Disclaimer: This story is written for the private entertainment of fans. The author makes no claims to the series' characters by the creation of this story. Fraser, Vecchio, Kowalski et.al. belong to Alliance, Paul Haggis and all the creative genius who made this show so special. No infringement of any copyrights held by CBS, Alliance, CTV, TNT or any other copyright holders of due SOUTH is intended. No money being made here.
Note to the Readers: This was written in answer to an Art chellenge on one of my fic lists. The idea was to write a due South story to match the picture that was posted. It is short and sappy. Oh, and about the hair color? Children's hair often changes, becoming lighter or darker as they grow up. Enjoy! 'Thank you kindly!'
By: Janice R. Sager
"Now, you're sure about this? I don't want to be an imposition or anything?"
"Caroline, Caroline, Caroline," Buck Frobisher shook his head and smiled down on the toddler clutching his pant leg. He reached down and tosseled the golden curls before glancing up at the boy's mother again. "I want to do this all right? God knows I missed enough anniversaries with Tina when she was alive. This is the first time in what--three years Bob's been home for it?"
"Five," Caroline admitted ducking her head.
Buck reacted, or more accurately, over-reacted and took a half step back in surprise, remembering at the last moment that little Benton still had a hold on his pant leg. He glanced down into those bright blue eyes and halted the move.
"You've only been married five years!" he exclaimed, glancing back up at Caroline.
She shrugged a shoulder. "I knew what I was getting into when I married him."
Yeah, Buck admitted silently, remembering their long distance courtship. She'd known... She and Bob had been separated for almost a year after Bob popped the question. She'd written him everyday of that time, probably still did Buck knew, and still gladly walked down the aisle with him when Bob finally accrued a few weeks leave. But that didn't make the long separations any easier.
"Then what are you still doing here worried about whether or not I'll watch Benton!" he scolded her roundly. "Grab the chance and get going girl! You've got more important things to worry about tonight. Julie and I will take good care of little Benton for you."
He turned his head and offered his own bright eyed little pixie a proud smile. Julie stood at the doorway, her gaze reveted to little Ben but too shy to come forward. Buck was pleasantly surprised she was even in the room. The doctors had told him not to push it when he'd taken her in, fearing for her young mind after the death of her mother. She's always been shy but-- He'd been told that children dealt with such pain in many different ways. She was simply dealing with her grief in her own way and it would take time for her to open up again, especially around other women.
That was more than a month ago and this was the first time she hadn't disappeared from the room whenever someone came over.
"If you're sure? I mean he can be a bit of a hand full," Caroline offered, pulling his worried mind back to the present.
Buck laughed. "He's a boy! Of course he's a hand full. Now get out of here before you insist on talking me out of it." He quickly bent and swept the little boy into his arms, settling him on a hip so he could face his mother and Buck all but pushed her out the door. He took the little arm in his hand and wagged it up and down. "Say bye-bye. Bye-bye!"
The blue pacifier in Benton's mouth bobbed up and down as he chewed on it and blinked incomprehensibly from one adult to the other. It was only as his mother pulled her parka hood up that he seemed to realize she was leaving him. The pacifier dropped from his mouth and suddenly Buck found himself holding twenty-five pounds of wriggling, screaming baby!
Caroline immediately turned back but Buck swung Ben away and scowled at her.
"No," he said. "I'll handle it Caroline. You need some time with Bob. Benton will be fine. Now go on."
And he quickly launched into a crazy little dance swinging Benton high overhead and making funny faces as the boy squealed in delight. In his periphery, Buck saw Caroline hesitate and quickly reprimanded her in a sing-song voice that Benton couldn't possible interpret as anything other than part of the game. "We Mounties can handle anything, Caroline, even eighteen month old screaming babies. Get out of here before I have to deal with your screaming husband as well!" He crossed his eyes and Benton screeched happily, batting at his face and grabbing his nose. Buck rewarded his grip by blowing out his cheeks, another face that Benton seemed to think remarkably funny. Hand full, Buck thought, this was going to be a piece of cake!
Four hours later he was regretting the thought and running out of distraction tactics! Benton had started screaming again the minute he realized his mother was gone. Another bout of swinging and faces had worked for a few minutes but the boy quickly became bored with it and fought to be let down. Buck had given in to his wishes, where upon the boy set out in a rapid tottering walk as fast as he could for the door. Buck had scooped him up and tried to redirect him to no avail. And then Julie had appeared.
"Stop that!" she scolded in her most commanding four year old voice.
And, as if almost by magic, the frightened angry child that was Benton Fraser disappeared. He blinked his bright blue eyes in surprise and cocked his head to the side much as his father did as he stared at Julie.
He watched almost mesmerized as Julie bent and picked up his pacifier from the floor, wiped it on her dress and offered it to him.
Where had she learned that move, Buck wondered, afraid to even breath for fear of destroying the moment.
Julie frowned at Ben's red face, cheeks wet with tears and nose running. A tiny fist wiped at it ineffectively and-- Buck blinked, realizing the nose was out of control and quickly made a grab for the wet wipes Caroline had left. He hated to intervene but the nose was in definite need of attention!
Ben did not like getting his face washed, but then Buck had never met a child this age who did. He also removed the boys yellow shirt and striped him down to socks and a pair of shorts. It was plenty warm in the house and the clothing-- Buck wondered if he had anything of Julie's that wouldn't look totally ridiculous on the boy. Ben squirmed and fussed throughout the operation but at least he didn't start screaming again.
Julie appeared again as Buck finally wrestled his tiny feet out of the soiled pants and Ben instantly settle down again, apparently as fascinated with Julie as she was with him.
Several hours later, Buck was back to thinking taking care of Benton was a breeze. He smiled as he glanced over the top of his paper and watched his daughter help little Ben climb up into the old wing back chair with her. Ben was getting tire and flopped down in the corner like a limp rag doll, his round little belly still protruding from the dinner he'd just eaten. Julie returned his tired stare, still fascinated by this living doll and watched as the pacifier continued to bob up and down in his tiny mouth. Ten minutes later, they were both sound asleep and Buck was wishing he had film in his camera. Ah well, he filed the memory carefully away and then picked them up, one by one, and tucked them into Julie's bed. Neither of them so much as stirred a muscle, too exhausted from their play.
Buck smiled down at his daughters dark head next to Benton's blond curls and remembered the animation on her face as the two had interacted. It was more life than she'd shown since-- He shoved the thought aside and smiled at the sleeping toddler.
"Thank you Benton," he whispered, giving both children a gentle kiss. Then he straightened and turned out the light. He smiled to himself, remembering Caroline's worry when she left.
"Piece of cake," he decided.