Episode One:: Innocence Lost
Written by Lonie
Events chronicling Daniel's childhood years immediately following the
death of his parents
Category:: Angst, Drama, some Humor, Hurt/Comfort
Warning:: Character Death, Depicts Child and Alcohol Abuse, Language
Additional Warnings:: The disturbing subject explored in this fic is abuse. Mainly child abuse. Don't worry, it's not done by his parents...sheesh....;-)) I chose this subject because I know of several people in my life who have had to endure it. In this fic, it's somewhat my way of dealing with it the best way I know how. Ya know, channeling that energy into something else....or something like that. There is also some mild profanity and scenes that may be disturbing to some. As well as innuendos to alcoholism. In no way, shape or form is the information within these pages true to the subject matter at hand or insinuating that certain situations go on within the military. As stated in my disclaimers below, these stories are works of fiction and are products of my warped imagination only. Nothing more, nothing less. Absolutely no money was earned nor distributed.
Series Timeline/Notes:: Within 'Secrets', are seven (7) different episodes/fics that follow Daniel Jackson's infamous life from his childhood till present day. Well, more like a few events taking out and explored..;-))) Anyhoo, my time line is different. In the books, by the time Daniel was 21 years of age, he had his Masters in all of his fields. (Linguistics, Anthropology, Archaeology) Also, he graduated high school when was 16, I think. And according to other fics I've read, he was somewhere between 5 and 7 when he saw his parents die. In my fics, he is 9 years old when he sees his parents die. He is also moved up two grade levels because of his intelligence, that would put him in the 6th grade. According to USA schooling and common age grades. He actually graduates from high school at the age of 15, right before his sixteenth birthday which is in July which will result in him getting his Masters before he actually turns 21.
"Danny?" Dr. Melburn Jackson called out to his son. "Would you tell your mother that there is nothing to worry about," he said amusingly.
Nine year old Daniel Jackson pulled his attention away from his book he was reading with a look of pure confusion. "Huh?"
"I'm afraid our son is too engrossed in your latest journal entry to even notice us," Daniel's mother said amusingly. She chuckled to herself as she watched Danny re-adjust his position on the floor against the wall and become deeply engrossed once more in her and her husbands latest discovery. 'After we finish with this exhibit,' she thought. 'We're headed back to Egypt.'
Her attention was slowly drawn back to the huge slab of stone hovering over her and her husbands head. To her shock, they were lucky to have found this wonderful artifact buried beneath a dried tree stomp in an area designated to have no history of ever having had a civilization reside there. But then, once the stone was uncovered, they'd found an enormous amount of evidence to dispute that claim. They had discovered several life size monumental statues and building foundation structures buried in the surrounding area. To their surprise, they had mapped and concluded that a large rich city once stood there. The only problem, was that all of the names of the royal families that ruled the city had been scratched off. There was no way of telling who the people were or if any of the neighboring cities even heard of it or knew if it ever existed. Broken from her thoughts, she heard her husband giving instructions and saw him out the corner of her eyes waving his arms. She stared at the slab of stone and felt a sickening feeling deep within her. She watched it as it swung slightly from side to side as they attempted to adjust it properly. A loud explosive sneeze startled her out her reverie.
"It's alright honey," Dr. Jackson said seeing his wife jump. "We're perfectly fine. Everything's okay," he assured her. Feeling his wife calm down a little, Dr. Jackson returned his attention to the stone above them.
'These markings are beautiful. Unlike any kind I've seen before,' he thought to himself. 'And the city buried around it is massive,' he thought as he briefly instructed a crew member to move the stone a little to the right. 'I wonder if it could be related to the same discovery that scientist found not far from there in Giza? Let's see when was it...oh yes....1923. What was his name?' Dr. Jackson thoughts were momentarily interrupted. "No, no," he said waving his arms. "You're blocking off the most important part. Let's move the support beams a little further apart. We'll see if that works," he instructed.
Mrs. Clair Jackson let a small smile grace her face as she looked up to see Danny wiping his nose with a hankerchief with one hand and trying to steady his book with the other. All the while his glasses were being uncooperative and turning lopsided as he struggled to do both. She chuckled lightly and wondered what she was going to do with her son. Suddenly, the smile left, 'what would they do with him?' she thought to herself. She knew that Danny wouldn't be able to accompany them on their next trip to Egypt. They would definitely be gone for more than three months this time and they couldn't keep Danny out of school for that long. Sure he was as intelligent as his father and had already been moved up two grade levels without even attending classes. She sighed heavily to herself. It wasn't his academics that she was worried about. It was his childhood.
