All I Want

by Estee

Notes: This story loosely follows No, Virginia, There Ain’t No Santa Claus.

Thanks for everything, Marnie! J

“I don’t got a reb’lution. Do you got one, Chris?”

“Do I have a resolution?”

JD’s head bobbed, his big brown eyes gazing up at him with expectation.

Chris didn’t really believe in making New Year’s resolutions, and the one that came to mind -- which involved making the lives of some certain people as miserable as he possibly could – wasn’t exactly something he ought to say out loud, in the presence of innocent little ears. “Well, let me think . . ..”

Okay, there was one other thing that popped into his mind, but he couldn’t really tell the boys that one, either. Besides, he wasn’t sure it would be considered resolution material. And since Christmas had come and gone, it was probably time to just give up hoping for it . . . but he was finding that a little hard to do. The fact that he didn’t have the particular items in his possession was his own fault, really. There was no one to blame but himself. Still, he couldn’t help feeling a bit angry and disappointed with his teammates. Well, not all of his teammates, just two in particular.

He thought back on the ‘night in question’ and wished, for the hundredth time, that he could go back and do it all over again, even though he knew that was impossible.

~ * ~

Chris glanced at the clock once more and set his book aside. It was past midnight. Surely Vin had to be asleep by now. He rolled off the bed carefully, so the springs didn’t creak, and tiptoed into the boys’ bedroom. Vin had managed to pull out, not one, but both of his front teeth, earlier that evening. Chris hadn’t even realized the second tooth was loose, let alone loose enough to come out. As soon as it was out and Vin got a look at himself in the mirror, he’d instantly regretted pulling the second one out. Afterwards, he’d refused to open his mouth at all.

Chris studied the unmoving figure on the top bunk bed, deciding that the boy had to be truly asleep. He was about to slide his hand under his pillow, to retrieve the two objects he desired, when the boy turned toward him, eyes wide open. “Chrith? Whatchya doin’?” he asked, his voice muffled by his blanket.

Chris withdrew his hand, trying to act calm and nonchalant. “Nothin’ cowboy, just making sure you guys are all tucked in.”

“Oh.” Vin’s brow creased. The only part of the boy’s face he could see in the shadows was his big blue eyes; the rest was hidden behind his thick blanket.

“Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“Well . . . “ Vin studied Chris for a second. “I’th fixin’ to catch the Tooth Fairy,” he confided in a whisper.

Chris scrubbed a hand over his face and thought to himself, Reckon you already did, partner. He counted to ten and smoothed out the boy’s blankets, “I’m pretty sure the Tooth Fairy won’t come as long as you’re awake.”

“That’s why I was fakin’ bein’ asleep.”

“Yeah,” Chris chuckled, “well, you know, she’s been doing this for a long time. I’m pretty sure by now she’s figured out how to tell who’s really sleeping and who’s not.”

Vin sighed heavily, then yawned. “Yeah, reckon you’re right.”

“Goodnight, Vin,” he said, dropping a kiss on the boy’s forehead.

“Night, Dad,” Vin murmured, then closed his eyes.

Chris returned to his room and settled back on his bed, once again picking up the book he’d been reading. He’d give Vin a good fifteen minutes to fall asleep and then he’d go back. He checked the bedside clock then with a yawn he fought the heaviness of his eyelids and tried to focus on the words in the book.

Somewhere in the distance a car alarm was going off, and Chris wished somebody would make the damn thing stop, but nobody did. It just kept blaring and blaring and blaring . . .. He finally opened his eyes and realized the car alarm was actually his alarm clock. He reached over and hit the off button, silencing the annoying thing; then he noticed that he was lying on top of the blankets, still in his robe, holding on to a book. The last thing he remembered was trying to wait up long enough to . . .

“Shit!” He jumped out of bed, hoping that the boys were still asleep.

When he opened the boys’ bedroom door, Vin was sitting up on his bunk, one hand covering his mouth and the other holding out, what Chris perceived to be two one dollar bills. “Look, Chrith!” he shouted from behind his hand.

Chris let out a breath of relief and silently thanked Buck for watching his back, again. Somehow his partner must have discovered the Tooth Fairy sleeping on the job and taken over for him.

JD was carefully inspecting the floor around the bed, probably searching for the missing teeth. He still couldn’t figure out what the Tooth Fairy would want with anyone’s ‘old, falled out teeth’. Buck joined him in the room, handing him a cup of coffee. Chris nodded his thanks to the big man, who gave him a wink. “What d’ya got there, Junior?” he asked cheerily.

