Soldiers, Nerds, and Little Girls

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, H/C Munchkin-style, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - September 29 & October 6, 2011
Spoilers:  None
Size:  33kb, short story
Written:  October 23-27, November 1, 2005  Revised for consistency:  September 14-15, 2007
Summary:  The Munchkins go to day camp and learn the old adage, 'Sticks and stones ...'
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) JThis fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fics, “Blowout”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Patti, Claudia, Arawa, QuinGem, Tove, Heather, Linda!

Soldiers, Nerds, and Little Girls
by Orrymain

“How'd the taxi service go?” Jack asked his husband, who had just walked in the door and quickly tossed a few shopping bags onto the sofa.

“Fine,” Daniel replied as he walked over to the counter and leaned over to kiss his lover, who was seated on the other side.  He sat down on a barstool and added, “I think.”

“Problems?” Jack inquired, picking up on the slight hesitation in his soulmate's voice.

“No, not exactly,” the younger man answered.  “They're fine.  Jen just made the first bell; Jeff just laughed as he ran to his class.”

“Laughed?” Jack inquired.

“Jen did a little extra primping,” Daniel explained, cocking his head slightly to the left.

“New boy in school?” Jack asked curiously.

“I don't know.  I'm not sure; I think she's just trying to look her best, but her brothers teased her a little,” Daniel commented and then continued with his report.  “The Spitfires were happy to see Sara.”  He paused, smiling as he chuckled, “She was holding a freshly baked cake in her hands when she answered the door.”

Chuckling himself, Jack responded, “Yeah, that'll do it.”

“The shopping trip went well; only a couple of hundred,” Daniel teased about the morning excursion to the mall after the teenagers and the twins had been dropped off.  It had been followed by a special breakfast outing with just the triplets.  “Or three,” he said off-handedly with a tiny smile on his face.

“Only?” Jack questioned, his mind clearly scrutinizing the expense.

“And how much did you spend the last time you took our children shopping for clothes?”

Jack coughed and looked outside where the beagles were playing, knowing he'd gone overboard on his last outing, one that set them back well over five-hundred dollars.

“Right,” Daniel stated dryly.  He sighed, only it wasn't about their clothing costs.  “Where are the others?” he asked, referring to Brianna, David, Chenoa, and Lulu.

“Upstairs in Bri's room, playing a game.  You didn't mention the Munchkins drop off,” Jack pointed out.

Nodding, Daniel explained, “Ash seemed a little hesitant to go in to class.  She said everything was fine, but I've been thinking about it.  She seems okay, it's just ... have you noticed that right before and right after the camp, she's a little quiet for a while?”

Jack thought about it and nodded, saying, “Now that you mention it ...”

“I think we need to sit down with her tonight,” Daniel suggested.

“Are you sure everything is on the up and up there?  I know we checked them out, but ...”

“Jonny and Little Danny don't seem any different, and we've both made surprise visits there.  The boys love the class, and so does Ash, but there is something happening there that she doesn't like, and she doesn't want to talk about it,” Daniel observed.

“Okay, tonight we force the issue,” Jack stated.  Slapping his hands down on the countertop, he asked, “Ready for the early matinee?”

“Hot dogs, popcorn, soda, screaming kids ... of course!” Daniel answered.

“Don't forget the gum on the seats,” Jack quipped as the lovers headed upstairs to collect the children for a day at the movies.

====

Meanwhile, inside the school auditorium, the triplets were warming up, as were the others in their group.  This was the second to last week of an eleven-week gymnastics class.  Unfortunately, due to family events, they hadn't been able to attend all of the sessions, but they were still looked upon as class leaders.

The five-year-olds were with several other kids, all between three and five years of age.  The co-ed program focused on gymnastics, but included reading, dance, drama, cheerleading, storytelling, arts and crafts, leadership skills, and much more.

As the afternoon progressed, Little Danny was called on to lead one of the groups in reading.  As he had done before, the boy genius with the photographic memory made no errors, and, when asked questions, he could answer all of them.  He received a lot of praise and was asked to help some of the students who were having a more difficult time of it.

Later on, another part of the class was working on crafts and leadership.  They were learning how to work with a schedule, having been given a certain amount of time to finish a set task.  If they were successful, they'd be rewarded.  If not, they would have to try and repeat the task the next day.  Within minutes, Jonny had taken command, organizing the group into an assembly line of sorts and assigning certain kids to specific duties, ones he thought they were best suited to do.  The task was completed with ten minutes to spare, and Jonny basked in the accolades from the instructors.

