by Sue M
AU: Little Britches ATF – Little Ambassadors Series
Thanks again to Nancy for beataing for me, and thanks to Katy for keeping me on track, and adding some awesome points and ideas and, as always, for her awesome collage to accompany my story. Thanks girls :o)
Tuesday had been a fun snow day to break up the tedium of January. With most folk suffering post-Christmas and New Year-blues and with the boys having nothing to truly look forward to until school break in February, January was always going to be tough for the little Denver family. Being used to snow, and barely fazed by the near-blizzard that began on Monday night, the fathers were shocked to learn, from Ieuan, who had checked the school’s website that Tuesday morning; that the school was closed. Calling in to work, they learned that travel into London by train was a no go, and roads were blocked. Apparently, the UK was at a standstill, and the pair found that astounding.
So, with no school, and no work, a snow day was in order. While trudging through the snowy lanes, two men, their sons, and dogs, had succeeded in finding a field with a decent slope. With a toboggan that had once belonged to the Greens’ children, a fun afternoon of sledding was enjoyed by all, ending in a snowball fight just outside the walled garden. Rosy-cheeked and bone-weary, both boys were asleep well before Buck had got half-way through a chapter of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe; with the exhausted Dads not far behind them.
However, despite no let up in the snow, the call to work next day for Chris and Buck was mandatory. Undeterred by the weather, a march on Parliament by protesters against Government cuts was going ahead, and with the two Federal agents shadowing the boys of the Metropolitan Police, they insisted they be included in the line up.
Being an old building, and suffering burst pipes, the boys’ school remained closed, and so Ieuan was taking full sitter duties this day, and was happy to do so. He and the boys had plans to build a snowman in the walled garden, and he turned up at six a.m. so the men could get their journey underway. With soft kisses to their slumbering sons’ heads, the pair bundled up, got in the Freelander, and took a steady drive into London.
Around 7:30, Ieuan grinned at the two tussle-haired children who dragged themselves into the kitchen and up onto their chairs around the table.
“’Morning, boys.” His grin widened at the unintelligible mumbles that greeted him. “You don’t have to get up yet, you know, It’s pretty early, and there’s no school again today.”
“...Snowman...” was the only word JD was able to successfully articulate. Vin simply nodded to a sentence only the two little brothers could have understood.
Recognizing their weariness after their previous eventful day, Ieuan took their hands. “Come on, let me set you up on the couch in the den, and just this once, you can have breakfast in there, okay?”
Jumping down, the two trotted to the den with Ieuan, and then scrambled up onto the sofa. While each boy took an end, Ieuan switched the TV onto the Cartoon Channel, fired up the log and flame gas fire to a low setting, placed the fireguard around it, and draped the blanket from the back of the couch over the yawning pair.
“Be right back,” he assured, but delayed his return. When he later peeked into the semi-darkened room, he smiled at the success of his plan. Being toasty warm, and with the TV playing softly in the background, the boys were once again asleep. Still early, and with the snow forecast for most of the day, Ieuan figured there was plenty of time for snowman-building.
For when the boys woke up, he had prepared some of his Mam’s famous recipe – well, famous in his Welsh hometown, anyway – Welsh Rarebit. Sans the ale, of course. He decided he would also make up a batch with the ale, for when the men came home...just as a warming snack. Between travelling, and the gruelling work agenda ahead of them it was likely to be a trying day for the pair.
A steaming mug of coffee, and his newest research novel in hand, Ieuan joined the sleeping boys, and now also three dogs, in the den.
Already weary from the previous day’s frenetic activities, coupled with the early start, and hazardous drive in, mostly due to other drivers less experienced in the snow than themselves, Chris and Buck were no sooner warming their hands on a mug of coffee in the cafeteria, when the pre-operations meeting was called. Within the hour, dozens of officers, dressed in protective vests under bright yellow jackets and carrying riot shields and helmets, were being transported to the heart of London to meet with officers from other areas. Even though these events usually ran smoothly, with an expected large turnout of protesters, a sizeable police presence was needed to ensure safety and crowd control, as well as law enforcement.
Inside the van, Chris and Buck sat shoulder to shoulder with their British counterparts. They glanced around at the men’s faces. Most were in high spirits, which put the two agents at ease somewhat. If these guys were laughing and joking, it couldn’t be too bad, right?
