Hearts and Wills

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Humor, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - January 5, 2013
Spoilers:  None
Size:  23kb, ficlet
Written:  December 25-26,28-29, 2008, January 2-3, 2009  Revised: April 25, 2011
Summary:  Who knows what beats within the hearts of the young.  It's something only parents can ponder and youngsters can wonder about.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
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), “The Most Expensive Christmas Ever”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Tammy, Claudia, Mama Bear!

Hearts and Wills
by Orrymain

“It was so kind of you to invite us over for lunch,” Rayna Oliver stated with a smile just before taking a sip of her tea.

“Our pleasure,” Daniel responded.

“And JD's,” Jack quipped, looking over at where one-year-old JD was playing footsies with the twenty-month-old Vanessa Oliver.

“And it would seem Vanessa's as well,” Rayna agreed as the toddler giggled at the youngest Jackson-O'Neill.

Rayna and her husband Cliff were sitting in the recreation room, chatting with Jack and Daniel.  The younger Jackson-O'Neill children were spread out in the home, playing, talking, and otherwise becoming better acquainted with the Oliver's kids.

The two families had met a couple of weeks earlier while Christmas shopping at Toys-R-Us.  It was a long story, but the gist of it was that some of the brood had convinced Rayna and her two kids, Tootie and Cliff, to drop by one of the local children's shelters.  While there, Rayna had fallen in love with two orphaned sisters, Julie and Vanessa.  She'd called her husband, and the couple was now in the process of adopting the youngsters, who were happily adapting to their new home.

Rayna and Carl had some questions regarding adoption for Jack and Daniel, knowing the same-sex couple had adopted many of their children, so they'd eagerly accepted the surprise invitation to spend an afternoon at the Jackson-O'Neill home.  In fact, with Jack and Daniel's permission, they'd even brought along their own two beagles, Lincoln and King, both of whom were getting along famously with Bijou and Katie, something that made Jack grateful all four dogs had been 'fixed'.

“... and that's why crayons smell,” Little Danny concluded, having been talking to Jonny and Tootie about the subject for the last three minutes.  “Done.  I'm gonna go show Ash,” he announced, picking up his drawing and walking towards his sister.

“I don't get it,” Jonny sighed, shrugging as he stood up.  He was taken aback when he saw Tootie staring at him skeptically.  “What?”

With her hands on her hips and her head slightly cocked to the left, the African-American child explained, “I don't believe you.”

“I didn't say anything,” Jonny responded innocently.

“You understood what Little Danny said,” Tootie accused.

“No, I didn't.  He's a genius,” Jonny stated, both with pride and as a diversion.  “He ...”

With her right hand in front of her, one finger pointed as she swayed back and forth rapidly, Tootie interrupted, “Don't give me that trash, Jonny Jackson-O'Neill.  I saw it in your eyes.  You know very well what he was talking about.”

“Did not,” Jonny claimed, coughing as he looked around the room in an attempt to evade the girl's accusations.

“They,” Tootie stated, pointing around at the room full of Jackson-O'Neill children, “may believe you, but I know better.  You should be proud of yourself, Jonny.  Why is it bad to be smart?”

“It's not bad,” Jonny responded.  “You don't get it; that's all.”

“Explain it to me,” the little girl demanded.

“It's what we do,” the oldest Munchkin answered defensively.

“Huh?”

“Never mind,” Jonny sighed.

“Okay,” Tootie responded, turning around and going over to join some of the other children.

Jonny watched the seven-year-old walk away and sit down next to her sister, Julie, praising her for what she'd just built with her Legos.  The boy grumbled to himself, unable to stop thinking about the exchange with the older girl.  Not sure what to do, he sat back down and continued to draw, though he kept one eye on Tootie the entire time.

The oldest Munchkin was fascinated by Tootie, and he was also impressed with how she was helping Julie.  He remembered how nervous Lulu had been when he'd first found her at the zoo.  It had taken a while for the curly-haired girl to really settle in.  In Tootie, he saw the same devotion to her new sisters as the brood had given to their new family members.

His grumbling giving way to admiration, Jonny continued his covert observation.

====

Several of the children had just decided to hold a spontaneous air hockey tournament and were eagerly chatting about who would pair off against each other.  Having just finished watching a few cartoons in the recreation room while enjoying a snack, they were still seated on the floor, in view of their parents.

“Okay, Ricky and Julie will play first,” Jonny stated commandingly, facing off one of the weaker family players against Julie, who had never played before.