During the final play period of the day's session, Aislinn was playing Jacks with a few of the girls.  She was working on threesies when she tossed the rubber ball up into the air and a boy suddenly leaned forward and hit the ball over onto the grass.

“Why'd you do that, Barry?” Aislinn asked.  “I was on threesies!”

“'Cause I wanted to,” Barry, who was one of the taller five-year-old boys in the group, bullied.

Aislinn stood up and ran over to get the small ball.  When she knelt down to pick it up, the boy leaned over quickly and grabbed it.

“Na na na na na.  I've got it, and you can't have it!” Barry teased as he bobbed the ball in his hand a couple of times.

“It's not mine; it's Mary's,” Aislinn explained, looking over at her friends, who were watching the scene.  ~He's so mean.  He's always mean.~

“La di da da, who cares, Brat!” Barry lobbied.

“I am *not* a brat!” Aislinn argued.  ~Wish he wasn't here.~

“Yes, you are, and your brother is a nerd!” the boy teased nastily.

“He is not!”  Aislinn paused, then asked, “Which one?”

“The girlie one,” Barry said, his cruel voice sing-songing the phrase.

“My brothers are boys!” Aislinn retaliated.

“*Little* Danny.  He's soooo little!  He's a stupid nerd with long hair.  Dad says he's a hippie!” Barry spat, relaying a comment he'd heard his father make at the orientation which parents were required to attend with their children.

“He is not!”  Aislinn paused again and then, as an afterthought, questioned, “What's a hippie?”

“I don't know,” the boy responded, his chest puffed up with arrogance.  “But he is.  He's a nerd and a hippie; and the other one is a soldier.  He has no brains.  He just likes to tell us what to do,” Barry accused, again using words he'd heard his parents speak, parents who had staunch anti-military views, stemming from a family history they never talked about.

“He does not!  He's smart, too!” Aislinn argued, defending her brothers.

“Your brother is a nerrrrrrd, and the other one is bossy!” Barry teased over and over again.

“They are not!” Aislinn shouted, her eyes unable to stop tears from forming.

--

From across the yard, Jonny looked up.  He thought he'd heard Aislinn, so he searched for her, leaving the boys he was with to look for spiders on their own.

In yet another part of the playground, Little Danny heard Aislinn, too, and immediately got off the teeter-totter he was on.

“I have to go,” the little boy told his playmate apologetically.

--

“Stop saying that!” Aislinn yelled as she wiped away a tear.

“Make me!” Barry challenged as he continued to taunt Aislinn, calling her brothers nerds, toy soldiers, and worse.

“He looks like a girrrrrrl,” Barry whined annoyingly about Little Danny.  Then he added, “And Jonny's like Hitler!”

“NO, HE'S NOT!”  Crying, Aislinn asked, “Who's Itler?” not understanding the name correctly.

Aislinn was confused by Barry's verbiage.  She was very intelligent for her age, but Barry was saying things she'd never heard before.  What she didn't know was that Barry's very vocal family wasn't a tolerant one.  He was surrounded by people who cared a lot about causes and yet had very one-dimensional ideas.  His parents kept themselves busy, with their work, their causes, and their words of intolerance in describing the ills of the world.

Just then, Little Danny arrived, taking a stance next to his sister and asking, “Ash, what's wrong?”

“Nothing,” the little girl answered.

“I told the little princess that she's nothing special, and I said you were a nerd ... Nerd!” Barry stated obnoxiously.

“Ash, let's go play,” Little Danny urged, not wanting to fight with the boy.

“He has Mary's ball,” Aislinn said, pointing to the ball.

“Give my sister back her friend's ball,” Little Danny requested calmly.

“No, Nerdo!” Barry responded antagonistically, tossing the ball up and down in his hand.

“Please,” Little Danny requested politely.

“Make me!” Barry demanded, his face contorted in ugliness.

“What going on?” Jonny asked as he, too, joined the group.

“It's the toy soldier, G.I. Jonny.  Not gonna boss me around!” Barry spat in hatred.

“Who's a toy soldier?  I'm Jonny,” Jonny said, confused.

“Told ya he's stupid,” Barry taunted, looking at Aislinn.

“I am not!” Jonny replied angrily as he put his hands on his hips.

“He is not!” Little Danny and Aislinn both exclaimed within seconds of each other.

