Little Britches ATF Universe

by LaraMee

Disclaimer: I still don't own them and I still don't profit off them.

Notes: For Jeanne, who needed a cuddle scene. No plot, just a little ficlet that will hopefully make her happy.

Chris Larabee looked up from his computer at the sound of light footsteps coming down the hallway. He glanced at the bottom of the computer, noted that it was 10:49 pm, and frowned. Even on a weekend night it was too late for his foster son to be up. He had tucked the seven-year-old in at 9:30.

Larabee watched as the child peeked into the room tentatively. "Hey, Cowboy, what's up?"

Deciding that the blonde's tone meant it was safe to enter, Vin did just that. He padded across the room on stocking feet, his stuffed cat dangling from one hand. He reached the desk, standing across from his father. A frown furrowed his little brow as he said in a weary voice, "can't sleep."

Chris sat back and looked the child over. When the diminutive body gave him no clues, he began the questions. The former orphan was often unwilling or unable to express his thoughts and feelings. It fell to the adults around him to figure out what was going on.

Catching the expressive blue eyes, the man started with the easiest questions. "Is your back bothering you?'

"Nope." Vin wiggled a little to demonstrate his ease of movement.

"How about your belly?" Receiving a head shake he continued. "Head? Arms? Legs? Nothing hurts?"


"Well, is something on your mind? Are you having sad thoughts?"

"Not really."

"Not really?" Chris echoed.

With a shrug, the little boy said, "I kind 'a miss JD 'n Buck."

"Ahh," Larabee responded. The other half of their eclectic little family had gone out of town for the weekend. Concern coloring his features, he asked, "You do know that they'll be back tomorrow night, right?"

"Sure," Vin replied with a nod.

Okay, it wasn't a fear that they wouldn't return, just a normal response to someone important in his life being away. The blonde's mind ran through the day, trying to find something that might offer a clue to the child's restlessness.

They had enjoyed the day together, just kicking around the house. They had planned to go into town for breakfast tomorrow, and then Ezra and Josiah were coming out for a barbeque in the afternoon. Nathan had already made plans with Raine, but that hadn't seemed to be unduly stressful for the little boy. He had even giggled when Nathan had told him that he and Raine were going on a date.

Buck and JD were scheduled to be home around 6:30 or 7:00 tomorrow evening to allow the younger boy the chance to wind down before bed time. None of that was that out of the ordinary and shouldn't cause Vin to lose sleep.

Rising from his chair, Chris moved around the desk and reached out to the little boy. Vin came to him readily, a phenomenon of the last couple of months. He lifted the child into his arms, smiling contentedly when the little body snuggled against him.

They moved into the great room, where the rocking chair sat. He settled into its comfortable embrace and then shifted the tiny body on his lap. Vin curled into his arms, sideways across his lap, Cat resting against his little belly. His tousled head lay against the man's broad chest, and one hand fiddled with the material of his father's sweatshirt.

Chris had come to know the boy as well as he had his biological son. He felt no undue tension in the frail form, there was no sense of stress or anger. Pulling the quilt off the back of the chair, he covered Vin and began to rock. The familiar creaks and pops seemed to echo through the house.

Vin stirred, looking up at Larabee. "Wow! The chair got awful loud, Dad."

Larabee smiled as he realized the culprit behind the little boy's restlessness. While he had enjoyed the peace of the still night, it left Vin feeling uneasy and uncomfortable. Softly he said, "Sure sounds like it, doesn't it?"

Nodding before allowing his head to drop back to his foster father's chest, Vin yawned.

"Bet it's kind of noisy sleeping in the same room as JD."

With a slightly irritated sigh, little Tanner said, "Yeah, it is."

Chuckling, Larabee said, "So tell me about it. What sort of noises would there be if JD was in the room tonight?'

"Well, he don't hardly lay still 'til he gets all th' way asleep. He moves all around so much it makes me think 'a Taz."

Chris had to smile at that very apt description. He and Buck were in awe at some of the positions they had found the little brunet in at wake up.

"He makes noises, too."

"What sort of noises?"

Vin treated his foster father to a series of mutters, mumbles, giggles and grunts.

Larabee laughed. "Wow, you're right. He is noisy."

The little boy looked up, something very close to disgust on his face. "That ain't all he does, neither."

"It's not?"

Shaking his head, the boy lamented softly, "he burps an' he… well, he… he makes cheese."

"Makes cheese?" Chris asked with a confused expression on his face.

"Yeah, you know…" The child pinched his nose with the fingers of one hand while fanning the air with the other.

Larabee laughed hard at the boy's descriptive mimicry. When he could finally speak, he choked out, "cuts the cheese. He cuts the cheese."

"Yeah, that's it." The little blond wasn't certain why his dad was laughing, but it didn't matter. Hearing that laugh was something that always gave him a good feeling.

Chris slowly quieted. Running his fingers through the sandy locks, he said, "Man, it sounds like you've got the noisiest room in the house… and the smelliest." He wrinkled his nose, eliciting a giggle from the little boy. He smiled. There was nothing quite so beautiful as the sound of a child's laughter.

"Yeah, I think so, too," Vin agreed. He snuggled against the broad chest once more, a contented sigh escaping him. He could hear the strong, steady sound of his father's heartbeat. Sleepily he rubbed his face against the soft, warm fabric of the shirt. He could smell the smells that he had come to associate with the man. He allowed the comforting sensations to lull him.

Chris felt the little body slowly relax. He continued to rock, content to sit there with the child in his arms. They sat like that until he was certain Vin was deep in slumber. Then he rose carefully with the little boy in his arms, laying aside the covering. With Vin's limp body in his arms, he padded back to the child's bedroom.

Settling Vin into his bunk, Chris tucked the blankets back around him, making certain that Cat was nearby. He stood back and started from the room, but then stopped.

It was so quiet.

Padding across to the shelves on the other side of the room, he reached for the little portable stereo sitting there. Checking the volume first, he switched on the radio and moved the dial until he found a classical station.

Moving back to where Vin lay, he saw the unmistakable signs of peace and contentment spread across the finely sculpted features. He tenderly smoothed the thick blond hair away from the child's face and gave him a gentle kiss.

"Good night, cowboy."

The End

Comments: LaraMee