"Little Britches" (ATF) Universe
Mrs. Potter came out of the kitchen to check on Vin. He was still sitting in the same spot staring out the front window. She knew he had a clear view to the driveway and she shook her head as she saw the young boy heave a great sigh and continue his vigil. This week had been a disappointment to the two boys. It was spring break and plans were made for them to go camping with their foster fathers and their adopted uncles. Gloria was there when Chris broke the news to Vin that the team had to go on training that same week. JD didn't understand and got upset when they couldn't go. Vin had said nothing but Chris knew Vin was just as upset. As Gloria watched she saw Vin sit up straight looking out the window. Just as quickly he slumped back in the chair and banged his forehead on the window. A car must have passed on the street. She knew Vin was waiting for Chris and Buck to come home. It was Friday and they had promised.
"Vin, I made some chocolate chip cookies," Gloria said trying to take his mind off the fact that the men weren't home yet.
"No thank you," Vin said politely not looking up from the window.
Gloria left Vin to check on JD and her two children. They were in the other room playing video games. JD was hanging upside down on the couch as he watched the older boy play. Gloria frowned as JD began to kick the back of the couch in his excitement.
"JD, sit up," she called.
JD quickly did as he was told. "Sorry."
"It's all right, JD," Gloria said as JD looked at her with those big brown eyes. "I just don't want you kicking the back of the couch."
"OK," JD said smiling as he went back to watching.
"Tom, how long have you been playing?"
"Not that long," Tom answered.
"Yes you have," Elizabeth disagreed. "JD's been waiting for his turn."
"Is Ok," JD said. "I like to watch."
"Tom let JD have a turn," Gloria scolded.
Gloria turned back to the kitchen as she heard her son mumbling that it wasn't fair. She laughed when she heard her daughter scolding Tom that this was JD's house not his. Sometimes Elizabeth mothered Tom more than she did. Gloria was making her way to the kitchen when she saw headlights turn down the drive.
"They're here!" Vin yelled as he raced for the door.
"Vin wait!" Gloria called.
But it was too late. Vin was out the door in his barefeet. They had a hard time keeping shoes and socks on the seven-year-old. Gloria made her way to the door just as JD ran out following his friend. As Gloria stepped out on the porch she could see Vin running up the driveway. JD valiantly tried to catch up but Vin was too fast. The driver was forced to stop the Ram or hit Vin. Gloria wasn't surprised to see Chris step out of the driver's seat. Buck climbed out of the passenger's seat shaking his head as he began to jog towards JD. Vin waved as he passed Buck. Gloria smiled as Chris bent down and held his arms wide for Vin. He stood up holding the boy shaking his head as he grabbed Vin's bare foot. Gloria could imagine what Chris was saying to Vin since she heard him say it a thousand times. She also knew Chris wasn't yelling at Vin because the boy kept smiling as Chris grabbed his foot and shook it. Chris climbed back into the truck and continued towards the house. Gloria watched as Chris past Buck holding a winded JD and stopped to let them in. As the Ram stopped just outside the door Gloria could see Vin sitting in Chris's lap steering the big truck. It came to a stop and Buck climbed out carrying a chattering JD.
"And Mrs. Potter made chocolate cookies and we had cake," JD said as Buck walked into the house.
"So you ate only goodies all week?"
"No, silly," JD laughed. "We had vegetables too and chicken."
"Hello, Gloria," Chris said as he came in carrying Vin. "Did they give you any trouble?"
"Of course not," she smiled. "There were a few arguments over the new playstation Buck got but we settled that quickly enough. Tom did most of the arguing."
"I see you had no luck keeping Vin in shoes either," Chris said as he put Vin down.
"Why do I got to wear them inside?" Vin asked. "They'll last longer if I don't."
Gloria hid her smile at Chris's sigh. Vin still had hard time grasping the fact that he didn't have to worry where his clothes came from or how to make them last longer.
"Vin you don't..." Chris began.
"Well Vin, I came up with a solution to that," Buck said as he put JD down. "Let me go out and get our bags and I'll show you."
Gloria excused herself to gather her things and get he kids ready to leave. Chris had no idea what Buck was up to and waited with the boys for Buck to return.
"Was school fun?" JD asked excitedly as he jumped on the couch next to Chris.
