Category: Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - July 15 - August 5, 2013
Size: 40kb, short story
Written: July 14, September 25,29-30, October 1,3-4,6,9, 2007 Revised for Consistency December 8, 2017
Summary: The brood and their friends band together to fight for change.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
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) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Claudia, Melissa, Carol, Sara, Linda!
“Babe, I'll be right back,” Daniel said as he slipped on his tan
sweatshirt after finishing his workout, much to Jack's disappointment,
since he'd been enjoying the sight of his lover's sweat-covered bare
“Off to explore some strange new blend of coffee?” Jack mused, thinking his lover was going to sample a new flavor of Starbuck's coffee that they'd purchased earlier in the day.
“Funny,” Daniel responded dryly. “No, uh, I want to check on Little Danny. He was a little on the quiet side when we did the rounds. I just want to make sure he's okay.”
“Hunch?” Jack questioned as he did another sit-up.
“Yeah,” the younger man acknowledged with a small smile just before walking out of the master bedroom. **And no shortcuts on your workout, Babe.**
**Wouldn't dream of it,** Jack chuckled in his mind.
The day had been the usual hectic and crazy chaos that was the standard for the Jackson-O'Neill family. Jack had conducted some business for J-O Enterprises, their archaeological company, while Daniel had dropped by the SGC for a few hours to assist with some translations and mission evaluations. After concluding their afternoon homeschooling session, the family had gone shopping, both at the mall for clothing and at the grocery store.
After dinner, the evening had included some playtime at various neighbors' homes for some of the children, a family meeting, a phone call to their Uncle Billy and Aunt Jilly, who lived in Australia, a mini-crisis when one of the family cats, Calico, got her paw stuck in a window of Aislinn's dollhouse that she was building in the projects room, and an argument between Jenny and Ricky over whose turn it was to help with the nightly cleanup of the game room.
When peace had been restored, Jack and Daniel made their bedtime rounds of the younger children before spending some time together, first in the living room where they played a quick game of gin and then in their bedroom where they just chatted while doing some exercises and working out on some of the small gym equipment they kept handy.
It had been during their nighttime rounds that Daniel had noticed something not quite right about his namesake's behavior. The boy had been unusually quiet and withdrawn. In fact, he'd thought the same thing about Aislinn.
Jack wasn't surprised by his husband's decision to check on Little Danny again. He'd had that same uneasy feeling. He'd asked the two Munchkins if anything had happened or was wrong, but both children had insisted they were fine. For a moment, he considered leaving his workout session behind to join Daniel, but then he decided against it, thinking that perhaps one parent would have better success in discovering whatever was wrong than two would.
Daniel entered the boys' room. He smiled as he pulled the blanket up a little tighter over Jonny. He smiled again, silently wondering if Ricky would ever stop sleeping with his old baby blanket. He and Jack had decided not to interfere with the boy's devotion to, or need for, the item that he'd had since his birth. Over time, Ricky had stopped carrying it around with him, but he still insisted on sleeping with it.
Then Daniel walked over to Little Danny's bed, sitting down at the edge. He heard a sniffle and knew his hunch had been right.
“Sproglet?” the archaeologist called out gently as he placed his hand on the boy's shoulder.
In an instant, the young boy sprang up from his bed into his younger father's arms. He was crying, but it was soft, and Daniel realized the boy didn't want to wake up his siblings.
Carefully, Daniel rose and carried the middle Munchkin out of the room. He walked to a bench that they'd recently purchased and placed towards the end of the hallway. Sitting down, he rubbed Little Danny's back and whispered his love into the boy's ear. The little boy's arms clung to his father's neck as he cried, wetting his father's sweatshirt.
After a couple of minutes, Daniel asked, “Are you ready to tell me what's wrong?”
“It's sad, Daddy. I don't understand. I feel bad for the baby,” Little Danny stated as he leaned back, shifting a little so that he was sitting more securely on Daniel's lap, facing his younger father.
“JD?” Daniel asked, thinking there was a problem with the youngest Jackson-O'Neill.
“Na-huh. The baby that man put in the microwave. Daddy, why would a daddy try to cook his baby?” the tearful child asked, not stopping the stream of wet drops from rolling down his cheeks.
Daniel's heart broke, both for the hospitalized infant and for his son who was broken up about the event. He'd heard the story on the news earlier in the day, but he had no idea that the brood knew about it. Sadly, he recalled a similar story that had happened several years earlier. Like his son, he didn't understand that kind of mentality. It certainly wasn't human, not in his opinion. As he looked into Little Danny's watery eyes, he realized he didn't have an answer, so he spoke the truth.
“I don't know, Danny. I wish I did, because if I did, maybe I could do something to change it,” Daniel answered.
Little Danny sniffled, “He was just a little baby, Daddy, like JD.”
“I know,” Daniel spoke softly, brushing back the boy's bangs that hung over his forehead and well over his eyes. ~Time for a haircut,~ he thought.
“We don't know why?”
Daniel shook his head, saying, “Well, I'm sure they'll try and come up with a reason. The man was insane, stressed out, had no money ...”
“But why *hurt* a baby, Daddy? The baby isn't ... what you just said.”
“I agree with you, Son, and, if things are that bad for someone, they have alternatives. He could have taken his child to a shelter, or even to the police. Why he chose to ignore those options and do what he did, I don't know.”
“Not right, Daddy,” the boy said as he tried to dry his cheeks.
“No, it isn't,” the father agreed, who wondered if the news story was the same reason for Aislinn's somewhat withdrawn behavior as well. “Sproglet, did Ash hear that story, too?”
Little Danny let out another sniffle and nodded, explaining, “We were playing outside at the Millers, and it was on the radio.”
~We can't shield them forever,~ Daniel thought sadly, certain that's why Aislinn hadn't been herself that night, either.
“Newsman talked about that fire in the forest, too, Daddy. People lost their homes and ... and pets, too,” the angst-ridden boy cried.
“Hey,” Daniel said, bouncing his son in his lap one time to get his attention. He looked deep into the blue eyes that were staring at him and said, “There are a lot of sad things that happen in our world, Danny. I'm glad you feel for those people, for their lives and their property, and, if you want, we can try to do something to help, maybe contribute to a fund or rescue a pet and give it to someone who lost a pet.”
Little Danny brightened as he said, “No pet replaces another, Daddy, but there's always love for another pet.”
“As Dad would say, yeahsureyabetcha,” Daniel chuckled lightly, happy when his namesake chuckled, too. “Unfortunately, we can't save the world, as much as I wish we could. Dad and I have tried to protect you and your brothers and sisters from a lot of the sadness out there, but you're growing up, and you're going to start to hear about ... well, about more of the not so nice things that happen. Be compassionate, Little Danny, and do what you can to help, when you can, but don't let the burdens of the world rest on your shoulders. If you do, you'll crash, and I don't want that to happen.”
“Dad says we should be part of the solution when something is wrong,” Little Danny commented.
“And he's right,” Daniel asserted with a nod. “People complain too much instead of actually trying to make things better. If you don't like something, try to fix it, or at least do what you can to make it better.”
“Like rescuing a pet and giving it to someone who needs love?” Little Danny asked.
“Yeah, like that. We can't undo the bad, but maybe we can help people move forward.” As Little Danny smiled and took on a thoughtful look, Daniel asked, “Ready to go to sleep now?”
“Yeah, I'm tiiii...<yawn>...red,” the boy responded.
Daniel stood and carried the boy back to the bedroom, tucking him in once again. He smiled, looking down at the child prodigy.
“Daddy, can we really do that? Rescue a pet for someone?”
“Sure. I'll make some calls tomorrow, and we'll figure out how to make that happen soon, okay?”
“Okay. I love you, Daddy,” Little Danny said as he turned over on his side and closed his eyes.
Leaning over, Daniel placed a kiss on the boy's forehead and replied, “I love you, too, Little Danny.”
“Did you find out what was wrong?” Jack asked when his lover reappeared.
“Are you still doing sit-ups?” Daniel asked.
“A question with a question?” Jack challenged as he did his latest sit-up.
“I'm not buying it, Babe,” the younger man answered as he sat on the edge of their bed, one leg folded beneath him.
“Not even a little?” Jack asked with a crooked smile. Seeing nothing but a stare in response, he sighed, jumped up, and said, “It was worth a shot.”
Daniel laughed, watching as Jack began touching his toes several times.
“Uh, anyway, yeah. They heard some stuff on the news at John and Mitzi's that upset them,” Daniel informed.
“The guy who tried to kill his baby by putting him in ...”
“... the microwave?” Jack said at the same time. “I'd like to put him in a microwave and crisp him.”
