Rocks and Sons
Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - June 1-6, 2013
Spoilers: Proving Ground (minor)
Written: April 16-19,21, May 4-5,7-11,14,17-19, 2006 Tweaked: May 26, 2006 Tweaked for rank only: August 25, 2006 Revised for consistency: September 21-22, 2007
Summary: While on business for J-O Enterprises, Daniel and two of his children spend some quality time together. It all sounds good, until their trip suddenly turns into a nightmare.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
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 fics, “Blowout,” “A Christmas Miracle,” “The Pact,” “Noa Grows Up,” and “An Honor and a Privilege”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Claudia, Linda, QuinGem, Jodi, Robert! Also, thanks to my medical betas: Ali, Kat, Laryssa!
Rocks and Sons
“Bibi, make sure you cover the northwest corner today,” Daniel stated.
The archaeologist was escorting his sons, David and Little Danny, to their 2011 Chevrolet Impala rental vehicle while he imparted his instructions to Bibreanay Appleton, one of J-O Enterprises' most valued and long-standing employees who was essentially in charge of this project.
Daniel smiled as he pondered how far Bibreanay had come in her archaeological expertise and with their company. She'd been hired within two years of getting her degree in archaeology. Since then, the young woman had continued her education while working. In fact, she was now their leading expert in skeletal excavation and handling of human remains. It wasn't just her education, though, that accounted for her position with the company, but, rather, like most J-O employees, she had been hired chiefly on attitude and character.
“Was there anything else, Daniel?”
Even now, it felt a bit odd to Bibreanay to use the first name of her boss, but the two company owners had insisted on that informality. The original six hires, as well as Megan and a later hire, Dora, were the only ones who regularly used the Jackson-O'Neill's first name. Everyone else tended to be more formal, though there were scattered exceptions.
“Yes, Josh Cantrell should be here by nine,” Daniel replied.
“He's the prehistoric expert, right?” Bibreanay asked.
“Yes, he is,” Daniel confirmed. The four arrived at the pale green car, and Daniel unlocked the door, watching to make sure David and Little Danny settled into their seats with their seatbelts properly fastened. “If you have any questions, I have my cell phone.”
“I have it covered, Boss,” Bibreanay replied confidently. “You three have a good time.”
“We will!” David and Little Danny both spoke within seconds of each other.
“We should be back sometime tomorrow afternoon,” Daniel stated as he got in the vehicle and buckled himself in. “Remember, I have my ...”
“Cell phone,” Bibreanay said in synch with Daniel. She chuckled, saying, “I'll take care of everything here.”
“I'm sure you will,” Daniel responded, smiling and giving the woman a little wave before starting the car and heading for their destination.
J-O Enterprises had been hired by a major environmental concern to excavate a portion of desolate northwestern Utah. Their hope was that J-O would find some evidence of pre-historic life that would cause the government to protect the area. Not all that far away, the Rockwell Natural Area, had limited protection, but with the population continuing to grow, more previously untouched areas were at risk of being corrupted. The goal of this particular environmental group was to try and prevent as much of that as possible.
The initial two-week project was being overseen by Daniel, though he would actually only be onsite for six days. If the results of the dig proved
fruitful, J-O would have the right of first refusal before the bigger and more long-term project would be offered to any other companies.
With Jack's blessing, Daniel had also brought with him two of their children, David, who had just turned twelve, and Little Danny, now six-and-a-half. Originally, the couple had planned on making it another family adventure, but General Hank Landry had called in a favor, prompting the men to change their plans.
Landry and Jack were friends from way back in their Air Force days, and when General George Hammond retired in January, Jack had recommended Landry to take over the SGC. Since Landry was already acquainted with the Stargate Program, having actually subbed for Hammond a few times over the years when the lieutenant general had been away on business and Jack had been unavailable for one reason or another, Hammond had concurred, adding his endorsement of the man to Jack's.
As for Jack and Daniel, both had retired from the SGC, again, at the same time Hammond had. Still, they continued to help out occasionally, much as they had after their first joint retirement prior to starting their family. This time, though, their ties had been cut more fully, and their assistance now was more limited. In fact, they had even had their 'locator chips' deactivated and removed so that they couldn't be found and beamed up at the whim of the government or the SGC.
Yet, from time to time, the couple enjoyed getting their feet wet with a bit of SGC intrigue or action. As spring blossomed, Landry had requested Jack help out with a new training scenario for recruits. As the Tauri's off-world experience grew, they'd run into some bugs with the old one and needed “a master's touch” as Landry had called it to either fix it or create an entirely new one. Thus, Jack was putting in some time at the SGC, even going off-world for a few hours every day to the planet where the large training facility was located.
As always, whenever Jack and Daniel were not at home, the children were being cared for by their family of friends.
When the lovers' plans to take the entire brood changed, Daniel had decided to take David with him anyway because the youngster was becoming a pretty good geologist. He loved archaeology as well, and Daniel thought this was the perfect trip to take the boy on. Little Danny had requested to go along as well, and with David older and more able than ever to be a reliable and responsible baby-sitter, Jack and Daniel had agreed to let the young boy go, too.
Daniel had also decided to take a day or two and take the boys to the Cedar Breaks National Monument, which was just a few hours away from the work site.
“This is going to be so awesome, Daddy,” David opined excitedly as he reviewed his notes on the area. “We're going to see Pink Cliffs, right?”
“Definitely,” Daniel confirmed, glancing quickly over at his son, who was seated next to him.
“What's that?” Little Danny asked from his secure spot in the backseat.
The boy was growing, but state laws had changed again, so at this point, children of his age and size were required to be in a booster seat. The youngest Jackson-O'Neill children sometimes complained about being 'too old' for special seats, but, for the most part, they'd given up the battle since both parents were insistent on doing whatever was required to keep their family safe.
“It's supposed to be incredible, Little Danny,” David began. “It's a super big canyon with lots of rock walls, fins, spires, and columns created by millions of years of sedimentation, uplift, and erosion.”
“How big is it?” the young boy asked.
“Let's see,” David said, looking at his notes. “It says it's three-miles wide and over two-thousand feet deep.”
David rambled on as the threesome made their way along the interstate, en route to their destination, with Little Danny asking lots of questions and Daniel filling in the blanks whenever he was asked.
“They call it the Grand Staircase,” David babbled about the series of escarpments that stretched eastwards across southern Utah.
“Because it's like steps?” Little Danny asked.
“I guess so,” David answered, in awe, as the three stood, staring out over the canyon.
“Lots of colors,” Little Danny observed. “It's like a painting, Daddy.”
“It's even more beautiful than Bryce Canyon in some ways,” Daniel noted about the shades of red, yellow, pink, and orange they were able to see in the picturesque view. ~Of course, it's not as romantic. Can't be -- Jack's not here.~
The father and sons continued their trek, with David more fascinated than ever by the rock strata and shapes.
Daniel rented a couple of bicycles, and the three went cycling, though for safety reasons, Little Danny rode with Daniel on the back of his bike. They rode from the visitor's center to Spectra Point, taking their time as they made the two-mile journey.
After lunch, the family returned to the visitor's center and then made their way to the northern edge of the monument for a different view of the red rock formations.
After a long and busy day, Daniel and the boys decided to camp out at the Point Supreme Campground. It was all pretty primitive, with Daniel in one sleeping bag and the two boys sharing another. The archaeologist had brought a basic tent with them, just in case they did decide to camp out, but, otherwise, they didn't have much with them except for a cooler that contained some water, juice, and sandwiches.
“Row, row, row your boat ...”
Even though they had nothing but the basics, the three Jackson-O'Neills were having a great time, singing songs, learning about rocks and their history from David, and telling stories. Daniel especially was using the opportunity to teach the two budding archaeologists about respect for the land and the secrets of discovery that land held for those who truly cared to look for them.
“Shall we call Dad?” Daniel asked after he finished one of his informal mini-lessons about how a few rocks can paint the picture of the evolution of an area.
“Yeah!” both boys answered, smiles on their faces.
Daniel pulled out his cell phone and called his husband. After a brief 'hello' and relaying their tentative plans for the following day, he and the boys each took turns filling Jack in on their day. Jack, too, took the opportunity to tell them about what had been happening at home and, of course, how much they were missed.
“Danny, can you hear me?” Jack asked after trying to tell his soulmate about JD's adventure with Mittens, one of their cats.
“Sorry, Love, but the phone cut out again,” Daniel answered. “I can barely hear you.”
“Yeah, I'm getting some static, too. Danny?”
“Jack, I'd better go,” Daniel stated reluctantly.
With the cell phone signal dropping out frequently and the interference making it difficult to hear, the call was much shorter than anyone had hoped for.
Finally, after a few more songs and stories, the three happy campers drifted off to sleep, each glad to have spent a wonderful day together.
After waking early to watch the sunrise, Daniel and his boys ate a light breakfast and then began their journey back to the dig site.
After only traveling a few miles, Daniel spoke, “Hey, I have an idea.”
“What, Daddy?” both boys asked.
“We came via the scenic route, but I know some places that very few people ever go to. David, it's not as grand as Cedar Breaks, but it's also less corrupted,” Daniel informed.
The boy gasped excitedly, “Because not as many people go there to mess it up.”
“Exactly. It'll take us about three times as long to get back, but it'll be a great adventure. What do you think?” Daniel asked, knowing the answer before hearing it.
With big smiles on the children's faces, the three set off. Daniel kept on the main road for only another thirty minutes before cutting off down a side road. They traveled for two hours, Daniel making several turns down unpaved roads. As they drove, he told the children stories about what they were going to see.
“So, we're still learning about prehistoric life. Scientists are uncovering bones of dinosaurs we never knew existed,” Daniel stated, continuing a discussion that had begun a few minutes earlier.
“It's sad that the dinosaurs died,” Little Danny lamented, looking out at the vast desert they were crossing.
“Yes, it is,” Daniel agreed; then hedged a little by adding, “in a way.” He could feel the stares of his children on him and teased, “But I'm glad we don't have to worry about a pack of Muffins hunting us in our backyard.”
The three males all giggled profusely at the unlikely name of the seven-foot, realistic looking Velociraptor that stood in the corner of the game room at their family home. When they'd gotten the creature, the then youngest Jackson-O'Neill, Jenny, had been afraid of the large beast; that is, until she'd been given the privilege of naming it. The children, not to mention Jack, had been taken aback when the redhead decided on the unthreatening name of Muffin. The family thought they'd never live down the name, and, as she grew up, Jenny herself was beginning to realize that having given a cuddly name to such a fearsome creature was food for fodder.
When the giggles ebbed, Daniel continued, “The point is, we are far from knowing all there is to know. If you two are serious about wanting to be archaeologists, you have to always remember that.”
“In what way, Daddy?” David asked.
Daniel smiled, opting to paraphrase a line once used by the Nox, altering it slightly as he answered, “That the very young do not always know it all. We are young in the history of the universe, and we have a long, long way to go before we can ever really say that we know ourselves as a world.”
“Daddy, do you think ...”
David's question was interrupted by what sounded like an explosion. At the same time, the car seemed to jump a fraction and then began skidding wildly along the road.
“Daddy, what's happening?” David called out frantically.
“Daddy?” Little Danny asked nervously.
“Hold on tight! It'll be okay,” Daniel anxiously answered as he fought for control of the car.
Going by the feel of the vehicle, Daniel surmised the left front tire had blown out. He knew not to slam on his brakes, though that was often a person's first instinct. He gripped the steering wheel as securely as he could, wanting desperately to look over at his sons, but keeping his eyes focused on what was ahead. Knowing a glance at his children could be fatal, he concentrated on bringing the car to a safe halt. Slowly, he began to apply the brakes.
“Daddy, watch out!” Little Danny shouted, pointing with his left arm at a mule deer in the near distance.
“GAWD!” Daniel exclaimed, instinctively hitting the brakes, regrettably harder than he wanted to.
David gripped the arm of the passenger door with his right hand, while his younger brother held on tight to the edges of his booster seat.
With the vehicle skidding along an unpaved road, Daniel's task was even tougher, especially with rocks and dirt flying up onto the windshield.
“Crap! Why isn't he moving?” Daniel complained loudly about the mule deer that stood directly in their path, his gaze seemingly transfixed on the on-coming vehicle.
“Maybe he's hurt!” Little Danny cried out.
Having no choice, Daniel swerved the vehicle to his left, but when he did so, the unsteady car hit a deep rut, causing it to flip over. The boys' screams filled the air as the car rolled over and over again, its metal frame partially collapsing and losing most of its form. Sounds of breaking glass from the windshield were heard as the Impala finally ceased its momentum.
With a final bang, the vehicle slammed against a small cluster of rocks and came to a stop, the car somewhat tilted in on the driver's side. The screams of earlier had faded, replaced now by the sizzling of the car's radiator, a whooshing sound from the front passenger-side tire as it spun from its slightly elevated perch in the air, and the whirr of the air bags that had automatically inflated.
David moaned instinctively as he blinked several times, his hands automatically pushing back something he wasn't really conscious of yet.
~I wasn't asleep, was I?~ David asked himself as he squinted from the hot sun that was beating down on his face. ~No, I got up this morning and ...~
Suddenly, the young boy jerked forward, having remembered exactly where he was and why.
“Ow!” David exclaimed, reaching up to rub his aching forehead. Lowering his hand, he saw blood on his fingers. “That's not good,” he stated softly. Shoving aside the deflating air bag, the boy looked over at Daniel and saw his father wasn't moving. He undid his seatbelt without a problem and leaned over, shaking his father slightly as he called out, “Daddy! Daddy, wake up!” Breathing heavily in alarm, the boy turned to look in the backseat where his younger brother was seated. “Little Danny, are you okay?”
~What?~ The words woke Little Danny, who came out of his temporary unconscious state and suddenly felt like he was being smothered. He screamed, “HELP ME!”
“Little Danny, it's okay,” David assured quickly. “It's just the air bag. Push it away from your body.”
Calming, Little Danny did as instructed, admitting with a touch a embarrassment, “I didn't know what it was.”
“It took me a minute, too,” the older boy replied.
“What happened, David?” Little Danny asked a bit emotionally as he watched his brother push aside the driver's air bag that had deployed from the front of the vehicle.
As he wiped the powdery residue the air bag released from his hands, David answered, “I think the tire blew up. I have a cut on my forehead, but I feel okay. My glasses don't even have a scratch on them, either. How about you?”
“My lip hurts,” Little Danny responded, but not caring about himself, the child called out hastily, “Daddy? Daddy!”
“He's not waking up, Little Danny,” David answered. “The side air bag didn't inflate. He has a cut on the side of his forehead. One of the glass lens is broken. I hope he didn't get any glass in his eyes,” he commented as he gently removed Daniel's glasses, grateful he didn't see any glass or cuts near their father's eyes, though he knew that wasn't any guarantee.
“Is he okay?” Little Danny asked anxiously.
“I hope so,” David responded and then sighed. Remembering advice from his older father that when in a dangerous situation -- don't be afraid to stop, take a breath, and then review the situation -- the older boy drew a calming breath and suggested, “Let's get out of the car and make sure everything is okay.”
“I smell something,” Little Danny said as he scrunched his nose from the odor.
David sniffed, and his eyes widened as he recognized the smell of gasoline in the air.
~This means we have to act quickly. The car could ...~ The boy shook as his head fiercely, as if to throw away his fears. ~Come on, David, focus!~ “Oh, man, I can't get it open,” he said as he struggled to open his door, his right hand accidentally jabbing against a jagged piece of glass. ~Ouch!~
David grabbed his handkerchief and wrapped his hand to stop the bleeding, deciding they needed to concentrate on getting Daniel out of the car and not the injury to his hand.
Little Danny quickly discovered he couldn't get his door open, either, and replied, “I think it's dented, David.”
“Little Danny, come up here, and help me,” David calmly instructed. “Be careful of the glass, though,” he warned.
“The smell is getting worse,” Little Danny commented as he climbed into the front seat, not able to stop from looking at his father. “Daddy?”
“Help me, Little Danny,” David ordered, not wanting his brother's attention to be diverted from his task. He was putting to use another lesson from his older father, that to help anyone else, he needed to make sure he was okay and be sure of the situation first. “We have to get out of the car before we can help Daddy.”
“Okay,” the boy replied as he got down in the space between the dashboard and the seat, shoving the deflated air bag out of the way as much as he could.
“Push as hard as you can,” David instructed.
Together, the two boys pushed as hard as they could on the door, but they still couldn't get it open.
“David, kick it! That's what they do on TV,” Little Danny suggested.
Nodding, David repositioned himself, and, on the count of three, Little Danny shoved as hard as he could with his left shoulder while David used both feet to kick forcefully against the jammed car door. Finally, with a very satisfying crunch, it gave way.
“It opened! We did it, David,” Little Danny announced.
David moved forward and jumped down out of the vehicle.
“Here, let me help you,” David stated, noticing for the first time that his brother had a bit of bruising around his eyes. The bloody lip was mild, though. He'd seen those in hockey games and even just in accidents around their house. “The car is tilted, Little Danny. It's a big drop for you from the seat down to the ground.”
“Okay,” the little boy replied as his brother helped him down.
Together, the brothers looked over the car carefully, both gasping when they saw the amount of leaking fuel.
“We have to get Daddy out of the car *now*,” David stated with urgency.
“Daddy!” Little Danny sniffled.
In a flash, David bent over, putting his hands on his brother's upper arms. He looked into the boy's blue eyes with intensity.
“Danny, listen to me,” David said, intentionally using just the child's name without the 'Little' in front of it, something he'd witnessed his parents doing when they wanted to get the point across that Little Danny needed to be responsible and grown up about something. “Daddy needs us to be strong. We're all he has right now, and we don't have time to cry or worry about ourselves. We have to get Daddy out of the car, and then we have to get help.”
“Okay,” Little Danny said, nodding and wiping his tears away with the back of his hand.
The boys ran to other side of the car and stared. Since the car was slanted downwards, Daniel's door was essentially unaccessible. The rocks made it impossible to reach their father from that side. They couldn't even get to him through the window on that side since, although it had shattered, much of it was still intact. David worried that trying to open the door would cause the glass to fly into Daniel's eyes, or worse.
“We'll have to get him out from the passenger side,” David deduced.
“How?” Little Danny asked with a small voice.
“Together, we can do anything. We're unbeatable,” David replied, reminding his scared brother of their family motto.
Little Danny knew he had to stop being afraid. David was depending on him to help, and their father needed both of them to survive. Believing in the family motto, he ran back to the other side of the car. He then looked all around to see what tools they might be able to find, not really seeing anything that would help get their father out of the vehicle.
Meanwhile, David climbed back into the car. He again tried to revive Daniel, but had no luck. He undid his father's seatbelt, but he was no match for Daniel's weight. Finally, he looked back at his brother, who was now staring up at him.
“We have to get the car lower,” David said. “Did you find anything?”
“No, but maybe we can jump on it,” Little Danny suggested.
Though worried about starting a fire, the two boys didn't know what else to do, so, after placing a jacket over Daniel's face, jumping on the vehicle was exactly what they did. They only needed to lower it about eighteen inches to make things more accessible.
“Help us, Mommy,” Little Danny prayed aloud as he jumped on the mangled end of the trunk while David worked on pulling down on the passenger side of the car.
With a huge clunk, the vehicle eventually collapsed back to an even level, causing Little Danny to fall onto the ground.
“Little Danny, are you okay?” David asked as he ran to his sibling's side.
“Yes,” Little Danny answered succinctly as he shooed his brother away. “Can we get Daddy out now?”
David walked back to the car and briefly studied the driver's side. A few more pieces of glass had broken away, but too much of it was still in place. The rocks were also still too close to the driver's door, and he was unable to open the door himself. Thus, he decided their best course of action was still to get their father out through the passenger side.
After wiping off as much of the glass as he could from the car seat, David tugged on Daniel's torso, pulling his father backwards slightly. He grunted and groaned from the work.
“You can do it, David,” Little Danny encouraged.
“I wish I was as big as Jeff,” David bemoaned.
“I'll push,” Little Danny suggested, scooting past his brother. “Sorry, Daddy,” the boy said softly as he climbed over his injured father, blood from a gash on Daniel's hand getting onto his shirt. ~Be brave. Hafta be brave. Big boy. Daddy needs me,~ the young prodigy reminded himself. “His leg is caught. Wait a minute,” he said, ducking down and freeing the leg from a piece of twisted metal. “Okay, now, David,” the young boy instructed. ~Help us, Mommy.~
With David pulling and Little Danny pushing, the boys eventually managed to free their father, though David lost his grip once while tugging, causing Daniel to fall against the wrecked metal. Finally, though, the boys were able to pull the archaeologist about twenty yards away from the vehicle, which was about as far as they could before their strength gave out.
~Thank you, Mommy,~ Little Danny said silently when they stopped.
Both boys were out of breath, sweat running down their faces from their labors. They took a brief moment to relax, David again reminding himself of the survival lessons Jack had taught him.
“Where's the cell phone?” David asked, reaching into Daniel's pockets. “Here it is,” he said in relief, though his relief was only temporary. He sighed audibly at the sight of the mangled resting in his hand. “Maybe it will still work.”
David attempted to call home, but he shook his head and said, “I think it's broken. Even if it wasn't, I don't think it would work way out here.”
“Daddy's hurt,” Little Danny spoke unnecessarily.
“Let's get our stuff out of the car as fast as possible,” David advised. Suddenly, having rethought his decision a bit, he leaned forward, stopping his brother from going to the vehicle. “No, you stay here with Daddy. I'll get the stuff.”
“Stay with Daddy,” David ordered, running to the car.
The boy could see the fuel leak was increasing and knew time was of the essence. As quickly as he could, he pulled out their backpacks, the cooler, and the one blanket that was in the backseat. He brought the items over to his family and was about to go back to see if he could get into the trunk when the car burst into flames. It wasn't a huge explosion, but flames broke out all along the car frame, and some of the gas shocks that assist in opening the trunk and hood, along with some miscellaneous other pieces, went flying through the air in all directions.
Instinctively, David pulled Little Danny down, his larger body shielding his brother's and both of them covering their injured father.
“Wow!” David exclaimed. Then more nonchalantly, he added, “I've seen bigger explosions in the movies, though.”
“Maybe someone will see it,” Little Danny expressed hopefully.
“I hope the first aid kit is in here,” David stated as he searched through the items he'd pulled from the car. “I'm afraid it might be in the trunk, or ... was.”
“Daddy always carries a kit in his backpack,” Little Danny replied. “Because of SG-1.”
David smiled in acknowledgement as he opened their father's backpack.
“Here we go,” the oldest boy said, pulling out the box. “Okay, we work together. We have to stop any bleeding, and don't let dirt in.”
Over the next several minutes, David and Little Danny tended to their still-unconscious father, both frightened and yet both keeping focused on their task at hand. They made sure to keep him as still as possible.
“David, can we use this as a brace? On TV, they always wrap people's necks,” the youngest child wondered, holding out a terry cloth he had kept in his backpack for cleaning.
“Yeah, but we need tape or pins,” David answered, looking around while still ferreting through Daniel's backpack. He gave a sigh of relief as he felt Daniel's Swiss Army knife and a roll of duct tape. “Bingo!”
“MacGyver,” Little Danny commented at the same time David thought it.
Carefully, David wrapped the cloth around their father's neck, binding it securely with duct tape.
While Little Danny was in charge of pulling out bandages, gauze pads, and strips, David used some alcoholic wipes and cotton balls to clean various cuts along Daniel's arm and neck. Apparently, the air bag hadn't fully protected the archaeologist from the broken glass that had gone flying from the windshield and side windows, and David figured Daniel's head had probably hit the side of the door since that side air bag hadn't deployed.
“Okay, now for you,” David stated as he thoroughly checked out his brother, relieved to find just the cut lip, which had already ceased bleeding, and the bruised eyes. “I think you're going to have a couple of black eyes, Bro,” he said lightheartedly.
“You have a bigger cut. It's pretty big, David,” the concerned youngster said about the cut on his brother's forehead.
“Don't worry about me,” David responded.
“How's your hand?” the youngest boy inquired.
“It'll be okay. Can you clean and bandage the cuts for me?” David asked.
“I've watched Aunt Janet lots,” Little Danny answered, using those memories along with what he'd just observed his brother doing to tend to Daniel. “Lie down so I can reach you better.”
Their injuries tended to as much as possible, David and Little Danny sat opposite each other, Daniel in the middle with the blanket covering him.
“Now what?” Little Danny asked.
David looked up at the bright and very hot sun and answered, “I don't know.”
At the off-world training facility, Teal'c, having noticed that his friend seemed distant and faraway, approached Jack, asking, “O'Neill, is something wrong?”
Jack looked at the Jaffa, his face devoid of emotion as he answered, “I'm not sure, Teal'c. Did you ... feel anything ... strange a few minutes ago?”
“I felt only O'Reilly's hands attempting to place a choke-hold on me. He did not succeed,” the proud warrior stated nonchalantly. “Was there a problem with the equipment that GeneralLandry sent through?” he inquired, having been aware that the Stargate had activated a short while ago and some requested training supplies had been sent through to the off-world facility.
Jack shook his head a couple of times, trying to figure out why he felt so odd all of a sudden. He'd felt an eerie chill and a sensation that he was in the wrong place. He rubbed his arms to ward off the chill, but it didn't help, nor did shaking his head clear it. He glanced over at the still-open Stargate as two SGC personnel had just arrived to began their duty shifts.
“General, they're ready,” Lieutenant Colonel Grace Satterfield called out.
Jack nodded his acknowledgement, watching as Satterfield returned to her duties.
“She has grown into an excellent SG team leader, O'Neill,” Teal'c commented.
“Yeah, she's a fast mover,” Jack agreed quietly, looking down at the ground and rubbing the sole of his right boot into the ground. “Daniel's a big fan,” he added even more quietly, referring to how Daniel had supported Grace's rapid advancement through the ranks.
Satterfield had been one of a group trained by SG-1 in 2001. It was no secret, either, that she'd had a bit of a crush on Daniel, too. Within a year, she'd been promoted to lieutenant, and when Jack and Daniel retired the first time, she became one of the members of the elite SG-1A team which Sam commanded. In 2008, the Korean-American achieved the rank of captain. By the end of that year, Jack had recommended her to be an SG team leader. Her promotion to major had come early the next year, along with the high honor of being named team leader of SG-24. After her promotion to lieutenant colonel, which had occurred one year ago this month, she'd put in a request to assist with the training of new recruits, a request Landry had recently granted.
“Let's get back to work,” Jack suggested, walking ahead to start the next phase of the exercises scheduled for today, while Teal'c headed towards a nearby grouping of trainees. “Grace, I'd like you to ...”
“Sir, is something wrong?” Grace asked when Jack stopped speaking and once again simply stared out into space.
“Ever have the feeling you should be someplace else?” Jack asked.
“Yes, a few times. Strangely enough, I've always found those feelings are usually pretty accurate,” the woman responded. Seeing Jack grimace, she asked, “Is Doctor Jackson-O'Neill all right, General?”
Jack smiled at Grace. Having gotten over her initial crush on Daniel, she was now one of the couple's biggest supporters. She always used their hyphenated names, even in the field, unless time was of the essence. That tiny act had put her in an extremely good light with Jack, even though he'd always respected her talents and military skills.
“Colonel, how many scenarios have you overseen on your own?” Jack inquired, aware that Satterfield was new to the training effort.
“None, Sir, but I've assisted on two, one led by Teal'c and another led by Colonel Reynolds,” Grace answered, tugging on her P-90 that was clipped to her black vest.
