Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - October 7-9, 2016
Size: 38kb, short story
Written: September 4-9,28, 2009
Summary: Jonny has a scheme to earn some money, only the result takes an unforeseen leap.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “Detour”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Ali, Navi, Irina!
Ten-year-old Jonny Jackson-O'Neill, the oldest of the triplets commonly
known as the Munchkins, smiled as he entered the family's music
room. His Munchkin sister was at the piano, tickling the ivories
as if she'd done it all her life, which for the most part she
had. She was singing along sweetly, the song a quiet melody that
she'd composed herself. It was called simply, 'Butterfly'.
All of a sudden, Jonny had an idea. He walked over to the new drum set he'd received on his last birthday. It was a bigger, more sophisticated set which Jack and Daniel had deemed appropriate since their son had turned into an accomplished drummer, practically teaching himself with the help of some CDs and 'on demand' television drum lessons. Of course, while buying their son a new drum kit, Jack and Daniel purchased new earplugs for themselves.
When the boy began to add a light accompaniment to his sister's song, Aislinn looked over and smiled.
“Ash, shake it,” Jonny urged, believing the song would be equally good with a more upbeat, rock arrangement.
In a flash, Aislinn's tender touches turned into dramatic piano chords, her voice grew louder, and her words were sung with more of an edge.
“Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about,” Jonny remarked enthusiastically to the change in music as he went to town on the drums.
After another verse, Little Danny walked in, looking for his siblings. He began to dance around a bit, but then he went over to where the guitars were and picked up one of the electric guitars. Soon, he was adding to the music.
When Lulu entered, Aislinn waved her over to sing with her.
“You know 'Butterfly', ” the youngest Munchkin stated. “We're rockin' it.”
With a grin, Lulu began singing background, adding fifties style 'do wops' and 'la las' along with key phrases. Her voice blended nicely with Aislinn's.
When the chorus ended the next time around, Brianna walked in, automatically swaying to the sounds and dancing across the floor. It was definitely a rockin' music room.
“Ooh, ooh, fly, my butterfly,” the song ended with a staccato beat, Little Danny hitting a dynamic final lick on the guitar, and Jonny's cymbals thundering through the room.
“That was fun,” Lulu laughed, applauding the whole group.
“Actually, it was fantastic,” Brianna corrected. “Listen.”
The tomboy turned on the recording she'd just covertly made while dancing around the room. It was only the last third of the song, but the kids were all bopping around with big smiles on their faces as they listened.
“Ash, you're so good,” Lulu praised, causing her little sister to blush humbly.
“Let's do another one,” Jonny suggested. “Ash, do the Munchkin song.”
One of the very first songs Aislinn had written was called 'Munchkin Dreamers' and it was all about the triplets. The pop song had flair and fun, while also showing off the little girl's wide vocal range.
“We need Jenny and Ricky to help with the background,” Aislinn responded.
“I'll go get them,” Lulu offered, already halfway out of the room.
As the evening progressed, more of the children joined the impromptu jam session. The entire gig was being recorded, not just on audio, but also on the digital video camera, which Jonny had focused on the family's star performer, Aislinn. He'd recorded her before and often listened to his sister's beautiful voice while playing in his bedroom and working on projects.
The afternoon was a super one, one that ended only when the call went out that it was time to get ready for dinner.
That evening, Jonny marched into the girls' room and walked over to the rocker that was near Aislinn's bed. He picked up Bobo, the stuffed monkey that had originally belonged to his mother, Kayla Armentrout. Sitting and holding the monkey, the oldest Munchkin looked at his sister and smiled.
~Mmmm. He's playing with Bobo, and that means just one thing.~ As she sat on the floor and continued to brush the hair of one of her dolls, Aislinn looked at her brother with suspicion and asked, “Jonny, what do you want?”
Still smiling, Jonny replied, “Ten percent,” while rocking back and forth slightly.
“Ash, you're a star! Have you listened to yourself sing lately? You're great!”
“Thank you,” the youngest Munchkin responded politely. “What do you want?” she repeated, staring curiously at Jonny.
Petting Bobo, the young salesman delivered his pitch with confidence and enthusiasm, asking, “You like to sing, right?”
“I love it.”
“And you want to be a singer, right?”
“I want to be just like Chloe,” Aislinn answered, chuckling as she added, “Only more famous.” Still grinning, she clarified, “I'm only kidding about being famous.”
