Goodbye Hello

by KT

AU: Little Britches ATF – Little Ambassadors Series

Disclaimer: Not ours, never were, never will be


Part 3: Family

As Chris woke, he was amazed he’d fallen asleep toward the end of the flight. They had left not long after noon, and once the UK was out of sight, to pass some of the time, the boys settled down with their DS games, while the men plugged into a movie.

Rubbing a hand over his face, Chris figured that the excitement of the airport incident, and the physically hard work of packing and leaving combined with the draining, emotional strain of their departure must have taken a bigger toll on him than he realised. Glancing around, it was evident by three other snoozing forms that he wasn't the only one, either. Ezra’s upgrade allocated them two pairs of seats, giving each boy a window seat next to their Dads. Wilmington could sleep through anything, and often had, but would wake instantly and silently to the slightest tap anywhere near his head. It had served them well on more than one occasion. Chris reached forward and tapped Buck on the shoulder.

“What’s up?” Buck whispered.

“They’re gonna serve a snack soon, landing in just over an hour,” Chris told him succinctly.

“Oh, right.” Buck rubbed his eyes, and then looked around. “Good.”

Chris turned to the contorted bundle of arms and legs in the seat next to him. “Vin,” he called softly.

The small coil began to unwind; it never did take much to wake Vin.

“Hey there,” Chris greeted as bleary blue eyes blinked owlishly at him.

“Are we there?” Vin asked looking out of the window and seeing only clouds.

“Not yet but soon; time to hit the head and have something to eat.”

Vin nodded and finished unwinding as Chris stood up so they could both head toward the toilet. As they edged down the aisle, Chris couldn’t help but feel sorry for Buck. JD took a lot more waking than Vin.

In contrast to Vin, who had curled himself up into a ball in the seat. JD was slumped in a boneless heap and would surely have slid off the seat if it weren’t for the seat belt.

“Come on Li’l bit, time to wake up,” Buck called as loudly as he dare. There was no response. “JD,” he called again. He gave his boy a little shake, nothing. Knowing this was going to be a long one, Buck unbuckled the seat belt and lifted his son up onto his lap, facing him. “Come on JD, time to wake up.”

JD’s face scrunched up into an annoyed frown.

“JD I know you can hear me, time to wake up.”

“Noooo,” JD complained.

“Come on, food’s coming.” After all, Buck figured, the way to a man’s heart is though his stomach.

Weary, hazel eyes opened a crack.

“You hungry?” Buck asked.

“Yeah.” JD was almost always hungry.

“Well okay then, we have to take a bathroom break, then we can eat by which time we’ll be almost home.”

JD looked around, and shrugged. “Okay.”

Taking JD to the bathroom on a plane was always a challenge. He was too short to work the door on his own and the cubical was too small for him and Buck to fit into together. Their solution was to leave the door open while Buck stood there blocking the doorway to give JD privacy and reassurance.

The cabin crew were already serving a light meal as Buck and JD made their way back to their seats.

“We have a sandwich choice,” the flight attendant told them. “Chicken salad or cheese and pickle.”

Both boys chose cheese and pickle. JD picked his up then paused.

“Da?”

“’eah?” Buck was enjoying his chicken sandwich.

“Can we get Branston in Denver?”

“Dunno, but I expect we can get it someplace. You can get almost everything these days.” He glanced down at his son; JD was looking at the dark sauce oozing from his sandwich. “Hey. It’s all going to be okay.”

JD looked up at his father.

“Come on eat up, enjoy. We’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow – right?”

JD forced a smile. “Right.”

Chris and Vin had heard the whole conversation. Chris looked over at Vin.

“You okay?”

Vin nodded, then took a big bite out of his last cheese and pickle sandwich for while, with relish.

<><><><><><><>

As the plane began to descend, lights on the ground became more visible, fascinating the boys whose faces were now glued to the windows. Caught up in the excitement, as they got even lower the men were also leaning in and watching. When the wheels touched the ground both boys gave a small cheer.

