DOESN'T MATTER by Nettie Roe

"Little Britches" (ATF) Universe (?)

Spur of the moment Halloween fun. Very short

“Trick or Treat!”

“Oh my! What wonderful costumes! A Red Power Ranger and a Vulcan. Here you go, hold out your bags.”

“Thank you!”

“Thank you!”

Mrs. Fields watched the two small children run down her sidewalk to rejoin the men that stood waiting near the street. She shook her head in amusement as she compared the costumes she had seen this night to the ones she and her friends had worn when they were children. “Whatever happened to witches with okra warts and ghosts made out of bed sheets?”

Mr. Fields joined his wife just in time to see the children run to the next house. “Now everything is bought in stores and based off of television shows.”

“Well, all I know is the parents of that one boy dressed as a Vulcan must have hired a professional make-up artist. You should have seen his ears! They looked positively real.”


“And there was a coffin with a vampire …”

“Only it weren’t a real vampire …”

“And when we got near he sat up …”

“JD screamed like a girl…”

“Did not!”

“Did so!”

“Did not!”

“Did …”

“All right, that’s enough. Time to get out of those costumes and ready for bed. Now scoot.” Chris hooked his thumb toward the hall and the waiting bathtub.

“But we didn’t tell Ezra bout the wolfman!”

“And I wanted to show Nathan my pretend blood!”

“And, and ….”

Chris put his hands on his hips and gave the two boys a mild version of his infamous Larabee glare. “After your bath. Your uncles will still be here when you get out.”

Vin turned to Ezra, placing a small hand on the man’s knee while staring earnestly into his green eyes. “Promise? You’ll stay?”

“Of course Master Tanner. I have been seduced by the lure of hot chocolate with miniature, neon colored marshmallows. How could I possibly leave without partaking of such a gourmet beverage?”

The reassuring words were enough to send the eight and six year olds scurrying down the hall to their waiting bath.

The five ATF officers gathered in the den shared a collective sigh of contentment in the peaceful silence left in the wake of the two sugar-hyped boys. Buck was the first to speak as he settled back on the couch, propping his feet on the coffee table.

“And here I thought all that walking would have worn even JD out.”

Nathan laughed and gave his friend a pat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I guarantee that five minutes after he settles in one spot he’ll be sound asleep.”

“Maybe. But it’s the getting to the ‘settled’ part that’s going to be the trick. I think maybe next year I’ll dress him up as the Energizer Bunny.”

At the mention of costumes, Josiah turned his attention to Chris, his boss and friend as well as Vin’s adoptive father. “So last year he was an Elf and this year a Vulcan; anything left for next year?”

“Yep. Gonna paint him red then give him horns and a tail.”

Josiah greeted this announcement with speechless dismay. When he finally found his voice he spluttered in shock, “Chris! You wouldn’t! Just to make use of his ears?”

“Relax Josiah. All these costumes are Vin’s idea. He gets to choose from anything he wants just like JD but he likes the ones that let him show off his ears. He says that Halloween is the only time of the year when he can really do it and no one gives him a hard time.” There was a hint of anger mixed with sadness in Chris’ voice as he explained his son’s reasoning. “So he’s said that next year it would either be a red devil or a green alien.”

The sound of a throat being cleared drew everyone’s attention to where Ezra sat perched on the end of the coffee table. Looking self consciously down at the drink in his hands, the undercover officer cleared his throat a second time before making his offer. “I realize that it has been two years since you found the boys but there is still a chance of tracing their origins. I recently spoke with a gentleman that purports to have rather special connections and …”

“Forget it Ezra. Buck and I decided a long time ago that it’s not important where they came from. We …”

“Not important?” Ezra stared incredulously at the two men. “JD has an I.Q. that puts him off the charts on an adult level while Vin not only has ears that set him apart but also an uncanny knack with animals. How can you sit there so calmly and say that it doesn’t matter where they came from or how they wound up in that abandoned warehouse?”

“I can say it because…”

“All done!” JD ran into the room and dove on to Buck’s lap. “Can we watch a scary movie and make a pallet in front of the fire and hear a ghost story while we drink hot chocolate and eat lots of candy and popcorn and the cookies that Miz Nettie made for us? Huh? Can we? Please?”

Vin settled more calmly into Chris’ lap, his damp hair tucked behind his prominent ears. “Yeah, what he said. Can we? Only I want Josiah to tell the story cause he’s got the right kind of voice.”

“You can each have one cookie with your hot chocolate. No more candy until tomorrow and yes, you can get your sleeping bags out and make a pallet on the floor and hear ghost stories.”


Both men received loving hugs of gratitude before the boys disappeared once more to gather up their nighttime supplies.

Chris turned back to Ezra to finish what he was saying but the undercover officer held up a hand.

“I not only withdraw the question but I also apologize for even making it. You are quite correct; it doesn’t matter where they came from; how or why. The only important thing is that they are here now and we are truly blessed to have them.”

Larabee smiled and relaxed back into his recliner. “For that Ezra, you get extra marshmallows in your hot chocolate.”


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