A Warm Fuzzies Tale
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - July 30, 2011
Size: 21kb, ficlet
Written: June 18, July 12, September 23, 2018, January 14-18, February 4,6,8, 2019
Summary: Little creatures bring new joy to the Jackson-O'Neill family.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
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) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): “Unexpected Miracle”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Mama Bear!
“Great burning, Dad,” David chimed as he finished off his grilled burger.
“It wasn't burnt. It was well charred,” Jack put forward while quickly jutting his head back and widening his eyes defensively.
As the six o'clock hour loomed, warmth surrounded the family while they finished their meal in the backyard. Indeed, the temperature read roughly seventy-nine degrees outside with a slight breeze from the northwest making the evening weather perfect for dinner dining.
The Jackson-O'Neills kicked off their summer night with outdoor grilling and supping. Their picnic tables were placed in close proximity, allowing everyone to eat and chat without having to shout.
When the family headed inside the house, Daniel requested, “Jen, please secure Mittens and Calico in Lulu's room. Lulu, you can help. David, Little Danny, I want you both to make sure the rest of the zoo are secure, too. No exceptions.”
“Yes, Daddy,” the named children called out in disharmonic acknowledgements.
“Now, Daddy?” Aislinn asked eagerly.
“Not until the zoo is confirmed to be in place. You can go upstairs, but you are *not* to open the cage until Dad or I tell you. Okay?”
“Okay!” Aislinn replied, her eyes bright in anticipation. “Come on, Jenny.”
Jack groaned as the two girls hurried upstairs.
“Babe, don't start.”
“I didn't say a word.”
“It's done, Jack. We have guinea pigs, two of them. They're part of our zoo now. Get over it.”
“Geez, you're tough.”
“Sometimes,” Daniel affirmed with a smile.
“Woof?” Bijou barked softly, as if to ask if she and her daughter should stay in the house or not.
“I think outside,” Jack answered the beagle. “We want to get the critters acquainted with the house. Other furries might be too much for their first night. You understand?”
“Woof,” Bijou acknowledged without any upset, after which she and Katie returned to the backyard.
A few minutes later, the majority of Jackson-O'Neills were gathered in the living room. Some were seated on the sofa, but the majority sat on the floor or stood behind the sofa.
“I'll get Ash and Jenny,” Daniel told his lover before heading upstairs.
Meanwhile, Jack reminded, “Kids, remember, we're a handful for meeting new people. With little critters, we can be mighty scary. Let's give the guinea pigs some space. We don't want to frighten them.”
“I can't wait,” Lulu giggled.
“Me, either,” Chenoa agreed as she laughed in delight.
“More joy to love,” a teasing Jennifer mused as she gave her older father a sly grin.
Mockingly, the silver-haired man replied, “Yes, joy.”
“You ready?” Daniel asked his daughters as he walked inside the girls' room.
“Yes!” Aislinn exclaimed while pulling her long brown hair back and shaping it into a ponytail.
“Can we take Strawberry and Shortcake out of their cage now?” Jenny inquired, her right hand already on the cage door.
“Yes, but don't scare them.”
“We've taken them out of their cages at Mrs. Smith's lots of times,” Aislinn pointed out with a firm and steady voice.
“They're in a new place. Think about them, not you,” the father advised.
“I'm just so excited.”
“I know, Sweetie.”
Calming themselves by taking deep breaths, the sisters opened the expensive new cage and carefully reached for the guinea pigs they'd acquired earlier in the day from their friend, Susie Smith. Originally, Jack and Daniel planned only on allowing Jenny to bring home the guinea pig named Strawberry, but once at Susie's house, Daniel learned that the little girls also wanted a guinea pig named Shortcake. The archaeologist was unable to deny his princesses. This meant that if his husband's inner grizzly bear made an appearance, so be it.
Neither sister spoke their observations out loud, but both noticed the guinea pigs seemed to be hesitant to be removed from their new home. As they used their claws to seemingly dig into the floor of their cage, both small furries released soft squeals of protest. The girls quietly encouraged the animals as they took them out of the wired object and held them firmly in their hands.
Daniel couldn't help but smile as he watched his dutiful daughters doting on the little creatures who, though sisters themselves, were different in appearance.
Strawberry was mostly black with a small white blaze from the top her nose that continued up her face and stopped a little above eye level. Her left front foot stood out from the other ones because it was white. Shortcake, on the other hand, was completely ginger in hue. From what the father could see, both were short-haired and about the same size.
~Of course, I really don't know anything about how big baby guinea pigs should be; or adult ones for that matter; or, well ...~ Daniel widened his eyes in acceptance and drew in a breath. ~Face it, Jackson, all you know is that they are now part of the zoo.~ He watched as Aislinn's finger gently tickled against Strawberry's fur, resulting in a tiny squeal that sounded pretty happy to him. ~Ah, and they're cute, too.~
Finally, it was time for the guinea pigs to be introduced to the Jackson-O'Neill family. Aislinn and Jenny were bubbling over with excitement as they held their charges in their hands. Eagerly, they followed their younger father downstairs to the living room.
