Tuxedo Wars

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - December 27, 2017
Spoilers:  None
Size:  33kb, short story
Written:  October 29-30, 2013
Summary:  Jennifer deals with a bit of brotherly rebellion when it comes time to prepare for her upcoming wedding.
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:  Mama Bear, Candice!

Tuxedo Wars
by Orrymain

Daniel tapped on the door of the boys' room where eleven-year-olds Jonny and Little Danny were seated on the floor, along with their Spitfire brother, ten-year-old Ricky, having a pre-breakfast chat.

“Boys, don't forget you're going shopping for tuxedos today with Jeff.”

“Not Jen?” Jonny inquired.

“No, she has other things to do.  Dad and I expect you all to behave and not cause Jeff any problems.”

“Yes, Daddy,” came some rather depressing sounding acknowledgements.

“Anything wrong?” an observant Daniel queried.  Three long, sad faces were the only responses.  “Okay, well, Jeff wants to leave right after breakfast, so be ready.”

Concerned but deciding to let the boys handle whatever issue was at hand themselves, Daniel backed out of the room and headed downstairs to start preparing the morning meal.

Meanwhile, Jack was watching JD dress for the day.  The soon-to-be five-year-old youngster was growing more independent every day.  He was pretty much able to dress himself, though he still had some issues with shoelaces, zippers, and small buttons.  For the most part, his parents were fine with JD's clothing choices, just as long as on this day, he didn't choose to wear his pajamas while shopping for formal wear.

“Oh boy, you get to buy a tux today,” Jack spoke in exaggerated excitement, vividly recalling how much he hated shopping for clothes as a kid.

Pulling up his jeans with all of his might, JD looked up at his father with an expression of 'you've got to be kidding.'

The face was so funny that Jack had to put his hand up to cover his face, fake a cough to avoid laughing, and look away just to keep from losing it completely.

“Don't care 'bout clothes, Dad,” the boy finally said.

“It's important to your sister that you look nice at her wedding.”

“Know that.”

“Good,” Jack acknowledged.

“Jen will buy me somethin' good.”

“Jen's not going, Son.”

With his arms carefully sliding through a bright orange and black shirt that looked more appropriate for Halloween rather than the approaching New Year, JD again looked up, this time a look of horror on his face.  He totally lost his focus, his hands becoming trapped in the long-sleeve shirt.

“Here, let me help,” Jack offered, reaching out for the boy.

“Me do it!” JD insisted, his hands flaying around like out-of-control helicopter blades.

JD plopped down onto the floor and began to mumble, causing Jack to laugh again.

~He looks like Danny when he's upset about something; or maybe right before he's about to hold his breath and turn blue to try to change my mind about something,~ Jack mused internally.  In seconds, though, he realized that it wasn't really funny.  JD's vocabulary and grammar was much more advanced than he was exhibiting at the moment.  ~Reminds me of Little Danny when he was younger, changing the level of his speech to fit who he was with or when he was feeling vulnerable.~  The comparisons helped solidify for the general that there was something bothering the youngest Jackson-O'Neill.  “Son, what's the matter?”

“Arm stuck,” JD answered, having freed one of his arms but having issues with the other.

“No, I mean you didn't look happy a minute ago when I told you Jen wasn't taking you shopping.”

“Wanted Jen,” the boy admitted.

“She has other plans for today, but Jeff's going to be there to make sure you get the perfect tux,” Jack assured the child.

“Jeff not Jen.”

“No, he's not, but he's better at shopping for boy clothes than your sister is,” Jack cajoled hopefully.

The only response was more muttering, something that gave Jack a bit of worry, but he figured it couldn't be anything serious.  More than likely, JD just didn't want to go shopping anymore than Jack had at his age.

Once dressed, JD was released from his dad's watchful eye to play while Jack went downstairs to aid in cooking breakfast.

====

The entire family was gathered round the long rectangular table in the hospitality room.  Plates were loaded with a variety of foods, waffles for some, pancakes for a few, cold cereal with milk and fruit for a couple, and sausage and eggs for the rest.  Toast was present, along with large pictures of orange juice for all and coffee for the parents.

