(Slice of Covidity - January 2021)
Category: Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - January 4-30, 2021
Written: February 5, March 15-18,26,28, April 17, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, and with it can come a sense of self-worth and a re-dedication to doing the right thing.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
Slice of Covidity - Legacy
With the advent of the 2021 new year, the world was hoping the Coronavirus would soon become history, but scientists warned that while the new vaccinations would help to calm the deadly virus, people needed to remain vigilant, wearing face masks and socially distancing in public. Response was mixed with some adhering to the words of the experts while others still dismissed COVID-19 as a hoax or something no worse than the flu. The fact that hundreds of thousands of people were dead made no difference, Worse, Americans were fighting Americans, and some were fighting innocent others.
On this evening, Jeff Jackson-O'Neill was on the sofa, sitting next to his pregnant wife, Chely, while their infant baby slept in the bassinet. At Jeff's feet was Chipper, the family puppy given to Jeff by Little Danny for his birthday last year.
The young family was watching the news when Jack called and asked if Jeff could come over for a half-hour or so. Chely didn't object, so the architect gave her a kiss and walked next door to his parents' home. He loved being so close and was thrilled from the start when his wife talked to Sophia Valissi, now his grandmother, about renting or buying her home, since she was now married to General Hammond.
"Hey, guys," Jeff called out when he entered the living room.
For a few minutes, Jeff interacted with his siblings, but then his parents called him into the den for an important discussion. This was a similar conversation to one had with Jennifer in December 2018.
"First, we apologize, Son, because we should have had this little get-together last fall, but with this crazy virus, we kept putting it off," Jack stated with some regret. "We wanted you to have more time to think about your options."
"Options?" Jeff asked uncertainly.
"Jeff, Dad and I have something for you," Daniel announced as he handed his son a piece of paper. On it, was a dollar amount, a very large dollar amount. He saw the confusion on the young man's face. "That's the current size of your trust fund."
"You'll like this," Jack said with a smile.
The parents explained about the bonds they bought years ago for each one of their children, a process that continued when they adopted the Mouseketeers and the Mavericks as well. They talked about their success in the stock market and how a portion of that money was divvied up among the children. Then they mentioned J-O Enterprises and how a piece of that pie was always carved up for each one of the brood.
On his twenty-fifth birthday, Jeff could cash in the trust fund. He would also be given the same options as his sister. He could fully invest in J-O and have a full say in the archaeological firm, he could invest a smaller amount that left him out of day-to-day activities, but would always allow him to have a say in the future of the company or how it conducted business, or he could stay out of it entirely. The choice was his. He simply needed to advise his parents of his choice when his birthday was close.
More detailed information about the trust, the J-O options, and the funds were given to Jeff, along with Mark Kingston's business card. Mark was the family's lawyer and helped to create the trust so that it truly benefited the children as they matured.
"Wow. I don't even know what to say."
"You don't have to say anything. All we ask is that you don't tell your younger brothers and sisters about this," Daniel requested.
"What about Jen?"
"She knows, so you're free to speak with her all you want."
"Do you know what she decided? About J-O?"
"Yes, but that's her decision to tell, for now anyway," Jack answered.
Choked up, Jeff asked, "Do you know what this means?"
"Hopefully, it means you can do the same for your family so that all of you can go through life without worrying where the next meal is coming from," Daniel replied.
"Jeff, this is your money, to do with what you want."
"It's going in the bank."
"Mark can advise you, or you can hire another financial advisor," Daniel stated.
"I trust Mister Kingston," Jeff responded. "I just ... wow. Chely will be ecstatic. She, uh, wants a large family, but we've worried about the expenses. Thank you. Geez, thank you so much."
"Use it wisely, Son," Jack warned.
"I will. I promise."
Jeff returned home and the parents rejoined their children, but twenty minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Jack answered it and instantly had an armful of daughter-in-law. When Daniel approached, he, too, found himself hugged tightly.
"You don't know," Chely cried happily. "I like work, but I love having a family with Jeff more and now ... this ... you've ... oh, bejesus, I know I'm not supposed to say ... to ... oh, but ... thank you. I love you both."
