Disclaimer: Not Mine.. no profit.
Acknowledgements: Mogs Universe - Thank you.
Thank you everyone for your ideas, Im working on them. The temptation
is to write about Rorie, but I do try to keep the stories about the Seven
and their interactions with her and with each other as much as possible.
I am trying to explore the relationship between Ezra and Vin in particular,
and how each of them reacts in a parental role.
Note: Cleopatra means Her Fathers Glory, a girl
who adds lustre to her fathers name.
Wednesday 2nd May
A picnic! We could go out on the
Stop. No horses for a fortnight remember? The Kool Aid fiasco?
But Daddy, its my birthday
Rorie, you are not going out on Uncle Chriss horses. I am prepared
to suspend the months grounding for one day in light of the fact that
its your birthday but the horse ban is separate and non-negotiable.
Think of something else.
Ezra sighed. He was fast running out of sanctions. Hed grounded her
for a month after she took to the streets of Denver alone while he was
undercover. She was to spend every evening after school in her bedroom, only
allowed out at weekends. There were to be no special treats and no practical
jokes. That last one had proved to be the toughest challenge for the child.
She lasted two days. Then shed put Cherry Kool Aid in his showerhead
and been banned from going riding for two weeks. Pretty soon hed have
to turn her over his knee.
I did say sorry you know. It was supposed to be funny.
You were not supposed to be playing any pranks. I was pink and sticky
all day. I did not find that remotely amusing.
The back door slammed. Ezra winced.
Hey Ez. Hey pumpkin. Vin arrived back from basketball practice
with the kids in Purgatorio. Why the long face?
Daddy wont let me go on a picnic for my birthday.
Vin turned to Ezra who clarified, on horseback. Vin nodded.
Okay well, what other ideas have ya got?
Dunno. The usually cheerful child was definitely sulking.
Mebbe we should jest stay home and do yer homework. Rorie looked
appropriately horrified by that suggestion.
Or we could hike out and have a picnic, mebbe camp overnight. Chris
has been promising Billy for ages ta take im camping when the weather
got better an its a Saturday.
Now Ezra looked horrified. Mr Tanner
Yeah! We can tell creepy stories by the campfire and toast marshmallows.
Itll be great. Can we Daddy, can we?
The suave undercover agent threw the sharpshooter a speaking glance. If
you are quite sure that thats what you want.
Yeah. Ill go get Barbie into the right outfit. She took
Vin grinned, dumping his rucksack by the back door and pulling a beer from
the fridge. The right outfit? She gits more like ya everday.
Mr Tanner, I can assure you that you will pay dearly for this.
Vin laughed. Yep I expect so. Itll be worth it comon
Ez, ya know ya love camping really!
Saturday 5th May
Rories Fourth Birthday
Theyd actually left the evening before.
Rorie had wanted to wake up on her birthday out in the wilderness.
Chris had led them to a small creek campsite, only three miles from the Ranch
and the two kids had had a happy time poking around in the shallow water
while the men set up tents without their assistance.
In reality, Chris and Vin set up the tents. Ezra supervised.
Rorie inevitably woke up before Ezra, whose tent she was sharing, but she
already knew better than to wake him. She was snuggled tightly against his
chest, secure in his sleeping bag, and she spent long moments extracting
herself, as clumsily careful as only four year old could be.
Ezra had woken with the first movement but kept his eyes closed. He was aware
that if he played possum shed go and play with Uncle Vin and he could
stay in bed, at least for a little while.
She climbed out of Ezras arms and on silent feet trotted over to the
neighbouring tent where she crawled in with the Texan. It was not yet light
out and Vin grinned, in no doubt that Daddy was fully awake and
well aware of exactly where the child was going. He let her shuffle about
in the confined space of his sleeping bag until she kicked him strategically
and he grabbed her feet and held her still.
Stop shufflin. He wheezed.
Im trying to get comfy.
Well dont kick me.
They lay still. The silence lasted for about twenty seconds.
You know what day it is?
Vin pretended to give the question careful consideration. Saturday?
There was a silence.
You know what day it is?
You know what day it is?
Vin couldnt help it he laughed. Yeah Pumpkin. I know exactly
what day it is. Ya aint talked about anythin else all week.
He surrendered. Happy Birthday, Pumpkin.
She giggled. Thanks Uncle Vin.
He propped himself up on one elbow to look down into the glowing face. So
how old are ya? He teased. I cant remember.
Im gonna be five.
Vin snorted. Youre four.
Yahuh. But Im GONNA be five. She grinned at him. And
Im GONNA be six, and Im GONNA be seven....
A disembodied voice, recognizably that of a sleepy Larabee, rose to join
in the conversation. Dont count on it. You might not even make
it to daylight if you cant be quiet. Go back to sleep, its not
even dawn yet.
