Scenes of the Season - Scene 2

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Holiday, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - December 4, 2013
Spoilers:  None
Size:  36kb, short story
Written:  November 30, December 1-3, 2017
Summary:  Today's holiday scene is Sounds of the Season.  Can it really be that simple?
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) Though part of a series, each scene stands completely on its own.

Scenes of the Season - Scene 2
by Orrymain

====
--Sounds of the Season
====

“That's right, Mrs. Blevins.  Would that be all right? ... We'd bring everything and if you learn of any special needs or desires, you could let us know ... Right ... Actually, it was Ricky's idea.  He brought it up at our last family meeting ... Mmm-mmm ... We have them frequently.  <laughter>  They are a handful, and we're grateful for that ... So we're set for the fourth? ... Thank you so much ... Goodbye.”

That was the conversation Daniel had a few weeks ago with the administrator of one of the nursing homes in Colorado Springs.  It was an older institution and quite small, with only thirty-two beds, far less than the state average of ninety-four beds.  Many of the employees were career ones, health care and administrative workers who had spent the last ten, twenty, and even thirty years for a couple, dedicating their lives to seniors who needed care and a place to live.  Some of the residents still had family, but rarely did they visit or even send a card.  These were the aged and the abandoned, ones with little more than social security checks and/or meager pensions that did little in today's economy.

Even so,, the nursing home received another five-star rating from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after inspection.  With a caring staff and donations from a couple of wealthy benefactors, the facility did their best for these people in their golden years who were otherwise alone in the world.

This was the morning of December fourth, a Friday, and the Jackson-O'Neills were involved in various activities throughout the house.  Daniel was in his den, completing a quick call to Mrs. Blevins.  Then he went downstairs, catching up with his husband as he was cleaning the pictures on the mantle, keeping the frames and glass transparent and free from dust and smudges.

“Missed a spot,” Daniel teased as he looked at the photo of the infant Munchkins with Santa Claus.

Jack stared at the glass and mused, “Looks like Santa's been having a chocolate snack,” while rubbing harder to clear the black spot from Santa's otherwise white beard.

“We're all set for tonight.”

The general glanced to his right, observing the light snow that was falling and had been all morning long, and responded, “We'll load up the truck now in case the snow gets worse.”

“Tarp?”

“Nah, I'll pull out the shell.”

With a nod, Daniel turned and headed for the projects room to check up on some of the children who were making unknown items.

Though he wasn't one to use the intercom all that often, Jack decided it was the quicker way of tracking down the kids he needed since they were scattered throughout the house, a home that while once somewhat small was now quite large due to a small remodel and then a big scale renovation.

“Listen up!” Jack ordered over the device that went to just about every room in the home.  “Jeff, Bri, Ash, and Ricky: report to the garage ASAP.  That is all.”  Even he chuckled.  For a moment, he sounded like he was on a ship, reporting over a loudspeaker.  ~That's what I get for watching 'Mister Roberts' the other night.~

Jack put his merriment aside and went to the garage.  By the time he pulled out the protective cover for the truck bed, all four children were present and accounted for.

“Bri, open the garage door.”

“Sure, Dad,” the tomboy acknowledged as she reached for the button and pressed it to start the door rolling up and back.

“Jeff, give me a hand.”

The younger kids watched as Jack and Jeff attached the shell to the truck.  Jack didn't use it all that much and simply installed it whenever he needed it.  It was a basic shell, lightweight compared to more permanent truck caps.  Though as strong as other models, this one weighed only fifty pounds and was easily installed and uninstalled.  He had it down to a science and could get the cover in place in less than twenty minutes.

With the shell clamped to the Ford vehicle, Jack raised his hands and, with palms opened, jutted them at the many boxes of Christmas supplies while telling the kids, “Our goal is to move all this into the truck.”

“Did we get enough, Dad?” Ricky asked about the decorations that were in the boxes.

“We have plenty.”

“Everyone needs to have Christmas in their room,” the Spitfire insisted.  ~My idea; don't want to mess up.~

Jack noticed his son was carefully reviewing each box.  He considered stopping him, but opted not to.  They had time for the inspection.  He was fully aware that Ricky wanted his idea to be a success.  His first idea was that the family visit this nursing home at the beginning of the month because he was certain other groups would visit the facility closer to the twenty-fifth.  He also wanted all of the residents to have pretty reminders of the season all over their rooms.  While the home itself had some decorations for the halls and common areas, the actual rooms were more minimalist.  Ricky wanted to change that, at least for those residents that wanted it.

