"Little Britches" (ATF) Universe

Vin noticed that Mr. Buck and Mr. Ezra came back from the deep cover kind of sad and awful tired.

Mr. Ezra didn't even want to play with him and Mr. Buck just hugged him and J.D. and fell asleep on the couch

Mr. Chris said that deep cover was hard this time. Vin didn't ask, because it was hard for Mr. Chris to tell him when something bad had happened, but he figured someone had gotten hurt or died. Mr. Buck and Mr. Ezra looked droopy around the eyes and they only got that way when someone was hurt bad.

Regardless, it was Halloween, and J.D. was so excited that it was a wonder he didn't wake Mr. Buck up.

Mr. Chris said it was a wonder that J.D. didn't wake up people in the next state.

Mr. Chris was going to take them for Trick-or-Treat

Mr. Buck had wanted to come along, but he just looked too tired even asleep and now he didn't have time to find a costume.

J.D. was terribly disappointed. Halloween was special fun and he and Mr. Buck had been looking forward to dressing up and trick-or-treating forever and ever. Then Mr. Buck had to go on deep cover with Mr. Ezra. It was part of their jobs and both little boys knew that job was important. That was how they had found J.D. and Vin when the trolls had hurt Vin so bad.

Vin was a mite disappointed about Halloween, but he was older than J.D. and knew that things didn’t always happen the best way at all. So he didn’t say anything to Mr. Chris. After all, he had more than he had ever dreamed of having, living with Mr. Chris and Mr. Buck and having the rest of the ATF team as part of an extended family.

He and J.D. got to dress up for Halloween at school anyway. They had decided to be injuns. Mr. Buck had gotten them cowboy costumes a long time ago and they wore them so often to play Cowboy that Mr. Chris decided that they should try something different for Halloween. J.D. had said enthusiastically that injuns would be great and Vin had liked the idea, too.

Mr. Chris dropped them off at school like he always did. He parked the car and walked both boys all the way to class. Today he held a big white box full of cookies and cupcakes that Mrs. Potter had made them for them to take to the party. J.D. could hardly stand it knowing that those cookies were in there, glistening and gleaming with orange icing, and Vin liked the thought of all those cats and bats and Halloween Jack-o-lantern cookies waiting for the party and the hordes of children who would swoop on them and eat them.

Mr. Chris was silent as usual. J.D. walked solemnly ahead of them with his arms folded, trying to look like a stern and blood-thirsty savage. Then he would remember the cookies and start dancing around Mr. Chris, sniffing the air for cookie smell like a hungry hound dog and chatting a mile a minute. Vin walked next to Mr. Chris and was silent too. Sometimes being quiet with someone was a nervous thing, like waiting for a mean dog to bite. But being quiet with Mr. Chris was safe and warm and happy as far as Vin was concerned. Mr. Chris looked down at him and smiled a tiny little crooked smile that said hundred of things, that Mr. Chris loved him and loved J.D., that he thought J.D. was funny, that he was glad to be with them, that it was a beautiful day and that any time he spent with Vin was special.

Vin smiled back at Mr. Chris and knew that his own little smile meant that he loved and trusted Mr. Chris, and loved to be with him, and that J.D. was funny and fun to watch and that his world was good now because he had Mr. Chris and Mr. Buck and J.D. and Mr. Ezra and Mr. Nathan and Mr. Josiah and Miz Nettie and Mrs. Potter and Peso and the ranch and school.

Mr. Chris always walked them all the way into the classroom on the days when he brought them to school. Vin knew that most of the other grownups didn’t do that, but he didn’t mind at all. It was Mr. Chris’ way of saying that he wanted to make sure they were safe and that he liked to spend time with them. One boy in J.D.’s class had told them they were sissy boys because their Daddy walked them to school, and Vin had only rubbed that boy’s face in the dirt and grinned all day because the boy had thought Mr. Chris was his daddy. It was a nice thought.

Vin and J.D. had the same homeroom, which was where the party would be. J.D. and Vin had helped with the decorations and Mr. Nathan had gotten them a real live skeleton to hang up with a cape and fangs. All the girls squealed whenever they got to close to it. It was made from a real human being and Vin would often sneak up and touch it daringly.

J.D. would touch it too, but then spoil his bravery by running around the room shrieking every time he did. The teacher had made a new rule about J.D. touching skeletons only between classes because of it.

She said that J.D. had a shriek that could break rock.

The day was wonderful. No one called Vin stupid in class and he was doing much better at reading now that he had a new teacher and Mr. Ezra helping him.

Everyone ran around at recess dressed in costumes and Vin practiced sneaking like an injun and startled their homeroom teacher so that she shrieked and dropped a book.

Vin thought he was in trouble, until she laughed and told him he had great potential as an indian scout.

They had a parade around the school in costume right before the party and Vin was really surprised to see Miz Nettie there taking pictures with Mr. Josiah. He and J.D. broke out of line and gave their caseworker and adopted grandmother huge hugs. Then they pounced on Josiah and hugged him too, while he picked them up and held them upside down to cool their brains off. Vin didn’t think it ever worked, because J..D. always giggled, but he never told Mr. Josiah because he didn’t want him to stop the practice.

