Atlantan Legacy XV - Temper Tantrums

by Squeakypeep

This was supposed to be a sub-plot in another story but it took on a life of it’s own and became a short story of it’s own.

Team 7 Offices
Sunday Afternoon
Late August
‘All females are moody.’ Ezra and Josiah had been undercover and the seven had just returned to the office after a successful bust. Ezra was getting the low-down on events in his absence.

‘She’s too young for PMS, kid.’ Buck slapped JD across the back of the head, or tried to. Dunne had seen it coming and ducked.

‘There’s definitely something bothering her, Ez. It’s just not like her to be so bad tempered. The other kid was nice enough and she’s usually so friendly…’ Nathan trailed off as he thought about the experience he’d had at McDonalds with his niece the previous evening.

Saturday Evening

Rorie had been quieter than usual but Nathan and Raine put that down to end of the week tiredness and dismissed it, instead talking between themselves on the way to the local fast food restaurant.

There was a small disagreement about how much she had to eat before she could be excused, but Nathan let her go after she’d eaten the burger, without the bun, and finished half the milkshake. She headed off to play in the plastic tube maze.

‘What’s up with her?’ Raine looked concerned.

‘Nothing as far as I know. I mean, Ez is undercover and she’s always a bit unsettled but I don’t think she’s sick or anything. Do you?’

Raine rolled her eyes before gazing back at the play area. ‘She doesn’t have to be sick for something to be wrong Nathan. She just doesn’t seem herself. I think it’s more than Ezra being away. She wasn’t like this last time.’

‘She’s just tired. Summer School is over and she’s spent the week playing outside with Olivia. She probably…’ He was interrupted by a screech echoing down the tubes. The whole restaurant turned to stare as a loud fight broke out in the maze. Recognizing Rorie’s voice, Nathan and Raine both leapt to their feet and approached. The attendant hauled the brawling children out. Rorie had a firm grip on her opponent’s hair.

‘Knock it off both of you!’ The teenager glared at the two kids, as she worked to separate them.

‘She started it!’ The two girls spoke in unison, fingers pointing. Rorie Standish glared at the other girl, who was at least twice her size and probably twice her age. The other child glared back.

‘Enough!’ Nathan stepped forward and took hold of Rorie by the shoulder, turning her away as the parents of the other kid also claimed their miscreant and made to leave. The adults exchanged rueful glances.

Sitting her charge on a chair, Raine retrieved her shoes and put them on for her. She was buckling the second one when the little girl with whom Rorie had been fighting walked past with her parents on the way to the exit. The child stuck her tongue out and the small blonde Southerner immediately retaliated with a brutal kick to the shin.

‘Aurora! You will apologise. Now.’ Rorie glared at the horrified Nathan but remained mute. ‘Fine. We will deal with this at home. Go get in the car.’ Raine gathered up the belligerent child and marched her out to the Medic’s vehicle, leaving Nathan to apologise to the child’s parents and check for injury.

Having smoothed over the incident with the other couple, Nathan climbed into the car and the drive back to the Standish house was completed in oppressive silence. Once there, Rorie was hauled up in front of Vin while Nathan explained what had happened.

Vin nodded and Nathan left.

The Texan turned to look at his small charge standing rooted to the spot in the middle of the kitchen. When she was in trouble she knew better than to leave before she’d been dismissed. Her head was bowed but he could see the shadow cast by the thrust out lower lip. She was sulking. He took a seat on the kitchen chair and watched her, aware that he was much better at maintaining his silence than she was. Eventually she raised her head and looked at him, or rather glared green fire.


He raised his brows mildly, refusing to let her rile him.

‘Ya gonna tell me what happened?’ His voice was gentle and held no hint of recrimination. Rorie’s green eyes filled with tears but she shook her head and looked away. He watched her for a few more minutes but she didn’t say anything. ‘Fine. If ya want it like that, I kin jist punish ya anyway an’ we kin fergit about it.’

No response.

Tanner sighed. Sometimes she was a stubborn as Ezra. ‘I can’t help ya iffn I don’t know what the problem is.’ He waited. Nothing. ‘Go ta yer room Aurora. Yer grounded fer two days.’

Without looking at him she stomped off up the stairs.


Ezra ran his hand through his hair. He’d been on a tough undercover assignment with the team Profiler and had been looking forward to relaxing with his daughter and his friend this evening. He didn’t need to come home to this.