“But you will be, for ten percent.”
Aislinn made a face, not understanding what her brother was talking about.
“Ash,” Jonny began, leaning to his left a bit to pull out a piece of paper from his pocket, “sign this on the dotted line,” he unfolded the paper and leaned forward to hand it to the little girl, “and it's a done deal. You'll be famous, and I'll get my ten percent.”
“Ten percent of what?” Aislinn inquired, her voice strained as she looked at the paper and began to read it. “Jonny?” she laughed.
“Okay, nine percent,” the sandy-haired boy offered, willing to take a cut.
“I'm too young to sign a contract.”
“Legally, Ash, but not by Munchkin rules. You'd never break a Munchkin contract,” Jonny pointed out. “See,” he urged, pointing to the statement at the bottom of the paper.
Aislinn read the words aloud: “This contract is binding by all Munchkin Rules of Living, and that means much more than any legal paper.”
“That's true,” the young girl agreed in total seriousness. “You still haven't told me what you want ten percent for.”
“For being your agent,” Jonny explained. “I'm gonna make you a star. I have it all planned out. You'll get lots of money, and I'll get ten percent of it.”
“Do you think we could get enough to send Dad and Daddy to Xanadu?”
“Xanadu? Where's that?” Jonny asked curiously.
“I'm not sure, but I've heard them talking about it, especially when we have lots of things to do, like yesterday when I had singing lessons, Jenny had gym class ... and Dad had to help Jen with Coop,” Aislinn answered about Jennifer's Mini-Cooper vehicle, having listed nine members of the brood, all of whom needed to be some place different within a ninety minute time frame.
“Oh,” Jonny replied with a nod. “You mean when we drive them crazy and are in their hair.”
Aislinn giggled and returned, “Dad and Daddy never say we're in their hair, but Grandpa does. That's funny.”
“Grandpa says Dad and Daddy made him lose all his hair,” the sandy-haired boy retorted.
“He's just teasing,” Aislinn insisted, getting up and putting her doll back in its place. She sat down on the bed, still holding the contract in her hands. “Dad said he'd give almost anything to go back to Xanadu for a couple of days, and Daddy said he would, too. He said it was like paradise.”
“Little Danny's not home so let's look it up in the encyclopedia,” Jonny suggested.
Since both children had already used their computer time for the day, they decided to go to the library room and use the physical encyclopedia.
“It's a ruin,” Jonny noted.
“In Mongolia,” Aislinn added. “That's in ... China. Why would Dad and Daddy call a ruin in China paradise?”
“And I don't think they can get there and back in two days, unless they just want to look down at it and wave as they fly by.”
“There must be another Xanadu.”
“Yeah,” Aislinn agreed, waiting for Jonny to put the volume back in its proper place on the shelf before walking out of the room.
“Maybe they were just teasing and there really isn't a Xanadu,” Jonny theorized.
“Na-huh. They talked about it last week, too,” Aislinn maintained. She laughed, “That was when we all had the flu and Doctor Syl made them wait on us all day.”
Jonny laughed unabashedly and added, “I didn't even feel sick.”
“Me, either, but Jenny felt awful.”
“So did Little Danny and Noa and Lulu ...”
“Dad and Daddy were really tired that night,” Aislinn recalled. “They fell asleep on the sofa. That's when I heard them talking about Xanadu.”
“In their sleep?” Jonny questioned just as the siblings walked into Aislinn's room, both sitting down on her bed to finish their discussion.
“Daddy mumbled 'Xanadu' and Dad said he just wanted three days there,” Aislinn reported.
“I wonder why they don't go?” Jonny puzzled, knowing his parents went on a lot of little trips. ~I'm not supposed to think it, but they have money to go if they really want to go.~
“Jonny, how are we gonna get money?”
“From your singing,” Jonny answered. “You're better than all those girls on the Disney Channel.”
Aislinn smiled shyly at her brother's praise and asked, “But who's going to pay to hear me sing?”
The youngest Munchkin had sung occasionally at local events, but not to any particular fanfare and mostly at events arranged by her vocal coach. She knew she'd received a few dollars for her singing, but since she'd sung as part of her training and for fun, she hadn't ever really thought about the financial aspect of her participation at those local functions.
“Trust me,” Jonny responded, pointing at the contract and motioning for his sister to sign it.