As they waited, the rest of the brood were clamoring with anticipation. New additions to the zoo were always welcome; there were never enough critters for the children.
"He's so cute,” opined Chenoa.
The curly-haired blonde stood and, while she wanted to run, she calmly approached her sisters.
"What's his name?” Jonny asked from his spot on the carpet on which he sat Indian-style with his back leaning slightly against the front of the sofa.
“Chov'nist,” the almost four-year-old Jenny accused.
“Am not,” the confident youngster denied. “Daddy, what's a chov'nist?” he queried with a crinkled nose and bright probing brown eyes that earnestly sought clarification.
“The word is chauvinist,” the linguist responded. “In this case, it means someone who believes their group is superior to all others.”
"You mean Jenny thinks she's better than me?”
“Ah, no. She thinks you think that boys are better than girls,” Daniel clarified.
“But ...” Jonny began.
Quickly, Jack interjected, “Careful, Sport. You don't want to go there. Trust me on that.”
Internally, the Munchkin debated whether or not to forge ahead, but before his brain could compute the pros and cons, the spirited redhead's voice was heard, its tone challenging in its sharpness.
"Why did you think Strawberry is a boy?” Jenny interrogated with a taut facial expression.
“I,” the boy began. Jonny glanced over at his military father and noted Jack's head moving back and then cocking slightly. Widened yet pointed eyes told the child not to push the issue, which Jonny decided was okay. ~Not sure why arguing anyway,~ he thought. Smiling, he answered, “How can you tell if a guinea pig is a boy or a girl?” He shrugged, happy with his words. He added, “I had a fifty/fifty chance of being right.”
Jenny stared at her brother incredulously. Then she heard the general's remarks.
“Sorry, Red, he's got you there. Time's awastin'. Let's have our introduction session or we won't have time for ice cream.”
**Nicely done, Babe.**
**Thank you, Love.** Jack paused and added, **Jonny has a legit Q.**
**True. Uh, I mean, how do we really know these guinea pigs are girls?**
**Susie said so?** came the query to the query.
With a shrug, Daniel agreed. Studying little piggies was never part of his educational studies. He opted not to worry about it at this point, something he sensed his soulmate also decided to do.
The younger children,, including both Jonny and Jenny gasped. The fear of not having time for their traditional nightly ice cream was terrifying. All thoughts of possible chauvinistic debate disappeared in a heartbeat. The focus turned to the two critters and allowing them to feel comfortable around Jack, Daniel, and the brood. Meeting the zoo would happen slowly and individually as the night passed.
“Hey, wait,” Aislinn called out as she felt Shortcake squirm.
“Everyone back off,” Jack ordered.
“What's wrong?” David inquired as he returned to the couch and took a seat.
“She's frightened,” Aislinn noted with some alarm.
“But they know you,” David returned.
“They know Ash and Jenny,” Daniel confirmed. “They've never seen any of us until today. They were nervous upstairs when the girls first picked them up in their cage.”
“Yeah, they were in the back,” Jenny recalled.
“Cuddling right by each other,” Aislinn added.
“But we love them,” Lulu declared quietly.
“Li'l Bit,” Daniel began as he crouched down onto his haunches to speak with her. “Imagine yourself in their place. Your nice and warm in the only house you've ever known. Slowly, your brothers and sisters disappear. Then one day, even your mother is gone. You know a few friendly faces, but without any warning, you are taken from your home and brought to a new one. Yes, you have a nice big new cage, but it's different, and even though two of those faces are familiar, there are a bunch of new faces you don't know. You're scared. It takes time to trust. We need to move at their speed and give them time to adjust.”
“Like you did with me, huh, Daddy?”
With a tender nod and upturned lips, Daniel affirmed, “With you and Bri and ...”
“... me,” Jeff piped up.
“And the three of us, too,” Jennifer spoke on behalf of her birth siblings while nodding towards David and Chenoa.
“We don't want Strawberry and Shortcake to be afraid of us,” Chenoa stated.
“Right,” Jack acknowledged. “Let's take this one kid per guinea pig at a time. Stay back, talk softly, hold your hand out, but don't rush in, and let animals call the shots for now.”
Aislinn and Jenny shared their father's favorite chair. They gently patted and spoke reassuringly to their new pets.
“Ah, let's start small,” the archaeologist suggested.
“That's me!” Jenny's twin brother asserted. “I'm the smallest one left,” Ricky claimed.
“Go ahead,” Jack urged. “Noa, you, too.”
