The Baseball Kid

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - March 8, 2014
Spoilers:  None
Size:  27kb, ficlet
Written:  April 6-8,10-11, 2012
Summary:  The Jackson-O'Neill kids meet up with someone from Jack and Daniel's past.
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):  “Faith of the Innocent”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Navi, Candice!

The Baseball Kid
by Orrymain

The nearly spring sky was full of clouds on this Saturday afternoon in Colorado Springs, and the temperature was a pleasant 59 degrees, making it a good day to be outside and engaging in recreational activities.  This is exactly what some members of the Jackson-O'Neill brood were doing.  Jeff, Brianna, and the Munchkins were at one of the local shelters, just spending time with some of the kids.  Jack was supposed to be there as well, but Chenoa had a little cold and just wanted her dad around to take care of her, so he obliged.  That resulted in an alteration of the parental duties for the day, meaning that after doing some errands, Daniel would be dropping by the shelter to join the children.

This particular shelter is one that Jack had volunteered his time at off and on over the years, though not as often as he had to other facilities., and Daniel had only been there once years before.  As for the brood, this was their second time visiting with the children, having accompanied their older father in the past.

The kids were playing with several of the boys and girls who had been orphaned and lived at the private shelter.  Most were between the ages of six and thirteen.  They were scattered into a few different groups, some standing and others sitting as they played games or just romped about.

After a while, a young man approached the children.  He was a couple inches shy of six-feet tall with a healthy looking physique.  His black hair was plentiful at the top of his head.  It wasn't long, though, and it was neatly brushed back.  He wore a white polo shirt and blue jeans with his sneakers.  In his right hand was a clipboard with a pen attached to it.  Trailing behind him was the shelter's oldest resident, a fifteen-year-old boy, who was toting a large bag that was bulging with unknown objects.

Stopping several yards in front of the children, the man waved with his hand as he called out, “Come on, kids.  Gather round.”

Unsure who the man was, the children were cautious, but most began to do as instructed.

Seeing some stragglers, the good-looking man beckoned, “Hey, come on over.”

“Us, too?” Aislinn asked uncertainly as she stood up.

“Everyone.  Let's go!”

Looking over at Jeff, the Munchkins saw their brother's nod and headed over to see what the stranger wanted.

“Do you think he thinks we live here?” Brianna asked Jeff.

“Probably,” Jeff responded, a little smile on his face as he began walking closer.

“Hi!” the stranger greeted enthusiastically.  “My name is Daryl Hodges, and I'm going to be spending a lot of time here as your recreation coach.  We're going to start with baseball.”

“The girls, too?” one of the boys whined.

“Everyone,” Daryl responded.  He twisted around slightly to motion at the boy holding the canvas sack.  “Joe has gloves, helmets, balls, and bats for us to use.  I'm still working on getting some other things we need, but we have enough to get started.  Help yourselves, and we'll play ball.”

“What do we call you?” a girl questioned.

“How about Coach or Coach Daryl?”

“Okay.”

While the shelter kids got their gear, the brood hung out together, waiting for the others before taking anything.

The coach looked at his clipboard and then at the kids as he instructed, “When I call your name, take a spot on the field.”

“Where?” a boy asked while skeptically pondering, ~Is this guy for real?~

“Anywhere you like,” Daryl answered with an assuring smile.  “I just need to start learning your names.”  He glanced at the clipboard and then called out, “Harry.”

Soon there were twelve kids in various places on the field.  Ten more were still waiting for their names to be called.  The coach looked at them and smiled.

“Your team is up to bat first.  I'll call your name and then I'd like you to stand in line over there by Joe.”  Daryl reviewed his sheet and called out, “Patty.”

With all the names that were on his sheet called within a couple of minutes, Daryl frowned.  He seemed to have five unaccounted for children in front of him.

Suddenly, Jonny snickered and told his siblings, “He thinks we live here.”

“You don't?”

Jeff chuckled and stepped forward, saying, “Coach Daryl, I'm Jeff Jackson-O'Neill, and these are some of brothers and sisters.  Um, that's Bri, Jonny, Ash, and Little Danny.”

