by Sue M
AU: Little Britches ATF – Little Ambassadors Series
Disclaimer: Not ours, never were, never will be
Notes: Thanks again to Nancy for betaing, and Katy for her input and awesome collage.
Since returning from their wonderful London trip to watch the Thames Pageant for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the family had been slowly crating up their belongings to ship home. First to be packed away were all the toys the boys, and mostly JD, decided they simply couldn’t live without prior to leaving the US, and yet had barely seen the light of day since arriving in the UK.
Clothes outgrown were taken to charity shops, and the boys had agreed that when they finally left, their DVD collection and player would go to the school, either for selling on to make money, or to be for school use. The school could decide.
At some point, certain items that were prominent in the little ones’ lives would have to be packed away, too, such as Vin’s and JD’s inflatable dinosaurs, Vin’s telescope and books on horses, and JD’s microscope, Lego blocks and his huge print he believed to be of Heaven.
That would be a tough one.
But right now, there was a more urgent dilemma. It was coming up to Fathers’ Day, and the boys’ precious and helpful uncles were thousands of miles away.
What were they to do?
Ieuan and Jane came to the rescue. Jane promised them she and they would make a special cake, and Ieuan volunteered to take them shopping, and also spend time with them making something appropriate. JD decided he wanted to make a collage or drawing, which prompted Vin to want to try and write a poem.
‘Nothing too challenging then,’ Ieuan had grinned, knowingly.
As luck would have it, two weeks prior to Fathers’ Day Chris and Buck were pulling late shifts with Police Special Operations, and so after the boys were picked up from school and had eaten their dinner, they and Ieuan set about working on the two projects.
“Could JD work on his collage first so as I can figure out what needs to go in the poem?”
Ieuan smiled at the youngest. “JD?”
JD nodded. “’Kay. I need to get the stuffs from outside.”
Pulling plastic food bags from a roll, Ieuan followed the boys around as they collected leaves, grasses, twigs, and a few of the more abundant wildflowers and plants. They had to go further afield, literally, for one item JD wanted, but soon he was satisfied with his haul and ready to begin.
Two days on JD’s collage was taking shape, though he had yet to glue it into place Having seen what it would become; Vin knew what he wanted to write about. For the rest of their father-free evenings, and under Ieuan’s watchful eye, the boys worked away on their gifts.
Chris was taking notes on their week so far. The cops they were working alongside were specialists in following known suspects. With only instructions to bring several changes of shirts, jackets and/or sweaters to work, the two men began their newest tour of duty somewhat bemused. However, soon all became clear.
On a daily basis, each man in the squad was assigned a ‘target’ to follow. In order to remain covert, they each had a car booked out to them, into the trunks of which their multiple changes of clothing were placed. Every man was advised to change clothes frequently; or in accordance to whether their mark had been in proximity to them at any time. The strategy provided many successful unobserved pursuits, and secured productive observations against the targeted criminals.
Despite feeling guilty at the unsociable hours and not seeing much of the boys, the two American agents were really enjoying the diversity of their week. They planned to make it up to their sons once their current assignment was over.
The weekend before Fathers’ Day saw the little family finally have time to spend together. True to their word, the men made plans to make the most of their quality time.
“What would you like to do?” Chris enquired.
“Can we have a pickernick?” JD asked.
Vin nodded. “Yeah! Maybe by the river? We could watch the boats go by,” he said hopefully.
“Is it another pah-junt?” JD queried.
“Nah, Ieuan said folk that own boats go on the river at the weekend.”
Hazel and Blue gazes focused expectantly on their fathers. Buck and Chris exchanged looks. Buck nodded.
“Sure, sounds like fun.”
Once Jane and Ieuan learned of the planned picnic, their food contributions swelled the already bulging hamper to proportions the boys had often dreamed of when living on the streets, but could never imagine ever truly existing. Excited little fingers pawed over the goodies until Chris closed the hamper lid and told them to scoot.
The car journey wasn’t too long. Soon the four were sitting on a large, chequered blanket on a grassy riverbank, and enjoying the warm sunshine while watching the various crafts go by. The boats ranged from big, crowded cruise boats, to various sizes of motor launches, down to rowboats and canoes, and every occupant laughingly waved at the two excited boys hollering a greeting to them as they drifted by.
