by Flaw

Notes: Follows Mothers and Peaches, but it's not necessary to have read those stories. There may or may not be a sequel, depending on whether I find it pertinent to discuss what happened to the pie.  It has had a long, drawn-out adventure, lasting a couple years now, and does not always like to discuss it. Thank you.

"What'cha doing, Vin?"

It was JD. He was lookin' up at me with those big eyes of his, and I knew that despite how grumpy I'd been actin' I had no right to be yellin' at the kid.

"Jist sittin' here, JD."

"Up in the tree?"

I looked around me, sure looked like I was up in a tree, but I just said, "Yup, up in th' tree."

"What'cha doing up in the tree, Vin?"

I hadn't spent much time with Billy, not since he was livin' with his Ma again, but then, I don't think it was no secret that Mary was just a little bit intimidatin' and I just ain't got the use for kids that Ezra does, even though he'd say something fancy that jist meant he didn't have no excuses when it all come down to it. But I... what'd Ezra say? Die-something.  I don't have much use for Billy, and here JD was doing a fair impression of a little boy.

So I said, "Sittin'." Guess I was feelin' like actin' like a little kid, too.

He nodded, and I was feelin' all low about being rude like that ta 'im. JD ain't never given me cause ta go snippin' at 'im. Now, if it were Chris standin' there...

"Mind if I join ya?" he asked, and I looked at him again. He seemed honest enough, but then, I ain't never had a man want ta sit up in a tree with me before. Especially not right after I'd gone and made a fool a' myself like I done today.

"You kin find a spot, JD, then I guess you kin have it."

And so he started climbing the dang tree.

Didn't get too far though. Seems JD's made out for climbin' jist about as much as he is for flyin' and swimmin'. But he hung on though, and didn't say much fer a while.

I started gettin' suspicious.

Here he was, hangin' off a dang tree, not sayin' a single thing. And fer JD, not sayin' anything's a mighty big thing.

After a while, I started gettin' nervous, and the kid was startin' to get the shakes in his arms.  Hangin' like that, I weren't too surprised.

"Kid," I said, but couldn't think a' what I should say.

"Yeah, Vin?"

I looked at him. "You hang like that long enough you're arm's 're gonna fall off."

"Yeah, Vin."

This time I kept lookin' at him.

"Maybe, you know, you might want to come back inta town?"

I frowned a little, but JD, if he's anything, he's per-sis-tant. That's one of them fancy words I picked up off a' Ez.

"Well, jist like you said in the saloon, when you come runnin' in like you did..."

I glared at him, closest that I could git to a Larabee glare, and I think he knew well enough to leave m' little display alone.

"Well, after you lit outta town, Nettie came lookin' for ya."

I nodded. I figured she'd come.

He nodded too, and then jumped right out a' the tree, and I was thinkin' that he really did like ta pretend he could fly. He started ta head back towards town, but I yelled after him, "What'd she say?"

He stopped and looked back at me, smilin' from ear to ear.

"Nothing much, just that the way you lit outta her place she felt like she was running a darned nursery."

I jumped out a' th' tree, too.

"Don't be lettin' Buck hear you say that," I said, once I done caught up ta him again.

"Heck, Vin, after all I heard outta you today, I think a couple little words'll be just fine."

He was laughing at me, and I wanted to go and get back up in that tree.  Nettie was like to skin me alive after this mornin' and now th' boys had probably gone and told her about the little mess in the saloon.

"I thought ya just went ta dinner, Vin, how come Nettie's in town after ya?"

I felt like m' knees were like to turn to jelly, and here JD was, askin' about m' dinner?

"Guess maybe she weren't too happy with me."

I knew he was lookin' over at me, but I kept on lookin' towards town.

"I thought she wasn't too happy with ya yesterday? On account of the pie?"

"Could be she's still upset about th' pie."

JD stopped walking, and I could tell he was startin' to laugh at me.

"What'd ya do, Vin?" he said, chucklin' at my expense. That's another one of them things Ezra'd say.

But I wasn't saying, and the kid, and all the boys, they didn't need ta know, either. I started walkin' faster. If the boys'd tell Nettie about the thing in the saloon, then maybe Nettie would talk about th' pie?

I was jist about runnin' when I heard JD call out, "Hey, Vin, what's your hurry?"

But I didn't have time ta answer.

I had to go an' see a woman about a pie.