Atlantan Legacy

by Squeakypeep

Disclaimer : Not Mine.. no profit.

Acknowledgements: Mog's Universe - Thank you.

Warning: OFC

For Debbie who wanted to know what else I had sitting around. I have no plans to write a sequel, unless someone asks for one. If anyone else wants to.. take it and run with it, I dare you!

Comments: - be nice.

March 16th
Ezra's Old Gothic Mansion

It had been Vin's idea to clear out the basement in the old house Ezra had moved into a few months earlier. It was Thursday evening and the two Agents had already spent the best part of two hours sorting through junk. They were just about ready to concede defeat when they were interrupted.

Tanner spoke as he made his way up the cellar steps to answer the knocking coming from the front of the old house.

'We expectin' guests Ez?'

'Not as far as I am aware Mr. Tanner.' Standish's disembodied voice rose up from the dark depths of the cellar. 'Good Lord, I was unaware that this particular locale provided the habitat for such large arachnids.'

Tanner pulled open the front door and stood hipshot, looking at what had landed on Ezra's doorstep.

'Whatever you boys is sellin' we already got one.' He nodded politely and began to shut the heavy door.

'Mr. Standish? Mr. Ezra Standish?' The short balding man in the expensive suit spoke whilst his young scrawny sidekick hopped from foot to foot.

Vin narrowed his eyes. 'Who's askin'?'

'Malchi Lebensbaum, Solicitor, my Associate, Jonathan Prescott. We represent the law firm of Cavanaugh, Cavanaugh, Kennedy and Gee of Atlanta. If we might have a moment of your time, Mr. Standish.'

'With regard to...?' Vin narrowed his eyes at them suspiciously, taking the proffered business card but blocking the doorway with this body. Anything to do with Ez's old life in Georgia made the members of team 7 especially protective of their undercover brother.

'If we may discuss this in private Mr. Standish, suffice to say it involves a legacy bequeathed by our late client.'

The three men stood in silence for a few moments, Vin's natural stillness and steady blue gaze seeming to unnerve the visitors who shuffled uncomfortably under his scrutiny.

'AHHggh!' A sudden screech and a crash emanated from somewhere in the bowels of the old house. The two lawyers jumped and tried to take a step back, teetering precariously on the porch step.

'If this is a bad time we can return, our cell phone numbers are on the card...'

Vin remained unmoved by the cacophony behind him, seemingly oblivious to the colorful expletives fouling the air.

'I ain't Standish. Wait here.' With that he shut the door in their faces.

The two men exchanged stunned glances.

Vin stopped at the top of the cellar steps. 'Ez, ya okay pard?'

'Thank you Mr. Tanner. I appreciate your concern, belated though it undoubtedly is. May I inquire as to why you were not available to assist me precipitously?'

'I was answerin' the door Ez. An' if yer still usin' them 5 syllable words I reckon yer fine.'

'I presume you have expeditiously dispatched our uninvited guests and are available to extend your considerable talents to extricating me from the predicament in which I am currently ensnared?'


'Get me out!'

Vin ventured down into the gloomy recesses of the basement and struggled past old bicycle parts and wooden trunks, peering around and trying to locate his friend. 'Ez? Can ya talk some more? I can't see ya.'

'For pity's sake Mr. Tanner, you are always telling me to talk less! I am at the back, to your left, the moth-eaten moose head is hanging, somewhat precariously, directly above me, as if preparing to descend like the sword of Damocles.'

'Ya found a sword? Cool.'

'No Mr. Tanner, the sword of...' Ezra stopped talking as Vin removed the old black duster and saddle blanket that had somehow ensnared his prone colleague's arms and legs.

'Thank you.'

'Yer welcome. An' ya've got visitors.' Vin handed Ezra the business card and watched as he tilted it towards the bare light bulb to make it out.

'Lawyers from Atlanta?' The poker face slammed down so hard Vin winced. 'Did they by chance, state their business?'

'Something about a deceased client and a bequest.' Vin followed Ezra up the steps, waving his hand in front of his face as Standish attempted to rid his clothes of the accumulated dust and cobwebs. Ezra stopped at the top of the staircase and turned back towards his friend. They looked at each other for a moment in silence before the southerner visibly braced his shoulders and sighed.

'Where did you put them?'

'Outside.' At the incredulous look he explained, 'I wasn't gonna invite 'em in Ez, 'till I was sure ya wanted ta see 'em. A man's home is his castle, yer always tellin' me, an' they didn't have an appointment.'

