An August Day

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - August 17, 2016
Spoilers:  None
Size:  16b, ficlet
Written:  August 20, 2016, May 30, 2017
Summary:  Little Danny's reaction to a tragic scene spurs change within the Jackson-O'Neill family.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~

An August Day
by Orrymain

“Daddy, are you glad you grew up?” Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill asked quietly, his head bowed slightly as he ran a stick along the sand of Katie's sandbox.

“Am I glad?” Daniel echoed in confusion while opening up a sealed plastic package that contained a new dinosaur-shaped toy for the youngest beagle to dig up.  “Growing up is something we all have to do.”

“I'm not sure I want to.  I think maybe I wish I could go back and be five or six forever,” the child prodigy said softly.

Daniel put his hand on his nearly ten-year-old son's head and gently stroked the boy's hair for a moment before asking, “What's wrong?”

“Why do people fight?  Why are there wars?”

“Not everyone agrees about how their world should be,” Daniel responded as truthfully and simply as he could.

The child went silent as he helped his father hide the present for Katie, who was occupied inside their home by other members of the brood so as to keep her from seeing the gift being hidden.

“She'll like the dinosaur, Daddy,” the boy said before getting up and going inside the house.

Daniel watched his namesake carefully.  He sensed despair and sadness.  He decided to give his son a few minutes before following up with him, so he made sure he had all the packaging and disposed of it before going inside and up the stairs to the boys' room.  He immediately noticed that Little Danny had retrieved Bobo from the girls' room.  Bobo originally belonged to Kayla Armentrout, the birth mother of the Munchkins and the Spitfires.  He watched silently as his son's arms tightened around Bobo and then leaned his head against the large stuffed animal.

Little Danny wanted his mother, but she was dead, killed by a drunk driver too many years ago, so he did the next best thing and took comfort with Bobo.

Quietly, Daniel walked over to the boy's bed, sat down, and quietly urged, “Tell me.”

“I'm not a little boy anymore, but I wish I was.  I wish I didn't know what I know.”

“What do you know?”

“I saw a little boy, scared, alone, and confused.  They bombed his house and hurt everyone in his family, so no one could hold him and tell him it would be okay.”

~Syria,~ Daniel thought to himself.  ~He must have seen a news report about the boy in the ambulance.~

“He was all dusty.  I don't think he knew he was hurt.  You could see blood on his hair and face.  He rubbed his face and then stared at the blood on his hand, and then he tried to rub the blood off in his chair.  Why, Daddy?  Why do adults fight so hard, even when little kids are hurt like that?  I don't understand.”

Daniel sighed.  His namesake had always been sensitive to the pains of the world, and it worried him, especially at times like this.  There was no logic or reason that would explain war to his son, so the father chose to respond with the truth closest to his own understanding.  He maintained physical contact as he spoke.

“I don't know, either, Danny.”

“Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“I don't think you and Dad should keep trying to protect us so much.  I don't like what I saw, but I have to know.  We all need to know, and not just about that little boy, but all the little kids.  We've talked about it before, and I just think we're not that little anymore, except for JD.”

“You want us to change the rules?”

“As much as I wish I didn't have to grow up, I do.  That means I have to know as much as I can or I won't be able to understand and if I don't understand, how can I make it better?”

“I'll talk to Dad and see how he feels about it.”

“Are you going to keep us in our rooms?”

“What?”

“Daddy, all our friends have their TVs on or their phones on, and they don't have the restrictions we do.  We can't help but see things we know you don't want us to, and usually we don't tell you we've seen it because we know you and Dad don't want us seeing those bad things.”

“Time to pop the bubble, I guess.”

“Bubble?”

With a soft smile, Daniel explained, “Dad and I always said we couldn't keep all of you in a bubble forever.”

“Protecting us from the bad things?”

“It's instinctive, Little Danny.  Parents are supposed to protect their children and no matter how old they get, that desire never goes away.”

“Maybe it should be part of our studies.”

“Maybe,” Daniel returned, his hand now rubbing his son's back.  In fact, Daniel knew the boy was right.  Even though the Munchkins were almost ten and the Spitfires were approaching age nine, he and Jack were still trying to prevent them from learning too much about the world's distress.  They'd done a good job of it, but it was obvious the children were aware of more negative or disturbing news than they'd cared to admit.  The kids were out more than ever with friends and groups they belonged to, so he realized it was time to rethink the plan for real.  “Danny, why don't you prepare something about the boy for class tomorrow.”

“His name is Omran and he's five,” Little Danny responded.

~Message received.  He already knows a lot about what's happening out there,~ Daniel noted inwardly.

“I'd like you to find out what you can about what happened to Omran and why, and you can include anything you feel is important in your report.”

“Daddy?”

“What?”

“I hate war.  It hurts people.”

“I agree,” Daniel replied.

“Can I stay here with Bobo for a while?”

“Sure,” Daniel answered.  He leaned over and gave his son a kiss on the cheek.  “I love you.  If you need me, or Dad, let us know.”

Daniel stood and started to walk out of the room when his son called out to him again.

“Daddy, I always need you and Dad, always.  Sometimes, I need to be alone, just for a while.”

“I understand.”

With a supportive smile, Daniel left his son to his thoughts.

====

“What do you think?” Daniel asked his husband as they talked in Jack's study.

From behind his desk as he leaned back in his comfortable chair, Jack sighed, “We don't have a choice, Danny.  We're lucky we got away with it as long as we have.”

“Yeah, that's what I'm thinking, too.”

“Okay, so ...” Jack began, getting up to join his lover on the sofa, “we need new rules.”

“If they want to, we watch the news, together, as a family, so we can discuss what's happening in the world, or here at home,” Daniel suggested.

“They're going to see plenty of violence.”

“They don't have to watch if they don't to,” Daniel returned.  “Jack, they're seeing it, just not here, and haven't we always said that our goal with our children was to make our home the place they want to be, not just to play, but to trust.  We need to make sure that trust grows just as they are growing.”

“Thirty minutes and they can choose the network news or the local news, but not both, at least not at first,” Jack postulated.  “My reasoning is that if we throw them into everything right off the bat, it might be an overload of the meanness in the world.  Let's let them ease into it.  In a half hour, they're going to hear plenty.”

“Do we let them watch if we're not here?”

“How about we say it's okay, providing, Jen, Jeff, Bri, or David watches with them.  They're the oldest and I trust them to know where the lines are drawn and to share with us any concerns they have about what was the on the news and how the rest of the brood reacted to it.”

“No news for JD.  He's still too young.”

“One in the bubble, but he might complain about being the only one there.”

“He's six.  He can complain until he's ten.”

“If ten's the cutoff, that keeps the Spitfires in the bubble for another year.”

“You're right, and I don't know how we can keep Jenny and Ricky out of the news loop.  It'll create extra pressure for the other children.”

“Bubble burst at nine?”

Daniel nodded, releasing a reluctant sigh of agreement, before putting forth, “And we need to add Current Events to our homeschooling.”

“Okay, new lesson plans.  We can assign topics as we watch the news so we stay current with the current events.”

“I already gave Little Danny an assignment about Omran and Syria.”

“That seems like the perfect place to start,” Jack agreed.  “Do we ease up on what they do away from home?”

“Not officially,” Daniel opined.  “Jack, they're going to see more than we want because they already are, but until we know for certain how they're handling it, I'd rather keep so we can talk about the news together.  They're probably still going to see other things, or hear about what goes on, anyway.”

“How about we suggest that trust with news works both ways.”

“What do you mean?”

“If they get wind of something from a friend or at one of their activities, they tell us, so we can talk about it or bring it up during Current Events.  If we relax the rules, they don't have to worry about telling us they've broken a rule, but they do have to tell us they are aware of ... whatever it is they've heard.”

With a tiny smile, Daniel asserted, “They'll know what we're talking about.”

“It sounds like they've known for a while.”

“Once again, Babe, we're the ones with our heads in the bubble.”

“It's only because we know more about the evil out there than the average parent.  There's nothing wrong with shielding our kids, but we also have to know when the time is ripe to give it up.”

“And Little Danny just told us it's time.”

“Thirty minute news, national or local, watched with us or one of the four news proxies,” Jack joked about the oldest members of the brood, “and it's okay if they overhear something elsewhere, but they just have to tell us.”

“Current Events class begins as of tomorrow and assignments can and will be given as we see fit from watching the news together.”

“And if they don't want to watch, they're welcome to remain bubblized for a while longer.”

“Bubblized,” Daniel chuckled.  “Okay, let's revise our lesson plans for the rest of the week so we make sure we have time for the new subject area.”

The couple proceeded to focus on their task with earnest, as Little Danny was doing as well upstairs.

====

“We have one more announcement,” Daniel spoke at the end of the nightly family meeting.

