THERE IS A SEASON: CHRISTMAS DAY BY DARCY & KALIMYRE


Slash: Story portraying the strong friendship between Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson
Rating: G
Category: AU, missing scene from "There Is a Season"
Season/Spoilers: None
Synopsis: Jack and Daniel celebrate their first Christmas together.
Warnings: Kid fic, smooshy, yadda yadda
Length: 31 Kb
Notes: The response to "There Is a Season" was both humbling and overwhelming. We'd like to dedicate this missing scene to everyone who waded through over 400 pages of the original fic and sent such incredible, encouraging feedback. It is truly inspiring.

 

"Wait for me, kiddo." Jack left everything in the truck and hurried around to the passenger side door to help Daniel out.

"I'm okay," Daniel huffed, waving him off, his actions belying his words as one shaky hand clutched his chest.

Jack unlocked the front door and held it open rather than waste time arguing with Daniel’s insistence on always being fine. He took a quick glance inside to make sure everything was in the order they'd left it. Nothing had changed. They'd barely been gone three days.

"Bed," Jack ordered as soon as Daniel was inside the door.

For once, Daniel was in full agreement as he sleepwalked down the hall. Jack turned him around to steer him towards the bathroom for a quick pit stop before continuing on to his room to flop down on his bed.

"Hold on, let's get you situated. Up." When Daniel obediently stood up and raised his hands Jack quickly pulled off his sweater, then his turtleneck, and with practiced efficiency slipped on his favorite sweatshirt.

"I can do it, Jack," Daniel sighed.

Despite the token protest, Daniel stood still and muffled a yawn as Jack quickly removed his jeans and settled him into his pajama bottoms before pulling down the blanket and sheet.

"All right, all set, dive in." Jack checked his watch, 2:00 pm. Daniel had taken a nebulizer treatment and his meds on the plane and should be good for at least a few more hours.

Daniel wasted no time complying, burrowing under the sheets, folding his hands under his head and pulling his knees clear up to his chin. If not for the raspy, wheezy sucking sounds rattling around in his chest, Jack would have described the pose as peacefully serene.

Closing his eyes for a few blissful moments, Jack collapsed in the chair he kept in Daniel's room for days like this one when he needed to keep a close watch on Daniel's breathing. When he was positive the boy was sound asleep he ruffled the blonde tuft of hair sticking out from under the covers and planted a gentle kiss before hurrying downstairs to get busy. He had a lot of work to do before the kid woke up, hopefully before midnight so it would still be Christmas Day but regardless, Jack had already determined Daniel would be celebrating Christmas no matter what the clock or the calendar read.

First, Jack went out to the truck and brought in the luggage. He took the time to unpack and separate the dirty clothes from the clean. Next, he delivered the still folded clean clothes to their appropriate rooms, taking the opportunity to check in on Daniel, who was sleeping heavily.

Shit, Rose! The thought struck him as he was tucking the blanket around Daniel's foot. He had better call her before she called him or there'd be hell to pay.

He quietly went back downstairs and dialed his mom.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Mom, it's me." He paused to gauge her reaction now that she had time to think about what had transpired between them.

"How's Daniel?" She sounded fine. Worried, but fine.

"He's already in bed napping. I think he'll be okay. Look, ma, I'm sorry..."

"No, don't, Jackie," she interrupted.

A lump instantly formed in his throat. She hadn't called him that since he was five.

"It's my fault for meddling where I don't belong. You have your own life to live and you're doing just fine. You and Daniel both."

"It's okay," he assured her. "Do you have somewhere to go for Christmas?" He guiltily realized she probably hadn't made any plans thinking she'd be spending the day and the week with him and Danny.

"Yes, honey. Don’t worry about me. Mabel next door invited me over for Christmas dinner. I'll be fine. You take care of that little boy, Jack. He's special."

"I know, ma. I will," he promised.

"Make sure to give Daniel his present from me."

"I will."

"And be sure to indulge him with some of those cookies I made special for him."

"Yep."

"Merry Christmas, Jack," she said cheerfully. "And there's a present for you too; I shoved it in your suitcase before you left."