Sandwiches of ham, chicken, cheese and chutney, and tuna and mayo were consumed with relish. The men got a chuckle out of Ieuan’s ‘secret’ package of PB&J sandwiches, and even managed to grab one each before the boys gobbled them down; but the centrepiece of the savoury side of their picnic was Jane’s scrummy veal and ham pie.
Taking a break from eating, the four snatched up a football and played a game of catch before returning once more to the blanket and digging into dessert. Ieuan provided bakestones and cupcakes, while Jane had made jam, and lemon curd tarts. As he took a bite of one, Buck snorted when he saw JD’s ‘jam’ smile, and the blob on the end of his nose.
“Hey Li’l Bit...” Buck pointed to his own face, then at JD’s. “You got a little jelly there.”
With great concentration, JD just managed to nip a bit from the corner of his mouth, leaving the bulk intact. Buck’s snort turned into a full blown laugh.
“Yeah, that did it.”
While JD squirmed in his father’s arms as his face was wiped, Vin’s eyes were closed, and he was slowly licking at the lemon curd in the pastry case.
“Good?” Chris asked.
Vin sighed with contentment and his blue eyes flashed with delight. “Jus’ perfect,” he said, softly. He and Chris jolted at JD’s unexpected squeal.
“Lookit! White ducks wi’ l-o-n-g necks.”
Chris looked to where JD was pointing and grinned. “Swans.” He saw JD’s frown. “They’re swans, not ducks.”
“Can we feed ‘em? Please? Huh, huh? Can we, Da?”
Vin was already on his feet and looking in the trash bag. “We got lots of crusts left over.”
Buck stood and held out both his hands. “Come on, then.”
Chris separated the crusts for Vin to take, and while Buck held the boys’ hands and walked down to the water’s edge, Chris packed up the remains of their picnic.
Squatting on his haunches, Buck passed the bread to the boys and watched cautiously as they tossed the tasty morsels to the eager, elegant birds. If the pair got too close to the edge, his long arm would ease them back in an instant while he issued a gentle warning.
Chris was giving the cloth a good shake out when a smart motor launch slowly approached their spot on the bank. The man wearing the captain’s hat and standing on the bridge stared at him, and Chris gave a tight smile and a polite nod as his brain began processing that the face was familiar, but why?
It was only when the man looked at Buck, and then back to Chris, that a sudden spike of awareness shot through the blond at about the same time as the guy on the boat. He had barely spotted the handgun pointing at Buck and the boys when Chris screamed out.
Despite not having a clue as to what was happening, Buck trusted Chris instinctively. In one move, he snatched the boys into his arms and dived into the river just as a shot rang out and the hot projectile entered the water right where the three had submerged.
Football in hand, Chris threw hard, knocking the gun from the assailant’s hand, and succeeding in unbalancing him. “Call the cops!” Chris hollered to one frightened family as he raced toward the river. Ignoring the mayhem the launch now speeding away was causing to folk on the river, the blond dove in head first.
In a split second, the boys went from merrily tossing bread to the honking swans, to flying through the air. Moments later, their world became a swirl of dark, foaming water, and no oxygen.
Buck’s only advantage was that he could take a breath before hitting the cold river. One moment the boys were in his arms, the next he was kicking toward the surface alone. As his head pushed through the water, his wild, frightened eyes were scanning for his charges.
“JD! VIN!” Taking a gulp of air, Buck went back under.
Reaching out, he snagged a small arm and pulled. With a splash and a rush of noise from the arriving and frightened onlookers, Buck dragged Vin to the surface. An arm on his shoulder had him lash out defensively, but Chris’s fast reactions caught the flailing fist.
“JD!” Buck spluttered as he drew a limp Vin into him. Chris instantly ducked under. Helpful hands pulled Buck into the bank. He barely got to its edge when a cheer went up and Chris surfaced with JD in the crook of one arm. In seconds, the soaked, bedraggled, coughing men were on the grass and helping their shivering, spluttering sons to dispel some of the water they had swallowed.
Vin rarely cried in public, but between the terror of the sudden incident, shivering with a combination of cold and fear, and being observed by a lot of concerned, curious, strangers, he let out a raspy sob, followed by more coughing. Chris held him tight against his soaked shirt and rubbed his back.
“It’s okay, son, I’ve got you. Easy there, little guy.”
JD wasn’t as reserved. With a full on wail and then a coughing fit, he let Buck and Chris know he was most definitely with them. Buck squeezed his son close, and crying with both fear, and happiness, he looked at Chris.
