(Slice of Covidity - March 2021)
Category: Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - March 1-20, 2021
Written: February 5, March 15,18,26,28, April 17, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, but through it, Jennifer learns her purpose and her parents couldn't be more proud of their oldest daughter.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): "Mrs. Hamilton"
Slice of Covidity - Purpose
The killer COVID-19 virus appeared to be easing up as global vaccination programs increased. Some still thought the entire virus was no worse than the flu, a dramatic political hoax, but with over five-hundred-thousand Americans dead, the vast majority knew the virus was all-too-real. Still, some states were canceling the mandatory requirements to wear masks, to social distance, or for businesses to operate on a reduced level. The Jackson-O'Neills were hopeful, but remained skeptical. As they'd been doing, they kept their eyes on the scientific experts and followed their guts, which meant they continued to be cautious and follow the guidelines, wearing their masks in public, socially distancing as their norm, and only doing business at stores and businesses that had protective guidelines in place.
As she'd been doing throughout the pandemic, Jennifer prepared bottles of her beloved fruits and vegetables to give away to front line workers. Today, her plan was to give a box full of her goodies to the emergency room staff at the hospital where Chenoa volunteered. Assisting her on the trip were Aislinn and Jenny, while Lulu babysat Sophie. Jennifer's husband was out attending to business needs and wouldn't be home until dinnertime.
"Oh, thank you, Mrs. Robinson. I'm so glad you liked the peaches," Jennifer said as she talked on the phone to a neighbor. "Of course. I'll save you a bottle of my next batch ... what? oh, no, really, that's not necessary ... you're very kind, but I like giving them away. Thanks again ... bye."
"What was Mrs. Robinson so happy about?" Aislinn inquired.
"She loves my peaches. She wants to pay me for them," Jennifer stated. "You know, it's funny, but I'm hearing that a lot lately."
"Maybe you should let them," Jenny suggested.
"No, I don't do this for money. I enjoy it when others love the food from my garden. Hey, we'd better get going."
"We're all ready," Aislinn announced.
"I know, Jen," Lulu said, cutting off all the usual instructions on how to take care of her niece. "Sophie and I will be just fine."
"I know. Thanks, Sweetie," Jen said, giving her birth sister a kiss on the cheek. "Bye, Sophie. Mommy will back soon." As she walked away, she asked, "Have your masks?"
"Right here," Aislinn responded.
"Mine, too," Jenny acknowledged.
The delivery to the ER went over very well. Several of the workers made a beeline for the entrance when they saw the Jackson-O'Neills placing the boxes down on the cement near the door, which was the norm since they weren't allowed inside.
Jennifer waved at the familiar faces and then returned to her mini-cooper vehicle with her sisters.
"Guys, I need to go grocery shopping. Do you want to come with me, or ..."
"Let's go," Jenny answered quickly.
"I'll call Dad and Daddy so they won't worry," Aislinn advised.
A few blocks from the store, Jennifer was stopped at a traffic light. To her right on the sidewalk, she saw an older man, humped over slightly, and with a cup in his hand as he solicited money.
"Be right back," Jennifer told her sisters, ignoring the cars behind her. She went to the rear of her car and pulled out a bottle of peaches. She always kept one or two jars to hand out spontaneously. ~Fudge! My mask is in the car.~ She stopped walking and called out, "Sir, do you like peaches?"
"Here," the woman said as she placed the jar on the ground. "I made these myself, from my garden. I hope you like them."
"Jen, the light is changing!" Aislinn shouted.
"I have to go. Bye! Good luck!"
Jennifer raced back to the driver's seat, ignored all the honking vehicles behind her, and drove onward normally.
"Uncle Pete would say you're crazy," Jenny stated. "He says most of the panhandlers are just crooks."
"They might be, but it makes me feel good to help other people. If they don't need it, they don't need it, but if they do ..."
