This is a JD ATF LB story for Phyllis' birthday.
Not mine, never will be except in my dreams.
No warnings, not even a hanky needed.
Notes: Our monsoon season as been huge here in New Mexico, in just three short weeks we've gone from severe drought to low or none, depending on where you live. It took about three storms before the frogs started croaking at night and our 'pond' at our country place was full of pollywogs Sunday afternoon. So when LaraMee asked me to write Phyllis a bd story Wed. that's what came to mind.
Also a big huge thanks to Marnie who gave this one a very fast beta. At 2am no less.
Thanks also to LaraMee for her wonderful picture.
"DA!!!!!!!" The very loud five year old voice broke into the peaceful sleep Buck desperately clung to. Just one morning? Is it too much to ask for just one morning sleeping late. The new father felt the vibration of tiny feet running into his room and then his bed shook.
"DA! You gotta get up. There's somethin' in our pond. Chris and Vin went to town and' Ms. Potter sent me outside while she cleaned the kitchen an' I saw somthin' swimmin' in our pond...."
"Breathe, Lit'le Bit."
"I am breathin'. You gotta get up."
"What happened to letting your ol' Da sleep late?"
"It is late Da, I's been up for hours and hours. Its..." JD squinted at the clock. "It's 7:58. That's almost 8 o'clock. Come on Da, you gotta get up and come see our pond."
Buck sighed and forced a second eye open looking at his son. The pond, which the boys had claimed as 'ours' had be created over the last couple of weeks due to the heavy monsoon rains and the diversion dirt dams Chris had build to help protect the pasture nearest the house. The rain water had run down to the little dams and formed ponds, until the water soaked in. Only one remained with water after 24 hours.
"JD weren't you told not to go in the pond by yourself?"
"Didn't!" The small boy plopped down on his bottom holding both feet up for Bucks inspection. "See, no mud. I waited but you gotta come there's T H I N G S in the water, I seen them. Come on DA." This time the little urchin pulled on Bucks hand and arm.
"Okay, okay. You go ask Ms. Potter for a mug of coffee while I'm in the bathroom." As JD raced out of the bedroom Buck called, "be careful carrying it."
"I will Da." Running into the kitchen JD asked, "Ms. Potter can I have a mug of coffee for Da?"
Gloria shook her head, "JD did you wake your father up? I thought you were going to let him sleep late?"
"It is late. I been up for hours and hours." JD placed his hands on his hips Grown ups are so weird. Why didn't they see it was very late?
Gloria poured hot coffee into the large mug. She was careful to fill it only a little over half full. "Here you go JD. Be careful and don't spill any, it's very hot."
"I know. Thanks. " JD walked back to Buck room carefully balancing the mug, the tip of his tongue sticking out between his teeth in concentration.
Slowly setting the mug down on the night stand he knocked on the bathroom door. "Da, I gots your coffee."
"Okay, Lit'le Bit, I'll be out in a second."
JD sat on the bed impatiently shaking his feet waiting. He watched as Buck came out and began dressing. The tall man sat down and was putting on his socks between sips of coffee when JD could stand it no longer. "Da, you're taking too long. We gots to go look now. Hurry."
"I am hurrying kiddo." Finally the tall man stood up, "Okay lets go."
JD flew out of the room and down the hall and out the door before Buck could even drop his mug off in the kitchen.
"Da! Come on!"
Shaking his head and smiling at Gloria, Buck grabbed a roll and went outside. "Okay, lets go look at the pond."
Racing ahead JD screeched to a halt at the edge of the pond. Pointing he said, "See Da, all those wiggly things? Where'd they come from? What are they? Can we catch some? Can I touch one?"
Buck smiled at his son, wondering if he had ever been as young and curious as JD was. Despite the hardships of losing his mother and living on the streets with Vin, JD was the very definition of innocence.
Kneeling down Buck gathered his son in his arms. "They're pollywogs, baby frogs."
"They don't look like frogs, they ain't got no legs."
"Haven't got any legs. No, they don't yet, but as they grow they lose their tails and grow legs and come out of the water."
"But how'd they get there, Da?"
"Well, um, the mama frogs lay eggs in the mud and the next time it rains the eggs hatch." Buck wasn't sure that was the way of it, but it had to be close, close enough to satisfy JD anyway.
"Can I catch some pollywogs, Da?"
"They have to stay in the water, JD, or they'll die."
The little boy's face dropped, "Oh. Could we put some in a jar with the water, Da? Would they not die then?"
"Maybe. I'll get a jar from Ms. Potter. You stay here. Out of the water." Buck pointed down to where they were standing. "Stay!"
"I will Da," and he promptly sat down.
"I'll be right back."
JD grinned as Buck walked away. Then he started taking off his shoes and socks. Stuffing his sock inside his shoes. He just knew catching pollywogs entailed wading in the muddy water.
Buck came back with a clear container and an old fish net. He sat down beside his son. "You ready to catch some pollywogs?"
"Yeah," JD answered enthusiastically. Then he frowned, "How?"
Buck wiggled his toes in his old deck shoes he'd changed into when he grabbed the jar. "Well, first we put some water in the jar and then we scoop up the pollywogs with the net."
"Okay." The little boy picked up the jar and carefully waded into the water. He loved the way the mud squished up between his toes. He wasn't afraid because his Da was right behind him.
"Tip the opening into the water and let it flow in until it's almost full."
