A/N: Now you'll see why I was so fussy about the names.

Summary: Alex has survived assassinations, torture, and brushes with pain and death all his life. So why was he so terrified of a children's birthday party? Oh, right – they were Jack's children. Part 4 of my 'Jack Daniels' series.

Pulling up his car to the rather ordinary looking house, its only main difference being a particularly bright wreath made of birthday bunting on the front door, Alex took another glance at the colorfully wrapped boxes in the passenger seat, before gathering them up and stepping over to the front door.

"Alex!" Jack cried out and grinned when she saw him, before looking quizzically at the boxes in his arm. "What've you got here?"

"Let your daughters open them and find out," Alex said with a grin, stepping inside without waiting for an invitation.

"Come in," she said belatedly. She was rather harried, her read hair back into a messy bun, and a few worry lines creasing her face as she looked over the messy kitchen as they walked past it. But she'd taken good care of herself over a lifetime, and at 41, she still looked beautiful.

How she emanated youth with the stress her life was filled with was well beyond Alex. But, he knew it was not a matter for small or large minds to ponder, so he simply went out back, and set the presents down by the pile of other presents.

The backyard was decorated tastefully in oceanic colors favored of the twins, and the occasionally spurts of more fiery colors Ally preferred, the sharp contrasting creating a cozy air about the rather large space. There were a few snack tables just to the side of the door, littered with foods all across the health spectrum, and all around the grass, children of varying ages from the girls' exclusive school running around, laughing and shouting almost maniacally as they played.

Alex headed back inside, away from the chaos, to the kitchen, where Jack was pulling out a cake from the oven.

"Need any help?"

"Lemme guess – running away from the horror that is masses of small children?" she asked.

Alex nodded and said, deadpan, "I'd rather not be there when the bomb blows."

She laughed. "All right. Well, go over there-" She pointed to the end of the counter, where a bunch of bags of snacks were still in grocery bags. "-and put out a bit of each. You know where the bowls are."


She rolled her eyes, used to Alex's radio lingo by now, and set to frosting the cake while Alex set to the task of snacks rather dutifully.

"And when you're done, get the presents from the yard inside. Weather reports changed a few plans."

"Got it."

He always did.

For a few moments, they worked in silence, before Jack said carefully, "Last assignment go all right?"

Alex knew better than to lie to her by now, even if they were speaking in 'code', in case anyone else was around, unseen.

"Rather rough. Okay, brutal. Nothing I can't handle, though."

She froze before turning to him.

"How brutal are we talking?"

"Torture, I swear. Honestly, half the time I don't know what my bosses are thinking in some of these jobs they take on."

She got the hint, and gave him one of her patented we'll talk later looks, before nodding, and jerking chin back to the snacks in front of Alex.

"You should take more vacations from work. It's gonna kill you, one day."

"Yea," he said noncommittally.

He already knew that.

Alex smiled at the feel of sudden warmth clutching his leg as he set down the last of the presents.

He looked down to see the littlest Starbright looking back up at him with wide eyes that lived up to her surname, and bits of chocolate around her mouth and cheeks.

"Hey, Ally," he said, crouching down to meet his goddaughter square in the eye. "Happy birthday."

She smiled, before wrapping her arms around his neck and stuffing her face into his shoulder.

"I missed you, Alex," she mumbled as Alex scooped her up into his arms, standing up, before sitting back in one of the plush armchairs behind him.

"I missed you, too, sweetheart," he said with a smile, as she turned her head to look at him, her mother's eyes staring up at him.

The irony of the Daniels Children. The twins had their mother's hair, and their blue eyes had only deepened to Ben's shade over time. But Ally had her dad's own sleek, black hair, and her mother's more hazel-blue eyes.

"Mommy said that your last 'sigment was rough," she said.

The other thing Alex still couldn't figure out: how it is Ally managed to get her mum's American accent, while the twins had British ones.

"And, that you needed a big hug," Ally continued. "But I think you need a lot of big hugs."

Only four – no, wait, five – years old, yet already so perceptive.

"You're right, Ally – I do," he said, wrapping his arms protectively around her as she snuggled into his shoulder again.

For a few moments, they rested peacefully like that. Alex didn't want to say he had a 'favorite' among his nieces, but yes, he was a lot closer to Ally than the twins.

Not that he'd ever tell them.

"What was it?" she asked. "That was rough?"

He almost wanted to tell her that he was a spy – almost. But, young children can never be sure of keeping their mouth shut.

"Just the usual stuff for my magazine," he said. "I was taking some pictures in a warzone the other week. And, well, some of those pictures were really not nice."

"Oh," she said. Smiling, she kissed his cheek and said, "So throw this pictures away!"

If only I could. But it's hard to throw stuff away that's locked in your head.

"I did," Alex said. "But I still remember them."

She smiled. "Daddy says that, too, sometimes. He says that some of the videos he takes give him nightmares, sometimes. He always tells us that when we're older, we'll start to see why war is really so bad."

"It is, sweetheart – it is."

She smiled, before suddenly, both of them jumped at Jack's yell, which rang throughout the house.

"Alexandra Kate Daniels!"

Alex raised an eyebrow at his goddaughter, and her signature mischievous grin that was slowly spreading across her face.

"Now what'd you do?"

"Um…" she now looked sheepish. "Well…there was this big plate of brownies…on the counter…"

"How did you even get up there…?" he grinned. "You've been using my climbing lessons, then?"

She nodded.

He was laughing, and said, "And now that big plate of brownies is in your stomach?"

"Only some of it!" she said, just as Jack walked in.

"More like half," she said. "What did I tell you about food still in the kitchen?"

"To leave it alone, 'cuz it's for guests."

She nodded. "Yes. So, just for that, you'll only be getting one slice of pizza. And cheese, too."

"But it's my birthday!" she said. "And I don't like cheese!"

"Yea, Jack," Alex said, lowering his face so it was level with hers, then pouting, which Ally copied. "It's her birthday."

Jack glared at them, before sighing. "You'd think at almost thirty, your pouting wouldn't work…and Alex, aren't you supposed to be on my side?"

"I'm on my own side," Alex said, like he always did. "I only pick sides when they benefit me."

"How does less brownies benefit you?" she asked, as she picked up her youngest from Alex's lap.


She rolled her eyes and said, "Fine. She still only gets one slice, but she can have meatfest."

"One?!" she said. "But I always have three!"

"And how she fits them all into her stomach is not for small minds to ponder…" Alex muttered as he stood up, as well.

"Do you want me to make it back into cheese?" Jack said warningly.

Ally sighed. "I'm sorry."

Jack nodded, setting her down. "Good, now go clean up."

She nodded and dashed off.

"That's what you get when you name her after me," Alex said bluntly.

"I thought it was rather fitting," Jack said, huffing as she always did whenever they started arguing about his name. "Besides, I was hoping that her middle name being my mom's first name would counteract your name."

"…wasn't your mum the hippie?" he asked quizzically as they headed back into the kitchen.

"That's what I forgot," she said, deadpan.

Alex laughed, shaking his head. "Your daughter's an anomaly. First of all, the fact she can fit three slices of pizza…where does it all go?"

"You could still barely manage two when I first met you," Jack said fondly, picking up a bowl of chips, handing Alex the plate of dips.

"Well, that's probably the normal thing about her. There's the fact she was born on the same day as her twins." He paused as he set them on the table outside, where the first of the guests were helping themselves.

"I had nothing to do with that," she said as they headed back inside for the rest of the snacks.

"What're you talking about? It has everything to do with you. Did you and Ben shag on the same day or something?"


Alex laughed. "Of course. But still…and I still don't get how she got an American accent when the twins didn't."

"See, now, I would also like to know how that happened," she said. "But really, Alex, I don't know."

That just made him laugh some more.

It was great to be back.

"Have a nice evening," Alex said to the last guest as she and her son left. "And a safe drive home."

"And you, as well," the woman said, before ushering her young son out the door.

He walked into the living room to see Jack sending her children upstairs for a bath, before collapsing into her armchair.

"You look dead," Alex said dryly as he sprawled across the couch. He maybe almost thirty, but this was still his favorite way to sit.

Some things never change.

"Gee, thanks," she said, just as sarcastically.

"Hey, I'm just being honest," he said. "I think we know each other well enough to do just that."

She frowned.

"…I've known you for more than twenty years and you only think we know each other well enough?!"

He frowned. "Take it easy, Jack…I was just joking."

She nodded and sighed, leaning her head back.

"Sorry, it's just…I've been worried, lately."

He sighed. "Ben?"

"He's been gone for two months, Alex!"

"You used to go longer without seeing him."