“Well, now's the time.” Jack twisted around, shouting, “Teal'c!”
“General?” the female asked, a bit taken aback by the comment.
“O'Neill?” Teal'c asked as he approached.
“Rearrange the scenario. Satterfield is taking over for me. Put Steiner in her place,” Jack ordered. “Think you can handle it, Colonel?”
Snapping to and saluting, Grace responded, “With all due humility, yes, Sir, I know I can.”
“You're on. I'm heading back to the SGC,” Jack announced, deciding to go with his gut feeling that he was needed at home and that time was of the essence.
“That feeling, Sir?”
“Yeah. Good luck,” Jack stated; then turned and began walking towards the Stargate, his walk turning into a jog as he got a bit closer to the Gate.
“I hope everything is all right,” Grace spoke to the Jaffa.
“Indeed,” Teal'c responded as the two prepared to continue the revised scenario. Looking at the woman, he asked, “Your orders, Colonel?”
Grace couldn't help but smile, knowing she'd just received Teal'c's seal of approval, as well as Jack's. With a nod, she looked over the training area and took charge.
A few minutes later, David had finished taking a more thorough inventory of available supplies. Having found a solar blanket inside his father's backpack, he searched the area, steering clear of the car that was still burning somewhat.
“Little Danny, there are some rocks over there. Maybe we can hang this up to give us shelter,” David suggested.
“We need something to hold it up with,” Little Danny responded.
“Look for anything strong enough to be planted in the ground,” the older boy instructed.
Making sure Daniel was as secure as possible at the moment, the boys searched the area, finding some thin branches to use. Then they constructed a makeshift canopy. It wasn't very tall, but they dug the sticks into the ground, supporting them with rocks. Next, they put the solar blanket over the sticks, using the duct tape to secure it to the branches as much as possible. It provided some shade, and, for now, it was the best they were going to be able to do.
Letting out some grunts and groans, the hardworking boys then carefully moved Daniel the few feet to their crudely constructed shelter and used David’s jacket as a pillow for their father. They were careful to keep Daniel's neck and head as still as possible in case he had a spine or neck injury.
“Give Daddy some water, David,” Little Danny suggested, getting into the cooler and pulling out a bottle of water.
“We have to be careful how we do it, Little Danny,” David responded. “Wet his lips, and put a little in his mouth, but not too much or ...”
“I know. Daddy could drown,” Little Daniel completed, having seen a few first aid and rescue shows on television.
“We need to drink some, too,” David reminded.
“The car's still burning. Maybe someone will see it,” the youngest boy commented.
“I hope so,” David opined. He looked over at the car, observing, “I don't think it's going to burn very much longer, though.”
“Is that good or bad, David?” Little Danny asked.
“I'm not sure,” David responded, torn between possibly using the car as a shelter during the night if it cooled quick enough or having it burn a long time and maybe attract attention. Spotting something, he said, “Be right back,” and ran over closer to the car. He picked up the passenger’s side mirror that had come off during the crash and now lay several feet away from the car. He took it over to a rock, placing it atop it. “Little Danny, if you see anything in the sky, tell me. We can flash this at them,” he called out before returning to the little shelter.
“We're all fine, Dad,” Jennifer answered over the phone. “Did you want to talk to Aunt Sara?”
“No, Princess. You know your old dad; just wanted to make sure everything was okay,” Jack semi-lied from his office in the SGC.
Even though they'd retired, because they still helped out occasionally, Jack and Daniel had retained their office on the eighteenth floor. This was Daniel's original office that had been remodeled to include a space for Jack so they could both be there when the Munchkins and Spitfires were younger. Jack had given his regular office up when they retired the last time. Daniel had also intended to give up his office, but it was one of those things they didn't fight too hard when Landry and others insisted they have a 'home base' when at the SGC.
“Okay, well, have a good ... trip,” Jennifer replied.
“I will. Love you,” Jack said, disconnecting the call.
Not wanting to worry his daughter more, Jack hung up the phone without alerting her to the fact he had already been off-world and returned early because of this nagging feeling he had that something was wrong.
Next on the general's list of phone calls was Daniel's cell phone. He found it disconcerting when he got an automatic message saying the subscriber he was trying to reach was not available. He fretted, wondering why he wasn't getting Daniel's voicemail, though he rationalized that it must be a signal problem.
~It's gotta be. That was a lousy connection we had last night,~ Jack recalled.
Unfortunately, that rational explanation didn't do anything to alleviate Jack's feeling that something was wrong. He also had learned long ago to trust his gut instincts, especially where Daniel and his family were concerned. He needed to follow through, no matter the outcome.
~A mother hen reputation is nothing as long as they're okay.~
Groaning at his lack of success, Jack dialed the office of J-O Enterprises to get the phone number of the dig site, since he didn't have it with him. Megan gave him the number and assured him that, as far as she knew, everything was proceeding on schedule with no complications. She had, in fact, spoken with Bibreanay just an hour earlier.
~I'm getting paranoid in my old age,~ Jack told himself, but, nevertheless, dialing the number to connect with the dig site.
“Put your sunglasses on, Little Danny, and your boonie,” David ordered as the late afternoon sun bore down on them.
“Okay,” the little boy agreed. “David, do you have another shirt in your backpack?”
“Yeah, why?” David inquired.
“I read that even in the heat wearing long sleeves is better than short in the desert,” Little Danny answered. “We should put on our other shirts.”
“Good idea. I remember reading that somewhere before, too,” David agreed, adding, “As long as they aren't too tight.”
The boys changed into their loose fitting, long-sleeve shirts and also applied more sun block to their skin, as well as to their father. Daniel was already wearing a long-sleeve shirt, though it was torn in a couple of places.
“Mmmm. J'ck?” Daniel moaned suddenly.
“Daddy?” David called out quickly.
“J'ck? J'ck, where are you?” Daniel called out weakly, trying to turn his head but unable to because of the brace the boys had constructed.
“Daddy, it'll be okay,” David assured, sighing when Daniel seemed to slip back into unconsciousness.
“David, Daddy might have a concussion,” Little Danny mentioned.
“Probably,” the older boy agreed.
“Well, should he sleep? Maybe we should keep him awake,” the frightened boy offered.
“Maybe. I know I've read about that, but sometimes, you don't need to,” David sighed, staring down at Daniel. “Let's ... let him sleep more. If he wakes up again, we'll keep him awake.”
Little Danny nodded; then moved his position, bringing his knees to his face in a tucked position. He hid his head in his knees and tried desperately to hide his sniffling.
“Little Danny, don't cry,” David requested, reaching over to rub his hand against his brother's arm. “What's wrong?”
“You said ... if,” Little Danny answered, suddenly losing all of his courage.
“He *will* wake up, Little Danny. I *know* he will. I just made a mistake,” David promised.
“You don't make a lot of mistakes,” the younger boy challenged.
“Sure, I do. I killed the microwave, remember?” David reminded lightly, trying to tease his younger brother into feeling better.
Little Danny couldn't help but chuckle slightly at the story he'd heard so many times, but was really too young to remember completely. He ran the back of his hand along his eyes to try and stop his tears.
“I'm still scared, David,” Little Danny admitted.
“Wanna sit by me?” David asked, scooting over and making room for his brother, who quickly moved into David's embrace. “When Daddy wakes up, we'll take turns keeping him awake. You wanna take a nap?”
“No,” Little Danny answered.
“Okay, well, just lie down and rest then. Daddy and I need you to help us. We can't have you falling asleep when we need you the most,” David reminded.
“Oh, okay,” Little Danny replied, scooting down, but staying close to his big brother. “Maybe I'll close my eyes for a minute.”
David sighed, keeping his left hand on Little Danny's shoulder and his right hand on Daniel's left arm. He fretted over his decision not to wake their father, but it was too late now. He was committed to his decision.
~Hurry, Dad. You need to find us. Please!~ David begged as he looked over his family.
Within a minute, Little Danny had fallen asleep, causing David to smile. His reverse psychology had worked, though he also suspected his brother wouldn't sleep very long. Quietly, he ran through all the things his fathers had told him about survival, as well as things he had learned from Adventure Guides and through other sources.
~Dad always says to ask what do we need, what do we have, and then how can we make what we have work to help us,~ David reviewed. Keeping watch, the boy mentally made his own checklists, hoping to answer all of those questions. Still, at the end, he entered yet another silent plea. ~We'll be okay until you find us, Dad, but please find us soon.~
“The sun is going to set soon,” Little Danny commented a while after awaking from his nap. He'd been watching the large object in the distance sink further towards the horizon and didn't particularly like the idea of being here at night. ~Wish Daddy would wake up.~
“J'ck?” Daniel spoke, coughing quickly afterwards.
“Daddy!” both boys called out.
“J'ck? Where's J'ck?” Daniel asked.
There was such longing and need in his tone that it brought tears to the boys' eyes as they listened.
“Need J'ck,” Daniel pleaded.
The two boys looked at each other, knowing their father wasn't really aware of their surroundings.
“We have to keep him awake this time,” Little Danny asserted.
“I'm going to try Daddy's cell phone again,” David stated, pulling out the device. When it didn't work, he sighed, “I guess it's busted.”
“Jonny could fix it. He's a good fixer of things,” Little Danny remarked.
David smiled, saying, “Yeah, I remember when he took my clock apart.”
Suddenly, Little Danny gasped, shocking his brother. He crawled over to his backpack and pulled out something.
“David, I brought it. I always bring it,” Little Danny announced as he held up the patch that Thor had made, first for Brianna, and then for Little Danny and Jonny when they had gone off-world for the first time as part of an official mission. He pressed on it and called out, “Thor, it's Little Danny. We need you Thor. Thor, can you hear me? Please, Thor. Daddy is hurt. Thor?”
“I think he has to be listening for us, Little Danny,” David said softly, looking over at his father. “Daddy, can you hear me?”
“J'ck, wan...want J'ck,” Daniel gasped, his eyes open, but his mind not seeing his children.
“Dad is coming, Daddy,” David promised. “Dad is so funny. Remember ...”
Taking the first shift, David kept talking to Daniel, not letting him fall asleep, even though the archaeologist was incoherent and not even aware of the children's presence.
“He's not back yet?” Jack asked as early evening approached. He'd called the dig site every hour, hoping that Daniel and the boys had returned, but each time was disappointed to hear they hadn't. With each phone call, his unease and worry had increased significantly. “They're overdue, right?”
Bibreanay replied, “Yes, Jack, they are. Daniel told me they'd be back in the afternoon.”
“He wouldn't not call,” Jack retorted.
“Do you want us to send out someone in the jeep; try to backtrack? Maybe they just have a flat tire or something,” the woman suggested.
Now dressed in his khaki pants and gray shirt, Jack glanced at his watch. It was still just early evening, so he decided to give his lover a little more time. After Bibreanay promised she'd get Daniel to call the instant he returned, he hung up the phone and wandered outside to the backyard. The children were still at Sara's, but the animal zoo were all home, present and accounted for. He sat down on the patio steps and was quickly joined by Bijou and Katie.
“Girls, my gut is growling, and it's not because I'm hungry. Am I overreacting?” Jack asked, looking back and forth between the two beagles as he patted them.
“Grrrruff,” Bijou responded.
Katie answered by running to the patio door and barking.
Jack stood up, staring at Katie for a moment before he asked, “Do you know something I don't?”
Katie just barked, soon joined by Bijou, who growled and then barked.
“So, I should risk Daniel snapping my head off and go to Utah?” Jack questioned.
Two more lighthearted 'woofs' were Jack's answer.
“The kids will worry,” Jack commented. He smiled as Bijou and Katie sat down, each slightly nudging the other, applying little kisses. “Oh, a little white lie? Dad and Daddy ... kissing,” he mused. “Geez, you two are smart.”
Jack looked around, considering his options, and then said, “Okay, you two stay on guard. Call me if anything changes.” He chuckled lightly, though he half expected the dogs to respond, “Sure, Jack.”
The general placed a call, coming up with a calm cover story of wanting to spend a night with Daniel and the boys at the dig. He was relieved when Sara bought the tale and was more than willing to continue caring for the children. So, after several conversations with the brood, Jack packed a bag, geared up with a few special accessories, just in case they were needed, and headed for the dig site.
“Daddy, is it okay to use the lighter to start a fire?” David asked.
“J'ck, where are we?” Daniel replied.
“I'll be really careful, Daddy,” David said, getting the lighter out of the first aid kit. He had already gathered up some items from the surrounding area, and now he carefully lit it. “We need to keep this lit all night, Little Danny.”
“Daddy, David is doing a good job taking care of us,” Little Danny told their father.
“J'ck, love you so much,” the still-very-much-out-of-it Daniel spoke.
Little Danny smiled and took hold of his father's hand, saying, “I love you, Daddy.”
David sighed, saying, “Maybe we should have moved our shelter to the car. It's cool now.”
“I don't think we should move Daddy anymore,” Little Danny replied. “Aunt Janet told me that sometimes moving people with broken bones could make it worse. What if Daddy has something broken inside that we can't see?”
“Yeah, I think you're right, but if gets too cold, we might have to, or maybe we can take shifts inside the car to warm ourselves up,” David pondered. “It might not be very comfortable, though. The seats are burned.”
“We'll be okay,” Little Danny opined, still holding their father's hand.
“Thor, please hear us,” Little Danny spoke a couple hours later. “You always listen. Aren't you listening now?”
“He's probably out of the galaxy,” David theorized. “Let's sing a song,” he suggested.
“I don't want to sing,” Little Danny said, bowing his head. “Daddy, how do we get home?”
“J'ck,” Daniel answered. “J'ck, he's ... Mr. Fix-it -- fixes everything.”
“Daddy, did you mean that?” David asked, moving in closer, wondering if Daniel had really understood them.
“Da...David?” Daniel asked.
“Daddy, we're in the desert, and you're hurt,” David advised.
