The Right Thing

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - October 4-5, 2016
Spoilers:  None
Size:  35kb, short story
Written:  July 29-30, August 1-2, 2017
Summary:  One of Jack and Daniel's sons decides he wants to do the right thing.  After asking for help, he listens to his heart and shows just how observant a child can be.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~

The Right Thing
by Orrymain

“Oh, and one more thing,” eight-year-old Ricky Jackson-O'Neill said as he closed out his nightly prayer before going to bed.  “I wanna be better at doing the right thing, all the time, not just when it's the super big stuff.  Can you help me to know how to do that?  Thanks.  From Ricky, with love.  Amen.”

The next morning, Ricky awoke feeling refreshed and ready for his day.  He washed up, got dressed, and proceeded to handle his first chore of the day, cleaning out the guinea pigs' cage.  With that done, he went downstairs to join his family for breakfast.

On this day, breakfast was handled by Brianna and her helpers, David and Aislinn. The family was seated and began to dig into their meal.

“Wow, Bri, these look yummy,” Chenoa observed about the breakfast kabob on her plate.

“I wanted something different,” the tomboy replied.

“I can't wait to try it,” Daniel interjected as he studied the kabob that was made with hard salami, cubed Muenster cheese, cantaloupe cubes, strawberries that were cut in half, and French bread that was also cut into squares.

“Oh, dang, I forgot the dip.”

As Brianna started to get up, Ricky's eyes lit up.  He realized he'd just received the help he'd requested the night before.  Happily, he stood up.

“Bri, I'll get it.  Where is it?”

“Oh, um, thank you, Ricky.  It's on the middle shelf in the fridge.  I put it there to give it a tiny chill.”

Eagerly, the Spitfire completed his task, setting the tray that was full of individual bowls on the table.

“I'll take mine,” Ricky said, picking up his bowl and carrying it to his seat.  He was eager to stick his kabob into the dip and take a taste.  As soon as he did, he smiled.  “I taste berries.”

“That's good, since I put berries in it,” Brianna mused about her four layer dip that included layers of yogurt, berries, melted apricot puree, and graham cracker crumbs.  “I hope everyone likes breakfast.”

There were sounds of muffled “Mmmms” and other noises of praise, but everyone was too busy eating to say anything aloud, at least for now.

====

“I don't think it's right, Noa.”

“Me, either, but I can't think of anything else,” Chenoa replied to her sister, Lulu.  “Maybe a spin?”

The two girls were enjoying a swim in the family pool.  It was indoors and heated so was used year round.  They'd already swum several laps and were now relaxing and thinking about a new dance routine they were working on together.

“Noa, I know.  We could do some spirals, like this.”

Chenoa watched the demonstration and, while nodding, replied, “I think that would work.  Let's go practice.”

The two girls climbed out of the pool and immediately went for their towels.

“Oops, I forgot to get one,” Chenoa giggled.

Relaxing on one of the lounges, Ricky immediately jumped up and hurried over to get a towel from the racks near the changing area.

“Here's one, Noa.”

“Thanks, Ricky.”

“Are you done now?”

“Yes,” Lulu answered.  “We're going to change and then go into the dance studio.”

“'K.  I'm gonna go do my homework,” the boy announced as he left the pool area.

“Thanks for being our lifeguard,” the little dove called out.

One of the rules for the younger children when using the pool was that they always had to have another sibling to act as a lifeguard of sorts, someone who could either help themselves if something happened or shout for help, if necessary.

The other big rule was about to happen as Lulu headed for the intercom and chose the button to her younger father's den, since that's where she was told he would be for the next hour or so as he tended to business for J-O Enterprises.

“Daddy, Noa and I are out of the pool and Ricky went to do his homework.  We're gonna change and work on our new dance routine, okay?”

“That's fine, Lulu.  Thank you for letting me know and please turn back on the alarm.”

“Noa's turning it back on right now.  Lulu out.”

Their obligation fulfilled to always let one of their fathers know when they were done swimming, the sisters headed to the changing area to get out of their swimsuits and put on their regular clothes.

====

With his homework done, Ricky entered the study where Jack was paying bills.  Though much of it was done online, Jack was still old school and had a file drawer full of folders with various information about the family accounts, including paper bills and data for some payables where paying via the Internet was not doable or preferred, for one reason or another.

“Hi, Dad.  Whatcha' doing?”