"Yes, but that was before the girls. Or at least before they could really miss him. After Ally was born…this is the longest he's been gone since then!"

"He's been trying," Alex said. "But there's only so long we can go demanding things of our mission choices from MI6 before we're just ignored. Besides, I think he meant to be back, sooner, anyway."

She nodded. "But…I don't get it. What's so special about Canada, anyway?"

"There're reports of more oil being discovered by a private company over there," Alex said. "Ben was to confirm it, and if it was true, we'd make a good deal with them before any other government moved in on it."

"So…what's taking so long? Are the Canadians moving in on it? Americans?"

"Yes. But the biggest problem is that the Russians also heard of it. And they're looking to monopolize it as fast as possible."

"Oh," she said, softly. "Do you think he's alright?"

"Ben's a big boy," Alex said. "He can take care of himself."

Jack smiled.

"I know…but I always worry about you two, anyway."

"I'm a big boy, too, you know," Alex said with a smile.

Jack suddenly laughed, and Alex gave her a quizzical look.

"Sorry…it's just that earlier today, I was picking out the twins' clothes…and they were complaining that they were big girls…and I remembered when you were their age."

"Seven? I never tried to pick out my own clothes when I was seven. It was always much easier to just let you or Ian do it."

"I know, but there were a lot of other things that made you say you were a 'big boy'. Do you remember the first time you and I went to a park together, just you and me?"


She rolled her eyes. "Men…you wanted to go climbing up this ridiculously large tree. And you got mad when I wouldn't let you."

Alex remembered now, smiling. "Yea. Didn't I try to get you to just climb up with me?"

She laughed again. "Oh, yes…on the subject of climbing, do you realize how much of what you teach Ally absorbs? The twins are total girly-girls, but Ally…" she shook her head. "And then you go and get them all paintball sets for their birthday!"

"I thought I'd teach them to pummel," Alex said. "And they all seemed to like it."

That got another eye-roll from Jack.

"To be honest…" Jack paused, now suddenly looking more…apprehensive. "It's reminding me of Ian teaching you a lot of stuff. I mean, seriously – Ally talks to me in Spanish, sometimes, you know that? I'm just glad I finally learned to keep up."

Alex raised an eyebrow. "And the twins?"

"French. All of them are into French. But Ally's the only one who takes to Spanish, too. And she loves hearing stuff in other languages. I swear, one day I'm going to wake up and she'll be speaking Chinese or something."

Now Alex rolled his eyes. "That was all your husband, Jack. I had nothing to do with it."

"No, you just encourage it by talking back in those languages…"

"Hey, multilingualism has its uses outside of professional espionage," he said.

Another pause, before she spoke. "You know…as much as the twin just like to shoot waterguns for fun…Ally…I swear, Alex, it's starting to creep me out – how well she does it. And, using cover and bases and all that. Today, during the water war? She was the youngest on her team, but they were all listening to her. And they slaughtered the other two teams."

Alex, already getting a vague idea of where this was going, let her continue.

"She prefers the war movies. Loves to shoot and throw things. Remembers all the stupid little tricks you and Ben teach her. For god's sake, she wants to learn karate now, Alex!"

He blinked.

"I just…I don't want her headed down that path. I've watched this job destroy you, and Ben, for more than a decade and a half, and…and…I just can't let that happen to her."

Alex took a deep breath. "I don't know what to tell you, Jack. For one thing, if she wants this path, we can't stop her. For another…she's only five, Jack…" He even indicated to the three balloons tethered to the coffee table, two of them saying '8', and the last one, '5'. "I don't think she wants to be a spy. She just sees us doing all that and thinks it's cool. It's like other people wanting to be James Bond."

"I know, I know…" she said. "It's just…it worries me that Ben's job can seep to the kids, when they don't even know what it is."

"I wonder how long it'll hold," Alex said. "I mean…do you ever plan on telling the kids we aren't international news cameramen?"

She sighed. "I would love to never have to tell them, Alex…but I don't know how long it can hold. And then, I remember all the confusion that came with Ian and him not telling us, and…" Another sigh. "I think eventually, they'll know. But not for a long time."

Alex put a hand on her knee, and she smiled, closing her eyes.

"I'll get us some coffee," Alex said. "And if there's any chocolate cake left, that too."

"Thanks, Alex," she said.

"My pleasure.

And that was how ten minutes later found those two finishing up their cakes, and sipping coffee, before Jack checked her watch. "I better go help them out of the bath."