“Okay,” Aislinn agreed as she delicately wrote her name on the contract and then handed it back to her brother.
“Do you have a list of your songs, Ash?”
Nodding her head, Aislinn got up and walked over to her desk, opening a drawer and pulling out a notebook.
“You're gonna be a star,” Jonny reiterated with a smile as he waited.
During a study break the next day, Jonny hurried to his room to work on his current project, which he'd dubbed Operation Skylark. He'd thought of the name from reading one of his favorite poems, In Flanders Fields.
Picking out the performance he wanted to send, the oldest of the Munchkins signed into his YouTube account. Each member of the family had an account, though they weren't allowed to surf YouTube without supervision. What they could do, though, was send videos to each other and to their family of friends. None of it was public, and the children all knew what to do to ensure anything sent out was done as a private invitation.
Jonny gave his upload a name -- Aislinn Jackson-O'Neill's Butterfly -- listed the description -- Ash's best song ever. She's available to sing at family events. Contact me, Jonny, her agent -- and added a couple of tags -- music, Aislinn, Butterfly, 10%.
The boy giggled at his last tag, but figured it would make it easy to search for personal versus business uploads.
“Play,” a voice suddenly called out.
“Ptolemy, what are you doing up here?” Jonny questioned as the family's beautiful hyacinth macaw bird perched herself on the back of his chair.
“You're not supposed to be up here,” Jonny responded. “How'd you get here?”
“Fly. Birds fly, fish swim,” Ptolemy answered, demonstrating her words by flying around the boy's head for a moment.
Jonny stared at the bird for a few seconds before mumbling, “Sounds like Dad.”
Laughing, Jonny agreed, “Yeah, he's really funny. Ptolemy, I have to finish this.”
“Okay, just a minute,” Jonny requested, making sure the 'private' circle was marked. He was just about to hit send when the anxious bird flew up to the desk. “Hey, Ptolemy, your feathers are in my face.”
“I said I would,” the Munchkin responded. “Down Ptolemy,” he ordered, waiting for the bird to fly down. When she did, he looked at the monitor and saw that his file had been uploaded. ~I guess I hit 'send' before she flew up on me.~ Turning off his computer, he smiled and said, “Okay, Ptolemy. Let's go play. I have ten more minutes before school starts again.”
After the brood finished their studies, the family, including Bijou and Katie, went out for the rest of the day. The Wilsons had invited them over for dinner with Sara having promised to make her special version of lasagna, which Jack could never get enough of eating. Everyone was having such a good time visiting and playing, that before they knew it, the clock had reached ten. Both Jenny and JD had fallen asleep and were resting peacefully upstairs. No one wanted to wake them.
At that point, Mark and Sara suggested that the family stay overnight, something they'd done a few times in the past. They could then enjoy a nice breakfast together before leaving the next morning. Jack and Daniel agreed.
The next morning, it was Mark and Sara who were surprised when they awoke to the aroma of breakfast foods in their kitchen. Jack and Daniel had arisen early to prepare the meal, and this time it was Jack who made his ex-wife smile by serving up his special omelet, one he'd made for her often when they'd been married.
By the time the Jackson-O'Neills left the Wilson home, it was 11 a.m.
Back at home, with the children getting ready for their day of homeschooling, Jack took the mail into his den to review, pausing to check his messages on his cell phone first.
~What the ...~
In his den, Daniel, too, was checking his voicemail.
~Okay, this is strange.~
Downstairs, Jennifer was listening to the home phone's answering machine.
In the boys' room, Jonny finished cleaning out Bogey's cage and then made sure his pet lizard had water and food. While Little Danny and Ricky were picking up toys left on the floor the previous afternoon, Jonny turned on the computer. He was eager to see what his family of friends thought about Aislinn's video.
“I'm in trouble,” a horrified Jonny mumbled as he stared at the screen.
“Huh?” Little Danny called out.
“Dad and Daddy are gonna kill me,” Jonny gasped, leaning back in his chair in horror.
“What happened?” Ricky questioned, following Little Danny over to the computer.
The three boys stared at the computer screen for well over a minute before Little Danny began to pat Jonny on his left shoulder in a comforting fashion and promised, “I'll take care of Bogey for you.”
“Thanks,” Jonny sighed dryly.
Having no clue what created the rash of phone calls on his cell, Jack turned on the intercom and barked, “Family gathering in the rec room -- *Now*.”
