Disclaimers: I don't own Mag 7 and I don't have any money so don't sue me.
Note: Thanks to Mog for creating the ATF universe and letting us play in it. I personally hate winter and the months of January and February in particular. So this story was born.
Authors Note: This story is in my Larabee Family series. It would be beneficial to read those first. They are
Summary: Vin frets over his brother, its February again and Vin hates the month. Why?
Warnings: language, angst and smarm
It was February and the weather had been brutal in Denver. It had been freezing cold; there had been more ice and snow than usual.
Vin had scoffed at the TV one night when Al Gore had been babbling about Global Warming. One group of scientists said that we needed to worry about it. There was another equally impressive set of scientists saying there nothing to it.
All Chris said was that he remembered when everyone was agitating about the next ice age.
"Hell I'd like to see some global warming right about now" he had complained to his father and brother.
Chris had just shook his head and tossed another log on the already brightly burning fire.
Vin sat on the sofa wearing heavy sweats and thick socks on his feet. Besides that he had grabbed an afghan off the back of the sofa and had that wrapped around his feet.
James came into the room carrying a tray with three cups of hot chocolate all of them with marshmallows.
The three men then relaxed back to continue watching the Thursday night football game on the tube. Max was lying down in front of the fireplace enjoying the heat.
Chris sat down on the sofa at the other end from his brother. James sat in the large recliner so he could nap during half time.
Vin savored the hot chocolate; no one fixed it like his dad. It had just the right amount of marshmallows and warmed his whole body.
"This is great dad," Vin complimented.
"Thank you son. I'm glad you like it," James smiled when he saw the chocolate mustache his youngest son had.
Chris glanced at Vin laughing as he saw his brother.
"What wrong?" Vin demanded glaring at his brother.
"You have a chocolate mustache Vin," Chris replied between laughs.
Calmly Vin picked up a napkin and wiped his mouth then he tossed it at his brother.
Chris had known that was coming as he caught it in mid air. Sitting his hot chocolate down on the coffee table Chris started to stand up.
"Christopher Larabee quit harassing your kid brother. Sit down. I will not have hot chocolate spilled all over everything," James ordered even as he had one eye on the football game.
Vin choked back laughter as Chris sat down with an incredulous look on his face.
"ME! But dad he started it," Chris informed his father then he winced when he realized he sounded like a whining little kid.
Vin smirked at his brother because he knew exactly what the blond was thinking.
"Vincent Larabee I see that look on your face. You behave to. Honestly I swear there are times that I think that the two of you are closer to five years of age rather than adults," James good-naturedly griped.
Chris winced at the age his dad had chosen. It was the age that Vin's mom had died and he had been left alone to fend for himself in a cold world.
Glancing quickly at his brother he saw that Vin hadn't been affected at all. Usually a comment like that would caused a brief cloud to cover the blue eyes but not this time.
Sighing Chris realized that everything was coming together. It hadn't even been a year since they had found out Vin was really a Larabee. There had been rough times...Chris refused to say HER name...there had been good times. After all their first Thanksgiving, their first Christmas and New Years as a family were all memories that would last forever.
There were still bumpy moments like Adam and Sarah's birthdays or when Vin was reminded of his mom. But they were getting fewer and fewer. Not that they would forget their loved ones but life was for the living and the Larabee men were trying to do just that.
Vin wrinkled his nose at his dad but didn't come back with a smart-ass comment.
Chris settled back to watch the game but a few minutes later he could feel Vin trying to work his feet behind him.
"What do you think you're doing?" he demanded keeping a straight face.
"My feet are cold and your ass is hot," Vin said.
Chris and James busted out laughing as Vin turned bright red realizing how that sounded.
"Thanks little brother but I didn't realize you'd noticed," Chris managed to say between laughs.
James shook his head.
"Vin, I mean come on son. You shouldn't be noticing things like that about your brother."
Vin's mouth dropped open, surely his father didn't think...then reality set in he was being teased.
"That...that's not funny. I don't look at your ass big brother. Hell though maybe I should after all the times you've commented on mine," Vin protested as he went to pull his feet away from his brother.
Chris reached out and pulled Vin's feet into his lap. Grabbing the quilt his dad had tossed over to him Chris put it over his brother.