Central London was mostly clear of snow. Early traffic had turned it to slush, and sidewalks were just wet. It was cold, though, and both men were glad of the toasty police issue gloves they pulled on. Stepping out of the van, they put on and fastened their helmets. A senior officer joined them and split the group. The officers still carrying shields and batons went to their designated back-up area close to the giant iron gates across the entrance to Downing Street, home of the Prime Minister.
Buck and Chris’s helmets were swapped out for the more traditional headwear, and they were ordered to stand in a line, directly outside the locked gates. They waited mostly in silence in the line-up, until sounds of chants, whistles, drums, and megaphone-projected voices drew nearer, and caused the men in the Police lines to stiffen.
One cop leaned in toward Buck. “Here we go.”
Despite the near-deafening volume, the growing crowds of protesters were in good spirits. With their backs to the eminent gates, Buck and Chris stared in amazement at the swelling, banner-toting mass, gathering behind the waist-high metal barriers in front of them.
It appeared that the noisy, but good-natured crowd were about to move on to their final destination at Hyde Park, when movement from outside the Prime Minister’s residence caused a crowd surge close to the front. The line of police officers instantly linked arms and braced themselves against the rush, as barriers buckled and folks at the front were suddenly in danger of being crushed.
Buck’s gaze fell on the pale, terrified face of a pregnant woman as her body pressed ever-tighter into the unyielding metal. Breaking formation, he barely managed to scoop her up into his arms, and pass her along the row of cops to be safely deposited behind police lines, when the barrier she had been trapped by finally toppled and Chris, Buck, and several officers either side of them were forced backwards, and pinned against the gates.
For what seemed like hours, natural light was blocked as the pressing force increased. With the officers at the mercy of metal, concrete, and advancing feet and bodies, limbs and ribs bowed, and lungs struggled for air. Buck and Chris knew they were side by side, but both were powerless to help each other, themselves, or their fellow officers, as bruising, air-stealing agony robbed them of their consciousness. Just as they and eight other officers went down underneath the crush, police horses and dozens of officers surged in to relieve the pressure, regain crowd control, and get any injured colleagues and members of the public out.
Squeals of laughter permeated the frosty air around the walled garden as Ieuan and the boys worked in the falling snow to shape their snowman’s head. With three barking dogs running alongside, they rolled the snowball along the ground. Trying to avoid Elvis, JD moved around in front of the growing ball, but fell over, and Vin and Ieuan inadvertently rolled over him. In a flush of panic, Ieuan dropped to his knees to uncover the tot, only to find him lying unharmed in the soft snow, and breathless with laughter.
“I got snowedy-rolled,” he cackled, as Vin and Ieuan pulled him upright and brushed him off while checking for injuries. “I wanna tell Da, can we call him?”
“Not right now,” a relieved Ieuan replied. “He and Chris are busy today and are not indoors.” He noted Vin’s glance, and made a mental note not to put the TV onto any news channels while the men were out of touch. “Come on. We’re almost finished building. Then we can put his hat and scarf on.”
Appeased for now, the boys once again began rolling. As the mounting snowball neared its waiting, larger body; inside the house a phone call from Inspector Marks of the Metropolitan Police diverted to the answer machine.
An hour or so later, and rosy-cheeked and soggy from a marathon snowball fight, Ieuan and his two weary charges stomped off their wellies just outside the kitchen door. They stepped out of them, or in JD’s case, was lifted out, to walk inside in their stockinged feet. Wet coats, hats, scarves, and mittens were hastily discarded and Ieuan urged the boys to go and change into fresh, dry clothes. While they were gone, he set out the mugs to make some much needed hot chocolate. Pouring milk into a pan, he set it onto the burner and walked into the den to check for messages.
For some unknown reason, seeing the blinking light caused Ieuan’s stomach to flip. Taking a breath, he pressed play and listened to the message.
“Oh, dear God.”
His gaze moved toward the empty stairs, but his hand reached for the phone and he dialled. “Jane? Hi, listen, I need to be brief, but I have a major problem.” He relayed his dilemma, and Jane promised she and Eric would investigate, away from little ears. She also promised to make the customary calls should the news be bad.
Hearing the boys thundering down the stairs, he replaced the handset, and ushered them into the kitchen, just catching the milk before it boiled over. His mind raced as he stirred the milk into the chocolate powder, inadvertently blocking out the boys’ happy chatter and as he topped up the drinks with cool milk. Ieuan then poured marshmallows into a bowl for the boys to help themselves, and joined them at the table.
