Fifth story in the Angel Girl series.
Thanks to MOG for creating the ATF universe and allowing us to play with it.
"I hate this. I really, really hate this. This is going to suck big time. I don't want to do this," Buck Wilmington said to himself as he walked up the sidewalk to the small house in a quiet suburb of Denver, Colorado. Buck looked down at the little girl that rested in the baby carrier he gripped tightly in his left hand to remind himself exactly why he was here. "Suck it up, Wilmington. This is for Angela!" he whispered, as he reached to ring the doorbell.
He nervously shifted his boots on the welcome mat that lay on the porch in front of the door and snorted. "Yeah, right. I know I'm gonna be as welcome as warts or athletes foot." he thought before the door opened.
"What the hell do you want, you bastard!" sneered the women before him.
"Ms. Charles, I...," he began.
"Look, I thought I made it clear I never wanted to see your rotten face again," she broke in.
"You surely did, ma'am, but I'm not here for me," Buck said as he gestured to the baby carrier he held, "I'm here for Angela."
The enraged woman's eyes followed his hand to the six month old baby that gazed around contentedly from the sturdy plastic carrier, then back up to the face of the man in front of her. "That's... Julie's baby?" she whispered brokenly.
"Yes, ma'am. I named her Angela, and I need to talk to you about her if you'll just give me a few minutes of your time," he replied.
The woman hesitated a minute before stepping back and pulling the door open wider. "Alright, but just for a minute." Morgan Charles turned and walked into the living room leaving him alone at the open front door. She sat down in an wingback chair facing the long sofa, but didn't bother to invite him to sit. Buck closed the front door and followed her into the room. He deposited the baby carrier on the sofa and took a seat beside it, before turning to face the woman once more.
"I know you don't think much of me," Buck began, "and I can understand that. You were Julie's best friend, and you hold me responsible for getting her pregnant and therefore causing her death. I'm not going to argue with you about that," Buck held up a hand as Morgan opened her mouth to verbally blast him again. "That's not why I'm here."
"Just exactly why are you here then?"
"I'm here to ask you a favor, not for me but for my daughter, Julie's daughter. I know I don't deserve anything from you, but I'm hoping you'll hear me out for her sake."
Morgan looked at the child and asked quietly, "Can I hold her?"
Buck smiled and said, "Sure," as he leaned over to undo the safety straps. He cradled her gently in his arms and walked over to the woman and let her take the child.
"She's beautiful. She looks just like Julie." Morgan gasped as tears started to run down her cheeks.
"Yeah, I know. She's perfect, isn't she?" he said proudly.
Angela looked up into the stranger's face for a moment before starting to cry. The woman rocked the baby gently in an attempt to calm her but Angela was not in the mood to cooperate and just cried harder. Morgan quickly passed the child back into the arms of her hovering father, and watched in disbelief as he expertly soothed her.
"It's okay, Angel girl. Daddy's here," he crooned to her. "Daddy's got you. You're fine. Daddy's not gonna let anyone hurt you." He lightly tickled her tummy with his mustache. The baby laughed and waved her little hands around trying to capture his nose. He wiped the tears off her tiny cheeks with his thumb. Buck glanced back to Morgan to find her watching him closely.
"I'll be damned. Julie was right. I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes."
Buck just smiled. "Julie was always right, wasn't she? She was one smart lady, and this little lady," he said turning back to the bundle in his arms, "is going to be just as smart. Aren't you, darlin'?" Buck crinkled his nose for her as he spoke. Angela waved her arms and legs in excitement as she played with her father.
Watching the proud father and the happy baby, Morgan could feel her attitude softening. "What is it you wanted to talk to me about?"
"I was thinking about Julie, and what a wonderful person she was. Despite what you might think, I really did care about her, and I'll always be grateful to her for giving me this little miracle. I only wish Angela would have had a chance to know her, and that's why I'm here.
Julie told me she didn't have any family, that her parents died in a car accident about four years before we met and she had no other relatives. I know you were her best friend so I was hoping you might have some of her things. You see, I wanted Angela to have something of her mother's. I have a few pictures of her I took when we were to together, but nothing solid that I can give to Angela later and say, "Here, your mama used this, or your mama gave you that." Do you see what I'm saying? I wanted to give Angela a legacy from her mother, so she could feel closer to her when she is old enough to wonder about where her mama is. I think Angela deserves that, and Julie too."
Morgan sighed and said, "I understand what you're asking, and you're right about her things. I do have them. I put them in storage when I cleaned out her apartment. I'll have to think about this."
"That's all I'm asking, Morgan. Here's my phone number and address. Just let me know when you decide." Buck said. He placed Angela back in her carrier and started fastening the safety straps once more before rising and lifting it off the sofa. "We'll go now. Thank you for listening, Morgan."
Buck turned and walked to the front door and let himself and the baby out.
Morgan remained in the living room lost in thought as the shadows of the afternoon faded into the dusk of evening.
+ + + + + + +
"Vin, I swear if you drop her and I'm gonna shoot you dead!" Buck yelled as he headed for the front door to answer the doorbell.
Vin shot him an mischievous grin and continued to toss Angela up in the air and catch her, eliciting gales of laughter from the excited baby. "Look at her, Buck, she loves it," Vin replied.
The seven were gathered at Buck and JD's house on to watch football and play poker, although they all seemed to spend just as much time watching Angela as they did the television.
"I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Wilmington." Ezra warned, "Your actions are completely unacceptable. That is no way to treat a lady. Cease and desist at once or I will be more than happy to assist Mr. Wilmington in arranging your demise."
"You might want to remember all those strained carrots that Josiah just fed her," Chris drawled as he watched from one of the easy chairs arranged in the living room.
"Aww, come on guys," Vin said, "don't be such spoilsports. I'm telling ya, she loves it."
Angela picked that minute to spit up orange gunk all over the front of his shirt.
"Eeeewwww," Vin moaned. He held the baby away from himself at arms length.
"You were warned, Vin," Nathan laughed at his dismayed friend.
"Here, give her to me and I'll go change her," JD said disgustedly as he walked up and took the baby from Vin. "You go clean yourself up in the bathroom, sport."
"Man, that stinks," Vin lamented.
"You reap what you sow, Brother Vin," Josiah smirked.
"Heaved what he sowed is more like it," laughed JD.
His friends laughed harder when Vin threw them a disgusted look over his shoulder as he hurried to the bath room to wash up.
Buck opened the front door to find a delivery man standing next to a loaded dolly.
"I have a delivery for a Buck Wilmington."
"That's me," Buck smiled and took the electronic clipboard from the deliveryman as it was handed to him.
"Just sign here please."
"Sure. I don't remember ordering anything. Who's it from?" Buck questioned as he scrawled his signature on the touch screen.
"It says its from a Morgan Charles," the deliveryman answered disinterestedly, "Where do you want it?"
"Just put it right there," Buck pointed to a spot right inside the living room.
"No problem," replied the man as he wheeled the dolly in and deposited three large boxes inside, then exited the house.
"What'd you get, Buck?" Chris asked when he watched his friend set one of the boxes on the floor and carefully slit the tape on top of the carton with his pocket knife, before pulling back the flaps.
"Some of Julie's things, "Buck said quietly. "Her friend, Morgan, sent them over."
"Is that the same friend that came to the office to tell you about Julie?" Josiah asked, "The one that looked like she wanted to stake you out on an ant hill?"
"Yeah," Buck smiled at Josiah, "That's the one. I went to see her a couple of weeks ago."
"Am I to understand you voluntarily sought out that female, Mr. Wilmington? Why in the world would you ever subject yourself that virago again?" Ezra drawled.
"For Angela," Buck said.
The others just nodded their heads wisely. That simple statement said it all.
"Of course, I should have realized," Ezra said.
JD returned with the now clean baby. Buck took the child from him and sat down on the floor by the open box before settling the child in his lap.
"Look, Angel girl. These were your mama's things. They're yours now. "Buck reached in the box and pulled out a framed picture that showed the smiling face of a lovely brown haired, blue eyed woman. "This is your mama, darlin'. Let me tell you about her," he began.
Author´s note: In this particular zoo it´s alright to feed the animals. Feedback is welcomed.