Summary: Jack and Daniel take their brood out for dinner and it is far from a quiet and peaceful outing. The aftermath ends up being even more surprising.
Out of Control
Author Email: email@example.com (Feedback welcome)
Author Website: http://orrymain.com
Category: Slash, Humor, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - September 2, 2009
Written: August 6-8, 2015, April 27-30, May 1-4, 2016
Summary: Jack and Daniel take their brood out for dinner and it is far from a quiet and peaceful outing. The aftermath ends up being even more surprising.
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) The scenarios used in this fic are based on suggestions made from readers on my website. Thanks to those who made this story possible!
Out of Control
The Jackson-O'Neill kids were excited. Their younger father had just driven up to a place they had never been to before. It looked like a fun place, with bright lights and lots of other kids in their view as they looked out the windows of the SUV.
"Daniel," Jack stated warily from the passenger seat.
"Do you get the feeling something is ..."
"Not quite right?"
"Odd?" Daniel wondered.
"Like something's in the air?" Jack asked.
"Wrong state, and it's nighttime."
"That's ... true," the archaeologist agreed.
"Jack, what's the problem?" Daniel questioned quietly but firmly.
"Just a feeling."
"We can discuss that later," Daniel replied as he grinned and raised his eyebrows.
Motivated to get through dinner quickly, the general barked, "Brood, heads up. Time to eat."
With the exception of two, the children cheered and clapped in eagerness. The oldest at fourteen, Jennifer, exited the vehicle in a huff, while eight-year-old David sighed as he clicked his seatbelt open.
Jack looked up at the darkened skies, wondering if the earlier rain and thunderstorms might break loose again. The forecast indicated the rain was gone for the day and his own review of the cloudy heavens concurred.
"Jennifer, a little help please," the silver-haired military man commanded.
Sulking but obedient, the teenager took hold of her little sister, Chenoa, who in the past week was acting more like a toddler going through the terrible twos than a soon-to-be four-year-old.
"David, keep an eye on the Munchkins, please," Daniel requested as he assisted Aislinn out of the vehicle and then watched Jonny follow quickly behind. ~I think he was out of the car seat the moment I turned off the ignition,~ he thought about the sandy-haired boy. He could hear his husband's chuckle from across the vehicle. **Do you have something to say?**
**Me?** Jack questioned innocently via the couple's unique communication ability. With a smile, he mused, **He's not even three and he's better than Houdini.**
**The master of escape,** Daniel concurred before making sure his namesake was safely out of the car. ~Three. Wow. How lucky are we to have these beautiful children.~ He smiled as he watched his lover getting the twins out of the SUV. ~Time flies by so fast.~
The twins were days away from their second birthday while the triplets would be three on the twenty-fourth of the month. To both Jack and Daniel, it seemed like yesterday when their surrogate, Kayla Armentrout, gave birth to the children. It had forever changed their lives, something they were eternally grateful for.
Jack carried the excited twins inside the restaurant, while Daniel held Aislinn and kept an eye on the other two Munchkins. David entered next, his head hung low, and behind him was Jennifer, still showing her ire as she held Chenoa.
"That table will be fine," Daniel told the hostess about the circular table in the middle of the restaurant.
**In the middle?** Jack questioned.
**Look around, Love. The place is packed. The corner booths are taken and there aren't enough empty tables to put together for all of us.**
**I know,** Daniel laughed in his mind.
The parents and their children settled in. Their waitress, Cathy, took their orders and quickly brought beverages to the table. Jack and Daniel had coffee, Jennifer and David sodas, and the rest of the children had either white or chocolate milk.
"Want root beer," Jenny argued with a frown.
"Not tonight," Daniel responded.
"You had soda with your lunch," Daniel responded quietly.
"Want root beer."
"Jenny, we let you have two sodas with your lunch and that was one too many. Enjoy your milk."
"Want root beer," the toddler repeated, her right hand swiping at her milk and accidentally causing it to fall onto the floor.
Jenny's eyes widened in shock.
"It's okay, Sweetie," Daniel assured as he captured Cathy's attention and waited for her to approach. "We had a little accident," he advised calmly.
"No problem, Sir," Cathy responded, happy that she had brought the little girl's drink in a disposable cup. "I'll get this cleaned up and bring another milk."
"Jenny sorry," the redhead told the waitress.
"I've spilled a lot of drinks in my time," Cathy responded with an understanding smile.
Quickly, the spill was wiped away, making the floor a safe place to traverse again, and Jenny had a drink refill. This time, the redhead was happy to have milk. She said nothing more about wanting a root beer.
The lovers tried to create conversation as they waited for their dinner, but there was a problem, one both men noticed and wanted to rectify.
**I see it,** Jack answered, referring to the continued glares being directed at David by Jennifer. "Jen, what's your problem?"
"I don't have any problems."
"You will in about ten seconds if you don't tell us the truth," Jack advised sternly.
"It's my nosey brother," the teen spat.
"How was I supposed to know what it was," David rationalized.
"You know how to read, don't you?" Jennifer accused, her brown eyes full of anger.
"Whoa!" Jack commanded forcibly. "What did you read?" he asked his son.
"Jen has a diary?" Aislinn asked with bright eyes. Then she blinked and looked at Little Danny while asking, "What's a diary?"
"It's when girls write about their secret stuff," the intelligent boy explained.
"Oooooh," Aislinn acknowledged. "What secret stuff?"
"No, I don't."
"Yes, you do," the middle triplet insisted.
"I do not."
Little Danny sighed and decided to take the high road by letting the conversation go. He never liked to argue with his siblings, especially not Aislinn. He was so young and yet he already felt the desire to take the most peaceful route.
Jonny, however, had overhead the exchange and called out, "Boys!"