“And you're a snotty-nosed princess,” Barry accused, wagging his finger in front of Aislinn.

Little Danny looked at Jonny and said, “We need to get the ball.  It belongs to Ash's friend.”

“Give us the ball,” Jonny demanded sternly.

Barry, who was heavier and a head taller than Jonny, walked up so that he and Jonny were face-to-chest.  He cackled as he stared down at the smaller boy.

“Make me, Soldier Boy!” Barry dared brazenly.

“Ash, we get her a new one,” Little Danny said to Aislinn, who nodded her agreement and was prepared to tap into her piggy bank to replace the item.  “Jonny, let's go play.”

“But ...” Jonny protested.

“Jonny, remember what we learn last year about bullies,” Little Danny reminded.

“Who are you calling a bully?” Barry demanded to know as he turned on the smaller middle Munchkin.  When Little Danny just gave the boy a look of contempt, Barry sneered and said angrily, “Hey, I'm talking to you, you ... you nerdo girl!”

“HE'S NOT A GIRL!” Aislinn yelled about her brother.

“Watch this!”  Barry pushed Little Danny so that he fell down onto the grass. “See!  He's a wimpy brat, like you!”

“Leave my brother and sister alone!  Last warning!” Jonny threatened sternly.  “T says it okay to fight if we protecting ourselves.”

“Yeah, Soldier Boy.  Just keep giving orders,” Barry said as he pushed Jonny back.

As Barry moved to get on top of Jonny, Aislinn reached over to try and pull Barry off.  The bully threw his arm back, his elbow hitting Aislinn in the mouth as she fell backwards.

“YOU HURT ASH!” Little Danny shouted angrily as he entered the fray, pulling Barry off, and, using a move Teal'c had taught him, pushed the boy to the ground, pinning him there.  “YOU DON'T HIT MY SISTER, NOT EVER!”  The entire shouting match and fight had happened in under two minutes, and now both students and teachers came running over.  Seeing them, the young genius said forcefully, “You never do that again, Barry Washington!  Aislinn didn't hurt you.  You just a mean, ignorant bully, and we don't like you!”  The boy paused and then asked, “Where Mary's ball?”

In a split second, Barry turned over the ball to Little Danny, who got off the boy and said, “Thank you,” after which he moved to where Jonny was hugging Aislinn.

“Good move, Little Danny.  T be proud,” Jonny compliment, though Little Danny simply shrugged off his finesse at doing the maneuver in favor of attending to their sister.

“Aislinn, are you hurt?” one of the teachers asked the crying girl.

“He's a bul...bul...bully,” the little girl cried, not answering the question.

“Ash, it's okay,” Little Danny and Jonny said as they comforted their sister.

Jonny glared at Barry, thinking, ~He better not do that again.  I get him.~

“Jonny, remember what Daddy say,” Little Danny said, seemingly sensing his brother's intention.

“Barry, go to Mrs. Allison's office right now.  Jackson-O'Neill children, please go to Mrs. Smith's office.  Scoot,” the teacher requested, her expression one of support for them

“Yes, Ma'am,” the children said as they went where they'd been told.

====

“Dad, can we go see the sequel when it comes out?” Brianna asked as they walked to the SUV.

Before he could answer, Jack's cell phone rang.  As he answered it, Daniel asked Chenoa and Lulu what they had thought of the movie.

“WHAT?” Jack shouted into the phone a minute later, thereby drawing Daniel's attention away from the favorable movie reviews.

“Jack?” Daniel asked, concerned at his lover's reaction to whatever was being said on the phone.

“We'll be right there.  Thank you,” Jack said.  “Kids, in the car.  Hurry up!” he instructed as he opened the door.  With the doors shut, he pulled Daniel aside, saying, “The Munchkins were in a fight at their gym class.”

“A fight?” Daniel asked in disbelief.

“I don't know the details, but Ash might be hurt.  We don't have time to drop off the others, so let's just get there,” Jack said.

====

“Mrs. Allison, these are some of our other children,” Jack said.  “This is Brianna, David, Chenoa, and Lulu.  Is there somewhere they can stay while we ...”

“Yes, of course.  In fact, if you children would like to play outside, we have quite a bit of equipment.”  Seeing their nods, Mrs. Allison called out, “Eleanor, would you show these children to the playground and stay out with them to supervise?”

“Okay.  This way, kids,” Eleanor said with a smile.

