Towel Soft
A Warm Fuzzies Tale

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating: PG-13
Season: Beyond the Series - May 3, 2012
Spoilers: None
Size: 105kb, ficlet
Written: April 25-26,28, 2018, December 28-29, 2020
Summary: Strawberry and Shortcake present Aislinn and Jenny with a problem. Fortunately, the answer results in more warm fuzzies for members of the family.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~

Towel Soft
by Orrymain

“Jack, I'm back,” Daniel announced as he walked into the living room.

“Princesses and dollies delivered?” Jack mused.

“Safe and sound for another meeting of the cutest doll lovers in Colorado Springs,” Daniel boasted.

“Cutest in the universe,” the man with the silver-gray hair corrected. “By the way, I love you,” Jack declared before kissing his husband hello.

“By the way, for the record, I love you, too.”

“For the record and Scout's honor, you have my love forever and always.”

“Forever and always, always and forever, and with ...”

“Angel, you're my everything, but if we keep going, we won't have time for our latest spot inspection.”

“True.”

“Ready?”

“Ready. Just remember, this isn't the military.”

“Totally civilian,” Jack returned.

Daniel lowered his head, shaking it mildly as he chuckled.

“What?” questioned the general.

“Deja vu,” the archaeologist answered. “We've had this conversation before; at least, we've had one, or several, similar to it.”

“Spot inspection fun,” Jack rationalized. “Let's get to it.”

Jack and Daniel occasionally took advantage of the brood being gone for a few hours to do a quick once over of the house. Though thorough with their chores, they were still children and as such, the parents conducted spot checks now and again to discover any cleaning oversights or technology abuses.

Upstairs at the start of the new addition to the renovated residence, Jack suggested, “I'll take the bedrooms and you take all the rooms on the right.”

“Meet you at the emergency exit,” Daniel responded while referring to the door at the very end of the hallway.

“You always say that.”

“You always take the bedrooms.”

Jack stared for a moment as he thought back and realized Daniel was, as usual, correct.

“Wanna switch?”

“No. I have a system.”

“Me, too.”

As the archaeologist entered the library on the right, Jack walked into the bedroom shared by Aislinn and Jenny. As usual, he checked under their pillows and under their beds, opened a couple of random drawers, reviewed the girls' desks, and turned on their computers, checking their URL history and email. He did his best not to invade his daughters' privacy. His intent was simply to verify they were following the rules and not communicating with strangers who could be predators.

With the vanity and other areas perused, the last item on his list was a check of the guinea pigs' cage.

~Clean; plenty of hay and water.~

“Strawberry, Shortcake, how's it going in there?” Jack called out.

A couple of squeaks were his response, which was pleasing to him. The cage he and Daniel made for the cavies the previous July was a squealing success, according to the happy guinea pigs.

“Glad to hear it. The girls won't be gone long.” With a grin, he reached down and grabbed some hay. “Hey, it's raining,” he claimed as he released a large handful of straw to fall down on the two guinea pigs.

The cavies squealed in delight as they began to play with the hay as if each piece were a ball to be kicked around.

“Later,” Jack said as he headed for the door to continue his check in another room.

====

Later that afternoon, Aislinn and Jenny were doing their weekly cleaning of their guinea pigs' home. The girls never neglected the two critters, who were of the American variety. They had mostly short hair though near their rumps some of the hair grew a bit longer and had to be cut from time to time. The animals were extremely friendly, loved people, and enjoyed being around the other members of the zoo, too. Strawberry and Shortcake were frequently allowed to run around when the children were around and able to watch over them.

At the moment, the guinea pigs who were not quite a year old yet were running around the girls' room while their cage was being cleaned. When the task was completed, Aislinn and Jenny corralled their lovable pets to hold for a while before placing them back inside their home.

“Jenny, Strawberry's all sticky.”

“Shortcake is, too. How'd they get like this?”

“I don't know.”

“Maybe they stepped in something when we played outside yesterday,” Jenny suggested.

“They need baths.”

“Pam said not to.”