“Are we good to go?” Jack asked the boy after Ricky finished looking inside the last box.

“Yes.  Thanks, Dad.”

“You're welcome,” Jack responded.  “Everyone take a box.  They're aren't very heavy, but they are full, so be careful.”  Jack paused and remembered something else important.  “Ash, there were some instrument requests.  Go inside and check around.”

“Be right back,” the Munchkin acknowledged as she headed inside.  After checking around, she returned with a few items.  “Dad, we need to protect the these real good.”

“You're right, Princess.  I know just where to put them.”

With care, Jack and the kids filled the bed of the truck as well as part of the crew cab.  With everything in place, they went back inside the house to attend to other things.

====

Seven-year-old Aislinn hit the button of the intercom that would transmit throughout the entire house and announced, “Rehearsal time!  Music room, please.”

While she waited for her family, Aislinn went to the piano and began to play a new song she was composing.  She was already known for her angelic voice and now she was writing songs, too.  Her parents were certain that the girl's birth mother, Kayla Armentrout, must have had music in her genes that they didn't know about.  Something had to explain the musicality of the Munchkins, especially Aislinn.

Within a few minutes, the Jackson-O'Neills were all present and accounted for in the music room, one full of instruments and musical accessories.

“These are the songs for tonight,” the singer advised as she read off the list.  “Daddy, can we print out the lyrics?”

“I'll do it, Daddy,” David volunteered.  He shrugged as he admitted, “I know I need them.”

“Me, too,” Jonny agreed.

“We know most of these, but I thought we should practice a couple of them that we don't know as well.”

“Okay, why don't we try something we do know while David prints out the ones we need help with,” Daniel suggested.  Seeing the nods of agreement, he instructed, “Just do the ones Ash thinks we need right now and you can print the rest after rehearsal.”

“Sure thing, Daddy.”

After conferring with the youngest Munchkin for a minute, David headed upstairs to locate the song lyrics and print out the appropriate number of copies needed before returning to the music room.

With David back, Aislinn played a copy of the song she'd found on YouTube as performed by Judy Garland.  Most everyone listened to the song, a few humming along.  In the back of the room, Jonny yawned and sat down at his drum kit.  His eyes fluttered as he thought the holiday song was boring.

“Let's give it a try,” Aislinn spoke as the family held the words of the songs in their hands.

The group began singing the ballad, “Star of the East.”  As he mumbled the words, Jack recalled a Christmas as a young child when he was building a fort with Lincoln Logs at the kitchen table.  His mother and maternal grandmother were preparing treats of some kind for Christmas and suddenly his grandmother began singing the song and soon his mother joined in.  The general smiled.  He hadn't thought about that moment in decades.  How beautiful the women sounded as they sang.

~Maybe I do have that music gene after all,~ Jack mused for a quick second.  His reverie for the past and its possible connection to the children was suddenly disturbed by a loud burst of drums.  “What the ... Jonathan!”

“It's so slow.  I thought I'd speed it up a little,” the youthful drummer rationalized.

“Jonny, you know better.  Apologize to your brothers and sisters and don't let it happen again.”

“I'm sorry,” came the semi-apologetic words as the Munchkin put down his drumsticks and walked to the front of the family.

“This is pretty song, Jonny.  You get to sing lead,” Aislinn responded.

“Huh?  What?  Me?  Nooooo!”

“Oh, but yes,” Jack ordered.  ~That's a chip off the old block, or maybe Daniel's block, but whichever, a chip is a chip and a block is a block.~  Suddenly, his head hurt from his odd thought.  He rebooted his brain and praised, ~Good thinking, Ash!~

“Ah, shucks,” Jonny responded, jabbing his right foot onto to floor and shuffling it in response to his forced penance.

After that, rehearsal continued in peace and the truth was, Jonny liked the song and once he learned the words, he liked singing them, even if he had no clue what they meant.

“Ash, what are billows?”

“Huh?”

“It says billows roll, but I don't know what billows are.”

Hearing the conversation, Daniel interjected, “In this case, Jonny, the song is talking about clouds, dark clouds, in sadness.”

“I don't get it.”

“Well, this verse is saying the star of the east is hope, even when we're sad or bad things are happening.  It's asking God to help us do good.”

“The star is God?” the oldest triplet asked.

“The star is ... the star of Bethlehem that the Bible says shone over the sky and led the Magi, the three wise men, to Bethlehem and the manger where Mary, his mother, laid him.”

“The stable!” Ricky exclaimed.