“Yeah, me, too,” Daniel agreed. “And they heard about the people who were displaced by the fire. Oh, I told Little Danny we'd try and find someone who lost a pet in the fire and give them a new pet from the shelter to love. I think we should add some pet supplies and maybe some financial assistance, too. Are you okay with that?”
Jack stood up straight and stared incredulously at his husband.
“Well, I'd thought I'd ask,” Daniel chuckled.
“Find two,” Jack commented as he bent over again, “One for Little Danny, and one for Ash. She was upset, too, right?”
“Yeah. I went by her room after talking to Little Danny. She was still awake, so we talked about it for a while,” Daniel answered. “I wish we could shelter them from the dark side of life for a little bit longer,” he sighed.
Jack stopped his exercising and walked over to the bed, sitting down to face his Love. He took his hands and then leaned forward to share a tender kiss. For a moment, the two men just gazed into each other's eyes.
“Danny, we both know we can't keep the brood in a bubble. We've been pretty lucky because of how we supervise their playtime with others, not to mention we have good neighbors who care about this kind of thing, too, but ...”
“They're getting older, going out more, and listening more,” Daniel sighed. “I just wish ...”
“Me, too,” Jack agreed, leaning over and kissing his husband again. “How about thinking about something good, like ...”
“Oh, yeah,” Daniel agreed. “That's my kind of exercise.”
“Amen,” Jack laughed as the two began the foreplay that would lead to an explosive lovemaking round.
“That's sad, Little Danny,” Carrie Lapierre sighed when her good friend told her about the news story he'd heard the day before. She slowed her swinging and sighed, “Poor baby.”
“Dad and Daddy say that we have to do good things and try to help, Carrie. I want to help, but I don't like feeling sad.”
“Me, neither,” Carrie responded. “They always have sad stories on the TV. Mommy and Daddy don't like me to watch the sad stuff.”
“Hi Little Danny, Carrie,” Clarice called out, leading the way as three neighborhood children burst into the Jackson-O'Neill backyard, followed closely by Jonny, Aislinn, Ricky, Jenny, and David. “What's happening?” the eleven-year-old asked.
“We're talking about all the bad news,” Carrie answered.
“Bad news is depressing,” Jonny stated as he looked around for bugs to play with.
The kids began to talk about the stories that they'd heard on the TV or the radio. Soon, they were all just sitting around, feeling sad.
“My dad gets grumpy after watching the news,” Melinda McClain-Stevens stated. The mature eight-year-old girl was the daughter of Shelly McClain and Bob Stevens, an unmarried couple who'd been together for twelve years. Shelly had just given birth to their fourth child, a son they named Christopher Adam. All of their children used the hyphenated name of their parents. “Mom tells him not to watch, but he says he has to. Don't know why, though,” she said, shrugging.
“Because he has to stay on top of current events,” ten-year-old Calvin Miller spoke. “That's what my dad says.”
“My mom won't watch the news,” Lisa interjected. “I heard her tell my dad once that we have enough of our own problems to worry about without getting all bummed about everyone else's.”
“Boy, you all look like lumps of mashed potatoes,” Jeff stated as he walked outside. “What's wrong?”
“Jeff, why is the news always bad?” Jenny asked her oldest brother.
“It's not always. They always do some cheery, silly story at the end. Why?” After hearing the children's complaint, he quipped, “Well, our parents always tell us that if we don't like something, we shouldn't sit around and complain about it. Instead, we should try and fix it.”
Little Danny nodded and then spoke, “That's what Daddy said last night, but there's so much that needs fixing. How can anything we do make a real difference?”
“You can't think about it that way, Little Danny. You need to think positively and take it one step at a time. If everyone did that, imagine what a great place the world would be; and don't underestimate the impact that one person can have on the world. Just think of Henri Dunant.”
Jeff knew that Little Danny had recently stumbled across the story of the Henri Dunant, the man whose ideas and writings inspired the foundation of the Red Cross and the first Geneva convention of 1864. He hoped that by reminding his little brother of the story, the young genius would see the difference that one person truly could make.
“But what can we do?” Aislinn asked.
“Use your noggins,” Jeff responded, tapping gently on his brother David's head. “How do you stop bad news?”
“Jeff, Chely's here,” Daniel called out from the patio door, returning inside when he saw the boy nod.