After that they got back in line and posed as Indians for the cameras. Miz Nettie waved goodbye, but Mr. Josiah came to the party and told the children Indian ghost stories that made J.D. come and sit close next to Vin.

They ate tons of cookies and cupcakes and were running around whooping like indians when Mrs. Potter came to pick them up.

“Everyone loved your cookies and cupcakes!” shouted J.D. boisterously as he attacked the skeleton. Vin smiled at Mrs. Potter. She was a good housekeeper. She never fainted at blood and always listened. She also loved baking cookies and pies and cakes for little boys and big boys like Buck and Chris. She didn’t wear stinky perfumes and she and Miz Nettie liked each other. Vin thought she was perfect.

He took Mrs. Potter’s hand. He knew that he didn’t need to, but he also knew she really liked it when they held her hand as they walked back to her station wagon. So he didn’t care if anyone called him names about it. He’d just make em kiss the dirt later if they did.

Once they sat in the car, Vin stared out the window at the falling leaves while J.D. told Mrs. Potter about their day. She laughed about the skeleton.

“I wouldn’t care to touch a real live skeleton, myself,” she said chuckling, “But I’m glad you boys had so much fun with it.”

Vin looked down at his hands and smiled. Girls were funny, even older girls like Mrs. Potter and Miz Nettie. Miz Nettie, for instance, thought that Mr. Buck’s old apartment was a den of iniquity. Vin wasn’t sure what that meant exactly but thought it was maybe because of all those girlie magazines Mr. Buck kept hidden from little boys. Vin had looked at one oncet and thought it was the dumbest thing he’d ever seen. Those ladies in the magazine reminded him of Miss Christina their old housekeeper who’d fainted and read that dumb Cosmo something magazine all the time and talked on the phone to boys. He didn’t think much of them or Miss Christina neither, but didn’t hold it against Mr. Buck for liking a boring magazine. Grownups were strange.

“Is Mr. Buck feeling better,” he asked, remembering that Mr. Buck had slept through J.D. this morning, which wasn’t a good sign.

Mrs. Potter frowned as she drove and cast a quick glance at both boys, “He slept all day long, boys. I don’t know if he’ll feel up to trick or treating.”

Vin nodded solemnly to show that he understood. J.D. looked disappointed and sat still for a few moments. Vin hated it when J.D. was unhappy. He smiled down at the younger boy and said, “We’ll have fun, don’t you worry. Its already been a great day.”

J.D. gave him a wan little smile. “Yup, it was a very nice day. I had a lot of fun.”

Vin exchanged worried looks with Mrs. Potter. J.D. had two speeds, fast and miserable. He hoped his friend wasn’t going to go into one of his misery sessions because he couldn’t have Mr. Buck with him.

Once they were home, they followed Mrs. Potter into the kitchen and had supper with her. She lit their Jack-o-lanterns in the front room while they were eating the hot chili and cheese biscuits she'd made. Then she had to leave.

She kissed both J.D. and Vin. "Happy Halloween, my little wild Indians," she said. "Mr. Larabee will be here soon to take you out for Tricks or Treats. And don't worry about waking up Mr. Wilmington. He's dead to the world in there."

She left and they waved at her from the window. When her car had gone down the road leading from the ranch, they turned as one and went back to the living room where Mr. Buck was still sleeping.

"He snores really loud," said J.D.

"Yup," said Vin.

"I bet if we had a costume for him, when he woke up, he'd want to trick or treat with us." J.D. sounded as though he was thinking things over.

"Yeah, but we don't have a costume for him."

J.D.'s face lit up. "Toilet Paper. We have tons of that and we could use it to make Mr. Buck into a Mummy monster!"

Vin was doubtful that it would work, but he didn't mind trying.

Soon they were giggling and wrapping Mr. Buck's sleeping form with toilet paper. Mr. Buck never even moved, just snored. J. D. stood up and looked to Vin.

"It doesn't stay too good. We need some kind of tape."

Vin looked for scotch tape, then he went to the kitchen drawer for things like that and found a huge roll of duct tape.

"Hey," he said, "This is kewl looking. We'll use duct tape."

And Mr. Buck snored on. He sounded like a monster already.

"I don't think Mummy's have mustache's," said J.D. thoughtfully as they taped one of Mr. Buck's arms to his chest with a mix of toilet paper and duct tape that gleamed under the soft orange glow of the jack-o-lanterns.

"Don't make it so he can't breath," warned Vin, but J.D. was already taping Mr. Buck's mustache and open snoring mouth down.

Mr. Buck made woofing kind of noise and his eyes opened up.

J.D.'s mouth dropped open. Mr. Buck looked all red eyed, just like a monster.

"We turned Mr. Buck into a monster," he shrieked in glee.

His eyes wild, Buck Wilmington tried to get off the couch and fell, because they had taped the bottom of this feet together.

"What the hell is going on?" he tried to ask, but it came out "Warrghh uump arrrggle."

He came to his knees and used his one free hand to grasp the couch and make his way to his feet.

