Chapter 22: Family
Eight years later…
"So we're in review again." Mitchell sat down with a huff. "As unprofessional as this sounds, I think it's time for a beer."
"I think it's safe to say we'll always be in review," Mr. Woolsey told him calmly. "If you intended to stay with the program, you should expect that."
"Of course he intends to stay with the program!" Sheppard protested. He looked at Mitchell uncertainly. "Right?"
"And miss those late night poker games? I'm staying."
"You'd think after saving the planet twenty or thirty times they'd remember why this program is so important," Daniel grumbled.
"Who's counting?" O'Neill smiled at him.
"I am," said Woolsey. "And if you will all excuse me, I have a great deal of work to do, if we're to get this place up and running again."
"At full speed this time!" Mitchell called after him. "None of this half-ass shit with Sheppard and I sitting around on guard duty."
"Watching a giant circle with a sheet over it isn't really why I joined the Air Force," Sheppard explained unnecessarily.
"Goodnight, gentlemen." Woolsey paused at the door to the briefing room. "Major," he said with a nod.
Dany nodded back. "For a few more hours, anyway."
Woolsey smiled. "You've made the right decision. I'm looking forward to working with you."
"Thank you, sir."
Woolsey was gone, and in his wake O'Neill rose to look pointedly at his niece. "Don't you have packing to do?"
She glared at him.
"Major O'Neill," Landry said, also standing. "It's been an honor." He saluted her, and Mitchell, Sheppard, and Sam rose to do the same.
"You have been an honorable warrior, Dany O'Neill," Teal'c said, with the head nod that passed for a Jaffa salute.
Spine straight, Dany returned the gesture. "Likewise." She turned, then back, pausing to press her uncle's hand before leaving the room.
O'Neill sat down heavily at the conference table. His body creaked, and he grunted with the effort. Not so young anymore, he thought, and with a glance at the space his niece no longer occupied, Definitely not so young. "Mitchell, I hope you were serious about that beer."
Across the table from him, Vala had looped one hand through Daniel's arm. She sighed dramatically, then turned towards him with a satisfied smirk. "I told you a wedding was the perfect ending to this story."
"I don't really get it," Ronon said, speaking, O'Neill thought, for all of them. "Leaving the military behind. I don't think I could do it."
Agreement sounded around the room, until Daniel spoke up. "Dany has the chance to have something none of us never really got to. I don't think we should begrudge it."
"What's that?" O'Neill countered. "A higher tax bracket?"
"Family," Daniel answered softly.
There was a pause, and O'Neill blurted, "But...we're family…" He looked around at all of them, eyes finally resting on Sam. "Aren't we?"
"Yes, Jack," she said with a smile to dismiss both arthritis and cynicism.
He smiled back.
AN: Like the Stargate Program itself, I like to think Dany's adventures don't entirely end here. However, this story and my telling of it are finished. Thank you all for reading! Please drop me a line to tell me what you thought.