An Alternate "Little Britches" Universe
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Note: This is a direct sequel to Christmas Surprise, these stories were written in 2009. Betaed and edited by Sue M.
JD opened his eyes, it was Christmas, he should have been excited, but somehow he didn't feel excited. Looking across the room, in the warm glow of the nightlight he could see Vin, he was awake, lying on the bed, watching JD.
You awake? he whispered.
Yeah, JD admitted.
It's real early, Vin told him, But Dad said we could open the presents Santa gave us as soon as we wake up and he'll come get us when he wakes up.
JD just looked at him sadly.
What's the matter, ya sick?
I told Santa not to leave me any presents.
Vin sat up. Why'd ya do that?
JD sighed and shrugged.
Buck'll come home, Dad told you, remember? He'll be home at New Years, that's next week. He called you last night.
JD still looked sad.
Well Santa didn't listen to you, see. Vin pointed to the end of the bed.
JD looked, and at the end of the bed, there was his stocking, bulging with gifts. Santa hadn't been able to grant his request. Well, he was meant to bring presents, not people. Resigned to the fact that his beloved Da wasn't going to make it home for Christmas after all, JD sat up and pulled the stockings to him, mirroring Vin. In it were small toys and games, new marker pens, socks, books and candy. Eventually, caught up in a game of fencing with paper lasers, JD's woes were temporarily forgotten.
Chris had set his alarm for six; he knew the boys wouldn't last much past that. Even JD had seemed excited, especially after Buck had called. Because Buck wasn't there in person, he rolled over and cursed loudly. He wasn't cursing at anyone in particular, because it was no one's fault, no one except the Taliban and much as he'd like to get his hands on them he couldn't personally do anything about them. The troops in Afghanistan were being hit by a new kind of IED (improvised explosive device) that they couldn't defuse. Two American and one Italian disposal officer had been killed trying, along with five other men, and a dozen others injured. The last man to try and diffuse one, a British officer, had survived and was not only able to describe the device in detail, but had snapped a picture of it. No one had ever seen anything like it, no one except one ex-Denver PD bomb squad officer, now an ATF special agent. When he saw the report that circulated to all federal agencies, Buck had recognised it instantly. It was almost identical to a device he'd once spent fourteen hours defusing back when he was in the DPD. Devised by a disaffected physics professor, it had proved quite a challenge. He sent what he knew about the design to the Pentagon immediately. They in turn contacted the ATF, who asked him to travel to Afghanistan to instruct bomb disposal officers in person. Hands on training was always considered the most effective, and when lives were at stake, it paid to get the best available.
Buck had hesitated, he didn't want to leave JD and his family over Christmas, he was due to ship out the week after Thanksgiving and not return until the 2nd of January. It was only their second Christmas together, the adoption had gone through, they were an official family now. The boys were already excited, and were enthusiastically going though the 'wish book', otherwise known as the Toys R Us catalogue, and marking their favourites. In the end though, Buck knew he had to go, men were dying and he could help to stop that. He would miss Christmas with his son, but at least he'd see him again. He hated to think of children waiting for a daddy who would never come home again, not if he could do something about it.
Chris rolled out of bed and headed for the shower. After that he'd see if the boys were awake, not that he doubted they were. After that he had to get them dressed, see to the stock, film the boys opening their gifts (Buck would want to see it when he got back), get the three of them some breakfast and then start on lunch, before the rest of the team arrived at noon.
Their game of fencing over, Vin had sat back on his bed to look at his new book, the Eye Witness Book of Horses. JD was about to do the same, his book was about dinosaurs, but instead, he got off the bed and headed to the door.
We promised not to go to the den until Chris came, Vin reminded.
I gotta go, JD explained, squirming.