“See ya later, Squirts,” Jeff spoke jovially, turning around and heading back inside to see his girlfriend.
“Teenagers think they're so grownup,” Calvin whined.
“He's right,” Little Danny called out. “Jeff's right. We have to be the solution.”
“What do you mean?” Carrie asked, looking at her best friend.
“We make good news!” Little Danny got up and announced, “We need to have a street meeting.”
“Let's go see who's home,” Jonny suggested, leading the children towards the house. When they got inside, he called out, “Daddy, we need a meeting.”
Daniel walked into the living room from the kitchen. He'd been keeping an eye on the children through the kitchen window while doing some cleaning and had seen them heading inside.
“We do? Okay, what's the subject?” the archaeologist inquired.
“No, not us,” Aislinn responded.
“A kid meeting,” Jonny explained.
“Oh, well ...”
“Can we call and invite some of the other neighborhood kids over?” David questioned.
“Okay,” Daniel agreed, curious about what the children were up to, but deciding that since he had a full plate on his calendar, he wouldn't pry, yet. “Use common sense please,” he reminded as he nodded at David, essentially putting him in charge of the phone use.
“Thanks, Daddy,” Little Danny said, gathering the children together to make a quick list of the neighborhood children to invite.
Thirty minutes later, Jack walked in the house, carrying two bags of groceries and some dry cleaning. He was whistling happily, until he saw his lover staring intently out the patio door.
“Danny, what ...” Jack paused as he approached, suddenly realizing there were about thirty children in the backyard, and that didn't even include the brood. “What's going on?” he asked as he put the bags on the counter and the dry cleaning on one of the barstools.
“I have no idea,” the archaeologist sighed.
“Do we need a permit?” Jack quipped, earning him a glare of disbelief from his lover. Ignoring the glare, he suggested, “Well, let's find out ...”
“No,” Daniel said, reaching out to prevent his lover from opening the door. “Apparently, it's a neighborhood kids meeting, and grownups aren't allowed.”
“Obviously, teenagers are,” Jack stated, noticing that Jennifer, Jeff, Chely, and about six other teenagers were among the gathering, as well as several tweeners. “Danny, they didn't just show up.”
“No, no, they, uh ... they were invited,” Daniel responded.
“I'm not sure, but I suspect that ignorance is bliss, Babe,” the younger man put forth. After a beat, he added, “They sure are focused.”
Jack nodded and then took the groceries into the kitchen, wondering if the world had gone insane since he'd left to run a few errands. He stared out the kitchen window, noticing that several kids were taking notes. Little Danny was at the middle of their circle, along with Brianna, Jeff, Clarice, Chloe Payne, and Jose Zapata.
~What are they doing?~ the general pondered, noticing how animated, yet serious that the group seemed to be.
One week later, Daniel parked his Shelby-American sports car in the driveway, having just arrived home from work. He wondered whether Jack had managed to work out what the brood was up to yet. When they'd asked about the 'kid meeting', they'd been told it was a secret. Since Jeff had assured them that it was a 'good secret', the parents had let it drop, though it hadn't curbed their unending curiosity. Stepping out of the car, he waved at John Miller, who had just gotten home as well, and then headed inside the house.
“Hi, Love,” Daniel greeted, entering the study and giving his husband a kiss. “How was your day?”
“Lonely,” Jack said, making a pouty face. “You were gone all day.”
“I'll make it up to you tonight.”
“Promise?” Jack asked, still wearing a sad face.
“I promise. Here's a preview,” the younger man stated, after which he planted a huge, spine-tingling kiss on his lover.
“Now that's what I call a preview,” Jack said, smiling.
“Uh, it's a little quiet around here,” Daniel observed, realizing he hadn't yet been besieged by a house full of kids. “Where's the brood?”
“The whole kit and caboodle are at the Millers.”
“All of them?”
“Yep, except for JD; he and Patch are napping as one,” Jack answered, chuckling at the youngster's love for his stuffed dog that had been gifted to him by Thor. With a cock of his head, he reported, “Apparently, it's another neighborhood kid meeting.”
“They still haven't told you what it's all about?” Daniel asked as he sat on the edge of his husband's desk.
“I talked with Mitzi, and no one knows. They're doing a great job of keeping it a secret, but all the teens are promising that it's all good.”
“I guess we have to trust them,” Daniel spoke.
