RNLI Alternate Universe
Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep `em...damnit!
Thanks to Katy for RNLI
Summary: Crew Seven share something special
My thanks to Blackraptor for giving my stories a home.
"MAC! Will you come on!"
JD hollered back to Buck's greyhound while he watched the dog snuffling around in some bushes. This morning, a simple half-hour walk had taken almost an hour as the daft mutt visited every tree, bush and lamppost he passed.
JD spun around to see a car pulled into the kerb and a man...he guessed, in his fifties...with his head poked through the open window.
"Hello," JD smiled.
"Hi there, would you know where the Lighthouse Hotel is, please?"
Hearing an American accent wouldn't normally faze the youth, with Four Corners being a tourist town, but...in November? He leaned on the sill of the open window and pointed.
"Yep, it's up this road...first right then second left. It's really nice, it overlooks the sea."
The man smiled, gratefully. "Thanks kid, we've been travelin' all day and I got a little turned around. Kinda small these roads, huh?"
Nodding, JD straightened. "Yeah, they are, aren't they?" He stared at the weary pair in the car. "You look tired, have you eaten yet?"
The man shook his head. "Nah, like I said, been travellin' since we got in last night. We were hopin' to get breakfast when we booked in."
"Good idea. If you're looking later for a good home cooked meal, back this way and to the right is a pub called the Lifeboat Inn. We serve great food, and it's a really friendly place to go when you're from out of town."
"You said 'we'...is it your place?"
"No...but I live there...which reminds me, I'd better get back before Buck goes all `big brother' on me, I've been way too long as it is." He glanced at the lady in the passenger seat. "It was nice to meet you."
"Same here," came the reply. "Maybe we'll see ya'll later? Hey...I didn't catch your name."
"It's JD," he answered. "And I hope so." JD waved as he walked away from the now moving car. He scanned for Mac, shaking his head. "Oh, now you decide to run on ahead," he huffed, chasing after the greyhound.
"Good Lord, boy...I was just about to call out Search and Rescue!"
"Blame that daft dog of yours," JD complained to Buck, as he hung up his coat and scarf, "He was like a dog on a mission, today."
"A mission?" Buck asked.
"Yeah, to water every bush, tree and lamppost from here to Helston!"
"Helston?" Buck grunted questioningly as he lifted a heavy beer crate up onto the bar.
JD grinned as he went into the kitchen to wash his hands. "Well...it felt like we'd gone that far with how slow he was going."
Buck laughed. "I've told you ten million times, kid...don't exaggerate!" He ducked the towel that just missed his head and started unloading the bottles.
Later that evening, Crew Seven were relaxing at the pub. JD and Vin were playing pool and Nathan, Josiah, Ezra and Chris, darts. It was a cold night and only a few regulars had braved the frigid air to enjoy tasty, hot food and a good pint. The outer door opened and the seven men instinctively glanced across. JD placed down his pool cue and, smiling, strolled over to the pair who had just walked in.
"Hi...you found us."
The man extended his hand. "Sure did. I'm Matt...Matt Browning, and this is my wife Ellie."
JD shook Matt's hand, smiling at Ellie as he did so. He turned, pointing to his friends.
"These are my friends. That's Chris...Josiah...Nathan... Ezra...Vin..." JD then pointed toward the bar. "And that's Buck...he owns this pub."
Matt and Ellie nodded to them all, approaching Buck to shake hands. "So you're JD's big brother, huh?"
Buck took the offered hand, smiling toward JD, his grin widening at the perplexed look on the boy's face as JD frowned at Matt's comment, not able to figure out where the man had drawn that conclusion from. Rounding the bar, Buck draped his arm across JD's shoulders, playfully leaning heavily on the youth, ignoring JD's grunt, while maintaining a look of pure innocence.
"So...Matt, you sound like you're a long way from home. What brings you to these parts? And how come you've already met my..." he squeezed JD's shoulder, "...'little brother' here?" Buck guided them to a seat near the roaring log fire as he waited for an answer. Ellie spoke while she slipped off her coat, hat, gloves and scarf.
"My Aunt Clarice passed away. Mom is in her eighties and unable to travel far these days, so Matt and I are representing the family from the States' side, at her funeral tomorrow."
"Clarice Bircher?" Josiah asked, standing and walking toward the now seated pair.
Ellie nodded. "Yeah, do...did you know her?"
Josiah shook hands with the couple. "Father Josiah Sanchez. I will be taking the service tomorrow. My sympathies to you both, she was a wonderful lady."
"Aww...Clarrie..." JD sighed. "Wow, you came all that way for her."
Matt nodded. "Sure." He smiled. "We heard she was quite a character, though we haven't seen her since we got married."
"Oh, she was," Nathan agreed. "Her death was unexpected; she always seemed so fit and full of life. If it's any consolation, she went very peacefully...in her sleep."
"That's good to know," Ellie said, a sad smile playing across her lips. "Maybe...while we eat...you could tell us a little about her." On cue, Inez appeared with menus, slapping at Buck, causing him to release JD and rub his arm.
"Where are your manners?" She frowned at him, turning to smile at the couple. "My name is Inez. May I recommend the steak and kidney pie? I made it myself."
"Sounds good," Matt nodded. "Does that come with fries?"
"Cheese and leek mash with garden peas and gravy," she informed them.
Looking to his wife, Matt nodded. "Make that two, please."
"What can I get you folks to drink?" Buck asked.
"I'll have a scotch on the rocks and Ellie will have..."
"Sherry," Ellie smiled. "It was Aunt Clarice's favorite drink, I believe."
Buck nodded. "Yeah, she loved an occassional glass of sherry. I'll go get your drinks."
Games abandoned, the six friends took up seats close to the couple.
"Long trip?" Chris asked.
"We've been up almost twenty four hours," Matt nodded. "We sure will sleep good tonight."
"What time is the funeral?" Ezra inquired.
"Two in the afternoon," Josiah answered, smiling at JD and Vin as they brought over more drinks and joined them. Buck brought Matt's and Ellie's drinks and a malt for himself and completed the group as he took a chair over to join them.
"Will you fly back after the funeral?" JD asked.
Matt shook his head. "Naw...we have a meeting on Thursday morning with regards to her estate...then we fly back on Friday."
"That's our only regret," Ellie explained, "we'll miss Thanksgiving with our boys and their families."
The look between JD and Buck was electrifying, each knowing what the other was thinking. Buck gave a slight nod and JD beamed at him. Food arrived and was consumed with relish, while stories about Clarice and her love of all things orange and her affection for the lifeboat crews that had served in Four Corners, were told and enjoyed. Before everyone had realized, it was time to close up. Matt and Ellie bundled up before addressing the group and heading back to their hotel.
"You guys are the best," Matt proclaimed. "We've had such a great evenin'. The food was awesome and it's been real good hearin' about Aunt Clarice with such affection." He called back to Inez who was quietly clearing up. "Whatever you have on the menu tomorrow, honey, save two plates...we'll be here."
Inez smiled."Consider it my pleasure. We will see you tomorrow, then."
Locking up after the couple had left, in perfect synchronization, Buck and JD faced the other five and grinned.
"Oh, oh," Vin muttered, "I know that look."
"Good, saves time." Buck said, winking at JD. "Now...listen up, we need your help."
Four Corners' market was top of the list for JD, Vin and Ezra on the Thursday morning. The funeral had gone smoothly the previous day and the seven crewmen and the Brownings had spent another enjoyable evening together, mostly reminiscing about Clarice and the family Matt and Ellie had left behind in the US. Armed with inventories from JD's internet investigations, the three split up and sought out the ingredients on each of their lists, finally converging a half hour later.
JD nodded, satisfied with a job well done. He glanced at one of the items Vin was carrying.
"Good Lord, JD," Ezra remarked, "was that a word, or an attempt to clear your throat?"
The youth pointed to the orange item. "How can anyone eat that?"
"Hey, don't knock it 'til you try it," Vin suggested. "Pumpkin can be really tasty."
JD's face reflected his thoughts on how slimy it felt when he hollowed one out this Halloween. "If you say so."
Vin winked. "Trust me...you wait until Buck's finished with it."
"Gentlemen, is our business here concluded?" Ezra watched his two companions nod. "Then, may I suggest we return, post haste, to our Chef du Jour as time is of the essence."
JD nodded, catching the gist of the words. Vin just scowled. Welsh being his first language, he had enough trouble with English occasionally, never mind French. The trio made their way back to the Lifeboat Inn.
"Are you sure?" Chris grunted as he stretched to straighten the green, synthetic, spiky branches of a rather large Christmas tree.
"Positive," Buck called back from the kitchen. "It's like the start of Christmas for them." He chuckled, "The kid's gonna love all this."
Josiah nodded as he passed Chris more ornaments, now that the lights were successfully working. "I think you'll find this is as big to the Americans as Christmas is to us."
