Realities
(Slice of Covidity - March 2021)

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 - March 21-27, 2021
Spoilers: None
Written: March 23-26, April 18, 2021
Summary: COVID-19 is still an issue, but at the moment, there are even more important issues to Jack after another mass shooting occurs in Colorado.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Warning: This fic references the real life mass shooting in Boulder, CO on March 21, 2021 and other similar tragedies. Some readers may be sensitive to the story details.

Slice of Covidity - Realities
by Orrymain

As the country was either plateauing or increasing the number of COVID-19 cases, life for the Jackson-O'Neills was moving steadily onward as best as possible.

Little Danny was now enrolled in his sophomore year of study at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He was majoring in anthropology, which explained the three open tomes on an ottoman in the recreation room. The teen was studying while also watching the news when a special report began to air.

"Dad, Daddy, Everyone, come here," the boy called out, his eyes still focused on the report.

"Son, what's wrong?" Jack asked as he led the way into the rec room.

"Look. It's happened again."

The family watched in horror as details slowly emerged. The country's second mass shooting in only a week just occurred. The first was in Atlanta, but the second was much closer to home, in the city of Boulder, which was located roughly an hour to the north of the Springs, just beyond Denver. A man entered a supermarket and opened fire, killing ten people, including the first police officer to arrive on the scene. Others fled to safety in an urgent panic, running to the rear of the store and leaving it via a back exit. The gunman was captured and was being interrogated by the police.

"I can't believe it's happening again," Jack sighed. "When are those bumbling politicians going to learn?"

"When people insist on change," Little Danny answered.

Some continued to watch the news, but most of the family went on with their day. Jack was one who kept watching, taking a seat in the living room and settling into his reliable recliner. He didn't say much, but he watched and listened for the better part of the day.

====

The next day, life moved forward. Chenoa left to do her volunteer duties at the hospital she was associated with, while Little Danny entered the quiet room to complete a test held online, as was the norm at the moment.

"Daddy, I need money for the shopping," Brianna advised as she entered the den.

"Sure." Daniel retrieved his wallet. "Estimated tally?"

"Maybe a hundred, or more."

"Here's two-hundred," Daniel offered, giving his daughter multiple twenty dollar bills.

"Thanks." Brianna went downstairs and found her co-shoppers having a drink in the kitchen. "Time to go, guys."

"We're ready."

From the recreation room, Jack overheard the conversation and called out, "Where are you going?"

"To the store for the groceries," Jonny answered.

"We'll be back soon," Brianna promised.

"Stop!" Jack exclaimed as he stood up from the sofa and hurried to the living room where three of his children were walking. "We'll do the shopping later."

"But we're almost out of milk," Jenny reminded. "And there's only two boxes of Froot Loops left."

"We'll go tomorrow, or maybe the next day."

At that point, Little Danny exited the quiet room, having completed the test fairly quickly. He even double-checked his answers and still finished earlier than most.

"What's going on?" the middle Munchkin inquired.

"I'm going shopping," Jack announced as he literally pulled the list out of his namesake's hand.

"Dad!" Jonny exclaimed in shock.

"Dad, you can't go out," Brianna remarked. "We're only going to the store."

"Oh, I don't think so," the silver-haired man spat as he grabbed the keys dangling out of Brianna's hand.

"Ow! Dad, why'd you do that?" the tomboy asked.

"I'll be back."

"Dad, you can't go anywhere. We're in a pandemic, remember, and you're, you know, high risk," Jonny argued strongly.

"We can't let him do this," Brianna said to Little Danny.

"Dad, stop!" Jonny ordered, literally moving between his father and the front door. "We've spent a solid year in this house to protect you and Daddy. We can do the shopping like we've been doing for years. What's wrong?"

"It's the shooting," Little Danny sighed.

"Dad, we'll be fine," Brianna promised.

"I'm sure there a bunch of mothers, daughters, and children who were told their husbands, wives, and parents would be fine, too, before that killer wiped them off the planet," Jack returned harshly. "Jonny, move out of my way, or I'll move you out of the way."

Little Danny hurried to the intercom, and not knowing for sure where Daniel was, triggered the button that carried his voice through the entire house.

"Daddy, please come to the living room right away. Dad's wigging out."

The request prompted all the children to show up in the living room, including nine-year-old JD, at the same time as Daniel hurried down the stairs. He quickly observed some kind of standoff.

"Jack, what's going on?"

