Don't Leave by Jeanne

"Little Britches" (ATF) Universe

Disclaimer: Don't own them, If I did I'd keep them in the cupboard and hide the magic key.

Rating: PG

Universe: Little Britches ATF

Author's notes: Thanks to Winnie, she started this one, and encourages me when I'm not sure of a part, and she finds all the missing commas. Thanks Winnie, and Julie who gave me medical advice. I can't help it LB is just easier for me. Do you think it's because I raised two? Thanks also to Barbretta Hayden for the loan of the 'cat' and thanks for her wonderful story "Dreaming of Angels". This is fiction; I have no training in the paranormal, hospital stuff, search and rescue procedures, or legal stuff concerning kids.

Feedback: Yes, please it's very addictive. No flames please.

It was Chris' favorite time of day, after supper, after chores and it being summer no homework. Buck and JD had gone exploring and Chris and Vin sat in the twilight enjoying the quiet. Chris hated to break the peaceful silence he so enjoyed and he'd thought all day on how to tell Vin his news.



"We need to talk about something."

Vin turned his head to watch Chris. His head lay on his arms that were folded over his knees. His blue eyes turned weary as he watched Chris.

Chris licked his lips, "Buck and I are going to be gone for a few days."

"How many?"

"I don't know. You know Ezra has been working on a case for several weeks and we need to go be with him now."


"Yes, all of us."

"How long?"

"At least three days maybe a week."

"Oh." Chris could feel the sad acceptance in Vin's voice.

"Mrs. Potter has agreed to stay with you and JD while we're gone."

"Oh," again the non-committal statement. Vin turned back to watching the horses in the pasture. He was quiet for a long time then softly he asked, "You'll be careful? You'll come back?"

"I'll be very careful and I'll come back as soon as I can."

Vin was silent again then he shrugged, "If you gotta you gotta." But inside he was crying, Don't go, don't leave.

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

The first two nights Buck and Chris were gone went well. Gloria kept the boys busy with the help of her teenagers. The third night she let the boys stay up late watching a video. Then she stood at the door of their bedroom watching Vin tuck JD in.

"Night JD."

"Night. Vin? I miss Da."

"I know, but they'll be back soon and Buck promised we could have a BBQ and campout when they finish this case. It'll be soon."

JD had drifted off to sleep and Vin climbed into bed and closed his eyes.

"Goodnight Vin."

"Good night Mrs. Potter."

Gloria turned out the lights and went to the living room. She hadn't slept well at all. Always waiting for the phone to ring. She was so glad her husband hadn't been a cop; she didn't think she could have held up under the stress.

The house had been dark and quiet for hours. Vin lay trying to sleep but it just wouldn't come. Sighing he got up and tip toed down the hall to Chris' room. The full moon gave him all the light he needed as he stood just inside the door. He walked slowly past the dresser his fingers lightly touching the few items that sat on the top. He missed Chris so much, it hurt just to think about it. When he reached the end of the dresser there in the corner was a dirty tee shirt. Vin picked it up and sniffed. It smelled like Chris and somehow made him seem closer.

Smiling slightly Vin took the tee shirt and climbed back into bed. Wrapping the shirt around his cat he snuggled close and drifted off to sleep feeling secure and that Chris was near.

The forth night was worse. Not even the tee shirt could calm the growing apprehension. Something was wrong. But he couldn't say what or why he knew. Again unable to sleep Vin got up and went back to Chris' room. This time cat in hand he climbed into Chris' bed trying to feel Chris near again. He finally drifted off to sleep only to toss and turn with strange dreams, waking often hearing Chris calling him.

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

It was early morning and Gloria was getting breakfast started. She heard the vehicle drive up and looked out. "Uh ohh!!" It was Josiah and he looked like five miles of bad road. Gloria met him at the door.

Josiah nodded. "Gloria, the boys up?"

"No, I let them sleep in. Josiah what's wrong? They're not..."

"No, Buck's fine but Chris is hurt. I just came out to see the boys."

