Awakening
(Slice of Covidity - April 2021)

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating: PG-13
Season: Beyond the Series - April 2-21, 2021
Spoilers: None
Written: March 21, April 17, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, but it doesn't matter when two hearts meet for the first time.
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?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): "It's Raining ... Kids?"

Slice of Covidity - Awakening
by Orrymain

Sixteen-year-old Lulu Jackson-O'Neill was in one of the smaller local grocery stores, helping out with a quick restocking of a few items the family was out of it or would be soon. Brianna and Jenny were with her, but all three split up, each having an assigned list of items to purchase. Even a fill-in trip resulted in a full cart for this family of fourteen plus zoo.

Frustrating to almost everyone, the Coronavirus was on the increase, both in new cases and the number of deaths. The virus was not going away easily, even with multiple vaccines now available. In fact, several states that had eliminated mask and social distancing mandates were on the rise with new victims, including increasing hospitalization rates.

Wearing her mask, Lulu had all but one item left on her list. She pulled her cart behind her as she sought out the baked beans.

"There you are," the teenager said to the can as she pulled it off the shelf. ~Better check out the details,~ she opined about the sodium and sugar levels of the product, along with the overall calories. The family wasn't rigid about healthy eating, but they did try to buy sensibly, nutritionally speaking. ~Looks okay to me.~

"Hi," an alluring voice spoke.

Lulu turned and saw a tall youth looking at her. In her mind, she thought he was smiling, but she couldn't tell since he had his mask on, too.

"Hello."

"I, um, I'm Gary, and I had to say hello to you."

"My name's Lulu and ... hello again."

"You like bake beans?"

"They're okay."

Lulu was entranced by the six-foot lanky male. He had short, wavy brown hair with deep brown eyes. In some ways, he reminded her of her older father, except for the hair.

"Can I shop with you?"

"The truth is that this is my last item," Lulu replied.

"Oh, well, can we go outside and sit on the bench? We can talk."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"My parents wouldn't approve."

"Are they here?"

"No, but we honor our parents and they trust us to follow the rules."

"That's cool, I guess," Gary responded with regret.

"Lulu, are you done yet?" Brianna called out from the opposite end of the aisle. "Jenny and I are ready to checkout."

"I'll meet you there in a minute," Lulu replied to her sister. "I'm sorry, I have to go now."

"Well, maybe I'll see you again sometime."

"Maybe." Lulu slowly drifted away from the male, but whispered, "Bye," before turning to push her cart towards the checkout.

====

"Dad, we're out of pasta," Chenoa commented.

"And potatoes," sous Chef Ricky noted.

"How'd that happen?" Jack questioned anyone who was around.

"Double helpings on Ash's scallops the other night, and triple servings of Bri's spaghetti a few nights ago."

"Makes sense," Jack agreed. "Bri, how about you and Ash do a quick look-see and see if we need anything else, and then make a run to the local market."

"Why us?" Brianna mused lightly.

"You're both responsible for all that delicious food we couldn't resist," Jack answered with a smile, earning chuckles from those nearby.

"Can I go, too?" Lulu asked.

"It's okay with me," Brianna responded.

"If you want to go, that's fine with us," Daniel stated, pleasing the suddenly very happy young girl.

====

The list for the three shoppers was much smaller than on the last shopping excursion, but Lulu still had five items to select in total. She was on the third, potatoes, when she heard a welcome voice.

"Lulu, how are you?"

Grinning, the teen turned and responded, "I'm great. How about you?"

"I'm good now that you're here. More shopping?"

"I have a large family. We go shopping a lot."

"Are your parents here this time?"

"No, just me and a couple of my sisters," Lulu answered. "It seems odd that you're here at the same time I am again."

"Well, you see that apartment building over there?" Gary asked as he twisted around and pointed across the street.

"Do you live there?" Lulu giggled.

"I do, right in that corner unit, so if I'm looking this direction, like I was a couple of minutes ago, I can see you going into the store."

Lulu giggled with embarrassment at the notion the boy would actually watch for her or want to see her again.

"I love your giggle," Gary laughed.

Giggling some more, Lulu confided, "I've been told it's a pleasant giggle."

"It is for sure."

There was an awkward pause as the two looked at each other and then swiftly looked in other directions.

"Who's your favorite singer?" Gary asked.

"I don't really have one."

"Oh, how about an actor or actress?"

"To be honest, Gary, I'm probably a little more traditional than most girls my age. I like the old stuff. I think it's more romantic than what they do today."

"Yeah, you're probably right."

"Lulu, do you need any help?" Aislinn called out. "I'm done with my list and Bri just has to get the milk."

"No, I'm fine. I'll meet you guys at the checkout in a couple of minutes."

"Okay," Aislinn said, noting that her sister was speaking with a stranger in the store. ~A handsome stranger, assuming the mask isn't hiding anything nasty.~

"I'd better finish my shopping."

"That's a lot of potatoes," Gary remarked about the ones already in the cart and the ones the black-haired girl was adding.

"Like I said, there's a lot of us," Lulu responded with a smile.

"Okay. I just wanted to say hi. I hope I see you again."

"Just keep looking out your window," Lulu teased shyly.

"I'm not stalking you, but these days, there's not a lot to do."

"I know. A lot of us are going house crazy from staying home so much."

"Yeah. Well, take care, Lulu."

"You, too."

Gary walked backwards about six steps before turning around and leaving the store.

Feeling strangely excited, Lulu kept loading up her cart until she realized she'd tossed over four dozen potatoes into the cart. She laughed at her silliness and promptly returned over half of the selection to the potato bin.

====

Another opportunity to go the small store didn't occur for two weeks, but when Jennifer came by to drop off Sophie while she did a bit of shopping, Lulu jumped at the chance to go with her.

Once in the store, Lulu began looking all around here with some regularity.

"Are you looking for something?" Jennifer questioned.

"Yes," Lulu answered without thinking. "I mean, no. I just ... Jen, I need to try and find something. Do you mind if we split up?"

"Don't get lost," Jennifer teased.

Lulu strolled around the store, not looking for anything, but hoping Gary saw her on arrival and would come over for a quick chat.

"Hi, Lulu," Gary spoke, sounding a bit sad.

"Is something wrong?"

"Actually, it's a good thing," the tall youth admitted. "My dad's been out of work for months, and my uncle finally got him a job in Denver. We're moving there in two days."

"Oh, well, that is ... it is a good thing."

"I guess I won't see you again."

"I guess not," Lulu sighed.

Gary backed away so they were six-feet apart and asked, "Would you take off your mask?" When Lulu did, he smiled instantly. "You're beautiful, Lulu. I wish we could have met before COVID."

"Me, too. Um, would you ..."

"Sure."

The lanky youth lowered his mask and quipped, "Not much ..."

"Oh, you're much. You're more than much, Gary."

"Have a good life, Lulu."

"You too, Gary."

Feeling both elated and depressed, Lulu walked away in search of Jennifer.

====

That night, Lulu was unable to sit still as she waited for Chenoa to return from a late shift at Cheyenne Mountain. There was a set routine for the future nurse's return after working hours with COVID patients. She always entered through the cabana where she could take a shower and change clothes before joining her family.

Lulu could hear the shower going and kept bouncing on her feet as she waited. As soon as her sister opened the door, she pulled her out.

"Noa, I have to tell you true."

"Tell me what?"

"About Gary."

"Who's Gary?"

Lulu pulled Chenoa into the recreation room, which was currently empty of anyone except for Ptolemy, the family's hyacinth macaw bird.

"I met this boy," Lulu began quietly but enthusiastically. "Well, I think he's a boy. I mean, I don't know how old he was. He might have been eighteen or nineteen. He's really tall, like Dad, and he's gorgeous."

"Gorgeous?" Chenoa echoed, turning inward and holding Lulu's hand. "Tell me, Lulu."

Lulu told Chenoa everything about her all-too-brief three meetings with Gary.

"He never tried to get me to do anything. I thought at first he might, but he seemed to respect Dad and Daddy's wishes. He was so ... so ... so," the smitten girl crooned.

"And now he's gone," Chenoa said dejectedly.

"But you know what, Noa? I never thought I would like a boy because ..."

"Because of Kevin and what he did to you?"

"Yes. I figured I'd be alone for my whole life, but now ... Noa, I really like him. I don't know him, but I wanted to. I wish I'd gone out to sit with him on the bench." Lulu paused for a few seconds. "Noa, I know now there is someone out there that I can fall in love with. I didn't know that before."

Holding her sister's hand more tightly then before, Chenoa agreed, "There is someone, Lulu, and you will find him one day."

"I feel ... gee, it's like I'm more complete now."

"How?"

"Well, for years, I've been listening to Jen swoon over Peter, and you have K'hang, and Bri's been with Conway; and Ash is surrounded by boys everywhere we go, and Jenny," Lulu laughed, "I'm not sure Jenny really wants a guy around, but I've always been a little on the edge of all the boy stuff. I didn't think a boy would like me, but Gary liked me, and I liked him."

"You're not the edge. You're right in the middle with all of us, including Jenny. You watch, Lulu, I tell you true, you'll meet him and you'll love him, and he'll love you, whoever he is. You have to believe me."

"I do, now."

For Lulu Jackson-O'Neill, the pandemic had been an inconvenience in recent weeks, but it didn't matter. Unexpectedly, an awakening of her heart happened with a short, sweet meeting of a young person named Gary. More than likely, she'd never see him again, but Gary would remain in her heart as the one who proved to her that she would be happy with a man one day. It was a beautiful awakening of the love of her spirit. She vowed to always be true to that emotion.

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

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