“I’n’t it good?”
Drawn to the sound of JD’s voice, Ieuan snapped out of his musings and smiled at the chocolate-moustachioed five-year-old. He frowned as the question filtered through his thoughts, then looked down at his untouched hot chocolate. He smiled.
“Oh yeah, I was just wondering what to get for dinner,” he fibbed. He noted Vin’s curious stare, and prayed the eight-year-old hadn’t picked up on his concerns. The phone ringing had JD sliding off his chair.
Both boys stared wide-eyed at their normally even-toned carer. He raised an apologetic hand.
“Sorry, but I’m screening calls. During the day, we get a lot of salespeople calling, and it saves a lot of hassle if we screen.” He smiled. “I’ll check quickly in case it’s Buck or Chris, okay?” Relieved to see nods, and as JD clambered back onto his chair, Ieuan stood and hurried into the den.
JD looked at Vin. “D’you think Ieuan’s still mad at me for pickin’ up his Jenny’s photo?”
Vin shook his head, but his attention was squarely on the man who had just left. “Nah, he’s not mad. He’s just keepin’ us safe, like Dad an’ Buck want.”
Unaware of Vin’s scrutinizing, crystal blue gaze staring after Ieuan, JD sighed softly and snatched up some marshmallows to eat. “’Kay.”
Ieuan just seized the phone before it went to the answer machine. “Hello?” He pushed the door and shut it quietly. “Hi. What? Shit. Right, right. No, I’ll do that. You will? Thanks. Keep in touch.”
Replacing the handset, Ieuan took in a deep breath and opened the door. He startled to see Vin standing there.
“What’s goin’ on? Is Dad an’ Buck okay?”
Squatting down, Ieuan looked into troubled, young eyes. “I have to tell you and JD something.” Seeing Vin slowly nod, and cursing the tears welling in the boy’s eyes, he took Vin’s hand and walked back to the kitchen. Pushing open the door, JD spun in his chair looking like a human hamster. He could barely speak for the mouthful of marshmallows, and him giggling.
“Lookit! I beated Vin’s record,” he mumbled around the gooey treats. He scowled at the lack of praise and his gaze moved to Vin. It didn’t take an expert in childcare to see that JD instantly picked up on Vin’s mood, and gave Ieuan another reason to appreciate just how special these little ones were.
Vin reached out his hand. “Come into the den, JD.”
The little one swallowed his candy in lumps. “’Kay.” Dropping to the floor, he looked at Ieuan. “Is I in trouble?”
Ieuan attempted a smile. “No, come on.”
The young carer’s heart constricted as he watched the boys climb up on the sofa and huddle close together. Squatting in front of them, he took a deep breath, and explained. “You know your dads had an important job today, and that’s why they travelled to work through the snow?”
“Well, the job’s taking longer than they’d hoped, so they won’t make it home tonight. Their boss asked if I could stay over. Would you mind?”
“Will they call later?” Vin asked.
“I don’t think they can, but maybe in the morning.”
“Like when they’s undercovers?” JD asked.
Ieuan smiled. “Yeah, just like that.” He could see Vin was unsure, but the boy was clearly keeping any thoughts to himself right then. “Now, what should we have for dinner?”
“Burgers!” JD yelled.
Vin was about to protest, when he decided, despite his tummy being all squirly, he’d quite like burgers.
Ieuan nodded. “We have buns, and minced beef, and onions.” He stood. “Burgers it is. Would you like to help, or watch a DVD?”
The pair were torn, but after a mumbled discussion, decided on a DVD. After setting them up, and allowing the dogs in with them, Ieuan went into the kitchen. He closed the door, and finally allowed the anxiety building within him to surface. He looked to the Heavens.
“I don’t ask for much, God, but I ask you this...please keep those wonderful men with us.”
The A&E department at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was frenetic as a fleet of ambulances pulled up. Doors opened, and paramedics hollering out symptoms escorted trolleys laden with injured cops and people into the designated areas, and to waiting doctors and nurses.
With chests exposed, Buck and Chris lay next to each other, not that they knew. With instructions for chest x-rays and CT scans, the men were stabilized and rolled to their assigned destinations. An hour later, Buck’s doctor was staring at the x-rays pinned to a light board.
