Summary: Jack, Daniel, and General Hammond retire for good from Stargate Command. What impact will their departure have on Cheyenne Mountain?
Jennifer's Gift: A Legacy
Author Email: email@example.com (Feedback welcome)
Author Website: http://orrymain.com
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - November 5, 2011 - January 21, 2013
Spoilers: The Fifth Race, The Other Side, Prodigy, Red Sky, Disclosure
Written: January 31, February 4-5, 2006, September 12,15,17,19, 2014, May 10-28, June 6, 2016 Revised to fix a couple of oops: June 11, 2016
Summary: Jack, Daniel, and General Hammond retire for good from Stargate Command. What impact will their departure have on Cheyenne Mountain?
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 fics, "Gifts of a Lifetime," "Ten Months," "Stargate," "Unexpected Miracle," "Windfall," "The Bet," "Decision Time," "Blowout," "Hard Lessons"
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Robert, Mama Bear!
Jennifer's Gift: A Legacy
--November 5, 2011
It was an exciting time for the Jackson-O'Neill family. Jack's brother, Billy, believed to have been killed in Vietnam, was found alive and well on the planet Plantacia. Billy's large family, including his Australian wife Jilly and their children, were back on Earth, adjusting to their new life. Late in the evening, several of the family and friends were in the recreation room. Gathered around were Catherine and Ernest Littlefield, Sam and Pete Shanahan, Billy's son Gerald and his wife Brynn, and, of course, Jack and Daniel. Some of the older children, including Jeff and Brianna, were playing board games at the front end of the room, while Jennifer was talking fashion with Billy's daughter, Madison.
"It's one thing to say you've gone all over the world, Bro, but you've outdone yourself by going all over the galaxy," Billy spoke jovially as he sipped a beer.
"It beats a desk job," Jack quipped.
"Jack and Daniel have done so much for the Stargate Program," Catherine asserted.
"You made it possible, Catherine," Daniel quickly asserted.
"What's that cliché, Bro, variety is the spice of life. Hopping all over the universe must give you that," Billy chimed.
"It's had its moments," Jack agreed as he reflected on the past. He shook his head and looked at his lover, quietly saying, "Just a year to go."
"What?" Jilly questioned.
With President Hayes' term in office ending and General George S. Hammond having already announced that he was also retiring, the lovers explained that they'd decided to retire as well.
"I'm sure we'll go through from time to time to visit allies," Daniel commented, open to the idea of making some goodwill visits to longtime alien friends.
"It's a great legacy," Jilly remarked. "I'm sure those that take over will never forget you."
Jack laughed, "Jilly, in five years, no one will remember our names. The SGC will be in the hands of the next regime. We just hope they don't forget that our allies mean more than ..." He paused, wanting to say weaponry, but deciding that was an area he really couldn't discuss. "... coffee and donuts," he completed with a chuckle.
Jennifer looked up from nearby where Madison was reacting to the amount of bare skin females showed on Earth. It was something not seen on Plantacia where dress was definitely more conservative.
~What did Dad say? Not be remembered? That's not right,~ Jennifer thought, feeling an uneasiness in the pit of her stomach. ~It's not right at all.~
"I imagine it will be hard to stop," Gerald put forth.
"We have a lot on our plates with our company," Jack noted. "There's a lot ..."
"Yes, it'll be hard," Daniel interrupted. "But," he thoughtfully continued, "there's more than one kind of legacy to leave the world. There was a time in my life when I thought that if I had anything at all to leave mankind, it was my research and notes, the things I'd learned in my studies and then from going through the Stargate. I mean, uh, what more could you contribute than to facilitate understanding awareness between two opposing worlds? I ... I wanted to make a difference; that's always been very important to me."
"It sounds like you've certainly done that," Brynn responded.
Daniel nodded as he acknowledged, "Yes, we've negotiated a lot of peaceful resolutions to conflicts, introduced worlds to one another, and ..." he chuckled, "we've saved our own planet more times than Jack cares to remember."
"It never gets old," Jack teased. "Taken for granted, but never old."
"Daniel, was there more to what you were going to say?" Jilly asked, sensing a quietness in the archaeologist.
In the corner of the room, Jennifer saw her younger father look over at her and smile. With Madison talking, she couldn't quite hear the rest of the conversation. Silently, she felt disquieted about what she had heard. The notion of her parents being forgotten to the outside world, especially at Cheyenne Mountain, was beyond her. Her dismay over the issue was interrupted when she realized Madison was asking her a question.
"Sorry, Madison, I was distracted. What did you ask me?" Jennifer inquired, smiling and waiting for the response.
Across the room, Daniel was answering Catherine and talking about the brood.
"They are my legacy, our legacy," the archaeologist corrected, looking at Jack. "What could be greater than all we've done? They could; they are."
"You're right, Daniel," Catherine affirmed. "Your children are the best legacy, and in them, you and Jack will be remembered for a very long time."
At that point, Jennifer was tuned back into the adult conversation, thanks to Madison's focus on current trends shown in the magazine she was reading.
"Children are what keep us alive, in more ways than one," Jilly averred as she smiled at her own children who were part of the conversation.
Brynn laughed, "Oh, so you're saying it's up to me to make sure you're remembered, Mother?"
"That's the way it's always been," Jilly sentimentally spoke to her daughter.
~Up to us?~ Jennifer pondered, once again drawn into the discussion. ~Wow, but that's what Dad and Daddy always said about Mom and Dad, that they live on through David, Noa, and me. I guess it does make sense; it is up to us to remember and make sure others remember, too..~
"Do you have children, Catherine?" Billy asked.
"Only Ptolemy," the woman teased as everyone laughed about the hyacinth macaw.
With that, the conversation shifted to more lighthearted fare and Jennifer's focus remained with Madison and the subject of current fashion trends.
--November 6, 2011
Tossing and turning, Jennifer was barely asleep when her alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. Her hand immediately silenced the buzzer and then her arm flopped down next to her side. Staring up at the ceiling, the girl's mind was fuzzy, the dream world she'd been in becoming fuzzier as the reality of morning dawned in her brain.
"Was that a nightmare?" Jennifer asked herself, raising her hands to her forehead and rubbing. ~What was it I dreamed?~
Sitting up, Jennifer felt more tired than she had been upon going to sleep the night before. She leaned forward, essentially doubling over in a seated position.
"It was a nightmare," Jennifer sighed as clips of her slumber passed through her consciousness.
During her sleep, Jennifer had conversations with people all over Colorado Springs who didn't know who her parents were. She'd also gone to Cheyenne Mountain and everyone she'd come in contact with acted as if Jack and Daniel hadn't existed. She had become distraught. It felt like her whole life had been a fantasy.
As Jennifer's senses became even more aware, the many instances of her frustration actually crystallized in her mind.
~Gawd, they didn't know you, Dad and Daddy. It was horrible.~
Taking a deep breath, the teenager rose from the bed. She had a full calendar of activities planned for her Sunday and it was time to hop to it.
"Goodnight, Sweatheart," Daniel said to Jennifer that night. He and Jack were both in their daughter's bedroom, making their nightly rounds. "Don't forget you're the breakfast chef in the morning."
"Dad, Daddy, can I ask you something?"
"Anything, Princess," Jack responded.
"I'm curious. What are you going to remember most about the Stargate Program?"
"That's easy," Jack responded. "Meeting Daddy, falling in love with Daddy, fighting with Daddy."
Jennifer chuckled and then clarified, "Besides each other. Who will you remember?"
"Still easy," Jack quickly returned.
"And don't say Grandpa," Jennifer warned.
"Hmmm," Jack expressed.
"Come on, tell me," the girl urged.
"The Nox," Daniel answered. "They amazed me the first time I saw them. We underestimated them from the start, but, uh, they ... they're amazing."
"It didn't hurt that they brought us back from the dead," Jack added.
"They said we had a lot to learn. We didn't know how right they were until later, but they were right. We still have a lot to learn," the archaeologist put forth.
Daniel chuckled, lowering his head as he laughed.
"Okay, what's so funny?" Jack questioned.
"Nafrayu still follows you around."
"And disappears every chance he can," Jack groaned.
"Only because he knows how frustrated you get when he does it."
"The kid thinks he's still a kid," the general noted with a smile.
"What about you, Dad? Who will remember the most?"
Realizing he needed to be serious, Jack responded, "The little gray butt."
"Why do you call him that?" Jennifer queried, well aware her father was talking about Thor.
"I have time," a smirking Jennifer responded.
Jack looked at Daniel who returned the look. They didn't need words or their special mental communication to know both were open to giving their daughter the basics of the situation when Jack first called Thor a little gray butt.
"Well," Daniel began.
"I'll tell it," Jack interrupted. "Long story short," he began.
"Because if Daddy told it, it would be ten times longer, more detailed, and probably a little more accurate?" the girl teased before her dad could tell his tale.
"I'll take the fifth," Jack answered, exchanging another look with his husband.
"Nothing to be sorry about. Dad specializes in Cliff Notes."
All three laughed and then Jack finally started the story.
"The gist of it, Jen, is that Daddy and I had an argument of apples and oranges," Jack revealed.
Daniel shook his head, but added, "He's right, to a point, but there's a lot more to it."
"It all happened on this little world called K'Tau. Daddy was being his usual pain in the mik'ta."
"Dad!" Jennifer objected.
"That's because Dad was trying to forget what he'd learned over the years," Daniel remarked.
"Acting in a military way," the girl surmised.
"Something like that," Daniel commented.
"Jen, we were on a planet where things went south, and it was our fault," Jack confided as he turned deathly serious. "We made a mistake and I was determined to fix it. The problem was that their planet was going to die if we didn't fix it. The inhabitants, they, ah ..."
"They had religious beliefs that meant they weren't willing to be relocated," Daniel spoke when his lover couldn't seem to get the words out.
"Stubborn," Jack noted. "The more stubborn they got, the more agitated I became."
"You felt like you were responsible." Jennifer pushed her covers back and leaned forward to give her older father a hug. "You took it to heart, but you couldn't act like it, could you, Dad?"
"It was our fault, Jen. They were willing to die, and there wasn't one thing we could do."
"Jen asked about Thor," Daniel interjected, not wanting to get any deeper into the events that happened.
"One of our ideas was to get the Asgard to help out. The planet had a temple that could reach the Asgard, the Hall of Brains."
"Hall of Wisdom," Daniel corrected.
"We knocked on the door and got Freyr," Jack continued.
"Who's Freyr?" Jennifer asked.
"He's another little gray butt," Jack answered. "Thor was off on some mission far, far away."
"Um, 'Star Wars', Dad?"
"He was on the other side of the galaxy and unreachable. I had to talk to this Freyr character and tell him what we'd done."
"Dad, can I ask you something?"
"Haven't I already answered that?"
"Well, I'm listening and I'm watching, and, uh, are you covering for someone? You didn't do whatever went wrong, did you?"
"I was in charge, Jen. I'm responsible for whatever my team does," Jack answered candidly.
Jennifer looked at Daniel and said, "It wasn't you, Daddy. You wouldn't be letting Dad talk like this." She sighed and nodded. "Everyone makes mistakes, even Aunt Sam." She watched as her parents looked at each other. "She told me once that she'd made some bad mistakes. She doesn't tell me specifics. I think she thinks that anything about the Stargate needs to come from you, so I only get hints of things and not very often, either. It doesn't really matter, but it was Aunt Sam."
"She was doing her job, Jen," Daniel responded. "The program that she used to make wormhole connections had some limitations. She found a way around those limitations, but ..."
"... but this time, her workaround messed with the K'tau sun," Jack continued, believing it was his job to finish the story. "Look, I don't know all that scientific junk. I remember Carter saying something about the wormhole going through their sun and plutonium piggybacked on it, or something. The point was that we messed with their sun. We did that; we put our need to explore ahead of another planet's ability to survive. My team, my fault," he reiterated.
"You went to the Hall of Wisdom and Thor wasn't there," Jennifer prodded, ready to move forward in the story.
"Long story short."
"You said that already," Daniel teased his Love.
Jack ignored the barb and stated, "I was able to speak with the Asgard High Council. They weren't being very cooperative, and I got a little upset."
"A little," Daniel concurred quietly.
"I reminded them of how we'd just saved their little gray butts from another threat. It probably wasn't the best thing to say, but they did help in the end."
"Maybe, or maybe not," Daniel argued lightly.
"It had to be them."
"But we don't know that," Daniel insisted. "Freyr never admitted to it and neither did the High Council."
"Politics, Daniel. They interfered, and that went against their protocol. They'll never admit it."
"The people of K'tau believed in their god, Jack."
"They believed in the Asgard, thinking they were gods. The Asgard are not gods."
"No, they're not, but the people on K'tau believed they were. Belief can go a very long way in making things happen."
"I won't argue that, but believe isn't going to deplete plutonium and return a sun to its regular state."
"But that's what happened, and it happened when they were praying."
"A coincidence," Jack offered strongly.
"I don't think so," Daniel replied. Then he admitted, "We'll never know for sure."
An amused Jennifer simply smiled during the exchange, her mind wondering what it must have been like on a typical SG-1 mission with this type of back and forth between her parents happening all the time.
"Sorry, Sweetie, we've gone a little off topic," Daniel spoke.
"No, it's fascinating, but where do the apples and oranges come in?" the girl inquired.
"Carter was talking technobabble that I will never understand and she was using fruit to demonstrate. Daddy didn't understand it any better than I did and decided to have some fun by telling her that she was mixing her apples with her other fruits."
"Oranges," Jennifer stated.
"We say that, Jen, when we talk about it, but I don't know what fruits they were exactly. Dad's right, everything she was saying was beyond me, except that I knew she had an idea."
"But that's not what saved the planet? Didn't Aunt Sam's idea work?"
Shaking his head, Jack responded, "We're not going to talk about what happened with that, not tonight."
There was a finality in her dad's tone and a look in his eyes that gave Jennifer chills. Looking at her younger father and seeing his protective gaze directed at Jack confirmed for her that she needed to let the story go. Something very bad happened, but indications were she wouldn't find out what it was tonight.
"The planet was saved. End of story," Jack stated strongly. "Those weren't my favorite Asgard folks, but Thor, he's different."
"Thanks for telling me about the little gray butts," Jennifer chuckled.
Just then, there was a woof at the door. Jack looked over and saw Bijou. The mama beagle wasn't in alarm mode, but she wanted Jack to see something. Odds were it was one of the younger kids being restless.
"I'll check it out," Jack told his husband. He leaned over and kissed his daughter. "I love you, Princess."
"I love you, too, Dad," Jennifer replied. When Jack was out of the room, she asked, "Daddy, I hope we get to visit the Nox again before you retire."
"Maybe we can arrange something," came the hopeful response. "Rest well."
After a kiss and a hug, Daniel headed for the door. As he reached it, he heard Jennifer call out to him.
Daniel saw the question in his daughter's eyes. It wasn't a demanding query, but it was a curious plea to understand her older father's distraught.
"Sam's idea might have worked, but one of the K'tau inner circle wasn't fond of us or our presence on the planet. He didn't like us from the beginning and he didn't like what we were doing. A fire was set, the rocket that we were going to use to hopefully make it right was destroyed, and two members of SG-6 were killed. Dad feels responsible for that. It was his team, his responsibility."
Jennifer wiped away a tear and nodded her understanding. Then she felt Daniel's hand on her arm. She looked up and saw he was seated next to her on the bed.
"Jen, our missions were never simple. Some were easier than others, but going through the Stargate always involved some kind of risk. The one thing that always mattered to Dad was that any risk that was there, was ours. When we made a mistake that effected another world, he took it hard, very hard. He covered it up with a lot of brashness, the military edge thing, but inside, he hated it. Dad was never more determined to fix things when the things that needed to be fixed were caused by us or our presence, and Dad never liked losing a man, any man. That hurt, and that hurt stays inside of him, no matter how many years go by."
"That's why he's a good leader," Jennifer opined. "He does what he has to; he gets the job done, but ... it's like what he says, you never leave anyone behind."
"And if someone dies, you never forget, even when it wasn't in your control."
"When you're a military leader, everything is in your control. That's the thought pattern. Nothing you can say or do will ever change that."
"So you just live with it, and those memories."
"Hopefully, you acknowledge it and then you bury it in your brain. If you don't, you can end up living a very unhappy life."
"It's like Charlie, isn't it, Daddy? Dad will always blame himself for how Charlie died."
"Always," Daniel agreed sadly. "A lot of years ago, he told me he would never be able to forgive himself, but sometimes he could forget. I think he finally was able to forgive himself, but he'll never forget. They key is that now he remembers Charlie's life, not his death, and that's how he was able to move forward." After a pause, he asked, "Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm just thinking about what it means to be remembered and how important it is."
Daniel thought the remark was intriguing and was considering asking her about it, but then he heard his daughter yawn.
"We can talk about it tomorrow, if you want, but it's time to get some sleep."
"Goodnight, Daddy. Thank you for telling me what happened."
"You're welcome, Sweetie. I love you."
"I love you, too."
Daniel stood and walked to the door. He looked back, watching as Jennifer settled, pulling the covers up to her chin. With a loving smile, he walked out.
In her bed, Jennifer yawned again and moved her pillow one time until she was more comfortable. She wondered if she would dream about the Nox and the Asgard, two alien races she had met and liked a lot. She started to think about the aspect of remembrance, but then she fell asleep and dreamed of psychedelic apples and oranges instead.
--December 15, 2011
"Jack, we need to let her go," Daniel insisted, his arms folded across his chest as he faced his husband from the opposite side of their bed.
"No, we don't," Jack argued as he pulled down the comforter in preparation for a good night's sleep. "Angel, Bean Sprout is due anytime now. With Jeff gone, we need her here and available."
The expectant fathers were arguing over whether their eldest daughter, sixteen-year-old Jennifer, should be allowed to go on a three-day weaving retreat in Denver with their neighbor, Mrs. Sophia Valissi.
Mrs. Valissi had mentioned the weekend to Jennifer in conversation and discovered she'd be interested in attending one like that someday. When Mrs. Valissi's friend, who had originally coaxed her into signing up, had to cancel, the neighbor decided to ask the teen to join her. After all, the seminar and the hotel, including meals, had all been paid for and were non-refundable at this late date. Jennifer's reaction to the possibility was enthusiastic. She was eager to go, if her parents would allow it.
The kink in the plan was that Jeff was looking forward to an overnight ski jaunt arranged by the high school for honor students with grade point averages within two points of maximum. These students also had to be actively participating in three or more clubs on campus. Sponsored by a civic-minded community member who set the qualifications, it was a way to encourage not only excellent academic performance but social participation. Only thirty students made the cut in the last semester and this trip was their reward. The kids only had to pay twenty-percent of the overall cost with a small non-refundable deposit to save their place. This was a necessity since only eighteen spots were paid for by the sponsor.
Were it not for the fact that Jeff had already made plans for a weekend away, Jack and Daniel would not have hesitated to allow their daughter to attend the retreat. There was no way, however, they could risk having both of their oldest children away from home for that long, not at this crucial juncture of their baby's birth.