"No it was..." Chris was about to say boring as hell but knew Vin wasn't fond of school and changed his mind. "It was great. We learned a lot of new things that will help on the job."
"Did you have to take tests?" Vin asked.
"Wish I didn't either."
Chris smiled at Vin's wistful tone. Buck finally came back in carrying their two bags. He put them next to the couch and began to rummage in his. JD walked over to him and jumped on his back throwing his arms around his neck.
"What ya doin'?" JD asked.
"Looking for something."
"Looking for what?"
"When I find it you'll see."
Vin was just as curious as JD and sat on the floor next to Buck's legs. Buck grumbled trying to figure out what the heck he'd done with the bag. He finally found it all the way at the bottom. When finally pulled it free he sat up. He opened the bag and pulled out two pairs of moccasins.
"Vin look!" JD said excitedly. "Like the Indians wear."
"That's right JD," Buck said. "These are to be worn only in the house so you don't wear out your shoes."
That wasn't the reason Buck had bough the boys moccasins but it came in handy to Vin to wear something in the house. Chris didn't care if Vin went bare foot in the summer but Colorado winters were just too cold. JD grabbed the pair Buck handed him and pulled off his sneakers. In his rush one of his sneakers went flying over the back of the couch. Buck laughed as JD pulled the moccasins on. Vin was sitting on the floor doing the same thing. Buck had gotten them ankle height ones that tied with a leather thong. Vin pulled his on then stood up.
"You look like Kojay," Chris said.
"Yeah!" Vin said as he stomped around the room.
Kojay was a friend of Josiah's. He was a chief of a Navajo tribe from Arizona. Kojay lived in Denver now and worked for the Bureau of Indian affairs. When Josiah first introduced the boys to Kojay Vin had been so excited to meet a real Indian. Vin became fast friends with Kojay's son Chanu. Gloria came back into the living room to find JD and Vin running around like wild men. Buck wasn't helping by chasing them growling like a bear. When Chris saw her he came over to say good bye.
"Thanks again, Gloria," Chris said as he handed her a check.
"It's my pleasure," Gloria said. "Besides my two like coming over here."
"We sure do," Tom said. "Buck has the neatest games!"
"And I like the horses," Elizabeth added.
"You're welcome anytime."
"Dinner is almost ready," Gloria said. "The vegetables are heating in the microwave."
Chris thanked her again as he walked them to the door. As the car started up the driveway he closed the door and leaned against it. It was good to be home. The living room was empty and Chris headed for the kitchen. JD and Vin were setting the table while Buck got the vegetables out of the microwave. Chris went over to the stove and pulled out the roast. It was done in one of those bags with the potatoes and carrots. Chris took a whiff of the savory meat as he cut open the bag. He sighed in pleasure at the thought of a home cooked meal. If he ate one more fast food dinner he would scream. He put everything on a plate then carried it over to table. Buck was pouring Vin a glass of milk as Chris cut the meat.
"Don't want milk," Vin said.
"Vin you know what Dr. Two Eagles said."
"But buck, I already had some today."
"You can have another glass," Chris said sternly. "It won't hurt you."
They had the hardest time getting Vin to drink milk. It wasn't that he was lactose intolerant he just didn't like it. Dr. Two Eagles said they had to get him to drink at least one glass a day or they would have to give Vin calcium supplements. Vin took the glass from Buck and drank it down as fast he could.
"Vin!" Chris scolded. Vin gulped what he had in his mouth and looked at Chris over the rim of the glass. "You don't have to drink it all at once."
"Yes, sir," Vin said quietly and put the glass back on the table.
Buck scowled at Chris from behind Vin. Chris sighed as a cut the roast. This wasn't how he wanted to start their evening together. JD didn't seem to notice anything was wrong and began to chatter about everything they did all week. Buck drew Vin into the conversation and he happily told them what they did. When dinner was over the boys helped clear the table then went into the living room to watch some TV. JD sat with Buck on the couch while Vin shared the recliner with Chris. JD pulled out his favorite DVD, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and handed it to Buck.
"This one again."
"But I like it."
"Why don't we let Vin decide," Buck suggested.
"I like that one too," Vin said and Chris laughed.
