"Santa came! Santa came! Jack, Sara, wake up!"
Jack glared at the alarm clock's display. "Danny, it's five in the morning."
"That's afternoon already in Egypt!" the little boy gasped, practically bouncing in place.
"Told you not to teach him about time zones," Sara muttered, rolling over, then sitting up and swinging her legs over the edge of the bed. "Just give us a minute or two, Danny... we old folks don't move as fast as you do."
"You're just silly," Daniel declared, flashing them a brilliant smile before disappearing back out of the room.
"Oi," Jack groaned. "Told you not to teach him about Santa Claus."
"Touché," Sara laughed, leaning over to give him a quick kiss. "All right, general, let's go see what the fat man brought."
"As if we don't already know."
"Fine. Let's go see how tickled Danny is to see what the fat man brought!"
Jack grinned. "Now you're talking! Where's my camera?"
Sara waggled her finger at him. "Nope, I've got the photo-taking duties, thank you. You barely know how to turn the thing on as it is."
"Busted." Yawning and making sure all his joints stayed in place when he stretched, Jack stood up from the bed and shuffled down to the living room. He'd expected Daniel to fly into the pile of brightly-colored presents as soon as the adults sat down, since that's what Charlie had always done, but was surprised when Daniel dug under the tree to extract two messily-taped packages.
"These are for you," he declared, handing one gift to each of his "parents", then putting his hands on his hips in a very-grown-up-Daniel-like gesture. "Well, open them!"
Sharing surprised but pleased looks, Jack and Sara began slowly peeling back each strip of tape, not surprised in the least when Daniel giggled at their pace. Finally, Jack had his last piece detached and slid the box out of the wrapping paper.
"Will it explode?" he asked, shaking the box carefully.
"No!" Daniel grinned.
"Will it try to walk off if I put it down?" Sara joined in, enjoying the game.
"Jaaa-ack!" the little boy whined. Chuckling, Jack slipped his finger under the lid and lifted it off to reveal his gift.
Sometime in the last week and a half, Daniel had gotten someone to carve a flat piece of wood into the shape of a boy Angel Tree figure. The features of the angel had been wood-burned into the surface, along with his name and the date the judge signed the adoption papers. Then the whole thing was varnished, polished, and given a metal bracket so it could be hung on the wall. The O'Neill name had never looked so good as it did following "Daniel".
Sara gasped at her own copy of the same. "It's beautiful."
"You can hang 'em in your offices," Daniel smiled shyly, looking down at his feet as he twisted back and forth.
Jack pounced, scooping him up and tossing him in the air. Daniel shrieked with delight as he came back down, wrapped in the biggest bear hug Jack could manage without cutting off the boy's circulation. "It's perfect, kiddo," he grinned, letting him go only so Sara could enfold him in a hug of her own.
Then he was off like a miniature tornado, gleefully attacking the presents Santa had brought him. Despite his obvious delight in opening each gift, he carefully peeled back the tape and unfolded the creases, just as the adults had done with their own gifts, laying each sheet of paper aside before turning his attention to the box. Jack and Sara exchanged smiles, seeing a future archaeologist at work.
When the last package was opened, Daniel bounded back across the room and flung himself at Jack and Sara, wrapping an arm around the neck of each and hugging again. "This is the best Christmas ever."
"It's the only Christmas ever," Jack reminded him. "I didn't think you remembered any of your other ones."
"Nope," Daniel agreed. "But it's still the best Christmas ever!"
"Well, if you want me to put together your new desk," Sara began, "you better go get my tool box from the pantry."
"Oh, you're going to put it together?" Jack questioned.
"I'll let you start it, Jack," she answered. "Then after you get frustrated when part A and part B don't go together like you think they should, I'll finish it."
Daniel giggled. "Funny," Jack sighed. "All right, Danny, go get that tool box."
When he vanished around the corner into the kitchen, Jack held up five fingers, counting down the seconds. When he had only one finger remaining up, a squeal was heard from the kitchen. "There's another present in the pantry!"
"Can you bring it in here?" Sara asked.
"It's kinda heavy," came the answer. "And lopsided!" He staggered back around the partition, arms wrapped around the base of the box.
"Put it on the coffee table and open it," Jack suggested.
