"Jack! Jack! There's this guy here." Daniel's voice is rushed and breathless and I feel my gut clench for the split second it takes me to sort out that his tone is the same one he gets when he sees something kewl and I have to grab the back of his collar to keep him from rushing over to it. "He looks just like you." There's a pause. "Well. Just like you with a mullet. Anyway. He says his name is MacGyver and. . . ."
"Fuck." I can't help swearing. "His name is Angus. Tell him I'll be right up."
The phone makes knocking noises and Daniel says something. Something that starts with the triumphant sing-song of a child saying "An-nnngus?"
"It's MacGyver!" Someone yells as the phone clatters. "Heya Jerk!" Comes the voice so like my own.
"Hi Angus. Didn't know you were in town."
"Hadn't planned on being here very long. Aunt Kate said nobody ever knows when you're in town and when you're away. What's with letting a child into the bowels of a military base?"
"I'm in town more often now that I've got, as you refer to him 'a child' and anyway you're a civilian contractor. It's none of your beeswax."
"He's a little kid! He shouldn't be. . .
"I am NOT A LITTLE KID." That I hear quite clearly, along with a harrumph.
"You wanna piss him off, fine. Go for it. Just make sure SAC knows YOU did it."
A pause. I can just imagine Angus and Daniel glaring at one another. "He's yours?" Angus asks finally. "He acts just like you, by the way."
I can hear the protestations, in a general way, over the phone. "I'm his guardian. Parents are dead, and if you want to know more, you're gonna have to join up."
"What are you doing here? A little kid shouldn't. . ." Mr. Broken Record begins again.
"Angus, I'm only telling you this because Mom will hire people to wax my legs in the middle of night if I don't: do not piss the kid off. It took me, General Hammond, General Wilson, and a translator with intestinal flu to convince him to go up there, even for a few hours, to transcribe something."
There's a pause. "Transcribe?"
"Transcribe. As in foreign conversation." For once, I can tell the truth about something. "Now leave the kid alone."
This seems to pass Angus's muster, in a weird sort of way. "What's he speak that nobody else around here does?"
"Euskara. Spanish Basque."
"I know what Euskara is." He replies offended. "And there aren't any speakers of Euskara at the Presidio or somewhere?"
"The only other decent speaker of Basque is out at Fort Hootchie-Cootchie, but he can't spell worth shit in either language. That's why he's NOT a translator."
There's a long pause.
"I'm coming up, anyway. You can rail at me about allowing children into a military facility later. We'll go grab supper after work. I promised Daniel we'd eat at his favorite Italian place. You like Italian." That settled, I hang up. Daniel and Angus can duke it out. I'm fairly certain my kid will win.
Daniel is sitting on his knees, staring at a computer screen when I come up. He's got a pencil in his mouth. I swear, until he gets all his teeth in he's a menace to inanimate objects. If I didn't think he'd do something vile to my glove box, I'd buy him a chew toy from Petsmart.
"Hey." He mumbles, typing. "Angus said his name is MacGyver. That's your mom's maiden name, right?"
"He's my first cousin, but he told you that, right?"
The eyes leave the screen briefly. I get a nod. "He's a dork."
This earns a snort from me. "Angus is what happens when a bomb guy with an A-type personality tries to live in Southern California."
"Yeah. He started out that way anyway."
Daniel snickers. "'But they're cousins. Identical Cousins and you'll find. . .'" He sings off key.
"We are NOT identical."
"Close enough. If I call you Jerk, will I get a smack?"
I roll my eyes heavenward.
Daniel takes this as a yes. "He said he works for the Phoenix Foundation. Aren't they the Special Forces' answer to PETA or something?"
"I wouldn't tell Angus that." I finally manage when I get my laughter under control.
"He's got a thing about orphans." Daniel observes, pulling out a pair of headphones. "I can use that."
I think about telling him not to be so manipulative as I go find Angus.
"Angus!" "Jerk!" We do the guy-hug, hit-each-other-on-the-back-thing for a second. Angus doesn't have quite the mullet he used to. It's almost, but not quite non-existent. He still looks entirely too pretty to be straight, but that's neither here nor there. He's coloring his hair to hide the gray.