‘Anything else?’ There was a collective shuffling of feet and he sighed. ‘I would conclude from your reactions that there is more. Who would like to go next?’ He gazed around the group in the break room, focussing on Buck as the ladies man cleared his throat.

The Previous Thursday


‘Did you just say ‘No’?’ Buck looked incredulously at the normally agreeable child. She just met his look and shrugged.

‘Rorie, when Uncle JD tells you it’s bedtime, it’s bedtime. Move. Now, young lady.’

‘No.’ Rorie turned her back and went on to start another game on the playstation.

JD reached over and pulled the plug.

‘Hey!’ Rorie glared at JD and threw the controller at him. ‘You’re such a meanie!’

JD winced as the hard plastic handset hit him between the eyes. Buck’s reaction was immediate. He scooped the child up and quickly bathed her and put her into bed. She protested the whole time, vehemently. He said not a word in response but his roomy could see he was fuming.

‘You gonna punish me UNCLE Buck?’ She sounded snide. It didn’t suit her.

‘No. I’m going to leave that to your father.’ He switched off the light and left her to stew.

Later, when JD crept into his bed, quietly so he wouldn’t wake the child on the cot, he was startled to hear her hiccup in her sleep. He tiptoed over to check her, catching the remains of tears drying on the curved baby cheeks.


‘So she was rude, disobedient and aggressive and then she cried herself to sleep.’ Ezra summarized.

‘That’s about it. I tried to get her to apologise to JD in the morning but it wasn’t happening.’ The Southerner nodded and turned to Chris. ‘Mr Larabee?’

Chris gazed at his tired Agent. He didn’t want to add to his problems but he deserved to hear the truth. Taking a deep breath he started on his own horror story.

Larabee Ranch
Previous Friday

Having heard from JD and Buck that Rorie was miserable, Chris decided to leave early for the day. He collected Rorie from the Standish house and they headed for the Ranch to take out the horses. He hoped she’d open up to him once they were on the trail. It had happened before. The peace and solitude of being in the woods had that effect on both of them.

They never even left the barn.

Chris was saddling Pony when he heard Rorie chastising the luckless Cleo. He left what he was doing and walked down to the small pony’s stall. He was just in time to see Rorie lash out at Cleo as she dodged having the bridle buckled.

‘Stupid mule! Stand still!’ Rorie smacked the placid mare on the nose with the heel of her hand. Fortunately the mount had been carefully selected by her father for her gentleness and instead of lashing out, and possibly hurting the child, the little bay took a defensive step backwards, away from her tormentor.

Reaching into the stall, Chris grabbed the angry child by the back of her jeans and lifted her out. Slamming the door shut with his shoulder, he carried her that way, wriggling and protesting, towards the porch. He sat on the step, holding her firmly while she struggled to free herself.

Rorie soon realized that fighting with Uncle Chris was futile. She stilled.

‘What is the matter with you?’ The Larabee temper was barely restrained. He hated to see horses abused and was horrified to find that Rorie could lash out at a defenceless animal. There was no response and he gently shook her. ‘Answer me!’

Two pairs of glaring green eyes duelled. Rorie looked away first but maintained her stubborn silence.

‘I can’t let this go Aurora. What you did was viscous and unnecessary. It’s fine to be angry. Everyone gets angry sometimes but you NEVER, EVER take your anger out on a defenceless animal or on someone weaker than you. Do you understand me?’

‘Yes.’ Rorie glared at a spot between his feet. He waited. ‘Sir.’

‘Go to your room. There will be no riding until you can prove to me that you know how to behave appropriately.’ He gave her a gentle shove in the direction of Ezra’s Ranch bedroom where she was due to spend the night. She went.

Later he took her a tray with milk and cookies before bedtime. She hadn’t had any supper. He found her curled up on the quilt staring at the wall.

Setting the tray down on the bedside table he gently rolled her over to face him. She allowed herself to be manipulated but wouldn’t meet his eyes.

‘Rorie?’ Chris stroked the hair away from her flushed face. She didn’t feel feverish. ‘You want to tell me what that was about? Why are you so angry?’

Rorie just closed her eyes. Tears trickled down her cheeks but no matter what he said she wouldn’t talk to him. He spent an uncomfortable night checking and rechecking his small charge. She slept fitfully, tossing and turning and occasionally crying out but she still refused to tell him what the problem was.


