(Slice of Covidity - April 2021)
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - April 8-30, 2021
Written: February 6, March 15-16, April 17-18, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, but with the bad comes the good, and for the Jackson-O'Neills, life is full of both.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): "Coming Together" and "Christmas is Here"
Slice of Covidity - Homecoming
For the most part, life in the Jackson-O'Neill household was good. Even when there was bad news, the unity of the family helped them through any crisis or negative event. At the beginning of the year, Jack, Daniel, and their kids had a hard time dealing with David's decision to move out of the family home. Now, Jack and Daniel helped him along in making the transition because they believed it was what their son needed to do.
The reason? Calvin Miller, son of John and Mitzi Miller, who was David's best friend and was also a good friend of Jonny's. When John Miller died suddenly in April 2020 from the COVID-19 virus, his survivors were hit hard, especially Calvin. He was having a difficult time living at home with a lifetime of memories there and seeing his father in the shadows at every turn. Calvin was depressed, something his studies showed as his grades deteriorated.
David knew Calvin needed him, and he resolved to be there for him. Mitzi Miller knew of the boys' desire and mentioned it to Jack and Daniel. Together, they put forward the security deposit as well as first and last month's rent at a decent apartment building. The two college men moved in during the first week of the new year.
One of the more difficult aspects for David was not being able to see his parents very much. Because of Calvin, the young man was going out more than he wanted to in the quest to keep Calvin safe and prevent him from making bad decisions. That meant David was interacting more frequently with people face-to-face, and he just couldn't risk the lives of his parents by going near them. He did make sure he was around for Christmas, something helped along by Calvin, who understood the needs of his friend and unselfishly stayed home for weeks before the holiday so David could confidently spend the traditional time with his family. Besides, Calvin also wanted to be with his mother and sister, even though it would be hard to spend much time at his house.
David, a genius in his own right who spoke a number of different languages, was now a full-fledged anthropologist (his minor was in geology) since he graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in May 2020. It was entirely a virtual event, one that saddened his family greatly. They had a small party via Zoom, but secretly, the parents vowed to have a big blowout celebration when he graduated from Harvard. Indeed, David was attending the prestigious university, albeit remotely, majoring in Earth and Planetary Sciences with an emphasis on geochemistry that would give him more expertise in his beloved petrology, or the scientific study of rocks.
Thus, the last few months weren't the best for anyone, but Calvin was slowly pulling out of his funk. He still had significant issues with his grief, though, and smiles were few and far between.
One day, David was out running errands, something Jack was aware of from an early morning phone conversation with his son. With his husband in agreement, the retired general went to the apartment and knocked on the door.
"General," Calvin spoke with surprise.
"Have a minute?"
"David's not here."
"I know, but you're the one I want to see, and I want to be gone by the time he gets back."
Calvin opened the door all the way so David's dad could enter. He closed the door and stood nervously near it.
"How ya doin', Calvin?"
"Don't lie to me."
"I hate life, Sir. I miss my dad," the youth replied with great emotion.
Jack walked to Calvin and embraced him, hearing the sobs and feeling the wetness of tears at his neck.
"That's okay, Son. Your dad was a good man, and tears are a good thing. So, life's crap right now?"
"Yes, General," Calvin said as he pulled away while feeling a little bit embarrassed.
"Calvin, do you understand why David moved out of our house and came to live with you?"
Calvin nodded and let out a strange sound as he replied, "He thinks I'm going to kill myself or something."
"I don't want to die."
"I didn't think so. Calvin, David is here for you, and my husband and I fully support that decision, for however long you need him to be here. We have *no* issues with that at all. You're his best friend, and he's sticking by your side, no matter what. I'd like to think I'd do the same thing, if I were him."
"I know that, Sir; I mean, I know what he's given up for me. He won't talk about it, but he misses all of you. He's used to a lot of activity, and he doesn't get that here."
"But he *wants* to be here, and you need to know that. He doesn't feel obligated to help you, Calvin. He's your friend and he only wants to support and help you get through your pain."
"I know. I'm ... lucky."
"Listen, I want to ask you a favor."
"Only you can make it work," Jack asserted. "David's birthday is coming up. Now, his graduation from UCCS last year was pitiful."
"Yeah, I remember. It was all online."
"Yep, so Daniel and I want his birthday to be as good as it can be, especially since we may be coming out of this virus mess ... maybe."
"What do you need from me?"
"Suppose we ask David to come to the house for a few hours. What's he going to say?"
With a bob of his head in understanding, Calvin answered, "He won't go."
"Right, but he will go, if you come, too."
Jack again approached the young man and he gently put his arm around him as he explained, "Calvin, I need you to not be depressed for about three hours on David's birthday. If you can do that, we can make David happy for those same three hours. You know what a few hours at home, surrounded by family, will do for him, but it will only work, if you come and have a good time, too. Can you do that for David, Calvin? Can you put aside your tragedy just long enough for David to have a party?"
Calvin nodded, "I owe him that. I owe you and Doctor Jackson-O'Neill that. I even owe it to my mother. Yes, Sir. I can do it."
"Okay, thank you. The invites will arrive shortly," Jack announced. "Do you need anything before I leave?"
"Another hug?" the vulnerable student choked out.
Jack held Calvin firmly, as a father would hold a son in crisis. He had no qualms about doing this. He knew John Miller often embraced his children, as Jack and Daniel did theirs.
The Coronavirus was worsening in some parts of the country with new variants discovered and rising cases in over twenty states. Colorado was holding its own, but still had a positivity rate above five percent. The third vaccine from Johnson and Johnson was currently on pause due to concerns about blood clots in a small percentage of people. Even so, sixty-five percent of Coloradans were fully vaccinated by the middle of the month.
With both hope and concern for the pandemic's future, the Jackson-O'Neills planned out the best celebration they could for David. Happily, David's twentieth birthday party was a rousing success. It was limited, though, to the immediate family, the Shanahans, Janet and Teal'c, and the Wilsons. Still, it was jubilant and festive and helped to ease the pain of separation for everyone involved.
At one point, Jennifer saw Calvin hanging back in the rear of the recreation room. She knew about his promise to her father, and she also felt the young man's grief.
"Hi, Calvin," Jennifer spoke as she sat down next to him.
"Hey, Jen," Calvin replied. "Great party."
"Calvin, I know we're not really close or anything, but I know what you're feeling."
"How can you?"
Smiling sympathetically, the young adult replied, "You've forgotten." She sighed, "Calvin, my parents, David and Chenoa's ... and mine... they were killed in a car crash. We were adopted by Dad and Daddy."
"Oh, gee whiz, Jen. I feel so stupid. I forgot."
"It's okay," Jennifer assured. "So, I do know how you're feeling. There's not one day that goes by that I don't miss my birth parents. Now, you know how wonderful my dad and daddy are. I wouldn't trade them in for anything, but before them, I had Mom and Dad. They loved us and they were taken from us on a trip to New York City. Noa doesn't remember them much at all. David does some, but I remember them the most. Loving Dad and Daddy doesn't mean I can't still love Mom and Dad." She paused. "Calvin, David said you haven't really ... cried. Crying is part of grieving. It's okay to feel that pain, to release those feelings. You *need* to grieve, to let out that agony and sadness. I know it's hard to believe, but as time passes, you'll start to think more about those good times. Anyway, if you ever need to talk and David's not available, you can always call me." She handed him a paper with her name and smartphone number on it. "Seriously, I'm a good listener, and I know the loss of a parent."
Jennifer kissed Calvin on the cheek and returned to the living room. She walked over to the mantel on which was a photograph of her birth parents.
"Not one day, Mom and Dad. I love you and I wish you were still here."
The party continued to rock and Calvin fulfilled his promise to Jack, allowing his friend to have the best evening he'd had all year. There was a hidden benefit for the grieving student. Jennifer's words resonated though him and for the first time in a year, he felt his load lighten, just ever so slightly.
Ten days later, David practically flew through the front door, tossed down the luggage he was carrying into the entranceway, and called out, "Anyone home?"
The young adult walked eagerly into the living room, quickly coming face to face with a few members of his family.
"I'm home!" David exclaimed as he hugged his loved ones excitedly.
"Daddy, that's David!" Lulu exclaimed as she placed the guitar on its stand in the music room.
"It sure is," Daniel agreed as he stood up and headed towards the sound of his son's voice.
"Ricky, can I move?" Jenny inquired as she sat beneath Muffin the dinosaur in the game room.
"Yeah, we'll finish the sketch later," the budding artist responded as he put down his sketch in progress and eagerly led the way out of the room.
Aislinn heard her older brother's voice and immediately turned off her computer on which she was researching famous philanthropists, now that she was determined to become one herself.
It took a couple of minutes for the entire family to gather, but late comers to David's arrival quickly caught on. He was back home, where he belonged.
"What happened?" Jack asked, having no clue about the current events that might have prompted the return of his son.
"It's amazing," David responded. "You know that Mrs. Miller has family in Connecticut?"
"Sure do," Jack responded. "She's been talking about moving back there."
"Well, she did, and Calvin jumped at the chance to go with her. He's missed being with his mom. He just couldn't stand being in that house and thinking about his dad all the time. He's going to enroll at a college there and help his mom out. Dad, Daddy, he's really excited."
"Awesome news," Jack said.
"I'm happy for them," Daniel added quietly.
Jack glanced at his lover. There was something in the voice and a little something in his blue eyes that caught Jack's attention. He didn't know what it was, but it was there.
"What about their house?" Brianna questioned. "I walked back this morning and there wasn't a 'For Sell' sign out or anything."
"I'm not sure," David responded. "It was some kind of quick sell or something."
"So, they're gone?" Jonny questioned a little sadly.
"Jonny, Calvin wrote you a note. It's in my duffel bag. He was really sorry he couldn't come by and say goodbye to you, and to everyone, but Mrs. Miller sold the house, packed up some things, and left with Calvin. He didn't have time."
Jonny nodded, eager to read the note.
"Oh, Dad, Mrs. Miller wanted you to have something, too." David walked outside to his Jeep and retrieved the item. He returned to the living room and handed the musical instrument to his dad. "She wrote you a note, too," he advised. "Basically, she said Mister Miller loved his banjo and wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate that love. His kids aren't into music. She believes he would have wanted this to go to you."
Jack looked the instrument over and sighed. He never thought of himself as being close to the man, but he considered the Millers to be excellent neighbors. They were social, attending parties the other family held from time to time, and could rely on the other if there was a need. He just didn't think of John as a close friend, so Jack was surprised, and moved, by the gift.
"Well," the general sighed, actually feeling somewhat emotional about the banjo.
"Mrs. Miller said to say 'thank you' to you and Daddy, too. She said you both were always there for her, and she couldn't have done this without you."
"Let's have a party!" Ricky suggested enthusiastically.
From then on, the Jackson-O'Neills entered celebration mode, though the first order of business was to bring David's belongings inside.
"Son, you know you can have Jeff's old room, or Jen's ..." Jack began.
"I want my room," David responded. "I know it's small, but it's mine. It's home for me."
The party lasted all day and into the evening. As it progressed, others popped in to say hello, like Sam and General Hammond, who wasn't able to attend David's birthday party and hadn't seen the lad since Christmas Day.
As nighttime fell, David did a bit of unpacking and retrieved the notes from his luggage, giving them to Jonny and his parents respectively.
Jack engaged the outdoor grill, happily burning the steaks as expected, thrilling David and the others. It felt wonderful to be together again. The Hamiltons joined in on the meal, as did Chely and her baby.
Eventually, things quieted down, but the family was still in a happy mood. David and others enjoyed the evening weather outside, and David took the opportunity to talk to some of the outdoor zoo, too, like Peanut Brittle, Jelly, Hot, and Chocolate.
Jack sensed a loss and returned to the house. Following a hunch, he went upstairs and went up to the Aerie. Sure enough, there was Daniel, looking down over the family in the backyard.
"Hey," Daniel replied.
Jack walked forward and stood to his husband's left. He leaned forward against the railing.
"Danny, do we now own another house?"
"Another ... house? What makes you ask that?"
"Something in your eyes."
With a sigh, Daniel explained, "I saw Mitzi standing outside her home the other day, just staring. She said the pain of going inside was overwhelming; too many memories. She kept praying the house would sell, but the home inspection showed it needs a new roof and some major plumbing repairs. Jack, John left a decent life insurance policy, but nothing huge, from what Mitzi has indicated. I don't want her spending thousands of dollars to fix up the house to sell it."
"So, we do own another house."
"I thought we could do the repairs and sell it."
"And send the profit to Mitzi and her kids."
"The realtor can say he convinced the buyer to cover the repairs, or something." Daniel looked away. "We don't need the house or the money, Jack, but Mitzi and her children do. We can help her, so, yes, I bought the house, paid a substantial deposit on it, and said we needed a quick escrow. As you know, cash speaks loudly, especially these days."
"Did you talk to Mark about it?"
With a nod, Daniel affirmed, "Yes, and I had him handle the transaction and check out the legalities."
"Are you angry?"
"Heck no, Angel. I only wish I'd thought of it first."
Daniel smiled and then turned ninety degrees. Jack did the same, so that they were now facing each other.
"I know I should have told you," the younger man confided. "I'm not sure why I didn't, but maybe, it, it just felt a little extreme."
"Ah, Danny, our entire relationship has been full of little extremes," Jack responded with understanding. "Mitzi was having a hard time, as much as Calvin. It sounds like this move is exactly what they needed; and you're right, we don't need the money from that house, and sending it to Mitzi will make their lives easier."
The lovers kissed and then embraced, a hold they maintained for a couple of minutes as they continued to talk.
"Hey, what if we call Alex?"
"That's a good idea. We know he'll be fair in pricing," Daniel agreed.
"Yeah, and he's worth the cost of making sure the repairs are done right."
"Danny, did all the kids go with Mitzi?"
"I talked to David about that earlier," Daniel returned. "He said Max has a good job in Denver and didn't want to leave it, but Lindy went, of course."
"Sixteen now," Daniel responded. "She may have been lost in the shuffle during the last year."
"Yeah, I can't even remember the last time I saw her."
"Well, I think the family as a whole will be better now."
"I sure hope so."
"Dad, Daddy, ice cream!" came the shouts of multiple children from below.
"Ice cream!" Jack exclaimed with delight.
"Well, then, we'd better go get some before they eat it all," Daniel mused.
United in their love, Jack and Daniel went downstairs to join with their family for their traditional evening ice cream treat.
The children were nestled in their beds, their parents having made their goodnight rounds as usual. There was just one more child to be seen.
"Welcome home," Daniel said softly as he and Jack entered David's small room that was the closest to the backyard.
The living space was located just off JD's bedroom, the room that used to be the nursery. The little place could only be accessed by walking through JD's room and using a door that separated the two rooms. Outside the room was a tiny wraparound balcony so David always had a superior view of the backyard.
"David, just one more time," Jack began.
David chuckled, "Really, this is where I want to be. I'm happy in here." He paused and pointed out, "You know, I'll be going to Harvard soon. If this vaccine really works, they'll open the campus. I'm just saying that while I am home, I want to be here, the only room I've known for years, if that makes any sense."
"It makes perfect sense," Daniel replied. "We're really glad you're back with us, for however long that is, and that the Millers are able to move on now."
"Dad, are you going to learn how to play the banjo?"
"I'm gonna give it a shot. I owe it to John as a good neighbor to continue the music," Jack responded spiritedly.
"Okay, well, we love you," Daniel expressed from his heart.
"I love you, too. Thanks for giving me a special place like this, for adopting us. I'm grateful for that every single day of my life."
The parents and son hugged, a three-way union that warmed all of their hearts.
Once Jack and Daniel left the room, David picked up his green stuffed frog, Squiggy, and held him tight to his chest. A smile on his face, he reclined back on the bed and looked up at the ceiling.
"I'm home Squiggy. It feels so good and so right. I've missed everyone. I guess I'm not really ready to be out there on my own, but that's okay. I still have a lot to learn." He sighed and swooned, "But, geez, Squiggy, there's no place like home. There's no place in the world like home."
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