Daryl's eyes had followed Jeff's hand as he'd pointed out his siblings.

“We volunteer here and at other places around town,” Jeff explained.

“Yeah, we play and bring things sometimes,” Jonny expounded.

“Some of us were adopted ourselves,” Brianna elaborated.  “I spent most of my time in a shelter before our parents adopted me.”

“We give back,” Jonny added, giving a nod for emphasis.

“That's great.”  Daryl sighed, “I'm afraid I don't have enough gear, though.  I spent every last penny I had this month on the equipment.  Mister Gerringer gave me the numbers ...”

“That's okay,” seven-and-a-half-year-old Little Danny spoke up.  “We'll be the cheering section.”

“Jenny should be here,” Aislinn giggled, referring to her sister who was often a cheerleader at events.

====

Thirty minutes later, Daniel arrived.  He walked up behind his children and greeted them, after which the brood refocused on the game that was in progress.

“Who is that?” Daniel asked his oldest son.

“His name is Daryl Hodges.  He's a nice guy, Daddy.  He's volunteering his time this summer.”

“That's good for these children,” Daniel replied.

“Daddy, he's a newlywed, and he just spent the last of his paycheck to buy the equipment,” Jeff related, having spent some time talking with the coach as the game had progressed.

“Wow!” the awed father responded.  ~That man is really putting his all into this.~

“But they still need a lot,” Jeff stated.  “Coach Daryl has a whole program planned, but he could only afford to buy the basics.  Do you think we could help with some of the extras?”

“Do you know what they need?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“We'll talk to Dad tonight.”

Jeff nodded, feeling good about the family's potential to help out with giving the shelter some of the items needed to run a good outdoor program this year.

====

It was the final inning of the game, and the kids were all having a super time.  Daniel was off to the side, watching.  It wasn't the game, though, that was fascinating him.  Rather, it was the coach.

~Hodges?  No, I don't know anyone named Hodges, but there is something about him.~

“You're such a jerk!” one of the kids in the infield called out angrily.

“Don't you know how to bend down?” another shouted unhappily, slamming his glove to the ground.

“Dweeb!” taunted another, his face fiery red with upset.

Daniel was about to intervene when he heard the coach.

“Hey, no one around here is a jerk or a dweeb, and today is just the first day,” Daryl corrected in a loud, stern voice so all of the kids could hear.  “Gather round,” he instructed.  “Everyone, come on in.  Now please.”  He waited for the children to approach and then he kneeled down on one knee, his hands gripping a bat.  “Kids, we're all we've got.  We aren't perfect, but we're a family.  You probably don't think of me as one of you, but I'm hoping you will as we get to know one another.  What I want you to learn from our time together is that baseball or any sport is just a game.  It's fun to win, but it's more fun to play together.  Out there in the world, there are some not so nice people, and that means we have to be even nicer to one another.  No one's a jerk, no one.”

“I like to be a winner,” remarked the boy who had hurled the jerk accusation.

“So do I, but winning is about who you are, not who has the most points.  You're Allen, right?”

“Yes, Coach.”

Daryl looked at the child who had been the subject of the ridicule and asked, “And you're Damany?”  He saw the sad boy nod in a subdued manner.  “It's okay, Damany.”  Daryl looked up and over at the older boy and suggested, “Allen, how about you spend some time with Damany, be his baseball mentor, teach him how to field, be his big brother?”

Damany was fighting to hide his smile.  He liked Allen and knew the older boy was so much better at everything than he was.

~Mentor?  Me?~  Allen was stunned at first, but then something inside of him liked the idea, so he agreed.  “Yeah, sure, okay.  I can do that.”

“Great!”  Daryl smiled as he stood up, dusted off his knees, and looked around at the kids.  “Okay, that's enough for today.”

“But who won the game?  We were tied,” one of the kids questioned.

“We all did,” Daryl answered.  As the kids began to talk while putting their baseball equipment back into the sack, the coach quietly reached out to Damany.  He again kneeled down, only this time he just rested on his haunches.  “Damany, sometimes change takes a long time.  We all have our own gifts.  Believe in yourself because I believe in you.”

“You do?”

“I absolutely do.”