Chely turned and hurried back to her home, while Jack and Daniel exchanged a look.
"I guess he told her," Daniel surmised.
"I'd say she's happy."
The lovers laughed and returned to their family.
As the reality of his financial windfall settled, Jeff made contact with Mark and discussed everything with him. Then he visited his sister at her home, located immediately behind their parents' home and slightly to the left.
Jennifer was putting food away, having just returned from grocery shopping. Jeff stood by the long kitchen counter as spoke with the young woman.
"Jen," Jeff said hesitantly. "It's, uh, technically, it's none of my business, but what did you do?"
"J-O?" Jeff asked quietly.
Jennifer looked over at her brother, a smile slowly forming on her face.
"Dad and Daddy wowed me a few days ago with a very ... crap, a really big check. Well, it wasn't a check ... yet, but ..."
"So, what did you do?"
"Bro, you know you should make your own decisions about the trust fund, including J-O."
"I know, and I am. If you don't want to tell me ..."
"Jeff, I love J-O, but I've never really been an everyday person. Archaeology is fun to play with. I mean, the digs we went on as a family were awesome, but I don't want to run the company, but, and this is a big, but, I will never let the company our parents created, that they love and have nurtured since before we were Jackson-O'Neills ... I will never let it die or let someone do something Dad and Daddy wouldn't approve of."
"Yes, the lesser option, but it gives me a say and will let me stop someone from doing something that would horrify Dad and Daddy."
Jeff nodded and said, "I feel the same way. Jen, what would you think of an archaeology company with an architect division?"
"We do the digs; we build the buildings; maybe Ricky does the interior designing. Think about it. We combine the services, make the clients a good deal."
Jennifer laughed, "Well, stranger things have happened."
"I think I'm going all in, as long as I don't actually have to be there on a daily basis," Jeff stated.
"Sounds like a wonderful idea."
"With or without an architect department, I won't let anything happen to J-O, either," Jeff put forth strongly.
"It's pretty amazing, isn't it? We never really had to want for anything, and now our families won't either."
"I had no clue, Jen. You haven't bought anything that made me question or even wonder about how much this or that cost."
"Nope. Peter and I already set up a trust for Sophie and we're talking about what we might want to do with some of it, one day, but then ..."
"Peter has his own money," Jeff chuckled. "Still, you should treat yourself."
"Well, I did buy a beautiful diamond bracelet," Jennifer confessed. "I love it, but material things don't define me. I have all I want and need, so I'm content to wait for that something big that pops up one day or leave it for our kids, and I sure hope we have more kids. It will provide them with a plentiful legacy for their future and that of their families."
"Any news on that front?"
"Not yet, but we're hoping," Jennifer mused with a grin of longing and desire.
Another evening on the sofa was the setting for Jeff and Chely as they again watched the news and chatted about various events. They were hopeful that with the new administration about to be sworn in, there would be a noticeable upturn in the fight to defeat the virus that had severely altered the lives of most in less than a year. It was a related news story, however, that set off alarms in Jeff.
"Jeff, did you see that?"
"Why? There wasn't any call for that," Jack opined.
"Seventy-five-years old," Chely lamented. "That man only wanted to go shopping. What a creep to come along like that and shove him down."
"It doesn't make sense, Chel."
The story continued with more alarming news. This was a hate crime. A young resident of Colorado Springs, dressed in a hoodie and wearing a mask, was seen on a store camera checking out his surroundings. Then he ran forward and lunged into an elderly man, pushing him to ground. The irresponsible youth ran away, leaving the old man grimacing in pain. He had a broken rib and a fractured leg, specifically a broken thigh bone. The man reported he only needed some milk, eggs, and produce. He shopped at the store frequently and had for over thirty years. He did nothing to incite the youth.
"Gaffy, he's an old man. That fall could have killed him. I don't understand this violence."
