Lemons

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - June 19, 2010
Spoilers:  None
Size:  40kb, short story
Written:  November 25-27, 2013, February 15, September 2, 2014, October 15, 2015, May 30-31, 2017 Revised for consistency: November 13, 2017
Summary:  It's a hot day in Colorado Springs so the children devise a way to cool down.  A few lessons are learned along the way.
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?~

Lemons
by Orrymain

“Mouseketeers, roll call!” Jack thundered as he stood in the entryway of the Jackson-O'Neill home.

In seconds, the three children appeared, each coming from a different direction.

Still tying her hair back into a long ponytail, the oldest of the trio at fifteen called out, “Jennifer!” as she took her position.

Having just changed his clothes, the boy in the group stood next to Jennifer while still tucking in his shirttail and announced, “David!”

Finally, the curly-haired girl pulled on her dress and swayed back and forth as she giggled, “Noa Mousk'teer.”

Jack grinned as he bent over and took his finger to the little one's nose while saying, “Mouse*ke*teer.”

Sharing more giggles with Chenoa, Jack picked her up briefly and hugged her tightly.  He felt such joy from his daughter.  It made him feel so young inside.

After putting Chenoa down and giving the three a quick once over, Jack ordered “Move out!” and followed the children out the front door.

====

Meanwhile, the five youngest Jackson-O'Neills were stirring in the kitchen, having come inside after playing in the backyard for the last hour.  They were hot and a bit sweaty from their running around, especially since the temperature had already reached ninety degrees and it wasn't even three o'clock yet.  Now they were ready for a cool down.  Yet, the three- and two-year-olds, who would all be celebrating birthdays in just a few months, were still full of energy.

“Daddy, want lem'ade,” Jonny requested.

“Okay,” Daniel agreed, looking over at the rest of the children.  “How about ...”

A round of yeses in near perfect harmony rang out before the father could even complete the question.  With a bit of a chuckle, Daniel opened the refrigerator door and pulled out a pitcher of lemonade that was prepared earlier in the day by Jennifer.

Over the next few minutes, the children enjoyed the refreshing liquid as they sat around the table in the kitchen nook.  The lemonade made them all feel better as its cooling penetrated their hot bodies.

“What do now?” Ricky asked as he put down his empty glass and his mind turned from the drink to how to occupy his time.

“Air hockey,” Jonny put forth before taking another sip of his drink.

“Make pom poms,” redheaded Jenny suggested, her enthusiasm toward cheerleading increasing daily.

Just then, a cheerful Jack entered the kitchen.  Immediately, he smiled at his brood and walked nearer to the table.  Leaning in somewhat, he ruffled the hair at the top of both Ricky's and Little Danny's head, who were the closest to him.

“And how are my chips off the ol' block?” the silver-haired father asked playfully.

His head arched back, Ricky frowned and replied, “Dad, me Ricky, not Chips.”

Little Danny, still swallowing the last of his drink, responded, “He no mean that, Ricky.”

“Yeah,” Jonny agreed, only then he looked at his Munchkin brother and queried, “What he mean?”

“He mean we're his kids,” the little genius explained.

“Why not say that then?” Ricky put forth.

As the children continued to debate their dad's question, Jack just shook his head and walked further inside the kitchen, stopping as he reached his husband.

A tender kiss hello later, the general advised, “The Mouseketeers and Mrs. Valissi are on their way, and so am I.”

“Uh, where?”

“Tahiti, maybe Fuji, or perhaps this little island in Hawaii: not sure,” Jack answered with a thoughtful expression.

“Will you be home for dinner?” Daniel teased.

“You can reach me at my personal suite.”

“And that would be where?”

“Backyard, under the trees, in my hammock.”

“Jack, you don't have a hammock,” Daniel pointed out.

“I don't?” Jack retorted in mock surprise.  “I should,” he opined as he considered the reality of the situation.  Putting his hands on his lover's shoulders, he suggested eagerly, “Daniel, we need a hammock.”

