(Slice of Covidity - November 2020)
Category: Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - November 6-14, 2020
Written: February 5, March 15,18,26, April 17, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, but Little Danny is undeterred in his quest to protect the vulnerable.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!s
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): "Great Gobbly Gooks" and "A Startling Revelation"
Slice of Covidity - Expansion
Today was like most days lately. The Jackson-O'Neills remained close to home, even though stay-at-home orders and business restrictions due to COVID-19 were lessened. Citizens were going out more, hopeful that the virus responsible for so much pain and agony throughout the world was ending. Ever cautious, Jack and Daniel remained hunkered down at their residence except for essential errands.
On this day, Little Danny was streaming the news on his computer while he cleaned his part of the bedroom he shared with Jonny and Ricky. A report grabbed his attention. It was about angry residents in a small Montana town who were dealing with an uncontrolled outbreak of wild turkeys. Alarmed, the Munchkin immediately sat down at his desk and began to research the situation.
Thirty minutes passed before the Munchkin stood up. He walked to his bed and sat down, his hand rubbing Katie's ears gently.
"Katie, I can't let those people kill the turkeys. I mean, people keep taking away territory for wildlife. Where are they supposed to go? It's not right."
The beagle snuggled in a bit closer to the boy's thigh as her way of showing understanding.
"Sorry, girl, but I have work to do."
Little Danny returned to the computer and looked up some names and phone numbers. Then, he retrieved his smartphone from the main desk drawer and turned it on. He was on a mission and nothing would deter him from achieving his goal.
An hour before dinnertime, the middle Munchkin enlisted Aislinn to take his place as sous chef to David. Then he found his parents in the music room where Daniel was dabbling lightly on the piano and Jack was fiddling with the drums.
"Somehow, this looks strange," the fourteen-year-old observed.
"No comments from the peanut gallery," Jack quipped.
"We have a problem and we need to go to Montana right away."
"Excuse me?" a confused Daniel replied.
"They're going to shoot and kill turkeys, and we can't let that happen."
"Okay, Son," Jack began while putting down the drumsticks. "One fact at a time, slowly, please."
The teen told his parents about the news story on television and the research he did as a result. He also admitted that he called some members of the town council and the leader of the would-be hunters. The men were angry at the damage down by the wild birds. Worse, the number of wild turkeys in the area were increasing.
"The politicians won't stop it. They're afraid of not being re-elected," Little Danny reported. "The hunters don't care about the turkeys. Dad, Daddy, we need to expand our turkey sanctuary and save those birds."
"How about we start with a phone call," Jack suggested.
"You can try, but they won't back off," Little Danny claimed. "The hunt is tomorrow morning. If we don't go now, the turkeys will be slaughtered. I asked them to wait. I promised we'd have the turkeys off their property in a week, but they didn't care. I think they like to kill for the sport of it."
"Son, we're in the middle of a pandemic," Jack reminded.
"I know, but turkeys have a right to live, too. Please, Dad. Please, Daddy. Let's go to Montana."
Unable to deny their son's noble quest, Jack and Daniel arranged for most of the younger children to stay with either Jennifer or Jeff, while JD stayed with the Shanahans. Brianna, twenty, and David, nineteen, were allowed to stay in the house and tend to the daily zoo chores.
Skipping dinner, Jack, Daniel, and Little Danny boarded Jo, their family aircraft and made their way to Montana, which was only the second state beyond Colorado. Wyoming separated the two. It was a relatively short flight.
In the small Montana town, the Jackson-O'Neills checked in at one of two motels available. There were not any hotels, so their choice of accommodations was very limited. They chatted with townspeople, who all reported nasty run-ins with the turkeys. Some were okay with Little Danny's request for a week to capture and relocate the birds, but the majority said the birds were a nuisance, caused a great amount of property damage, and sometimes attacked residents as they walked from one location to another. Those people refused the Munchkin his seven days.
The Jackson-O'Neills dropped by the offices of the mayor and other members of the town council, though it was only the mayor who had a dedicated office. One man owned the gas station, another ran the dry cleaner's, and the only woman on the council owned the restaurant where the family ate their meals while in town.
When morning rolled around, Jack, the early bird of the bunch, arose at dawn and began to plan the moves for the day. As he considered possible outcomes and the speed at which things could occur, he started making phone calls, beginning with Alex Dennison and ending with Lucia Milano, who was currently the director of the Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill Turkey Sanctuary in Colorado Springs.
~Do we need a Plan B?~ the retired general wondered. ~We might, but let's not play those chips if we don't have to.~
With Plan A in his mind, Jack walked to the bed and gently woke his lover.
"Angel, I know it's early, but those hunters are going to try to get to those birds before we do. They know we're in town. We need to scoot."
"Wha... Uh ... yeah, I mean. Is it dawn?"
Jack laughed, "Rise and shine. We have birds to save and a son we need to help."
"Right. Okay, I'm awake," Daniel said with a yawn as he sat up.
"I'll make sure Little Danny is up."
Daniel yawned again and then got up out of bed and went to the bathroom to prepare for the day. As he did, he remembered back to 2013 when the whole turkey thing began. It was November, just like the current month. Thanksgiving was coming up, which meant the end of many turkey lives, something the then seven-year-old Munchkin didn't yet comprehend.
One day that November, Little Danny was with the Miller family as they visited a friend of Mitzi's who lived in the countryside. Turkeys were everywhere, something that delighted Little Danny. That is, until he realized the turkeys were slated for slaughter to become Thanksgiving Day main courses.
Long story short, as Daniel thought, Little Danny freed the turkeys and stood among them, refusing to leave. His parents were called to get him. Word spread and soon a local TV station had a reporter on the scene for a live story. Little Danny eagerly shared his tale of woe for the turkeys who he said had feelings, too.
Ultimately, the parents did what they said was the right thing to do. They purchased an acre of the man's land and bought all of the wild turkeys. Confronted with a camera in his face, the man promised the birds would always be safe in their new preservation area.
Over the years, the non-profit sanctuary grew. More land was purchased and a few outbuildings constructed for the caregivers. The number of employees also increased with time. The family made frequent trips to the sanctuary and always marveled at how the middle Munchkin could walk among the turkeys who flocked around him as if he were their leader.
~More like their savior,~ Daniel mused. ~Well, I guess it was bound to happen. The Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill Turkey Sanctuary, Montana Division, is about to become reality.~
With Little Danny leading the way, the boy and his parents confronted six hunters with rifles who were about to begin their turkey hunt.
"You can't do this," the teenager put forward. "We only need a week, and you'll never have to worry about them again."
It may have been a small town, but they were near larger ones, big towns and cities with lots of news stations. Having been alerted by the mayor, who secretly was against the slaughter, two different news vans drove up. In short order, microphones were in front of Little Danny's face.
**Do we let this happen?** Daniel asked via the couple's unique communication ability.
**I'm not going to stop it. He'd never forgive us.**
**So, media then.**
"I have a turkey sanctuary at home in Colorado Springs. These turkeys have a right to live their lives without being food on someone's table. My family wants to build a new sanctuary here. We just need a week to capture the birds and get temporary fencing until we can acquire land and build a proper home for the turkeys. I've asked for time. They've refused."
"Why won't you give this boy the week he needs?" the veteran field reporter questioned the men. "Do you hate turkeys?"
The hunters felt closed in, but they refused to leave, citing the damage to their property and the attacks on the town folk.
"They have a point. How do you respond?"
Little Danny stared directly into the camera and spoke, "Turkeys are one of God's creatures. They have as much right to land as people. More and more, humans build homes in the foothills or extend their property for whatever purposes they desire. Where are the wildlife supposed to go, if we keep pushing them away from their land? It is their land, as much as this country once belonged to Native Americans. What did we do when we discovered America? We made false treaties and shoved the Indian onto reservations. This was their land, not ours, but we took it anyway. We're doing the same thing with wild turkeys."
The boy paused, but quickly continued, "Turkeys are not dumb. They know the voices of the other turkeys. The 'gobble gobble' that we love to tease about is part of their mating calls. I'll bet some of these guys know the geography of this terrain better than any of them. That's right, they learn the layout of land quickly and they're attracted to new sights and smells. That's why they wander around; they're investigating.
"The mother hens tend for their children like human parents do, keeping them safe until it's time for them to spread their own wings. I know most people are scared of turkeys, but they love to play. Watch."
The teenager reached into his pocket and pulled out an apple he'd placed there earlier just in case he had time to play with the turkeys.
"Okay, you turkeys, it's kickoff time!" Little Danny exclaimed as he tossed the apple into the flock of birds. He smiled as they treated the apple like a football. It was great fun to watch. Then the teen kneeled and said softly, "Just like dogs and cats, turkeys need affection. They love to be stroked, just like this.
"Some of you may remember that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. He said they were more respectable than the scavenger eagles. Let's be clear. We love eagles and support their right to live, too.