"You're right, Jen," the redhead agreed. "Dad and Daddy wouldn't turn their backs on someone in need, either."
"Uncle Pete is just more hardcore because he's a cop and he's seen a lot of bad stuff," Aislinn opined.
At the store, still wearing her mask as were her sisters, Jennifer began her shopping by looking for coffee. She wasn't a big coffee drinker herself, but Peter liked it. They were down to just a couple of cupfuls, so it was time to buy a new canister of the beverage.
"What brand are you looking for?" Aislinn asked.
"It doesn't really matter. Peter's not tied into any one brand," Jennifer replied. Scanning the shelves, she noticed Newman's Own Special Blend, which caught her attention since it was an Arabica coffee.
"Paul Newman," the young woman whispered. Then more loudly: "Paul Newman!"
"Great actor," a female shopper without a mask responded.
"Yes, he was."
"Good looking man, too."
Both women, along with Aislinn and Jenny, spoke the same thing within seconds when they declared, "and those blue eyes." All four laughed, and Jennifer noted, "He was color blind, too, and never realized how special those blue eyes were."
The other shopper went on her way, and Jennifer kept staring at the coffee on the shelf.
"Paul Newman," Jennifer whispered again. "Oh my gosh!"
"What is it, Jen?" Aislinn questioned.
"Come on," Jennifer urged her siblings after she put the coffee into her cart.
"Where are we going?" Jenny asked as she sprinted after her older sister.
"The salad dressing aisle."
"It's not on your list," Aislinn pointed out.
"It just doesn't matter," Jennifer asserted.
In the aisle, the oldest sister located the product with the face of the actor on its label and tossed three bottles into the cart.
"Jen, are you okay?" Aislinn asked upon seeing the addition of three unneeded products into the shopping cart.
"Pasta. Where's the pasta?" Jennifer asked, almost sounding like a crazy person in the minds of her sisters.
"Next aisle over, to the right," Jenny stated.
"Pasta sauce," Jennifer spoke with an out-of-breath tone. She put the sauce in her cart and looked at the items on the opposite side of the aisle. "Yes, I remember." She pushed her cart while running to the end of the aisle and grinned wildly at the Newman's Own brand of popcorn. She grabbed multiple items and tossed them into the cart."
"Jen, I don't understand what you're doing," a somewhat concerned Aislinn stated.
"Find Newman's Own: anything. Find it. Whatever it is, I'm buying it. Go!"
Aislinn and Jenny ran to the opposite side of the store and went up and down each aisle, grabbing any item with Paul Newman's picture on it. They even found organic cookies made by the company. They met up with their sister in the middle of the store where they thankfully unloaded their very full arms, the Newman's Owns goodies plopping down into the shopping cart that didn't include any items that were actually on Jennifer's shopping list.
Jennifer checked out, paying for her groceries with her credit card. She ignored the funny look given her by the clerk, who obviously noticed the strange shopping choices.
"Let's go," a hurried Jennifer told her sisters.
"I'm fine. I'm wonderful. We need to get home," Jennifer stated.
Aislinn and Jenny were on the verge of calling their parents. They were worried about Jennifer's odd behavior that seemingly came out of nowhere. They decided to wait and see if their sister would calm down.
Back at the Hamilton home, Jennifer and her sisters brought the unusual grocery items inside. One by one, the young woman placed the products on the counter. It was a parade of Newman's Own offerings.
"It's so simple," Jennifer spoke, her hands clasping her face. "This is it. It's really it."
"Jen, we're going to get Dad and Daddy now," Aislinn advised.
"Why couldn't I figure this out before?"
"Ash, you go. I'd better stay with her."
"What's going on?" Lulu inquired as she came downstairs. "Sophie's taking a nap."
"Something's wrong with Jen," Jenny stated. "She's flipped out."
Jennifer was leaning back against the bottom cabinets opposite the counter that split the kitchen from the living room. She couldn't take her eyes off the foods purchased at the store. Lulu and Jenny stopped trying to talk to her. They simply watched, prepared to move should anything negative happen.