The girls were chattering away, all involved in usual conversation surrounding their friends, activities, the day's plans, and whatever else they felt like discussing.  Noticeable to the parents, however, was an abundance of silence coming from the male half of the children, with the exception of Jeff and to a moderate extent, David, who was now fifteen and about to attend college full time along with starting a regular job at J-O Enterprises.

“Not hungry?” Jack asked his namesake whose Fruit Loops had barely been touched.

“Na-huh,” Jonny answered, his head down, staring at the bowl of cereal as he tapped his spoon on top of the colorful edibles.

“What about you?” the general inquired of Daniel's namesake.

“Na-huh, too,” Little Danny confirmed without even holding an eating utensil in  his hand.

“And you?”

Ricky just shrugged his shoulder, pushed away his untouched pile of pancakes, and then asked, “May I be excused please?”

“Sure,” Jack agreed, looking at the boy and then across the table at his husband.  **Ideas?**

**Not one,** Daniel answered via the couple's unique communication ability.

Jonny and Little Danny quickly followed suit, disappearing with their younger brother as they went upstairs.

“They aren't sick, are they?” Jennifer asked in concern.  “Dad, Daddy, they just have to choose their tuxes today.  We've waited too long as it is.”

“But they keep growing, Jen,” Brianna reminded.  “If you'd had their fittings three months ago, not one of them would fit in their tux.”

“That's true,” the somewhat anxious young woman admitted with a bob of her head that was followed by a bite of her scrambled eggs.

“I'm sure they're fine,” Daniel put forth, referring to the absent boys.  ~I hope.~

====

“Hey, we have to ...”  Jeff sighed and looked over at David, who was to his side.  “Where are they?”

The two brothers had gone to the boys' room, assuming the three siblings would be inside.  It was time to head for the clothiers.

“Don't ask me,” David responded.  “I haven't seen them since breakfast.”

“Okay, well, let's get JD,” Jeff suggested, turning around and heading for the youngster's room which was near that of their parents'.

Discovering yet another empty room, the brothers were a bit at a loss.  They'd just been downstairs and none of the missing children had been around.

“Where to next, Brother Sleuth?” David jested.

“I didn't think they minded going for the fittings,” Jeff spoke discontentedly.  “There are a lot of places to hide in this house.”

“We never should have remodeled.”

“That was before my time,” Jeff reminded.

“You missed the fun,” David replied.  “All that time at Grandpa's, the gas leak, sleeping at Uncle Lou's ...”  The teen laughed and added, “It was really neat, crowded, but neat.”

“Let's check outside; maybe they're waiting for us in the front,” Jeff put forth, though he knew the odds were slim the three brothers would go in the front yard without anyone else knowing.

====

In her room atop the garage, Jennifer was multi-tasking, brushing her hair while chatting with her best friend, Sheila.

“I can't believe it's less than a month away, either,” Jennifer swooned before getting a strange feeling that she was being watched.  She swiveled around and caught sight of four very sad looking boys.  “Sheila, I'll call you back later.  I think something's up here.”  Disconnecting the call, Jennifer smiled at her brothers as she put down her brush.  “Okay, what's wrong?”

“Don't you love us, Jen?” JD asked as he ran over to her and threw his arms around her.

“Oh, JD, of course, I do.  What a silly question,” Jennifer commented as her arms enveloped the boy and she kissed the top of his head.  “Why would you ask that?”

JD was silent, so Jennifer looked over at the other very still siblings.

“Jonny?”

“How come you're letting Jeff buy our penguin suits?” the oldest Munchkin inquired.

“Yeah, you said 'we' were gonna go shopping for them,” Little Danny added, quoting something Jennifer had said months ago.

“Boys have lousy taste,” Ricky expounded.  “You said so!”

“Yes, but Jeff is grown up and he ...”

“You took the girls shopping,” Jonny reminded softly, scuffing his foot against the carpet as he stared downward.

“For a whole week,” Little Danny pointed out.

“Don't you love us, Jen?” JD questioned with innocent eyes, his head held back as he stared up at her.