She knew that her son didn't have many friends in his life. Mostly due to the constant travelling that they did. The few friends that he did have were more than four times his age and worked with them on their digs. She yearned for the day when her son would come running through the house with kids his own age trailing behind him. 'If they ever stayed long enough where that could happen,' she thought sarcastically. She stiffled a sharp startled gasp as she felt her husband tap her on the shoulder.
"Honey, you think we should move it a little to the left?" he asked as he stared up at the stone.
She looked up and studied it before answering, "Yes. It seems to be cutting off some of the heirglyphs on this side. Maybe about a half an inch."
Dr. Jackson began to relay his wife's instructions and placed a hand on her shoulder automatically. He could feel her tensing up again as the stone slab was lifted once more and swung slightly above them. He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze as he continued to shout out instructions.
Young Daniel finally gave up trying to read and wipe his nose at the same time and carefully placed his fathers journal on the floor in front of him. He removed his glasses and finished wiping his nose. Placing his glasses back on, he looked up at his parents and let out a sigh of relief when he saw the huge heavy stone hovering above them finally stop moving and sit in place. He really didn't care for them having to stand directly up under the stone while it was being put into place. But he also knew, that position was the only one plausible in order to prompt it properly. With a frustrated sigh of releasing tension, young Daniel absently picked up his fathers journal.
'What am I going to do?' he thought to himself as he stared at the pages without focusing on them. 'I know that they can't take me with them this time. Mom has told me too many times that she doesn't want me to stay out of school for that long.' He shifted his position on the floor slightly. 'Like it's really going to make a difference. I've already skipped two grade levels,' he thought sarcastically. 'Maybe if I learn as much of these ruins as I can before they leave, Dad can convince Mom that he needs me to help him out on some things,' he thought to himself as he let out a half laugh half sigh. 'Yeah right, Dad need 'my' help. That'll be the day.'
He knew that his dad didn't need his help on anything, but he also knew that his dad got a thrill out of discovering artifacts and sharing it with his entire family present. His dad wouldn't admit it, but little Danny had caught on to it long ago and used that well known fact to keep him on their digs. Plus, he really hated being left behind. The only friends that he had we're Miguel, Sarah, Amonti, and Jim and they were all apart of his parents crew. Granted they were all adults, but they seemed to be the only ones who understood him. And they didn't pick on him and call him names.
Broken from his thoughts Daniel looked up and felt his nerves pulsate throughout his body as the huge stone slab was lifted once more into the air. He felt his stomach turn upside down as something about the way the stone swung caught his attention. He slowly stood up and dusted off his pants. Tilting his head slightly and furrowing his brow, he studied the stone.
"Yes, a little more," Dr. Jackson yelled out. "Just a little more. Honey, how about there?" he asked as he stared up at the stone.
Before his wife could answer, a loud snapping sound could be heard and the large stone came crashing down onto the supporting beams. The force of the impact caused the support beams to break and begin to tumble down on top of them. For a brief moment, Mrs. Jackson was able to lock eyes with her son Daniel, before the large stone came crashing down on top of them.
Suddenly, the book Daniel was holding dropped to the ground and he felt his heart skip several beats. He saw the chain snap and the stone begin it's decent. He heard a voice echoeing about the museum and realized that the sound was him, who had called out a warning to his parents. Frozen in place, he looked on in pure horror as his eyes locked with his mothers. It felt as if time had slowed long enough for him to see the horror and utter fear in her eyes, quickly followed by looks of great sadness and apology. Suddenly, his mother's eyes were replaced by visions of broken stone fragments and rising dust clouds.
Daniel wanted to scream, but he couldn't find his voice. He wanted to move and help the other people who were trying frantically to uncover his parents, but he couldn't move. He watched with unblinking eyes as people ran chaotically around him. He soon heard a shout from one of the people who was helping out and looked up to see a small hand covered in dark red blood and dust. Staring intently, he noticed the small twinkle of his mothers wedding ring as the ceiling light reflected off of it. Unconsciencely, he lifted his left arm and wrapped it around his stomach, grasping his shirt with a clenched fist. He stared as another piece of stone was moved out of the way to reveal his father's upper part of his body. Daniel felt his body shaking uncontrollably as he took in the sight of his father's appearance. He felt the biol beginning to make it's way up as he noted that the condition his father was in. It was clear that his neck was broken and.......Suddenly, Daniel turned to the side and began to vomit. He clenched his chest as he tried desperately to breathe between hurls as he began to feel hot tears stinging his cheeks. Once he was finished, he breathlessly fell against the wall and slowly slumped down to the floor completely exhausted as he plummetted into the comfort of the darkness awaiting him.
Two years later........................
Daniel sat staring out of the window as the car slowly came to a stop.