Ezra was both saddened and worried by this story. Obviously his daughter was angry and upset by something and he hadn’t been here to help her. He turned to the Sharpshooter.

‘Vin? How has she been at home?’

The lanky Texan sighed. ‘It ain’t good, Ez. She won’t talk ta me. She takes her anger out on Olivia some, but it’s Terri who’s taken most o’ the abuse.’

Standish/Tanner household
That Morning

‘I hate eggs.’ Rorie shoved the plate away, sending it skidding across the table until it shot over the far edge and crashed onto the floor in a sticky, shattered mess.

‘Rorie!’ Terri gaped at the normally sunny child. The little girl looked momentarily stunned at the effect of her outburst before taking on a mutinous expression.

Vin had been upstairs, getting ready to head to the office to prepare for the bust scheduled for later in the morning, but he came running at the crash. He took in the scene of destruction in the kitchen in one glance.

‘What the Hell is goin’ on in here?’

There was a silence. Olivia kept her gaze on her plate, pushing the food around with her fork. Rorie sat sulking with her arms crossed over her chest. The Texan turned to Terri who looked confused and worried.

She stepped over to the smaller girl and crouched down in front of her.

‘You usually eat eggs Sweetpea. What’s the matter?’

‘Nothing. Leave me alone.’ She turned away from the concerned woman.

‘Rorie!’ Vin’s tone was warning and Terri sent him a ‘stay out of this’ look.

‘Sweetheart, why are you so angry with me?’ She placed a hand on the small knee. Rorie smacked it away and jumped to her feet.

‘Don’t touch me! I hate you! You make dumb eggs. My mummy’s eggs are the best and I hate yours.’ She looked distraught. She made a move to dart out of the kitchen and into the yard but was intercepted by her much faster guardian.

Vin carried her up to her room and deposited her on her bed. She lay still and he stood gazing down at her. He now had a good idea that her bad mood had something to do with her mother but he had no idea what. He glanced at his watch. He really had to get moving.

‘Aurora. You will stay in here until I get back. We’ll talk then. Think about what ya wanna tell me cause I ain’t lettin’ this go on.’ He gazed at the tearful face and shook his head. Leaning down he placed a kiss on her curls. ‘I love ya pumpkin. Ya kin tell me anything, remember that.’ His departure was accompanied by renewed crying.



The others all gazed at the Undercover Agent, waiting for him to elaborate. Eventually he raised his head and met their looks.

‘It was her birthday on Wednesday. I had forgotten. I assume Rorie has been lost in memories of her mother.’

‘Oh God. We kept making her go to her room which just gave her more time to stew.’ JD knew from experience that the last thing one needed when one had lost a loved one was to be idle. The busier the better. They had unknowingly forced Rorie to be alone with her thoughts.

‘Do not fret Mr Dunne. Her deliberate actions more than justified the punishment meted out. She has not previously displayed any reluctance to remember or talk about Celeste and I cannot believe she has suddenly found it too painful. Leaving her alone was not erroneous. Considering her appalling behavior I think walking away was probably the best course of action.’ He stood up and straightened his jacket.

‘Are we done?’ He looked over at Chris who nodded. ‘Very well. I think I will return home and deal with the latest crisis. Vin? Are we travelling together?’

‘Yep. I came in the Jag.’

‘Thank God. I don’t think I care to contemplate an extended journey in your mobile tin can.’

Standish/Tanner household

The two Agents were sitting on the back porch drinking beer when Rorie appeared, fetched by Olivia. Once the other child had gone Ezra motioned to Rorie to come and sit with him.

Her usual exuberant greeting was absent, a fact not unnoticed by the empathic Southerner. She knew she was in deep trouble. She reluctantly allowed him to lift her onto his knee. The three sat in silence for some time, and gradually he felt the stiffness ease until she was relaxed, her back against his chest. The adults continued to wait her out.

‘I forgot.’ The tremulous voice was soft but sounded loud in the stillness of the sultry August afternoon.

‘Did you?’ The gentle, Southern-accented question was non-committal. Ezra waited. Vin gazed silently at the sunset.

‘It was Mummy’s birthday. I forgot.’


‘I promised I’d remember her but I forgot her birthday the very first time. I was too busy playing with Olivia and Terri at the park on Wednesday and I forgot.’ Tears trickled down her face and she brushed them away with the back of her hand. ‘We were having fun and I didn’t even think about her. I only remembered on Thursday and then it was too late. Her birthday was finished.’ She took the proffered handkerchief and mopped her face. ‘Mummy will hate me now. I hate me now.’