"Jack, Jen has really been there for us these last several months. She hasn't complained once about anything we have asked her to do, no matter how hectic it's been. Aside from a few school functions she's attended with friends and the time she spends with Mrs. Valissi after supper, she really hasn't gone anywhere with her friends. Besides, equality."
"Daniel, this isn't exactly the same thing as letting Bri go with Megan on vacation for two weeks."
"Isn't it?" the younger man challenged.
"Bri's not the oldest," Jack pointed out.
"But we count on her just like we do Jen and the other children, to be here, to help us."
"Bri's eleven. Like it or not ..."
"Apples and oranges," Daniel maintained, a smile on his face as he recalled a visit to another world where the two men argued quite a bit and he'd made a similar accusation.
Shaking his head as he cringed slightly at the recall, Jack replied, "Oh, don't bring that up."
"No, you're not."
Daniel laughed and shrugged unapologetically. He wasn't even sure why he'd made the small joke since in this case he was the one saying that the two experiences were the same, while Jack was trying to separate the events in nature.
~He's actually right, but I don't think I'll tell him that right now,~ the scientist decided.
A knock on the bedroom door interrupted the debate.
A familiar teenage male voice asked, "Dad, Daddy, can we talk for a minute?"
"Sure, Son, come in," Jack encouraged, turning to face the door and then sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"What's on your mind, Jeff?" a still-standing Daniel asked.
"That retreat Jen wants to go on, I, we, the brood, think you should let her go. It means a lot to her."
"We know, Jeff, but ..." Jack protested, his words cut off by his son's next remark.
"I'll be here all weekend to help," the maturing teen stated strongly.
"Wait," Daniel responded, glancing over at his husband for a second. "What about your ski trip?"
"I called Mister Stephens and told him that I was needed at home. I wasn't sure about the money, but he said I wouldn't have to pay anything more. I do lose the deposit I made, but I'm okay with that. Jen's earned this trip."
The two men looked with pride at their son, both happy with the sacrifice he was willing to make in order for his sister to get permission to go on the trip.
Continuing, Jeff opined, "She really wants to go. She enjoys spending time with Mrs. Valissi; it's special to her. Besides, you guys take us skiing sometimes and there are other chances for me. I'm not sure how many loom retreats Mrs. Valissi goes to where Jen can tag along for free."
**He has a point, Jack.**
**That he does, Angel. Jen gets a kick out of this stuff. She prattles on about it like you do about your rocks.**
**Excuse me? She does what? And they are called artifacts,** the younger man communicated in his mind, his mouth agape slightly as he stared at his Love.
**Prattles. P-R-A ...**
**I *know* how to spell prattles.**
Seeing the intensity of his husband's glare, Jack moved onward, communicating, **She's spouting off left and right about reeds and heddles and something about being warped and getting shafted.**
Correcting the general, Daniel replied, **It's the warping on a loom, and the shafts are what alternate the warp threads to create the pattern.**
**How do you know?**
**It's called listening. I *listen* to our daughter.**
Jeff was staring at his parents, waiting for some kind of response. All he'd seen was the two of them looking a bit like zombies, just staring.
Finally deciding to interrupt the silence, Jeff prompted encouragingly, "Can I tell Jen she can go, and you guys can stand there and not talk to each other some more?"
Laughing, the two men nodded their permission and watched their son leave their bedroom while calling out excitedly for his sister.
"Danny, about those apples and oranges ..."
"You were right, Jack."
"I said you were right," Daniel replied, ending the discussion and heading into the bathroom.
Calling out, Jack returned, "What fun is that, saying I'm right? Danny, we're supposed to argue so we can have great make-up sex."
Just then, Jack saw his lover's clothes tossed out the door.
"Now you're talking."
As Jack hastened for the bathroom, he heard his husband's voice call out, "The door!"
"Jack, lock the door!"
Whistling as he went to the master bedroom door to secure it, Jack had never been more grateful for the concept of apple and orange differences in his life.
~Gonna be a hot time in the old bath tonight!~
--December 16, 2011
Bright and early the next morning, Mrs. Valissi and Jennifer checked into the Denver hotel where the retreat was being held. They had an hour to settle in before it was time for the session to begin. Excitedly, the two females headed for the large ballroom.
"Wow," Jennifer expressed as she looked around the room.
Spread around were twenty-four looms of different sizes, weaving widths, and capabilities. There were also a few examples of smaller, simpler weaving looms, an inkle loom and its precursor, card weaving for straps and belts, table looms, rigid heddle looms, and backstrap looms like those used by Native Americans for centuries.
"Let's get a better view, Dear," Mrs. Valissi suggested as they looked for a seat closer to the front.
Soon, the session began. After some preliminary remarks, the classmates were encouraged to take a close-up look at all of the equipment. Each student had a chance to touch the devices, feel samples, and ask questions. Next, each participant was to decide on which loom they wanted to work on for the next three days. They were told that any conflicts in choices would be settled by a quick game of 'Spin the Heddle Hook' with the winner being the one that had the pointed end of the hook stop the closest to them.
The facilitator, Mister Collins, a tall, studious, middle-aged blond man, was presiding over the seminar and helping the students in selecting a loom, a project, and an instructor.
Mrs. Valissi decided on a type of weaving known as huck for kitchen towels, using a very fine linen yarn. Jennifer, however, was immediately drawn to a very large floor loom. It had a bench built in and could weave rugs and fabric up to sixty-inches wide. She ran her hands over the patterned rugs produced on it. When she touched the smooth, tall, upright timbers that anchored the frame of the loom, something in her spirit sang.
"You like this one," Mister Collins said upon approaching the teenager. "It's not spoken for yet. I think the others are afraid of it."
"Maybe I should be, too, but in my mind I keep seeing a rug for the rec room at home."
"We have a very large room for our family to gather in, sit around, watch TV, put on little plays," Jennifer elaborated nonchalantly as her mind raced with the possibilities. "Could I really do that in three days?" the teen asked, fearing the answer would be a firm no way.
"That's a big project for a beginner. You are a beginner," the man questioned without it really being a question.
"Yes, I am, but I'm good. Mrs. Valissi says so."
Collins looked over at the woman, nodding as he returned, "Sophia is excellent."
"You know her?"
"I've met her before in the weaving community. Tell me about the project you have in mind." Collins listened as Jennifer gave more detail about the rug she envisioned. "Are you sure you don't want to do something simpler?"
Jennifer looked down, feeling a bit awkward and sad. Her silence was her response.
"Are you positive you want to proceed with this?" the blond instructor asked intently. "It's not as easy as your envision. It would require a lot of dedication and focus. You wouldn't be able to take many breaks."
"Yes, I do," Jen answered hesitantly.
"Wrong answer!" Collins snapped sternly. "You really *want* to do this, don't you?" he repeated.
Having been around plenty of her older father's friends and co-workers, Jennifer recognized the sound of authority. At least, that's how she felt, like she was addressing a superior officer.
"*Yes, Sir,* I do!" Jennifer resounded while snapping off a salute.
Chuckling, the facilitator replied, "I'm not military, Jennifer. I just want you to know it will be three days of intensive work. The loom is already warped with the linen warp yarn, enough to make a twelve-foot rug five-feet wide. You've given me a theme and concept, but do you have a specific design in mind?"
"Well, I like this one," Jennifer answered, pointing out a rug woven in a patterned of striped rectangles, "but I'd like the lines here and here and here to slope, like the sides of a pyramid, and the background to have the stripes less prominent. Can I do that?"
"Of course," Collins replied. "Can you figure out the treadling pattern? It will require only four shafts, Jennifer."
"You can call me Jen," the teen weaver interjected.
With a nod, Collins stated, "Here is the draft ... Jen."
Jennifer studied the diagram intently and asked, "This is the line between the blocks, right?"
"Right you are."
"If I change the treadling pattern to this, it will form the slanted lines, and if I add this, it will add the shading I want, right?" Jennifer queried, hoping she was correct.
"Very good. You're almost there," Collins stated. "Here, let me help you. When you alter this, here, you have to pick it up again, here, to get the continuous slope of the lines you want. I'll teach you a technique called shaft-switching that will allow you to enhance the pattern with just the four shafts."
"You?" Jennifer questioned. "I thought you were the head of the seminar and that I'd be assigned to work with one of the regular instructors."
"You're correct, but I like to work with students myself from time to time, in special circumstances."
"I judge quickly, and I value Sophia's opinion highly," the man stated. "Now, Jen, what colors do you have in mind?"
The teen was full of pride about whatever good words had been said between Mrs. Valissi and the facilitator. She was also feeling hopeful about giving her parents a wonderful gift for their home.
In Colorado Springs, Jack found himself at an estate sale with his ex-wife, Sara. The two were en route to pick up Jack's daughters, Chenoa and Lulu, and Sara's daughter, Angela, all of whom were at a dance class. Having some time to spare, the pair stopped to do some impromptu bargain shopping.
As timing had it, the general ended up making a deal with two sisters for a variety of items which included two looms, a knitting machine, and a sewing machine. Enlisting the help of Pete Shanahan, Lou Ferretti, and Teal'c, Jack stored the items in the Shanahan garage, having decided the equipment would be the perfect Christmas gift for his daughter. All he had to do now was convince his soulmate that the five-hundred dollars he'd spent was a good investment.
--December 17, 2011
"Jonny, I need to finish my project first," Jenny argued as she sat on the wooden floor portion of the recreation room.
In front of the Spitfire in an arc were several seemingly unassociated items, including an unopened can of peas, a pencil, a two-sided mirror, a plastic sandwich bag with two slices of bread in it, a framed picture of her parents, and a plastic dog bone.
"But I have to clean the floor. It's my job this week," the Munchkin insisted, wanting to get the chore done before breakfast so he could focus on playtime, at least until their brief homeschooling session that was scheduled for later in the day.
"You can do it later."
"Now!" the boy maintained strongly.
"No!" Jenny shouted.
As the argument escalated, Jack entered the room and called out, "Hey! What's the war about?"
"I want to do my chores, but Jenny won't move her junk," Jonny told his dad.
"I'm in the middle of my project, Dad. Jonny can clean the floor later. It's not like he has to do anything. He just has to press the button."
Jack laughed internally at Jenny's comment. Their central vac system was top notch and made cleaning much easier than using a traditional broom and mop. Since the floor was cleaned often, it rarely took more than a few minutes to get the job done. Still, it was a bit more than pressing a button.
The ringing of the phone interrupted Jack's comments.
"You two find a compromise," the father ordered. He went to phone in the living room and picked it up. "It's early, but hello to you, whoever you are."
Laughing, Jennifer greeted, "Hi, Dad."
"Hey, Princess. How goes the weaving?"
Jack listened a Jennifer told him all about her first day at the retreat. At the same time, he heard the volume rising again and returned to the rec room.
"Jen, can you hold for a sec?"
"Listen up. This stops now," Jack ordered the battling siblings.
"She's being stubborn, Dad," Jonny accused.
"So's Jonny!" Jenny immediately added.
The general paused as he determined a plan of action.
"Let me tell you two a little story. A friend of mine was in the Navy. He told me about a night when his ship almost involved in a collision. It was the pitch black dead of night when his captain saw a light on a collision course with his ship. The captain sent a signal and ordered, 'Change your course twenty degrees west'. A reply came back, telling them to change their course twenty degrees east. According to my friend, the captain was unimpressed with the response. He replied, 'I'm a United States Navy captain! Change your course, sir!' He was feeling pretty secure about it, especially when he heard the reply. 'I'm a seaman second class. Change *your* course, Sir'. My friend told me the captain was seething with anger. He couldn't believe the contempt of the seaman. His next response was arrogant and as stubborn as any. He said, 'I'm a battleship and I'm not changing my course!' He was willing to ram right through that oncoming ship. Then he heard the final reply. 'I'm a lighthouse. Your call'."
Jonny and Jenny both laughed.
"I'm glad you understand the message. You two work this out, now, and quietly, or you'll both be colliding with extra chores for a month. Understood?"
"Yes, Sir," both of the children responded.
"See to it, now!" Jack turned and walked away. "Sorry, Jen."
Jennifer laughed, "It's okay, Dad. I miss everyone, even when they're fighting."
"You could come home."
"I'm only an hour away, Dad," Jennifer reminded, amused by her father. "But, uh, actually, that is why I called. I'm glad I came, but it's so quiet here."
Jack chuckled, "Call anytime you want to raise the volume."
"Thanks, Dad. Tell everyone I miss them. Oh, how's Bean Sprout? Any news?"
Jack and Jennifer continued to talk for another five minutes before hanging up. Afterward, the father checked on the Munchkin and the Spitfire and was happy to see peace was in the air. Jenny had apparently come out the primary victor as Jonny was helping her with her project, moving the objects around and making observations.
~If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,~ Jack mused as he headed into the hospitality room to begin breakfast.
Halfway through Saturday, Jennifer noticed her hands beginning to hurt. This was new to her. Of course, she had never worked so steadily and intensely on her weaving before.
~I will not give in.~ Jennifer took a deep breath and came up with a makeshift solution to her pain. She took a break from her task and went to a shop inside the hotel where she purchased a small bottle of pain relievers. ~This should do it, and if not, well, it will just have to be enough to help me.~
Absolutely determined to finish the rug, Jennifer returned to her work area after taking a couple of the pills. With vigorous resolve, she ignored her still aching hands and continued on with her work.
--December 18, 2011
It was Sunday morning, the third and final day of the weaving seminar. Jennifer had spent ten hours each on Friday and Saturday creating the rug for her parents. She felt excited and enthused about her progress.
~Just two more feet to go.~
Once she was finished, Mister Collins had promised to help her remove the rug from the loom and fringe the ends. Then it would be a matter of putting the final touches on the creation. Looking at the clock, she prayed there would not be any snags in her game plan and she would be able to finish the rug.
~Yes!~ Jennifer exclaimed silently, unable to hide the thrill she was feeling. ~Almost.~
The final weft yarn had been laid and tapped into place. After some discussion with Mister Collins and seeing slides of finished rugs, Jennifer decided against the fringes.
~I don't really see Dad and Daddy as fringe men,~ the teen thought, chuckling about her phrasing. ~Uncle Lou would make all kinds of jokes about Dad and fringe. Done. No fringe.~
The teen studied her rug, reflecting on its creation. She began with a pre-warped loom and then Mister Collins helped her with the shaft-switching and pick-up techniques which made the finished rug more beautiful than she could have imagined.
"But it's still not completely done," Jennifer sighed unhappily. "What am I going to do?" she asked the rug as if it could answer her.
"You will give it to your parents," Mister Collins answered upon approaching his student.
"I don't have time to finish it, and even if I did, I don't have the equipment."
"Jennifer, it has been a pleasure working with you this weekend. If you agree, I'll take the rug back to my studio and finish it for you."
"Really? You'd that for me?"
"I'd love to help."
"That's very nice of you," Jennifer responded. ~I'd like to do it all myself, but this is the only way it will get done in time, but ... crap, how will I get it home?~
Jennifer looked crestfallen, something the master weaver couldn't help but notice. He guessed at the problem.
"It won't take me long to finish," Collins stated. "I'll bring it to you tomorrow afternoon," he promised. ~She has a burning desire and passion for this art. I must encourage her,~ he thought as he mentally began to rearrange his schedule for the next day. "I'll deliver it to you by 4 p.m. Will that work for you?"
Jennifer's grin was unmistakable. She was already extremely grateful to Mister Collins for his advice and attention over the weekend and now he was going to make sure her dream gift was finalized.
"Awesome! I mean, yes. I'll be home from school, Christmas vacation," Jennifer explained. "You're so nice to go out of your way for me."
"I'm happy to do it."
"Oh, but ..." Jennifer looked around and spotted Mrs. Valissi. "Would you wait here for just a tiny second? Please?"
Collins agreed and watched the teen hurry over to Mrs. Valissi, who was long finished with her project and was chatting with some others in attendance. He saw the two females chat for a quick minute and then exchange a hug.
Jennifer walked swiftly back to her weekend mentor and said, "My parents will probably be home tomorrow, so could you deliver the rug to Mrs. Valissi? She lives right next door."
Jennifer was elated, so much so that she hugged the man while saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
"You're welcome, Jen. It is rare for someone so young to find a love of weaving, to appreciate the art and science of making cloth. You were able to complete this size of project, in part because you used three ends of rather thick yarn, but mostly because you worked like crazy," Collins chuckled. "I hope you realize you can't push yourself like this all the time."
"I know, but once the opportunity was there, I couldn't stop myself."
Collins smiled in acknowledgment and requested, "You'd better let me go now. If my husband saw us, he might get jealous."
~Husband? Oh, wow. Cool,~ Jennifer replied in her mind to the revelation. She wanted to tell her weekend mentor that her Dad and Daddy were married, too, and that she was happy for anyone lucky enough to find true love, but caution kept her from doing so. Throughout the entire weekend, she had mentioned only her 'parents' and her brother Jeff in conversation. "I will appreciate your help," she said, rubbing her hands and unknowingly grimacing at the same time.
"Do your hands ache?" the man asked. "You did push yourself very hard."
"My brain wants to say no, but my hands are shouting yes," Jennifer admitted with a slight laugh. "I think other parts of me aren't happy, either," she mused while indicating her backside.
"Come with me," Collins ordered. He led Jennifer to a corner where he had a few boxes of supplies. He reached in and grabbed an item that he then handed to the teen. "Here, take this. It will help with the stiffness and swelling, for your arms and hands, at least."
Jennifer took hold of the soft, squishy rubber ball.
"Squeeze it whenever you feel your hands or wrists stiffen and swell. It will take about three days, but the soreness will subside."
"Really?" the curious girl questioned while staring at the ball and squeezing it in a practice run.
"You'll find your wrists and forearms will be *much* stronger a week from now. You might even be able to beat your brother at arm wrestling." When Jennifer looked at him with surprise, Collins insisted, "I'm definitely not kidding, Jen."
"I believe you, Mister Collins."
The retreat had been a rousing success in Jennifer's eyes. Her desire to learn even more about weaving was at all-time high. She talked about it endlessly with Mrs. Valissi during their three-day adventure and she knew there would be many more discussions to come in the future.
--December 19, 2011
Jennifer paced the entryway nervously. It was Monday afternoon and it was just her luck, and Mrs. Valissi's bad luck, that the woman had fallen that morning and injured her ankle. It wasn't a bad injury, but out of an abundance of caution, her doctor wanted her to spend two days off her feet. She was intent on doing so since she had plans for later in the week, including going caroling.
The teen didn't want to disturb her surrogate grandmother by making noise at her home. As such, she had called Mister Collins and told him to go ahead and deliver the rug to the Jackson-O'Neill home. That's why she was pacing, afraid that her parents, who were home, would hear the delivery and see the gift.
"What am I going to do," the teen mumbled, trying to think how she was going to hide the present. ~I didn't think this out.~
Jennifer heard a noise and looked towards the living room. She saw Brianna walking to the kitchen.
"Bri, what are you doing?"
"Getting an apple, or something," the hungry tomboy answered.
In a forced whisper, Jennifer objected, "You're supposed to be upstairs, making sure Dad and Daddy don't come downstairs."
