(Slice of Covidity - August 2020)
Category: Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - August 3-28, 2020
Written: March 24-26, April 15, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, and one patient presents the Curly Tops with an opportunity of a lifetime.
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 - Opportunity
Life during the era of the Coronavirus was often complicated. At a time when more than three-hundred workers at meat plant in Greeley, Colorado tested positive for the virus and eight died, the hospitals were overwhelmed with victims. Doing her best to comfort those patients at the hospital where she volunteered, Chenoa Jackson-O'Neill presented a smiling face and a bit of fun when she tap danced for the suffering. For the elderly, the fourteen-year-old reminded them of Shirley Temple as a child. It brought them joy from their youth. For others, she was simply a ray of sunshine and a pleasant, if temporary, diversion from the effects of the killer virus.
While Chenoa assisted her aunt, Janet Fraiser, at the Academy Hospital and at Cheyenne Mountain frequently, during this month, she was focusing on the medical facility was she was actually enrolled in a volunteer program.
The teenager mostly did check-ins of patients, making sure they were okay. She was allowed to take pulses and knew how to read many of the various monitors used to track the health of a patient. She often brought in and removed food trays instead of the regular cafeteria food workers or certified nursing assistants. Sometimes, she held the mobile phones that allowed a patient to speak with their loved ones, since in-person visits were not allowed.
Early in the month, Chenoa met a male patient named Cosmos Gates, who was admitted to the hospital over a month earlier. The thirty-five-year-old told the girl he was new to Colorado Springs. Seeing her chuckle at his name, he explained.
"You're probably too young," the man spoke with some difficulty as he struggled to breathe. "Have you heard of the 'Topper' movies?"
"Cary Grant. Oh, Cosmo. He was the banker the ghosts bugged all the time," Chenoa recalled.
"Yeah. My parents thought it would be fun to name me after that character, but there was a typo on my birth certificate. Someone added an 's', and, what can I say? I'm Cosmos, like in the skies."
"It's a wonderful name."
"I've never heard your name before."
"It's Native American and means 'white dove'."
"It's a lovely name. Are you Native American?"
Chenoa laughed, "No. I don't know why my parents chose the name, but I really like it." She finished her task and said, "You need to rest. One of the nurses will be in a little while."
On another day, Chenoa checked on Cosmos, who condition was worsening. He was more despondent, missing his wife and children, of which there were two, a boy and girl, ages ten and seven, respectively.
"I wish I could do something to make you feel better, Cosmos," Chenoa spoke quietly while ensuring his oxygen mask was in place.
"Your smile helps."
"Hey, watch me," Chenoa urged as she began to tap, doing a short excerpt from a dance Shirley Temple once did in a movie.
"Rebel," Cosmos gasped with a bright smile as he referenced the movie, "The Littlest Rebel."
"I just love it. She danced with Bill Robinson. It's one of my favorite routines of Shirley's."
"You're a dancer."
"I love tap dancing. My sister, Lulu, is into ballet. We dance together a lot."
"Sisters," Cosmos stated thoughtfully. "I've heard about two sisters who do unusual choreography here."
"Might be us," Chenoa admitted with some embarrassment. "We're known as The Curly Tops and we specialize in fusing different dance styles, like tap and ballet. People seem to like what we do."
Just then a nurse entered and said, "Noa, Kylie would like your help in twenty-three."
"Okay." Chenoa smiled at Cosmos and said, "I'll try to come back later."
"You're a good volunteer ... Noa."
Chenoa nodded in appreciation and walked out into the corridor with the nurse.
"He's not doing very well."
"There's still a chance. He doesn't need a ventilator, not yet anyway, so that's a good sign."
The young girl nodded and headed for twenty-three to assist another nurse.
In mid-August, Cosmos was feeling better. He no longer needed to wear an oxygen mask, though he still had issues breathing comfortably. His fever was gone, as was the cough he had upon admittance to the hospital. The doctors were hopeful for a complete recovery.
"Good afternoon, Cosmos," Chenoa greeted. "You're looking so much better."
"I feel better, too." The man paused and asked, "Do you and your sister perform in the community?"
"We used to, but with COVID, we just dance at home."
"And here for your patients."
Chenoa grinned as she checked the man's pulse and did a scan of the monitors. She was pleased at the steady heart rate.
"Do you want to dance professionally?"
"Well, we've thought about it, but, actually, we like dancing for our ourselves and our family and friends, but we're not really interested in Show Biz."
"Think you might ever change your mind?"
"Well, Daddy says a person should always be open to change, and Dad says never say never, which is a cliche, but Dad loves cliches."
"Dad and Daddy?"
Chenoa nodded and explained, "My birth parents were killed in a car crash in New York City when I was a toddler. My parents, my adoptive parents, took my sister, my brother, and me in." She sighed. "Do you have ... qualms about that, that my parents are two males?"
"Not at all, Chenoa. I'm all about loving, wherever a person finds it."
"That's what Dad and Daddy say, too."
A wonderful day came when Cosmos was well enough to go home. The staff, including Chenoa, were thrilled to see a success story leaving their care.
"I came to say goodbye," Chenoa told Cosmos, who was already in his clothes and just waiting for the transporter with the wheelchair to arrive.
"I will miss you, Chenoa," Cosmos admitted.
"Thank you," the volunteer replied. "Your wife and children are at the entrance, or I should say exit, waiting for you."
"She's crying, right?"
"Women are allowed to cry." Chenoa paused and added, "So are men."
"I probably will, too," Cosmos admitted. "Noa, I work in Hollywood. I hate to say it because the phrase has a bad connotation to it these days, but the simple fact is that I'm a talent scout. I'd like to see you and your sister dance. Dance auditions are my specialty."
"Oh, thank you. That's very kind, but my parents probably wouldn't agree."
"Here's my card," Cosmos said, happy he was in his own clothes and could get one of the several cards he always carried around for times such as this. "I'm totally legit. Your parents can call this number."
"My dad will check you out, fully. He, um, wouldn't call the number. He has his own way of doing that."
"I'm an open book," Cosmos claimed. "Have him check. I really would like to see the Curly Tops in action."
"Cosmos, it's time to go," Kylie announced gleefully as she grinned with a special smile from the rarity of someone going home after having been as ill as the man was with the dreaded virus. She looked at the transporter and said, "I'll escort Cosmos to the exit."
"Bye, Cosmos. Good luck," Chenoa said as she backed out of the room, the man's card in her hand. She looked at it and slid it inside a pocket. ~It might be fun.~
"Tell me true, Lulu, do you want to do it?" Chenoa asked as she showed her sister the talent scout's card later that day.
"We don't want to be professionals," Lulu reminded.
"It could be fun to say we auditioned once upon a time."
"Don't you want to be a nurse?"
"Of course, I do," Chenoa replied emphatically.
"But you do want to audition for this man?"
"I guess so."
"Okay, I'll do it."
The sisters hugged and then approached their parents with the offer made to them to perform for the recovering COVID-19 patient. Jack took the card and told the girls that the request would be considered.
As Chenoa knew would happen, Jack contacted Sam and requested a thorough background check. He was also curious about one thing in particular.
"Carter, this guy claims he's a Hollywood scout. If that's the case, what's he doing living in the Springs? Find out."
August was fading, but it wasn't done yet when Jack, Daniel, Chenoa, and Lulu walked into one of the centers where dancers in the community often performed. Indeed, the Curly Tops danced on the stage a few times in the past, so it was totally familiar to them.
"Mister Gates," Jack called out, shaking the man's hand. "I'm Jack. This is Daniel."
"I've heard good things about both of you from your daughter. She not only resembles the great Shirley Temple, she has heart. I'm eager to see how much of Shirley's talent she has as well." Cosmos said with amusement, "You checked me out."
"All the way, Mister Gates."
"You're a smart man."
"We were curious why you moved to Colorado," Daniel interjected.
"Nothing too strange," Cosmos replied. "Hollywood is Hollyweird. I don't want my children growing up in that environment. When I get more of my energy back, I'll return to commuting. Three days there, four days here, if I can make that work and satisfy the powers that be. My wife was born here. It seemed like a good place to raise our children."
