(Warnings and Disclaimers in Chapter one. Chapter dedication: For Spacey who reminded me that I was going to write this part. On a good note, I finally have the full plot outline revisioned finished *does happy dance* So, the rest of the chapters should be coming out one every couple of days now. Thanks again to Jason for being a sounding board for me, and to all the readers and reviewers of this story.)
Dawn leaned forward on the railing of the back porch, watching as the sun dipped behind Pikes Peak. The radiant colors stretching across the entire sky, from yellows and reds, to deepening indigo blues off in the east. Snow dotted the high peaks, reflecting the dying rays of light back into the sky. The aspen trees shivered in a breeze filled with the scents of spruce and cedar. Their golden leaves of late fall dancing in the dusky twilight. In all her memories, real or magical, the young brunette could never have imagined such a beautiful and peaceful place. It helped to push back the worries surrounding her young life.
She felt a nudge against her shoulder, “Hey.”
“Hey,” she replied in melancholy tones looking up into the dark chocolate eyes of the older man.
He inhaled deeply through his nose and glanced out over the view behind his house, “Wanna talk about anything kido?”
“What’s there to talk about? My life sucks. Each time it seems to get better…” She left the statement hanging.
“Yeah, well, I wish I could tell you some big inspirational crap, but until recently I haven’t had much practice in the fatherly advice department.”
Dawn chuckled softly. Jack was so unlike any other person she had ever known. He didn’t try to sugar coat the truth when it needed to be told. Sure, he would make jokes and sarcastic jibes about almost anything you could throw at him, but for all that, he treated her like a person.
“All I can say is… things happen in life. Sometimes all you can do is buckle down and try to deal with it.”
“Yeah, I guess so, but things always just seem so weird in my life.” She admitted to him.
“Let me tell ya, things just get weirder as you get older too.”
Standing up straighter, Dawn thought about that a moment, “Naw, I don’t think mine can get much weirder.”
Jack turned to look at her with a raised eyebrow, “Bet I could top you in the weirdness factor?” He challenged.
“Uh huh, not,” Dawn replied with a roll of her eyes. “You’ve never been a mystical ball of energy.”
“You sure about that?”
She watched him skeptically out of the corner of her eye, “You’re kidding, right?”
“Well, yeah,” He admitted. “That was Daniel…seriously! Ask him sometime.”
“What about having some crazy god try to kill you just to open a portal?”
He grinned, “I know you were paying some attention in that briefing, you really want me to start listing names?” Jack chuckled when she stuck out her tongue at him. “Ever been cloned?”
“Yep, three times,” He paused, “Ok, so one was actually a, ahem, robot.” He watched as her eyebrows shot up into her hairline before she started laughing.
After a few moments Jack looked at her seriously, “Dawnie, you do realize that…”
“Yeah, I know, can’t say anything to anybody about this stuff, right?” She finished for him and he gave her a tight-lipped smile and nod. “Can I ask you something?”
“Well, since I was this whole key thing, and even though there’s memories of a life before it and all… Even with the memories, I haven’t seen my dad in ages, I guess I don’t really know him…”
Jack held his breath, from what Joyce had told him of Hank Summers, if it were his choice, he’d keep Dawn far away from that sleaze ball. However, if she ever really wanted to do see him, Jack wouldn’t stop her.
His thoughts were interrupted as Dawn continued, “So, anyway, can I call you dad? Instead of Jack?”
O’Neill’s jaw dropped, he was completely stunned by her question it took him a minute to respond, “Wow… uh…”
Dawn suddenly looked nervous as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other, “I…I’m sorry, I guess I kinda overstepped or something…
“No, Dawn, you didn’t, I just… wow,” He took a breath to compose himself, then broke into a wide grin, “I’d be honored.” Never in a million years had Jack imagined ever having another kid calling him ‘dad’.
Dawn broke into a smile of her own and wrapped her arms around Jack’s waist, “Thanks… Dad”
They stood for a moment reveling in the newly found solidarity between them.
“So, if mom decides to move back to Sunnyhell, will you come kidnap me back? I don’t want to leave here.”
“It’d have to be a package deal, I would kidnap your ma too.”
“Yeah sure ya betcha.”