“We’re home!” JD exclaimed, almost taking Buck out as a little fist hit the hovering brunet square in the jaw. "Oops, sorry Da."

The boys’ excitement seemed to be infectious, as the passengers filed off the plane and headed for Border Control. Arriving mid-evening meant border control was busy, and they were forced to join a long, snaking queue. While impatient to get home and see their family and animals, the boys settled down to wait, chatting about all the things they were going to do now they were back. The couple in front of them couldn’t help but overhear.

“Sounds like you folk have been way for a while,” the man commented.

“Almost a year,” Buck told him. Seeing the quizzical look he elaborated. “We’ve been working in the UK.”

“May I ask what line of work you are in?”

“Law enforcement, we were seconded to the British police, mostly the Met in London,” Chris told him as they all shuffled forward a yard of so.

“You’re cops?”

“Fed'ral agents,” JD told him, as he came to stand beside his father.

“ATF,” Vin added with pride.

“Wow, so you boys have family waiting to see you?” the woman asked.

“Yeah.” JD held up his hand and began to tick off on his fingers. “There’s Uncle Ezra, Uncle Josiah, Uncle Nathan and Aunty Rain and we’s gonna have to get the dogs from the special dog airport and then when we get home we get to see Peso and Beau and Pony again.”

“Horses,” Buck clarified.

“Ah, well,” the woman looked at her husband and then back at the family. “I reckon you guys need to be moving, so why don’t you go ahead of us.”

“Oh no…” Buck began.

“That's real kind of you,” Chris told them. “If you're sure?”

“Quite sure,” the man told him, making space for them to move up one place.

They were now behind a man in a suit, who was engrossed with the e-mails on his phone. He looked up when the family's benefactor called to him from behind them.

“Why don’t you let the guys and their sons through? They’ve been away for a year, boys are eager to see their folks again.”

The suited man looked down at the boys, then shrugged and stepped aside and waved them past, before returning to his phone.

“What are you doing?” Buck hissed at Chris.

“If people want to let us past I am not going to stop them. Now shut up and be charming – you’re good at that, well - the charming part anyway.”

In this way, with Buck in full charm mode, Chris being as charismatic as he could be, JD being his normal chatty self and Vin giving people the occasional ‘big eyes’ look, they progressed up the line. By the time they reached the front their ‘story’ had grown, but they were now just yards from a family reunion, so no one was complaining. The Border Protection officer who checked their passports didn’t even seem to notice how long they had been away, or if he did, he didn’t care; he just did his job and sent them on their way.

With all the earlier excitement at Heathrow, the baggage handlers had been asked to get their bags off the plane, in case they had to miss the flight, but when it became clear that they were going to make it; the bags were put back on. Last on equals first off, so they only had to wait a minute or two at the carrousel before their bags appeared. In no time the family, were headed for the exit.

“There!” Vin shouted suddenly. “I see them!”

“Da?” JD asked.

“Go for it kid.”

With that, and a nod to Vin from Chris, both boys took off at a run to meet their family. Scooting around and between the other passengers, they flew into the waiting arms of the kneeling adults.

“We missed you,” JD exclaimed as he was enveloped by Josiah and Ezra.

“The feeling was mutual,” Ezra told him.

Josiah gave him another squeeze. “We’ve been counting the days.”

Vin didn’t say anything as he hung on to Nathan and Rain, even wrapping his legs around Nathan as his uncle stood.

“How about a little sharing?” Josiah asked as he stood next to Nathan and with JD in his arms.

Needing no second bidding, the boys both leaned over to the other man, transferring effortlessly. Of course Ezra had to have his chance as well, while the men all greeted the others with bear hugs and hugs and kisses for Rain.

Vin was now riding piggy back on Josiah and JD was sitting high on Ezra’s shoulders. “So,” Chris began, as they finally separated. “how are we doing this?” He pointed to the luggage.

“Two of you, with most of the luggage, are coming with Rain and me,” Nathan began. “The other two are going in the Jag with Ezra and Josiah’s going to pick up the dogs – he’ll need all the paperwork.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Buck grinned and handed over the documents.