"Jen, what's wrong?" Jack called out as he and Daniel entered the room, having come on a run after Aislinn's worried remarks.
"Nothing's wrong," Jennifer cried. "I know it now. I know my purpose."
"Sweetie," Daniel called out, walking over to his daughter and facing her.
"Oh, Daddy," Jennifer cried, leaning into his arms. "I'm not crazy. I'm sorry I worried everyone, but I understand now. It's hard to explain."
"Do you want to try and tell us?"
Just then, Peter arrived home and found himself engulfed with the beautiful woman who was his wife and the mother of his child.
"Are you okay, Honey?" Peter sensed something was off, if only from the concerned faces of the Jackson-O'Neill family. "What happened? Is Sophie okay."
"Sophie's asleep upstairs, Peter," Lulu assured. "She's okay."
"I'm so sorry. I'm worrying everyone for nothing. It's just ... Peter, I've figured it out. You know, before we got married, I wasn't really sure who I was, but I remember the moment I knew, the day you brought me here and I stood in the backyard. I just knew. I'm Jennifer Renee Morgan Jackson-O'Neill Hamilton, and I'm darn proud of every name in my name." Jennifer sniffled, "But I've always known there was something I was supposed to do. I love being your wife and Sophie's mom. You're all I need, but there's something ... inside that has been stirring for as long as I can remember. When I was at the store, it hit me."
"Newman's Own products?" Peter asked, seeing the unusual accumulation of items on the counter.
"Dad, Daddy, do you remember that homework assignment you gave us one summer that was different than normal; it, um, was on pop culture and we were supposed to do something that wasn't just a regular report of facts?"
"Yeah, I recall something like that," Jack acknowledged.
"I remember Jonny dressed up like Bart Simpson and, uh, I think Lulu did a dance interpretation of a misunderstood pit bull."
"I remember. There's nothing wrong with pits," Lulu put forward. "It's their owners who don't train them and dismiss their behavior and unique needs that cause the problems."
"Peter, we didn't choose our topics. Dad and Daddy put these names and things in a hat, and we pulled out a paper. My subject was Paul Newman."
Jennifer gulped as she struggled to truly regain her composure. She was grateful that her husband's arms were wrapped securely around her, though light enough to allow her movement.
"I remember thinking I couldn't just talk about him being a great actor, so I just chose a couple of areas that I found interesting. First, those blue eyes. His blue eyes were so sexy, but did you know he was color blind? I found a clip on YouTube from an old talk show, and the host asked him how it was to live with those blue eyes. He said he didn't understand because he didn't even know what those blue eyes were like. Can you imagine? The man was a sex symbol and had no clue what power those eyes had on women. The other thing was his philanthropy. He was always charitable, but one year, he started giving his salad dressing to friends. It was a big hit so he put it on the market, only the big deal was that all of the profits went to charity. Over the years, he added more things. His daughter even convinced him to let her produce organic foods under the label."
Jennifer went to the counter and picked up a package of Oreo-like cookies.
"See, this is Paul Newman with his daughter." She put the package down and sighed as she leaned into Peter for a few seconds for strength. "Something happened after Paul died. He might have been coerced before his death by a supposed friend and business partner, but I don't know. Paul ended up leaving this guy in control and I read that over the years, this man kept increasing his own salary. There was some rift, too, so that the daughter lost control of the organics portion of the company. Very sad, but I read something not too long ago that said the Newman family had regained control. I hope they have. I hope that sweet man wasn't taken advantage of before he died. I'm not sure anyone knows."
Jennifer's rambling was left unchecked as the family let her talk. They were still trying to understand how Paul Newman's line of products was making their loved one so discombobulated.