Little Danny added, “And, the phone doesn't work. Daddy, I'm scared.”
Daniel gasped, “Wha...what hap'ned? Where ... where are ... are we?”
David looked at Little Danny and said, “I think he's still out of it.”
“Daddy, Jonny took Ash's dolly and hid it. She got really mad,” Little Danny revealed. “I'm not supposed to tell, but ...”
“J'ck? Where's J'ck?” Daniel asked, not comprehending any of the comments made by the boys.
“Ash got him back good,” Little Danny stated, hoping the new story would get Daniel's attention. ~Not tattling, but want Daddy to hear me.~
“What did she do?” David asked curiously.
“She took his model airplane apart and hid all the pieces,” Little Danny answered. “Then she gave it back, except for one of the side pieces. He thought he'd lost it. Then she gave it back, but before she did, she painted, 'Girl Power' on it.”
David laughed, saying, “I bet Jonny was really mad.”
“Yeah, but he couldn't do anything, or then he'd have to tell Dad and Daddy that he started it by hiding her doll,” Little Danny explained. “He put stuff in front of the plane to hide what Ash wrote. Ash always pulls the plane out when she comes in our bedroom. It makes Jonny mad.”
David chuckled, “I'm gonna look for that when we get home.” When Little Danny gave his brother a big smile, the older boy asked, “What?”
“You said *when* we get home,” Little Danny pointed out, still smiling, and then began to tell their father some more stories.
Things were quiet under the tiny shelter David and Little Danny created when all of a sudden there was a small giggle. It was weak, but it drew both of the boys' attention.
“Munchies ... our b'bies,” Daniel mumbled. “Mous'teers,” he added. “J'ck, best fam'ly. S'tfires. Crazy Mav'ricks,” he chuckled, then coughed. “Mir'go. Love all. J'ck? J'ck, where are you?”
“What's 'mirgo', David?” Little Danny asked.
“I think he meant miracle,” David answered. “JD.”
“We're all ...” Little Danny began, but his words were cut off by his injured father.
“J'ck, brood ... all mir'gos. Need them. Twelve beau'ful mir'gos,” Daniel mumbled, a smile on his face.
Little Danny smiled and said, “See? We're all miracles.”
David nodded his agreement, adding, “We're Dad and Daddy's miracles.”
“Bij 'n' Katie, J'ck -- mir'gos, too,” Daniel added before closing his eyes again.
The boys smiled for a brief moment before David opened the cooler, deciding it was time for them to have some nourishment and a bit of water.
“I'm going to head on to Cedar Breaks. It only takes a couple of hours to get there. If they just had car trouble, I should find them. If not, we're going to organize a search,” Jack advised. “Are we on schedule here?”
“Yes, and it's been a successful dig, too. Daniel will be especially pleased with today's results,” Bibreanay responded. “We have the contract, if we want it.”
“I'll call,” Jack stated, heading back to his truck to make the nighttime journey to Cedar Breaks.
“J'ck, need J'ck,” Daniel whispered.
Little Danny nestled close to his father and cried, “I'm scared, Daddy. It's so dark out, and David is taking his sleeping turn. Please, Daddy.”
Daniel blinked, a bit of reality seeping through as his young son clung to him, crying against his chest.
“Dan...ny?” Daniel gasped.
Little Danny's head shot up. He smiled brightly at hearing his father say his name.
“Where's ... where's Dad?” Daniel asked, trying to focus but not being able to. ~No glasses.~
“He's coming to save us,” Little Danny answered. “Dad always saves us, right, Daddy?”
Daniel managed a smile and answered, “Dad ... fix...es ev'thing.” He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath that hurt. “Where's ... your broth...brother?”
Little Danny pointed at the sleeping boy, just a couple of feet away. He'd worked so hard all day that when his turn to sleep came, David had conked out immediately.
“The car burned, Daddy. It's not hot anymore, though” Little Danny announced. “We decided to stay here, in our shelter. Should we move to the car, Daddy?”
Daniel didn't think he could move an inch, and he was barely aware of what was happening.
“No, Son, this ... this is ... fine,” Daniel told his son, trying to smile but not quite sure if he had succeeded or not. “Where, uh, wh...where are my ... uh, glas...ses?”
“One of the lens is broken; David has them in his pocket,” the youngster answered. “Do you want me to get them?”
The archaeologist blinked. He didn't feel anything unusual in his eyes, but he wasn't positive, either.
“No, Son; it's ... it's okay,” Daniel replied.
“Here, you need more water,” Little Danny said, moving to get a bottle of water from the cooler.
“I'll ... I'll be fine,” Daniel answered, though he had no clue about his physical state at the moment since everything ached, and he couldn't even remember the car wreck.
“No, Daddy, it's important. Drink just a little bit,” Little Danny ordered sternly, holding the water bottle to Daniel's mouth and making sure Daniel took a tiny drink.
“Still scared?” Daniel asked his namesake.
“Na-uh,” Little Danny answered. “You're okay now, Daddy. I was only scared 'cause you weren't okay.”
“We'll ... be fine. What ... what happened?” Daniel asked yet again.
Little Danny told Daniel everything that had occurred, and just as he finished, David woke up.
“Daddy, are you okay?” the older boy asked, rubbing his eyes to help himself wake more fully.
“I'm fine, and your ... your brother says you've ... been do...ing a good job taking care of us,” Daniel spoke, trying to smile encouragingly.
“I tried, Daddy. The phone doesn't work,” David added.
“That's okay,” Daniel replied.
Little Danny gasped, reaching into his pocket for the special patch. He held it out so Daniel could see, and then he began his plea yet again.
“Thor, this is Little Danny. Daddy, David, and I need you. Please help us, Thor!” Little Danny requested.
“Daddy, I don't think Thor is close enough,” David said. “He doesn't know to listen.”
“You're probably right, but it's a good idea to ... to keep ... keep trying,” Daniel said, still gasping.
The archaeologist didn't want to frighten his sons any more than they already were, but he was finding it hard to breathe. He worried that his injuries included broken ribs and maybe even a punctured lung. He just couldn't tell for sure how badly he was injured, and he was still finding it hard to focus. Now that he was a bit more aware of his body, he was glad he had discouraged Little Danny from moving him, fearing it might be the worst thing they could do.
It was the middle of the night, or the wee hours of the morning, depending on how a person looked at it. All Jack knew was that Daniel and his sons had arrived at Cedar Breaks and spent an enjoyable day there according to the staff he'd talked to. He also verified they'd spent the night there, and he was even fortunate enough to have found someone who confirmed that the three had left early the next morning.
~Everything was fine, so where are ...~ Jack stopped, reminding himself of who was on the trip. ~Geeks and scientists,~ he noted. The route to the national park had been clear of any vehicles, and there was no sign of any automobile mishaps. ~The dig is going well, and Daniel wanted to spend time with the boys. Geeks ...~
“Rocks!” Jack exclaimed to the stars overhead. “Sorry, Carter,” he said a moment later as he pulled out his cell phone. “Pete, it's Jack Jackson-O'Neill. I need your wife.”
“She's taken,” Pete mumbled.
“Pete, this is an emergency,” Jack stated urgently.
“Sorry, Jack. Hold on,” Pete responded, now more awake than before and hearing the seriousness of his friend's tone.
“General?” Sam spoke over the phone a moment later.
“I need a geek, Carter,” Jack spoke. He filled her in and then stated, “My gut tells me Danny took the boys on some side trip. David is fascinated by unusual rock formations. I need ...”
“I'm on it, Sir. Give me twenty minutes, and call me back,” Sam reported, disconnecting the call and then getting up and heading to her computer terminal.
“Sam, is there anything I can do to help?” Pete asked, having gotten up and followed his wife.
“Coffee,” Sam answered.
Nodding, Pete headed for the kitchen, silently hoping that whatever was wrong would be fixed soon.
In the desert, Jack considered waiting around, but he decided to slowly head back towards the dig site. He was gambling that his lover's diversion would have been somewhere on the way back.
~I don't think you would have taken the boys somewhere further away,~ Jack determined quietly. “Come on, Carter. Don't let me down now.~
About thirty minutes before sunrise, Jack was reevaluating his position. Sam had given him three possible areas where she thought Daniel might have taken the children. He'd checked on one of them already and found nothing to indicate that Daniel and the boys had been there. Now, he was headed for the second location, but something was gnawing at him. He was having that same 'in the wrong place' feeling that he'd had off-world.
Jack pulled over, stopped the truck, and closed his eyes. He calmed his breathing, feeling his pulse to find a slower rhythm.
~Danny, this is how you and our children reached me when I didn't even know any of you existed.~ Remembering Teal'c's attempts at teaching him kelno'reem as well, Jack stretched his inner senses across the terrain, thinking, ~Hope I'm doing this right.~
The grizzly general did his own combination of meditative praying. Not knowing how he would recognize what he sought, Jack tried to maintain an attitude of calm, focusing on his lover as his center. Suddenly, his eyes popped open, and he reached for the ignition to start the vehicle. He was certain he was headed in the opposite direction from where the missing members of his family were located.
Following his instincts, Jack made a U-turn, now positive that he needed to check out the third place instead of the second one he'd been headed for. Unfortunately, there were three possible routes that Daniel could have taken to reach the area.
“Which one, Danny?” Jack asked as he drove slowly along the highway. **Danny? Angel, can you hear me?**
Jack and Daniel's special non-verbal communication was not a thing of science. It had begun with them both needing to be in the same room, then the same floor, then the same building, and so on. On some occasions, though, their precious ability to check on each other spanned an entire planet.
The searcher wondered if possibly their communication was now interplanetary, at least on some level, as he sought to connect the chill he'd felt off-world with a silent call of alarm from his husband.
~Wonder if I still would have felt that chill if the Stargate had not been open? Great, O'Neill, your husband goes missing, and you take on his geekiness. Wonder if that's a sign or something?~ **Danny, say something,** he requested again.
Jack groaned, not receiving any response, and not knowing if that meant Daniel was hurt or simply not within range.
~I don't have to worry about driving myself crazy, I'm already there,~ Jack mentally chastised. ~Kelno'reeming in the middle of nowhere! Yup, O'Neill, you are certifiable.~ Blowing out some air as he turned down another dirt road, he let go of his attempts at humor, or wit, or levity, or whatever anyone called what he did at times such as this. ~Self-defense mechanism,~ he thought. ~I'd be dead, or nuts, without it.~
Jack had always used humor to get through tense situations, and right now was no exception. Except as he drove, his mind thought more about the man who was his heart, who gave him life just by existing.
~Please be okay, Danny.~
Looking upward, Jack sent up a silent prayer to whoever might be listening, asking them to watch over Daniel and the boys. He needed help at the moment, too. He was about to reach another area where he had to decide which way to go to reach his destination.
“Okay, General, decision time. Which fork in the road do I take?” Jack asked himself.
A sudden burst of light caused Jack to slam on his brakes. There, in front of him, was a blurry image of his favorite alien.
“O'Neill, you cannot respond to this message,” Thor said, not pausing for any response. “I am aboard The Daniel Jackson, and we are too far away to communicate. I am, however, able to send this message.”
Jack listened intently. Normally, the Asgard holograms were pretty clear; however, this one was not only blurry, but full of static. Thor's image flickered, and his words were interrupted by white noise and were not always easy to understand.
“The special communications transponder associated with the patches I have given to some of the children is emanating that a transmission is being attempted,” Thor revealed, causing Jack's heart to pound more heavily within his chest.
~Please let them be all right,~ Jack thought as he continued to listen to the message.
“I cannot determine their exact location from here, nor can I respond. The transmission is distorted, but it sounds very much like Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill. I believe your son to be in danger,” the Asgard stated.
“Tell me something I don't know,” Jack responded, fearing his worst fears were about to come true. “I need something, Thor. Come on; give me something.”
“The only information I have to share, O'Neill, is a possible latitude, though it is not complete. I must stress that this is not reliable data, but is information extrapolated from various readings from the transponder. I have sent word to our newest vessel, The Samantha Carter, which is in your galaxy, to attempt to get a stronger fix on the transmission. I do not know if the ship will be able to help in time. Good luck, O'Neill. The latitude follows the conclusion of this message.”
All of a sudden, the number thirty-nine appeared, which Jack assumed was the latitude. He opened the glove compartment, pulling out several maps until he found the one he wanted.
“YES!” the general exclaimed, realizing the latitude held the position of the third site. ~My gut was right.~ Still, he wasn't sure which road to take. “The Samantha Carter?” he suddenly questioned aloud. “Hmmm!” he grunted, not having heard about the latest Earthling to be honored with an Asgard vessel named after them. ~Bet Carter doesn't blow up this ship.~
Jack tapped his fingertips against the steering wheel, trying to meld intuition with reason as he decided what roads his lover would have taken.
“You would have started back. If you didn't detour, I would have found you already. If you had planned the detour before leaving Cedar Breaks, you would have called to let us know the itinerary. Whatever you did was spontaneous and probably early on because otherwise, it would have been later in the day, and you would have called to let us know you might be late.”
Jack looked at the road map, carefully studying it.
“Okay, you started here. Thor says the transmission is coming from somewhere along here. OH, YEAH, WE HAVE A WINNER!” Jack exclaimed, finding the road he believed his lover would have taken.
The general put down the road map; then tapped on the communication device he had in his pocket.
~I didn't know this thing included tracking,~ Jack commented. He was assuming that the device was how the Asgard had found him just now. Thor had given it to the couple years ago, and Jack had taken it with him on a whim before leaving home. He'd done it not anticipating needing it, but wanting a backup in case of a worse case scenario. ~Wonder what else it can do that we don't know about?~ He paused and then grumbled, “Or maybe it's that dang genetic marker they tagged me with. Maybe it does more than ...”
Not having time to ponder alien technology, the worried husband and father stopped his pondering and set out on his journey to find his loved ones.
