Song fic: Christmas Makes Me Cry
Josiah noticed the ill at ease man first. As he watched his friend lean further into the window, he wondered if it was the view or something inside that seem to make him withdraw into himself. Glancing over to Nathan then Ezra, Josiah shifted his eyes over to the window and back to them. Getting shrug of shoulders and shaking of heads, he knew they didn't have a clue what was wrong either.
Ezra walked over and asked, "Mr. Tanner, is everything all right?" When he received no answer or any sign that he was even heard, he tried again. "Mr. Tanner, is everything all right, are you feeling ill?"
Vin turned only slightly and met Ezra's gaze for just a split moment with a small nod, then turned away back to the window.
Ezra stood frozen for a moment, though nothing was said. He had seen his answer in his friend’s eyes. It was a look that had cut and touched him deeply. Ezra moved away and back to the other two. Though his voice was low its tone carried a demand. "When is Mr. Larabee due back from court?"
"Chris, Buck and JD won’t be back for at least another hour. Why, did Vin say something?" Nathan answered.
"Not aloud, but I swear his eyes spoke volumes. And I believe it will take Mr. Larabee to ensure our quiet friend finds his way back from whatever heartbreaking sorrow has captured him in its grip."
Turning, the three were surprised to find Vin not at the window anymore, nor was he anywhere in the office. They snapped their heads toward the hallway, just catching the staircase door closing.
"I think it’s best if one of you contacts Mr. Larabee while I catch up to Mr. Tanner and see where he might be going," Ezra stated, heading for the elevator.
I think of loved ones who've passed away
And I pray they're resting in a better place
I think of memories of years gone by
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry
Vin knew one of them would follow him down so he waited in the shadows a row over from his jeep. As soon as Ezra stepped off the elevator, looked around his jeep, then went back on to the elevator and the doors closed, Vin came out and climbed into his jeep. He started it up and pulled out. He headed down the road not even turning on the radio. The silence surrounded the thoughts swirling within. The visions of that last Christmas with his mom, blended with the ones a few years later of the last one with his grandad. He remembered laying them both to rest the day after while the lights still twinkled and the carols still played. Memories off seeing the lights and hearing the carols when he was on the streets, always wondering if they were looking down at him filled his head.
Pulling into a parking lot, Vin sat there for a moment before shutting the engine off. He got out and went in, hoping a drink would ease the emptiness he had been feeling.
Ezra looking around didn't see him, so he stepped up to the bar where Inez was filling a pitcher of beer. "Excuse me, my dear lady. By any chance have you seen Mr. Tanner? And if so might he still be inside your establishment?"
"He came in and sat at the bar for a moment, but he didn't stay. He looked, I don't know…. I thought maybe he wasn't feeling good and the noise bothered him," Inez explained.
"How along ago was he here?"
""Maybe ten or fifteen minutes"
"Thank you, my dear." Ezra responded. Just as he opened the door to go out, he stopped as Chris was coming. "I take it Mr. Sanchez was able to reach you. We have just missed him about ten minutes according to the fair Inez."
Chris stepped back out with Ezra following. They walked back toward their vehicles.
"Why don't you drive by the community center and I'll go check his apartment?" Chris told him as he opened the truck's door.
"Inez stated that Mr. Tanner didn't look like he felt well and she thought fairly sure he left because of the noise. With that information, I don't think Mr. Tanner would venture to the center and possibly not even his abode considering how his neighbors, as well as the children, would appear upon his arrival. If he is needing or seeking solitude, perhaps Mrs. Wells’ place or your home?" Ezra suggested.
Chris nodded, "I'll call Tiny, he's out there right now reshoeing Pony and tell him to call me if Vin shows up there. You call Nettie and see if she has heard from him. If he only left ten minutes ago, he hasn't had time to get to either place yet."
Both men pulled out their cell phones got to their task.
I think of soldiers across the sea
Sometimes I wonder why it's them instead of me
But for my freedom they give their lives
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry
He remembered the different Christmases spent on home soil and on foreign. The last one behind enemy lines, holding one of the men who wouldn't see another. The heartache he felt for having to report the loss of so many and the hollowness when asked if the mission completed on Christmas day. That one narrow question deciding it was time for him to leave. putting him once more alone in the world at Christmas time.
Vin kept driving, though in truth he wasn't even conscious of the way he was going. Just going as his thoughts still swirled and filled and the outside silence coating him in hollowness and cold.
Chris answered on the first ring, "Larabee."
"Chris, Casey just called me and said Vin just drove past her. She was finishing changing her tire and was putting the jack back in the truck when he went by. She knew something must be wrong when he didn't stop to offer help. She called me wanting to know what was wrong. I told her what Josiah said about something was weighing on his mind." JD reported.
"Where is she and what direction was he going?" Chris wanted to know.
Once the answers were given, Chris told JD to let the others know.
I think of family, I think of home
And say a prayer for those who spend this time alone
'Cause love can reach out into a silent night
And that's why Christmas makes me cry
Vin stood looking out over the calm lake. He hadn't planned to drive here to where the seven of them go for their fishing and camping weekends. But here he stood letting the memory of their laughter and grins wash over him. His gaze took in the sparkling night stars that were mirrored in the still water. Moving his sight up to the darkening sky itself, Vin sent a heart- felt message to those no longer with him in life. He heard a motor back on the tree line behind him pull up. But never turned around.
Chris walked up and stopped beside his friend. Taking a long look into the face and eyes, nodded his understanding of how past sorrows can sneak up and grab you and leave you filled with a sense of hollowness and loss. Placing his hand on Vin's shoulder, he gave it a squeeze, showing him that he would always be there and so would five other men.
The silence that surrounded the two men suddenly was broken by other motors, then loud voices arguing about starting the fire and where to put the food and coolers.
Vin and Chris both grinned at the antics they were hearing, turned to join the others.
Vin looked up to the stars and whispered out, "In loss, in hope, in joy of family, this is what Christmas gives to me"
Tears of faithfulness, tears of hope
I cry tears of joy at Christmas because I know
There is peace on earth for every heart to find
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry