Room for One More?

Author: Orrymain and special guest co-author, Claudia!
Category: Slash, Humor, Mini-Mini-Angst, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - April 2009
Spoilers:  None
Size:  40kb
Written:  November 16-17,25-27, December 17,21, 2004, January 25, 2005 Tweaked: April 6, 2009
Summary:  Is there room for one more in the Jackson-O'Neill household?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Linda, Kat!

Room for One More?
by Orrymain

“Hey, Angel,” Jack greeted, smiling as he caught sight of his lover searching through one of the cupboards.  He went deeper inside the kitchen until he reached his Love, taking Daniel into his arms and leaning in for a warm kiss.  “Now that's what I call mmm-mmm good,” he chuckled lightly.

“Hi, Babe,” Daniel chuckled as Jack headed for the refrigerator.  “How'd the game go?”  He watched his husband pull out a carton of milk, taking off the lid and preparing to take a swig of the cold, white liquid.  “Jack!” the archaeologist called out in reprimand.  “We talked about that.”

“Daniel, none of our children are around.”

“Would you like to borrow my glasses?”

“Huh?”  Jack saw Daniel motion towards the living room.  Jonny had just toddled in.  “Hey, Son.”

“Jack?”

“Yes, Love?”

“Better go fix ToddlerTown.”

“It's not ... oh.  Be right back.”

Jack put the milk back, then gave Jonny a kiss and hug before going outside.  Sure enough, Jonny had managed to push open one of the bars, once again 'escaping' from ToddlerTown, the portable playpen Jack had built for their youngest children.  Since the screen door had been left ajar, he easily pushed it aside to enter the house.  Jack chuckled, though, when he saw that Little Danny, Aislinn, and the twins were still obediently playing in the large, specially made play area.

~Way to go, Jonny.  Never stop trying to buck the system.~

====

“Mission accomplished, Love,” Jack said several minutes later when he returned to the kitchen.  “Need any help?”

“No, thanks.  My assistant here did a great job.”

“I can see that,” Jack chuckled, seeing Jonny with chocolate all over his face.  “Daniel, has it occurred to you that rewarding our little escape artist with chocolate might be encouraging him?”

“Cho'let,” Jonny said happily, his tongue running all across his mouth as he tried to taste every morsel.

Daniel chuckled as he admitted, “I suppose so.”

“With rewards like that, I'd escape, too,” Jack laughed as he sat on one of the barstools.

Daniel had been making some chocolate chip cookies for the family, but Jack wondered how many of the melted chips made it into the batch.  The younger man had several different ways of making the cookies from scratch, including using both melted and unmelted chips as ingredients.  Obviously, today's batch included melted chocolate, as evidenced by Jonny's dirty face.

With the cookies in the oven to bake, Daniel cleaned his son's face.  As he did so, he looked up at Jack and again asked, “So how'd the game go?”

“Oh, yeah.  It was great.  The kids are learning.”

Jack still found time every now and then to donate some time to the various children's shelters in Colorado Springs.  He didn't have a favorite now that Molly's had shut down, and obviously, he didn't have a lot of time to put in, but once or twice a month, he tried to help the kids out with the sport of the season.

“How's Keith doing?” Daniel asked about one of the boys they'd grown fond of over the last few months.

“Better in school; better at hitting the hoops; but ...”

Jack shrugged.

“I feel bad for him, Jack.  I wish he could find a good home.”

“Yeah, me, too.”

“Cookie?” Jonny asked eagerly.

“I think you've had enough chocolate for right now,” Daniel said, picking up his son.

“Okay, who are you, and what have you done with my husband?”

“Very funny, Jack,” Daniel said with a smile.

“I never thought I'd live to see the day when Daniel Jackson-O'Neill would say anyone had ever had enough chocolate.”

Jack laughed loudly, and Daniel just shook his head.

“Calm down, Jack.  I wouldn't want you to bust a rib or something.”

“I love you, Angel.”

“Heaven knows why, but I love you, too.”

====

“Jack, we're leaving now.”

“Okay, Love.  Have fun.”

Daniel was taking the Munchkins to the park to play and then to the ice cream parlor for a special treat, while Jack was staying home to spend time with the rest of the brood.

Daniel unlocked the SUV, but found an uprising on his hands.

“Truck,” Jonny insisted, standing by the door of Jack's truck.

“Yeah, truck, Daddy.”

“Daddy's car,” Aislinn voted.

Daniel chuckled, picking her up.  He made a mental note to take Aislinn for a ride soon.  She loved his sporty car, but rarely got to go anywhere in it since it was only a two-seater.

“Daddy's car is too small for all of you,” Daniel explained.

“Truck!” Jonny said again.

“Okay, we'll take Dad's truck ... just ... don't tell Dad.”

Happily, the triplets climbed into the truck.  They loved the big vehicle.  A couple of minutes later, they began the short ride to the park.

====

Sixty-minutes later, with the weather becoming colder, Daniel decided it was time to end the play session and head for the ice cream parlor.

“Okay, guys, time to go.  Little Danny, come on,” Daniel called out to his namesake.

The toddler was near some bushes, staring at something.

“What you see, Danny?” Jonny asked as he walked over to his brother.

“Kitty.”

“Jonny and Danny, it's time to go.”  Daniel sighed, seeing his two sons staring at something.  “Come on, Ash, let's go see what's so fascinating.”  They walked to the small row of bushes.  “Boys, what did I say?”

“Daddy, it's a kitty, and I think it's stuck.”

“What?” Daniel asked, letting go of Aislinn's hand to take a closer look.  Sure enough, a small kitten was stuck between two thick branches of the bush.  “You guys move back,” Daniel instructed his children, shaking his head when all three didn't budge.  ~Yep, they're Jack's children all right.~

Daniel worked to get the branches apart.

“Little Danny, can you get the kitty?”

“Think so,” he said, reaching in as Daniel yanked the branches apart.

“Meow,” the kitty said as Little Danny carefully picked it up.

Quickly, Daniel moved to his son, wanting to take the animal from the boy, but Little Danny was holding the animal close to him.

“Kitty needs Pam.  Please, Daddy,” his son pleaded.

“If we go, we'll have to skip the ice cream trip today.  We don't have time to do both.”

“Kitty more 'portant,” Little Danny answered.

“Get 'cream later,” Aislinn agreed.

Daniel looked at Jonny who hadn't said anything.  Within seconds, both Little Danny and Aislinn were staring at their sibling, too.

“Jonny?” Daniel asked.

“Thinking.”

Daniel worked hard not to laugh, looking off to the side and licking his lips as a distraction.

“Jonny!” Little Danny chastised while Aislinn slapped Jonny on the upper arm.

“It's ice cream!”  Seeing his siblings' stares, the boy backed down.  “'Kay.  Geez.”

Again, Daniel struggled not to laugh.  Jonny was so much like Jack.

“Okay, let's go see Pam,” Daniel said.

Pam was the family vet.  As he drove to the vet's office, he noticed how gently Little Danny held the kitty and how he comforted it.

“It's okay, Kitty.  Safe now.”

~He sounds like Jack.  Gawd, how many times has Jack said that to me?~

“Meow.”

“Don't shake, Kitty.  Safe.  We take care of you.”

“Good kitty,” Jonny said from the back seat.

“Kitty pretty,” Aislinn added.

“See, Kitty.  We love you.  Be okay now,” Little Danny said as he continued his strong hold on the kitten.

Daniel shook his head.  His children were smart, but Little Danny was a true genius.  His vocabulary and language skills were at least two years, maybe even three or four, ahead of normal.  It was sometimes a bit overwhelming for Jack and Daniel to think about, but they were doing their best to make sure their little genius didn't stand out too much.

“Daddy, how did Kitty get stuck?”

“I don't know, Son.”

“Why didn't Kitty's family help it?”

“I don't know,” Daniel answered softly.

“Kitty left behind?”

Daniel looked at his son and whispered, “I don't know.”

Little Danny petted the kitten and whispered, “We won't leave you behind.  Promise.”

~Just like Jack: can't leave anyone behind.~

====

“She's precious, Daniel.  I can't believe the cruelty of some people.”

“Someone left Kitty behind?” Little Danny asked the vet.