"So, are you excited?" Dr. Marilyn Pacey asked as she began to drive again.
Daniel sighed to himself before answering, "A little....I guess."
"Danny," Dr. Pacey said in a soft tone. "I know these last two years have been really hard on you. And I know that moving in and out of foster homes isn't helping any."
"No," he sighed interrupting her. "But I've gotten used to it."
She nodded her head and continued, "I know. But this family has expressed an interest in adopting you."
"So has every other home I've been to for the last year and a half," he stated sarcastically.
Dr. Pacey sighed silently to herself, "I know that dear. But they are really impressed with your academic achievements and are estounded to hear that you have college scouts already trying to recruit you at such a young age," she stated hoping she sounded more enthusiatic then she felt. 'Eight homes in the last three months,' she thought to herself. 'This has really got to be tearing him up inside.'
"I think that things may be different this time Danny," she said.
As Dr. Pacey continued to talk, Daniel's mind began to drift. 'Yeah, yeah, I know. They just want me around to gawk over the boy wonder until the thrill has gone and then kick me to the curb like the rest of them.' He turned to stare at the dash board in front of him. 'Once they learn about me seeing my parents die and that it took four months of psychological therapy to bring me back to reality, they get rid of me.' He laughed slightly to himself, 'I don't really blame them. I'd get rid of me too. Who wants a mentally disturbed genious running lose around the house.' Daniel was slowly brought out of his reverie when he noticed they had arrived at a gate.
"The Stuarts are a very loving young couple," she said reaching into her purse to pull out a card to hand to a gaurd. "Major Stuart...."
"Major?" Danny asked suprisingly.
"Yes.... Major Stuart," she confirmed as the gates opened for her to enter.
"I didn't think the organization allowed military adoptions?"
"Not to those on active duty, no. One of the parents would be gone for extended periods of time. A quality that the organization is not very fond of. Major Stuart is no longer on active duty with the Air Force. He was caught in a freak accident in which caused him to have night blindness. He mainly does desk jobs now and some reserve flying in the day. But not enough to have him away for days on end. He has a younger brother that's a pilot as well that lives with them. I think that he decided to remain on the base to be closer to his brother.
"Oh," he stated nervously as he took in the sight around him.
"Here we are," Dr. Pacey said cheerfully, desperately trying to lift the young boy's spirits. She was falling apart inside. Too many times over the last two years had she given him this same speech. The people wanted him, up till they learn the truth of his misfortune. Either that or that he was too much of a genious that it scared them away. Oh how she wish she could take him into her own home and look after him. But the company wouldn't allow that. They couldn't risk the possibilities of something going wrong and having to start from scratch with a different social worker. She looked at Danny, "So?"
"So?" he repeated staring at a small one story house. There were two large windows on either side of the front door and a walk way splitting the front yard in half. To the right was a small drive way big enough for about two or three cars. Taking a deep shuddering breath, he nervously watched the window on the left side of the front door as someone peaked out. Shortly afterwards, a tall slender woman with shoulder length brunette hair stepped out of the house. She was wearing a navy blue pant suit with a cream colored blouse underneath. Quickly following her, a tall man stepped out. He was in his Air Force dress uniform.
"All right Danny," Dr. Pacey said bringing him out of his reverie. "I know you're a bit nervous, but just remember everything that I told you O.K."
He nodded absently still staring at the couple.
"You have my home and work numbers in case you need to get in touch with me and my addresses in case you want to send me something right?"
"Yeah," he sighed out.
She placed a hand on his shoulder and prompted him to turn around and look at her. "Danny, don't worry. Everything is going to work out fine O.K."
"Yeah," he sighed unconvincingly. He turned to look at the couple again when he heard the car doors unlock. He felt his nerves go haywire when he watched Dr. Pacey approach them and begin to talk to them. 'What if they don't want me?' he asked himself as he watched Major Stuart help Dr. Pacey unload his bags. 'What if they 'do' want me?' he asked himself as he watched Major Stuart come over to the car and squat in front of his side of the window. He gently tapped on the window and waited for Danny to roll it down.
"Hi Danny," Major Stuart said with a warm smile on his face. He slowly took off his hat and raked a hand through his short blonde hair.
"So, I hear you have an interest in Archaeology," he stated cheerfully studying the child before him.
"So do I. I mean, it's more so like a hobby to me," he stated and smiled as he noticed that he caught the boys full attention. "Yesterday, I got wind of some Minoan ruines that has just been discovered about two weeks ago. So far, only the scientist involved, the military, and government officials know of the discovery. I've got some photos if you want to see it?" he said patiently.