“I’ll take that over silence any day.” He stroked JD’s wet hair. “Shhh, I gotcha, son, Ole Buck’s got you.”
With eyes and nose in a race to be the runniest, JD looked up at his father and spoke between shuddering sobs. “Did you...drownded the swans, Da?”
Surprised by the question, Buck frowned, then looked back at the river. Despite feeling the opposite emotions right then, he grinned as he watched the noisy, disgruntled birds glide away from the commotion. “Nah, they’re all good.”
Paramedics and swarms of police, some armed, converged on the crowd. While the boys were checked out by the former, Chris showed his waterlogged ID to the latter and quickly ran through the story. With one eye on the boys, Buck listened intently to learn why he had half-drowned himself, and their two kids.
“...We’re currently working with Special Operations. This last week, Agent Wilmington and myself were alternating between following two men, one of whom happened to be the guy that was on the boat and firing the gun, and goes by the name of Jacob Tobias.” Chris paused and watched the recognition of the name sink in.
“We never followed the same guy together, or on the same day, but I guess when Tobias saw both of us here, today, something must’ve registered in his mind.” He gestured to his partner. “Buck, like me, felt sure the man had his suspicions about being followed, which is why we terminated our op on him, and concentrated on the other fella instead.” Chris paused to take a shaky breath. “I can’t believe he shot at my kids.”
Buck set a hand on the blond’s shoulder. “He shot at me, Chris,” Buck attempted to soothe. “The boys were just in the line of fire.”
Sergeant Fielding blew out a soft whistle. “Gunplay is a pretty rare occurrence here in the UK. He must be a really nasty piece of work, not to mention what the odds are of him and you being here today, at the same time.”
Buck snorted, softly. “We have a friend back in Denver that would have loved to lay odds on that happening.”
Chris and Buck’s attentions moved to the paramedic speaking. He was standing next to their two pale boys who were wrapped in blankets.
“They’re both fine; a little shocked, but fine. Their chests are clear, and apart from the odd bruise here and there, they’re okay to go home.”
“Thanks.” Both men smiled at the male paramedic and each pumped his hand in gratitude before turning to the two waif-like boys that held their hearts forever captive.
“Ready to go home, guys?” Chris asked, softly. The boys simply nodded, causing damp fair and dark tresses to expel moisture. Each man bent down to sweep his son into his arms.
“We’ll need a statement,” Fielding reminded.
“You can follow us home, or get it tomorrow, either way; we and these boys are leaving.”
Buck smiled. It had seemed like a long time since ATF Agent Chris ‘Kick-Ass’ Larabee had been around. It felt good.
“You’re both soaked. Why don’t you let us get you home? I’ll have one of my constables drive your car back for you, too,” Fielding offered.
As he spoke, another paramedic draped blankets around the wet, now shivering men. Both agreed. They too were shaken up, and it would allow them to cuddle their sons all the way home.
They walked wearily to the squad cars. JD noted a policeman picking up their hamper. “Is our pickernick over, Da?”
Buck squeezed his boy. “Uh huh. Thought you might want to go home and tell Ieuan all about your adventure today.”
The two boys’ wide gazes met. Vin spoke. “Over hot choc’late?”
Chris forced a grin. “Sure, over hot chocolate.”
The boys had barely told their tale and drunk their hot chocolate, when they were fighting to stay awake. Ieuan and Chris bid them goodnight, and Buck took them up to bed. He surprised the two men when he returned to the kitchen only five minutes later.
“They just crashed out,” Buck explained. He watched Chris stand, pick up the mugs from the kitchen table, and walk to the sink to rinse them. The brunet was on his feet seconds later when he saw Chris hunch over and the blond’s shoulders shake.
Ieuan also stood. “I’ll just go check on the boys,” he said, exiting instantly.
Gently, Buck stood next to Chris. It was rare to see this man break down, but he was doing so now, and it took all Buck’s willpower not to join him. “They’re okay, Chris.”
Not looking up, Chris’s knuckles turned white as his grip on the sink increased. Eventually, he spoke. “I can’t believe we almost lost them, Buck.” Finally his liquid green eyes looked at his long-time friend. “And you, too.”
‘Damn’. Buck cussed inwardly. If there was one thing guaranteed to get him going, it was an emotional Larabee. “Actually,” Buck said, softly. “From the moment you called out, I had it covered, and apart from the boys’ welfare, all I could think of until you grabbed my shoulder in the river was whether he’d gotten you after we hit the water. I mean, you were right out there, on the embankment...”
Chris’s mouth curled into a lopsided smile. “We’re a tough bunch, right?”
“Damn straight,” Buck replied, his own grin forming. He snatched Chris into a brief, tight embrace before patting his back and releasing him. “Go sit with ‘em. It’ll help chase the demons away.”
With a nod, Chris squeezed Buck’s arm as he passed and headed on up to the boys’ room.
Having heard Chris on the stairs, Ieuan was already on the landing when the American agent arrived. He smiled and spoke in a half whisper. “Rough day.”
Chris glanced at the door to the boys’ room and nodded. “That was way too close.” He looked at the Welshman. “And it all happened so fast. It’s times like these when I realize how much what Buck, the guys, and me do, affects our kids.”
Ieuan placed a comforting hand on Larabee’s arm. “One thing you need to keep in your head...you both are loved beyond measure. Whether you picked up rubbish, uh, trash, or run the US of A for a living, those boys couldn’t love you, or be any more proud of you than they are.” He smiled.
“But the fact that their dads, and uncles, are real cool Federal Agents makes their lives like a fairy tale with the happiest ending ever. They understand the dangers, because they worry about you all the time, just like you worry about them and also fear the impact your career choices have on them. But somehow, you all manage to find a balance, and that’s why your wonderful family unit works, and is so special.” Ieuan moved to leave.
“You’re a little off-kilter right now, but it’ll pass. Since meeting you guys I’ve appreciated that I shouldn’t live my life on regrets. Thank you for that gift. Now go practice what you preach and put today behind you.” With a final squeeze to Chris’s arm, Ieuan made for the stairs.
Chris watched him go and smiled as he realized he’d come a long way if someone was telling him that he was well adjusted. With a slightly less heavy heart, he opened the door and entered the room to do a little sleep-watching.
On the Saturday before Fathers’ Day Ieuan took the boys into town to do a little shopping. They rounded their mini excursion with a Happy Meal, and were thrilled to find the toys were linked back to the movie Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists that they had been taken to for JD’s birthday. After Ieuan spoke to one of the staff, he ordered three Happy Meals, and secured three different toys in the series with his tale of how the boys would be going back to America soon and might not be able to collect many more.
“Ieuan?” Vin asked as he munched on his meal and admired his father’s gift.
“Did you buy a present for your Tad?” Vin asked, automatically using the Welsh form of father, as that was how Ieuan referred to his dad.
“Oh yes, I’m proud to say I managed to buy it months ago and left it with Mam when we were visiting at Easter.”
Vin nodded knowingly.
“Of course I only managed to send the card yesterday,” their young carer admitted.
“Did you make it yourself?” JD asked.
Knowing eyes gazed up at him. “Das like cards you make yourself best,” JD informed him, sagely.
“I’ll remember that next time,” Ieuan assured him.
While he watched them in the indoor play area, Ieuan felt his emotions welling as his thoughts turned to life without his new surrogate family. Even the uncles had become familiar to him, and Ieuan knew that the day the men and boys left for the States would be one of the hardest and darkest days in his life.
He smiled as he recalled the previous evening and their cookie-baking spree. It took a lot of resolve to save enough uneaten cookie dough to make a batch of choc-chip cookie men. Five were put to one side, and one was given a frosting buttonhole, another, a cross ‘necklace’, a third had what was meant to look like a stethoscope around its neck, the fourth wore a cream cowboy hat and brown cowboy boots, and the fifth a black hat and black boots.
The boys wanted to take three of them home to Denver, so Ieuan promised he and they would make a fresh batch nearer to the time of travelling. His idea of the boys putting those cookies into their tins from the Queen in order for them to travel better and stay fresher, was accepted with a huge cheer, as well as a steely determination to make sure all the chocolates from the tins were eaten up in order to do so.
Back at the house the boys ran upstairs to hide their gifts, while Ieuan unpacked the groceries they had purchased. As he stood alone in the kitchen, contemplating the supplies he’d picked up so he could help the boys and their dads celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, Ieuan Jones’ earlier emotions suddenly returned to overwhelm him with feelings of imminent loss. The sensations welled up so fast and so strongly he was unable to suppress them and as the boys burst back into the kitchen, it threatened to break free.