For the next half-hour, the brood took turns introducing themselves to the guinea pigs. Only a few of them actually held them, though, as the latest zoo acquisitions were somewhat standoffish.
“We understand,” Little Danny told both Strawberry and Shortcake. Amazing to no one, the two animals ambled into his arms without much more than a “hello” from the pet-loving child prodigy. “You need confidence to know we love you and want you to be happy. You'll see. Bij and Katie, they're our beagles, will watch over you, too. Have you seen a dog before? It's okay. They're the leaders of the zoo and they'll always protect you, just like we will. That's a promise.”
Lulu loved it when Strawberry willingly went into her arms. The action warmed her heart and made her feel special.
“I understand, too,” the ballet lover whispered. With an even more hushed voice, she said, “Maybe I'll tell you one day, but I don't want to frighten you.”
Strawberry made a short noise and leaned into Lulu's hands, as if she responded she understood and would be a confidante for the youthful dancer.
When it was David's turn, he surprised his family by detouring into the kitchen. When he returned, he was holding two apple slices which he offered to the guinea pigs. A bit hesitant, Shortcake held back, but Strawberry quickly began nibbling on the treat. It wasn't long before Shortcake's nose twitched, and she also took hold of an apple slice. Soon, the critters were looking at the ten-year-old genius with approving eyes.
“It's not me, it's the apples, but that's okay for now,” the boy acknowledged to his siblings as he cautiously picked up the addicting piggies and returned them to Aislinn and Jenny.
Brianna was the last of the children to hold the newcomers on this first night of their residency.
“Um, is there a special way I should hold them?” the teen asked no one in particular.
“Susie taught us to do it like this, Bri,” Aislinn answered, demonstrating that the best way to hold the small animal was to pick her up with one hand under the belly and the other on her bottom. “Hold her close to your body, but don't squeeze her. She just needs to know she's safe.”
“Yeah, they'll be 'fraid if they think they'll fall,” Jenny elaborated.
“Gotcha'!” the tomboy replied. “Hand under the belly and support the rump,” she laughed.
When the kids finished their hello sessions, Daniel held both of the guinea pigs for a couple of minutes each. Like his namesake, his aura attracted both Strawberry and Shortcake. As he was about to give the animals back his daughters, Jenny enthusiastically reminded her older father that he had not yet held either one of them.
“You,” Daniel stated with a sly grin as he carefully handed Aislinn's pet to his husband.
Jack wanted to growl, but he couldn't scare the zoo newbies. That would be cruel, so he gave in and provided firm and steady hands in which the guinea pigs could feel secure.
“They like you, Dad,” Jeff commented.
“Lucky me,” Jack replied as he tried to keep his game going.
“Dad, you're smiling,” Brianna noted.
“You're smiling,” David mused as several of his siblings chuckled.
“Yeah, well ...” Jack let his smile grow when the animals climbed all over him freely. “They like me. They really like me,” he teased. Feeling joyful, he observed, “They give me that warm, fuzzy feeling.”
“Warm fuzzy feeling?” Jenny echoed. “What's that?”
“It's a wonderful feeling you get inside,” Daniel explained. “It's ... loving and makes you feel good, like when Bijou or Katie give you a kiss or when you share the last bowl of ice cream with one of your siblings. Sometimes, it's having a white Christmas or getting something unexpectedly that brings you happiness, like a visit from Grandpa or a phone call from Aunt Catherine. Maybe it's just Dad bringing home donuts even though you've been misbehaving. Whatever it is, it fills you with joy, comforts you, and reminds you of goodness.”
“You can't beat warm fuzzies,” Jack claimed. “Holding each of you for the first time gave Daddy and me a lifetime of warm fuzzies.”
“So loving and being loved by the zoo brings warm fuzzies forever,” Aislinn declared as she went nose-to-nose with Shortcake before taking hold of her.
“That it does, Princess,” the general concurred.
The children were snug in their beds while Jack and Daniel enjoyed the next part of the July evening on their roof deck. The two were happy that the brood's first meeting with the guinea pigs was successful. Now, though, they were focused on each other.
“Daniel, you left out a very important warm fuzzy.”
“What was that, Babe?”
With a seductive grin, Jack put his arm around his lover's waist and spoke in a husky voice, “I'd rather show you.”
Daniel smiled, kissed his husband, and invited, “Lead the way.”
For the Jackson-O'Neills, Colorado Springs was a happy place to live, especially now that two new creatures were part of their zoo. They may be small, but Strawberry and Shortcake were destined to make the family's lives even better. They might be small critters, but the guinea pigs definitely brought more warm fuzzies then could be imagined on this night. What would the future hold? The answer would come with the future, which Jack and Daniel knew would be full of love and joy, and that meant their lives would always be rich and happy. It was the best warm fuzzy of them all.
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