Thanks to Barbretta Hayden for her vision of "Dreaming with Angels" and trolls
and for allowing me to use them. The idea of a dollar penalty
for cursing in front of the boys comes from "A Trolling We Will
Go" co-written with my beta and friend, Kerry. Heather F. and I
discovered that indeed "great minds think alike" as we wrote
"Hey Joe" and "Nursing Insecurities" concurrently.
Both stories feature hurt Ezra and angsty Vin and JD. What more could you
With the abandon that was always prevalent on a Friday afternoon, Vin and
JD ran all the way up the long driveway to the house after getting off the
school bus. The two boys were thrilled that it was finally the weekend but
that wasnt what propelled them so fast up the gravel drive. Uncle Ezra
was supposed to come home from the hospital today, and Chris and Buck had
told the boys that morning at breakfast that Ezra was going to stay at the
ranch until he felt better.
The clock in the foyer was just chiming three when the two breathless boys
breezed in through the front door, scattering backpacks, jackets and lunch
boxes as they went.
"Boys!" called Mrs. Potter.
Two boys froze at the door to the guestroom where Ezra would be staying.
"Pick up your things and put them away and close that front door." Gloria
scolded as she shuffled them away from the door to the guestroom. "Remember
what Chris and Buck said. You are not to bother Mr. Standish."
"Yes, ma'am," both boys mumbled as they trudged back into the front room.
Vin picked up the coats and flung them up in the air, catching them on the
arms of the coat tree, while JD scooped up his backpack and slammed the front
door in his natural exuberance. Vin grabbed the lunch boxes with one hand
and his backpack with the other, depositing the lunch kits in the kitchen
before making his way to the room he shared with JD.
"Change into your play clothes, and come have a snack," said Gloria.
"Yes, Ma'am!" they called eagerly, hurrying their footsteps down the hall.
Clothes changed, snacks eaten, the boys headed out to do their chores before
playing. Vin put the grain in the bucket and poured it into the feed boxes
for the horses while JD raced back and forth with armloads of hay, leaving
more hay on the ground than in the stalls.
Gloria watched out the kitchen window as the two boys emerged from the barn
chasing after each other, smiling at the squeals of laughter when JD tackled
Vin and began to tickle him. She turned her attention to preparing dinner,
knowing that the two boys were entirely capable of entertaining themselves,
and for the most part, they managed to stay out of trouble.
It was nearly thirty minutes later before she realized she could no longer
hear the boys. Silence was not a good sign with two boisterous children,
especially when their names were Vin and JD. It usually meant trouble. Gloria
walked out on the back porch and called the boys, but they didn't come. "
Oh dear," she muttered, "Mr. Standish!" as she realized the boys must have
sneaked back into the house. She walked to the bedroom and quietly opened
the door, hoping not to disturb him if the boys weren't in the room.
She should have scolded them, but she had to smile at the sight in front
of her. Ezra seemed to be resting well and Vin was sitting in the chair beside
the bed watching his every breath. JD was sitting on the floor cross-legged,
leaning against Vin's chair. He too seemed to be mesmerized by the rise and
fall of the silent mans chest. They weren't disturbing Ezra, and perhaps
they were laying to rest their own fears, so she let them stay for a few
minutes while she put dinner in the oven.
"Vin. JD?" she said softly when she returned to the room.
JD swung his head sharply. "We wasn't bothering him!" he whispered loudly.
Ezra shifted slightly at the noise.
"Come, now," insisted Gloria, "you don't want to wake Mr. Standish."
The two reluctantly obedient boys followed her from the room.
"We wasn't bothering him," JD insisted again as Gloria closed the door.
"All the same, JD, you were told not to go in his room."
JD grimaced and Vin scuffed his sneaker on the floor. They knew they weren't
supposed to go in the room, but they were inexplicably drawn to Ezra's side.
Both boys had been told repeatedly that Ezra was going to be all right, but
adults weren't as good at hiding things as they thought, and Vin and JD could
read the worry on Chris and Buck's faces. Both boys were afraid that Uncle
Ezra was going to dream with angels and that their new family would disappear.
