By Winter

"Wow, that's the bestest tree in the whole world." JD spun in excited circles around the grownups and boxes of Christmas decorations. Buck, Chris and Ezra watched with a smile. Ezra turned his video camera from JD to Vin who was sitting under the tree studiously untangling lights. Just the tip of his tongue stuck out as he concentrated. The joy both boys had shown tonight in setting up the tree was a precious memory, one Ezra was determined to catch on video. Vin made quite a sight wrapped head to toe in Christmas lights.

"About got those lights untangled?" Chris knelt in front of his son.

Vin grinned up, "Yep, they're all ready."

"I don't know," Buck chuckled. "The lights may be untangled, but how do we get them off Vin?"

"Here..." Chris handed an end to Buck. "You wrap and I'll carry the lights." He scooped up Vin tickling as he did.

"Me, me I want to help!" JD grabbed onto Buck's leg with his good arm.

"Sure thing, Little Bit." Buck bent down to pick him up. "Tell you what, I'll hold you and you can wrap the lights on the tree. Be careful of your arm."

Ezra couldn't stop his own laughter at the sight of two grown men and two small boys trying to wrap the lights around the tree while keeping JD un-entangled, and getting Vin free. Josiah and Nathan would love seeing this tomorrow. He'd promised to bring the video in or else. It was too bad both men had prior commitments tonight.

It was bedtime by the time all the tree lights were placed to the boys' satisfaction. Both begged to be allowed to keep decorating but Chris and Buck were firm. The rest of the tree trimming would have to wait for tomorrow night. Reluctantly, with a promise of a story from Ezra, Vin and JD gave in.

After fulfilling his literary obligations, Ezra came back to the living room to find Buck and Chris restringing the lights. The tree was over six foot - add in JD's bad arm and the lights had ended up mostly concentrated in the middle of the tree.

"Do you think we dare do the tinsel?" Buck asked holding up one of the glittery ropes.

"I say we risk it," Chris replied. "It's a lot harder to fix that after the decorations have been hung."

"Well gentlemen, I do believe that is my cue to head home." Ezra reached for his suit coat.

"What, don't want to stay and help?" Buck joked.

"Don't forget the meeting tomorrow morning."

Ezra nodded at Chris' reminder. "What does Mr. Carson want, did you ever find out?"

"Nope." The expression on Chris' face said how much he hated being kept in the dark.

"I shall be there." Tipping an imaginary hat, Ezra left.

"You promised to wait!" JD burst into the kitchen the next morning. "You promised an' you didn't." His chin trembled, tears close to the surface.

Reacting immediately to the grief Buck scooped his son up. "What didn't we wait on, Little Bit?"

"The tree, you promised we'd all finish it tonight," JD said, the picture of outraged innocence.

Buck and Chris exchanged rueful looks.

"I'm sorry JD." Chris knelt down to the little boy's level. "I just wanted to see how it looked. We won't do anything more until tonight. Okay?"

JD considered the apology for a moment then nodded. "Okay. Buts me and Vin get to do it all tonight."

Chuckling at the bargain, Chris ruffled JD's hair. "All right, Buck and I will be your helpers."

His normally upbeat nature restored, JD was happy to sit in his own chair and eat breakfast.

Nathan and Josiah looked up as a grim Chris and silent Ezra walked straight through and into Chris' office.

"I'd say the meeting with Carson and the Judge didn't go well."

Nathan nodded. "Chris looks mad enough to chew glass."

Inside Chris' office, Ezra slumped in his chair saying nothing.

"You don't have to do this if you're not ready," Chris assured him.

"That is not the impression I received."

"I don't care what Carson wants. If you don't feel ready, I'll go to Travis." Chris stood up, walking around his desk to perch on the edge. "You were only cleared for regular duty last week."

"I know," Ezra, sighed suddenly looking very tired. "We knew this moment was going to come. I have to decide, am I still an undercover agent or not?"

"Take the rest of the day off. Give yourself time to think about it." Chris laid a reassuring hand on Ezra's shoulder. "Whatever you decide, the team and the family will support you."