“Howdy, Son.  I'm paying the bills.”

“Can I help?” the boy said as he leaned against Jack's chair and looked at the computer monitor.

“I've got it handled.  Did you do your homework?”

“All done.”

“Any questions?”

“Na-huh.  I understood it.”

“Good.”

“I really want to help.  Can't I help?”

With a smile, Jack nodded and responded, “I just paid these and they need to be filed in that drawer.  Go by the name of the business, and if you aren't sure, ask me.”

“Cool!” Ricky exclaimed.  He was happy to file the papers.  There weren't that many, but at least he was doing something to assist his dad.  He worked diligently on the project.  ~Hmmm,~ he thought.  “Dad?  This one only has a name of a person on it.”  He chuckled, “It's Calvin,” a reference to Calvin Miller who lived nearby.

“Put it in the miscellaneous folder.”

“How come you're giving Calvin money?” the boy asked curiously.

“He helped me out with the shed last week.”

“Where were we?”

“Out with Daddy.”

“At the park?”

“That was the place,” Jack affirmed while he finished up with the bill paying for the day.

“Did he ask for money?”

“Nope.  He was walking by and I asked him for a hand and he agreed.  We called his mom and got the okay, *but* when we were done with the part I needed him for, he stuck around until the entire job was done, even though I told him to could go home.”

“Maybe he only wanted to be nice and doesn't want the money.”

Jack watched his Spitfire working and considered his words.

“You and Daddy always tell us it's nice to help people and we should do it 'cause we want to, not 'cause we're getting something for it.”

“And that's how it should be.”  Jack groaned as he leaned forward.  “Ricky, you just gave me a headache.”

“How come?” the boy asked while closing the file drawer.  “I'm done now.”

“Thank you for helping and the 'how come' is because you're right.  Calvin didn't have to stay and he knew it.  I told him a few times that he could go, but he said he felt good helping me.  I wanted to say thanks and I thought surprising him with a little bit of money would be appreciated.”

“Did you tell him, 'thanks'?”

“I did.”

“Maybe you could tell Mister and Mrs. Miller what a great job he did so they could be proud of him and tell him.  I bet that would really make him feel good, more than money.  That's how I'd feel.”

With a grin, Jack leaned forward and, messing with the boy's brown hair, remarked, “Sport, I'm proud of you and I love you.”

“Sport?” Ricky grinned and felt ten-feet-tall.  “I'm a Sport?”

“You sure are.”

“Yay!” Ricky exclaimed and ran out of the room, wanting to find Jenny and tell her what just happened.

Jack settled back into his chair and sighed.  He knew he sons treasured the nickname, mostly because they were aware from toddlerhood, or moment of adoption, that their dad's first son, Charlie, was called Sport.  He knew David's self-esteem climbed the first time he called him by the moniker and Jonny, too, had bright eyes and a huge smile on his face when he was first addressed by 'Sport'.

~I love them all equally and I need to make sure they all feel as special as Charlie.  Have I called Ricky 'Sport' before?  O'Neill, pay attention here.  It seems like a little thing, but it matters.~

Standing, Jack decided it didn't matter whether or not he'd used the nickname on Ricky before or not.  He thought he had, but the children were young and it's possible they didn't remember, or maybe he thought it but didn't say it verbally.  What did matter was love and he was certain the brood knew how very much they were loved by both their parents.

====

A bit later, Daniel was running errands and with him were Brianna, Aislinn, and Ricky.  They were walking out of the bank, eager for their next stop which would be McDonald's for lunch.

Daniel led the way with Brianna trailing the two younger kids.  The door closed behind them and they walked down the stairs into the parking area.

Out of the corner of his eye, Ricky saw a woman, who was alone and using a walker.

“Daddy,” the boy called out and then ran back up the steps and grabbed the door. “I'll open it for you, Ma'am.”

“Thank you so much.  I really appreciate that.”

“Have a nice day,” Ricky expressed from his heart, making sure the woman was inside before letting go of the door and returning to his family.

Standing in place, Daniel witnessed the entire scene and praised, “Ricky, that was a very nice thing to do.”

“It was the right thing to do, Daddy.  She needed help and didn't have anyone with her to help, so I did it.  It was an easy thing and only took a minute.”

“You're right.”

“Can we go eat now?”

“Absolutely,” Daniel replied.

====

After lunch, the next stop for Daniel and the kids was the local Social Security office, a place the children had never been to before.