“No, *we* don't, but you need something for your head.”

“My head?”

“It just grew two sizes.”

“Daniel, the children.”

“For crying out loud, Jack.”

“That's my line!”

“Get a grip, Babe.”

“Daniel -- the kids.”

“Oh for ...” Daniel groaned in a Jack-like fashion, turning around and walking over to the kids who hadn't heard a single word their parents were saying.

“Copycat,” Jack mumbled.

“We could read,” Little Danny suggested to his siblings, the five still going through options on how to spend the rest of their afternoon.

“I know!” Aislinn piped up.  With four sets of eager eyes latched on her, the youngest Munchkin elaborated, “Lem'ade stand!”

“Yeah!” Jonny energetically agreed.

The excitement was palpable.  The kids wanted to set up a lemonade stand in front of the house.  The discussion went on in a rapid-fire pace.

“Need sign,” Ricky called out, looking over at his younger father.

“There's poster paper on the table in the projects room,” Daniel advised the excited boy, essentially granting his permission for the proposed plan to host a stand.

Quickly, Ricky disappeared while his siblings continued to brainstorm.

“Need more,” Little Danny pointed out as he opened the refrigerator door to review its contents.

“Whoa!” Jack called out.  With a bit of a facial flair, he quipped, “We're all out of lemonade.”

“Buy more,” Jenny responded.

“Sure thing,” Jack concurred.  Looking at his kids, he added, “Let's go get your piggy banks.”

“Dad!” came a round of disapproving voices.

“Hey, I'm broke,” Jack claimed, his hands pulling out the insides of his empty pant pockets.

As Jenny raised her arms in a familiar style, a skeptical Jack leaned over and picked up his daughter.  He watched as her hand reached into his front shirt pocket.

“What are you doing?” the general asked the redhead.

“Plastic!” Jenny exclaimed as she succeeded in pulling out her father's wallet.

“Plastic pay for it,” Jonny concurred, nodding at his fellow Munchkins.  ~Jenny's so smart.~

Hearing a chortle, Jack stared at his husband and questioned, “What are you laughing at?”

“Nothing,” Daniel replied while going to the cupboard to verify that there wasn't anymore lemonade or useable ingredients there.

“Ash, you write,” Ricky suggested as he returned with a large piece of poster board and a couple of markers he'd retrieved from the projects room.

“'Kay,” the little girl said as she kneeled down onto the kitchen floor where Ricky placed the poster.

“You could use the table,” Daniel suggested.

“It okay,” Aislinn negated as she positioned the materials to her liking.

Suddenly, the little general began pondering the current situation.  The sign was important, but so was making the beverage.  Thus, he did a rethink on the assignments.

Jonny walked over and kneeled down next to his sister just as Aislinn was finishing the 'M' and said, "I write sign, you make the lem'ade."

“Why me?" Aislinn asked.

“You're a girl,” Jonny stated as if that should explain it satisfactorily.

This made the youngest Munchkin very upset.  The furrowing of her eyebrows and the tightness of her face made that evident.

Jack foresaw a stern lecture from one Munchkin to the next coming and decided it would be best to take the girls to the store and get the lemonade supplies.  They could have their latest battle of the sexes later when it wasn't so hot.

“Girls, how about you two come with me to get the supplies while the boys make the sign and set up the stand,” the older father reasoned.  After the girls agreed, he gave his namesake a firm look and advised, “Jonny, we'll be having a talk later about just what girls can do.”

“Yes, Dad,” Jonny replied sadly, realizing that he would be getting a lecture later.  ~Heard 'fore.  Geez,~ the boy lamented inwardly.  ~She girl!~ he insisted to himself, though suppressing a little smile because deep inside he was proud of his sisters who he knew were all very smart.

Facing his husband, Jack queried, “Can you handle the stand?”

“That and, uh, more,” the younger man answered with just a hint of a sexual nuance, accompanied by raised eyebrows and a grin.

“I *know* you can,” Jack agreed before giving Daniel a kiss and heading out to the grocery store with the two youngest Jackson-O'Neill girls.

====

The girls headed straight to the produce section as soon as they walked inside the grocery store.  Jack followed closely behind his daughters.

“At least he only has two with him today,” a pretty young blonde cashier commented.

“Just a small tornado will hit today,” another cashier responded as she and the other clerk kept an eye on the children since they could easily monitor most of the produce section from their posts.

Jack just smiled as he walked past the checkout stands, having overheard the remarks from the cashiers.  The truth was that in small quantities, the brood rarely stood out from other shoppers' children.  He had to admit, though, that whenever the brood shopped as a whole, crazy things seemed to happen.

~Brood synergy: it's so electric, calamity explodes,~ Jack quipped silently.

“Dad, can you get bag so we put lemons in it?” Aislinn asked while holding a lemon in each hand.

“Yeahsureyabetcha,” Jack singsonged as he grabbed a plastic produce bag from the roll.  He took his fingers and attempted to separate the sides of the bag.  “Who the heck invented these things?”

The girls giggled as they watched their father struggling to separate the plastic.  Finally, he wet his fingers and was able to pull apart the sheets of the bag.

“For crying out loud,” Jack whined as he finally held open the bag so his daughters could place the lemons inside.

Just then Jenny decided to grab a lemon from the bottom of the pile and before Jack could even say a word, the whole stack was rolling all over the floor.

“Oops!” Jenny gasped, bringing her hands to her mouth and covering it, during which time she dropped the lemon she'd taken from the bottom of the stack.

Jack simply shook his head while thinking, ~And sometimes brood synergy causes calamity when there are only two.~

“You were wrong,” the blonde cashier laughed to the other. "Today we got an avalanche."

The next twenty minutes were spent picking up and restacking the lemons.  Jack refused to let the store staff help Jenny, stating she'd been told on many occasions never to grab from the bottom.  Instead, both he and Aislinn aided the redhead in getting the lemons back in place.

“Nice teamwork,” Jack praised the girls.

“Nevah do that 'gain,” Jenny promised when the floor was clear of the yellow citrus items.

“I believe you, Princess.  Okay, let's move forward.”

Thankfully, the rest of the shopping trip was without incident and the family was soon on their way back home.

====

Soon, Jack and the girls returned with the needed products and saw that Daniel and the boys were outside.  Daniel was still in the process of building the frame for the stand using wood and piping that was stored in the garden shed.  He'd already cut the boards into the sizes he needed and was now in the process of using a jigsaw to cut the notches.  Father and sons were wearing safety goggles with the boys eyeing every movement their daddy was making as he worked on the front lawn.

The sign for the stand was done and was leaning against a bush facing the street.  Several neighbors were passing by and taking note of the sign, especially with Jonny yelling that the stand would be open soon.  It was easy advertising.

“Jonny, you spell lem'ade wrong,” Aislinn yelled as soon as she saw the propped-up sign after getting out of Jack's truck.

“Spell right,” Jonny insisted.

“No.  Lemonade is spelled, L-E-M-O-N-A-D-E, not L-E-M-E-N-A-D-E,” she corrected.

“Dad, tell Ash she wrong,” Jonny opined.

“Sorry, Son, but Ash is right.  It's okay, though.  You can make it right,” Jack offered.

“Do over,” Aislinn ordered with her hands on her hips.

“Ash, it's okay, people will understand what it means.  Jonny can write over the 'E' and make it an 'O', or you could leave it.  Your customers might even think it's cute,” Jack soothed.

Aislinn decided to let it go and followed Jenny and her dad into the house to make the lemonade.

====

In the kitchen, Jack put several lemons on the table where the girls could see them easily and asked, “Do you believe if we roll these lemons, we can get more juice out of them?”

“Huh?” both girls responded.

“There's a theory that says if you roll a lemon, or a lime, like this,” Jack began to demonstrate by rolling a lemon on the table, “that you can get more juice out of it than if you didn't roll it.”

“What diff'rence?” Jenny asked.

“The logic says that rolling the fruit will break the membranes and that makes the juice come out easier.  Let's try rolling a couple, but first we have to weigh each one.”  With the weighing done, Jack handed each of his daughters a lemon.  “Roll them, but don't smash them.  That's it.  Use the heel of your hand to apply the pressure.  That's good and that's enough.  You only need to do it a few times.  Wait one.”

Jack went to the cupboard and pulled out two measuring cups, placing one near each of the girls.  Then he sliced each lemon in two.

“Squeeze away, girls.”

“This ex'cise,” Aislinn opined after a minute passed.  “Need Teal'c.”

“You can do it, Princess.  Put those muscles into it.”

“Dad, I girl.”

“You're right.  I'll go get Jonny and ...”

“Dad, *no*.  I can do it bet'ar than Jonny.  Watch!”

~Gotta love psychology,~ Jack chimed.  “Keep squeezing.”  When the girls felt they'd gotten all the juice they could, they reviewed how much juice was in each cup.  “Now we'll do these two without rolling.”

The experiment continued by following the same procedure as with the first two lemons, only without the children rolling the lemons.

“Which more?” Aislinn asked.

“Look at that,” Jack said, showing his calculations to the children.

“What scribs mean?” Jenny questioned about her dad's writing that looked like the kind of scribbles she'd make herself.

“It means it doesn't matter,” Jack sighed.  “When we take the original weight and subtract the weight of the lemons after extraction, we get this much,” he explained, pointing at the appropriate numbers for the lemons.  Then we divide those numbers by the original weight and that gives us the percentage we just squeezed out.”

“Only two numbers diff'rence,” Jenny noted.

“That's right, and that's for the unrolled lemons.”

“No roll,” Aislinn asserted definitively.

“We could try microwaving the lemons for ten seconds,” Jack suggested.

“Dad, no time 'per'ment,” Jenny chastised.

“Yeah, gotta have lemons for lem'ade stand,” Aislinn insisted.

“Okay, down to work.  I respect that.”

“What I do now?” Aislinn questioned.

“You can squeeze some more when I'm finished,” Jack answered as he began to slice the multitude of lemons into halves, after which he cut the flesh of each half several times to make extracting the juice easier for his daughters.  “Here you go. Have at it.”

“Dad?“ Aislinn called out with a frown.

“Yes, Princess?”

“Why you cut lemons like that?” the Munchkin asked.

“So you can squeeze them.”

“No, she mean why you cut there,” Jenny clarified as she pointed to the interior of the lemons, commonly referred to as the membrane.

“To make it easier to extract the juice.”

“No rolling?” Aislinn queried with a bit of a scowl.

“Okay, you caught me.  That's a quicker and easier way to get more juice.  A quick slit here, a jab there, and voilà, lemon ready for juicing.”

The girls looked at each other and both shook their heads.  Jack simply shrugged as he monitored Aislinn's progress.

“What I do now?” Jenny asked, eager for her next assignment.  “Squeeze, too?”

“Nah.  You can take these cups outside to Daddy and the boys.”

“Okay,” Jenny agreed as she held out her arms and waited for Jack to fill them with the plastic cups.

“Tell Daddy to send in one of the boys for the ice cubes.”

“I will,” Jenny said as she headed for the front door.  Then she stopped and queried, “Dad, how I open door?”

Jack laughed and headed for the front door with the redhead.  Once there, he opened the door and called out to Daniel so that the younger man was aware of Jenny's presence.  Then he returned to the kitchen to see how Aislinn was doing with the squeezing.

“Nice job, Ash.  I'm going to start gathering ice cubes.  Give a shout if you need me.”

“Okay, Dad.”

====

“Dad, you need me?” Jonny asked when he hurried into the kitchen, followed by Jenny who automatically began to help Aislinn with the juicing.

“Always.”

“Dad!  Have work ta do.”

With a chuckle, Jack handed his namesake a round cooler that was full of ice and told him to take it outside and come back for more.  When he did, Jack gave the boy a second cooler that was also loaded full of ice cubes.  By then, most of the lemons were squeezed, but not all.

Jonny stared at his sisters and asked, “What you doin'?”

“Squeezing the lemons for the lem'ade,” Aislinn answered.

“Why no use juicer?  That what Jen and Daddy do.”  Jonny put down his cargo and walked over to one of the bottom cupboards.  He opened it and retrieved the glass juicer and put it down in front of Aislinn.  “Jen like this one, but Daddy like that one cause he only hafta plug it in,” he told his sisters while pointing at the electrical juicer on the counter.

~I am *so* busted,~ Jack told himself.

Aislinn stopped mid-squeeze and stared at her older father.

~If eyes could kill,~ Jack thought as he smiled innocently at the Munchkin.  “Jonny, don't you have something to do.”

With a shrug, Jonny took the second cooler outside to his daddy.

“Dad, what juicer?” Jenny asked tersely as she twisted around to face her father and glared while placing her juicy hands on her hips.

With a cough, Jack grabbed a couple of the lemons that were still in the bag.  He cut them in half and, after plugging in the juicer, placed one at the top and held it down.  The machine immediately came on, extracting the juice completely in just a few seconds.

“Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!” Aislinn whined.

“Why no you tell us that first?” Jenny asked.

“Ya gotta learn the old fashioned way before you get to enjoy the benefits of modern technology.  Now you know how it was done by your ancestors and by people who aren't able to afford a juicer or just don't have one.”  As the girls looked at each other for a few seconds, Jack added, “But we still have one thing to do.”

“What?” Aislinn asked, her voice less tense than it was a minute earlier.

“We have to get the seeds out, and we do that by using this pitcher and the strainer.  Jenny, do you want to pitch or receive?”

“Huh?”

“Do you want to pour the juice into the pitcher or do you want to hold the strainer in place?  Both jobs are very important.”

“I'll pitch.”

“I'll receive,” Aislinn quickly offered.

~And Dad scores a home run!~ Jack exclaimed inwardly, pleased that his daughters were already recovered from having to squeeze lemon juice manually instead of using simpler methods.  “Let's get to it.”

====

Outside, Daniel was in the process of attaching the wood pieces to form the table. He'd opted to attach the pieces by the slot method, sliding in one piece to another which meant the table could easily be taken apart and put back together later to be used for other purposes.  As he checked the last insertion point, he noticed Jonny had walked away and slid up his goggles to rest atop his sandy-blond hair.  He was staring at the sign.  Daniel heard a groan and then saw Jonny take the sign and put it down on the grass.

“Little Danny, we're taking some shortcuts with the stand.”

“How come?”

“Time.  We were lucky these boards were pre-sanded, but they need to be painted and we don't have time for that.  I think we have some vinyl tablecloths in the projects room, inside the cornet cabinet.  There should be several on the bottom shelf, or maybe the shelf above that.  We only need two of them, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy.  Be right back.”

“Ricky, go help Little Danny, please.”

With Little Danny on assignment and Ricky tagging along with him, Daniel walked over and sat down on the grass so that he was facing Jonny.

“I do it over,” Jonny sighed.

“Jonny, the world isn't about being perfect.  I know Ash made a big deal out of lemonade being misspelled, but it really doesn't matter.”

“But it wrong.”

“So?”

“Daddy, it no spell right.”

“I know,” Daniel acknowledged.  “Does that mean the lemonade is bad?”

“Na-huh.”

“Does it mean we're not having fun?”

“No.”

“Does it mean the world's going to end in an hour?”

“Daddy, that silly.”