"Yeah, I know, but ..."
"Bri, get up there, and keep Dad and Daddy there. Please," Jennifer pleaded.
"Okay, okay, I'm going."
Jennifer rolled her eyes and looked up to the heavens in a combination of thanks and fear. She returned to the entryway and took a big breath when she saw a truck pulling into the driveway. It was exactly four in the afternoon. While she wanted to just open the door, she knew she couldn't. She had to be respectful of the rules and cognizant that the home was full of her siblings. She ran to the kitchen, nervously reviewing the security camera footage.
"Is it that guy?" Jeff asked as he joined her.
"Yes. Come on," Jennifer called out anxiously, her foot tapping on the floor. ~Let me see the truck and make sure there aren't any boogie monsters lurking in the truck bed.~ She angled one of the cameras for a closer look of the vehicle's interior. ~Anyone hiding in there? Good.~
Satisfied with what she'd seen from the cameras on the monitor, Jennifer urged, "Go."
Jennifer and Jeff opened the front door and headed outside where she introduced her brother to Mister Collins.
"It's in a box," Jennifer observed with a happy expression.
"You said it was a gift, so I took the liberty of putting it in this," Collins stated about the wooden crate that measured just over five feet long and just under three feet deep and tall. "They may still know what it is, but now you have a chance to keep at least its look secret."
"They'll never guess," Jennifer opined. "You're a peach, Mister Collins!"
The man helped the teens put the box into the living room and left to return to his Denver home. After that, Jeff helped his sister to wrap the large box. It took some effort due to the size, but focusing on the task, the two had it wrapped fairly quickly.
"Okay, Sis, it's wrapped. Now what?" Jeff asked before breaking out into laughter.
It was unrealistic to think the box could be hidden, but Jennifer was determined to do her best with the camouflage.
"Let's, uh ... I know."
"Tell me, 'cause I don't."
"Thank goodness we have a large tree and there's so many of us," Jennifer commented. "Jeff, let's put it behind the tree and then put as much as we can on it and in front of it."
"They'll notice, Jen," Jeff asserted.
"Maybe they won't."
"But they will."
"You never know."
"Well, I ... oh, geez, Jen. We sound just like them," Jeff complained.
"Huh?" Then it hit Jennifer like a bag full of humor. She started to laugh and replied, "We could sound a lot worse."
"For sure," Jeff agreed.
"Danny, the wait is killing me," Jack stated about Bean Sprout's impending birth. as the two headed downstairs a half-hour later.
"My heart's beating so fast."
"Who's cooking dinner?"
"Do you ever not think about food?" Daniel asked just as the couple reached the bottom step.
"1981, for about ten minutes," the general answered as he and Daniel both chuckled.
Jennifer and Jeff were seated on the sofa, watching and listening as their parents walked through the living room and into the kitchen.
"See, they didn't notice," Jennifer noted.
"Yet," Jeff responded with a smile as he rose and headed for his bedroom.
Jennifer looked over at the tree and the many presents that surrounded it, a large number of which were now being used to conceal the large box.
"I'm just fooling myself," the girl sighed.
"Yes, you are," Daniel stated.
"Yes, we see that large ... whatever it is," Jack added. "What is it?"
"A Christmas present, and it's for you, for both of you, but you can't peek, and I won't tell you what it is."
"How about telling us how it got here," a suspicious Jack suggested.
"It flew in from New York," Jennifer teased as she stood up and walked to her parents. "It's a present and that means it's a surprise. Ask me what you want, on Christmas day, and not before."
"Does this have anything to do with Bri blocking the doorway of our bedroom earlier?" Daniel asked with raised eyebrows.
"It might," Jennifer acknowledged. "Look, okay, I was expecting a delivery and I didn't want you to see it. I know the rules. I made sure Jeff was with me and we reviewed *all* the camera sweeps before we opened the door and again after he left. Trust me, it's okay."
"C'mon, Angel, let's go worry about more serious things," Jack joked.
"Thanks, Dad," Jennifer responded, smiling and wishing Christmas was the next day.
--December 26, 2011
It was after one in the morning when the sleeping Jennifer sprang up from her bed. She felt anxious, a nasty feeling in the pit of her stomach. Quickly, she turned on the light.
~That was the same nightmare,~ the teen realized as she tried to calm down. She'd had the same unwelcome dream in early November. ~Why?~
Like in the previous nightmare, Jennifer had been walking all over Colorado Springs, trying to find her parents, only no one knew them. She'd made her way to Cheyenne Mountain, certain she could find Jack and Daniel there, or at least get help to find them. Yet, no one at Stargate Command would admit to knowing the pair. They acted like Jack and Daniel never existed. The nightmare left Jennifer feeling cold and apprehensive.
Jennifer got out of bed and went into the bathroom. She filled a glass with water and then returned to her bed. Her breathing was more normal now, the effects of the nightmare dimming. Still, she sat up in bed, pulling up the covers over her waist. As she sipped her drink, she turned her head and saw a family picture on the wall. Her eyes centered in on her parents, their eyes so bright and their smiles so expressive in the picture.
"How could anyone forget?"
Jennifer thought about the wonder of Christmas. It had been a marvelous celebration and never in her life had she imagined the special gifts given to her on that day. There were so many normal things such as books, CDs, and clothing accessories, but the real joy were the surprising items Jack had found at a garage sale. The cherry wood loom excited the teen, and she couldn't wait to learn about the tapestry loom that was still boxed. There were other things, too, including a knitting machine and a brand new sewing machine. She was eager to use all of her new equipment.
As an idea loomed, Jennifer nearly dropped her water onto her sheets.
"Oh my goodness!" the teen said aloud. "Wow. Could I? Do I know enough?"
The girl tossed the covers aside and stood. She began to pace her small bedroom, her heart racing as she concentrated on whether or not her idea was a realistic possibility.
After several minutes, Jennifer sighed, "I'm being silly. I don't even know what I'm thinking. I'm even talking to myself."
Jennifer returned to the bed, turning off the light and sliding under the covers.
~But maybe ...~
Her nightmare angst replaced by the future hope, Jennifer drifted into a more peaceful slumber.
--January 3, 2012
Though it was a school night, Jennifer was at Cheyenne Mountain. It was a planned trip, one requested by the Palamar who inhabited P49-22J. She had visited the planet once before and now the High Mistress wanted to see her. SG-9 would be accompanying her through the Stargate for what was expected to be a brief visit of thirty minutes or less.
However, Jennifer had another item on her agenda to attend to first. Having arrived early, she took a deep breath and headed for her grandfather's office. Yet, it was not General Hammond she wanted to see, but rather General Hank Landry. She didn't know the man all that well, but she knew he was a friend of her older father's. She also knew that in late 2011, Landry had begun to fill in for Hammond on occasion as he was doing today. The teen was also aware that Landry would be working a lot of the weekend shifts at the Mountain during 2012 and that he was expected to take over command upon Hammond's retirement, though it had not been finalized or formally announced.
Walking down the hallway, Jennifer was somewhat nervous as she silently rehearsed what she wanted to say. While she knew exactly what she needed from the general, she was wary of being able to explain the importance of her idea properly. It didn't help that she doubted Landry would take her seriously. After all, she'd only spoken with him a few times on Teen Gate business. Even worse, it was disconcerting to her that she'd already changed into Palamarian garb that was way more suggestive than she'd like.
~He's not going to take me seriously. I wish I knew him better. Grandpa says he's a good man, so does Dad. I should have gone to see him before putting on this crazy outfit. Geez, I like the Palamarians, but why do they dress like ... like ... oh, geez.~
The teen's lament continued, though she was actually without choice in her decision to dress before seeing the general since she was told in was in a debriefing at the time of her arrival on the base.
In the real world, Jennifer wouldn't be caught dead wearing the too-short hot pants with slits that made them near impossible to stay on without using a special glue that affixed the shorts to her body. The top was essentially a scarf that went around her bust. Its only saving grace was a lace covering that hung over the top of the scarf and covered most of her midriff, though it was see-through. Per the culture, she wore giant heels. All in all, she almost felt like a prostitute. However, on Palamar this was the accepted, everyday attire for all females, regardless of age. It was considered disrespectful for visitors to not be attired to their custom.
~I wonder if I could suggest an alteration in their dress, or is that like breaking the prime directive?~ Jennifer allowed herself to chuckle at her thought. ~Too much Trek, thanks to Dad.~
As she approached the closed office door and reached out to tap on it, a sergeant Jennifer did not know interrupted her, his outstretched arm preventing her from knocking.
"The general's busy," the man stated curtly. ~How'd this hooker get on the base?~
"Oh, I'm sorry, but it's important that I speak with General Landry. Could you please ask him if he has a minute for me?"
"He's tied up. Who are you?"
"Jennifer Jackson-O'Neill," came the proud and confident response.
"He has a full schedule," the tall, redheaded male advised.
"I only need a couple of minutes. Can't you just ask?"
"What are you doing here?" came the sharp discourteous query.
"Jennifer, how are you?" Chief Master Sergeant Walter Davis asked as he entered the open area outside of the general's office.
"I'm good, Sergeant Davis, thank you. And you?"
"Busy; someone has to keep this place running."
"They couldn't do it without you," Jennifer responded with a smile. "Um, Sergeant Davis, could you ask General Landry if he has a couple of minutes. I know he's busy, but ..."
"Knock on his door. He always has time for you," Davis returned, his eyes more focused on a pile of papers that were disorganized.
"Thank you," Jennifer responded, glaring at the other sergeant who frowned in displeasure.
Reluctantly backing away, the new man watched as Jennifer tapped on the door and was granted entry by the SGC commander.
Groaning in disbelief, the newbie inquired, "What's that hooker doing walking around the base?"
~Hooker?~ Davis looked over at the man and asked, "Didn't she tell you who she was?"
"Judy ... Penny ... Jenny something."
Shaking his head, Davis corrected, "Jennifer Jackson-O'Neill."
"Yeah, big long name. Didn't you see what she was wearing? She looks like a hooker who belongs on a street corner and not here. She's a tar..."
"Watch your mouth!" Davis barked, sounding more like a general than a sergeant. "Are you an idiot or something? That's the daughter of General Jack Jackson-O'Neill."
"So? That little bi..."
"Shut it, now!" Davis ordered. "Just so you know, she runs the Teen Gate Exchange Program. She's scheduled to go off-world within the hour. Her dress is the accepted attire there. If she wore *anything* else, she wouldn't be allowed on the planet."
"What's she doing going off-world?"
"I just told you. She's the Teen Gater founder and leader," Davis repeated. "She's been asked by the planetary head to come for a visit. Look, we've been trying to hook up with the Palamar for months. They may dress like ... loosely, but it's a female-ruled world and they care about their children more than most. Through Jen's program, progress has been made. This is a big deal around here. They won't talk to a regular SG team, but they will talk to her. Get it?"
"Okay, so she heads a program, but General Landry has more important things to do than cater to some teenager."
"Are you deaf? She's one of O'Neill's kids."
"Yeah, and let me give you a piece of advice, Alton," Davis began. "If any of those kids ever ask you for something, give it to them, and *never* tell them General Landry is too busy unless he tells you to say it. One more thing," he continued. "General Hammond ..."
"Hammond?" the man squeaked, fearing his power as the commander of SGC.
"The Jackson-O'Neill kids are his grandkids. No, not by blood, but they might as well be. I wouldn't assume that because General Hammond isn't on base that he doesn't know what's going on. He has ears everywhere; so does O'Neill. If you don't watch your tongue, you'll end up doing some simpleton job in nowheresville fast."
"You're making that up," the sergeant accused.
"Didn't you read the manual, the unofficial one?" Davis asked, shaking his head.
"That little flyer that was thrown into the welcome kit?" Davis clarified. "We do that as a courtesy."
"I thought it was advertising."
"Your loss, Alton," Davis responded. "It gave you the Jackson-O'Neill heads up. Don't mess with them. This place wouldn't be in business without Jack and Daniel Jackson-O'Neill."
"Jack and *Daniel*?" the newbie questioned.
"Jack O'Neill, general, and Daniel Jackson, scientist and the man who figured out how the Stargate works."
There was a pause as Alton processed what he was hearing.
"Homos?" the man expressed in horror. "I know we have to tolerate them now, but ..."
"You're not going to last here," Davis warned as he judged how the newcomer was responding. "I told you. Hammond and O'Neill have a lot of eyes and ears. Even when O'Neill lets something go, I've seen General Hammond send recruits to no-nothing assignments because of their views."
"I still say it's wrong."
"Say it in your mind and not with your mouth," Davis instructed.
"O'Neill can't be much of a father, letting his daughter dress like that."
"Didn't I just explain that to you?" Davis was growing tired of the man's attitude and failure to get with the program. "Pay attention. Jennifer's parents know what's up. Well, General O'Neill isn't told about all of it. Doctor Jackson-O'Neill clears anything questionable, like her mission this evening. He's told about everything and he decides what to tell his husband or if it's a no-go for Jennifer." The sergeant admitted, "If General O'Neill saw Jennifer right now, he'd probably blow a gasket, but he knows she has a job to do, so he lets her do it. Of course, he has standing orders for us to follow."
"Back up, plenty of it, in ways Jennifer doesn't know, and she'd better not ever find out," Davis threatened.
"Incredible," the new sergeant responded with gritted teeth.
"Just keep your mouth shut." Davis turned and left the area while thinking, ~Not going to last more than a week. I'll save myself some time and start typing up his transfer. Where do I, er, General Hammond want to send this loser?~
Inside the office, Jennifer and the general had said their hellos and talked a bit about the newest addition to the family, JD, who was born on New Year's. They were both seated. Then it was time for the Teen Gate leader to get to the point of her visit. She fidgeted a bit before leaning forward in her seat, though she felt like she might jump out of it at any moment.
"General Landry, you know that my parents are retiring next year."
"And my grandfather is retiring, too."
"Well, it's my understanding that when Grandpa leaves, you'll be taking over for him, commanding the base. True?"
"I've heard the rumors," Landry replied.
~He's not making this easy,~ the teen sighed inwardly. "Are you comfortable in saying that the odds are good you'd accept the assignment should it be offered to you?"
Smiling, the man nodded and answered, "Yes."
~Okay, just get on with it. That's the most he can say.~ Shyly yet firmly, Jennifer asked, "Would you agree that you, me, Sergeant Davis, everyone, that none of us would be here today without my parents having been here at the beginning and," she paused, licking her lips, "beyond that?"
Landry was curious at the query and the reasons behind it. He was well aware of Jack's and Daniel's history at Stargate Command. There was no doubt of the answer.
"Yes," was the man's simple response.
"Sir, I want to do something to make sure that, well, um, that everyone always remembers Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson," Jennifer stated. "Of course, to me, they're Jackson-O'Neill, but I know in the archives of the Air Force and," she shrugged, "whatever government records are out there, they are referred to individually. You know what I mean."
~Oh gosh. Just get to it, Jennifer,~ the teen ordered herself. "General Landry, my parents bought me a loom for Christmas. I've been learning how to weave. Our neighbor, Mrs. Valissi, is wonderful at it. She says I'm good. I don't know, but I try. Um, sorry, I'm a little nervous."
"Yes," Landry mused, choosing to wait for the punch line he knew was coming.
"I think I can do it. No, I *know* I can do it. Sir, I want to make a tapestry that honors my parents and their work at SGC. I want it to be hung here, somewhere, when they retire so that no one *ever* forgets who they are or what they've done for us."
Becoming emotional in spite of her intentions, Jennifer wiped away a tear that began to fall.
"They gave my brother and sister and I a home, made us part of their family. We'd be separated and miserable if they hadn't sacrificed for us, but beyond our family, Sir, I know enough to know that without Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson, Earth may very well not even exist. I know enough to know that they've saved us, if not our lives, our freedom, more than once. I know enough to know that the Asgard are our friends and allies because of my fathers. Sir, I want your permission, your promise, that you'll place that tapestry somewhere here where everyone who visits will see it and remember that we're here because my parents were here first."
Landry studied the young girl intently for a few seconds and then he leaned forward. He smiled slightly as his thumbs tapped a few times on his desktop. He decided to forego the technicality that the command of SGC was not yet his.
"Jennifer, it would be an honor to hang your tapestry. The problem is that this is a government facility and certain regulations apply to it. SGC has special guidelines, more now than in the past because of our international associations."
"Which means what?"
"For my part, it's up, but we'll need congressional authorization."
"The bureaucrats," the teen sighed, seeing Landry's nod. "I'll work on it, but you're okay with it."
"Yes," the man chuckled.
Standing, Jennifer grinned. She was about to leave when something else popped into her head.
"Oh, General, my grandfather doesn't know about this and it is my intent to somehow include him in the tapestry. To be honest, I'm still figuring that out. There's so much work to do, but ..." Jennifer paused and with a small smile said," I'm sorry. This project is very important to me, so I guess I'm getting a little over excited talking about it. Anyway, I want it to be a surprise for everyone in our family. Please don't mention it to anyone."
With Landry's nod, Jennifer expressed her thanks for Landry's time before leaving the office and heading off-world for her brief meeting on Palamar.
--February 2, 2012
There was a lot going on for the oldest Jackson-O'Neill female. At the top of the list, Jennifer was struggling with her future education plans and which college she should attend. Even so, she maintained her determination to ensure her parents were not forgotten after their SGC retirement.
On this Thursday, the teen was at the Mountain, meeting with part of her Teen Gater team and outlining the schedule for the coming month. While there, she received some important news. Sometime over the next couple of weeks, Major Paul Davis, who was part of SG-9, would be assigned the additional duty of key advisor for the Teen Gater program.
Aware the teen group was meeting today, the major dropped by to say hello.
"Jen, this is a fantastic program. I'm honored to be a part of it," Davis said at the conclusion of the meeting.
"It'll be great working with you, Major Davis."
Jennifer smiled. She knew Paul slightly since he had been to the house for dinner and she had seen him on the base a couple of times. He was curious to her since her older father once admitted having been jealous of Paul Davis in years past. That was hard for the teenager to understand, not that she didn't think he was a good looking man and a nice person.
"Is it okay to call you Paul here?"
With a smile, Jennifer asked, "Uh, Paul, I was wondering if you could help me with something."
"If I can."
"I would like see any photographs of my parents that might be archived here. There are pictures, aren't there?"
"Many," the major confirmed. "A lot of them are classified."
"Oh," Jennifer sighed.
"Is there a reason for your request?"
"Yes, a very important one, but it's ..." Jennifer looked away and let out a tiny groan. "It's important, but I can't tell you why. Could you trust me?"
Paul Davis looked at the young woman. She was a Jackson-O'Neill and if anyone in the world were to be trusted, he'd go with any member of the family.
"Are you looking for anything in particular?"
Smiling at the query, Jennifer answered, "Yes, I am. Um, I'd like to see some of the early photos, from the first few years maybe of the program. Is that possible?"
"I'll see what I can do."