The little boy slid the package carefully onto the surface of the table, then reached for the ribbon holding the box shut. Taking the lid off, he stared with wide eyes at the dark green eyes staring back at him.
"A kitten!" he squealed, lifting the sleepy feline out of the box and cradling it to his chest.
"Shoulda gotten a dog," Jack sighed, earning him a thump on the arm and a look from Sara.
"You claim to have been Doctor Jackson's best friend, but you don't recognize a cat person when you see one?" she teased. "She's all yours, Danny... she doesn't even have a name until you pick one for her."
Daniel beamed, cuddling the kitten. "Her fur is so pretty," he said softly. "Long and black and a little curly. Can I name her Sha're? That's a pretty name, isn't it?"
Now time for the great long list of acknowledgements!
Firstly, the DJsSG-1Lverse list at Yahoo! Special nods to list mod Bec--for presenting a Christmas challenge that was too irresistible to pass--plus Ginny, Sara, Mary, Mike, Pat B, Juana Villa, BEM, and night.phonix.
Secondly, the Little Danny list at Yahoo! I'll pick on Jaybe first, for reccing my 'fic to the group, and DeeKay next for seconding the rec and sending the invite. Then there's Anne, Bridget, Calli, Char, Dana (whom I kept confusing with "Beej"), Danielle, Debbie, Jo, Judy, Karen, Kathy, Kelly, Kelly Sue, Lisa, Nikki, Patti, and Suzanne!
Thirdly, my buddies over at StargateSG1-dot-com: Jaffatech, Delta666, and Beej--the last of whom I just kept running into at the GCBme competition and FFnet... and also kept confusing with "Deej" at the LD list.
Lastly, but certainly not least(ly?), the cheerful and encouraging crowd at FFnet...
...the reviewers: akatz, Ali, Alys, Angel8818, Apodrru, AV21, Batman'sBeauty18, Bekki, beverlycat, Cadi the Canadian, corgimom, CynicAlb, Desert Blossom-by-the-Sea, Dreamer22, Erikstrulove, FloBee52, gale, Harm Marie, Heather, Jeanny, Katsu Kitsune (With thanks for the ferret), kira66 (also C2'd it), kokomocalifornia, krahmogh, kurama, Lanhar, Lisa Dormon, Maeve Bran, Marisa, meldames, methoslover, MuseUrania, Nicho, Nighshae, Nyx Ro (with many thanks for the entertaining emails and chocolate bribes), Rebel Goddess, Shura3, spacemonkey1129, Stargate Fan (with joyful kudos for keeping me entertained at work!), starjems88, Stoko, Stormyrose, Talzin, The Hecateae, tiki-92090, umino-gaara (also C2'd it), Visionairy, and zats.
...the Story Alerters: 3rd.Apple, Alec Star, Angel Of Storms, Bladesong80, bumblebuzz, Caladria101, Carrie Jackson, ccgig, Chrissy227, Circakona, Clari, Delia Ra'Nar, djwrb, Emelf, foxmask, gothicVampireHuntress, Hypatiapl, Illyrya, Jedi Buttercup, joojoobee3, Lillian DeVega, Lisel, mistX, Mysticallydreamin, Rhysel Ash, Serina Kat, Shallowaters, Shannon K, Sunnyone59, Taeriel, Teri, The Minustarian, selache51, skyfire, slayerstoryguy, and trinity-jade-potter.
...the Story Favers:AmethystSiri, boogachoo, Cox Poppy, crow13, Dark-Sephy, Heart of the Wizard, Laws of Chaos, leaned, littlepinkwolf, phoenix-82usa, Rixzel, Sith Jesto, slytherinprincess17, and Star Mage1.
...and the off-list responders: angelswingsfirmament, claire1972000, and crimsonapf.
If I've forgotten anyone, my apologies... but that's a HECK of a list!
Passes out from lack of oxygen
FINALLY: The story in its entirety is now available on my website (alexandria-archives-dot-com). It is also the first of my stories to be available for PDF download (with illustrations, of course)!
Yes, I KNOW I left a BC-303-sized opening at the end of this 'fic to allow for a sequel. Since I have spent the last 30 days doing nothing but writing, it may be some time yet before I can get enough sleep to re-address my new LDverse. In the meantime, Merry Christmas (or whatever winter festival you choose to celebrate) and Happy New Year!