Buck sighed and put the DVD in the machine. JD laughed and jumped back on the couch. Buck joined him and got comfortable. Vin snuggled into a more comfortable position as the movie started. Chris looked down and saw Vin's hair was covering his eyes. He reached down and pulled the hair back.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you," Chris said. "I was angry that they kept us late tonight and I shouldn't have taken it out on you."
"Its alright," Vin said. "As long as you're here."
"Well tomorrow we're going to have some fun," Chris said. "Everyone's coming over for a BBQ."
"Thought we were gonna go camping?" JD asked.
"We won't have time," Buck said. "We'll make it up to you."
"Ok," JD pouted.
Buck hated to disappoint JD. Damn the bureau for sending them on training this week. Buck sat and watched the movie and got an idea.
"Hey we can go camping in the backyard. You know set up the tents on the lawn and spend the night."
"Could we?" Vin asked eagerly.
"If you want," Chris answered.
"Can we sit out and look at the stars? And eat marshmallows and hotdogs we cook over the fire?"
"Well we won't be able to have a fire like when we go real camping," Buck said. "But you can have hotdogs and roast marshmallows on the grill."
"All right!" JD yelled.
Chris looked at Buck and smiled. They had another surprise for the boys. He knew Buck was busting at the seams trying to keep it a secret. Chris was just glad they still had to pick the items up or Buck would have shown them to the boys as soon as they got home. Tomorrow would be soon enough.
Chris rolled over in bed and groaned. The sun was shinning through his window falling across the pillow. Chris looked at the clock and saw it was 8:30. He knew Buck was probably still asleep and that the boys would have been up earlier to watch cartoons. Chris rolled out of bed and pulled on a robe. As he walked down the hall towards the living room he could hear JD laughing and Vin hushing him. Chris came to the end of the hall and watched the two boys. JD was in his favorite position upside down hanging his head over the couch. Vin was sitting on the couch next to him. Chris was glad to see both boys were wearing their new moccasins. On the table were two bowls for cereal and two small milk cartons. Chris liked just watching the two boys but he rarely got the chance. Vin always seemed to know he was watching. As if on cue Vin looked up at him and smiled.
"You boys behaving?"
"Uh huh," JD said. "We bein' real quiet."
"Well, why don't you boys go wake up Buck," Chris suggested. "We've got some things to do before the others show up."
"Okay!" JD said rolling off the couch.
Chris laughed as JD ran down the hall yelling Buck's name. Vin followed and Chris knew Buck wouldn't be asleep for long. Chris went back to his room and pulled on an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt. As he was tying his boots Vin walked in already dressed.
"Ready to take care of the horse?"
"Any trouble waking Buck?"
"Nope, JD, jumped on him," Vin said. "'Cept after he did it Buck was talking kinda funny."
Chris hid his smile as he walked out of the room. Vin followed and they went out to the barn. Peso gave a loud neigh when he saw them walking towards the barn. Vin ran ahead and crawled under the fence to greet the big black. Chris continued into the barn and got the food. When he came out Peso had been joined by Beavis and Pony. They were each in separate corrals but at one corner the corrals came together. Chris handed Vin Peso's food and he carried the other two buckets to Pony and Beavis.
"Get your head out of the bucket!" Vin yelled. "How 'm I supposed to put your food in it?"
Chris laughed as Vin pushed the big black out of the way. Peso could be a handful but the horse liked Vin and would follow him anywhere. Chris went back in the barn and got several flakes of hay for each horse. When he came out he saw Vin was cleaning up Peso's corral. Buck had found small wheelbarrows and pitchforks at the hardware store and got one for each of the boys. Vin happily picked up the manure and put it in the wheelbarrow. When it was full he pushed it to the back of the barn. Chris grabbed the big wheelbarrow and started on Pony's corral. By the time Vin was done with Peso's corral Chris had finished both Pony's and Beavis'. Chris was sweeping the barn when Vin came in and leaned his wheelbarrow against the wall.
"Well then let's head up to the house and get cleaned up."
Chris took Vin's hand and they walked back to the house. As they passed Peso's corral Chris could see it was completely clean. Vin took his job very seriously and always did a good job. It was a beautiful day but it was still cool in Colorado. Winter wasn't quite ready to give up it's hold but it wouldn't be much longer before spring was finally there.
"Look, Chris, a robin!" Vin yelled pointing.
"In the tree over there, don't you see him?"