Danny studied him a bit before he nodded his head slowly and climbed out of the car. He reached back in and grabbed a medium size suitcase that seemed to be a little to heavy for him, but he managed.
"Whatcha got there?" Major Stuart asked after Danny refused his help with the suitcase.
"Just some books," he stated possessively.
Major Stuart nodded his head slightly, grabbed the other suitcases, and followed his wife, Dr. Pacey, and Danny into the house where a new life would begin.
'Today's the day,' Danny thought to himself as he rushed to get dressed. It's been eight months and things are going perfectly. Danny couldn't believe how much fun he was having being with the Stuarts. Dr. Pacey was right, they are a wonderful couple. They're different from everyone else. Instead of kicking him out because of his intelligence, they have been very supportive. They've invited several academic college scouts to meet with him and have permitted him to take just about every advance class his school has to offer. He's heard and seen pictures of more discoveries of ancient ruins in the past six months then he'd seen in his short life time. Not only that, but they actually talk to him and can understand him. He also learned that he and Major Sean Stuart have a lot more in common than just a love for archaeology. He doesn't feel like the outcast anymore. He's starting to feel like he's found a place he could call home. He turned around as he heard someone come into his room.
"Hey DJ," Sean said cheerfully as he walked in and sat on Danny's bed.
"Hey," he said smiling. "I know I'm running late, but I kind of lost track of time. I was studying the latest info on that Minoan site. I was relating it to the site they found in Egypt. Some of the markings seemed to be very similar."
Sean let out a hearty laugh, "Mary figured it was something like that which had your attention. After the seventh time we called for you, she decided to send me in here to make sure you weren't morphing into a book."
"Huh?" Danny said completely confused.
Sean just shook his head smiling, "Never mind. I came to let you know that you've got an extra half hour before Ben gets here, so you can relax."
"Yeah, his plane was slightly delayed."
"Uhm...O.K." Danny said sitting down next to Sean nervously twiddling his thumbs in his laps.
Sean studied him a bit before asking, "You all right?"
"You seem a bit nervous," he said gently. "Wanna talk about it?"
Danny nibbled on his lower lip and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. "I...." he started nervously. "I'm just wondering what he's like."
Sean knew that's not what the boy was going to say, but he let it slide. "Well, he's nothing like me," he said smiling. "Our parents used to say that we we're like oil and water. We could never see eye to eye on anything. And we constantly fought for their attention. Always in competition over any and everything. Until that day."
"The plane crash," Danny stated following his thoughts.
"Yeah. I don't know what happened. But after our parents died in that crash, things changed. Suddenly, instead of trying to beat the crap out of my little brother, I had to start taking care of him," he said with a thoughtful look on his face. "And the funny thing about it, is that he let me," he chuckled out. Taking a deep breath and placing his arm around Danny, he said, "Don't worry DJ. My brother may be a lot of things and we may fight constantly, but that doesn't mean that the two of you want hit it off. In fact, I think you'd be surprised how much you two have in common, not to mention that you two look alot alike," he said reassuringly.
"Ya think so? I mean, that we'll hit it off?"
"Yes I do," he said patting him on his back. "I'm possitive of it. Now, when ya finish up here, Mary needs your help setting up the dinner table."
Danny looked at Sean suspiciously, "And what about you?"
"Uhm...well....I've gotta make a quick run somewhere."
"Ducking out on her again huh," Danny said amusingly.
"No...who me....no way."
Danny titled his head to the side and stared at Sean.
"What?.....What?....O.K....O.K...I'm just not a house cleaning, table setting kind of guy O.K."
Danny just shook his head smiled at him.
Sean got up to leave and stopped at the door, "Oh yeah, if she asks where I went..."
"You had to run a quick errand and you'll be back in five."
"Yeah," he said smiling and leaving.
Danny chuckled slightly to himself, finished getting dressed and headed towards the kitchen.
Danny couldn't believe his life. Sean was right, him and Ben had hit it off big time. They had so much stuff in common that it was kind of scary. Danny had never met anyone, other than his father, who was able to follow his babble. Sean was good, but when his brain was working faster than his mouth, he usually left Sean behind still stuck on a thought he muttered aloud ten minutes ago. Not Ben though, Danny would switch up and Ben would be right there with him. And Sean wasn't lying when he said that they looked alike. Ben had deep blue eyes and blonde hair like him. The only difference was that he wore glasses and Ben didn't. Many of the Stuarts friends and colleagues kept saying that he could pass as Ben's little brother or son for that matter. Hearing that all the time, Danny had begun to feel like Ben was his older brother. They had shared a bond different from the bond he had with Sean and Mary. While they treated him just as good, Ben was more on his level. Ben had become, in his mind, his best friend, his role model, a person that he could tell any and everything to and not be criticized for it. Sean and Mary were good listeners too, but they were more like his parents, and some things, he just couldn't see talking to them about. The way things were going, nothing could have ever prepared Danny for the events that were about to happen which would have a profound effect on the rest of his life.
Danny, now thirteen years old, sat on the floor in the living room in front of the couch. He had the radio on full blast and his fathers journals spread out all over the place. Plus the pictures that he'd collected from Mary and Sean over the past two years and the small artifacts that they all had collected. He had a pencil sticking out of his hair, one in his mouth, and writing furiously with another one. Occasionally, he would look up to consult his fathers journal or to stare at a picture, and then go back to writing. He was so engrossed in what he was doing that he hadn't noticed that the radio was cut off. Spotting something out the corner of his eye, he looked up to see Ben standing over him staring at him.
"Sorry," he apologized sincerely. "I didn't hear you come in."
"Well, how could you with the radio so damn loud. Your lucky my brother and his wife are out of town this week," Ben snapped out.
Danny, used to the fowl language of Ben, just shrugged his shoulders, "I really am sorry." He turned his attention back to his work and began to furiously write again. Soon, he was oblivious to his surroundings.
Ben continued to stand there and stare at him, occasionally swaying some. "DJ, I got some people coming over in a few minutes. I need you to grab this stuff up and take it to your room....kay." He stood there staring at Danny and realized that he didn't hear a word he just said. "DJ, did you hear me? Get this shit up and take it in your room, they'll be here any minute man."
Danny had learned early own to tune things out. Being around hundreds of people while on digs with his parents, and trying to read the latest journals his parents had, he found it to be a good skill to have. He found that he could be just about anywhere and do his homework, or whatever without being distracted. Unfortunately, now was not the time to have that skill in use. Before he knew what happened, Danny was being picked up by the front of his shirt and flying over the couch. Before he could get his bearings, he felt his face impact with something and his head jerk violently to the right. Momentarily dazed, he registered a fairly familiar voice, a very loud voice yelling at him. Shortly afterwards, it became clear to him that the voice belonged to Ben. He rolled over on his back and leaned back on his elbows shockingly looking up Ben. Who just happened to be standing over him staring back at him darkly.
"Get up," he hissed.
Too scared at the look in Ben's eyes and too stunned from what just happened to move, Danny just lay there staring.
"I said get up."
When Danny didn't move, Ben reached down and pulled him to his feet by his hair.
Danny let out a yelp at the pain he felt. Broken from his momentary stupor, Danny noticed for the first time the almost empty beer bottle in Ben's hand. "I'm sorry," he said instinctively. "It will never happen again."
Ben stared at Danny and lifted him up into the air by the front of his shirt, causing him to choke slightly when his collar tightened around his neck. Taking a deep swig of his beer, he stared at Danny, releasing a deep heavy beer stained breath in his face.
Danny squinted his face up at the horrific smell and fought to keep his stomach under control as he felt the urgent need to be facing a toilet. Looking back at Ben, he cursed his body as it visibly shook uncontrollably with ultimate fear. Danny involuntarily flinched when Ben brought his other hand back up to drink from his beer again.
"Damn boy, you act like I hurt you or something," he said chuckling. "I see now that I'm going to have to toughen you up some. Especially if your going to be joining the Air Force. Can't have the Stuart name ruined because we had a weak link in the family," he said amusingly gently putting Danny back down. He reached in his back pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, "Here," he said tossing it to Danny.
Danny stared at the handkerchief and nervously looked back up at Ben.
"Your nose is bleeding. Go fix it and get back in here and take your stuff into your room. I got company coming over," he said lightly patting Danny on the shoulder and walking into the kitchen.
Danny stumbled into the bathroom and fell up against the sink. While he was running hot water over the handkerchief, he glanced up at the mirror and stopped dead in his tracks. His nose was bleeding heavily and his glasses were bent. Removing them, he got a good look at the left side of his face and noticed the dark purple and blue bruise beginning to take form. And the beginnings of a black left eye. The jaw had a small scratch a few inches away from his lower lip where it was a tiny cut. Blinking back the tears and working on automatic, he hurried to clean his face and apply some ointment to help with the cuts and scrapes. He rushed to grab his books and paper and moved them to his room. On his last trip, he looked up nervously as Ben was standing in his doorway to his room with his arms crossed. Danny nearly dropped everything as his body shook more and more the closer he got to Ben. "Here," he heard Ben say and felt something cold on the side of his face. He absently took his hand and held it in place. "It'll help with the swelling."