<><><><><><><>

As they headed out to the cars JD looked down at his father.

“Da?” he asked, in a tone of voice that already had Buck’s ‘dad alarm’ flashing.

“Yeah?” he responded cautiously

“Can we go to McDonalds?”

“Why?” Buck asked and then realised he was much more tired than he had thought, because – one, you never asked JD ‘why’ and two – he knew why, JD wanted to go to McDonalds, he was hungry, JD was always hungry.

“I missed McDonalds,” JD explained.

“JD, we went to McDonalds in England all the time,” Chris pointed out.

“But that was England McDonalds, I missed American McDonalds.”

“Are they different?” Josiah asked.

Chris didn’t think so. He’d heard talk that people claimed they were, but he couldn’t detect any difference, but then, unlike the boys, he wasn’t a McDonald’s connoisseur.

“They’re in England,” JD explained.

Buck was trying not to get involved, but now looked over at Vin for some explanation; Vin however looked as lost in JD’s logic as the adults.

“Li'l bit, I think we need to get home, we’ll go to McDonalds another day."

“When?”

“Soon, I promise.”

“’K,” JD conceded.

Since JD was already on Ezra’s shoulders, he and Buck headed for Ezra’s car. Josiah put Vin down so he could head off to pick up the dogs, and Chris and Vin headed home with Nathan and Rain.

<><><><><><><>

Vin tried to remember how long it took to get to the airport when they left and therefore how long it would take to get home. However long it was, it was too long. Now they were on the road, he wanted to be home more than anything. He stared out at the dark world of car lights, billboards and illuminated store signs, it felt familiar and yet alien all at the same time. For a moment he looked away from the window and at his father. Chris winked at him, ‘It’s all going to be okay’ his eyes said. Vin smiled back at him and went back to peering at the world outside, looking for some familiar land mark.

He might have dozed off or maybe he just zoned out, but suddenly, even in the dark, everything looked familiar. With blue eyes wide, he took in a breath, and held it until the vehicle rolled to a halt.

Vin was out of the car before it had come to a complete stop, which was completely against the rules, but just this once Chris overlooked it. The barn door was closed but was rimmed with light which spilled out across the yard when Vin pulled back the heavy door.

Vin paused just for a moment, taking in the familiar sight and smell of the barn.

“Peso!” he called out.

Instantly a familiar equine head appeared over the door of the last stall.

“Peso!” he called again.

Peso lifted his head, flaring his nostrils and lips, the he let out an ear splitting whinny. By now Vin was running through the barn. So fixated on his goal was he that he didn’t even notice Frances Corcoran standing at the far end of the barn, filming the whole reunion. Skidding to a halt, Vin stood in front of his beloved horse, breathing heavily, not through exertion but with excitement. Peso’s big head leaned out and sniffed at the small human in front of him. Vin, doing what Buck had taught him when he first began to ride the big black, gently blew air though his nose into Peso’s nostrils. Peso, recognising his scent, returned the gesture, reintroducing himself to his herd mate.

Vin then stepped in close and reached his arms up to encircle Peso’s powerful neck. Unfortunately, despite the inches he had put in the last eleven months, the stall door was too high to let Peso bend down far enough for Vin to reach right around his neck. That wasn’t good enough for Vin and he broke away, causing Peso to let out a low squeal of protest. In no time Vin had undone the horse proof bolt and kicked over the bottom bolt, before pulling open the door. Peso, always a vocal horse, now nickered in happy greeting as Vin stepped in close to his chest and encircled his neck in a hug, laying his cheek against his beloved horse’s warm, soft flank. For his part, Peso dropped his head, rested it along Vin’s back, giving a little nicker of contentment.

Frances was still filming this heart-warming scene when Chris walked in. Lifting one hand to acknowledge his friend’s presence he continued to film as Chris came to stand beside him to watch horse and boy re-bond. He didn’t get long to enjoy the scene before the peace of the barn was interrupted by loud bangs.

