One of the worst parts of being famous in today's world is the constant scrutiny of every detail of your private life by the world at large. This is a major theme of this series of stories. I applaud the responsible reporters who are motivated by a desire to give the public the information it needs to make informed decisions and who avoid intrusive reporting on private lives. I do not intend to include ethical journalists in my portrayal of the damage done by the bottom feeding segment of the media that is less concerned about truth or impact on the subjects of stories than in how many readers/viewers a story will attract.
This story was written strictly for the purpose of entertainment. No attempt has been made to copyright any characters which may not have been originally created by the author, and no profit is made from this work of fiction. Any original characters and the stories themselves are the property of the author.
I appreciate all feedback, laudatory or critical, greatly but receive some from people who do not have e-mail addresses to which to respond. Please accept my thanks here if I am not able to e-mail it to you.
SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSJack O'Neill didn't really expect the phone ringing next to where he sat, comfortably ensconced in his favorite chair, to yield up anything surprising. True, caller id showed an unknown caller but he had been extremely careful with the number. He almost picked up without waiting to see if the caller knew the secret code. Once Sara had enjoyed teasing him about the elaborate anti-trespassing mechanisms and the other stratagems he had put in place to preserve their privacy. That level of banter was now beyond her befuddled state. To hold on to the woman who had been his wife for so much of his life against the inroads of Parkinson's and other problems, he sometimes made up her words for her in his head. "You're going to end up needing a passcode to hear your own thoughts, Jack," he told himself as Sara. He waited while the phone rang twice and cut off, then three times and cut off. When it started in again, he picked it up immediately. "O'Neill," he answered, the terse greeting a habit from his long military career.
"Jack," said an unfamiliar voice, uncertainly.
"Only other O'Neill here is female so it must be," he said, sarcasm creeping in. Reaching him by phone was an ordeal. It seemed asinine for someone to go to all that trouble and not be sure who he was going to find on the other end.
He may have heard a sigh. "Given the rudeness and sarcasm, I feel very comfortable I have the right person," his caller said dryly.
Having his own tactics thrown back in his face, Jack suddenly knew the caller. The voice wasn't really unfamiliar; it was just deeper. "Johnny? Is that you, son?"
"Yeah, Jack, it's your bouncing baby boy," came the answer, leaving Jack completely uncertain how to proceed, that was until he had a sudden, cold chill.
"It's not your mother, is it? Sam's okay, isn't she?" he demanded, the stark fear clear in his voice. Then, in response to another unwelcome thought, "Teal'c, he's okay right?"
Johnny sounded quite surprised, whether by Jack's assumption that something was wrong with Sam or her husband, or by the fact that it obviously mattered to Jack wasn't clear. "Mom and our own favorite ex-snake-in-the-box stepdaddy are fine. And, in case, you read the gossip column stuff about us being on the outs, my kid brother, Jonas, smoothed it over. We're one big, sort of happy, family again. In fact, we're the modern paradigm of a happy family when you think about it. None of the kids have the same father and the guy on the premises now isn't related to any of them. Of course the fact that he's from outer space does act our own special dimension."
"I guess I need a clue as to why you're calling then, Johnny," Jack said, leaning back into the soft leather embrace of his chair, thinking, "The kid's got my sarcasm but I have NEVER nattered on that, have I?" He closed his eyes and massaged his temples with the hand not holding the phone.
"Could you possibly be unaware that my brother Jake's dad, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Ph.D, Ph.D., Ph.D., has returned to planet Earth?" Johnny asked.
The news made Jack want to jump up and down but he knew he couldn't show it to Johnny. Daniel had agreed, without setting a specific date, to come back from Lisseth after Jack had practically gotten down on his knees to request it by way of the DVD he had sent Daniel 3 months ago. The self-imposed exile had gone on way too long from Jack's point of view, since Daniel's divorce from Sam. At first Daniel had, at least, returned to see his son, Jake, and Jack's Johnny, whom Daniel had come to love as his own during his marriage to Sam. Then the boys had started refusing to see either Daniel or Jack. Daniel had become only a face and a voice in a DVD Jack received monthly.
The request to Daniel had been couched in terms of the family situation because he suspected his communications to Daniel weren't private. That wasn't the whole picture. He had been approached by some highly placed government figures and Daniel was part of the answer. He had wanted to go to Lisseth to see Daniel but, even for a celebrated hero, the government wasn't accommodating personal trips for those outside the program. Deep within himself, he guiltily acknowledged that he was almost glad for the crisis because he needed Daniel to here. Six years was too long to go without seeing the man who had become the closest friend he would ever have.