There was a brief pause and Vin and Rorie pulled faces at each other.
Hey Chris, can we go fishing this morning? Billy put in his two
Back in Vins tent the two early birds stifled their laughs as they
listened to Ezras grumpy reply. Whatever you decide to do, do
it somewhere else.
Hello, Daddy. Youre awake early. Vin buried his face in
the pillow at his companions cheerful call.
Okay. Thats it. Everybody up.
There was the sound of shuffling as Chris climbed out of the black tent he
was sharing with Billy.
Comon Ez. Out. He shook the scarlet structure under which
the Southerner was hibernating.
Theres nobody here. The two Children, now on their feet,
Daddy! The sleep suited birthday girl stuck her head through
the flap and kissed her fathers stubbly face, upside down. You
have to get up. Were gonna have lots of fun. Its my birthday!
It is? Are you sure? He gave her a mock frown.
Dont be silly Daddy, you know it is.
Ezra grinned at the inverted face hanging two inches above his own. A curtain
of strawberry curls enclosed them in a private world. Reaching outside the
tent he grabbed her round the waist and lifted her body until she was suspended
upside down over his chest. She squealed on cue and he laughed.
Happy birthday Baby Girl.
Daddy, Im not a baby, Im gonna be five.
So I hear.
Are we going fishing? Can we look for wild animals? Are there bears?
Or polecats? What about wolfs?
Good Lord, I hope not. Out you go, take your clothes and let Uncle
Vin help you dress.
Two hours later the campers were settled on the side of the creek. Both children
were in possession of long poles with small nets attached to the end and
were happily paddling about in the shallow water trying to catch anything
that moved, and quite a lot that didnt. The adults lay stretched out
in the sunshine on the grass idly watching them play. Ezra, unwisely, slipped
back to sleep, lulled by the warmth of the late spring sun.
I got one! I got one! Billy jumped from foot to foot, waving
his net around. He rushed over to Chris to show him his catch.
Chris peered into the net.
What is it Chris? Vin was alerted by Chriss tone.
Its a baby alligator. Chris chuckled.
WHAT? Vin sat up. There aint no alligators here Cowboy.
Let me see Billy.
Billy strolled over to Vin, waving the net in his face and liberally showering
him with cold water.
Vin examined the net.
There was a snorted giggle from the boy.
Billy youre not supposed to laugh, it spoils the joke.
Rorie spoke from behind him, grinning herself.
Vin retrieved the plastic alligator and raised his brows at the kids. He
then turned to look at the sleeping undercover agent. There were a series
of suppressed chuckles as he bounced his eyebrows playfully.
Leaning over, the wiry Texan carefully placed the toy in the centre of the
Southerners chest a mere inch from his chin. He then whispered to Rorie
Aaaagh! She screamed, in a high pitch screech only achievable
by small girls and howler monkeys. Daddy! Look out! Its gonna
Ezra shot upright, leaping to his feet and madly brushing his arms against
his chest to get the dreaded wild thing off him. He took a few
rapid steps backward and stood panting as he snatched for the sidearm he
The others fell about laughing and he snorted, bending over and putting his
hands on his knees as he tried unsuccessfully to catch a breath. That
was unkind. He watched the laughing group.
This calls for a little retribution. He grabbed the chortling
Texan and hauled him to his feet, tossing him into the water. Vin, in the
throes of a laughing fit, was unable to muster much resistance. The Southerner
reached for his boss but Larabee was ready for him and made a quick countermove.
It was Ezra who joined Vin in the water.
The two wet Agents looked at each other and nodded. They advanced on the
kids who ran screaming for the cover of the trees. Unfortunately for them,
the two ATF Agents were much more practiced at chasing down their prey, not
to mention the fact they had the added advantage of much longer legs. There
ensued a fierce battle involving much splashing, dunking and tickling accompanied
the entire time by shrieks of laughter.
Pretty soon four very wet, very cold, very happy campers were climbing out
and wrapping themselves in the towels provided by Chris who had resumed his
spectators position on the warm grass. He raised a blonde brow at Rorie
as she approached, still dripping.
She leapt onto his lap and he reflexively caught her. He sighed. Being dry
was never going to last anyway, not when he was the only one.
Plastering her soggy body against his, she grinned. Love you Uncle
He laughed. Yeah, me too Shorty. Thats three I owe you! Dont
think Im not keeping score.
Its my birthday! You cant get mad with me today.
She acted as if it were carved in stone.
Ezra peeled her away from Chris and engulfed her in a towel. That is
not a license to create havoc. The rules still apply.
Speaking o birthdays
Vin exchanged looks with his
team mates who nodded.
What? Rorie looked intrigued.