When Chris and Ezra returned to the main office, the rest of the team was trying to look casual. They would have been more convincing if they hadn't been hovering near Nathan's desk, the closest to Chris' office.

"Ezra, are you all right?" Josiah finally broke the silence.

"Yes of course." Ezra threw his coat over one arm. "I will let Chris fill you all in. I'll see you tomorrow gentlemen."

As soon as the elevator doors closed Chris was confronted by three pairs of eyes all demanding explanations. "They want Ezra to go undercover."


"Do you think he's ready?"

"They can't be serious. The man should still be using his cane."

Chris smiled slightly as Buck, Josiah and Nathan made their feelings clear all at once. "It would only be a short assignment. There's some interest in one of his old aliases. He'll only need to go under for a couple of days. Once he makes contact and finds out what it's about his part will be finished."

"Are you going to let him do it?" Nathan asked.

"I told him it was his decision. If he doesn't want to do it, I'll talk to Travis."

Buck and Chris both shoved their work worries to the back of their heads when they got home. They didn't want to spoil the boy's excitement over finishing the tree.



Two excited whirlwinds leaped at their fathers. Laughing, Chris and Buck caught their respective sons. JD grinned up at Buck, his face, hands and sling smeared with white icing. Various colored cookie sprinkles imbedded in the icing made him look somewhat like a very lumpy cookie. Though not smeared in frosting like JD, Vin's lips did have a suspicious green tint to them. The kitchen table was covered in butcher paper topped with cookies in various stages of decoration.

"Gloria, you didn't have to do this," Chris said. He knew that between the sugar buzz and the plain fun the boys were having they must have been a handful all afternoon.

"I enjoyed it," Gloria smiled. "There is nothing like decorating Christmas cookies to get you in the holiday spirit."

"Da, come see." JD had wiggled out of Buck's arms and was now pulling on his hand. "Come see the one's I did. I made one for Mr. Biedler and Mrs. Roquette and Unca Josiah and Unca Ezra and Unca Nathan and Aunt Rain. And this one," they had reached the table now, "this one is for you." JD held up a tree dripping with white icing and covered with some of every kind of sprinkle on the table. "Do you like it?"

"I think it's the best cookie I've ever gotten." Buck knelt down so he could wrap his arms around JD in a hug. "I'll have it for dessert tonight."

"An' Chris can have the one Vin made for him. Oops." JD suddenly looked horrified. "I's sorry Vin, I forgots you wanted to tell."

"It's okay JD." Vin carefully picked up a cookie holding it out to Chris. "I made one for everyone, like JD did. This one is for you."

Chris cradled Vin's hand with his, leaning over to study the cookie. It was a horse. Vin had drawn a saddle and bridle on and colored the hooves. "It's wonderful son. I hate to eat it."

"It's okay," Vin whispered. "I can make another."

"Okay." Chris whispered back.

After dinner, Chris left Buck and the boys to clean up the supper dishes, going into the living room to light the fire. Kneeling to plug in the tree, he was surprised to see several decorations placed in a rather haphazard manner on one side.

Having sent the boys to change into their pajamas, Buck joined Chris by the tree.

"Buck did you see this?" Chris indicated the decorations.

"No. It was probably JD. Remember he was kinda upset this morning about the tinsel."

"Well I hope he won't mind if I take them off." Chris removed the small number of decorations. "Couple of these are too heavy for the branch he put them on."

If JD minded, he didn't say anything. The rest of the evening went quickly, with much laughter and singing of off-key Christmas carols.

Chris sat up in bed listening intently. Always a light sleeper any small sound had him instantly awake. He waited to see if he heard the noise again before getting out of bed. His patience was rewarded when he heard a familiar voice singing off key.

"Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses."

Chris climbed out of bed wondering what Vin was doing awake. He started down the hall to the living room and saw Buck standing at the end of the hall. Buck turned to him and put his fingers to his lips telling Chris to keep quiet. Chris joined Buck and looked into the living room. He saw Vin standing by the bookshelves rearranging them.

"I got friends in low places where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away."

Buck cringed and Chris chuckled.

"That boy has no pitch," Buck whispered.

"What's going on?"

"I think he's sleepwalking."

"What!" Chris said louder than he intended. Buck pulled him quickly down the hall.