Chris looked but couldn't see anything. He wasn't surprised, Vin's eyesight was exceptional. "I'm sorry, Vin, I don't see it."
"That's okay, he flew away already," Vin said cheerfully. "Teacher said when you see a robin springs coming."
"Race you to the house!" Vin shouted and dashed off.
Chris yelled that wasn't fair as he pretended Vin ran too fast for him. Buck came out on the porch with JD and they cheered Vin on. Vin ran up the steps to the porch and danced around.
"You won!" JD yelled.
"What's the matter, Chris, getting too old?" Buck teased.
"I can still whip your butt."
"A quarter! A quarter!" JD chanted.
Buck laughed as Chris shook his head. They had come up with the idea to keep the boys from cursing. Every time someone cursed they had to put a quarter in a jar. JD held out his hand demanding the quarter. Chris said he didn't have any in his pocket and would have to get one out of his room. Both boys pulled Chris down the hall as the bell rang. Buck went to answer the door as they disappeared.
"Mornin', Buck," Josiah said as he came in carrying a big pot.
"That what I think it is?"
"Yup, my five alarm chili."
"Siah!" JD yelled as he came running down the hall. Josiah handed the pot to Buck so he could swoop JD into his arm. "I got a quarter for the jar."
"Who said a bad word this mornin?"
"Chris said he could beat Buck's butt," JD said and quickly covered his mouth.
"Looks like someone else owes a quarter," Buck said.
"But I ain't got any."
"Tell you what," Josiah said carrying JD over to the jar in the kitchen. "I'll put the quarter in for you this time."
Josiah pulled a quarter out of his pocket and handed it to JD. Then he took the lid off the jar so JD could put the money in it. Josiah peered in and saw a ten-dollar bill.
"That's from when Buck hit his thumb with the hammer," JD said. "His nail turned all black and everything. It was really gross."
The doorbell rang again and JD asked to be put down so he could get it. He ran to the door and stood in front of it.
"Who is it!"
"It's Nathan and Ezra."
"Buck! It's Nathan and Ezra!" JD yelled as he opened the door.
"It's a good thing you live out here in the country," Josiah teased. "That boy could wake the dead."
"Don't I know it," Buck laughed.
"Buck! Look it's Nathan and Ezra," JD yelled.
"JD what did we say about using your inside voice in the house," Buck reminded.
"I fogot," JD said quietly.
"That's alright I know you're excited about seeing everybody."
"Josiah!" Vin yelled when he saw the older man. "Look at my moccasins!"
"I got some too!" JD said as he took off down the hall.
"Well look at those," Josiah said as he picked Vin up to get a closer look. Vin's hair was wet and Josiah figured he just came from the shower.
"They're like Kojay's," Vin said. "Buck got them for me to wear in the house."
"Me too," JD said holding his up. "But I wanna wear my sneakers. Do I gotta put my moc'sins on?"
"No you can wear your sneakers," Buck said.
"Vin!" Chris called. "Come, let me dry your hair."
They watched as Vin disappeared down the hall. JD dragged the other men into the den to watch cartoons with him. A short while later Nathan looked up to see Chris walking down the hall with Vin. Vin was holding Chris's hand and laughing as Chris swung his arm back and forth.
"Ready to go, Buck?" Chris asked.
"Yup," Buck said as he passed JD to Josiah and stood up.
"Where ya goin'?" Vin asked.
"We have to go pick up some stuff for the BBQ."
"Can I come?"
"Me too!" JD demanded.
"I believe it will be faster if they go alone and you remain here," Ezra said.
"But we missed them all week," Vin protested. "Can't one of yous go?"
"We'll only be gone a little while," Chris said as he picked up his keys.
"Besides you have your uncles to play with," Buck said.
"It's not the same," Vin pouted.
Josiah laughed and apologized for not living up to the Chris's standard. Nathan asked JD to show him how to play a video game and the five-year-old was more than willing. Vin reluctantly joined them as Chris and Buck went out the door.
"I can't wait to see their faces," Buck said, excitedly.
"You realize we're going to spend the rest of the day teaching them how to ride."
"It'll be fun."
Chris smiled since he knew Buck was right. He pulled into the driveway and saw Peso at the top of the corral by the street. The black raced the truck along the fence as Chris drove towards the house. They weren't surprised when Vin and JD ran from the back of the house to greet them. Josiah and Nathan followed them and they all waited until Chris stopped the truck.