Danny hesitantly nodded his head. And silently wondered how this man, whom he had trusted and loved with all his heart, could be such a monster one minute and then the man that he had began to look up to the next. He wondered what had happened in there. Did he say or do something that Ben found offensive? And when did Ben start drinking? As long as he's been with the Stuarts, he'd never seen Ben drink anything. Not even some New Years Eve wine. The Ben he knew would never hurt a fly. He couldn't even give him a spanking when he accidentally broke a very valuable vase that Ben had brought back with him after he had been called to duty. And what did he mean about the Air Force? Danny wasn't interested in joining the military. He had his heart set on being an archaeologist and linguist like his father. Living on a military base was one thing, but to join was a whole 'nother subject. Stifling his protest to that thought, he silently moved past Ben and entered his room. He dropped himself and his pile on the bed and lay there silently staring at the ceiling holding the ice pack to his face. Not long afterwards, he was sound asleep.
Danny jerked awake to the loud sound of something crashing, broken glass, and profanity. Momentarily dazed and shaken up, he quickly rushed out of his room and down the hall towards the living room. Just before reaching the end of the hall, he noticed the fowl smell of beer mixed with stronger alcoholic beverages. Slowly, he took in the sight of the living room. It was in shambles. It would appear that it was the TV that had woken him up. It was lying face down on the floor and the stand was tipped over behind it. The couch had wasted beer all over it. The rug was stained as well and had several unknown people laying on it that were slowly waking up. He jumped as he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey there little man," A red head said to him as she brushed past him. Looking at her attire, even though she had on an Air Force uniform, it was quite clear that she was in no way associated with them. In fact, the way she was dumping stuff in her bag and yelling at the guys spread out on the floor about the other half of her money, it was quite clear to him who and what this woman was. He watched as Ben kicked and cursed at the men on the floor, "All right men, addy up."
All that could be heard was some disgruntled groans and incoherent mutters in which Danny was sure he knew where curse words.
"Damn ya'll, come on. Addy up. I'm not paying for all this. I provided the house and the booze, the least you lazy bastards can do is pay the lady."
After about five minutes of moaning, groaning, cursing, and stumbling around the house, it was only Ben and Danny left in the living room. Ben looked around and cursed slightly to himself as he took in the appearance of the house. He was about to walk towards the bathroom when he noticed Danny standing in the hall way.
"Shit, DJ, what the hell happened to you? You look like hell," Ben said gently touching Danny's face. Oblivious to the child's trembling and flinching. "Were you in a fight or something?" he asked gently as he knelt down to get a closer look at Danny's face.
Danny stood stunned. 'He doesn't remember,' he thought silently to himself. Danny looked up at Ben and saw genuine concern in his eyes. He saw love and caring and the Ben that he had come to look upon with almost godlike qualities. Studying his face, the monster from the night before was gone. Nowhere to be seen. 'Maybe he just got mad when he thought I was ignoring him,' he thought trying to rationalize the situation. 'Maybe, because he got drunk, he just got a little out of control. It's been known to happen,' he thought. Not really believing what he was thinking, but just trying his best to come up with something. Danny made a decision then, that if Ben didn't remember what happened, neither did he. And there was no way he was going to tell him. Somewhat satisfied with his thoughts, he let Ben take him into the bathroom so that he could tend to his wounds.
It would be another two years of periodic broken arms, legs, mild concussions, bleeding noses, black eyes, cut and swollen lips, bruised stomachs and backs. Two years of constant lies told to Sean and Mary about falling off bikes, slipping down stairs, getting beat up by the school bully because he was different. Two years, of being told over and over again that everything that went wrong was his fault. Two years of being told that he was a disgrace to the Stuart name. Two years of never telling Ben what he tended to forget after he'd been drinking. Two years of living in ultimate fear of his life. Two years, till a tragic incident that would abruptly snatch everything that Danny had worked so hard to keep.
'Today is a good day,' Danny thought to himself. He was happier then he's been in long while. Not only because Ben had been recalled to duty for about three months now, but because Mary and Sean had just received the adoption papers saying that he was theirs now. 'I finally found a family,' he thought happily. 'I finally found a home.'
"Hey DJ," Sean said cheerfully. "What do ya say we all go out and celebrate the newest member of our family."
Danny nodded his head with a satisfied smile on his face. 'Two years,' he thought to himself. 'It had taken a little over two years since I met the Stuarts in order for the adoption to go through.'
"All right, we've got pizza on Main St., chinese food on Shane Dr., that Italian restaurant over on Marksville Avenue, and that all you eat buffet over on Chambers," Sean said grinning.
"Doesn't that buffet have all the ice cream you can eat too," Mary said smiling as she saw Danny smile.
"Sure does. So," He said turning his attention to Danny. "What'll it be buddy."
