"Little Britches" (ATF) Universe
Buck passed a slower moving vehicle as he made his way towards town. It was a beautiful spring day and he was taking JD out for a special day. If he had tried to do this months ago JD would have refused because Vin wasn't with them. Now the two boys did things on their own. Ever since Vin had been accepted into that Montessori school both boys were becoming more independent. Getting Vin to go to the school without JD caused problems in the beginning. Vin had made a promise he would watch out for JD and he argued that he couldn't do that if he went to a different school. Chris had made a deal with him to try it for a couple of months and if he didn't like it he could go back to JD's school. Chris knew Vin would like the new school since he could move at his own pace. In the public school Vin was the oldest in the kindergarten and was being overshadowed by JD. Vin had reluctantly agreed. The first day had been a disaster, not for Vin, but for JD. Buck was forced to leave work to get JD early from school. The younger boy was lost without Vin. Vin, on the other hand, had the best day in school he ever had. The teacher didn't get frustrated when he couldn't answer and there were only eight others in his class. After a few days JD had adjusted and became friends with Nettie's niece Casey. Now both Vin and JD loved school.
Buck glanced in the rear view mirror to see JD amusing himself with several toys. Even though the boy was five he was still required to be in a booster seat. Buck knew JD had quite an imagination and he could only guess what JD was thinking playing with a T-rex and cowboy. Buck pulled off the exit he wanted. The traffic was fairly light for a Saturday and Buck pulled into the McDonalds parking lot a few minutes later.
"Mickey D's!" JD yelled in delight and started to un-buckle himself.
"JD!" buck scolded. "What have I told you?"
"Thats a grown up can only do the buckle."
"Right," Buck said and smiled when JD sighed dramatically.
They had discovered JD could un-do the belt when one day he stood up between the seats as they were driving. Chris almost had a cow and yelled at JD. Now they made a new rule that only grown-ups could take off the seatbelt. JD waited patiently for Buck to come to the passenger side of the king cab to let him out. Once released JD scrambled out of the truck and ran to the sidewalk. Buck locked everything up then took JD's hand and walked inside. McDonald's was the boys favorite restaurant and Buck would gladly eat there ever night as well. Chris, of course, said no and Mickey D's was reserved for special occasions.
"Can I get anything I want?" JD asked.
Buck wasn't worried that JD would go overboard. He always ordered the same thing, Hamburger Happy Meal with a chocolate shake. Sometimes he did get a strawberry shake but other than that substitute it was usually the same. They waited in line until they were called.
"Welcome to McDonald's can I take your order?" asked the bored cashier.
"Yeah I want a Hamburger Happy Meal," JD said excitedly. "And a chocolate shake. I want the racecar not the Barbie for a toy. Buck wants a Big Mac combo beefy it."
The young girl look up in confusion and smiled as Buck silently said 'Biggy it'. She gave Buck the total and JD handed her a twenty. She gave JD back the change as she went to fill the order. JD turned to Buck and he held out his hand.
"It cost $10.95," JD said. "So the nickel makes it eleven, and four more dollars makes it fifteen and five makes it twenty."
JD happily counted the money into Buck's hand as a few of the other patrons looked on in astonishment. When their food arrived JD wanted to carry it to the table. Buck compromised and let JD carry his Happy Meal. Buck led them to a booth and JD slid in by the wall. Buck sat next to him and they began to eat.
"What we gonna do today?"
"Well I wanted to go Toys R Us to pick up a video game."
"Yippee!" JD cried. "Then what?"
"It's a surprise."
"I gonna like it?"
"I think so."
JD finished his fries first then started on his hamburger. When he was done he was still hungry and Buck gave him some of his fries. JD wanted desert and Buck gave him the money to get what he wanted. JD scrambled over Buck and walked to the counter. Buck watched as JD waited patiently in line. When it was JD's turn he asked for his two apple pies. The cashier gave JD the change and he stuffed it in his pocket. JD had quite a stash in his piggy bank from pocketing change. Vin would bring back the change first but Chris usually let him keep it. JD came running back with an apple pie in each hand.
Buck thanked him as he took the pie. He lifted JD up and put him in his spot so he wouldn't climb over. JD sat quietly while he ate his dessert.
"So you think Vin will have funny today?"
"Uh huh!" JD said nodding his head. "He loves to ride Peso."
"Yup he does," Buck smiled. "Think Peso will give him a hard time?"
"Nope," JD said shaking his head vigorously. "Peso loves Vin. He's always good for Vin. Not like Chris. I don't think Peso likes Chris."
"You're right I don' think he likes Chris either," Buck laughed.
"Im done," JD announced.