"I don't keep up with the news much any more," Jack said, adding silently, "Because I am trying to take care of a women who is loosing more of herself everyday." The new medicine that had seemed so hopeful had apparently somehow backfired and Sara's downhill slide was accelerating again. "I'm a little confused as to why you would call me about it."
"Come on, Jack," Johnny said. "I watched you and Daniel together when he'd come along on my visits with you back in the day. You guys were really close. It was weird considering that he broke up your marriage to my Mom."
Jack interrupted, "A little thought readjustment, Johnny. Daniel didn't break Sam and I up. The general public just wanted to believe a lot of ugly things about Daniel and your mother, and Sara and I. It was the lies, not the facts, that hurt us."
"Moving right along," Johnny said, "I could tell that you two were the best of friends and I figured, no way he'd come back and you wouldn't know what the agenda was."
"You figured wrong." Jack pitched the bald faced lie to his son without the slightest qualm of conscience.
"Look, Jack, I don't want him messing with Jake's head. Jake's enough of a basket case already."
Jack silently agreed with that assessment but kept it to himself. "Daniel loves Jake and you. Actually he loves Jonas too even though he's never met him, just because he's you guys' kid brother and Sam's son. He has no intention of hurting any of you."
"You can believe that if it floats your boat. On to door number two," Johnny continued, "I would also like to know who this cast of thousands was that rolled into town with Dr. J."
Jack could make a guess but he was totally blown away that Daniel hadn't come alone. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Johnny chuckled. "I'd say the quality of that reaction differed enough from the first response that you really DO know why he's here but DON'T know who all these people are with him. It doesn't much matter. Stargate Command will have to release the names soon enough since the whole world saw them arrive on the Gate Cam feed. I just wasn't feeling patient."
Silence stretched out for several moments. Then Johnny said, in what was clearly an attempt to be conciliatory, his tone almost pleading, "Please ask him to stay away from Jake. Look, I'll come and talk with him, answer his questions, if that's what it takes."
Jack was thunderstruck. This was a monumental offer. Jake must be even more seriously screwed up that he had suspected. "That's generous of you, Johnny. IF I talk to Daniel, I'll pass it along."
"Chao then," Johnny said and Jack was left holding the phone and listening to a dial tone and wishing with everything in him that Johnny had offered to come and talk to him as well. He resolutely told himself he had enough drama dealing with Sara. He couldn't spare the cycles to lament his lost son. The memories were really strong and he found himself doing anyway.
He remembered how Johnny had been a rather solemn little boy. The sarcastic edge had come much later. Johnny had learned to read very early and never went anywhere without a book. He listened and observed everything intently and peppered adults he decided were smart with a constant barrage of questions about how and why things worked the way they did. Jack tried to play catch with him but Johnny would be impatient after a few minutes to do something else. When his father asked one day why he didn't enjoy catch, eight-year old Johnny said, "It's boring. I understand it already."
Like a man who can't resist picking at a scab, he found himself remembering that fateful glorious autumn Saturday. That was during a period when something had kept Daniel close to Lisseth for a few months and he had not joined in the visit. Jack had forced Johnny to go outside their cottage at a luxury hotel instead of sitting reading while Jack answered a couple of phone calls. Johnny had simply pulled a notebook from a pocket and had been sitting absolutely still, his glasses slipping down his nose, taking notes on what he observed happening to an anthill that had somehow escaped the relentless staff of gardeners. Jack had just looked out the window to check on him when two boys came by and decided to have a good time with the little blonde boy watching the ants so intently.
"Hey, four-eyes, watcha writing there?" One boy asked while the other snatched the notebook out of his hand.
"Please give that back to me," Johnny asked politely, at least sounding unintimidated to his father's concerned ears.
"Maybe, maybe not," the boy holding the notebook said and then he tore the top page off, wadded it up, and threw it to the other boy.
"You have no right to do that, you idiot," Johnny said hotly.
Before Jack could get out the door, Johnny was flat on his back with one boy sitting on his stomach and the other trying to stuff dirt in his mouth. Jack picked up a boy by his neck in either hand and shook them in the air like a terrier would do. He later couldn't understand where he got the strength. Johnny got slowly to his feet and picked up his notebook. It was only then when he saw its ruined condition that a tear slid down his face.