"He won't let us go shopping, Daddy," Brianna replied as she stood where the living room met the hallway.

"He says he's going to do the shopping himself," Jonny added.

Daniel approached his husband and requested gently, "Jack, talk to me."

JD watched curiously, trying to make sense of why his father was behaving so oddly, but he couldn't figure it out.

"Why is Dad acting so strange?" the youngest of the brood asked.

"It's because of that shooting yesterday. We saw it on TV, remember?" Little Danny said quietly.

"Oh, yeah. Lotsa people died."

"Including a cop," David pointed out.

"He should have waited for backup," Ricky put forth.

"He can't," the middle Munchkin refuted.

"How come?"

"Columbine."

"What's that?" JD asked.

Having perfect timing in Daniel's opinion, at that moment, Jennifer entered through the patio door with her daughter, Sophie.

"Oh. Something's going on."

"Jen, would you please take JD home with you for a little while," Daniel requested.

"Well, I was going to ask ..."

"Jennifer, please," the younger father requested.

The young woman's intent of dropping her daughter off with her parents while she ran some errands was quickly squashed. Whatever was happening definitely took precedence over her errands. She also sensed that the matter was somewhat sensitive and understood her daddy wanted JD out of the room.

"Okay. Call me."

The eldest of the brood took hold of her brother's hand and led him towards the door.

"Dad's acting funny."

"I'm sure it's okay. I'm making brownies. Do you want to help me?"

"Yum!"

With Jennifer and JD gone, Ricky asked, "I don't know what Columbine is either."

"A city in Colorado. A bunch of years ago, two shooters killed twelve students and a teacher," Little Danny stated. "The point is the police response was on the slow side. They were highly criticized for it. Rules changed. The first guy on the scene is supposed to go in and hopefully take out the shooter. They say it works most of the time."

"Not this time," Aislinn sighed.

Daniel again pleaded, "Jack, talk to me."

"What's there to say?" the retired general responded.

"Babe, I know you're in protect mode. That doesn't surprise me at all. You're natural instinct is to take care of me and the children, no matter what. Jack, it's okay. There's no danger here."

"No danger?" Jack returned incredulously. "Did you hear that one survivor? He went in for a soda and chips and found himself running for his life."

"I saw him," Aislinn admitted. "He's going to meditate."

"Like that's going to prevent him from remembering that terror the next time he just wants soda and chips from a store," Jack responded as anger stirred within him.

"Okay, well, danger then is everywhere, all the time. I suppose that's the realistic way of looking at it, but we've torn away that bubble that we kept the brood in for years, and we have to let them live their lives."

"They're under our roof, and they aren't all grown up yet, either."

"Okay, but they aren't little kids, either. We've raised them to think for themselves, to make good choices, and to be responsible. We can't pull back the bubble now."

"There's danger out there."

"The killer is in police custody."

"Daniel, do you know how many mass shootings there have been in this state? Five. This makes six. Copycats could strike at any time. I won't let my kids be the next casualties."

"Fine, you go to the store, and while you're gone, some madman breaks into our home and slaughters all of us. What does that prove? Jack, give Jonny the shopping list."

"Daddy, he took my keys," Brianna advised.

The archaeologist saw his lover's firm grip on the keys, so he turned around and went to a drawer that was part of an entryway table. He opened it and retrieved a pair set of keys for the family's Escalade SUV. He tossed them to his daughter.

"Take the SUV. Bri, I know normally you split up to speed up shopping, but I'd appreciate it today, you stuck together; and be extra vigilant from the moment you park the car."

"Okay, Daddy."

"Jack, give Jonny the grocery list."

Disgusted, Jack let out a growl, threw the list at his son, and slammed Brianna's keys against the corner of the entranceway.

"Bri, go ... now."

Somewhat cautiously, Jonny opened the door and waited for his sisters to walk out before he followed them to the SUV.

"The rest of you, go back to whatever you were doing," Daniel asked of the remaining brood.

"I'm going to meditate," Aislinn sighed. "I'll be in the Bird's Nest, but please don't bother me. I really need to process this."

"Ash, can I go with you?" Lulu asked. "I won't say anything."

"Sure. If you want, I'll teach you how to meditate."

Daniel was now alone with his still disturbed husband. He reached out and touched his soulmate's arm, leaving his hand there as he spoke.