"Do you have any homework, Vin?" Gloria asked. Vin grimaced. Yes, he had
homework. He always had homework. He had to write the extra pages of letters,
words and sentences. He had to do that every weekend, but he didn't want
to do his homework. Uncle Ezra had been helping him with the writing part.
The southerner had showed him how to make the letters right. But now he was
hurt and maybe couldn't ever help him again.
"Well, perhaps you should get started." She looked at JD. "And you, young
man, can help me set the table for dinner."
Vin went to his room and got out his books but just sat at his desk. Sometimes
it was too hard to do the homework all by yourself. Besides, Uncle Ezra needed
someone to be with him. He shouldn't wake up all alone.
Gloria shooed the boys out of Ezra's room three more times before dinner.
Each time they had been very quiet and had not disturbed the healing man,
but they were being disobedient. Gloria reluctantly filled Chris and Buck
in on the days events when they arrived home. Nathan and Josiah were
there as well and went to check on Ezra.
"Mr. Standish seems to be a magnet to those two boys, Mr. Larabee. They didn't
disturb him, but they kept going in his room."
"Thanks, Gloria, for everything. We really appreciate you staying with Ezra
"Oh, it was no bother at all Mr. Larabee. I'm just grateful that he will
be all right." Chris helped Gloria slip on her coat. "Now, if you need me
for any reason this weekend, you just call."
Chris smiled and walked her to her car, making sure it started and she was
on her way before returning to the house.
"Can we come out now?" called JD, his voice reverberating through the house.
Buck grinned. There was no way to keep that voice quiet. He and Chris walked
to the boy's bedroom.
"Found yourself some trouble, Little Bit?" asked Buck.
JD bowed his head. "I'm sorry, Buck." Buck lifted the little chin. "We didn't
"I know you didn't, but you did something you were told not to do," said
"But we didn't 'sturb Uncle Ezra. We just watched him sleep!" insisted JD.
"What about you, young man?" Chris sat down in the chair next to Vin's desk.
He observed Vin's homework. He had only written a single letter. Gloria had
told him that she sent the boys to their room thirty minutes earlier. "That's
all the homework you've done in a half hour?" Chris saw the flash of hurt
on Vin's face and wished he could have taken back the words. He hadn't meant
them the way they sounded. Vin was very sensitive about his struggles with
his schoolwork. Chris was proud of how hard the seven-year-old worked to
deal with his dyslexia.
"I was thinkin' about Uncle Ezra," Vin said softly.
Chris nodded. "Okay, boys. We know you've been worried about him, but he's
home now and you've seen him. So, from this point forward, you are to stay
out of his room unless we tell you it's okay."
"No buts, Vin," said Chris.
It was his "no arguing" tone, but Vin figured Chris just didn't understand.
Uncle Ezra shouldn't wake up all alone. He needed someone with him. Vin made
a conscious decision to push it.
"Vin." Chris frowned as Vin flinched at the firm tone. Chris hated Vin's
look of terror when his words were harsh in discipline, but he'd come to
love the look of trust that immediately followed when Vin's mind reminded
his face that Chris would not hurt him.
"He shouldn't be alone," Vin whispered, staring at the scarred desktop.
Chris laid his hand carefully on Vin's head and ruffled his hair affectionately.
"He's not alone. Nathan's going to sit with him for awhile tonight, and we'll
all be here if he needs anything."
Vin sighed dramatically, realizing that Chris just wasn't getting it. Uncle
Ezra shouldn't be alone. It was scary to wake up alone and not know where
you were. Vin knew that all too well. He had been terrified when he woke
up in the hospital all alone those many months earlier to find that even
JD was gone. Nope. Uncle Ezra shouldn't be alone.
"We'll let you see him when he's ready, but no sooner. Understood?" asked
Chris. Vin nodded sadly.
"That goes for you too, Little Bit," added Buck. JD nodded glumly. He wasn't
worried about Uncle Ezra waking up alone. He was worried Uncle Ezra wouldn't
wake up at all. His mama was dreaming with the angels and had been gone a
long time. He didn't want Uncle Ezra to go away too. Besides, he wanted to
see where Uncle Ezra got shot.
Ezra first became aware of a dull pain running through his body, then he
heard hushed voices in the room. He didn't want to open his eyes and acknowledge
the pain. There was no antiseptic aroma so he knew he was no longer in the
hospital, but the pain told him he should not move. He focused on the voices
while he tried to control the growing discomfort. It was not unusual to have
his teammates whispering back and forth in his room, trying not to disturb
him. They had been at his bedside for the majority of the past four days.
A slight smile graced his face as he realized the whispers belonged to the
smallest members of his unique family. Keeping his eyes closed, he listened
to the youthful voices and their not so quiet whispers.
"Shh! JD. You'll wake him up. We're not supposed to disturb him."
"I'm not 'sturbing him. See? Uncle Ezra's still sleeping."
"Your voice is too loud."
"It is not!"
The room got quiet and Ezra wondered what the boys were up to, but was content
to keep his eyes closed and listen.
"Is Uncle Ezra dreaming with the angels?" asked JD.
"No!" said Vin strongly.
"Shh!" chided JD.
"Uncle Nathan says he's just resting and he's gonna be fine."
"He sure looks like he's dreaming with angels, Vin."
Ezra heard more than frustration in Vin's voice. The seven-year-old was obviously
afraid it was true and seemed to feel that protesting the idea would make
it not true.
"Maybe he could tell them to let my mama come back," JD sniffed.
"JD, don't cry. Here take this."
Ezra could hear JD blow his nose and assumed Vin must have handed him a tissue,
at least he hoped so and that the five-year-old wasn't using his sleeve as
he had been known to do during other times.
"JD, I don't think our mamas are coming back. My mama's been gone a lot longer
than yours and she hasn't come back."
Ezra took a deep breath, uncertain as to whether he should interrupt the
conversation. In any case, he would have a talk with Chris and Buck. They
all had assumed that Vin understood the concept of death and that he had
told JD his mama was dreaming with angels to protect the younger boy from
the harsh reality. Now that he had overheard the whispered conversation,
Ezra realized that someone had told Vin the same thing about his own mother
and that the seven-year-old was just beginning to see that death was forever.
"Buck says they have to stay with the angels. But I want her to come back."
"I know. Me too."
"So if Uncle Ezra's not going to dream with the angels, do the angels want
"What? JD that's silly."
"Well, my mama and your mama are dreaming with the angels. And Buck's mama
and Chris' mama, and Uncle Nathan's and 'Siah's too."
Vin made some kind of nonverbal response, but Ezra didn't see it as he continued
to observe the boys with his eyes closed.
"Vin, how come Uncle Ezra's mama isn't dreaming with angels?"
Ezra snorted. He couldn't help it. The thought of his mother and angels in
the same room was unbelievably ridiculous to him.
"Uncle Ezra, are you awake?" asked JD.
Ezra opened his eyes to find JD's face about four inches from his nose.
JD stepped back in surprise. "We didn't 'sturb you, did we? We wasn't supposed
to 'sturb you."
"Not at all, Master Dunne." Ezra glanced at Vin, who was standing at the
foot of the bed, beaming.
"Vin," he rasped.
Vin quickly grabbed the glass of water from the table by the bed. "Do you
want some water?"
"Thank you, Vin."
Vin held out the cup, but they quickly found that Ezra wouldn't be able to
get a sip without dribbling the water on him. Vin was afraid to touch him
because he didn't want to hurt Ezra. He knew what a bullet wound felt like
and it hurt a lot!
"JD, go get a bendy straw," ordered Vin.
Ezra smiled as JD rushed to the door, opened it a crack and peeked out before
sneaking down the hall. Obviously the others did not know about his visitors.
"Where are the others, Vin?" asked Ezra.
"Chris and Buck are doing chores in the barn. Uncle 'Siah and Uncle Nathan
are doing the dishes."
"Here, Vin," said a breathless JD as he hurried back into the room.
"JD! I said a bendy straw, not your Crazy Straw!" Vin took the odd straw
that JD offered. It was plastic tubing wound into a funny shape for kids.
"I know, but Uncle 'Siah and Uncle Nathan are in the kitchen," explained
Ezra forced himself not to laugh at his pint sized nurses with the Crazy
Straw that looped in several circles. He wasn't sure he'd be able to suck
with enough energy to pull the liquid through the extraordinary length of
tubing, but his mouth was very dry. He gratefully took a sip from the Crazy
Straw, trying not to think of where it might have been.
Ezra sank back into the pillow with a grunt as Vin put the cup and the straw
back on the table.
"Are you okay?" Vin asked, unable to hide his worry. The seven-year old laid
his arm across the top of the pillow, carefully avoiding Ezras head.
"Do you want us to get Uncle Nathan?"
"No, don't bother him," said Ezra quickly. Nathan would insist on giving
him more of the pain medication, and Ezra was really tired of his mind being
muddled. "It's just a headache."
"I can fix that, Uncle Ezra," volunteered JD. "I have magic tickle fingers."
At Ezra's doubtful look, Vin confirmed, "He does. It really helps when you
have a headache."
What could it hurt? The boys were being very cautious not to jiggle him or
bump his shoulder.
Giving a slight nod, he braced himself as JD began to climb up on the bed.
"Go ahead, Master Dunne," said Ezra.
JD crawled up on the head of the bed and began to gently massage Ezra's forehead.
His feather light tickles were actually quite soothing. Ezra closed his eyes
with a sigh and began to relax. He felt his right arm lifted and something
soft and fuzzy put under it. He cracked open one eye and found Vin's cat
cuddling up to him. This was the cat Chris had given Vin in the hospital
after they had found the desperately ill child in the warehouse.
Ezra turned to look Vin directly in the eyes. "Master Tanner, I cannot take
"Please," pleaded Vin, "ya gotta."
Ezra didn't understand Vin's urgency. Vin always had that cat by his side.
It was a symbol of his connection to Chris. Why would Vin be willing to part
"Please take him. Chris doesn't want us to disturb you, and he's gonna make
us get out of the room and I don't want you to wake up alone and be scared."
Warmth flooded Ezra at the simple explanation. The magic tickle fingers,
Vin's sacrifice of his beloved cat, their worry about him dreaming with angels,
it was almost too much for a man who had spent most of his life with very
little real affection.
"Well, then," the southerner quietly conceded, as he plucked the forepaw
of his new bedmate. "Thank you, Vin." He patted the plush fur of the toy
as Vin smiled in relief. Despite his best efforts, his eyes began to droop.
Those tickle fingers certainly were magic. The headache had eased and slowly
Ezra drifted off.
Hearing the backdoor of the ranch house close, JD and Vin hustled out of
Ezra's room, not wanting to get in trouble again for disobeying.
After washing up, Chris made his way to the boys' room and found JD playing
with his GI Joe half way under the bed. Vin was sitting at his desk, valiantly
attempting to write his letters, unaware that Chris was standing behind him.
Chris watched as Vin angrily flung his pencil at the wall and then leaned
forward banging his forehead on the desktop several times.
Chris quickly stopped the action, startling Vin in the process. He held his
grip on Vin's shoulder firmly, until Vin's trembling stopped. Chris wondered
if Vin would ever get to the point where an unexpected touch was not a threat.
"What's wrong, Vin?" asked Chris, although he had a very good idea. Vin had
completed a single line of letters. He had four pages to go.
"I can't do it. It just dont make any sense." Vin clenched his fists.
"Let me help," said Chris.
"NO!" Vin pushed Chris' hand away.
Chris watched Vin's eyes widen in fear as he realized what he had done. Chris
knew they were all under added stress with Ezra's injury, so he held his
initial reaction in check. He waited while his silence worked it's own brand
of discipline on Vin.
"Uncle Ezra's supposed to help me," said Vin softly, tears glistening in
"Come 'ere," said Chris, holding out his arm. He pulled Vin into a hug, gently
patting the youngster on his back. Ezra had come to visit the past few weekends
and helped Vin with his writing. They had learned that Ezra had some relative
somewhere who had battled with dyslexia so he knew ways that would help Vin
succeed in something he had always felt he was doomed to fail in. He had
a knack for helping Vin and making him feel gifted rather than ashamed. Vin
was reluctant to let Chris help him because he was afraid Chris would think
he was stupid and not worth keeping around. They were working hard on changing
"Ezra's going to be all right, Vin," Chris assured for what seemed like the
hundredth time, "but he's not going to be able to help you with your homework
this weekend." Chris watched Vin nod, but the head was still bowed, shoulders
"What do you say, we put away your homework and start fresh on it tomorrow?"
Chris ruffled Vin's hair lightly. "I think I might be able to fill in for
Ezra until he is better. Wont be the same but between the two of us
I bet you we can do it." The little boys shoulders eased a little bit
as the quiet words flowed through his tired brain. "Go brush your teeth and
get ready for bed." Vin seemed reluctant to leave the hug, but pulled away
and took his pajamas to the bathroom.
Chris smiled at JD who had sidled over to him as Vin left. "Yes, JD?"
"Is Uncle Ezra going to dream with angels?"
The quiet words shocked Chris into silence as he struggled to find the right
words to say to the worried child. That simple phrase still chilled him whenever
he heard it. Ever since the day they had found the boys in the warehouse
and JD told them his mom was dreaming with angels, Chris had been haunted
by what might have been. If they had been so much as a few hours later, Vin
could have been dreaming with angels as well. Chris shivered at the thought
of how close Vin had been to dying from the infected bullet wound. He sighed.
He and Buck had told the boys repeatedly over the past few days that Ezra
would be fine, but Vin and JD couldn't seem to believe it. Now they had seen
him awake, albeit in pain, but they were still asking the question.
"No, JD," said Chris firmly. "Ezra is going to be fine. He just needs lots
of rest and time for his body to recover."
JD twirled his GI Joe by the arm. "Why did the trolls shoot Uncle Ezra?"
He walked the GI Joe across Vin's desk and then poked the dolls head
against Chris' shoulder.
"JD, the people who shot Ezra were very bad men. They shot Ezra because they
didn't want anyone to find out how many bad things they did." Chris took
hold of the doll, readjusted the arms and handed it back to JD.
"Will those bad men shoot you and Buck too?"
"No, JD," Chris answered quickly, trying to alleviate JD's fears. "Those
bad men are in jail and they are going to be there for a very long time."
Chris knew in his heart that it was a possibility that a bad man could shoot
them, but JD had enough worries on his plate to deal with right now. "Okay,
JD, time for you to get ready for bed too."
"Okay." JD shouted as he tossed the doll towards his toy box and grabbed
his cowboy pajamas before running down the hall. "Buck! Buck! Time for bed!"
Chris winced, hoping that he didn't wake Ezra.
"What if they get out of jail?" a soft voice asked from behind him.
Chris whirled around to find Vin standing in the doorway. Vin walked over
to Chris and held out his arms so that Chris could lift him up to the top
bunk. "Vin, those men are going to be in jail a long time. But you know that
our jobs can be dangerous." Vin nodded. "I can promise you this, Vin. I will
always be as careful as I can. Buck and the boys will watch my back and I'll
watch theirs but we need to do this job. We need to try to stop the bad guys
from hurting people."
"I know," said Vin softly. "I'm glad you're an ATF agent. 'Cause if you wasn't,
you and Buck wouldn't be our dads now."
Chris winked at him as Vin crawled under the covers after punching his pillow
into shape. Chris pulled the covers up to his chin and ruffled the little
boys hair. "Hey, where's your cat?" Chris looked around the room, trying
to find the stuffed animal. With Vin's insecurity over Ezra's injury and
the possibility of harm coming to Chris or Buck, Chris figured Vin was in
for a rough night. He had been having fewer nightmares, but the stress from
this week was likely to bring them back.
"I'm a big boy. I can sleep without it," said Vin uncertainly. He didn't
want Chris to go looking for the cat and take it from Uncle Ezra.
"You sure?" Chris asked as he searched JD's bed for the missing feline.
"I'm okay. Really."
"All right, Vin. Sleep tight and..."
"Don't let the bed bugs bite," said Vin.
"Okay, Little Bit," said Buck as he entered the room with JD tucked under
his arm in a football hold, "time for bed." JD giggled as Buck dropped him
on the bed hard enough to let him bounce once. "You get some sleep and remember
to be extra quiet in the morning. We don't want to wake up Ezra. Okay?"
"Ill remember. I promise, Buck!" JD nodded with a yawn. "Night Buck.
Night Vin. Night Chris."
Chris shook his head with a smile. "Good night, JD."
He flipped over in bed for what seemed like the thousandth time. His hair
was plastered to his head with sweat from his restlessness.
"NO!" Vin screamed and shot up in his bed, knocking his pillow to the floor.
He looked around the room fearfully as he tried to figure out where he was.
Vin took big deep breaths to calm himself as he recognized his room at the
ranch. He wasn't in the warehouse and the trolls weren't looking for him.
So why was he still scared? Chris hadn't come to the room when he yelled.
Vin peered over the edge of the bed and looked down at JD on the bottom bunk.
He was still sleeping so maybe he hadn't yelled out loud, or maybe everyone
was just too tired to hear him. He took a deep breath. He was seven-years-old.
He could do this. He could go back to sleep after a nightmare without someone
one else being there. Vin lay back and closed his eyes. He quickly sat back
up as visions of trolls filled his mind's eye. Who was he kidding? Vin reached
around the bed and frantically began to search for his cat in the darkness.
Suddenly he remembered where it was. His cat was in the guestroom with Uncle
Vin slid off the bed landing lightly on the floor. He needed his cat. He
knew that Uncle Ezra would understand. He padded barefoot down the hall to
the guestroom and quietly opened the door and slid into the quiet room. The
night-light gave enough light to find his way. Vin felt bad that he was going
to take back the cat, but he was scared. He moved the blanket and started
to pick up the cat but frowned when he realized that it wouldn't budge. Uncle
Ezra was holding onto the cat! Great. Now what was he going to do?
Vin struggled only a moment with the question. His feet were cold, he was
tired and scared, and his cat was here. He carefully climbed up on the bed
next to Ezra and snuggled up to his cat, carefully making sure that he
didnt jostle Uncle Ezras hurt arm. He knew that he was going
to be in big trouble in the morning, but at least Uncle Ezra wouldn't be
alone when he woke up and Vin would be able to sleep with his beloved toy.
As Vin's breathing became even, indicating that the seven-year-old had fallen
asleep, Ezra slowly reached down and pulled his blanket over his benefactor.
He laid his hand back on the cat making sure his arm wrapped over Vin as
well. A smile graced the tired mans face as he drifted back into his
Cartoon Day! As soon as light peeked into the room around the shades, JD
slipped out of bed. It was Cartoon Day. They didn't have school and they
could get up early and watch cartoons if they were very quiet while Chris
and Buck slept late. JD yawned and stretched, then looked up at Vin's bed
and found that Vin was already up.
JD went to the bathroom thinking it was strange that Vin didn't get him up
too. He made sure to wash his hands so Buck wouldn't holler at him, then
headed for the den to watch cartoons. Uncle Josiah was sleeping on the couch,
but there was still no sign of Vin. It didn't surprise JD that Josiah was
on the couch. His honorary uncles stayed over lots of times. JD turned on
the TV and then pushed the button that said "m-u-t-e" like Buck showed him
before heading out to the kitchen to get his Cartoon Day cereal. Buck and
Chris had a stock of the individual serving cereals and small cartons of
milk so the boys could have cereal with their cartoons with the least amount
of mess. JD headed back to the den and watched cartoons awhile with Uncle
'Siah snoring loudly. JD was still kinda sleepy himself and he wiped his
fist across his eyes as he tried to focus on the latest adventures of Scooby-Doo.
After eating his cereal, his curiosity got the best of him and he began to
search for Vin. Suddenly he remembered Uncle Ezra and he knew where Vin had
to be. He slowly opened the guestroom door and smiled in triumph. Yep. He
was right. Vin was in bed with Uncle Ezra. Not one to be left out, JD climbed
up on the foot of the bed and sat quietly for awhile, but it was boring watching
JD bounced lightly on the bed, jostling Vin and Uncle Ezra.
Nope. Uncle Ezra didn't wake up and neither did Vin.
JD sighed loudly, then peeked at Uncle Ezra.
Nothing. He was still sleeping.
JD crawled carefully up the bed and leaned over Uncle Ezra's ear. He whispered
not too quietly, "Are you awake, Uncle Ezra?"
Uncle Ezra's eye twitched but he slept on, blissfully unaware of his tormentor.
JD slipped off the bed and moved around to the other side. He pushed at Vin's
legs, but the older boy simply curled up tighter and snuggled closer to Uncle
JD sighed loudly and climbed up on the foot of the bed again. This was really
boring. He would have more fun watching cartoons with Uncle Josiah snoring.
JD sighed loudly again. He didn't want to leave the room. Vin got to sleep
by Uncle Ezra and JD wanted to be with him too.
With a loud yawn, JD sprawled across Uncle Ezra's legs so that he would be
more comfortable while he waited for Vin and Uncle Ezra to wake up. He stared
hard at Vin, willing him to wake up. Vin just laid there sleeping. JD stared
at Uncle Ezra, shifting and resting his chin on Uncle Ezra's knee. Waiting
was really boring. Without meaning to, the tired little boy soon fell back
asleep, cuddled close to two of his favorite people in the world.
Ezra shifted slightly as he became more aware JDs dead weight draping
over his trapped legs. Vin shifted in his sleep and, as Ezra found a comfortable
position with his two new bedmates, the little boy patted his arm in his
sleep as if to comfort him. Ezra smiled at the thought of what a sight his
"comforters" would make when they were discovered by the others. He closed
his eyes and soon drifted off again.
Josiah woke abruptly when someone slapped his leg. He looked around bleary
eyed as he tried to focus on the man moving about the den. "Buck?"
"Have you seen the boys?" Buck nodded to the milk carton and empty cereal
"No," Josiah said as he shook his head, trying to clear out the cobwebs.
"I must have been really out."
"Didn't know you liked cartoons, Josiah," said Chris with a smile. He wasn't
worried about the boys. He figured he knew exactly where they were. "Guess
we should rescue Ezra."
The three men walked down the hall to the guestroom. "Is Nathan coming back
this morning?" asked Buck.
"He said he'd stop by this afternoon," said Josiah. "He's confident that
Ezra just needs rest."
Chris opened the door and shook his head at the sight in front of him. Ezra
raised his head and looked over at his friends with a grin. JD was sprawled
across the foot of the bed using Ezra's leg as a pillow. All they could see
of Vin was a small arm wrapped around a fuzzy cat that was resting against
Ezras left side.
"You get yours, I'll get mine," said Chris to Buck.
Chris," said Ezra softly. "Let them stay."
"You're supposed to be resting Ezra," said Chris. "The boys can't be helping
you do that."
"On the contrary, Chris." Ezra looked at his two miniature self-appointed
nurses with a tender smile. There was nothing quite as comforting as the
innocent love of two little boys. "Last night was the best night of sleep
I've had in a very long time."
Chris just smiled but still moved closer to the bed to take custody of his
youngster. As he reached out to move the blanket down off of Vins head,
an unsteady hand clamped down on his forearm. He looked over to find Ezra
staring at him with spark of mischief in his eyes. "If you take them away,
Ill tell Nathan that it was you that woke me up, keeping me from getting
Chris moved a step backwards from the bed and glared at the grinning southerner.
If there was one thing that Chris would avoid most in the world that was
making Nathan Jackson angry at him for disobeying his orders he had given
about one of his patients care. Nope. Chris Larabee would rather face
a horde of gun toting drug runners any day.
"Looks like he got you there, pard," Buck laughed from his station just inside
Chris tossed his old friend a dirty look and then started to chuckle. "Fine
by me. You explain to Nathan why you have a backache on top of your other
Ezra looked at the smiling man with a question in his eyes. "A backache?
I dont understand?"
"Have you tried to move lately?
Buck started to laugh, "Man, are you going to be like a little old woman
when you finally get out of that human pretzel pile you got going there!"
On that note, Buck, Josiah and Chris left the bewildered man and two sleeping
boys alone as they made their way to the kitchen for some much needed coffee
as they heard the reaction.
"Uncle Ez," Vin mumbled, "thats a bad word! You owe a dollar to the
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