Time we packed up and headed back to the Ranch. Chris rose to
his feet, accepting the damp towel from the Texan and rubbing it ineffectually
against his wet shirtfront.
Were going back? Now? Billy wasnt sure he wanted
Yeah, the boys are coming over fer a barbeque an weve got
cake an ice cream fer Rories birthday. There may even be a few
Ive got presents too? Cool.
Come, you acquisitive little beast, lets get you into fresh clothes
and get ready for the hike home. Ezra took Rories hand and set
off to get them both changed.
Already at the ranch when they arrived were
Josiah, Buck and Nathan. They were just setting up the barbeque when Mary
joined them, followed not long after by JD who had brought Casey with him.
Hello. You must be Rorie. The child nodded as she looked up at
the pretty dark haired newcomer. She cast a speculative look at JD and back
Are you Uncle JDs girlfriend?
Its Okay Ezra. Casey nodded at the serious child. I
guess I am.
Oh. She thought about that.
Do you do all that yucky kissing stuff? She made the appropriate
grimace of distaste.
Ezra made a reproachful growling noise.
Casey laughed. Sometimes.
Casey was stumped. Um
Buck recognised his field of expertise and jumped into rescue her. Because
it feels good, Short Stuff. Youll understand when you grow up.
Rorie threw him a disgusted look. Im not gonna. Boys are yucky.
They smell of peanut butter and they pull my hair.
Ezra grinned. You just keep thinking along those lines, honeybee, and
I may yet survive your adolescence.
Nope. Not having one of those either. There was a short pause.
Whats lesscents Daddy? The adults laughed.
After a noisy meal of hamburgers, steaks and hotdogs, with not a vegetable
in sight, much to Nathans disgust, Josiah and Mary disappeared into
the house and collected a Barbie cake decorated with four candles. JD got
out his video camera and there was a loud, if somewhat off key, rendition
of Happy Birthday and Rorie and Billy took turns blowing out
the candles until there were only four sorry looking stumps left.
Time fer presents. Vin produced a pile of gaily wrapped packages
from their hiding place in the woodshed.
Wow! Rorie tore into the top gift before her father laid a
restraining hand on her arm. It would be advisable to read the labels
Dahling, before you unwrap each parcel, in order to be able to render the
appropriate thanks to whomever gave you the gift. She nodded and turned
to the label.
This one is from Uncle Josiah. She glanced at Ezra, can
I open it now? He nodded.
Wow, a Barbie car! Thanks Uncle Josiah. She leapt to her feet
and gave him a hug.
Youre welcome Cherub.
She dashed back to the pile and the adults grinned.
To Rorie, love from Uncle Buck. This one turned out to be a Barbie
Horse, complete with saddle and accessories. Thanks Uncle Buck, now
Barbie can go riding even if I cant. She hugged Buck as she shot
a look of triumph at Ezra who rolled his eyes.
Uncle JD and Casey provided Barbie with a Horse trailer, while Uncle
Nathans gift of a toy medical kit made everyone laugh.
It even has pretend band-aids! I figure you cant do too much
damage with those. Nathan teasingly tugged Rories plait as he
accepted his hug.
Thank you Uncle Nathan.
It was my pleasure, Sugar Plum.
Uncle Chriss present was a certificate for riding lessons from a local
equine school. Ezra raised his brows.
I checked with her nanny who agreed to take her to classes once a week
after school, when shes allowed to ride again. I figured she can take
the classes while were at work and we can help her at weekends.
Ezra nodded. A thoughtful gift, Mr Larabee. I think I can agree to
Rorie grinned at her father. Thanks Uncle Chris. Thats great!
Youre welcome Shorty. Chris looked sheepish as he returned
the enthusiastic thank-you squeeze.
Having opened the present from Mary and Billy, a fairy castle that opened
to reveal play make up, jewellery and hair accessories, Rorie turned to the
last gift on the table.
Happy Birthday Pumpkin, Love Uncle Vin. Rorie tore the paper
off and laughed. The adults groaned at the sight of the multi-colored
Super-soaker. Vin reached under the table and produced another.
Watch out kid, mines loaded!
Thats what you claim! Buck laughed.
Vin squirted Rorie who jumped up and shot away.
The two children ran about the yard, screaming at the tops of their lungs,
pursued by the armed Texan. Tanner wasnt a sharpshooter for nothing
and both children were soon drenched. Vin finally ran out of ammunition and
called a halt. He then helped Billy fill up while Buck helped Rorie.
The adults sat around drinking coffee while the two children conducted a
super-soaker war for nearly an hour. Eventually they declared a truce and
rejoined the adults.
Rorie climbed onto Ezras lap, getting him damp in the process. She
began to stick her finger in his discarded frosting, transferring it into
her mouth and sucking noisily, until he handed her a fork.