He's appraising me in the same manner. "Gray huh?"
"I EARNED every last one of these gray hairs."
"Yeah. The kid looks like a handful." Angus observes.
"You don't know the half of it."
"So how did you . . . Aunt Kate didn't mention a. . ."
"His dad was my best friend." I tell him. If he hangs around the Mountain long enough, he can get what the gossip mill has decided is the truth about Daniel's origins. "It's a long story and you don't have clearance to hear it. He's mine now." I'm not sure I meant those words to come out so strongly worded, but there they are. "So what are you doing up here?"
"Well . . . I could tell you but I'd have to. . ."
"His group is looking into how the plans for some of our new sniffers for security intake got into the hands of a contractor in Malaysia ." Major Whittaker comes into the conversation. "Good to see you, Colonel." We exchange salutes.
"Malaysia?" I echo.
Whittaker shrugs. "Go figure."
Angus looks annoyed that his top-secret mission is being bandied about like the last episode of Desperate Housewives.
"I'm done. I think." Daniel wanders in, badge in his mouth. He grins at Angus. "Did you grow up in Minnesota with Jack?"
"Take that badge out of your mouth. Yes, we both grew up in Minnesota, but no, not in the same town." I tell him with a flush of something like parental affection and exasperation.
"So he's going back to school now, right?" Angus asks.
Daniel favors him with the kind of look kids reserve for total idiots and clueless adults. "School's out at 3." He informs Angus superiorly. "And anyway, I don't go to school."
"Daniel is . . . there are . . . issues." I say lamely.
"Security issues." Major Whittaker adds. He's only heard the rumor mill version of Daniel, which is good. He'll probably spin out the whole sob story that the Mountain community has decided is God's honest truth about Daniel's background as soon as I'm gone.
Daniel sniffs. "I'm a civilian contractor, just like my dad was." He tells Angus, going for the cute thing.
"Oh?" "Mhm. I know . . . I know a BUNCH of languages." He says, after a deliberate pause.
"Daniel, what do they speak in Malaysia?" I ask.
He gives me a Look. "They speak Malay mostly. I don't speak THAT." He thinks a second. "There's a bunch of indigenous languages too. Oh. There are Burmese speakers. I don't speak that yet, but I am learning Mandarin. Why?"
"Oh, Angus here is investigating some plans that turned up in Malaysia."
"Yeah. Probably a bleed over from Indonesia."
"That would make sense, wouldn't it?" Daniel pauses to look at Angus. "Are you coming over this evening or do you have to fly to Malaysia?"
"I'm coming over." Angus says, now mildly irritated that the kid is involved.
"We're still getting Italian, don't worry about it."
Daniel glances at me; he wasn't worried about it. "Okay. I'm going to the daycare until then."
"Yeah. Cheyenne Mountain has a daycare." Daniel informs him.
"Meet you at the main checkpoint at 5?" I ask Angus.
"You can have him a little earlier if you'd like, Colonel." The Major toadies.
"All right." I look at Daniel. "Time? Place?"
"4." Daniel echoes. "Main checkpoint."
"I'll call the daycare." I sigh. I know better than to expect him to remember such an extremely complicated command for an entire hour.
Angus is there as Daniel and I approach the main checkpoint from opposite directions. Angus has this sympathetic; pity-the-kid look on his face that's a sure sign Whittaker gave him the full, angst-ridden story. I heave a sigh, roll my eyes.
"Hi." Daniel smiles shyly. Licks his lips, looks like he's trying to think of something of interest to say. "I'm getting a medal."
"Your dad's getting a medal." I interrupt, knowing exactly where this is headed--with Angus having a lighter pocketbook and Daniel getting lots of new shit--unfortunately it's Angus, so I'm not helping the intended victim, I'm helping Daniel.
"He would be getting a medal. If he were alive." Daniel informs me solemnly.
"Which medal?" Angus interrupts on cue.
