I don't own it. Any of it. *Little Tear...*
Most girls receive gifts like clothes, expensive make up, perhaps jewelry, books or movies or music if they are thus inclined, even gift certificates for the local salon for their sixteenth birthday.
Dawn got a few of these.
But she also got a barking box.
“Oh gosh,” she deadpanned at Jack, “it’s just what I always wanted. A barking box for my very own.”
“Oh fer cryin’ – just open it already.”
Dawn gave him a sunny smile and peeked under the lid of the box. The box let out another volley of delighted yips and Dawn responded with a shriek of ear-splitting joy and threw off the lid. The box continued to bark, and then suddenly ceased as the little Labrador puppy inside that was doing the barking was swept up into the girl’s arms and showered with kisses.
“You’re so cute
!” she cried.
Jack made a show of checking he could still hear with his left ear.
Sam, who was sitting on Dawn’s other side grinned and reached other to pet the puppy, who happily included her with manic doggy-kisses.
“He really is quite adorable,” the major said. “What’ll you call him, Dawn?”
The newly minted sixteen-year-old tore herself away from her wriggly companion and said, without hesitation, “Xander.”
Her dad gave her a skeptical look.
“Yeah, like, short for Alexander. But without the Alex.”
“Oh!” Daniel enthused, pushing his glasses up his nose. “After the Library?”
This was not an unreasonable assumption. Dawn had something of an aptitude for languages, especially the ancient and dead ones (old and decrepit
, Jack was fond of interjecting) that Daniel specialized in. She enjoyed the history that corresponded with each language, and had once been reprimanded in math class for hiding a book on Ancient Mesopotamia behind her text book.
It was fully expected that at some point Dawn would follow in her surrogate uncle’s illustrious footsteps, except, it was hoped, without the academic humiliation and subsequent disappearance off the face of the earth.
Dawn shrugged a bit.
“Kinda, but I just like the name. And Alexander’s a bit long for such a tiny little sweetie-kins.” She trailed off and began talking to the puppy. “Isn’t it, cutie-poo, it’s a big name for a little guy like you, ‘cos you’re only a bubba and just so scrum-diddly-uptious!”
“Oh, that’s frightening,” Jack said, leaning hastily away from the table.
Teal’c had been watching the entire spectacle with an indulgent look on his oh-so-solemn face.
“Would you like me to aid you in the charring of the meat, O’Neill?” he inquired, oh-so-very
“We’re barbecuing steak, T,” Jack corrected.
“Whatever you say, O’Neill.”
Daniel cleared his throat and pretended to peruse one of the books he’d given Dawn, while Sam snickered into her lemonade.
From the front of the house came a familiar call of, “We’re here!” and Janet and Cassie Fraiser appeared with armfuls of presents and food.
“Omigosh, Cass!” Dawn cried, leaping down off the deck, Xander still clasped securely in her arms. “You guys are here! I thought you weren’t getting back 'til tomorrow.”
“Gran and Granddad heard it was you’re birthday and kinda kicked us out early to come and see you,” Cassie said, grinning and awkwardly giving Dawn a one-armed hug around something squashy and pink-wrapped.
Mr. and Mrs. Fraiser (Janet had taken back her maiden name after the divorce) had taken their daughter’s news that they had suddenly acquired a granddaughter in perfect stride and doted on Cassie. She always arrived back from her stays with them loaded to the hilt with presents. They had even sent one for Dawn this time, to go along with the ones from Cassie and Janet.
The two girls now managed to get back up to the deck and compare notes on gifts. There was plenty to consider. This was Dawn’s third birthday party. She had had the first the day before with her mom, stepfather and half sister, and gone out that night for a movie with the rest of her school friends. All this aside, it was decided unanimously that Xander was the best of the whole kit and caboodle.
The pup himself was eight weeks old, a little bigger than a full grown Jack Russell and far cuddlier. He was a black lab, with the smallest traces of retriever in him, giving his glossy coat a faint shagginess around his ears, chest and tail. Combined with the melting dark eyes that had only recently become brown, a happy-go-lucky attitude and the inevitable puppy-clumsiness, he was the most lethally cute canine Dawn had ever come across.
Luckily, Dawn’s birthday fell close to the beginning of the summer holidays, so she would be home with him until he was big enough to stay at home by himself while she was at school and Jack up at the mountain.
Watching the girls play with Xander, Jack thought briefly and not a little mournfully, that if it had just been him, no Dawn, he never would have had the opportunity for canine companionship. It was quite a blow, the thought of not having a daughter or a dog.
He also thought very briefly of the not having wife part. But Sara had moved on, was remarried now, and her little girl Charlotte would be one soon.
Jack wondered, had he moved on too? Then he caught a flash of sunny hair as Sam went to join the girls on the lawn. He smiled a small, secret smile and went back to charring the meat.
“So,” Jack asked that evening. “Good birthday?”
The two of them were slumped on the living room’s big leather couch, Dawn half lying back with her feet in her father’s lap and Xander curled into her side, Jack slumped with a Guinness in hand and a pleased expression on his face.
Dawn pondered. It had been one of her better birthdays, she thought. She had seen all her family, all her friends, gotten another small furry one and now…
Now in some ways, they were free of Charlie’s death. For so long, Dawn’s birthday had meant the Twin’s birthday with only one twin. The absence of her other half had ruined so many days that should have been special. Days that should have been some of her happiest.
There would always be an element of sadness, but things were better now, they were moving on, growing up.
Dawn grinned at her dad from the other end of the couch. “Best
,” she said, gently prodding his side with one big toe.AN: