A Christmas Gift

by Vin Tanner's Girl

Note: The song lyrics are "Merry Christmas Carol" by Skip Ewing. I did not write them and he owns them, I only borrowed.

I was playin' Santa Claus
Downtown on Christmas Eve
When a little girl of three or four
Climbed up onto my knee

I could tell she had a Christmas wish
Behind those eyes of blue
So I asked her, 'What's your name?
What can Santa get for you?'

Vin sat at his desk reflecting on Chris' next assignment, Team 7 Christmas Volunteers. It was a project they did every Christmas that Chris started seven years ago. They all went to the orphanage five miles away from the office and each member of the team had to play Santa at least once. Since Vin's turn was last year he hoped he could look for the little girl who had seemed so unhappy last Christmas until she reached him. He'd given her a big hug wished her a good holiday and sent her back to Kari; the orphanage coordinator, with a baby doll.

"Vin… Vin?" JD called to Vin who seemed to be in a daze.

"Wha? Huh?" Vin looked puzzledly at JD.

"Whadda ya want kid?" Vin asked.

"We're leavin' now, for the orphanage. C'mon lets go."

"A'right, a'right. Hold your ponies JD," Vin said with a grin.

JD hated it when Vin used that phrase. It always made him feel like Vin was making him seem less of the man he was, even if he was twenty-two. Vin had to admit it was a little demeaning, but it was just his way of saying that JD was still the kid and Vin was older than him. JD looked at vin disgusted and upset as they walked out of the office.

"Relax JD," Vin said as he put his arm around the younger ATF agent's shoulders.

"I still respect ya, I'm jus' teasin'."

Vin climbed into the driver's seat of his old truck and they were headed off to the orphanage. They just stepped into the orphanage lobby when Vin saw her. The dark haired little girl he'd held in his lap just a year ago. She saw him and smiled, he returned the gesture with a small wink. He walked over to Kari and asked who the little brown haired girl was.

"Oh, that's Haley. She's been here for three years. Her mom died when she was three and she's been here ever since. She is one of the really sweet ones. Sometimes I wonder what she asks Santa for Christmas, she makes it seem like she has everything in the world. She's only a little girl and wise beyond her years."

"Thank you Kari." Vin said as he walked over to ask a favor of Josiah.

Josiah said he'd gladly complete his given task. Vin walked over and sat down by Chris in the front row to help ward off some the younger children who hadn't quite learned the meaning of 'One at a time'.

"What's the matter Pard?" Chris asked when he noticed the change form cheery to concern on vin's face.

"Huh? Oh, nothing," Vin said dully.

His eyes gazed at Chris for a moment, not gleaming, unresponsive to the celebration of Christmas. Until he saw Haley, she was climbing onto Josiah's knee and he smiled at Vin. Vin's eyes lit up like Christmas trees. He held the squirming three year old in his lap as Josiah finished speaking with Haley. Haley saw Vin and she went to tell him what Josiah had said to her.

Well, all that I could say was
Santa'd do the best he could
And I set her down and told her
'Now remember to be good'

She said, 'I will', then walked away
Turned and waved goodbye
And I'm glad she wasn't close enough
To see old Santa cry

"Excuse me, mister," she said sweetly as she tugged on Vin's sleeve.

"I'm Haley and Santa told me to tell you that I asked for a daddy and a nice place to live for Christmas." She smiled at Vin and Vin's eyes began to tear up.

She said, 'My name is Christmas Carol
I was born on Christmas Day
I don't know who my daddy is
My mommy's gone away
All I want for Christmas is
Someone to take me home
Does anybody want
A Christmas Carol of their own?'

"Haley, that is the sweetest request I have ever heard. Thank you for sharing it with me."

Vin then went to see Kari. Vin knocked on her office door before he opened it.

"Kari, Can I ask you something about Haley?" he asked her, as she sat at her desk.

"Why sure Vin go ahead. Ask away."

"Well, I have more of a request than a question… I'd like to be Haley's father," Vin said with pride.

"Well, Vin you are in luck. I just happen to have the forms right here. You can come and pick her up in two days. It is leeway time to get yourself and work figured out."

"Thank you Kari. Thank you so much," Vin said as he rushed to find Haley.

"Haley, I just talked to Kari and she said I can be your new daddy. How would you like that?" He asked her.

"I'd like that very much," she replied hugging him tight.

Early Christmas morning
I got up and dialed the phone
I made a few arrangements
With the County Children's Home

They told me it would be all right
To pick her up today
Now my little Christmas Carol
Won't ever have to say

'My name is Christmas Carol
I was born on Christmas Day
I don't know who my daddy is
My mommy's gone away
All I want for Christmas is
Someone to take me home
Does anybody want
A Christmas Carol of their own?'

Vin went home after that, promising Haley that he'd be back for her real soon. For two days he cleaned and organized his house and his work schedule. As far as his house went, he changed the locks, made the guest room into Haley's room and filled it with stuffed animals, books, and toys. Things he thought a little girl would love. He was just finishing up making the bed when Chris rang the intercom.

"Vin? You up there?" he asked into the intercom on the lobby floor.

"Of course I am cowboy. Git up here and take a look at my new place," Vin said buzzing Chris in.

Chris walked into Vin's apartment and almost fell over. It was clean! In Chris' entire life, he'd never ever seen Vin be so meticulous and caring about his home. As vin shuffled around he kept pushing away the fact that he wanted to ask Chris if he could have off weeknights after four and weekends.

"Pard, what's the matter?" Chris asked noticing, the worried look in his friend's eye.

"Well, I need a favor. Can ya give me off weekdays after four and off weekends? I'd like to be here as much as possible for Haley at least until she's old enough to be on her own and knows me a lot better than she does now," Vin stated, his eyes darting from the blonde's.

"Yeah Vin, that is not a problem. I understand what you're going through, I went through it too. You have any problems or questions, you just ask ok pard? I did raise a child of my own, hell; girls can't be ALL that different from boys."

Little did Chris know he was wrong. Girls WERE different from boys, VERY different. They acted different, played different, and even ate different. But maybe since this particular girl would be raised by a loving yet, tough man, she would turn out to be a woman rough on the edges but sweet as candy on the inside. And there was the matter of clothes. Haley couldn't go around looking like Vin now could she? That would not be very 'Lady-like' as the expression goes. He would have to take her shopping because he didn't know what size she wore, and he would also have to bring Rain so she could help Haley dress and pick out the proper dresses and such.

Vin was so excited the night before the big day, he couldn't sleep. He tried warm milk but that only tasted bad. He tried warm whiskey but that only left him a sore stomach. He even tried counting sheep but after 9 thousand he gave up and called Mary.

"Mary, I hate to call you so late but I can't sleep, I was thinkin' maybe you could help me," Vin said to the dear lady who taught him to read and write a few years back. He felt so sorry for waking her up even though it was only eleven.

"It's ok Vin; I was just about to sleep. Let's see, you tried everything huh? Even singing?" she asked with a smile. Her mom always sang to her when she couldn't sleep.

"Singin'? Really? Does it work?" he asked anxiously.

"Of course it does silly, here, I'll sing you a song, but don't fall asleep on the phone. You'll have an expensive phone bill!" she said with a laugh.

I'll fill those canyons in your soul like a river lead you home
And I'll walk a step behind in the shadows so you shine
Just ask it will be done and I will prove my love
Until you're sure that I'm the one

Mary stopped. That's all she knew of the song. She listened as she tried to figure out if Vin was sleeping. She heard the soft inhales and exhales he took and then heard a deep sigh. He was almost asleep.

"Vin… Vin," she whispered not to wake him up too hurriedly.

"Hmm… what?" he mumbled into the receiver.

"Vin, go to bed now. I think you'll need your rest for tomorrow. Good luck and sweet dreams. If you ever need any help with Haley, you know my number," she said as she waited for his response.

"Thank you Mary, I will call if I need anything. Thanks again. G'night and sweet dreams to you too," Vin said as he hung up the phone and curled up in the flannel sheets.

6 am Vin's alarm went off. He had to be to work in an hour then at four that afternoon he was going to go pick up Haley. Vin was so nervous and excited he couldn't even eat the breakfast that was brought in by buck that morning when he arrived at the office.

"Hey there Vin, you gotta eat something or poor Haley will have to take care of you instead of the other way around. You don't want her new daddy to be sick as a horse now do ya?" he asked shoving a cream cheese Danish in front of Vin.

"Well, no but…"

"But nothing, you're eating this and that's final! I don't want to see you work yourself up into a sickness." Buck said defiantly.

"Ok Bucklin' you made your point. I'll eat." Vin said taking a bite of the creamy Danish. Buck knew he couldn't resist a cream cheese Danish even if his life depended on it.

As the day wore on, Vin grew more and more anxious to go pick up his daughter. Chris watched in amazement as Vin glanced at the clock on his desk every ten minutes. As it grew closer and closer to four pm Vin grew more and more antsy. He walked the bull pen seven times; talk to each of the boys at least twice, and stopped Chris in the middle of a report to ask if he could leave early, in which the blonde looked at him disgustedly and went back to his work. Finally the clock read four pm and Vin walked into Chris' office buckskin coat and all.

"Chris, I'm leavin' now. See you Monday," he said as he walked away.

" 'Kay cowboy. See ya Monday. You take care of that little girl of yours now, ya here. I don't want to have to beat her new daddy 'cause he forgot about her!" Chris threatened.

Vin chuckled at Chris' comment. He would never ever forget about Haley, it would be a disaster if he did. He went and picked her up at the orphanage and signed the parent custody forms. Then he went to get her and her things.

"Haley? Are you ready to go home with me?" he asked afraid she would say 'no'.

"Yes, I'm not afraid. I like you, you're very nice," she said, looking at him and giving him a great big kiss.

Vin's heart melted as she stretched her little arms all the way around his chest and squeezed tight. He gathered her up into his arms and rocked her back and forth before going downstairs to load the truck.

They walked downstairs and said goodbye to the girls and Kari. Haley held Vin's hand as they walked to his truck and all the way home. When they reached his place in Purgatory Vin showed her around the house and where the bathroom was; being that might become a necessity in the middle of the night. He invested in three or four nightlights. One in her room, one to light the hallway, one in the bathroom and one outside his door incase she got scared at night.

That night they played Go Fish and ate grilled cheese sandwiches. He read a book to Haley before he tucked her into bed. He was grateful that Kari had told him what they did with the kids during bedtime so it would be easier on Haley being in a new house. After he read the story, Vin switched on the nightlight and gave Haley and big hug and kiss. As he was walking out of her room he heard her whisper, "I love you, daddy."

Being it was Christmas soon, he thought about what his response should be but then finally decided that his first thought was best.

"I love you too, Haley. Merry Christmas, Darlin'."

Well, Merry Christmas Carol
I love you
Welcome home


End Note: The song peice Mary sang is "The One" by Gary Allan. He wrote it and I dont own it.