"Hi, Chris!" Vin said as his guardian stepped out of the truck.
"You been good?"
"Uh huh. We were playing bad something with this birdie."
"Badminton?" Chris asked as he walked to the back of the Ram.
"Yeah that's it," Vin smiled. "Can I help carry somfin?"
"I have a better idea."
Chris opened the back of the Ram to reveal the surprise they got. Buck reached in and pulled out a small neon yellow mountain bike with training wheels and put it in front of JD. Chris grabbed a metallic blue one without training wheels and put it in front of Vin.
"Wow!" JD exclaimed.
"What are these for?" Vin asked. "It's not our birthdays."
Vin still believed you didn't get something for nothing. That there always had to be strings attached.
"well Easter is coming and we wanted to get you something," Chris explained.
"Easter?" JD asked.
"I'll explain about it later," Josiah said. "Don't you want to try your new bikes?"
"Yeah!" JD yelled as he climbed on.
"Hold on there Little Bit," Buck said grabbed the seat of the bike. "First you have to put on some head gear."
Once the headgear was in place the fun began. JD didn't have much trouble since the training wheels kept him balanced. Vin had a little trouble at first but once he got his balance he was doing pretty good. Chris was running along side him when Vin said he could let go. When he did Vin stayed up on his own and that was the end.
"God I'm glad that's done," Choruses said huffing.
"What's the matter, Stud, out of shape?" Buck teased.
"You got off easy, brother, those training wheels kept JD balanced," Josiah said.
"Don't I know it," Buck laughed.
"Buck!" JD called as he steered his bike over to the four men. "How come my bike's got extra wheels?"
"Because you're younger than Vin," Buck explained. "You need them."
"I ain't a baby!" JD declared. "I don't need um."
"Why don't you keep them on for a little while," Nathan said. "Just until you get used to riding it."
"But I already am," JD said confused.
"Maybe we'll take them off tomorrow," Buck said.
"Okay," JD shrugged and rode away. He'd ask Vin to help him take them off.
"We better go see what Ezra is doing," Nathan said. "We left him watching the food."
"Good Lord!" Josiah exclaimed. "I forgot."
They laughed as Josiah dashed around the house. Chris turned back to JD and Vin. "You boys only ride on the driveway or the grass. No going in the street."
"OK Chris," Vin yelled.
"If you want us we'll be in the back helping Ezra with the food."
"OK!" Both boys yelled.
Buck laughed saying a bicycle had replaced him. Chris was glad he'd made the boys so happy. This was going to be a fun day for everyone.
JD watched as the adults disappeared behind the house. When he was sure they were gone he looked around for Vin. The older boy was half way up the drive and JD waited for Vin to come back down the hill.
"Vin, can you help me?"
"Sure, JD, what do ya want?'
"Want to show Buck I'm not a baby. Can you help me take off the baby wheels?"
Vin went into the house and got Chris's toolbox from the garage. The box was pretty heavy and he went back out to get JD to help. They finally got the tools outside and Vin sat down next to JD's bike to see how to get the wheels off. They finally found the right tool to use but the wheels were on tight. After struggling for a short while the bolt loosened and they took the wheel off. Once they figured out how to do it the second wheel came off without any problems. Vin put all the tools back and made JD help him carry it back into the house before they rode their bikes again. After the tools were put away JD raced back outside to his bike. He walked it up the driveway before he got on. He figured the hill would help him get started better. JD sat on the seat of his bike and could barely touch the ground. He put his feet on the pedals and started down the hill. The bike began to wobble and JD thought for sure he would fall. JD wrestled with the bike but wasn't watching where he was going. Next thing he knew he was tumbling over his handle bars after crashing into Vin. JD sat up shaking and watched as Vin sat up also. JD's eyes got wide when he saw all the blood around Vin's mouth. Vin spit some blood out and JD got scared when teeth came out too.
"They're being awfully quiet out there," Josiah said.
"Yeah I noticed," Chris said. "That means they're up to something."
"I'll go check," Buck said.