~I wish,~ Daniel thought, his experience telling him that anything was possible.  “Son, life is a journey, full of bumps and curves along the way, and that means all part of life, even spelling.”

“What you mean, Daddy?”

“I mean the sign is fine.  Do what Dad suggested, if you want, and cross out the 'E' and put in a big 'O' instead.  Your sign is beautiful and that makes it perfect.  One letter, wrong or not, doesn't change that.”  Daniel paused and outstretched his arm so he could gently rub the boy's cheek.  “Jonny, you don't need to be perfect.  It's okay to always do your best, and when you made this sign, you were doing your best, right?”

“I was, Daddy.  I tried really hard.”

“Then that's all that is necessary.  Choose your battles and let the small things go.  In this case, one letter is a small thing.”

Jonny thought for a moment and then grinned, feeling more relaxed.  Then he saw Little Danny returning with the tablecloths.

“Little Danny, is my sign okay?”

“Uh-huh,” the little genius answered.

“Even though it spell wrong?”

“Dad no care.  Daddy, you care?”

“Nope.”

“Jonny, we need help Daddy with the stand.”

“Okay,” Jonny acknowledged.  “Daddy, what we do next?”

Daniel smiled and inwardly whined, ~All that and all he needed was Little Danny to tell him it was okay.~  Standing, he returned to the work area and instructed, “Now that the table portion is together, let's figure out the best way to secure the tablecloth.  Then we need to get the top in place.”

====

“Put it there, Dad,” Jonny instructed about the large thermometer that displayed the current temperature for passersby.

“Ninety-one degrees out,” Jack noted.  “Whew!  Hot.”

“Not really,” Daniel opined with a shrug.

“We know what you think, Desert Boy.”

“Don't start with the nicknames,” Daniel pleaded, turning to review the lemonade stand.  “Okay, let's do a check.”

Jack looked at a list he'd attached to a clipboard and called out, “Lemonade?”

“Check,” Jonny responded.

“Ice cubes?”

“Check,” Jenny stated.

“Cups?”

“Here,” Little Danny called out.  “But this one has hole in it.”

Daniel walked over and examined the large cup, nodding as he affirmed, “There's a hole in it, Jack.  Son, let's check some of the others.”  As he reached for a stack of cups, he called out, “Keep going, Jack.”

“Napkins?”

“Have lots,” Aislinn confirmed.

“Money jar?”

“Got it,” Jonny answered.

“Change?” Jack called out.  Not hearing a response, he repeated, “Change?”  Still not hearing anything, he lowered the clipboard and looked over at the five children and asked yet again, “Change?”

“No change,” Ricky finally said.  “You have change?”

“Danny, do we have change?”

“What?” the younger man replied as he was still checking cups.  “Babe, we need to get our money back.  I've found ten cups with holes at the bottom.”

“We can deal with that later,” Jack responded.  “Kids, before you pour a drop of lemonade into a cup, check the bottom.  Let me hear it.”

All five kids stated at the same time that they would always check the bottom of the cups before pouring a drink.  All of the words overlapped the other's.

“Good, I think,” Jack stated.  “Daniel, do we have change?”

“Change?”  Daniel had a deer-in-the-headlights expression.  “I have lots of larger bills, but I don't think I have anything more than a few quarters.”

“Me, either,” Jack groaned.  “Okay, do your best with what we have and I'll hit the store.  Anyone want to come with?”

“Me!” Ricky piped up.  “Move out!”

Daniel rolled his eyes as he thought, ~Once an officer, always an officer.~

====

“*We open!*” Jonny shouted at the top of his lungs.  “Have lem'ade!  Come get it*!”

Apparently, the neighbors were waiting for the announcement.  Right away, several parents and their children showed up at the lemonade stand.

Daniel stood to the side, willing to allow his children to run their endeavor on their own.  He simply needed to be close by in case they needed help in some way.  As the line formed, he could hear some of the children snickering about the misspelled sign.

