Oops, Someday I Hope to Understand

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Angst, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - January 23, 2008
Spoilers:  None
Size:  23kb, ficlet
Written:  January 25,31, February 1,4-5,29, 2008
Summary:  What do you do when the person you admire almost more than anyone else lets you down big time?  That's the question Jennifer has to answer, and her parents can do nothing but sit back and watch.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) “Oops!  I Did It Again” written by Max Martin.
2) 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.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Melissa, Ali, Linda, Keri!

Oops, Someday I Hope to Understand
by Orrymain

“It's overblown,” Nikki said as she ate her salad.

“They aren't being fair to her at all,” Mari agreed.

“She didn't even go inside, though,” Jennifer said, daring to air her doubts.

“She was scared,” Mari spoke.  “Did you see all those reporters?  They were mobbing her.”

“But it's her kids,” Jennifer refuted quietly.

“Maybe,” Nikki said, staying neutral.

“I think it's a conspiracy,” Mari opined.  “People are just jealous of her.  Paris says Brit's a great mom.”

“Yeah,” Jennifer sighed as she bit into her sandwich.

It was lunchtime at Jennifer's high school, and the teenager was eating her noontime meal with a few friends.  The topic had turned to their favorite singer, Britney Spears, who was having some legal problems and had lost custody of her two young children.  In fact, she had been to court twice, but she hadn't even gone inside for the first hearing and then at the second hearing, she'd only stayed a brief time and didn't testify before having left the courthouse.

“I'd love to go to all those parties,” Kelli said before taking a sip of her drink.

“I just want her outfits,” Mari said.  “She's so fashion savvy.”

“Don't tell that to my dad,” Jennifer interjected.  “He's never forgiven her for the no underwear bit.”

“That's the problem with old people,” Mari replied.  “They're just so ... old.”

“Dad isn't old.”

“I think her sister just got pregnant to try and steal attention away from Brit,” Kelli opined about the recent news that the singer's sister, Jamie Lynn, was 'with child' at the tender age of sixteen.

“What?” Nikki asked.

“Brit's the best.  Her sister probably feels like a rag standing next to her,” Mari stated.

“Her sister isn't ugly,” Jennifer responded.  She added, “And she's doing okay on that TV show.”

“I wish she was still blonde though,” Mari said about Britney, shaking her head of long blonde hair.

Jennifer sighed inwardly.  She felt strange.  Normally, the recess and lunchtime discussions of the singer were fun, but they weren't anymore, and she didn't fully understand why.

“My mom wishes I was into someone else.  I told her, 'like who -- Madonna?',” Mari laughed.  “Like Madonna is a good role model.  Mom is always wanting me to find a role model.”

“Britney's good enough for me,” Kelli said.

“I'll see you guys later,” Jennifer said, standing up a bit suddenly.

“Where are you going?” Mari asked.

“I want to look over my notes before my science test next period,” Jennifer answered.  As she walked away and emptied her trash, she couldn't help but think, ~Role model?  Maybe that's it; it's the pressure on Brit to be a role model.~

====

That afternoon after school, Jennifer was in the living room, dancing around and singing to what could be considered Britney's most successful song.

“Oops! ... I did it again
I played with your heart, got lost in the game
Oh baby, baby
Oops! ... You think I'm in love
That I'm sent from above
I'm not that innocent.”

Jennifer was happy.  She and her brother, David, and sister, Chenoa, had found a happy home with Jack and Daniel after their parents' untimely death early in 2007.  Without a care in the world, she rocked out with the pop star until she turned and saw her twenty-seven-month-old sister bobbing her head back and forth and twirling around, trying to dance.

“Oops!  Oops!  Did again.”

Jennifer's jaw dropped, and two words came thundering to the forefront of her mind: role model.

“Did again.  Oooops,” Chenoa sang as she danced around, trying to emulate her big sister.

Jennifer turned around and ran up the stairs, brushing by Daniel, who had just come in with a load of laundry.