Just as Buck said that they heard a blood curdling scream from JD. All five of them ran around to the front of the house to find both boys tangled amongst their bikes. JD was crying hysterically while Vin just sat there. When Vin heard the adults come running from they backyard he turned to look. When he saw how frightened Chris was he got scared and started to cry.
"Ezra get me some towels!" Nathan ordered as he went to Vin.
Chris beat him there and Vin flung his arms around Chris. "Easy, Vin, I've got you you're okay."
Buck knelt down to check JD and all he could find was a scrapped chin and cuts on the palm of his hands. JD was so upset he didn't even realize that Buck was holding him. Ezra came back and handed the towels to Nathan.
"OK, Chris, let me see," Nathan said.
Chris pulled Vin's arms from around his neck and held him in his arms. He couldn't believe the amount of blood covering Vin's face. Nathan could see Vin had a bloody nose and that the blood was coming from Vin's mouth. Nathan wiped the blood from under Vin's nose as he talked to the boy.
"You're okay, Vin, everything's alright now," Nathan said, soothingly. "Chris didn't mean to frighten you he was just scared. Can you open your mouth for me?"
Nathan's calm voice settled Vin and he did what Nathan asked. As soon as Vin opened his mouth Nathan saw the problem. Vin had knocked out four of his top teeth. Nathan kept talking to Vin as he folded the towel and put it in Vin's mouth. He told Chris to hold on to it while he checked Vin over.
"Vin!" JD cried as Buck went to take him in the house.
"It's okay, JD, we'll be right back."
"Vin!" JD said hysterically.
"I believe it would be in the lad's best interests if you stayed here," Ezra suggested.
Buck nodded and took JD over to Vin. Chris was sitting with the older boy cradled in his lap while Nathan checked him over. Vin wasn't crying any more but they could hear an occasional whimper as Nathan hit a tender spot. JD wanted to be let down and struggled in Buck's arms. Buck put him down and he ran over to Vin. He pushed past Nathan and hugged the older boy around his waist. Josiah smiled as Vin put his hand on JD's shoulder in comfort. Nathan finished checking Vin over then had Chris take the towel from Vin's mouth. The bleeding was almost stopped.
"How is he Nate?" Buck asked as Nathan took another towel from Ezra and put it to Vin's mouth.
"He'll be okay. Knocked out four of his top teeth. That's where all the blood is coming from. He also hit his nose so that's bleeding too. Scrapped his chin also."
"Think we should take him to Dr. Two Eagles" Buck asked.
"I don't think so," Nathan said. "Like I said the bleeding's almost stopped. They were his baby teeth so there's no problem there. Just have to clean him up and let him put some ice on his lip to bring down the swelling."
"Vin you ready to go in the house?" Chris asked.
"You'll have to move Master Dunne first," Ezra pointed out.
"Come on JD," Buck said and tried to pick JD up.
"No!" JD yelled and clung tighter to Vin.
"JD," Chris said ruffling his hair. "I think Vin needs to get cleaned up don't you?"
"Can I come too?" JD asked as he wiped his nose on his sleeve.
"Of course you can," Buck said as he picked JD up.
Nathan took Vin from Chris so he could stand up. Once Chris was on his feet he followed Nathan and Buck into the house. Josiah and Ezra picked up the boy's bikes and they noticed JD's was missing something.
"Well now we know what happened," Josiah said.
"And why JD was so upset," Ezra said.
They leaned the bikes up against the garage door and went inside. Josiah ran out to the back porch when he saw the smoke coming from the grill. Ezra smiled thinking that since JD and Vin joined their little family weekends were never dull.
Nathan took Vin to the bathroom and sat him on the vanity. The bleeding had finally stopped and they no longer needed the towel. He threw the bloody towel in the sink then turned back to Vin. The boy was a mess. Vin was looking at his shirt and sighed.
"Ith ruined," Vin said looking up at Nathan.
"I'm afraid it is," Nathan agreed. Vin's lisp was even more pronounced now that all his front teeth were missing.
Nathan decided instead of ruining another towel he would wash the blood off with the same towel. He was wetting it in the sink when Chris came in with new clothes for Vin. Buck was sitting with JD on the closed toilet as they watched Nathan clean the blood from Vin's face.
"Ow!" Vin cried and pushed Nathan's hand away.
"I'm sorry Vin."