"Quit worrying," Buck said. "It's harmless."

They both returned to the end of the hall to see Vin finish putting the books away and turn to walk towards them. Buck pushed Chris against the wall as Vin made his way back to his room. They followed watching as he climbed the ladder to the top bunk. Vin grabbed cat and plopped down on his pillow. Buck chuckled as he approached the bed and pulled the covers over Vin. He checked JD and saw the younger boy was sound asleep. When he was done he pushed Chris out into the hallway.

"Well I'm heading to bed," Buck announced.

"What about Vin?" Chris asked.

"Nothing to worry about, Stud," Buck said patting his shoulder. "Some kids just sleepwalk."

"There has to be a reason he's doing it," Chris argued. "Maybe he's under stress or something happened at school."

"Now Chris, don't you go pestering Vin about this," Buck said. "Wait until you talk to Nathan. He might have some more answers for you."

Buck turned down the hall and disappeared into his room. Chris returned to his and lay awake wondering what was wrong with Vin. Sleep was a long time coming.

Chris woke the next morning to laughter coming from the living room. Throwing off the covers he climbed out of bed. Ten minutes later Chris was making breakfast for the boys.

"JD, go call Buck," Chris said as he placed two glasses of milk on the table.

"BUCK!" JD yelled still sitting at the table.

"JD!" Chris chided. "I could have done that."

"Well, why didn't ya?" JD asked innocently.

"JD, go down to Buck's room and make sure he's awake," Chris said with a sigh.

"Okay," JD said as he climbed off the chair and ran out of the kitchen.

A few seconds later they heard a roar and a high pitched squeal. Vin looked at Chris and rolled his eyes. Chris laughed and turned back to the toaster to retrieve the bread. Buck walked in and dropped JD into his chair. After that, breakfast went quickly and soon they were on their way to the boys' school. As they were driving, the song Vin had been singing the night before came on the radio.

"Buck, do horses even like beer?" Vin asked.

"I've known a few that did," Buck answered.

Chris could see Vin in the rearview mirror. The boy had a mischievous smile on his face.

"Don't even think of giving Peso a beer," Chris warned.

"Unless it's one of Ezra's imported ones," Buck said.

"Buck!" Chris scolded.

"Really, Junior, Peso doesn't need to be drinking beer," Buck amended.

"Ok, I won't," Vin said.

Chris sighed in relief. That's all they would need was a drunk Peso. The horse got into enough trouble sober. He knew he could trust Vin not to do it since he gave them his word he wouldn't.

"How would Peso hold the bottle?" JD asked innocently. Suddenly Vin laughed. "What's so funny?"

"I was just picturing Peso grabbing the bottle in his teeth and tilting his head back to drink the beer," Vin laughed.

"Yeah that would be funny," JD joined in.

They arrived at the school and Chris waited in the car as Buck walked them into the school. Buck came out a few minutes later and they headed downtown to work. Seeing Nathan wasn't in yet, Chris went to his office to listen to his phone messages. About an hour later he came out, plopping into the chair next to Nathan's desk.

"Something I can help you with Chris?" Nathan asked.

"Buck didn't say anything?"

"Thought you'd want to ask him first," Buck said.

"What's wrong?" Nathan asked.

"Well, Buck says it's nothing but I'm not so sure," Chris began.

"Spit it out Chris," Josiah said. "You have our attention."

"Well, we found Vin sleepwalking last night," Chris said.

"I see," Nathan smiled. "There really isn't anything to worry about."

"See? I told ya," Buck said.

"But why is he doing it?" Chris asked.

"There's no sure answer to that," Nathan said. "There have been studies, but the doctors can't find one reason that would suggest why kids do it."

"I've read a few things on that," Josiah said. "The article I read said it's more prevalent in boys and sometimes stress can cause it."

"Now, don't go jumping to any conclusions Mr. Larabee," Ezra said quickly. "It doesn't mean Vin is under any stress."

"Ezra's right," Nathan agreed. "They really don't know what causes it. And it's usually harmless."

"Usually," Chris glared.

"In children, yes," Nathan said. "It's rare in adults."

"But there is a case right now," Josiah began. "Can't remember what state, but a man is using as his defense in a murder trial that he was sleepwalking at the times of the murders. Basically saying he's not responsible."

"That's a load of hooey!" Buck said.

"Probably," Josiah said. "But that's his defense."

"So what should we do?" Chris asked.

"Just make sure all the doors and windows are locked before you go to bed," Nathan said. "And whatever you do, don't wake him up as he's walking. You can steer him in a particular direction but don't force him."

"That's it?" Chris asked.

"Pretty much," Nathan said. "He'll stop when he's ready."

"Terrific," Chris sighed.

That night Chris was up late working on the fiscal report when he saw Vin come walking down the hall. Chris could see Vin's eyes were barely open as he made his way into the kitchen. Chris got up and followed, staying far enough away not to wake him. Chris stood in the doorway as he watched Vin open the fridge and stand there for a few minutes looking. Vin shut the fridge and opened the freezer. He grabbed the ice cream and shut the door. He then opened the fridge and put the ice cream next to the milk closing the door. Chris shook his head as he envisioned the ice cream melting all over the fridge.

Vin finished at the fridge and walked over the cabinet drawers. He began taking the utensils out of one drawer and placing them on the counter. Chris watched as he moved to another drawer and pulled out the large serving spoons and forks to place in the drawer he'd just emptied. When they were all moved Vin opened the drawer with all the sharp knives. Chris was about to move in to stop him when Nathan's warning about not waking him came to mind. Chris watched in horror as Vin grabbed the knives and put them in the empty drawer. The boys knew better than to go in that drawer and Chris was worried Vin might cut himself. Chris held his breath as Vin transferred all the knives without incident. When they were moved Vin put the utensils from the counter in the now empty drawer. When Vin was finished he walked out of the kitchen.

Chris quickly grabbed the ice cream out of the fridge and put it back in the freezer before following Vin. He found Vin standing by the sliding glass door looking out. Vin tried to open the door but it was locked. When he couldn't open it he headed down the hall to his room. Chris followed and watched as he climbed the ladder to his bunk. Vin slipped off one of the rungs but didn't wake. Chris sighed in relief as Vin settled under the covers. Tomorrow they would take the beds down and put them side by side.

When Chris and Buck returned from work the next day, Chris announced they would take the bunk beds down.

"But why?" JD asked.

"Figured you guys might like something different," Buck explained. He knew the real reason why Chris wanted it done. He didn't necessarily agree with him.

"If you don't like it we can always put it back," Chris said. "But for now let's try it."

The rest of the evening was spent rearranging the room. The beds down made the playing area in the room much smaller. There was a small space in between the two beds and a small space at the end. Both boys looked at the new arraignment and frowned.

"Looks funny," Vin announced.

"Yeah," JD agreed." We have no place to play now."

"Well just try it for a few days," Chris said.

"Ok," Vin agreed.

"Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you," Chris said to the boys. "You both have an appointment with Dr. Two Eagles tomorrow."

"But I ain't sick," Vin said.

"Me either," JD piped up.

Buck let Chris handle this one himself. That morning Chris had told Buck about Vin being in the knife drawer and the fear he'd cut himself. Chris had decided to make an appointment with Dr. Two Eagles just to be sure. Buck hadn't agreed with his decision but held his tongue.

"You don't have to be sick to go see him," Chris explained to Vin. "It's just a routine check up. I thought it was a good idea since JD has to get his elbow checked." He looked over at JD. "Dr. Two Eagles wants to see how you're doing.

"OK," JD said. "At least we'll get a new toy."

Vin frowned but said nothing. Dinner was a quiet affair as both boys ate their hotdogs and fries. After dinner was over, Chris helped Vin work on his puzzle while JD and Buck watched a video. Soon it was time for the boys to go to bed. Buck helped them get ready and read them a story. Chris wandered down to the room just as Buck was finishing and walked over to Vin's bed. He sat down and tucked the covers around Vin.

"Sleep tight, Cowboy."

"Don't let the bed bugs bite," Vin said smiling.

"And if they do, hit them with a shoe, upside their Cookoo," JD giggled.

Buck just shook his head as he tucked JD in. "Night boys."