Buck cleared the table then took JD to use the restroom. JD said he didn't have to go but Buck knew if he didn't take him they would get on the road and JD would have to go. Once they were finished Buck took JD back out to the truck and strapped him in. Toys R Us was only a short distance down the road but the traffic had picked up and they were slowed down. Buck didn't mind. They had all day. When they were finally at the store Buck reminded JD to stay with him. JD had a tendency to wander away in the big toy store. They went first to the video game department and Buck picked out 'Grand Theft Auto'. JD spotted Spiderman for the playstation and Buck included that. Last weekend they had taken the boys to see Spiderman. They both wanted to share with the boys something from their childhood. Buck was surprised Chris was a Spidey fan. The movie was great but they weren't sure if the boys enjoyed it until they got home. Vin and JD went out to climb in their favorite tree and they could here the boys yelling 'Take that Green Goblin' or 'I'm you friendly neighborhood Spiderman'.
Buck paid for both games then went walking down the isles with JD. They skipped the aisle with the dolls and girl stuff. JD headed straight for the action figures. JD wandered slowly past when something caught his eye and he ran ahead.
"Look, Buck!" JD yelled and pointed.
Buck could see a huge display of Spiderman action figures. JD asked if he could get one for Vin since he picked the video game. Buck said the game was for both of them and that he could pick an action figure for each of them. JD looked at them all intensely while chewing on his bottom lip. He finally chose two and handed them to Buck. JD had picked the Peter Parker in full Spidey outfit and the shredded one from the end of the movie. Buck held them as JD continued along looking at the toys. They came to the aisle with the jungle gym equipment and JD went and played on the slide. They stayed for a few minutes when Buck glanced at his watch.
"Come on, JD," Buck called. "I want to get to the surprise before two."
"Okay," JD yelled and slid down one more time. "Where we goin'?"
"It's a surprise," Buck smiled.
Buck paid for the toys and handed the bag to JD. They went out to the truck and JD climbed into his seat.
"Can I open mine?"
"Let me see."
JD handed Buck the shredded Spiderman. Buck just wanted to make sure there weren't any small pieces. Luckily there wasn't and he helped JD get the toy out of the plastic. Buck climbed into the drivers seat and started the truck. JD was already amusing himself with his new toy as Buck drove to the surprise. Ten minutes later they were still on the road.
"Are we there yet?"
"Not much further."
Buck was true to his word when a few minutes later he pulled into a parking lot. JD looked out the window and saw a dinosaur and some other animals. There was even a windmill. Buck parked the truck and climbed out. He took JD out then locked the truck.
"Is this a playground?" JD asked as he looked around.
"Sorta," Buck smiled as he led JD to the entrance.
The young girl behind the counter smiled as they walked up. She leaned under the counter and come up with a short gold club for JD and a taller one for Buck. JD took the club but wondered what he was supposed to do with it. Buck told him to pick two different color balls out of the bin. JD chose a neon orange one and a blue one. Buck paid the girl then led JD around to the beginning of the course. He chose the intermediate course figuring JD might be bored with the little kid's one.
"What we gonna do, Buck?"
"This is Putt Putt golf," Buck explained. "You want to take your club and hit the ball into the hole at each of the stations. Now you don't have to hit it very hard. Watch I'll show you."
The first hole was fairly simple. Just a bridge over a little pond. Buck placed the orange ball on the tee and hit it. It rolled over the little bridge and just missed the hole. JD got all excited and wanted to try. Buck showed him where to put the ball and how to hold the club. Buck warned him that he didn't have to hit it very hard. JD took a swing and the ball rolled over the bridge bounced of the back wall and rolled into the hole.
"I did it! I did it!"
"Yup you sure did," Buck scowled.
"Do I win?"
"Well the person with the lowest score after all the holes wins," Buck explained as he tapped his ball into the hole.
Buck showed JD how to fill out the score sheet. JD decided to let Buck do it since the spaces were so tiny and he only knew how to write big. The first few holes were easy and JD had no trouble getting the ball over or through the various traps. As they moved further into the course they traps got harder. Buck noticed there was an attractive woman behind them also with a small boy. She smiled at Buck when she saw him watching her. Buck returned the smile before showing JD what to do for the next hole. This one was going to be tough. You had to hit the ball up hill to go over a mountain but also the ball had to got through a small hole at the top of the incline.
"OK, JD, now you're gonna have to hit the ball pretty hard to get it up the hill."
Buck stepped back and watched JD. Only problem was he didn't step back far enough. JD swung the club hard and hit Buck in the groin. Buck was stunned by the pain and dropped down to his knees clutching his groin.
"Buck!" JD yelled and dropped his club. "I didn't mean it."
Buck couldn't speak to tell JD it was an accident and could see him getting upset.
"It's alright," said a feminine voice. "It was an accident."
Buck was grateful for her coming to his rescue. After a few minutes Buck was able to think clearly. "It's okay Little Bit."
"I sorry," JD said and threw his arms around Buck.
"It was an accident," Buck said patting JD's back as he started to cry. "It was my fault I was standing too close."
"Okay," JD said wiping his eyes. "But why are you talkin' funny?"
"I was trying to make you feel better," Buck said trying to talk normally.
"Can we still play?"
"Sure let just say thank-you to the nice lady."
"Peggy Brooks," she said holding out her hand and Buck shook it. "This is my nephew, Peter."
"Hi," Peter waved.
"Hello," JD said to the older boy. "Want to play with me?"
"Sure," Peter smiled as he helped JD get set up again.
"Thank you," Buck said as he gingerly sat on the bench next to the tee.
"No problem," Peggy said as she joined Buck. "You sure youre okay?"
"Yeah," Buck laughed. "JD's swing wasn't as hard as getting kicked by a horse there."
"Ouch!" Peggy cringed in sympathy. "I guess not."
Buck and Peggy talked and played behind the two boys. Peter was twelve and very patient with the younger JD. Buck commented on that and Peggy explained that Peter had a younger brother and sister. When Peter asked if they could go ahead instead of waiting for them. Buck agreed figuring they wouldn't be that far out of site. JD got all excited since Buck rarely let him out of sight when they were away from the ranch. Peter wasn't as good as Vin but JD was having fun as he followed the older boy. When they got to the next hole Peter looked around.
"This was kinda boring," he said. "We can skip it and go to the castle."
"A real castle?"
"Sorta, it has a drawbridge and everything."
Peter led the way and JD eagerly followed. When they got to the hole Peter said he would go first to show JD what to do. You had to hit the ball as the drawbridge came down so it would go over the bridge and down to the next level. Peter hit the ball and it rolled over the drawbridge.
"Okay, JD, your turn. I'll meet you below."
JD put his ball on the tee as he watched Peter walk down the hill to the back of the castle. JD hit the ball but he missed the bridge. The ball rolled inside the castle and JD wasn't sure what to do. He walked to the castle and looked inside. The ball was nowhere in sight. JD waited for the bridge to go down then crawled inside to get his ball. The castle was big enough for him to stand but just barely. JD looked around but couldn't find anything. He was going to climb back out and look for Peter but his shirt got stuck on something and he couldn't move. JD sighed as he tried to unhook his shirt but he couldn't reach it.
Peter looked up when he heard JD cry for help. He ran back over o the castle and looked around but couldn't find JD. Peter heard a noise from inside the castle and walked over to it.
"What are you doing in there?"
"Looking for my ball."
"Come on out."
"Cant. I stuck."
"OK I'll get help!"
JD could see Peter running away through one of the castle windows. If only he had some of his horses he could pretend he was a knight like the story Buck read at bedtime last night. Maybe he'd ask Buck if they could get a castle for the ranch.
+ + + + + + +
Buck was having a great time with Peggy. He found out she was a librarian in Boulder and was visiting her sister here in Denver. When she found out he worked for the ATF she was impressed. Her dad had worked for the FBI and retired a few years ago. Buck was just about to ask her out when they heard Peter yelling for his aunt.
"What is it, Peter."
"JD's stuck in the castle!"
"He's what!" Buck exclaimed. "How'd that happen?"
"He went in looking for his ball and got stuck."
"Damn! I should have been watching him!"
They followed Peter back to the castle. As they got closer they could see JDs hand sticking out a window waving.
"Hi, Buck!" Only JDs hand was visible but he seemed happy. "Can we have one?"
"One what?" Buck asked as he walked around the castle trying to figure out how to get him out.
"A castle," JD said exasperated. "We could play knights."
"First lets get you out," Buck said. "Can't you come out they way you went in?"
"Nope!" JD laughed. "I stuck."
"Well he doesn't seem very upset," Peggy said laughing.
"He wouldn't," Buck sighed. "Him and Vin get into all sorts of trouble. I better go get the manager."
Buck walked back to the front and explained to the attendant what happened. She laughed and said it happened about once a week. She yelled to someone in the back that she was going to a rescue at the castle. Buck heard the other attendant laughing as he followed her back to the castle.
"What's his name?' she asked.
"Hey JD, my name's Linda can you do me a favor?"
"I need you to duck down a bit."
JD did what she said and Buck smiled as she unlocked the top of the castle and swung it up on its hinges. Buck looked inside to see JD's shirt was stuck on a piece of wood. JD laughed as Buck freed him then lifted him out of the castle.
"This is fun!" JD yelled.
Buck rolled his eyes as he thanked Linda for her help. They finished the game and added up the scores. Peter came in first then JD. Buck was last. JD wanted to play again but Buck said once was enough. Peggy suggested they got to the ice cream parlor just up the block. Both boys heartily agreed and Buck couldn't say no.