--February 10, 2012
Jennifer sat alone in the usual Teen Gater meeting room, but she wasn't there on business for the program. Instead, she was slowly examining a pile of archived photographs that Paul Davis had pulled for her review. She'd smiled when she had received the envelope from the airman who delivered it to her several minutes earlier. It was sealed and marked with all the usual classified markings. It made her feel very important for some odd reason.
~Wow, he looks so young with his brown hair,~ Jennifer opined about her older father. Then she frowned. "But you're so much more handsome with your silver hair, Dad."
As she studied the photos, Jennifer chuckled.
~I love Daddy's long hair! No wonder Dad found him irresistible.~
A few of the photos were taken off-world, though none showed any aliens.
Jennifer stood and spread out all of the photos on the conference table. For minutes upon minutes that turned into half hour on half hour, she studied each picture, trying to find the unifying factor. It was important to choose just the right elements to focus on. Essentially, she wanted to hone in on a theme, one that would be appropriate for her gift.
The teen started to pace, internally wondering why she seemed to be imitating her younger father in that regard. She'd never paced before, not where she walked back and forth or sometimes in small circles. She even found herself reaching for a pen, just so she could twirl it in her hands.
Then the teen began to grin and exclaimed aloud, "That's it! That's what I need to do." She picked up a photo of Jack holding his weapon and another of Daniel gazing at the Stargate. ~This is definitely it.~ Her head unconsciously bobbing up and down, she whispered, "I think I have it now. I hope I can do it. There's so little time left."
With the photographs etched in her mind, Jennifer put the pictures back in a pile and into the file she had received them in. Now she needed to return the photos and thank the major for his assistance.
Jennifer headed for the area where SG-9 and other teams gathered and completed their paperwork. It was essentially a large meeting room with a number of desks and tables all around that were shared by designated teams. There were a few computers and even a typewriter on some of the units.
Walking inside, Jennifer noticed personnel from various teams, including SG-9, but she did not see Paul.
"Excuse me," the teen called out as she approached two of the SG-9 teammates. "I'm looking for Major Davis."
"Down the corridor and hang a right," one of the men advised.
Jennifer followed the directions, taking confident steps as she moved. All of sudden, she slowed down, seeing Paul inside an office. She certainly didn't want to disturb him if he was meeting with another officer. As she grew closer, she could only see the major. With the door ajar, Jennifer tapped lightly on the door.
"Paul?" the teen called out.
"Jen, come on in," the man invited.
"Is this yours?" Jennifer asked as she observed Paul taking items out of a box on the desk. She also saw other boxes on the floor, some open and others still sealed. "Do you have an office now?" Then Jennifer noticed the name plate Paul placed at the front of the desk. "Lieutenant Colonel?" she asked with a grin.
With a smile and a nod, Davis revealed, "I got my silver oak leaf on Wednesday."
"That's awesome," Jennifer replied enthusiastically. "The office came with the promotion?"
"Partially. I still do some liaison work between SGC and the Pentagon."
"And you're helping me, now. You definitely need an office for that," Jennifer giggled. "Do my parents know?"
Davis walked over to a box and theorized, "I suspect they do."
"Whether they do or not, I'm happy for you."
"Thanks, Jen," Paul acknowledged as he pulled out a plaque to be hung. "Did those help?" he asked, motioning at the envelope of pictures in the girl's hands.
"Yes, they did, very much," Jennifer answered as she handed the envelope to the man. "Thanks for getting them for me."
"Let me know if you need anything else."
"I will. See you later," Jennifer spoke as she headed to the door. Her hand on the door's edge, she grinned as she looked back and added, "Colonel."
The newly promoted lieutenant colonel shared the laugh with Jennifer and then continued to move in to his new office.
--February 15, 2012
"It's ridiculous," Jack whined as he sat back against the wall of his and Daniel's bedroom. With his husband leaning back against him, Jack's arms wrapped securely and lovingly around the archaeologist while his hands creeped beneath Daniel's sweater and caressed the smooth skin. "We're set."
"Pre-separation counseling is a requirement of retirement, Jack. You have to do it, so let's get it over with." His hands atop his lover's, albeit loosely so that they moved whenever Jack's hands moved, Daniel noted, "It's not like you haven't done this before."
Jack laughed, "That's why I shouldn't have to go through it again."
"Babe, don't make a big deal out of it."
"Danny, I get going through all the figures for the DD 2656. No problem, but ..."
Daniel's laughter interrupted his soulmate's.
"What?" the general questioned.
"Two things you'd never have issues with, food and money," the younger man teased.
"You left the most important out," Jack reminded as his hands left Daniel's abdomen and worked their way downward.
"Ooooooh, yeah, I did. Sorry."
After a few minutes of kissing and gentle fondling, the lovers quieted and carried on their conversation. With the baby monitor at their side, they didn't think they'd have time to do anything more in depth about their sexual desires until later, if they were lucky. By their unspoken estimation, newborn JD would be waking up soon and demanding their attention.
"Angel, the whole idea of this counseling business is to make sure we can handle it," Jack opined. "It's the whole loss of camaraderie thing, making sure we have something to do, that our finances are set, and, in general, adapting to civilian life. Think about it. We're surrounded by the military, rather we're there or not: Ferretti, Carter, the Doc. I don't think there's a worry there. We have a thriving business that resolves two stones in one, finances and having something to do. We've been doing it, so there's nothing to adapt. It's done. Next?"
Daniel let out a single, tiny chuckle and mused, "You can talk a lot when you don't want to do something."
"It's a cliché, but been there, done that, three times already."
"And, uh, did you pay attention?"
"To the DD 2656 part," Jack admitted with a smile. "Besides, you know how I hate ..."
"... paperwork," Daniel spoke at the same time as his husband. "Babe, I've reviewed the requirements for some of the paperwork, and you don't have to do all it."
"Finally, all those years are giving me something," Jack acknowledged as he referred to his length of service exempting him from needing to do some of the normal retirement requirements.
"But the government mandates the counseling, so there's not much we can do about that. We'll have to do the medical exams at some point, too, and probably those briefings."
A few seconds passed as Jack cringed at all the things he was going to have to do that he'd already done thrice.
Then Daniel smiled as he stated, "Unless you have clout somewhere." He waited a minute and asked, "Do you have clout, Jack?"
"I'll let you know," the two-star general responded as he was already thinking about who to call to try and ease up some of the requirements.
Daniel continued, "Well, we're down for the counseling next week, Jack, and I don't think we can get out of that, so why debate it now."
"Yes, let's not dwell."
"Especially since we could be taking advantage of the silence and ..."
Without warning, the vocal sounds of JD's active lungs sang out over the monitor.
"You were about to say?" Jack questioned as he withdrew his hands from Daniel's body.
"... or we could go check on our son."
"Let's do that."
The contented couple stood, shared one very quick kiss, and then headed for the nursery to tend to their six-week-old son.
--March 10, 2012
"Jen, time to come in. It's late," Jack called out from the garage doorway.
"Okay," was the distracted surprise.
Curious, Jack stepped down into the garage and asked, "What are you working on, Princess?"
"Nothing," Jennifer responded anxiously as she quickly put away her notes. Fortunately, the beginning of her work on the loom was nondescript and essentially a blank canvas. ~They're going to find out what I'm doing. I can't hide this.~
"Looks like something to me," Jack refuted as he stared at the barely begun tapestry.
"Just fooling around, Dad," the girl fibbed. ~I'm going to hell for this.~
"Whatever floats your boat, but no more tonight."
"Okay, Dad," Jennifer sighed.
The teen made sure everything was in place, picked up her notes, and returned to her bedroom, where she plopped down on her bed and stared up at the ceiling.
~What are you going to do, Jen? You can't keep lying to Dad and Daddy. It's not right, not even for the secret. Oh fudge!~
Jennifer churned over ideas on how to overcome the crisis, but nothing seemed feasible, nothing that is, until an odd thought came to her.
~Okay, maybe, but how do I do that without making Dad and Daddy suspicious? What if I use it and he zaps me over to them? What if ... Jen, shut up. You don't have a choice. You're going to have to take the chance, but not tonight.~
Her options limited, Jennifer ran over ways to accomplish her task until she finally fell asleep.
--March 12, 2012
With her parents out of the house and most of her siblings with various caregivers, Jennifer seized her chance. She entered Brianna's room, closing the door behind her. Quickly, she opened one of the girl's drawers and pulled out the item she was seeking.
~It's now or never. Pleeeeease don't call Dad and Daddy.~ Jennifer swallowed and pressed the button. "Um, Thor, can you hear me? This is Jennifer. *No* emergency. I need a favor. Can you, um, drop in for a minute?"
Jennifer waited, becoming despondent as the minutes passed. Maybe the device Thor had given Brianna to use on her trip with Megan awhile back didn't work anymore. Maybe she didn't really know how to operate it. She walked over and sat down on Brianna's bed while nervously looking at the clock. She feared her parents would return early or David would come running into the room with some brood emergency.
"This was a dumb idea," a defeated Jennifer sighed. She was about to stand up when a flash of light appeared before her. Feeling a tremendous amount of relief, she exclaimed, "Thor, you came!"
"You need assistance?" Thor questioned.
"Yes. I hope you can help me."
"Is Little Thor well?"
"JD is awesome," Jennifer remarked about her three-month-old brother whom the alien called Thor. In fact, the baby did have Thor as one of his given names. "Thor, Dad and Daddy are retiring next year."
"The Asgard have been advised," Thor responded.
"I want to do something special for them, but I don't think I can do it, unless you can help me. I'm not sure how you can help, but I hope there's something you can do."
"What do you need, Jennifer?"
Jennifer fully explained her plans and the problem. She needed a way to work on her creation in private and she especially needed something to prevent her parents from discovering her secret.
"The Asgard can help."
"Great!" Jennifer exclaimed enthusiastically. "How?"
After talking some more, the Asgard leader came up with a plan. He told Jennifer about it and while she was hopeful, she wondered how it would play out in practice.
"It will work," Thor insisted. "You must also ask Bijou and Katie for their assistance."
"The girls? How? Why?"
"They are watch dogs. They will watch," the Asgard declared.
Jennifer nodded and continued to listen to the advice Thor was giving her. She hoped with all her might that the plan being discussed would work and she wouldn't have to lie again, something she hated doing.
Early in the evening, Jennifer's heart stopped when she watched Jack and Daniel both go into the garage. They were hunting for something, but she wasn't sure what. She hung back, not wanting to be seen. She eyed her parents go to the far end of the garage where the loom was.
"She sure loves this thing," Jack commented.
"I wonder what she's making," Daniel pondered as he looked at the very beginnings of a project.
"Looks like the girls," the older man said.
"It does," Daniel agreed.
Jennifer smiled. Thor had told her that he would cloak the actual piece and replace it with an image of the beagles. She didn't understand the technology behind it all, but if it worked, she didn't care, either. As she listened to her parents, it was clear that what they were seeing were a couple of paws and nothing more. According to Thor, the cloak would become more complex and complete as the days passed.
"Daniel, I can't find it," Jack snapped unhappily as he returned to the search.
"It's here. Look over behind that box," the younger man suggested.
"Score one for Thor," Jennifer whispered before closing the garage door as quietly as she could and returning to her studies.
It was 11:40 at night in Colorado Springs. Like her siblings, Jennifer was supposed to be asleep. Instead, she was working on her special project. It was something she would have to do for months on end if she wanted to get it finished by mid-January when her parents would retire.
Jack and Daniel had also gone to bed, but the older man woke up, thirsty. He went downstairs and relaxed in the kitchen, snacking on Ritz crackers while enjoying part of a beer.
Several minutes later, the general was about to go back upstairs when he thought he heard something from the garage. He headed in that direction, surprised to see Katie lying against the wall.
"What are you doing down here?"
"Woof," replied the youngest beagle as she rolled over, a demand for Jack to rub her belly, which he did.
~If she's this relaxed, must not be anything happening in the garage.~ Even so, out of caution, Jack turned the knob of the door, surprised when it wouldn't open. He twisted the knob that should unlock the door, but still, it wouldn't open. ~Odd.~
Katie stood up and stretched and then she nudged on Jack's left leg.
"Nothing to worry about?" Jack asked.
"Woof!" the beagle replied with a happy face, turning to reveal more of her rear end to her human.
"I suppose that's a request," Jack chuckled, picking up the dog for a moment. "Come on up with Danny and me; I'll give that rear end of yours a good scratch."
Katie squirmed until Jack let her down. She quickly ran down the hallway and then turned to make sure Jack was following.
"I'm coming," Jack promised, his mind off the noise he thought he had heard and focused on the playful beagle.
As Jack and Katie went upstairs, Bijou stuck her head out from behind the sofa in the living room. Quickly, she took her post by the garage door, near where her daughter at been. Settling down on her belly, Bijou put her front paws ahead of her and rested her head on them. She closed her eyes, though her ears were up and in full listening mode.
~It's going to be a long year,~ the beagle yawned.
Upstairs, Jack returned to the bed and, as promised, began a thorough massage of Katie's rear end.
"She likes that," Daniel mumbled from his near-sleep state.
"Danny, we need to check the lock on the garage door tomorrow. I couldn't get it open," Jack mentioned, his instincts telling him to go back and fix it now.
"It's fine, Babe."
"No, it's never acted like this; must be a spring or something."
"Why were you checking ... <yawn> ... the door?"
"I thought I heard something, but Katie was there, so I let it go."
"Did she alert?"
"Yeah, her rear-end for a rub down."
Daniel chuckled and advised, "Go to sleep, Jack."
Jack nodded and let his concern fade away. After all, their security system would have detected an intruder. His fingers continued to massage the beagle until his hands fell to his side and slumber overtook him.
--March 13, 2012
"... and I think ..." Daniel continued, speaking with his husband about their plans for the day.
"Hold on a sec, Danny," Jack interrupted. The two were headed for the study when Jack remembered the difficulty he'd had the night before in opening the garage door. "See, it won't ..."
Daniel gave his Love a small smile, his eyebrows raising as the garage door opened up without any problem.
"Daniel, I'm telling you that last night this thing wouldn't budge."
"Well, it looks okay now."
Jack opened and closed the door five times, trying to figure out what the problem was.
"Babe, if we don't decide what to do this afternoon, we're going to end up in a mess." When there wasn't a response, Daniel added, "I'll be inside. Let me know when you're ready to talk."
"Yeah," Jack conceded in what felt like a delayed response. Something in his gut told him something was off, but the door was working perfectly at the moment. Not one to let it go easily, he opened and closed the door one last time. ~I'm not done with you,~ he thought as he walked away and joined his soulmate in the study.
"I hope I can be as good as you are, Grandma Sophia," Jennifer spoke when she visited with the senior citizen that afternoon.
"Dear, you are a rose, blooming more every day," Mrs. Valissi assured. "Look at what you've accomplished recently." She smiled and continued, "That rug was amazing and to have done it in just three days is unheard of."
"Mister Collins helped."
"Yes, he helped, but you did most of it. You gave it your heart, and what about that piece you did for that sleek young Alex Dennison."
Jennifer broke out into a jubilant grin as she expressed, "I can't believe he paid me, Grandma. The check didn't bounce or anything. It was so much, and he said he might hire me again."
"You are talented, Jennifer. It's a gift. Accept it, nourish it, and let it grow." After a moment, Mrs. Valissi asked, "Would you like more tea?"
The two continued their visit, chatting about all sorts of things. As they did, a new light began to shine inside the teenager and it made her feel very good inside.
After dinner, Jennifer went to the garage. She stood over the loom and pressed the device Thor had given her to turn off the cloak. As she stared at the tapestry, excitement flowed through her.
"Okay, Jennifer. This is not going to be easy, but you can do this. *I* can really do this, all of it. I *am* a good weaver. Believe in yourself, if not for me, for Dad and Daddy. I can do this. I can."
Her resolve stronger than ever, Jennifer began her work. It would take the rest of the year to finish. She simply did not have enough hours in the day to finish it sooner, but as long as it was ready for the day her parents retired, all would be well.
--April 28, 2012
Jennifer's day had been a fun one. Her family put on one of their variety shows for family and friends. In this one, she sang a song called "Sisters" with Aislinn. It was full of humor, but also a lot of love. Her heart was alight with the goodness she felt from the event.
After the guests departed, Jennifer helped with the cleanup before heading upstairs to prepare for bed. Of course, by now, she was in a routine of pretending to ready herself for sleep, saying goodnight to her parents, and then sneaking downstairs and going to the garage to work on her secret project. That's exactly what she did this evening.
~Oh my gosh!~
Jennifer laughed freely, feeling happier than she had during the show.
"That's what I'll do."
One of the facets of her tapestry that the teen had been struggling with was how to include her grandfather in the piece. Now, out of the blue, the answer popped into her brain. She immediately wrote down her thoughts and added Hammond to the sketch she had drawn for use as a guideline as she created the tapestry. Once that was done, she returned to where she'd left off the night before, bringing her older father to life.
--June 5, 2012
The lovers were quiet as they sat in the gazebo in their backyard. It was almost six o'clock, which meant dinner would be ready soon. Jennifer was the chief chef on this night, getting assistance from David, Little Danny, and Ricky. Most of the children were inside, either playing or doing chores. The two exceptions were six-month-old JD, the youngest Jackson-O'Neill, and Jonny. The two kids were outside with their parents, playing in Katie's sandbox. Both Bijou and Katie were in the sandbox, too, enjoying the current adventure being played out.
"Jonny, make sure JD doesn't eat that sand," Jack warned.
"I mean it!"
"Ooookay," the Munchkin replied, having by his own estimation covertly ingested plenty of sand in his short years and thinking it was awesome.
"Keep in eye on them, Jack. You know how Jonny is with sand," Daniel reminded, happy that Katie's sandbox had only natural river sand in it. There had never been an issue with the brood or the dogs with the sandbox, in spite of vigorous play sessions. ~And I don't want JD to be the first one to get sick from ingesting sand.~
In the gazebo, Jack and Daniel were sitting on opposite sides. Each man had his legs stretched out and his feet resting on the opposite bench. Daniel was facing Mrs. Valissi's home and Jack their other neighbor, which was why he had a clearer view of the sandbox. Their legs touched as they sat and at various times, each felt the other's hands caressing their limbs.
The lovers both had clipboards with papers attached to them, and each was busy completing the forms secured on the clipboards. Every now and then one would ask a question of the other and sometimes they had to discuss a query more in depth.
After twenty minutes, Daniel let out a sigh and let the clipboard fall gently to his lap.
"Babe, why are we going through this when we don't really have to?" Daniel inquired, even though he knew the answer deep within him.
"The Air Force *loves* paperwork," Jack responded, albeit somewhat playfully.
"Jack, you've retired before."
"So?" Jack prompted.
"This is your fourth time."
"The man can add," Jack stated dryly and then smiled as he laughed. "Teasing."
"I know," Daniel replied. "Three times."
"What's your point?"
"Pomp and circumstance for your fourth time? Doesn't the Air Force think of you as having been reactivated and then technically, when you're done, they just ... file you away again."
"As long as they file me next to Mary Steenburgen, I'll be happy."