"Ooooh, that secret stuff."
~What the ...~ Jack looked over at Aislinn and stared in disbelief. "You just forget about that boys secret stuff," he told his little girl. When Aislinn simply giggled, Jack let out a growl. ~I'm going to keep her locked in her room until she's thirty.~
At last, Cathy appeared with the first big tray of food and began to place the plates on the table. It took a couple of trips, but soon the entire Jackson-O'Neill clan had their food in front of them. Since they were all very hungry, even the upset Jennifer, they all dug in quickly.
"You had no business reading it," Jennifer spat at her brother, her fork dangling in her right hand.
"How did I know what I was reading?" David argued in his defense before stuffing his mouth with a big onion ring.
"Get real, David," Jennifer responded, her ire growing.
"Hey, cut it out," Jack interjected.
"We're at a restaurant," Daniel reminded, expecting that to be the end of the argument.
"Daddy, he's a freakin' genius, and he doesn't know after reading one sentence that he's reading my diary? That's personal!"
The younger kids squirmed, not liking the fight. They looked for a way to ignore it and tried to focus on their food. Little Danny especially began to fidget, the noise of the disagreement not agreeing with him at all.
"I know, Jen, but now is not the time to discuss it," Daniel strongly advised the teen.
"Look at him! He's smirking," Jennifer ranted about her brother as her fork clanged against her plate. "I never thought you'd do something like that."
"I didn't mean to, but once I started, it was the most interesting work of fiction I'd read all week."
"*Fiction?" Jennifer shouted, causing heads of other diners to turn toward the Jackson-O'Neill table.
"Jennifer Renee, lower your voice *now*!" Jack commanded.
"Did you hear him?" the girl challenged, forgetting her dad's military rank and what it meant to argue with him in this manner.
A giggle drew Daniel's attention. It was Jenny's bright laugh. The younger father looked in her direction and then noticed something terrifying.
"Daniel, let me finish," Jack requested as he was in the middle of giving their oldest daughter a cease and desist warning.
"Jack, where's Little Danny?"
Jack looked over at the empty child's seat and then scanned the restaurant while he exclaimed, "Crap!"
"I'm looking," the general advised.
"Jonny's gone, too," the panicked younger father noted.
"Jennifer, David, you two stay here and keep an eye on your brothers and sisters," Jack ordered.
Jennifer sneered at David, who smiled in response. The diary war was far from over as their intense eye contact continued.
Meanwhile, Jack and Daniel split up to do their search of the large restaurant. As it turned out, the restaurant was designed with lots of sections, some secluded and others more open. This meant there were lots of interesting areas for a curious child to explore and a lot of walls to hide behind. In addition, there was an upper floor used largely for group events, though tonight it was being used for overflow. With the restaurant nearly at capacity, they had quite a search on their hands.
As he scanned one part of the restaurant, Daniel heard a familiar giggle. Then he heard lots of laughter. His eyes carefully sought out the noise, but he had to walk around a corner to finally hone on in the laughter.
"Oh gawd," the archaeologist sighed quietly as relief flowed through him. He walked calmly toward the large circular booth that sat eight people. At the moment, though, it sat nine, eight senior citizen women and right in the center, Daniel's namesake. ~What is he doing?~
"Dad says ice cream is its own religion," the Munchkin told his listeners.
"I've never thought of it like that before," a diner responded with a broad smile.
"You are the cutest little thing," another woman said to Little Danny as she squeezed his left cheek.
"Thank you," the blushing boy responded.
~At least he's being polite.~ For a moment, Daniel watched as the women gushed over the boy. They clearly were happy to have Little Danny as part of their group. Then he walked to booth and greeted, "Hello."
Little Danny looked up, his face covered with chocolate. He grinned.
"What are you doing?" the father asked his son.
"Mrs. Stetson said I could have her Super Duper 'ord'nare Qua'rup Choc'late Sundae," the boy announced with a sloppy smile on his face. "Look, Daddy. Choc'late ev'where."
Daniel couldn't help but notice how his chocolate-loving son had gone from sounding like a ten-year-old to a two-year-old in a span of one sentence. He also noticed that the gigantic chocolate sundae was more than half gone. Considering the family hadn't eaten more than a few bites, he was curious if Little Danny's dinner now consisted mostly of a gigantic sugar high.
"Is this little cutie your son?" the most elderly of the women inquired.
"Yes, Ma'am," Daniel answered. "Little Danny, let's go," he instructed. "I'm sorry if he disturbed you," he told the women.
"Does he have to go?" another woman asked, having enjoyed the boy's presence. "He was telling us how to dig in the dirt."
"He makes me feel like I'm ten again," a woman with bright red hair laughed. Looking at her friends, she commented, "Isn't that crazy."
"But true, Melissa. I feel the same way," yet another woman agreed. "Maybe we should start a garden."
"Can't dig in gardens," Little Danny refuted. "Flowers are pretty." He sighed, "No artifacts in gardens."
"Artifacts?" the redhead mused. "You are adorable."
Daniel smiled as he bowed his head. The ladies were eagerly showing their adulation of the boy, urging him to finish his dessert and tell them more about dirt digging and artifacts.
"Son," Daniel called out again. He didn't want to alarm anyone, but he knew he needed to help Jack find their other wayward son. "We need to go."
"Thank you for the chocolate," Little Danny told the women before sliding under the table and crawling out amid the sixteen legs below the table.
~Oh my gawd,~ Daniel lamented in shock, closing his eyes and not knowing what to say.
The women laughed and waved as Daniel and Little Danny, his hand in his father's, walked away.
"Little Danny, we need to talk, but first I need to find your dad," Daniel advised, looking around for Jack as the two continued to head for their center table.