Jack took Johnny inside and got him cleaned up but he was shaken on some fundamental level. A man didn't have a right to expect his son to be just like him but this boy wasn't within a country mile of little rough and tumble Jackie O'Neill. In fact, as he watched Johnny sleep from the doorway of the boy's room later that evening, he couldn't help but think about Daniel, about the stories Daniel had told him about the treatment a shy but brilliant little boy receives at the hands of other children.
That was when Jack made the decision that ultimately destroyed his relationship with Johnny. He took the dirty Band-Aid out of the wastebasket that he had replaced with a clean one on his son's knee. A few days later he submitted it with a blood sample of his own for a DNA paternity test. The test came back showing that Johnny was his, without a shadow of a doubt.
The test became a sort of talisman as he and Johnny continued to have a very difficult time connecting. Johnny was not at all interested in sports. He wanted to read books. By the time he was 11 he had started bringing a guitar on visits and Jack was severely tempted at times to bash it over a rock since Johnny spent far more time communing with it than he did with his father. Johnny was increasingly resentful of suggestions from Jack that they play ball or hike or fish. The boy wasn't particularly good at any of these activities when he did reluctantly participate in them. It seemed to Jack he wasn't making the least bit of effort but comments to that effect enraged Johnny. Once he exploded at Jack, saying, "I sorry I can't be the son you want. Just give up, okay. It's not that I'm not trying, it's that I'm not any good at the stuff you want me to do."
When Jack was particularly confused as to how to deal with a son who hailed from another country of the heart and soul than his own, he would look at the test and remind himself that this was, indeed, his son and, therefore, there must be a way for them to act like father and son.
Johnny was 12 when he found the test. Even a child half as brilliant would have figured out why his father felt it necessary to have a test like this performed. Visits were incredibly unpleasant after that. It was compounded when Johnny did the research that unearthed all the tabloid gossip about Daniel and Sam from before he was born not to mention the lies about his father and Sara. He had angrily hurled accusations at both Daniel and Jack and refused to listen to their side of it. Something about life with Brad Smith had left him barely rational when it came to men who couldn't control their sexual urges.
Johnny had done a very thorough job of poisoning Jake's mind against Daniel. It wasn't hard for Johnny since he had always been the major influence in Jake's life. "If only I had had enough of the boy's time," Jack thought, "I could have worked through it but when you see someone for less than 3 weeks total in a year, things don't get resolved."
Daniel was irritated with himself that he had waited until the last minute to get Jack on board. Daniel had only given him the vaguest of timetables. Now Daniel and his family were camping out in Cheyenne Mountain while he belatedly tried to put the logistics together. The reason for the procrastination, his family, was spread out on the floor in front of him. They had pulled the cushions off the couches and put them on the floor where they now sat, more comfortable than they had been since coming through the gate and being gawked at nonstop. Daniel knew he had delayed because he was dead certain that Jack had expected him to come alone.
There was a heap of clothing in the middle of the circle of cross-legged Jacksons and each of them was inspecting the new wardrobe from their own perspective. Both men and women wore loose pants under their robes on Lisseth but nobody had ever seen closefitting pants like the jeans. "These people aren't fighting all the time, are they?" Jak asked, a little concerned by what the blue jeans seemed to be indicating.
"Jak means, you don't let people see your legs when you're not fighting, do you?" Chiona followed up, embarrassed but secretly thrilled by the notion. "I mean there aren't any robes, anything to go over them."
"You've watched the DVDs I get from Jack. What do you think?" Daniel asked her, fighting back a smile.
"But those were, I don't know, like, like pretend. This is real," Trina said, more than a little scandalized.
Tealk held up a bra he had picked up from the pile in front of one of his sisters. "What is this for?"
Jak rolled his eyes and said to his little brother, "What do girls have on their bodies that would fit into that?" Tealk dropped it like a hot potato.
Suddenly Seline said with more elation than Daniel could remember hearing in her voice since her husband died. "LOOK AT THIS!" He looked over to see her holding a white lump in the air. "Danny's clean and I can just throw this AWAY!" Everyone applauded enthusiastically. Even little Tealk had had to deal with baby Danny's dirty diapers. This was the finest aspect of Tauri society they had seen so far.
Trina asked, "Dei, where are we going after we change our clothes?"
Goaded into action, Daniel said, "Let me see what I can do about that." He pulled out the cell phone he had been given minutes before and Jack's telephone number from a pocket and stepped into the adjoining bathroom to make the call.
"Jack, it's Daniel."