It had been a hell of a case. A man had died, not due to anything Buck did, but Buck had felt horribly depressed. He and Ezra had barely drug themselves home to rest. Nothing could lift the deep remorse he felt over the situation. They'd made a successful bust, and then learned that the drug dealer had killed someone he suspected of being a cop.

Now he was apparently on the receiving end of one of the boys' bright ideas.

"Kids, help me out here," he tried to say, but what came out was, "WARRRRRGGGGGG!!"

J.D.'s shrieks galvanized young Vin and soon both children were running from him merrily.

As he attempted to get loose, some of the earlier dark mood lifted. He had Ez had done their damnest, people were safe from a scum bucket and here were two of the cutest little britches in the world, egging him on to play monster.

"WARRRRRGGGGG" he growled and began to give chase.

Ezra Standish, Josiah Sanchez and Nathan Jackson had followed Chris Larabee home tonight. They were all a little moody in light of the bad news that had come with a successful bust. If only they'd known the drug runner's suspicions, they might have saved a life. A young criminal life that could have turned around.

However, Josiah had urged the men to go and play with the kids. "The boys are the other side of our job, the one we don't get to see. Let's enjoy them being happy for once."

Ezra had agreed. "I for one could use some of their enthusiasm and mischief."

Nathan had snorted and all three had explained to their team leader that they wanted "in" on the fun.

Chris had been amenable to their plan, "As long as you remember not to pig out on the candy until after Trick-or-Treat is over," he warned and was unable to resist a gentle smile when they all laughed.

So now they walked up toward the dark house. No trick-or-treaters were to be seen, but they could certainly hear both J.D. and Vin shrieking in excited voices at some Halloween pleasure

"WAARRRGGG," they heard from inside the house, lit only by the Jack-o-lanterns in the front window.

The screen door bashed open and all four men stood still, as two little Indians ran out of the house shrieking at the top of their young lungs. But behind the two came the wonder of the evening.

"What the hell?" was Larabee's only comment. The rest were stunned to uncommon silence.

Shuffling along, toilet paper rustling in the autumn breeze, came a monster. Its feet were tied together by a strange gleaming silvery substance, as was one arm and its mouth.

"ARRRRGGGGGGGG," said the Monster.

"Say Cheese," said Ezra brightly and took a photograph. He'd been prepared to take pictures of the boys, but this was going to provide blackmail material for years!

The monster's shoulders slumped. "Oh thit" they heard it say distinctly.

"Mr. Buck is the Mummy now!" announced one small excited Indian, while a slightly larger one launched himself on an amused and bemused Chris Larabee.

"J.D. made a costume for Mr. Buck while he was sleeping," announced Vin

"WARRAGGGGG" said the monster.

"Let me give you a hand there, Brother," said Josiah as he and Nathan Jackson began to extricate the chagrined ATF agent from his costume.

:"This is going to hurt, Buck," warned Nathan, wincing as he took hold of the corner of the duct tape covering Buck's mouth.




Ezra wanted a full photo diary of this epic occurrence. The bulletin board at work in the coffee room would do just fine.

"Oops," said J.D. "I didn't think it would hurt taking it off."

Freed from his silvery bonds, Buck checked his face. It felt like most of his prized mustache was still in place.

He turned toward where J.D. was hanging onto Chris' leg.

"Did you know what Mummy's eat?" he asked.

J.D.'s curiosity got the better of him and he edged closer.

"What?" he squeaked.

"WILD INJUNS," howled Buck.

Vin shrieked and jumped out of Chris' arms and he and J.D. raced around the yard, being chased by their favorite monster.

Josiah and Nathan watched for a moment, shrugged and then started chasing the boys too. Ezra carefully went inside and took off his expensive jacket and put down his camera then came back outside where Chris was watching three grown men chasing little shrieking boys through the leaves of Fall.

"They are only boys once, Mr. Larabee," the undercover agent chided.

Larabee looked thoughtfully at the now leaf encrusted Wilmington rolling in a pile of leaves with an excited little boy. The sound of giggling and shrieks was pleasant music to jaded ears.

"Reckon you're right, Ez," was the laconic reply as both ATF agents dove into the game.

Later, Buck insisted on going with the boys for Trick-or-Treats. Chris and Nathan ended up staying at the ranch to wait for Trick-or-Treaters, while Ezra and Josiah went with the Ladies man and the two children.

They returned with masses of candy. Buck got two phone numbers from women who appreciated a man trying to raise two little wild Indians.

Putting an over-excited J.D. to bed was interesting.

Buck finally came out of the boys' room and grinned at his fellow ATF agents.

"Vin fell asleep as soon as he hit the bed, but J.D. has mastered the art of levitation. He's sort of laying there a foot above the bed vibrating in place."

"Sugar and adrenaline," said Nathan.

Chris shook his head, "And he didn't even eat all his candy."

"It wasn't the sugar, it was the excitement," said Josiah sagely as he bit into a left-over candy bar.

Ezra Standish looked thoughtful as he fished in the treat bowl for peanut butter cups.

"Thank you for letting me share Halloween, Gentlemen. It was just what one weary soul needed tonight."

Buck grinned at his friend. "Just what I needed too. Nuthin' like being turned into a mummy to make a man appreciate life."

The End