“Uh, maybe.  Actually, they don't know for sure if it was a stable or a barn or a cave.  It might have even been a house that had a place for animals; but, uh, to answer Jonny's original question, the star of the east is a star, but for a lot of people, it represents the spirit of God,” Daniel put forth.

“Well, why doesn't it just say that?”  The sandy-haired boy looked back at the written words and sighed, “There's lot of funny words.”

“It's an old song,” Daniel pointed out.

“Tell you what,” Jack began.  “Anyone who wants to learn about the words and discuss the song's meaning can stay put and the rest of you can go about your business.”  He looked over at the youngest Munchkin and asked, “We're done here?”

“Yes, Dad,” Aislinn answered, even though the family had not practiced the second new song.  ~Santa will help us sing it right 'cause it's Christmas.~

“I'll start printing out the lyrics,” David stated before walking out of the room.

Jack was amused and surprised when a few of the children stuck around for the song review.  He wasn't shocked to see Little Danny and Jenny stay behind, but when Jonny remained, Jack chuckled inwardly.

~Boring song, too slow, and whining about the words, but you're interested, in spite of yourself,~ Jack opined.  He looked at his husband and asked, “You need me to stick around, or do you wanna ...”

“This was your idea.”

“You're the linguist.”

Daniel shrugged and then smiled.

“Love you, Angel,” Jack spoke, giving Daniel a quick kiss before heading for the door.  “Change your minds?”

“Yeah, I decided I wanted to know what I was singing,” Lulu, who would be nine-years-old in eight days, answered as she walked past her dad.

“Me, too,” Brianna laughed.

“Have fun!” Jack encouraged, though he paused for a moment and just listened to Daniel talk about words.  There was something oddly soothing in that.  ~I could listen to you talk all day.  Of course, I'd be asleep most of the time.~

**I heard that,** Daniel communicated via the couple's special link, which they never understood and vowed never to question.

**I love you.**

**You just said that.**

**I have a feeling I'm going to need to say it a lot this afternoon.**

**Good idea.**

Jack grinned and then left his lover to educate the children about old-fashioned words.

====

A few friends met up with the Jackson-O'Neills at the nursing home to participate in the caroling.  Joining the family were the Ferrettis, Karissa Lewis, newlyweds Janet and Teal'c (usually his alias of Murray), and Jennifer's best friend, Sheila.

With snow still falling, everyone was wearing warm outerwear.  Each person took a box from Jack's truck and began singing “Here We Come a Caroling” as they entered the facility.  They went straight to the meeting area where most of the residents were waiting.

The caroling continued with the family and friends singing an abundance of songs and then they assisted the staff in taking the residents back to their rooms, only the fun was just beginning.  The brood had a definite agenda for the rest of their visit.

While Jack, holding JD, visited with an Air Force veteran who was in the early stages of dementia and Daniel chatted with Mrs. Blevins, the brood circulated among the residents in their rooms.  Their friends and family gave them room, but also kept an eye on them.

Forty minutes later, with JD now in Janet's care, Jack approached Daniel, who was leaning against the door jamb with his arms folded loosely as he watched the activity inside the room.

“Whatcha' doing?” Jack questioned.

“Listening.”

“To what?”

“Sounds; sounds of the season.”

Curious, Jack shifted slightly to get a better view of the room's interior.  He saw Lulu explaining a few of her favorite ballet moves as she demonstrated them.

“You're a lovely dancer, dear,” the white-haired, eighty-year-old resident remarked.

“Thank you, Mrs. Garrett,” Lulu replied as she walked over to the bed where the woman was relaxing.  “Do you like the decorations we put up?”

“Oh, yes.  They make me smile,” the woman sighed, full of contentment.  “The garland is so bright.  Garland has always been a favorite of mine.  When I was child, we used to make paper chains.”

“Oh, we do that, too.”

With a smile, Mrs. Garrett continued, “We'd put them at the end of our beds with name tags, big name tags, so that Santa could find us on Christmas Eve.”

“I'm sure Santa knows where you are now.”

“Oh, Lulu, you're sweet, but I'm afraid Santa's forgotten about us.  We're old, losing our minds; no control over our bodies.  I'd be lost without that walker over there.  Santa's for the young, like you,” the woman asserted, a tender, frail smile on her face as she reached out and gently clutched the girls jaw.

“I don't mean to argue, Mrs. Garrett, but you're wrong.  I'll be right back, okay.”

“I've said the wrong thing?  People don't visit me much anymore, not even my daughter.  I always say the wrong thing.”