The eyes made the busy bride-to-be melt.  She'd missed something, as her younger father sometimes said upon realizing a rather obvious mistake had been made.  Fortunately, the obvious was indeed obvious to her.  The boys were feeling slighted and cheated out of precious time with their sister.  Quickly, Jennifer formulated a new plan for her day.

“You know, you're right,” Jennifer stated energetically.  “What was I thinking, letting Jeff make all the decisions.  Guys, you have to forgive me.  My brain is all scattered, thinking about all the wedding preparations.  Goodness, if I don't go with you, you might end up wearing ridiculous purple silk suits.”  Hearing a few chuckles, she knew she was on the right track.  ~Sometimes you're a dumb dumb, Jen.~

“There you guys are,” Jeff sighed with relief.  “We've been looking all over for you.”

“Change in plans, Jeff,” Jennifer announced.

“She's going with us,” Ricky announced enthusiastically.

“But ...” Jeff began.

“You're a boy, Jeff, and you know how boys are,” Jennifer stated in a leading tone, her expression urging caution on his part.  “I need to make sure the boys are dressed right for my wedding.”

“Yeah, you're a boy like us,” Jonny advised needlessly.

“You don't know what accessories we need, but Jen does,” Little Danny asserted confidently.

“Yeah,” Ricky exclaimed with force.

“You know, if you all don't cooperate, this may actually take two days.  I mean, if you don't mind your manners and let the tailor take your measurements right and everything.  No running around or causing the sales person to go bonkers.  There's a lot to do, and if you don't behave like perfect gentlemen, we'll just have to go again tomorrow.”

JD clapped while Ricky smiled, but more importantly to Jennifer, she saw Jonny and Little Danny exchange a look.  She knew that look and what it meant.  She definitely needed to clear her schedule for both today and tomorrow.

“Okay, I have to make a few phone calls before we go, but I'll be fast because we have a lot to do today.  I'll meet you outside by the car in ten minutes.”

The four youngest boys hurried out of the room, leaving Jeff and David with Jennifer.

“What happened?” Jeff queried.

“I made a mistake, Bro, that's what happened, and I'm just glad they had the courage to tell me,” Jennifer explained, wiping away a little tear that had formed in her eye.

“I don't get it,” Jeff admitted.

“I do,” David interjected.  “I get it,” he said softly as he looked at his sister, a smile on his face.

“I'll be down in a few minutes,” Jennifer added, her voice quiet and full of some emotion.

As soon as her brothers headed down the stairs, Jennifer called Sheila just to let her know it would be that night before they could chat freely again.  Then she called one of her friends who she was supposed to meet with that afternoon.  

When the friend expressed genuine surprise at Jennifer's news, the young woman expressed with some regret, “I wish you were close to your brothers and sisters. Sure, they're a pain sometimes.  I'll never forget when Jonny surprised me with two frogs under my sheets, only to be bested by Little Danny and a garden snake he was taking care of for a while.  He actually put it in my coat pocket.  I reached in my for gloves and almost had a heart attack.  You have to be careful with the quiet ones; they can be worse than the boisterous group.”  Jennifer sighed, “I love them and they need me.  We can get together next week, okay?”

====

Downstairs, Jack and Daniel were in the living room talking about the strange behavior of the boys when they heard the familiar rumble of running feet.

“Hey!” Jack called out in admonishment.

“Sorry, Dad,” Jonny responded.  “I hope she hurries.”

“We're gonna wait outside, okay?” Little Danny asked eagerly.

Before Daniel could barely nod his permission, the four boys were headed for the door.

Suddenly, JD turned and called out, “Jen loves us!”

“Of course, she does,” Daniel agreed, watching as the boys unlocked the door and went out front.

Instinctively, both Jack and Daniel made a move toward the door so they could keep a watch on their children.

“What was that about?” Jack asked.

“I have no idea,” Daniel answered.

“We found them,” Jeff called out as he and David approached their parents.

“So we saw,” Jack replied.  “They're outside.”

“Yeah, Jen told them to wait there.  She's going with us,” Jeff told his folks.

“Apparently, boys don't have any fashion sense; at least, that's the theme of the day,” David noted.  “We'll be outside.”

With Jeff and David outside, the parents returned to the living room, more confused than ever that morning.

