A Father's Embrace

by Jeanne

Disclaimer: Not mine, none of it none of them. Damn it.

Note: This is strictly smarm, smarm, smarm and it’s a PWP or as I like to think of them Mood pieces. Some have said I needed to add a hanky warning.

Thanks to Marnie for giving this a quick beta for me.

Feedback: Yes please.

The concerned father watched as the even quieter than usual child sat on the porch in the gathering dusk. There was nothing strange about Vin being quiet, but tonight it was a heavy quiet making the boisterousness of JD seem even more so. Chris heard the sigh that escaped the small body. He went out and sat in the chair beside the boy who was hugging his drawn up knees. “Is something wrong, Vin?” Chris asked after several minutes.

“Nope. I’m fine.”

But it was obvious he wasn’t. The blond started going over the day. They’d gone into town mid morning with the wagon to get supplies for the ranch. Ezra had treated them all to lunch and Josiah had taken the boys to the church to show them the new school books that had arrived on the last stage. JD was delighted while Vin had been less then thrilled at the idea of more schooling. “Was that it, was it the school books? No, that wasn’t it. Vin had been fine when they had gone to the jail to do some paperwork. He sat on the boardwalk and sipped his sarsaparilla and watched people come and go.”

Then, in his mind’s eye, Chris saw them. The settler’s wagon. It was parked in front of Potter’s Store. From the sound there’d been several kids in the wagon. The father and a couple of older boys carried bundles and boxes from the store to the back of the wagon.

It was then that a small boy, barefoot and suntanned, had crawled out from under the wagon canvas. His eyes still heavy from sleep he’d crawled over the back of the wagon seat and smiling the woman had reached for the four or five year old and wrapping her arms around him, she pulled him into her lap. Rocking slightly she put her head on the sun streaked hair and seemed to be talking or singing.

The boy had snuggled into the woman’s embrace his tiny hand holding a handful of cloth that was her sleeve. “That was it, it had to be.” Chris looked at his son again and cleared his throat. “Sure was a nice looking family at Potter’s today,” he said.


“Hope they settle here.”


“That little ‘un, the boy, he was really cute climbing into his Ma’s lap like that…” Chris waited, and when Vin didn’t say anything he glanced down.

Vin was rubbing his finger hard under his nose staring at something far away.

“I…remember, Adam use to climb into Sarah’s lap like that and she’d sing to him,” Chris spoke slowly the memories tugging at his heart.

Vin turned his head away not wanting Chris to see his tears. He began to rock back and forth holding himself even tighter.

The blond got down beside the little blond and reaching out gathered the quivering boy into his lap. He wrapped his arms around the small trembling body pulling it close. For once the child didn’t resist but seemed to fall into the embrace.

“Vin? … Vin, it’s all right to miss your Ma and to think on her. It’s all right if you cry, too.” The man held the boy tightly and began rocking.

The small, quiet voice could barely be heard. “My Ma, she’d hold me like that an’ rock me. It felt so good. Ain’t no body held me like that, not since Ma died….. I would sometimes wrap my blanket around me tight and pretend it was Ma. But it was never the same, never….Ma.”

Chris rested his chin on the top of the boy’s head. He couldn’t stop his thoughts from going back to all the lonely nights he’d longed for Sarah’s touch, longed to hold the small boy that had died with his mother in the fire. He’d avoided the pain by drowning it in whisky. But Vin didn’t have that choice. Being a child he simply had to endure. “You’re a better man than I am, Vin Tanner.” Then he said, “I know how you feel, Cowboy. I miss my other family, too. But now you have me, and Buck and your uncles. I know it’s not as good as your Ma, but I got ya an’ I’m not ever gonna let you go.”

The boy pulled back far enough to look into the face of the man who held him. The big tear filled blue eyes stared into the green ones. “I know,” the boy said simply and snuggled back into his father’s arms.

The End