“Jen?  Jen, what's wrong?” the archaeologist called out, instantly concerned.  Putting down the laundry basket, he entered the living room and walked over to Chenoa, picking her up.  “Hey, Noa, what are you doing?”

“Dance like Jen,” Chenoa giggled.

“Singing, too?” Daniel asked as he walked over to the stereo and turned off the noise that teenagers deemed music and his husband called trash.

“Hi, Love,” Jack greeted as he and David walked in the front door.

“Hi,” Daniel replied, sharing a welcome home kiss with his husband.  “Hey, David, will you take Chenoa upstairs please and make sure she's picked up her toys.”

“Okay, Daddy,” the boy said, taking his sister's hand after Daniel had put her down on the floor.

“The Munchkins and the twins?” Jack asked.

“Playing peacefully in their playpen up in the nursery,” Daniel replied.  “Jack, Jen just ran out of here, and I think she was crying.”

“Crying?  Why?”

“I have no idea, but I think we should find out.”

Jack nodded, and the two parents headed to Jennifer's room over the garage.  When they got there, the door was ajar, and they could hear her crying.

“Jen,” Daniel called out gently as the parents walked in.

The teenager was sprawled on the bed, crying.  Her parents looked at each other, and then they split, with Daniel walking around to one side of the bed, and Jack staying on the side closest to the door.  Both sat down.

Putting his hand on the girl's back and rubbing in a soothing circular motion, Daniel again softly called out, “Jen.”

“It's wrong, Daddy,” the teenager sobbed, suddenly turning over and practically jumping into her younger father's arms.

“What's wrong?”

“It's not fair, either.”

“Okay, but, uh, what's not fair?”

“Britney,” Jennifer revealed as she pulled back, and her sniffles lessened slightly.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Daniel asked.

Jennifer looked at both of her parents and then scooted off her bed, walking over to her stereo where her collection of CDs were.  She picked up one and held it reverently in her hand.

In a hushed tone, the teenager said, “She won a Grammy for one of the songs on this one.”  She turned around, saying, “I was just four when 'Baby One More Time' came out.  She was seventeen.”  Jennifer looked down at the CD she was fidgeting with in her hands.  “Mommy dressed me up as a Mouseketeer that year because Britney had been one.  I only saw reruns of it, but I loved her.  She was fun and stylish, and she seemed so nice.  I was singing one of her songs.”

Jack and Daniel sat quietly, letting their daughter work through her jumbled emotions.

“I thought she was crazy when she got married that first time, but I figured she was just experimenting.  I mean, all those years being so successful and in the public eye.”

Jennifer put the CD down and walked over to the bench that sat next to her wall.  She sat down and stared across the room at the large poster of Britney that was on her wall.  Next to it was one of Beyonce Knowles, but it had always been Britney she'd loved the most.

Staring at the color picture, the emotional teen continued, “Everyone makes mistakes.  Then she married Kevin.  Well, I don't know him, and I'm not sure I believe everything I hear, either.  She seemed happy, though.  I just kept regretting that she wasn't doing any music, but ... she was having a family.  That's a good thing, right?”

“It should be,” Jack responded quietly.

“Everyone makes mistakes.  When David was born, I remember Mommy telling me that even though he was a boy, he'd always look up to me.  I wasn't his mother, but I was his big sister, and that would always mean something.”  Jennifer wiped away some of her annoying tears on her arms, not bothering to get Kleenex or a handkerchief.  She sniffled while speaking, “With Noa, she said I'd always be special to her.  We'd both be role models together.  It was going to be a special secret between us.”

“Jen, you're a great role model for all of your brothers and sisters,” Jack assured with a steady and confident voice.

“Am I?” Jennifer questioned doubtfully in a cracked voice, standing up and walking back and forth. “Today at school, the girls were talking about Britney being a role model, and all I could think about were her boys -- those two little boys she hasn't seen now in a couple of weeks at least.  I understand people aren't perfect.  I'm not expecting her to be perfect, but I always thought she was being given the short end of the stick.”