“Two cracked, one broken rib. Broken wrist, and bruises everywhere, but no penetrating wounds. The concussion will have to be monitored.”
Dark blue eyes scanned the doctor. “So...I’ll live?”
The doctor smiled. “Thanks to the vest you were wearing, and the swift actions of your colleagues Officer, yes.”
“My buddy...Chris...Officer Larabee?”
The doctor nodded. “I’m told you are close.”
“Of course. Well, like you, he has a concussion. Also, he aggravated his shoulder and it dislocated, but we’ve popped it back. Chris has several cracked ribs and he took a heavy blow to his jaw, which will be sore and stiff for a day or two; but he too is awake.” He could see his patient visibly relax.
“Look...Buck...you’re both lucky, but you’re both pretty banged up. You’ll need to rest for a few weeks.”
The Doctor nodded. “That’s because you’re full of drugs. The both of you are to be admitted. Your backs were pinned against iron bars and, along with your concussions; we’re monitoring your kidneys, also.” He decided, for now, not to share there was blood in their urine. “I promise, as soon as I feel it’s safe to release you, I will.”
With a nod, and despite a desperate need to remember something, the drugs pulled Buck back into blessed sleep.
“I...can’t...stay.” Every word went through Chris’s rigid jaw like hot needles.
“You have no choice, Officer Larabee.”
Chris looked at his physician, who had just shared news of Buck’s condition with him. “I...we...have...kids.”
“We are aware, and a message has got through to your home. I’m assured that all is in hand, and you and Officer Wilmington are not to worry.”
The drugs in his system dragged Chris back into slumber. One solitary tear escaped the corner of his eye as the image in his head of two little boys faded into darkness.
Thankfully, after a day of snow activity, a final quick walk for the dogs, and nice warm baths before bedtime, both boys fell asleep easily. Ieuan rubbed at his eyes and stared out of the kitchen window at the snowy scene. The snow was no longer falling, but word had already come from the school that it would remain closed for the rest of the week. Ieuan huffed a soft laugh. Of all the weeks for the kids to have no school. By tomorrow, they would want to talk to their dads, and he would have to tell them what happened, and watch their little hearts break.
Weariness called him to bed, so he locked up, shut off the lights, and silently prayed for a problem-free night.
Early hours of the morning, and something pulled Ieuan from his slumber. As his eyes blinked open, he couldn’t help jolting on seeing the small, dark outline next to his bed. Snapping on the light, he first screwed up his eyes against the brightness, then looked at Vin.
“What’s up, mate?”
“JD’s cryin’ for Buck in his sleep. I tried cuddlin’ him, but he won’t stop.”
Ieuan rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand and swung his legs out from under the comforter. “Okay, I’m coming.”
In the boys’ room, all Ieuan could see was a peak in the bed. He eased back the covers to find JD’s head and knees on the mattress, and his butt in the air. The boy was sobbing, while gently rocking back and forth. The young man chewed at the inside of his cheek.
“I see what you’re saying, Vin, but JD’s asleep. Maybe we should let him rest.”
Vin shook his head. “Soon, he’ll be screamin’. Best we wake him now.”
Bowing to Vin’s superior knowledge on the subject, Ieuan nodded and gently shook the little one. He clutched at his heart when JD bolted upright.
Allowing his thundering heart to slow, Ieuan leaned in. “No, JD, it’s Ieuan. You okay, kiddo?”
JD blinked and rubbed at his moist eyes. “Thought you was Da,” he sniffed.
Their carer smiled. “Hey, how about you two bunk with me, tonight?” Barely had he said the words, when the pair bolted out of the room and into his. He grinned and shook his head. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.” He stood and followed his charges out. Hopefully, the boys would sleep, now. They were going to need it.
Next morning, Ieuan slipped out of bed and left the boys slumbering. He prepared for breakfast, let out the dogs, and then fed them. Around 10 a.m. there was noise from upstairs. Ieuan poured out two glasses of juice, and was just making up the batter for some pancakes when the sound of a car engine died and footsteps heralded the approach of someone coming to the door. There was a knock. ‘Here we go’, Ieuan decided. He had wondered how long it would be before an official visit, but hoped for more news, and a chance to tell the boys what was happening himself, first.
Setting down the whisk, he walked to the door and opened it. He smiled, and nodded as he extended his hand to shake the visitor’s. “Good to see you. Glad you could come. Please, come in.”
He took the man’s coat. “Would you like some tea?”