~Maybe I made a mistake in telling Jonny it was okay.~

Daniel was starting to regret his conversation; that is, until he heard the oldest Munchkin's response to the criticism.

“It okay, Calvin.  No need be perfect.  Just do best.  I do best.  You know it lem'ade, right?”

The father smiled and thought, ~I guess I managed to say something important to him that sank in.~

The children were doing a brisk business, charging a dollar for a large glass of homemade organic lemonade, but then something happened.  Aislinn saw a child across the street who she didn't know.  The child was sweating and staring at the stand.  It was a young male, maybe seven or eight, she thought, and he was licking his lips.

“Jenny, you know him?”

Jenny looked and responded, “I see him down street sometimes.”

“Daddy!” Aislinn called out after she finished pouring a drink for Mrs. Svenson, who lived across the street with her husband.  “Thank you, Mrs. Svenson.  Do you want one for Mister Svenson?”

“Yes, please,” the senior citizen replied as she pulled out another dollar bill.

“It full,” Aislinn announced after pouring the drink.

“Thank you, Dear,” the neighbor stated before walking away with the two full cups of lemonade.

“What is it, Ash?” Daniel asked after he approached the stand.

“Boy look thirsty.”

Daniel looked over and nodded.  He took a cup of lemonade with him as he crossed the street.  He saw the boy with wide eyes staring at him.  Daniel kneeled down so as to not tower over the child.

“Hello.  My name is Daniel.  What's yours?”

“Albert.”

“Hi, Albert.  Would you like some lemonade?  It's, uh, very cold.”

“I don't have any money.”

“Consider it a gift,” Daniel responded.  He twisted around and pointed to the Munchkins and Jenny and added, “From my children.”

“Thank you,” Albert spoke as he took the cup and drank up almost a third of it right away.  “It's very good.”

“I'm glad you like it.”

Albert looked down the street and then back at his benefactor.

“What is it, Albert?”

“My little brother and little sister are thirsty, too.”

Now Daniel could see the other children.  They were four houses down where the archaeologist realized the Janskowskis lived.  He didn't know them well at all, but he'd heard from Mitzi Miller, Calvin's mom, that they were going through hard times.  The younger children were perhaps four and six years of age, a boy and a girl, respectively.

“Stay here and I'll bring over drinks for them, too, okay?”

“Okay,” the boy returned excitedly.

A few minutes later, with all of the Janskowski children smiling and refreshed with their drinks, Little Danny stopped the service of the stand.

“Mini-brood huddle,” the Munchkin called out.

“Uh, excuse them for a minute,” Daniel said to those in line, as he watched while the children appeared to be talking over something seriously.

“Daddy, we need you,” Little Danny called out.

“Just one minute,” Daniel said to the customers before he walked over to join the children.  “What's going on?”

“Daddy, we no need money.  Why we selling our lem'ade?  We want to give it away,” the middle Munchkin put forward.

“We make lem'ade to be nice and have fun,” Jonny stated.

“Yeah!” Aislinn agreed.

“Maybe there other kids who no have money and want some of our lem'ade,” Jenny pointed out.

“You sure?”

Daniel saw very determined faces and nods of agreement.

“Okay, go tell 'em.”

The children let out a cheer and then returned to their stand.  At the same time, Jack and Ricky returned from their trip to the store with plenty of cash to make change.

“All lem'ade free,” Aislinn called out to the crowd.

“Tell your fam'ly and friends,” Jonny requested.

“Free lem'ade!” Little Danny energetically spoke with a grin.

“What?” Jack asked quietly as he approached his husband.  “I just got back from getting a bunch of change.”

“It's money, Jack.  I'm sure we'll find a way to use it, but right now, our children want to be nice to their neighbors on this hot day.”

“What a bunch,” Jack commented as his smile grew.

“We just wanna make you happy,” Jenny told a girl and her mother from two blocks down.

“It too hot to charge you,” Jonny told yet another of their neighbors.

“Danny?”

“Hmm?”