Ezra looked over to Chris who smiled and disappeared back into the woodshed,
behind where the two Standishes were sitting.
This is from all your Uncles Shorty. Chris appeared carrying
a finely crafted miniature saddle, with Rories initials tooled into
Wow! Cool! Billy got up to take a closer look.
Rorie gaped. Thats for me? Its my very own?
Aint nobody else with the initials ACS that I know.
Nope, me neither. I guess it has to be for you. Chris grinned
at the childs expression of awe.
gee, thanks everybody! Rorie dashed around giving
all her Uncles huge hugs. Each one returned the embrace, feeling the chid
wrap her magic around each of their hearts.
She returned to look over the saddle, balanced on the chair shed occupied
during the meal. Look Daddy, look. Did you see?
I did. You are a very lucky girl. Its just as well your Uncles
dont bear grudges for all the pranks youve pulled on them.
He smiled at her as she climbed onto his lap again.
Nah, theyre pretty cool
for grown ups. She grinned
at the spluttering.
High praise indeed. Ezra chuckled.
Can I try it out? Please? I know Im not allowed to ride but just
for a minute? She looked at him pleadingly.
Well Honeybee, well see. Ezra reached into his pocket and
withdrew a small lumpy package. You still havent opened your
present from me. He handed her the parcel.
Theres more? Thanks Daddy. She tore the paper off, tossing
it into the pile being held by Casey.
In her hands she held a tangle of leather straps. Its a bridle,
and it matches my saddle, thank you Daddy. She kissed his cheek.
Look its got something written, she peered at the letters
before turning up the other way and trying again. It says
Cle-o-pat-tra. She sounded out the unfamiliar word. Cleopatra.
I think this must be for someone else Daddy. It hasnt got MY name on
Ezra grinned at her. Well honeybee I dont expect you to wear
it. Now she was very confused and he laughed. Its hers.
He pointed over to where JD was standing by the barn.
There beside him was a medium sized pony, a young bay mare, standing completely
still, ears pricked forward towards the group at the picnic table.
Rorie looked at Ezra. Daddy?
Happy Birthday Baby Girl. He kissed the tip of her nose.
Shes mine? The Southerner nodded, matching her serious
expression. Truly? He laughed.
Yes, truly. And in light of the fact that its your birthday,
I am prepared to allow you to have a short ride. Would you like to come and
Rorie smiled slowly.
Thank you Daddy! She threw her arms around his neck and hugged
Ezra buried his nose in her hair and hugged her tight, breathing deeply of
her scent, a mixture of shampoo, fresh air, frosting and Rorie. Hed
missed so much of her life, he was determined to make the most of every hug,
every sticky kiss and every precious moment she chose to spend with him.
There was no way HIS child would grow up feeling unloved or unwanted. All
the years hed been without true affection had led him to this moment
and he wouldnt change a minute of it. He met the Texans eyes
over her head. Vin winked. He knew exactly what the Southerner was thinking.
Ezra stood, taking the child up with him, and the whole group approached
the newest member of the Larabee stable.
Rorie was asleep by the time she was packed into the car. The two children
had each had a turn with Cleo, walking around in the corral being led by
either Chris or Vin. It had been agreed that Billy would also be able to
take Cleo out for rides, whenever Rorie wasnt around, to make sure
she had enough exercise and to help Billy learn to ride solo. Billy was ecstatic,
it was almost as if hed been given a pony himself.
Ya know Ez, Vin spoke from the passenger seat of the Jag as they
roared along the quiet streets, this whole thing kinda worries me.
The undercover agent shot him a questioning look before refocusing on the
What the hell are we gonna do at Christmas?
Ezra laughed. Lets leave that up to Santa shall we? He
flicked the indicator to make a left into the driveway.
Personally Mr Tanner, I took immense satisfaction in making up for
three birthdays missed.
Im with ya pard.
Sunday 6th May
Vin and Ezra sat in the den, each working
on their own project. Vin was flicking through gun catalogues and Ezra was
checking his investments online. Finally Ezra shut down his computer and
leaned back in his chair. He chuckled.
Vin looked up from his magazine. What?
You probably wont find my musings humorous Mr Tanner.
Ez ya cant jest laugh an not tell me why. Spill it.
Very well if you insist. I never envisioned, when I joined Team 7 that
within three short years I would find myself with six highly unconventional
brothers, settling down in domestic bliss with a child, a couple
of animals and a monster of a house complete with white picket fence. My
humor, I am sorry to say stems from your position in this dynamic.
Well, if I am the Father, Rorie is the child and this is the house,
what are you? Mom? He laughed again.
Vin growled. Jest dont expect ta exercise any conjugal rights
ya dang Southern fool or yall be givin that rebel yell three
To Atlantan Legacy VIII - Jealousy: The Eighth
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