"Okay, you didn't have to," he sighed.

"Love you, honey."

"I love you too, ma." He hung up the phone and wondered why they could talk so easily on the phone, hundreds of miles apart, but always seemed to argue when face to face.

He didn't have time to waste worrying about it. After removing the Christmas stockings and all the small gifts he had wrapped and packed away to give Daniel in Minnesota, he made his way down to the basement and dug around for the sled he had hidden there. It looked undisturbed so he figured Daniel hadn't discovered it. He was glad it would be a surprise, especially since Daniel had found sledding so enjoyable. He frowned at the crappy, ugly, little artificial tree stored down there from last year. Sam and Teal'c had given it to him but he’d never had the heart to set it up. Had he known they'd be home he would have taken Daniel out to cut down a proper tree but now that experience would have to wait until next year. This little wannabe Christmas tree would have to do; it was all he had.

It only took a few minutes to set up the tree and throw on the few ornaments he'd found. Jack took a step back to scrutinize his handiwork and wished he had some stray tinsel lying about. At least the thing had those fiber optic lights that he would normally hate, but in this case, were better than nothing. Then he ran upstairs to check on Daniel and sat down in the chair, taking a breather to watch him sleep. Despite Daniel's chest sounding like an old train whistle, he appeared calm and restful. Jack closed his eyes, amazed at how just a few days ago he'd been pacing the hospital floor on the verge of tearing his hair out. Asthma definitely took some getting used to but watching the small, beleaguered chest rise and fall, Jack knew he wouldn't trade the wheezy kid lying on the bed for anyone or anything in the world.


Downstairs, sitting in his favorite leather chair, Jack waited impatiently for Daniel to make an appearance. He had woken the exhausted boy up a few hours earlier to ply him with medicine but Daniel had fallen right back to sleep. It was going on 8:00 pm. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, the tree was as good as it was going to get, and the presents looked a bit worse for wear from having been jammed into his luggage, but all in all, not bad for an impromptu Christmas.

Aware he was probably on the brink of being labeled a sentimental old fool, Jack made no attempt to quell his unexpected enthusiasm. He couldn't help it; he wanted Daniel to share in all the excitement of the holidays that he remembered from his own childhood.

Jack had loved Christmas as a husband and father, too, but this Christmas was different enough to start new traditions. Charlie had been Christmas savvy after the age of seven or so, and although it had been a blast to shop for hockey sticks and ice skates and BMX bikes and computer games, this Christmas with Daniel was different enough to deaden some of the inevitable, painful memories. This Christmas was all about the little things...

Silly Putty, a Slinky, an Etch-A-Sketch, a Superball, and the big, honkin' box of crayons with the sharpener in the back... Jack had been determined to get Daniel all the favorites before the kid was too old to appreciate them. It had taken all of his willpower to resist Mr. Potato Head. The spud was far too babyish for a ten year old but it had been one of Jack's early favorites. Charlie's too... at four years old. So Jack had reluctantly put it back on the shelf and opted for the Monopoly game and the Tinker Toys instead. He sighed, wishing Daniel was young enough for Legos and Lincoln Logs and Playdough but knew their time had long passed. Even the Tinker Toys were pushing the envelope, but what the hell, Jack loved the classics.

He was so lost in thought the kid snuck up on him.

"Jack? What happened?" Daniel blinked and rubbed his eyes in confused excitement. "I think someone brought you presents!"

"You better get your glasses checked, kiddo. I think someone brought YOU presents." Jack picked up a small package and pretended to examine it closely. "Someone by the name of Santa Claus from the looks of it."

"Jaaack," Daniel drawled. "There's no such person as Santa Claus. The name Santa Claus is an anglicized form of the Dutch, Sinterklass. After the English took over New Amsterdam..."

"Ack!" Jack raised a finger. "Don't ruin this for me, okay?"