At the same instant, Daniel removed his hand from the intercom. While his invitation to the rec room wouldn't have been quite so harsh sounding, it would definitely have been an immediate demand. Jack's bark also told him that the problem was more widespread than just the messages he'd received.
Meanwhile, the three boys sighed after hearing the command.
“Can I have your basketball?” Ricky chuckled slyly, earning him a glare from his older brother.
“Don't worry, Jonny. I'll protect you,” Little Danny promised, trying not to laugh.
Downstairs, the family began to gather. While her siblings were getting situated, Jennifer took the opportunity to point her parents to the messages on the answering machine. Quietly, she slipped away to take a seat in the rec room, not really wanting to hear the fallout from the eighteen messages she'd listened to thus far.
While many of the kids were clueless, Jonny, Little Danny, and Ricky knew exactly what the meeting was about. It wasn't long before the rest of the brood began to focus in on the three boys.
“Don't look at me,” Ricky called out suddenly. “He did it,” he accused, pointing to the sandy-haired boy.
“What did you do, Jonny?” Aislinn questioned curiously.
“No one says a word,” Jack interrupted as he and Daniel entered, both standing at each other's side and staring at the children. “I want to know one thing. *Who* is responsible?”
“For what, Dad?” Lulu asked, her face instantly clearing her of all wrong doing.
Jonny gulped, sighed, and stood up, answering, “It's all ...” At that point, the boy's recall increased. He smiled and changed his answer. “It's all *her* fault,” he claimed, pointing at Ptolemy, who let out a wail of a squawk.
Jack was about to give his namesake a comeback the boy would never forget, only there was something about that squawk. He walked over to the large bird and glared.
“Polly, what did you do now?”
“Jonny play,” Ptolemy responded, spreading out her wings.
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look and then Daniel motioned for Jonny to walk over to Ptolemy's cage.
The other children were all looking at each other and shrugging. They just didn't know what was causing such a stir.
“It was Ptolemy's fault,” Jonny insisted yet again.
“Woof!” Bijou called out in what sounded like a doggie laugh.
“Yeah, I know,” Jack replied. ~He could have said the dog ate my homework, and it would make the same amount of sense.~
“It was,” Jonny reiterated. “I was on the computer in our room, and Ptolemy came upstairs.”
Jack stared at the majestic bird who it appeared to him was smirking.
“You know you're not allowed to go upstairs,” Jack scolded lightly.
“Jonny play,” Ptolemy responded.
“One note bird,” Jack muttered. “You were on your computer time?” he asked the boy.
Jonny nodded, answering, “Uh-huh. It was on a study break, Dad. I wanted to send Grandpa and everyone Ash's new recording. It's really good.” Suddenly taking on a more confidant stance and changing his 'guilty' expression, he stated, “Ash is a star, Dad. She's really good. I'm gonna ...”
“Stay on point,” Jack interrupted. “We all know your sister is a fabulous singer. Tell us about the recording.”
“I was sending it to my list, like I've always done,” Jonny stated. “Ptolemy came in and wanted to play. She flew on me. I had the 'private' checked, honest I did.”
“Jack,” Daniel interrupted, nodding for his lover to follow him over near the kitchen.
“You're buying it?”
“Aren't you?” Daniel questioned. “Our children don't lie, and, uh, how many times have the cats caused us to make mistakes on the computer? If Ptolemy flew up, she could have hit the public button.”
With a bob of his head, Jack turned and asked, “Did you double check your settings before sending?”
Jonny sighed, kicking the floor lightly with his right foot as he answered, “Ptolemy did it.”
Jack walked over and knelt down to be eye-level with the young boy. He smiled as he ran his hand atop the boy's hair.
“We believe you.”
Jonny's face brightened as he asked, “You do?”
“You're telling us the truth, right?”
“I am, Dad. I swear I am. I had 'private' checked. I was just gonna hit 'send' when Ptolemy flew up. When I got her off, it was sending. I didn't know she changed it.” The boy paused, fearing for the bird's safety. “Dad, Ptolemy didn't mean it. She just wanted to play. She loves to play with us, and ...”
“We know, Son,” Daniel interjected with a smile.
“Daddy, what happened?” David asked, full of curiosity about what had been sent out.
Just then, there was a knock on the door. The brood all looked at each other before staring at their fathers, waiting to see who was at the door.
“Jack, Daniel, I had no idea Ash was so talented,” Mitzi Miller stated. “I've heard her sing before, but never like this. The Women's League would like her to sing at our meeting this Wednesday. We'll pay, of course.”
“Pay?” several of the children called out in surprise.
Naturally, the brood knew that their songbird sister had performed at several events around town, but to their knowledge it was usually for free and just for fun.
Before the parents could even respond to Mitzi, other people showed up at their doorstep. One of the biggest surprises was Jack's old Air Force buddy, Dale Rancolini.
“Ash sings beautifully. We'd like her to appear at the show for the veterans next month. I brought the standard contract. There's her pay,” Dale pitched, pointing at the pay rate that had been written into the contract.
Jack's jaw dropped while Daniel was agape from the dollar amount. The children were buzzing in delight. While Aislinn was humble and grateful for the attention, Jonny was spending his ten percent in his mind.
Then the phone rang. Daniel recognized the phone number as it popped up on caller ID. It was a valued business associate who dealt regularly with J-O Enterprises.
“Daniel, is that talented child on YouTube yours? If so, my company would like to hire her for ...”
That was followed up by another phone call, probably the most stunning phone call of them all so far.
“President Hayes?” Jack called out, looking around the room and making a sharp motion for everyone to be quiet.
“Jack, I didn't know Ash had so much talent.”
“We're very proud of her, Sir,” Jack replied respectfully to the former President of the United States.
“There's an event coming up, Jack, and I'd consider it a personal favor if she'd perform for us.”
“Of course,” Jack heard himself saying. ~What am I agreeing to here?~
“Does she know, 'Smile'?” the President questioned.
“Yes, Sir,” Jack answered. He whispered quietly, “Ash, do you know the words to 'Smile'?”
“It's a great song, Dad,” Aislinn responded as she nodded.
“Jack, I'll fax over the information. She's not camera shy, is she?”
“No, Sir,” Jack answered. ~I hope not, anyway.~ Nervously, he asked, “Sir, if I might ask, what is this event?”
“The grand opening of my Presidential library,” Hayes announced.
“Jack?” Daniel asked. His husband had been staring ahead blankly for several seconds, not saying a word. “Babe!” he exclaimed, reaching out to touch his lover's arm.
Jack slowly hung up the phone and smiled weakly as he announced, “Ash is singing at the dedication of Hayes' Presidential library.”
The whoops and hollers were loud as the children danced around.
“Is that a good thing, Dad?” Aislinn called out, not really knowing what it meant.
“150,000 hits in less than a day,” Jennifer chuckled over the phone.
“Jen, I almost fell off my chair when I saw it was public domain,” Jeff replied from his dorm room. “Dad and Daddy must have hit the roof.”
“Ptolemy saved him,” Jennifer responded and then told Jeff the full story about what had transpired. “She picked a bad time to decide to go upstairs.”
“Dad must not have been home.”
Jennifer laughed, “She loves Dad more than the rest of us combined.”
“Jen, seriously, how are the folks handling this? I mean, Ash is all over YouTube. I just refreshed the page. Thirty more hits just since we've been talking.”
“Well, they aren't thrilled. You know how they are about our faces being out there, but it's exploded, and there isn't a lot they can do about it. Jeff, she's singing at the President Hayes' Presidential Library dedication. She's gonna be on CNN.”
“I think I'm glad I'm not home,” the University of Cincinnati student commented with nervous laughter.
Jennifer laughed and then grew serious again as she reminded, “Jeff, the problem is that they aren't overprotective for no reason. We both know that.”
“I know, Jen, but what can they do now?”
“Go with it.” Jennifer laughed again as she spoke, “And Jonny acts like he's rich now.”
“He got Ash to sign a contract naming him as her agent. He gets ten percent of everything she makes.”
“You're kidding?” Jeff replied. “Dad and Daddy are letting him get away with that?”
“They've told Ash she's not obligated to follow through, that the money is hers, but she says a Munchkin never breaks a Munchkin contract.”
“He must be riding high.”
“Like you wouldn't believe. He's saving up for a sports car like Daddy's.”
After some more shared laughter, Jeff remarked, “She really is good, Jen. She's as good, if not better, than most child singers I've ever heard.”
“I know. Our sister, the superstar,” Jennifer giggled.