“We need to call her,” Aislinn opined.

Guinea pigs in their arms, the sisters went downstairs. They couldn't see their daddy, but their dad was visible outside, playing with several of the other kids.

Opening the patio door, Aislinn called out, “Dad, we need to call Pam, okay?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Jack responded, his mind and body tuned in more to the torture of being tackled by Jonny, Little Danny, and Ricky at the same time than to his daughter's comment.

Aislinn turned back, nodded at her sister, and went to the family phone that was located in the living room. She located the speed dial number for Pam Lawrence, the family's trusted veterinarian.

“Hi. This is Aislinn Jackson-O’Neill. Is Doctor Lawrence in?”

“She’s with a patient,” came the reply.

“Oh, well, we have two sticky guinea pigs and she told us before not to bathe them while they are babies.”

“How old are they?”

“Just one,” Aislinn answered. “Could you tell her I’m on the phone. I can wait for her to finish.”

“Hold on, Aislinn. I’ll pop my head into the exam room and see if I can speak with her.”

It took four full minutes, but then a trusted voice was heard.

“Ash, this is Pam. I understand there’s a problem with Strawberry and Shortcake.”

“They’re all sticky, Pam, and we don’t know why. They were outside playing yesterday, but we didn’t notice them being sticky until just now.”

“Hmmm,” Pam expressed as she considered the situation. “Ash, can I speak with one of your parents, please.”

“Hold on.” Aislinn went to the door and called out, “Dad, Pam needs you.”

“Whoa!” the father exclaimed as he fell to the grass. “Unfair tackle.”

“Not our fault if you get distracted,” Ricky teased.

Jack laughed and called out, “Be right there, Ash.” He stood and advised, “Your on your own, boys. Tackle safely.”

“Yes, Dad,” Jonny responded on behalf of his brothers.

Entering through the patio door, Jack inquired, “What’s the problem, girls?”

“Strawberry and Shortcake are sticky. Remember, Pam said they’re too young for baths, so we called her. She wants to speak with you.”

“Thank you,” Jack replied, appreciative of the thorough response. He picked up the phone and spoke, “Pam, this is Jack.” He listened as Pam reviewed the facts. “Yes, that’s what they told me.” After a pause, he answered, “No, I don’t know what they might have gotten into, but they’re acting fine. I haven’t noticed any adverse activity from them.” Again, he listened. In fact, he listened for a few minutes and, as requested, wrote down what he was being told. In fact, he decided to make his life even easier. “Pam, you’re on speaker now so the girls can listen in.”

“Good. Here’s the basics of the bath. You can find it online, too, along with a lot of different ways to give the cavies their baths. For now, I hope you go with my advice.”

“That’s why we called,” Jack assured. “We’re ready. Go!”

Pam was amused by the military tone in her client’s voice and even giggled for a moment before outlining the proper method of giving the guinea pigs their baths. When she was done, she issued a caution.

“Jack, I don’t anticipate problems, but I’d like you to watch Strawberry and Shortcake more closely for the next few days. If there is any change in their behavior, bring them in. No appointment is necessary.”

“Will do, Pam. You do know you’re a peach!”

“I’ve heard that before. I have to run. I’m keeping a patient waiting now.”

“Bear?” Jack teased.

“Cat, victim of a stuck hairball.”

“Ewwwe.”

“You’ve got that right,” Pam replied lightly. “Bye all.”

The phone call was ended.

“Do we have what we need?” Jenny inquired.

Jack’s suggestion was, “Let’s find out. Go!”

With a smile, Jack watched as the sisters went in search of the necessary supplies so they could un-sticky their sticky critters.

====

Two-hours later, Jack and Jenny returned from a quick trip to the pet store where they purchased a necessity or two for the upcoming event. While gone, Daniel helped Aislinn to get together the other needed items.

Aislinn greeted the two with, “I found a small plastic tub in the garage. I think we should use that.”

“Did you put a piece of cloth on the bottom like Pam recommended?” the father asked.

“Yes, I found a couple of old scraps in the sewing room. I checked with Noa and she said they weren’t needed for anything.”