He was standing on a chair to watch as she examined the small kitten.

“I'm afraid so, Little Danny.”

“We won't leave Kitty, will we, Daddy?”

“Looks like you have a new pet,” Pam said.

She'd known Jack and Daniel ever since they had added Bijou and Katie, their two beagles, to their family several years ago.  The couple was a pets' delight -- pushovers.  She knew there was no way Daniel would leave the kitten to an unsure fate, especially with the Munchkins looking so pathetic as they pleaded for the kitty to join their family.

~Oh, gawd.~  Daniel looked at Little Danny whose eyes were glued to the kitten.  Jonny was up against the examination table too, standing on tip-toes as he tried to see, and Aislinn stood quietly in the back.  Daniel walked to her and knelt down.  “Are you okay, Ash?”

“Kitty die?”

“No,” Daniel put his hands on her shoulders.  “No, Ash, she's fine.  Wanna come see?”

She nodded, so Daniel picked her up and carried her to see the kitten.

“Kitty pretty.  Take Kitty home.”

Daniel looked at Pam who smiled.  Both knew the kitten was going home with the Munchkins.

~How am I going to explain this to Jack and ... oh, gawd, the girls?~

“Meow,” the kitten seemed to answer.

The small critter's body was gray and white.  While she was mostly gray with a hint of black on her back and sides, her belly and paws were snow white in color.

“Okay, Daniel.  I'd say she's about ten-weeks-old, and she's healthy, although a little malnourished.  A couple of good meals will take care of that.”

“Mittens okay now?”

“Mittens?” both Daniel and Pam asked Little Danny at the same time.

“White paws, like our mittens,” he explained.

“Daniel, how *old* is he?” Pam asked.

“I'm three,” he answered with a smile.

“Little Danny!” Daniel chastised.

With a pouty face, the little boy looked up at Pam and said, “I fudged.”

“Fudged?” she asked.

“I'm two and a half,” he admitted.

“Wow,” she said, even more amazed than she had been.

“Me, too,” Jonny added.

“Me, too,” Aislinn stated.

“No fudging,” Daniel warned his namesake.

“Almost three, Daddy,” Little Danny argued.

“Dad says only counts shoes,” Jonny said.

“What?” Pam inquired.

Daniel sighed, then shrugged as he responded, “Jack always tells them that 'almost' only counts in horseshoes.”

“Oh, yes, I've heard that,” she chuckled.

By the time they left, Pam had created a file for the latest member of the Jackson-O'Neill family, a kitten named Mittens, and had set up an appointment to have her spayed.  She had also given Mittens her first round of shots, which she had quietly done while Daniel had taken the kids out of the room under the guise of getting Mittens a treat from one of the workers at the counter.

On the way home, Little Danny said, “Daddy, need food and toys for Mittens.”

“Yes, we do, but I think I need to talk to your Dad first about ...” Daniel stopped.  He was about to say that he needed to talk to Jack about whether or not they'd keep the kitten, but looking at the Munchkins, Daniel knew both he and Jack were silly putty in their hands.  He knew Jack would hold out for all of five minutes, ~Maybe,~ and after all, Mittens was already named and registered with their family vet.  “You're right.  We'll go by the pet store.”

====

Fifteen minutes after entering the pet store, Daniel looked at his shopping cart.

~Who would've thought a cat needed so many accessories?  Jack's going to kill me.~  He looked at Little Danny who was talking softly to the little kitten cradled in his arms and smiled.  His husband would crumble in minutes.  ~He won't kill me; he'll just ... never let me forget it.~

He picked up a cat carrier and added it to the shopping cart.

“No, Daddy.  Can't put Mittens in a cage,” Little Danny protested, having realized the purpose of the carrier.

Jonny and Aislinn quickly picked up on their brother's horror.

“No cage, Daddy.”

“Little Danny hold Mittens,” Jonny said, stretching his hand over to pet the kitty in his brother's arms.

Daniel sighed and knelt down so that he was on their eye level.

“It's too dangerous to travel with a cat loose in the car, Munchkins.  She's too small.  What if she jumped under my feet when I was driving? She might get hurt.”

Little Danny nodded, but was clearly unhappy about it.  He stroked the soft ball of fur in his arms.