"Don't you see?" an exasperated Jennifer asked her family as she again pulled away from her husband. "Newman's Own, a high quality product where the profits go to charity. That's what I want to do. People right and left have been offering me money for my peaches and other bottled fruits and vegetables, but I don't want to sell them for money, but selling them to help others? That's awesome."
"I agree," Peter quickly spoke. "It's a great idea, Jen."
"There's a lot involved, Princess," Jack interjected. "I'm sure Mark Kingston would be agreeable to helping you set something up."
"Just look at all these products, every penny above cost have helped kids, or whoever. I know at first they went to Paul's own charity. What was it called? After Butch Cassidy."
"I've heard of it," Daniel responded. "The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, or something like that."
"Yes!" Jennifer exclaimed. "For drug addicts, I think. I'm not sure, but I recall reading that one of his son's died of a drug overdose and this was Paul Newman's way of handling it and helping others. Geez, this is what I want to do. I mean, look at this."
Everyone reviewed the counter loaded with goodies. There was Hint-O-Mint cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, organic cinnamon mints, organic extra virgin olive oil, peach salsa, and various pasta sauces, including Italian sausage and peppers and roasted garlic Alfredo. There was the acclaimed movie theater butter popcorn as well as organic raisins, Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade, Grapefruit juice, and organic Earl Grey tea. Also amid the various items were various thin and crispy pizzas, such as four cheese, Sicilian recipe, and uncured pepperoni thin and crispy pizza. This was even turkey and chicken dinner for dogs and dog biscuit flavors such as bacon and peanut butter.
"Who knows what else we might have missed," Jennifer stated. She picked up one of the items and read part of the company's mission stated. She smiled. "See, this is what I want. Newman's Own is based on two principles: 'Quality will always trump the bottom line" and "100% of the profits will go to charity."
"They've been very successful," Jack admitted.
"The last I read, Newman's Own donated over five-hundred-fifty-million dollars to charity," Jennifer reported.
"That's a lot of salad dressing," Jack returned.
"He thought it was the right thing to do, and so do I," a calmer Jennifer stated. "I need help. You said I should I call Mister Kingston?"
"It's a good place to start," Daniel put forward.
"And my parents might be helpful, too," Peter added.
"Take a long, deep breath, Jen," Daniel urged. "We're here for you, however you need us."
"It's a great purpose to have: helping others," Jack noted. "We're proud of you."
Jennifer hugged her parents and walked them and her sisters to the door. She apologized again for acting so strangely, but finding her professional purpose in life so unexpectedly overwhelmed her. They all understood.
"Sweetheart, I'm here for you."
"I'm so excited, Peter. I can use my trust fund money to pay for things at the start."
"No," Peter negated. "Save that money for emergencies or for our children or for when you want to splurge on something for yourself. Let me help you with this."
"We're a partnership in everything. However this thing is arranged, you're going to need capital. Let me invest. You always have total control, but I'll kick in some starter money so this is ours; unless, that's not what you want."
"Oh, Peter, I want everything about us to be a partnership, including this. Thank you."
"I love you."
"And I love you." Jennifer gasped. "Sophie!"
"Let's go check on her," Peter replied calmly.
"Peter, we don't have any food. All I bought was ..." Jennifer sighed as she pointed over at the counter. "I'm sorry."
"No need for sorries, Honey. We'll bake one of those pizzas."
Jennifer smiled and leaned in for a tender, loving kiss with her spouse. She was feeling great, although strangely tired from the experience. Tomorrow would be a new day and would bring on new challenges.
Bright and early the next day, Jennifer called family lawyer, Mark Kingston.
"Hello. I'm Jennifer Hamilton, and I'd like to speak with Mister Kingston, please."
"He's on another call at the moment," the secretary stated.
"Well, is there a good time to call him later?"
"He has a full schedule today. Actually, he's pretty tied up for the next few weeks; post-COVID, so people believe, you know."
"Yes, well, it's important that I speak to him."
