Six year old Vin Tanner was running for his life. His breath was coming in pants and his chest and legs hurt. He kept looking over his shoulder trying to identify what kind of monster was chasing him. Vin dodged in and out of traffic, darted down alleys and slipped though boarded-up fences. He kept himself hidden in the shadows until he finally reached the warehouse where he had left JD hidden. A sudden frightening thought struck Vin that maybe the monster had already found JD and hurt him. Fear gave him the extra spurt of adrenaline needed to run those last few yards in record time. Snaking his way through the warehouse window, he tried to quiet his breathing and tried to make his way stealthy to where JD played and was relieved to see his friend alone and safe. Pausing again, to catch his breath, Vin looked cautiously around and was shocked when a smiling stranger reached for him.
Gasping, Vin sat straight up in bed. Looking around, he was relieved to find he was in his bed at home, safe and sound and not in that warehouse. Still frightened, Vin thought about going into Chris's room for reassurance, but he hesitated. Vin knew he would be welcome. Chris would probably let him spend the rest of the night with him. But Vin thought about that as he lay back down and hugged Cat close to him. "I'm eight years old, now, and I gotta try and figure these things out for myself," he whispered to Cat. "I kin understand hidin' though. I been hidin' all my life seems like."
He thought back to when his Mama was alive. Resting Cat on his chin, "Mama used ta hide me when Walter came over. He was real mean. Wished I'd a had you then." Tears welled in his eyes as he remembered the man yelling bad words at his Mama. "Then when me and Mama ran away, we's hidin' from him. We rode on a bus all the way to Colorado. When we stayed in the shelter we's still hidin'. Then Mama went ta dream with the Angels."
Giving himself time to grieve, he choked back a sob. Vin sighed heavily and hugged Cat tightly to him. A few minutes later he rubbed at his eyes and returned to his thoughts.
"With Mama gone, the lady at the shelter said someone was coming for me from sumptin' called child service, but when I heard his voice at the door, I knew I weren't goin' no where with him and I snuck out the back way. I's real scared, but Mr. Harry followed me. He was real nice and taught me how ta hide even better. Then he was gone and I had ta hide from the other people out there." Vin wondered briefly where Mr. Harry had gone to, leaving him alone like that.
Vin turned over in bed and faced the wall. He could hear JD quietly snoring and didn't want to wake him. Hugging Cat closer to his chest, Vin closed his eyes, but he still couldn't sleep. All those thoughts kept running around in his head. Sighing, he thought, 'once I had JD, I had ta take care a him and it was real hard ta keep JD hid. He was just a little kid and couldn't sit still and be quiet for a long time, so he'd had to find someplace where no one else was around to make their fort.'
Vin turned onto his back, he thought, 'Yep. I know all 'bout hidin'.'
Vin raised Cat up and looked into his face. "But now the 'doptions are final and me and JD live here with Dad and Buck and we don't hafta hide anymore. We kin play, ride our horses, our bikes and everythin'. We got a Grandma and Grandpa, Elvis and Ringo, Uncles and Aunt Raine." Vin paused, "Course we do gotta go ta school now." Vin's voice dropped considerably. Turning on his side, he placed Cat on the pillow next to his head. "Reckon ya gotta take the bad with the good," he sighed. His eyes began to droop and soon he was fast asleep.
In the morning, Vin sauntered into the kitchen to find Chris drinking his coffee and reading the paper. "Mornin' Dad," he said.
Chris looked at his son, smiled and returned the good morning. Vin sat down at the table with a glass of orange juice.
"I had a nightmare last night, Dad, and it scared me."
"Why didn't you come get me?" Chris questioned, putting the paper aside.
"Dad, I'm eight years old and I gotta start figurin' these thing's out for myself. What if I's in the Army and had a nightmare? You couldn't help me then, could you?"
Seeing the humor in what Vin was saying, he countered. "Well, if you were in the Army and had a nightmare you could always call me."
Vin gave his Dad an inquiring look. "Can a 'dult soldier call his Dad after a bad dream?"
"Of course he can, cowboy." Like that would ever happen, Larabee thought. "Anyway, you know I'll always be there for you, don't you? There's nothing you can't talk to me about or tell me."
Vin rolled his eyes and smiled. "I know Dad."
Chris poured himself another mug of coffee and sat back down. "Well, did you?" he asked.
Vin looked at him, grinned and nodded. "Yep, I figured it out. See, in my dream I's always hidin' or runnin', but now I know I don't hafta hide anymore. Now I can run free and not be scared, 'cause now I got family that's gonna take care a me."
Chris looked at the child of his heart with love and pride and said, "Vin, you're growing up to fast, but I am so very proud of you. I think I need a hug."
Vin jumped up from the table and gave his father a big bear hug and received one in return. As Chris held and hugged his son, smiling he thought, 'right now, everything was as it should be in his world.'