As Alex started cleaning the cups and plates away, he mused over Jack's settled lifestyle.

Ben was a much luckier man than Alex would ever like to admit. He'd quit doing black or even special ops ages ago, settling for more simplistic undercover work. But Alex would never be able to let go of his entire job like that.

He snorted at the irony. Once, he would've given just about anything to get away from this job. Now, he couldn't let go.

Just as he finished cleaning up, he found himself assaulted by three little girls, all in cotton pajamas of different colors, and all begging him to stay the night.

"Girls!" Jack said, climbing down the stairs. "What have I told you about trying to get Alex to do anything?"

Almost immediately, the trio got mischievous grins, and all turned with pouts to make Angelina Jolie proud, with accompanying puppy-like whimpering.

"Oh, no – I'm not falling for that!" Alex said, laughing, as he shut his eyes and pressed his hands against his ears.


For a moment, the girls paused to look over, while Jack and Alex tensed, thoughts of the time and the list of people who might want them dead running through their heads.

"Oi, let me in!"

Then Alex untensed and Jack smiled as Wolf's gruff voice drifted through the hallway, to which all three girls shouted, "Uncle Wolf!" and ran straight for the door.

Rolling her eyes, Alex laughed as a moment later, Wolf was standing with one twin dangling from each arm, making very dramatic grunts of effort, while Ally jumped to clutch at his shirt.

"Bloody help, you've all gone big on me!" he said with his own version of a laugh as he set the twins down, walking in. "I'm not going to be able to keep that up for long."

Alex snorted again. As if. Alex already knew it was pathetically easy for Wolf to lift the girls like that. He could probably lift all three with absolute ease.

He fought the urge to frown as the door was left open, and Jack actually didn't notice, when Wolf walked more properly. The security risks…

Wolf caught his eye and, jerking his head to the door just slightly, shook his head.

Alex erased the frown, but still wondered what was going on.

"Listen, girls," Wolf said. "I'm afraid I don't have a birthday gift, quite so, but give me a minute – I've got something to make up."

After using his voice and a few jokes about his rank, Wolf managed to walk out alone, while the girls all gave very sloppy salutes.

Except Ally. Was it even possible for a child so young to keep her elbow so straight?

Oh, shit, Jack may actually have a point.

Turning back, Alex frowned, when Wolf was back in the doorstep, telling them all to close their eyes.

Alex was suddenly fighting to keep silent a moment later when Wolf stepped aside, revealing who was behind…who promptly spoke in Wolf's place.

"Open them."

All their eyes snapped open at the voice, and the girls yelled, "DADDY!"

Ben laughed as his daughters all ran forward and clutched on to him, the man himself stooping down to hug them, then standing up to hug Jack, after accidentally poking her with the stupid, pointy birthday hat he was wearing, and kissing her, despite the fact there was a birthday ribbon-bow over his eye.

Suddenly, Jack frowned, the girls too excited to notice, as she hugged Ben around the stomach again, apparently specifically feeling for something.

Alex could take a few guesses.

"C'mon, girls," Ben said. "I'm tired and need coffee. Or birthday cake, if there's any left-"


Jack, already laughing despite whatever she found, said, "It's almost nine-thirty!"

"Oh, c'mon," Ben said, before he grinned at the girls…and all four of them were puppy-pouting at Jack.

"Like a taste of your own medicine?" Alex said with a smirk.

Jack rolled her eyes and said, "Second shelf in the fridge," before she took her family into the kitchen.

Alex turned to Wolf, them still in the foray, as the man closed the door behind him.

"You planned this, didn't you?" Alex said. "Did you know before that he was going to be back today?"

"He got back three days ago," Wolf said. "He got out of the hospital today."

Alex didn't ask just yet.

They walked into the kitchen to see small slices of cake being passed around, as Ben sang the girls the Happy Birthday song.

Alex wasn't the only one who felt it good to be back.

"C'mon, kids, time for bed."

"But Dad-"


Of course, that didn't stop them from trying, even as they headed up the stairs with Ben.

Jack's smile dropped as soon as they vanished, looking worryingly out after Ben.

"Jack?" Alex asked, while Wolf stayed dutifully silent, sipping at some Coke.

"Huh?" she said, turning around as Alex set down his own Coke.

"What's wrong?"

She sighed and turned back to the doorway, saying simply, "A lot."

