By Jeanne

This story was started a couple of years ago and lost when my computer died. I found a printed version and while typing it into my new computer decided it fit with out "Home" series.

The characters aren't mine in any way shape or form. But I love them anyway.

Thanks to Kathy for beta-ing this on such short notice.

December 22

Chris Larabee stepped out of the telegraph office and automatically hunched his shoulders against the frigid wind. Squinting he looked for his son. Smiling slightly he watched as Vin scuffed his feet back and forth as he sat waiting. The little boy was in the sun but out of the wind, still his hands were crammed down into his coat pockets. Larabee shook his head; Vin must have lost his gloves again. He just couldn't keep that boy in gloves.

The new father walked over to his son and stuffed the two telegrams into his pocket as he went. "Vin, we need to talk."

Wide blue eyes looked up, just a hint of apprehension showing.

Damn, way to go, scare him. "It's not bad." Chris said as he sat down beside the boy.

"I got a telegram from the judge. He needs me to bring some trial papers to him."

"Can't one of the others go?" Being separated from the gunman was hard on the boy and Chris avoided it when he could.

"No, it has to be me since I was a witness."

"Can I come with you?"

"Sorry, Cowboy No. I'm going to have to ride hard to get there in time. It would be too hard a ride for you to come with me. Besides, we told Miz Nettie we'd come out and stay a couple of days and help with some chores. I thought you'd still like to go out and stay with Miz Nettie while I'm gone. You'd be a big help to her especially with Casey gone. I think the cold is bothering her a lot this year. More than she'll admit."

Vin frowned, thinking over the man's words. "Ya really think Miz Nettie needs me?"

"Yeah, I do. You're always a big help Vin."

"Alright. You won't be gone too long will you?"

"No, I'll be back in four days. That's as quick as I can make it back. Now, go tell Mr. Josiah that we're leaving town."

"What about Mr. Ezra?" Vin asked with a twinkle in his eye.

"You know Mr. Ezra is still sleeping this time of day."

"Yeah, but it's just so much fun to wake him up." Vin grinned.

"Well, not today. I'll get Pony and meet you at Josiah's church."

"Yes Sir. Where's Buck and JD gonna be while I'm at Miz Netties?"

"They'll be at the ranch or coming to town. Buck'll take good care of JD. You know that."

Nodding Vin jumped down and ran toward the church. Chris watched for a minute and then dug out the second telegram and read it again.


They were coming. It had been three months since he'd overheard the boys as they poured over the new Montgomery Wards catalogue that had come in the mail. While JD was fascinated by everything, Vin had looked at only one item in the whole book.

"Look JD, they're jest like Chris's. Not a kid shoe or city shoes but real boots just like Mr. Chris and Mr. Buck have."

"But Vin, you's got shoes an' they don't pinch yet do they?"

"A little, but I want real boots like Mr. Chris. Only they cost so much." Vin sighed sadly. He knew most of his numbers now and that was a big five. Yep, he was sure those beautiful boots were a whole five dollars. That was more money than he'd ever seen at one time.


When they reached the ranch Vin slid down and ran inside hollering, "JD? JD where are you?"

Larabee dismounted and led Pony to the barn. He'd grain the big black while they were getting things ready to go. It was only mid morning and with any luck they'd be at Nettie's by noon. Then he could head out for Rio Percha.

"Buck, you around?"

The tall man poked his head around the corner of the barn. "Hey, Stud. Thought you and Vin were spending the morning in town."

"Was, but something came up. Got a wire from the Judge. He needs the papers on the Richardson case day after tomorrow."

"Damn, he still in Rio Percha?"


"That's a three day ride."

"I know. I'll have to ride hard; switch horses a couple of times 'tween here and there. Luckily the moon's full so I'll be able to ride at night some too. Vin's gonna stay at Miz Nettie's. I told him he needed to help her. That way you'll only have to wrangle JD while I'm gone. If the weather holds I'll be back for Christmas. But I got a favor to ask."

"Anything Chris, you know that."

"Handing Buck the telegram he asked. "I need you to watch for this package."

Buck glanced at the wire and smiled. "You did it? You got them?"

"Yeah, I know it's cutting the time real short. But with any luck it'll be here by Christmas."

"Yeah, but will you?"

Larabee glared at his old friend. "I'll do my best. You'll check on Vin and Miz Nettie for me while I'm gone?"

"You know it."

Nodding the gunslinger headed to the house and stuffing a change of clothes and some jerky into his saddlebags he called, "Vin? You ready?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Did you pack extra socks?"

Lugging the small carpetbag the little boy called, "Yes Sir, an' extra long johns too."

"Good boy, we got to go."

Buck held the five-year-old JD as they said goodbye. Vin riding behind Larabee waved until they turned the bend. "You sure JD will be alright with just Buck? Buck gets into lots of trouble."

"I'm sure. Buck will take very good care of JD. It's only for a few days Vin." Chris answered seriously but inside laughed at the idea of Vin worrying about Buck.

"I know." The boy rode in silence until they reached Nettie Wells' cabin.

The small older woman walked out onto her porch with her rifle. "Mr. Larabee, I didn't expect you this early."

"Something came up Nettie, I need to ride to Rio Percha and was hoping it'd be alright for Vin to stay with you."

"Of course it will be alright. I love having him come to visit, especially since Casey is visiting her aunts back in Texas."

Larabee held his arm back for Vin to grab as he slid down off the horse. Once the boy was on the ground Chris gently placed his hand on the boy's head. "You mind Miz Nettie. I'll be back as soon as I can."

"I will." Then wanting to say something else but not knowing just what he added, "You watch yer back."

With a half smile the gunman touched his hat. "I will Cowboy. See you in a few days."

"Bye Chris." Vin climbed the steps and stood beside Nettie. She was the only one who noticed the boy leaning into her skirts for support as they watched Larabee ride out.

It was the hardest thing Chris had done in years, to turn Pony and ride away. As he urged the big black to go faster he mentally cursed the judge, the weather, Richardson, and almost added a blue eyed little boy to the list, but he couldn't. Whether he wanted to admit it or not the boy had brought life back into his world. Leaning down he patted Pony on the neck. "Come on boy. Let's get this done and get home before Christmas."


Nettie felt Vin lean into her skirts. She casually reached out and placed her hand on his head. "Have you had lunch yet, Vin?"

"No'm. We came straight here from ho…the ranch."

"Well, I guess we'd better get some then. You take that bucket and get some water and I'll get some food on the table."

"Yes'm." Vin took the tin pail and headed around back to the creek.

Nettie went inside and added more wood to the stove. It was cold outside and if her bones were telling the truth it was going to be a lot colder soon. She added water to the kettle and stirred the stew she had on the back of the stove. Checking the oven she pulled out the loaves of baking bread. Thumping them to test for doneness and then setting them on the rack to cool. "Guess I'll have to bake some while Vin's here. I'll just get a jar of peaches out for now. Helping me bake will pass the time too."

"Miz Nettie, where do you want the bucket?" Vin asked in the doorway.

"Goodness child, you scared me. Just set it over by the stove. I got some water heating so you can wash up. But first there's a container of milk in the box outside. Would you get it for me?"

"Yes 'm." Coming back in Vin washed and they sat down to eat. Vin's eyes widened at all the food Nettie had put on the table and the smell made his mouth water.

The old woman watched as the boy ate. She was amazed at how much such a little boy could eat. But it made her happy too; the boy was much too thin for her tastes.

Vin noticed Nettie watching him. "Something wrong Miz Nettie?"

"My no, Vin. You just make me feel so good eating so well."

"Really? Buck says I'm a bottomless pit. But he laughs when he says it."

"That's cause he's a pa now and most folks like their young'uns to eat good so they grown big and strong."


After washing up from the meal Nettie said, "Come on boy, get your coat on. We got chores to do before it gets dark." She reached for her heavy coat and turned to watch as Vin buttoned his coat and pulled his hat down tight on his head. Nettie reached into her pockets and pulled out her gloves. "Where's your gloves, Vin?"

Little Tanner ducked his head. "Lost 'em."

"Another pair?" The old woman asked exasperated.

"Yes 'm. I was real careful with 'em. I put 'em down deep in my pockets…but when I went looking again they was gone."

Shaking her head Nettie said, "Well, never mind. You can use some of Casey's for now. Come on now, we got stock to tend and wood to bring in. My bones are telling me it's gonna be a real cold one tonight."

Vin grinned at the old woman's briskness. "Yes 'm."

Nettie poured some warm water in a small pail and led the way to the barn. It wasn't a large one but it was big enough to house the stock she kept. When she opened the door they were greeted with wickers from the horses and a bleat from the goat. "Hold your horses Fawn, we'll get to you. Vin while I feed the horses you can feed the chickens. And make sure there's water in the watering can too."

"Yes 'm, Miz Nettie." Vin walked over and standing on tiptoe he lifted the lid and scooped up the scratch. He carefully carried the can to the wire gate and unlatched it and went inside.

"Just scatter the grain they'll find it." Nettie called.

Nodding Vin took handfuls of grain and scattered it out on the ground. Once the can was empty he got the water bucket and filled the little water trough.

By the time he finished Nettie was leading the cream colored goat out of her stall and up onto the little milking stand. "Bring some grain for Fawn. Just put it in the little pan there." She said pointing at the pan with her chin.

Vin did as he was told and then watched as Nettie washed the goat's full bag and squirted a couple of squirts from each tit on the ground. Then setting the empty pail under the nanny she began milking. Vin watched in fascination. Glancing up the old woman asked, "You want to try?"

Vin nodded and stepped close to the woman and goat.

"Okay, this is how. Put your thumb and first finger around the tit close to the bag. Then tighten them and tighten each finger down. Like this," Nettie showed the boy what she meant.

After the demonstration Vin tried. His smaller fingers barely reached around the tit but he carefully did as Nettie said. He giggled when a small amount of milk squirted into the pail. "I did it Miz Nettie."

"You sure did, now keep going."

It took twice as long but finally Fawn was empty and the pail was full of warm foamy milk. "Come on, we need to get the milk in the house and then bring in some wood."

It took many trips to fill the wood box and by the time Vin was taking off his coat Nettie had the milk strained and the fire built up in the stove. "It'll be warm soon. Would you like a cup of tea and milk."

"Oh yes 'm. I'm plum cold to 'm bones too." The boy grinned.

December 23

The wind started blowing during the night. The noise and the cold woke Nettie several times as she got up to add wood to the stove and check on Vin. She would gently pull up the quilts around the sleeping boy and smile, as he'd snuggle deeper into the bed every time.

By dawn it began snowing. She started a pot of tea and then when Vin was up they bundled up and went out to feed the stock and milk the goat. Once that was done they each carried an armload of wood inside. That was Vin's job the rest of the day, getting more wood for the stove. The snow would ease up and then become heavier but it never stopped. By afternoon there was at least a foot and more coming down.

"Vin, I think we need to brighten up this place. You want to help me?" Wells asked. Vin had sat much too still looking out the window for hours, only stopping when Nettie had asked him to do something.

"What are we going to do?"

"I'll show you. Come over here and I want you to start cutting the pages of this ol' catalog up into strips."

"You gonna tear up yer catalog?"

"Oh, it's a old one. I'll be getting a new one in the spring. You cut the strips and I'll make the paste."

By the time Vin had a pile of paper strips Nettie had a cup of flour paste mixed and ready.

"Now what?" Little Tanner asked.

"This," she said taking a strip of paper and dabbing some paste on one end she rolled the ends together making a circle and pinching the ends together until the paste held. "See, now you get another piece and thread it through the circle and then paste the ends together. We'll just keep doing that until we have enough or we run out of paper."

"Okay. Then what are we gonna do with them?" Vin asked concentrating on making the paper circles.

"I'll show you when we have enough chains." Nettie answered with a smile.

The afternoon was spent making paper chains and then carefully hanging them around the walls of the small cabin. When they went out to take care of the animals Nettie brought in some pine branches she'd been saving and scattered them throughout the room making it smell wonderful.

Finally it was bedtime and Nettie tucked the tired boy in. "You sleep tight. We got a lot to do tomorrow. We're going to do some baking and cooking for Christmas." The old woman leaned down and kissed the boy's forehead. "Don't you worry now, I'm sure Mr. Larabee is just fine as well as Mr. Wilmington and JD."

Vin nodded and closed his eyes. He wanted to believe Miz Nettie, really he did but it was so hard. There wasn't much that had worked out for him in his short life. Maybe with Chris, his luck was changed.

Christmas Eve

The next day was a repeat of the last one. The cold unrelenting and the snow seemed to be set on never stopping. All day Vin had sat by the window watching for Larabee. As the day progressed he got even quieter if that was possible. He'd willingly do whatever Nettie asked and even brought in more wood without being asked. The snow didn't slow or show any sign of letting up. Nettie shook her head; she couldn't remember it snowing this much in years.

Finally the snow stopped just before sunset. The sun had peeked out from under quickly moving clouds just before it went behind the white mountains. Nettie had coaxed the reluctant boy into eating a little stew but the minute he was finished he was back at the window looking for the man who'd promised to be back. It was too dark to see much but still Vin looked out the frosted window.

After cleaning up Nettie finally sat down in the rocker close to the wood stove. Even with the heat pouring out of it she still wrapped a quilt around her shoulders. Nettie rubbed her hand over the worn leather binding of her Bible. The print was much too small to read anymore, especially in the dim light of the lamp. Sighing she vowed that this spring she'd send off for some spectacles. She missed the comfort of reading a bit of scripture each night.

"Vin, do you know what tomorrow is?"

"Yes 'm it's Christmas day."

"It is. Come over here where it's warm and I'll tell you the Christmas story."

"There's a story about Christmas?"

"You bet there is. It's a birthday story. Come on." Nettie patted her leg and hoped the shy little boy would get in her lap. She smiled when he did and wrapped the quilt around the both of them before she began.

"It happened a long, long time ago, in a place called Israel. The people were very poor and a cruel country called Rome ruled over them. The only thing that Israel had was hope. Hope that God's promise of a savior would come to pass soon..."

It was warm and Miz Nettie's arms around him were comforting. Her voice carried him away filling his mind full of a land with sheep, donkeys, camels and angels.

"And there were lots of shepherds out that night watching their sheep and new lambs. There was a real bright star and then suddenly an angel appeared…"

Vin opened his eyes. He was outside but it wasn't snowing, it wasn't even very cold. He looked around, it was night but the stars and especially one was so bright it was almost like day. The sky was alive with streams of color. He thought he heard a beautiful voice saying, "fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

Then the sky was full of music and even though the voice had said not to be afraid, Vin was, just a little. He looked around where he was and thought he saw something small and white move. Carefully going toward the movement he saw a small white head lift up from behind a bush.

Crawling over to the small animal he saw it was a very young lamb. "Hey baby. It's okay, I'm gonna find your mama." He reached out and gently gathered the tiny lamb into his arms.

Standing he looked around for the mother. There was a boy about his age coming toward him. The boy saw Vin and came over to him.


"Hey. I found this lamb over there. Do you know where his mama is?"

Shaking his head, the boy said. "No, we can find her later. But I gotta go."

"Go where?"

"Didn't you hear the angel? The new King has been born tonight. He's over there, in Bethlehem. We're all going to see him. You want to come with me?"

"I guess. How can a baby be a king?"

"I don'no. That's what the angel said."

Vin walked with the boy. They entered the little town; it wasn't much bigger then Four Corners. They passed lots of big houses that Tanner thought might be a king's house but they didn't stop. Walking on they turned a corner and down a small dirt path. Vin reached out and grabbed the sleeve of the boy. "Here? This can't be right. This is a barn an' kings is rich. Only really poor people would stay here."

"No, it's right. See the star shines down just on the stable. This is where the baby is, come on."

Vin held the lamb tighter and looked around. There were other people coming. They all were carrying something too. The boy hesitantly entered the stable. It should have been dark but there was a soft light all around. There were animals too, but they were all laying down very quietly. Even the hens were peacefully roosting on the rafters. Two dogs lay in front of the manger their heads on their paws. They watched everyone that came in but were relaxed and peaceful too.

Vin tiptoed closer and saw a small baby all wrapped up lying on the soft sweet smelling hay. The mother was sitting near the baby watching him sleep. She occasionally looked up at the people coming in. Behind her stood a man who seemed to be guarding her and the baby.

The boy went even closer and looked down at the babe, who seemed to be regarding him with solemn brown eyes. On impulse Vin laid the lamb down at the feet of the infant. The little lamb made no protest at being laid down but curled up placing its small head contentedly alongside the baby.

Vin smiled at the baby and then looked up at the mother half afraid she'd be angry. But she was smiling at him. Little Tanner stared at the woman and she looked at him and smiled even more.

"Do you like my Son, Vin?" She asked in a soft voice.

"Oh, yes 'm. He's the purtiest baby I've ever seen."

"Yes, He is, but then I'm His mother." She smiled again and it made Vin think of his mother. "You need to go home now Vin, and don't worry, your father will come."


"Vin? Boy, you need to wake up now. I can't carry you to bed."

The boy rubbed his eyes. "Wake up? I's asleep?"

"Yes, you were boy. Guess I'm not such a great storyteller after all."

"Oh no Miz Nettie, you are the best. I thought I was really there with the shepherds and the baby Jesus."

Nettie smiled, "That's good boy but we got to go to bed now. Got lots to do tomorrow."

Vin obediently climbed down and taking off his boots, shirt and pants he climbed into the small bed. Pulling up the thick quilts he said, "Night Miz Nettie."

"Good night Vin, sleep tight."

Smiling the small boy looked out the window at the stars shining. "Good night baby Jesus." Yawning he closed his eyes and slept.


Larabee felt his horse stumble again as they traveled down the partly frozen road. The sky was clearing and although the moonlight helped him see, the temperature dropped quickly freezing the slush on the road.

Finally, the weary horse and rider stopped before the livery in a small town. Most of the buildings were dark, even the saloon was locked up for the night. Chris stumbled into the barn lit the lantern and pulled the door closed behind them.

The heat from the animal bodies made it almost warm inside. The gunman pulled his saddle off the mare and gave her a quick rubdown. Then he put her in an empty stall and pitched some hay over for her. Finishing with the rented horse he searched and found Pony who whickered as Chris came closer.

"Hello to you too. Did you get a nice rest? I hope so cause we're leaving at first light." The man in black leaned into his horse as Pony blew gently on the man. Larabee smiled, "Yeah, I missed you too."

Turning Chris gathered his blankets and spread several saddle blankets on some hay and lying down fell asleep almost instantly. He was confident that he'd wake up at dawn, the noise of the horses moving about waking him.

Christmas Day

Larabee was just giving Pony some grain when he heard the back door to the stable open. Turning so his gun hand was free he waited.

The livery owner came through much of steaming coffee in his hand. "Mr. Larabee? I didn't know you were here."

"Came in late last night. Everything was closed up so I just bunked in here. Your mare is over there, she's a good steady horse."

"Yeah, she's a favorite. Can I offer you a cup of coffee?"

"I'd appreciate it. I need to get going as soon as Pony's done."

Nodding the stable man disappeared and returned with a second mug. "Here you go. Got family to get home too?"

Chris sipped the strong black brew. "Yeah, left my boy with neighbors. I'm trying to get back before dark."

"Can't blame ya. Was always important to spend as much of the day as I could with my young 'uns. They're all growed now, but I still try to see them when I can."

"Yeah," Chris paid as he handed the now empty mug back. He turned back to Pony and giving the horse a quick brushing he saddled up. Long puffs of white steam came from both his and Pony's breath, as he tucked the duster around his legs and pressed in. "Come on boy, lets go home."

The big black seemed as anxious as the rider to head home. As uncomfortable as it was for Larabee he urged Pony into a mile-eating trot. At least the movement was warming him.

Around an hour out they began crossing a big flat covered with mesquite and Cat's Claw. The sun shone brilliantly in the early morning air and Chris looked out and really noticed for the first time the beauty around him. The snow had partially melted yesterday and the moisture had started dripping off each thorn. Then it had frozen overnight. In the bright sunlight it was as if the stark plants were covered with shiny clear crystals, each one reflecting the bright light. Chris could appreciate its beauty but right now the snow and ice were slowing him down from reaching Vin.


Vin sat looking out the window, again. The others had managed to lure him away from his vigil for short periods of time. He'd been genuinely happy to see Buck and JD when they'd arrived.

He'd really tried to eat the dinner Nettie had cooked but had only been able to force down a few bites. So now as the afternoon shadows lengthened he watched and hoped still that Chris would come.

Buck sat quietly with JD dozing in his lap watching the little blond. Nettie rocked slowly and watched the boy also. She'd tried everything she could think of to distract Vin. But nothing had worked for long. It was almost chore time. That always helped because Vin loved to take care of the animals. But she had put it off as long as she could knowing that it would signal the end of the day and no Chris.

Vin's sharp eyes skimmed over the landscape. The snow was almost gone just patches here and there especially on the north side of things where the sun couldn't reach.

'There? A dark movement?' Vin sat up straighter squinting. It was moving, getting bigger. His heart skipped a beat and then began pounding so hard he thought it'd break right out of his chest. The dark moving something became a man on a horse and then there was no mistaking the shape of the hat or the gait of the big horse.

"Chris?" The boy breathed out the name almost like a prayer.

Buck and Nettie looked up at the slight sound.

"It's Chris!" Vin said firmly heading for the door and flinging it open he ran outside. But instead of running to the horseman he stopped at the edge of the porch.

The exhausted man looked up from the muddy road and saw the boy run out and then wait. He urged the weary Pony into a lope for the last few yards. Pulling the horse to a stop he grinned at his chosen son.

"Ya made it." Vin said to the horseman.

"Yeah, I did. Is there any Christmas dinner left?"

"Yeah." The urchin's eyes shone with love as he watched the gunman dismount. Chris dropped the reins and climbing the steps he gathered the boy into his arms, relishing the feel of the small body next to his.

"Well, hey there Stud. Don't mind me; I'll just take care of ol' Pony. Come on JD." The rogue said as he walked past Larabee and Tanner laughing to himself when neither of them seemed to notice anyone else.

Taking the reins and JD's hand he called back to the ranch woman. "I'll feed the stock Miz Nettie. You feed them."

Nettie nodded and smiled as she went inside to set a plate at the table for Chris and Vin. She knew that the boy would now eat. Now that the one person he was looking for was here.

Still carrying Vin, Larabee followed the woman inside. "That smells great Nettie. My stomach thinks my throat's been cut, it's been so long since I've eaten."

"You can wash up over there. Then sit yourself down. Vin, go get the milk from the cooler box." Nettie ordered. She then took the milk pail out to Buck while Chris and the boy ate, giving the father and son some privacy.

Vin watched as Chris started eating and taking a bite he said. "Didn't think you'd make it back in time."

"Almost didn't. The storm slowed me some."

"You look awful tired."

"I am. But I needed to get home."

The man and boy sat in companionable silence eating until Buck, JD and Nettie came in. While Nettie strained the milk Chris looked at Buck. "Did it come?" he asked.

"Not exactly, but that's a story for later. Here." The big man said as he handed Larabee a package wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string.

Chris took the package and smiled. "Vin come over here and sit down."

The boy stood and walked over to sit beside the blond. Chris brushed his hand over the paper once willing himself not to think of another little boy and his Christmas surprise. "This is for you Vin, happy Christmas."

Vin's eyes were shining as he carefully took the package. He carefully untied the string and unfolded the paper. Frowning just a little trying to comprehend what he held in his hands. The boy looked up quickly and in a whispery voice said, "its boots, boots like yours."

Chris nodded, "Why don't you try them on, Cowboy."

"I… I… its too much Chris. Ya can't mean they's for me."

"They are for you. Made especial just for you. Now sit back and we'll take off your shoes and try them on."

In wonder Vin watched as the man gently took each foot and loosening the shoestrings pulled the worn shoes off. He then handed the new boots one at a time to little Tanner who pulled them on.

"Okay, now stand up." Chris said.

When Vin stood Chris ordered, "Walk around and see how they feel."

Vin very carefully took one step and then another looking at each foot as he did.

"Well?" Chris asked.

"They feel all stiff and squeaky."

Buck roared with laughter, "That's 'cause they're new. Is this your first pair of brand spanking new shoes?"

"Yeah," Vin said still watching his feet as he walked. "They don't squash 'm toes neither."

Larabee smiled, "We got them a little big so you'd have some growing room."

"Oh," A big smile spread on the child's face. Then totally out of character he went to Chris and hugged him tight. "Thank you," he whispered to the man.

Chris hugged back, "You're welcome." That hug and smile made the last couple of days disappear.


Later that evening, the two boys were put to bed in Casey's room while the men made pallets on the floor after Nettie had emptied her cedar chest for them. The fire popped and crackled in the old stove and Larabee was just drifting off when he felt a small body nudging close. Lifting the blankets Chris welcomed Vin beside him. "Night Cowboy."

"Night Chris." The little blond smiled in the dark.

The sleepy man wrapped his arms around the small form. His grin widened as he felt the boots, hugged tight in Vin's arms.

The End

Next week - Coming Home Finally by Angie