“No, Mrs. Garrett.  I have something to do, but I really will be right back.  I promise.”  Lulu turned and hurried for the door, smiling when she saw her parents. Now in the corridor, she said, “Dad, Daddy, do we have more garland?”

“It's in the entry area,” Daniel answered.

“Do we have paper or cardboard or something to write on?  It's very important.”

“We'll find something, Li'l Bit,” Jack promised, taking her hand and heading for the front of the building.

Meanwhile, the archaeologist walked down the hall and to the opposite side.  He peeked in and saw his namesake sharing a chair with Norma Reagan.  The woman's mind was still active and alert, but her body was failing her.  He honed in on the conversation.

“Would you like me to read you a story, Miss Reagan?” Little Danny asked, holding up a small booklet of just a few pages.

“It's been a long time since anyone read me a story.”

“You could read it to me, if you want.  Look, it's in large print so it's easier to see.”

“Are you suggesting I can't see the print, young man?”

“No, but it's okay if you can't.  My daddy wears glasses and so does my brother, David.  Lots of people need glasses, even kids.”

The woman nodded as she warmed to the idea.  She looked at the booklet and realized how short the story was.  Were it not for the big print, she was certain it would only be one or two pages.

“We'll read it together.”

“That'll be great fun. Do you want to go first?”

“No, you begin.”

Feeling happy, Little Danny began to read the words on the page, words that told about children so cozy and warm as they sat by the fire when all of a sudden, a child with no shoes appeared on their doorstep.

“You read well so such a small child,” the woman who really did have a hard time seeing without her glasses noted.  “Well, don't delay.  Read me more.”

“Yes, Ma'am.”  Little Danny read the entire story of “The Legend of the Christmas Tree.”  He closed the booklet and said, “The End.”

“Was it?”

“I don't think so.  Every day is a new story, Miss Reagan.”

“Your family is doing what the Child proclaimed in the book.”

“We just want to make people happy.  We have a lot, so we like to give a lot.”

“You have blessed me, child.  Thank you.”

Daniel nodded with joy of his son's actions.  He walked to the end of the hallway and turned right, stopping at the door of the first room he came to and glancing inside.

“Ricky, however did you learn to make such pretty pictures on an Etch-a-Sketch?”

“I don't know.  I just turned the buttons and it drew,” the Spitfire answered.

“Look at this,” Elvira Greco groaned.  “I couldn't do it as a kid, and I can't do the blame thing now.”

“I know what we can do,” Ricky said, putting his beloved Etch-a-Sketch back into his backpack and pulling out some paper and crayons instead.  “I don't draw very good.  I go outside the lines.”

“So do I.  I read once that drawing outside the lines meant you were unruly, a difficult person who wanted to do everything your own way.”

“I don't think that's right.”

“Well, neither do I.  I think it means being a free thinker.”

“Huh?” a confused Ricky responded.

“We think how we want.  It's not going against the rules; it's being creative and thinking of new ways to do things.”

“Daddy calls that thinking outside the box.”

“Good for your daddy!”

“Dad thinks outside the box a lot, too.”

“Daddy and Dad, eh?  Well, you know what, Ricky?  Back in my day, that was really thinking outside the box, to have a dad and daddy.”

Daniel bowed his head as he stood in the doorway.  He had one brief moment of panic when he thought Elvira Greco might say something that would hurt Ricky, but she didn't.  He saw in her eyes acceptance, maybe not so much of the specific relationship, but of a changing world.  Maybe it was just that the woman was a free thinker and while foreign to her because of her upbringing and the era in which she was born, she believed in love, however you find it, as Jack and Daniel did as well.

The archaeologist moved on, settling in three rooms down where he noticed Brianna sitting with Jay Gallagher, a feisty character of Italian and Irish descent who was born in Massachusetts.

“My kids are ingrates.  I set them up, gave them everything until I had nothing, and now look at me, stuck here.  Do they care?  No, they don't care.  They're too busy to come.  They have their own families.  Yeah, my son's on his third wife.  He has not time for his spouses, either, and I wouldn't recognize my daughter if I saw her.  I haven't seen her in years.  Ingrates, both of them.”

The tomboy, now thirteen, sighed.  She'd been listening to the man gripe for twenty minutes.  It was obvious how unhappy he was.  He was a crusty old man, sound of mind and in fairly good health.  He simply had nowhere else to go, nor did he have the funds to live elsewhere.  She knew there was nothing she could do to change his situation.  Then she decided to do the one thing she could do.  She reached into the bag of items she'd brought to the nursing home and pulled out a wrapped present.