Gloria nodded as Josiah walked past her toward the boys' room. But when he looked in they were gone. Frowning Josiah checked first Bucks' room then Chris' room. There curled up together in the middle of Chris' bed were Vin and JD. Vin's arm wrapped protectively around JD the ever-present cat crushed between them.

Josiah walked toward the bed and looking closer discovering he was being watched by two very large frightened blue eyes. The big man stood very still not knowing exactly what to say. He watched as Vin carefully untangled himself from JD.

Vin carefully stood on the bed and walked over to where he was facing Josiah. Looking up at him Vin took a deep breath. "He's hurt."

"Yes," Josiah said puzzled.

Vin chewed his lip and cocked his head. "He hurts bad. Here." Vins' shaking hand went to his shoulder. Touching the exact spot the bullet had entered Chris Larabees' body."

Josiah nodded.

"He can't breath good it hurts so much. Even with all the medicine that they give him." Vin searched Josiah's face, "Is he gonna die?"

Josiah reached out to the frightened boy. "No. He's not going to die. Vin how did you know?"

"Dreams, Uncle Josiah. I had dreams last night."

Josiah wrapped his big arms around the small boy and held him tight while Vin cried quietly.

Between sniffs and hiccups Vin asked, "When can I see him?"

Josiah looked down at the scared boy. "Tomorrow. He's doing really well and by tomorrow they will move him to a regular room. Buck will come home this afternoon and he'll take you in to see Chris tomorrow. Vin, you want to tell me about your dreams?"

"I...I can't."

"Why? Can't you remember them?"

"Noooo." Vin looked up at Josiah, "Uncle Josiah, I think this is another grownup secret."

"A grown up secret? One with your mama?"


"Oh, well, how about we just leave it up to you. If you want to tell me you can and we can talk about it if you like."

Vin chewed on his lip thinking. "If you knew someone who could do something really weird that no one else could do would you hate them?"

"No, I try not to hate anyone Vin. Are we still talking about your dreams?"


"May I guess at the secret and if I'm right then can we talk about it? It wouldn't be breaking any promises."

"I...I guess."

Josiah could feel Vin stiffen in his arms. " Ok, sometimes you have dreams about people you love. Sometimes it turns out that your dream was real. But it doesn't happen all the time and it's scary when it does. Am I right?"

Vin's eyes got big. "Yeah, Mama said it was a special gift from God. But most grown ups are scared or mean about it."

Josiah shook his head.  "There are lots of people who are afraid of unusual things and they don't even try to understand these things. Have you had these dreams about anyone else?"

"Not for a long time, then just JD, when I found him. That's how I knew where to look. But this is the first about Chris, I mean Dad. Josiah, why do I have these dreams? You know what else, I can feel Chris almost all the time now."

"Feel him, how?"

Vin smiled to himself. "I just feel him, you know, I know he's there, somewhere. Last night when I woke up after one dream, I couldn't feel him as strong for a long time, it was like he was wrapped in cotton and put in a box." Vin sighed, "It's hard to explain I don't have the right words. Maybe when I get bigger I will."

Josiah hugged the boy tighter, "you say it just fine Vin."

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin waited for Josiah to come. He'd waited all day. Buck had come home for a while. He visited with JD and took a shower, but Vin didn't want to talk to Buck he wanted Chris. He sat at the window rubbing his shoulder lightly as if trying to ease the ache. Then Josiah came.

Josiah led the small boy into the hospital room. Chris lay pale and still on the bed. Vin looked from him to Josiah.

"He's asleep Uncle Josiah."

"That he is. Do you want to stay?"

"Yes please."

Josiah lifted the little boy up and set him gently on the right side of the bed. "I'm going to get some coffee and I'll be back in a little while. I'm going to see if I can find the others too. You'll be ok here by yourself?"

"I'm fine." Vin couldn't take his eyes off of Chris. He carefully reached out and stroked Chris' hand. Ever so softly he started talking, "Hey Dad, I'm here. You really scared me you know? I heard you call, but I couldn't do anything. Wake up Chris, please. Just for a few minutes, so you'll know I'm here." Vins' small hand continued to rub gently back and forth on Chris'.

Chris felt Vin there before he opened his eyes. He reached with his fingers clasping the tiny hand in his. "Vin?"