"The Congressional Gold Medal. He already got a Presidential Medal of Freedom." Daniel says.
Angus looks impressed. He should be.
"What's it for?" He asks as we head out to our cars.
"Saving the Universe." Daniel says, perfectly innocently.
"Oh." Angus replies, placatingly. "You should get medals for that."
"I think so. Jack got a Medal of Honor for saving the universe once. It's kinda' kewl." Daniel pauses for a half a breath. "Can he stay with us tonight?" Daniel asks. "Have you checked into a hotel yet? You could stay with us. We've got a spare bedroom. It's got its own bathroom and everything."
"We'll see." Angus says appraisingly, apparently still reeling from the new knowledge that I have a Medal of Honor.
"It does have its own bathroom." I say, non-committally. Angus recognizes my comment for the offer it is. He gives me a look that says he's going to ask me about my Medal of Honor later.
"I guess so. Let me get my bag."
"Nah. We'll drive you over to contractor parking." I direct him to the covered, heated parking. There are like 6 cars here.
Angus gives me a pointed look. I look at Daniel, who's getting into the back seat.
He gets it. My cousin is many things, but he is not dumb. "How much of what Whittaker told me is true?" He asks softly.
"Enough." I say.
Angus sighs. "You're doing a good thing, Jack. You're a good man."
"He's a good kid."
"Are you two COMING?" Daniel yells from his booster seat.
"No. We're going to stand here and discuss Norwegian Existentialism in the early 20th century. Hold your horses, fiend." I reply, grinning.
I turn off the Harry Potter CD we're listening to together when I get in. Angus considers the CD box that was sitting on his seat. "Big fans huh?"
"Yep. Not as big as one of my best friends, Andy. Andy's entire bedroom is done in Harry Potter stuff. When he had to get glasses last year, he got black frames and put tape on them, just so his glasses would look like Harry's. But I like Harry Potter okay. Andy's dad's a big junkie too. He flies fighters and I think he thinks flying broomsticks would be an even bigger rush."
Angus looks impressed at the amount of babble Daniel has managed to get into one breath.
"Harry Potter's better than some of the other stuff he likes to listen to." I excuse, conveniently ignoring the fact that Daniel and I both have our own stereos in the Liberty. "Soooo. . .any news on your front?"
"None as big as yours." Angus turns to look at Daniel, who is working the cute thing.
"Jack said you used to be a bomb guy." Daniel says. "Jack's going back to school this summer for another PhD. Do you have a PhD?"
Mentally, I pump my fist in the air. Have I mentioned how much I love my kid in the past 5 minutes? I really, really love my kid.
"Uhmm. . .no. Never got around to it." Angus swallows. "Another PhD?" He asks.
I wince. There are two reasons for this, one of which is that Thor suggested Daniel might benefit from studying military strategy. This has led to several private conversations between Hammond and me about exactly why Daniel got shrunk. The other reason has to do with me having a PhD in something less eggheady when it comes time for my promotion and Hammond's retirement party.
"It's an administrative thing." I wave my hand, like the thought of being a double PhD when Mr. Smarty Pants, intellectual, works-for-a-think-tank only has his master's is no big.
"So what do you do?" Daniel asks, saving Angus.
"I. . .try to figure out ways to solve things without using violence." Angus tells Daniel.
Daniel considers this, snorts and chuckles. "So you're like the anti-Jack."
"HEY!" I tell my traitor.
Daniel blinks at me innocently. "You're the one who won't go to the Mall unless you've got a full complement of explosives."
"A little C5 solves many problems." I say, finger stabbing the air in emphasis.
"Still blowing things up, eh Jerk?" Angus asks.
"When necessary." I reply easily. "I just thought of something. You can help Daniel with the. . .that construction thing."
"The K'Nex?" Daniel asks, cueing in immediately. "I got a K'Nex roller coaster set." He tells Angus. "It's really kewl, but the pieces are hard to put together. I think they're made for grown-ups. Jack hasn't let me get the pieces out until we're on downtime."
