bunch of each.

“Get three bunches of each, Lil' Bit,” Daniel instructed, returning his focus to the peas.

“I'll help you,” Serena said.

Lulu smiled at the auburn-haired worker and politely requested, “We need large bunches, please.”

“Need 'tatos,” Jenny commented.

“I'll ... get them,” another staffer on 'Red Alert' duty called out, hurrying to the spot.

“How many potatoes, Sir?” the worker called out across the aisle.

“One bag and ten big ones for baking,” Daniel answered.

Jenny watched the worker take the bag over to the cart and put it in.  When the worker returned, she started to put ten of the individually sold russets into a plastic bag.

“No, need big'r ones,” Jenny said, adding, “like this one.”

In a flash, Jenny had pulled out a potato that was already extending outward.  The result was an avalanche of spuds.

“Why'd you do that?” the worker lashed out angrily at the little girl.

The worker was new to the store, and while he'd seen Jack and Daniel with one or two of the children before, he'd never had any personal contact with them or their children.  He had no clue that he was about to get a first-hand view of Jackson-O'Neill protectiveness.

“Hey!” Daniel called out, having heard the disturbance.

Lulu ran to Jenny, throwing her arms around her as tears began to well in the little girl's eyes.

“Don't yell at my sister.  It's not her fault you picked the worst ones and had the pile stacked all wrong,” Lulu said bravely.

“It was not!” the worker refuted loudly, making the two girls flinch.

“Yes, it was, or she wouldn't have been able to pull one out.  If it was done right, they wouldn't have fallen by taking just one,” Lulu argued, pointing to the potatoes on the floor.  “Jenny's only three-and-a-half; she's not that strong.”

As he walked to the area, Daniel had to smile inwardly at Lulu's protectiveness.  Their family was such a hodgepodge in many ways, so watching them gel and take care of each other always warmed his heart.

Seeing the worker's glare, Daniel said, “I wouldn't say anything else.  My daughter is correct.  I noticed myself that the pile was lop-sided.  I apologize for Jenny's action, but this was not entirely her fault, nor do you have any right to speak to my children that way.  If you have a problem with their behavior, then you take it up with me.”

“But ...”

“But Doctor Jackson-O'Neill is correct,” the manager of the produce department said.  The man had been called to the scene by Serena as soon as she saw what had happened.  Regardless of fault, he knew it was wrong to yell at a child the way the worker had at Jenny.  Sincerely, he said, “My apologies.”

Daniel nodded and began to herd his children away from the area and back to their cart.

“Still need 'tatos, Daddy,” Jenny said, stooping down to pick some up.

“Uh, Jenny, let's get these,” Daniel suggested.  He smiled a bit coyly as he helped Jenny pick out ten of the best potatoes that were still in the bin.  With a shrug, they moved on to the next part of their shopping.  ~How do they always manage to do that?~

====

“Ash, don't squish it like that,” Jeff said about the loaf of bread the little girl was squeezing.

“Have to make sure it's fresh, Jeff,” Aislinn explained, squeezing the loaf again.

“Look at the date; here,” the teenager instructed as he pointed to the spot where the date was printed.  “Otherwise, we end up with squished bread.”

“Ewww,” the little girl said.  “I'll find the freshest loaf,” she promised.

“Okay, while you're doing that I'm going to get the treats right there,” Jeff said, motioning towards the end of the aisle where the Twinkies, Ho-Ho's, and other snack delights were.  “David,” he called out, nodding at the same time.

David nodded his acknowledgement that he was to keep an eye on Aislinn while Jeff was at the other end of the aisle.

“I'll help, Ash,” David told his sister, moving to pick up a loaf of bread.

“No, I do by myself,” Aislinn demanded.  “You get other bread.  I'll get this one,” she insisted.

“Okay.”

David walked a few feet away to where the sourdough bread was, leaving Aislinn by the sandwich bread.  The little girl was blocked in, with Jeff on one end and David on the other.

A couple of minutes passed, and when Jeff finally had all the items on the list in the cart, he turned back to look at his siblings.

“Ash!”  Jeff hurried the cart to the center of the aisle, with an inward grimace at the sight that greeted him.  “What are you doing?”

“Looking for the fresh one.  See, I made piles.  This one this date, and this one this date, and this one ...”

“I get the idea.  David!” Jeff interrupted his younger brother.

“Sorry, Jeff,” David called out as he moved to where Jeff stood.  “She wanted to get it her herself, so I left her to it while I got this stuff,” he said, motioning to the breads he had chosen to go with special meals.

“Oh, boy.  Okay, Ash, let's get one of these.”