"The buffet of course," he said smiling.
"Then the buffet it is," Sean said ruffling Danny's hair as they all headed out of the house.
Two hours later, Danny sat in the back seat of the Stuarts car stuffed beyond his imagination. "Maybe I shouldn't have ate that much," he said jokingly. "I feel like I'm about to explode."
Mary let out a hearty laugh, "Well, three and half servings of chocolate ice cream can do that to you." She turned around to look at Danny, "Thank god it's Friday, because I see a belly ache coming on this weekend," she joked.
Danny rolled his eyes and grimaced at the thought. "As long as you don't take me to the hospital, I'm fine."
Sean laughed out loud, "DJ, you complain even when your not near a hospital. I could just drive by a pharmacy, and feel you tense up. I know kids don't like Doctors, but if looks could kill, there'll be alot of Doctors disappearing."
"You'd think that the feelings he has towards hospitals, it would be sufficient enough reason for him to stop acting like he's Superman."
"I don't act like Superman," Danny retorted grimacing at the small ache he was beginning to get. He really hated it when Mary was right.
"Oh no!" Mary said. "Well, care to explain what you and Ben were really doing in order for you to get a broken arm and a broken leg."
"Not to mention the scrapes and bruises on his back which looked to me like you fell off of my brothers motorcycle," Sean jumped in.
Danny chose that moment to be quite. If they wanted to believe that Sean was trying to teach him how to ride a motorcycle and he fell off, he was going to let them. There was no way he was going to tell them the truth about what really happened that day. No way in hell was he going to cause them to send him back to that orphanage. Which is what Ben said they would do to him if he ever told them. Dr. Pacey was nice, but she wasn't always around. Never around when he needed her the most. Never around at night when the older kids felt the need to use his head as a basketball or his body as a punching bag. Sure, he was somewhat used to what goes on between him and Ben, but at least it's not every night. Only when Ben had some leave time, comes home, and gets drunk. Which is kind of good on Ben's part, because that meant that his 'little incident's' he tended to have was periodical. Not often enough for anyone to not to assume that it was just a child being mischievous. Wanting to change the subject, "Hey, it looks like there's a black out."
"Yeah," Sean agreed.
"Honey, why don't you let me drive?" Mary asked gently.
"Yeah," Sean agreed nonchalantly. He really wanted to drive the rest of the way home. But because of his night blindness, he didn't want to further risk the lives of his wife and his new son. With a sigh of disappointment, he opened his door and stepped out of the car. He waited for Mary to walk around to his side and playfully stole a kiss from her. He chuckled some at the small groan he heard from inside the car. "Kids," he said stepping to the side to let her get in. Before Mary could get her other leg in the car, they were alerted to a screeching sound and bright white lights shining directly on them. Sean instinctively lunged himself forward into the car pushing Mary down in the front seat before they felt something impact with them sending their car slamming into a light post.
Some time later, Danny woke up to the sound of someone calling his name.
"DJ, wake up. DJ...."
He coughed out a, "Yeah. Sean?"
"Yeah," Sean said coughing some noticing an all too familiar odor. "DJ, are you all right. Anything broken?"
"No," he said slowly trying to get his bearings. "I'm fine, just a little sore. What...what happened?" he asked a little dazed.
"DJ, can you move around back there," Sean asked urgently. Doing his best to keep his voice calm when he had to get the boy out of the car.
"All right DJ, I need you do everything I tell you. O.K."
"I need you to see if you can get the door on the passenger side open."
After a few moments of grunting and struggling, Danny answered breathlessly, "It's stuck, I can't move it."
Sean bit back a curse as the odor began to get stronger. "DJ, I need you to grab the floor covers back there. Can you reach those?"
"Yeah, I think so."
Sean listened patiently to the grunts Danny was making. He took a moment to study his wife who was still underneath him as she began to stir. "Shhhh, it's all right honey. Well be O.K," he cooed when he noticed the recent events began to flood her memory.
"DJ?" she asked worriedly.
"He's fine honey," he said trying to calm her down.
"I got them Sean," he heard Danny say.
"O.K DJ, I need you to put them over the window and break the glass....O.K."
"Don't argue with me DJ. Place them over the window and kick out the glass. Then use them to knock away the rest of glass so you can slip through...O.K. I need you to this now DJ, you hear me?"
"O.K." Following Sean's instructions, Danny kicked out the glass and was able to climb out of the car. For the first time, he was able to take in the sight before him. Their car was firmly bent nearly half way around the pole. He could see steam coming from the front of the pick up truck, in which was embedded into the drivers side of the car. The trucks hood was wide open, so he couldn't see if anyone was still in the truck or not. Or if anyone was hurt. He turned his attention back Sean and Mary at the sound of his name. "Sean?"