Ezra turned her to face him. He was saddened by the distress on her face. ‘Honeybee, nothing you do could ever make your mummy hate you, any more than you could do anything to make me or your Uncles or Terri and Olivia hate you. That IS what you were attempting to achieve with your misbehaviour was it not?’

She nodded. ‘Nobody should like me. I’m a bad daughter.’

Ezra laughed then, gold tooth glinting in the sunlight. She gaped at him in astonishment. ‘Daddy! It’s not funny.’

‘Dahling, you are not a bad daughter. You’re mine and I think you’re the greatest daughter anyone could ever have. I am completely certain your mother agrees with me.’ He lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes. ‘Celeste would rather you had fun for her on her birthday than have you moping around remembering her. The fact that you are able to laugh and enjoy yourself is what she wanted most for you. I bet she was there watching you play and every time you laughed it was like you gave her a precious gift for her special day.’

She looked doubtfully at him. ‘You think so?’ He nodded. ‘So I’m not a bad person?’

‘I’ll confess I’m not best pleased with your disgraceful behavior towards your family and friends but no, you’re not a bad person.’

She ignored his reference to her misdemeanors, hoping he’d forget. ‘I wish I had done something special for her.’

‘Ya still can iffn ya want ta.’ Vin spoke for the first time and the two Standishes looked questioningly at him.

‘There’s a ceremony ya kin do. Ya have ta write what ya wanna say on a paper and then we put it on a fire. The message is carried into the smoke and sent ta every corner of the land by the winds. Yer Mama will get the gift of yer words, carried in the breeze.’

Ezra smiled gratefully at the Texan over the child’s head. ‘And how are you familiar this ceremony Mr Tanner?’

‘I used ta do it fer my Mama when I wanted ta tell her somethin’ special. Ain’t done it fer years, but I got some things I kin say iffn we’re makin’ the fire fer the spirit-talk.’

Following Evening
Larabee Ranch

The men sat around watching the dying embers of the fire. Each one had taken part in the ceremony, sending their own messages to people they had loved and lost. There was a sense of peace and tranquillity amongst the group.

Rorie had dutifully apologised to everyone individually for her bad manners and they had all hugged her and reassured the regretful child that all was forgiven.

‘Where is she?’

Ezra nodded towards the barn. ‘I assume she is taking her apologies seriously and is currently engaged in a conversation with her pony.’ He grinned.

Laughing, Vin set off to see what she was up to. He didn’t believe she would actively seek trouble in there but one could never be too careful.

‘… so if I ever get mean again just tell me Okay? I’ll try to remember to be nice.’ Rorie stood outside the stall, stroking the soft nose hanging over her head. She didn’t hear the silent tracker approach and jumped when he spoke.

‘She fergive ya?’

Rorie shrugged and grinned impishly at him. ‘I have no idea. I don’t speak horse.’

Tanner laughed, delighted to see the return of the smart-mouthed little minx. ‘I think she does. That’s what ya do fer people ya love.’

She nodded. ‘I love her too.’ She kissed the pony’s velvety nose and turned to Vin. Sensing she wanted to talk he settled down on a bale of hay and lifted her onto his knee.

‘Uncle Vin?’

‘Mmmm?’ He carded his fingers through her hair.

‘Why is it a long time since you sent a message to your mama? Don’t you think about her anymore?’

‘I think about her. Jest not all the time. I know she’d ‘a wanted me ta git on with my life, an’ I know she’s around iffn I need her. I remember, but I don’t think I have ta do it ever’ day. Jest often enough that I don’t fergit.’

‘So I can remember Mummy even if I don’t think about her all the time? What if I forget something?’

‘Ya won’t. S’long as ya feel her with ya. That’s the most important thing, that ya feel her in here.’ He placed the palm of his hand over the left side of her chest, feeling the steady beat of her heart beneath his fingers.

‘Everythin’ else, all the stuff ya done t’gether, all the little things, ain’t important. Ya have pictures ta remember that. The thing ya mustn’t fergit is how much ya love her. Iffn ya still got that when ya look fer it, then yer rememberin’ jest fine.’

She thought about that. ‘Thanks Uncle Vin.’ She squeezed her arms around his neck and kissed the stubbly chiselled jaw. ‘I Love you.’

‘Love ya right back Pumpkin.’

The End

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