"It's unthinkable," Jeff replied. ~This is wrong. Someone should do something.~
The event became even more disconcerting when additional details were released. This wasn't just any hate crime, it was one brought on by prejudice and ignorance of the times, one perpetuated by leaders who should know better. When caught, the victimizer admitted he hit the man because he was Asian, because he and his people brought COVID-19 to America. The belief was untrue. Regardless of the origin of the virus, this man not only had never been to China, but he was born in America. Coronavirus was not his doing. He worked as an accountant until he retired several years ago.
Unable to sleep that night, Jeff quietly slipped out of bed and went to his office where he turned on the computer. He needed to do some research, and what he learned made him sick to his stomach. What happened to the old man was not a one-off crime. All over the country, Asians were being abused by Americans wanting vengeance for the virus.
Though, as of December 2020, the Asian population in the Colorado Springs was less than three percent of all races with El Paso County ranked twenty-six of seventy-one in the state, there was still plenty of violence occurring throughout the county.
As he absorbed the widespread wrong being done, Jeff entered the nursery and looked down on his baby.
~You're depending on me to teach you wrong from right, to help you make good choices, to value life, and to be compassionate and understanding in dealing with others. How can I teach you that in a world where people let ignorant biases motivate them to intentionally injure harmless people?~
The question was unanswered as Jeff returned to his bed. He couldn't sleep, though, and remained deep in thought until the alarm went off in the morning.
A followup news story featured several senior citizen Asian-Americans who were scared to run their errands. This man was not the first to have been hurt as he was. Many other hate crimes occurred in Colorado Springs, as they did across the country. The people were frightened, but didn't know what to do. They needed their medication, they had to pay bills, they had to go shopping for groceries and other essential needs.
Jeff was at Archonics Ltd, delivering a presentation for Alex Dennison to approve before presenting it to a client. The building was mostly empty, except for one administrative assistant and another architect as Archonics was still adhering to more of a work-from-home culture.
The television in Alex's office was on, the midday news airing. There was another story, this time of a sixty-year Asian woman who was walking to the post office to mail a letter. The short trip allowed her to get some exercise and breathe in some fresh air. En route, another youth bumped into her from behind and literally reached out and pushed her into the outer wall of a building. The woman hit her head. The experience traumatized her to the point that she suffered a heart attack. The grandmother of seven who volunteered at food pantries on a regular basis was sent to the hospital and placed in intensive care.
Jeff shook his head.
~Someone should do something,~ the young man thought.
That night, Jeff took Chipper for a walk and before returning to his home, he stopped in to see his parents. He didn't have a specific reason for the visit. He simply felt like dropping by.
During the visit, Jack, Daniel, and several members of the brood were sitting around, talking and laughing. They weren't discussing anything serious. It was all lighthearted, but then Jeff realized something. He didn't really know what triggered it, except maybe it was just being in the presence of his parents. He looked at each one of his siblings, glanced over at the pictures of the mantel, and then excused himself. He had things to think about that couldn't wait.
The next morning, Jeff was finalizing a design for a new office building downtown. He was using a software program that allowed him to add in elements like trees, stoplights, and people to give the area a more realistic appearance. When he added in two people at the corner, an idea clicked in his mind.
"It's that simple."
With plenty of time left on the architectural job, Jeff put it aside and began outlining a time-sensitive project of a more personal nature.
"Dad, it's Jeff. Do you have a minute?"
"Yeah, I'm just giving Polly a hard time as she flies around and harasses me."
"Is she harassing you, or is that the other way around?" Jeff mused.
"No comment," Jack groused. "What's up?"
"Dad, have you been watching the news about all the attacks on Asian people in the Springs?"
"Pretty disgusting, isn't it."
"Dad, I have an idea, and I need your permission, and Daddy's, too, to send an email to specific people; um, some employees at J-O, personnel at the Mountain, and some other family friends."
"Our permission?" Jack questioned curiously.
"It's ... serious, and I want your permission."
"Wait one." With Ptolemy flying freely through the house, Jack didn't want to shout and risk upsetting her, so he went to the intercom. Since he wasn't sure where his soulmate was at the moment, he used the whole house button. "Danny, if you have a minute, can you meet me in the rec room."
"Anything wrong?" Daniel asked when he joined his husband. "Are you sick?"