"Hey, Dad."

Chris forced his eyes open. "Hey, Little Man."

Neither paid any attention when the nurse came in and changed Chris' IV bag and quietly checked the readings on the monitors. She smiled at the father/son chatter.

Vin gave Chris his lopsided smile. "I was scared, when you got hurt."

Chris licked his lips, "Josiah told you I was ok, didn't he?"

Vin ducked his head. "Yeah, he said that."

"You didn't believe him?"

"Yeah I know he wouldn't lie, but before, I was scared."

Chris frowned, it was so hot all of a sudden and he couldn't get enough air. "I..I don't..un..der..stand..."

Vin watched wide eyed as Chris turned red and started gasping for air. Then the machines started squealing and several hospital people came running into the room. One lifted him off the bed and pushed him vaguely toward the door as more people came running in.

Vin went over to the corner between the wall and a chest of drawers. He crouched down making himself as small as he could. There were so many grownups now that he couldn't see Chris, couldn't even see the bed. They were all talking and doing things to Chris, but he couldn't see what. After a long time the machines stopped making noises and all the grownups started to leave.

Then there was just Chris. He was lying flat and had a mask thing over his face. Vin couldn't move, he just watched Chris lay there breathing. Vin fisted his hands, biting on one knuckle. He couldn't move, wouldn't move, not until Chris did.

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Josiah walked down the hall sipping on his cup of coffee. He frowned and speeded up when he saw several hospital staff exiting Chris' room.

"Doc? What's going on?"

"Mr. Sanchez. Chris seems to have had a reaction to the last batch of antibiotic. We're running some tests now. Don't worry" Dr. Ryan lifted her hand. "Chris has been given Benadryl and Decadron and his breathing is easier now. He'll be fine."

Buck ambled up with JD on his hip. "What's' going on?"

JD looked around. "Where's Vin?"

"Josiah?" Buck asked.

"I...I left him with Chris. Dr. Ryan what happened to the little boy that was in the room with Chris?"

She frowned "There wasn't any little boy. At least I didn't see one." She called down the hall to a nurse. "Nancy did you see a little boy in 409?"

"No Doctor but Anita was the first in."

"Ask her for me will you?"

"Yes Doctor."

Josiah stepped around Dr. Ryan and looked into the room. He saw Chris but no Vin. Turning back to Buck, "Where would he go?"

Buck shook his head. "You go that way, and we'll look this way."

"Where's Vin Buck?" JD asked as he looked over Buck's shoulder.

"Don't know Little Bit, but we'll find him."

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin hadn't moved. He crouched where he'd been for the past several hours. He'd watched the different nurses come in, look at Chris and the machines and after writing stuff down they left. The last one to come in turned off most of the lights when she left.

Chris still hadn't moved, and Vin was afraid. Afraid he wouldn't ever move. Then Chris hand lifted just a little and fell down on the bed. Chris' head tossed slightly and he mumbled. It was hard to hear what he was saying but Vin knew it was his name Chris was calling to him. Vin stood and walked slowly to the bed. Reaching through the rails he laid his hand lightly on top of Chris' hand. "It's ok Dad. I'm here." As if he heard Chris grew quiet.

Vin looked around and pulled the chair closer to the bed. He climbed up on the chair easing himself onto the bed. Stretching out full length next to Chris' legs. Resting his head on his out stretched arm, his hand resting on Chris' hand. Then after hours of tension Vin gave in to the need to sleep. Snuggling tighter against Chris legs for security he finally relaxed.

The four men met in the hall. "Any luck?" Josiah asked.

Nathan and Buck shook their heads and Ezra answered. "Young Mr. Tanner is not any where to be found. Would he have left the hospital?"

"No, I don't think so. He knew I was coming right back. Besides he wouldn't leave Chris."

"Has anyone checked Mr. Larabee's room lately. Perhaps he returned."

Josiah shook his head. "I don't know. The nurses know we are looking for Vin. They would have said something had they seen him." Josiah paused, "unless he was hiding." He turned and headed for Chris' room.