I smile wickedly, thinking about the fact that Angus will be up all night, being dictated to by a nine-year-old. There's a very good reason I haven't let Daniel put his roller coaster set together. It has something like twelve thousand pieces and the pieces are all SMALL. Small enough that a little set would be appropriate, but the horking big set Daniel actually HAS would be too frustrating for him to do without an adult helping. And yes, St. Clair has apologized profusely for suggesting to the Secretary of the Navy that a K'Nex set would make a good present for Daniel without specifying WHICH K'nex set.
"Those are the ones that you can put together in a bunch of different configurations?" Angus asks excitedly, revealing that he has never had to spend an extended amount of time with an 8 year old boy.
"Yeah. This one is really great. It's like 5 feet tall when you get it put together. I have plans for three different roller coasters. I'll let you pick if you want."
"Since he's the guest and all." I say as I pull the Liberty into a shopping center that's seen better days.
Daniel grins at me.
Daniel and I eat Italian here a lot, mostly because they don't trap Daniel in what he refers to, rather disdainfully, as the "Kiddie Menu Ghetto" that seems to consist mainly of grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, and chicken strips. Anything he wants they'll cut down to kid size. Add to that that they seem to regard my letting Daniel have a sip of red wine from my glass and two spoonfuls in his own glass with lots of water as cute instead of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
It's not that fancy of a place, but it's okay. At 4 on a weekday, it's practically deserted, which is also good.
Daniel manages to con Angus into helping him get out of his jacket, while I roll my eyes and Daniel smirks. My cousin the rube. We get a booth, Daniel sitting beside me, not even bothering to open his menu.
"Sooo. . .what have they got that's vegetarian?" Angus muses.
"Don't tell me you're not still on that health food kick."
"You'd feel years younger if you switched."
"I feel years younger all the time." Daniel mutters. I elbow him in the ribs. He grins at me.
"He drinks these really weird shakes. Wheat grass or something equally disgusting." I inform Daniel.
"They have eggplant parm." Daniel offers.
"Deep fat fried and covered in cheese." Angus replies.
"Artichoke and Spinach pizza?" I muse.
He makes a face.
"Get what I'm getting. Calamari fra diavolo. They do it really well here. It's vegetarian." Daniel lies glibly.
Angus smiles at Daniel returns to his menu. "They have a good salad selection." He excuses.
"You don't like calamari? Think of all the poor Pacificans who won't be able to support their little Pacifican's if nobody eats calamari."
Angus gives Daniel an odd look.
"Yeah, Angus." I chime in. "In the squid factories."
Daniel nods earnestly. "In Pacifica. Underwater. They have the big factories where they make squid out of plankton. We've got to support the industry of making squid by eating lots and lots of calamari, otherwise all those poor little Pacifican kids will go without snorkels and flippers." He looks expectantly at Angus.
Angus is giving us both an odd look. "Uh. Yeah. I'll leave it to you two to support the calamari factories."
Daniel snickers, finally opens his own menu for the sole purpose of hiding behind it.
Angus finally gets that we're playing him. He shoots me a dirty look.
I snort. "If I order a bottle of wine, will you drink any of it?" I ask Angus, changing the topic.
"I will." Daniel pipes up, dropping his menu to smile winningly.
I give him the evil eye.
"I'd prefer not to." Angus says mildly. That figures too. I put my menu aside.
"So, I'm thinking the pond should do pretty well this spring. I went ice-fishing on it back in January." He says, making conversation.
"How'd you do?"
"Got a couple big mouth and some nice bluegills."
"Put the big mouth back?"
"Of course." Angus is affronted. "I grilled a couple of the bluegills and gave the rest to old man Sheedy."
"I thought there weren't any fish in that pond." Daniel says as the waitress approaches.
"There are. You just don't catch them if you don't bait your hook." Angus replies.
"There are NO fish in that pond. I'm just being nice to Angus, who has this delusion that he goes fishing there and catches things."