“I would, thank you. Are the boys awake?”
“Yes, I’ll give them a shout.” He walked to the door and called up the stairs. “Boys, you have a visitor, get dressed and go into the den, please.” He turned back to the caller.
“Do you bring news on Chris and Buck?”
The man nodded. “I’m told they both had a comfortable night.”
Ieuan smiled. “Thank God.” He pointed. “Would you like to wait in the den?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Barely had the visitor gone inside, when little feet thundered down the stairs. “Is it Da an’ Chris?” JD asked, his eyes full of hope.
“No.” Ieuan winced as the boys’ faces dropped. He gestured toward the den. “Go on in.”
The bounce gone from their step, they shuffled into the den and stared at the man standing there.
Dropping to his knees, Standish flung his arms wide and barely stayed upright at the impact of two hurtling bodies hitting him full tilt. Ieuan couldn’t stop his own tears as man and boys hugged and sobbed. Ezra clung to his nephews as though his life depended on it. No one moved for a long time, until Ezra finally spoke.
“I believe I have a cup of tea awaiting me, and also, I would appreciate seeing your handsome faces.” As the sobbing boys stepped back, Ezra smiled and thumbed away their tears before taking a linen hanky to wipe at his own.
“My, I do believe you’ve both grown.”
Vin had, a little, though not so much JD, but seeing their beaming faces at his remark brought out his wider, dimpled grin. His hands kept a firm grip on the boys’ shoulders. “I’ve missed you both.”
JD chewed his lip as he recalled Josiah’s chat with them at Christmas. “Is you all better, now? Is you still pink?”
Ezra’s jaw flapped at that question.
Vin stared at Ezra. “No ‘feel bad’ thoughts anymore?”
His attention went to Vin, then JD. “No, no ‘feel bad’ thoughts. And, uh...pink, yes, I think one can safely say I’m in...” he looked at Ieuan, who nodded as he spoke. “...The pink.”
JD raised a hand to pick at his uncle’s shirt collar. “Da an’ Chris is undercovers.”
“Actually...” Ezra scooped the pair up and sat down on the sofa with a boy on each knee. “...I came to tell you something.” He swallowed hard as their happy features went serious, but knew he must continue.
“As to your fathers. Yesterday, the place they were protecting...well, the people there grew to a large number, and there was a bit of a squeeze...”
“They got hurt?”
Ezra nodded at Vin’s question as fresh tears sprung into the boy’s blue eyes. “Yes, and they’ve been taken to the hospital.”
“They’s not dead?” JD wailed.
“Good Lord, no.”
“Why can’t they come home?” Vin cried.
JD sobbed, huge tears dropping from brimming, hazel eyes. “I want my Da.”
Standish could feel the tremors running through the boys’ bodies. “They needed x-rays, and tests, and lots of rest.”
“I wanna go see ‘em,” Vin insisted.
“You can, but not just yet, okay? I am told they will remain in hospital for another day. Tomorrow, I wondered if you both would care to accompany me in order to bring them home.”
“Why can’t we go t’day?” JD begged.
Ezra gave the boys a squeeze. “Today, they are sleeping, a lot. Tomorrow, they will be discharged.” He kissed each head. “Please, do not despair, your fathers are in good hands and will be home with you tomorrow, and I was thinking that perhaps you could make them cards. That would most certainly cheer them up on their return.”
There was a long pause, until eventually both tearful boys looked at each other and nodded.
“Splendid. Now, you set about preparing for your task, and I...” he smiled. “...Will sit here with you and enjoy my cup of tea.” He glanced at Ieuan. The look conveyed told the Welshman he would receive a full report later.
Ieuan nodded and smiled. “Good to finally meet you. How did you get here so fast?”
“I was on the continent and caught the red-eye into Heathrow. Fortunately, having driven in Europe, driving here was not too much of an ordeal, although remembering to drive on the left made it interesting.”
Ieuan laughed. “I’ll go get that tea.”
Ezra offered his customary salute, then turned his adoring gaze to his nephews. “Much obliged.”
The day dragged, but the sullen boys were kept active. Dinner was picked at, but at least there were questions from the boys about himself for Ezra to answer. A call to the hospital confirmed both men were improved, and resting with the help of medication. They were assured that after Doctors’ rounds in the morning, the men’s agenda would be decided. Either way, the boys were welcome to visit, and with that happy news, Ieuan and Bear went home, and Ezra took his nephews to bed, fully expecting, and not disappointed to find, it was a bed for three that night.