Vin tried not to flinch away from Nathan as he cleaned off the blood but it hurt. By the time Nathan was finished Vin was crying again. This upset JD and he insisted on sitting next to Vin on the vanity. Nathan went to remove Vin's bloody shirt but the boy wanted no part of him. Nathan stepped back and let Chris change Vin's clothes. When he was finished Chris picked Vin up and the boy laid his head on Chris's shoulder. JD wanted to be carried also and Buck did the honors. They headed for the porch while Nathan went into the kitchen. Nathan came out a few minutes later carrying a rag filled with ice.
"Here, Vin," Nathan said. "Put this on your lip. You can bite on it if you want."
Vin took the ice and did as Nathan said. Chris was sitting on the lounge chair with Vin. Buck was sitting close by with JD. The younger boy kept rubbing Vin's arm.
"Well this wasn't quite what we had in mind this weekend," Chris said.
"Boys will be boys," Josiah laughed.
"Yes and they like to take things apart as well," Ezra added. "Isn't that right JD?"
"What are you talking about?" Buck asked.
"Somehow JD's training wheels were taken off his bike," Josiah said.
"JD did you take them off?" Buck asked and JD nodded.
"I suspect he had some help," Ezra added. "Right Vin?"
"No I did it myself," JD said. "Vin didn't do nofin."
"Vin, did you help?" Chris asked. Vin nodded. He didn't want to talk to anybody since he sounded funny with his teeth missing.
"Guess Vin isn't going to talk to us any more," Josiah smiled.
"JD why did you take off the training wheels?" Buck asked.
"Wanted to show you I wasn't a baby. But I was going fast down the hill and couldn't stop."
"And you ran into Vin," Ezra said.
"Yeah," JD said quietly. "I didn't mean to."
"We know that, JD, but I told you the training wheels had to stay on," Buck said. "You disobeyed me."
"I know you are," Buck said.
"You gonna punish me?"
"I'm afraid so," Buck said. "First you aren't allowed to ride your bike until next weekend."
"Okay," JD said dejectedly.
"There's a second?" JD said surprised.
"Yes JD," Buck said, sternly. "Next Saturday I put the training wheels back on your bicycle. I will decide when they came come off, understand."
"Yeah," JD pouted. "We can still camp out tonight right?"
"Yes, JD," Chris said. "That wouldn't be fair to Vin since I know he won't sleep outside without you."
"I think JD owes someone an apology," Ezra pointed out.
"I sorry, Vin," JD said as he leaned over and patted Vin's arm.
Dinner was finally ready and they all sat around the picnic table. Vin wanted a hotdog but it hurt too much to eat. He settled for Josiah's chili since he didn't have to chew that. It still surprised Chris that both boys could handle Josiah's deadly chili. After dinner they set up the tents. Everyone was laughing except for Vin. He hadn't said a word since he talked to Nathan in the bathroom. Chris heard his lisp was more pronounced with his teeth missing and knew he would have a hard time getting Vin to go to school on Monday. Chris decided not to worry about it now. He had to think of a way to make Vin feel better.
"Who wants to roast marshmallows?" Josiah asked after the tents were up.
"Me!" JD said raising his hand.
"How about you Vin?"
Vin just shrugged. Josiah just smiled and went to find a stick to roast marshmallows. JD was the first to the grill and waited impatiently for the others. They all gathered around except for Ezra. Chris knew Vin wouldn't be able to resist roasting marshmallows even if he didn't want any. JD was always impatient and barely roasted his before he ate it. Vin would very carefully toast his to a golden brown on all sides. When he was done he climbed off the chair and walked over to Ezra with the marshmallow.
"For me?" Ezra asked as Vin held the marshmallow out to him. "Thank you Vin."
Chris knew Ezra hated marshmallows but the undercover agent ate it for Vin. Vin didn't want to roast any more and sat with Ezra. Vin wrapped his arms around Era's bicep and leaned his head against Ezra. Ezra smiled at Vin then remembered what he saw in the freezer earlier.
"Vin would you like an ice pop?" Ezra asked. "It will make your mouth feel better."
Vin nodded and Ezra took him into the kitchen. He opened the freezer and took out the box so Vin could pick the one he wanted. Vin looked in the box and picked a blue one. Ezra put the box back then took Vin back outside. Vin opened the pop and handed the wrapper to Ezra.