"Going further back, the Mayans, Aztecs, and Toltecs all considered turkeys to be sacred. They were called Great Xolotl, which means jeweled birds." Little Danny sighed and shook his head. "Turkeys are beautiful. They have families. They love to socialize. Humans simply don't understand them and they're too busy to try, but look." He walked over to another group of the wild birds and stood as they came up to him and made an almost purring sound. "See, they know I'm their friend. Can't you give me seven days to protect these birds? Seven short days is all I need."
Once again, the hunters remained firmed, refusing to back down. Yet, while the news trucks remained, none of them wanted to fire the first deadly shot.
As the morning passed, Jack and Daniel continued to talk with the angry property owners, but made no progress. The TV reporters eventually told the couple they'd be on the scene for a while longer, but they would have to leave within two hours at the most.
Elsewhere, a respected man was playing chess with a friend when he saw Little Danny on the news. In the background, Jack and Daniel stood in support of their son.
"Deloy, get the car."
"I'm sorry, Little Danny. I have to get back to the studio," the reporter stated. The other crew departed thirty minutes earlier. "I hope you convince them."
"Thanks," the teen sighed. ~I have to save them.~
With the news station crew readying for departure, the hunters readied their weapons, eager to get rid of the turkeys as fast as possible.
"Fin, wait," the reporter called out to the cameraman as he was about to put the camera in the van.
"Dad? Who's that?" Little Danny question.
"Your guess is as good as mine."
A Chrysler Cadillac limousine approached, stopping near the news van. An older man, still in tip top shape, emerged. He wore sunglasses, even though it was autumn.
"Yeah, it is."
Stunned, one of the hunters observed, "That's Hayes."
Jack turned with a grin and affirmed, "President Henry Hayes."
"Hello, Jack," the ex-President greeted. He shook the general's hand and moved to the archaeologist. "Daniel, it's good to see you again."
"You, too, Sir."
Hayes walked over to Little Danny, but before saying a word, he motioned the news crew forward and stated, "You want to get this on air?"
"Give me one minute, and we'll go live."
Hayes waited for the cue and then smiled as he welcomed, "Little Danny, how are you?"
"I've been better, Mister President."
"Yes, I understand these gentlemen have a taste for killing innocent turkeys."
"I need a week, Sir."
"I heard," the ex-leader stated. "Son, did you know I own a bunch of land in Montana?"
"No. Do you?"
"More than I need. I have a ranch. Maybe you've heard about it."
"Jonny's mentioned it."
"How is Jonny?"
"Good. Back to business, I was thinking of selling, oh, let's say, ten acres to a good cause. Can you think of one?"
"Yes, Sir!" Little Danny replied with a gigantic grin.
"Have a dollar?"
"Um, yes." Little Danny drew his wallet from his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill. "Here you are."
"Sold!" The former President turned and approached the hunters. "Gentlemen, this boy now owns the land for a turkey sanctuary in this fine state. You see those four serious looking men by my car?" He waited a moment. "They're here to make sure you don't harm these turkeys. A week, gentlemen, won't kill you. Go home. Tell your families about the day you met a one-time leader of the nation. That tends to be more impressive than showing off your muscles by killing innocent creatures. Go!"
The hunters couldn't wait to leave and fled the area quickly.
Hayes returned to speak with Little Danny, saying, "The land is yours. Ten acres should go a long way in protecting these birds. If you need anything, you let me know."
"Thank you, Sir."
Little Danny couldn't resist. He leaned forward and gratefully hugged the man.
Hayes smiled and then approached Jack and Daniel again.
"That was very nice of you," Daniel stated. "How'd you know about this?"
"I watch the news," Hayes mused. "Can you drop by the ranch, say six-ish tonight? I'll have the papers ready for signing, and we'll make this official."
"Thank you, Sir," Jack responded, watching as Hayes left the area, though the four men did indeed remain to protect the turkeys should the hunters return.
By dinnertime, Plan A was in full swing. Alex had a design in process, Jeff was providing the limited architectural needs, Stuart Lapierre and his construction crew were on a plane headed for Montana, and Lucia and one other sanctuary staffer would be arriving tomorrow to serve as advisors. The first thing that needed to be accomplished, though, was to get temporary fencing set up to pen the turkeys safely. Once that was done, a team from the Springs would take over, capturing the birds.
The family went to the President's ranch, where Daniel and Little Danny were given the grand tour. Jack, of course, had already been there once before, back when the truth of Roswell was finally revealed to the Jackson-O'Neills and to the Asgard. As promised, the land deed and bill of sell where waiting to be processed. The owner of the ten-acre sanctuary was listed as Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill with the intended use of property stated as a turkey sanctuary.