"Oh. If you catch things though. . .don't you have to clean them? And do Vegetarian's eat fishies?" Daniel sucks in his cheeks to make a fish face, then puts a finger to his lip and puffs his cheeks out ala' a puffer fish or Satchmo. The waitress grins at him. "I want calamari fra diavolo made with ziti." Daniel announces. "And house on my salad. And a raspberry crme soda."
"Done." The girl's waited on us before.
"Cheese ravioli and a glass of house merlot with an extra glass and water with no ice. Blue cheese."
We wait expectantly for Angus, who orders minestrone and some sort of salad with sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese with water to drink. The waitress takes our menus and promises to return with some of their truly excellent handmade bread and salads and soup.
"Mom said you were engaged to that. . .the dingy one. The one you keep having to rescue from Hungary?"
"Penny?" Angus looks surprised. "Noooo. . .I don't know where she got that from. I mean, Penny and I are still, you know, friends."
Daniel snorts as the Waitress sets down three water glasses, a glass of merlot an empty glass and Daniel's fizzing Italian crme soda. "You're getting long in the tooth not to be married." He tells Angus.
"You should tell that to Jerk."
Daniel glances at me, purses his lips, arches an eyebrow. "Jack's looking." He says finally.
I look back at him, surprised.
"There's a lady in the CIA he likes. And there's Sam." Daniel frowns. "He's looking. I keep telling him to go on dates."
"Jack. I didn't know you swung that way." Angus grins.
"SHE's my second in command. And no. There's nothing between us that can't be handled in an administrative memo. Daniel just has this thing about everyone going into the ark in twos." I tell Angus as I hand Daniel my glass.
"Unfortunately, Jack never reads his memos." Daniel smartmouths. He grins and takes a sip, holds it in his mouth and slides the glass back. Slowly he rolls it in his mouth then swallows "good" he pronounces.
I carefully ladle three teaspoonfuls into the empty glass as the waitress comes back with bread, salad, and in Angus's case, soup.
Wisely, perhaps due to all that time in Europe over the years, Angus says nothing. Daniel pours water into the glass with the spoonfuls of wine. Then and only then does Daniel eat his salad.
We eat and chat about nothing in particular until dinner comes. I know what's coming. It's the same thing that comes every time Daniel gets calamari in a red sauce.
As soon as the waitress sets our plates down, Daniel is picking through his with his fork, digging around without eating it, setting aside tentacles until he's picked them all out. Then he looks through them, spearing them, looking at each with scholarly scrutiny until one passes muster. He pops this one into his mouth and a moment later, squid tentacles are dangling from his lips. He growls at Angus, hands clawing at the air, clearly enjoying himself.
He looks at me, grins and pops the tentacles in his mouth. "I am Cthulhu, priest of the elder gods. Worship them and I will be sure they eat you first!" He tells Angus, red sauce dripping from his chin.
Thankfully, I've seen this performance before, and have the presence of mind not to snort merlot out of my nose. The first time Daniel did this, I ruined a shirt.
Angus blinks as I laugh and Daniel pops another tentacle into his mouth.
"You let him read Lovecraft?" Angus asks, clearly scandalized.
Daniel glares at him. "The Keeper of the Old Gods will read what he demands, else you be driven insane!" He informs Angus through his second set of tentacles, then swallows.
"You wanna see his cthulhu doll?" I ask Angus.
"I just think that maybe. . ."
". . .censorship is a good thing?" Daniel finishes, spearing a calamari ring and ziti in his mouth.
Angus frowns at him. "That maybe some things are better for adults than for kids."
"Like what? The Cthulhu is NEAT." Daniel replies. "You wanna know what's scary? Being tortured by other HUMANS. That's scary. Watching people getting KILLED is scary. A story about sleeping aliens in a made up city under the sea is just FUN!" He's ticked off now.
"Enough. Both of you." I side with Daniel on this one. But Angus has his pity-the-poor-orphan look pasted on his face. I close my eyes, count to 10.
Daniel meanwhile is now eating his fra diavolo, concentrating on spearing the ziti. He won't eat anything long and stringy in a noodle in public anymore. Not that this is a bad thing. Daniel after a plate of linguine looks like a mafia hit.