Daniel hung his head, smiling as he shook his head. He remained silent as he thought about their somewhat unique situation. This would be his husband's fourth separation from the military and his second. His heart was warm from love as he thought about the moment when he and his general retired in 2006 to start their family. They'd returned from a mission and were in the gate room when Jack leaned over and kissed Daniel right in front of the Stargate. They were done and eager to move forward and leave the lure of intergalactic travel behind. The two were convinced to return to duty roughly thirty months later, though they did so on their own terms, which included their children and their beagles being able to go through the Stargate.
"Danny, if we do the shindig in the gate room, we're limiting our guests."
"We can have the reception at a hotel."
"Too much work."
"General Hammond might not agree."
"He does. We talked about it some the other day."
"You want a hotel thing?" Jack asked.
"No," Daniel answered. "Keep it simple."
"I want the ceremony in the gate room," the general maintained, something he had already made clear several times before.
"Okay, so we can use one of the meeting rooms higher up for the reception," Daniel suggested. "The old NORAD floors aren't classified."
"Not really, Jack. It's just common sense."
"You're my genius, like it or not." Jack smiled at his lover and wrote down a few thoughts on the paper he was completing. ~I should have made Walter fill these out for me.~ He let out a grin. "Danny, Sara and Mark can be there."
Daniel looked up with bright eyes and called out, "Jack!"
Knowing exactly what his Love was thinking, Jack responded, "That's affirm. Suz will be thrilled."
Daniel's foster sister, Suzanna Simpson, only learned about the Stargate last month. She didn't have clearance and was only told about it because Daniel was affected by an off-world experiment and ended up thinking he was a child. Jack told Suzanna about the Stargate because she was visiting at the time and needed to understand what was happening to her brother and why.
"That would be admitting that you told her classified information," Daniel sighed, not sure that would be the smartest thing to do. He studied Jack's expression carefully. "Right, we're retiring."
"What are they gonna do, Danny?"
"I guess not much at this point," the archaeologist replied. "So, you'll handle it?"
"It's done," Jack stated, making another note on the form where guests were to be listed.
"I really would like her to be there, to see the Stargate," Daniel mentioned quietly.
"She'll be front and center with the kids and Sara and Mark."
"Wooooooof!" came a sudden interjection from the sandbox.
"Those dogs have great ears," Jack mused. "Noted," he called out. "And two beagles," he added as he wrote it down on the guest list. "Kinsey would lose his lunch over this."
"You almost made me lose mine just now by mentioning him."
Jack chuckled as he continued working on his list.
Daniel returned to his original thought from the beginning of the conversation and repeated, "Why are we doing this?"
Jack looked up and asked in response, "You want me to say it out loud?"
"Just once, so we're clear."
"There are twelve reasons," Jack answered, though he immediately leaned forward and, pointing at Bijou and Katie, added, "plus two."
Bijou wagged her tail, as did Katie, and returned to playing with the boys, neither of whom could hear the quiet discussion occurring in the gazebo.
"And one more," Daniel pointed out in reference to Suzanna.
"Dad, Daddy," Brianna called out from the wooden deck. When her parents looked over, she advised, "Danny's on the phone."
"On our way," Jack responded loudly as he stood up. "This is going to be great."
"Jack, let's ask David and Julie if he can come over the Fourth," Daniel suggested as he, too, stood.
"Our camping trip?" Jack asked about the camping trip the two were thinking about doing over the Fourth of July.
"Sounds like a plan!"
"Jonny, JD, time to go inside," Daniel called out. "Bij, Katie," he stated, not needing to say anything more.
The beagles began to nudge their two charges until the boys exited the sandbox.
"You got him?" Jack called out to his namesake as he watched Jonny holding JD's hands and helping the baby out of the sandbox.
"I have him, Dad," Jonny promised as he picked up his brother and carefully carried him toward the house.
Jack was satisfied that JD was safe in his protective brother's hold and turned his attention to his husband.
"Race ya," the child-like general challenged.
"Gawd," Daniel responded, although he sped up and beat his husband to the deck. "What do I get?"
"I'll show you tonight," Jack answered with seductive eyes as he walked by Daniel and entered the house. He eagerly went to the phone and picked it up. "Danny!"
Daniel followed, happy to listen in and wait for his turn to speak with Danny Hopkins Jenkins. He smiled, happy to know that plans were being made for the sixteen-year-old's latest visit to Colorado. After all, Danny Hopkins had been close to being the first Jackson-O'Neill child.
~Okay, so we didn't even know that *we* were going to be Jackson-O'Neills,~ the archaeologist mused in acknowledgement that the two weren't even engaged or contemplating marriage when they met the little boy in 2002. ~And I didn't even know what Jack was up to, but ... I'm certain that somehow, someway, we would have done something.~
The timing hadn't been quite right for the lovers to adopt a child, either individually or as a couple, but in his heart, Daniel knew that if Jack hadn't convinced his friends, the Jenkins, to adopt the boy, they would have found a way to give him a home. Danny Hopkins would not have remained in foster care. It wasn't going to happen.
"My turn?" Daniel mused, after listening to Jack talking with the teen for teen minutes. "Danny, hello."
Jack grinned as he continued to enjoy the aftermath of the conversation. Like Daniel, he felt like Danny Hopkins was part of their family and thought of him as family. He always felt thankful that Dave and Julie were so generous in allowing Danny to visit the Jackson-O'Neills, and vice versa. He was happy, too, that the brood loved Danny and considered him to be their cousin.
"Hey, tell him about the camping trip," Jack interjected, getting a nod from Daniel. ~Too bad he doesn't know about the Stargate.~ Getting clearance for Daniel's sister was one thing, but it would be something else entirely for the teenager, who had absolutely no connection to the military or space exploration. ~Shame.~
"We'll talk with you soon," Daniel said at the end of the conversation.
"Is he coming?" Jennifer asked from the edge of the kitchen nook.
"Yes," Daniel answered with a smile.
"Good," Jennifer responded with a smile. "Dinner's ready."
Jack and Daniel put away their paperwork for the moment and rounded up the family for dinner. Thoughts of their retirement were put away for now in favor of enjoying time with their brood plus zoo. This was what they lived for the most.
--September 10, 2012
Whistling and lost in thought, Jack walked down the corridor of SGC and suddenly realized he'd made a wrong turn.
~Has it been that long?~ the general wondered as he realized he hadn't actually been to the medical bay in quite a while. ~Maybe I'm just losin' my noggin. Time to retire.~ Jack smiled as he chuckled. ~I am retiring. Amen and hallelujah, good-bye and farewell.~
Righting his direction, Jack's smiled faded. He was happy to have retirement right around the corner, but at the same time, he did love the Air Force. It wasn't always easy, but it was his life.
~Until Danny. Geez, everything changed with Danny.~ Jack's smile grew as he thought about their love and their magic dozen. ~This time is for real. We're gonna kick back, build our company, and stop worrying about saving the planet every month. Done. Gone. Over and out!~
Jack was startled out of his sentimental journey by the unmistakable voice of Doctor Janet Frasier. He smiled weakly at the petite redhead.
"Doc," Jack greeted. "I didn't think you did exit exams these days."
Pulling on her protective gloves, Janet replied, "For you, General, I made an exception."
"You don't have to do that."
"I wouldn't think of inflicting you on one of my staff, Jack. This pleasure is all mine."
~Now I remember why we call her Little Napoleon,~ Jack quipped in his mind. "These little exams are pretty much in and out these days; you know, make sure the ole ticker is still ticking?"
"I wouldn't want you to have anything but the full examination you deserve, Sir," Janet said, her smirk reminding Jack of an officer he'd butted heads with while still a captain.
"Doc, there's no need," Jack insisted.
"Follow me," Janet ordered.
"I outrank you."
"Not if you want to retire and spend all those romantic nights with your husband instead of sitting here under guard."
"You wouldn't." Jack studied the redhead's stare. "You would."
"This way, General," Janet requested, leading Jack to the exam area she wanted to utilize. She drew the curtain to provide privacy and turned to face Jack. "Drop 'em!"
"Aren't you skipping a few things?" Jack asked.
"General, this may be my last chance to ever stick it to you the way it should be stuck, and I'm going to enjoy every moment of it. Drop 'em!"
"Fiend," Jack whined as he unbuckled his belt. "Did you do this to Daniel this morning?"
Jack hadn't talked to his husband since breakfast when Daniel left to run a few errands and then drop by SGC for his exit exam before going by J-O Enterprises for a couple of hours.
"That sweetie? We had a lovely visit," Janet answered.
"I'll bet," Jack groaned, leaning over onto the exam table. He didn't even know what the shot was for, but he did know that if he didn't go along, his retirement was doomed. "Okay, Doc, give it to me, full on, with all your *miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!* Ouch!" Rubbing his rear end after straightening up, Jack accused, "You enjoyed that."
"I sure did," Janet laughed. She finished up the exam, which only took a few minutes and made some notes on her tablet that displayed Jack's medical information. "I'm going to miss this, Jack."
"Me, too," Jack replied as he put his arms around the woman and hugged her. "Hey, it's not like you aren't still the family physician."
"I know, but there's something about these surroundings and being able to order you around."
"Orders didn't always work."
Janet put down her tablet and stared at Jack as she asked, "How many times did you and Daniel pull the wool over my eyes?"
"About ten percent more than you probably think."
"That's what I thought," Janet laughed. "Get out of here, General."
Jack nodded as he pulled open the curtain, but then he turned backed and asked, "Dinner Friday night? I'll show off my latest cooking sensation, Burritos Irish."
"I don't even want to know," Janet laughed. "Can we do sevenish?"
"That's affirm," Jack responded. "We'll see you then. Bring a movie."
With a grin, Jack shook his head and said, "We'll put 'em all to bed."
"You're on, General."
As Janet finalized her report, Jack began to whistle while he exited the medical bay and headed for the exit.
~Time to go home and see my Love.~
--October 12, 2012
Jennifer let out a huge yawn. It was 3:45 a.m. and near freezing outside. She was grateful for the insulation of the garage that kept the cold from being unbearable. Wrapped up warmly, she paused to review the progress of the tapestry.
~There's so much left to do, but I can't believe I've accomplished this much,~ the teen thought.
The last several months hadn't happened exactly like she thought it would. Her family ended up away from home for a significant amount of time. They'd spent a week or so on Homer, their yacht, taking it from its west coast berth to their Minnesota cabin where it was now permanently docked. Then she and Jeff were surprised by their parents with a trip to the Bahamas. If that wasn't enough travel for the teen, she next found herself driving across the USA in the family's new RV. The entire family had a blast as they experienced many thrilling and educational adventures during the months away from home.
~It's been a crazy, wonderful, awesome year of travel, but it put me so behind.~
There were other situations that brought her progress to a halt or slowed it down, including a short period of time in which Daniel was injured and thought he was a little boy again. She also had her own major decision to make about where to attend college. It had weighed on her heavily, but now she knew her future and where it would be. Inside, she was completely satisfied and at peace with her decision. Topping it all off, she was now working part time for J-O Enterprises, something that was her own idea.
~What was I thinking? I should have asked for a job next year,~ the teen sighed. Still, she had no regrets. Her mind turned to the latest twist in her life. ~I hope I survive the bet. If I get caught, I'll ruin it for everyone.~
Earlier in the year, the teen felt tremendously guilty when she lied by omission about her activities. It was something she had to do in order to protect the surprise she was working on so diligently. With Thor's help, the need for those lies lessened greatly. Bijou and Katie were doing a great job guarding the garage at times like this when Jennifer was working in the wee hours of the morning, and Thor's unique cloaking device that displayed a progressive tapestry of the beagles instead of the actual picture being created on the loom was functioning perfectly. Jennifer just had to remember to switch on the cloak.
Currently, the brood was engaged in a bet with their parents, primarily with Jack. They wanted their parents to have a big anniversary party in November. To win, the kids essentially had to be perfect for a couple of months, which wasn't easy since Jack was making it as difficult as possible for the kids to win. Jennifer was certain the brood would win the bet and as such, she was also working on the preparations for the party. She had so much on her shoulders. The good news was that she had a lot of support for planning the special party, but when it came to the tapestry, she had no one but herself. With so much to do, she was tired. Even so, she was certain she could do everything required of her.
~I wish I could tell them. Why can't I tell them?~
Jennifer sighed. She honestly didn't know why she felt like she had to keep her special gift a secret from her siblings.
"I'm not sure they'd understand," the teen whispered to the air. "I don't even know why it's so important to me."
The teenager desperately wanted to ensure her parents were not forgotten by the generations to come at Stargate Command. Why she felt so strongly was somewhat of a mystery.
~I have to do this,~ Jennifer reminded herself. ~They'll understand,~ she told herself strongly. ~Stay focused, Jennifer. People have to remember Dad and Daddy.~
Jennifer continued working for another hour before she returned to bed.
~A whole hour I'll get to sleep. One whole hour.~
Twenty minutes into her slumber, Jennifer began to toss and turn. She was having another nightmare. Once again, she sprang up.
"Oh fudge!" Jennifer called out as she brought up her knees and leaned forward so that her head touched her knees. She brought up her arms, her hands rubbing the back of her head. ~I hate nightmares.~
When she felt calmer, Jennifer laid back down and looked over at the family picture on the wall. As she had so often this year, she focused on her parents. Her nightmare had begun as a pleasant dream. Her parents retirement day was the subject. It was a celebration. Without warning, though, it turned into a bad dream. Jennifer's gift was burned after one of her parents' political enemies objected to its presence. The teen awoke to her internal screaming at the tapestry becoming nothing but ashes.
"I will not let that happen. I won't."
The girl knew she needed to get some kind of Congressional support for her contribution to SGC. General Landry warned her of that months ago. There was just one problem with that. Who should she trust?
Jennifer got out of bed and began to pace. Her younger father was a huge pacer when he had issues to work out.
~I must have gotten this from Daddy,~ the teen thought as she continued to walk the room. For forty more seconds, Jennifer paced. Then she stopped as a smile formed on her face. ~Now I know why Daddy paces. It works!~
That afternoon, Jennifer found an excuse to go to Cheyenne Mountain. It wasn't an originally scheduled trip, but the entire family was home and she was certain her plan would be interrupted if she attempted it there.
~I hope this works,~ Jennifer prayed silently, her eyes closed. In her hand was the communication device, the pager-like object that would alert Thor that she needed to speak with him. ~Gosh, I hope Thor's arrival doesn't make the alarms or whatever sound.~ Her heart pounding, Jennifer pressed the button. ~Please be covert, Thor. All I need is for Grandpa to come running in with the troops when you get here.~
Jennifer knew that it was never a guarantee that Thor would be able to respond. He might be out of the galaxy or busy with Asgard business. She waited patiently, a Teen Gater schedule and report in front of her should her presence be questioned by anyone who might enter the meeting room.
A tiny whoosh and flash of light easily drew Jennifer's attention from the silence of the room.
"Is there a problem with the beagle cloak?" Thor asked, getting right down to business.
"No, it's working beautifully. I don't know how you do it, Thor, but my parents see Bijou and Katie whenever they look at it."
"Good. How may I be of service?"
"Thor, I've been thinking," Jennifer began. "The purpose of my tapestry is to acknowledge what my parents have done and their importance to our history, including our intergalactic past. The government here is ... well, it's ..."
"Fickle," Thor stated.
"Not always transparent."
"Humans are subject to the influence of power and currency. Currency does not have a place in the Asgard world."
"That's probably a good thing," Jennifer sighed. "Thor, when my parents retire and the tapestry is hung, well, I know General Landry doesn't have any issues with it being hung, but what if someone at the Pentagon objects, or later, when General Landry isn't here anymore. Dad and Daddy have some people who don't like them very much and they might influence someone in the government to take it down." She paused and added, "General Landry told me that he would be happy to have the tapestry hung at SGC, but because it is a government facility that I would need some type of Congressional approval. The thing is, well, Thor, the politicians on Earth ... well, uh, my parents, they, uh ... well ..."
"O'Neill and Doctor Jackson are not fond of the two-faced baboons who run your country."
Jennifer's eyes widened at the statement. She started to respond verbally, except she didn't know what to say. Instead, she shrugged her shoulders and bobbed her head up and down several times.
"You do not know which baboon to trust."
"You've talked to Dad, haven't you? He's the one who called our congressmen ba...ba..."
"Baboons," Thor stated for the teen.
"Okay, um, I don't know who I could go to. I don't think Dad or Daddy would be happy if I even attempted to talk to any of them. President Hayes is probably the only politician they've ever taken to, but he's leaving office, too. Thor, I'm so afraid someone will interfere and all this work would be for nothing, and my parents, and my grandfather, will be forgotten."
After twenty seconds of silent thought, Thor shifted his head as he looked at the girl and there was something about his mouth that altered itself.
"Thor, are you smiling?" an amused Jennifer asked.
"The Asgard do not smile."
"Dad said he thought you smiled once. You did, didn't you? I know you smiled; you did, just now. Why? What are you thinking?"
"Many years ago, representatives of other countries attempted to remove control of the Stargate from your grandfather and the United States. They had a meeting."
"Really? I haven't heard that story." Thoughtfully, Jennifer echoed, "Other countries? Oh, that must have been when America told other countries about the Stargate." Quietly, she added, "I don't know much about that. Actually, I don't know anything, but it makes sense because I know there are international teams now. Dad's mentioned the Russians a few times, but nothing really specific and mostly like he talks about politicians. I think Daddy ..."
Suddenly, Thor interjected, "They were not successful."
"Of course not," the teenager responded. Realizing she'd been cut off, she privately opined, ~I'm talking too much.~ With a silent laugh, she mused, ~Daddy would like that.~ Refocusing and cocking her head slightly as she tried to understand what Thor was saying, she exclaimed, "Oh!" She smiled herself. "Thor, did you attend the meeting?"
"The Asgard spoke in favor of General Hammond and the United States remaining in charge. As O'Neill might say, we made our point."
"I guess that's what I'm asking you to do now. Thor, if I give this gift to my parents, there's no guarantee it will still be displayed in six months, let alone six decades from now. Will you help me? Will you give my tapestry to SGC? I know if you do, that if the tapestry is a gift from the Asgard, no one will dare ever touch it, not if you give it yourself, not if it's clear that the Asgard expect the tapestry to be hung in perpetuity. Will you do it? Please?"
"The Asgard will be honored to present your gift, Jennifer. We will make it clear how unfortunate it would be should it ever be removed."
"Thank you, Thor," Jennifer replied emotionally as she moved forward and hugged the tiny alien. "Oh, I'm sorry," she apologized, worried she might actually hurt the fragile being.
"You are much like Colonel Carter."
"She also likes to ... hug."
Jennifer laughed as another huge weight was lifted from her shoulders thanks to this close family friend. She also made a mental note to ask her grandfather about the meeting Thor discussed, but it would have to wait until late January when the tapestry presentation was over.
--November 27, 2012
Daniel emerged from the bathroom completely naked, which made his husband very happy. There was brief consideration to putting their morning plans aside for some fun under the sheets, but they opted to take a rain check until that evening. The archaeologist dressed as he chatted with Jack, who oddly was still in his sweats that he'd slept in overnight.
"Babe, are you getting dressed?"