Chris put his hands over the slim feet on his lap as he felt Vin trying to pull them away.
"They're fine Vin, leave them where they're at."
Vin sheepishly replied, "Didn't mean to bother you but they just get cold."
Patting his brother's feet Chris replied, "I know they do. Besides I think it is in the big brothers code that we are to keep our kid brothers safe, loved and warm."
Vin grinned blushing at the sweet words, "Really. I like that code. What's on the little brothers code?"
Chris pretended to mull that question over for a few seconds. James smiled as he watched the by play of his sons.
"Let me see. Little brothers are to be ornery, too stubborn for their own good, aggravating..."Chris's voice trailed off as Vin sat up a little straighter glaring at him.
Then he continued, "They are also to stand at their big brothers side, give him a quick smack on the head when he needs it, love him unconditionally and just be themselves. Which you do every day and night of the week."
Vin swallowed, his blue eyes glistened with tears he refused to let fall.
Chris loved him with every fiber of his being Vin knew. Chris was just as aware that Vin loved him. They told each other that probably once a week but seldom did his big brother get so poetic.
James felt his own throat clog up as he watched his sons. God had certainly smiled down on him when he had graced him with two such special boys.
Vin blinked his eyes then he whispered, "Sounds like the little brother needs his big brother around so he doesn't get lost."
Chris looked deep into his brother's eyes; he was amazed at how their souls were so closely attuned to each other. In many ways he was closer to his brother than he had been to his wife. He had loved Sarah with all his heart but they had never been able to finish each other's sentences or all the other little things that he and Vin seemed to understand about each other.
"It also sounds like big brothers need their little brothers around to keep them sane and to show them the future is something to look forward to," Chris softly replied.
The two men leaned forward at the same time and clasped each other's arms in their special handshake.
Just then Max decided it was time to have fun. Barking joyfully the German Shepard puppy leaped in between the brothers. Wiggling happily he sat on Vin's lap licking his master's face.
Vin laughed clasping the puppy to him. Chris smiled at the sight. Getting Vin that puppy for Christmas had been a brilliant idea. Vin finally had a pet something he never had growing up. Of course Chris picked a German Shepard that would grow to be a big protective dog. After all SHE was still out there and he would do all he could to watch out for his family.
Chris leaned back still keeping Vin's feet on his lap watching as Max finally settled down on his brothers lap.
Vin and Chris exchanged a look that told of brotherly love that didn't need to be expressed verbally every day but when it was it was a memory to cherish for all time.
James had unobtrusively wiped his face. Just watching his two boys together the love between them was like a living breathing thing. If it could be bottled the world would be a much better place.
The evening ended on a good note as the Broncos won.
The next day the weather decided it hadn't been bad enough and let loose with another storm. Unfortunately it waited until afternoon to hit.
Team 7 was already at work. Chris had an afternoon meeting with Travis and the local drug task force. It was a mandatory meeting.
Chris sent the guys home before he went to the meeting. No reason for them to hang around and fight the traffic trying to get home.
The phone rang as Chris picked up his notes to head upstairs to Travis's office.
"Chris when are you heading home? It's getting worse out," Vin's worried voice came over the phone.
Chris smiled it was nice to have someone worry about him.
"I have a meeting then I will be heading on home. I will call before I head out," Chris promised.
"Tell Travis I said hello. If it gets to bad maybe you should stay in town," Vin said.
"Okay grandma. I will call before I leave. You know I prefer being home on the weekend."
Vin's indignant voice came over the line, "You called me grandma. Do I sound and look like a grandma?"
Chris's voice softened.
"You certainly don't look like a grandma but you fret like one."
"Yeah well...well now I know how you feel whenever you agitate over me."
"Hell loving someone isn't it?" Chris asked.
"Yeah it is but the positives out way the negatives," Vin replied.
"True you just remember that the next time you get sick and I insist on you taking all your meds."
"Fine. Just...you just call before you leave," Vin quickly said not wanting to remember the lecture he had been given by an irate father and brother. He hated medicine and had not taken it like he should have his cold turning quickly to a thankfully mild case of pneumonia.
Chris hung up the phone chuckling at how fast Vin wanted off the phone before he had to listen to another big brother lecture.
"What did Junior have to say?" Buck asked from the doorway. Buck was putting his coat on preparing to leave he had reached the door as Chris was hanging up. A fact that Chris was well aware of.