"Kay," Daniel agreed with a blush. He looked around in what seemed to be fuzzy disbelief, his jaw dropping at what Jack had considered a fairly small pile of gifts. Apparently, Daniel thought otherwise. He smiled at the crackling fire, gravitating toward it automatically, and then, "We have stockings, Jack!" The surprised, wide eyed, goofy, confused look, complete with raised eyebrows was reward enough for Jack's efforts and Daniel had yet to open a gift.

"Take it down and see what old St. Nick brought ya." Jack helped take the stocking down off the hook for Daniel's perusal.

"Chocolates, Jack! My favorites!"

"How about that. That St. Nick knows his stuff, huh?"

Daniel smiled indulgently. "What did you get, Jack?"

"Let's see here." Jack made a show of emptying out his stocking. "Peanuts, gummy fish and... well, looky here, that new aero dynamic pen I've been wanting to try out. What else you got?"

"I don't know. What's this?" Daniel's excitement level rose as he pulled out an odd shaped instrument.

"That, my friend, is a kazoo."

Daniel frowned. "I don't know how to play a kazoo, Jack."

"No one knows how to play a kazoo, Danny. It's just to make noise. Go ahead. Try it."

"Oh." A big smile lit up the small face as Daniel blew into the kazoo for all he was worth which wasn't much given the current state of his chest. Still, the kazoo gave a shrill whistle while Daniel coughed a bit from the effort. "Wow, it does make a lot of noise, doesn't it, Jack?"

'"Yep. You better save it for when you're feeling better. Go ahead and open up some of the gifts or we'll be here all night."

The sight of the small tree, and modest number of gifts beneath it caused Daniel's face to shine brighter than the fiber optics. He shyly picked up the smallest package in the pile and took his time, carefully pulling open the wrapping paper to reveal a blue and red plastic egg. He slowly opened the egg and removed the putty with a puzzled look. "What do you do with it Jack? Hang pictures?"

"Hang pictures? Heck, no, you don't hang pictures with it. It's Silly Putty. Grab that newspaper there and I'll show you what you can do with it." When Daniel handed him the paper Jack flattened out the putty and pressed it to the newsprint to transfer the words. "Pretty cool, huh?"

"Why do you need to transfer the words?" Daniel wrinkled his nose and tilted his head in confusion.

"No reason. Just for fun," Jack patiently explained. "Wait til you try it out on the comics."

"Try another one," Jack ordered enthusiastically. "And not so slow. Just dig in and rip it right open."

Taking Jack's advice, Daniel tore open the next package with more abandon and less care. He ripped off the cardboard and removed the jiggling, floppy spirals and held it up for Jack's inspection with a perplexed frown. "What is it, Jack?"

"It's a slinky." Jack took the toy from a baffled Daniel and proceeded to move the slinky from hand to hand to produce the desired effect. "See," Jack said proudly.

"What's it for?" Daniel asked, pushing his glasses up his nose in confusion.

"It doesn't have a purpose, it's a Slinky. Just try it." Jack handed it over and chuckled as Daniel tried to get the rhythm of the silly toy.

"I'm doing it! Look, Jack, it's working!"

"You're a natural," Jack encouraged. "Watch this, it can even go down the stairs." Jack took the Slinky, and sure enough, to Daniel's delight, the thing went down three or four stairs before collapsing. "Pretty cool, huh?"

Daniel nodded enthusiastically before moving on to the other gifts.

"Here's one from... grandma!"

The box was rectangular in shape and not very heavy. Jack had no idea what was in it. "I have one from Rose too, we might as well open them together. I'll race you. One, two three, go!"

The rare sound of Daniel's laughter warmed Jack to his toes until the chuckling turned into light coughing then wheezing. Jack slowed down his unwrapping to let Daniel catch his breath and catch up.

"It's an, an airplane." Daniel held up the box while Jack finished unwrapping. "Yours is an airplane too, Jack!"

An F-15C Eagle USAF to be exact. Building models was a hobby Jack had loved as a boy and continued enjoying into adulthood. Working on models was one of his favorite memories of time spent with his dad and he had carried on the tradition with Charlie. Another pleasure he had given it up after his son's death. It hurt too much. Damned Rose.

"Can you teach me how to make the plane, Jack?" Daniel asked hopefully.

