Warm Traditions

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 24, 2007
Spoilers:  None
Size:  17kb, ficlet
Written:  November 15,18-19,22,24-25, 2006
Summary:  Daniel brings out something special for Christmas Eve.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) See http://www.africarving.com/pages/families/Page1.html for information on the item pictured below.
2) 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.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, Linda, Jodi, QuinGem!

Warm Traditions
by Orrymain

The holiday season for the Jackson-O'Neills had gone full tilt through this evening, Christmas Eve.  Though no gathering had been officially planned, the small living room was full of guests, including various members of their extended family and close friends.  Everyone wanted to see the Munchkins, just fifteen months old, and the twins, now three months old, celebrate their first holiday together, along with the Mouseketeers -- Jennifer, David, and Chenoa, who had just become a part of the family within the last few months.

As the evening wore on, little Chenoa yawned.  The curly-haired blonde was just twenty-six months old.  She leaned her head backwards, into the protective hold of twelve-and-a-half-year-old Jennifer, who was seated on one of the chairs in the dining nook area.  Sitting Indian-style on the floor, just in front of the two girls, was the boy genius, six-and-a-half-year-old David.

“Hey,” Daniel called out quietly as he entered the dining nook.  He placed his hands in his pockets and studied the three recently adopted children.  “What's going on?”

“Nothing, Daddy,” Jennifer lied quietly.

Daniel squatted down, sitting on his haunches so that he was eye-level with Chenoa, who smiled when he took her hand.

“Everything was different last year, wasn't it?” Daniel asked.  He sighed, the unanswered question deafening in its silence.  “Would you three rather be upstairs?”

“No, Daddy,” Jennifer responded.

“Daddy?” David interjected quietly.

“Yes?”

“We like it here,” the young boy said.

Daniel reached over and caressed the boy's cheek for a moment, then let his hand drop to the youngster's right shoulder.  He squeezed firmly as he smiled.

“That's good, because this is your home now, and Dad and I wouldn't know what to do if you weren't part of our family,” the archaeologist spoke, his voice steady and reassuringly firm.

“Cookie,” Chenoa spoke.

“Uh, I'm sure we have some, Princess.  Would you like a snicker doodle?” Daniel asked.

“Cookie,” the little girl repeated, a strange sadness in her eyes.

“We have some chocolate fudge cookies,” Daniel replied.  “Would you rather have one of those?”  When his daughter shook her head, he asked, “Sweetie, what do you want?”

“Cookie,” Chenoa repeated.  Then, as a whisper, she added, “Mommy.”

Daniel glanced up at Jennifer, the pre-teen sighing as she connected the dots.

“Our mother loved to bake at Christmastime,” Jennifer explained.  “I guess Noa remembers making cookies with her, especially on Christmas Eve.  We used to make cookies before opening presents, and we'd eat them when they were really hot.  It was ... a little bit of a game.  I guess it made an impression on her last year.”

“Oh,” the sad father expressed solemnly.  “It's okay to remember your parents.”

“You're all missing the party,” Jack spoke as he walked into the dining nook, his namesake in his arms.  “Did 'The Simpsons' get canceled?” he teased, knowing from the long faces that something was up with the three children, but having no clue what it was.  He saw Daniel suddenly smile.  ~It can't be all bad, if he's smiling.~

“I'll be right back,” Daniel said enigmatically, standing up and then patting his lover on the elbow as he walked by.  He nodded at a few of their guests, all curious where their host was disappearing to, and he stopped for a moment to pick up Jenny, who had started to cry.  “Shhh.  It's okay,” he comforted.  The youngest Jackson-O'Neill daughter quieted quickly, so he carefully handed her over to Sam to hold while he proceeded with his task.  ~It's perfect,~ he thought as he walked into the garage.  ~I hope.~

“Dad, do you know what he's doing?” Jennifer inquired, her mood still subdued.

“Not a clue.  Daddy is a man of mystery,” Jack replied.  “How about some punch?” he asked.  Seeing the vacant faces, he suggested, “Cake?”  Sighing at the shaking heads, he felt at a loss.  ~What's bothering them?  I hope Danny's smile means he knows how to bring back the Mouseketeers' smiles.~

“I'm not hungry,” David finally answered, fidgeting with his hands as he stared down at them.

“Me, either,” Jennifer added.

“Cookie,” Chenoa stated.

“I think ...”

“No, Dad, that's not what she means,” Jennifer interrupted, bouncing her sister gently on her knee as she continued to hold her protectively.  “She ...”

“Sir,” Sam called out from the living room as she bounced a fidgety Jenny in her arms.

Jack looked torn for a moment, wanting to stay with his adopted children, but needing to check on his youngest daughter, too.

“Be right back,” the general told the Mouseketeers before heading into the living room, where it seemed little Jenny was insisting on the attention of at least one of her fathers.

Jack handed Jonny to Teal'c, who was sitting next to Sam, and then took Jenny from his 2IC.  He smiled when the infant calmed.

~You've got the touch, O'Neill,~ a pleased Jack thought to himself.