"Little Danny, you look like a man with a problem," Hayes remarked at one point.
"I was just thinking," the teen said. "We're going to send a team from Colorado to capture the turkeys, but they don't need to be captured. They just need to follow me. They'd do it."
"Son, we have to get home," Jack put forth.
"He can stay with me," Hayes offered. "I'll have two men with him at all times. He'll be safe."
Daniel glanced at his husband and then asked, "Are you sure?"
"Sure, I'm sure." Hayes smiled and added, "Why don't you send Jonny out, too. The boys can stay a week and get this turkey thing going."
"That's very kind of you, Mister President," the teen expressed sincerely.
The parents agreed, said their goodbyes, and flew home where they promptly made arrangements for Jonny to join his brother at the ranch.
In the week that followed, Little Danny successfully proved himself to be the turkey whisperer as every single turkey followed him so that they could easily be rounded up and transported to their new home.
Unsurprisingly, Alex and Stuart had the buildings ready for use in short order. Jeff's designs were simple and basic, but provided all the space that was needed for the turkeys and the workers who would care for them. On that front, Lucia interviewed several locals for possible jobs. She was satisfied with three of them, but until she was confident they could handle the wild birds, five volunteers from the Springs were flying in to assist. She, too, would be staying in Montana indefinitely to ensure the sanctuary was properly up and running before returning home.
Little Danny enlisted Jonny to help him try to win over the residents, many of whom were still anti-turkey. They came up with fun ways to earn money for the new sanctuary, too, like having all the kids participate in an 'adopt a turkey' run, pledging a dollar-fifty per pound. Each bird could have multiple adoptive humans. The local photographer agreed to donate his time and equipment to take pictures of each bird that could be copied and given to the human adopters.
Another thing the boys did was hold a 'Get to Know the Turkeys' day where attendees were educated on the true nature of turkeys. They also explained why some turkeys are actually a little more violent. They took one person at a time inside the flock and showed them how to behave naturally around the creatures. Little Danny actually took some of the birds on a walk, further showing how good-natured the birds actually were.
By the end of the week, the majority of the townspeople, including two of the intended hunters, were now more aware of turkey habits and needs. They were eager for more special days when they could visit the wild birds.
Pleased and thankful, Jonny and Little Danny returned home, via a pickup in Jo by Daniel.
Back in the Springs, the Munchkin brothers loved sharing their experiences with their family. The unexpected trip refreshed the siblings as it was the first time in months they'd gone anywhere except for walks or to the park with the dogs.
The kids grew excited about the 'adopt a turkey' event and decided to do one themselves once COVID was over and done with.
Little Danny also made a vow to himself. The land was essentially given to him by President Hayes, and the labor costs were donated by Alex, Stuart, and Jeff, but he felt very strongly that these family and friends needed to be repaid for the materials. While his parents insisted on paying for the costs now, the teen kept detailed notes. He had two plans in mind. First was to have various fundraisers when the Coronavirus was no longer a threat. Second, he started making phone calls to benefactors of the sanctuary, asking their permission to divert some of their contributions to the new Montana home for turkeys. He would never take money intended for his Colorado Springs birds without the permission of the person who donated the money.
By the end of the year, the teenager was able to pay back his parents as turkey lovers came to the rescue. There was also a large additional donation specifically for the Montana sanctuary from Megan Williams Awad and another significant contribution from General Hank Landry, who told the teenager that he often felt like a turkey, so he might as well contribute to their survival. Little Danny even tried to pay Alex, Stuart, and Jeff for their time and labor, but all three refused, noting they could all write it off in taxes.
The war against the killer virus was still raging, but humans were starting to pull ahead. There was news about potential vaccines that could get emergency approval from the FDA by year's end. For the Jackson-O'Neills and families all over the world, the potential for returning to any type of normal was alluring. For the moment, though, caution was the ongoing word of the day.
While the virus might inhibit or overwhelm some, it certainly had no control over the extremely sensitive and caring lover of animals everywhere, Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill. Through his determination, the Jackson-O'Neills created yet another safe place for wild turkeys. Their hope now was that soon the world itself would be safe.
In the meantime, the love and devotion of the Jackson-O'Neills for one another was the glue that kept them together in the worst of times. There was plenty of that glue, too, so disease or no disease, for Jack, Daniel, their brood plus zoo, life was sweet and ever so eventful.
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