“This is for you, Mister Gallagher.  I bought it myself.”  Handing it to the shocked octogenarian, Brianna added, “I hope you like it.”

“How could you have bought it for me?” the man groused.  “It's something you could give to anyone.”

“No, Sir, it's for you.  My parents asked the staff to find out things they thought all of you might like or tell us something, in general, about you.  It was nothing too personal.  We went shopping and all of us picked out at least one thing, so everyone would get a present.”

“And what did they tell you about me?”

“Well,” Brianna began, her smile growing, “they said you liked to fish and, um, that made me think of this.  Open it, and I'll tell you more.”

The man looked at Brianna with caution, but then he opened the box and slowly, very slowly, a small smile broke out on his face.

“I love dolphins,” Brianna explained.  “I'm going to be a marine biologist one day. I know it's not really fishing, but dolphins ...”

“Sing; they sing.  You are wrong, Brianna.  It is fishing.”  The redheaded man expounded, “When I lived in Italy, before I made the mistake of giving everything to my kids: they should take care of their old man as I and my wife took care of them.”

“You lived in Italy?”

“Yes,” the man said as his voice softened again.  “I found a quiet place for us to live.  I fished.  I fished all day, and the dolphins were there.  They roared out of the water and jumped and jumped and jumped.  Some complained they were driving away the fish, but no, they were making music, Brianna.  They were singing, singing to me.  I never should have left them.”

“Well, now you have this and you can remember them.  Once you've been with the dolphins like that, they're with you for always.  Merry Christmas, Mister Gallagher.”

“Merry Christmas, Brianna,” the man returned, though his eyes remained on the dolphin statue in his hands.  He nodded, “Yes, Merry Christmas.  This year, it's Christmas.”

Daniel walked away from the door and continued on for quite a while until Jack caught up with him again.

“Still listening to those sounds?” Jack asked as he leaned against a wall.

Standing across from his lover, Daniel responded, “They're beautiful sounds, Jack. Ash was brushing Mrs. Caine's hair.  Mrs. Caine talked was remembering how her mother brushed her hair when she was a little girl.  Ash was sad for a minute.  She told Mrs. Caine her mother was dead, but then she perked up and talked about Jen brushing her hair, just like she knew her mother would, if she were alive.  Mrs. Caine switched places with Ash and brushed her hair.”

“Ash okay?”

“She's fine.  I could tell she was thinking about Kayla for a couple of minutes, then she began to sing 'Silent Night'.  Mrs. Caine joined in.  It was nice.”  Daniel looked down for a second and continued, “David played cards with Mister Lancing while lecturing him about Egypt.  Jenny probably knows all about Mrs. Carson's family.  They looked through two albums while I was watching.  Mrs. Carson knows how to tell a story, Jack.  She had Jenny laughing until she was holding her stomach.  I liked that sound a lot.  Oh, what happened with Lulu?”

“We found some paper and she made a sign so Santa would know where Mrs. Garrett lives now.  She attached it to a big strand of garland that she placed at the end of the bed.  Ah, Danny, she says it's very important that Santa visits Mrs. Garrett on Christmas Eve and leaves a present.

“What is it Santa is supposed to leave?”

“That's the big question.  She says we have connections with the North Pole and we need to make sure Santa knows.  She did say she's going to tell Santa when we take the brood to see him.”

“Connections?” Daniel chuckled.  “Is she asking us to be Santa, or ...”

“I'm not sure about that, but she does want us to take care of it.”

“We can't let her down, Jack.  I'll speak with Mrs. Blevins about it later and we'll do what we can to make sure Mrs. Garrett is remembered.  That's what Lulu wants.  Agreed?”

“Agreed.”

====

“Merry Christmas!”

“Happy Holidays!”

“Buone Feste Natalizie!”

“Seasons Greetings!”

“Ho!  Ho!  Ho!”

“Joyeux Noel!”

“Happy Christmas!”

“Have a Jolly Holiday!”

The phrases continued with enthusiasm, in various languages, and with waves of goodbye and warm kinship.  The Jackson-O'Neills and their friends sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as they walked the halls for the final time this evening.  In between the lines or even over the singing voices, the children would call out their holiday wishes and greetings to the residents and the staff until they were out of the building and in the parking lot.  The group exchanged hugs and then scattered for their vehicles.

The snow wasn't falling anymore, but it was deadly cold, not even a full two degrees outside.  Jack and Daniel quickly maneuvered their children inside the SUV so they could be warm.  Jeff stayed back, wanting to ride with his dad so Jack wouldn't be alone.