"Very funny," Jack griped. "Jeff needs to speak with us; says he needs our okay for an email."
"Oh, well, okay."
With the speakerphone engaged, the parents listened to their son's idea and the purpose of the email he wanted to send. He started to name the people he would send the communication to, but Jack cut him off.
"Son, we don't have an issue with what you're wanting to do," Jack stated.
"Or the email. It sounds fine to us," Daniel added.
"You might want to run it by Landry."
"I wondered about that," Jeff replied. "Thanks for going along."
"Hey, it's a great idea," Jack praised. "Sign us up."
"No, I won't do that."
"Uh, why?" Daniel questioned.
"Because this pandemic is still ongoing, and my purpose is to help others, not to put my parents in a risky position to get the virus. No."
"Okay," Daniel conceded. "We understand."
"We appreciate the concern," Jack sighed with some regret, truly wanting to be part of this solution. "If we can do anything else ..."
"Keep doing what you've always done," Jeff responded.
"What do you mean?" the general queried.
"Being awesome parents, who always listen."
"That's what we're here for."
"Dad, Daddy, one more thing. I'm trying to organize this thing, but I can't take credit for the idea."
"Is someone else helping you?" Jack asked.
"No, but when I was researching the situation, I read about an incident in Northern California. A young man there came up with the idea. It sounded so logical, I couldn't let go of it."
"There's nothing wrong with taking advantage of a good idea. Maybe other young men in other cities are stepping forward to do the same thing."
"Wouldn't that be great!"
Jack and Daniel shared a pleased smile and chatted with Jeff for a few more minutes before the phone call ended.
The next day, Jeff drove to Cheyenne Mountain. He presented his identification and waited as the security guard cleared him for entry. He drove into the tunnel and parked his truck. He made his way through the various check points and walked the corridor's to the office of the base commander, General Hank Landry.
"Jeff, it's good to see you," Landry greeted as he stood and walked over to shake the visitor's hand. "How are your parents?"
"They're good, Sir," Jeff answered. "I know you're busy, but I'd like to run something by you and get your permission to send an email to certain SGC personnel. Um, this is the list," he said, producing a piece of paper from his pocket and handing it to the general.
"What's the subject?"
Jeff explained his idea in full. He pulled out his phone and showed the finalized draft of the email to Landry, who reviewed it carefully.
"Son, that's a wonderful idea, and you have my complete support."
"Are you sure no one will feel pressured? I kept my parents out of it, except just to mention they approved, but ..."
Landry chuckled, "Your dad is still a mighty force around here. There are stories that spread with each incoming batch of recruits." He walked to stand in front of his desk and then faced the young man again. "This world needs more men of compassion. Send the email. Besides, what are they going to me? I'm retiring."
With a big laugh, Landry admitted, "I've always looked younger than I am, but I'm about to hit the big seven-zero. I've done my time."
"Wow. That's totally unexpected, Sir. When?"
"I'm going to bow out silently in the next month or two, once my replacement is in place."
"Who's that going to be?"
"I'm keeping that under my hat for the time being."
"I understand. Um, thank you for time, General."
"Good luck. I hope you succeed."
Over the course of the next ten days, more violence against Asian-Americans took place, both in Colorado Springs and in many other states across the country. Jeff, still having to do his day job, focused as much time as he could, verifying volunteers, organizing schedules, and making useful contacts. One of those involved a simple phone call to Pete Shanahan.
"Hey, Uncle Pete."
"Jeff, how ya doin'?"
"I'm good," the young man replied.
"I hear your doing great things."
"I spoke with your dad the other day. I was doing a bit of fence repair, and he was brushing the ponies. I think he likes doing that now."
Jeff laughed, "Yeah, he's a good stableman these days, especially with Noa working so hard at the hospital."
"She's devoted," Pete agreed. "What can I do ya for?"
"Well, how much did Dad tell you?"
"Pretty much everything, I think."
"Uncle Pete, is there a person in the police department that works on hate crimes, or issues with the Asian population? I'd like to try and encourage the people we help to report negative activities."