“Daniel ...”

“I have no idea,” Daniel interrupted.

“Our kids are getting stranger by the day.”

“Well, look who they have for parents,” the younger man responded.

“You are joking?”

“What do you think?”

“That's what I thought,” Jack retorted, leaning over for a quick kiss on the lips.

Having made quick business of her phone calls, Jennifer suddenly sprang into view.

“Dad, Daddy, I know we were going to have lunch today, but can we do later in the week, maybe Friday?  I have to go with the boys to get their tuxes.”

“Boys don't have fashion sense,” Jack echoed from the earlier comment.

“Exactly,” Jennifer confirmed.  “No way can I leave this to Jeff.”  She gave both men a kiss on the cheek and added, “See you later.  I love you.”

When the door closed, the two men simply stared straight ahead.

“Daniel, didn't Jen spend two hours yesterday reviewing the tuxes with Jeff, laying out exactly what she wanted them to wear, down to the cummerbunds and bow ties?”

“Yes.”

“And didn't she tell us Jeff was fully qualified to handle it, even after we both volunteered to take the kids shopping ourselves?”

“Yes.”

“And didn't she insist Jeff's taste in clothes was pretty darn good and that if there were a problem, he'd be able to handle it just as well as she could?”

“Yes.”

“Then what just happened?”

“I have no idea,” Daniel answered yet again.

“Parents,” Aislinn sighed, shaking her head after having come up from behind her parents.  “Don't you know anything?”

“Educate us,” Jack beckoned the wise Munchkin.

“They're jealous because Jen took us girls shopping for our dresses,” Aislinn deduced.  “Boys!”

Aislinn went upstairs without saying another word.

“What do you think?” Jack asked his husband.

“Jealous?  I'm not sure our children have ever really been jealous of the others,” Daniel responded.

“They're not jealous,” Lulu piped up, having entered the conversation after overhearing it from the kitchen.  “They just want to spend more time with Jen.  We all do.  It'll be sad when she's not here anymore.  They just want to be with her, no matter what they have to do, even put on fancy clothes.”

Jack walked over to his daughter, placed a kiss on her cheek, and praised, “That's very perceptive of you, L'il Bit.”

“I guess sometimes parents don't know everything,” the girl remarked before heading upstairs.

“Apparently,” Daniel acknowledged.

“How'd we miss it?”

“Twelve.”

“Twelve?” Jack queried.

“Twelve growing children.  I'm amazed we can keep track of one,” Daniel commented.  “By the way, where's Jenny?”

“Red?” Jack asked, using the Spitfire's nickname given to her because of her flaming red hair.  “I haven't seen her since breakfast.”

“Jenny?” Daniel called out in a louder, beckoning tone as he walked away from his Love and began the search for the wayward twin.

Jack just shook his head while thinking, ~Sometimes, I'm just lucky to know where my own head is.~

====

Jennifer and her male siblings had been at the tailor's shop for two hours, and the boys were being quite vocal.

“But I want a bright green bow tie,” Ricky insisted.  “Dark ones are too dark,” he elaborated.

The salesman was about to respond when Jonny took a cummerbund and started to roll it up in order to make a rope.

“Please don't that,” the salesman pleaded.

“Jonny, look!” Little Danny called out, picking up a black cane with white tip and twirling it around.

Putting down the cummerbund, Jonny ran over and picked up one of the white canes with black tips and stood beside his brother.

Together, the Munchkins began a spontaneous dance, performing Me and My Shadow, a number their parents had performed at a few parties and at family events over recent years.

The routine caused JD to applaud and Ricky to opine, “Bet Lulu and Noa would like to see this.”

Jennifer was giggling as she stood next to a laughing David.  Jeff was watching the perplexed salesman.

“Look, kids ...”

“Sir,” Jeff interrupted, putting his arm around the man and steering him away from the children.  “Don't worry.  If they damage anything, we'll pay for it.”

The man stared at Jeff, skeptical at the comment.  Still, the company had already prepared several suits for the family and their friends in anticipation of the wedding, so he really couldn't afford to antagonize the bride and her brothers.  He opted to reply with a simple nod and an internal prayer that the shop would not be destroyed in the process.