Ezra regarded his friend. 'I appreciate it Vin, more than you could ever know, but you don't need to protect me.' He clapped his hand on his partner's shoulder, sending up a cloud of dust and making them both cough. 'Let us go forth and find out the details of this 'bequest'.

He threw open the front door and the two pairs stared at each other.

'Gentlemen, Ezra P. Standish at your service. I understand we have business to discuss.' At the nods of assent he allowed the two lawyers to enter the house. 'Allow me to show you into my study. Would you care for refreshment? Coffee? Tea?'

Vin moved off towards to kitchen to brew the coffee but only after sending the two men his best 'Larabee' glare.

Sitting behind the large mahogany desk, Ezra indicated the two men should sit. He watched them silently, assessingly. The younger man squirmed in his seat and the older, balding man cleared his throat.

'You, then, are Mr. Standish? And the other gentleman...?' He left the question open.

'I am indeed Mr. Standish. My colleague indicated that you have something for me?' He offered no explanation of Vin's presence. Tanner had moved into a part of the old house when his apartment building had been condemned and had yet to find alternative accommodation. Secretly both men were pleased to have the company, the house was huge and they were able to maintain privacy by living in separate wings. But that that wasn't any business of the two men now seated before him.

'Yes indeed.' The lawyer set a slim leather case on his knee and started withdrawing papers. 'Mr. Standish, we have been informed that you were... acquainted...' Ezra noticed the hesitation and concentrated, '...with a Miss Celestine de Bretagne..' He looked up at Ezra's face and registered the shock, '... I'm sorry, you were unaware that Miss de Bretagne had passed on? He ended his question in an near whisper, presumably in deference to the loss of the young woman.

'How? When?' Vin returned with the coffee laden tray in time to catch the lawyers words and Ezra's strangled questions.

'Ez?' He glared at the lawyers who shrank back into their seats, 'Ya okay? Who was Celestine de Bretagne?'

'A friend Vin, a close friend.'

Tanner took a position behind Ezra, hipshot against the wall and hooked his thumbs into his jeans.

A close friend? Guess that means a lover.

The younger lawyer, Prescott, bristled, pompous in his indignation. 'Mr. Standish, the matters we have to discuss are of a private and personal nature, ' He gave Vin a dismissive look, 'perhaps Mr. Tanner...'

'He stays.'

There was a silence.

Malchi Lebensbaum cleared his throat. 'If that is your wish.'

'It's his wish. Git on with it.' Vin growled. Knowing Ezra as well as he did, he could see the effect of the death of his 'friend' had had on him, although he doubted the other men could see past the poker face.

'Yes well... I regret to inform you that Miss de Bretagne was the victim of an incurable tumor. A little over a week ago she succumbed to her illness. Perhaps you could read this letter from the young lady which was entrusted to us in preparation, to be released to you when the occasion arose.' He handed over a fat embossed envelope, sealed with red wax.

'I understand it explains the circumstances of the bequest. We will then need only to finalize the necessary paperwork and arrange for you to visit Atlanta,' Vin shuffled his feet and Ezra raised an eyebrow at him making him smile ruefully and subside into stillness once again, ' your convenience of course.'

Ezra took the envelope and turned it between his hands, keeping his eyes on his guests. 'Perhaps, Gentlemen, considering the lateness of the hour, it would be best if you returned in the morning to complete our discussion. Such an arrangement would allow me to consider the contents of this missive and be better prepared to facilitate the last wishes of Miss de Bretagne. Would that be agreeable?'

About to protest, Lebensbaum met the steely blue eyes over the head of the man who had spoken. 'Yes, yes of course. Shall we say promptly at 9? We have a return flight to Atlanta scheduled for 4 in the afternoon.'

'Better makin' it 10. I'll see you fellers ta the door.' Vin ushered the guests out and returned to the study where Ezra was still fingering the unopened envelope.


Green eyes met blue, Vin could see the raw emotion.

'I loved her Mr. Tanner.'

Vin poured his distraught friend a snifter of brandy and took a seat. This looked like it was going to be a long evening.

'We dated for almost two years, my happiest memories of Atlanta were with Celeste. She made life bearable. She was my joy, my reason for surviving when everything went to hell. Eventually she took me home to meet her family. They were old money, psions of the community and very well connected. Precisely the kind of family of which my mother would approve. Unfortunately they did not approve of me. They tried hard to separate us and finally succeeded. I will not burden you with the painful details. Celeste and I parted as friends.'

