Christmas Countdown: December 22
General Jack O'Neill had saved the citizens of Earth's collective butts on more than one occasion. Part of his success had to do with his ability to make good decisions quickly and without fear. That trait served him well when it came to alien invasions, but had not prepared him in the slightest for the task currently at hand.
"How the hell do I know if she wants one that wets, sings or has hair that changes color," Jack muttered to himself as he perused the doll aisle of the local toy store. "How do I get myself into these situations?"
The second was a rhetorical question; Jack knew exactly how he'd gotten into this particular situation. Someone at Cheyenne Mountain had gotten the bright idea to do one of those `adopt a family' things for Christmas and Daniel had signed them up. Jack had been ready to protest about it, until he got a good look at those big blue eyes. Daniel's parents had died when Danny was young. Who knew how many Christmases he'd had without the toy he wanted?
Jack had caved without a fight, even though Daniel had signed them up to buy a toy for a little girl. Jack didn't know much about females of the child persuasion, but he figured it wouldn't be too hard. The charity agency provided them with a list, after all.
The list said that the little girl wanted a baby doll, but not what kind. Jack had no idea that there were so many different varieties until they hit the toy store. He was stymied and Daniel was nowhere to be seen. Jack finally grabbed an old-fashioned baby doll. It didn't sing or do gymnastics, but he figured that if the family had signed up to be `adopted' for Christmas, that maybe the parents wouldn't be able to afford to keep a fancier doll in batteries. Besides, new-fangled toys seemed to take all of the imagination out of play and Jack found that to be unfortunate.
Doll tucked under his arm, Jack went in search of Daniel. It was never a good idea to let Danny loose in a new environment and a toy store was no exception. He found his wayward lover in amongst the science-related toys and Jack smirked. Once a geek, always a geek.
"Hey, Danny, what do you think?" Jack held up the doll for the other man's inspection.
Daniel's eyes widened with obvious dismay. "No, Jack, you can't possibly be thinking we can buy her that."
Jack frowned and put the doll back under his arm. He reached for the list he'd stuck in his back pocket. Sure enough, the first thing on it was baby doll. "Why not?"
"Have you looked around?" Daniel made a sweeping gesture that encompassed the entire store. "Have you seen how little girls are socialized through play media?"
There was only one way Jack could reply to that statement. "Huh?"
"I'll show you," Daniel grabbed Jack's other hand and dragged him back towards the doll aisle. "Look, what do you see?"
Jack obediently studied the toy shelves, but couldn't see Daniel's point. "Dolls?"
Daniel sighed. "These dolls and their paraphernalia emphasis the traditional woman's role as nurturer. There are miniature cooking sets, changing tables, and vacuum cleaners."
"And, hey," Jack smirked. "A little cash register, complete with credit card reader. I bet my ex had one of those growing up."
"That's exactly my point, Jack," Daniel stated, highly exasperated. "It reinforces negative stereotypes. But over here," he pointed to the next section of the aisle. "These are even worse."
Jack took a closer look at the dolls that Daniel was referring to. He hadn't looked at them closely before, since his list said baby doll and these were more like Barbie dolls. On closer inspection, however, they were like no Barbie he'd ever seen. The lips had more pout and the clothes were skimpier.
Had someone actually come out with Prostitute!Barbie?
Daniel had been studying Jack's face and continued when he saw the disapproval in the older man's expression. "So, on one hand, we have little girls being socialized into the stereotype of the traditional women's role and on the other, we have an increasingly sexualized line of toys. No wonder little girls have self esteem issues."
"It's not that bad," Jack protested. "There are educational toys too and, hey, Barbie has all sorts of occupations now." Even ones that didn't pay by the hour.
"There are educational toys," Daniel admitted. "Although they're geared more for boys than girls. I think we should buy one of those, like a microscope or something."
Daniel's vehemence brought Jack back to his original question, how many Christmases had Daniel been given a toy meant for a totally different type of kid? He weighed his lover's passion with the list provided for a little girl who might not otherwise get anything for Christmas.
"We're getting the doll," Jack stated. Daniel's face fell and Jack held up a hand in a conciliatory gesture. "And we'll get her a microscope. We can afford both and that way, she can have what she wants and we can still plant the seeds to inspire her to grow up to be another Major Carter."
While saving the world, Jack had also learned the art of compromise.
"That sounds like a good plan," Daniel agreed, smiling happily.
With their two boxes in hand, Jack asked a question that had occurred to him while Daniel was arguing so persuasively against the doll industry "Is that why you picked out a girl for us to buy for; because you felt so strongly about the toys that are marketed to girls?"
Daniel blushed. "Partly."
Having a feeling he'd need to concentrate on Danny's answer, Jack came to dead stop. "What's the other part?"
"Because of Charlie," Daniel admitted, referring to Jack's deceased son. "I thought buying toys for a little boy might be a painful reminder."
Jack had to clear his throat a couple of times before answering. "We're not done yet, Danny." He turned and headed back into the store, grabbing a cart as he went.
"What?" Daniel asked, following but clearly confused.
"That Toys for Tots box outside the store is almost empty," Jack explained. "This general's salary of mine's gotta be good for something besides beer and fishing lures. We're gonna buy every God damned educational toy this store has and make sure they get to kids that need them."
It wasn't what Jack really wanted to do, which was to buy child Daniel the toy he'd wanted as a way of thanking the man Danny'd grown up to be, but it was the closest that Jack could come to.
Daniel hesitated. "You okay, Jack?"
"Yeah," Jack stopped and gave him a quick kiss. "I am."
Because Daniel's smile at the idea of giving away all those toys? It beat the hell out of saving the world, any day of the week.
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