Outside, he padded to the bathroom, did what he needed to do, and then headed back to the bedroom. He was about to go in when he had a thought. What if Santa had granted his request, and given him presents as well? He tiptoed past Chris' room to Buck's. Very gently, he opened the door and peeked in. There it was, his father's room. Dark, the bed still neatly made just as Mrs Potter, had left it the day he left. Nothing had changed, no one had been in there his father wasn't home. With a deep sigh he eased the door shut. Behind him, he could hear Chris' shower running. He'd be in to get them up soon. Turing to go back to bed, JD spotted something by the front door, something that shouldn't be there, something that hadn't been there when he went to bed. Something that wasn't a present. In the gloom of the nightlight in the corridor, he stared at it. Without being aware of it, he began to walk toward it, his was heart beating so fast and loud he was sure everyone in the house could hear it. Now he was in front of the thing. It was a backpack, dark blue with grey edges, just like the one his father had carried when he left. Leaning down JD lifted the tag hanging off it; he was a very good reader and had no difficulty reading his father's name. His heart soared!
No longer caring how much noise he made, JD turned and flew to the den. If his Da wasn't in bed, there were only two places he could be, the den or the kitchen and JD's own special logic determined, since his beloved Da was a gift from Santa and the Christmas tree was in the den, that was the place he had to be. Bursting into the room he was greeted by the dogs, who came up to him happily, tails wagging, nudging his hand for attention, but just this once he ignored them. He froze where he was, mouth open, tears welling up. His Da was home.
Buck had fallen asleep. He'd looked in on the boys when he got home, standing in the doorway and watching them for almost half an hour, before liberating the dogs from the kitchen and slipping back into the den. He'd expected Chris to appear, the man was a notoriously light sleeper, but he hadn't. Clearly looking after two boys on a pre-Christmas high had tired him out. He woke when the dogs began to fuss. Looking across the room, he saw what was getting them all excited, his son, standing there in his Scooby-doo pyjamas, eyes wide, and tears running down his cheeks.
Buck shot out of the recliner and ran across the room. Even as he approached, JD raised his arms and was lifted up and swung around in seconds.
Merry Christmas JD! Buck cried.
Da! was all JD said, he was so happy he couldn't manage any more; he just wrapped his arms and legs around his father with no intention of ever letting go.
I love you so much baby boy, Buck told him, as he kissed the top of his son's head.
Finally, JD was able to say more. Love you too. With that, he planted a big wet sloppy kiss on Buck's cheek while his father spun them both around, dogs yapping happily at their feet. It must have been a good few minutes, before the two of them noticed they had an audience. Chris and Vin, alerted by the dogs, had run out to see what was up. They were standing there, Vin in his pyjamas, Chris with a towel wrapped around his waist, shampoo still in his hair, and smiles as wide as the Grand Canyon on their faces.
See Vin, JD began, I told Santa I didn't want presents I wanted my Da, and he got me both! Santa is the best!
Buck threw his head back and laughed as he walked to the doorway and accepted the welcome home embraces of the rest of his family, never once letting go of JD.
How come you're back so soon? Chris asked.
Buck winked. Tell you later.
They had planned to see to the stock before opening presents, but since they were all there, it seemed pointless to wait. So, once Chris had some clothes on, they began to unwrap gifts. JD finally let go of Buck as he tore open his presents.
So, Chris began. How come you're here?
Buck smiled. If the mountain can't come to Mohammad, Mohammad must go to the mountain.
Chris frowned. Isn't that the wrong way around?
I was waiting for the next batch of disposal officers to come to Kabul, they were Marines. There wasn't enough space on any transport got all of them to get to me until the end of December, so since there is only one of me, I looked around for a way to get to them. The Air Force gave me a seat on a C120 and the Brits brought me back on a Chinook. And do you know what?
That pilot, the one who got me back in time to catch a flight on the 23rd, his name was Squadron Leader Nicholas Clauson.
Chris laughed. Seriously?
Swear to God, his nickname was 'Santa'.
Da! JD squealed. Lookit! He ran over carrying a parcel. It's for you.
Well what do you know; I wonder who it's from? Buck asked, examining the parcels with exaggerated excitement.
JD rolled his eyes. It's from me, open it, open it!
That was how it was, Buck was back and all was right with the world on the Larabee-Wilmington Ranch on Christmas morning.