He stopped at the door seeing in the shadow of Chris' legs a sound asleep little boy. Without thinking he went into the room and quickly scooped Vin up.

Vin jerked at suddenly being lifted, silently and desperately he started fighting the arms that held him. He hit and kicked as hard as he could trying to wiggle free, his struggles only making Josiah hold him tighter.

"Vin! Vin stop that, it's me, its Josiah. Vin!'

The noise woke JD who was asleep on Buck's shoulder. JD saw Vin struggling and shouted "Vin! It's ok. It's just Uncle Josiah."

Josiah felt Vin freeze. His grip tightened. "Vin, are you ok now?" Vin became absolutely still except for the wild beating of his heart. "Vin, its ok. I'm sorry I frightened you."

Vin looked up confused. "Uncle J'siah."

"Yeah Vin its me."

Vin started to cry. "Uncle J'siah, I hurt Chris. I didn't mean to but I hurt him and now he won't wake up I'm sorry I didn't mean to. Make Chris wake up. Please."

"What makes you think you hurt him?"

"We was talking and I was touching his hand and then he couldn't breathe and his face tuned all red and then the machines started screaming and the nurse people came in and pushed me away." Vin stopped to take a breath. "I didn't mean to do nothing." He pleaded with Josiah, "tell me what I did wrong and I promise I won't ever do it again."

"Vin, you didn't make Chris sick. He got sick because of some bad medicine. He's going to be fine."

Vin searched Josiah's face looking for the truth. "Why won't he wake up then?"

"The medicine is making him sleep."

Vin looked doubtful.

"He'll wake up tomorrow. We'll come back then."

Vin looked at Chris and then back at Josiah, "ok." Still not altogether convinced.

"I'm hungry Da. Now that Vin's found can we go to McDonalds? Please."

Buck smiled, "Sure Little Bit. If you can convince Uncle Ezra to come too."

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Buck and Josiah took the boys home while Nathan and Ezra took turns staying with Chris, each giving his solemn promise to Vin to watch over Chris and keep him safe. The frightened little boy had tried desperately to be brave but to these men the fear shone through with each word.

"Uncle Ezra?"

"Yes Mr. Tanner?"

"You'll watch him."

"Of course I will."

"You won't let him leave?"

"I doubt Mr. Larabee is in any shape to go anywhere." Ezra paused seeing the deeper meaning in Vins' words. Taking Vins' hand Ezra squatted down looking Vin in the eye. "I will endeavor to do my best to ensure that your father won't leave."

Vin saw the understanding in the con man's eyes nodded satisfied and turned to Nathan.

"Uncle Nathan? You know hospital stuff, you won't let them hurt Dad, and you'll keep him safe and won't let him leave?"

Nathan bent down as had Ezra, "I will watch about all the hospital stuff, and tomorrow when you come back, I'll make sure I can tell you everything you need to know. Is that ok Vin? Can you go home with Buck and JD and get some rest now?"

Vin nodded once and turned sad eyes to the man lying on the bed. Without prompting Josiah reached out and lifted Vin so that he could reach out and touch Chris if he wanted to. Vin raised his hand as if to touch Chris' cheek, hesitated, and finally with the lightest stroke imaginable ran his fingers down the side of Chris' face. The overwhelming sadness emanating from him was palatable to the men around him. "Good night Dad." Vin whispered. Then with a slight turn in Josiah's arms he silently announced his willingness to go.

Instead of putting him down Josiah elected to carry Vin as Buck was carrying JD, feeling he needed the comfort of being held and touched. The four went toward the elevator, nodding slightly to the other two.

Ezra and Nathan turned back to where Chris lay. Nathan looked over his shoulder one last time. "That boy has the oldest eyes I've ever seen in a child, and the saddest."

Ezra nodded in agreement. "Vin has seen far too much in his short life. Our Vin has an old soul I'm afraid, but at the moment it's trapped in a very young and very terrified body. Mr. Jackson, please I shall stay with Mr. Larabee this evening. You sir, have a beautiful young wife waiting, and if I remember correctly she has the night off."

Nathan chucked, "Yeah she does. You sure Ezra?"

"Of course I am, how ever am I to become an Uncle again if you are never at home?"

Nathan blushed and laughed, "Don't worry when the time is right you'll be an uncle again. You sure you don't mind."

"Go Nathan, you can relieve me early tomorrow morning."

In the quiet Ezra sat down and began shuffling the ever-present cards. Glancing up once mid shuffle he murmured, "Don't you run out on that boy Mr. Larabee, he's lost far to much already in his young life and I do not think he would survive loosing you."

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin sighed sleepily and Buck buckled him into the back seat of Chris' truck. JD was already back to sleep. Vin knew if he was still and quiet the two men in the front seat would talk, thinking him asleep.

"Josiah, what are we going to do about Vin and Chris?"

"What do you mean?'"

Buck shook his head. "Don't know exactly, but those two are wearing on a man. If one is sick the other damn near gets sick right along with him. Chris told me the other night he almost always 'just knows' when Vin's back is hurtin' him. And Vin, I don't know that boy seems to know about Chris before even Chris knows. I tell you its' wearing on a man the way them two are." Buck wiggled in the seat to keep himself awake and alert.

"Want me to drive Buck?" Josiah offered.

"Nah, I'm good." There was a thoughtful pause and then Buck continued. "You understand what's going on between those two Josiah? What with all your training and such?"

Josiah looked down at his hands for a moment then glancing over at the two sleeping boys he began. "I don't have any pat answers for you Buck. I know it sounds weird that in such a short time such a strong bond has developed between Vin and Chris. I'm afraid this is going to 'wax poetical' so to speak but it seems to be that they were meant to find each other, that those two lost souls could heal and become whole only through each other. I have no idea why it works or how, but it does. Vin told me that he dreamed of Chris being hurt and he knew where he'd been shot before I even said anything. It seems Vin has a very special gift and it will fall on all of us to protect him and it from others that would take advantage of him.

When the present crisis is over I shall do some reading up on such gifts and the best way to handle them. In the meantime they both must be reassured that it's ok and that they are ok."

Buck nodded and they drove on in silence.

Vin frowned in the dark. He wished he could ask, but he thought Buck had said that Chris had 'feelings' about him just like the ones he had about Chris. But he couldn't because he was supposed to be asleep. That's how you learned things that grownups didn't want kids to know. I wonder where Uncle Josiah is gonna look up stuff?

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

"You don't have to stay Josiah."

"I know Buck, but I'm afraid Vin may be in for a rough night and if he is you must concentrate on helping JD. I shall be here for Vin. I don't believe that any of us will get much sleep tonight."

After Buck went to bed Josiah walked softly into the boys room the nightlight giving him enough light to see the sleeping boys. Vin lay curled around the toy cat his arms wrapped tightly holding it to him. Even asleep he scrunched up his face and made little mewing noises. Josiah was tempted to reach out and touch the boy but feared another violent reaction like the one in the hospital. Vin didn't like to be touched or held except by Chris. He had been extremely worried yesterday morning when he'd let Josiah hold him.

They all knew this and avoided pushing into what Vin considered his space. All except for Chris who seemed to share everything even personal space with Vin. "Sleep well, Vin, may your dreams be happy ones." Blue eyes fluttered open. "It's ok, Vin, I was just checking on you and JD."

A sad smile appeared on Vins' face. "It's ok J'siah. JD was scared."

Josiah smiled back. "But not you?"

"Yeah, I was scared too. Are you sure I didn't hurt Chris?"

Back to Chris again, what happened to 'Dad'? He's so scared. "Vin look at me. I promise you did nothing to hurt Chris. Your dad is going to be fine. He's hurt but he'll get better and the big problem is he's worried about you."

"Me?" Vin couldn't hide his surprise.

"Of course he's worried about you. Vin, you mean the world to him. He wants only the best for you. You've helped Chris so much, made him happy again. Before you came Chris was sad most of the time and he never smiled that I can remember. You've done all that for him."

Vin blinked slowly and yawned, "I have? Can....can I see him tomorrow?"

This time, Josiah risked touching and brushed a lock of hair from Vin's face, "of course, we'll go after breakfast. Um, after we call and make sure with the doctor it's all right to come that early. OK?"


