Women!

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - March 25, 2017
Spoilers:  Icon
Size:  17kb, ficlet
Written:  July 17-19, 2011
Summary:  Jeff has a chat with Daniel about women.
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?~

Women!
by Orrymain

The Jackson-O'Neill backyard was bustling with activity on this bright Saturday afternoon.  Both Jack and Daniel were outside, watching over the multitude of children at play, many of whom weren't actually theirs.  At the moment, Jack was playing a bit of football with some of the younger kids, including JD and Tommaso Luca, who were both five years old now.

“Long one, Tommy,” Jack called out just before sending the small, non-regulation rubber football sailing through the air.

“Oh, fubnubwub,” Tommaso whined as the ball flew over his head and through his tiny hands.

“Here you go, Tommaso,” Daniel spoke with an understanding smile.  “Sometimes he forgets you're not as tall as he is yet.”

Giggling as he accepted the football, Tommaso asked, “Uncle Daniel, how come Uncle Jack calls me 'Tommy'?  No one else calls me that.”

Amused, Daniel kneeled down on his haunches to be on the boy's level when he replied, “Well, uh, Uncle Jack likes to be different, and, well, he's more of a kid than either you or JD are.”

Tommaso slowly processed the thought and then grinned while teasing, “Maybe my daddy should spank him.”

Daniel laughed out loud, continuing to do so even as he saw Jack approaching.

The retired Air Force general sensed something was a little off as he neared his husband and their unofficial nephew.

“My bad,” Jack apologized to the youngster.

“It's okay, Uncle Jack.  Mommy says someday I'll be even taller than you.”

“She does, huh?”

Tommaso nodded, a tolerant smile on his face.  Then he caught sight of his sister, Amara.  The three-and-a-half-year-old girl was staring eagerly at the swing.

“I'll push you, Amara,” Tommaso shouted out.  “JD, let's push Amara on the swings,” he yelled at his best friend, who was waiting patiently for the football toss to continue.  Getting a nod and seeing the other boy already heading over towards the swing set, Tommaso handed Jack the football and ran off after saying a quick, “Bye,” to his uncles.

“Easy come, easy go,” Jack remarked as Daniel stood up.  “What was that about?”

“What was what about?”

“I distinctly had the feeling I was being mocked as I walked up.”

Daniel simply smiled.  He would have responded verbally as well, but out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jonny and his girlfriend, Tootie Oliver, about to pull a prank on Jenny.  Something told him Jenny might not like having her red hair doused with a mud pie shampoo, so he hurried off to intervene.

Jack also realized what was happening and just laughed aloud as he thought, ~Yep. That boy is a chip off the old block.  I still don't understand what Mary Wickham had against yellow hair.  So it was paint.  It improved her looks a thousand times.~

====

Having just tagged his namesake as “it” in a game of tag that several of the kids were playing, Daniel became distracted by a phone conversation he was hearing the tail end of.  He wasn't much of an intentional eavesdropper, but something about this conversation drew him near.  Waving off the kids to continue playing without him, he leisurely headed closer to the gazebo area from wince the voice was being heard.

Standing on the other side of the shaded gazebo, nearer to the fence that separated the backyard from the stable and grazing area for Chenoa's Shetland ponies, Hot and Chocolate, Jeff held his new Blackberry phone to his ear.  His face was taut, and his expression was one of frustration.

“Chely, it's not like that.”

Daniel groaned a little inwardly.  He had a hunch about the phone call's current topic, and he sensed Jeff was going to lose the battle.

“I told you I'd call you back.”

The archaeologist shook his head at that comment, having the deep feeling that it had definitely been the wrong thing to say.

“Chel ... but ... Ch...Ch...Ch...Chely, will you listen to me?”

~I don't think so,~ Daniel answered inwardly, nodding when he heard the groan from his oldest son.

Staring at his Blackberry for a moment, Jeff let out another frustrating groan and then a quiet yet strong cry of, “Women!”  Putting the phone in his shirt pocket, he glanced over and saw his younger father looking in his direction.  The architect major sighed and began to amble over to Daniel.  “You heard that?”

“I think we need to talk,” Daniel suggested firmly, his head motioning to the gazebo.  He led the way, stepping up to the deck and then sitting down.  He waited for his son to take the spot next to him.  “I know what this is.”

“You do?” Jeff asked, hoping his father would have something helpful to say.

“I think so.”  With a glance to the college student, Daniel asked, “How are things with Chely?”

Jeff sighed as he reflected on his high school girlfriend, Chely Tillison.  She was attending Stanford University in California, while he studied at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, although this semester he was doing his work study in Colorado Springs, something his mentor, Alex Dennison, had arranged.  In truth, Jeff and Chely had agreed to date other people, both thinking that a long distance, monogamous relationship would be difficult to handle.  Still, they were in frequent contact.

“I miss her,” Jeff answered sincerely.  “I don't know why she's so upset.”

“Why is she upset?” Daniel prodded, even though he felt like he already knew.

“Cynthia.”