"Sure," Jack breathed out, wondering if he'd ever have the heart.

"’Kay," Daniel sighed happily. "I'll call Rose and thank her."

"Tomorrow, Danny. We'll call her tomorrow. Speaking of Rose, how about we break into the cookies she made for you."

Daniel nodded eagerly and retrieved the tin of special cookies Rose had baked just for him. He opened the tin and handed one to Jack, munching on one himself. They both chewed blissfully.

"Do you like them, Jack?"

"Oh, yeah. Peanut butter with chocolate chips... good call."

"Do you like them as much as the oatmeal raisin?" Daniel flashed a bright, eager, irresistible smile.

"I do. I think I'm going to have two favorites from now on."

They nibbled at cookies in between the rest of the presents, and Jack plied Daniel with milk, mixing in a little Hershey’s. It wasn’t exactly a healthy meal, but he figured if a kid couldn’t have cookies and chocolate milk for dinner on Christmas, then when could he?

“Jack, Jack! This one is from Sam and Teal’c, see?” Daniel was holding up a golden-wrapped present, waving it.

“I see it, buddy,” Jack said, grinning. “I got one from them, too.” Carter had gotten him an adapter for his telescope that added another, far stronger level of magnification, and a CD with coordinates, description, and a how-to-find manual for every planet they had a gate address for that was visible from Earth. Her card had said this way, he could always keep an eye on them, wherever they were. Teal’c had gotten him an exquisite fishing pole, the exact thing he had mentioned wanting during their single, unfortunate fishing trip together. Jack was absurdly touched that Teal’c had remembered.

Daniel frowned at the box, turning it side to side and listening to the faint rustle from within. He peered at the shiny red label with his name on it. “Jack?”

“Hmm?” Jack was playing with the Tinker Toys, and something vaguely boat-shaped was emerging.

“I think this is a mistake.”

Jack looked up, startled. “What? What are you talking about?”

“Sam and Teal’c are your friends,” Daniel said. “This is probably for you. Why would they get something for me?”

Jack opened his mouth, then bit back his first, frustrated response. “Daniel. Sit by me a minute, okay?”

Daniel sat obediently, snagging another cookie from the box on the table. Jack slipped an arm around his shoulders and gathered him in, pleased at the easy way Daniel leaned on him. “They’re your friends too,” he said. “I’m sure they wanted to give you that gift.”

Daniel tilted his head to one side, considering. “Because you’re their boss? Does that mean they have to?”

“No,” Jack sighed. “You talked to them at Thanksgiving, didn’t you? Remember how Teal’c told you all those stories about Egyptian stuff?”

Daniel nodded eagerly, grinning. “Yeah, that was great! He’s amazingly well versed in the ancient Egyptian gods and the hierarchy of rule. Also, he knew so much about the language! His pronunciation was a little weird, though; but I didn’t say anything. He seemed so sure.” Daniel gave him a conspirator’s smile. “I thought it would be mean to say he got it wrong.”

“Hmm,” Jack said, trying not to laugh. “How kind of you. But see, you two hit it off. He liked you, Daniel, and Teal’c doesn’t like just anybody. Man’s got standards.”

“Really? I thought he was just being polite.”

Jack tried to fit “Teal’c” and “polite” into the same space in his head. It didn’t go well. “No,” he said, “that wasn’t it. And Carter liked you too, you know.”

Daniel shrugged. “She likes everyone. She’s just really nice.”

“Not always,” Jack countered. “I’ve seen her when she gets mad, Danny, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. She’s scarier than Teal’c when she wants to be.”

Daniel gave him a very dubious look, but nodded agreeably. “Okay. But I didn’t understand most of her math stuff.”

“Nobody does. That’s okay, she’s used to it. The important part is that you listened, and didn’t fall asleep after five minutes.”

“Ja-ack,” Daniel groaned, rolling his eyes. “Nobody actually falls asleep, do they? That would be rude.”

Jack shrugged and didn’t answer. It had only been the one time, and to be fair, the General had looked pretty dazed, too. Carter had been very understanding. Sort of. She’d told Fraiser, who would probably make sly references to his energy and stamina until the end of time, but she’d taken no further revenge. Jack thought telling Fraiser was plenty, anyway.