Josiah waited a few minutes making sure the little boy was finally asleep before he went back to his room. Lord, You better make that man ok, 'cause that little boy in there needs him, as much or more then he needs that little boy. Lord what ever it is those two have got going is so strange and unusual, but I just know You have it all in control. Lord help me understand this bond they have so when they ask I know how to help them understand that Vin's gift isn't bad or scary but a good thing. Help me Lord to be able to help Vin control it and use it instead of it using him. Amen

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin lay very still. The window was still dark so it was still night but Vin couldn't go back to sleep. He'd tried and tried but whenever he closed his eyes all he could see was Chris gasping for air, hurting something fierce. Vin hugged the cat tighter and the tee shirt, which had escaped Mrs. Potter's search for dirty laundry. It still smelled of Chris and was a small comfort to the boy. He tried to puzzle out all the adults had said and told him. Knowing sometimes they said things to each other that they wouldn't say to a kid.

If only it would be daylight again and then he could go into town with Uncle Josiah and see Chris. He hoped they would let him see Chris again. What if they didn't? What if it was his fault that Chris had gotten worse? He tried to imagine himself with out Chris but the thought was so painful his mind would skitter away from even the idea of it. No, he told himself, Chris had promised to take care of him. He would be there.

Vin made himself think about something else. The camping trip they'd gone on a couple of weeks ago, just him and Chris and the horses riding all day until they got to the high country. The rains had come so it was all right to go camping and they found a wonderful little valley, full of trees and a stream with wild strawberries just becoming ripe. He and Chris had stayed there for three glorious days. Not doing much, just watching. Vin smiled at the memory of seeing the deer coming down to feed at night. Watching the antics of the chipmunks and squirrels and the different kinds of birds flying around.

They'd even found part of an old cabin someone built and they'd spent the night making up stories of who had build it and why they'd left. It was one of the happiest times Vin could remember. Except for maybe when Chris had told him he'd wanted him for his son. There just weren't that many memories with Chris yet. He needed more time. Please God, Josiah says you listen, please give me more time with Chris. Please.

Vin squished his eyes tighter trying to keep the tears from coming. He had to be brave; he couldn't let anyone see him cry. Opening them slowly he noticed the sky was a little lighter. It was almost dawn. As he lay there watching it grow brighter outside Vin grew darker inside, this loving Chris just hurt too much. He'd loved his mamma and that had hurt too. Maybe it was the loving someone that hurt.Being by him self hadn't hurt as bad as this did. Then he came to the conclusion that he'd been on his own before, he could do it again and then he wouldn't hurt as much anymore.

He pushed the precious stuffed cat to the far corner at foot of the bed. Refusing to even look at it again as he slowly rolled over looking out the window waiting for time to get up.

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Buck came ambling into the boys' room surprised they both were still asleep, but then it had been a late night. Bending down he patted JD on the blanket-covered rump. "Hey Little Bit time to get up."

JD rolled away and made grumbling sounds. He pulled the covers up over his head.

Buck pulled them back down. "Nope time to wake up now. We got things to do."

Buck stood and reached out to wake Vin, but at the light touch Vin jerked away. "I'm awake."

"Ok, you two, breakfast is almost ready. Then we go to town to see Chris." At the mention of breakfast JD was up and running toward the bathroom. Buck glanced back at Vin. He was sitting up but hadn't moved. "You ok Vin?"

"I'm fine," saying that Vin began to crawl out of bed as far away from Buck as he could. Buck watched as he went over and started to dress. Buck watched for another minute and then shrugging went out of the bedroom.

JD came out of the bathroom and started chattering a mile a minute. " We get to go to town today. Aren't you happy? Vin? Maybe the nurses will give us some more candy and juice. I liked that. Think Chris can come home today? I miss him. Buck said we could have lunch at 'Donalds today. Vin?"

Vin refused to look at JD "Shut up JD you talk too much."

"Do not."

"Yeah, you do," and Vin walked out.

JD stared at Vin's back. "Do not," he whispered. He followed Vin into the kitchen. Vin was sitting at the table already waiting on everybody else to get there.