Chris and Frances turned around to see Pony stretching his head over the stall door, the same door he was now kicking repeatedly, demanding the attention of his long lost herd leader.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming,” Chris scolded him good naturedly.

Chris wasn’t sure how long he stood there, gently stroking Pony’s jaw; just the way he liked it. He knew he’d have to pry Vin away from Peso soon. His attention was drawn to a commotion at the door heralding that Buck and JD had arrived. Beau, patient as ever, had not whinnied or kicked for attention, but just stood, head stretched out toward the door, waiting for his humans to come back. He was rewarded when the little one ran in and made a beeline for his stall. As he always did the big grey dropped his head, letting the little human who made so much noise but was so kind to him, pet and stroke him.

“Da?” JD asked as Buck came up behind him.

“Yeah, okay,” Buck agreed with a smile.

Opening the stall door he swung JD up and placed him on Beau’s withers. As he always did, JD stretched, out draping himself along Beau’s long neck, like some big cat on a tree branch. With JD safely on his perch, Buck moved to stand in front of his beloved horse, talking quietly to him as he stroked him on the neck and behind the ear. Beau nickered contentedly then rested his head on Buck’s shoulder and closed his eyes.

Francis let himself out quietly, having captured the whole reunion. Outside he met Ezra, Nathan and Rain.

“Let’s give them a moment or two,” he suggested.

“I’m going to put some food on,” Rain told them as she turned back to the house.

“I’ll get the luggage in.” Nathan looked pointedly at Ezra.

“What? Oh, well, yes, I'm sure I could help with that. I’ll get the things from my car.”

Ezra’s car was carrying only Buck and JD’s carry on, a fact not lost on Nathan or Francis, who helped Nathan with the rest of it.

“I’ll be off now,” Corcoran announced once it was all done.

“Are you sure? The guys really won’t mind if you stay here a few more days,” Rain assured him.

“No, best let them settle in without a cuckoo in the nest. Besides the ATF are paying! Have I told you how much I love staying in hotels on someone else’s tab?”

Rain laughed. “Well okay, if you’re sure.” They hugged and were still hugging when Nathan came back in.

“Hey, Corcoran hands off my wife!” he threatened good-naturedly.

Francis pulled back. “You ever get tired of this nag, you let me know,” he told Rain with a kiss to her cheek.

“He doesn’t nag me, I know how to look after myself,” she told him pointedly. “Besides, I like living in a house.”

“Ah, settled folk, huh? Never mind, the offer still stands. I’ll see you all at the weekend.”

Francis just had time to greet Josiah as he arrived with the dogs, before heading off for his hotel.

<><><><><><><>

The noisy arrival of the dogs outside broke the spell in the barn. Chris gave Pony one last pat then pulled away and crossed to Peso’s stall.

“Time to go Cowboy,” he told Vin quietly.

Vin was standing there, arms wrapped around his horse’s neck. Peso’s head was still resting along his spine.

“Not yet,” Vin pleaded.

“Come on, he’ll still be here in the morning. We need food and then it will be bedtime.”

Vin knew from the tone of his father’s voice there was no arguing or negotiating. Very slowly he pulled back. “See you in the morning, we’ll go riding,” Vin promised the horse. He looked over at Chris for confirmation.

“Of course,” Chris confirmed. In truth he too was looking forward to getting back in the saddle.

Buck had overheard the whole conversation. Reluctantly he pulled back from his dozing horse and prepared to pry JD from Beau’s back. He was anticipating a battle, but it didn’t happen, JD was fast asleep. Gathering the limp form in his arms, he followed Chris and Vin out of the barn.

<><><><><><><>

Supper was brief when it became obvious that Vin, not to mention his father and Buck were struggling with exhaustion, JD was already in bed due to Buck's failure to wake him, and so after Rain and the uncles hugged Vin 'goodnight', and then crept in to kiss JD as he slept, they bid farewell to the weary travellers after which all but Rain, who was scheduled to work, promised to return the next day.

Clearly revelling in the familiarity of his own bed, Vin settled quickly.