Alex nodded, and they waited in only-semi-comfortable, but familiar, silence, until Ben came down and strolled into the kitchen.

Almost immediately, Jack rushed forward and pulled down the zipper of his favorite denim jacket, and pulled apart the shirt underneath, and pushed up the undershirt beneath.

His entire abdomen was wrapped in bandages all around, with a swath of bandages taped to a particular spot just above and in front of his pelvic bone.

She stared in shock for a few moments, while Ben shook his head and recomposed himself, fixed his clothes, and picked up his coffee.

"What happened?" Alex finally asked for Jack, and himself.

"Nothing I can't bounce back from," Ben said succinctly.

"Oh no you don't," Jack said, leaning on the counter, beside Ben. "Tellme what happened. Exactly what happened."

Ben sighed, taking a sip from his coffee, before saying, "Me and another 'investor' both found out about each other's espionage background at the same time. He was Canadian, though. And he wasn't too happy that I was trying to swindle his government out of all that oil."

"So it's true?" Alex asked. Ben nodded.

"And there's a lot. The company's using some new drilling technique to get it. Anyway, we were stuck in an office, and only one of us could get out to our government. I was unarmed, and he had a pocket knife. We fought…and I killed him, but not before he managed to stab me. But Jack, don't worry too much about it – it was the small blade, barely half as long as my thumb. And it didn't get in very far, or hit anything vital. I'll be just fine."

She swallowed, before sighing. "Great, first Ally, now this…"

Ben frowned. "What about Ally?"

"Jack's upset that Ally is catching on so quickly to 'spy' skills," Alex said. "She can shoot with toys alarmingly well, retains all the stupid stuff we teach her, and he actually talks in Spanish sometime, along with the French the twins like."

Ben looked back at Jack. "Please don't tell me you're worried she's going to end up like us? She's only five, for Christ's sake!"

"I know! I know, Ben, I do…but your job is hitting them all so hard and they don't even know what it really is."

"And, of course," Alex offered. "She can't help but remember my uncle, and how he kept everything from us…and how he trained me…and how I ended up a spy so young…"

Ben's face turned dark. "If MI6 ever try to recruit any of them so young-"

"If the MI6 bitch tries to recruit any of them ever!" Jack yelled. "Even with my job, 'light' as it is compared to you two…I just…I've watched you two go through his hell for over fifteen years and watched it destroy you two from the inside out, and even Jason, and I can not and will not let that happen to Ally, or any of the girls!"

Alex watched dispassionately, and Wolf was starting to look distinctly uncomfortable as the argument progressed.

"Am I really that 'destroyed' to you?" Ben asked. Certainly not angry or saddened, but simple conversational curiosity, which Alex suspected made it all the more worse for Jack.

"I can't help but think so," Jack said, pointing to where Ben's new wound was underneath the layers of clothes.

Now Ben's face turned stern. "Then why are you still here?"

"It's not that simple!" she yelled. "You of all people should know – it's never that simple. And…god, Ben, I love you, but this job eats you inside out and it hurts to see you like that! And now, it's even starting to get to the girls, no matter how subtle, and I just can't let them be broken as bad by it!"



"Jack, I am not broken-"

"Then why do you still wake up at night screaming or crying after half your missions and why are you always still so paranoid and why am I still holding you together all those times you fall apart?"

Alex caught an uncomfortable-Wolf's eye and jerks his head towards the door, mouthing, Go. Wolf nodded, gave a grateful smile, and walked out without the fighting couple noticing.

"Jack, I know this job comes with problems, but it's not going to hurt the girls!"

"For how long? This isn't the first time I've lived with a spy, Ben. Hell, I've lived with spies for over half my life! And it doesn't stay away, no matter how hard you hide it. How long before your work follows you home without you asking? How long before we get attacked, or targeted, or kidnapped?"

Ben blinked and stared, as Jack kept going. "I was there when this job first broke Alex-"

"I'm standing right here," said spy muttered under his breath.

"-and I can't let that happen to the girls. And it already hurts me to see that happen to you. And the lying – all that lying. I never bought it from Ian, and it wasn't long before Alex didn't, either. I just watched the weird distrust grow between them, and I can't let that happen between us and the girls. I just…"

Alex frowned a little at that, but still kept quiet. As much as he was very frequently there to mediate between their arguments, some things just needed to be worked out between them.

"Your job…I'm going to lose you, one day. But I don't know what to do!"