====

“Will you please give me that?” another sales clerk requested of Little Danny, who was running around with a toddler tuxedo that was kept on display.

“I was just studying it,” the boy explained.

“Sure you were, kid,” the frustrated man responded skeptically.

“I like to study things, even tuxedos,” the tweener told the man in earnest.

“I doubt you know anything about tuxedos,” the clerk sighed, reaching out and forcefully yanking the item away from the boy.  “Kids,” he complained.  “You think you know everything.”

“What do you know about tuxedos?” Little Danny challenged, unable to contain himself which was quite rare for the normally humble child.

“More than you do.”

“Did you know tuxedos didn't come to America until late in the 1800s?  Actually, it was 1886, and they weren't called tuxedos then; they were called tailless dinner jackets that were worn with trousers.”  As the man stared at the child prodigy, Little Danny asked, “Do you know where the word 'tuxedo' comes from in the first place?”  Not waiting for a response, he answered his own question.  “In one way, it comes from a small town in New York called Tuxedo Place.  The rich people had a club there called the Tuxedo Club.  They were the first in America to wear what we call tuxedos so that's how the popular name came to be.  The town was actually named by Native-Americans, the Lenni-Lenape tribe sometimes called the Delaware Indians.  They called it Tucseto that means place of the bear or maybe clear flowing water.  Bears or water, whichever, but that's where the name of the town came from and then the name of the clothing.  That's the short version.  Would you like to know more?”

“No,” the astounded clerk responded.

Little Danny sighed as the man quietly walked away.

“That was cool,” Jonny praised.

“No, it wasn't, Jonny.  I shouldn't do stuff like that.  It's not nice,” Little Danny sighed.

“Little Danny,” Jennifer interjected, having heard the entire exchange.  “He was being a bit snappy and not very polite.  You showed off a little, but it's no big deal.  Don't let it spoil our day.”

“I won't let it, Jen,” Little Danny returned, a smile back on his face.

“Good.  We need to decide on a shirt style.  I want you boys to look sharp, but I would like you to be comfortable, too.  Let's talk about our choices.”

====

“JD, pay attention,” Jennifer urged with a smile as she spoke to all of her brothers near some tuxedo shirts.  “There are three types of lapels.”  She took hold of one shirt to demonstrate.  “This is the notch style.  See how it has a V-shaped indentation at the collar?  It's the closest to what you guys have on your shirts at home.”

“What's that one?” Ricky questioned as he saw a different looking shirt on the rack.

Jennifer picked up the shirt and explained, “This one has what they call a peak lapel.  It's probably the most traditional lapel option.  It makes a young gentleman with a small frame look a bit bigger.”  Putting it down, the bride-to-be picked up the final possibility.  “Now this shirt has a shawl lapel.  It's pretty much the opposite of the peak collar because it gives males with broad shoulders a more slender look.  It's very high style, very ... Hamilton,” she giggled.

“That one doesn't look like it has a collar at all,” Jonny pointed out about another shirt.

“Yes, I know, but that's a no-go for my wedding, guys and so is that stand up one over there.  It's a mandarin collar.  Neither of those fit with my fashion preferences, okay?”

A round of nods was given to the brown-haired beauty.

The boys broke out into a boisterous cacophony of opinions, much to Jennifer's amusement.  She shared a smile with Jeff, who had figured out exactly what was going on and did his best to guide his brothers in appropriate misbehavior for the outing.

“You're not even big,” Jonny whined to Ricky as the Spitfire studied the shawl collar.

“But I like it,” Ricky argued.

The volume rose and the younger boys began gently slapping one another, as if to shoo off the other's opinion.

“Boys, customers,” Jennifer whispered as she watched two men enter the store and approach one of the sales people.

Jeff grinned in amazement.  It really was proving to be a wild day, one only a Jackson-O'Neill would understand.  Any time other customers came in, the brood went back to perfect behavior.  The last thing Jennifer wanted was to cost the store customers, so when others were present, the family behaved.  As soon as the customers left, though, the chains were loosened, and the boys went wild in their quest to make a one-day shopping venture a two-day event.