J-O Enterprises was a family operation, but it was more, due to the fact that it was owned by a couple and their children.  It was the employees, too, people who were considered a family unit as well.  Jack and Daniel always told their employees to come to them when problems arose, regardless of the type of problem.

One employee, Kanesha Walker, did just that recently.  Though she'd been working for J-O just under a year, she was already being considered for promotion to a team leader position.  She'd proven her archaeological skills on several projects while also showing dedication, perseverance, and responsibility in all aspects of her job.  Last week, though, she approached Daniel about a situation that was distracting her and she was uncertain what to do.

The problem was with Kanesha's mother, who was struggling to get on disability, a difficult process for everyone.  Her mom was being threatened with foreclosure as well.  It felt like the walls were falling in on the Walker family.  Kanesha's financial resources were minimal.  She was paying off her student loans and had been steadily assisting her mother.  Though she understood the ins and outs of her chosen career, going through the administrative process with the government was overwhelming her, especially when she didn't have enough hours in the day to give her all to J-O, tend to her mother, and adhere to the other aspects of her own life.  She needed help, and while she feared for her job by going to the boss, she decided she had no choice but to believe Jack and Daniel when they encouraged their staff to let them know when help was needed.

As a result of Kanesha's trust, Daniel was meeting both her and her mother at the government office to help them go through the process.  That's also why Brianna was along for the errand run, so she could watch Aislinn and Ricky which allowed Daniel to focus on the women.

At the moment, the children were seated in a small room inside the building.  They'd already been at the place for an hour, the last forty minutes of which were in this room.  Many people came and went while they waited.

Ricky looked around.  He knew who was new and those of whom had been waiting a long time like the Jackson-O'Neills.  Then he saw a man to his right.  He was in his forties, had a mangy beard, and wore clean, but old clothes.  He saw the man's grip against the walls.  He panned the room, looking at the others.  People seemed tired and anxious, but none of them gave off the same aura as the man did.

“Ricky!” Brianna called out when her brother suddenly stood, but she breathed a sigh of relief when he didn't actually go anywhere.

“Mister, you can have my seat.”

“What?”

“Here,” Ricky invited, patting the seat.

The man was confused, but he was weak and weary, so he took the chair.  It was far from comfortable, but it let him relax.

“Why'd you do that?”

“You look tired.  I'm not tired,” Ricky answered politely, deciding it wouldn't be nice to say that he could tell the man was practically holding onto the wall in an attempt not to fall.

The man nodded and looked away, while Ricky went over to stand next to Brianna.

“Ricky, you weren't supposed to get up without permission,” Brianna chastised.

In a whisper, Ricky explained, “But I'm healthy, and I don't think he is.  Wasn't giving him my seat the right thing to do?”

“Yeah, Bro, it was.  Good job,” the tomboy commended.

“I'm going to give up my seat, too,” Aislinn stated as she looked around and spotted a woman on crutches.

“Well, how can I sit here when you two are doing that.”

When Daniel was finished with the employee at the window and turned around, he spotted all three of his children standing against the wall.  He noticed their chairs were filled by others who he could tell were benefiting from sitting down.  He said nothing, but inside, he smiled at what he correctly assumed took place.

Kanesha and her mother expressed their thanks and Daniel told his employee to take the rest of the day off and spend it with her mother, who was shaken and weakened by the long wait at the office.  The good news was that he'd made significant progress for the two and he promised he would continue to assist them until everything was finalized.

====

As a treat for the younger children, Daniel stopped by the park on the way home.  Brianna was fine with the stop because while Aislinn and Ricky played, she was able to converse with her daddy about the current state of affairs with her long-distance boyfriend, Conway Bell.

“I mean, Daddy, he can't really bring dolphins to McBee.  The whole thing is crazy, and I never even wanted a boyfriend.”

“You don't have to have one, Bri.”

“But I like him.  Crap, Daddy, he's so nice and we talk, a lot, about everything.”

“Have you talked about the reality of the future?”

“Yes, but he still says we can make it work, but how, Daddy?  I *have* to be a marine biologist.  Everything changed for me in the Bahamas that first time.  I connect with the dolphins and I want to spend my life understanding them and trying to do my part to keep them safe.  I can't do that in McBee, and Con ... wow, I mean, he loves it there.  It's not just that one day he'll be inheriting the family farm that's been in the Bell family for generations, but he's a farmer.  He loves it.  I couldn't ever ask him to leave South Carolina.”