"DJ, I need you to get away from the car now," he said with urgency.
"I can't leave you here Sean. I can break out the glass and..." Danny began to cry out.
"There's no time for that Danny, even if you could break the glass, Mary and I are pinned down. We can't move. DJ, we passed a gas station about a mile back. Go there and call for help....kay," he began to choke out as the fumes began to take it's toll him.
Danny flinched, Sean had never called him by his full name unless he was upset or needed him to do something right away. With a slow nod of his head and a longing stare at the car, Danny stumbled and slipped as he ran back towards the gas station. A few seconds later, Danny felt his feet lift off of the ground as he went airborne, slamming into a lamp post and slowly slumping to the ground. He was able to take in the sight of furious roaring flames before he plummeted into darkness.
Six months later, Danny found himself back at the orphanage nurturing a broken leg, a sprained arm, and the after effects of a mild concussion. In all his time of living here and hating every moment of it, this time around, he was grateful. After Sean and Mary had died in the car explosion, Danny was placed under temporary custody with Ben. Mainly because he was the only living relative to the deceased and everyone believed that he would help Danny cope better with what happened. Plus, Ben was giving a chance to see if he wanted to take Danny in. Due to the circumstances, the organization was willing to let this case slide.
Things seemed to be going well after the funeral. Ben had taken an extended leave of absence and the two of them were getting along fine. They talked to each other about the incident, consoled each other, sometimes, even cried together at night. One particular night, Danny woke up to someone shouting and yelling for help. He jumped out of bed and ran into the living room to find Ben thrashing about in his sleep. Danny quickly moved over towards him, and gently shook him to wake him up. Ben's eyes snapped open and he pushed Danny half way across the room.
Danny felt the wind leave his body when he landed hard on the floor. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," he panted out slowly climbing to his feet. "You were having a nightmare," he said looking up as Ben stood up.
Ben stared at Danny darkly, "It's all your fault," he hissed out. "It's all your fault Sean's gone."
Danny felt his nerves flare up. Recognizing the look in Ben's eyes. Quickly, he scanned the room with his eyes and was not surprised to see several half empty beer bottles laying near the couch. He swallowed nervously as he backed up against the wall. Trying his best to sink into it out of sight. When he saw Ben lift his hand up, he closed his eyes and stilled himself for what he knew was coming next. But it never came. Hesitantly, he opened his eyes and saw Ben staring at his hands. For a moment, the monster was gone and the old Ben was back. But he thought too soon, because just as he relaxed, Ben reached back and punched Danny in the stomach full force causing him to double over with pain. He felt himself being lifted into the air by the back on his shirt.
"Ben," he yelled out as his small body went airborne and slammed into the china cabinet sending the dishes and broken glass crashing down on him.
"It's all your fault. Your the reason they're dead," he heard Ben growl out before he felt Ben's foot make contact with his stomach. "You took the only thing I had in my life away from me. You took my brother away from me."
Danny pulled himself into a ball as tight as he could and tried desperately to cover his head as Ben kicked him and punched on him. His body ached with excruciating pain and shivered with uncontrollable fear. He began to hear another loud voice cutting over Ben's and realized that it was his own yelling for someone to help him and stop and please and that he was sorry. Suddenly, the onslaught on his body abruptly stopped. Too scared to move, he screamed at the top of his lungs when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He felt the hand draw away slowly as he allowed the fear and pain to slowly drag him into unconsciousness. Just before he dived, he heard someone say, "Place him in custody and get a medical team in here."
In August, the summer of Danny's sixteenth birthday, Danny sat in his seat on the bus. He was finally leaving the orphanage. He was on his way to college. He had won enough scholarships to pay for his entire education, books, and room and board. As well as some money left over that he had planned to place in a savings account to help pay for his travel expenses and digs in the near future. He was heading towards a new life. Finally, free of the bullies of the orphanage and the memories of Benjamin Stuart. He vowed never to join the military no matter what happened. He knew Ben was let off and reassigned to something else. Especially since he refused to talk about what Ben did to him. He just wanted to forget it ever happened, to get on with his life. He didn't want his misfortune plastered all over the news, especially since he felt he'd be in the news enough once he took up where his father left off. He had surmised in his head, that as long as Ben was in the military and away on some secret mission, they would never cross paths again. The only place that he knew they would see each other, would be at Sean and Mary's grave site. It tore him up inside that he couldn't go visit them, but he also knew it would hurt even more to have to run into Ben. And he meant that literally. With a long sigh of relaxation, Danny snuggled down into his seat on the bus, and went to sleep.
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