“Jen and Jeff wouldn't let them go too far south,” Jack assured. ~I don't think.~
“I know, but it's sure been quiet around here,” the younger man sighed. “I used to love the quiet. I still do, but ...”
“But not a full week's worth,” the older man laughed, nodding his head in understanding. “I guess we might as well take advantage. I was reviewing Ty's recommendations, and I have a few concerns.”
“I saw that, and I do, too,” Daniel stated, walking over to the sofa, sitting down, and then opening his laptop to pull up the information Jack was referring to.
“Dad, Daddy, do you have a few minutes?” Jennifer asked the next evening.
“Sure, Jen. Have a sit,” Jack said.
“Dad, that's not correct English.”
“There's a time and a place,” the general mused.
Jennifer chuckled as she sat down at the wooden table that was in the dining nook. Most of the children were playing in the game room or watching a movie on the plasma TV in the recreation room, while their parents were chatting and enjoying a drink of coffee and a piece of cinnamon bread.
“Tomorrow, I'd like to take David, Bri, Noa, Ash, and Little Danny to a couple of the shelters we go to,” Jennifer announced. “Um, and before that, we'd like to go by the Mountain Chalet and Jo-Ann's and buy a few things,” she requested, referring to a sporting goods and crafts store, respectively. “The kids are using some of their allowance, but we'd like your permission to use the family accounts to buy some things.”
“Okay,” Daniel responded. “First question, I take it this is a brood-only request since you didn't ask one of us to go. Why?”
“That's ... a secret,” Jennifer spoke. “We'd like this to be considered our family donation for this quarter, like normal, only we're doing it a little differently ... because of the secret,” she reiterated, smiling coyly.
“How much?” Jack asked.
“A couple of hundred at each store,” Jennifer answered. “That's in addition to what the kids want to use from their allowances.”
“How much of their allowances do they want to use?” the younger man inquired.
“It's reasonable, Daddy,” Jennifer responded. “Pretty much what they normally do.”
“Jack?” Daniel asked, curious what his lover thought of the request.
Cocking his head slightly, the older man shrugged and answered, “I don't see why not, if they want this to be our usual donation, but I do have a question.” He paused and queried, “Why not the entire family?”
“Didn't Daddy already asked that?” Jennifer smirked. She laughed and apologized, “Sorry, Dad, but I couldn't resist.”
“Just answer the question,” Jack requested.
“Well, it's like I said a minute ago; it's part of the secret, Dad,” the teenager stated.
Jack looked at his lover and shrugged, after which Daniel replied, “Okay, Jen. We trust you. I'll call the Chalet and Jo-Ann's to tell them you'll be dropping by and the price range, just so they know.”
“Thanks, Daddy, Dad,” Jennifer expressed cheerfully, getting up and giving both of her fathers a hug before heading into the recreation room to watch the end of the movie.
“Danny, aren't you curious?”
“Dying to know,” the younger man agreed.
Jack took a breath as he stared in the direction where the children were, but then he looked at his husband and asked, “Chess?”
“You're a glutton for punishment, O'Neill.”
“Not tonight, Dannyboy.”
“Bring it on,” Daniel challenged, getting up to refresh his coffee before their game would begin.
“Dad, sit down!” Jenny ordered.
“Yes, Ma'am!” Jack snarked, saluting the young girl, who glared at him, causing him to laugh.
“It's time for the news, Dad,” Aislinn stated, a smile on her face.
“Where's Daddy?” Little Danny asked.
“Right here,” Daniel announced, entering the rec room. “Sorry, but I had to finish my phone call.”
“Sit down, Daddy,” Jenny ordered. “We have to be on time.”
“Uh, okay,” the archaeologist replied, sitting down next to his husband. **Any idea?**
**Clueless,** Jack answered.
Brianna lowered the plasma screen and turned on the TV, although she muted the sound. It was two minutes before the six o'clock news would begin.
“Dad, Daddy, it's time for the news, but not this news,” the tomboy said, pointing at the teaser for the soon-to-start evening newscast. “Instead, we present ... this!”
Brianna held up a DVD and then walked over to the DVD player and inserted the disk. As she did so, Little Danny took center stage.
“You always tell us to be the solution, so we did,” Little Danny spoke. “Ready, Bri?”
“Jeff?” the middle Munchkin asked.
Jeff stared at his watch and counted down, “Ten - nine - eight ...” until he finally got to, “three - two - one. Go, Squirt!”
“Dad, Daddy, here's the news!”
Brianna hit 'play', and a collage of local images were displayed with an engaging and compelling musical score accompanying it. As the score ebbed, two of the neighborhood children appeared on the screen, sitting side by side behind a desk.
“Good evening. It's Thursday night, and it's time for the news. I'm Livey Tate.”
“And I'm Calvin Miller. Tonight we begin with a story about our parks. Melinda, what's the story?”
Suddenly, the scene changed to Jack's and Daniel's favorite park. Standing in the middle of it was Melinda McClain-Stevens.
“We're at the park to show off our new garden. Bob Stevens helped to plant these new flowers, and aren't they pretty?” Melinda smiled, saying, “I love pink flowers. They match my pink blouse, see?” she asked, looking down at her lovely pink blouse with the frilly lace border around the neck.
Twenty minutes later, various good news stories had been presented from around the neighborhood.
When the current story ended, looking into the camera, Livey spoke, “Thanks, Lisa, for that report on how to shop 'green' and reuse both paper and plastic bags. Up next, a special story about one of our neighborhood's most well-loved families. Take it, Jen.”
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look before quickly refocusing on the screen.
“Thank you, Livey. I'm Jennifer Morgan Jackson-O'Neill, and these are some of my brothers and sisters,” Jennifer spoke, motioning for her siblings to join her on the screen, which they did, filing in and standing in front of the teenager. We're here at one of our favorite shelters. We'd like you to meet Mrs. Beth Carradine, who is one of the administrators of this facility. Hello, Mrs. Carradine,” she greeted as the woman came into view.
“Hi, Mrs. Carradine,” Brianna greeted cheerfully.
“Brianna, it's so good to see you again.”
Jennifer faced the camera and informed, “Mrs. Carradine is well acquainted with my sister, Brianna, because Brianna once lived here.”
“And the one thing this place sorely lacked was fun stuff, like this,” Brianna interjected, holding up some backpacks and sunglasses. “Aren't these cool?”
“You look awesome, Bri,” Aislinn praised. “Shelters have to spend their money on clothing, food, medicine, and school materials. They don't have extra funds for fun things.”
“That's why we brought this,” David spoke, holding up a bag of materials purchased at the hobby shop. “Mrs. Carradine, may we go inside and share these with some of the kids?”
“Of course, David. This way,” the woman said.
The next couple of minutes showed the Jackson-O'Neills interacting with several children at the shelter. The kids were involved in various wood-burning, jewelry making, and decoupage projects.
Four minutes into the story, Brianna concluded, “While it was hard for me at the time, I realize now that Mrs. Carradine and the others were really on my side; and, of course, I'm very happy that my parents adopted me. I'm happy, too, that we continue to come here, and go to other shelters, to share what we have.”
“Thanks, Bri,” Jennifer spoke. “David, you wanted to say something?”
“I just wanted to say that kids at shelters need friends. We've made some great friends, and you don't have to adopt the kids to be their friends.”
“Our grandpa helped to start a grandparent program at one of the shelters we visit,” Chenoa informed. “If you have time, maybe you could read a story to a little girl like me.”
“Or maybe play catch with someone like me,” Brianna spoke.
“Or maybe talk to someone like me about history,” David stated.
“Believe me, as someone who lived at a shelter, there are a lot of ways for people to contribute. Money is great, but time is even better,” Jennifer stated. Smiling, she ended the report saying, “And that's what's happening on our side of the street. Livey, back to you.”
“Thank you, Jen,” Livey spoke from her desk.
“For our final story, we go to Kanesha.”
“Livey, we have some great news from the Livingstons. Gayle Livingston passed her driver's test, and Amy Livingston just got her Water Drop Patch from the Girl Scouts. That's really awesome, Gayle and Amy. Calvin has more good news,” Kanesha spoke.
Back in the 'studio', Calvin spoke, “I sure do. Randy Shirtleff just spoke his first word, and Meryl Pontigrew is crawling now! Watch out moms and dads!”
Livey laughed and then said, “Thank you, Calvin. Finally, Jeff Jackson-O'Neill has our Neighborhood News commentary. Jeff.”
Walking through the Jackson-O'Neill backyard, the boy reported, “Livey, I'm here, in my own backyard. It's a safe and wonderful place for my brothers and sisters, and our friends, to play. We're lucky; we have a lot of things, but that's not really a factor in our fun. I could easily be ...”