Although the other children were worried about the Munchkins, Jack and Daniel had managed to convince them in the car on the way over that it would be better if they waited to see their brothers and sister, giving their parents a chance to find out what had happened first.

“Where are the triplets?” Daniel asked just as soon as the children were out of earshot.

“In Mrs. Smith's office.  This way,” Mrs. Allison said, leading them to the moderate-size room.

“Dad!  Daddy!” Aislinn said, suddenly bursting into tears again.

The youngest Munchkin had been in a huddle with her brothers, but ran to Daniel as soon as her parents had walked into the room.

Daniel knelt down to check on Aislinn while Jack walked by to check on the boys.

“Ash, let me look at you,” Daniel requested, his hands on the sides of her head.  “Are you hurt?”

“Nooooo,” the little girl sobbed.  “It ... it jus' hu...hurt mmminute,” she cried, her words stuttered and slurred from her cries.

“Come here, Princess,” Daniel said, picking her up and holding her tightly.  His hand rubbed her back as he swayed back and forth.  “Everything's okay.  You're safe, Sweetie.  Dad and Daddy are here now.  Shhh!”

--

“Jonny, Little Danny, are you two okay?” Jack asked, one hand on the upper arm of each of his sons.

“We're okay, but that boy hit Ash with his elbow, Dad,” Little Danny said.

“Okay, she's fine.  Now I want you both to calmly tell me everything that happened,” Jack requested.

--

In the corner of the room, Daniel sat with Aislinn, her head against his shoulder. He held her hand and hugged her.  She was calmer now, her cries down to intermittent sniffles.

“Ash, is this the first time the boy has teased you?”  Feeling her shake her head, the younger father questioned, “Is that why you've been a little quiet when we drop you off?”  When she nodded, he spoke, “I know it's hard when someone calls you names and ...”

“No, Daddy.  No care what he call me, but he ...”

Daniel smiled warmly as he realized the truth.  Aislinn didn't care about the names she'd been called, but she did care about what was said about her brothers.

As she explained, the youngest Munchkin finished by saying, “Little Danny not ... not a girl; he cute with his hair.”  Aislinn drew a deep breath and wiped her eyes with her hands.  Trying to stifle her sniffles, she said, “I like his hair like that, Daddy.  And ... and he's sm...smaart; he smarter than David and Jenny.”  Having found a strong determination within herself, the little girl stated clearly and with definitively, “He's very smart, Daddy.  He's not a nerd.  And Jonny's 'ficient.  He knows how to do things,” she said as her tears began to fall again.  “He not a dumb sol...soldddier, not how Barry made it sound.”

“I love you, Ash,” Daniel said, trying to calm her again.

====

A couple of minutes later, with Aislinn's tears under control again, Jack and Daniel left the Munchkins with Mrs. Smith and moved to a quieter area to talk with Mrs. Allison.

“What are you going to do about that boy?” Jack asked pointedly.

“I've called his parents.  Honestly, I don't think it will do much good.  I could expel him,” Mrs. Allison noted.

“Why don't you think it will do any good?” Daniel asked, picking up on a bit of exasperation in her tone.

“Barry's parents aren't very involved in his education, at least from what I've seen,” the woman answered.

“That sounds like there have been other problems,” Daniel stated as an inquiry.

“A few,” Mrs. Allison admitted.  “The Washingtons don't seem to care what Barry does.  When I called them earlier, they, um, just told me to send him home in a taxi, if I felt it was necessary to have him leave campus.  They can't get off work early, so they say.”

“You aren't really going to do that?  I mean, send him home in a taxi?” Daniel asked.

“No.  Then they'd sue us.  They'll be here, on time, to pick Barry up at the end of the class session, but that's all they'll do,” Mrs. Allison sighed with regret.

“He's getting attention the only way he knows how,” Jack observed, suddenly less angry at the boy and more at the boy's parents.

“Perhaps,” the woman said noncommittally, feeling sympathy for the boy and yet knowing she had to safeguard all the students in her care, not just Barry, who was indeed a source of more than one of her problems.

“Just ... make sure he doesn't pick a fight with our children for the rest of the camp,” Daniel requested.

After talking some more, Jack and Daniel gathered their children together and headed home.

====

While Jack prepared dinner and the rest of the kids played outside, Daniel tended to Aislinn.