“Sweetie, you're years away from needing to make a choice like that.”

“I know.”

“But ...”

“I really like him, Daddy.”

“Well, if it's meant to be, you'll figure out something, but for now, as long as you both agree, you can enjoy each other's company like you are, or maybe you want to scale it back and be friends.”

“And let it him date Maxine Tucker?”

“Who's Maxine Tucker?”

“She's after him, Daddy.  She's always hanging around, asking him to do things or take her places.”

“Uh, and how do you know this?”

“He tells me, of course.”

“Oh.”  Daniel smiled inside as he suggested, “Bri, don't worry about tomorrow until tomorrow comes.  Just ... let today be what it is.  When the time comes for your relationship with Conway to change, it will, one way or the other, but don't push it, because if you do, that's when you could both make hasty decisions you could regret later on.  Okay?”

“I guess you're right.  Did I tell you about Urgo?”

Daniel's eyes lit up and he could feel his anxiety rise a tad as he repeated, “Urgo?”

“He's the newest dolphin we've tagged.”

The archaeologist took a happy breath and replied, “Interesting name.”

“Oh, he was named after one of the professors who provided some research for us, um, Professor James Urgo.”

“That's nice.”  Daniel glanced at his watch and called out to the younger children, “Five more minutes.”

“Um, Daddy, do you mind if I go over there and call Conway?”

“Go ahead.”

Daniel looked over at Aislinn and Ricky, who were on the swings.  He saw Ricky giving Aislinn a few pushes before he took a seat and began to swing himself.

On the swing, Ricky was having a great time and went as high as he could propel himself.  Only then he saw something disturbing.  He slowed down and eventually got off the swing seat.  He ran over and picked up some paper, more specifically, a hot dog wrapper and an empty bag that once stored peanuts.

The boy ran over to the teenager he'd seen drop the items and said, “I saw you drop these.  They belong in the trash can, like that one over there.  It's okay, I'll throw them away for you.  I know next time you'll be more careful.”

From the bench, the father could only imagine what was said, but he watched as Ricky ran to the trash can and tossed the waste inside.  He noticed the teenage boy staring at Ricky and then purposefully throw down a soda can.

~He did it again.~  Ricky saw the can and leaned over to pick it up.  He looked at the teen and sighed, “I guess you don't believe in doing the right thing, but I do, so I'll recycle this for you.  I hope you feel better.”

“Huh?  I feel fine,” the teen snorted.

“I don't think so because you're not being your best, and I believe you can be better.  What does it hurt you to throw away your trash in the can?  It doesn't make sense, but Daddy says we should always see the good in people and say they are being their best, but I don't think you are, so I feel sad for you, but I'll hope you learn to be better 'cause we're always learning.  That's what I'm doing today.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I want to be better so I asked for ways I could do good things, the right things, and I've seen lots of those today, like your trash.  It only takes a minute most of the time to do the right thing.”

“Ricky, time to go!” Daniel called out, having already reeled in both Brianna and Aislinn.

“Bye,” Ricky said to the teen and started to walk away.

“Hey, kid.”

Ricky turned back around to look at the boy.

“Okay, give it to me.”

“You won't throw it back on the grass?”

“No, kid.  C'mon, I've got things to do.”

“Okay, I'm trusting you,” Ricky responded as he tossed the can to the teen and then ran to his family.  As they headed for the SUV, the Spitfire glanced over his shoulder and grinned when the teen tossed the can into a recycle trash can that was next to the regular trash.  ~I knew you could do better.  It was the right thing.~

====

With the SUV parked, Ricky was ambling towards the front door when he noticed weeds in the yard.

~Noa was supposed to pull those today.  I remember Dad telling her to do it.  Then she and Lulu went swimming.  I bet she forgot because of their dancing.~  The Spitfire paused as he thought.  “Daddy, I have something I need to do outside.  It won't take long.”

“Uh ...”

“I'll watch him, Daddy,” Brianna offered.

“Thanks, Bri!” an enthused Ricky responded.

As Daniel and Aislinn entered the house, Ricky surveyed the area as he planned his route.  He decided he would pull out all the weeds first, working in a square pattern, and then he'd get a trash bag to put all the weeds in before depositing them in the big waste container on the side of the house.