Just then, the lawyer stepped out of his office to retrieve a folder in the files, something he did himself since he could see his secretary was on the phone. He headed back to his office.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Hamilton. Did you want ..."
Mark turned and asked, "Hamilton?"
"Yes, Jennifer Hamilton," the secretary stated, one hand against the bottom portion of the phone to mute her voice somewhat.
"Jennifer Jackson-O'Neill Hamilton?"
"She didn't say."
"Put her on," Mark ordered as he went to his desk and sat down, waiting for the phone to ring. When it did, he immediately picked it up. "Jennifer, I apologize for the delay. How are you?"
"That's okay, and I'm fine. Your secretary said you were busy."
"Never too busy for a Jackson-O'Neill," Mark expressed truthfully. "Did you have a question about your trust or J-O investment?"
"No, this is something else. I hope you won't think I'm crazy, but Dad and Daddy said even if you couldn't help, you could put me in touch with someone else."
"What is it you need?"
Jennifer explained to the attorney about her love of gardening, something that was never planned, but simply evolved from beautiful flowers to gourmet peaches. She told him how she'd been growing fruits and vegetables for years now, giving them away to family and friends and also to the homeless. She told him of her frequent donations to front line workers and how many offers of payment were rolling in with frequency. She concluded with a summary of her new found purpose, something brought to light by the myriad of Newman's Own products available to consumers.
"I don't really have a clue how to proceed, Mister Kingston. Can you help me?"
"First, call me Mark. Second, I believe so. Do you have any of your goodies ready to go?"
"Put what you can in a box and have it outside and ready to be picked up in an hour. Is that doable?"
"Good. A courier will pick it up. Give me a few days, and I'll get back to you."
"Thank you, Mis... Mark."
Quickly, Jennifer found a box large enough to hold several bottles of her delights and filled it up as requested. It was heavy, but she managed to get it to her front porch. Now, it would be a waiting game.
The next evening, an excited Mark phoned the entrepreneur and exclaimed, "Jennifer, these peaches are out of this world. My wife is the world's hardest to please woman when it comes to fruits. She doesn't like much, but she was ranting about these peaches tonight. We pulled the pears and cucumbers, and I kid you not, she was over the moon. Jennifer, if my wife loves your food, the world will, too. I'll have my secretary call you in the morning. We need to get together and make some plans."
"Thank you so much."
More details were discussed, leaving Jennifer both eager and frightened. She was biting off a big chunk of unknown territory to her, but her soul was singing.
As the plans continued, Jennifer and Peter had a heart-to-heart one afternoon about how the new foundation they were creating would proceed in a practical sense as related to the growing and bottling of the food products. This occurred just minutes after Peter arrived home from an unrelated business meeting.
Peter placed his hands on his wife's upper arms, kissed her, and then confided, "Honey, I just stole a page out of your parents' book."
"They needed a bigger house, so they bought the one next door and built a bigger house."
"I don't understand. Jen, we haven't talked about it yet, but in our meeting with Mark the other day, you very strongly said you wanted to continue to grow your fruits and vegetables."
"I'm not ready for mass production, Peter. I want to start slow. I want to make sure I'm making the right choices."
"Right, even if we move forward by concentrating on just one store at first like we discussed, this house isn't big enough for you to grow a garden sufficient to produce the volume we need; and what about the bottling process? Think about the labeling and packaging. More importantly, think about Sophie and her safety. You'll need to focus more on meeting the obligations with your product. Can you see Sophie running around here, creating a mess with the food."
"Oh, I hadn't thought that, of any of it," Jennifer conceded as she lowered her head."
"So, like I said, I did what your parents would do."
With a bit of wonder, Jennifer asked, "What did you do?"
"I just bought the Canady house."
"The ... what?"
With a pleased expression, Peter explained, "When I drove by just now, it just hit me, that we needed to expand, and I know you're not ready to move, not until JD is a little older. I'm good with that; no problems there." He sighed. "I acted on a hunch. I knocked on their door and asked if they were interested in selling their home. Lo and behold, they were. We made the deal. They'll be out in a month, as long as escrow goes through okay."