"Jack, I do understand your need to keep the brood safe, but there's only so much we can do. This isn't another world. We're not on a mission where we meet evil bad guys and have to take them out to save simple villagers. We're in a society that values its freedoms, and that regrettably means, disturbed people can often obtain weapons when they shouldn't. Until Americans stand up and demand change, it won't change. Until politicians decide to do the right thing instead of bowing down to the NRA, nothing will change. We have to live with that."

"Live with it? Daniel, people are dying, and we're becoming desensitized to it," Jack responded. "People don't think they can make change anymore, and all the politicians do is offer platitudes." He sighed, "If they didn't do anything after Sandy Hook, they never will."

Daniel lowered his head in remembrance of the elementary school in Connecticut where in 2012, a depraved killer ended the lives of twenty-six people, including twenty young children, none older than age seven.

"Kids died and some say it didn't even happen," Jack spat emotionally. "What kind of world do we live in where we elect senators and congressman who claim Sandy Hook was a hoax? Tell that to the families." He pulled away from Daniel and stood in front of the mantel. "Daniel, I have this image as some big gun loving guy, but I came home one day and my kid showed me a water gun a friend gave him. I took it away from him, and he never forgave me. Two weeks later, I was careless, and he shot himself with my gun. Gun-loving guy? I hate the things."

Daniel approached his Love again and said, "Jack, we can only control the things in our reach. I know how painful Charlie's death was for you. I know how hard it was when Jonny let his love for being just like you draw him to powerful weapons, but Jonny is proof that we can nurture our children in a positive direction. He has a high respect for what weapons are now. Yes, he's an expert marksman already, but he's not that little boy who wanted a gun to show off with anymore. He's becoming a young man who, like you, wants to be able to protect himself and his family."

Jack let out a tiny snort. He was beside himself and unable to calm the storm raging inside of him.

"I use guns to protect my family, my country, the planet, and the whole friggin' universe. The idiots behind these killings are murdering the innocent for the joy of it. It's sick, Daniel, and I'm tired of it."

"So am I, but you have to let it go. We can say our piece, advocate for change, but we can't keep our children from living."

"Where's your stash?"

"What?"

"Twinkies, Daniel. I want some blasted Twinkies."

Daniel almost laughed, but instead, he simply smiled lightly and led his lover to the kitchen where amid the pots and pans was a box loaded with Twinkies and other goodies.

"Bring the box," Jack demanded as he entered the rec room and sat down.

The archaeologist retrieved a couple of sodas and brought the box of Twinkies to the rec room. He held out one of the sodas towards his husband.

"That's Pepsi."

"I know. Take it."

"Daniel, I prefer Coca-Cola."

"I know that, but that's one of the food items on the shopping list," Daniel explained. "Jack, I drink it all the time. Take it."

Reluctantly, Jack took possession of the soft drink, ripped off the tab, and swallowed several sips.

"Yuck. You could use this stuff to clean a toilet."

"Actually, that's Coke."

Jack let out an unhappy groan, but let go of the drink situation. More important things were stirring in his mind.

"The press conference this morning: the governor, the mayor, and whoever else who was there. They offered prayers and thoughts. What does that do, Danny? They did that after Aurora, too," Jack sighed in reference to the mass shooting at a movie theater in 2012 that also resulted in a shocking loss of life. "Talk, talk, talk. They patted each other on the back and praised one another for their great leadership and jobs well done. More talk. Half that press conference was fluff."

"Jack ..."

"Danny, it has to change. Give me one of those dang Twinkies."

Daniel handed Jack a two-pack of unopened Twinkies and watched as his husband ripped it open and took three quick bites, stuffing his face.

Jack continued to chew and swallow. He looked down and saw Bijou and immediately gave her the last piece of the first Twinkie. He removed the second sponge-cake treat and took a bite. Then he walked over to Ptolemy's cage and handed the hyacinth macaw a piece, too.

"Jack, if you want to eat Twinkies, eat them, but don't feed the animals with them."

Staring at the beautiful bird, Jack lamented, "You should be able to go inside a grocery store for soda and chips and not lose your life."

"I agree." Daniel again took his lover's arm. "Jack, for the past year, we've been stuck in this house. We've run a few errands; you've gone for jogs; we've gone for walks, but we haven't really been outside in the open air for a year."

"There's a pandemic going on, remember?"

"Well, I think I have a way around that." Daniel smiled when he saw curiosity in his husband's eyes. "I know this small cabin in Minnesota, just waiting for us."

"Geez, the cabin. We haven't been there in ... crap, I don't remember the last time it's been so long."