“My point is they like you. Believe it or not, you happen to be a very likeable kid.” Jack poked Daniel in the belly for emphasis, making him curl and grin.

“Well... okay,” Daniel said, but his reluctance was fleeting, and he pounced on the beribboned package with all the glee of any kid in the world. Once he had the wrapping off, he bounced on his heels and held up the box. “It’s the pyramids at Giza! Look, it’s 3-D and you can build it up and it even has texture like the stones and look, look, there’s two boxes, Jack! The Sphinx too! Can we build them?”

“Sure,” Jack said, chuckling. “Sure we can. First thing in the morning, okay?” Because he knew Daniel would be reluctant to stop once he got started, and it was getting late for a certain recovering little boy.

“Okay,” Daniel said cheerfully, setting the boxes aside in a clear space. “Hey, look! I got a present from Doctor Fraiser, too!” He tilted the package, listening suspiciously. “It’s not more medicine, is it?”

Jack smiled and shook his head. “No, I’m pretty sure it isn’t. Why don’t you unwrap it and find out?”

Daniel nodded and fell to it without further protest, tossing the shreds of wrapping paper onto the growing pile. “Oh, wow,” he murmured in tones of clear awe when he saw what was inside.

“Something good?” Jack asked, peering over his shoulder. Daniel was holding a large, hardcover book to his chest, thumbs running over the worn binding. He took a deep, if somewhat wheezy breath, inhaling the scent of the old paper. Jack shook his head. Daniel had to be the only kid he knew who got excited about receiving an old book for Christmas.

“It’s Les Miserables, in the original French,” Daniel said. He opened the cover, turning the pages carefully, fingering the edges. “Not a first edition—well, of course not, that would cost thousands, but still. It’s in excellent condition for its age.”

“Do you read French?”

Daniel gave him a look that suggested he’d just said something silly. “Of course. It’s an important language, Jack. Doctor Fraiser was teaching me some great Cajun dialect at my last check-up. She’s very fluent, you know.”

“Of course,” Jack echoed. He’d known no such thing, but it was interesting. Cajun? So the Doc was from Louisiana, or thereabouts. He’d always wondered where she got her faint southern drawl.

Daniel set the book carefully on top of the puzzles, running his fingers down the cover again, stroking the soft leather. The book was soon joined by a homemade solar calendar from Dudley, all cardboard and construction paper and meticulously drawn out little notations. Daniel handled it with the same reverence he’d shown the undoubtedly expensive book. There was a box of fine chocolates from General Hammond (and an equally fine bottle of scotch for Jack), and, half-hidden in shreds of wrapping paper, one small box from Cassie.

“Huh,” Daniel said, sounding a bit surprised as he lifted one corner of the wrapping.

“Whatcha got?”

Daniel had an odd, bemused smile on his face as he uncovered his gift from Cassie—a box of tissues. His smile got wider, and he shook his head a little, reading her words scrawled on the side: So you don’t have to borrow mine.

Jack frowned, confused. “What does that mean?”

“It’s...” Daniel shrugged, and then laughed softly, spreading his hands. “It’s hard to explain.”

“Huh. Had to be there, I guess.” Jack was still puzzled, but Daniel seemed happy with the gift, so he let it go.

“Yeah.” Daniel was still smiling as he set the box of tissues with his other treasures. “Okay,” he said, dusting his hands together briskly. “That has to be all of them, right? There’s so many.”

“Well,” Jack began slyly, “I think there might be one more.”

“Really?” Daniel looked around eagerly. “Where?”

“It’s down in the basement. Aht!” Jack added, holding up a hand when Daniel immediately turned toward the stairs. “Let me get it.”

“I’ll go with you,” Daniel said, bouncing on his toes again. His color was high, his eyes bright, but his breathing was still rough and Jack was pretty sure the seeming vigor was a result of too much sugar. The stairs were steep and the basement cold and clammy, not to mention full of dust.

“Wait here,” Jack said firmly.