Ezra sighed and turned the envelope in his hands again. 'It was probably for the best. I know she loved me. I also know she was no more 'in love' with me than I was 'in love' with her.'

'But ya still loved her.'

'As a close friend Mr. Tanner, yes, I loved her. I will grieve for her but I will not 'grieve' for her. Do you comprehend the difference?'

'Yeah Ez. I know whatcha mean.'

The two sat in companionable silence for a long while whilst they finished their drinks. Ezra stroked the envelope, running his fingers over his inked name.

'So. Ya gonna open it? Want me ta leave?'

Ezra smiled at his friend, shaking off his melancholy. 'Perhaps, Vin, it would be better if you stayed. I may yet need your support.'

'Well go on then. The suspense is killin' me.'

Picking up a silver letter opener, Standish slit the seam and withdrew a folded parchment. He slowly opened the flaps and began to read.

The sharpshooter watched his eyes move across the page, waiting to hear the verdict. He saw the eyes widen impossibly and the color drain from the undercover agent's face.


'Oh my god. How could.. why didn't she.. goddammit!' Ezra raised his eyes to his friend.

'Ez? What is it?'

Ezra slowly handed over the letter. 'Congratulations, Mr. Tanner, you just became an Uncle.'

'I.. you..WHAT?'

'Read it to me please. I need to hear it aloud to be sure my eyes were not deceiving me.'

'Aloud? Ez, com'on, ME?'

'You will be able to cope Mr. Tanner, your skills are much improved. Take a breath and focus.'

Vin looked down at the page.

'My Dearest Ezra,

If you are reading this then I am gone. Do not grieve for me for I am content with the time I have had. Be happy for me.

My illness was diagnosed and labeled terminal a short few weeks after our parting. I am sure you remember my continuous headaches. You were, as usual, quite correct when you said that they could be the sign of something serious. My brain tumor is inoperable and I am dying. C'est la vie, or perhaps, more accurately, C'est la mort.

My illness was not the only thing uncovered as I underwent a great battery of tests. Another, more startling discovery came to light, one which, in my time of despair, I resolved to keep to myself. I kept secret that which I had no right to withhold from you. I admit to this and I beg your forgiveness for my selfishness. I thought only of the years you would have which, because of this time bomb in my head, I would be denied. I jealously guarded the time I was given.

Ezra, I was pregnant.

I am so sorry. I should have told you. We may not have had a lasting relationship but I had no right to deny you knowledge of your child. Forgive me.

My Darling, I have committed a terrible crime against you and against our child. I realize that in my selfishness, I prevented you from establishing a bond with your child and I stole my child's father.

It is my wish now to right that wrong. I know I should have done this earlier but I am too much the coward to face you now. It is too late, so instead I contact you from beyond the grave.

I made sure you are named on the birth certificate as father and have left iron-clad instructions that Rorie comes to you on my death. There will be no question of custody.

Rorie. Let me tell you about our Rorie.

Do you remember telling me about the Northern Lights? How they were the most beautiful sight you had ever seen?

Aurora Miriablis.

Our baby was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, Ezra. I named her Aurora, she was the light in my darkest days.

I took hundreds of photographs and lots of video, I was quite the besotted parent. But I knew my time with her was short. I had longer than I was given to believe, but I am failing. My illness has taken over and I know I am nearing the end.

Rorie is almost four now, she was born on May 5th. She is very like you. Smart beyond her years, so much so that I have had to place her in a school for gifted children. She is stubborn and tenacious, loyal and brave and, like her daddy, she has an answer for everything.

Although small for her age Rorie radiates confidence and the other children follow her lead into many pranks. I find I cannot punish her. She looks at me with your eyes and flashes those damnable dimples at me and I cave every time. Usually her conscience gets the better of her and she vows to behave. Until the next time!

Ever conscious that my own time was limited, I have endeavored to teach her about you. She knows who you are and that you will come for her when Mummy goes to the Angels. You are nightly in her prayers, a kiss to your photograph is the last thing she does every day. She loves you in her child's way. I trust this gives you some comfort, to know that your child thinks well of you and I hope it will help you to forgive me.

Look after our daughter, I know you love her already.


Vin continued to look at the paper in his hand long after he finished his halting recitation. Finally he raised shocked eyes to his friend.

Ezra smiled. 'That's what I thought it said.'

'God Ez, what...?'

'What will I do? Clearly Mr. Tanner, I will go to Atlanta and retrieve my daughter. Arrangements will have to made, daycare, schooling, finance, but they can wait. In the meantime I think I had better call Mr. Larabee and schedule some time off.'

'Better call everyone Ez, get it all over with at once, doncha think?'

'Perhaps that would be best.' Ezra suddenly grinned hugely. 'I'm a father Mr. Tanner, I have a daughter! Can you believe that?'

Vin grinned. 'I'm an Uncle! Uncle Vin. I like the sound o' that.'

'So do I Uncle Vin!'

Vin raised his Beer 'Here's to you Daddy!'


Atlanta, Two days later.

Vin eased the hired car into a shaded spot between two dark sedans. An empty child's safety seat sat in the back seat. Switching off the engine he turned to his friend. 'Ya ready?'

Ezra laughed nervously. 'Mr. Tanner, I don't think I will ever be ready. I'm not sure I can do this. What if she hates me? Her mother may have... I may be a disappointment... Oh God!' He folded his head into his hands.

'Ez. Ya can do this. Ya got such a good way with kids, she's gonna love ya, trust me.'

Ezra took a deep breath. 'Let's get this over with shall we?' He loosened his seatbelt and stepped out of the vehicle. He was joined in front of the car by his friend. They regarded the property before them.

The huge old colonial house stood majestically in the center of a large grassy yard, surrounded by a wrought Iron fence. Numerous children, of various sizes and races, ran about noisily throwing balls and playing tag. A couple of women sat on a swing on the wooden porch, handing out drinks and bandaging scraped knees and elbows.

The two ATF agents slowly made their way up the path, careful to close the gate behind them, as per the large instruction taped to the outer fence. As they approached the bottom of the steps a fight broke out to their right, a small black child was being punched by an older boy with a malicious grin on his face.

'I done told ya Frankie, that skateboard is mine. I guess ya need another lesson Huh?' Before any of the adults could intervene a voice piped up, 'Hey, Elroy!'

The bully, along with some of the other children in the yard, turned towards the porch rail. The call had come from a small barefooted urchin with a mop of strawberry blonde curls, falling over her face and dressed in ratty denim dungarees and no shirt.

'What?' The Bully did not release his victim, holding him by the collar.

'I just wondered, does it hurt?'

Elroy looked confused. 'Does what hurt?'

The imp grinned, showing off dimples. 'Being so Dumb?'

It took a moment for the insult to register but as the light dawned the boy cursed and released the grateful Frankie. Tilting his head down he charged yelling towards his tormentor. He made quite an impact, although not quite the one he intended.

At the last possible moment the small, agile girl took a swift step sideways, vacating the space directly in front of the wooden support pillar. Elroy, unable to stop his momentum, crashed heavily into the post and sat down hard on his well padded behind amid a cloud of reddish dust. He remained there dazedly clutching his head.

'I guess that's a yes!'

There was a chorus of stifled giggles from the other kids who were clearly delighted to have the older boy get some of this own medicine for a change.

'Aurora Standish! What did you do to Elroy? What have I told you about fighting?' An older woman, clearly in charge of this mad house, stepped out of the front door, allowing it to slam shut behind her. 'You've only been here a week child, and you've already been in more scrapes than the rest put together.'

'Miss Peterson, I didn't touch him, ask anyone.'

'Aurora! I recognize your handiwork. Poor Elroy. Are you alright?'

The little imp huffed and rolled her eyes. 'Miss Peterson, please. I know better than to annoy someone who is twice, er, three times as big as me. Why would you think I..' She broke off as she noticed the two men standing at the bottom of the steps gaping at her. 'Daddy! You're here!' She leapt off the porch and a startled Ezra sank to his knees to accept the spontaneous hug.

Holding the wiry little body against his chest Ezra sank his face into the soft curls and breathed deeply of the scent of his child. He felt a wet kiss pressed into his neck and a huff of hot breath against his skin as he squeezed the little girl tighter. 'Daddy, you're squishing me!'

Pulling away they looked at each other. Vin laughed at the stunned expression on his partner's face. 'Told ya.'

Rorie turned to him. 'Hello. I'm Rorie Standish. Who are you?' She gazed up at him with the direct candor of a child but didn't release her firm grip on Ezra's jacket. Vin raised his eyebrow at his friend. 'Ez?'

Finally looking away from the precious child his arms, Standish slowly stood, bringing his daughter up with him. His daughter. Amazing.

Pride ringing in his voice, Ezra introduced them. 'Mr. Tanner, may I present my daughter, Aurora. Rorie, this is your Uncle Vin.' The two men grinned at each other at the moniker.

'I've got an Uncle too? Cool!' She held out one small grubby hand which Vin unhesitatingly took in his own. 'Hi Uncle Vin!'

'Actually my darlin' you've got six.' Ezra laughed delightedly into the stunned little face, a small, dirty replica of his own.

'Six?' She squeaked.

'Uhuh.' The blue eyed Texan answered, 'Besides me there's Uncle Chris, Uncle Buck, Uncle Nathan, Uncle Josiah and Uncle JD. We'll tell ya all about 'em on the way to Denver. Meantime, ya better let yer Daddy take care of all the 'fficial stuff. Ya wanna introduce me to yer friends? A curious crowd had gathered around the trio.

Rorie looked to her father for confirmation. 'You go on with Uncle Vin, I need to finalize the bureaucratic details with Miss Peterson.' He reluctantly handed the little girl to the Sharpshooter and added 'be good' which was met with a pained look and a roll of the green eyes.

'Hey guys,' Rorie settled comfortably on Vin's left hip. She pointed to the smartly dressed Southerner, who, having greeted the austere Miss Peterson, was disappearing into the house, 'Told you I had a Daddy who was coming to get me. That's him.' She turned back to Vin. 'And this is my Uncle Vin and I've got five more like him at home!'

'Wow, Ya's real lucky Ror,'


'you going to live with your Dad?'

'Yep. We're going to live in... where we going to live?'


'Yeah Dever.'


'Zactly.' She smiled smugly at her audience then whispered, 'Uncle Vin, Where's Dever?'


The following day
Denver Airport

Chris swept a paint speckled hand through his hair, clutching an enormous teddy bear in the other. He was waiting anxiously at the gate for his two friends and new niece to make an appearance. He'd spent the past two days, along with the rest of the team, preparing a bedroom for Rorie in Ezra's big old house and he was shattered.

The five men had turned up at Ezra's that evening, responding quickly to Vin's summons.

Once everyone was gathered and had a drink, they all looked expectantly at Vin.

'Ez has something to tell ya'll.'

Chris watched as his undercover agent stepped forward and cleared his throat.

'Gentlemen. I have some news to impart which may come as something of a shock to you, as indeed it did to me.' He paused and they all waited expectantly. The silence continued.

'Spit it out Ez.'

'Mr. Wilmington I do not expectorate and I resent the implication...'

'Ez. Git ta the point.' Vin ignored Ezra's pained expression at the interruption and nodded at him encouragingly.

'Gentlemen, I received some unexpected visitors this evening. Lawyers, from Atlanta.'

'The others looked at each other. 'Whatever they're saying about you Standish we will back you up, understand?'

'Thank you Mr. Larabee, I may well need your support, but not in the way you perceive.'

'Gentlemen, It seems I left more than rumors behind when I left Atlanta.' He took a sip of his Brandy. 'I was informed this evening that a former paramour has recently passed away and I was named in her will...'

'Wow, Ez, How much did ya get?'

'It was not a monetary bequest Mr. Wilmington.' Everyone looked confused.

'So what did she leave you Ezra?' Nathan regarded him with soft, inquisitive brown eyes.

'My daughter.'

There was a stunned silence.

'What? You have a kid and you never said?' Chris was hurt. He'd thought the Southerner trusted them enough now to share something like that. 'There's nothing about any kid on your files.'

'Alas we have had no contact...'

'Son of a Bitch! I didn't take you for the type of man who'd abandon a girl once you'd banged her up Ez.' Wilmington looked angry.

'Whilst your defamation of my parentage may indeed hold more then a grain of truth Mr. Wilmington, I am not guilty of the crime. She didn't tell me.' He reached into his pocket and withdrew the letter. Mr. Sanchez, if you wouldn't mind.

Josiah's deep voice rumbled out...'My Dearest Ezra...'

Chris looked again at the gate, noticing that passengers were beginning to disembark. Adjusting his grip on the teddy he held his breath.

Vin appeared first and approached Chris with a huge smile on his face. 'Cowboy.'

'Vin. Where are they?'

'Rorie had ta use the facilities.' Vin grinned. 'I think Ez is outta his depth on this one pard.'

Chris smiled back. 'What's she like?'

'A 2ft, blonde, Standish Energizer Bunny!'

'Oh God.'


'Uncle Vin!' The shrill cry had both men turning and they watched the jeans clad child dash towards them, braids bouncing. Ezra followed at a more sedate pace, a wry smile on his face.

'There was a man in there peeing against the wall and when he saw me lookin' at him he peed on his boots! It was really funny, he was walkin' around shakin' his leg and cussing. He told Daddy I should be in the girls room and Daddy said to mind his own business and watch his language and then the man got mad and then Daddy pulled out his wallet and.. and... I didn't even know he was a secret Agent!' All this was delivered at high decibels.

Chris choked and Vin grinned.

'There he is, see, him, with the peepee boots!' The loud voice had people all around turning to stare at the embarrassed cowboy in wet boots. He made a hasty departure.


'Yahuh?' Rorie looked up at her father and flashed her dimpled smile.

'Don't believe for an instant that I am fooled by that innocent face. You deliberately raised your voice to embarrass that man.' He frowned sternly at her.

The child regarded him solemnly for a moment, all humor erased, before laughing delightedly. 'Ah a'ticipate Ah'm going have some trouble with you.' She growled in a fair imitation of her parent.

Chris couldn't help himself, he laughed. Vin and Ezra tried to squelch the chuckles but failed. Rorie turned to the Black dressed man.

'Hi! I'm Rorie. You must be Uncle Chris.'

Chris nodded smiling at her. It was good to see his undercover agent letting loose a genuine laugh. This kid could be just what he needed.

'Yep. I'm Uncle Chris and this is George. He's here to be your first friend in Denver.'

'Thank you.' She wrapped her arms around Chris's leg and gave it a squeeze. Resting her chin on his thigh she looked up into his face. 'He's kinda big isn't he? Maybe I could carry him and you could carry me?'

Vin winked at him. 'Friendly isn't she?'

'We're not friends, we're fam'ly. Aren't we?'

'Yes Dahling, that's exactly what we are.' Ezra smiled at Larabee, seeing his boss getting wrapped around his daughter's little finger in an instant.

'I take it our compatriots are awaiting us at our abode.'

Scooping up the child who planted a wet kiss on his cheek Chris nodded, handing her the bear. 'Didn't really think I could keep 'em away did ya?'

They headed out to the Ram.

By the time they pulled up in front of the house, Rorie had worn herself out and fallen asleep in her car seat. Ezra carefully lifted her out, trying not to wake her, grateful for the peace. Vin and Chris were unloading the luggage when the door flew open and the four remaining members of Team 7 poured outside.

Hushing them before they could wake the child Chris watched as they approached Ezra and his precious bundle.

'Oh god, she is so cute!' JD reached out to touch her braid.

'Mr. Dunne if you wake the little hellion you will be granted the dubious pleasure of tiring her out again. We have had a five hour plane journey and frankly, I need a drink.'

'I'm with ya there Ez.'

'How can you say that Brother? She is an angel come to earth.'

'Yeah, asleep.' Chris made a face.

'You're just getting old Pard.' Buck grinned at the glare shot his way. 'I don't believe for a minute she can be that much trouble.'

The three Agents 'in the know' exchanged glances.

'You just wait 'Uncle' Buck. You'll get your chance.'

Ezra settled his daughter into her new bed and placed a soft kiss on her forehead. He looked around the darkened room and smiled. The doting Uncles had outdone themselves. The gloomy old wallpaper and dark furnishings were gone, replaced by soft pink walls, gaily decorated with child friendly pictures. Heaps of girly toys sat on a child sized desk in one corner. By the window... good lord. Ezra rose to his feet and padded across the floor. His finger was tracing across the worn saddle on the old rocking horse when a voice came from behind him.

'Adam doesn't need him anymore Ez, and he'd have liked that his new cousin could enjoy him. His name's Thunder.' Chris joined Ezra by the dappled grey, carding his fingers through the horsehair tail.

'Mr. Larabee, Chris, I don't know what to say. Thank you.'

'No Ez, thank you.'

'Chris, what..?'

'I've missed having a kid around Ez. I'm grateful that, despite not having had any time with Rorie yourself, you are willing to share her with us.'

'Yes well. I think I'll need all the help I can get to keep that one out of trouble.'

Chris laughed and glanced over at the deceptively angelic child. 'Hold on tight Pard, you're in for one hell of a ride.'

The end

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