After good nights were said both men head back to the living room.

"Buck," JD whispered loudly.

"Hmm what?" Buck grumbled as he sat up.

"Can I sleep with you?"

"Why?" Buck asked.

"Well Vin keeps coming into bed with me," JD explained. "'Cept he keeps tossing and turning and I can't get to sleep. So I left him in my bed and went to his. But he followed me there too. When he bumps my arm it hurts."

"I see," Buck said.

"Can we put the beds back tomorrow?" JD asked. "I don't think Vin likes them this way."

"Just Vin?"

"I don't like it either," JD admitted.

"OK, you can sleep with me," Buck said. "But let's go get Vin too."

Buck climbed out of bed and went to the boys' room. JD followed behind as they entered the room. Buck turned on the light to see Vin standing between the two beds.

"Hey, Junior, can't sleep?"

"Don't like the beds this way," Vin sighed.

"Well, we'll put them back tomorrow," Buck said. "Tonight the two of you can sleep with me."

The three of them went back to Buck's room and all climbed into bed. Buck didn't mind having the boys sleep with him. He wasn't a light sleeper like Chris and also didn't wake when the boys kicked him or rolled over him. Buck settled back against the pillows with a boy on either side. Soon they were all asleep.

Vin really didn't mind going to see Dr. Two Eagles, but wondered why he had to. He wasn't sick so he figured it was wasting the doctor's time. Vin thought the doctor's time should be spent helping sick kids, not him. As they were walking into the office where Dr. Two Eagles worked, Vin saw a familiar face.

"Miss Nettie!" Vin exclaimed and pulled out of Chris's hand.

Chris watched as both boys ran to meet their social worker. Chris knew that Vin had a close rapport with the older woman. They didn't know why, but Vin felt safe with Nettie.

"So what brings you boys here?" Nettie asked.

"We comes to see Dr. Two Eagles," JD announced. "He's gonna check my elbow." He showed her the rather grubby sling.

"Are you sick Vin?" Nettie asked, surprised. "You don't look sick."

"I ain't sick," Vin said. "Come for a check up Chris said."

"I see," Nettie said turning her piercing eyes on Chris. "Mind if I walk with you?"

"Nope," Vin said holding out his hand.

Chris took JD's hand and followed them down the hall. Chris knew he'd have to explain to Nettie why they were here. They only waited a few minutes before the doctor was ready to see them.

"Hello boys," Dr, Two Eagles said as he walked into the examination room.

"Howdy," Vin said.

"Hi," JD added.

"Will you boys be okay for a few minutes while I talk to Nettie?" Chris asked.

"We'll be fine," Dr. Two Eagles said.

Chris led Nettie out to the hall and turned to face her.

"Well, what's going on?" Nettie demanded.

"Vin's been sleepwalking," Chris began.

"Is that all," Nettie laughed.

"I wanted to make sure everything was okay," Chris said angrily.

"I'm sorry, Chris, I didn't mean to laugh," Nettie said. "You had me worried it was something more serious."

"You don't think this is?" Chris asked.

"No," Nettie said honestly. "Some children just do it."

"But why?"

"No one knows," Nettie said smiling. "But I suspect in Vin's case he just doesn't have enough time in a day to get done what he wants, so he sleep walks."

"But Nettie, all he's been doing is rearranging books and the kitchen drawers. I also think he put some decorations on the Christmas tree."

"Doesn't matter," Nettie said. "Maybe in his mind it was something that needed doing."

"Nathan and Buck told me it was harmless but I wanted to make sure," Chris said.

"It is," Nettie said patting his hand. "Tell the boys good-bye for me. I have to get back to work."

Chris walked back into the exam room to find JD with the ends of the stethoscope in his ears as Dr. Two Eagles held the other end against Vin's chest.

"Wow!" JD exclaimed. "Vin I could hear your heart!"

"Cool," Vin said.

Dr. Two Eagles finished examining Vin and started on JD. He let Vin try the stethoscope as well, then finished up with JD, checking his arm and replacing the dirty sling. After both boys were dressed a nurse came into the room.

"Why don't you boys go with Nancy so I can talk to Chris?" he said.