Brianna was curious and after a few minutes walked over to her brother's current position and asked, “Ricky, I know you're pulling the weeds, but why?”

“Dad wants them pulled today.”

“Okay, but ... did he ask you to pull them?”

“Na-huh,” the hardworking child answered without any further elaboration.

Brianna took the hint and walked away, standing near one of the bushes on the pathway to the porch.  After a few more minutes passed, the front door opened and Jack walked out to see what was happening.

“Where's Ricky?”

“Over there,” Brianna responded with a nod.

“What's he doing?”

“Pulling weeds.”

“I asked Noa to do that,” the father responded and then walked away from his daughter.  “Ricky.”

“Hi, Dad.”

“Thanks for pulling the weeds, but I asked Noa to that today.”

“I know,” Ricky sighed.

“Did Noa ask you to do her job?”

“No, Dad, she wouldn't do that.”

“Then tell me why you're doing her chore.”

“Well, I heard you tell Noa to pull them this morning, but then she and Lulu went swimming and I think she forgot because she and Lulu were working on their dance stuff.  I saw the weeds when we got home and I thought I'd help Noa.  It was the right thing, wasn't it, Dad?”

“I think we'll talk about tonight, you, me, and Daddy.”

“Dad, Noa's not in trouble, is she?” Ricky asked.  “I know she just forgot.  That dance stuff is important to her and Lulu.  She just forgot.”

Right on cue, Chenoa ran from around the house.  She had on her work gloves and had a trowel and trash bag in her hand.

“Oops!”  The dance lover spoke, “Dad, I'm sorry I forgot.  Lulu had this great idea to use spirals to get through the transition in our routine and we worked really hard on it, but I forgot about the weeds until a couple of minutes ago.  I'm really sor...Ricky, why are you pulling the weeds?  That's my chore.”

“He was doing the right thing by helping his sister,” Jack answered for his son.  “Noa, you take over.”

“Can't I help her, Dad?”

With a nod, Jack replied, “Sure.”  He called out to Brianna, “I've got this.  You can go inside.”

“Thanks for helping me, Ricky,” Chenoa spoke as she got down onto her knees.  “I can't believe I forgot.”

“I knew it was an accident.  Did your spirals work?”

“Awesomely!  I'll get Lulu later and we can show you.”

“That's okay.  I just wanted to know if it worked.”

“Yes.”

Amused, Jack retreated, remaining close enough to keep watch and yet far enough to let the kids work and chat however they saw fit.

====

With the weeds pulled, Chenoa was getting ready to open the trash bag so Ricky could put the weeds inside.

“Wait up, guys,” Brianna called out as she pulled the waste can over.  “Don't kill the environment even more by using a trash bag when you can put the weeds directly inside the waste bin.”

“Oops, sorry, Bri,” Chenoa responded.

“What are big sisters for,” the girl quipped.

“To remind little sisters about how to protect the environment,” Chenoa mused.

Brianna went back inside the house, leaving her dad to continue his watch on the working children.

====

When the kids were done with the weeds, Ricky took one more look around and then noticed something at the far edge of the lawn.  There were no weeds in that part of the lawn, so he hadn't seen it until now.  He walked over and picked it up.

“Wow!”

“What is it, Ricky?” Jack queried as he walked forward.

“It's a money clip, Dad, and it has,” the boy paused as he counted, “twelve dollars in it.”

“Okay, we'll turn it into the police ...”

“Let's knock on some doors,” Ricky interrupted.

“This could belong to anyone.”

“Dad, look,” the boy insisted, taking hold of the clip again.  “It's brand new.”  He flipped it all around as he studied it.  “Dad, there's one of those script things.”

“An inscription,” Jack advised.

“It says, 'Always remember we love you'.”

“Tomorrow, we'll go to the po...”

“Dad, someone's probably sad they've lost this.  We need to find them.”

“Ricky, I appreciate your desire to help, but we have no clue who owns this.”

“We need to go door-to-door and ask.”

“It's getting late and dinner ...”

The Spitfire stared up at his dad and asked, “Is dinner more important than love?”

“I think Ricky's right.  We can eat later.  It's only dinner.”

The father groaned, hating Ricky's and Noa's logic, because, ~Dang it, they're right.~  He let out a sigh and instructed, “Noa, go inside and tell Daddy that Ricky and I are going ... money clip owner finding.”

“Okay, Dad.  What about the trash can?”

“Leave it.  I'll take care of it later.”

“Thanks, Dad,” the girl responded before following through on her instructions.

Jack and Ricky were forty minutes into their search when Jack announced that they'd do one more block and then they had to go back home.  Unfortunately, no one they talked to was missing a money clip.

“Okay, Son, tomorrow we're take it to the police and ...”

“One more block, Dad.  Pleeeeeease!” Ricky pleaded.  “What if you lost something important.  Wouldn't you want someone to return it to you?”

“I'd call the police and get to the lost and found and ...”  Jack looked into his son's eyes.  Worse, he saw the boy doing the bout, or his best attempt at it.  Of course, no one did it like Daniel.  Little Danny was darn good at it, too.  He'd never seen Ricky try it before, though, and he knew if he gave in, the boy would know it was the pout that did it.  ~Oh, for crying out loud.~  He let out a cough and agreed, “*One* more block.”

By now, father and son were well beyond their neighborhood and they just finished checking with the house third from the end of the block.

“Dad, look!”

The last house on the block, the one on the corner, was bustling with action.  A large moving van was just closing its doors and two men were putting a couple of small tables into the back of a U-haul truck before closing it up.

As Jack and Ricky approached, they could hear a sniffling boy.  At first, they assumed the boy was sad because his family was moving, especially when they saw a woman lean forward to embrace the boy, soothing him with her hands and giving him a kiss atop his head.

“Ah, excuse me, folks.  I'm Jack and this is my son, Ricky.  We're just wondering if you happen to be missing anything?”

“I am,” the sniffling boy responded.  “It's a gift from my grandparents, and I may never see them again.”

The woman sighed as she held on to her son and explained, “My parents are very old and we're going overseas.”

“Military?”

“Army.  My husband is stationed abroad and his assignment is expanding, so we're joining him.”

“Do you have my money clip?” the boy asked emotionally.

“Can you tell us if there's any writing on it?” Jack asked.

The boy looked at his mother, who nodded, and then he told Jack and Ricky what it said.

“Dad?”  Seeing the affirmative nod, Ricky pulled the clip out of his pocket and handed it to the boy.  “Here it is.”

“Mom, this is it.  Thank you,” the boy expressed happily.  “Can I call Grandma and Grandpa?  Please, Mom, just for a minute.”

“Yes, you may,” the woman agreed, pulling out her smartphone and handing it to her son, who began to walk away.

“Oh, here, you can have the money as a reward,” the boy told Ricky.

“We don't want a reward.  It's your money.”

“I don't care about the money.  I care about the clip.  Grandma and Grandpa had it made just for me.”

The boy pushed the money into Ricky's hands and moved away to make his call.

Jack was about to speak when the Spitfire took the money and handed it to the boy's mom and said, “Our reward is doing the right thing.  We don't need the money and we don't want it, but thank you.  We have to go home now.”

With a shake of his head, Jack spoke, “Thank you and your husband for your service,” and then turned and headed home with Ricky.

The woman smiled, having no clue who the strangers were or that Jack was a general.  All she knew was that her son was now at peace because of the two strangers.

====

Father and son enjoyed the stress-free walk towards their home.  At one point, they noticed a senior citizen couple apparently out for a walk.

As the two pairs were passing, the adults nodded politely at one another before Ricky complimented, “You have a pretty dress on, Ma'am.  I love blue.”

“Thank you, young man,” the woman responded with a smile.

Jack patted his son gently on the back in silent praise.  Both could hear the woman talking with her husband.

“What a sweet boy.  He made me feel so good, Frederick.”

“I didn't think kids had manners anymore,” the husband replied before the distance became too much for Jack and Ricky to hear anymore.

====

After dinner, Daniel decided to make a quick trip to the store.  The Spitfires wanted to tag along, so he agreed.

“Babe, we won't be long,” the archaeologist told his soulmate on the way out.

Once at the store, the trio went by the produce section.

“I'll get the potatoes,” Ricky volunteered.

“And I'll get the peppers,” Jenny declared.

“And I guess I'll just stand here and wait,” Daniel chuckled since those were the only two items they needed from the produce area during this brief shop.

“Daddy, which color?” Jenny called out.

“One of each, Jenny.”

Jenny picked out her best choices, one each of the red, green, and yellow bell peppers.  She placed the items in a reusable tote bag and returned to her father's side at about the same time as Ricky did with the potatoes.