"I thought so. Johnny just called me and wanted an explanation of what you were doing here and who all the people are with you. I take it you brought the entire family?"
"Kind of, yeah," he rushed on, "can you accommodate all of us?"
"How would they be with Sara?" Jack asked.
"They're used to helping. Think about it. Their mother was blind. Sara's not blind but they are used to taking into consideration that not everyone is the same."
"That'd be fine then. I could use a little help with Sara actually. And Daniel, Johnny offered to come and see you, talk with you about Jake. He's very concerned that it might be bad for Jake to see you."
"That sounds insane but if the delusion gets Johnny back where we can establish contact again maybe we should thank God for it."
"So I should put that in motion, you think?"
"Let's do it. I've got transportation lined up. We'll be there later today. Thanks for having us Jack."
He'd hung up before Jack could say, "No problem."
Sam and Teal'c were sitting across from each other, the remains of a late lunch between them. The food on Sam's plate hadn't been so much eaten as rearranged. Teal'c looked at it thoughtfully. He took her hand and said, "We can talk about it Samantha."
She put her hand over his, sandwiching it between her two. "I keep thinking about how wonderful it felt to have all of us together again finally. And, in the end, it seemed so silly that we had spent so long not talking. Nobody was mad any more. It was just that nobody knew how to make the first move."
Teal'c tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. "I thought you were fretting about DanielJackson returning. I was wrong."
She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "No, my dear, you were right. What I was thinking was that Daniel coming back is just like when we patched things up with our boys, with Johnny and Jake, a few days ago. All these years of no contact with Jack and Daniel. I'm not the same person any more and I bet they aren't either. But someone needs to make the first move."
Teal'c shook his head slightly. "You may have moved on, Samantha, but Johnny and Jake haven't. When parents fight, the children are still dealing with it long after the parents have gone on."
Sam felt a tear slip down her cheeks. "What have I done, Teal'c?"
He reached over and wiped the tear away. "You did nothing hurtful on purpose. At your lowest point, you never stopped loving your boys. I have waited long for you to speak of Daniel and Jack. I am very glad you have come to this place."
She got up and went and sat in his lap and he rested his cheek against her hair. "Samantha, DanielJackson is with GeneralO'Neill in Minnesota."
She pulled back and looked into his face, "How do you know that? The last update I heard was that no one knew where they had gone."
"Samantha, it is time for you to know something. GeneralO'Neill and DanielJackson never stopped caring about you. They have worried about you all these years. When I came back and began to spend time with you after Jonas was born, they told me that it would make them very happy if we ended up together. They trusted me to not hurt you and keep you safe from men like Jonas' father. I talk to Jack every couple of weeks. He gets a DVD once a month from Daniel and sends him one in return. He reassures Daniel from me that you are well."
Sam had absolutely no idea how to react to this. She was certainly angry that this had been kept from her but she was also extremely touched that two men she had not treated as well as she might have both still cared so much about her. All sorts of thoughts chased themselves through her mind. One stopped her cold. "Did they ask you to marry me?"
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "Samantha, a warrior's commander can send him into battle to die but he does not have the right to send him into marriage."
"Not Jack as your commander perhaps but Jack and Daniel as your friends?"
Teal'c simply said, "What do you think Samantha?
Sam laughed, "I guess that would be pretty extreme even for a romance novel."
"Precisely," Teal'c said.
"Who are these people with Daniel, then?" Sam asked. Teal'c hesitated, puffed his cheeks out a moment, and finally answered. "Daniel was married and these are his children and his stepdaughter."
"Daniel was married?" Sam's whole comforting notion of Daniel pining for her was severely shaken. She felt both like a fool and a very bad person for wishing he had been yearning for her, but she couldn't seem to help herself. "What do you mean was?"
"You noticed the black smudge on his forehead in the Gate cam feed that the networks have been replaying? A widower wears ashes on their forehead until he marries again. Iona died, I guess about 6 years ago, when my namesake was a baby."
"Namesake?" Sam asked, incredulously. She didn't even know Daniel had kids and one of them was named after her husband. He nodded.
"Tell me about her, about Iona," Sam prodded.
"Iona looked a lot like Sha'ree and she was blind. She developed such good mechanisms for coping that you hardly noticed. There was a little girl by her first marriage, Seline. Iona and Daniel seemed happy."
"You sound like you met her," Sam said, waiting for the next bombshell.
"I spent a month there after my wife died. That's the longest they let anyone off world stay." Seeing her raised eyebrow, he clarified. "The rule doesn't apply to Daniel. He is not a Tauri anymore. He's full fledged Blue."