"Let the kid have his fun, Angus." I tell my cousin. Daniel has that look on his face. I know this look. He had this look as a grown up and he gets it now. He won't look at Angus. Hell. I don't want to look at Angus.
I put my arm around him plant a kiss on the top of his head. He stiffens a little but allows it.
There's an uncomfortable silence as we eat. Daniel skewers and eats all his tentacles and then doesn't eat any more.
"I'm sorry." Angus says. "Really. I wasn't thinking. I was being pompous and overbearing."
"And I forgot what an exceptional kid you are."
"S' okay." Daniel says. "You don't have kids."
"Soooo. . .how about cannoli? I say we order tiramisu and cannoli." I bluster.
Daniel leans his head against me and I pull him against my side, rub his shoulder. "Yeah. Unless Angus has a problem with all the poor little cannolinis they have to kill to make cannoli." He tells me.
Our stomachs are full of cannoli, tiramisu and coffee when we go home. Daniel has told Angus about Sam's unfortunate obsession with some of his earlier work and made him promise to do lunch tomorrow with us and Sam and Murray. (I forbear mentioning Sam's unfortunate affliction with her romantic interests winding up dead.) They're happily discussing the K'Nex, which will probably take several days to put together as go through the garage, up the stairs and into the house.
I'm used to this one and step back once the door is open to let Daniel through first, holding Angus back with one hand. "One . . . two . . . and . . ."
"I'm being eaten! Attacked! Viciously and maliciously mauled!" Daniel screams from the mud room. His chest is covered in something resembling a bear rug.
"Jack! Help! Mountain lion!" Daniel yells, giggling as he bowls over on to the linoleum, Presh still on top of him.
Angus gives me a look. "Meet the family cat." I step over the giggling mass on the floor and open the door to the kitchen.
"I'm being eaten allllliiivvveeee!!!!" Daniel yelps. Angus follows me, sparing a glance back at my kid and his monster.
"What is that thing?"
"That is the cat my kid picked out of the shelter." I open the fridge and reach into the back for an oatmeal and honey beer thing from a microbrewery in Minnesota. I grab two bottles, hand one to Angus. He reads the label and decides not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"The vet thinks it's part Maine coon and part either Canadian lynx or bobcat. Or both." I tell Angus wearily.
Angus sips his beer, looks around the kitchen. A couple of insect finger puppets and a half-used box of modeling clay sit on the counter next to some German translations of gnostic texts and an open box of s'mores pop-tarts.
Daniel comes in, finally, from the mud room, still giggling. Presh does figure eights around my legs, hoping to con some beer out of me.
"The cat's name is Precious." I inform Angus.
"My pressshhhhus." Daniel gargles. "Yes, my pressshhhhus."
Angus narrows his eyes, looking at the cat. "How much does that thing weigh?"
"32 pounds." I finally bend down and pour just enough beer to cover the bottom of Presh's kitchen saucer. It's a bribe to get him to stop trying to trip me. So sue me.
Presh laps it up.
Daniel glares at me, so I let him have a sip, careful that my hand never leaves the bottle. I learned my lesson on that one a long time ago.
"I should've let Angus suffer through the domestic so you wouldn't steal any." I say, pulling the bottle back after he's had just enough to taste it and no more.
Angus is regarding Daniel and Precious with a grin. "You got a good family, Jerk."
Daniel snorts. "This is an excellent family. Presh is a superb cat and I am a perfect son." He informs Angus. "Come on. I'll show you your room and my K'Nex." Angus is summarily dragged up the back stairs, and I'm left with Presh who immediately starts sucking up for more of the good stuff. I lean against the fridge for a minute and wonder why I got so lucky; then I head on up the stairs to rescue Angus from the hands of my little dictator.
|Genres:||Alternate Universe, Angst, Crossover, Drama, Humor|
|Series:||The Furling's Gift|
|Summary:||The Little Sh*t takes over a whole new territory. This is not your father's AU. This is crossover territory... Jack. Daniel. Presh. MacGyver. What else do we need to tell ya?