“Maybe this one more fresh,” the youngest Munchkin said, reaching for the last remaining loaf of bread on the shelf.  “See!” she said with a huge grin.

Sure enough, the very last loaf was the freshest.

Jeff let out a sigh as he began to restack the loaves his sister had removed from the shelves and placed in piles on the floor.

====

“What about this one?” the butcher asked.

Chenoa shook her head.

“Why not?” the man asked as he looked down at the meat.

“Dark spot right there,” the little girl explained as he pointed to the spot on the steak.

Jack was holding Chenoa so she could see over the meat counter.  This was the fifth piece of steak Chenoa had rejected, and the butcher was losing patience.

“Look ...”

“You'd rather we take our business elsewhere?” Jack asked, confident that their family purchases paid at least the electric bill, if not more, for the store.

“No, Sir.”  The butcher picked out another slice of steak and asked, “How about this one?”

Jack looked at Chenoa, who nodded.

“We'll take it,” Jack stated with a smile.

“We need twelve more just like it,” Chenoa added.

“Twelve?” the man asked in disbelief and abject horror.

“Twelve,” Chenoa said definitively, moving her head in an up-and-down motion to emphasize her statement.  “No dark spots.”

The butcher sighed again as he began his quest to find twelve more perfect steaks, a task he'd already repeated for salmon filets and pork chops.

Meanwhile, Brianna and Ricky were selecting the pre-packaged sandwich meats.  When they were finished loading the purchases into Jack's cart, Ricky began to fidget, growing impatient with the butcher.

“Bri, why don't you take Ricky and get the cereal,” Jack suggested.

“Okay.  C'mon, Ricky,” Brianna said, reaching down and taking his hand.

“Bri ...” Jack called out as the girl turned away.

“I know, Dad.  Geez!” Brianna exclaimed, shaking her head.

Jack smiled at the unspoken reminder not to become separated from the young boy.  He and Daniel were lucky; their older children were very responsible when it came to looking after the younger ones.

====

“Here, Ricky.  You hold the boxes while I get them, okay?” Brianna suggested.

“Okay,” the little boy answered happily.

With three of the boxes selected and in Ricky's arms, the boy heard a familiar voice.

“King of the cereal!” Daniel quipped.  “Can you hold all of those?”

“I strong,” Ricky said pridefully.

Daniel chuckled, then said, “Jenny, stay here by your brother.  Lulu, you, too.”  Moving closer to Brianna, he added, “So how are we doing?”

“We need a variety pack, Daddy, but I can't reach it,” Brianna said, looking up at the tall shelves.

“I can handle that.”

As Daniel and Brianna continued to get the various cereals, Daniel became concerned when he heard a chorus of giggles.

~I'm afraid to look.~  The archaeologist knew he had to, though, so slowly, he turned around, immediately wishing he hadn't.  “Oh, no!  What are you guys doing?”

“Eating free cereal, Daddy,” Lulu said.  “Look, the box says it's free!”

“Not the whole box, Princess.  It just means you get more cereal,” Daniel explained, inwardly smiling at the children's innocent expressions.

“It say free,” Jenny said, pointing to the word 'free' on the box.  “We eat only free part.”

Daniel looked up and saw the latest store worker to become speechless by the children's actions.  Unfortunately, the store clerk had been guarding the canned food aisle and hadn't come to the cereal area until he, too, had heard the giggles.

Picking up two of the opened boxes, Daniel handed them to the clerk and said, “Just add these to our tab.  Let's go,” he called out to the children.

====

Meeting towards the front of the store, Jeff and Jennifer moved together.

“How'd it go, Jen?” Jeff asked, a wry smile on his face.

“Perfect!  Not a problem!  Went off without a hitch.  You?”

Jeff chuckled, “Yeah, us, too!”

Looking down at their younger siblings, all looking their most innocent, Jennifer laughed and then said, “There's Daddy.  Let's go see if we can talk him into getting that really good fudge.”

“Yay!” Jonny and Little Danny chorused, leading the children in pursuit of their father.

Jeff and Jennifer exchanged another look as well as a sigh, and, finally, Jennifer opined, “Geez, that was fun!”

Jeff laughed, saying, “Careful, Jen.  You're beginning to sound just like Dad.”

Jennifer grimaced, then put her hands around Jeff's arm as they walked, saying, “You know, Bro, that's not such a bad thing.”

====

Finally, the family was gathered together at the front of the store, waiting to go through the checkout line.  Their four carts were loaded with items.  As they waited for their turn, the children were buzzing with noise as they shared their grocery story adventures.

“Cookies!” Chenoa exclaimed, spotting a display of cookies on special.  “Love those!  Those are the marshmallow ones, Dad.  Can we get some?”