“And we're going to start with a question,” Jack noted.  “How many of you, and we want complete honesty, have seen the pictures or heard on the news, or from any source, about a little boy named Omran in Syria?”

“Raise your hands,” Daniel instructed.

Jennifer and Jeff, as young adults and college students naturally raised their hands.  Brianna and David also lifted their hands quickly.  Little Danny looked on both sides of him and then behind him and then at his parents as he raised his hand.  Jonny was next, and then both of the Curly Tops raised their hands.  Jenny was the last.

Jack and Daniel glanced at each with a sigh.  The proof of the needed change was right in front of their eyes.  Only Aislinn, Ricky, and JD knew nothing about the poignant photograph and the bombing that brought it about.

“We have new rules to talk about,” Daniel announced quietly, his voice on the edge of breaking from the emotion he was feeling.  ~We can't shield them anymore.~

“Listen up,” Jack interjected before he and Daniel informed the brood of the changes.

“... and what it all means,” Daniel concluded, “is that Current Events will be part of our regular classes, beginning tomorrow when Little Danny will present his report.”

“Is there anyone who doesn't want to participate?”

Not a single hand went up, except for JD, who said, “I wanna know, but I don't even know what Cya is.”

The family shared a laugh and, unable to resist, Jack got up and went to the youngest member of the family and picked him up, throwing him gently into the air for a brief moment.

As JD laughed, Jack responded, “You're exempt until you're nine, or maybe ten.  No news for you, not for a while.”

“Okay, go have fun.  You have an hour before bedtime,” Daniel told the children, though the bedtime hour was mostly for the younger half of the brood.

As most of the brood went on their way, Jennifer lagged behind, just long enough to give her parents a thumbs up.  Jeff, too, remained a minute to make sure Jack and Daniel glimpsed his approving nod and smile.

Brianna was the last brood member to remain in the living room.

“Is there something we need to hear?” Jack asked.

“You made a good choice, Dad and Daddy.  They've been seeing and hearing about the bad stuff for a long time, but I guess you know that.”

“We were in denial for a while,” Daniel admitted to the tomboy.

“I'm glad you're out 'cause it takes some of the pressure off the rest of us.  It's not easy sometimes deciding what to tell you guys.  You ... get what I mean, right?”

“We get it,” Daniel acknowledged with a smile.

“Sometimes, I wish I didn't know so much, either.  It's getting dark out there, and I don't mean the sky.”

“We're always here, Bri,” Jack responded.

“I know, which is why that darkness isn't as scary as it would be otherwise.  This house, you two, all of us, make everything easier because we have each other.  It's one heck of a support system.”  Brianna walked forward and gave each of her fathers a kiss.  “Goodnight.”

“Night, Bri.  We love you,” Daniel replied.

“Love you, too!”

“Still okay with our decision?” Jack queried once Brianna was out of sight.

“I have to be, and I am.”

“It's all good, Angel.”

“Of course it is, Babe.  Just think, one day soon Jennifer and Peter will get married, and probably Jeff and Chely, and maybe even Bri and Conway, and the list goes on.”

“Daniel, are you trying to give me a heart attack?”

“All I'm saying is that once they get married, they'll have kids.”

“Daniel!”

“And we can ... bubblize our grandchildren to our hearts content,” Daniel said with a grin, even as he witnessed Jack's popping eyes.  He laughed and put his arms around his husband.  “Relax, Jack, I'm kidding, for now, anyway.”  Daniel kissed Jack, who calmed down quickly.  “I need to check on something in the den for J-O Enterprises.”

“Okay.”

As Daniel walked away, he couldn't resist one more tease, so as he took the first couple of steps towards the second story of the house, he called out, “And then Noa will marry K'hang and Ash will wed her boyfriend of the week.”

“Daniel!  Dannnnnnnnnnnnniel!” Jack shouted as he chased his Love up the stairs.

The day had been somewhat emotional for the married couple and their children, but in the end, the smiles emerged and there was an agreement that though the bubble was burst, growth was preferable to stagnation.  Though the family could not deny the tragedy from other parts of the world and even in their hometown any longer, they still had to move forward and that included a life full of ups and downs, and before the night was done, Jack and Daniel would be doing their own specialized version of upping and downing as their love grew, in more ways than one.

In the balance of life, things were great for Jack and Daniel and the entire Jackson-O'Neill clan as they lived happily in Colorado U.S.A.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~

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