Fifteen minutes later, the searcher turned off the highway and began to follow the unpaved road.
“Now, it gets trickier,” Jack spoke to himself, his eyes looking all around as he drove.
There were lots of smaller dirt roads Daniel could have selected. Finding the right ones would be the key to finding the missing members of his family.
“Daddy, the car isn't hot anymore,” David told his father as the sun began to heat the day, not realizing his brother had already asked their father about moving during the night.
“Your brother told me ... that a...awhile ago,” Daniel noted.
“The back of it is burned pretty bad,” David noted. “But we could make a better shelter there. Should we move, Daddy?”
It had been hours, and Daniel reconsidered that option and a few others. First and foremost to him was the security of his children. The boys had kept him awake all night, and he was tired. He was also still having trouble breathing. In fact, it seemed to be getting more and more difficult to take a breath. Part of him feared that trying to move would worsen his condition, not to mention he wasn't sure that he didn't have a punctured lung, broken ribs, a broken neck, or ... worse. He stopped thinking about that, knowing he wasn't thinking clearly enough to evaluate his medical condition.
The concerned father took stock of their overall situation instead. It was likely they would be spending at least a day or two in the desert before anyone started looking for them. This would be day two under the hot, unforgiving sun. Their water supply was good, but the food supply was lessening. The cell phone didn't work, and Daniel had gone so far into unknown territory that he didn't think anyone would find them, shelter or no shelter. This was the first time the archaeologist regretted the decision to remove their locator beacons.
Daniel closed his eyes, coming to a decision and about to ask his oldest boy to do something very risky. Yet, David was a leader in the Adventure Guides. He'd learned a lot about survival, something that was evident by how well he had taken care of the family during the past twenty-four hours.
“David, do you remember the turns I took on the road?” Daniel inquired.
“Yes, Daddy. We went left, then right, then right again, then left, then ...”
“So, you remember. You're ... positive?” Daniel asked, gulping as he took the boy's hand and held it.
“Yes, Daddy, I'm positive. I made notes in my mind about the rocks and geographic formations every time we turned, too,” David expounded.
“Good. Son, listen to me. Where we are is very remote. It's not really that far, but no one will find ... us here. Too ... too many roads, turns ... just ... too many,” Daniel began. He smiled at his son and asked, “Do you think you can bac...backtrack, and get help?”
David turned his head, looking back at the dirt road. He stared at his younger brother for a moment and then at their father.
“I can do it!” David exclaimed with all the confidence in the world.
“You have to pace yourself. Don't take off your cap or sun...sunglasses. Drink water. Rest. Dad will find you, and you ... you can show him where we are,” Daniel stated.
“Dad is coming. I know he is,” Little Danny stated with as much courage as he could muster.
“Dad is ... he is coming. I ... I know he is, but he needs ... help, and we hav...have to give it to him,” Daniel stated. “Little Danny, you go with your brother,” he ordered.
Little Danny shook his head and folded his arms stubbornly as he replied, “I hafta stay here and take care of you, Daddy.”
“I can take care ... of myself,” Daniel stated.
“Na-uh,” Little Danny refuted. He looked at David, suggesting, “Let's see how much water and food we have, David. You should take lots of water.”
“But, I don't want to carry too much. I know. We still have energy bars. I can take some of those, and they won't even make me thirsty,” the older boy suggested. “Let's look.”
“Dan...ny,” Daniel spoke.
“Not going, Daddy,” Little Danny refuted. “You rest now.”
“Stub...born,” Daniel replied, smiling slightly.
“Just like you, Daddy,” the boy responded, turning his attention to their inventory of supplies.
“David, I love you, and ... and I *know* you can do this,” Daniel told his son.
“I'll be back soon, Daddy. Little Danny, you know what to do?” David asked his brother.
“Yes. David, I'll try to contact Thor again. He'll hear us. I know he will,” the youngest of the boys stated.
“Be strong,” David said, reaching over to hug his brother. Then he leaned down and kissed Daniel. “I love you, Daddy. I'll hurry, but I'll pace myself,” he said, smiling.
“Be careful. David ... I ...”
“Don't worry, Daddy. It'll be a piece of cake!” David announced, grinning as he turned and began his journey.
Daniel smiled, but then he called the boy, having remembered about his glasses.
“You'd better ... leave those,” Daniel requested.
“I don't think you should wear them, Daddy,” David replied.
“Poke out ... the bro...ken one,” the father requested.
David did as requested, making sure no pieces of glass were sticking out or protruding from the frames, then placed the glasses back on Daniel's face. He shared a smile with his father and brother, all knowing it looked a little funny to be wearing a pair of glasses with one lens completely out. With another nod, the maturing boy stood and finally began his long walk in search of help.
After watching his brother walk away, Little Danny took out the patch and said, “Thor, it's Little Danny again. David is going for help, and I'm staying to take care of Daddy. We're in Utah, Thor. Please get here soon. Bye!”
Daniel smiled at his little boy; then whispered, “Come here,” inviting the youngster to rest in his arms. The archaeologist didn't care about his injuries or the pain. All he wanted was to hold one of his miracles, and, upon doing so, he felt the greatest love and joy a parent ever could.
“Daddy?” the little boy called out.
“Mommy helped us save you,” Little Danny stated. “I asked her to, and I know she did.”
“I'm sure she did. Mommy is al...ways with you,” Daniel replied softly. ~Thanks, Kayla.~
“This is like gambling,” Jack bemoaned. He knew his first choice of roads was correct, but everything after that had been pure hunch and guess. **Danny? Come on, Love, answer me!**
Jack needed more help, and he wished for something as simple as tire tracks. Unfortunately, every time he found some, they led in directions he didn't think Daniel would have gone, or they disappeared from exposure to the natural conditions and elements.
As noon approached, out of the blue, another light flashed in front of Jack. It was a more stable hologram this time.
“I am Kivel of the Asgard. I am aboard The Samantha Carter and am contacting you on behalf of Commander Thor,” Kivel stated.
“Is this a two-way message?” Jack asked.
“We have been able to narrow the source of the transponder emissions,” Kivel continued, without answering Jack's question. “Based on your current location, you must go north for at least twenty of your kilometers; then west. We are attempting to get to Earth as quickly as possible. Commander Thor has ordered us to assist you upon our arrival. The transponder signals will strengthen as we get closer. Kivel out.”
“Hey! Wait a ... friggin' minute,” Jack sighed. ~Well, it's more than I had two minutes ago,~ he told himself as he turned his Ford F-350 truck northward. ~I'm not so sure that little gray butt is happy about his orders.~
David was feeling tired. He'd walked for hours, but he'd been careful to keep himself shielded from the sun and to drink enough water to keep him hydrated, but not so much that he'd get ill. He snacked lightly on the energy bars he carried. Looking up at the sun and using the training he'd received, he figured it must be almost four o'clock in the afternoon.
~I need to rest again,~ the boy told himself, sitting down by a grouping of three rocks. By crouching down, the rocks actually gave him some shade. ~Ten minutes,~ he decided, staring at his watch, although knowing he actually had shade in this location, he considered staying longer.
“Oh, for crying out loud. This is ridiculous!” Jack bellowed, so angry that he banged the steering wheel with his fist, accidentally hitting the horn.
The frustrated man had been driving around for hours with nothing to show for it. Sure, he'd followed Kivel's advice, but once he'd covered that ground, there had still been no sign of his missing family. Never before had the adage 'so near, yet so far' seemed so appropriate. Not only that, but the number of unpaved roads amazed and concerned Jack as he knew they could be dangerous in some conditions.
~I thought no one came up here, wherever here is. Wasn't that your point, Danny?~ the general had asked his geek of a husband, even though said husband was nowhere to be found.
~Horn? Oh, no, did I miss someone?~ David asked, quickly standing and running out to the road. He looked all around, seeing a truck off in the distance. Dropping his light backpack, the boy ran as fast as he could, waving his arms and screaming at the top of his lungs, “STOP! PLEEEEEEASE STOP! WAIT! STOP!”
“This is ...” Jack glanced out his rear view mirror and slammed on the breaks. “David?”
In an instant, Jack turned the truck around and drove speedily towards his son. He was torn between relief that David was okay and worry that Daniel and Little Danny weren't with him.
“DAD? IT'S DAAAAD!” David screamed as the truck came closer into view.
A minute later, Jack brought the truck to a stop, undoing his seatbelt long before the vehicle had stopped, and immediately opening the door as the Ford slowed. He hurried out, running to his son with open arms.
David leaped into Jack's arms, suddenly crying like a baby and mumbling, “I did it! I did it!”
“David, geez, I was so scared,” Jack spoke as he held the boy close. Then he pulled back but kept a firm grip. “Daddy and your brother?”
“Daddy's hurt, Dad,” David informed, still breathing hard from his run and the adrenalin flowing through him.
The words were like a dagger in Jack's heart.
Jack silently pleaded, ~Hang on, Danny.~
“I can show you. I memorized it. Little Danny kept trying to contact Thor, but ...” David began.
“But, it worked,” Jack revealed. “Let's go,” he suggested with urgency, actually picking up the boy and carrying him to the truck.
“I dropped my backpack,” David said, not thinking. Quickly, he added, “Nothing I need.”
“Which way, Son?” Jack asked.
David pointed, saying, “Straight ahead, about half-a-mile, and then we turn right and go another half-a-mile and ...”
“One step at a time,” Jack interrupted, reaching out to caress David's cheek as he smiled. “Or, one half-mile at a time.” He refocused on the road ahead. **Daniel? I have David, and we're on our way.**
There was no response, but Jack was hopeful now. It wouldn't be long, and then he'd hold Daniel close to his chest once again.
As the father and son neared the crash site, Kivel made yet another appearance, something Jack was very grateful for, especially since this time the alien let Jack speak.
“We have narrowed the area to ...”
“Kivel, listen to me,” Jack requested urgently. When the alien stopped, the general knew he had the alien's attention. “I've found one of my sons. I can find my family, but my cell phone won't work from here,” he stated.
“I am not acquainted with that device,” Kivel responded.
“It's not important. Can you contact the SGC, General Landry, and give him our location? Tell them we need immediate help, an ambulance at the least, and maybe a flight evac. He'll know what it means. They just need to find me. Will the communication device I have be able to ...”
Jack was startled when a small alien device suddenly appeared in the truck.
“The device which Commander Thor provided you allows us to reach you wherever you are, O'Neill,” Kivel stated.
“Oh, then how did you know what direction to tell me to go ... back there?” Jack asked, pointing back at the way he'd come. He was a little confused at the moment. ~Not sure I like this.~
“You will have to ask Commander Thor about that. If you keep the device I sent with you, I will see that help arrives. We are still too far out to do a full transport,” Kivel reported, sounding a little more friendly than he had during the prior contact.
“I understand. Kivel ... thanks!” Jack said. ~But I'm very confused.~
The Asgard nodded, and then the hologram disappeared. Jack looked at his son and smiled; then continued to follow David's instructions.
“There!” David exclaimed.
“Yeah,” Jack whispered, seeing what was left of the rental car. He felt like a hand had grabbed hold of his heart and squeezed it. ~Thank you,~ he said to anyone and everyone who had a hand in helping him to find his soulmate.
David had filled him in on everything that had happened, so Jack was prepared, at least as anyone could be, comparing a child's version of things to the reality.
“Daddy, look!” Little Danny spoke excitedly, pointing at the oncoming vehicle. “It's Dad!” the boy announced, giving Daniel a kiss and then running towards the car, in spite of Daniel's wheezing attempts to call him back.
Daniel turned his head, ignoring the pain it caused, and called out, **Jack?**
**Danny, I'm here. One more minute, Love,** Jack responded.
**Watch out for Little Danny. He's running towards you and ...**
**Yikes, I see him,** Jack communicated, stopping the truck and hurriedly getting out. “Hey, you!” he said, trying not to cry as he picked up the little boy, who did cry. “Dad's here. Everything's okay,” he soothed, rocking the boy in his arms, all the while keeping an eye on Daniel.
After a moment, the general walked over to Daniel, still carrying Little Danny. He put the boy down, making sure David was standing by him. He knelt down and smiled.
“Hey,” Jack whispered.
“Hey,” Daniel replied softly, raising his hand, which Jack immediately took in his.
“Extracurricular activities?” Jack tried to tease as he caressed Daniel's face with this other hand.
“Field trip. Didn't go as planned,” Daniel mused lightly.
“Where does it hurt?”
“Everywhere,” Daniel answered truthfully. “Our sons -- pretty amazing.”
Jack looked over his shoulder at the boys. Little Danny was sniffling. David stood behind him, his hands on the boy's shoulders.
“Very amazing,” Jack agreed with a forced grin. He could hear Daniel having trouble breathing and knew his lover needed medical attention ASAP. “Boys, I see a few bruises and some cuts and ... black eyes?” he observed lightly. “No holding back. Are either of you hurting? Any pain? Headaches? Nausea?”
“You sound like Aunt Janet, Dad,” Little Danny whined.
“Yeah, well, just answer my question, and no fibbing or white lies. I need to know *now*,” Jack demanded calmly.
“We're fine, Dad. Daddy is hurt the most,” the oldest boy responded.
“Okay,” Jack acknowledged. He'd held both of their children in his arms and was fairly certain that his covert check for broken or sprained bones was accurate, and that both of the children were basically okay. He looked back at his husband and began a quick examination. The couple had been through enough disasters in their history to determine basic injuries. “Concussion?”
“Oh, yeah,” Daniel agreed.
“Lungs, maybe ribs,” Jack said.
“Maybe. Head hurts, but ... maybe just ...”
“Headache,” the lovers spoke in unison.
“Strange pair of glasses, Love,” Jack mused about the one lens glasses.
“I like to be u...unique,” the younger man quipped. The two shared a smile, then with his eyes focused only on his husband, he added, “Tired. Jack, I knew you'd find us.”
“I had help,” Jack admitted.