Heavy eyelids opened, and Chris greeted the morning with a tight yawn and a growl due to the jolt of pain through his jaw. Gone was his IV, and the catheter draining his bladder, and he smiled at the realization that he was improving. He glanced across at Buck, relieved to see his slumbering best friend was also clear of paraphernalia. Becoming more awake, something in the room tugged him to awareness. His head snapped to the side.
Chris raised his head off the pillow. “Goddamnit, Josiah?” He paled. “How long we been out for you guys to be here? Where are the boys? Oh God, the boys...”
“Chris, calm down,” Nathan soothed. “Travis got me on the first plane out of Denver. Josiah was taking the long route home from London and was in Germany, so hopped back on a flight to here. We both got in late last night, but you guys were sleeping.”
“As for the boys,” Josiah took up the report. “They’re both fine, and are coming here later.”
“How can a guy catch some ‘Zs’ with all this yakking.” Even as he said it, Buck’s eyes popped open on realizing the voices he was hearing were not ones he’d heard much of since last July.
“Hey!” Buck paled. “Shit, we’re not dying, are we?”
Chris laughed with the others, but groaned again at the spike of pain. “Nah, we’re too ornery to die.”
Buck grunted, then signalled to be sat up. Nathan obliged, while Josiah tilted Chris’s bed up, also. “Are the boys with you?”
“Soon,” Josiah promised. “Rest easy, you’ll need all your strength for when they arrive.”
“Poor little fellas,” Buck said through a hitch in his voice.
“Trust us, they’ve been well taken care of,” Nathan assured.
Rest wasn’t to be, as a steady stream of cops dropped by to check in on Buck and Chris, and their other fallen colleagues. The surprise visit was from the woman Buck had dived in to rescue from the crush. She brought fruit, and kissed Buck on the cheek, while assuring him that, thanks to him and his colleagues, she and her baby were fine. Chris was tickled to see Buck actually blush.
By lunchtime, and despite being officially discharged, the men were drained and in pain as they waited for their lift home.
And then the tornado that was two little boys hit.
Not surprisingly, it became apparent that those two little guys did more for their fathers’ waning spirits than any medication.
“Ezra?” Both men chorused.
“At your service,” the southerner grinned. “Boys, remember what we discussed about your fathers’ injuries.”
“We’s being careful,” JD insisted.
“We will,” Vin replied.
Both boys were helped up onto the beds and fathers and sons carefully, and silently embraced.
All three teammates were deeply affected by the reunion. Ezra took up a seat, and broke the silence.
“Good trip, gentlemen?”
“Bit rushed,” Nathan replied. “No problems from the snow, though.”
He addressed Buck and Chris. “What a charming home you have.” Ezra grinned at mere nods as the four remained huddled.
Finally, JD sat up. “You scareded me, Da.”
Vin nodded his agreement at Chris.
“Sorry,” the men said together as both swiped at their eyes, then thumbed their sons’ tears away. The realization of who was with them finally hit home. For the first time in six months, the gang was together.
Vin looked his father up and down. “You really okay, Dad?”
Chris nodded and stroked the boy’s cheek. “Yes, really. I’m sorry I scared you.”
“S’okay, you didn’t mean to.”
“No son, I didn’t.” Chris smiled. “Seeing you, has helped me forget any pain. You and JD are the best medicine Buck and me could wish for.”
Vin’s eyes met his father’s and the pair cuddled.
Buck pulled JD in close. There was a small pause before the little one spoke. “Did you get squished, Da?”
“Little bit, yeah.”
JD sat up and looked at him. “You saided my name an’ then ‘yeah’.”
Buck chuckled. “I meant we got a little bit squashed, but we’re all good now, see?”
“I gotted squished, too.”
Seeing Buck’s expression, Vin jumped in. “By a snowball...in the snow, but he didn’t get hurt or nuthin’.”
Buck and Chris sighed in relief. JD shook his head. “Didn’t get hurt or nuthin’,” he echoed, causing them all to laugh.
Buck gave JD another hug and grinned at the gathered friends. “Damn, but it’s good to see y’all.”
“Shame we had to get hurt to have a full reunion,” Chris said softly.
“You must know that neither hordes of wild horses, nor foul weather could have stopped us being here for you,” Ezra stated. He didn’t need an answer; the look in the two injured men’s eyes said it all.