"Danny, I want to do something."
"Come here, Angel," Jack requested, patting his Love's side of the bed.
Curious, Daniel sat down on the bed, his left leg scooted on the bed as he faced Jack.
"About the retirement ceremony ..."
"Yes?" Daniel prompted.
"Let me make one thing perfectly clear. ..."
"Yes, President Nixon," Daniel mused about Jack's choice of phrasing since the words used were heavily associated with the late United States leader.
"You're full of it today," Jack noted with a smile.
"I'm sorry, Jack."
"Nah, I'm making more of this than should be, but I want you to be okay with it."
"I've been mulling this over all year."
"Time to share," Daniel encouraged.
With a nod, Jack continued, "We've already gone over the program and lined up who says what when."
"It's how they'll do it and why they'd subject themselves to it that is the question." Daniel saw Jack's stare and lowered his head for a moment as he apologized. "I guess I am full of it today, or I'm hanging around you too much."
"No such thing," Jack refuted, leaning over to kiss Daniel and taking his hand at the very same time. He held on to the hand as he continued, "It's the last bit, right before they hand over the certificate."
Daniel smiled intuitively and replied, "If it's what I'm thinking, Jack, it's a great idea, and I'm all for it."
"You sure? This is the official gig, in front of a lot of people, most of whom won't understand."
"But you will, and I will, and so will she. Uh ..."
"Yeah, I should clear it with the significant other."
Laughing slightly at Jack's phrasing, Daniel praised, "I'm proud of you. It's the right thing to do and at the right time."
"Have I told you I love you this morning?" Jack queried.
"Just now," Daniel answered as he leaned forward to share a few passionate kisses with his husband. "Okay, how are you thinking you should do it?"
"I was thinking full on surprise with Walter's help."
Daniel listened as Jack told him the potential plan. He felt good about it and was confident the attendees at the ceremony who really mattered would totally understand the why of the surprise. For his husband, Daniel knew the important thing was that he understood, and Daniel most definitely did.
It was well after eleven at night and all in the Jackson-O'Neill household were sound asleep, except for Jennifer, Bijou, and Katie. The youngest beagle was on guard duty, resting inside the house near Jack's study, while the mama beagle was in the garage with Jennifer.
"Bij, I'm so behind. I had to devote so much time to the anniversary party that I've barely been able to work on this."
Bijou sat up and leaned against Jennifer's right leg. In a mere second, she felt a warm hand gently rubbing against her ears and neck. Then the hand stopped. Looking up, Bijou became sad. She saw Jennifer wiping away tears and sniffling. Quickly, she stood up, her paws on Jennifer's thigh. She gave licks to her arm, the only bare skin she could reach. Bijou whimpered in a sign of sympathy and love.
"I can't do it, Bij. I can't finish it, not the way I want to."
The beagle made supportive noises, wagging her tail as she struggled to comfort Jennifer. Finally, she simply jumped up, causing the teen to lean back somewhat. Bijou gave Jennifer lots of kisses.
~You can do it, Jennifer. I believe in you!~ Bijou told her human.
For a few minutes, Jennifer sat, caressing Bijou who was nestled against her chest. She stared at her tapestry. She'd worked hard to make it happen, but as much as she wanted to believe she was this great weaver, she had to be realistic. She was good, but not as fast as those with more experience were. Along the way, she made mistakes that she'd had to go back and fix before moving forward again. She'd lost weeks of work time when the family traveled across America and more days than she'd expected by planning her parents' big anniversary shindig in Denver. She was so exhausted afterwards that she couldn't wake herself up at night to work on the tapestry. Her heart was breaking.
~Jen, you can't do everything. You're a teenager. Listen to me, Mama Beagle knows best,~ Bijou urged with all her mental concentration she could muster. ~Take a good look at your beautiful handiwork. The answer is there. It's a hard choice, but he'll understand. You're only human, Dear. Yes, there you go, look at the tapestry. Study it. He'll understand.~
Jennifer let out a sad sigh and whispered, "I'm sorry, Grandpa. There's not enough time."
Bijou jumped off the teen, but stayed close. She remained sad for her human, especially when the sniffling continued for a while.
"Grandpa, I'm sorry," Jennifer cried, hating the choice she was having to make. It was an agonizing one. ~How will I be able to tell him? I feel like such a failure.~
Even feeling as downtrodden as she did, Jennifer knew she had to be strong and make the tough call. She sat up straight, took a deep breath, and returned to her work. Before moving forward, though, she had to go back, undoing the start of a image she could not complete in time for the retirement ceremony. She vowed to make it up to her grandpa one day, though she didn't know how or when she'd be able to do so. Her guilt was enormous, but she had to be practical. Time was not on her side.
--January 20, 2013
"This is Stargate Command," Suzanna stated as she walked with Jack and Daniel.
"No, this is the parking area for SGC," Jack corrected.
The three were inside Cheyenne Mountain to give Daniel's sister her first look at the Stargate. Having secured her clearance to attend the retirement ceremony tomorrow, Jack and Daniel felt she should have some exposure to SGC before the event.
"You said SGC occupies most of this place," Suzanna said to Jack.
"Yes, Ma'am. NORAD still has a few floors on top, but most of it is ours now," Jack replied.
The three walked through the tunnel and passed through the initial check-in point. They entered the elevator and went to Level 11 where they passed through another security check-in point before entering the second elevator that took them to Level 18. They stopped there to show Suzanna Daniel's office. Their next stop was to Level 28 where they entered Jack's office.
"Wow, I have a desk," Jack quipped.
"Don't mind him, Suz. Jack has a running joke about not knowing he has a desk."
"I've never even opened a drawer," the general asserted.
"Another part of his joke?" Suzanna asked her brother.
"Yes," Daniel sighed while rolling his eyes.
"Ya gotta have some fun," Jack rationalized. "Believe it or not, at least half the base believes it."
Suzanna chuckled, "I'm sure they do, Jack."
"Time to see the big prize," Jack stated.
"I think I'm nervous," the woman confided.
Daniel took her hand as they walked and assured, "It's a wonderful thing, Suz. It's opened so many doors for Earth; we've learned so much."
"You really do love it," Suzanna observed. "Daniel, your eyes and your voice when you talk the Stargate, they change."
"It's, uh, pretty awesome," the archaeologist responded.
One quick elevator ride and a brief walk down a corridor, and the trio was standing just outside the gate room. The doors were closed.
"Okay," Daniel stated. He faced his sister and said, "What you're about to see is an ancient gateway to other worlds. It's amazing, and it's safe. Don't be scared."
"Are you ready?" Jack asked.
"Sure. Of course. No," Suzanna laughed nervously. "But show it to me anyway."
Jack pressed the button and the doors pulled apart.
Gripping Daniel's hand tightly, Suzanna let her brother lead her slowly into the gate room.
"Oh my goodness," Suzanna expressed as she had her first glimpse of the big circle she'd heard about. "That's the Stargate."
Smiling as he looked at the circular ring, Daniel affirmed, "That's the Stargate, the Chappa'ai, the Astria Porta."
Suzanna glanced at Daniel, who was intently watching the Stargate. She didn't understand his words, but she could hear the passion in his voice and see the awe in his eyes, even more than before. She had so many questions and for a few minutes, the lovers answered them and told her more about the alien invention.
"I don't even know what to say."
"You haven't seen anything yet," Jack professed as he leaned his upper torso forward while his hands were in his pockets. Still looking at the woman, he called out, "Hit it, Walter!"
Suzanna physically jumped back when the part of the object began to move.
"Chevron one, encoded."
The woman twisted around and looked up high to the window when she heard the loud announcement.
"Chevron two, encoded."
Her hand patting her chest, Suzanna refocused on the Stargate, her eyes watching as the object rotated.
"Each chevron is part of a gate address," Daniel explained. "Initially, we knew that it took seven symbols to dial another planet, six for their address and one for the planet of origin."
"Planet of origin," Suzanna repeated as she looked into her brother's eyes. "Earth?"
"Earth," Daniel acknowledged with a smile.
"Chevron three, encoded."
"Daniel, you said initially?" Suzanna prodded without really completing her inquiry.
"Well, see, there are nine symbols around the Gate. I always thought there was a reason for that, but we didn't figure out the why and how until later. See, the combination of six symbols are like points in space and the seventh is Earth, or whatever planet the Stargate is on." Daniel smiled as he expounded, "Then we found out that the eighth chevron locked onto Stargates outside our galaxy. Actually, uh, is that a distance calculation is taken from the seventh, point of origin chevron, and when you add the eighth chevron, it takes us out of our galaxy and to one further out."
"Chevron four, encoded."
Suzanna was getting used to hearing the voice over the loudspeaker. Her nerves were settling, the conversation helping her to feel more at ease.
"What about the ninth chevron?"
"I ... have no idea," Daniel admitted sadly. "But it has to do something. I mean, uh, it took years to discover how to utilize the eighth chevron. There has to be a reason. It has to do something. We just don't know what yet."
"Chevron five, encoded," Davis announced as the process continued.
Suzanna was shaking her head as the countdown continued. Though overwhelming, her curiosity was never greater than it was at this moment.
"How did you find out about the eighth chevron?"
Both Jack and Daniel looked down, little smiles on their faces.
"It was Jack," Daniel answered.
"Don't look at me," Jack responded, raising his hands and backing away. "It wasn't me."
"But Daniel said it was."
"It was the little gray butts," Jack explained to Suzanna's confusion.
"The Asgard," Daniel clarified. "Think Roswell."
"Oh," the woman responded uncertainly, her mind conjuring images of small, gray creatures. "Really?"
"They sucked out my brains," the general stated graphically.
"It's a really long story, but it's a good one," Daniel claimed.
"Chevron six, encoded."
"Hang on to your hat," Jack warned, instinctively grabbing Suzanna's arm and pulling her back since she had been standing right at the base of the ramp that led up to the Stargate. "There's a big kick coming."
"A big, big kick," Daniel added as he, too, reached out and pulled her sister back to a safe distance.
"What do you mean?"
"Chevron seven, locked."
Suddenly, the kawoosh of the Stargate exploded outward, causing Suzanna to scream and run backwards.
"Oh my ... uh ... what ... oh ... Daniel!"
Jack and Daniel both tried not to laugh.
"It's okay, Suz," Daniel promised as he walked to his sister and put his arm around her. "That's an open wormhole. It's the, uh, tunnel to another world."
"Don't!" Daniel warned his husband, knowing exactly the joke the older man was about to impart on Suzanna. "Forget the name. Think of it as a bridge that connects our planet to another planet. You just step in and then step out."
"Sure," the stunned woman returned. ~I think I might be having a heart attack,~ she thought from the rapid beat of her heart and the throbbing of her pulse.
"Remember the Concorde?"
"The sonic boom aircraft," Suzanna affirmed.
"Well, that's what the wormhole is like. It's a bridge that allows us to travel between two points faster than is possible in any other way."
"What was that big splash?"
"The kawoooooosh!" the general explained, his hand, palm down, spreading out through the air around him.
"Actually, it's a burst energy. Technically, it's an unstable vortex. Sam can explain it better," Daniel put forth. "Come on." He started to walk forward, but noticed Suzanna's hesitation. "It's okay. Trust me."
Suzanna nodded and with Jack and Daniel supporting her, each on one side, she cautiously walked up the ramp to the Stargate. She stared at it in wonder.
"What is it?"
"It's a big puddle of water," Jack teased, laughing afterward. "They call it the event horizon," he stated accurately. "If you want to know how this thing works, ask Carter. She loves to talk about what makes this thing go."
"Carter calls them fluctuations," Jack noted. "Touch it."
"Whaaaat?" the woman asked in near terror.
"Like this," Jack demonstrated, making a Z-figure in the horizon. "Try it."
Suzanna looked at Daniel, who nodded.
Tentatively, Suzanna reached out, the tips of her fingers barely making contact. She giggled and then tried it again. This time, she placed the palm of her hand on the event horizon. Gently, she let one finger poke through.
"That's incredible." Suzanna let out another nervous laugh and remarked, "It's like magic."
"Wanna take a trip?" Jack asked with a smile.
"I don't think I'm ready for that."
"Just let us know," Jack replied. "We may be retiring, but we can always pull some strings."
"Thank you, Jack," Suzanna returned as she began to walk back down the ramp. ~Maybe in ten or twenty years, or more.~
"Shut it down, Walter," Jack shouted.
"I can't imagine that you went through that thing all the time."
"It's been ..."
Daniel paused, not sure how to describe what he was feeling. In fact, he had to force himself not to give in to his feelings. The Stargate changed his life.
"There's still so much to learn and see," the archaeologist sighed, his eyes focused on the Gate that was now silent.
"Thank you for showing it to me."
"Dinner!" Jack exclaimed. "Have we taken you to O'Malley's yet?"
"I don't think so."
"Great place. They love us there."
"I'm not sure I'd go that far," Daniel corrected as the three left the gate room.
As Daniel continued to talk, Suzanna looked back at the ancient object in amazement. She wondered what stories she might hear in the future and just how Daniel factored into saving the planet, something she'd heard so much about in the last several weeks.
~I'm so proud of you, Daniel.~
--January 21, 2013
The special day was here at last. Jack, Daniel, and General Hammond were all retiring. Jack and Daniel had attempted retiring in the past, but after a while, something always seemed to interfere with their permanent departure from the Air Force, Stargate Command, and saving the world. Times were changing, though, and everyone was older. There were new politicians in the game and with President Hayes concluding his two terms in office, it felt like the right time to once again say farewell to universal travel, negotiations, and damsel saving.
For the Jackson-O'Neills, the day itself was fairly normal. After breakfast, there was a short homeschooling lesson that focused on the entire change of power event that occurred when a new President and Congress took office. Later, the family gathered in the recreation room to watch the new commander-in-chief take the oath of office. Afterward, the family went about their business. They had some time before they would depart for Cheyenne Mountain where an evening ceremony for the three retirees would be held. The evening event was scheduled so that President Hayes and some others who needed to be in Washington, D.C. for the inauguration could make it back to Colorado Springs in time for the retirement ceremony.
Jack hung up the phone and advised, "Hayes was roped into a confab for almost a half hour in D.C., but they have a good head wind and his pilot says he should land on time."
"There was an easier way of doing this," Daniel told his lover as they dressed.
"We could have retired tomorrow."
"Nah," Jack refuted.
"Solidarity?" the archaeologist mused.
"We can be the four ... somethings," Jack chuckled, not sure what to call the foursome that included Daniel, Hammond, and President Hayes, all of whom agreed to this course of action a year ago.
The evening would begin with the official retirement ceremony and conclude with a reception. Between the two would be the presentation of Jennifer's surprise, though General Landry was the only other human to know about that. The timing was making Jennifer, who was pacing downstairs, nervous.
At the moment, the tapestry was on Thor's ship. After being completed, Jennifer put together the needed supplies to frame her creation and explained the process to the Asgard. Thor assured her that she did need not to worry. Her tapestry would be delivered and in place in time for the surprise presentation.
~How does an Asgard know how to hang a tapestry? What was I thinking to let Thor take it?~ Jennifer pondered as she walked the living room, her anxiety growing in leaps and bounds. ~I should have asked Uncle Lou for help. Why did I insist on keeping this to myself?~
Jennifer let out a sigh as she reflected back on the last year. Creating the tapestry was arguably the most challenging project she'd ever attempted. The fact that it was a secret, though, meant it would have been next to impossible to get it inside the base, even with General Landry's help.
~Those airman have their noses everywhere.~
The truth was Jennifer placed her trust in the Asgard because she simply did not want to take the chance on her gift being discovered and her surprise being ruined.
~I guess the good news is that Thor said he had a way of protecting it. I don't trust Dad's detractors from trying to ruin it,~ Jennifer admitted to herself. She didn't trust Daniel's enemies, either, though she didn't think they'd actually do anything. ~I'm paranoid. I've heard too many stories,~ she groaned internally as she plopped down on the sofa. ~I'm sorry, Thor. I know you'll deliver it on time and in tact. You're family. You wouldn't let me down.~
As he looked into the dresser mirror, Jack was adjusting his Air Force uniform, making sure everything was in place. Then he sensed something. It was strong and definite. He smiled and finished his task. Turning around, he saw exactly what he expected to see, his husband leering at him.
"Dress blues," Daniel explained as just about every part of him wanted to rip the uniform off his lover. "No time," he sighed.
Jack walked over took his Love in his arms while replying, "There's always after the reception."
"It's a date," the man in a dress suit promised.
"Look at you, Angel, dressed to the nines."
"For now," Daniel agreed suggestively.
"For now," Jack repeated before kissing Daniel with a promise of an explosive union of their bodies later in the night.
"Do you believe it, Babe? We're finally leaving it all behind."
"Again," Jack noted.
"Again," Daniel echoed, adding a small laugh afterward. "Sixteen years."
"Sixteen-and-a-half years," Jack corrected. "I think I remember a year of it," he teased.
"It's more for you, though, Jack. You've been in the Air Force for ..."
"... for too long," Jack interjected. "We let it go once before and got roped back in."
"Who knew they'd let the brood go through the Stargate," the archaeologist stated.
"And the girls," Jack pointed out about Bijou and Katie.
Amused, Daniel added, "The first beagles to go through the Stargate."
"The Nox love them."
"You ready?" Daniel asked.
"I've been ready since the day we met."
"Not quite then," the younger man corrected sternly. "But ... close."
"Let's get the kids and scram. The sooner we get out of here, the sooner we can rip our clothes off."
"... and other things," Daniel smirked.
"I love the way you think," Jack praised.
The gate room was full to near capacity with government dignitaries and SGC members, past and present. Each had a program for the event, though in keeping with the classified nature of the ceremony, it was modified to eliminate any mention of such classified items.
"Jonny," Daniel called out, the name and stare he was given enough to settle the fidgeting youth.
Jack, Daniel, and the children were in the corridor, near the closed gate room doors. General Hammond and others participating in the retirement ceremony were also there, waiting for the nod to enter and take their positions.
"Are you excited, Grandpa?" Jeff asked.
"I am, and I'm not," Hammond answered somewhat somberly. "It's bittersweet," he admitted honestly. "Memories," he added without saying anything further.
"Kids, it's time," Lieutenant Colonel Paul Davis, currently attached to Stargate Command, advised.
The doors opened and Paul Davis led the way. He walked to his position, going up the ramp to the Stargate platform. He stood behind the podium that was placed there for the event.
Seconds later, the brood, with David holding JD, entered the gate room. As they walked to their positions, they smiled and waved at Sara and Mark Wilson and their Aunt Suzanna, who were all seated in chairs near the ramp. The other guests smiled at the children. There was, however, some murmuring when Bijou and Katie walked in as well. They were on their leashes, with Chenoa and David in charge of the beagles. Many of the guests had never seen dogs anywhere inside Cheyenne Mountain, let alone in the gate room, so it caused a bit of a stir. Still, the vast majority of the guests thought it was adorable and totally in keeping with the history of the retirees.