====

Almost fifteen minutes later, Daniel returned to the living room, a box held firmly in his hands.  He walked over towards the counter that separated the living room from the kitchen and dining nook area, then turned to look towards their guests.  With a glance at the Mouseketeers, still seated in the nook, the linguist cleared his throat as he attempted to gain the attention of everyone.

Unfortunately, the bustle of the holiday precluded the sometimes shy young man from accomplishing his goal; that is, until his husband figured out what Daniel was trying to do and let out a long, loud whistle that promptly drew looks his way.

“I think Daniel wants to say something,” Jack spoke, Jenny still in his arms as he stood between the sofa and the fish tank.

“Thanks, Jack,” Daniel acknowledged.  “Uh, several years ago, I helped out on a dig in Africa.  The sponsor of the dig was, uh ... grateful,” he continued shyly, a tiny smile on his face.  “He gave me this,” he said, holding up the closed box.  “Now, I'd like to give it to three of our children.”

Daniel looked over at Jennifer, David, and Chenoa and smiled as curiosity overcame their sadness.

“What is it, Daddy?” the oldest of the three Mouseketeers asked.

“Well, it's not a relic,” Daniel answered.

“Has to be a rock,” Jack teased.

“Well, technically, kind of, maybe,” the archaeologist responded.

“Daniel!”

Cocking his head slightly, the younger man stated, “Well, it's called steatite.  It's a soapstone that is ...”

“I know!” David interjected excitedly.  “It's a soft stone.”

Daniel smiled.  Their son loved geology, especially the study of rocks.

“You're right, Son,” Daniel affirmed.  “In Zimbabwe, it's call rapoko.  It's a natural mineral, found in abundance, so, it's used for ... well, for a lot of different things, all around the world.  Because it's durable and easy to work with, many cultures use it in their artwork, including memorial types of objects.  You can find it in tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, Indian temples, ... well, just everywhere.”

“Will there be a test after the lecture, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill?” Jack inquired jokingly.

“Do you think you'd pass?” the archaeologist challenged, to which the people gathered laughed, knowing Jack's penchant for lectures to be highly overrated.

“Sorry I interrupted.  Go ahead with your prattling,” Jack urged.  Seeing the glare, he cleared his throat and corrected, “I mean, go ahead with what you were saying.  We're all ears.”

“Right,” Daniel replied dryly.  “So, the Shona of Zimbabwe, formerly Southern Rhodesia, have been making artwork of all kinds for centuries.  It's high quality and touches the heart.  Their work is inspired by their spiritual beliefs, and their folklore and daily life.  It's really fascinating.  The sculptors use basic chisels to 'release' the spirits of the stone.  In fact, Henry Munyaradzi once said, 'The sculpture is already hidden in the stone.  I just let it out'.”

“Henry Who?” Jack asked.

“Henry Munyaradzi,” Daniel repeated.  “He's the poet laureate of Zimbabwe sculpture.  The essence of his works came from the shape of the stone itself, and his greatness came in large part due to the purity of his form.  I mean, his strength came from his technique and imagery.  He's considered to have been one of the best.”

“I never know what he's gonna come up with next,” Jack whispered to Sam.

“I heard that,” Daniel spoke, causing Jack to grimace slightly.

“Daniel, what's in the box?” Jack asked, trying to get out of 'trouble' by getting his soulmate to focus his attention back on the mysterious item that apparently was a gift for the Mouseketeers.

**Not going to work, Jack; you're still in trouble,** Daniel informed his husband with their silent communication.

**Danny, the box.  Everyone's waiting,** Jack reminded.

“Oh, yeah,” Daniel stated, looking down at the box.  “He, the sponsor, gave this to me when the dig was over.  I put it away and haven't really thought about it since then.  Um, for a while, I thought maybe when Sha're ...”  Daniel smiled, still full of regret that his Abydonian wife had died while serving as the host to Apophis' mate.  Not only that, but she had never known the full happiness that life could offer, something that left him feeling sad.  “Anyway, Jack and I are very lucky.  We have the Munchkins and the twins, and ...” he paused, looking over at the three older kids, “... the Mouseketeers, who we love very, very much.  Our lives wouldn't be complete without them.”

Jennifer reached up to brush away a tear, while David grinned at the words.  Young Chenoa simply clapped her hands, knowing she was a Mouseketeer and was loved.

**Danny, what's going on?** Jack communicated, now concerned that he had missed something major.

**Nothing, Love.  Just listen,** the younger man replied.  He motioned with his head and requested, “David, why don't you come and open this.”

Eagerly, the rock-loving child stood and joined his younger father at the counter.  He took the box and walked over to the coffee table with it, placing the box on the table.  Then he removed the string that helped bind the box, after which he lifted off the cover.

“Wow!” the boy exclaimed.  “It's heavy,” he observed as he lifted the statue that weighed over sixteen pounds.

“Noa, look at this,” Jennifer stated as she brought the little girl over to see the item.

Chenoa ran her hands over the smooth stone sculpture and gave a little smile.