“Jack?” Daniel called out softly.
Smiling, Jack leaned over, and the two shared a tender kiss. The sweet touch of their lips didn't last long as Daniel soon gasped for breath, but it was needed to affirm to Daniel that he wasn't dreaming and to Jack that his lover was alive.
“Danny, I'm going to have to pick you up and ...”
“Dad, look!” David called out, pointing at a flash of light.
“It's Aunt Janet!” Little Danny called out, running to the redhead. “Aunt Janet, Daddy needs you.”
“And, so do you,” Janet opined emotionally, stopping for just a moment to hug the little boy.
“Wow!” David said in awe.
“Hey, Doc, wasn't expecting to see you here,” Jack spoke, smiling warmly at their very good friend as she kneeled down opposite Jack to examine Daniel. As she pulled out her equipment, she looked at the makeshift canopy and smiled over at the boys. “Very ingenious.”
“We have amazing children,” Daniel wheezed proudly.
“Kivel?” Jack asked.
“Yes. His ship is barely in range. We risked it,” Janet said about her team.
Jack looked over at the two medical team members who had made the risky transport -- Casey Hemmings and Marie Hill. Both had always been reliable and diligent where Daniel was concerned.
~Thanks, Casey, Marie, I owe you both, big time. I'll ... I'll find you both husbands, that's what I'll do!~
Mr. Jealously snickered wickedly in his corner of Jack's mind at the general's vow while outwardly, Jack nodded his thanks and then refocused on his husband.
Several minutes later, Janet and her team had stabilized Daniel to the best of their ability, applying a proper neck brace, new bandages, and establishing an IV. She also examined the two boys, concluding her exam by giving each huge hugs and telling them how much she loved them and how proud she was of them.
Then Janet pulled Jack aside, saying, “We need to get Daniel to a hospital ASAP.”
“I assume we can signal Kivel and ...” Jack began.
“No,” Janet abruptly answered. “Jack, the transport was a little shaky. Kivel took the risk because we insisted, but I don't think it's a good idea to put Daniel through that. He was able to give us the coordinates, so a Medi-vac helicopter should be en route to this location.”
“So, we sit and wait?” Jack asked?
“Shouldn't be more than a half-hour. I'm worried about internal bleeding, so I also think we should take him to the closest medical facility,” Janet opined. “I don't want to risk the extra time it would take to get to the SGC.” She looked back over at Daniel, currently being comforted by the two boys. “Jack, you know Daniel. The boys are fine,” she said, looking at him and hoping he'd finish the sentence.
“You want me to drive back with them so you have a better shot at getting Danny to be honest about how he feels on the whirlybird,” Jack surmised dryly.
“Yes, but its more than that,” Janet sighed. “I really don't like the sound of his breathing, Jack, and it's possible that on the way to the hospital I might need to ...”
“Do some emergency surgery?” Jack groaned.
Janet nodded, adding, “I really don't think you or Daniel want them to see that.”
“No, we don't,” Jack groaned again, nodding and rubbing the back of his head with his right hand. “You're right,” he concurred. “Janet, is he... is there a chance ...”
“I can't give you any guarantees, Jack,” Janet sighed. “But I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to ensure that he pulls through this.”
Jack nodded and inquired, “What hospital?”
Janet gave Jack the necessary information, saying, “It should take you about four hours to get there from here, driving safely.”
“Right. Doc, I'm gonna ...”
Janet smiled, knowing Jack needed to spend the next few minutes with his lover. Being separated from him for the next several hours would be tough. Wanting to help out, she motioned to Casey and Marie to keep an eye on Daniel from a distance, and then she took the boys aside under the pretense of examining them further.
“Aunt Janet, don't poke me anymore,” Little Danny complained after several minutes had passed.
“But, I'm ...”
“You're just trying to distract us,” David said.
“Yeah, Dad and Daddy need private time together,” Little Danny astutely added.
“Yeah, they do, but now I ...”
“Doctor Fraiser, the helicopter is in sight,” Casey called out.
Jack held Daniel's hand as he was lifted into the chopper until he couldn't move another step forward.
**I'll be there soon, Angel.**
**Take care of the boys. Little Danny is really scared. He ... he ...**
**I know, Danny. I love you,** Jack communicated. **Love you so dang much.**
**I love you, too,** Daniel stated as the door to the Medi-vac copter closed.
“Jack, he'll be okay. I'll see you there,” Janet spoke, giving Jack an affirmative nod before stepping in through another of the helicopter's doors.
Jack looked down, picked up the youngest boy, and reached out to hold David's hand. Together, they watched the skies until the helicopter was out of sight.
“Daddy and I are very proud of you. We love you both so much,” Jack spoke quietly. “Let's get this stuff together and get out of here.”
Quickly, Jack and the children put their things in the truck. Jack was even able to open the trunk of the burned vehicle. He checked the remnants of the luggage, finding all of it destroyed beyond recognition except for a small collection of rocks David had acquired along the trip. He moved those into his truck and then got the boys settled. As he took his spot in the driver's seat, he heard Little Danny's voice.
“Thor, thank you. Dad found us, and Kivel helped. Daddy's going to the hospital. I knew you'd help us, Thor. Bye!”
Jack smiled and said, “Son, that was smart of you to try and contact Thor.”
“I always take my patch with me when we go on trips. Is that okay, Dad?” Little Danny asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Jack answered, knowing it had probably saved Daniel's life and probably the lives of the two boys as well. Relieved that his children were safe, and praying Daniel had no major injuries, Jack started the Ford truck and headed for the hospital, there only stop being to pick up David's backpack that he'd left behind upon running after the truck earlier. ~You hang in there, Angel, because I can't live without you.~
After what seemed like the longest four hours of his life, Jack and the two boys arrived at the hospital. Marie was waiting for them. As soon as he saw her, he was able to relax. He knew she wouldn't be smiling the way she was if Daniel hadn't made it through the trip okay.
“Your father is doing very well,” Marie told David and Little Danny as they walked toward the ward where Daniel was. “Right now, Doctor Janet needs to talk with ... your other father,” she said, smiling. “I need you two to come with me.”
“Are you going to stick us with things?” Little Danny asked accusingly.
Jack shook his head, patted the young boy on the shoulder, and ordered, “Go with Marie, and do whatever she asks you to do. I'm going to check on Daddy.”
“They're going to stick us with needles, David,” Little Danny whined. “I don't like needles.”
Jack couldn't help but chuckle. The older Little Danny got, the more he was like his younger father. The little boy was already rebelling against pills, even giving the family doctors grief about aspirin.
~Just like his father,~ Jack sighed inwardly. He looked over, seeing Casey motioning for him to come to that area. “Casey, where's ...”
“Inside,” Casey answered, nodding his head towards the next room. “Doctor Fraiser is with him.”
“Thanks,” Jack replied, heading for the room, with Casey trailing behind a foot or two.
“Jack, any problems finding us?” Janet asked as soon as she saw the man entering the room.
“No,” Jack answered, his eyes on his sleeping lover.
“He's just sleeping,” Janet assured quickly. She smiled, seeing Jack hadn't taken his eyes off the younger man. “Why don't you say 'hello', and I'll come back in a few minutes and fill you in?”
“Thanks, Doc,” Jack whispered, moving over towards the hospital bed, still never having really looked at the physician.
Janet left the room, taking Casey with her, deciding to check on the two Jackson-O'Neill boys before returning to speak with Jack.
“Angel, I'm here, and everything will be all right now,” Jack spoke quietly. He held Daniel's right hand and used his left hand to rub gently against his soulmate's bandaged forehead. “I love you.”
“Doctor Fraiser, we have more forms that need to be signed,” a hospital entrance nurse spoke, a folder in her hands.
“Yes, well, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill's husband is here and ...”
“Husband?” the woman spat. “Excuse me?”
“Hey, David, Little Danny, you two must be starving for real food,” Marie quickly interjected. “Let's go to the cafeteria. Casey, would you like to join us?”
Once Marie, Casey, and the children had left, Janet replied harshly, saying, “Yes, I said husband, and trust me, you do *not* want to give him a hard time.” She motioned for the nurse to follow her, the two going back to Daniel's room. “Jack, there's some business to be taken care of.” She made a face as she added, “Outside.”
~I don't need this right now.~ Jack took one look at the woman's disgusted expression and knew what was about to happen. He stood, gave his lover a kiss, and said, “I'll be back, Love,” before going into the corridor.
“General -- Lieutenant General Jack Jackson-O'Neill, and, Lady, right now, my husband is in that room, and the only reason he's here and not home is because Doctor Fraiser said he needed immediate attention.” He turned to Janet, asking, “When can he be moved?”
“If the tests come back negative, and we don't have any problems with his lungs, day after tomorrow, Jack,” Janet answered. “I've already made the preliminary arrangements.”
Jack looked back at the incensed nurse and stated, “I'm not messing around. You don't like that Daniel and I are married, tough. We have all the paperwork. I'll have it faxed to you within the hour. Give me the number.”
With a snort, the woman wrote down a number, grousing, “It's not right. This is a moral community. The patient needs rest, and ...”
“Excuse me, Nurse, but you are not a doctor. *I*, on the other hand, am, and I am licensed in this state,” Janet spoke sternly, not trying to hide her ire at all.
“You're here as a courtesy, Doctor. When I contact Doctor ...”
“Lady, you contact whomever you want.” Not intending on messing around, Jack looked at the redhead and verified, “You're sure?”
“Yes, I'm sure,” Janet confirmed. “Forty-eight hours.”
“I have a call of my own to make,” Jack snapped, yanking the FAX number out of the nurse's hand and walking away.
Janet looked at the nurse, shaking her head, and stated, “I'm telling you, you really don't want to mess with him, especially when it concerns his husband. He has connections, very high up connections. Trust me on this.” As she returned to Daniel's room, she thought, ~Bet she doesn't listen.~
“Mark, FAX those papers to the number I just gave you,” Jack requested.
“I can include President Hayes' executive orders for the adoptions and the paperwork for your Distinguished Service Medal and Daniel's Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Mark Kingston, Jack and Daniel's lawyer, stated forcefully.
Jack smiled, remembering his lover's high honor. It had been with distinction, and, for years, no one knew about it but those at the SGC. However, before leaving office, President Hayes had found a way to include Daniel's recognition on the books. They simply finagled the public facts to record the archaeologist's contribution to ongoing research in the fields of archaeology and anthropology. It was all very flowery with lots of double meanings, but, in the end, Daniel's name was on the books. There'd been some shock and surprise by some in Academia, but after the initial furor, things had calmed down.
Jack's thoughts of pride in his husband were suddenly overshadowed by Mark's aggressive tone as he continued, “What was her name again? If she wants a fight, we'll just have to show her who she's dealing with.”
“I wish we didn't have to,” the general lamented.
“I hope Daniel will have a swift recovery, Jack. Give him my best,” Mark requested.
“Will do,” Jack acknowledged, quickly adding, “But, let's not go full tilt unless we have to, Mark. We do appreciate the sentiment, though.” He let out a bit of a snort, commenting, “Glad you're on our side.” Disconnecting the call, Jack placed another one. He could still go to the top, if he had to, but he didn't think it would be necessary. All he needed was a tiny bit of pressure to be placed on the hospital administrator. He had very little patience for politicians, but he knew a more diplomatic friend who had lots of connections. “Hey, it's Jack, and I need a favor.”
“Jack, I've finished examining the boys,” Janet announced a bit later. With all the hospital interference and handling the paperwork and permissions, she hadn't had a chance to really confer with the man about Daniel as yet. Instead, she used the time he'd been forced away to deal with those issues to look at the children. As she sat down, she said, “They are both absolutely fine, except for the couple of cuts and scratches they have. David's head gash is actually very minor. The cut on his hand was deeper, but they did remarkably well cleaning their wounds and changing the bandages.”
“They learned from you how important that is, Doc,” Jack replied.
Janet smiled, having heard David comment about Little Danny doing things based on things she'd done or comments she'd made. If she had any complaints about his thousands of questions and always wanting to watch, she no longer did, silently resolving to let him watch and learn as much as he wanted to in the future.
“Little Danny's cut lip ...” Janet paused, chuckling. “You've dealt with those before. His black eyes will go away soon enough.”
“What's that from?” Jack inquired.
“Probably the air bag. It's not all that uncommon,” Janet answered. “There are no broken bones, no internal injuries, and nothing at all to be concerned about with the boys.” She sighed contentedly, “They aren't even dehydrated. They had plenty of water out there and did a good job with the intake.”
“Daniel?” Jack inquired softly. ~Please tell me he's fine.~
“We have a few things we need to watch for,” the doctor answered. “As you can see, he has a nasty cut on the side of his forehead. From what I understand, the side air bag didn't deploy so I believe Daniel's head banged against the side of the door at some point. That's definitely how he got the cut -- against the window.”
“And ...” Jack prodded, not that concerned about cuts that would heal and knowing there was more to come.
“We've taken X-rays. His spine is fine, but he has a cracked sternum, and this is where it can get a little scary. We've taken an electrocardiogram and have him on a heart monitor right now. That's one of the reasons we don't want to move him at this point. We want to make sure there's no damage there and that he has a good, steady heart rhythm,” Janet explained.
“You mean no damage to his heart?” Jack inquired.
“Yes. Now, something else we're watching is the pneumothorax,” Janet began.
“He punctured his lung,” Jack interjected as he sought clarification.
“Yes, but I've inserted a tube between his ribs and attached it to a suction device,” Janet stated. “It didn't look that severe to me. I'm hoping the air leak seals itself.”
“Another reason for not moving him,” Jack surmised.
“Correct. Those are our two main areas of concern,” Janet explained. “Jack, if the lung doesn't heal itself, we'll have to go in.”
“Surgery,” Jack stated as calmly as he could.
Janet nodded and continued, “I am fairly certain, though, that this air leak is small enough that it will heal itself. We shouldn't move him with the tube inserted, and that's why we have to wait two days. I don't want to take chances.”