"Ricky!" Daniel gasped, pulling Little Danny forward as he quickened his pace. "What are you doing?"
"Such a rude child!" an astounded patron exclaimed as she flicked off a glob of mashed potatoes that had accidentally landed on her black pants.
Daniel didn't know who said it, but it was obviously an unhappy diner. Frankly, he couldn't blame the complainant.
"Got you, Nathan!" the Spitfire called out.
"Fire!" Nathan called out on the heels of Ricky's declaration.
Daniel couldn't believe it. Right before his eyes, Ricky and another boy were engaged in a full out food fight. He saw Ricky use a spoon like a slingshot and immediately after pick up a handful of peas and throw them in Nathan's direction. The other boy was doing the same thing, only with corn and sliced hot dog pieces. Surprisingly, the two toddlers were laughing, but they still kept tossing food.
His mouth agape, Daniel heard the woman on his left shout out to her husband. Out of the side of his eyes, he saw the couple start to lean over. Quickly, he reached out and managed to catch the carrot that was in mid-air.
~I didn't know he could throw that far,~ Daniel thought as he held the carrot. He looked over at the stunned couple. He held up the carrot, not knowing what to do with it. Finally, he put it down on the couple's table and uttered a quick, "I'm so sorry," before sprinting to the family's center table. "Jennifer!"
"Daddy, he shouldn't have read it," the oblivious teen whined.
"It's not like you wrote anything important," David sighed. "It was just about boys."
"Boys?" Daniel heard himself say. He took a breath to free himself of getting caught up in the diary debate. There were more important things to deal with at the moment. "Where's Dad?"
"I don't know," Jennifer responded as she glared at David.
"Ricky, stop that," Daniel ordered, catching the boy just as he was about to toss another spoonful of mashed potatoes to Nathan's table.
"Playing," the boy explained.
"Not any more," Daniel told the child, his eyes indicating that playtime was to stop immediately.
Ricky sighed and crossed his arms to express his displeasure at having the war stopped.
Daniel rolled his eyes, picked Ricky up, and firmly put him back in his seat at the table.
"Stay," the father ordered sternly. "You, too," he ordered Little Danny. "I don't want either of you to move from these seats."
Cathy hurried over, checking on her customers before starting to help with the cleanup.
"I'm so sorry," Daniel expressed to Cathy as she knelt down to do a bit of food pickup from the floor.
"Are they all yours?" Cathy asked as she looked up at Daniel.
"Yes," Daniel affirmed with a nod and a sigh. "Please stop," he requested. He was about to continue when he heard another voice. Unfortunately, it was not the voice of his husband. ~Maybe it's a concussion. Did I hit my head again?~
"Sir," the male host named Manuel called out.
"I am so very sorry about the behavior of my son. I was just about to ask Cathy to bring out a mop and let me son clean this up," Daniel instructed.
Manuel looked over at the offender and replied, "He is a young one."
Nodding, Daniel explained, "And he won't learn if he isn't held responsible." He reaffirmed his request and added, "We'll make sure everything is back in order."
"Yes, Sir," the host responded, not happy about the mess, but happy that the parent was taking responsibility for it.
"Where is your dad?" Daniel asked, though he wasn't talking to any one of the kids specifically.
Receiving nothing but shrugs in reply, Daniel reminded Jennifer and David that they needed to be mindful of their siblings. He also instructed Ricky to follow Manuel's and Cathy's instructions to clean the affected area of the restaurant that had been dirtied in the food fight.
"And then you are to sit back down and stay down," Daniel stated firmly.
The father also gave more instructions to his eldest child, instructions specifically geared toward Ricky's cleanup task. Then Daniel went to look for Jack, who he hoped had found Jonny by now.
"Should we help him?" Chenoa asked her siblings. A month shy of turning four, she was sitting peacefully at the table. When no one responded to her, she just shrugged and reached for her little purse. A smile on her face, she chuckled quietly as she opened it. "Hello." The little girl looked over at the table next to her and then at one just beyond it where she saw something that made her happy. With a grin, she climbed off her chair and walked over to the far table. When she saw a woman who was in her twenties looking at her, Chenoa expressed a bright, "Hi."
"Are you lost?" the woman asked, wondering why the girl had approached her.
"No. Are you eating that?" Chenoa asked about some rice that seemed to be left over from the woman's meal. "Henry's hungry," she announced as she took a mouse out of her purse to show the woman.
The young woman screamed at the top of her lungs and pushed her chair back as she stood up and ran backwards. Others nearby screamed, too, some because they saw the mouse and others because they did not know what was happening.
Chenoa was so stunned, she dropped the mouse.
"Henry!" the little dove called out. Panicked, she shouted, "Little Danny, Henry's loose."
"Henry? Henry's here?" Little Danny called out in surprise.
Not questioning the reality, the middle Munchkin began chasing down the mouse. It was a crazy scene with people running everywhere, men trying to calm their female companions, and women attempting to calm their kids. A few younger patrons were laughing as they watched the pandemonium play out.
Shouts of, "There he is," and "He's over there," combined with shrieks of fear, a few angry acknowledgements of the situation, and bouts of laughter from those who thought the whole event was amusing.
"Got him!" a boy with shoulder-length black hair exclaimed. He picked up Henry and took him over to Chenoa. "He's a nice mice."
"We're taking care of him. His parents were killed."
"I'm sorry," the young boy who was about a year older than Chenoa spoke.
"He belongs in here," Chenoa said, opening her purse.
"There you go," the boy told the mouse as he carefully released the small critter into the purse. "You're pretty."
"You're handsome," Chenoa responded. "If I didn't have Teal'c, I'd marry you."
"What's a Teal'c?"
"He's a he, not a what, and he's Teal'c."
"Oh. Well, okay. Bye."
