It was a scorching summer day, and the air conditioner inside the crowded church seemed inadequate for the job. Most of the time, Jack preferred Catholic weddings because they meant spending enough time in the church to justify getting all dressed up, but right now, he'd be happy with a Vegas-style "do you? yes" "do you? yes" "man and wife!"
His suit jacket, picked up from the cleaners yesterday, was now a limp wrinkled mess, lying in the pew behind him as he knelt during Eucharist. His tie had been loosened and the collar opened, and still he was roasting. But the wedding was between Doctor Dulal Dahiya and Sergeant Meredith Owens, and since the happy couple consisted of two of Danny's favorite people at the Mountain, he couldn't just make a discreet exit.
A glance over at Danny showed the little boy was standing on the padded kneeler, concentrating fiercely on the priest's words and actions. He was still wearing his jacket and tie, and his face was turning a little red above the collar of his pale blue shirt.
"Danny!" Jack whispered. "Let's take your jacket and tie off before you give yourself heat stroke."
"I can't take 'em off!" Danny whispered back, eyes not leaving the ceremony.
"I know I told you not to, but that was before we stepped into this oven. C'mon... I'll help you with your jacket."
"No, Jack, I can't take it off... I have to leave it on!"
Jack sighed. "Kiddo, you're going to bake. I promise I won't be mad at you for taking it off."
Danny had this odd habit of being overly cautious about some things he thought might get him into trouble, and throwing caution to the wind about other things. More often than not, his priorities were skewed. "Promise."
Flicking a glance at Jack out of the corner of his eye, Danny sighed mightily and began to unbutton his jacket. Jack automatically reached out to help his kid out of the sleeves, then pitched the garment atop his own. As he twisted back around to help Danny with his tie—no clip-ons for his kid—he was immediately confronted with the reason behind Danny's reluctance to disrobe.
Decorating the front of the dress shirt, just above the waistband of Danny's pants, were two very-well defined muddy paw prints, courtesy of an energetic Border Collie named Rascal.