Sam digested this and then demanded, "If there is anything else, I mean ANYTHING else you know about Daniel that you haven't told me, now would be the time."
"There is nothing else, Samantha," he assured her.
A couple of hours later, Sam came looking for Teal'c and announced decisively, "We should go to Minnesota and we should take the boys with us."
"They are not young ones you can load into the back of an SUV even though they protest the whole time that they will be missing a soccer game," Teal'c warned.
"Jonas will come because I ask him and he'll be worried about protecting me. Jake will come out of curiosity. Perversity, too, just because he loves doing the opposite of what he thinks people expect. Maybe Jonas will ask him which would seal the deal. Oh and he'll be thinking of the publicity they can milk out of it for their band. Johnny will come to protect Jake." Sam looked at Teal'c for affirmation and he slowly nodded, a slight smile on his lips.
"I'll call GeneralO'Neill and DanielJackson."
"Don't you call them," Sam warned. "I think we just show up and don't give them a chance to say no."
The next step was to get the Golden Brothers organized. They might come up with creative excuses but theoretically they should be as available as their celebrity status ever permitted. Jonas' television show had just finished filming and he had a month before his movie commitment. Johnny and Jake had deliberately not scheduled anything for the band because they were working on new material for the next album. Jonas was very receptive to the idea for himself but very frankly told his mother, "Johnny is going to freak."
"Why?" Sam asked. "Why Johnny but not Jake?" Jonas had become her faithful interpreter to her other two sons who had grown into mysteries to her.
"Jake worries about everybody but Johnny is so consumed with worrying about Jake he doesn't have time for anyone else." He looked at his mother. "If you want some psychological analysis from someone completely unqualified to give it, I think it's at least partly because Jake had to have stitches that time when he was with Johnny and they were what 5 and 6?" Jonas shrugged. "Anyway, Johnny is so convinced that Jake is about to have a complete meltdown, he tries to insulate him from anything that could get too emotionally intense. The problems between Phoebe and Jake aren't really what you read in the tabloids. They're mostly Johnny's interference. Actually, I think she's about had it which would be too bad. I really liked her."
"Meanwhile Johnny lets his own problems fester unresolved," Sam mused, more to herself than Jonas.
"Precisely," Jonas said, bringing Sam's attention back to him. Sam smiled a little to herself. She wonder if Jonas had any idea how many of Teal'c's mannerisms he had picked up.
Sam tackled Jake next. Jake sounded very odd on the phone, slurring his words a little, but yet not drunk. Sam found herself wondering if he was on something. "Sure, Mom, why the hell not," he drawled. "Sure don't need to stay here for Phoebe." Something crashed and shattered.
"What was that breaking sound, Jake?" his mother asked, trying not to sound worried.
"Strangest thing, Mom. Phoebe's picture just fell on the floor all the way across the room. Don't try to distract me, Mom. There's something I want to ask. Oh, yeah, yeah, that's it. Who are those people that were with Doctor Dad?"
"Your half-brothers and sisters and your stepsister," Sam said deciding there was no reason to hold back information.
"He's even more fertile than you are. Good thing you didn't stay together. I'd be starring in a reprise of 'Cheaper By the Dozen.' I'll come but I gotta go now Mom. This phone is realllly heavy."
Johnny hadn't been with Jake and it took a half an hour to get him to answer his cell phone. She heard chopper noise in the background. "Where are you? Why haven't you been answering the cell?"
"See Mom, this is one reason we didn't talk for awhile," he responded.
"Where…are…you?" she asked again, recognizing the indirection for what it was.
"Why are you calling, Mom?" he countered.
"Teal'c, Jake, Jonas, and I are going to Minnesota tomorrow to see Daniel and your dad and I'd like you to come with us."
"How can a woman world famous for being brilliant be so damn dumb?" Johnny asked with absolutely no respect.
Sam thought, "I guess we're going to be on the outs again real soon but I'm not putting up with much more of this lip." She said, speaking evenly by dint of strong self-control. "That was uncalled for and you know it. We're going with or without you but I'd like you to come."
"Well, actually, I'm already there. I'm just a few miles from dear old Jack's place right now." Sam was stunned. After awhile, Johnny asked, "You still there?"
"Yeah. Look, Johnny, don't say anything to anyone about us coming," Sam requested.
"I don't see what difference it makes. They're not going to turn Jake away. But, okay. Let the great reunion begin."