"Bye. Thanks for finding Henry."
"You're welcome," the boy replied before returning to his table and getting a small lecture from his father for leaving the table without permission.
Chenoa returned to the center table with Henry safe in her purse.
"Noa, why did you bring Henry here?" Little Danny asked.
"You told me to hold him after you gave him his bath," Chenoa reminded the boy. She elaborated, "Daddy called you and you left. I didn't know what to do with him, and we had to go, so I put him in my purse."
"Oooooh," Little Danny expressed, totally accepting her explanation. "Make sure he can breathe."
"What now?" Daniel asked, having heard the tail end of the commotion and figuring he had better find out the reason for it.
"Chenoa has Henry in her purse," a frustrated Ricky answered.
As Daniel listened to the tale of the wayward mouse, he felt a tugging on his knew.
"What is it, Ricky?"
"Daddy, I need help," the Spitfire sighed as he twisted around and pointed.
The mouse scare resulted in a lot of the food fight debris being scattered all around. It was way too much for a toddler to handle. In fact, Daniel was surprised to see his son even holding the mop at this point. The mop was tall and hard for him to hold. Daniel was upset. He had not intended for Ricky to be alone in the cleanup.
"Jennifer, didn't I ask you to keep an eye on Ricky and to help him after a minute or two?"
"David was being a brat," Jennifer explained.
"And what were you being?" Daniel challenged with a pointed expression. "Get the mop and finish the job, please," he told the angry teen. He took a hold of Ricky and helped him back into his chair. "Thank you for doing what you could," he told the child. "Nothing from Dad?" he asked the brood, receiving a lot of shaking heads as his answer. "Jonny?" More shaking heads were his response. "Tell me about the mouse," he requested, wanting to hear the end of the story that Ricky had interrupted. Little Danny and Chenoa filled in the gaps, after which Daniel dropped his head in bewilderment. "Okay, politely, quietly, apologize to the diners around us who you bothered. Now, please."
It took a few minutes, but with Daniel standing firmly behind them, the children all apologized to the other guests; that is, everyone but Jennifer who was still cleaning the restaurant floor under the watchful eye of Manuel.
With the kids, including Jennifer, settled in, Daniel surprised them when he stated, "Jennifer, you're grounded."
"Daddy, what did I do?"
"Nothing, and that's why your grounded. David, you, too!"
"Because I read her diary?"
"Forget the diary. I have to find Dad. Now all of you stay put!" Daniel turned around and began strong, focused strides to find his husband and the missing Munchkin. Suddenly, he ran into a wall, only it wasn't a wall, it was Manuel, who was uncertain of Daniel's intent. "Look, we'll pay for the inconvenience. I have to find my husband and our son."
"You have more?"
"Yes. Excuse me," Daniel spoke, not liking how curt he sounded, but he was legitimately concerned about Jonny's whereabouts, especially since there had been no sign of Jack in well over ten minutes. ~Who knows where Jonny is.~
Jack was growing more frustrated. He'd been chasing Jonny throughout the rear of the restaurant for several minutes. Every time he had the boy in his sights, someone stood up or a server passed in front of him, causing him to lose track of his namesake. When in sight, Jack noticed the boy examining a variety of items in what he assumed was a quest to understand how everything fit together, something Jonny enjoyed doing no matter where he was. The problem was that Jack had lost sight of Jonny again about four minutes ago. Desperate, he finally asked diners at a corner table if they'd seen a little boy running around and they'd responded that they'd seen one going up the nearby stairs minutes earlier. Jack thanked them and took the stairs two at a time until he was at the top. Once there, he began walking the various areas in search of the boy.
~There he is,~ Jack sighed as his heart and pulse rate began to slow back down to their normal rate. He proceeded purposefully toward the other side of the room where Jonny was. The distance was large enough that he didn't want to call out as it would disturb the diners, an action he regretted when the boy suddenly darted down the stairs. ~Crap!
Jack jogged across the room, drawing curious eyes in the process. He bounded down the stairs in a sprint. He paused at the foot of the stairs and looked around in a grid pattern, hoping to catch sight of the youthful explorer quickly.
The general thought he glimpsed Jonny so he moved in that direction until he was sure. Relief again flowed through him, along with a large amount of upset for how his son was breaking all the rules for how to behave outside the home. He walked forward and was within a few yards when he saw Jonny climb on a chair, reach his hand up, and yank with all his might.
Jack could count on his hand the number of times he'd used Jonny's formal first name. This was definitely a non-nickname situation.
The alarm was loud and deafening. Diners stood up and sprinted toward the exits as restaurant staff went into emergency mode. Jack quickly scooped up his son without saying a word.
"Hi, Dad," Jonny greeted, unaware of the inappropriateness of his actions, or at least acting like he was unaware.
**Daniel, I've got him. He pulled the fire alarm. Keep the kids together. I'm there in one,** the military man communicated.
~Oh, for crying out loud,~ Daniel thought as he echoed his husband's most famous expression. Seconds later, he saw Jack and Jonny. He couldn't deny the joy at seeing Jonny unharmed, but at the same time, he felt something he couldn't describe, and it wasn't anything positive. "Jack?"
Walking by the center table and nodding at his lover, Jack continued his forward pace. He saw the manager and hurried to speak with him. Still holding a horizontal Jonny in his right arm, he got the man's attention.
"There's no fire and no emergency. I'm very sorry. My son was misbehaving. He pulled the south alarm."
The manager looked at a grinning Jonny and shook his head in disgust.
"Look, I can't undo it. The boy did what he did. Get things under control and then we can talk," Jack ordered in full general mode.