“How about we take the money they already collected and let them give it away, however they want?”

“I like that idea.”

====

Later that evening, Jack and Daniel stood on the sidewalk as their five young children walked up to the door of the Janskowski home.  When the door opened, a woman looked out with a friendly smile.  She looked tired to Jack and Daniel and they noticed her face was wet from sweat.

“Hi.  My name is Little Danny Jackson-O'Neill, and these are my bro'ers 'n' sisters. That's Jonny, and Ricky, 'n' Ash 'n' Jenny.  We have more, but they not home yet.  We had a lem'ade sale today, but then we no want money.  We just want people be happy and not be thirsty.  It so hot taday.”  The boy took a big breath.  “But we got money before we stop taking money.  Dad and Daddy,” Little Danny turned and pointed at his parents as they stood at the sidewalk, “That's them, Dad and Daddy.  An'way, they told us we give money however we want and we want give it to you.”

Little Danny held out the jar towards the stunned woman.

“It only thirth dollars,” Jonny said.

“Thirty,” Aislinn correct.

“No hafta be perfect, Ash, just be best.  Daddy say so.”

“Sorry,” the girl responded.

“Please take money,” Jenny requested.  “We like help people.”

“Please,” all five children said in unison.

The woman had tears in her eyes as she took the glass jar from Little Danny and held it close to her chest.  She fidgeted with the jar, twisting it around as she held it.  She sniffled and mouthed her thanks, though her voice didn't make a sound.

“You need help, you tell our Dad and Daddy,” Jonny stated.  “They good at fixin' things.”

“We gotta go,” Aislinn said.  “But your kids come play with us, okay?  Dad and Daddy say it's okay.  We want know them, okay?”

“Yes, I'll tell them,” the woman said, having found her voice.  “Thank you, children, and thank your parents for me.  It's ... it's a difficult time for us right now.  This will help.  Thank you.”

With big smiles on their faces, the five children said their goodbyes and waved at the woman, who also nodded and smiled gratefully at Jack and Daniel.

“If we can help, please let us know,” Daniel called out.  “We live right there,” he said, pointing toward the family home.

The woman nodded and then closed the door.

As the Jackson-O'Neills headed for home, Jonny pointed out, “Dad, Daddy, her house hot.  I feel heat.”

“Me, too,” Jenny agreed.

“You help?” Aislinn asked as she turned back to face her parents.

“They help,” Jonny answered for Jack and Daniel.  “Need cool air there.”

**Jack, what if they can't buy their electric or utility bill?**

**We'll get Carter to do some checking.  Maybe we can make an anonymous payment; get through a month or two.**

**Okay.**

“Anyone for ice cream?” Jack asked as the family walked towards their door.

“Mouseketeers no home yet,” Little Danny reminded.

“So, we'll have it twice,” Jack suggested.

“Wow!” Jonny exclaimed as he literally jumped up and down with joy, causing his parents to laugh.

“The power of ice cream,” Daniel mused as the family went inside for a special treat.

Once Jennifer, David, and Chenoa returned from their outing with Mrs. Valissi, the Munchkins and the twins had a great time telling them all about their lemonade stand and how fun it was.  They included their donation to the Janskowskis in their story.

Jack and Daniel sat back and let the younger brood chatter away.  They felt such joy at the goodness exhibited by their children.  Neither minded the cost of running the stand in the least, especially since a lot of good had come from it.  There was Jack's math and society lessons for the girls and Daniel's coaching for Jonny that being perfect wasn't required, but doing your best was.

Then there were the Janskowskis.  Jack and Daniel made a promise to see what they could find out, without invading the family's privacy.  They hoped the hard times being experienced by their neighbors would pass soon, but they would find a way to offer their assistance, if possible.

In the meantime, with ice cream topping off the excitement of the day, the brood were allowed to stay up for an extra hour before going to bed.  It had a been a good day for the Jackson-O'Neills and that was always a cause for celebration.

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

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