Looking out into the field of guests, Daniel smiled at Megan Williams, who was his and Jack's right hand at J-O Enterprises. He'd first met Megan at SGC and depended on her for excellent work. When J-O began, it was an easy decision to offer Megan a job. This was actually her first time back to Cheyenne Mountain since going to work for Jack and Daniel.
The archaeologist gave a nod to Lou Ferretti who was part of the first mission to Abydos. Other SGC co-workers and friends were smiling in the direction of the retirees. There was Tracey O'Connor with her fiance Lieutenant Bruce Pittman, Sergeant Siler, Joanie Campbell
Jack was also perusing the audience, curious who showed up for the ceremony.
~Hey, Big Guy!~ Jack exclaimed internally at seeing Teal'c sitting next to Janet, who was seated next to Casey Hemmings, the male nurse Jack would always feel an enormous amount of gratitude. ~He helped save Danny's life, and he was there for me, too; kept me as calm as was possible,~ he thought for a brief moment about a time when Daniel almost died. ~No more of that.~
Cassandra Frazier was seated behind her mother in between her husband Dom and Sam Carter-Shanahan whose husband was on her left. Next to him was Jeff Cornell, the friend of Jack's who gave Bijou and Katie to him. He was close to retiring as well from the Air Force.
**Jack,** Daniel called out mentally. **They made it.**
Jack looked over toward the corridor and smiled at the belated entrance of Ernest and Catherine Littlefield.
**Polly will love seeing them again,** the general returned as he thought about the hyacinth macaw Ernest and Catherine left with the family in late 2011 before embarking on their next adventure.
**I love seeing them again,** Daniel replied about the couple who only recently returned from a year-long cruise and were now in the process of moving into their new condominium.
Still studying the guests, Jack groaned within himself, ~That woman still has a crush on Daniel. Doesn't she ever date?~
Sensing his husband's change in attitude, Daniel honed in on where Jack was looking. He immediately rolled his eyes.
**Jack, she's a wonderful lady.**
**She still has the hots for you, Danny.**
Daniel didn't reply. Instead, he glanced over at Marie Hill, a longtime member of Janet's medical staff, and gave her a friendly smile. He was happy when she acknowledged him with a nod.
**Satterfield got a life; why can't Hill?** Jack barked, referring to Lieutenant Colonel Grace Satterfield, who had a huge crush on Daniel while being tested for SGC after graduating from the Air Force Academy, who was also among the guests.
**Down, Babe. Get Mr. Jealousy under control. You're having ... flashbacks,** Daniel urged calmly.
Jack laughed in his mind and instantly felt better. Still, it was another one of those times when he felt surrounded by people who had at one time or another been after his Danny. That group on this occasion included Casey, Marie, and Grace. In Jack's mind, Paul Davis was among the group as well, even though he now knew that there was no truth in that as Paul was in a long-term relationship with Colonel Marc Reynolds.
The couple noticed a few other SGC friends present and was happy to see that so many made the effort to attend the event. Their review of the guests ceased when the program began.
As the narrator for the ceremony, Davis addressed the guests with, "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am your narrator, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Davis. It is my honor and privilege to welcome all of you to Stargate Command. Tonight we will celebrate the career accomplishments of Lieutenant General George S. Hammond, Major General Jack Jackson-O'Neill, and Doctor Daniel Jackson-O'Neill." After a pause, he gave some instructions on how the attendees should respond as the program began. Then he directed, "Please rise for the arrival of the reviewing party and remain standing for the entrance of the colors."
It was a parade the three celebrants, a few generals, and a few other dignitaries that entered the gate room and proceeded to their designated spots on the platform of the Stargate that was being held open to provide an extra special backdrop for the event. With several generals walking in, ruffles and flourishes played, as did the Generals March. After they took their positions on the platform, with the presiding officer to the right of the retirees, the colors were presented and the National Anthem played.
After the Air Force chaplain gave the invocation, everyone sat. Because of the room size and the number of attendees, the brood sat on the ramp leading up to the Stargate. Since they were dressed up, a red carpet was placed over the ramp to help protect their clothing.
With the participants and others in place and the flags presented, Davis advised, "Throughout this evening, we will be breaking from protocol from time to time, which seems appropriate for at least two of those being honored."
Knowing laughter broke out. Jack just shrugged and Daniel had a small smile as he bowed his head. Hammond, meanwhile, looked straight ahead, fully aware that he was not one of the two men alluded to in the narrator's remarks.
Colonel Davis proceeded with the ceremony by introducing special guests, which included several dignitaries, beginning with President Henry Hayes and ending the Jackson-O'Neill kids, something that tickled them pink, especially since they had no idea that they were going to be named. Neither did Jack and Daniel, who were both surprised and pleased.
"The presiding officer for the first part of our program this evening is General John P. Jumper, Retired," Davis announced and then backed away from the podium.
The presiding officer took over and stated the military history of the first man being honored. In somewhat of a break in normal protocol, President Hayes, now a civilian, took over at the end and spoke himself about his good friend, General George S. Hammond.
"George had an out many times over," Hayes stated. "He could have retired before this big ring was opened up to universal traffic, but he chose to continue and devote the rest of his military life to the Stargate. He was so good at the job that I tried to convince him to work in D.C. as head of Homeworld Security, but that wasn't where George's heart was. His heart was here in Cheyenne Mountain. Ultimately, I issued a special commission allowing him to remain on active duty and in charge of SGC until he was ready to leave. Sadly for the country, he's chosen to leave his command on the same day I'm leaving my office as President of the United States. While I have all the confidence in the world that General Landry will take the reins and lead with the same heart and determination as George, I think we can all agree that the shoes that have been left behind are hard to fill."
Hayes turned around and walked to where Hammond stood, which was on the right side of the Stargate podium.
"George, on behalf of a grateful, albeit mostly clueless, nation, it is my honor and privilege to present you with the Distinguish Service Medal." Hayes looked over to Paul Davis and instructed, "Mumble the official words, Colonel."
With a smile, Davis declared, "The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, awards the Distinguished Service Medal to Lieutenant General George S. Hammond."
"Well done," Hayes mused to the colonel.
"Actually, I'm not done, Sir."
The guests let out small chuckles as Hayes nodded and waved for Davis to continue.
"The singularly distinctive accomplishments of General Hammond culminate a long and distinguished career in the service of his country and reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force." Davis glanced at Hayes and said, "I'm done now, Sir."
There were more chuckles as Chief Master Sergeant Walter Davis handed the medal to General Jumper who in turn handed it to President Hayes.
"It's our own version of a fire line," Hayes quipped while he added the medal to the many others that hung on Hammond's chest.
"Congratulations, George. We'll go fishing someday soon," Hayes stated.
"Name the date, Hank," Hammond replied.
Jumper added his congratulations, shaking Hammond's hand and then saluting him.
"Read the orders, Colonel," Hayes instructed.
Making it official, Jumper ordered, "Colonel Davis, read the retirement order."
"Sorry, John, not-so-old habits," the ex-President mused at having given Davis the order when protocol put that in Jumper's domain. ~I've taken his job as presiding officer. Privileges of rank,~ he mused.
Davis addressed the audience with, "Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the reading of the retirement orders. Attention to orders ..."
**Look at Jonny,** Jack privately communicated to his husband.
**Big eyes,** Daniel acknowledged. **He can't wait to be in uniform.**
**Me? Ask me when he's eighteen,** Daniel replied before tuning back into the ceremony.
"... Subject: retirement of Lieutenant General George S. Hammond, Commander, Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado, is relieved from active duty assignment effective 21 January 2013."
The colonel finished the required statement and went to the next part of the program. The retirement certificate was presented, after which more photos were taken. Two other generals spoke about Hammond's contributions to the United States Air Force over the years. Finally, Hammond received the retired label pin that was added to his suit jacket.
The presiding officer announced, "We are now deviating from normal protocol. Traditionally, at this point in the program, the spouse and family members of the retiree is introduced. George is a widower. He and his wife, Judith, had two beautiful children together. His daughters and their children are here today, but they, as most civilians, could not attend this ceremony on this level of Cheyenne Mountain. However, George told me that the children of Jack and Daniel Jackson-O'Neill are also his grandchildren. It is at his request that I ask them to come forward at this time and stand with their grandfather for acknowledgement and photos."
**I didn't know he requested that,** Jack commented.
**Me, either,** Daniel responded. **The children are happy.**
**Oh, yeah,** the older man concurred as he observed the huge smiles on the faces of his kids as they walked up.
After a couple of minutes and a few photographs, the brood returned to their positions at the foot of the gate ramp.
Davis again stood at the podium and moved the program forward in a similar fashion as Jack's part of the ceremony proceeded.
"The presiding officer for the second part of our program this evening is General Michael E. Ryan, Retired."
The presiding officer spoke about Jack's military career and his achievements before concluding with a few personal remarks.
"I will never forget the first time I met Jack. For the brash officer I had read about it, he was remarkably charming."
A few chuckles were heard from audience since to some of those present, charming was not a word they would ever associate with Jack.
"Even so, anyone who had a jacket as big as Jack's had to be looked at beyond the charm. Later on, when I had a chance to get to know Jack better and learn about the commanding officer he is, I saw how he used that charm to his advantage. He asked me once if he had to deal with others like him. I told him that I'd dealt with many others like him, and some who were worse. I confess to this assemblage, that I was wrong, in part. There are others who can be a challenge to their commanding officers, but there is only one Jack O'Neill. His bravery and heroics are unparalleled when you consider the threat that our enemies were to Earth. He often did things his own way, giving his commanders headaches, literally and figuratively. At the end of the day, Earth saw another day, thanks to Jack doing things his way."
Applause broke out, causing Jack to look down and let out an embarrassed cough. He never liked being the center of attention, especially in this way.
After Ryan finished his remarks, President Hayes again approached the podium.
"You're all going to be sick of me by the end of this," Hayes joked. "Jack O'Neill is a real character. I didn't know him before I took office, but like General Ryan, I've read his jacket. That thing is the size of 'War and Peace'." He waited for the subsequent laughter to subside. "It should be required reading for any base commander on how to handle trouble children."
More laughter broke out with the brood leading the chuckles, causing some of the attendees to wonder if they were attending a military roast rather than a formal retirement celebration.
"However, thanks to that trouble child, this planet is still in one piece. Jack isn't fond of words that praise him and put him center stage, so I'm going to respect that, but he knows, like all of us know, that without him, Earth would no longer exist. For that, I am grateful."
Applause broke out as Hayes walked over to the silver-haired man.
"Jack," Hayes began with a smile, "it is my honor and privilege, on behalf of a grateful nation, to present you with the Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster."
Walter Davis handed the medal to General Ryan who gave it to the former President. Hayes then pinned the medal next to the others on Jack's chest. Having previously retired, Jack already had a Distinguised Service Medal and was thus given this honor upon his presumed final retirement.
General Ryan instructed Davis to give the retirement order, which he did.
Davis concluded with, "... Major General Jack Jackson-O'Neill, Commander, Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado, is relieved from active duty assignment effective 21 January 2013."
As with Hammond before him, Jack was presented with a retirement certificate. Photos were taken, after which a few other speakers made comments about Jack's service in the Air Force. Finally, Jack and Daniel had their picture taken together. With his retirement pin label presented, Jack returned to his seat. He looked out in the audience and suddenly let out with a grin. His surprise plan was going off without a hitch. In fact, only four people knew about it and none of them had mentioned it to another living soul.
Davis was about to continue, when Jack stood and made his way to the podium.
"Sorry, but I need another picture," Jack interrupted. "Like Davis said earlier, we've thrown protocol out the door. While planning this shindig, I knew there was someone very special who needed to be included." He looked straight into the eyes of his ex-wife and said, "Sara was at my side for many years. She was there at best and ... at my worst." He shook his head to shoo away the dark thoughts of their son's death that momentarily threatened to overtake the event, but then he glanced at Daniel for a second, and he jumped back to all things good. "I wouldn't be up here without Sara. Please," he requested, leaving the podium.
The retiring general paused and looked behind him, certain Walter Davis would be standing there, waiting, which he was.
"Thank you, Walter," Jack spoke as he took hold of the item Walter handed to him.
With the smile that had melted her heart the first time they met, Jack walked down the ramp to Sara's seat and handed her a decadent bouquet of flowers. Then he extended his hand to her.
Immediately, the brood stood up as well. They applauded and cheered in support of their older father's actions.
"Jack," Sara stated softly.
"Just in case you're curious, Mark approves," Jack informed the woman.
Sara looked over at Mark and saw his accepting smile and understanding eyes. It made her emotions even stronger. Looking back at her ex, Sara put her hand in his and allowed Jack to escort her to where the photographs were being taken. It was unconventional, but so was their relationship. As the photographer snapped several pictures of the ex-married couple, some with the flowers and some without them, it all felt very right to both of them.
When the pictures were finished, Jack escorted Sara back to her seat. She handed Mark the flowers to hold and turned back to the general.
"That was very sweet of you, Jack. Thank you."
Jack gave Sara a kiss on the cheek and corrected, "No, Sara, thank you. I mean that." He looked over at Mark and nodded appreciatively at him. "Hey, you look great with those flowers," he teased.
"I thought they might be a bit gaudy with my suit. No?"
"Pshaw! They're perfect," Jack chuckled. He smiled one more time at Sara and then hurried back to his chair, feeling quite pleased. ~That went well.~
**That was good, Jack,** Daniel communicated privately.
**She was there for half my career and when things were the roughest. She deserved a moment, Danny.**
**I'm proud of you for including her.**
Jack looked over at Daniel and thought, ~Two dozen red roses and a box of Godvia chocolate for my Space Monkey. I'm the luckiest man in the universe to have him at my side.~
"General?" Paul Davis called out with a bit of a humorous smirk.
"Proceed," Jack permitted as some chuckles were heard from the guests.
With the ceremony for Jack concluded, Paul Davis stood at the podium again and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have one more person to honor here this evening. He is not military. In truth, I believe that being military is the furthest from who he really is. He's a scientist, archaeologist, anthropologist, linguist, and several other 'ist'."
Some chuckles broke out in the room, along with a lot of nods, after which Davis advised, "The presiding officer for this final part of the program is," he paused purposely, "Lieutenant General George S. Hammond, Retired."
There were a lot of smiles in the room and Hammond, feeling rather proud of his surprise, walked over to the podium.
**Jack, did you know he was doing this?**
**Not a clue, Danny.**
"This old horse is still worth a few surprises," Hammond acknowledged. He looked at Daniel, exchanging a smile with him. "Son, there were many in the ranks who wanted to be here tonight, but I pulled every string I had left to make this happen. I've lost count of how many times you and Jack broke the rules. It seems only fitting that tonight, I break the rules on your behalf."
Daniel nodded and, feeling a wave of sentiment sweep over him, crossed his arms. He needed to hold on to something, so he held onto himself.
Following procedure, Hammond remarked on Daniel's achievements and contributions as Stargate Command's leading civilian participant. He reminded the room that Daniel's "rank" was, in fact, equal to his own and Jack's, something he knew the scientist preferred not to think about or act on, even when his ideas and suggestions were sometimes ignored or deemed secondary to others.
Hammond let out a snicker as he recalled, "We had one heck of a row years ago over evaporated water."
The retired lieutenant general exchanged nods and smiles with the archaeologist. The argument was really over heavy water and the morality of the deal the U.S. government wanted SG-1 to make with a planet called Euronda. in the course of their debate, Daniel made what he admitted later was a bad pun. Hammond could still hear Daniel's words.
"But if we can provide the power of all that and more in the form of water then the moral issue just ... evaporates?" Daniel had asked passionately at the time.
General Hammond continued, "He fought like heck, but I held my ground. Dang, if that boy wasn't right. He was often right, but some of us had a hard time recognizing that fact. Daniel Jackson opened the Stargate. He got us through that first wormhole and hundreds, thousands more. We would not be standing here, in front of this ancient device, if not for his bravery and his heroics. He is a man of great integrity. To me, he's like a son. A man could do no better than to have a son like Daniel Jackson-O'Neill."
Aislinn let out an audible sniffle, as did some of her siblings. Suzanna opened her purse and pulled out a tissue to dab the moisture that threatened to wash away her makeup. Daniel, too, wiped away a tear, even as he tried to stop it. Silence filled the room until Hammond returned to his spot next to Jack.
"Not bad, Sir," Jack whispered to Hammond in a cracked voice.
"I have two sons, Jack."
Jack turned his head and looked at the lieutenant general. He saw the man was facing straight ahead, per protocol. It wasn't the first time Hammond had called Jack and Daniel his sons, but because it was rare and kept for the most special of times, it was always emotional.
"Thank you, Sir," Jack responded as he faced front once again.
President Hayes and General Ryan approached Daniel, who assumed he, too, was being given a retirement lapel pin.
"Daniel, it is my honor and privilege, on behalf of a grateful nation, to present you with the Department of the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service."
Daniel was agape as he watched Sergeant Davis hand over the medal to the presiding officer who handed it to the President. He saw Hayes' smirk, a smile that emitted a huge 'Gotcha!' in its expression. The archaeologist felt proud and surprised. He was not expecting to receive any token for his retirement. He was just a civilian after all, or so he thought privately.
"Attention to orders," Davis called out from the podium. "The Department of the Air Force recognizes Doctor Daniel Jackson-O'Neill's significant achievements and outstanding career service with the United States government. His exceptional leadership and innovative creativity have contributed immeasurably to the successful accomplishment of the Air Force mission and the survival of Planet Earth. His exemplary performance at Stargate Command culminates a distinguished career that reflects great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force. With reluctance and great gratitude, the retirement of Doctor Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, Department Head of Civilian Sciences, Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado, is accepted effective 21 January 2013."
As in the other two ceremonies, there were there were letters read, certificates given, and photographs taken. This time, the photographs varied. There were more with Jack, more with Daniel and the kids, some with Jack, Daniel, and the kids, and then Daniel called over General Hammond and photos were taken that included him as well. Suzanna was also called upon to stand by her brother, which she did proudly.
When Paul Davis began to conclude the program, Daniel was surprised to see President Hayes interrupt him. Jack, too, was surprised. In fact, everyone was. No one else in the room knew that Hayes was going to speak again during the ceremony.
"I'm not finished," Hayes advised with a smirk, causing Davis to immediately back away. Hayes looked out at the assemblage and waited a moment before speaking. When he did talk, he addressed his remarks to the archaeologist. "Daniel, eight or so years ago, I was pleased to present you with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with distinction."
The room filled with a combination of gasps and whispers. Only a few of the attendees had ever heard about the award, even though it had been presented by Hayes during Jack's promotion ceremony when he became a brigadier general before taking over command of SGC.
"At that time, the award had to remain secret. As we all know, sometimes the official books have to be somewhat obtuse or flowery. We'll call it creative. There are no lies, just necessary adjustments."
**Jack, do you know what he's talking about?**
**Thanks,** Daniel responded with a brief roll of his eyes.
Still looking at Daniel, Hayes revealed, "Today, I am happy to announce that in my last official act as President of the United States, I instructed that your award be made public with one creative, flowery change. Public records will show that the Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to Doctor Daniel Jackson-O'Neill in recognition of his ongoing research in the fields of archaeology and anthropology. No further information will be released beyond the statement that your research has been vital to the security of this nation. It took time, but you're on the official roll, Daniel. I only wish it could have been sooner."
Applause broke out, especially among the Jackson-O'Neill children, all of whom were just as eager to tell their friends about their daddy's high honor as they were their dad's.
"Congratulations, Daniel," Paul Davis spoke, veering away from protocol before closing out the ceremony. "Ladies and gentlemen, protocol calls for the retirees to speak, but all three men have chosen to keep their comments private for now, preferring to make them to each of you at the reception." He paused, "Please stand while the reviewing party departs."
At that point, the Air Force Song played while the honorees and other participants left the gate room. They were followed by the Jackson-O'Neill children and beagles.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes tonight's ceremony. Airmen in the corridors and by the elevators will escort you to Level 11 where you transfer to the elevator that will take you up to the public floor for the reception. Thank you for coming and have a good evening."
Paul Davis nodded and smiled to the guests before heading down the ramp.
"What's with the elevator?" Colonel Lou Ferretti asked when there was no response to the button call.
"Beats me," Jack responded as he banged on the door of the elevator that was to take guests to the upper floor where other people were waiting for the retirees.
Off to the side, Jennifer stood nervously as the crowd gathered. There were a number of guests, so many so that as they waited for the elevators, some were around the side and in the corridors of the security check-in.
The guests were mumbling and Sergeant Davis was about to make a call to maintenance to find out why the elevator wasn't working when he heard someone speaking.
"Um, excuse me," Jennifer called out as her big moment was approaching. "Everyone."
"I need their attention," Jennifer told her brother.
Suddenly, Jeff let out with a loud whistle, one that slowly hushed the confused crowd.
"Nothing's wrong," Jennifer assured nervously. ~Okay, girl, get calm fast. You don't want to blow this.~ She took a deep breath. "Someone else wants to say something."
"Jen, what's going on?" Jack asked.
"He should be here any second, Dad," Jennifer said as she looked at her watch. "Really, he should be here."
"He who?" Daniel asked.
A flash of light gave Daniel his answer. It was a familiar intruder, sitting in his chair.
"Hello, I am Thor, Asgard Commander," the alien announced to the curious crowd, some of whom who had never actually seen an alien.
Across the room, Suzanna's eyes widened. She gasped in shock. Suddenly, she heard herself say aloud, "The little gray butt?" As laughter occurred around her, the woman covered her mouth with her hand as she looked around. The crowd parted so that she was now staring directly at the alien. "I'm so sorry, Mister Asgard. My brother-in-law said that. I mean, he ..."
"O'Neill," the Asgard stated simply, looking at Jack, who shrugged in a not-so-innocent response.
Deciding it would be a good idea to interrupt the awkward pause, Hammond greeted, "Thor, it's good to see you. Have you met General Landry, the new base commander?"
"We will talk another time," Thor stated to Landry with a nod.
"What can we do for you?" Hammond asked, sensing the Asgard was not there to speak with Landry at the moment.
"The Asgard are aware of what you call retirement."
"Our days of Stargate travel are over," Jack told his tiny friend. "Did you get the memo?"
"We did," the Asgard acknowledged. "It is in honor of General O'Neill, General Hammond, and Doctor Jackson that I am here. The Asgard wish to present Stargate Command with a special gift."
Thor pressed a button and in seconds, a large object appeared on the entry wall behind the security check-in. It was quite large and took everyone by surprise.
Agape, Daniel walked forward to stand by his husband. All eyes were staring at the tapestry.
Jennifer studied each face, lingering the longest on her parents'. She could barely breathe, worried her gift would not have the desired effect.
"It's beautiful," Daniel opined.
"Stunning," Colonel Samantha Carter-Shanahan observed.
All Jennifer heard were positive words and expressions. People were impressed with her work and seemed to understand its significance.
"This gift depicts how the Stargate of Earth was opened by Doctor Jackson and protected by General O'Neill. They desired to explore the universe and in doing so met the Asgard. We have become friends. It is the wish of the Asgard that all who enter SGC remember these two men, who have saved the Asgard more than once since our first meeting."
"Thor, how did you do this?" Hammond asked curiously.
"It is the work of Jennifer Jackson-O'Neill."
All eyes now went to Jennifer.
"Jen, you did this?" Daniel asked.
"Princess, how? When?" Jack queried in astonishment.
"I wanted you to be remembered. Look at all you've done. You've saved the world, and again, and again, and again, from the stories I've heard, and you've saved us, all of us," Jennifer put forth as a tear fell down her cheek. "People should remember, always." Pulling herself together and not wanting to jeopardize the tapestry's chances of remaining at SGC over time, she added, "The Asgard knew you were retiring and Thor wanted to do something special."
It was a little bit of a fib, a sound byte for the generals and government officials standing nearby. Jennifer hoped her parents would forgive her for this latest tiny lie.
"The Asgard are pleased," Thor interjected supportively. "You have done well, Jennifer."
"Thank you, Thor."
"General Landry and other officials of Earth," Thor addressed as he scanned the room. "The Asgard are honored to be depicted on this tapestry with General O'Neill and Doctor Jackson. It is our hope that it will hang here in safety and remembrance of the friendship between the Tau'ri and the Asgard and as a symbol of our commitment to a free universe."
"On behalf of Earth, we accept the gift, and if I have anything to say about it, no one will ever remove it," Landry assured.
Thor nodded before looking at Jack and Daniel and saying, "You are welcome to visit the Asgard at any time," he looked over at the other retiree and added, "as are you, General Hammond."
"Thank you, Thor," Hammond responded courteously.
The Pentagon big wigs and high ranking Air Force personnel could not deny what they had just heard. It was well known that while allies and friends of Earth, the Asgard never invited anyone to their home world. In addition, only a handful of humans had ever been on any of their ships, and most of those were in the room. Simply put, they were members of SG-1. Thor's message was clear: SG-1 would forever be of utmost importance to the alien race. The tapestry needed to stay put.
What happened next was a huge surprise to everyone, however.
Thor looked over at Suzanna and stated, "You may visit, too."
The crowd murmured and Suzanna's heart raced. She swallowed hard and could barely breathe as she bobbed her head up and down in short bursts several times.
With a nod to Jennifer, Thor disappeared in a flash of light.
"Hey, the elevator's working now," Sergeant Davis called out when the doors opened.
Some of the guests immediately began to enter the elevator, but others tried to get closer to the tapestry. Fortunately, it was protected with a transparent layer applied by the Asgard that would prevent it from being damaged.
"It's awesome, Jen," Daniel praised.
"Out of this world," Jack joked. Growing serious, he opined, "It's incredible, Princess."
"Thank you, Dad and Daddy. Um, can we talk later tonight? I need to tell you a few things. It's important," Jennifer advised, wanting to let her parents know about the secrets of the past year.
The couple hugged their daughter, both amazed at the large tapestry. The three chatted about the artwork for a couple of minutes before Jack and Daniel decided it was time to head up for the reception.
"Come on, folks. Let's party!" Jack encouraged to those still lingering about as he walked forward.
Daniel veered away and headed towards his sister.
"Are you okay, Suz?"
"Daniel, he hates me. The little gray butt hates me. He's gonna get me on his planet and ... and ..."
Daniel laughed and pulled Suzanna into a hug as he soothed, "Suz, Thor gave you a compliment. There are few humans who have been invited to visit the Asgard. Uh, in fact, I think there's only been five of us. You make the sixth." He pulled back and looked at her with confidence. "He knew who you were."
"Are you sure it's okay? Daniel, did I embarrass you?"
"Gawd, no. Thor knows about the ... nickname. I've called him that myself, many times. He's family. JD is named after him, in part," Daniel mused in reference to his son's many given names.
"I thought he was Joel-Dai George William Angus. Isn't that what you told me?"
"When he was born, Thor really wanted JD to be named after him. We weren't going to, but then we realized how much Thor's done for us over the years."
"So he's ..."
"Joel-Dai George William Angus Thor Jackson-O'Neill," Daniel stated.
"That's a mouthful."
"How about a drink?" Daniel asked, sensing that the totality of the last two days might be getting to his sister.
"I could use one, a big one," Suzanna agreed, her body slowly returning to normal vital rates. She leaned close to Daniel for support. "I know how you've been able to keep this a secret for so long."
"Who'd believe you!"
Daniel laughed and escorted Suzanna into the elevator. As the doors closed, he exchanged a smile with his daughter, who was remaining on Level 11 for now.
Jennifer gave a little wave to her younger father as she stood by her work of art, feeling happy and proud, not about what she had done, but about its reception and the good things that most present were saying. She did see a few of the big wigs grumbling about the prominence of Jack and Daniel in the piece, which made her happy that Thor followed through and made it clear the piece should always be hung in the SGC. Earth would have a lot of explaining to do should the tapestry ever disappear. She didn't realize that Thor's invitation to visit the Asgard was also seen as a major statement by those high up the chain of command. Her tapestry's placement was more secure than she knew.
The crowd was down to just another three or four elevator loads of people when Paul Davis approached Jennifer. He looked over the tapestry and gave a smile.
"This is why you wanted to see the archived photos, isn't it?"
"I couldn't have done this without your help, Paul," Jennifer confirmed. "Daddy's passion was in his eyes in those photos that showed him looking at the Stargate. It made me feel the wonder of it all." She paused as she looked up at her work. "And Dad's strength. He really was the protector of Earth."
"And of Daniel."
Jennifer looked over at the lieutenant colonel and bobbed her head while agreeing, "Yes. The pictures you pulled for me really hit home." There was a pause before she added, "They balanced each other so well on SG-1, just like they do now. It's in their eyes." She turned and gave the family friend a hug. "Thank you, Paul."
Paul Davis smiled in return and noticed the elevator doors opened again. He pointed to them and escorted Jennifer inside.
Having entered, Jennifer turned around. She couldn't help but grin. As the doors closed, her eyes were centered on two men, her parents. Her dream was now a reality. She'd made it happen. It completely symbolized her parent's legacy. With a breath of relief and satisfaction, Jennifer remained focused on the tapestry until the doors shut.
The reception was in full gear with guests mingling. Laughter often sprang out, with the surprising exception of one attendee. Over in a corner, Jennifer stood alone, opting to stay to herself much of the time.
In another part of the room, Jack, Daniel, and General Hammond crossed paths and began chatting about the tapestry.
"That girl of yours must have worked her fingers to the bone," Hammond commented.
"I'd like to know when she did it," Daniel interjected with a serious tone.
"She must have had some help," Jack opined.
"From who? When?" Daniel questioned.
"We'll find out later. She said she wanted to talk with us," the silver-haired man reminded.
Daniel could see his daughter from where he was standing and commented, "Something's not right."
Both Jack and Hammond turned and could see apprehension on her face.
"Any ideas?" Jack asked.
The three men paused to consider possibilities and then it was Daniel who stated, "Yes, I have an idea."
"So share," Jack requested.
"Jack, that tapestry is beautiful. Jen made that with love."
"I know that. And?"
"And it says a lot about the Stargate and how it began in modern times," the archaeologist noted.
"And?" Jack prodded yet again. "Danny, get to the point."
Daniel looked at General Hammond and said, "I, uh, think it's you, Sir."
A wise man, Hammond seemed to know what Daniel was thinking and promised, "I'll take care of it, Son."
"Take care of what? Danny?"
As Daniel filled his lover in, Hammond approached his granddaughter, asking if she was hiding out in the corner.
"No, not really, Grandpa." Jennifer smiled and touched the man's medals. "You must be so proud of these."
"My life in the military, but they don't tell the whole story."
"Your wife," Jennifer surmised. "Sometimes, during the ceremony, I thought maybe I saw you thinking about her."
"I was," Hammond affirmed. "We had big dreams for our retirement years."
"You ended up coming here after she died."
"I couldn't imagine sitting home, missing her. I needed something to do, and your parents sure gave me that."
"Grandpa, I need to tell you something," Jennifer spoke softly, her eyes moistened with liquid. "I wanted to put you on the tapestry, but I wasn't good enough. I should have asked Mrs. Valissi to help me, but my pride got in the way." More tears flowed down the teen's face as she continued, "I didn't even realize that until recently. I kept rationalizing that keeping the tapestry a secret from everyone was something I had to do, you know, to keep it a secret. The truth is, well, I wanted it to be all mine. I ran out of time, Grandpa. I'm so sorry. I feel so bad."
Hammond found himself with an armful of teenager. He put his arms around her and held her tight for a moment.
"Jen, I don't need my bald head on a tapestry to know I'll be remembered. For that matter, neither do Jack or Daniel. It's a wonderful, special gift. There's no doubt about that," Hammond stated definitively. "I'll be remembered by my children and their children."
Jennifer nodded, her head hung low as the two parted, though Hammond's hands slid gently along her arms until he took hold of her hands.
"I'll be remembered by you," the man stated from his heart.
Jennifer looked up, her wet eyes more bright now than there were a second earlier.
"You are my granddaughter, and I love you. Thank you for giving this old coot another reason to get out of bed every day." Hammond paused and pulled out a handkerchief to dry the teen's face. "My wife will be part of me forever. I'm feeling guilty myself."
"I have plans, Jen, and none of them involve sitting at home and growing older alone. There are still things I want to do. Judith will always be with me, but I can't ... I can barely imagine doing the things we'd talked about for years without being able to reach over and take her hand."
"You shouldn't feel guilty for living."
"You're right, and that's what I was thinking about during the ceremony, that my wife wouldn't want me to retire and sit around like some bum on a log."
"She'd want you to do those things you dreamed of doing together," Jennifer asserted.
Hammond nodded and then asserted, "Jen, thank you for thinking of me, but no guilt. Your first duty is to yourself and then to your parents. They're very proud and overwhelmed. Jack's going to make a lot of jokes, but you know how touched he is by what you've done, and Daniel, too."
"I know. It's hard for them sometimes, not at home, but here, at SGC."
"Let's get some punch," Hammond suggested. Putting his arm around his granddaughter, he said, "I want to hear all about how you came up with this idea, and how did you get Thor to help?"
With a smile replacing her tears, Jennifer walked leisurely over to the refreshment area to get some punch. On the way, she told Hammond her story. Internally, she repeated her promise from months before. She'd find a way to ensure her grandfather was remembered throughout time at SGC, just as she knew her parents would be.
"That's it, Dad and Daddy," Jennifer sighed late that night. She and her parents were talking in the privacy of the teen's bedroom, the door closed at her request. Only Bijou and Katie were also in the room, both in front of the teen. "I couldn't have done it without you two," she told the beagles, leaning over and kissing them both.
"You've had quite a year," Daniel replied while sitting on the left side of his daughter's bed.
"Are you mad at me? I didn't mean to lie, and I tried not to, but I wanted it to be a surprise. With Thor's help, I was able to do that. I ... I guess I shouldn't have asked him."
"The little gray butt is a big butt in his world," Jack advised from the side of the bed that was closest to the door. He smiled as he added, "But he's family, too."
"That's what I thought. I mean, he seems to have a big interest in JD."
"In all of us, Sweetie," Daniel opined as he reached out and took Jennifer's left hand. ~She's right, though. There's something about JD that seems to fascinate Thor.~
"Anyway, I'll tell the kids everything tomorrow."
"Jen, sometimes there are good reasons for breaking the rules," Jack noted. "Daddy and I are very honored that you felt so strongly about this."
"I want the universe to know how lucky I feel to be your daughter," Jennifer replied, looking at both her parents. "And I want you to be remembered. I know that's not necessarily your thing, but your legacy is the Stargate, and everyone needs to know that, forever."
"You're wrong, Princess. You're our legacy, you and your brothers and sisters," Jack elaborated.
"Woof!" both canines barked as they sat up in unison.
With a grumble, the retired general added, "And the zoo. Satisfied?"
Bijou and Katie woofed again as they settled back against the teenager.
"Get some sleep, Honey," Daniel suggested, leaning in for a kiss and a hug. "Thank you for the gift."
"We love you," Jack averred as he, too, leaned in for a hug and a kiss. "Thank you, Princess."
"I love you both so much. Goodnight."
The parents left Jennifer and the beagles in the bedroom and walked down to the living room where they settled into their comfy sofa. Jack put his arm around Daniel, who leaned in close, his head resting against the older man's shoulder.
"It meant so much to her," Daniel remarked.
"I still don't know how she pulled it off."
"With our trip and the bet ..." the younger man sighed, not completing his sentence.
"She wrangled Landry into going along, and ..."
"Thor," both men stated together.
A flash of light caused the lovers to temporarily break apart.
"Thor, what's up?" Jack asked.
"Jennifer worked diligently on her project," the alien stated.
"That she did," the general agreed.
"Thank you for helping her," Daniel interjected sincerely.
"It was my wish to keep her safe," Thor responded.
Jack and Daniel exchanged a confused look.
"It is what you wish, correct?" the alien asked.
"Always," Jack answered. "Thor ..."
"I believe the thing to say is ... congratulations."
Before the humans could reply, the Asgard commander disappeared in another flash of light.
"Keep her safe?" Daniel asked his soulmate. "What did he mean by that?"
Jack shook his head as the couple resumed their pre-Thor position. They cuddled in quiet for a few minutes.
"I know what he meant," Daniel offered suddenly.
"Jen was determined on making this tapestry," the younger man began.
"One-hundred percent determined," Jack agreed.
"Who knows what she might have done to make sure she could do it. Maybe ... maybe ... Jack, he kept her home."
"Danny, she couldn't take the loom with her."
"No, I know, but he kept her in our garage, protected. He had the girls in on it. It explains why they suddenly loved the hallway so much, at nighttime. Who knows, Babe, but maybe she would have worked something out with Mrs. Valissi; maybe it would have involved leaving the house at night sometimes. Maybe ..."
"Too many maybes, Angel. I think you're right. Thor kept her home and he was watching over her."
"Wow, we're really retired, for good," Daniel stated with some amazement in his voice.
"It's about time."
"Don't lie, Jack."
"I know you wanted us to get out of the Program before we actually did, before the children, but there's a part of you, Babe, that enjoys saving the world. It never gets old and you need to be honest with yourself about that."
"Okay, I'm honest," Jack acknowledged. "But I'd rather be here, with you, like this, and have a crazy life with our brood and the zoo than out there fighting the bad guys, whoever they are this year."
"Daniel, we just retired. Let's enjoy it, not debate a decision that was made a long time ago."
"You're the owner of an archaeology firm, Jack, digging in the dirt and ... playing with rocks."
With a chuckle at Daniel's choice of words, Jack replied, "And I'm loving every minute of it."
"Daniel, let's go upstairs and I'll show you exactly how happy I am."
"I'd like that."
The couple stood and shared a kiss before they slowly crossed the room and walked up the steps to their master bedroom. They were happy and in love and they couldn't be more proud of their true legacy, their brood and their zoo. Life was beyond wonderful for Jack and Daniel, now retired, in Colorado Springs.
~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Author's Note: Please feel free to email me with your comments or suggestions; constructive criticism, things you'd like to see, etc. A chronological listing of my universe is at http://orrymain.com