"Can't we get our toys?" JD asked.

"Sure," Nancy said. "You can pick them out yourself."

"So?" Chris asked once the boys were gone.

"They're fine, Chris," Dr. Two Eagles said. "Vin's weight is finally right for his size. JD's is a bit over but it's nothing to worry about."

"But what about the sleepwalking?" Chris asked.

"There's really not much we can do about that," he said. "There's no definitive cure because no one really knows why kids and some adults sleepwalk."

"So what do we do?" Chris sighed.

"Just lock all the doors at night," Dr. Two Eagles began. "Place child proof locks on places you don't want Vin to go. Like the cabinet under the sink where you keep all the cleaners."

"Jeez, I didn't even think of that," Chris sighed.

"Stop worrying, Chris," Dr. Two Eagles laughed. "You just have to go around the house and child proof things."

"I remember doing it for Adam," Chris said. "I also remember busting my knuckles every time I pulled a closet open and I forgot those safety locks were there."

"Don't we all," he laughed.

"So I basically just have to let this run its course."

"Pretty much."

"Thanks Doc," Chris said shaking his hand. "Guess I just needed to hear it from someone other than my team."

"Anytime," Dr. Two Eagles said. "You know I love seeing the boys."

On the way home Chris stopped at Home Depot to get what he would need to child proof the kitchen. JD and Vin liked going to Home Depot so they could see all the cool stuff. They followed Chris as he walked down the aisles pointing at anything that caught their attention. It took time to find what he needed but finally Chris herded the boys back out to the truck. He was glad Buck had said he and Josiah would stop and get pizza. Josiah was coming over to help Chris with a profile on one of their new cases. Chris hadn't told the boys Josiah was coming so they were excited when they saw his suburban sitting in the driveway. The two boys burst into the house.

"Uncle Josiah!" Vin' called

"Uncle 'siah!" JD yelled.

"I'm in your room boys!" Josiah called.

The two boys dropped their book bags and raced down the hall. Picking up the bags, Chris brought them into the kitchen. He could see the oven was on and knew the pizzas were inside staying warm until they arrived. Putting the bags down on the counter he headed down the hall to see what was going on. When he walked into the boys' room. he saw Buck and Josiah had returned the room to its original layout. Buck had told Chris about the boys spending the night with him because they hadn't been comfortable in their beds.

"Thanks Uncle 'Siah," JD said as he wrapped his arm around the taller man's leg.

"Anytime JD," Josiah said ruffling his hair.

"See what I got from Dr. Two Eagles?" JD said, holding up a plastic army man with a parachute attached. "You throw it up and he comes floating down."

"Very interesting," Josiah said. "And what did you get Vin?"

"A lion," Vin said as he walked over to his shelf and placed the toy next to the other animals he'd gotten from the doctor.

"That's quite a collection you got here Vin," Josiah said.

"Yeah, ain't it cool?" Vin said. "I'm trying to get one of each. I know Noah had two of each but I didn't want to be greedy."

"So who wants pizza?" Buck asked.

"Me!" both boys cried.

The two boys raced down the hall to the kitchen followed by the adults. Dinner was a boisterous affair as both boys competed for their Uncle's attention. When dinner was over Chris explained to the boys that he and Josiah had work to do and that Buck would help them with their homework. Both boys grumbled and reluctantly went with Buck to the kitchen. After finishing their homework, the boys watched TV until it was time for bed.

"Come on boys, time for bed," Josiah said. "I'll read you a story."

"Yippee!" JD said and raced down the hall.

"Sweet!" Vin said and followed JD.

"Sweet?" Buck said, giving the others an odd look.

"Don't look at me," Chris said.

Josiah followed the boys, helping them into their PJ's, and waited while they brushed their teeth. The boys liked getting stories from Josiah because he didn't read them out of a book. Josiah told stories from his head. Some were made up, some were from the Bible. The boys didn't care as long as they were fun. Josiah settled on the floor by the bunk bed and the boys gathered around.

"Tonight I will tell you about Jonah and the whale."

Twenty minutes later Josiah came walking back into the living room. He joined Chris over by the dinning room table.

"They asleep?" Chris asked.

"Easy as pie," Josiah said.

"I just hope this next task is just as easy," Chris said pointing to the papers.

Josiah was pulled out of sleep by the feeling of someone watching him. Rolling over he found Vin standing by the sofa bed. The profile he was working on with Chris had taken longer than they thought and Chris offered Josiah the use of the sofa bed for the night. Josiah had agreed, not wanting to drive all the way to the city so late. Josiah could see Vin wasn't awake and he made sure he didn't wake him. He waited patiently to see what Vin would do. The boy climbed on the bed and sat cross-legged in front of Josiah. Josiah sat up and leaned back against the couch.

"Josiah why did Noah take crickets on the arc?"

"That's a good question," Josiah said shuddering. He didn't like crickets. "I suppose God wanted him to."

"But you don't like crickets," Vin said. "But I do. I like the sounds they make."

"I suppose female crickets like it too," Josiah said smiling.

"How did Noah get the whales on the arc?"

"Well, Vin he didn't have to," Josiah answered. "They could swim."

"Oh yeah," Vin said. "So when are you getting married?"

"Well, Vin I'm not…" Josiah began to answer but he stopped as Vin crawled off the bed and headed for the front door.

"Who is it?" Vin called.

Josiah watched to make sure that Vin didn't try to open the door. Chris had made sure he'd gone around the house and locked all the doors. When no one answered him, Vin walked away from the door and headed towards the kitchen. Josiah followed and watched from the door as Vin got the milk and poured himself a glass. Josiah joined him grabbing some Oreo's and placing them in front of Vin. Vin ate two, drank some of the milk, and left the table. Josiah followed him back to his room and watched as Vin climbed the ladder to his bunk and lay down on the pillow. Chuckling softly, Josiah walked into the room to pull the covers over Vin. After checking on JD he quietly left the room.

"Thought he had you there with that marriage question."

"Jesus, Chris, give me a heart attack why don't you," Josiah said.

"So how do you like waking to find Vin standing over you?" Chris asked as he followed Josiah back to the kitchen.

"It's very interesting," Josiah said.

"You're the first person he's actually talked to while he's been walking," Chris said.

"I'm honored then," Josiah said as he sat down to finish his cookies.

"What am I going to do with Vin?" Chris asked.

"There's nothing you can do, Chris," Josiah said. "You just have to let it run its course. and get used to having Vin asked some very odd questions."

"Like when you plan to get married," Chris laughed.

"Yeah like that one," Josiah said.

"I suppose I can get used to it," Chris said. "I've gotten used to a lot of things when the boys moved in."

"Yes I'm sure you have," Josiah said.

"It's been a wild ride I'll have to admit," Chris said. "But I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

By Friday morning Chris was becoming resigned to his sleepwalking son. Last night it had been his turn to find Vin staring at him. He hadn't gotten the marriage question, but Vin had asked why he didn't have a mustache like Buck's. Having made the house as safe as he could, Chris was prepared to wait this strange phase out.

He was busy with paperwork when Ezra knocked on his open door.

"Chris, do you have a minute?"

"Sure, come on in." Chris put his pen down, leaning back in his chair. He knew what the Ezra wanted to talk about, he just wasn't sure what Ezra was going to say.

"I'll take the assignment," Ezra said in one breath.

"Are you sure? Because if you're not..." Chris paused. "I don't want you to feel forced into this."

"I have given this a great deal of thought. I will not try to tell you I have no misgivings, but what is the saying. 'You have to get back on the horse after you've been bucked off'."

"That's pretty close," Chris grinned. "Okay, I'll let Carson know. I think he wants to set this up for next week."

"Very good, I want to be sure and be done before Christmas."

"We all want that. I have no intention of telling JD and Vin their Uncle Ezra can't make Christmas," Chris said seriously. "So you keep yourself in one piece."

Hi computer. Vin did you finish your letter to Santa?

Yes JD.

What do you want?

I don't want to say.

Oh, ????

Come on JD I hear the truck.

Yeah, bye computer.


Next up -  Undercover Christmas - The Missing Piece by GinaD

Index - Puzzling Out Life's Little Lessons

Comments: Winter

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