“So, what are we going to do?” Daniel asked his lover as they discussed the unexpected situation they'd found themselves in with their youngest Munchkin.
~Crap.~ Sitting on the edge of the bed, Jack reached up with his hands, scratching the top of his head and then slowly pulling his hands down. “I have no friggin' idea,” he finally answered.
“We could take it down,” Daniel proposed as he leaned against the dresser, his arms crossed.
“Why haven't we done that already?” the general questioned.
“I'm not sure.”
“Maybe it was the look on Ash's face when she read all those comments,” Jack theorized. “Danny, she was glowing.”
“I know,” the younger man acknowledged softly. “They want more.”
“Geez, Danny, she's got a fan club.”
“From all around the world,” Daniel added. He sighed, “Jack, she loves singing. She started when she was a toddler, and she's never stopped.”
“She's done well locally.”
Daniel walked over and sat down next to his soulmate while saying, “Being asked by President Hayes to sing at the dedication of his library is a huge honor.”
“Who knew he surfs,” Jack mused.
“We can't let it interfere with everyday life,” Daniel stated.
Just then there was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” Jack called out. “Hey, Sport,” he greeted the oldest Munchkin.
Jonny entered with his clipboard and a pencil. He squeezed in between his parents.
“Dad, Daddy, we have to talk about Ash's schedule,” Jonny stated.
Jack and Daniel looked at each other over their son's head. They were both amused and curious about what the young agent was going to say.
“I think she should do one show in town every other week,” Jonny advised. “And she can do a new song on YouTube every week. Then I think maybe she could do one show a month some place else, if you'll take us.”
“Us?” Daniel queried.
“I'm her agent, Daddy,” Jonny responded. “I have to go with her everywhere and make sure they treat her right.”
“Oh, I see,” the archaeologist replied.
“I already talked to Ash, and she thinks she could meet the schedule easily without it interfering with her homework and our playtime.”
“Your playtime?” Jack inquired.
“All work and no play is no fun, Dad. You taught us that,” Jonny explained with a scowl at his father for even questioning this part of his plan.
“My bad. You're right,” Jack acknowledged contritely, though the fact that he was about to laugh was very obvious.
“I'm being serious, Dad,” Jonny rebuked. “Ash is a star, but she's my sister, too, and it's my job to protect her.”
Jack rubbed his son's back and returned, “You're right, Jonny. This is serious.”
“I just wanted everyone to hear her sing because she's so pretty and sounds so nice. I listen to her sing all the time,” the boy admitted. “I never told anyone that before.”
“It's not a bad thing to be proud of your siblings,” Daniel interjected.
“It was a joke at first, but everyone really likes her,” Jonny pointed out. He was reflective for a moment and then refocused his thoughts. “I circled the three jobs I think she should take this month. Would you check them out for me? I don't want her to sing for the wrong people.”
“We'll check them out,” Jack agreed, taking possession of the clipboard as Jonny got off the bed.
“We'll be making our rounds shortly,” Daniel advised.
As Jonny reached the door, he turned around and said, “Ash won't tear up the contract, but I don't want the ten percent. I'm just doing my job as her big brother.”
“We'll talk about it later,” Daniel responded. “We'll work it out.”
With Jonny gone and the door closed, the lovers scooted closer together. Daniel leaned his head against his soulmate's shoulder and sighed.
“Ideas?” Jack queried.
“We put it in an account and see what develops,” Daniel suggested.
“You mean see if Jonny turns into a real agent?” Jack laughed, waving to the clipboard the oldest Munchkin left behind.
“Something like that.”
“So we're going to let our daughter be seen all over the world?”
“Apparently,” the archaeologist acknowledged, amazed at what he and his husband were in the process of agreeing to where their daughter was concerned.
“She's a star,” Jack chuckled.
“We can't keep them in a bottle,” Daniel sighed.
“We've done this,” the older man stated in realization about the topic being discussed.
“Ad nauseam,” Daniel admitted dryly. “We can handle it.”
“Piece of cake.”
Daniel shifted, giving his husband a kiss and then standing up.
“Where are you going?”
“Rounds,” Daniel answered. “We need to start with Ash.”
A few minutes later, Jack and Daniel were in the girls' room, talking with Aislinn while Jenny sat quietly on her bed on the other side of the room.
“Jonny says you won't tear up the contract,” Daniel stated as he sat on his daughter's bed.
“He'll be a good agent,” Aislinn asserted. “He'll always take care of me.”
“Well, you know that taking care of you is what Dad and I do,” Daniel replied.
Aislinn smiled happily at the remark, though she added, “We all take care of each other, and Jonny wants to help me.”
“He can do that without a contract, Ash,” Jack pointed out from the foot of the bed. “Your brother loves you. He doesn't need a piece of paper for that.”
“Okay, Dad,” Aislinn agreed.
“Why did you sign it anyway?” Daniel asked inquisitively.
“I want to make enough money to send you and Dad someplace special,” Aislinn admitted. With a quizzical expression she inquired, “How much does it cost to go to Xanadu?”
“Xanadu?” both parents asked at the same time.
“That's where you want to go; I've heard you,” the little girl confessed. “I wasn't eavesdropping,” she added sincerely.
“We know,” Jack responded, not needing to know the specifics of how she overheard the conversation in order to reassure Aislinn.
With a smile, Daniel explained, “Xanadu is a very special place, Ash, where Dad and I spent a lot of time once. It's through the Stargate.”
“Oh!” Aislinn expressed in realization. “We didn't think you'd want to go to Mongolia.”
Jack and Daniel chuckled, now aware that their little princess must have looked Xanadu up to learn more about it.
“Maybe I can go sing there so you can stay there a few days?”
“Maybe,” Daniel replied. “We'll talk about it later.”
“Ash, do you want to sing for some of the people who have asked you?” Jack questioned.
“I love to sing, Dad. Oh, yes, I want to sing. Can I?”
“Well, Jonny made a suggestion about a schedule that we believe is workable, if you really want to do it,” Daniel added.
“I do, Daddy,” Aislinn responded eagerly. “Singing makes me feel so happy.”
“Okay, tomorrow we'll look at Jonny's suggestions for your first shows, and we'll see what we can arrange.”
“I love you,” the little girl declared happily, jumping up to hug both parents.
Jack and Daniel tucked in the Munchkin and then turned their attention to Jenny before continuing with their rounds.
“We really do need a few days at Xanadu,” Jack put forth as the couple relaxed on the Aerie once their bedtime rounds were done.
Jack was sitting down, leaning against the house with Daniel tucked neatly between his legs, arms around his abdomen. The couple gazed up at the night sky.
“Two days, no three days,” Daniel agreed. “I wonder if Lya would let us go there again.”
“One of these days, Danny, we really should find out.”
“You realize, Babe, that we slipped up by even letting Ash hear us talking about Xanadu,” Daniel stated.
“Yeah, I'm trying not to think about that,” Jack admitted.
“Do you think Noa remembers meeting Korsha and Swarsha?”
“She's never said anything to me,” Jack answered. “But that's what we told her, Love, not to talk about the Filgruns ... ever.”
The lovers grew quiet for a while and just enjoyed the peace and serenity of the evening.
“Jack, is it my imagination or are we busier now than we've ever been before?” Daniel queried.
“A business and twelve kids, Angel,” Jack replied concisely.
“There's more?” the general asked.
“I feel like we're missing something, but I can't quite put my finger on it,” Daniel answered. “We have our time, so it's not that; and I have the den to retreat to, and you have your study. It's not like we don't have our date nights or time alone.” He sighed, “Maybe I'm just tired.”
Jack leaned over and shared a kiss with his husband. It was a passionate union, with lots of touches and moans of bliss.
“Happy?” Jack questioned.
“Beyond belief,” Daniel answered with shiny blue eyes.
“Jack, did you remember to pick up Bri's present today?” Daniel questioned, referring to a birthday gift for Brianna whose birthday was the next day.
The older man groaned in response, dropping his head onto his soulmate's shoulder.
“Danny, it was a madhouse here today; you know that,” Jack rationalized. “I'll get it first thing in the morning.”
“We're on a tight schedule. If we don't start the party early enough, we won't have time for her big surprise.”
“No problem,” Jack responded. “They open at nine.”
“I love you, Babe.”
“I love you, too, Angel.”
The night was peaceful and on this night, Jack and Daniel enjoyed their love under the stars with a light breeze to keep them company. They had their world, and their world was golden. With memories of Xanadu dancing in their heads, the lovers snuggled together, secure and serene in their nation of two, plus brood, plus zoo.
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