Daniel looked ready to protest, but he sighed and conceded, sinking back into the couch and picking up the puzzles again. He didn’t open them, just looked at the pictures of Giza on the front and grinned, tracing the edges with his fingertips.

Jack dug the sled out and hauled it up the stairs, sneezing at the dust raised by displaced junk. He sighed in relief as his bare, and now freezing feet touched the warm carpet again. He stood with the sled propped against his hip and waited for Daniel to shake his enchantment with the pictures and notice him.

“Oh,” Daniel said softly when he looked up. “That’s for later, isn’t it?”

Jack nodded, patting the sleek wood. “As soon as you’re feeling better. I know a great hill nearby that you’re gonna love.”

“Okay. Thank you, Jack!” Daniel gave him a wide smile before succumbing to a yawn. He rubbed his eyes and picked up another cookie, considering it for a moment before wrinkling his nose and putting it back down. “I think I’ve had enough cookies,” he announced.

“Perish the thought,” Jack replied, but he closed the cookie box anyway, grabbing one last small one for himself. Those peanut butter and chocolate chip ones really were good.

“Maybe we could do the Sphinx puzzle tonight?” Daniel asked, eyeing it hopefully. “It’s not that big, and I’m really not tired.”

“Uh-huh.” Jack tried not to sound openly skeptical, but it was hard when Daniel couldn’t seem to go five minutes without yawning. "Not tonight. It's getting a little late for that."

"Okay," Daniel agreed, picking up his new Superball with intent.

"Don't even think about bouncing that ball in the house," Jack said in an effort to cut off any ideas.

Daniel looked up, confused.

"What?" Jack asked. "Superballs are very hard and... bouncy, it might break something. That's why it's called super."

"Why would you give a kid a bouncy ball in the winter and tell him not to bounce it?" Daniel asked logically. "There's no place to try it out."

"One bounce," Jack relented. The kid had an excellent point.

Daniel threw the rubberized ball down on the hardwood floor and watched in startled awe as it shot around the living room, narrowly missing lamps and pictures.

"Wow, Jack!"

"Yeah, wow," Jack laughed. "Does that answer your question about why we shouldn't bounce it in the house?"

Daniel nodded, eyes sparkling.

"Hey, I found this in your suitcase." Jack held up the clumsily wrapped gift with "JACK" scrawled in Daniel's writing on the paper. "Is it for me?"

Daniel blushed and bowed his head.

"What's the matter?"

"C'mere," Jack said when Daniel didn't answer. Daniel wasted no time plopping down on the couch beside him.

"What's all this about?" Jack asked as he absently ran his hand threw the blond hair.

"You got me all these presents, Jack, and I only got you one dumb thing."

"Well, it's obvious you don't know very much about Christmas, Danny," Jack said gently, still combing his fingers through the already mussed hair.

Daniel looked up expectantly.

"If you did, you'd know that Christmas is for kids. So, you see, you didn't need to get me anything at all. With this one gift, you're actually ahead of the game. And, I’m sure it's not dumb."

"Really, Jack?"

"Yes, really. Have I ever steered ya wrong?"

"Nope," Daniel replied, perking up considerably.

"So, do I get to open my one, totally unnecessary, unexpected gift?"

Daniel nodded vigorously while Jack opened with gusto.

The torn paper revealed a navy blue coffee mug covered with stars and a half moon. "Nice!" Jack said appreciatively.

"It's not exactly like the one I broke but I couldn't find one like that but this one is sort of like it except it's a mug. It's for coffee, Jack. You like coffee, and look, it has stars on it." Daniel talked very fast gesturing as he spoke.

"The one you broke..." Jack thought hard about what Daniel had broken recently.

"Remember, Jack? When I first came to live with you. I promised I wouldn't break anything but I did." He paused, slowing down to catch his breath and get a grip on the wheezing that was setting in. "By accident," he finally added.

"Oh, Danny, did anyone ever tell you that you worry too much?"

"Just you." Daniel scrunched his eyes and shrugged. "Do you like it, Jack?"