“Good girl,” Jack praised the six-year-old triplet. “Let’s plunge ahead,” he encouraged.

Aislinn and Jenny gently picked up their guinea pigs from their cage and brought them downstairs and into the kitchen.

“One at a time, Jenny,” Aislinn reminded.

“Okay. You and Strawberry go first,” Jenny suggested. “We’ll watch.”

“Hey, where’s the lettuce?” Jack inquired.

“In the fridge,” Aislinn answered.

“Smarty-pants,” Jack teased. “Wait one.” He quickly retrieved a head of lettuce, pulled off a few leaves, and rinsed it carefully. Then he cut the leaves into smaller sections and placed them in a small bowl. “Lettuce is present.”

The girls laughed at their father’s silliness.

“Here’s the towel,” Jack stated as he picked up the hand towel and surveyed it with his hands. “It’s not wet enough. Wait …”

“… one,” all three of the family members said at the same time.

“You two are on a roll this afternoon,” Jack noted with a smile before going to the sink and dampening the towel to his liking. “I’ll get some butter for you, too.”

The sisters laughed, as they did often at their father’s humorous comments.

“Should I put him in the bin now?” the Munchkin questioned.

“Not yet, Princess. First, wipe him gently with the towel.” Jack watched as Aislinn followed his instruction. “She’s getting fidgety. Ash, give her a piece of lettuce and talk soothingly to her.” Again, the girl acted in a near-perfect way at the direction. “Okay, put her in the bin.”

With Strawberry inside the small container, her feet atop the scrap of cloth helping her to feel secure, Jack took the picture of warm water Daniel put on the counter just before his lover returned from the store and poured it into the bin slowly, careful not to exceed an inch where the water reached the guinea pig’s feet.

“Let her get used to the water and being in the bin, Ash. Keep stroking her and talking to her,” Jack told his daughter.

“Okay, Dad.”

“You can give Strawberry more lettuce, if you want, too. We want her to feel safe and protected.

Aislinn nodded, her focus on her beloved pet. She spoke softly with words of love as her hands ran through Strawberry’s fur gently.

“Ash, start running the water over her body. Don’t do too much. You want to sprinkle her, not douse her with water; and this very important. Don’t let water come into contact with her ears, nose, or mouth.”

“Dad, I’m scared,” Aislinn admitted, stopping her action, afraid of harming Strawberry.

“Watch me,” Jack requested. “Look at my left hand and see how I’m putting my hand over her face to cover up those areas. With my right hand, I’m continuing to rinse her slowly and calmly. Do you want to try it?”

Aislinn looked carefully at the guinea pig and responded, “Can you keep her face covered and I’ll rinse her? Next time I’ll do it all.”

“Whatever you want. Get that fur wet.”

Once Strawberry was sufficiently wet, Jack removed his hand and gave the critter more lettuce.

“Time for the payoff,” Jack stated. “Ash, put a little shampoo on Strawberry, rub it in gently, and then rinse her off, again slowly and while letting her know everything is okay. There you go. Good. How’s the stickiness?”

“Still sticky a little here by her foot, but the rest is good,” Aislinn answered.

“Okay, give just a tiny dab more of shampoo and try to rub just a bit more firmly there, but keep talking to her.”

Aislinn was slightly tense, but when the stickiness was gone, she looked up and grinned at her dad.

“How’s it going?” Daniel asked, entering the kitchen after finishing an article in a current archaeological magazine.

“The girls are doing great,” Jack complimented. “Danny, can you reheat these towels?”

“I guess I did that too early,” Daniel remarked.

“Five minutes,” Jack responded with a smile, referring to either Daniel’s early towel heating or his late arrival home.

Daniel took the two towels and dampened them, squeezing the towels afterward to help remove moisture. He placed them on a safe plate and then microwaved the towels for thirty seconds.