Wearing a huge grin, Damany ran off.

From his vantage point, Daniel had heard the entire conversation.  He blinked, his mind working hard to explain the strange feeling he had, yet couldn't explain.

Daryl smiled, too, as he watched the boy.  He felt good, and he hoped that during his time with the shelter kids that he could foster positive emotions within all of them.  As he turned, he noticed a newcomer, a man.  He nodded politely and started to walk passed him, but then he stopped and turned to face him.

“Do I know you?” Daryl inquired.  ~He seems familiar somehow.~

“I don't think so.”  The man smiled and introduced himself.  “I'm Daniel Jackson-O'Neill.  Those are my children,” he advised, nodding over at the assembled brood as they chatted with some of the other kids.

“They're great kids,” the coach commented.  “Are you sure we haven't met?”

“Uh, actually, no, I'm not.”

“You look familiar,” the coach announced, his face focused as he studied the other man.  “I'm Daryl Hodges,” he stated, hoping that maybe his name would mean something to Daniel.

Shaking the man's hand, Daniel responded, “It's good to meet you.  I heard what you said to the children, about winning.  That was a ... a good thing.  There's too much emphasis on winning today.  That little boy, you made him smile.”

With a bit of a laugh, the coach replied, “A long time, I was that little boy, but one day someone told me that they be...”  Daryl paused, staring even more intently at Daniel.  “A very kind man told me that he believed in me and that it didn't matter whether I could catch a baseball or hit a single.  He said we were part of one big family and that we all have our own special gifts.”

The two men stared at each other as a bond began to break through.

Daniel inquired, “Your name is ... Daryl?”

“Yes, but as a boy, I was called Dar or Darry.”

“Darry?” Daniel repeated.  “Oh gawd.  You were one of the orphans here.”

The recognition was complete, and both men instantly knew how they had been touched by the other so many years earlier.

Nodding, Daryl affirmed, “I was.  I lived here for about four years.  The other kids made fun of me a lot.  Then there was that baseball name.  Colonel Jack ...”  He cocked his head a little.  “Jack O'Neill.  Jackson-O'Neill?”

Daniel let out a breath, uncertain how Daryl would react about his same-sex relationship.  He was so happy to meet up with Daryl again, and he hoped that the little boy who was now a man was a tolerant and understanding one.

“You were with Colonel Jack?”

“He's my husband now.”

Not flinching or hesitating in the slightest, Daryl asked, “And you have kids?”

“Uh, yes -- twelve, in fact.”

“A baseball team, plus replacements,” Daryl teased jovially.

“Jack would definitely like you,” Daniel responded.  ~He doesn't care,~ he thought with relief, pleased that the bond between the two was not affected by the choice of spouse.

There was a brief, shared chuckle before Daryl continued, “You changed my life that day.  You made me believe, Daniel, and I had never believed in myself until then.  I remember those minutes, and that's all they were, a few minutes when I was certain no one cared and that I'd always be alone.”

“I understood that feeling.”

“I think that's why I believed you.  Somehow, I just knew you knew.”

“I did,” Daniel confirmed.  “But things changed for me, after a while.”

“Thank you,” Daryl expressed soulfully.  “Thank you very caring.”

“You're welcome,” Daniel acknowledged.  “So, life is good?”

“Oh, man, it's great.  I have the best wife in the world, and we're expecting our first child in the fall.”

“That's really great.”  The archaeologist smiled and asked, “Hey, maybe you and your wife could come over to the house one night.  We can catch up.  Jack would love to see  you.”

“We'd like that.”

Daniel reached into his pocket and pulled out one of his business cards.  He wrote his cell phone number on the back and then handed it to Daryl.

“Deja vu,” Daryl mused.

“You're right,” Daniel replied, sharing the feeling.  “Give me a call.”

“I'll do that.”

With a nod, Daniel called out, “Brood, we have to go.”

As the archaeologist began to walk away, he heard his name again.

“Daniel?”  Daryl jogged a few steps to catch up with the man he credited for helping him to become his best self.  He shrugged and hugged the archaeologist.  “I know I already said it, but thank you.”

“I'm glad I was able to help.”