“See you at home, Angel,” Jack said through the window of the driver's door before giving Daniel a kiss.  “Still lots of snow on the roads.”

“Drive safe, Babe.”

Jack and Jeff headed for the truck while Daniel backed out of the parking space and started the drive home.

====

Soon, the family was home and finished out their evening while feeling full of goodness at having lit up the hearts of the residents at the nursing home.  After an ice cream and hot chocolate treat, the younger children headed for bed.  The older ones followed not long thereafter, leaving the lovers alone to reflect on the visit.

“This was the best visit, Jack.  I mean, uh, the children were really into it.”

“Your thinking about those sounds you mentioned.”

Nodding, Daniel replied, “There was so much laughter and the brood was still singing as part of their individual visits.  It's more than that, though.”  He paused for a moment before elaborating.  “Little Danny reading a story, Jen gossiping the stars with Mrs. Marshall ...”

“Gossiping has you all sentimental?” Jack questioned in disbelief.  “Jen's gossip about those overdone singers who can't sing is ...”

“No,, Babe, they were talking about the stars of yesteryear: Stanwyck, Bacall, Hepburn.”

“Daniel, our daughter barely knows those women exist.”

“Well, she didn't, until Mrs. Blevins told me how much Mrs. Marshall loves old classic films, especially film noir.  I mentioned it to Jen and she hopped on the computer and gave herself a crash course,” Daniel advised with pride.  “She learned just enough to get by.”

“Did she let Mrs. Marshall do most of the talking?”

“Yes,” Daniel answered.  “But she had a few juicy nuggets she could talk about and that got her through.”

“Way to go, Jen.”  Jack paused and asked, “Phone return?”

The day after Thanksgiving, during a family activity, Jennifer was given permission for a five-minute conversation with Sheila.  It was twenty minutes before she actually finished the call, one filled with gossip about friends.  As a repercussion of her choice, Jack and Daniel took away her phone for an indefinite period of time.  Jennifer actually realized how unfair she'd been to her family by ignoring them and talking so long about nothing really important to Sheila.  She apologized almost immediately.

“Yes, I think that would be, uh, fair.”

“The sounds ...” Jack prompted with curiosity.

“Oh, I don't know.  I caught the tail end of Chenoa tap dancing.  I guess she and Lulu must have had the same idea because I saw Lulu doing some ballet at one point.  Sounds of, of cards being dealt when Jenny played Go Fish with Helga Marconi.”

“She's the one who doesn't say much.”

“She losing her words; just doesn't remember speech anymore, or for that matter, much of anything, but she does recall how to play Go Fish.  It's her one way of engaging with others,” the archaeologist noted with awe.

“That's a crazy thing to remember, when that's all you can remember.”

“There's probably a reason for it.  Unfortunately, they can't reach her thoughts and that's what sad, but Jenny was a trooper.  She just kept playing the game until Mrs. Marconi fell asleep, and that's next sound, Jack, the sound of lips on skin, delivering a small kiss on the cheek.  That's what Jenny did before she left the room.”

“That explains the note.”

“What note?”

“Before we all hooked up again, Jenny asked if she could leave Mrs. Marconi a note.  I told her Mrs. Marconi probably wouldn't understood what she wrote, but Jenny said she would.”

“What did she write?”

“'Merry Christmas and Go Fish!'”

Both men chuckled and then after a moment, the archaeologist continued, “Jonny entertained just about everyone with the bodhran.  He sure loves it.”  Daniel paused and smiled serenely.  “It doesn't matter what the sounds were, Jack; it was that all of our children were truly engaged with the residents.  They listened and they were there, really there for them.  I was ... impressed.”

“Hey, JD did his thing, too,” Jack remarked.

“Looked cute?”

“That, and lots of giggles.  Everyone I talked to held him and he was perfect.  No squirming; no whining.”

“That's great,” Daniel replied with a smile.

“Bed?”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

“Bed bed, or bed *bed*?” Jack asked in an uplifted tone while he raised his eyebrows luringly.

“I'll go for the latter.”

“That's my Danny,” a happy Jack returned.

By midnight, the couple was satiated and on the edge of sleep.  As the sounds of the season ebbed to the sounds of peaceful slumber, all dreamed about wonderful moments of Christmas and all the special times they would have together as a family.  Life for Jack and Daniel in Colorado Springs may not be perfect, but it was always full of love, for them and their brood plus zoo.

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

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