Sitting down Josiah noticed Vin was pushing his scrambled eggs from one side of his plate to the other. "Eat Vin, it's going to be a long morning."

"Ain't hungry."

"Eat a little anyway. You'll be hungry later."

Vin obediently put a fork full of egg in his mouth and chewed. He finally swallowed but could not take another bite. He felt he'd be sick if he did. He scooted the eggs under his toast and drank his milk. "Can I be excused?"

"Sure kiddo," Buck answered without looking up.

Vin quietly left the dinning room and went to sit in the living room.


Chris was walking down a trail in the mountains. It was a beautiful summer day and he could smell the fresh scent of the pines. This is a dream, it has to be. Looking around he recognized the canyon that he and Vin had gone camping in. He kept walking following the path ahead. Then in the too bright surreal light he saw Vin surrounded by a waist high wall of bricks.

"Vin, what are you doing?"

Vin carefully laid another brick on his wall before he looked up. The old eyes looking out of the seven-year-old face shocked Chris. "Building."

"Building what?"

Vin made a disgusted face. "A wall silly. Can't you see that?"

Chris looked closer. The brick wall was only four or five bricks long on each side but it encircled Vin. Chris tried to get closer and reached out for Vin but his hand wouldn't go past the wall.

"Vin, what's the wall for?" Chris whispered afraid some how of the answer.

Vin looked up at him with sad eyes. "Don't you know?" He stopped to place another brick next to the last one, and then looked back up at Chris. "Its' to keep the monster out."

"What monster Vin? There's no monster."

"Yeah, there is Chris." Vin ran his small hand over the bricks. "I have to build it high and tight so it won't get me."

Chris frowned trying to understand. "Where'd you get the bricks from Vin?"

A crooked half smile appeared briefly on Vin face. He glanced behind Chris. "I got them from over there, where you left them."

Chris turned to see where Vin was looking but the smoke was choking him and he started coughing.


Chris moaned and coughed again, slowly opening his eyes he looked around the stark hospital room. Damn, what the hell was that about? He brushed his hand at the oxygen mask over his face.

"Don't Mr. Larabee, the mask has a purpose."

"Ezra? What happened? Where's Vin?"

"Mr. Tanner is at home. As to what happened, you Sir had a adverse reaction to some of the medication you were receiving."

"Ezra, I'm in no mood to listen to your five dollar words. What happened?"

"Please, oh very well. Yesterday while Vin was here you were given some medication that you had a sudden and frightening reaction to. You have been unconscious since then. Vin is at home with Buck, JD and Josiah and will be here shortly."


"Is there a problem Chris?"

Chris sighed, "Bad headache, weird dream."

"The headache we can most likely fix. I'm not sure about weird dreams. Perhaps Josiah can work on that when he gets here."

Chris smiled "Yeah he's good at deciphering the undecipherable."

"Very good, Mr. Larabee, very good."

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Buck led the boys into Chris' room. Josiah stood back watching. JD ran up to Chris' bed. "Hi Chris. Are you feeling better now? We came to see you. Buck wouldn't let me bring you a present, he said you'd be home before long."

Chris smiled at the torrent. "JD, breathe."

"Huh, oh. Ok."

Chris looked over at Vin who stood quietly behind JD. Chris reached out his hand just a little. "Hey Vin."

Vin stood very still looking at Chris and then he looked at the floor. "Hey Chris."

Chris frowned and looked first at Buck and then at Josiah. Josiah stepped forward and lifted Vin upon the bed beside Chris. Vin didn't fight him, but once sitting he just looked at his hands in his lap.

This time when Chris reached out he laid his hand on top of Vins'. Vin didn't pull away but there was the smallest of flinches. Again Chris looked from Buck to Josiah.

Buck reached down and picked up JD. "Come on Little Bit lets give Vin and Chris a chance to visit."

JD glanced at Vin and then back at Buck. "Ok."

When Chris was alone with Vin he made the bed sit him up a little more. Flinching at the pull on his stitches he stopped and again reached out to Vin taking his hand.

Vin wouldn't look at him and while he didn't pull his hand away he didn't try to hold on to Chris' hand either. The silence soon became oppressive.

"Vin? What's the matter?"


Chris bit his lip trying to get past the non-communicative silence that closed in around them. "Ezra said you were worried about me. That you thought you made me sick yesterday. Is that true?"

Vin tried to take back his hand. "Josiah explained I didn't that it was just the medicine they gave you."

"Josiah told me about your dream too."

Vin looked up fearfully and then back down.

"Will you tell me about your dream?''

Vin shook his head. " It was just a silly dream. Don't mean nothing, honest."

"That's not what Josiah said. He used a big fancy word to describe it but all it meant was that your dream told you I was hurt before anyone else could. He says that it's a special thing to be able to do that. Did you think I'd be mad because of it?"

Vin shrugged, "some people are. Momma said some people are scared of things they don't understand so they...they are mean about it. I...didn't want to make you afraid or mad. I won't do it no more."

"Vin, how are you going to stop your dreams? It's ok that you have these dreams, but you must promise to tell me or Josiah or well, any of us about them. If you're scared about what you dream you can always tell us."

Can only tell you if you're here. Vin shrugged again.

Chris was exasperated. Something was wrong but what. Vin hadn't been this closed off from him since he first came out to the ranch. Vin wouldn't even look at him, why?

"Can I go now?"

"Sure, go find Buck. Ask Josiah to come in, will you?"

Vin jumped down with out saying anything and opening the door walked out with out looking back.

Josiah came in "You wanted to see me?"

"What's wrong with Vin?"

"You mean out side of being scared to death yesterday when you had your allergic reaction and no grownups noticed him. Or perhaps the fact that he 'saw' you get shot in his dream and knew you were hurt. Or perhaps it's the fact that he can 'feel' it when you hurt? Or maybe its just that he's scared witless that he's going to loose you and be back on the streets or any number of other things a seven year old mind can conjure up."

"Josiah!" Chris was outraged at the seeming attack from the usually calm profiler.

Josiah took a calming breath. "Sorry boss. Vin is in a world of hurt right now and he's withdrawing. Did you notice that he hasn't once called you dad? It was going about 50/50 between Chris and Dad but now it's back to Chris. I'm not sure what to do with Vin. He's not your average seven year old. You can't just take him in your lap like you would Adam under these circumstances. It's not just a bad dream to him, Vin's lost too much already."

"Josiah, speaking of a bad dream I had a strange one earlier."

"Care to share it with me."

"Not now, go see if you can find Vin and maybe talk to him. Maybe you can get through to him. I'll be home tomorrow.."


"Tomorrow, and maybe at home we can get to the bottom of this."

 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Chris Larabee was on a mission. He was determined to get out of the hospital this very day. Much to the staffs surprise he'd followed every order and rule and now he was waiting for Dr. Ryan to show up. He carefully moved his arm in the sling, testing the pain level in order to prepare his argument with the good doctor.

Dr. Ryan had been warned by no less the four nurses and two member of Team 7 that Chris was up to something. She knew it the minute she'd checked his chart. Taking a deep breath she went into the room. "Hi Chris."

Chris grinned "Hello Doc."

"How's the shoulder today?"

"It's fine. I want out."

"Ummmm, so I heard. Want to tell me why?"

"Would I hate it in here work?"

"Nope. Try again."

"Ok, Doc, I gotta get home. Something is wrong with Vin and I need to see about him."

"Buck can take care of Vin for a few days Chris..."

Before she could even finish Chris interrupted. "No Doc. I need to be there. My getting hurt has upset Vin and he won't talk about it to anyone. Not even me, not here. I need to be home with him, where he feels safe. Look Doc. I'm ok, Nathan can watch me from now on and I promise to do what ever he says. Please Doc. Vin really needs me."

Dr. Ryan watched Chris in amazement through his speech. That was more words then she'd ever heard come out of his mouth at once. She wasn't fooled by the promise to 'be good', she knew better. But she also knew that Chris would do anything for that little boy.

"Let me check you out and we'll see. No promises, just we'll see."

"Fair enough," Chris was going to play nice until he lost. Then he planed to leave anyway.