“Night Cowboy,” Chris whispered as he slipped out of the room.

“Nos Da,” Vin mumbled.

As he eased the door closed, Chris smiled as he shook his head. That damn Welshman has a lot to answer for.

There were audible sighs from Chris and Buck as they sank into their beds. Both made a mental note to thank Rain for making up the beds for them to come home to. It was sheer bliss to be able plop into fresh linen and just crash.

Hours later, Chris was suddenly awake. He stared at his surroundings in an attempt to get his bearings, which came at the precise moment Vin appeared from out of the shadows.

"Dad."

A little unnerved, Chris's long, pyjama-clad legs slid from under the covers and over the side of the bed as he sat up and faced his son. "What is it?" He was surprised when the boy took his hand.

"There was bangin' in mine and JD's room. Now it's out in the livin' room an' all and JD's not in his bed."

Already up, Chris swept Vin into his arms, and as the boy cuddled into his father's warm, bare chest, the pair went to Buck's room. Chris knocked - several times - walking in after the last one. "Buck, is JD sleeping with you?"

A lamp snapped on and Buck squinted back at him. "Huh? No, why?"

"Vin heard someone moving around."

Buck was out of bed in an instant. "Why did you ask about JD?"

"He's not in his bed," Vin whispered.

Buck took point and led them out of the room and into the hallway. Cautiously the three made their way into the living room to be confronted by drawers hanging open, and cupboard doors ajar. Hearing a noise from the den, they moved that way. In the sparse illumination of the moonlit room, they could see JD tearing around and opening anything that could be reached. For a moment, no one moved for fear the boy was sleepwalking, then JD turned their way and his wide, clear eyes glinted in the moonlight.

"Da! Chris! Lookit! I'ss all here, i'ss all here!"

Buck stepped forward and scooped his son up into his arms. "What's all here, son?"

"Ev'rything, all the house, i'ss still here. See?" JD was gesturing around excitedly.

"Yeah, Kid, I see. Did you think it wouldn't be?" Buck asked, a little concerned at JD's thinking.

For the first time, JD's smile faded and now he looked uneasy. "Been gone a long time," he whispered.

Buck felt a squeeze to his arm from Chris, a sure sign that the blond either knew something, or figured they should let it go. "C'mon, Li'l Bit, let's go get some milk, huh? You want some milk, Vin?"

Both boys nodded. "And cookies?" Vin asked.

Chris answered. "Sure, why not?"

On the way to the kitchen, JD pointed toward the guest room. "That door's locked, Da."

Buck glanced at Chris and both men fought back grins. "Maybe it's stuck. We'll check it out in the morning, okay?"

JD nodded. "'Kay."

Vin hadn't missed the look between the men and a sudden wave of excitement swirled in his tummy, though he had no idea why. In the kitchen, the four settled into an established routine as they enjoyed their milk and cookies. Within the hour, the boys were asleep.

Heading back to bed, Buck caught Chris's arm. "Was there a reason you encouraged us out of the den earlier?"

Chris smiled, and nodded. "What JD was doing, I recognized his behaviour from when Adam came home from a family vacation one time."

"He went through the house in the same way?"

The blond nodded. "Sarah explained some time later that, when Adam got into the house, he needed to reassure himself that nothing had changed."

Buck tilted his head. "And you think JD did the same?"

"Don't you?"

Pondering on the question, Buck nodded. "Yeah, you're right. Poor kid, all that time, thinking things would change by the time we got back."

Chris patted his friend's arm. "Nah, he may have had thoughts on it early on, but I genuinely think it was only an issue once he was here and aware enough to check it out."

Buck smiled. "Just our luck it happened to be at three in the morning, huh?"

Chris turned to go into his room. "Yep. And good thing we thought to ask the guys to lock that guest room door, too, or with all those waiting birthday and Christmas gifts stacked up in there, we'd have been here until this time tomorrow morning."

Chuckling as he walked to his bedroom, Buck nodded. "Hell yeah. We still have that crazy event to look forward to. Lord help us."

"Not sure He can do much, but at least the guys and Gloria will be here as moral support when we let them lose in there!”

<><><><><><><>

The next few days saw some emotional and excitable reunions. Gloria sobbed and hugged, and sobbed some more; Nettie showed a considerable amount of sentiment for her favourite family's return.

The promised trail ride was taken, a mound of belated birthday and Christmas gifts were overwhelmingly, and gratefully received by all four, and personal items began arriving from their trip from the UK, including JD's picture of 'Heaven', with both he and Vin overseeing the hanging of it on the boys' bedroom wall. The picture had arrived a few days late. They had expected it to be waiting for them when they arrived but the company had rung, just before they left England, to explain apologetically, that customs in Denver were so back logged that it would be a few days before the picture would be released. There was no duty to pay on the picture, but it still had to be checked and cleared. As they stood back to admire it, everyone agreed when JD happily announced 'Mama's home too, now'.

In the following days the boys began work, with their fathers’ help, on their presentation for school. Right from the beginning, when they visited Devon, the boys had been taking pictures and collecting mementos, postcards, information leaflets and guide books, gathering them together into a large folder. Along with video shot by their friends and family, they had to edit this down into a 40 minute presentation for their school soon after the first day of the new school year, in a months’ time.

At first, Chris had been worried Vin wouldn't want, or even, be able to get up and speak to the whole school, but as the year had progressed he’d watched his son grow, not only in stature but also in confidence, as his two stage performances had shown. Now he was confident Vin would be an equal partner in the presentation. Needless to say, JD was happy to talk to anyone and everyone about their adventures.

“There’s so much,” Vin pointed out, looking at the bulging arch leaf binder full of memories. “We sure did a lot, huh?”

“Yeah,” JD agreed. “How do we choose what to talk about?”

Both boys looked up at their fathers, waiting for pearls of wisdom. The men looked at each other.

“How about we start with the most important thing that happened,” Buck began. They waited for him to elaborate. “New friends.”

Everyone agreed this was the place to start. The boys also decided, among themselves, that they would wear their school sports shirts, embroidered with a golden phoenix, on the day.

There had been a moment of disappointment when they learned that the opening ceremony of the Olympics was not going to be broadcast live on television; NBC would only be showing an edited version later in the evening. With all the build-up back in England, the boys had been looking forward to the great event.

“Never fear young’uns!” Francis announced when he returned two days later. “I’ll show you how you can watch it.”

Then as, all four of them watched, he linked his laptop to the TV and in no time at all the home page for the BBC’s on line services was on their big screen.

“See, just like back home,” Francis announced. “It’s on Friday, starts at one o’clock, that’s lunch time,” he added for clarification. “Goes on a bit, but I’ll be watching.”

The boys clapped and whooped for joy, while Chris and Buck quizzed Corcoran.

“How did you do that?” Buck asked.

“It’s just like linking up your DVD or X-Box,” Francis supplied happily.

“Yeah, I know how to do it, but how did you get the BBC on your laptop, you shouldn’t be able to.”

“It’s blocked outside the UK,” Chris finished.

“Oh yeah that…”

“Yeah that,” Chris reminded darkly.

“Well, you see, I miss the good old BBC, having grown up with it, an’ all.”

“You grew up in Ireland, the Republic, not the north.”

“Aye I did, but we lived right on the border, those TV signs don’t stop for a wee line on a map you know. Anyway I mentioned this to my nephew, last Christmas, and he said no problem, he could set up my computer so I can watch the Beeb.”

“Cool!” Buck announced.

Chris was not convinced. “You’re watching it without paying for it.”

Francis shrugged. “I look at it this way, my old Nan lives in the north, she pays her license fee, even though she can hardly see, so I reckon I’m just making use of what she’s paid for but isn’t using.” He fixed Chris with a knowing eye. “You buy a TV licence while you were in England?”

“Of course.”

“Did it run out the day you left?”

“No, we had three months left,” Buck supplied.

