Innocence Be Gone

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - September 2, 2008
Spoilers:  None
Size:  20kb, ficlet
Written:  March 13-14,18,21,24,26, 2011
Summary:  The Munchkins are toddlers with a growing understanding of the world that may lead to an early loss of their innocence and leave their parents in a difficult position.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) There is language used in this story which is strong and harsh and not normally used in my fics.  However, I felt it was necessary to use it in the context of this very important story.
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:  Ali, Navi, Alverine!

Innocence Be Gone
by Orrymain

It was a cool day in Colorado Springs.  The sky was overcast, creating a gloomy feeling for those who were out and about, as were Daniel Jackson-O'Neill and a few of his children.  Using the family SUV, David, who was just a few weeks shy of his seventh birthday, and the Munchkins, who themselves were just a few weeks away from their second birthday, were helping their father to run some errands.

Well, David was helping Daniel to run the errands; the Munchkins just wanted to run!

“Whoa, Ash,” Daniel called out, reaching out to cease her forward momentum.  “Stay here, please.”  With his cell phone in his right hand, he placed his other hand on David's shoulder and requested, “Son, I need you to keep the Munchkins right here.”

“Yes, Daddy.”

Megan Williams was on the phone with a crisis for the fairly new J-O Enterprises, the company Daniel and his husband ran together.  The archaeological firm was still getting its bearings, but after their first significant dig in Egypt earlier in the year, they were well on their way to a successful future.

“What did he say?” Daniel asked over the phone.  “Ash, I said to stay here,” he called out, seeing the youngest child toddling away again.  He took a deep breath and returned to the phone.  “I'm sorry, Megan.  We're at the hardware store.  Uh, what did Doctor Starling say?”

As his father took care of business, young David did his best to keep the roaming Munchkins under control.

“Come on, guys.  Daddy's counting on me,” David urged his little brothers and sister.

~Count you?~ Little Danny asked inwardly.  He'd gone two feet away when he heard the plea.  He really wasn't sure what it meant, but there was something about the tone of David's voice that touched him.  Immediately, he toddled back to his brother.  Turning to face the other way, he called out, “Jonny, Ash, here.”

“Ooookay,” Jonny relented vocally, returning to David's side as requested.  ~Wanna 'plore, be 'vert, like Dad,~ he whined inside, eager to practice being covert as he discovered a new place to explore.  ~Lots spots ta hide here.~

“David need us,” Little Danny explained, absently holding David's hand.

The four kids stood politely and quietly from that point on, something Daniel was both surprised and pleased with.  His conversation was going on longer than expected, but if he and Megan didn't find a quick solution, the company could end up having to spend several thousand unplanned dollars to complete an excavation in Arizona.  This could have a significantly negative impact on the company's future.

As the children stood next to a display of discounted items near the front checkout counters, they noticed a pretty little girl at the other side of the store.

“She pretty chocolate,” Aislinn observed innocently.

“Like hair,” Jonny admitted.

“Skin like Dad's eyes,” the youngest Munchkin opined.

Daniel somewhat took note of the conversation, hearing a portion of it and determining a need to address it when they arrived back home.

Less than a minute later, a disturbance broke out at the furthest checkout aisle, right where the little girl was swaying back and forth.

--

“You took my place in line,” a man in his forties complained.

“No one was here, mister,” the accused denied.

“That's what you niggers do: take our jobs, our money, and even our place in line,” the first man spat, his bitterness and anger spewing out vehemently.

“Get out of my way,” the second man ordered when the first man continued to block his path forward.

“It's time we stood up to your kind.”

The little girl's swaying stopped and her tender expression tensed as her lips quivered, “Daddy?”

“Shut up, brat,” the irate accuser called out, pointing down at the unsuspecting child.

“Don't you talk to my daughter like that,” the accused warned, placing a protective arm around her shoulder.

“I'm just calling a spade a spade.”

The little girl began to cry and was immediately picked up by her father.

--

“What spade mean?” Jonny asked his brother.

“She cry,” Aislinn noted, beginning to sniffle herself.  ~That man mean.~

Little Danny was in an emotional turmoil.  He didn't understand the anger and why the first man was now shouting in the frightened girl's face.

David was scared, too, and he knew the Munchkins were uneasy.  He looked up at Daniel, who was still engrossed in the phone call, though he had one hand on David's shoulder.

With a tug on his father's sleeve, David beckoned, “Daddy.”

The tone resonated through Daniel.  He looked down at the children and immediately felt their distress.  He followed their line of sight and tuned into the argument that was intensifying with every spoken word.

“Megan, I have to call you back.”

--

“Your tar baby will grow up to be a tramp and a whore, cheap nigger trash,” the white man sneered.

Having been notified of the conflict, the store manager quickly moved in to intervene.

“Sir, we have to ask you to leave,” the manager advised, staring the white man in the eyes.  “Please, don't force me to call the police.”

The accuser's face tightened, his venom boiling within him.

“Nigger lover.”  Backing away, the man actually reached over and knocked down a display.  “Sue me.  There are ways to deal with you, him, and that nigger ho.”

The gasps were loud.  Customers were angered at the man's words to a little girl who couldn't even comprehend what she was accused of becoming.

With the hateful man gone, the manager looked at the customer and sincerely expressed, “Sir, I'm sorry.”  He called out to the nearest clerk, “John, ring up the purchase and let me know when you're done.”  Looking at the man comforting his child, the manager advised, “Your purchase today is on us.”

“Thank you,” the victimized man responded as he tried to soothe his upset daughter before checking out and leaving the store.

--

The Munchkins were very disturbed, especially Little Danny, whose sensitivities were more acute than the average person.  His heart was sad, and he was trying not to cry, the result being the heaving in and out of his abdomen and tiny snorts escaping from his mouth.

Daniel kneeled down, turning the Munchkins to face him.  David was to the side slightly, but still in the archaeologist's view.

“Hey, it's okay now,” Daniel soothed gently, his hands holding those of the triplets.

“What 'spade'?” Jonny asked.  He frowned and added, “No see baby.”

“What 'nigger'?” Aislinn questioned immediately afterward.

“She sad, Daddy,” Little Danny sniffled.

“Um, well, the man who left is what we call prejudiced.  Maybe he has a reason or something happened ...”  Daniel stopped, unhappy with his rationalization.  Mumbling to himself, he criticized, “Gawd, what I am doing making excuses for him?”  He refocused on his children and plainly stated, “He doesn't like them because of the color of their skin.”

Totally befuddled, Aislinn replied, “She pretty.  Eyes like Dad.”

“I know,” Daniel acknowledged.

“Like Dad's eyes,” Jonny stated strongly.  “We be brown, too.”

Excitedly, Little Danny chimed, “We be brown, too, Daddy?”

With a little smile, Daniel shook his head and explained, “No, Munchkins.  We're all born the way we are.  We can't change our skin color.”

“Bad rule,” Jonny opined strongly, scowling in frustration.

“I think you're right,” Daniel sighed.

“But why he yell at lil' girl?” Little Danny questioned.

“I ...”  This wasn't really the ideal time or place to have this discussion, but it couldn't be avoided.  “Listen to me,” Daniel told the kids.  “We're all born into this world innocent.  That means we've never done anything wrong.  We're ... new and pure.  Now, there are all kinds of races.  A race is, well, let's keep it to colors.  We're white.  The little girl and her father are African-American.”

“He black,” Jonny corrected.

Daniel sighed again.  How was he going to explain being politically correct to toddlers?

“Well, Son, um, when you go way back in history, black people came to America from Africa.  Africa is another country, like America is a country.  I'll show you on the globe when we get home.  Sometimes, people who make up a race want to be called something besides their color, so black people usually prefer to be called African-American because they originally came from Africa, but they were born here, in America.”

Daniel was churning inside.  He was certain he was making a mess out of this discussion, and he really wished they weren't by the checkout counters at the front of the store while having said discussion.

“Look, the point is that a lot of races are different colors.  Unfortunately, we stereotype colors with races.  Ah, that means that we ... we form an idea in our heads and, right or wrong, we think that idea about a group of people, like races.  For example, Chinese are considered yellow, Indians are supposed to be red, and the list goes on, but it's a list of generalities ...”  Daniel sighed, fully aware he was speaking way over the heads of the toddlers.  “The angry white man was being mean to the black man and the little girl because they were a different color than he was.  In his eyes, they were inferior; that means, he believes that anyone who is black is not as smart or as good as people who are white.”

“No make sense,” Little Danny argued.

“I agree.”

“Lil' girl brown, like Dad's eyes,” Aislinn interjected.

“Ash right,” Jonny stated.  “No black like man, brown.”

“Well, that's correct, too.  You see, African-Americans are different shades of color.”  Daniel thought for a minute and then asked, “Let's think about white people for a minute.  What about Calvin Miller?”

“He's lighter, Daddy,” David responded.  “He has pale skin.”

“Exactly, and Aunt Carolyn is a bit olive skinned because of her European heritage; that is, because her parents came from Europe.”  The father sighed.  “See, it's a stereotype, and it's wrong because white people come in all shades and so do African-Americans and Indians and every other race on the planet.”  Daniel paused for a moment and then smiled.  “David, Munchkins, we can talk about this more at home, but this is what I want you to remember.  Just like you,” he pointed at the triplets, “are the Munchkins,” he looked over at David, “and you're one of the Mouseketeers, all of you are part of a bigger group.”

“We brood!” Jonny stated as if declaring it to be gospel.

“Yes, you're the brood.  Well, we're white, they're black, and other people are ... whatever color they are, but all of us --- white, black, red, yellow, pink polka dot ..”

The children actually giggled which turned out to relieve a lot of pent up tension.

“All the colors, they are *all* part of an even greater race,” Daniel proclaimed.  He paused, looking deliberately at each child for a second or two.  “We're all part of the human race, and we treat one another with respect and kindness because none of us are any better than the other.  Remember that, the human race is *the* race.”

“Daddy, what words mean?” Jonny questioned in exasperation.  ~Need know what mean.~

“Jonny, the words you're asking about are vulgar, disrespectful, and hateful words.  They demean African-Americans.”  Daniel let out a groan.  He wasn't sure the kids understood the words.  “They're bad words, words that hate, words that ... that ...”

“That make lil' girl cry,” Little Danny surmised.
  
“Yes, and the sad truth is that she's probably heard them before,” Daniel admitted.  “The human race is not perfect.  People make mistakes, and that man made a *big* mistake.”

“Man shud' be Af'mer'can for day,” Little Danny suggested.

Daniel smiled and then he heard it.  Chuckles.  He closed his eyes for a second before slowly twisting his torso to the left.  Without realizing it, he'd just given a lecture on racial prejudice to about twenty people, ages ranging from three to sixty by his estimation.

A woman nodded and told Little Danny, “You're absolutely right.  Let him walk in different shoes for a while.”  She looked at Daniel and expressed, “Thank you for the reminder, Sir, of who we really are.”

The archaeologist smiled sweetly and shyly, not really certain what to say to the crowd, which began to disperse, now that the lesson was basically over.

“Are you okay now?”

“Better,” Little Danny answered, though he made a leap into his father's arms, needing the reassurance of a loving hug.

“I know it's hard.  It's just ... how life is, and that's why we have to work hard to be our best and make the world just a little better place to live.”

Regrouping, Daniel and the children took their place in line to check out with their purchases .  As he stood waiting, Daniel felt a tug on his sleeve, only it was not coming from one of his children.

“Hello,” the archaeologist acknowledged a young girl who looked to be about four years old.

“Mister, why is my friend Georgie half Chicano and half Japanese?”

~Okay, now what, Jackson?~ Daniel asked himself.  ~This isn't my child.  I can't answer her like a parent ... can I?~  He thought a moment further and, not seeing anyone who looked like they were watching the youngster, responded, “Well, half and half is a whole.”

The little girl considered the reply and then asked brightly, “Is Georgie a whole?”

“As whole as you, me, and every other human on Earth.”  Seeing the girl grin, Daniel summated, “That's all that matters.”

“Thanks!” the little girl exclaimed and then ran off.

“You're welcome,” Daniel returned to the thin air.

====

Daniel had just secured the purchases and the children inside the SUV.  As he walked to the driver's door, he heard a shout.

“Excuse me!  Sir, please.”

Turning, Daniel saw a young woman waving at him.  Looking to make sure there wasn't any traffic, she then sprinted from the front of the store to the first row of parking, where the SUV was situated.

“I'm glad I caught you,” the lady spoke, catching her breath.  “I really appreciated what you said inside the store.”

“I was just trying to answer some questions for my children.”

“You did, much better than I could, and that's why I'm glad I caught you.  Those are my girls,” the woman pointed out to where two very young girls stood with an older woman.  “That's my mother.  Oh, my name is Morgan.”

“Daniel.”

“Daniel, the truth is I've been dodging the race question for a while now.  My girls have been learning their colors and they've been asking me all kinds of questions.  My son, he's with my husband today, but last week we were introduced to a friend of a co-worker's.  He's Native American, but because he was wearing blue jeans and a shirt, Eddie refused to believe he was an Indian.  'He's not wearing feathers and buckskin, Mommy,' he told me.  I was so embarrassed.  I didn't know how to explain it to him.”

“I can understand.  Children see television and can easily believe that's reality.  It's ... it's what they know.”

“And it's wrong.”

“Most of the time,” Daniel agreed.

“Do you have any pointers, Daniel?  You spoke so eloquently inside the store,” Morgan complimented.

“I just ... I just tell the truth,” Daniel told the inquiring female.

“Please.”  Morgan looked over at her children and elaborated, “Lauren, my youngest, looked at our new gardener yesterday and said, 'He's chocolate-covered, Mommy'.”

“Actually, I think one of my children said something similar inside earlier,” Daniel admitted.  ~The innocence of how children think.~

“Any advice you can give would be welcome,” the woman urged.  ~I wish I had your ability to explain this; I don't know what to say.  Help me, please.~

“Morgan, all I can suggest is being honest with your children.  Look, I know a lot of what I said in there were with words that my children don't understand yet, but as a parent, there are a few rules I try to keep in mind.”

“What are they?”

“In this case, two things apply.  First, you can't be afraid to teach your children about race or any other judgmental part of our society.  They may be young, but they learn from the moment they're born.  Doctor Laura Schlessinger once stated that, 'Racism is not congenital; it has to be learned,' which I believe to be true.  I mean, uh, when babies are born, everything is fresh and new to them.  It's just as they grow up, they're influenced by their environment and what they see around them."  With a smile, he concluded, “One other thing I know for sure, and it's a quote from James Baldwin.  He once said, 'Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them'.”

“Thank you.  Thank you very much, Daniel.” Morgan acknowledged with a grateful smile, now a little more prepared to discuss delicate topics such as race in the future with her children.

“You're welcome,” Daniel called out to the retreating woman and her family.

Opening his door and taking his seat, Daniel silently thought of another quote by the noted author, James Baldwin.  He'd stated, “'Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

The father looked back to check on his family and saw growing smiles as the children rebounded from the harshness they'd witnessed.  Daniel hated that they'd been exposed to such hatred, but he was glad that he'd buckled down and addressed the issue.

~Hiding like an ostrich won't change their world.  Facing our problems and working for resolutions, that's what I want them to know, that's who I want them to be, and that's the world I want for them, a world of peace where people talk about their differences and embrace them, not hate because of them.~

“Daddy, are you okay?” David inquired of his father who looked as if he were a thousand miles away.

Snapped out of his pondering, Daniel answered, “Yeah, Son, I'm just fine.  How about some ice cream?”

“Ice cream!” the Munchkins cheered as their older brother grinned his agreement.

“Ice cream it is.”  Daniel started the SUV and then remembered the urgent situation that he'd been talking to Megan about.  ~No, I need this time with the children.  Priorities, Jackson, and these are definitely my priorities.  I'll call Megan back when we're through.~

The day was a pivotal one for the Munchkins.  Part of their newborn innocence was now gone, but it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  The door to more dialog was open, and Daniel wasn't afraid to enter that door.  He knew Jack wouldn't be hesitant, either.  The Munchkins, as did the entire brood, had a diverse group of friends, which meant they would grow up rich in the heritage of the human race.

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


track internet visits
Dell Canada Coupon