The manager nodded. He found Manuel, telling him to keep an eye on Jack and then proceeded to deal with the alarm. After making sure the staff knew the emergency was nothing more than a child's idea of a joke, the manager notified the police and fire departments as well. Next he saw to his guests, insisting that all meals would be comped for the inconvenience.
Meanwhile, Jack and Daniel exchanged an unhappy look as they reseated their children. If they could leave, they would.
"I have one thing to say right now," Jack began. "Sit and stay sitted, seated," he quickly corrected.
"Gen'ral eyes," Jonny whispered to Aislinn, who was seated next to him.
Jack stood a bit away from the table and motioned for Daniel to join him. Both men kept their eyes on their children as they talked quietly.
"What the heck happened down here?" Jack asked. "I overheard someone saying there was a food fight going on."
Jack stared his Love and continued, "I heard something about a mouse, too."
"Henry," Daniel stated simply.
"Crap, Danny, what happened?"
"Ask your children," Daniel suggestion.
"*My* children?" Seeing Daniel's stare, Jack asked, "That bad?"
Jack let out a groan, walked back to the table, and proceeded to find out all about the food fight, Henry's adventure, and Little Danny's newest fans. Then he returned to Daniel's side.
"Well?" Daniel asked.
"I'm still hungry," Jack responded.
With a huge sigh, Daniel agreed, "Me, too."
When the restaurant returned to normal, the manager came for Jack, who walked with him to the register. They talked for a couple of minutes and then Jack pulled out his credit card.
"Sorry isn't enough," Jack admitted. "This should take care of it," he added, signing the slip for the agreed upon amount.
"Thank you, Sir, and I hope you understand that I have to ask that ..."
"Don't bother. We won't be back," Jack promised in anticipation of the manager's statement.
At the table, Daniel let out a sigh as he watched the ongoing conversation. He hadn't said anything to the children who were sitting quietly at this point.
"Let's go," Jack said when he returned to the table, his face stern and his eyes focused on the brood.
Daniel picked up Jenny, who had been looking at him with a very sad face.
"It'll be okay, Jenny," Daniel whispered, fully aware that the night was turning out in an unexpected and upsetting way.
As the family headed for the door, Aislinn saw a middle-aged couple sitting in a booth. They were holding hands and had serene smiles on their faces as they looked at each other. She watched as a cake was delivered and then she frowned. After putting down the cake, the waiter walked away.
~It's her birthday, or his,~ the girl assumed in her mind. ~Gotta sing Happy Birthday or it's not a real birthday.~
With that, Aislinn broke out of her place in line and skipped over to the couple's table. Without warning, she broke out into song, singing her version of Happy Birthday to the couple. Her voice was loud and bright, turning the heads of everyone within hearing distance.
When she was done, Aislinn walked closer to the woman and, while hugging her, said, "Happy Birthday!" She then went to the man and hugged him as she repeated her greeting. "Enjoy your cake!" she wished happily before returning to her family.
Her older father just stared at his little miracle, while Daniel had dropped his head. Both men could not believe how the children had behaved throughout the evening. They were beyond words on the subject.
Even so, Jack spoke, "That was beautiful, Ash," and Daniel added his agreement to the compliment as well.
Again, the family headed for the exit. Daniel, with Jenny in his arms, was the last out and trailed the rest of the family. Jack began getting the children settled into the SUV. Daniel, still lagging behind, was just getting Jenny into her seat when Jack took his spot in the passenger seat. Just as Daniel was closing the passenger door, he felt a hand on his arm.
"Excuse me, Sir, but that little girl is your daughter?" a good looking man in his sixties inquired.
"Yes, Sir." Recognizing the man as being half of the couple Aislinn sang to, Daniel began, "I apologize if my daughter interrupted your dinner."
"My wife and I loved it. Most kids today would never do anything like that. We just wanted to say thank you."
Daniel nodded and added, "Happy birthday to you, or your wife."
"Actually, we got married today, just a quiet meeting of our hearts in church. Friends knew we'd be dining here and had the cake sent to us." The man smiled as he continued, "Don't tell the little girl. Her song was the nicest present we received today."
Again, Daniel nodded.
"Please take this for your daughter. My wife insisted she share a piece of our birthday wedding cake." The groom noticed Daniel's stare at the cake in his hand. He laughed and explained, "We couldn't help but notice you have other children. You can't give cake to one and not to the others, too."
More than half the cake was in a takeout box.
"This isn't necessary."
"Please accept it as our thanks for the song. Besides, I need to lose a few pounds, and my wife eats like a bird. Do me a favor and take it for your kids."
"Thank you," Daniel responded as he took possession of the boxed cake. "Congratulations."
As the still smiling man walked back inside the restaurant and returned to his bride, Daniel settled into the SUV.
"What was that about?"
"Cake," Daniel answered, handing the dessert to his husband.
The family was halfway home, though home at the moment was General Hammond's lakeside residence. The Jackson-O'Neills were staying there while their house was being remodeled. The ride to Hammond's abode was a quieter ride than was normal until David broke the ice by complaining to his sister, Jennifer.
"You and your dumb diary."
"My diary is not dumb," Jennifer argued.
"If you didn't have the diary, we wouldn't be in trouble," David purported.
"Kids, settle down," Jack ordered as the volume started to rise in the seats behind him.
The kids kept on talking, uncharacteristically ignoring their older father.
~What?~ The small voice was Jenny's and it prompted Daniel to pull over to the side of the road and turn off the engine. He twisted around and looked at the children. "Bad is a negative word and it's ... broad and ambiguous."
"What 'bigous?" Chenoa asked quietly.
"It can mean a lot of things. I ... Dad and I are very disappointed. You all disobeyed the rules and created a scene that meant a lot of people had their meals interrupted. I want you to think about that for the rest of the ride home, and I want you to be quiet as you think."
Daniel turned back around, started the SUV, and headed for Hammond's. The remaining ride was completely silent except for the sound of the engine and the occasional beep of the turn signal.
Jack walked into the kitchen and found his Love staring out at the lake, brightened by the near full moon. A cup of coffee in his hand, Daniel stood by the kitchen table.
"Well, that was a mess," Jack stated as he leaned back against the edge of the counter where the microwave was located. "It's too bad. The food was good, what we had of it, anyway."
"It was good." After a few seconds, Daniel turned around and lamented, "They've never done that before, just ... ignored us."
"Full moon?" the older man quipped.
"Friday," Daniel corrected, though he knew his husband was full aware of the moon's visibility. "Why tonight?"
Jack shrugged and responded, "Why not tonight? Danny, the brood's solid, but sometimes kids are just kids."
Daniel nodded and then mused, "You should have seen Little Danny with those ladies. He was lapping up that Super Duper Extraordinare Quadruple Chocolate Sundae like there was no tomorrow."
"He takes after his daddy," Jack teased.
"The ladies loved him. I doubt one of them was under sixty. They really fussed over him."
"He's a charmer," the older man agreed.
"You must have been incredulous when you saw Jonny pull that fire alarm."
"It brought back memories."
"I did it myself once," Jack recalled. "I was maybe four or five. It was at a movie theater. I wasn't sure what that thing was, but it was fire engine red and I just wanted to see what it would do."
"Cleared out the entire theater lickety split," Jack said, his right hand raised and making a sweeping horizontal motion to highlight the speed of the exodus.
"Mom was beet red from embarrassment, and Dad?" Jack laughed. "Dad laughed, but then he made sure I never did that again," he said with a grimace, reaching back with his hand and rubbing his buttocks. "I can still feel his hand."
"You were spanked?"
"Danny, kids my age were spanked all the time. Spanking didn't become unfashionable until the eighties."
"But you don't spank our children. You've always said you were against it."
"I am," Jack affirmed. "My dad did what was right for his time. I don't share that belief." With Daniel simply taking in his comment, Jack expounded, "Angel, all that spanking did was warm my behind and cause me some pain. It didn't do one thing to stop me from putting a frog in Mrs. Cornwall's desk the very next week."
Daniel laughed at loud as he replied, "You didn't?"
"Did," the silver-haired man confirmed. "She must have jumped two feet. She didn't like frogs."
"Which is why you put one in her desk."
"You got it!" Jack walked over to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup of the brew. "Ash did a nice thing."
"I know." Daniel sipped his coffee as he continued to think about the night's events. "Babe, we're looking at this all wrong. Gawd, we messed up."
"*We* messed up?" Jack questioned, certain the kids were at fault for their disobedience.
"Yes, we did."
"I can't wait to hear this."
With a smile, the younger man opined, "The truth is that we were embarrassed tonight. I'm not sure we've ever been truly embarrassed by our children before."
Jack initially shook his head, but then he lowered his head in thought as he searched his heart for the truth.
"Ricky got into a food fight and Jonny pulled a prank, but other than that, what was wrong?" Daniel let out a little sneer at the couple's original attitude. "Ash sang a song that made a couple very happy, Little Danny made friends with a bunch of women, and all Noa did was ..."
"Geez, Danny, the mouse!"
Daniel remained still for a minute until both he and Jack darted upstairs to the bedroom where Chenoa staying while at Hammond's. Like the rest of her siblings, she was sitting quietly on the bed, thinking about her behavior as instructed to by her parents.
"Noa, where's the mouse?" Jack asked.
"In my purse," Chenoa answered, her eyes widening as she made a tiny gasp.
Jack exchanged a look with Daniel and then grabbed the purse. Opening it, he retrieved Henry, who was unharmed. Both parents and their daughter breathed a sigh of relief.
"I'll put him back in the rehab cage," Jack stated, relieved Henry had survived the craziness of the restaurant trip. He started to exit the bedroom when he turned around and asked, "Where is it?"
"Uh," Daniel scratched the side of his lip as he thought. He gave his Love a sorry-type look as he answered, "In General Hammond's bathroom."
"What's it doing in there?"
"That's where Little Danny was giving Henry a bath."
"In the general's bathroom?" Jack questioned in mock military fear. "I'm about to be demoted," he groaned as he walked out.
Daniel looked over at the giggling Chenoa and smiled. He walked over and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"You can come downstairs now. We'll meet in the living room."
"'Kay," Chenoa responded as she scooted off her bed.
"Sweetie, everything's okay," Daniel told his princess.
Feeling encouraged, Chenoa smiled wider and headed downstairs.
**Danny, let's round 'em up and get 'em downstairs,** Jack communicated as he safely put Henry into his temporary home.
**Our children are not cattle, Jack,** Daniel corrected. **I already told Noa to go downstairs. I'll get the boys.**
**That leaves the girls for me. Meet you in two,** Jack relayed.
With the children gathered in the living room, Jack and Daniel entered the kitchen to take a moment to ensure they were both on the same page.
"The kids were just being kids, and their parents, us, weren't quite used to that," Jack stated.
"Everyone has a bad day, Jack. We were caught off guard."
Jack laughed, something that felt off to his husband.
"Okay, so, uh, what's so funny?"
"The kids remind me of being on a mission."
Daniel blinked once and asked, "Uh ... how?"
"Daniel, as much control as I had over the cadets, I had no control over you. Maybe it was the damsel of the day, or some old religious thing, or ..."
"I get the idea."
"For an in control guy, I was out of control when you got it into your head to protect whoever or whatever had your attention, and I'm not saying it was a bad thing."
"I wouldn't be who I am today if you weren't you," Jack declared in total sincerity. "But the point is, Angel, as out of control I was on those missions, that's how out of control we were tonight. The kids had us running around in circles."