“Two five dollars!” Vin exclaimed as if he’d just struck gold. “That makes . . . ten dollars!” Chris couldn’t see his son’s mouth, but he could tell the boy was grinning from the way his eyes lit up. Now that Chris had a closer look, what he’d thought were two dollars bills were actually two five-dollar bills. Great precedence, Buck, he thought. Whatever happened to quarters? He decided not to complain, to just thankful that Buck had been on the ball, and Vin hadn’t woken up with nothing but his two front teeth under his pillow.

“You planning to walk around with your hand over your mouth forever, pard?” he asked the boy who was still holding his hand over his mouth.

Vin nodded resolutely. “Least ‘til my teeth grow back.”

“Okay, well, I think I’ll go make breakfast.” As Chris left the room, he heard Buck saying something about an idea he had. Buck’s ideas were usually either very good, or very bad, but Chris was in a benevolent mood, so he decided to give his old friend the benefit of the doubt. He also felt like the world’s worst father, at the moment, so who was he to question anyone’s parenting skills or techniques?

But when Vin came to the breakfast table with a red bandanna tied around his face, Chris couldn’t help but wonder what his old friend was thinking.

“Vin . . . what are you doing?”

“Buck said this way I won’t have to worry about openin’ my mouth,” he explained, with a look of determination in his eyes.

“But, I said you can’t wear it when we’re eating,” Buck told him as he approached the table and began pouring milk into the boys’ cups.

Vin sighed, but dutifully slipped the bandanna down, then somehow managed to eat his French toast without anyone actually seeing his mouth open.

~ * ~

At the time, Chris had been so grateful to Buck for backing him up that it hadn’t occurred to him to ask for the teeth. But, who could have guessed that he’d give them away without even asking if Chris wanted them? How could he have done such a thing? Chris wondered, feeling that bitterness welling up inside him again. How could he have just given them away, as if they were meaningless? They were a part of Vin.

“What’s your reb . . .res’lution, Vin?”

Vin just stared at his little brother as if he’d lost his mind.

“Oh,” JD quickly responded, giving the older boy a bright smile. “Vin’s is that he ain’t gonna talk ‘til his teeth grow back.”

Buck grinned at that, but you could tell by Vin’s mini-glare, that he didn’t see the humor.

“Sorry, Junior,” Buck said, more amused than apologetic. “But, so far that not talking thing hasn’t been working out too well for you.”

A few days ago, Vin had declared that he ‘wasn’t never talking again’, and ever since then he’d been finding it somewhat difficult to carry out his ‘vow of silence’. Apparently, at certain times it was impossible to resist breaking the vow. Like when they were deciding whose turn it was to choose a movie, or whose turn it was to take a bath, or when the need arose to negotiate vegetable intake, or bedtime. In fact, it seemed that Vin was more vocal now than he had been before the vow of silence had been issued.

This had all started the day after he’d lost the teeth -- the same day Buck had given him the idea to wear the bandanna around his face. When they’d returned home from work that evening, Vin had still been wearing the bandanna, and Mrs. Potter told them he had only taken it off at mealtime. She’d also informed them that the boy hadn’t spoken for most of the day. She’d asked what they wanted for lunch and Vin had answered ‘thpaghettioth’ -- which, Chris had noted, sounded all the more funny coming from Mrs. Potter. When JD had laughed and mimicked him, Vin had decided to quit speaking.

Vin had already been self conscious about his slight lisp. Most of the time, he did a pretty good job of covering it up, but without any front teeth, the lisp was more pronounced than ever.

Since then, Chris and everyone else had tried to convince Vin that anyone with missing front teeth would have a lisp, but Vin either wasn’t buying it, or didn’t care.

Who would have thought that something as normal as a boy losing his baby teeth could turn into such a difficult ordeal – for Vin, as well as himself?

~ * ~

It wasn’t until the next day, Christmas Eve, he’d thought about getting the teeth from Buck. The two men had taken the day off to spend with the boys. Thankfully by then, Vin was back to speaking again, although this appeared to be unintentional. Apparently, he kept forgetting that he wasn’t supposed to be talking and then he’d suddenly remember and whatever he was saying would halt in mid-sentence.

Late in the morning they’d headed to town to take care of some last minute errands and stop at the Federal Building to have lunch with the guys.

Chris had hoped that Vin would take off the bandanna, if for no other reason than he was usually reluctant to draw attention to himself. But to his surprise, the boy kept the bandanna around his face and entered the building looking like a miniature train robber.