“A cliché,” Jack quipped lightly as he tried to ease the emotional tension in the room.

Jennifer chuckled half-heartedly and then let out a huge sniffle before continuing, “I tried to believe it, but I don't understand why she isn't fighting for her kids.  If she were sick, that would be one thing.  If she were sick, she should be trying to get help, but it doesn't look like that's what's happening.”  She shook her head, desperately trying to grasp a difficult situation.  “If she were being taken advantage of, or misrepresented, she should be in court, demanding her children back, but she's not.  She's ... running.”

“She said she was scared,” Jack spoke, trying to be sympathetic, though he really had zero tolerance for the pop star.

“Scared?”  Turning back around, Jennifer lashed out more sternly, saying, “Scared is being afraid you're never going to see your little brother and sister again because your parents have died.  Scared is not knowing where you'll be tomorrow because someone has just told you that your parents have been killed in a car accident.  Scared is *not* getting out of a car and seeing a bunch of reporters, not when you've lived your whole life being surrounded by those reporters.  How could she be scared?  How?  Geez, Dad, she has them give her a ride home when she gets stuck out at night.  Why is she suddenly scared of them?”

Jack rose and went to his daughter, taking her into his arms.  She was weeping steadily again, trembling as he held her.

“She's put herself in a box, Jen, and she's not listening to anyone outside that box,” Jack theorized.

“But they're her kids, Dad.  I'd do anything to see my mother again -- anything, and Britney is treating her children like crap.  If she needs help, if she's sick, why won't she get help?” Jennifer sobbed.

“I don't know, Princess,” Jack said.  “Maybe she will.”

More than anything, Jennifer's language convinced her fathers just how upset she really was about her favorite singer's behavior of late.

After almost a minute, the teen broke away from her father, who sat down on the bench.  He looked over at Daniel, who was still seated on the other side of the bed.  Both could feel their daughter's heartache.

“A couple of days ago, she had another chance.  She finally walked into the courthouse, and then she ran.  Why isn't she fighting?  I just don't understand, and I want to.  I really want to understand,” Jennifer cried, plopping down onto the bed where Jack had been.

“Maybe she can't,” Daniel submitted, trying to give the singer the benefit of the doubt.  “Maybe whatever illness she has keeps her from making rational decisions.”

In a faraway whisper, Jennifer spoke, “Nothing seems to be the way that it used to.  Everything seems shallow.”

“What?” a confused Jack asked.

“It's a song Britney wrote when she was pregnant with her first baby.  In the song, she's just praying that someone is watching over her and that someday she'll understand her place, her ... role,” the teenager sighed.

The parents shared a concerned look.  They didn't really know what to say about the singer who so obviously needed some kind of help, but who was, at least at the moment, pushing everyone who might help her away.

Jennifer continued, “Downstairs, I was in my own world, singing and dancing, just having a good time.  I'd decided the girls were right.  The press was being unfair.  People were being too judgmental.  We aren't hearing the truth.”  She sighed, “I came up with a thousand excuses for her.”

“What happened, Sweetie?” Daniel asked softly.

“I turned around, and Noa was there, singing and dancing, just like me, just like Britney.  She was imitating me, doing what I was doing.  She'd raised her shirt up to show her belly button, too, just like I had, trying to be like Britney,” the teen said, bowing her head.  Shaking it, she sniffled again, her reddened face a reflection of her soul's distress.  Looking at Daniel, she spoke, “I promised Mommy I'd be the best role model for Noa that any big sister could ever be.  I *promised* her.  I can't ... I ... Daddy, I can't be a role model for her if I continue to ignore Britney's actions.  I can't.”

Daniel scooted inward towards the center of the bed, drawing his daughter into a seated hug.

“Jen, growing up is just about the hardest thing to do.  I wish I knew what to say to make you feel better, but I don't.  We have to hope that Britney does get help.”

“She'll never get her kids back, Daddy.”

