A/N: This part of the Alone series is a bridge to the next major O'Neill family adventure and will cover three major story lines: a family vacation, Daniel and Janet's wedding and a wonderful surprise. I think it will be fun to read (and write, I hope). Any and all feedback along the way will be very much appreciated!


Chapter One: Ready, Set, Go!

The O'Neill family had celebrated Jon's second birthday one week ago. It was a very happy occasion, an opportunity to rejoice in the physical and developmental gains the little tyke had made since his traumatic premature birth.

"Hey, big boy! How's my favorite three-year-old today?" Jack asked as he came in the door and was greeted by Jon.

"Me is two, Daddy! You know," Jon said as he almost jumped into his father's arms.

Holding this rambunctious bundle of energy, it was hard for Jack to remember a time when he and Sam worried about this child's very survival. In fact, if it hadn't been for the fortuitous appearance of his now brother-in-law, Dr. Luke Sisko, the O'Neills' youngest may not have survived his premature birth, let alone become the perfectly healthy, challenging toddler they loved today.

"Jack, are we ready?" Sam's voice called from the next room.

"Just got in, honey. You've got to give me a minute," Jack called in reply.

"Plane leaves at 1500 hours. We've got to get going," she said, coming up to her husband and kissing him.

"Keep doing that and we're really going to be late," Jack quipped.

"You! What a one-track mind you have!" Sam teased, knowing she'd have to be the one to ensure the family stayed on schedule today.

"Aw, but it's a great track, don't you think?" he said waggling his eyebrows.

"Not now," Sam scolded, only a second before she was interrupted by her two older children. Grace and Jake came bounding down the stairs, full of enthusiasm and raring to go.

"We're ready! Can we go now?" Grace asked hopefully.

"Everybody packed?" Jack inquired, already knowing the answer, given Sam's talent for family organization.


"Bags in the car?"

"Yes!" the twins clamored, encouraging Jon to shout with them.

"Anybody ready to go?" Jack asked rhetorically.

"We are!" came the very loud response.

"Everybody made a bathroom stop?" Jack asked, in his role as practical father.

"Yes, Dad," Jake said, looking at his father impatiently. "We're not five anymore you know."

Don't I know it, Jack thought. The twins were growing up so quickly, sometimes he wished Sam would let him use the Ancient time machine to help him slow things down.

"Okay, Colonel," he said, speaking to Sam who by now was rolling her eyes, "let's move out."

"Yes, sir," Sam replied formally, replete with a mock salute that always started the twins giggling.

"Yay, we're going! I can't wait to get on the boat!" Grace enthused.

Less than a year ago, Jack and Sam had taken an Alaskan cruise without children. For their eighth wedding anniversary, their friends had decided the couple needed a vacation by themselves. Janet, Daniel and Teal'c, with some long distance help from Maureen and Luke had arranged the cruise and childcare arrangements for the ten day trip. Although the kids had been well cared for and royally entertained at home, they'd made no bones about missing their parents for that protracted period of time.

As for Jack and Sam, the time had been a glorious second honeymoon of sorts. They'd almost forgotten the joy of being alone together on a relaxing adventure (that is, one without the constant threat of death or serious injury). Nevertheless, by the end of the trip, they had to admit they missed the children. Moreover, both parents had decided a cruise would be a great way to take a family vacation.

And so, as the winter winds descended around them in Colorado Springs, the O'Neill family set off for warmer climes. By 1200 hours, everything and everyone was piled into the SUV for the trip to the airport and the long awaited first leg of their family vacation.

Hope you like; Please review!

More coming soon.