“The Morrison's daughter?”

“Daddy, Alex assigned me to head up the renovation of the Morrison's summer house.  Cynthia is staying there this semester, along with their housekeeping staff.”

“And?”

“And she's very interested in design.  She's inquisitive,” Jeff explained, without looking his father in the eye.

“And?”

“I'm helping her.”

“Helping is good.”

“Try telling Chely that.  She's being so unreasonable,” Jeff decried.

Thoughtfully, Daniel returned, “That's right.  You two agreed that it was okay to date others.”

“Date?” Jeff queried in surprise.  “I'm not dating Cynthia.”

“But you have dated other girls.”

“Yes, sort of.  But so has Chel ... sort of.”

“That sounds decisive.”

“Daddy, it's not that simple.  We agreed, but I'm not dating Cynthia, and I don't want to, either.”

“You don't?”

“No, I don't, and Chely is twisting everything out of shape.”

“She is?”

“Just because Cynthia called while I was talking to Chely on the phone, and I told Chely I'd call her back later, she got all upset.”

“You told Chely you'd call her back?” Daniel sought in clarification.

“Well, yes.  It's just Cynthia has an appointment, and ...” Jeff answered, his voice trailing off at the end of his reply.

“How goes the dating other people agreement?”

Jeff groaned, “I think about her all the time.”

“Do you think she's doing the same thing?”

“I don't know.  How can I ask her that, Daddy?”

“Oh, how about, 'Chely, are you still okay about our decision to date other people?' or something like that?” Daniel proposed, looking at Jeff for a reaction.

“I'm not dating Cynthia, and I told Chely that.”

“I'm sure she believes you.”

“Then why is she upset?”

“Maybe because you're throwing Cynthia in her face.”

“What?” a stunned Jeff inquired, his head making a sharp left turn to look Daniel in the eye.

“Jeff, I'd like to tell you a little story.  It's a ... a true story.”

“Okay,” Jeff responded, shrugging at the same time.

“Several years ago, I was ... out of town.”  Daniel smiled as he elaborated, “Way ... way out of town.”

Jeff chuckled and nodded, understanding that Daniel had been off-world and just didn't want to say the words with the yard full of neighborhood children who were totally unaware that such a thing was not just something from a science fiction TV show or book.

“Uh, it was a bit of a mess, actually.  I was hurt, bad, and Dad wasn't there ... which was probably a good thing or he would have killed me himself.”

“Huh?”

Daniel snickered, “Sorry.  We do that a lot, or say that a lot.  It's just ... we worry, and sometimes it comes out sarcastic.”

“I understand.”

“You do?”

“Yeah,” Jeff confirmed.  “Dad didn't want you to go, but you did, and then you got hurt, so Dad was right, but he would have killed you for having gotten hurt, except he wouldn't have really.”  He smiled with a hint of embarrassment as he added, “I think there's a lot of mushy, romantic stuff in there, but, uh ...”

Jeff's chuckle floated off into the breeze, circulating through the backyard, capturing Jack's attention from afar.

His eyes moving from side to side a bit, Daniel pondered the explanation and then agreed, “That's about right.”  With a smile, he continued, “Anyway, I was pretty banged up.  When I regained consciousness, I realized a woman was taking care of me.  I didn't know where I was or even what had happened to get me there.  It was ... a blur, a ... a big blur.”

“What was her name?”

“Leda, Leda Kane.”  Daniel paused, his face going blank as his mind wandered back to recall the woman.  “She was lonely, Jeff.  Her husband was a big part of what was essentially a civil war, and he was away a lot.”

“She fell for you, didn't she, Daddy?”

Daniel looked down, his two hands interlocking as he moved his fingers back and forth.

“I don't know.  It's just ... I was there for a long time.  I couldn't see.  My eyes were covered.  I didn't know what was going on, and I ...”

“You were lonely, too,” Jeff surmised.

“Dad was a long ways away.  I knew he'd find me, but I didn't know when.  I was determined to get home, but at the same time, hers was the only voice I heard for a very long time.”  Daniel sighed.  “I didn't consciously realize what was happening, that she was beginning to care too much.  It's just an excuse, Jeff, but talking with her passed the time until I was well enough to try to find my way home.  Son, I was selfish, and my selfishness caused Leda some pain.”

“It's not your fault she got attached.”

“Isn't it?” Daniel countered.  “Look, I knew Dad was here.  I knew I loved him, and he loved me, and that there would never be anything to interfere with that. Even if it took a decade to rescue me, that's how it was, or would be.  I wouldn't ... pass the time by having an affair.”

“Daddy, what are you trying to tell me?”

“I'm just saying I was selfish.  I knew I wouldn't cross the line, but I was lonely, and I liked the attention.”

A bit downtrodden, Jeff mumbled, “I'm not dating Cynthia.”

“I know that; so does Chely.”

Jeff looked over at some of his siblings.  He saw Little Danny handing Carrie Lapierre a pink rose from the garden.  The two kids had been close friends for years.  Then he saw Tootie staring down Jonny over something or another.  Tootie was the only female outside of the family that could read Jonny's bluffs and hold him into account for whatever was going on.  Young love was so simple.

“I just wanted to keep Chel in the loop, so she'd know what was going on,” Jeff commented.

“In the loop?” Daniel questioned curiously.  “So ... you made sure she knew when you were seeing Cynthia?”

Jeff slowly turned to face his father.  Once he did, he reached a new level of awareness of exactly what he'd done.

“You're saying I wanted her to know that Cynthia liked me.”

“Does she?  I mean, does Cynthia like you?”

Almost dejectedly, in a reaction of the truth having been discovered, Jeff's head dropped, and he blew out some air.

“Yes,” the young man admitted reluctantly, internally recalling the smiles, fussing, and flirtatiousness of the young woman.  ~Boy, does she like me.~

“But you don't like her?”

“Not like that, Daddy.  I ... I couldn't.”

“Because you're in love with Chely.”

“We made an agreement,” Jeff spoke in an accusing tone.

“You both made that agreement, Son,” Daniel reminded.  “If you don't like it, change it; that is, if Chely agrees.”

“Women are too demanding, and long distance relationships don't work.”

“Women are passionate and loving, and they 're smart, and for the record, Jeff, some long distant relationships thrive.  Maybe you should just try being honest.”  Daniel held up his hand to stop Jeff from responding as yet.  “Jeff, this isn't about Cynthia liking you, or you being apart from Chely, or even women in general.”

“It's not?”

Daniel's reply was all in his eyes, and they were totally focused on Jeff's eyes, to the point that the young man was becoming very nervous.

Finally, Jeff had to admit the truth, hesitantly and vulnerably confessing, “I don't want her to forget me.  I ... I don't think we should change our arrangement, but ... I just don't want her to forget me.”

“It doesn't sound like she has, does it?” Daniel asked probingly.

“No, I guess not.”

“Jeff, no one likes having another person, male or female, thrown in their face, and I think if you look hard enough over the past couple of months, my guess is that you'll realize that you've been doing exactly that.”

“I guess I've mentioned Cynthia a few times.”

“A few?”

Leaning back, Jeff opined, “I've been a real heel.  I guess I was just scared.”

“So was I on that ... so was I when I was out of town.  I didn't think about Leda being married.  Nothing happened; well ... not really.”  With a whiff of frustration enveloping him, Daniel sighed.  “I unintentionally, intentionally led her on, and she got hurt.  Fortunately, she and Jared worked things out before she ... before she died.”

“She's dead?” a shocked Jeff inquired.

“Making a stand,” Daniel affirmed sadly.  “The point is that they'd worked things out, and that took away some of my guilt.”  Pausing for effect, he then added, “Does Cynthia think you like her?”

Jeff stared at his father, his own guilt tripling.  He'd let his family down, been untrue to himself, led Cynthia on, and flaunted a casual friendship in Chely's face, and it was all for nothing, not really.

“I am a heel,” was the student's only reply.

“So, what are you going to do?”

“Wallow in my misery?” Jeff teased.  Chuckling, he stood up and tapped on his pocket, the sound of the clicking against his cell phone audible.  “Grovel, a lot ... and then I'll talk to Cynthia.”  As he stepped out of the gazebo, he turned back and stated, “Thanks, Daddy.”

“I was only telling you a story.”

“One you exaggerated, but I'm glad you did.”

As he turned, Jeff almost bumped into Jack, who had gotten curious about the prolonged conversation he'd been watching from the other side of the yard.

“Hey, Dad,” the young man greeted calmly as he headed inside to make his call in private.  Then he stopped and turned around.  “Um, Daddy, can I use your credit card to ...”

Smiling, Daniel stood and reached into his pocket, pulling out his wallet and handing his son one of his credit cards.  Obviously, Jeff had decided to add some flowers and/or candy to his groveling apology.

“I'd splurge,” the archaeologist suggested, thus giving his permission for a rather expensive charge on the credit card.

“Thanks, and I'll pay you back when I get my next paycheck.”

“With interest,” Jack teased, getting a playful wave from Jeff as he walked away. “What's going on?” he questioned his lover, only before Daniel could answer, Jack added, “And what did you exaggerate?”

“Leda.”

Jack stared, his memory having to go through lots of dusty old brain cells to bring the woman to mind.

“What's going on?” the general repeated, curious as to why Daniel had chosen to discuss Leda with their son.

“Love.”

“Love?” Jack echoed.

“I think so, but it just needs a little more time to ... brew.”

“Daniel, love isn't coffee.”

“No, but it's almost as good.”

“Daniel!”

“Jack!”

“Geez, I love you.”

“I love you, too, Jack!”

Confused but extremely happy, Jack and his chuckling husband sat down to share a few quiet minutes together before the next crisis afternoon popped up.  They enjoyed the sounds of the happy children, theirs and those visiting, and couldn't wait for the nighttime when they could show each other just how much love they shared.

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