"Can I have a the banana sundae?" JD asked as they took a seat.
"Think you can eat it all?"
"Uh huh," JD said nodding his head
They ordered the ice cream and sat talking until it came. When the waitress came back with their order JD got excited and stood up on the seat and bounced. He knocked over a glass of water that spilled on Peggy's lap. Buck yelled at him to sit down as he handed Peggy a bunch of napkins. Peter bit his lip so he wouldn't say anything as he watched JD hunch in the corner. Peter thought grown-ups could be so stupid sometimes. When the water was all wiped up Buck pushed JD's sundae over to him.
"Here ya go JD," Buck said. "And be careful."
"Dont want it," JD sniffed.
"You said you did," Buck said, confused, not realizing JD was upset from being yelled at.
"I want Vin!" JD yelled then started to cry.
"JD, what's wrong?" Buck asked.
"You yelled at him," Peter said. "It was an accident."
"Oh Little Bit, I'm sorry," Buck said as he pulled JD into his lap. "I was startled and I didn't mean it."
"Who's Vin?" Peggy asked.
"It's JD's friend," Buck said. He hadn't told Peggy all of JD's history just that he was JD's foster father.
JD finally stopped crying and ate his ice cream. Peter got JD laughing again and Buck was glad. He hadn't even realized he had yelled at JD.
When the ice cream was finished Peggy said they had to be going. Buck looked at his watch and was surprised at the time. They paid and headed back to the cars. JD was holding Buck's hand and walking slowly. Buck picked JD up and he knew JD would be asleep before they pulled out of the parking lot. When they got back to the lot Peggy handed Peter her keys while she helped Buck with JD. Once JD was secured Buck walked over to the driver's side. Peggy handed him a piece of paper and told him to call. Buck smiled and kissed her on the cheek.
He climbed in the truck. Buck looked in the rearview expecting JD to be asleep but he wasn't. JD was playing with Spiderman and the T-rex. Buck pulled out of the lot and headed home.
"Can I ask ya somefin?"
"You just did," Buck laughed.
"Huh?" JD asked confused.
"Never mind. What did you want to know.?"
"Will Vin be mad cause I played wif Peter today?"
"Nah, Vin won't mind."
"Yeah, I'm sure," Buck answered. "Why?"
"Don't know," JD shrugged. "Don't get to play wif him at school no more."
"I know, JD, but Vin seems to be doing better at his new school."
"Yeah!" JD said excitedly. "He told me he likes it a lot 'cause the teaches don't get mad when he don't know the answer. I just miss him."
"Tell you what," Buck said. "Tomorrow we'll spend all day playing together."
"Yippee!" JD yelled in delight.
After a few minutes everything was quiet and Buck could see JD had fallen asleep. Twenty minutes later Buck pulled into the driveway and parked the truck next to the house. He walked around to the passenger side and quietly opened the door. JD was still asleep and Buck wanted to keep it that way. Getting the seat belt off proved to be the hard part but Buck finally got it off and lifted JD out. JD clutched Spiderman in one hand as Buck grabbed the bags from Toys R Us and walked into the house. Chris came out of the kitchen to see Buck carrying a sleeping JD.
"Wore him out?"
"I think he wore me out."
"Might as well put him with Vin," Chris said and pointed to the small blond asleep on the floor in front of the TV.
Buck smiled and laid JD next to his friend. JD stirred and lifted his head. When he saw Vin he cuddled up to him and went back to sleep.
"That was close," Chris said as he handed Buck a beer.
"Ill say," Buck laughed and took a seat on the couch.
"JD have fun?"
"Oh yeah," Buck smiled. "He decided to crawl inside the castle. He thought it was fun and wanted one for the yard."
"I bet," Chris laughed.
Both men sat on the couch watching the two boys. They were both so different. Vin was wary and cautious when it came to new things. The older boy was quiet and reserved. JD was the complete opposite. He was boisterous and rambunctious. JD was so fully of energy Josiah called him the Energizer Bunny. It was always a pleasure when JD fell asleep.
"There so vulnerable looking when theyre asleep," Buck said. "Hard to imagine anyone ever hurting them."
"Yeah," Chris agreed. "But someone did. Never again, though."
"You got that right," Buck agreed. "Im just glad we get a break when JDs asleep."
"Ill say," Chris laughed. "I have no idea where he gets all his energy."
"Hell keep us young."
"Or drive us to an early grave."
But you want to know something," Buck said seriously. "I wouldnt have him any other way."
"Neither would I," Chris said.
They both sat on the couch drinking their beers and watching two small boys sleep. It was a perfect end to a perfect Saturday.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org