“Don't worry, Mittens, we'll let you out as soon as we get you home.”

A tear dropped onto the gray and white kitten, and Daniel sighed.  Little Danny felt things so deeply.  Of course, that included the good along with the bad, and a moment later the boy brightened.

“Leash.  She can have one like Bij and Katie,” Little Danny suggested hopefully.

~Hmm, might work.~  Daniel scanned the shelves for a moment and soon found what he was looking for -- a cat harness that worked exactly like a dog harness for those cat owners wishing to walk their cats.  ~Should work.~

Daniel put the leash in the shopping cart and started to walk down the aisle.

“Daddy, put cage back?” Jonny asked.

“Put cage back,” Little Danny and Aislinn demanded at the same time.

“We may still need it if we go on a plane.  They only allow cats if they are in a carrier,” Daniel said using the correct term instead of cage.  He quickly added, “We may need it if we go on car trips, too, but those are the only times we'll use it.”

The Munchkins looked at each other and then said in unison, “Okay.”

“Mouse, Daddy?” Jonny held up a toy mouse.

“Every kitty has to have a mouse, Daddy,” Little Danny agreed.
 
“This one,” Aislinn suggested after she picked up a different toy mouse that not only had a furrier coat, but was attached to a string so it could be pulled along and be chased by an obliging cat.

“Okay, but I think we have enough now,” Daniel told them, looking at the harness they had for Mittens to travel in, the carrier for plane trips, the cat collar with a bell on it, the cat bowls and bags of kitten food, a self-warming cat bed with a sheepskin cover, a scratching post and climbing tower, and the cat toys which consisted of feathers on strings, small balls, both furry and plastic, and now, the mouse.  He also picked up a cheap litter box and supplies.

~We'll buy one of those self-cleaning ones they advertise on TV; the less Jack has to worry about, the happier he'll be about our new ... oh, gawd ... pet.~

“But, Daddy, we have to get something for Bij and Katie,” Little Danny said as he looked up at Daniel, clearly appalled that they might leave the store without purchasing something for their two beloved beagles.

“Okay, we'll get Bij and Katie one new toy each,” Daniel agreed as he guided them over to the dog area of the pet store.

A squeaky plastic bone and plush sheepskin squeaky toy later, they finally paid for their purchases and headed for the car.

====

“Um, Munchkins,” Daniel said after he turned off the ignition.  “About Dad and Mittens ...”

“Dad love Mittens.  We do,” Aislinn said.

“Right.”

Daniel smiled and helped the triplets get out of the truck.  He noticed that Little Danny was carrying Mittens very carefully and that the kitten was purring happily.

When they got to the door, Daniel put his hand on the doorknob and uttered, “Give him strength.”

“Give who strength, Daddy?” Little Danny asked.

“Your father.  Let's go inside.”

Jonny and Aislinn ran into the living room.

“Dad!  Dad!” they chorused.

“Hey, you two.  I was beginning to worry.”  He picked up both toddlers, one in each arm.  “You must have had a great time at the park!”

“We did,” Aislinn answered.

“Brought you a prize, Dad.”

“A prize?”

“Jonny means a surprise,” Aislinn explained.

“Hey, a surprise,” Jonny stated.

“I love surprises.”

“I sure hope so,” Daniel said from a few feet away.

Jack noticed Little Danny positioned carefully behind Daniel.  Little Danny stuck his head out from behind his father and smiled.

“Hi, Dad.”

“Hi, Little Danny.  What are you doing behind your father?”

“He told me to stay here and not move.”

“He did?”  Jack leaned over to try and peek behind his lover who had a nervous expression on his face.  “Daniel?”

“Well, it was the Munchkins idea.”

“What was?”

“The surprise.”

“Okay.  What is it?”

“What is what?”

“Daniel!”

The linguist who was currently without many words twisted his body slightly.

“Little Danny,” Daniel said to his son.  “Show Dad.”

“Mittens pretty, Dad,” the little boy said as he moved from behind Daniel and walked towards Jack.

“A cat?” Jack exclaimed in disbelief.

“Kitten,” all three of the triplets said, though not in perfect unity.

