by Twyla Jane

The disclaimer is and always will be I don’t own ‘em and never made a plug nickel off ‘em. Wish I did. This is a series of stories where Ezra’s a child and the remaining seven are adults. In a Modern universe where the boys are working in Chris’ and Buck’s 4C agency as private investigators, bounty hunters and body guards. A Christmas story…at Mac Cready’s urging. Okay here it is. The title is from a song by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. 12/24/01

Disappointment was evident on the youngster’s face as he gazed out from the warm living room as the snow fell in thick sheets to the ground. The reflection lights from the decorated tree blinked colorfully against the ever-whitening world as the day was beginning to slip into evening. He had dared to hope that this Christmas would be different, but he was alone again on Christmas Eve. Well that wasn’t exactly true the boy wasn’t by himself but he wasn’t sure that the house’s only other occupant was Nathan Jackson and Ezra was pretty sure that the man didn’t like him. He wouldn’t even have been there except the ex-paramedic was the only person Buck could reach on such short notice. Wilmington had been watching him while his father Chris was away, but he had abruptly leaving earlier in the day after receiving an urgent phone call informing him that there had been some kind of accident. The twelve year old had been left behind to wait. For most of those two hours it had taken Jackson to arrive the boy had stood by the window watching and waiting. The normal half hour drive for Nathan had been lengthened considerably by the large snowstorm was rapidly sweeping through the region.

Little was said after black man’s arrival and the awkward silence grew as the day stretched on. The phone hadn’t rung since Buck left. There had been no word from the elder Larabee who was supposed to arrive back home that evening, not even a call from his sister Tilly or Grandpa Hank. The disappointment Ezra felt he believed lay with himself for wanting something so much and never considering for an instant that the wish would be denied. Ezra silently berated himself for believing in the promise made. Chris had said they would be together and any hope for that was fading with the light. His mother had been right. Leaning his forehead into the cool glass, he wondered when he would stop thinking of her as that. But it seemed that the woman who more or less raised him was correct. No matter how good the intentions had been, he couldn't get rid of the dull ache that had settled in his chest.


Absorbed in his thoughts Ezra was jarred back into reality after being startled by a warm hand that touched his shoulder banging an elbow into the windowsill. After reeling in sheer panic for a fraction of a second he realized it was Nathan. The man was crouched down in front of him. The dark face filled with concern while watching him intently as he got his bearings.

“You okay?”

Unable to speak just yet he nodded and rubbed at his elbow.

“I guess you didn’t hear me supper’s ready…”

“Not hungry…”

The words were choked as the boy tried to maintain an impassive face. A losing battle that night as his lower lip involuntarily trembled at the aspect of spending another holiday alone.

“You know he’ll be back as soon as he can.”

“Then why hasn’t he called?”

“The phone lines are dead…”

“Your cell phone isn’t…”

“I’ve tried calling Chris myself but all the circuits are busy…come on to the dinner table and try to eat…”

Ezra blinked back the tears that threatened to fall. He took one last look at the twinkling Christmas tree and its barren skirted base. The decorations were hung in clusters, the silver garland drooped in places and the fir itself was a bit off kilter tilting slightly to the left the tree was not even close to resembling any store holiday display he had ever seen, it was better but it meant little without having Chris there. Head hung low he numbly followed Nathan into the kitchen.


The embers glowed in the fireplace, the dim light cast heavy shadows across the living room. One o’clock in the morning Nate Jackson sat quietly in the darkened room he was weary, but a growing worry ate at him as he sat alone with his thoughts after putting an exhausted Ezra into bed. It was Christmas day. He had been planning to spend this day in Denver with Rain. He remembered wanting to get to her place before the weather got any worse but a sudden call from Buck Wilmington had changed all his plans and sent him out into the snowstorm headed towards the Larabee ranch. Most of that message had been garbled as the phone line crackled and hissed but one thing came over loud and clear Chris Larabee had been involved a car accident on the way home from the airport. There hadn’t been any more information than that and Buck hadn’t wanted to unnecessarily alarm Ezra so the boy wasn’t told.

The ranch’s phone line was dead. There was just static coming over Jackson’s cellular, the batteries had run down and the forgotten charger was on Jackson’s kitchen counter. If no news was supposed to be good, thought Nate, then why had a sickening feeling of dread settled over him as he watched the boy through out the day? Ezra had been unusually quiet and pensive never wandering far from the living room’s large bay window. Nate could clearly see that Ezra knew something was wrong but the boy hadn’t said a word about those fears beyond asking the single time about why no one had called. The day had been awkward for both he had done his best to not to add to Ezra’s fear. Maybe he should have said something, anything to comfort the child. Nathan sank deeper into the sofa trying to fight off sleep until those guilty thoughts chased him into his dreams.


The muffled sound of jingling bells and laughter woke Nathan Jackson. For a brief second he forgot where he was as the bright morning light reflected off the snow flooded the room and he was pushing the hand made afghan off his legs when he heard Buck’s loud snort as he entered the room stamping the snow off his feet as he came in escorting Larabee, who slowly trudged in with the aid of crutches. A blue fiberglass cast poked out from jeans that were slit and safety pinned, the cast covered Chris’ right leg from his toes to just under his knee. Chris growled as Tilly and Hank followed him in having a hard time controlling their own laughter.

“Morning Nate…” The giggling pair chimed together.

A huge wave of relief flooded through Jackson. Wilmington broke into a face splitting grin and Nate couldn’t figure out why but it didn’t matter his friend was okay or at least he would be.

“Chris… you better let Ezra know you’re here…”

Nate’s tone carried an urgency that prodded Larabee down the hall into his son’s room.


Buck had followed Chris as far as the door but left him to wake Ezra on his own. Hobbling into the room he sat on the edge of the bed, noting the bedding was is a state of disarray a vivid testament to a rough night’s sleep and Chris began to rub gentle circles on the slender back as he whispered.

“Ezra wake up…its Christmas…”

Dark lashes fluttered, green eyes snapped open and a tired smile grew across the sleepy face. “You’re here… I thought…”came an almost wispy reply.

“Couldn’t break my promise… besides I have a surprise for you…”

As the youngster sat up in bed he noticed the cast and didn’t hear the last part of what Chris said.

“You broke your leg?” Ezra almost sounded relieved as the words rushed out.

“That I did…” Chris didn’t get to finish before he was wrapped in a tight hug from his son. “Come on and help me into the living room….”


The sleepy twelve year-old walked carefully by his father’s side not noticing all the people in the living room until Tilly giggled out. “Hey runt.” The sound of her sound voice caused Ezra to grin even wider, a warm feeling rushed through him as he realized that Grandpa Hank was there along with the rest of the 4C agency. Buck and JD were busy shoving presents under the tree and Josiah popped his head out of the kitchen motion for Vin to join him.

“How?” The question squeaked passed Ezra’s lips.

“Everybody was supposed to get here yesterday…” Chris grimaced as he sat down next to Nate who hadn’t moved. “Was supposed to be a surprise…” A sudden pain stopped Chris’ explanation and spurred the ex-paramedic into action within a few moments the lean blond was settled onto the couch with his leg propped up on pillows.

“Then Pop had to go and break his leg… come on runt we better go help cook breakfast if we want it to be edible and I’ll tell you all about it…”

Tilly’s smirk and giggled words received a half hearted glare from the elder Larabee as she led her younger brother into the kitchen.


Nate sat on the coffee table and stared at Chris a moment before he asked. “What exactly did happen?”

A chuckle that came from Hank Connelly who still stood across the room caused Larabee to frown again. “It wasn’t that funny!”

“Yeah it was… I guess that part didn’t get relayed… after we got picked up at the airport and we were almost out of Denver when the truck slid on some ice and off the road into a snow bank… this fool gets out leaving Tilly at the wheel and decides to push only the truck slides backwards…”

“You got run over by your own truck?”

“He sure did… I tried telling him we’d be better off waiting for a tow truck…”

“Shut up Hank…”

By this time even Chris was smiling and Hank chuckled again excusing himself as he went to get a well-earned cup of coffee. That wide grin dimmed, as he saw the serious look on Nathan’s face.

“Chris I thought… My God I …”

“I’m sorry Nate… we couldn’t get a call through because the telephone lines were down and your phone…”

“My cell’s battery is dead…” Larabee reached out and squeezed his friend’s arm, listening as Nathan continued. “I didn’t know what to tell Ezra…”

“It will be okay…”

“No its not... I think he knew and he didn’t say a word.”

“And you got to see a side of Ezra you’re not used to seeing…I’ll talk to him about it.”


What a day it had been, after Chris’ arrival at the ranch the remaining road had been plowed and cleared enough to allow the Travis Family and Rain to join them for a raucous brunch. The last of them had left an hour ago Tilly and Hank were still cleaning up dishes in the kitchen. Ezra had curled up next to Chris on the couch a fire roared in the fireplace. “Ez?” He gently brushed his hand through the mop on chestnut hair that was burrowed into a pillow that rested against his hip. The boy stirred. Green eyes blinked open and stared up at Chris.


“I’m sorry for scaring you...”

The stray tear trickled down a flushed cheek was quickly wiped away by a small hand. “I overheard Buck…” Ezra sat up and looked at his father through reddening eyes and was pulled into a warm embrace. Chris rested his chin in the unruly hair and spoke. “I know…”

“I’m glad you kept your promise.” Ezra’s words were mumbled into the flannel shirt that Larabee wore.

“Me too Ezra, me too.”

“Merry Christmas Daddy.”

“Merry Christmas Son.”