“Neither do I,” Jack agreed. “What else?”
“Actually, that's about it,” Janet answered. As Jack let out a sigh of relief, she smiled and then continued with more basic information, saying, “Thankfully, there wasn't any damage to Daniel's eyes.”
“So, no glass in the eyes?” the worried husband asked.
“No, none at all,” Janet answered. “The cuts and bruises will heal normally, and the concussion doesn't seem to be severe. We have him on oxygen and are monitoring his CO2 levels as well. He's on antibiotics, of course. Infection is always of concern at this stage of the game. The IVs in place are primarily for glucose and potassium. As I said, the main things we need to guard against are cardiac damage and his lung not healing, or possibly bleeding.”
“Janet, you've got a look,” Jack spoke warily.
“One more thing, Jack. Daniel has a minor shoulder separation. Nothing's torn, but it's going to be painful for quite a while, even after he goes home,” the doctor advised.
“And ...” the general asked, wondering why their friend was looking so unsure at the moment.
“Jack, the truth is that I don't believe Daniel got the injury in the actual accident itself. Um, apparently, from what Daniel told me on the helicopter, the boys pulled him from the car. I can't say for sure, but I suspect they might have had a hard time with that; maybe they even dropped him,” the doctor spoke cautiously.
“They didn't do any harm?” Jack asked.
“They saved his life, but I'm concerned that when things calm down, they might ...”
“No 'might' about it, Doc. Guilt runs in our family,” Jack mused wistfully. He grew serious, saying, “I'll take care of it. They did save his life.”
“Yes, they did, unquestionably,” Janet affirmed with a nod and a smile.
“Doc, what about the brood?” Jack asked, wondering if he should bring the family to the hospital.
Janet sighed thoughtfully as she cocked her head for a moment while studying the man's expression.
Finally, she replied, “Jack, I'm tempted to say 'no', but I know you two too well. If I do, I know there'll be slinking around the corridors.”
Jack grinned in response; then nodded and asked, “David and Little Danny can see him now, right?”
“If I said 'no', you'd just sneak them in, and if you didn't, they'd get in on their own somehow,” Janet answered. “Just ... watch them,” she warned. Standing, she stated, “I promised General Landry I'd give him an update.”
“Yeah, and I should call Sara and talk to the kids. Janet?” Jack asked, still concerned.
Jack hadn't called the rest of the brood yet to inform them about the accident. He'd decided to wait, wanting to talk to Janet first about Daniel's condition. He also wanted to get his husband’s opinion before calling their children.
“Don't make promises, Jack. He's not out of the woods,” Janet advised strongly, leaving her friend with a tough decision.
“Angel,” Jack called out softly and then leaned in for a kiss.
“J'ck?” Daniel said; then swallowed as he tried to get more comfortable in the bed.
“Hey, I love you,” Jack spoke tenderly.
Daniel smiled, replying, “I love you, too. David? Little Danny?”
“They're with Casey and Marie right now,” Jack answered. “Janet examined them again, and they're just fine. Geez, I'm so proud of them.”
“They were scared, Jack, but they ... they really kept it together,” Daniel remarked.
Jack ran his left hand along his lover's cheek and whispered, “I was scared, too.”
Daniel smiled, saying, “I wasn't. I knew you'd find us.”
“Did you now?”
Daniel nodded, a tear escaping from his left eye, and responded, “I knew if the children could stay safe that you'd get to us. We just had ... had to meet you half way. Jack, I ... I mean, David ...”
“Danny, you did the right thing,” Jack assured.
“Did I? Someone could have ...”
“But they didn't. Angel, I wouldn't have found you had David not seen the truck,” Jack opined. “It was a smart move, and it was the right time. You still had plenty of water for David to take and to keep with you. It was only going to get worse, and the directions were still clear in his mind.”
“I wasn't so sure it was the right thing. I sent our little boy out there alone,” Daniel whispered.
“Our little boy did great. He's growing up, Angel,” Jack noted. He squeezed his lover's hand and smiled. “Now, about you.”
When they were finished talking about Daniel's condition, Jack asked his husband's opinion on the big question -- should he tell the children the truth about Daniel's condition now or wait until they got back to Colorado Springs.
“I don't want them to worry,” Daniel confided. He gazed into his husband's eyes and asked, “It's still a ... bumpy road, right?”
“Doc says forty-eight hours,” Jack responded.
“We don't ... lie to our children, Jack,” Daniel stated.
“Do you want me to bring them here?” the older man inquired.
“I hated Nick for not taking me to the funeral. Keeping me at a ... a distance, watching strangers, and then ... waffles. Gawd!” Daniel exclaimed, turning his head to face the other way.
“That was a long time ago, Danny,” Jack tried to soothe. Then he stopped and sighed, “But you still remember, even now, and it still hurts, even now.”
Daniel turned back to face his husband, saying, “We ... we want to protect them, but ... do we have the right if ... if the worst happens?”
“Which it won't, ” Jack pointed out quickly.
“Of course not,” Daniel replied.
“I'm not living without you, Danny,” Jack warned his lover.
“Same here,” Daniel quickly affirmed.
Both men knew they had twelve children, a brood they loved and doted on, who depended on and loved them dearly. Neither wanted to consider the implications of their pact, should one of them die, leaving the other to carry out the heartfelt vow made to each other years earlier. It was better to focus on their mutual survival.
Jack nodded, gave his lover a kiss, and announced, “Danny, I'm having to fight this place as it is.”
“Because we're ...”
“Yeah. Mark's faxed over everything they need, but we aren't real popular around here,” Jack revealed. “The kids are going to feel it.”
“They've been through a lot,” Daniel stated.
“This is nothing,” Jack agreed. “I'll make the call.”
After advising Janet of the change in plans, Jack phoned General Hammond to advise him of what had occurred, and then he called Sara, who wasn't impressed at being kept in the dark. Thus, it came as no surprise to Jack that she gave him a piece of her mind before moving forward with the business at hand.
~She loves you, Danny,~ Jack said as the outburst came to a halt.
“Now, what do you want me to do, Jack?” Sara asked, taking a deep breath and making sure no one was listening in to the phone call.
“We want the brood here, Sara. Danny wants to see them, and we don't think it's fair in case ...” Jack trailed off.
Softening, Sara responded, “Don't be insane, Jack. Daniel is going to be just fine, and believe you me, he's going to get a piece of my mind, too, once he gets home.”
“And a huge hug, right?” Jack asked. He knew Sara was smiling and maybe even grinning at the truthfulness of the remark. “Sara, he'll be okay, but Daniel remembers what it was like to be on the outside when his folks died.”
“Oh, Jack, the Mouseketeers,” Sara sighed, knowing their birth parents had been killed in New York City while the three children were at home in Colorado, something that had been traumatic for all of them, especially Chenoa.
“Yeah, exactly. So, he'll be fine, but we want the kids here,” Jack spoke.
“Commercial flight?” Sara asked.
“To this place? It would take forever,” Jack answered. “I don't have a favor to pull in for this one, so I'm going to ask for one, but I really don't think he'll mind.”
“You know something, Jack? It's a good thing you've helped out so many people along the way. A lot of people owe you favors,” Sara pointed out.
“Just lucky, Sara,” Jack nonchalantly responded.
“No, just ... a good friend, a good officer, and a good man. Oh, Jack, I hear the children coming in from outside. What's the plan?” Sara questioned.
Jack filled Sara in, also requesting that she make sure Jennifer brought one of the spare pair of glasses for his husband. Daniel always kept a few extras around the house, just in case.
~Danny's optometrist loves us; he's made a mint off of us over the years,~ Jack let himself chuckle for a brief moment before returning to the seriousness of the moment.
“You cannot let those children stay in this room,” a nurse announced. “It's against hospital policy.”
“Screw policy,” Jack responded, tired of the arguments he'd had almost non-stop since arriving.
An hour or so ago, David and Little Danny had come in to visit their father. Little Danny had climbed up onto the bed and was gently nestled on Daniel's right side. David had pulled up a chair and leaned forward, his right hand atop Daniel's lower arm. Both boys had fallen asleep within a couple of minutes.
Jack hated not having his usual spot by Daniel's side, but he didn't have the heart to disturb the children. Now, though, the nurse on duty was threatening to wake the boys simply due to her loud voice. Daniel, too, had fallen asleep, and Jack was really going to be ticked off if his lover awoke.
“They cannot stay here,” the nurse stated adamantly as she began to move towards the children.
Jack grabbed her arm, gently stopping her motion, and warned, “Lady, you wake up my husband, and your life is gonna be miserable.”
“There are rules, and the rules are here for a reason, Mis...General O'Neill,” the nurse said.
“Jackson-O'Neill,” Jack said. “I understand your feelings about our relationship, and I respect your right to have those feelings, but what I don't respect is your using the rules to support your personal prejudices. I have witnessed children in more than one room here, with siblings and parents. Have you checked to make sure that all the male/female couples are legally married, that none of them have committed adultery, and that the children are all blood kin, or legally adopted? No? Then shut up, and get out,” he ordered.
Feeling a bit threatened, the nurse exited the room, going straight to the nurse's station to report the situation.
As he watched over his family for a moment, Jack sighed, ~We love each other. It's just that simple.~
Walking out of the room after another minute or so, Jack nodded at Casey, who got up from the bench he'd been sitting on and entered Daniel's room. Before the rest of the children arrived, the general wanted to try and get the battle of the nurses resolved.
As he ambled towards the circular station, Jack could hear bits and pieces of the whispered conversation between the two nurses, one clearly more agitated than the other. It was nothing he hadn't heard before, words of prejudice, intolerance, and perversion.
~Why now?~ Jack bemoaned. He took a breath, hating that his attention was having to be diverted in this way when he'd rather be focused Daniel and the brood. ~Hospitals are supposed to be places of healing; too bad they can't heal the soul.~
Just as Jack reached the nurses' station, the elevator opened, and a man in a suit walked swiftly to the station. Jack could tell he was someone in authority as the two women immediately acknowledged him. Then he saw the nurse he'd been arguing with turn and glare at him, after which she grabbed a chart and stormed off in the other direction.
“Excuse me,” Jack stated, interrupting the man and the remaining nurse.
“Mister Carillon, this is General ... Jackson-O'Neill,” the remaining nurse introduced.
“General, it's a pleasure to meet you, though I wish it was under better circumstances,” the man greeted, walking to Jack and extending his hand.
Jack shook the man's hand and replied, “Thank you, and you're ...”
“Cary Carillon, the hospital administrator. I understand we've had some difficulty in communications between you and our staff, but I want to assure you that we pledge our staff and facilities in whatever way you and Doctor Fraiser require while your husband is a patient here,” Carillon said, the politician in him causing Jack to cringe, even though it meant a calmer stay.
“Thank you, Mister Carillon. I was just about to pick up our children, and I'd like to bring them here to see Daniel. They'll be worried,” Jack spoke.
“It is against hospital policy, but, if you keep it short tonight, I don't see why we can't bend the rules a little,” Carillon agreed.
“One more thing. Is there a room available where the kids could sack out?” Jack asked. “We'll pay, of course.”
“We do have a lounge room on this floor. We can bring in a few cots to help out,” the man replied.
“Thanks. Uh, in the morning, we'll find a hotel, but for tonight, that would be great,” Jack said appreciatively. With the conflict resolved, he headed back for his lover's room, while thinking, ~Geez, I love knowing people in high places.~
“Hey,” Jack whispered, carefully waking up the two boys. “I'm going to head to the airport to pick up your brothers and sisters. Do you want to come or stay here with Daddy?”
“I want to come with you,” David spoke.
Little Danny settled back down against Daniel and quietly answered, “I'll stay here; don't want Daddy to be alone.”
“Okay, Sproglet,” Jack said, leaning over to kiss the boy on the forehead and then doing the same to his still-sleeping husband. “We'll be back soon.”
Jack turned and got the nod from Casey that he wouldn't leave Little Danny alone and would stay put. Then he and David headed for the small town airport.
“Broodkins!” Jack greeted, holding his arms out wide.
“Dad!” a chorus of children exclaimed as they scrambled off the plane.
“Wow, Dad, a Lear jet?” Jeff asked in awe as he held JD in his arms.
“Abayomi,” Jack answered, referring to J-O Enterprises' long-time and best client, the multi-millionaire owner of Passion Incorporated. “It was the only way to get all of you tonight.”
“How's Daddy?” Aislinn asked with a tiny voice.
Jack picked up the youngest Munchkin and answered, “Daddy's going to be fine, especially after he sees you.”
“Thanks, Big Guy, for bringing the kids,” Jack spoke to Teal'c.
The Jaffa nodded, answering, “It was my honor, O'Neill.”
The kids all hugged David and then hurried to get to their vehicles. To accommodate the whole family, Jack had rented two mini-vans, the only transportation he could find at this time of night. They split the children up into two groups, Teal'c going with one and Jack with the other. The older father couldn't help but notice how Chenoa had made sure she was in the van with him and not with Teal'c.
~Noa, give him a break,~ Jack thought, though he set aside the ongoing problems that had begun in February and still continued to this day. Though things were on the upswing, the curly-haired blonde still had issues with the Jaffa that she hadn't fully resolved as yet. ~I can't think about that now,~ he sighed as he buckled up inside the mini-van.
En route, Jack gave all the children in his van the details about Daniel, David, and Little Danny. He knew he'd have to repeat a lot of it for the kids in the other van, though David had gone in that group to help answer the questions he could.
Though the kids were worried, Jack was being so positive that he managed to alleviate their fears somewhat.
As her brothers and sisters engaged in other conversations, Jennifer looked at her father seeking the truth, asking, “How bad is it really, Dad?”
Jack smiled and answered, “He should be fine, Jen, but we want you all to feel included. We just felt that you kids should be here ...”