“Um boys?” he began, struggling to keep his voice normal.
“Yeah?” they both replied.
“Why don’t you take the dogs into the garden before we head over to Jane’s? They’ve been shut up here for ages, and it’s still a nice day.”
JD was about to protest that he was hungry, despite having been given an iced bun and a juice box in the car before returning home. Vin, always a little faster to pick up on others’ moods, noticed the slight catch in Ieuan’s voice. He took his brother’s hand.
“Sure, come on JD. Ringo! Elvis! Bear!” he bellowed as he all but pulled JD out of the door.
The very second he was alone Ieuan let go. Slumping down at the table, his tears fell unchecked. He wasn’t aware how long he sat there until footsteps sounded on the gravel outside the kitchen. Glancing out of the window, he couldn’t see a car, so it wasn’t the boys’ fathers and there had been no chattering or barking, so it wasn’t the boys. Still looking at the window he caught sight of Eric Green’s familiar cap.
“Shit!” he swore, standing to grab some kitchen towel to dry his eyes and blow his nose. He was still trying to compose himself when there was a knock on the kitchen door.
“It’s open!” he called with as much casual cheeriness as he could muster.
“Hello my boy, only you here?” Eric asked as he and Hamish came in.
“Um, yes,” he muttered, quickly turning his back on his friend and neighbour. “The boys are in the garden, I’m, err, that is I have shopping to put away.”
“So I see.” Eric came into the room a little further. “Jane sent over a pie for Sunday.” Now standing right behind his young friend, he placed the foil wrapped pie on the table. “What’s wrong?” he asked softly.
Ieuan took a deep breath and backhanded a tear away. “Nothing I’m fine.”
“Been cutting onions.”
Eric glanced around. “Ah yes, that well know variety of invisible onions no doubt.” Eric sat down at the table and looked up at his friend. “Sit down and tell me what’s up.”
Jane and Eric had always been friendly with the young couple in the top flat, but after Jenny died, they had taken it upon themselves to take care of Ieuan even if he didn’t know about it or want it. Jane and Mair had a long conversation after the funeral prompting mother, and surrogate mother, to stay in regular contact. While Eric and Iolo didn’t do likewise, Eric took a very paternal interest in Ieuan’s wellbeing.
“My boys are leaving me and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Ieuan admitted.
“I was wondering when it would hit you,” Eric confessed.
“They’ve changed me, changed my life and I just don’t know how I’ll cope without them. I lost Jenny, now I’m losing them.” He looked up at Eric. “I feel like I made a huge mistake in letting myself get so close, while knowing I was going to have to say goodbye.”
“You know you don’t mean that. Jane and I, and your parents were really worried, that once you came back from Wales last summer, you’d just shut yourself away in the flat, but those two boys came along and gave you a reason to smile again. I know you can’t regret that.”
Backhanding away more tears, Ieuan managed a smile. “No, I guess not.”
“This is the cyber age, or so they tell me; you’ll still be able to see them and talk to them.”
“It’s not the same.”
Eric had to agree, he missed his grandchildren every time they went home, but it was better than nothing.
“I can’t even contemplate saying goodbye, what will I do?”
Eric shrugged. “Cross that bridge when you come to it?”
“Yeah, I know, but I’ll still lie awake at night thinking about it.”
Just then Hamish, who had been sitting quietly on the mat by the Aga, suddenly jumped up and ran to the door, wagging his tail furiously.
Eric stood up. “Game face on lad.”
Ieuan took a deep breath just as the door opened and two boys and three dogs charged in.
“Game on,” he whispered to Eric.
An hour later Ieuan walked the boys to the Green’s home so that they and Jane could make their special Fathers’ Day cake. Before leaving, he promised the boys he would come over on Sunday and cook breakfast and dinner for them as a special treat for their dads.
Jane welcomed the boys, thanked Ieuan for dropping them over, and then the three set to work on a cake recipe Gloria had given to Jane, but was tantalisingly similar to one of her own, and so seemed perfect for the occasion.
She pulled stools over to the worktop for Vin, and JD to kneel on. First, they measured out the dry ingredients. Jane let Vin do that while she greased the three cake pans and then lightly floured them. She smiled at JD when she noticed him watching her place a circle of greaseproof paper onto the inside base of each pan.
“Everything alright, dear?”
“Paper’s gonna taste funny, Missus Green.”
Jane fought a chuckle. “It’s just to stop the cake sticking to the pan, sweetie. It will peel right off when the cake is cooked.”
JD made an ‘oh’ with his lips before continuing to break four eggs into a glass jug. Each one shattered spectacularly. “Oops. Vin, I gots shell in it.”
Vin leaned over and looked into the jug. Taking a dessert spoon, he fished out the shell and handed JD a beater. “There you go.”
“Thanks, Vin.” Not too sure about how exactly to whip, JD stirred at the egg with the whisk.
Jane noted the gooey splatters. “Well done, JD, we need a little in the bowl though sweetie, alright?”
With all the dry mixes in a large bowl, Vin was encouraged to stir them together while Jane heated up the butter, oil, and water. Thanking the boys for their efforts, Jane folded her ingredients into the dry mix, and during beating, used JD’s reasonably fluffy eggs a little at a time.
“Don’t you got a mixer?” Vin asked.
“Yes, dear, but I like to do it this way and put some elbow grease into it.” Her musical laugh bubbled forth when she saw JD rubbing his elbows and checking for lubricant. “It means I like to work the batter myself.”
Once done, she divided the batter between the three pans equally, then placed them in the oven. Jane smiled at the boys’ interest in the mixing bowl. “Oh my, with Mr. Green out walking, I have no one to lick the bowl and spoon.”
“Uh, we can do it,” JD offered.
Vin nodded. “Sure. We’d like to help.”
“Well, thank you, boys. I’ll leave you to it while I clean up and load the dishwasher.”
The ‘mmms’ and other similar noises didn’t do justice to the amount of chocolate batter over the pairs’ noses, chins, and cheeks. Again she chuckled.
“I think we should go and wash up while we wait for the cakes to rise. I have some juice and cupcakes – if you’re interested.”
With one last check through the oven door, Jane led the boys to the bathroom, and then into the living room for refreshments.
Fifty minutes later three perfect cakes were cooling on a wire tray. While they waited, Jane showed them her photo albums. The boys loved to see pictures of her children when they were little, and of Jane and Eric when younger. JD was particularly taken with a photo of Jane and Eric enjoying a garden party at Buckingham Palace.
“Did the Queen say hello?” JD asked.
“Yes, she did, and I curtsied, like this...” Jane stood from her seat in an armchair and showed them. Giggling, the boys jumped down off the arms of the chair and copied her.
“Only ladies curtsey,” Jane advised. “Gentlemen bow.”
“We know,” Vin nodded, while going for a particularly low dip. “We just wanted to try it.”
Jane smiled, and then checked the clock on the mantelshelf. “Ooh, time to decorate.”
While supervising, she allowed the boys to mix the vanilla buttercream with a hand mixer. Together, she and they frosted and lay slices of strawberries on the top of each slab and then the boys spread the buttercream all over the triple stacked cakes. Meanwhile she heated the cream in a bowl over a pan of hot water before pouring it over dark chocolate. Jane then whisked those up with golden syrup and vanilla mix and left it a moment while she checked on the boys.
There was buttercream splashes over the worktop, the boys’ faces and hands, and even a dollop or two on the floor.
“Oh, lovely job,” she praised, while deftly sweeping a spoon over the frosted stack to fill in any gaps. “I need to do the next bit, as the chocolate is a little warm.”
The boys watched as Jane poured the chocolate in a swirling pattern over the buttercreamed top layer.
“It’s dripping down over the sides,” Vin warned.
“That’s okay, it’s meant to do that. Now, take up the rest of the sliced strawberries and place them on top of the cake however you want. When you’re done, there are some whole ones that you can dip into what’s left of the chocolate mix, if you’d like.”
Vin’s eyes went wide.
JD squealed. “Oh boy.”
Before indulging, and once all the strawberries were used, the three stood back to admire their masterpiece. “Perfect, boys. Well done.”
Vin and JD stood and grinned. They thanked Jane with a hug, and a kiss to her cheek, and then hurried over to the other worktop to help clear out the strawberries and chocolate. When Jane walked them home later, she warned Buck and Chris that, while sworn to secrecy and so unable to explain, they might want to delay the boys’ dinners – maybe for an hour or so.
“Happy Fathers’ Day!”
Sunday morning and the boys dragged their bleary-eyed fathers out of bed, down the stairs, and into the kitchen. However, the smell of cooked bacon, scrambled eggs, and pancakes hit them long before they got to sit down. Each boy tucked a napkin under their father’s chin before a smiling Ieuan dished up breakfast.