“It's a family of five,” Daniel said, stating the obvious.  “It's made from the rapoko stone and was sculpted by one of the Shone craftsmen.  I'd like to give this to the three of you.  It can be a reminder of the love your parents had for you and for each other.”

The brown statue with variegate dark accents had a father, mother, and three children of different ages, all holding hands.  The almost nineteen-inch tall statue was a powerful piece that evoked both love and the sense of family.


Daniel looked out at their guests, noting, “Losing parents is a difficult thing.  On this Christmas Eve, I'd like to pause and remember the two people who brought Jennifer, David, and Chenoa into the world and then gave them so much love.”

There was silence for several seconds.  Some guests bowed their heads, while others just smiled at the three Morgan, now Jackson-O'Neill, children.

“The Morgans will always be in our hearts,” Daniel told the three children.  “I hope that maybe the statue can be something that will give you strength and remind you of what a wonderful family you came from, and that this family will always be here for you.  We love you.”

“We sure do,” Jack echoed with a nod.

Jennifer grinned at their older father, then suggested, “David, why don't you keep this in your room?”

“Can I?” the boy asked hopefully.

“As long as I can come visit it,” the tweener teased lightly.

Daniel reached out, taking Chenoa from Jennifer and asked, “I'm not your Mommy, but we can make cookies, too, if  you like.”

“Or we can start our own cooking tradition,” Jack suggested.  “Brownies!  How about brownies?”

Jennifer and David smiled politely at Jack's suggestion, but little Chenoa simply leaned her head against Daniel's shoulder.

“Uh, actually, Jack, I think some traditions should always continue.  We can make this a special tradition, to always include the Morgans in our holidays.  Would you like that, Noa?”  When Chenoa nodded against his shoulder, he smiled and asked, “Jen, any special kind of cookie?”

“Are you sure, Daddy?” Jennifer asked, looking at Daniel and then over at Jack.  “Dad?  We don't have to.”

“Yes, we do,” Daniel insisted, placing a kiss on Chenoa's forehead.  “More than that, we want to.”

“Yeahsureyabetcha!” the older man chirped.

“Well, we always started with chocolate chips.  Mom called them Chippers,” Jennifer stated.

“I love a woman who loves nicknames,” Jack teased.

“Jack, Daniel, I think it's time for all of us to go and leave you to it,” General Hammond said on behalf of the guests, all of whom nodded.

Jack and Daniel didn't want to be rude, but they were each glad for Hammond's comment.  They loved their extended family of friends, but it was apparent that their children needed them right now.  Obviously, the others saw that as well.

====

After good-byes and hugs, the house was down to Jack, Daniel, their eight children, their beloved beagles, and the fish.  The twins quickly fell asleep when placed in their crib, and the Munchkins were content to be in their playpen, which was in the living room.  Bijou and Katie, the beagles, stayed close, keeping an eye on the triplets.

“Time to welcome an old tradition into our new family,” Daniel stated as he, his husband, and the Mouseketeers entered the kitchen.

Jack began to get out the ingredients as he commented, “Can't have too many traditions.”

“Cookie!” Chenoa cheered.  “Noa help mix!”

“Wouldn't have it any other way, Princess,” Jack chuckled.

As their Christmas Eve continued, a blending of the old and the new traditions helped to bind together the already very close Jackson-O'Neill family.  They were a family full of so much love for one another, and it was clear that nothing could interfere with that, if they didn't let it.

====

“Santa come?”

“Tonight, Princess,” Jack promised as he, Daniel, and the Mouseketeers sat down later to eat their freshly made and very warm chocolate chip cookies in the living room.

The Munchkins and the twins were fast asleep in their cribs, none of them able to stay awake to enjoy the just-baked treats.

“Yay, Santa!” the little girl cheered.

“First, though, we have a couple of gifts from Dad and Daddy to open,” Jack stated.

Chenoa grinned and clapped her hands together at this statement.

~She's beautiful,~ Daniel thought.  Inside, his heart beat happily.  This was what he wanted to see.  ~Note to self:  traditions are a good thing,~ he determined as he handed Chenoa a present to open.  ~A very good thing.~

====

“Jack, what are you doing?” Daniel asked, yawning as he walked down the bottom stair and saw his husband sitting in his favorite chair.  “It's only one-thirty.  We have another ... gawd, hour before we need to ... you know,” he spoke about their parental Santa duties in preparation for all the Christmas rituals to be carried out.

“Just taking care of an important duty,” the older man answered as he finished off another cookie and then drank some of the milk that had been left out on the table next to the chair.  “Nice of Santa's helpers to put the milk in a cooler.”

Daniel chuckled, “We could just put them in the cookie jar.”

“No, Angel, not these cookies,” Jack said, suddenly more solemn.  “These are special cookies.  Noa needs to know that Santa came and enjoyed them, that Mom and Dad are here, too, watching and taking care of her.  She needs security.”  He sighed, “Jen told me their father always left one half of a cookie with about a third of a glass of milk.”

Daniel walked over to his husband, leaning over to give him a kiss.

“Wanna share?” Jack asked.

“No, I'll enjoy the treat next year,” Daniel replied.  “I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, Danny.”

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