Within five minutes, the family had everything they needed.  Daniel paid for the purchase and headed out with his kids.  They walked through the sliding glass door at the same time a woman did.

“Do you need help?” Ricky asked.

“Oh, well, no, it's fine.”

“I'd like to help you.  We're parked over there.”

“I'm just over here a few spaces,” the woman replied.

“I can carry your bag.  I'm very strong, huh, Daddy?”

“Yes, he is,” Daniel agreed.

“If you don't mind,” the lady spoke.

Daniel noticed how slowly she leaned over and that, in fact, she almost dropped the bag.

“I've got it.”

“I move slowly.”

“It's not a problem, Ma'am,” Daniel answered.

“I forgot my cane at home, but it's such a bother to go back inside that I decided to come anyway.  Usually, I use a cart for balance, but they didn't have any on this side of the store.”

“We've noticed that a lot when we come here,” Jenny remarked.

“Here we are.  Thank you.”

When the woman reached for the bag, Ricky offered, “I can put on your car seat.”

“You are such a kind boy.  I'm so grateful for your help,” the woman stated while opening the car door to the backseat.

“Have a nice evening,” Daniel expressed once the lady was in her car.  “That was very nice, Ricky.”

“It was the right thing to do, Daddy.  I saw her limping a little.”

Daniel nodded, slightly amazed, and then headed with the children to the car.

====

“Did you see him pick up the dress to Ash's doll when it fell?” Jack asked Daniel that evening before making their goodnight rounds.

“I'm not sure what surprised me more,” Daniel began, “when he went over to Bob and Shelly's place and offered to walk their dog because he knew they were sick or when he called Mister Mason and told him a joke to cheer him up.”

“How's he doing, Danny?” Jack asked about Hamilton Mason, a widower whose only son moved away a couple of months ago.

“He's pretty down, Jack.  He's lost his sense of humor.”

“Hey, he got it back with Ricky's joke.  I heard him laughing over the phone.”

“Maybe it helped, at least for tonight.  He's lonely,” Daniel pointed out.

“Is there anything we can do to help with that?”

“I don't know, unless ...”

“... sic the brood on him?”

“It might be a start,” Daniel replied.

“Danny, we do need to talk about this 'right thing' tangent Ricky was on today.”

“Jack, why?  I mean, uh, he did a lot of nice things for people today: family, friends, strangers.  What's wrong with that?”

“Nothing, Love, except when he was trying to cover for Noa.  It's not a big thing, on the surface, but we don't want that to be a trend, do we?”

“No, but ...”

“Let me have it,” Jack beckoned with a smile, expecting to hear a slew of counter arguments from his husband.

“Let it go.  I'm not sure what started this today, but his heart was in the right place.”

The couple sealed their agreement not to make an issue of it with a kiss and then set about to do their rounds.

====

Jonny and Little Danny were already in their beds, tired from a long day of play, play, a tiny of bit of study, and more play.  They were trying to stay awake so they could get their last words of the day in with their fathers, but both were losing the battle.

Equally tired, Ricky was still on his knees by his bed and just ended his prayers.  He sprang up and then realized he'd forgotten something.  He quickly returned to his knees and clasped his hands together as he resumed.

“P.S.  Thank you for answering my prayer.  I tried to do a lot of good things, but not just things, the right things, today.  I hope I'm better and I hope I always remember that it only takes a minute to help someone.  It's easy to do and it makes them smile and it makes me feel good inside.  Oh, and if I ever forget that it only takes a minute, well, like Dad says, you can kick me in the butt to remind me.

“P.S.S.  I'm a Sport now, too, just like Charlie and David and Jonny.  Is that because I tried to do good today?  Na-huh.  I think it's just because Dad loves me. He loves all of us.  So does Daddy.  We're all Sports, aren't we, cause we're the brood?  Night.  From Ricky, with love.  Amen.”

At the door that was ajar, Jack and Daniel exchanged a glance and a pair of smiles at their son's prayers.  Now they understood, at least in part, what the Spitfire was up to throughout the day.  Both were proud and happy.  They'd worked hard to bring up their children right and now they realized it wasn't just the two of them helping Ricky to discover the best in himself, but it was that higher power both had learned to cherish over the years.

In Colorado Springs, life was good as Jack, Daniel, and their brood tried their best to be their best and to always do the right thing.

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

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