Separating and backing away, Daryl nodded and then turned around, jogging over to where Joe and the equipment were.

“Daddy, he was crying,” Aislinn observed.

“Ash is right.  Why was he crying, Daddy?” Little Danny asked.

Steering the children toward the family SUV, Daniel began, “It was a ... a very long time ago, 1998 I think.  Dad knew about this place, and one day he talked me into coming along with him.  He coached, and I sat on the sidelines.  Coach Daryl was a little boy, eight or nine, and let's just say, he wasn't the star of the game.”

“The kids made fun of him, right?” Brianna questioned.

“Oh, yeah, and it upset him.”

“You made him feel better,” Little Danny assumed.

“I tried.”  Daniel looked over his shoulder and saw the little boy he'd once helped. The boy was now a man who was himself starting his own family.  Daniel had made a difference and that filled him with joy.  “So, anyway ...”

====

The air was quite chilly late that evening as the temperatures dropped to dangle around the freezing level, but even so, Daniel was drawn to the railing of the roof deck.  He had on a warm wool turtleneck sweater, a black one he'd had for years that could be counted on to keep him warm.  He was more lost in thought than he was focused on any outdoor object.  Then he smiled, his eyes closing in happy contentment for he felt the strong, comforting arms of his husband wrap around his waist and pull him close.

Jack leaned around a bit so he could kiss his Love's cheek and then asked, “Are you okay, Angel?”

“I was just thinking.”

“Always dangerous,” Jack mused, though he let out a strong chuckle at what he knew had been a predictable statement.

Sure enough, even Daniel laughed somewhat at the affectionate jab.

“The baseball kid?”

“I'm glad he called,” the archaeologist admitted, referring to the phone call he had received just after dinner from Daryl.

“It'll be good to see him,” Jack responded.  ~Didn't take long and don't have to wait long,~ he thought since the Hodges were coming to dinner Sunday evening.  “What's going on inside that head of yours?”

Daniel slipped slightly out of his lover's hold and turned around to face him.  Jack's hands still held Daniel on his sides, and now Daniel reached out, his hands caressing Jack's outstretched arms.

“Jack, I made a difference.”

“You always make a difference.”

“Not back then,” Daniel disavowed.  “I didn't believe in much of anything, not even us, I mean, as friends.”

Jack's mind went back in time as he realized, “We weren't involved yet.”

“Not then, no,” Daniel replied.  “We were best friends, but ... you know.”

“You were always waiting for the other shoe to drop; every disagreement meant the end.”

Daniel nodded his agreement and then noted, “I never wanted to go with you.”

Jack's head bobbed up and down slightly, easily recalling Daniel's anxiousness when it came to going to any kind of children's home.  He was always willing to participate in charity events, to join in on donations, to give of his income, and to support in any way he could, the various activities that Jack was involved in, but actually going was something he had shied away from for many years.

“I ... I don't know how you talked me into it that day.”

With a cough, Jack confessed, “I think I might have been a little deceptive.”

“Really?” Daniel probed insincerely.

“You know me and rules,” the older man teased, temporarily bringing his right hand up to caress his soulmate's cheek.  More seriously, he admitted, “I don't really remember, Danny.  I do remember you and the boy.  He couldn't hit and he couldn't field, and the kids were picking on him.”

“Today, they call it bullying.”

“It crossed a line,” Jack agreed.  “I stopped it, but I had to keep the game going.”

“I saw his face, Jack.  He was defeated.  Worse, he was alone, and I ...”

“You couldn't let him be alone.”  Jack smiled and leaned in for a quick, sweet kiss with the joy that was his heart.  “I saw you.  That's what I remember, you and the kid, sitting side by side, brushing shoulders.”

“Gawd, that was hard.”

“I knew it was.  Touching wasn't easy for you back then.”

“Always protecting myself, ” the archaeologist sighed, his eyes downward as he reflected on those internally difficult years.  “But ... you were there, helping me to believe in me, so I just ... I just wanted to pass it on.  I didn't want the boy to become a statistic, an empty number to himself as much as to society.”

“You had him smiling in a few minutes,” Jack recalled with a smile.