Nathan looked up from the sea of decorations he was sitting amongst. "Well, judging by the lists JD handed out earlier, there's enough food consumed to keep them going until Christmas."
A shriek, followed by a string of Spanish expletives and Buck's mumbled apologies, caused the men to chuckle. Chris shook his head.
"Sounds like the cooking's going well."
They all looked up as JD, Vin and Ezra came in from outside.
"Wow...looking good," JD smiled, watching as Vin and Ezra took their bags through to the kitchen, only to return hastily.
"Do you think Buck's safe with Inez and a kitchen full of knives?" Vin asked, thumbing back toward the kitchen.
"For certain," Ezra answered, "Buck loves to live precariously."
They all laughed.
"Drink, anyone?" JD asked, heading toward the kitchen with his own bags while memorizing the requests being tossed at him. He poked his head around the kitchen door to see Buck and Inez sharing a look that JD was getting used to, these days.
"Try not to kill each other before the food's prepared," he grinned, seeing the opposite emotion playing on the pair's faces as he walked in and put down his bags. "Okay if I prepare some drinks, Buck?" JD continued.
"Yeah, go for it, kid," the genial landlord smiled.
"Either of you want anything?" the youth asked.
"May I have a Port and lemon?" Inez requested.
"Coming up," JD nodded. "Buck...Guinness? "
"I do believe I will...thanks, kid."
JD nodded, again. "Oh, and no kissy-face, either...we're on a deadline!" He laughed as he dodged a dishtowel before heading back to the bar.
That evening, Matt and Ellie were all packed for their return home the next day, and were on their way to the pub for one last meal with their new friends. Entering the inn, the pair gasped at the vision before them.
"Happy Thanksgiving! " the seven men, Inez and several new faces called out.
"Oh my!" Ellie cried out, instantly tearing up.
Helping them with their coats, and pushing a glass of egg nog into each of their hands, JD guided them over to the gathered friends. "This is our family," JD pointed, as the three approached, introducing Orin and Evie Travis...Mary and Billy had gone to her parents' for a few days, Nettie, Rain and Casey. A little overawed, Matt looked around him at the decorations, Christmas tree, and twinkling lights that shimmered and winked just about everywhere His eyes finally focused on the set table full of food, plates, glasses and crackers.
"You...you did all this...for us?"
Buck joined JD, wrapping an arm around the youth's shoulders while glancing affectionately between JD, Inez and the five men. "We sure did," he said in his best American accent. They all laughed.
JD jumped to life, snatching up the remote for the huge TV. "Ooh, and look!" With a click, the screen lit up, as did Matt's eyes.
"Football!" the American cried out. "Awesome, dude, now it really does feel like Thanksgivin'! "
Ellie rolled her eyes. "Doesn't it just!"
Laughing, Buck gestured toward the chairs and table. "Shall we?"
Once seated, Josiah said the blessing as they all joined hands.
"This Thanksgiving let those of us who have much and those who have little gather at the welcoming table of the Lord. At this blessed feast, may rich and poor alike remember that we are called to serve one another and to walk together in God's gracious world. With thankful hearts we praise our God who like a loving parent denies us no good thing.
"Today and every day, it pleases God for us to sit as brothers and sisters as we share the bounty of the earth and the grace God has placed in each blessed soul. For this we all give thanks and praise to our loving and gracious God.
"O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen."
"Amen," they all chorused.
"Dig in!" Buck encouraged.
"Can I just say..." Matt began. They all looked at him. He took a tearful Ellie's hand in his. "...This is one of the most wonderful things anyone's ever done for us. You've made us feel real welcome, here." He smiled at Ellie, then at everyone gathered. "We came here havin' lost someone dear...but we return home with wonderful memories and thirteen new friends. Thank you. I consider it divine intervention Buck's dog kept JD out longer that mornin' we arrived, 'cause if he hadn't," he glanced fondly at JD, "we'd never have met ya'll. I have a sayin' I'm fond of...'Mi casa, su casa'...my home is your home. Anytime you guys wanna visit the States, you be sure to look us up. And we'll show you some good ol' Texan hospitality."
Chris raised his glass of wine. "To family and friends."
"Family and friends," they all toasted.
The air was filled with the sounds of eating, drinking and laughter and a soft football commentary from the TV playing quietly on the far wall.
Scooping a mouthful of food into his mouth, JD frowned as he tasted it. "What's this again?" his voice broke through the happy din.
"Pumpkin!" Ezra and Vin answered in unison.
"Oh..." JD paused while he digested the food and pondered the reply, slowly grinning and bobbing his head. "...It's good!"