“Okay, Princess,” Jack agreed, letting his daughter walk to the display by herself.

“Jack!”

Jack's eyes widened as he turned to help Chenoa get the cookies, but it was too late.  Chenoa had pulled and tugged to get out the package she wanted, resulting in a landslide of cookie packages all over the front of the store.

“Oooops.  Sorry,” the curly-haired girl said with a shrug, happily returning to her family, a package of her favorite cookies in her hand.

Jack stared at the pile of cookies on the floor and then noticed the manager standing nearby.  Though he smiled sheepishly, he got a bit of a frown in return.

“Hey, not my fault your store isn't child-friendly, and your workers aren't completely on the ball.  That was an accident waiting to happen,”  Jack told him, defending his children.  After a pause, he asked, “Want the kids to help pick these up?”

The manager shook his head, waved off the children, and then ordered a couple of workers to pick up and redo the display.  He walked over to the assistant manager and let out a deep sigh.

“Kurt, the next time the Jackson-O'Neills show up, I'm going on vacation to Tahiti,” the manager said, envisioning plenty of relaxation instead of the stress of the moment.

“Can I come?  My wife's always wanted to go there,” Kurt mused.

“If I were you, I would!”  After the two men chuckled, the manager instructed, “Okay, tell the staff they get a B-plus.  At least they didn't break any bottles this time.”

“The magazine display survived, too,” Kurt observed.

“And they missed the ...”

The manager was about to say the children hadn't disrupted the candy aisle, and they hadn't.  The problem was that Jonny and Little Danny had just discovered an open package of M&M's near the checkout stand and had begun a 'toss and catch' game, where one was tossing the candies to the other, only they weren't trying to catch the colored candies in their hands, but instead, in their mouths.  The result was a floor full of candy.

“Jonny, don't do that!” Jennifer chastised when she saw what was going on.

“What?” Jonny asked, turning to face her, and when he did, he bumped into another cart, knocking himself down.

Jonny dropped the bag which spilled all the candies remaining in the bag onto the slick floor.  His bump against the cart caused it to push into a display of potato chips, prompting many of the bags from the top to come crashing down.  One of them hit Lulu, who thought she was being hit by some stranger.  In a reflex move, she made a motion to kick whoever was behind her.  She caught one of the bags with her foot, and it burst, spilling potato chips all over the place.

Meanwhile, the worker from the produce aisle, who had gotten angry with Jenny over the potatoes, was coming up front to handle some bagging chores.  Seeing what was happening, he shouted, startling David, who was standing nearby.

David stepped back into someone else's cart, and the cart hit a stand-up cardboard display that was the image of a current race car driver, drinking their favorite soft drink.

The display fell back into another aisle, landing atop a portable corner shelf that had packages of ice cream sugar cones and cans of syrup on it, all of which fell to the ground.  Unfortunately, one row had glass bottle containers instead of plastic, resulting in a combination of chocolate and maple syrups running over the hard floor.

By the time the chain reaction was done, the front section of the store and three of the closest aisles looked like they had been hit by a mini-tornado.

“Oops,” Daniel sighed as he took in the sight.

“Shoulda seen that coming,” Jack noted as he cocked his head slightly.

The lovers looked at each other, shrugged, and then gathered up their children.

“That's some yellow brick road, Jack,” Daniel remarked.

“Beats playing solitaire,” Jack replied.  “What's the damage?” he asked the clerk who had continued to ring up their purchases.

Belle gulped, “Eight-hundred thirty-nine dollars and ... nineteen cents.”

“We must have forgotten something,” Daniel chuckled.

Eight baggers accompanied the four very full carts of groceries to the Jackson-O'Neill vehicles.

“Use the truck for the groceries,” Jack ordered.

From the front window of the store, the manager and assistant manager watched.

“Well, Kurt, back to the drawing board,” the manager said, shaking his head.

“How do you think Jack and Daniel would feel about leashes for the younger kids?” Kurt asked hopefully.

“Do you value your life?”

“We could close the door when we see them coming?” Kurt suggested hopefully.

“And lose our jobs for turning away business.  That shopping they did was only for two weeks,” the manager informed him, realizing that even with all the hassle and craziness, the unusual family was the store's biggest customer.

“Would that be a bad thing?”

The two looked at each other and then at their partially demolished store.

Kurt shook his head as he said, “Frankly, I think Tahiti is still looking pretty good right now.”

“So is transferring to a store in Poughkeepsie,” the manager laughed.

The two men turned back and watched the one-family tornado drive away, happy to have survived yet another shopping excursion by the Jackson-O'Neills.

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