JD did as Buck instructed watching the brown water flow into the container. Then lifting the three quarters full jar he asked, "Is this enough Da?"
"Yeah, that's perfect. Now we take the net and scoop it up through the water like this," Buck let JD help him scoop up what they could in the net. The little boy squealed with delight as he watched the wiggling creatures in the net.
Buck carefully emptied the net into the jar. "I think that's enough. Now be careful getting out of the water."
Okay Da, but they's hard to see."
"Well, when we get back to the house we'll .....JD be careful."
But the warning came too late. JD's foot slipped in the mud and down he went with a wet sucking splash. Buck set the jar down on dry land and turned to reach for his son.
JD sat waist deep with mud, water and green things dripping off his hair. He looked up at Buck with big surprised eyes. "I fell."
Laughing Buck nodded. "That you did Lit'le Bit. Want a hand getting up?"
Splashing his hands down in the water and laughing the little brunet pushed him self up, "Nope, I can do it."
Buck shook his head at the mess. "As I was saying we'll take the hose and put some clean water in with the 'wogs so we can see them better and we'll take the hose to you too before you get Ms. Potter's clean floor all dirty. But, JD, you have to understand that we have to turn them back into the pond before dark. 'Cause if we don't they'll die and you don't want that."
JD frowned; he didn't like the idea of turning them loose. "But, Da...."
"You want them to grow up to be frogs don't you? We have to turn them loose, but you can watch them all day and show them to Vin when he gets back."
"Okay, Da. Can I come visit them tomorrow?"
"You bet you can. Grab your shoes and lets get to the house before you turn into a mud statue."
Laughing JD picked up his shoes and started running, "I ain't gonna turn into a statue, I run too fast."
"That you do, boy; that you do." Buck followed as fast as he could carrying the net and the almost full jar.
Once at the house he got the hose and made JD stand on the cement while he hosed him off. The mud ran in rivers and the little boy giggled turning so the water spray hit him on all sides. "Now the jar, Da, now the jar."
Buck carefully added clear water to the dirty until they could clearly see a dozen pollywogs swimming in the gallon jar. Once that was done the rogue took the jar and set it on a table on the porch in the shade. Turning to his dripping son he said, "Now, head inside and change."
The little boy started stripping off his wet clothes and ran naked past his father and an astonished housekeeper to his room laughing all the way.
"My goodness," Gloria said attempting not to laugh.
"Sorry Gloria. He slipped and fell in the mud and I rinsed him off here on the sidewalk. When I told him to go get something dry on I didn't think he'd strip out here."
"It's okay Buck, that boy doesn't have anything I haven't seen before besides, he saved me some trouble by taking off the dripping stuff here. This way I can just throw it in the washer without mopping a trail to his room. Was your hunt successful?"
"Yep, got around a dozen and they look to be at different stages of development. JD and Vin will have a ball watching them."
"They will at that. I remember when my two would bring home pollywogs when they were little. One time David put them in my iced tea glass. I almost had a heart attack when I looked into the glass I was about to take a drink from and it looked back at me. David was very good the rest of the day, just to avoid making me even angrier then I was. Come to think of it, I wasn't that angry, just surprised." Gloria chuckled to herself as she gathered wet clothes wringing them out as she went.
Buck sat down and smiled at the jar. "Thanks, little critters for making my boys day."
JD came running out the door and sat down on the other side of the jar. He put his chin in his hands and watched as close as he could get to the jar. "Da, that one's got legs and hardly any tail at all, but that one doesn't have any legs at all and lots of tail."
"Yep, I'm guessing that one will be a frog before the other. Oh look, JD, here comes Chris and Vin. You stay here until the truck stops."
JD stood and ran, the boy never just waked, to the steps. Jumping up and down he waited excitedly until Vin was out of the Ram. "Vin, look, I gots a jar of pollywogs."
Vin frowned, "What?"
Vin climbed the steps and JD led him over to the jar. Chris followed behind and looked up at the other man. "I thought you were sleeping in this morning."
"Yeah, well, that didn't figure into JD's plans. We went 'fishing' instead."
"I see that."
"Look Chris, Da an' me gots pollywogs. But we have to take them back tonight," he added solemnly. "Cause we don't want them to die. Right Da?" He asked looking at his father.
"That's right, Lit'le Bit."
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The rest of the day the two boys checked on the pollywogs every few minutes spending time they'd normally be watching TV watching the little critters swimming around. As the sun sank lower in the western sky Buck and JD carefully carried the jar back to the pond.
JD was subdued during the walk but he tried very hard to be 'big' about turning them loose.
Buck stopped at the edge of the water and held the jar down to JD's level. "You want to say goodbye, JD?"
"Unhuh. Bye little frogs, you grow up to be big frogs and eat lots and lots of 'skeeters." JD reached up and patted the jar. "Now, Da, turn them loose now."
Buck quickly tipped the jar into the water and let the contents flow out. Then he picked up the five year old and carried him back toward the house.
"You know what, Da?"
"This was the bestest day. Thank you for catchin' the little frogs for me."
Buck smiled, "It was the bestest day for me, too, JD, and I'm real proud of you for understanding about turning them loose."
JD snuggled his head on his father's shoulder. "That's ok Da, I 'membered, we can catch more tomorrow," the boy said with a grin.
Rolling his eyes, Buck groaned as he walked. Just one morning, just one, to sleep late.