With a bad case of bed hair, Buck eyed the young man. “What’re you so darned happy about at this time on a Sunday morning?”
“Swear jar, Buck,” Vin said casually, while helping himself to bacon.
JD giggled. “And again, Da.”
“Just shut up and eat, Buck,” Chris suggested. He smiled at Ieuan. “Thanks, this is real nice of you.”
Ieuan nodded. “Happy to help. I know the boys are missing their uncles’ input this year.”
Despite being hungry, the boys could hardly contain themselves. Once coffees were poured, they brought out their gifts. Both men had t-shirts. Chris’s was red, Buck’s was blue and white writing on both stated ‘World’s Coolest Dad’. Chris and Buck cooed with pride, and instantly replaced their sleep t-shirts for their new ones.
A knock at the door prompted Ieuan to answer it. “’Morning, Jane.”
“Good morning,” Jane sing-songed as she walked into the kitchen. She placed the cake she and the boys had made down on the kitchen table. “The little ones made this especially for their daddies,” she explained. Jane gave a wave. “Off to church. See you later.”
All three men stared in awe at the vanilla and chocolate vision. “Wow,” Buck said, finally.
“It’s choc’late inside,” JD informed them.
“With strawb’ries,” Vin added.
Ieuan shooed them all. “Go on into the den and relax. I’m cooking roast beef with all the trimmings for lunch.”
“Yay!” The boys guided their fathers into the den.
Once seated, JD removed his collage from the desk drawer. “This is for the both of you. Lookit! I used real flowers. And lollilop sticks, see? There’s the fort, and the sheeps from in the fields, I used real wool that had gotten caught in the fencing for them. And there’s a little sunflower for the sun. See?”
Both men’s eyes glistened. “Yeah, we can see. It’s awesome, son,” Buck praised as he hugged JD close.
“Yeah, fantastic, JD. Thank you,” Chris said, running a hand over the boy’s dark hair.
Vin coughed and all attention went to him. “I wrote you both a poem. JD’s hard work on his collage helped me think up the words, and Ieuan helped me with writin’ it.”
A smiling Ieuan hovered just outside the door as Vin recited his poem.
“Why We Love Our Dads.
Not just because you’re really brave p’licemen,
Not just because you have a real nice home,
Not just because you brought us here to England,
Not Just because you like our drawin’s and poems.
Not just because we have two dogs to play with,
Not just because there’s horses we can ride,
Not just because you gave us three cool uncles,
Not just because you sit at our bedside.
We also love you ‘cause you give us cuddles,
And when we sit together in the den,
We’re happy when you say how much you love us,
And when you say we’ll grow to be good men.
We love you ‘cause you make us feel so safe now,
We love you ‘cause you made us both your own,
We love that you tell folks that we’re your fam’ly,
And will be even when we’re fully grown.
You took two little boys and grew to love us,
We changed your lives but you never seem to mind,
We need for you to know you both are special,
We’re both alive because you were so kind.
Every day is filled with love and laughter,
You chase away our nightmares and the bad.
And so we be both say thanks to you for everythin’,
And hope now you know just why we love our dads.”
JD clapped hard and loud, but Vin’s grin only blossomed when two emotional men thanked him.
“You’re a real smart little dude, thank you,” Buck commended with a ruffle to Vin’s hair and a hug for the blushing boy.
Chris pulled Vin close and placed a soft kiss on his forehead. “It’s perfect. Thanks, son,” he said, quietly. The four huddled in for a group hug.
What a great day,” Chris stated.
After more coffee, the men took a good long look at their counterpart cookie men. With a firm promise that they would eat those the next day, the dads went to shower. Once dressed, fathers and sons took the three dogs for a long walk. They each returned to enjoy a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding lunch, followed by a totally yummy slice of triple layer chocolate cake.
The day was rounded off with a Skype session with Josiah, Ezra, and Nathan, who could hardly wait to try their own cookie men when the guys returned home.
Which would be in less than a month. They could hardly believe that their UK adventure was almost over.
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Police Special Operations
River Thames at Windsor
Swans at Windsor
Jam and Lemon Curd Tarts
Movie - Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists
Happy Meal Toys
Veal and Ham Pie
Jane, Vin, and JD’s triple Chocolate Layer Cake