At the sound of the word 'cat', Bijou and Katie came running over from their beanbag.

“Woof!” both dogs said.

“Meeeeeoooooooooooooow,” Mittens replied anxiously.

“Ow.  Mittens, no!” Little Danny exclaimed as the kitten jumped down and went scurrying for shelter.

“Bijou, Katie, outside!” Daniel ordered.

“Woooooof!” Bijou argued, stopping her hunt to argue.

“Okay, well, beanbag -- NOW!”

“Gruff,” she relented, heading for her beanbag, followed closely by Katie.

When Daniel turned around, he saw his children and his husband all searching frantically for the kitten.  Suddenly, Chenoa appeared from the nursery, giggling.

“Kitty under my bed.”

“What's going on?” Jennifer said, having entered the living room from her bedroom that was over the garage.

“We're looking for Mittens,” Daniel explained.

“Who's Mittens?”

“Our kitty,” the Munchkins answered.

“Oh.”  She stood, stunned.  “OH!” she repeated.

“Jen, don't just stand there.  Guard the stairs; Noa thinks the ... cat is in the nursery,” Jack stated.

“Hey, look what I found,” David said as he appeared at the top of the stairs.

“Mittens!” the triplets exclaimed, running up the stairs to retrieve their new pet.

“Ash hold,” Aislinn said, being the first to reach David.  Seeing Daniel's nod, David handed the cat to his young sister.  “It's okay, Mittens.  Bij and Katie no hurt you.”

It took a few minutes, but finally Jack and Daniel had all of the children, including the twins, in the living room.  At Daniel's insistence, Mittens was now 'guarded' by Jennifer, who was having a great time playing with the small kitten.

“Daniel, tell me why we suddenly have a cat.”

Daniel smiled and summarized the day's events, telling Jack how they had found the kitten stuck in the bushes at the park.

“Mittens would have died, Dad,” Little Danny said, putting on his saddest baby face possible.

Jack looked at Daniel.

**He's learned that from you.**

**Learned what?**

**The pout.**

**I do not pout!**

**Oh, yes, you do, Love.**

**Jack, your children are talking to you!  Pay attention!**

“Mittens needs home,” Aislinn added, looking as cute as she could be.

“We have home,” Jonny said, smiling and looking positively smug.

“Grrrruff.”

“Meow.”

“Whoa, Mittens, it's okay.”

“Bij, Katie, come here, Girls,” Daniel called.  Obediently, the beagles came over and sat down.  “Okay, Girls, sit here quietly, and just let Mittens sniff you for a minute.”

Daniel took Mittens from Jennifer and held the kitten so she could sniff the two dogs from a position of comfort and security.

“Now, you two, Mittens is off limits for chasing.  She's a member of this family and is to be treated as such.”

**A member of the family, Danny?  We have a cat now?**

Jack heard Daniel's silent laugh and the thought that accompanied it -- **Do you want to tell your children that Mittens can't stay?**

Jack looked at the eager Munchkins, and then at the Mouseketeers, and finally over at the twins.

~I don't believe this.  A CAT?~  He looked back at his spouse and silently whined, **But a cat, Danny, a friggin' cat?**

Mittens had begun to purr as she realized that neither Bijou or Katie were going to chase her.  She'd finished sniffing the two beagles and was allowing them to sniff her in kind.  Katie finished first and looked around at the congregated family with what amounted to a look of disgust and stalked upstairs.

“Jack, can you go and check on her, please?  She needs to know that just because Mittens is here, it doesn't mean she's any less important.”

Daniel continued to pat both Bijou and Mittens.

Jack nodded and stood, deciding to take part of the family with him.

“Come on, Munchies, come talk to Katie with me.”

“Munchies, Jack?  Munchies?”

Jack grinned and shrugged.

**Gawd, a nickname for the nickname.**

**Can't beat a winning combination!**

**Let me know when you find it.**

Jack growled silently, then motioned for the triplets to move.

“Come on, you three, I want to hear all about Mittens' amazing rescue.”

As soon as he said that, the three children launched into a description of their heroic feat in saving Mittens from the evil park bushes as they followed him upstairs.

“Good girl, Bij.”  Daniel patted the Mama beagle.  “You know we still love you, don't you?  Love you so much.”

Jennifer and David were joining Daniel in patting Bijou who was soon rolling over, her eyes closed happily as she had her tummy rubbed.

“Hold Mittens, Daddy?” Chenoa asked longingly.

Daniel nodded and allowed the toddler to take the small kitten from him.

“Be careful now; she's very tiny.”

“Bij, look.  We have kitty.”

Bijou yawned and nudged Daniel to continue petting her, which he did.

“I wonder how Jack's doing with Katie.”

“You're really worried, aren't you, Daddy?” Jennifer asked.

He looked at Bijou.

“Jen, Bij and Katie, they're special, and it's very, very important to us that they always realize just how special.  I don't want Katie thinking she's not wanted, because she is, so much, just like you, Bij.”  He picked up Bijou and held her close.  “Help me, Bij.  Katie needs to understand that we have a ton of love to give, but that no one replaces her in our hearts, or you.”

Bijou licked Daniel's face several times.

“Thanks, Bij.  You're the best.”

====

“Love you, Katie,” Little Danny said as he held the young beagle.  “Mittens needs us.  You wouldn't want her to be alone, would you?”

Katie jumped off the bed where the little boy had been holding her.  She shook herself, then trotted out of the nursery and into David's room.  She jumped on his bed and lay down.  She was quickly followed by Jack and the Munchkins.

“Come on, Katie, don't sulk,” Jack said.  “I'm not particularly thrilled that ...”  Jack stopped, seeing the faces of his young children.  ~Whoa, O'Neill.~  “... that they forgot to get some snacks while they were out,” Jack said, knowing it made no sense, but it was the best he could come up with.

“Dad, we brought presents,” Little Danny said enthusiastically.  “Katie, present!”

“Yeah, Katie.  New toy,” Aislinn added.

Jack sighed at the unresponsive beagle.  He thought for a moment and was about to say something to his children when he realized he'd lost one.

“Whoa,” he said, twisting his body around and then turning as he looked for the missing child.  “Jonny?”  Jack looked at Little Danny and Aislinn and told them to stay with Katie.  “Jonny, where are you?”  Jack checked the nursery and then scooted downstairs.  “Daniel, where's Jonny?”

“He was with you.”

“Well, he's not now, the little escape artist.”

Jack looked around, trying to spot signs of disturbances, even looking downstairs.

“Jack, if he had come down here, we would have heard or seen him, or Bijou would have said something.”

“Yeah, you're ...” he snorted, “you're right.”  As if a light had gone off, Jack darted upstairs, heading straight for David's room.  “Katie, find Jonny.  He's escaped again.”  Katie looked up at Jack.  “I'm serious.  Find Jonny.”

Katie hopped off the bed and began her search.  Ninety-seconds later, she stood in front of the hall closet.

“Woof, woooof!” she informed Jack.

“In there?”

“Woof!”

“Okay,” he said, moving to open the door.  Sure enough, under the last shelf was the toddler.  “Jonny, what are you doing in there?”

“Playing hide seek with Katie.”

“You are?”  The toddler nodded.  “Good boy,” Jack said, trying not to smile at the youngster's creativeness.  Jack picked up Katie and made a super big fuss over the dog finding his son.  “Daniel, Katie found Jonny.”  **Play it up, Danny.**

The entire family made Katie's find out to be ultra important, and then Aislinn reminded Daniel of the new toys.  Quickly, he went out to the truck and brought in all the new cat supplies and the gifts for Bijou and Katie.

He put the cat supplies aside for the time being and brought over Bijou and Katie's new toys.

“Mittens stuff?” Aislinn asked with a frown.

“We'll give her those later, Ash, when Bij and Katie have gone to bed,” Daniel said as he handed her the dog toys.

She grinned as she immediately handed Katie's to Little Danny.  Daniel was happy to see his son focused on Katie.  The two had a special connection, and he was sure it would have broken the little beagle's heart to be ignored because of a cat.

“How about we all go outside for one of Katie's digs,” Daniel suggested.

“Katie dig!” Jonny said as he clapped his hands wildly.

Little Danny picked up the squeaky toy and showed it to Katie.

“Mine, Katie.  Got to catch me,” he said and began running towards the backyard.

Katie wagged her tail as she gave chase.  The youngster had just reached Jack and the patio door when she caught him and snatched the toy from his hand, dashing to the yard and waiting to be chased in turn.

“Come'n ev'ryone,” he called as he set off after the youngest beagle.

As the other children all hurried to join him, Daniel took Mittens from Chenoa.

“Why don't you chase Katie as well, Noa.”

The young girl beamed and quickly ran outside to join in the fun.  Daniel looked down at Bijou who wagged her tail at him.

“Not in the mood to play 'Chase And Dig', Bij?”

The mama beagle wagged her tail, and Daniel set Mittens down.  The two sniffed each other once more, and then they began cleaning each other.

“Keep an eye on her, Bij?” Daniel asked as he went outside to join the others.

He grinned at the sight of all the kids and Jack chasing each other and Katie.  The small beagle's tail was wagging non-stop.

“Daddy, come on,” David called when he saw his father standing on the patio.

Feeling overwhelmingly content at the sight of his happy family, Daniel joined in the fun.

====

“What do you think?” Jack quietly asked Daniel as they worked to prepare dinner.

Both were covertly keeping an eye on their children, the dogs, and their new kitten.

“Bij has accepted her; I think Katie still needs some convincing.”

“Jonny!  Geez, Danny, what a rascal to think of hiding in the closet.”

“It worked.  Jack, Katie just needs to know we're not replacing her.”

“Daniel, if I had my choice, we wouldn't even have a cat.”

“Jack ...”

“A friggin' cat, Danny.”

“She's a beautiful cat.”

“She's a cat!” Jack exclaimed vehemently.

“Yes, she is.”  Daniel finished cutting up the hot dogs for the youngest of their children just as Jack pulled out the potato chips.  “Jack, you don't really mind, do you?  I mean, she was so helpless.  You should have seen the Munchkins rescuing her.”

“I did.”

“What?”

“Danny, they've each told me over and over again what happened.  All I have to do is see their eyes light up to know how it was.”  He sighed as he emptied the chips into a bowl.  “No, I don't mind, just as long as Katie accepts her.  Danny, if she doesn't ...”

“She will.”

“What if she doesn't?”

“She will,” Daniel said as confidently as he could.  “Dinner!” Daniel called out to his family.

====

“Danny, do you think that was a good idea?”

“What?”

“Letting the cat sleep with Noa.”

“The cat, Jack, is Mittens, and sure, why not?”

“I don't know.  Danny, I don't ... know a lot about ... cats.”

Daniel laughed and walked up to his husband.  They were in their bedroom, preparing for bed.  Jack hadn't yet put on his burgundy pajama top, holding it loosely in his hand.  Daniel caressed Jack's chest, his hands rubbing up and down, increasing with aggression as he stared into his husband's eyes.

“Jack, I had all this stuff I was going to say, but, uh, well, I, uh ...”

“Oh, yeah, me, too,” Jack said, and within a minute, the two were deep into the throes of passion until ...  “Daniel ... someone's knocking at the door.”

“Huh?  Gawd.”  The two quickly regrouped, doing their best to not look frazzled.  “Hopeless,” Daniel said, staring at himself in the mirror.

“And beautiful,” Jack said, spanking Daniel's behind as he moved to the door and opened it.  “Well, look who's at the door.  Aren't you supposed to be in bed?” Jack asked as he picked up Little Danny.

“Dad, need Katie.”

“You do?”

Rubbing his eyes and yawning, the middle child of the three triplets seemed to be half-awake.

“You know the rule, Son.  We let Bij and Katie decide where they want to sleep, and tonight, they both decided to stay outside.”  Little Danny shook his head.  “No?”

“Katie needs 'surance.  Bij is her mama.  Katie sleep with me; know I love her.  Love Mittens, too,” he yawned, “Need Katie sleep me.”

Jack laughed as his son was almost asleep on his shoulder.

“Let's go ask them,” Daniel said, moving past Jack but quickly giving his son a kiss before actually heading out of the room.

====

“Katie,” Daniel knelt down outside the dog house and peered inside where Katie and Bijou were sleeping, “would you like to come and sleep inside with Danny?”

Katie opened her eyes and looked at him, but didn't move.  Bijou let out a sigh.

Little Danny and Jack came up behind Daniel, and the toddler peered inside the large doghouse.

“Please, Katie, sleep me.”

Katie looked at all three of them and rested her head on her mother's back, closing her eyes again.

“Please, Katie,” Little Danny pleaded.

Katie looked at him again and then at Jack and Daniel.

“Son, it looks like she's happy where she is,” Jack said as he tousled Little Danny's hair.

“Katie, love Katie,” Little Danny began to sniffle.  “Not love me?”

Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, but before they could do anything, Katie had stood up and moved over to lick away Little Danny's tears.  The boy flung his arms around the beagle and began to laugh, his tears now those of happiness.

“Love Katie.”

“Okay, Sproglet.”

Daniel stood up to head back inside.  He saw Jack gazing at him with astonishment and smirked.

“Sproglet, Daniel?”

“What, you think you're the only one that can come up with ridiculous nicknames?”

“My nicknames are not ridiculous,” Jack said as he tried to sound indignant while doing a little happy dance in his head.  ~Danny loves nicknames!~

“Space Monkey, Jack?”
 
Jack grinned about the biggest grin he could.

“You are my Space Monkey, Angel.”

Little Danny giggled, barely able to get out the words, “Space Monkey Daddy.”

Jack chuckled, and Daniel gave a mock groan.

Little Danny giggled again and kissed Katie, and then said,  “Space Doggie Katie.”

The little beagle wagged her tail and showered the boy with kisses.  Jack and Daniel grinned at the sight.  It was a happy ending to what had been on the verge of being a very unhappy night.

“Okay, Little Danny ...”

Jack pulled Katie and Little Danny to their feet.

“Sp'oglet,” Little Danny corrected.

“Sorry, Sproglet.  It's time little boys and beagles were back in their beds.”

Jack ushered his son and Katie inside while Daniel reached into the doghouse and patted Bijou.

“Do you want to come in too, Bij?”

The mama beagle tilted her head to the side as if thinking about it, then yawned, stood up, and trotted past Daniel to head inside.  Daniel smiled, taking in a breath of fresh air.  He looked up at the stars and smiled some more.  He knew they'd have a few more adjustments to make, like where Mittens would  normally sleep and where to put the litter box, but they'd just gotten through the roughest part.

“Dogs and cats,” he whispered, “as different as night and day, as different as ... Jack and Daniel, and that means ... not so different at all.”

He nodded his head and, still with a smile on his face, walked inside, locking up the doors behind him.

When he walked into the children's room, he was again stunned into stillness.  He looked at Jack who just shrugged.  Then, Daniel's smile returned.

On the three-quarter bed in the nursery, Chenoa was still fast asleep.  One arm was at her side, cradling Mittens.  Next to the little girl was Little Danny, already asleep.  He was facing Chenoa.  His hand, too, was extended out, cradling Katie.  Mittens looked at Katie and leaned into her for more warmth.  She moved her young, furry body to rest between Chenoa's arms and Katie's body.  Katie looked at her, as if deciding in this one moment of time, whether or not to let Mittens stay. With a tiny little sigh, the youngest beagle rested her head down on the bed, right next to the kitten's head.

Jack and Daniel looked at each other, both grateful things were going their way.

**Looks like Katie's decided to let her stay.**

**We have the best girls, Jack.**

**And the best kids!**

After a brief check on the other children, they returned to the master bedroom and chuckled.

“Hey, Bij, glad you could join us.”

Minutes later, Jack and Daniel were also asleep, in their usual positions, Jack supine on the mattress, Daniel lying prone enjoying the security of hearing Jack's steady heartbeat.  The only change is that on this night, Daniel's left hand, the one that normally played gently with his husband's chest hairs before falling asleep, was wrapped around Bijou, who was in reality their first child, as she leaned into Jack's body for warmth.

On an otherwise cold night in Colorado Springs, the Jackson-O'Neill household radiated nothing but warmth.  Unlike the Biblical Inn, at Jack and Daniel's home, there was always room for one more.

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