“Wait a minute,” Tootie interrupted.  “How come you always say who does what?” she queried politely but firmly.

“'Cause I'm me,” Jonny answered brightly, not taking the question seriously.

“He doesn't always,” Aislinn interjected, defending her sibling.  “But we usually let him,” she quipped, causing her siblings to giggle, except for Jonny, who grizzled just like his older father often did whenever Daniel got the best of him in some silly banter.

“I think Ricky should pick, or we can draw numbers,” Tootie suggested.

“You don't trust me to pick good teams?” Jonny asked, slightly offended by Tootie's intrusion into a common brood practice.

“Yes, I do, Jonny,” Tootie rebutted truthfully.  “I know you'd always make good choices,” she stated with certainty, a smile on her face.

Confused, Jonny questioned, “Then why don't you want me to pick?”

“Because everyone should be allowed to pick sometimes,” Tootie put forth.  “A good leader knows how to delegate.”

“I'll choose!” Aislinn exclaimed, happy to carry the banner of leader for the game. “Come on,” she urged the others, taking the discussion into the game room.

Watching the others head excitedly away, Jonny grumbled and then mumbled, “I'm a good leader.  I can delegate.”  Picking up steam, he called out, “I delegate Ash to choose,” and then hurried after the other kids.

“I don't believe it,” Jack remarked, leaning forward from his spot on the sofa and shaking his head.

“Don't believe what?” Daniel asked.

“I think Megan's finally been replaced,” Jack answered with a grin.

“Megan?” Carl Oliver asked, having not heard that name yet.  ~They do have a lot of kids.  I might have missed one.  Maybe that's the spunky redhead.~

“She's a good friend,” Daniel explained.  “Jonny's had a little crush on her for ... for a long time.”

“What choo talkin' 'bout?” Rayna questioned playfully, doing a bit of an 'Arnold Drummond' imitation from another one of her favorite old TV shows, 'Different Strokes'.

~I like this woman,~ Jack mused.  Good-naturedly, he answered, “I think our son likes your daughter.”

“Do you now?” Rayna responded, a smile on her face.

“She hasn't taken any of his guff all day,” Jack mentioned, impressed with the young girl.

“She is headstrong,” Carl acknowledged.

“She's always prepared to stand up for what she believes.  We've taught her that her opinion is just as good as anyone else's,” Rayna added.

“She's doing a good job standing up to him,” Jack replied, amused by the entire discussion.

“Tell me something, Jack,” Carl began, leaning forward into a similar position as the general's.  “You, too, Daniel,” he added.  “Right now, we're talking about two little kids who are just getting to know each other, but what if those two little kids were teenagers.  How would you feel?”

“What do you mean?” Jack questioned.

There was a tentative pause, both of the couples sharing looks with their respective partners.

**Race, Babe.  They're talking about race,** Daniel deduced from the awkwardness of the moment.

**Race?  Oh, for crying out loud, Danny.  I don't care about the color of Tootie's skin, or Jonny's,** Jack replied.

**I know that, but they don't, not for sure,** Daniel pointed out.

Neither Jack nor Daniel had seen that question coming.  After all, they were a same-sex couple.  It just hadn't even occurred to them that the Olivers might worry about prejudice in respect to them.  Although, thinking about it now, they realized that for some people, race was a sensitive issue, and their new friends had probably learned the hard way not to assume that people were not prejudiced in regard to race just because they were not prejudiced about something else, like same-sex relationships.

With a slight bob of his head, Jack answered, “Then I'd make sure Jonny was behaving like a gentlemen and that he treated your daughter with the utmost respect.”

Carl stared into Jack's eyes, looking for a combination of truth and clarity.

“It's up to our children to decide who they care for,” Daniel added.  “We don't like labels, and we detest prejudice of any kind.  Those aren't just words; they're ... they're what we believe in and how we live.”

“Look, Danny and I haven't always had an easy time of it.  We're two men who got married, something that still isn't recognized everywhere in this country.  We still have to deal with some ignorant S.O.B.s out there.  Our kids have faced a lot of ugliness as a result.  We refuse to add to that.”

Rayna smiled, reaching over to pull her husband back to a more relaxed position, and opined, “I think we'd make great in-laws, don't you?”

“Just be glad we're talking about Jonny and Tootie,” Daniel began, glancing briefly at his Love.

“Why is that?” Carl questioned.