"You're right," Daniel replied with a smile of admission. "This leaves us where?"
"We fess up, but they still have to do the time," Jack put forth strongly. "Danny, we need our kids to listen to us. Tonight, it was just a restaurant, no big deal, but next time, it might not be so innocent. We need them to be aware."
"That's the real issue, Jack. They didn't listen to us, and we have to do everything we can to make sure they do, no matter where we are or what we're doing. We have to protect them."
"And that, Danny, means laying down the law and sticking to it."
Nodding, Daniel agreed, "Jennifer's and David's grounding sticks."
Jack bristled a bit as he thought back and noted, "Their bickering affected the other kids."
"I, uh, think we need to consider that."
Jack stared into his husband's eyes and replied, "You think the little ones just wanted to get away from it for a few minutes?"
"Maybe. I don't know that they could conceptualize that, but we need to consider the possibility that listening to Jen and David go at it for a few hours was unusual enough that they ... fled."
The older man let out an audible breath as he pointed out, "The worst part was that those two let their disagreement keep them from looking after the rest of the brood. They put their siblings at risk with their lack of focus."
"Of course, we both shouldn't have left them, either."
"Maybe not, but Jen and David both argue regularly about having caregivers *or* about being able to baby-sit when we go out. Danny, they can't have it both ways. Either they're responsible enough to watch the others, or they're not. Grounded, both of them."
"Okay, and we go ahead with what we've already discussed about Noa, Little Danny, and Jenny."
"Jenny didn't do a thing. She shouldn't even be part of this."
With a nod, Daniel pointed out, "She was whining about not having a soda, but she didn't mean for that drink to fall off the table. It was a complete accident. So, that leaves Ricky and Jonny."
"We know what we have to do there," Jack replied. "People could have been hurt, and they need to understand that." After a pause, he asked, "What about the financial aspect? We paid a pretty penny tonight to cover the ..."
"... inconvenience," both men said at the same time.
"No allowance for a week?" the archaeologist suggested half-heartedly. "Two weeks?"
"Let's table it."
With a hesitant chuckle, Daniel replied, "Yeah. I'm not sure what I want to do there, either. Tabled," he agreed. "So, are we ready?"
"Not until we do this," Jack responded, enclosing his lover in his arms and kissing him tenderly. "Feel better?"
"Much. I think you were right."
"That's a change," Jack laughed. "What about?"
"It may not technically have been a full moon, but I think we suffered from its effects anyway."
"Close enough, Danny. It was a waxing gibbous moon, probably at ninety percent."
"Whatever you say, Babe."
"Hey, I'm the astronomy guy, remember. I can talk your ear off about lunar cycles."
"Okay, go ahead."
"Nah. I'd rather do this," Jack advised before planting another big kiss on his Love's lips.
"I'd rather you do that, too," the younger man agreed.
After yet another kiss, the couple headed for the living room to talk with their brood.
"It was best choc'late, Gran'pa," Little Danny expressed with a big smile on his face.
"No mean Henry get loose," a vulnerable Chenoa added from her spot atop Hammond's lap.
The bald-headed man was seated in his favorite albeit old comfortable chair. He had no idea about the events at the restaurant until he'd walked in and saw the sad-looking faces staring back at him. Now he was surrounded by the children, including the remorseful Jennifer and David.
"I'm sorry I read Jen's diary. I didn't really mean to, but it was like a potato chip. I couldn't stop at one page."
Jennifer groaned and looked upon her brother with some agitation.
"But I shouldn't have read it. I'm sorry, Jen."
"Don't ever do it again, David, not ever," Jennifer warned.
"And you'd better forget what you read."
"What did I read?" the boy asked, smiling as he outstretched his arms and waved his hands in an 'I don't know what you're talking about' motion.
Jennifer laughed and hugged her brother, adding her own apology for being so upset.
"Gran'pa, cake needs a song," Aislinn proclaimed.
"I wish I had been able to go with you tonight," Hammond stated.
"Did you have fun with your friends?" David asked.
"I did," Hammond responded. "We sat around and told old war stories."
Jonny lit up and asked, "Will you tell us one now?"
"Hmmm," Hammond thought, inwardly wondering how he could clean up one of the stories so that it would be appropriate for children as young as two-years-old. "I have a better idea."
"Let me tell you about a time when your parents both disobeyed my orders," the general suggested.
The brood lit up and scooted in closer to hear the tale.
From the edge of the kitchen, Jack and Daniel exchanged a look of dread. Daniel began to head back to the kitchen and tapped Jack on the arm when he didn't budge.
"Hey, don't you want to hear what Hammond says?"
"No. Do you?" Daniel asked with a pointed expression.
"I guess not," Jack responded, turning and following his husband back into the kitchen. "We could stop him."
"It was just a thought." Jack probed, "Are you sure you aren't curious about Hammond is telling them."
"Jack, how many times did we disobey orders?"
"We?" Jack asked with a cock of his head.
"Babe, I was never alone in the disobeying orders department and you know it. General Hammond probably has copies of your file to use for blackmail one day."
Jack laughed and opined, "He probably should." After a moment, he said, "Danny, I have an idea."
"Should I be worried?"
"Probably, but let's go for it anyway."
"And that means what exactly?"
Jack grinned and motioned for his lover to follow him.
"I hope I'm not going to be sorry about this," Daniel spoke as he walked.
"You'll love it."
In spite of thunderstorms earlier in the afternoon, the skies were clear and calm now and the temperature was still in the mid-seventies. This made it quite a lovely evening, especially with the light of the moon shining on the lake.
"Okay, hold my hands," Jack instructed as he took hold of Jonny. "One, two, bounce!"
Jonny laughed as he began to bounce on the large trampoline with his father. The trampoline belonged to a friend of Jack's who had lent the recreational item to him. The original purpose was to have it as a surprise for the twins' birthday on the eighth. Now, though, it was being used as a way to bypass the negativity of the restaurant.
"Jack, you have the craziest ideas sometimes," Daniel had said upon being led into the garage and to the trampoline.
"Crazy as a loon," Jack had agreed as he motioned for Daniel to help him move the first large piece of the item to the backyard where it would be assembled for use.
"So what you're saying is that after our children disobeyed us at the restaurant, interrupting numerous diners meals, and almost killing a mouse, we're going to have a party?"
"Yeahsureyabetcha!" the older man had quipped as he focused on his task.
"Gawd, I love you."
"I love you, too, Angel. Now put your shoulder into it and let's get this dang thing set up."
As Hammond had told the kids multiple stories about the misadventures of their parents, Jack and Daniel had set up the trampoline and otherwise prepared the backyard for a spontaneous celebration designed to remind the family of their love and the fun they have together.
With Jack and Jonny on the trampoline, David began to climb up to join his dad and brother.
"Whoa, Sport," Jack called out. "We don't want to send this thing crashing down," he added as he jumped off the trampoline. "Forgot about the knees."
"You mean your age," Daniel joked.
"I thought so, too," the archaeologist retorted with a grin.
"Come on, kids," Jack urged. "Daddy and I will spot you."
The large device could easily accommodate multiple children, though Jack and Daniel opted to have no more than two on at a time, especially since their children were so young.
The kids loved the trampoline. Between the moonlight and Hammond's outdoor lighting, they were able to bounce away most of the accumulated dinner stress.
"One more game," Aislinn pleaded with her parents.
"Pleeeease," Little Danny added, his puppy dog eyes combining with his sweet voice to absolutely crumble any resolve his parents may have had at that point.
"Okay, well, uh, how about a little Flashlight Tag," Daniel suggested.
"What's that?" Chenoa asked.
"Tag, with a flashlight," the creative father stated.
"I've never heard of that," David stated.
"Me, neither," added Jack, who was somewhat amused at his husband's idea.
"Jack, we need a flashlight," Daniel advised.
Before heading for the garage to get the needed item, Jack inquired, "How'd you think of that?"
"I don't know," Daniel answered with a shrug. "It's nighttime and even with the moonlight, it wouldn't necessarily be that easy to see. Whoever is 'it' can use the flashlight to point out whoever they find. I'm sure other parents have thought of it before."
"I never did."
"No one's perfect, Babe."
Jack stared at Daniel, not quite sure how to take the quip, but he opted to give a slight nod and retrieve a flashlight for the game. When he returned, Daniel explained the very simple rules. Basically, it was Tag as the kids often played it, but because it was darker out, the 'it' person would carry the flashlight and flash it on any person 'it' caught. Then that person would be the new 'it' and on it would go.
Jack, Daniel, and General Hammond spread out to keep watch, ensuring that none of the children attempted to hide in dangerous places or tried to go by the lake or around to the front of the home.
Twenty minutes later, it was about time to bring the game to a close. Jack and Daniel were on opposite ends of the lawn, watching the brood closely. They'd already announced that this would be the last round.
~Geez, they're all hiding on Danny's side,~ Jack observed, thinking it was a bit odd.
Daniel also realized the same thing, but he didn't think much of it. He remained focused on keeping track of the hiding children.
David was the final 'it' player. He walked around, searching for his siblings. In his search, he ended up within a couple of feet of his scientific father.
"Wow, look at that!" the boy exclaimed out of the blue, looking out at the lake.
Daniel turned to see what was out there, and when he did, another voice was heard.
"Get him!" Jonny shouted.
All of a sudden, the entire brood tackled Daniel, bringing him to the grassy ground. Each child joined in, joyously tickling their daddy. They laughed heartily, even when Daniel managed to tickle some of them in return.
"Hey, that was great," Jack praised the children.
Jonny looked at his siblings, jumped up, and shouted, "Get him!"
The kids turned their attention to Jack, who tried to evade them. He attempted to zig when they zagged, but it was eight to one, and he lost. He quickly found himself on the cool grass, being tickled and sat on just like his husband had been a minute earlier. The only difference was that Jack's legs were facing the lake, while Daniel's were toward the house. This meant their heads were actually side by side.
"Imagine meeting you here," Jack joked to Daniel as the kids began to settle.
"Let's get Grandpa!" David suggested, leading the charge toward Hammond.
"Jack, should we stop them?"
"Hammond can take care of himself," Jack put forth, still laughing a bit from the brood's attack.
"Did you see that coming?" Daniel asked.
"Nope," Jack admitted. "I don't even know when they planned it. I missed it."
"Out of practice?"
"Busy?" Daniel echoed in surprise.
"Too busy gazing at a certain blue-eyed, sexy archaeologist."
With the moonlight lighting the scene perfectly, Daniel gazed into Jack's eyes and quipped, "Happy waxing gibbous moon, Babe."
Jack laughed and replied, "Love you, Angel, to the waxing gibbous and beyond."
The lovers laughed and then shared a tender kiss. It would have been easy for them to grow romantic, but the sound of laughter from across the lawn was hard to ignore.
"Maybe we'd better go save Hammond," Jack suggested.
The lovers stood up and walked hand in hand to where their children were currently tickling their grandfather. It had been a crazy evening, one in which the couple had learned a little something about their parenting and one in which they had also been reminded that even the best behaved children are still kids. With the sound of laughter still filling the air by the lake in Colorado Springs, the Jackson-O'Neills headed off to prepare for bed, full of love, happiness, and lessons learned.
~~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