“We come to take you home,” Vin announced.
“Sounds good, Cowboy,” Chris grinned.
Unsure of where to touch his dad, JD put his thumb in his mouth. Ignoring the fire it created in his battered body, Buck snuggled his boy tighter and kissed his head. “It sure does,” Buck agreed.
Nathan and Josiah picked up the Freelander, and followed Ezra and his charges to the Larabee-Wilmington-Tanner-Dunne home. There had been tears, but mostly of laughter when the US entourage arrived. Bunting adorned the driveway, interspersed with miniature US flags. The one Welsh flag clued them in as to who was responsible.
Jane, Eric, Ieuan, and three excited dogs greeted them at the door. Jane actually giggled when Ezra took her hand and kissed the back of it. Inside the kitchen was a spread fit for royalty itself, and despite both casualties not having much of an appetite, they, and their two little boys tucked in, while they basked in the love and warmth of being surrounded with almost all who they considered close family.
By late evening, and after the boys exhausted themselves when catching up on the ‘Uncles hugs’, all who were left in the house and still awake, was Team Seven, though it was clear Buck and Chris wouldn’t last much longer. They sat around the living room in companionable silence, each man relishing the deeply missed togetherness. Buck’s tired voice drifted through the peace.
“When do y’all have to leave?”
“I have my final certification assessment next week, so I’m good until the weekend,” Nathan replied.
“I might as well accompany you home,” Josiah added. “I’m weary of travelling, and relish the idea that, if I must leave the bosom of my family it will be for my own bed.”
Attention turned to Ezra. He smiled.
“I understand our young gentlemen are due a school break in several weeks, at around the time you both are clear to return to work.”
A sleepy Buck and Chris nodded.
“Then, if I may, I would like to remain until they return to school after that break.”
The two fathers grinned. “Awesome.”
Chris gestured toward the den. “There’s a pull-out bed in there, if two of you guys don’t mind sharing.”
Noting Ezra’s expression caused the other three to chuckle. “Don’t worry, Ezra,” Nathan grinned. “Seeing as you’re already moved in, Josiah and me got it.”
Ezra raised one eyebrow. “Well, if you insist.”
More laughter. It felt good to laugh together again.
“Makes sense,” Buck nodded, “If you’re staying on and already settled, you might as well keep your room.”
“Any plans for tomorrow?” Josiah asked.
“To make up for the crap of the last few days to the boys,” Buck insisted, as Chris nodded.
“Quality time, splendid,” Ezra reaffirmed.
Aware the invalids were struggling, Nathan tapped Chris and Buck’s knees. “Hey, bed.”
“You’ll get no arguments from me,” Chris yawned.
It took some manoeuvring to get the aching, slow-moving men upstairs, but within half an hour, the pull-out was made up, Ezra was in his room and, like their boys, the two healing dads were sound asleep.
“First sign of snoring, and you get to sleep in Ezra’s car,” Nathan warned.
“I never snore,” Josiah insisted.
The lamp inside the den clicked off. “How would you know? You sleep right through it.”
From his doorway, Ezra chuckled at the interaction from two of his brothers of the heart. For now, it may only be a brief reunion, but it felt good. Unbuttoning his shirt cuffs, he crept along the landing and stepped into the boys’ room. In the glow of the nightlight, he stood quietly and watched the pair sleep. Venturing forward, he squatted between the beds and placed a hand on each head as he spoke softly and stroked the silky tresses.
“There are no words to describe how much I have missed you all, and the hardest to find are of my feelings for you both. No one on this Earth has, or ever will, capture my heart in the way you both have. I feel truly blessed to have you in my life, and you have my word that I will make up for my absence these last months. Sleep tight, my boys.”
“Love ‘oo, Unca Ezra.”
“Love you, Uncle Ezra.”
The words came out on soft sighs, as the little ones continued sleeping. A tear on Ezra’s cheek shimmered in the nightlight’s glow and he smiled.
“I love you, too.”
For the next few days, a few more Denver residents would dwell in England’s heartland. Tales would be told, games would be played, walks would be taken, new friends would gather with old but, more importantly, family would reconnect.
And it would be – magnificent.
Continues in Discoveries
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Log gas fire
Traditional UK Police helmet
Police at Downing Street Gates
Crowd Control at Downing Street
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital