Warnings/Ratings: A bit of Thanksgiving fluff. Can you find the two inside jokes? Very PG. The second of two fics I wrote.
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I'm not making any money.
Note: This story was archived on my website until AOL did away with it. Thanks Nancy for taking me in.
"No Vin, I don't want you to try it and that's final!" Chris Larabee paused as he listened to the voice on the other end of the phone, his face a mask of frustration. This was not what he had had planned for Thanksgiving morning. The entire team was supposed to be on their way out to the ranch to watch football, eat and generally relax. Unfortunately, Denver and the surrounding area was experiencing the first major snowstorm of the season. State Highway patrol had issued a travelers advisory asking everyone to stay home unless it was an emergency. Chris had already called the others and told them dinner was canceled, he didn't want his men endangering themselves trying to get out to his place. The other members of Team Seven had been disappointed but after a bit of argument had reluctantly agreed it was for the best. Now he was trying to convince Vin Tanner, who, as usual, was proving to be very stubborn.
"Absolutely not, it is too dangerous for you to drive up here alone. Just stay home, you know Colorado weather, tomorrow it will probably be fine. You guys can come up then and help me eat this stupid turkey I have in the oven." Chris made his voice sound unconcerned and firm, he knew if Vin got even an inkling of how much he didn't want to be alone in this house on Sarah's favorite holiday the sharpshooter would try to drive up no matter what. "I'll just watch the game and relax, catch up on some stuff yeah, that sounds good, talk to you tomorrow." Chris hung up the phone and looked around his living room. If he closed his eyes, he could hear Sarah and Adam giggling in the kitchen as she made Thanksgiving dinner. <You always said, darling, this was your favorite holiday because you had so much to be thankful for. Made it mine too. I was almost looking forward to it this year for the first time since you died.> Shaking his head, Chris threw on a jacket and headed outside, he'd been meaning to clean the whole barn, today seemed like a good day to do it.
Vin hung up the phone and stared at it for a minute. Chris would have been disgusted at how easily the lean man had seen through his front. Vin knew he had to get out to that ranch come hell or high water, but he had promised not to try it alone. <Not to try it alone. . Well I know five guys who aren't doin anything.> A devilish smile lit Vin's face as he picked up the phone to make a couple of calls before calling Ezra Standish.
Ezra had climbed back into bed after talking to Chris, no sense in getting up early if he didn't have to be anywhere. He ignored the phone thinking it was his mother, listening as the answering machine picked up.
"Ez, getcher butt out of bed and pick up ."
Ezra grabbed the phone.
"And a pleasant good morning to you too Mr. Tanner." The southern drawl was sarcastic and annoyed. "I hope your not calling at this ungodly hour just to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving."
"Nah, Ez, I just got off the phone with Chris. He tried to hide it but I know he hates bein alone in that house during the holidays."
"While I whole heartedly agree, I don't see what we can do about it. He made me promise to not even attempt it with the Jag."
"And he made me promise not to try it alone."
Ezra started chuckling. "He will kill us. I assume that devious mind of yours has a plan?"
"Maybe, ya got conference calling don't ya?"
"Well yes, you want to conference with our illustrious leader for dinner?"
"Nope, want to talk ta the rest a the guys. Can ya link em in?"
Ezra started to smile, if Vin could find a way to get the rest of the team to Chris's he was certainly willing to help. "Yes, I do, hold the line while I connect the others."
JD Dunne was slumped on the couch watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade and trying not to let his disappointment show too much. He could hear Buck Wilmington in the kitchen trying to figure out how to make a Thanksgiving meal out of one sweet potato casserole. He knew Chris was right, they'd never make it in Buck's truck but he had really been looking forward to spending the holiday with his new makeshift family. Usually when the phone rang he was the first to answer, today he let Buck pick it up figuring it was one of the other man's girlfriends.
"Ezra, what are you doing up this early?" . "Okay, go a head, I'll get JD." Buck stuck his head around the kitchen door and hollered. "JD pick up the phone, Vin and Ezra want to talk to us."
Josiah Sanchez picked up the phone on the first ring, his deep baritone alert even at this early hour. "Ezra, Happy Thanksgiving brother. Didn't Chris get a hold of you? I thought you'd still be in bed."
Ezra sighed, "Why is that the first thing everyone asks me, I do occasionally get up at this indecent hour."
"Not without a gun to your head." Buck joked.
"Buck you there too?"
"Everyone's on except Nathan, he wasn't home when we called." Vin explained. "Do you know where he is Josiah?"
"As a matter of fact Brother Jackson is right here." Josiah waved to Nathan indicating he go pick up the phone in the other room. "We were gonna drive up to Chris's together. Of course now, we're just gonna to watch the football game instead."
"Yeah, Chris said his driveway was totally snowed in and not to try it." Nathan had picked up the other phone. "So why are you guys calling?"
"Mr. Tanner's agile brain has come up with a plan that probably involves some sort of dangerous activity and manual labor. Said plan, if it doesn't kill us, will enable us to spend Thanksgiving as we originally planned."
"If what Ezra's sayin is that Vin's got a way to get us to Chris's, JD and I are in." Buck had seen through Chris as easily as Vin had. "Right JD?"
"You bet Buck, I wouldn't want to disappoint Chris on Thanksgiving." JD was so happy he could hardly stand it. Looked like he was going to spend the day with all of his family after all.
"Sounds good to me, my corn and oyster casserole won't be half as good tomorrow." Nathan replied.
"Can't let the rest of you go without a little divine guidance, what's the plan." Josiah added.
"Okay, I figure Josiah and I have the best vehicles for this weather. We both have a winch on the front and chains. Josiah, Nathan, you pick up Buck and JD. Ezra an I will meet ya at Avery's truck stop." Vin started to explain his plan. "I checked the roads and the interstate is closed past there so we'll have ta take the side roads."
"I hate to be a spoil sport Vin, but I've seen Chris's road when it's like this. We aren't gonna be able to drive up it even with chains and four wheel drive." Buck sighed, "an its too far to walk."
"I know, I called Tom Barkley, he has the place below Chris's. He has three snowmobiles and a sled he'll loan us." The others could almost hear the grin in Vin's voice. "I figure if we leave now, we can be ta Chris's by 2:00. Oh, and everyone better pack an overnight bag, cause it's supposed to keep snowing all night."
Sounds of general agreement were followed by clicks as everyone hung up and hurried to put on warm clothes and gather their stuff.
By the time Vin and Ezra pulled into Avery's the snow had stopped. They could hardly miss Josiah's Surburban because JD was standing next to it waving enthusiastically.
"Seems our youngest member is his usual energetic self." Ezra turned to Vin an amused smile on his face.
Everyone piled out of vehicles, big smiles on their faces. Team Seven had a mission, one that was just as important to them as busting any gun runner. Josiah grabbed Vin and Ezra by the shoulders and gave a gentle squeeze before speaking.
"Well here we are, chained up and ready to go. Buck is inside checking the roads."
"Good, did you bring the shovels?"
"We brought shovels, chains and I packed some extra medical supplies just in case." Nathan waved his hand at JD, Ezra and Vin. "With you three I never know what I'll need."
Buck walked up just as the laughter from that statement was dying down. "Guys, we may have another problem, girl behind the counter says State Police are restricting traffic on the road up to Chris's to necessary vehicles only."
The good mood evaporated as the men pondered this new hitch in their plans. Finally Ezra cleared his throat. "Gentlemen, I don't think we should worry about this until faced with the actual situation." He allowed a sly grin to slide across his face. "After all I, for one, feel this does constitute an emergency."
With renewed smiles everyone piled into the two vehicles. JD chose to ride with Vin and Ezra, to their pretended dismay and Buck's pretended relief. Laughing and joking the mini caravan headed out with JD singing an rather strange version of "Over the River and Through the Woods".
Three hours later, six happy and sore men pulled into the Barkley place. There had been two snow drifts to dig their way through which accounted for the sore muscles and the three hours where it normally took less than one. Vin was still chuckling whenever he thought about what Ezra had said to the cop who tried to stop them. He bet the young rookie was still trying to decipher what the southerner had said to him. He had finally given up and waved them through with a dazed look on his face.
JD hopped out and looked around, next to where they had parked were three snowmachines and a sled that could be pulled behind. "Hey Vin where is Mr. Barkley? Shouldn't we thank him for loaning us these machines."
"He took a machine and went to his sisters for the day. Told me he won't need these for a couple of days." Vin was already unpacking the back of his Jeep, the snow was threatening again and he wanted to get going before it hit. It didn't take long for the sled to be loaded down with everyone's overnight bags and their contributions to the feast. Once everything was covered with a tarp and tied down Vin hooked the sled to the double-track snowmobile. Turning to the others he indicated the machine, "Ezra and I 'll take this and break trail. I figure JD and Buck are the next best drivers on these things so Nathan, you and Josiah can ride with them."
Josiah nodded and moved toward where JD was already starting his machine. "Why don't I ride with JD since he's the lightest and I'm the heaviest, we should balance each other out."
Everyone else headed to their machines and soon the afternoon quiet was broken by the sound of engines revving and men shouting back and forth to each other. Ezra leaned close and shouted in Vin's ear, "Well, we've had the manual labor, here's where we get to the dangerous activity."
Vin's only response was an evil grin and a wink as he turned his machine out the gate and onto the road up to Chris's house.
Chris walked out of the barn and over to the corral where the horses where frisking in the crisp air. Peso walked over and nudged his hand. He knew this man was almost as good as his master for knowing exactly where to scratch. Chris smiled slightly and obliged, scratching Peso between his ears. He knew he was just delaying going back into the house and he also knew that basting bag or no, he'd better get in there and check the turkey. Not that he was gonna eat any, but in case the guys made it up tomorrow he'd better have it ready for them. The sound of snowmobiles coming up the road broke through his reverie, frowning he turned to look. <Now who would be fool enough to come up here today? Maybe it's Tom from down below, but that would only be one machine, not . > Just then the first machine came into view. <Why that sneaky ..> Chris tried to stay mad for about ten seconds but when the last machine popped into view he gave up. <Crazy fools, I can't believe they went to all this trouble.>
Chris was standing on the porch, a grin on his face, by the time everyone pulled into the yard. Vin ran his machine right up to the front steps.
"Hey cowboy, hope you saved some turkey for us."
"Thought I told you not to come." Chris tried for a glare but failed miserably.
"Nope ya said not to try it alone." Vin's eyes were twinkling. "I'm not alone."
"And my Jag is safely tucked in my garage." Ezra added.
"Sides ole buddy," Buck had stepped up on the porch and now he threw an arm over Chris' shoulder. "You had all the beer."
Chris shrugged off Buck's arm and turned to look at Nathan and Josiah. "I expect this from the others, but you two are supposed to have more sense."
"With their track record?" Nathan asked. "I'm the team medic remember."
Chris started laughing. "All right, I know when I'm beat. Get in here, that turkey should be just about done."
Later that night Chris stood in the doorway of his kitchen watching the rest of his new family. Dinner had been over for a while, even the clean up was finished. Josiah was stoking the fire, Nathan was laughing at something Buck had just said. Chris smiled as he listened to the comments floating around the room.
"Hey Ez, pass me those spiced pecans"
"Mr. Tanner how can you stomach those things? I'm sorry I even brought them."
"I like em."
"Now JD I noticed you were taking your turns a little sharp today. What have I told you about that?"
"Ah, lay off Buck, I'm not the one who dumped Nathan in a snow drift."
"That's right Buck, I'm still trying to figure out how I ended up head first in that drift and you didn't."
"Well Nathan, I guess that's that divine intervention Josiah was talking about."
Chris jumped slightly when Josiah laid a hand on his shoulder. "Penny for your thoughts."
Chris aimed a smile at the man beside him. "I was just counting my blessings Josiah."
Both men shared a look of understanding before moving to join the others.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.