“Well there you go, you have paid for it!”

The boys looked from one adult to the other. “Does that mean we can watch it?” Vin asked.

“If Mr Corcoran will lend us his laptop,” Chris pointed out.

“Or I fix up your laptop so you can use your own. I had my nephew write out the instructions, just in case,” he explained.

Thus on their last weekday together, before the men had to return to work, the family settled down, with ample supplies of drink and snacks to watch one of the world’s great specials, an Olympic opening ceremony. Both boys wore their London 2012 tee-shirts. A few days after they returned Vin had celebrated his birthday and was excited to find that, like JD, he received a fine collection of 2012 toys and souvenirs.

The very next day, the recently re-formed and refreshed Team Seven threw a 'welcome home' cook-out. In the middle of the festivities, Chris walked out from the house with an open laptop. Both boys screamed with excitement when, looking back at them and waving was Ieuan, and Mr. and Mrs. Green. Ieuan's Welsh brogue was the first voice they heard.

"Hiya boys. How's everything going over there?"

"Yoo-hoo, Vin, Yoo-hoo, JD. How are you?" Jane Green asked, excitedly.

"We're good, thank you," Vin replied.

"Are you, an' Bear, an' Hamish okay?" JD asked. "Is our fort missing us, and the house, and the woods, and..."

"You bet," Ieuan cut in. "And so are we - missing you, that is."

Both boys glanced guiltily around their family, but relaxed when smiles and nods were returned. "We miss you, too," they chorused.

"We heard all about your adventure at Heathrow," Eric said, "Very exciting, and very well done."

His comments caused the group Stateside to go silent. All attention turned to Buck and Chris.

"Gentlemen? Care to enlighten us?" Ezra nudged.

In the excitement, the little family had failed to tell anyone about the incident at the airport. Chris and Buck exchanged awkward looks. "Uh..."

JD dived in. "Da and Chris had to 'rest the bad men, and Da hide me under a couch..."

Vin took over. "I had to take folk outta the room an' then tell security about the bad guys..."

Chris noted the stunned looks from the friends around them. "Hey, boys, we can do this later, yeah?"

There was a pause, which was broken by laughter from the UK group.

Josiah wagged a warning finger. "We'll hold you to that, Christopher."

It was a wonderful day. After the boys finally and a little tearfully said to goodbye to their British friends, the men got them back in the party mood by organising a mini Olympics, with two teams competing in such well known Olympic events as the egg and spoon race, the sack race and the all-time favourite, ‘eating a bar of chocolate with a knife and folk’ team relay. By the end everyone was breathless and laughing; medals – chocolate – were awarded. By the evening, they were all tired but no one wanted to go home, especially after Chris broke open the bottle of Welsh cask whisky Ieuan had given them, thus ensuring no one was going home until the next day. So settling down inside and grazing on whatever food was to hand, they watched the Olympics, cheering a USA gold in the swimming pool. They were watching the US women’s basketball team beat the Croatians when Buck noticed that JD had finally fallen asleep on his lap. He made a silent signal to Chris as he stood carefully, bearing his precious burden.

Chris looked down at Vin, curled up beside him on the couch. Vin was awake, but only just. He was about to suggest Vin go with Buck when Vin looked up at him owlishly.

“Me too Dad?” he asked.

“If you want to.”

Vin yawned. “I’m tired.”

“Okay then, go with Buck and I’ll be along to tuck you in an a few minutes.”

Vin uncurled himself and stretched. “Dad?”

“Yeah?”

“Going to England was the best adventure ever, but…”

“But?”

“Sure it good to be home again.”

The End

Part 3 Links

TV Licence – Any UK premises which has equipment capable of receiving live TV transmissions, be it terrestrial, satellite, cable or internet must have a valid TV licence. The revenue from the licence funds the BBC. As of Jan 2012 a colour licence (yes you can still get a black and white licence!) costs 145.50 annually.

Branston Pickle

Horse language

Chocolate Game

Beeb – affectionate slang term for the BBC

Olympic Opening Ceremony:–