“Here you go, Ash.  Put this cold cloth on your boo-boo,” Daniel said, sitting down next to the youngest Munchkin on the couch and handing her the facecloth.  ~Boo-boo?~ he chuckled inwardly.  ~If professor Hawkins could just hear me now, or after Jack fries my brain cells, she'd never believe it.  Boo-boo? From a linguist?~  He looked at his little girl and thought, ~Boo-boo is a wonderful word.~

Aislinn put the cloth right on her lip, which was slightly swollen.  She climbed into Daniel's lap and nestled her head against his chest, still holding the cloth to her mouth.

“That's my girl,” Daniel said as he held his daughter and told her a story about a fairy princess and her happy kingdom full of butterflies and white, fluffy clouds.

====

In their nightly family meeting, Jack began by reminding the children of something very important, saying, “We don't keep secrets, not even when we think we're protecting one of us.  If we're scared, for ourselves, or for a member of our family, we say something.  If we're worried or don't like something going on, we talk about it.”

“I'm sorry, Dad,” Aislinn said, wiping away a tear as guilt washed through her tiny body.

“No, Ash,” Little Danny said.  “Don't be sorry,” he said as he put his arm around her.  “Just hafta remember what we learned last year.  Barry's just ignorant.”

“And he's alone,” Jack stated, causing the Munchkins to look at him with surprise.

Daniel interjected, “You know how we are right now?”  He waited as everyone look around at one another.  “We're holding each other, resting our heads against each other, talking about our lives and our feelings.  Well, we found out that Barry's parents aren't very ... well, they ...”

“They don't care about him, do they, Daddy?” David surmised.

“Let's not make assumptions,” Daniel quickly replied, “but from what we learned, our nightly meetings would be very strange to Barry.  Munchkins, Barry is a bully, and he was wrong, but he's just being who he's been raised to be.”

“And,” Jack interjected, “he's crying out for attention, not from you, but from his parents.”

“Bet they spanked him good!” Jonny said harshly.

“No, they didn't.  They were too busy at work to even come and get him.  Mrs. Allison punished him, and that was it,” Jack informed.

“Do you all understand?” Daniel asked.  “Barry was wrong, but don't waste your emotions being angry at him.  We just need to understand and feel sad that he doesn't have a loving family like we do.”

“He doesn't have friends at school, either,” Aislinn noted.

“That's because he's a bully,” Jonny insisted as he folded his arms across his chest, resisting the urge to forgive the boy.

“But maybe he needs a friend, Jonny,” Aislinn said, turning her head to face him.  “Jonny, you could be his friend.  He wants to lead.  You could teach him,” she suggested.

“I don't like him,” Jonny whined.

Aislinn crossed her arms and demanded, “You be his friend, or I be mad at you.”

“Ash!” Jonny whined, only this time it was a more frustrated and vulnerable tone.

“You could try, Jonny,” Little Danny suggested.  “That's what Dad and Daddy tell us to do.  We should try.”

Jonny groaned; then said, “Bogey needs a new cage.”

Chuckling, Jack and Daniel agreed that perhaps it was time to move on, but first, they wanted to be sure of one thing.

“Little Danny, would you prefer it if we didn't call you Little Danny anymore?” Daniel queried.

“And would you like a haircut?” Jack added.

“NOOOO!” the little boy said emphatically.  “My hair like Daddy's, and I like it!  And that's my name.  I don't want to change my name.”

“I like your hair, too,” Chenoa said, getting up to run her fingers through it, causing Little Danny to giggle shyly.

“One more thing, name-calling is just an attention-getter,” Jack said.

“Yeah,” Jeff said.  “Remember, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.  No one can hurt you with words, especially when you know the truth.”  He looked over at Aislinn and admitted teasingly, “Look, I think you're all nerds.”  He chuckled, “You're all so smart.  That makes some people jealous and others afraid.  Kids are just kids, though.”

“Sticks and stones?” Little Danny asked.

“I guess it's because they're not in regular school,” Jennifer commented, realizing the younger children had somehow missed out on the common childhood adage.

“Be tough, Munchkins,” Brianna said.

“Let's all say it,” Daniel urged.  “On three.  One ... two ... three.”

In a harmonic chorus, the entire family repeated, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

“Again,” Jack encouraged.

“Louder!” Daniel said the next time around.

“We can do better!  One more time,” Jeff shouted.

Laughing and giggling, the Jackson-O'Neills, along with two barking dogs, repeated words of strength, saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
 
“I wonder where that came from,” Brianna asked.