There was a change in location, and now Jeff was in the Miller's backyard.
“... here,” Jeff spoke. “This is the backyard of the Millers. Kids love to play here, too, and it's not because of the fun area over here, or the play area over there,” he said, pointing to the appropriate areas full of play equipment, “but it's because of the good vibes coming from homes in our neighborhood just like this.
“Recently, though, the kids in our neighborhood became concerned. We have a lot of kids who are becoming more aware of the world around them; that includes the daily news and radio reports. It's impossible to keep the darkness of our world from them. Let's face it. There are murders, assaults, robberies, and all kinds of crimes being committed every day, which keeps a place like this ...”
Suddenly, Jeff was standing in front of the nearest sheriff's station as he continued his commentary.
“... very busy. Isn't that right, Detective Shanahan?”
All of a sudden, Detective Pete Shanahan walked over and nodded, “That's right, Jeff. I wish I could refute your statement, but we're kept busy here. Our pals over at the police station are equally busy.”
“Detective, how much of what you do would you say could be considered good news?”
“A lot. We help a lot of people.”
“Isn't it true that a lot of that help has bad news as its catalyst?”
“Yeah, that's true, too, but you have to focus on the good, Jeff. We couldn't do our jobs if we dwelled on the bad. There's too much of it,” Pete responded, trying to be positive, though the reality of the darkness he and others in law enforcement had to deal with was present in his tone and expression for a brief second.
“So, what you're saying, Detective, is that you think about good things. You deal with the bad, but it's the good news that keeps you going?” the teenage reporter questioned.
“You hit the nail on the head, Jeff.”
“Thank you, Detective,” Jeff said. “Which means that we've spent enough time here, and we'd rather think about good things like ...”
Again, a change of location was seen, and Jeff was now standing at the park from the very first story.
“... like flowers planted by a neighbor who cares about the children in the neighborhood. I realize that news has to talk about crime. That's the nature of our world. We need to stay informed, but there comes a time when enough is enough. One of our local kids told me that their father is grumpy after watching the news; another said that watching the news always makes their parents depressed, giving them a hopeless feeling; and yet another said that their parents often end up angry while watching the news.
“My parents have told us that if we're not happy about something, we shouldn't gripe, but should find a way to fix the problem. That's what this Neighborhood News is about. We can't stop crime from happening. In all reality, we can't avoid learning about the sad events that plague the world, unless we become hermits and live in a cave. We can, however, try to cause change.
“Livey pointed out while she was watching the news that it always starts so dark. The most recent 'breaking news' of some crime is the lead. The end of the news, though, is always lighthearted. There's a joke or some silly story. Is it an accident that those last stories are almost like a skit? It's like a setup for the late night talk shows that begin with comedic monologues and skits.
“My challenge, and the point of this commentary is, why not give us something positive at the beginning of the news? Why not give good news equal footing with the bad? I'm not advocating eliminating bad news. That's part of life, and we do need to be informed.” Jeff paused as the camera came into a close up. Then he queried, “But why do we want to hear about crime more than we want to hear about this park? We can't blame the news stations, because we are the viewers. We can demand, if we want. I leave you with the question. Do you want to be grumpy, depressed, and angry for thirty minutes and then laugh at a comedian? Or would you rather,” he pointed back at the garden, “smell the flowers, deal with the bad that is part of our world, and then close out with a laugh? The choice *is* yours.”
“Thank you, Jeff,” Livey spoke.
Suddenly, the three dozen or so children who had organized the Neighborhood News appeared on the screen and shouted in unison, “We want good news!”
“This is Livey Tate. Good evening.”
Music accompanied the end credits and then the DVD ended.
“Wow,” Daniel expressed, sincerely impressed by what he'd just seen and heard.
“Hey,” Jack spoke. “Is that what you've been working on?”
Little Danny grinned and said, “We all did it. We had to decide on the stories ...”
“And write them,” Aislinn spoke.
“Everyone helped,” Lulu added. “It was fun.”
“We're ... very, very impressed,” Daniel spoke, a bit emotional for reasons he wasn't even sure of. “Wow.”
The phone rang. It was Mitzi Miller. A few seconds later, Shelly and Bob, along with their children dropped by. Soon, the house was full of neighbors. The parents had been awe-struck by the tremendous job their children had done. They all wished their evenings could end with Neighborhood News as told by their children.