====

“Ma'am, we don't have time to do their fittings today,” the sales representative groaned in aggravation.  ~Can't believe you crazies finally decided on what you want.~

“That's okay.  We'll come back tomorrow,” Jennifer said, watching as her brothers ran around the store some more, tossing bow ties in a game of Tuxedo Football.

“Are they always like this?” the exasperated clerk questioned.

“Sometimes.  I'm very lucky.”

“This is lucky?”

“You wouldn't understand, but I wish you could.”

“Pardon me for saying this, but they're acting like wild animals.”

Laughing, Jennifer responded, “I guess they are a little.  I'm sorry, but they're doing exactly what I wanted them to do, and they know it.  It's a little game we're playing.”

“Game?”

Jennifer explained, “We're a very close family, and I'm getting married, the first one to leave the roost, I guess you'd say.  They just want ... we just want ... more time.”  She smiled a bit sadly as she confided, “It won't ever be the same again.  Even JD knows that.”  With a very serious adult expression and tone, she added, “Tomorrow we'll make your time worthwhile, I promise, and I do apologize for any trouble you feel like we've caused, but it was important.”

“Sure wish I knew what you were talking about, Ma'am.  Wouldn't football in the park have worked better?”

“No, not for this.  Like I said, you wouldn't understand, but thank you.  They'll all behave tomorrow.  The fittings will go smoothly.  Bye.”  Jennifer walked away and called out, “Let's go!  Time for pizza!”

Cheers rang out as the boys started to walk out, only Little Danny stopped and called out, “Wait.”  His stare and next action communicated what he needed to his brothers.  Turning, he walked back to where the two store associates were.  “We're very sorry for acting up in your store today.”  He looked over, a fierce stare directed at Jonny.  “Jonny!”

Shuffling a tad, the oldest Munchkin walked to Little Danny's side and then stated, “Yeah, we are, but we had to.”

Ricky, holding his littlest brother's hand, joined the Munchkins and added, “Yeah, we had to, but we didn't mean to be trouble.”

“Jen loves us!” JD stated with a bright smile, one that melted the clerks' hearts.

Rounding up his brothers, David tapped them all on the shoulder and nodded for them to go, and then gave his own apologetic look to the clerks as he said, “Sorry.  They, well, we, all just wanted to spend more time with our sister before she goes away.  This was the only way we knew to do it.”

“That's the game your sister was talking about,” the main salesman clarified, more to himself than as a response to David.

“Yes, but we're not really admitting to it just yet, not until after the fittings tomorrow.  Thanks.  The tuxes look great.  Jen's really happy with them.  See ya.”

The two clerks watched with a hint of amazement as the family finally departed.

“Mikhail isn't going to believe this,” the main clerk said to the other about the store's owner.

“Believe what?”

“That his shop became a park for kids for a day,” the man laughed, as did the other.

====

Jennifer called her parents to let them know that she was taking her brothers out for pizza and then a movie, so they'd be home late.

When the group finally arrived home, they visited a bit with the rest of the family before heading to bed.

“Jen?” Jack called out sometime later when making his nightly rounds.  “How'd it really go today?”

“Exactly like I wanted it to, Dad.  They were wonderful.”

“And?” a probing Jack prodded.

“And I think we should give the tailors a very good ... bonus.  Don't blame the boys, Dad, okay?  Please?”

“So everything's okay?”

“Yes.  Tomorrow we'll have the fittings.  They'll behave.”

“That's a lot of confidence.”

“Well, we're going out for ice cream afterwards and then to the park.  That's okay, isn't it?”

“Sure, Princess.  Anything you want.”

“It's what I want,” Jennifer asserted with a sweet smile.  “I love them so much, Dad, and I'm really going to miss them.  My friends don't understand that.”

“Is that important?”

“It would be nice, but ...”  Wiping away a tear, Jennifer answered more directly, “No, no, it doesn't matter because I understand and so does the brood.”

“Night, Jen,” Jack spoke quietly, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“Goodnight, Dad.”

====

The lights were off and most everyone was sound asleep.  It had been a long day for the male members of the family and with another one on tap for tomorrow, even the older ones were in bed.

Quietly, David left his room and made his way to his sister's room.  He tapped lightly on the door as he opened it.

Jennifer was sleeping, the warmth of the blankets protecting her from the chill of the night.

“Jen?” David called out gently.  He walked over to the bed, crouched down, and reached out, touching his sister lightly.  “Jen.”

“Da...David, are you okay?”  Jennifer looked at the clock and saw it was two minutes before midnight.  “What's wrong?”

“Nothing.  I just wanted to say thank you.”

“You're welcome.”  Suppressing a yawn as she sat up and switched on a light, Jennifer asked, “Why are you thanking me?”

Jennifer patted the side of the mattress, so David rose and sat on the edge of the bed, facing his sister.

“You're going to make a great mom, Sis.”

“Well, I hope so, in the future, not today,” Jennifer chuckled.

“Whenever you have kids, you'll be great.”

“I'm glad you have so much faith in me.”

“It's not faith, Jen, it's knowledge.  I *know* you'll be a great mom because you've *been* a great mom.”  David saw Jennifer twist her head to the side in a sign of confusion.  “After Mom and Dad died, you were our mom.”  A few tears emerged from the teenager's eyes.  “You took care of Noa and me, fought for us, to keep us together.  You protected us.  You comforted us when we felt bad and kept us strong, Jen.  You were our mom ... until Dad and Daddy came along and let you be our sister again.  That's how I know you'll be a great mom.”

“David,” Jennifer expressed with unabashed tears as she reached out and drew her brother in for a long hug.

“Love you, Sis.”

“I love you.  I'm going to miss you so much.”

“Aw, you won't be far,” David assured, not wanting to upset his sister.

“No, I won't be far.”  Jennifer pulled back, but kept a hold on the young man who had changed so much, having gone from a frightened, insecure nerd who was often made fun of at the shelter to a confident, strong genius who was unafraid and could hold his own with both science and baseball.  “I won't ever be far, David.  I need you to stay in touch, okay?  I mean, especially now.  You're done with homeschooling and you're going to be concentrating on college and, wow, working at J-O.  Dad and Daddy are so proud of you, and so am I.”

David smiled and hugged Jennifer again.

“Jen, I'm glad the guys caused a ruckus today, but if they hadn't, I think I would have.”

Jennifer let out a tiny laugh and simply held on to David.  Life was changing for the entire family and the adjustment wasn't easy for any of them.  Still, her heart was happy and joyous for the love of the day and the love she knew would last a lifetime and beyond.

====

Shortly after David had left his room and walked down the stairs en route to his sister's room, Daniel closed the door to the master bedroom and crawled into bed next to his husband.

“Which one?” Jack asked.

“David.  I think he's headed to Jen's room.”

“Makes sense.  He was pretty quiet when they got home,” Jack noted.

Daniel rolled over to relax his head on his lover's chest while also hooking one leg in between Jack's.  Automatically, Jack placed a kiss on Daniel's head and enfolded the man in his arms, rubbing Daniel's back and making the younger man feel secure.

“I'm glad they didn't elope,” Daniel remarked.

“Our budget would have been happier if they had.  Do you know how much this shindig is costing us?”

“Jack!”

“I'm kidding, Daniel.  I probably would have shot him if he'd taken her away from us like that,” the military man spoke about Peter Hamilton, the groom-to-be.

“He's not taking her away from us.”

“That's how it feels,” Jack sighed.  “I know, Danny.  Don't even say it.  We're gaining a son, not losing a daughter.”

“And the boys are gaining a brother.  It's the same principle.”

“Tell them that,” Jack challenged.

“Jen did that today, and she'll punctuate it tomorrow,” Daniel put forth.

“She's pretty terrific, Angel.”

“Our brood is terrific,” Daniel asserted.  “We'll get through this.  It's all growth, and we're good at ... growing.”

“Daniel, if I didn't know better, I'd say you just propositioned me.”  Feeling a hand on his person, Jack's eyes widened.  “Oh yeah!”

Clearly, for Jack and Daniel, growth came in a variety of ways and right now, that was definitely an exciting time for the parents as they let their passion rise in the privacy of their Colorado Springs bedroom.

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

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