"Of course, I like it." Jack pulled the little body closer and kissed Daniel's forehead. "You didn’t have to though. I forgot all about that silly glass."

Daniel smiled and then tried to yawn but it turned into another coughing jag that set Jack in motion.

"Thank you, Daniel. I'll use this mug for tomorrow morning's coffee. And that's enough Christmas for tonight, buddy. Time to get you to bed."

Nodding sleepily, Daniel headed for the bathroom while Jack grabbed the prescribed asthma medications and set up the nebulizer. When Daniel came back, he climbed into bed and sat up against the headboard and put the mask over of his face to breathe in the mist. When the treatment ended he did sound slightly better.

Jack set a glass of water within Daniel's reach. "Good night, buddy. Merry Christmas." He tucked Daniel in and kissed his cheek.

"Jack?” The hoarse voice rasped out before Jack had a chance to turn out the light. "We opened all the presents, maybe we should have saved some. What will we do tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow we play with all of them, silly. Actually..." Jack leaned in to whisper, "no one knows we're home. We can play with the toys and games all day long and no one will bug us."

"Just me and you!" Daniel agreed happily. "We can start my puzzle. And play Monopoly and I can practice my Slinky!" He paused to take a deep, theatrical breath. “And I think my breathing is much better already. I bet we can go sledding, too.”

“Hmm,” Jack said. “We’ll see.”

“That means no,” Daniel sighed.

“No, it means we’ll see.” Jack offered an apologetic smile. “But you’re probably right. It’s gonna be snowy out there for a long time, buddy. I promise we’ll go sledding before the snow melts, okay?”

“Okay,” Daniel agreed reluctantly. “Can we go outside just for a couple minutes, to see Dudley’s solar calendar work?”

“Well...”

“Please?”

“Okay,” Jack conceded. “Just for a couple minutes. And only if the sun is out.”

“Yes!” Daniel considered for a moment. “Can we have cookies for breakfast, too?”

“No, but you can have one with breakfast, how’s that?”

“Okay,” Daniel agreed sleepily. His eyes slipped shut, then opened again as another idea struck. “Can you show me how that fishing pole works?”

Jack raised his eyebrows, surprised. “You like fishing?”

“Sure. Lots of people live on fishing, you know. In Egypt...” Daniel interrupted himself with another yawn.

“Hold that thought, and tell me tomorrow,” Jack said.

Daniel nodded and curled deeper into the covers. “I want to do the puzzle first, though,” he murmured.

"Yep, whatever you want, just me and you, kiddo." This time Jack did switch off the bedside lamp.

"Jack," Daniel whispered. "It's the best Christmas ever. I'm always going to remember it. Forever," he mumbled sleepily. "Even when I'm big."

"They'll be lots of Christmases, Danny," Jack promised firmly.

"Even if there's not, I'll always have this one to remember," Daniel said quietly. "Goodnight, Jack."

Unsure of what to say to that, Jack decided on a simple, "Goodnight, Danny."

Jack went downstairs and cleaned up the cookie crumbs and errant wrapping paper and then stacked Daniel's new toys and games under the shabby tree. When the house was to his liking, he grabbed a beer and sat down on the sofa to ponder the changes in his life. It was the first Christmas since his son's death he had celebrated sober. After Charlie died he had vowed never again to acknowledge any holidays, much less enjoy them. That first Christmas he worked for five straight days, ignoring Christmas as if it didn't exist, and to his shame, leaving Sarah to fend for herself. The next year he drank himself into oblivion.

This was the first Christmas he wasn't working and he wasn't drinking, incredibly, he was having fun with Daniel Jackson.

Jack wiped away a few unexpected tears on his sleeve as he thought of Charlie and of how life moves on whether you want it to or not.

It was better not to dwell.

He set the beer aside and went upstairs to sit at Daniel's bedside and take comfort in the rusty breathing of an orphaned ten year old.

FINIS

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  Copyright
Biblio, PhoenixE, babs, Brionhet, Darcy, Devra, Fabrisse, JoaG, Kalimyre, Marcia, Rowan and Sideburns, 2001-2008.
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