~Hmmm. Not quite. Should have done one at a time,~ Daniel told himself, before hitting the microwave for a second thirty-second heating. ~There we go.~

“Well done,” Jack praised. He reached for one of the terry towels his husband just placed close to him on the counter and handed it to Aislinn. “Take Strawberry out and wrap her up in the towel. Jenny, I’m going to replace the water. It’s getting too cold, and then it will be Shortcake’s turn.”

With warm water again in the picture, Jenny, having listened extremely closely to her father while Aislinn bathed Strawberry, didn’t need much guidance. Jack observed carefully as Jenny placed her guinea pig on another piece of cloth. She gave her some lettuce and chatted with her per normal. Then she emptied the warm water into the bin.”

“Oops. Is that too much.”

Jack checked the volume and decided it was okay. Jenny’s water threatened to top Shortcake’s feet, but it didn’t quite do so. Thus, she was told to continue. Unlike Aislinn, the very-determined Spitfire merely had her father ensure her left hand was properly positioned over the face while she sprinkled Shortcake with water until she was wet enough for the shampoo.

Sitting in a chair as she watched her sister, Aislinn lamented, “I should have done it all, too.”

With no hesitation, Daniel comforted, “Sweetie, it’s always better to be confident in caring for any pet. Remember, Jenny had the advantage of watching you first. You’ll do it next time.”

Aislinn felt a little better, but she determined that in the future, she’d be more responsible for any zoo member under her direct care.

Soon, Jenny smiled and reported, “Not sticky anymore, Dad.”

“Here’s the towel.”

As the girls held their guinea pigs, Jenny relayed, “Dad, she’s shivering.”

“That’s okay, Jenny. Make sure that towel is wrapped around her completely. We want the towel to absorb all the moisture.”

“I think Strawberry is asleep,” Aislinn pointed out.

“Let her sleep until she’s dry,” Jack suggested.

The four went into the living room and sat down on the sofa. Jack kept on monitoring his girls as they held the precious lives in their arms while Daniel simply enjoyed the moment.

“She’s purring,” Jenny giggled.

“Hey, she wants you to scratch her,” Jack told the redhead.

Jenny looked down and saw Shortcake’s chin was sticking out.

“How’s this?” the girl asked jovially as she could feel the happiness in her pet.

A few minutes later, both guinea pigs were asleep. Still, Jack suggested brushing the fur so it wouldn’t mat. Naturally, both cavies awoke.

“She’s so soft,” Aislinn nearly sang as she held Strawberry to her cheek.

“Towel soft,” Jenny opined. “I think they’re softer than these, and they are super soft.”

Jack decided to hold each one of the guinea pigs for a minute or two, just to make sure they were dry and brushed properly.

~Dang, if they aren’t soft. I tell ya, I never wanted these things, but when you hold them, it’s … cut it out, O’Neill. Don’t get sappy over guinea pigs. The purr of Shortcake had Jack reversing himself. “Okay, you GP, I give. You’re full of warm fuzzies. I can’t deny it.” Hearing a purr to his side, he smiled and responded, “You, too, Strawberry.”

With the baths completed and the animals dry and brushed, Daniel suggested it was time for Strawberry and Shortcake to return to their living critters. As his soulmate and the two girls headed upstairs, Daniel remained in the living room. He ended up watching David apparently trying to tag one of his younger siblings as they played. It made Daniel very happy to see the children engaging in such fun.

====

“Look, they’re happy!” Aislinn exclaimed after the cavies began to show their excitement at their clean and fresh conditions.

“Yep, they are. Look at them popcorn,” Jack chuckled.

Indeed, both animals were jumping up and down with glee. The three humans watched for a few minutes until the guinea pigs seemed to tire and began what they hoped would be uninterrupted naps.

====

This was the kind of day Jack loved to see. He spent a lot of time with two of his daughters and two of the zoo, and it left him feeling happy. As he settled down to sleep, his husband against his chest, all he could think about was how lucky he was to live in Colorado Springs with Daniel, their children, and even their zoo.

~Especially the warm fuzzy ones,~ Jack chuckled before slumber hit him.

Yes, on this day, life was good and full of warmth for the Jackson-O’Neills and brood plus zoo.

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

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