"I'm right here cowboy," Chris crooned pulling the struggling boy into his arms. "Come on now, wake up. It's just a bad dream." He shared a worried look with Buck as Vin let loose another heart ripping "DAD!"

Vin opened his eyes to Chris' worried face. Sobbing he threw himself against Chris' chest. "Hey there," Chris crooned, stroking his hair. It's okay, you're okay." Picking Vin up Chris spoke to Buck and JD, "I'm gonna take him in with me for the rest of the night."

"Sounds good. How bout it Little Bit, you want to come sleep in my room too?" Buck asked a wide-eyed JD.

"Is Vin okay?" JD asked.

"Sure he just had a bad dream," the rest of Buck's reassurances were cut off by the closing of his bedroom door. Scooping up clean pajamas Chris carried Vin through his room into the bathroom. A wipe down with a cool washcloth and fresh jammies seemed to help calm the little boy down. Chris waited until they were tucked into bed before bringing up the dream.

"So you want to tell me about it?"

"We was in the old west." Chris was a bit surprised when Vin didn't hesitate just began speaking. He listened quietly his emotions ranging from amused to sad as Vin concluded his story. "An' then Meeker shot you and you were dead," the last part of Vin's story was muffled against Chris' chest.

"How do you know about Meeker?" Chris asked as he rubbed Vin's back. He didn't think either he or Buck had mentioned much about the man they were currently watching.

Vin stiffened slightly before pulling away to look up at Chris, "I didn't mean to."

"You didn't mean to what?"

"I just wanted to borrow the ruler. I needed it for my homework. I didn't see the file till I knocked it off."

"You knocked a file off the desk reaching for the ruler." Chris now understood why his file on Arnold Meeker had been out of order. "Did you read it?"


"Is that why you were so rude to Agent Martinez the other day?" Chris asked.

"You wouldn't be on those dumb old stakeouts if he hadn't come to town," Vin said with a pout.

"Vin, I would be after Meeker even if Rafe wasn't in town. He's here to make my job easier." Chris wasn't sure whether he should be mad or laugh over Vin's misunderstanding.

"If Rafe wasn't leaving tomorrow I'd have you come into the office and apologize to him," Chris said tucking Vin in. "But we should be wrapping everything up tomorrow and he's got a flight back to Dallas tomorrow night. As for reading my file, I believe it was an accident. I just want you to promise me that the next time you're worried about what I do you'll talk to me okay."


All right then, let's get some sleep. All we have to do is get through one more day then I promise we'll spend all weekend together." Chris pressed a kiss to Vin's forehead, "How's that sound?" He was rewarded by a sleepy smile as Vin closed his eyes. Chris continued to study his adopted son for a while before joining him. He wondered if there was more to Vin's dream than just worry over Chris' work.

The End

Author's Notes: I want to thank the Hallmark Channel for the inspiration and Joy for the encouragement.

So did you catch all the references? Here they are in order;

The ranch house, etc. - Bonanza

Josiah's special rifle - The Rifleman

Judge Travis' ranch is Shilo - The Virginian

Doc Adams - Gunsmoke or Marshall Dillion (Hallmark shows Marshall Dillion)

Miz Well's boys, Nick & Heath - Big Valley (Can't you see Nettie all made up like Victoria Barkely?)

Martinez - High Chapparal (He's patterned after a Don Sebastion/Manilito mix)

Double points if you noticed the book Ezra and Vin read, 'Huck Finn' is the same one Vin got for Christmas in Jingle Bells Las Posadas.

Comments: GinaD

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Things We Learned (Index)