While the boys were occupied with their uncles, Chris took the opportunity to usher Buck into his office and thank him for stepping in as Tooth Fairy.

“Hey, that’s what friends are for, pard,” Buck had replied easily.

”Could I . . ..” He’d felt a little uncomfortable about asking, but he wasn’t sure that Buck would think to give him the teeth if he didn’t ask for them. He vaguely wondered if it was normal for him to want two ‘falled out’ teeth, as JD referred to them.

“Could you what?”

Chris cleared his throat, looking at his old friend warily. “Could I have the teeth?”

“The teeth?”

“Yes, Vin’s teeth.”

“Oh.” Buck nodded and thoughtfully stroked his mustache. “Well, uh . . . sorry, Chris, but I don’t exactly have them.”

“What do you mean you don’t exactly have them?”

“Just what I said, I don’t have the teeth.”

“What did you do with them?” Chris couldn’t believe his friend had gotten rid of them so soon, without even asking if he wanted them. Had he thrown them away? If necessary, he was willing to search through the trash at home.

“Well,” Buck shrugged, “I gave ‘em to Ez, yesterday.”

“You what? Why would you give them to Ezra?”

“He said he wanted them.”

Chris pinched the bridge of his nose. “What would Ezra want with Vin’s baby teeth?”

His old friend shrugged again, not seeming bothered at all. “Got me.”

Visions of Ezra stashing another prize into his precious little keepsake chest didn’t dissuade Chris from confronting the man. Nephew shrine be damned, those were his son’s teeth and he would get them back, one way or another. He’d glanced out into the bullpen to find Vin sitting on Ezra’s lap, playing Freecell and JD bouncing up and down, asking Josiah if it was too late to make another request to Santa Claus. Ironically, JD had been hoping Santa could help him lose his two front teeth, so he could be like Vin.

“Ezra,” Chris had called out, gesturing the agent into his office. Ezra stood up and seated Vin in his chair, allowing the boy to continue with his game.

“Yes, Mr. Larabee?”

“I want those teeth.” It sounded ridiculous and maybe even irrational, but dammit, all he cared about was getting those two front teeth.

“Teeth?” Ezra questioned, as if he hadn’t known what Chris was talking about.

“You know what I mean. Vin’s teeth. Buck said he gave them to you.”

“Ah!” Ezra had smiled, but in the next instant, seemed slightly nervous. “Well, yes he did, but unfortunately, I do not have them in my possession, right at the moment.”

Chris rubbed his forehead; he was starting to get a headache. “Where are they?”

“Well, you see . . . I uh, gave them to . . . an acquaintance of mine.”

This just kept getting better and better. Who would want two teeth that belonged to some kid they didn’t even know? What kind of sick acquaintances did Ezra have, anyway? Never mind, he really didn’t want to know the answer to that one.

“Ezra . . ..” he’d said in a warning voice and went back to pinching the bridge of his nose. “I want them. Get them back.”

“Of course, Mr. Larabee, I’ll see what I can do,” he’d answered. Then as he backed out of the office, he’d added, very quietly, “But there are no guarantees.”

Even as he and Buck had set the presents under the tree that night, Chris had felt certain that somehow the missing teeth would show up the next day. The two ‘dads’ hadn’t made it to bed until after 2 AM. They’d hoped the boys would allow them a few extra minutes of sleep, although being that it was Christmas, they’d known it was unlikely to happen.

It seemed like he’d only had his eyes closed for a few minutes when the sounds of loud whispering and the sensation of being bounced woke him up. He’d cracked his eyelids open to find two little faces only inches away from his own. “It’s morning!” declared JD.

Chris made a groaning noise that earned him a chorus of giggles, but no reprieve. When he glanced at the clock he was surprised to see that it was already 7AM. So, the boys had given them a few extra minutes. It just didn’t seem like it. “Is Buck awake yet?”

“Not yet,” Vin said merrily, vow of silence momentarily forgotten -- again. “We wanted to wake you, first.”

“Gee, thanks.” He yawned and scratched his chest before flipping the blankets off and sitting up. The two boys were already climbing off the bed. “JD didn’t open all the presents already, did he?” Chris called out to them as they headed for the door.

Last year they’d woken up on Christmas morning to find JD happily sitting amongst a room full of torn and crumpled wrapping paper. He’d opened every single gift under the tree, whether intended for him or not. The boy had claimed that he’d been ‘lots gooder than Vin’, so he was sure all the presents were meant for him.

Vin had been amazingly understanding for such a young child. Of course, sadly, it had been easy to figure out that his resilience had everything to do with the fact that, until then, his young life had been filled with disappointment, and he was simply used to it being that way. Not wanting to ruin their first Christmas together, Chris and Buck had gently explained to JD that some of the gifts were Vin’s and then went about redistributing them, much to the younger boy’s dismay. There had been an ugly scene when they’d informed him that some of the horse figures were supposed to be for Vin. In the end, the poor kid had been sent to his room for a short time out after throwing a huge tantrum. This year they’d made it clear that no presents were to be opened until their dads were awake and their uncles were there.

“Nope,” JD answered proudly. “I didn’t open any of ‘em!”

They made a big breakfast as they waited for their teammates to come out to the house. None of the others had any family in the area and so they’d always spent the holidays together. Since the boys had come into their lives, they’d enjoyed these special get-togethers, all the more.

~ * ~

“My resolution is to . . ..”

Buck’s voice drew Chris from his reverie. He glanced at his old friend to find him smoothing his mustache and looking thoughtful.

“Hell, I can’t think of a single thing I need to improve on.”

Vin and JD giggled at that, and Chris rolled his eyes.

“Well, gee Buck, maybe you could improve on your language?”

JD was already holding out his hand, although it was obvious Buck hadn’t realized his slip. Still, he automatically pulled out a dollar and handed it over.

“Oh, by the way, Ezra told me to give this to ya.” Buck handed him a small, oblong package, wrapped in Christmas paper. Chris studied it, wondering what it could be and trying not to get his hopes up. He thought back to Christmas day and the disappointment he’d felt after all the presents had been unwrapped and all the paper cleaned up, and he hadn’t ended up with the things he’d most wanted. Chris had tried not to let his disappointment affect anyone else’s mood, but it had been hard. He knew it was silly, they were just two little useless items, of no real value, but still . . ..

“Open it, pard.”

With a deep breath he pulled off the ribbon then slipped off the paper. It was a thin, rectangular box – the kind that held jewelry. When he opened the box, he thought for a moment the object inside was a pocket watch. On closer inspection, he recognized the design on the bright, silver lid was that of a small fairy -- the Tooth Fairy, to be exact. Setting the box aside, he carefully unclasped the lid and opened the circular container. He couldn’t help but smile at what he found. A tiny photo of Vin had been set inside the lid, and lying against the dark blue plush lined interior bottom, were two tiny, white teeth. Damn, just like that, life was good again.

“How’d Uncle Ezra get those?” Vin asked, looking at the gift with awe, and still not holding to his vow.

Chris smiled at Vin. “I guess Uncle Ezra must have connections with the Tooth Fairy, huh?”


“Yeah, wow.”

JD was now standing beside his chair, gazing at the gift with a puzzled expression. “What are ya gonna do with them, Chris?” Apparently, he still couldn’t figure out what anyone would want with falled out teeth.

“Well, I guess I’m gonna put ‘em away and just keep them. To remember.”

JD shook his head in disbelief all the way back to the couch.

“Grown ups do weird stuff sometimes, JD,” Chris offered as the only explanation he could come up with for his behavior.

“He meant to get it to you on Christmas,” Buck told him, “but the je . . . uh Tooth Fairy wasn’t able to get the inscription finished in time.”

Chris closed the lid and turned it over to find Vin’s name and the date he’d lost the teeth engraved on the back. Very nice, Ezra, Chris thought with admiration. He’d have to make sure and do something extra special for him, in return. For that matter, he’d have to do something for Buck, too. He wondered if that would qualify as a New Year’s resolution?

“Look, it’s almost time!” Vin exclaimed, pointing to the television. Chris wondered if Vin’s resolution was already forgotten, or if it hadn’t gone into effect yet.

They turned their attention to the television screen and the clock that counted down the seconds remaining. Vin was bouncing up and down in the chair as he joined in the count down. At one point, Chris had to grab him when he almost bounced over the side. JD was standing on the couch, bouncing and flapping his arms, as well.

The two men grinned at each other, both feeling overwhelmingly thankful for the blessings of the past year -- for the two little boys who filled their lives with joy and contentment, and for their fellow teammates, who’d become so much more than just friends. Somehow, in the past year, they’d all come together and formed a wonderfully unique family, of sorts. And Chris felt certain that, as long as they had each other, they were ready to face the future and everything it held in store.

Five . . .

Four . . .

Three . . .

Two . . .

One . . .

“Happy New Year!”