“Maybe not, but she can still be a good mother,” Daniel suggested.  He cocked his head and added, “And if she overcomes whatever her problems are now, then maybe someday she can be a role model and help others to make better choices than what she has, so far.”

Jennifer nodded, smiling just slightly as she said, “Thank you for not trashing her.”  She looked over at Jack, “Especially you, Dad, because I know you don't like her.”

“I disagree with some things she's done.”

“No underwear, the parties,” Jennifer said, not really finishing the list of things she knew Jack disliked about the singing sensation.  Getting up, she walked towards the bench and then turned around, looking at the poster on the wall again.  “No more excuses.  I'm not perfect.  I can't be perfect, but it's not about perfection.  It's about doing your best.  Britney, you're not doing your best.  I hope you will.  I hope you'll find your strength, and really soon, too, because I'm ... I'm really afraid for you, but I can't wait for you any longer.  I'm very sorry, but I can't.  Noa needs me, and ... the Munchkins and the twins.  I have to be an example.  I still like your music.  I think the new album is good.  I like it, especially 'Gimme More', but you should be admitting that you need help.  You should be doing everything you can to be a good mother.  Scared?  I know what scared is.”  Shaking her head, she cried, “I just don't believe you're scared, not like that.  I'm sorry.  I'm so ... disappointed.  I've loved you and your music forever, but I can't love you anymore.  I can't be a fan.  I can't sit there at lunch and talk about your hair and your dresses when you're going shopping and partying, but you aren't allowed to see those little boys who just need their mother to be with them in a caring and nurturing way.  I can't let Noa see me ... idolizing someone who would make those choices.  They're bad choices, Brit, and I can't, I won't make a bad choice, too.”  Pausing, Jennifer looked at her dresser where a picture of her birth parents were.  “Mommy, I won't let you down.”

Drying her tears, Jennifer went to her closet and pulled out a step ladder.

“Do you want me to help?” Daniel asked as he stood to get out of the way.

“No.  Thank you, Daddy, but I have to do this myself.”

Taking a deep breath, Jennifer stood on the step ladder and took down the poster of Britney Spears that had been there from the moment she'd first decorated her new room and become a Jackson-O'Neill.  She stepped down and stared at the poster as she laid it flat on the bed.

“Why, Britney?  Maybe someday *I* will understand why everything got so shallow for you again.  Maybe you'll understand, too.  Maybe one day I can tell Noa about your music and how fun it's been to grow up with it, and maybe I won't have to be ashamed when I do because maybe by then, you'll be the Britney I love again.  Maybe ... maybe,” the somewhat distraught teenager concluded with a long, drawn out breath.

Taking another breath, Jennifer rolled up the poster, using rubber bands to keep it secured.  She also gathered up some photos and odds and ends she'd collected on the singer, putting them all into a box and then placing the box deep in the back of her closet.  The only thing remaining in the open of her room were the five CDs the singer had released.

Taking yet one more deep breath, the teenager sighed, “Daddy, growing up sucks.”

Daniel nodded as both he and Jack walked over to their daughter and embraced her in a three-way hug.

“We're so proud of you,” Jack spoke.

“You made a good choice,” Daniel praised.  “There's nothing that says you can't put those things back out one day.”

“No, Daddy, I can't,” Jennifer said as the three parted slightly, though Jack was still caressing her upper arm and Daniel was holding her left hand.  “I can't go backwards.  This hurts too much.  It might seem silly, but it's almost like Britney was my older sister.  I loved her, respected her, and wanted to be just like her.  I don't anymore.  She let me down.  I'll pray for her; hope that she's able to figure out her life.  I hope those little boys do get to grow up with two loving parents, but I can't close my eyes to what she's done today.”

“Maybe you can forgive her one day,” Daniel said.

Nodding, Jennifer said, “Maybe one day.”

“Forgiveness is a good thing, Jen,” Jack added.  “I'd be a goner without it,” he said, looking over at his husband, who had forgiven him more times than he could count for various bad choices over the years.