Ben's hands were on Jack's shoulders, now, gripping them, but not tightly. "You don't need to do anything. It's my job to protect people, and that includes you, and the girls. I will never let you be hurt. Any of you. I will die before I let you get hurt."

Jack put her hand on his stab wound and said, "That's what I'm afraid of."

"You don't need to be afraid at all," he said. "I promise you that."

She stared at him, a hint of tears in her eyes. "But can you keep that promise?"

"I did."

Both of them turned to Alex, who then shut his mouth.

Ben turned back to Jack, who mirrored the movement a moment later. "See?"

She was sniffling a little, before launching into Ben, her face in his neck ands arms around his shoulders as she said, "God, I've missed you."

"Well," he said. "I'll be here for a while. Now that Mrs. Jones is in charge, it's a lot easier to negotiate better benefits."

"I think I may have had something to do with that," Alex said, deadpan. "After all, being almost assassinated by a disgruntled employee tends to make one reconsider the way you treat the people who work for you. Especially when you're the one handing them the gun."

All of them laughed, even though Jack was still crying.

"I still don't get how you two can handle this," Jack said. "All of this. The job. Going back to it, again and again."

"It's an addiction. And there's no rehab for it," Ben said.

Another dry laugh. "Figures. But…this job is going to kill you. I can't lose you both."

"You won't," Alex said. "We promised to take care of you."

"What he said," Ben said soothingly. "We promised. We promise."

Jack kept crying. Ben kept soothing.

Alex kept watching the whole thing, watching the couple take care of each other like that.

"So how'd it go?"

Alex raised an eyebrow at Wolf, who was actually sitting on the hood of Alex's car and waiting for him outside la casa de Daniels.

"Well, they're both still alive, and came out with no more injuries than when they went in," Alex said. "Other than, all the touchy feely stuff you'd hate."

As Alex swallowed in thought of their argument, he was thankful for the darkness as he unlocked the doors, unsurprised as Wolf slipped in beside him.

For a moment, Alex paused.

Your job…I'm going to lose you, one day.


I will die before I let you get hurt.

"It wasn't just a normal fight, was it?"

That's what I'm afraid of.

Alex took a deep breath.

"I wonder what it's like," he murmured. "To always have someone you can come home to, like that. Kids, a wife…"

Ben's much luckier than he can imagine.

"You can always come home to Jack."

"Yea…but…she's with Ben, now. Ultimately…just…to have someone worry that you're going to die. And know that in it, they're considering only you, at least for that moment – no one else."

Wolf frowned. "Okay, Cub – what happened?"

Alex sighed. "Too much to say while sober. I'll tell you when I'm plastered…"

"How plastered will you need to be?" Wolf asked.

"To a wall plastered."

Now it was Wolf's turn to sigh. "You know, you've got me."

Alex snorted. "Fine, I know, not what you meant, and not much anyway. I'm not good at this stuff, Cub."

"That's because you don't do false condolences," Alex said.

"I know. But it sounds like you could use them."

"Forget it," Alex said. "Just…just drop it. Switch on the radio."

As they neared a stoplight, Wolf switched on the radio to a random station, and sat back without bothering to try and change it right off the bat, knowing Alex would just alter it, anyway.

"…No, I don't wanna battle from beginning to end. I don't want a cycle of recycled revenge. I don't want to follow Death and all of his friends…"

Wolf coughed, as Alex glared at the radio.

"God hates me," Alex said bluntly. Because no, he didn't want to follow Death and all of his friends. He didn't want to have to live with the fear of someone he loved dying. And yet he didn't want to live with the fear of dying alone. Yet, he knew he would.

"I thought you didn't believe in God anymore," Wolf said, as he changed the channel yet again to some local news.

"I don't. That doesn't change the fact that he hates me."

Wolf shrugged. "Eh. Fuck it all. Beer is god, anyway. Let's go."

"You really want to stick with me through my…er, 'depressive funk', as Jack would put it?"

"Might as well. You still owe me a hand with cleaning out the gutters, so I have to stick around and make sure you don't off yourself. That, and you need to pay for the drinks."

Alex laughed as he started forward.

After all, it was all he had.

Teaser for the next installment:

Ten Years To Somewhere – Alex should've known that Jack's children would only get crazier as teenagers. But what on Earth would possess a teenage girl to ask him for love advice? He wasn't exactly an expert in that area. Or in it at all. Part 5 of my Jack Daniels series. (246)