“Because if it were Cliff, or *any* boy, and one of the girls, he'd have his P-90 out and ready for action.”

“Shotgun dad,” Carl mused, understanding that Jack would always be protective of his daughters just as he would be of his own girls.  “P-90?  Powerful weapons,” he stated, intrigued.

“Sorry.  I shouldn't have mentioned that,” Daniel replied with a slight apology in his demeanor.

“No reason to apologize,” Carl rebutted.  “I have daughters of my own, remember?  Besides, I'm a bit of a weapons buff,” he explained.  “I can see you, Jack, cleaning that P-90 in front of some poor, unsuspecting boy who wants to date one of your daughters.”

“I've considered it,” the general admitted dryly and with absolutely no remorse whatsoever.

“See what I mean,” Daniel stated, his husband's response and expression backing up his unspoken explanation that Jack would be overly protective of their daughters.

“I think our Cliff has a crush on your Aislinn,” Rayna admitted.

“Eighteen.  She can't date until she's eighteen,” Jack declared, ignoring how Daniel's head dropped in response.

“We may not survive all of our daughters,” Daniel mused with a sigh as he arched his eyebrows and looked over at the Olivers.

“Does that include Bijou and Katie as well?” Carl chuckled as he looked over and saw the four dogs frolicking together a few feet away.

“Absolutely,” Jack replied as he stood up and started to walk away.

“Jack, where are you going?” Daniel asked.

“To get my P-90,” Jack answered seriously as he kept on walking.

“*Jack!*”

The four adults broke out in laughter.

“Just kidding,” Jack replied with a smile.  ~Maybe.~

**I heard that, Jack.**

**Mind dropper.**

Returning to his seat, the older man just continued to smile.

“No qualms then?” Carl questioned both men, inadvertently cutting off the couple's silent conversation.

“Not a one,” Jack answered with Daniel concurring.

====

“I'll help you, Ash,” Cliff volunteered, smiling as he helped the youngest Munchkin to place the circle of snow atop the other two larger ones.  “He's perfect!” the boy exclaimed about the newly built snowman.

“Thanks for the help, Cliff,” Aislinn said with a smile.

“I like helping you.”

“He needs two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.  Wanna help me make the face?” Aislinn questioned.

“Sure,” the happy boy responded.

--

“What a great idea, Jack,” Rayna opined about the snow machine that had created a mountain of snow in the backyard for the children to play in.

“They love it, and so do we,” Jack responded.

“Snow!” Vanessa laughed, clapping her hands excitedly.

“I think that's a request,” Daniel noted, seeing JD's smile as he held him.

“A few minutes in the snow won't hurt,” Rayna agreed, standing up with Vanessa in her arms and following Daniel and JD off the patio and into the homemade snow for a bit of fun.

====

“All you have to do is love them, just like you do Tootie and Cliff,” Daniel spoke quietly sometime later as he talked with Rayna inside the hospitality room.

“Oh, I do.  Should we do anything, though, to, well ...”

“Rayna, Julie and Vanessa have a home now.  Just love them, and everything will be okay.”

“Carl says he knew the moment he walked into that dorm that our family had grown,” Rayna replied.  “There's plenty of love to go around, and Tootie and Cliff have been wonderful with the girls.  I can't wait for it to be official.”

“It already is,” Daniel countered gently.  “It was official the moment you opened up your heart.”

“Tootie thinks your children had something to do with it,” Rayna stated, her eyes shining mischievously and challenging Daniel to deny it.

“Our brood, they, uh ... they get a lot of ideas,” Daniel responded.  “They believe in people, and they love happy endings.”

“They set me up,” Rayna stated pointedly, her cheeks bright with the amusement of what she was saying.

“I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised, either,” Daniel conceded.  “One thing they had no part in, though.”

“What?”

“Some of the brood may have hoped you'd respond to their hints, and maybe they had it figured out in their heads, but you had to come to the shelter, Rayna.  You did that on your own because you have a big heart.  You ran to Julie, without prompting of any kind, and you called Carl.  The brood -- okay, they were cheering and celebrating, but it took you and Carl to believe in Julie and Vanessa for it to work.  It wasn't manipulation, Rayna; it was just faith, faith in you to follow your heart and do what you knew was right.”

“You're a wise man, Daniel, and your children are amazing,” Rayna replied.  She raised her cup of tea and toasted, “To our children and to maybe one day even being in-laws.”