“Just in case?” the girl asked quietly. Once Jack nodded, Jennifer decided to change the subject. “So, Dad, how'd you get the jet? It was really nice,” she observed, having not heard Jack's earlier explanation to Jeff about the plane.
“Commercial wasn't an option because of the time and location, and the Air Force didn't have anything available, Jen, so I called Abayomi and asked if he had anything nearby. He said he'd send something. Looks like he did,” Jack answered.
When Jennifer chuckled, Jack asked, “What's so funny?”
“I think that's the first time I've heard you say Mister Sharif's first name correctly,” the young woman mused.
“Yeah, well ...”
“That's okay, Dad,” Brianna interjected, having tuned in to the conversation a minute earlier. “We know.”
Once the family reached the hospital, Jack and Teal'c took them to the lounge area that had been cordoned off for them to use. While Jack sat the children down and made sure everyone understood the situation, Marie went to wake Janet, who was getting some sleep in the resident's quarters for a few hours. By the time Jack had the family as up-to-date as he could, Janet walked in and was immediately greeted with hugs and hellos from everyone but Chenoa, to whom she was estranged at the moment.
For the next few minutes, Janet discussed Daniel's situation, told the children what to expect when they saw their father, and advised them on how to approach Daniel to not disturb the medical equipment or cause him pain.
“Give me a couple of minutes to make sure Danny is awake,” Jack requested of Janet and Teal'c. “Then bring the kids on in.” As he headed out, he noticed he had a shadow. “Noa, please ...”
“I'll go with you, Dad,” Chenoa stated, determined not to stay in the same room with both Teal'c and Janet.
Jack reached out, taking his little girl's hand in his. Together, they walked towards Daniel's hospital room.
“Noa, when we get there, I want a minute alone with Daddy, so you wait and come in with the others, okay?”
Seeing Jack and Chenoa enter, Casey quickly got up. He was surprised when Chenoa slipped her hand in his, but with Jack's motion, he nodded and exited the room with the girl, giving Jack a reassuring smile as he passed by.
Jack nodded at the nurse; then smiled when he looked over at the hospital bed, seeing his husband and their middle Munchkin holding on to each other.
Daniel looked over at his husband, having awakened a few minutes earlier, and said, “He's so tired.”
“The brood's here,” Jack announced, walking over and sharing a tender kiss.
“Was that Noa?” Daniel asked, blinking.
As he placed a new pair of glasses on his spouse's face, Jack answered “Yes,” and then asked, “How's that?”
“Perfect. Sexy. Handsome. My Silver Fox,” Daniel crooned as best he could.
“I'll bet you say that to all your husbands,” Jack quipped.
“All of them,” the younger man teased, smiling. “Jack, Noa ...”
“... doesn't want to be in the same room with Janet and Teal'c. No change on that front, Love.”
Daniel sighed and then nodded regretfully, wishing Chenoa would mend fences with the two members of their extended family.
“She'll make up with them soon,” Jack opined. After another gentle kiss, he asked, “You ready?”
“Better wake up Sproglet first,” Daniel advised, wishing he could move his head to place a kiss on the boy's head.
Jack walked over to the other side of the bed and gently lifted Little Danny into his arms, almost having to pry the child's hands from Daniel's arm.
“Pretty secure there,” Jack teased.
“Daddy?” Little Danny yawned.
“He's right there,” Jack answered.
“Dad?” the boy asked.
“The rest of the brood is here and ...” Jack began, his words interrupted by Janet, Teal'c, and the arrival of the children.
“Daddy?” all the children called out, though careful not to crowd him.
In fact, Janet was impressed at how gentle the children were. One by one, some assisted by their older siblings, each child kissed and hugged Daniel. Some asked questions, which she answered for the most part, and then they just spent time together.
“We got to come in a jet, Daddy,” Jonny stated. “It was really neat. Dad, when we go back can we go inside the cockpit?”
Jack chuckled, “We'll see.”
Ten minutes later, Janet cleared her throat. Everyone knew what that meant, and though they weren't happy about it, the children obediently bid their younger father goodnight and headed back to the lounge.
“Angel, I'm going to make sure the children are okay and then I'll be back,” Jack noted.
“I should tell you to stay with them,” Daniel responded.
“You could,” Jack replied, smiling.
“Wouldn't work?” the younger man asked.
“Teal'c is there, and so are Casey and Marie, not to mention Janet,” Jack pointed out. “I need to be here.”
“That's, uh, good because I ... I need you here,” Daniel admitted. “Love you.”
“Love you, too,” Jack said. “Be back in a few.”
The next day, Jack left Daniel long enough to find a hotel room nearby where the children could spend the next night. He kept hold of the two rental vehicles, figuring Teal'c and either Casey or Marie could handle transportation duties when necessary.
Shortly after noon, Jack and Janet got together to review the latest test results.
“He's doing good, Jack, as far as his heart is concerned. If nothing changes there, we can remove the monitor by dinnertime,” Janet stated.
“What about his lung?” Jack asked, worried that Janet had a bit of a frown on her face.
“Well, the pneumothorax hasn't made the progress I would have liked it to, too, but it's still early,” the physician advised.
“Definitely staying another day,” Jack surmised.
“Until the pneumothorax heals sufficiently. If it isn't better by tomorrow, I'm afraid we'll have to review our options,” Janet stated.
“Thanks, Doc,” Jack said, smiling and then standing to return to his lover's room.
As the children continued to visit with Daniel, Jack saw David fidgeting slightly in the chair he was sitting in.
~I'd say now's the time for that chat,~ Jack decided, subtly and quietly pulling the boy out of the room for a private chat. When they sat down in the lounge room, he was hunched forward, smiling at the nervous child. “David, tell me about the part of the rescue when you and Little Danny got Daddy out of the car.”
The boy looked down. He had seen the ice pack that was on Daniel's shoulder and surmised the reason for it.
“I'm sorry, Dad. It was my fault. We needed to get Daddy out of the car, and I thought I could do it by myself, but I couldn't,” David answered.
“Daddy's no small fry,” Jack lightly quipped.
“I didn't think about the backpacks,” the boy spoke dejectedly.
“What do you mean?”
“I should have put them on the ground with the cooler. It would have eased the drop from the car seat to the ground, but I ... I didn't think of it until this morning,” David lamented.
Jack reached out and took his son's hands in his, and, with misty eyes and a cracked voice, said, “Son, you saved Daddy's life. You gave him back to me and your brothers and sisters. Listen to me, you got Daddy out of the car, built a shelter, kept him hydrated, cleaned his wounds, made a neck brace ...” He stopped, shaking his head from his own emotion. He looked away for a moment and then took a big breath. “You kept your head, knowing the gas was leaking out of the tank. David, if you had left Daddy sitting in that car, he would have died. You did the right thing. Not only that, you took care of your little brother, too. We are all so proud of you.”
“Hey, that's not the right word for now,” Jack interjected. “I'm thinking brave, determined, gutsy, leader ...”
“Leader?” David asked. That was a word so unassociated with him as a younger boy, but he knew he had grown since being adopted by the Jackson-O'Neills. “Me?”
“Yeah, you! In fact, I know a planet with some very special rocks on it, and I think when Daddy is better, we'll take a little trip, just Daddy, me, you, and Little Danny. What do you think?”
“Wow! A ... a vacation off...” David began; then realized he was getting a bit loud. He swallowed and then more quietly continued, “... off-world?”
“Yeah,” Jack confirmed, pulling the boy into a hug. “You saved Daddy, David. I don't like him to be in pain, either, but the pain will go away. When it does, we'll have years and years together, all of us, because you did what you had to do when you had to do it. You did exactly what we told you to do.” Patting the boy on the back, the grateful father placed a kiss on the side of his head and then pulled back. “When you're goal is to survive, survival is a victory.”
“Dad, can I make Daddy breakfast in bed until he's all better and bring him his coffee and ...” David began, lining up a thousand things to try and make up for the pain.
“You can do whatever you want, but, if you do, do it because it's something you want to do and not because you're feeling guilty and trying to make up for it, okay?” Jack responded pointedly.
“Okay!” Jack echoed. “How about a beer?”
Jack laughed, “Yeah, I guess you're not quite grown up enough for that yet, but you are a man, and I'm ... I'm proud you're my son.”
Tears in their eyes, the father and son hugged yet again before rejoining the rest of their family.
“And, of course, Jonny is still talking about the jet. Careful, Love, I think he's going to ask for one for his birthday,” Jack teased.
“Jen and Jeff are doing a good job keeping the kids occupied. They'll all be here in about a half-hour and ...” Jack continued, without pausing.
“Jack, stop,” Daniel interrupted as forcefully as he could.
“Not buying it, huh?” Jack asked.
Daniel smiled, saying, “Tell me.”
“Status quo, but the Doc is a little worried about your numawhatever and ...” Jack began.
“Jack!” Daniel warned.
“The pneumothorax,” Jack quickly straightened and answered. “It's not healing like she wants, and, if it doesn't, surgery may be the only answer.”
“Oh,” Daniel responded.
“But, your ticker is doing great,” Jack quickly pointed out, smiling. “You'll probably be rid of ole 'beep beep' here before nightfall.”
“That's good. Jack, we need to talk about something,” Daniel spoke.
“No, we don't,” Jack refuted. “We've discussed everything we need to, and besides, your lung is healing right now. I feel it,” he insisted.
Daniel smiled tentatively, responding, “Ever the optimist.”
“I love you, Danny, forever and always,” Jack spoke as seriously as ever. “We're a nation of two, joined by twelve and the girls and the cats and, okay, I don't know where it ends anymore, but, in the end, it's you and me -- a set.”
“I love you so much, Jack. That circle -- sure has grown,” Daniel spoke about their unending circle of love.
“That it has, Angel,” Jack affirmed, kissing his Love again.
“Good news, Gentlemen,” Janet announced bright and early the following day.
“We can go home?” Daniel asked.
It wasn't a medical question, and, yet, it would answer all their medical questions.
“I can hear those jet engines winding up even now. Clear the runway!” Janet answered enthusiastically.
“Yes!” Jack exclaimed, using the news as an excuse to kiss his lover.
“The latest X-rays and test results are excellent. I want to wait until this afternoon and do one more round of testing, but I'm confident the results will be what we want,” Janet announced.
“Let's wait to tell the brood until we're sure,” Daniel requested.
Mid-afternoon, the children were all gathered in Daniel's room.
“You sound better today, Daddy,” Ricky spoke from his spot on the end of Daniel's bed.
“I feel a lot better, Son,” Daniel responded.
“Daddy, can we buy a jet plane?” Jonny asked, causing everyone to chuckle.
“A ... jet plane?” Daniel asked. “Uh, Jonny, we have Jo, and I don't think we really need a plane of our own.”
“Yes, we do,” David answered. “We need it to go on family digs and vacations.”
“Yeah!” Jonny exclaimed in agreement, adding, “And Jo is too small for all of us.”
Lulu added about their small Meyers 200A aircraft, “I like Jo.”
“Me, too, Lulu,” Jonny responded. “Jo is awesome, but only a few of us can fit in her.”
“If we did have a jet plane, we'd never have to worry about plane reservations,” Aislinn pointed out.
“Or bothering Grandpa,” Ricky noted, realizing that many times Jack had called General Hammond to arrange flight transportation for them.
Suddenly, the room was full of chatter about buying a jet plane. As the children came up with all kinds of reasons for getting one, with Jonny practically salivating at the thought, Jack and Daniel just shared a look. It was a look of love and joy and having to deal with crazy situations like their brood wanting to buy a jet plane.
“Goodness, what's going on in here?” Janet asked as she walked into the room, a broad smile on her face.
“Looks like a happy bunch to me, Doctor Fraiser,” Casey responded jovially.
“I think they're taking up space here,” Marie added.
“Daddy's better?” Little Danny asked, running over to Janet and looking at her with big, hopeful blue eyes.
“Daddy's better,” Janet said, running her hand alongside the boy's head. “How about we all go home?”
Cheers broke out, and the details of their departure arranged. All felt very happy and very lucky.
“It was so nice of Abayomi to put this plane at our disposal,” Daniel spoke, lying on the cot as the Lear jet was in flight.
“Yeah, Abayomi's one of the good guys,” Jack agreed.
“Jack!” the happy archaeologist exclaimed.
“He said it right the other night, too, Dad,” Jennifer reminded.
“Traitor,” Jack teased as their lives showed signs of returning to normal.
Daniel just smiled. He was in for a couple more days at the SGC infirmary, and then a few weeks of 'light duty' at home while his injuries fully healed, but he had nothing to fear -- his family was more than willing to take special care of him.
“I guess we won't get to go on anymore detours to see the rock formations up close,” David said dejectedly, though he was excited about Jack's promise for more off-world exploration.
Daniel smiled, responding, “David, rocks and sons go together. We'll make another trip in a few months.” He grimaced lightly; then added, “But, uh, next time, we'll rent a jeep.”
“We will?” David asked happily.
“This time we'll warn Thor in advance,” Little Danny added.
“Yeah,” Daniel chuckled, grimacing when it hurt slightly. “It's okay,” he said when he saw a few concerned faces. “I'm just so full of love that sometimes I have to laugh.”
“Daddy, when we buy our new jet plane, will you teach me how to fly it?” Aislinn asked.
“Ash, I get to learn first,” Jonny demanded.
“I'll tell!” Aislinn threatened about the doll incident.
“Tell what?” Jack asked.
“Nothing,” Jonny said with a frown, not wanting to admit to having taken her doll in the first place. “I get to learn after you do.”
“We're *not* buying a jet plane,” Jack informed the children. ~Although, it might not be such a bad idea at that. Maybe Abayomi could get us a deal on one. Get a grip, O'Neill! We are *not* buying a jet plane.~
“Daddy!” several of the children chimed.
**Gawd, I love them,** Daniel communicated.
**Yeah, me, too,** Jack said, smiling over at his lover, knowing they were two very lucky and happy men.
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