"They're just up and moving? Why?"
"I made them the best offer they're ever going to get on that place. We'll have to do some remodeling to make it suitable and safe for the bottling. We tear down the fence and you'll have triple the space for a garden, since their yard is so much larger than ours." Peter paused and smiled with hope. "What do you think?"
"I think I love you and am so lucky you're on my side."
The lovers kissed and continued to offer ideas back and forth about how to make Jennifer's purpose a practical reality.
"I'm so excited and ... oh my gosh! Peter, we're late."
"Jeff's birthday party."
"I'll get Sophie. Gee, we've been talking for hours. The time just slipped away."
"It happens, Jen. C'mon, though. If we don't show up soon, your folks will send a delegation to find us."
Jennifer laughed before going upstairs to dress her daughter for the party. She eagerly looked forward to sharing the news about the Canady home with her parents, too.
With time, and the help of Alex Dennison, the acclaimed interior designer, as well as Jennifer's brother Jeff, who was an architect, the Canady house was amended to be a workable site where Jennifer could safely keep her supplies and do her canning. Shelves and such were added to make it easy for the needed volume of goods to be stored. Since structural changes were limited mostly to the home's interior, the renovation moved along quickly. The crews lost only two days due to snow over the course of their work.
A work schedule was devised to add routine and structure to the process, which also allowed Sophie to be looked after by her grandparents, aunts, and uncles, though sometimes she was Mommy's helper.
The initial batch was produced and distributed at one of the stores where the Jackson-O'Neill family were frequent shoppers and thus well known. The product moved slowly at first, but quickly picked up steam via word of mouth.
When the first check came in showing a profit, Peter and Jennifer celebrated by having a romantic evening together. The next day, they donated the profits to a local food pantry. It was just the start.
Jennifer wasn't sure how large she really wanted her food line to become. She wanted to continue growing her food with love and care. Inside, though, she knew if it became successful, she'd have to give up doing it herself. Right now, though, she delighted in fulfilling her purpose. She knew now this was where her entire life as a Jackson-O'Neill had taken her. She thought back on the days when she purchased a hot food cart and went on her own to take food to the homeless. She remembered the visits to shelters with her parents. She smiled as she reflected on the many visits to nursing homes. All were essentially doing the same thing: helping others and making them happy.
In the late afternoon, Jennifer walked outside and stood on her lawn. She looked upward as she'd done a few years earlier.
"Mom, I'm Jennifer Renee Morgan Jackson-O'Neill Hamilton. I know that's a mouthful, but I sure do love it. I have a purpose. There's Peter and Sophie and whoever is next, but I'm here to serve. Did you know that, Mom? I do now. Help me, okay? I'm a little scared, but I can do this. I'm your daughter, and the daughter of Jack and Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, and the wife of Peter Hamilton. I can't think of anything better. I know who I am, and now I know what I'm supposed to do in life. I love you, Mom. I miss you."
A butterfly flew by and settled on Jennifer's hand. The young woman smiled and watched when the beautiful creature flew away.
Life in Colorado Springs for the Hamiltons was changing daily, thanks to Jennifer's success with her bottling of gourmet fruits and vegetables. The joy in her heart was immense and every time she handed a check over to someone in need, that joy doubled. There would be many alterations as Jen's Gourmet Foods line of products expanded. Eventually, the Hamiltons would form their own foundation to handle the profits and distribute them to the charities of their choice. No one knew where the process would ultimately take them.
As for Jack and Daniel, they watched with great pride as their oldest daughter matured and discovered her true path in life. There was nothing more heartfelt to a parent than to see their child succeed and be happy. Yes, life in Colorado Springs was indeed good. It was full of changes, but that was life, a very good life for the lovers, their brood, and their zoo.
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