"The police department is behind you one-hundred percent," Pete assured. "We have a hard time getting minorities of any kind to trust us." He sighed, "We're not perfect, but the CSPD wants to help."
"Do you have a contact I can use and tell others about?"
With a grin, Pete replied, "I was hoping you'd ask. I'm sending you the information now."
"Wow, you know it off-hand?"
"Only because after Jack sang your praises, I hoped you would get us involved, like partners."
"You did your homework."
The next Monday, Jeff was at a meeting at Archonics with his boss, Alex Dennison. As their business concluded, Alex asked his protege how his idea to help the Asian community progressing.
"Really good," Jeff answered.
"Jeff, you know I'm going to help out."
"I really appreciate that, Alex."
"You said the other day that a lot of the volunteers were young adults and students, wanting to make a difference."
"Those are the same people struggling to pay off student loans after being furloughed from their jobs, correct?"
"Some of them. Others are simply unemployed right now and want to do something to get out of the house."
"Well, Archonics Ltd. would like to be your gas sponsor."
"Gas sponsor? What's that?"
"Put your volunteers on a time sheet, not for their time, but for their gas. I'll bet your volunteers are spread out all over the city. Gas may not be that expensive right now, but it will go up. As soon as the oil companies think we're out of the pandemic, they'll find an excuse, and gas prices will skyrocket. My point is that your volunteers are doing a good thing, trying to keep people safe. They shouldn't have to miss a meal or not pay the phone bill because they've spent it on gas assisting people being abused. Maybe not everyone needs it or will want the assistance, but for those who do, have them complete a weekly gas sheet. You can give it to me to dole out the reimbursement, or I'll give you a check and you can figure out how you want to disperse it."
"Alex, I don't know what to say. Thank you."
As the architect drove home, he had an idea, based on his boss's idea of being a gas sponsor. He parked his car and walked next door to the home of his parents.
"Dad, Daddy, do you have a second?"
"Have a sit," Jack said as he leaned forward in his living room chair to give his son his full attention.
"Do you have a problem?" Daniel asked as he sat on the sofa, a few feet from Jeff.
"Nope, but I have an idea." Jeff told his parents about Archonics being the gas sponsor of those who would be ensuring the safety of other citizens in their city. "It got me thinking. I want to make fliers, to give to the Asians we assist, to post on buildings, and, well, whatever and wherever we think of, but that's expensive to print all those fliers. J-O has this awesome copy machine."
"That we only use on a limited basis now that we're going more and more paperless," Jack responded lightly. "But we keep it serviced."
"I was actually going to ask if I could use it, but ..."
"Jeff, J-O Enterprises would be happy to be your paper sponsor. Use the machine in our office, or go to a shop. We'll supply the machine or the money for the handouts," Daniel stated.
"What's going on the flier?" Jack asked.
"I'm not totally sure yet, but information on who we are, what we're doing, and how to contact us. I thought I'd put the number of the police contact Uncle Pete gave me. I definitely want to provide the AAPI national database."
"The what?" Jack inquired.
"AAPI: Asian-American and Pacific Islanders. They have a website for victims of these crimes to report it. They want to use it for awareness and try to make change in Congress."
"I wouldn't mind seeing a little 'sponsored by' notation about J-O," Jack stated.
"That's what I was thinking. Just a small thank you to Archonics and J-O."
"Count us in," Daniel reaffirmed.
Finally, Jeff's volunteers, called simply The Volunteers, were ready to go. Tomorrow, the first group would be on call to accompany Asians to medical appointments, to the grocery store, to the post office, or wherever they needed to go. One volunteer would drive and walk with the person wanting assistance so they wouldn't be alone. Several of the military men and women said they planned to wear their uniforms, sending a more intense message to the thugs who thought violence was the answer to a virus. All that was needed was a phone call or email to The Volunteers hotline, a separate number Jeff established for Asians to reach out for help.
Late at night, Jeff approached his baby's crib and stared down. A smile formed on his face.
"I hope you understand. I hope your mother understands what I'm trying to do and why."
"I think I do," Chely interjected quietly as she stood in the doorway, leaning back against the jamb.
Jeff walked over to stand opposite his wife and asked, "Do you, Chel?"
"I think so. Jeff, you and your brothers and sisters were raised by very caring parents who believe in giving, not just financially, but of themselves. I've heard the stories: the homeless community that you guys completely eliminated, and not just by driving them out, but by rebuilding the area, making sure they had food and a place to live, and finding them jobs; Jen's delivery of hot food to those in need that she did for years; the hours at children shelters; and all those holidays and non-holidays, befriending and singing to people in nursing homes and such. I mean, wow, Gaffy," Chely laughed in amazement and approval, "what your parents have done is the example for all of us. They don't talk about their money very much. They say they've been lucky with bonds, stocks, and investments, but I have no clue what their taxes are like. I've thought about it and I think maybe for every dollar profit they make, they give half of it away, either as a donation or with their time. They're incredible, but what I think is so extremely awesome, is that they set the example for all of you. Geez, who buys a nursing home in the middle of a pandemic that they really don't even have a tie to?"
"Well, technically, Mister Sharif bought it."
"I know, but your parents *and* the brood made it happen. They cared so much about these people in need, lost and alone due to COVID, that they bought a building, convinced friends to help, and now look at it. Wow, what a difference the lives of those senior citizens are now."
"Yeah. My parents have set the bar pretty high." Jeff paused as he extended his hands and warmed his wife's bare arms. "A while back, I talked to Jen about the trust funds we've been given."
"That's another example, Gaffy, of how your parents think. At the very beginning, they set aside money for their children, and when they adopted more, they did it again. I assume there have been twelve trust funds out there since JD was born. What a blessing for all of you, and by association, me and Peter, and whoever else becomes part of the family. For goodness sake, we've talked for months about me maybe staying home and working part time as a consultant, and now we can really do that, and I don't know that we were ready for that until now." Chely smiled sweetly and then admitted, "Oops. I'm sorry. I think I cut you off. You were saying something about Jen?"
"She's saving her money, like we are," Jeff stated. "She said something that's stayed with me, though. She talked about leaving the money as a legacy for her children. Chel, I agree, it's a good a legacy, and I know Jen didn't mean that as an entirety, like that's all she wants to give her children, but it started me thinking. I want my legacy to our kids to be the example my parents have given me. It's everything you said: giving, sharing, donating, and actively helping others who aren't as fortunate as we are. There's a satisfaction in assisting another person in changing their life, or giving them five minutes of peace. That's what I hope our children will learn. I know now that I have to continue the work of my parents, not just as part of J-O Enterprises, but what they do, even silently and anonymously. That's the real legacy I want to leave behind. I hope you'll support me with that."
"You know I will, Gaffy. I love you, all of you, and I'm proud to be married to a man who wants to give of himself to others. I won't like it when you put yourself in harm's way, but I'll always be at your side. We're a team, and I love you with all my heart."
"I love you, too."
The young adults kissed and walked easily to their bedroom to get a good night's sleep, or so they hoped since their baby wasn't yet sleeping through the night without waking at least once.
The Volunteers would prove to be a big success as the days and weeks passed. While some Asians were still hesitant to officially report crimes committed against them, more than had been were now notifying the contact provided by Pete of abuse or reporting crimes through the national database.
An unexpected benefit to The Volunteers was that many new friendships were established and a greater comprehension of cultural differences and similarities was made. These relationships would last long after The Volunteers group became unnecessary.
Until then, those in the Asian community of Colorado Springs were safer. No, not everyone used the service and the bigoted actions continued, but many felt more protected and freer to run their daily errands with a volunteer at their side. It was, as Jeff suggested in the email he sent out, like insurance, giving peace of mind to the user, only unlike most insurance, this was free and truly dispersed from the heart of the volunteers.
For Jack and Daniel of Colorado Springs, their pleasure in watching their brood grow up to be loving and compassionate citizens of the world was immense. For Jeff and Chely Jackson-O'Neill, a new understanding of their legacy was born. Indeed, goodness was passed on from one generation to the next, and who knew what the second generation would do when they were grown. The possibilities were endless, and the hope was eternal.
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