“I told him baseball was just a game, and winning was something that was inside, not in a score.”  Daniel gazed into his soulmate's eyes,and then he swallowed, almost overcome by what he was feeling inside.  “Jack, he listened, and he believed.”

“And he came out a winner,” Jack concluded.

“Looks that way.”  Daniel paused, thinking about the first business card he had given to the little boy Darry.  “He called a couple of times.  We talked, and then he called again and I didn't get the message for a long time -- Hathor, us, the second Stargate: just a .. a bad time - and when I finally called back, he wasn't at the shelter anymore.  They wouldn't tell me where he'd gone.”  He sighed, “I guess we'll find out what happened tomorrow.”

After a bit of calming silence, Jack tenderly called out his husband's name.

“Daniel?”

“Mmm?”

“I believe in you.  I did then, and I do now.  It kills me that you grew up so miserable.  Nick ...”

“Let's not talk about him.”

“A lot of damage, Angel.”

Daniel held his finger slightly against his husband’s lips as he spoke, “Old news, Jack.  I just ... it feels ... it ...”

“It feels good to help and know you really did help.”

“Yeah, something like that.”

The lovers kissed tenderly and then silently strolled inside where it was warm, leaving the darkness of the outside to the growing winds.

====

“Jonny,” Little Danny called out in a raised whisper.

“Huh?  Ah, what?” the oldest Munchkin questioned as he fought to awaken.

“I was thinking.”

“Ah, Little Danny, I'm asleep.  Think tomorrow,” the little general mumbled. ~Always dangerous when he thinks,~ Jonny thought, unknowingly echoing his older father's thoughts.

“Can't.  It's important.”

Realizing it was a lost cause to try to get any sleep until he heard his brother out, Jonny turned on a tiny night light that was by his bed and sat up.  He looked over and saw that Ricky was still fast asleep.  As he did so, he felt his fellow Munchkin take a spot on the bed.

“I was dreaming about my regiment,” Jonny told his brother.

“You don't have a regiment,” Little Danny responded.

“I do in my dreams.”

“Oh,” the middle Munchkin acknowledged.

“I'm listening,” Jonny prompted.

“Jonny, Daddy helped Coach Daryl when he was a little boy.”

“I know.”

“We hafta do the same,” Little Danny stated strongly.

“Little Danny, the coach doesn't need help anymore.  He's the coach!” Jonny refuted while feeling a little confused.

“No, that's not what I mean.”

“What do you mean?”

“We hafta look out for all the other kids.  It only takes a minute,” the sensitive child insisted.

“I don't understand.”

“Words, Jonny.  Time.”

“I don't get it.”

“If we don't look out for one another, who will?”

“Dad and Daddy,” Jonny replied swiftly.

“But not all kids have dads and daddies like us, or mommies, either, and they get sad.  We have to help them not to be sad.”

“I don't' think we can make them not be sad, Little Danny.  We can't be parents.”

“We can be friends.”

Jonny thought for a minute, considering what his brother was saying.

Little Danny continued, “And even if we aren't friends, we can still believe in them, like Daddy did in Coach Daryl when Coach Daryl was a little boy.”

“Okay,” Jonny agreed.  “We'll believe.  We can do that.”

With a big smile on his face, Little Danny replied, “Good.  I'm going to sleep now.”

Watching his brother return to his own bed, Jonny snarked, “Now I'm too awake to go to sleep.  My regiment won't know what to do without me.  They were in the middle of a battle.”

Climbing under his covers, Little Danny quipped, “It's okay, Jonny.  I believe in you!”

Jonny heard the giggle and ended up giggling himself.  Turning out his night light, he pulled up the covers and almost instantly returned to his dreams.

Daniel's efforts with a young boy nearly sixteen years ago had not only touched that lonely child, but now also affected his own children.  It proved that words were important and that sometimes, a few minutes of kindness, even with a stranger, could be life changing.  It was a lesson the Munchkins would learn from and pass on themselves to their siblings and friends.  Where it would end, no one could guess because in the end, it was all about taking time to care, and in the Jackson-O'Neill residence, there was always time for caring.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author


copy html code
Cash Advance