"That's pretty much what we've heard," Jack noted. "Kids, it's okay."
Smiling, Chenoa and Lulu walked up the stairs to the stage. They went behind a curtain and did a quick change into costumes and put on their dancing shoes.
Daniel set the music player at the end of the stage and waited for the cue to turn it on.
"Whenever you're ready," Cosmos called out.
The girls began their routine, one of their favorites and one with which there were rave reviews from local critics. They did make a few changes to highlight entrances in and out of dance styles. This was one of the things they were especially known for, seamless transitions that didn't even feel like transitions.
Jack and Daniel focused on the girls, though Jack was covertly watching Cosmos, who was bobbing his head up and down to the music and appeared to be watching the various moves. He heard the man energetically exclaim, "Yes!" a few times in response to the performance.
"Very good," Cosmos said when the routine ended, clapping loudly as he approached the stage. "Noa, I know you said you aren't interested, but I promise you that I could get the Curly Tops in three shows right now." He turned to the parents. "They could bring in a lot of cash; help with their education."
"Thank you for the offer, Mister Gates," Daniel responded, adding, "But we're not Hollywood people."
"Think about it." Cosmos retrieved his briefcase from a chair in the front row. "This is a standard contract. I'm crossing out this amount and replacing it with this one."
Jack whistled when he saw it, while Daniel turned his head in astonishment.
"It's your choice, girls. Your fans are waiting!" Cosmos closed his briefcase, handed Jack the revised contract, and said, "Thank you for dancing for me today. It was inspiring!"
"Change your clothes, and let's go home," Jack told the dancers. "That was ..."
"... unexpected," the lovers said in unison.
On the drive home, Jack looked through the rear view mirror at the curly-haired dancers and advised, "Noa, Lulu, this is your decision. Daddy and I are available, as always, if you want to talk about the offer. It's a lot of money, and we'd have to discuss how it would work."
Daniel added, "But this is also a chance for you to explore your dancing on another level, if you want to. You need to realize that opportunities like this are rare. Think hard about what you want to do."
Chenoa and Lulu shared a look, but remained silent as they contemplated a future neither of them truly considered for their future.
On the last workday of the month for the soon-to-be fifteen-year-old nursing volunteer, Chenoa yawned as she showered in the cabana. She happily slipped on the nightgown that was placed there earlier by one of her siblings.
Still yawning, the white dove entered the main part of the house.
"You look tired, Sweetie."
"Long day, Daddy. I'm going to go bed, okay?"
"Sure, but you might want to know that Mister Gates called again today," Daniel informed the amateur dancer.
Cosmos Gates was eager to hire the Curly Tops and called every other day to see if the girls made a decision as yet to sign the contract or not.
"He's very persistent, but, Daddy, I wanted to audition to show we could it and have a lot of fun doing it. I want to be a nurse, and Lulu ... she doesn't know yet what she wants to do as a career, but we both agree on this. Dancing is part of hearts and souls, and money and fame have nothing to do with that." Chenoa yawned and requested, "I'll call him tomorrow, but if I can't, please thank him, but ... no thanks."
"Will do, Noa. Goodnight."
Chenoa gave her father a kiss and a hug and yawned her way slowly up to her room, where she pulled down her bedding and plopped into bed.
"Noa, Cosmos called again," Lulu said.
"Daddy told me. Lulu, do you want to be a star?"
"I am a star, here in my family."
"Me, neither. I told Daddy to tell Cosmos, thanks, but no thanks."
"I'm glad, Noa, because ..." Lulu looked over and realized her sister was asleep. ~Must have really been a long day. She's so sweet to volunteer.~ The black-haired dancer got out of her bed and walked a few feet to her sister's bed. She pulled up the covers to keep Chenoa warm. "Sleep tight, Noa."
For Chenoa and Lulu, a rare opportunity presented itself without warning. It was thrilling, for a moment, but neither girl wanted the life the opportunity might have brought them.
For Jack and Daniel, it was just another time when they trusted their children to make a wise decision, without any pressure from them at all. They were not disappointed.
Opportunities come and go, but the love and trust of family is forever. At least, that's the belief of the Jackson-O'Neills of Colorado Springs.
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