“Daddy, words do hurt, though,” Lulu said softly.

Nodding, Daniel agreed, “Yes, Honey, they do, but the key is to talk about it, out loud, with your family.”

“I don't mind being a nerd, Ash,” Little Danny said.  “I like books, but I like sports, too.  Barry's wrong.  I'm not a nerd, but I don't care if he thinks I'm one.”

“And I like giving orders,” Jonny said.  “I learn how to do stuff from Dad.  Someone has to be a leader, right, Dad?”

“That's right, Jonny.  The key to that, though, is what?” Jack asked pointedly.

“Not be bossy?” the little boy guessed.

Jack smiled and expounded, “If you're the boss, it's okay to give orders, as long as those orders are fair and make sense.  Sometimes, you have to let others be the boss.  I take orders from Grandpa, and you need to remember that.  In my career, Son, I've taken a lot of orders, and a lot of them, I didn't like.  Know your place, Jonny.”

Jonny thought about it and said, “I had to give orders in class.  We had to finish crafts, and no one knew how.”

“Then you did well,” Jack said.  “Just remember to think about that the next time, and make sure that when you step up to be the leader that you aren't hogging it.  It's important to take turns.  Okay?”

“Okay,” Jonny agreed.

“What else is happening?” Daniel asked.  “Jen, any new boys at school?”

“Daaaaddy!” Jennifer admonished, smiling.  She giggled, but said, “No, not really.  I just like to pretend.”

“Jen, you're beautiful.  You'll get a boyfriend soon,” Brianna assured her.

“Thanks, Sis.”

As the family meeting continued, Jack and Daniel took pride at how their children learned and grew from each experience.  It wasn't always an easy lesson, but they could see the progress, and that made them feel good.

====

At the next gym session, towards the end of the day, with the children outside on the playground, Aislinn nudged her older brother.

“You promised,” the youngest triplet reminded.

“Okay,” Jonny sighed, letting out a small groan while climbing off the monkey bars.  Walking over towards the wall where Barry was bouncing a handball, he bravely asked, “Would you like to play with me?”

Surprised, Barry stopped, thinking, ~He's kidding.~  Staring at Jonny, he asked, “Why would I want to do that?”

“Because I want to be your friend.  We can play ball,” Jonny suggested.

“Maybe I don't want to be friends with a dummy,” Barry said, bouncing the ball a couple of times.  ~Bet he's just teasing me.~
 
Jonny sighed and chanted silently to himself, ~Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.~  He looked at the other boy and shook his head.  “It's more fun to play than fight,” he stated confidently.

“I don't know,” Barry said, bouncing the ball a couple of times, as he considered Jonny's comments.

“Friends are fun to have.  If you don't like it, you can tell me, and I'll go away, but if you want to try, I can be your friend.  So can Ash and Little Danny,” Jonny volunteered.

“Little Danny?  Why is he called that anyway?” Barry asked with an attitude.

“Because our daddy's name is Danny.  So Little Danny is Little Danny.  He doesn't mind being called that,” Jonny stated.  “If he doesn't care, why should you?”

“Well, I guess that makes sense,” Barry agreed.  ~Maybe, but if he's teasing me, I'm gonna beat him up.~

“Do you like airplanes?” Jonny asked as Barry finally bounced the ball to him.

“Yeah, especially those ones that do tricks.  Have you seen those?” Barry asked.

“Couple times my dad took me.  Maybe you go with us if we go again,” Jonny said, bouncing the ball back to his new playmate.

“Your dad wouldn't want that,” Barry replied with certainty.  ~My own dad doesn't even want me around.~

“Yes, he would.  Do you like it when the planes turn over and over?” Jonny asked.

“That's so cool!” Barry exclaimed.

“Can we play?” Aislinn asked as she and Little Danny joined Barry and Jonny.

“We're talking planes.  Girls don't like planes,” Barry argued.

“I do.  We have a plane,” Aislinn said.

“You do?” a surprised Barry asked.

Within minutes, the soldier, nerd, little girl, and bully were all playing together, chatting about airplanes, frogs, gymnastics, and chocolate cake.  In this case, words had hurt momentarily, but now new words were helping to forge new friendships, ones that would make Jack and Daniel very proud later that night when they were asked if the Munchkins' new friend, Barry, could go with them to the next air show.

Sometimes, old adages lead to new understanding and, in this case, new friendships.

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