"Kin I haf one?" JD asked.
"First let's clean off all the marshmallow," Buck said as he took JD inside.
"Well gentlemen I must be going," Ezra said standing up. "I have to meet Mother early for breakfast."
"Yeah, me too," Nathan said. "Except I'm meeting Rain."
"Thanks Nathan," Chris said.
"Being so calm. When I saw all that blood."
"No problem," Nathan said, laughing.
"Are you going to say good bye to us, Vin?" Josiah asked.
Vin was sitting at the picnic table with the ice pop against his lips. He looked up at Josiah and shook his head no.
"It appears you will have a quiet night," Ezra observed.
"Don't worry JD will make up for Vin," Buck said as he came out of the house with JD
"Make up what?" JD asked as he licked a red ice pop.
"Never mind," Chris said ruffling his hair.
Josiah, Ezra and Nathan started walking to the front of the house. When JD realized they were leaving he got upset. He thought they were going to camp out with them. They assured JD they would do it another time. Vin took Chris's hand as they watched the three men climb into their vehicles. JD yelled good bye and Vin just waved. Buck had JD help him put the bikes in the garage while Chris took Vin into the house to get warm clothes for their camp out. Vin followed Chris down the hall towards the bedrooms.
"Vin go wash your hands," Chris said when he notice they were blue. "Then come pick out what you want to wear for the camp out."
Vin nodded and went into the bathroom. He washed his hands then looked in the drawer for the small mirror. Vin took it out and looked at his reflection and smiled. It looked funny now with no teeth on top. He knew everyone would make fun of him at school. Vin just stood there staring at his reflection in the mirror.
Chris was wondering what was taking Vin so long. He walked back to the bathroom and peered inside. Vin was checking the damage in a small hand mirror and Chris could see he was pretty upset. He had a good idea what was going through the small boy's mind. That he would be teased at school. Chris remembered something and quickly went to his bedroom. He walked into the closet and rummaged around trying to find a picture album. When he found the one he was looking for he flipped the pages trying to find a particular picture. When he found it he couldn't help but laugh. He took it out of the album and went back to Vin. He found Vin sitting on the edge of the tub with his head in his hands. Chris sat next to Vin and pulled him close.
"Vin I want to show you something," Chris said and handed the picture to Vin.
Vin sat up and took the picture. The picture was of a small blond boy smiling. Except he was missing all the teeth on the bottom as well as the top. He looked so funny that Vin couldn't help but laugh.
"Funny looking isn't he?"
"Yeah," Vin said looking at Chris. "Who is he?"
"That's me," Chris laughed.
"I slid into home base face first," Chris smiled. "Knocked out all my teeth."
"Did they teathe you" Vin asked and cringed when he slurred the S.
"Yeah they did," Chris said. "But I didn't let it bother me. Besides some of the kids thought it was cool looking."
"Will they teathe me too?" Vin asked looking up at Chris.
Chris brushed back Vin's hair and sighed. "They probably will, but you just have to remember that it doesn't matter what they think. Besides you can always tell them at least you don't have baby teeth any more."
"At least up front you don't," Chris smiled.
"Can I keep this?" Vin said indicating the picture.
"There you are," Buck said as he poked his head into the bathroom. "Everything okay."
"Look, Buck," Vin said and rushed over to him with the picture.
Buck smiled to hear Vin talking as he crouched down at the boy's level. "What do you have?"
Buck looked at the picture and laughed. Vin smiled like Chris in the picture, which made Buck laugh harder. JD came running down the hall to see what was going on. He looked at the picture and laughed too.
"Just like you," JD said pointing to Vin.
"Yeah just like me," Vin said proudly as he took the picture back from Buck.
"Why don't you boys go get on some nice warm clothes then we'll go out to the tent," Chris said.
The two boys ran down the hall yelling and carrying on. Buck looked at Chris and smiled. "That was a pretty good idea."
"Don't know what made me remember it," Chris said. "But I figure if Vin could laugh at someone else that it happened too it would be easier for him."
"Well pard, you sure did look funny," Buck laughed as he clapped Chris on the back.
"Thanks," Chris scowled.
"What are friends for?" Buck smiled as he headed for the boy's room.
Chris followed shaking his head. Life sure became more interesting since the boys showed up and he decided he wouldn't have it any other way.
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