One week later, Brianna turned on the TV in her bedroom, intending to watch a show on the oceans on the Discovery Channel. However, just as she turned it on, she heard something that got her attention.
“Coming up in sixty seconds, a neighborhood petitions for good news,” the newscaster announced.
“Oh my gosh!” Brianna exclaimed. Wanting to alert the family, she went to the intercom, pressing the button that went to the entire house and saying excitedly, “Everyone turn on the news! Fast!”
Jack and several of the kids made it to the recreation room just as the news began. Daniel, holding JD and with the Munchkins at his side, had turned on the news in the den. David, along with Lulu and the twins, watched the TV in his room, while Jennifer and Chenoa watched the broadcast in the teenager's room. Jeff was in his room and quickly turned on the news just as the newscaster had begun his report.
“Our station takes your requests seriously, and over the past week, we've been inundated with requests for good news. While we often get complaints, as does any reputable station, we've never had viewer comments quite like this before. We asked the question 'why now?' and 'what's behind this sudden interest in good news?' Reporter Clint Biffle has the story.”
“I'm here with Maria Rameriz, one of several parents from one Colorado Springs neighborhood who say they want more good news. Maria, what's the story here?” Clint questioned.
“I'm a stay-at-home mom, and my husband works hard for a living; so do I, I might add. When we turn on the news, it's usually right after he's gotten home, and the first thing we hear about is some murder or rape, or some other disgusting event. We'd like a moment to breathe.”
“We have to tell the news; that's our job,” Clint responded.
“Of course. We want, and need, to be informed, but we need to know about more than just senseless acts of violence, and we want to see something besides an ending news story that makes fun of something. We want some good news.”
“And what brought this about?” Clint questioned.
“The kids. They put together an amazing newscast that highlighted the good news in our area. Okay, some of it was family things, but they did some great stories about our parks, about safety, about helping one another. They even had a commentary about what the news means, what the purpose of it is, and that's why I made my complaint to your station. I want a breather. I want to turn on the news and hear about something good in our world before you start telling me how dangerous it is for me to go out alone at night, or how buying the latest batch of spinach might lead to my ingesting dangerous chemicals. The commentary reminded me that *I* do have a choice, and I'm letting you know my decision.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Rameriz,” Clint spoke. Facing the camera, he said, “Back to you at the station.”
The newscaster smiled and said, “Mrs. Rameriz, we hear you. Opening our news tonight, we bring you the good news of a groundbreaking of a new park in ...”
“Daddy, it worked!” Little Danny exclaimed, gripping his father's arm excitedly. “They're telling good news,” he pointed out, looking at the screen and seeing the story about a local park that was being built in a section of Colorado Springs.
When the story ended, the newscaster said, “Tomorrow night, we hope to bring you the good news about a local Boy Scout troop that has been leading the way in neighborhood cleanups throughout the city.”
“Yah!” Aislinn cheered.
“And now, we do have some regular news to report.”
“You've made a difference,” Daniel stated as he picked up the remote and turned off the TV. He then pressed the button on the intercom and reminded, “TVs off, unless you have regular permission.”
Just like the week before, several parents called, and some families soon gathered together at the Jackson-O'Neills.
“We really made a difference, Ash,” Little Danny said to his sister quietly as they drank some Kool-Aid amid the group.
“I still wish someone could help the babies,” the youngest Munchkin whispered sadly.
“Remember what Dad and Daddy said. We have to do what we can do, Ash,” Little Danny reminded. “And you know what we can do?”
“We can remember them,” Little Danny put forth.
“You're a good brother, Danny,” Aislinn said, leaning forward and giving her brother a kiss on the cheek, causing him to chuckle and blush. “You're right, too,” she added. “Daddy, it's next week when we get to help the families get new pets, right?”
“That's right, Ash,” Daniel said, taking a minute to let some of the neighbors know about their plans to assist some of the fire victims. Of course, some of them asked if they could help, too. “I'll give you the number of our contact, and you're definitely welcome to come with us,” he told the interested families.
“Everyone, grab your glasses,” Jack yelled out. “To our children.”
“And to good news!” Little Danny added loudly.
“Here! Here!” Daniel cheered proudly. “To good news.”
“Good news,” Jack agreed, looking around the room at the brood and knowing that his and Daniel's even dozen were the best good news ever.
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