“I know.”

“We love you, Jen,” Jack said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“Very much,” Daniel added, mirroring his lover's action.

“I'd better start dinner,” the teenager said.

“Not tonight, Sweetie.  Dad and I will handle it.”

“I can do it,” the teenager insisted stubbornly.

“Jen, take a breath.  It's okay to mourn and be disappointed in what amounts to the loss of some of your childhood,” Daniel said, squeezing her hand.  “Say goodbye.  We'll let you know when dinner's ready.”

Jennifer nodded, inwardly glad for the reprieve.  When her parents had gone, she walked over to the CD collection and began to rearrange the order, shuffling Britney's five albums to the back.

“I'll miss you, Britney.”  With a sigh, she pulled out the CD to 'High School Musical' and put it on her stereo, after which she plopped down on her bed and began the process of de-Spearsing her life and musical habits.

====

“That was hard,” Daniel sighed as he and his husband entered the living room.

“I don't like that Spears gal, but I hate what our daughter's feeling right now.”

“A fallen idol is never easy.”

Jack nodded as he replied, “I've never idolized anyone like that, except maybe Billy, but he was my brother, and there's no way in Netu he would have ever disappointed me like that.”

“Jack, no jokes about Britney for a while, okay?”

“What?”

“Look, we're going to see her on the news, and your instinct is going to be to crack a joke.”

“Daniel ...”

“I'm just saying we need to be a little sensitive for a while, okay?  Please,” the younger man requested, his eyes pleading with his lover not to forget the emotional good-bye to innocence that they'd just witnessed from their daughter.

“I can do that,” Jack responded.

“Thank you, Babe,” Daniel replied appreciatively, leaning forward for a kiss.  “I'll start dinner.  Um, how about taking the Britney CD out of the stereo and putting it away.  I don't want us forgetting it's there and turning it on by mistake.”

“You'd think one copy would be enough,” Jack said, referring to the fact that Jennifer owned two copies of this CD, one of which had always been kept downstairs for convenience.

“She's not the first one to buy two of something, and she won't be the last.  We've done it.”

Jack laughed, “Yeah, we have three of some of them, one at each cabin and here.”

Suddenly, over the intercom, noise broke out from the nursery.

“Oops, sounds like an argument,” Daniel stated.

“I'll take care of it,” Jack offered.  As he headed for the stairs, he called out, “Pork chops?”

“Meat loaf.”

“Baked potatoes?”

“Corn and carrots.”

Jack growled, “Chocolate pudding?”

“Sorry, Babe, but dessert is pie.”

“Geez, Danny, not even one thing I want for dinner?” Jack questioned.

“Well, if you're a good boy and eat all your dinner without complaining, then tonight I'll give you a special dessert that will tingle your toes.”

“Tingle?”

“Tingle.”

“Meatloaf, corn, carrots, and pie sounds perfect!” Jack said as he hurried up the stairs.

“Gawd, he's easy, but I sure do love him,” Daniel mumbled to himself as he headed for the kitchen.

**Danny?**

**Yes, Love?**

**You're beautiful, you know that.**

**Uh, well, you say I am, but, uh, why ... I mean, why right now?** Daniel questioned.

**You're making one of Jen's favorite meals,** Jack responded.  **I love you.**

**I love you, too,** Daniel replied mentally as he smiled and set about his preparations for dinner.

It had been an emotional afternoon, but Jennifer had grown up a lot as she'd reasserted herself as a role model for her younger siblings.  Her heart was still sad, and her soul was still crying, but she was hoping for a bright future, not just for herself and her family, but for the pop singer she'd once idolized and now simply prayed for.

For Jack and Daniel, they knew the teenager still had rocky days in front of her, but they also know their daughter had the strength of heart and the character of soul to make it through.  Neither doubted for one moment that she had been and always would be the best role model possible for her siblings.

~It'll be okay, Jen,~ Daniel thought as he prepared dinner.  ~You'll be okay.  I know you will.~

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