With a nod, Daniel brought his coffee mug to touch Rayna's cup and agreed, “To our children and their future, whatever it may be, and to whomever it may be with.”

Grinning, the new friends drank to their toast and then ambled leisurely over to where Jack and Carl were also getting to know each other a little better.

“Ptolemy is a beautiful bird, Jack,” Carl commented as the two men returned from talking with the hyacinth macaw, who was in her cage, munching on a treat.

“Dang bird is gonna outlive me,” Jack groaned.  He looked back, ensuring Ptolemy was busy eating and agreed, “She is a beauty.”

“Jack love Ptolemy,” the majestic bird squawked in between munches.

“I can't win,” Jack teased, walking over to the sofa and sitting down.  “Have you used a P-90?”

“A couple of times.  I like it better than most of the competition out there,” Carl answered, sounding like someone who had been in the military.

“It has my vote,” Jack stated.  “Of course, I'm partial.  It's saved my six more times than once, not to mention Danny's.”

“Daniel's military?”

“Nope, but we worked together.  Government stuff,” Jack stated.  “You know archaeologists.  They're always digging up things they aren't supposed to.  The military has to come in and save their butts,” he joked.  Then he looked up and saw his lover staring down at him, an unhappy frown on his face.  “Hey, Love.”

Daniel continued to glare at his lover, who coughed nervously.

“I was just telling Carl how the government loves archaeologists,” Jack stated, trying to cover up his gaff.

“Right,” Daniel replied, not buying it one bit.

“Getting a little chilly in here,” Jack quipped.

“Not as chilly as it will be in the bedroom,” Daniel replied, going outside the box of his comfort zone and making an intimate remark in front of new friends.  “Uh, Rayna, Carl, how would you like to see our projects room?”

“We'd love to,” Rayna responded, trying not to laugh at the typical spousal banter.

====

“Thank you for a wonderful afternoon,” Rayna spoke as she held Vanessa in her arms.

“We had a great time,” Carl added, holding Julie's hand, something the younger girl had happily initiated, loving the fact that she had a father now who loved her and wanted to keep her safe.  “We appreciate your candor with our questions, too.”

“If you have more, you know where we are,” Jack responded, shaking Carl's free hand.

The children were also saying their good-byes.

“Bye, Jonny,” Tootie stated warmly.  “Thanks for showing me the correct way to salute.”

“You're welcome, Tootie,” Jonny replied.  Looking around nervously, he walked up to the girl and whispered so that no one else could hear, “You're right.  I understood what Little Danny said about the crayons.”

Tootie smiled and replied quietly, “I know.  Maybe one day you'll tell me why that's supposed to be a secret.”

A few yards away, Cliff smiled at Aislinn and said, “I had fun building our snowman with you, Ash.  Maybe we can build another one soon.”

“I'll ask my parents,” Aislinn responded.  She giggled, “That was so smart of you to use those two rocks for the eyes and paint them blue.”  Giggling more, she said, “I've never seen a blue-eyed snowman before.”

Cliff smiled happily and was about to reply when his parents called out to him to follow them.  The front door was open and they, along with Tootie, Julie, and Vanessa, were already on the porch.

“Bye, Ash,” Cliff said hurriedly.  He gave the girl another kiss on the cheek, as he had the first day they'd met, and spoke quietly but excitedly, saying, “I like you, Ash.”

Aislinn giggled and replied, more loudly than Cliff had spoken, “I like you, too, Cliffie.”

Jack looked at Daniel and echoed, “Cliffie?”

“Let it go, Jack.  She's six,” Daniel urged.

Carl chuckled and quipped, “I don't think you need that equipment we were discussing just yet, Jack.  Maybe one day, though.”

“Maybe,” Jack replied cordially before giving the other man a wry grin while mentally giving Carl another point for his verbal decoy of words and not mentioning the P-90 in front of the children.

“Woof!” Bijou called out to Lincoln and King.

“Woof!  Woooooof!” Katie added, saying her good-byes and getting a look from her mother for the double and prolonged farewell.

In response, the younger beagle simply sniffed her mother's ear and smiled.

“Woof!” came the scattered and deeper-toned replies from Lincoln and King, who were secure in their harnesses and in Tootie's control now.

The Olivers and Jackson-O'Neills, both human and canine, were quickly on their way to becoming very good family friends.  As for their children, only years of growing up would tell just how friendly they might become.  It was something the parents would have to leave to fate and their children's hearts.

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