"Why don't we get Jo," Daniel said about their private plane, "and fly there. We'll spend a few days, out in the cold, but in the fresh air. We can fish."

"You hate fishing."

"Okay, so you fish, and I'll watch."

"There's no food there, and Franklin's not able to prep it for us anymore," Jack said about longtime friend of the O'Neill clan, Franklin DeMilo, a resident of Ashby which the cabin was near. For years, Franklin happily saw to the security of the cabin and whenever Jack made a scheduled trip to the cabin, it was Franklin who brought in supplies and made sure the generator was working. Now, though, the family helper was in his nineties and not as spry as in his younger days. "I wish we could see him."

"Me, too, but you know we can't," Daniel lamented. "Maybe we can call him while we're there."

"Maybe," Jack acknowledged. "What about the kids?"

"Bri and David are perfectly capable of handling everything here, and we'll make sure Jen and Jeff do extra drop-by visits, unannounced," Daniel teased lightly. "Uh, maybe we can have one of them take JD home with them, though."

"I'm not sure we should leave them right now."

"Babe, if we take the children, we won't be able to ... you know ... like we'd like to, when we'd like to, and, uh, where we'd like to."

At last, Jack grinned and responded, "Now, you're talking."

====

Later that day, Jack apologized to his children and chalked up his behavior to a mix of genuine concern and going stir crazy from a year spent mostly inside of their home. He made a special point to express his regrets to Brianna and Jonny, speaking with both of them privately. The big news, of course, was the impromptu trip to the cabin, which the brood approved of totally. The kids were surprised that their parents would be flying to Minnesota instead of driving, which was normally how they preferred to travel to the cabin, but the lovers explained flying meant less contact or risk of contracting the Coronavirus.

The kids eagerly helped to pack a few bags of appropriate foods to be taken on the trip. They made sure it was a mix of easy-to-make meals and some indulgent treats for those romantic moments they were positive would happen.

Bags packed, food readied, and JD geared up for sleepovers at Jeff's house, Jack and Daniel flew out of Colorado Springs the first thing the following morning. Driving time from home to cabin tended to fall between fifteen and nineteen hours, depending on weather, number of stops made, and speed traveled. Since they were flying, the couple anticipated being at their secluded cabin in four hours, which included flight time and travel time in a rental vehicle from the airport to the cabin.

====

There was a light snow falling when the lovers landed their aircraft, but as they drove to the cabin, the snow subsided. Clouds filled the sky and the forecast indicated it could rain through the afternoon and evening.

"Home," Jack whispered when he got out of the rented truck.

Daniel smiled, believing his solution to Jack's temporary overprotectiveness was the right one.

====

The next few days were full of sunshine, allowing the couple to fish and relax outside at their leisure. It was cold at the cabin, but it was refreshing and revitalizing, giving Jack a renewed strength. Still, there was genuine sadness for the world and several discussions about the harsh realities of living in 2021.

"The problem with America is America," Jack stated as he cast his fishing line into the water.

"What do you mean?" Daniel asked from the other side of the small rowboat.

"We're spoiled rotten. We think our rights are above the safety of all, and that's wrong. Heaven forbid, Americans shelter-in-place, wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and keep others six-feet away for a couple of years. Danny, I swear, if we'd done it full force the first time, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

"It's like the right of free speech or to bear arms."

"We're the best country in the world, home of democracy, and that democracy is going to kill us."

"That's pretty drastic."

"Tell me I'm wrong," Jack challenged. "Tell me it was freedom of speech when the insurrection happened. Tell me the right to pack a pistol is more important than the life of a child. You can't because you know, on this, I'm right."

Daniel sighed, "We take it too far."

"And we're full of red tape; couldn't make big changes even if there was a will. We're stuck, Danny. We've done it to ourselves. Independence over all."

"But we should be protecting that all, caring that what we do affects others."

"Tell that to the spring breakers in Florida. This is going to sound cruel, but they deserve what they get. I don't want them to get it, but I won't lose any money betting against it."

====

"They won't change the laws," Jack sighed as another conversation on the tragedies was taking place.

"Probably not."

"You're right, though. Danny, these nightmares happen at colleges, in the post office, at community festivals: they happen everywhere, but there was something about this murderer shooting people shopping for eggs or standing in line to get their vaccine shot that gets to me. It's such an everyday thing. You say, 'be right back', but then you're dead because of an idiot."

"Maybe we should wait and see. After all, we don't know what's been happening."

"Peace: no news means ... blessed silence."

"I'm glad we got away from it for a while," Daniel put forward.

"Me, too. The sex has been ..."

"Jack," an embarrassed Daniel interrupted.

"Geez, Danny, what you do to me, even after all these years. I love you."

"I love you, too."

The words led to lovemaking, something the soulmates engaged in several times as the week went on.

====

"I have to be honest, Jack. I'm not sure I believe that you don't like guns," Daniel confided.

"I like what they can do in battle. I don't like what they can do in the hands of mentally unstable people or those with dark and evil souls," the older man clarified.

"Oh."

"There is part of me that agrees with the view that it's not the guns, it's what people do with them. A gun alone doesn't hurt anyone, but a gun in the hands of someone who's angry or seeking revenge is a terror." Jack sighed as he leaned back against a tree, stopping the casual walk he and Daniel were on. "I was too hard on Charlie; maybe on Jonny, too, but I know what a gun can do, and I was never willing to let my son disrespect that power."

"Jonny respects it now."

"I believe that. I've ... watched sometimes."

"You spied on our son?"

"I checked up on him. Go ahead and shoot me," Jack teased lightly, a sign that he was healing. "I needed to be sure."

"Are you?"

"Yes." Jack paused. "Danny?"

"Hmm?"

"The day the last of our children leaves home for good, I'm getting rid of every piece of weaponry I own. I don't want to see any of it anymore."

"You won't get any arguments from me."

"Besides, we'll be here, and we won't need guns."

"Make love, not war?" Daniel joked.

"That depends," Jack replied in a low tone and luring eyes. "What kind of love were you thinking?"

"I think maybe I'd better show you."

"Good idea, and don't leave anything out."

====

Later in the afternoon as the sun was setting, the soulmates sat on the bench that was on the porch.

"Beautiful evening," Jack sighed.

"It is," Daniel agreed.

"Danny, this is the last thing I'm going to say, and then it's done."

"Okay."

"There is a military need for the ability to not let tragedy touch you. We can't be stopped by sentiment or sorrow. We're there to do a job; the job is what matters, but when the country sees multiple killings multiple times and nothing changes, they get used to it. It's like a TV show. It's not even real."

"The video game effect."

"Yep. That's what gets me. People cry and mourn and then they move on. King Soopers will be back to being just another grocery store one of these days."

"I'm not sure I could forget what happened there."

"It's not forgetting. It's just ... moving on, but it's wrong. It's what I had to do countless numbers of time. It's wrong, but I guess it's human nature. No one to blame for that."

"Beautiful sunset," Daniel observed.

"Yes, it is."

====

Jack and Daniel debated staying the weekend, but both wanted to get home to their children. Besides, it was raining when they arrived, and after three pleasurable days in the outdoors, the rain was back. They viewed it as a sign, so they packed their bags, including unused food, and returned to the airport where their trusty plane safely took them home.

Saturday afternoon, a family meeting was called by the parents. Various minor issues or needs were discussed, but then Jack and Daniel made an important announcement.

"Kids, Daddy and I talked a lot about this at the cabin. My ... wig out moment was proof to us that we all need to get out sometimes. We're choosing to stay at home for the most part because neither one of us is eager to die, and we believe another surge of the virus is likely. Believe me, we hope we're wrong. We want to be wrong, but we've decided that as much as taking risks has been part of our lives since the day we met, that this time, we're going to play it safe."

"However," Daniel began as he prepared to reveal an important change. "All of you, except for JD, are old enough and, more importantly, responsible enough to make your own decisions. So, if you decide you want to meet your friends at the park or go to the mall with friends or just visit at someone else's home, you have a right to do so without us second guessing that decision."

"We need air, fresh air," Jack spoke. "We trust you to follow the protocols, even if no one else is. I guess that's really your choice, too."

The kids all shared a look of surprise, but the looks were also ones of amazement that their parents would even think they'd do anything to risk any of their lives.

"Dad, Daddy, we appreciate the freedom," Jonny spoke, "but we could have gone out anytime. We're staying close to home. I'm speaking for the entire brood. We've talked about this plenty of times."

"But we agree we need fresh air," Aislinn stated. "We think the problem isn't what happened in Boulder or being stir crazy."

"Yeah, we were talking about it while you were gone," David stated. "Last year, we had all these talks about how we were feeling about COVID and being at home all the time. That really helped when you initiated those talks, and we, the brood, kept talking. We've vented a lot, but what we realized while you were at the cabin is that neither of you ever really talked to us about what you've been feeling. We supposed you've shared with each other, but we don't know. Maybe both of you have been keeping your feelings to yourselves. Maybe that's why Dad wigged out."

"It was all bottled up. Boulder was just the trigger, but not the cause," Jenny put forward wisely.

~Dang geniuses, all of them.~ Jack drew a deep breath and turned his head to face his lover. He smiled. "They're pretty smart."

"I, uh, I'd have to agree," Daniel stated.

"So, Dad, why'd you wig out?" Chenoa questioned bravely.

"Lack of space," Jack began.

For the next forty minutes or so, Jack and Daniel shared their fears, their anxieties, and their hopes for getting through COVID-19 unscathed. Both men were relieved and felt lighter after sharing openly with their children.

When the family meeting ended, a huge pizza party was held, one where barbecue chicken wings, cheese sticks, and even a cake was ordered. They put on music and danced and simply let themselves have fun.

Jack and Daniel hoped for a change in America, one that saw precautions such as wait times for gun purchases and background checks required before a gun could be sold. They feared their hopes would never come true, that more mass shootings would occur, followed by the usual pats on the back, rote platitudes, and the standard debate about the need for any gun controls at all. They knew they were doing all they could in that they were vocal and on the record about it in their home state and they'd raised twelve awesome, free thinking children who also were standing up and discussing the issue with friends. Perhaps a change could come, in another generation or two.

In fact, the children already had a plan in place. As they'd done for various reasons over the years, they organized themselves into groups of three: one of the youngest, one of the oldest, and one in the middle. Jeff researched the needed document requirements, and Little Danny verified political district boundaries. Then the kids hit the streets, going door to door, always wearing masks and socially distancing. They collected signatures of those who agreed gun control legislature needed to be approved.

By early May, the efforts of the children attracted the attention of local media and the story hit the news one day.

"This is Jonny Jackson-O'Neill, the leader of the petition drive," a reporter announced through the camera. "Jonny, what are you trying accomplish?"

"Well, it's all about life and death. There have been too many deaths from guns. These mass shootings have to stop, but the government doesn't want to pass the laws that could help prevent these killings. They offer condolences, lots of platitudes, and various agencies pat each other on the back, but nothing changes. The NRA controls the government, and we want to change that the only way we know how."

"And how is that, Jonny?" the reporter inquired.

Jonny raised the clipboard he held in his left hand and answered, "With these. This is a petition for change. It's signed by residents of El Paso County where we live. It's a pledge by these voters that if politicians in their districts do not vote for gun control, that in the next election, those politicians will not have the votes of these voters." He paused and smiled. "But this is a key part of what we're doing." He turned the pages on his clipboard to where a tab separated the remaining pages from the first ones. "These signatures: No, they're not registered, but they will be. These are kids like me, ages sixteen to eighteen. Politicians, you're on notice because this is the next generation, and we're tired of little kids like those who died at Sandy Hook, teenagers like ourselves who were exterminated at Columbine, and adults who could be our parents being slaughtered while buying soda and chips at a grocery store. These kids have pledged to register to vote as soon as they are eligible. They have vowed to vote solely on the way our elected representatives vote on gun control. This is your warning. We are the next generation, and we will not allow this violence to continue."

"That's quite a goal, Jonny," the reporter said.

"We're creating a network to follow through on the promises. Unlike the government, we aren't going to forget. Unlike the news media, with all due respect, Ma'am, we won't be shoved into the background, replaced by the next horrible crime, the federal deficit, or bad weather."

"Thank you, Jonny," the reporter stated.

At their home, Jack asked, "Are you sure he's supposed to be like me?"

"What do you mean?" Daniel question.

"I never could have gotten those words out like he did."

"He's our son."

While not exactly excited about the children appearing on the local news, the parents were happy with their advocacy and efforts for gun control. They hoped the younger generation would be more successful than their generations were.

On a more positive front, the lovers' time at the cabin was totally positive. Being with his husband at their private retreat, one in which they firmly planned to spend their final years, was inspiring and filled Jack's soul with peace. He realized that he needed to protect himself as much as he needed to protect his family.

For Jack and Daniel of Colorado Springs, life was forever evolving and new lessons were constantly learned. It wasn't always easy, but with the unquestioning love that extended throughout the Jackson-O'Neill family, challenges were met and obstacles overcome. Virus or no virus, senseless killings or not, life was good for Jack and Daniel and their brood plus zoo.

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

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