Chris looked up at his old friend in surprise.
"How did you know it was Vin?"
"The look on your face. You relax and your face softens. Of course I have also seen Vin make that vein in your forehead throb. I guess that boy just has the touch when it comes to Chris Larabee," Buck explained.
Chris walked by his long time partner.
"You know it Buck...you know it. Now get your ass home. I just know you have some hot woman coming over to keep you warm tonight," Chris teased.
"Well now that you mention it stud..." Buck began a long dialogue on his newest conquest as they rode the elevator up dropping Chris off at Travis's office.
"Be safe Buck," Chris called out as he exited the elevator.
"You to Chris," Buck replied almost absentmindedly. His mind was already thinking about Rosey with all that long red hair, curves in all the right places and damn those legs that never quit.
Meanwhile the weather worsened.
+ + + + + + +
Vin took off his boots and coat as he came into the kitchen. The snow was coming down harder so he had gone out to feed the horses just in case he couldn't get out later.
Max met his master at the door begging to be picked up. Vin obliged cuddling the dog close.
James approached his son frowning at the red face then noticed the stocking feet.
"Baby boy you get yourself into a hot shower and get some warm clothes on. I got a fire going and now I'm going to start dinner. We don't want you getting sick," James said.
Vin wrinkled his nose at all the fussing but had to admit his dad was right. He was freezing and he was sure if he got sick again it would be toss up who killed him, James, Chris or Nathan.
Damn but those guys could sure be nasty when they wanted to be.
"You hear from Chris?" Vin asked trying to keep the worry out of his voice. Vin didn't want to tell his dad he had a bad feeling all day. Of course it could have been because of the time of year but he just couldn't shake it.
"Not yet. Don't worry. Chris will call when he heads home."
Vin rushed through his shower though the hot water felt good on his cold skin.
Vin was on pins and needles until the phone rang; he snatched it up before his dad could reach it.
Vin smiled when he heard his brother's voice on the other end.
"The meeting is finally over. Travis says hello back. I am leaving the office right now."
"Maybe you should hole up in Denver. The snow is getting worse. In fact by the time I got back from the barn I could hardly see," Vin said.
Vin realized his mistake as soon as the words were out of his mouth.
"You went to the barn with it snowing that bad. It wasn't that long ago that you had pneumonia. I do believe that the horses would have been fine one night doing without food," Chris said wondering if Vin was too big for his dad to take over his knee. There were times he swore his kid brother needed his ass blistered.
Vin chewed on his lower lip knowing Chris was irritated with him.
"I'm sorry Chris. Just...well I didn't want them to be hungry," Vin lamely explained.
Chris sighed telling his forehead to stop throbbing. Vin was just to soft when it came to animals and vulnerable people.
It was one of the things that Chris adored his kid brother for.
"Okay I understand. I don't want you going outside again. I will be home as soon as I can. I have a four wheel drive vehicle and I will take it easy. See you soon," Chris said.
"See you soon, take care," Vin whispered.
After they had hung up Vin told his dad what his brother had said. What Vin didn't tell his dad was that his sick feeling was getting worse.
Turning on the weather report Vin was aghast to see that the storm might be upgraded to blizzard conditions.
James put the food in the stove to keep warm and challenged his youngest son to a game of cards.
Max sat by Vin's feet sensing that his young master was upset about something, wanting to give what support he could.
An hour went by but they knew it was to soon for Chris to arrive home. It took a good hour on a nice day.
When two hours had gone by Vin tried to call his brother...all he got was static on the line.
"Don't worry Vin. You know the reception out here is lousy and with this weather I'm not surprised his phone isn't working," James soothed his youngest son.
James went to check on the food while Vin decided to channel surf the TV.
"Dad come quick!" Vin yelled.
James rushed back into the room.
On the TV was a breaking news story. There had been a 35-car pile up on the highway. At the time there was no information on fatalities or injuries. Police and ambulances were racing to the scene, as were the news crews.
"Chris is in that wreck?" Vin said his blue eyes wide with fear.
James looked at his son. It wasn't like Vin to jump to conclusions like this. Granted the weather and Chris being out in it were worrying but Vin had been jumpy all day.
James put his hand on his youngest sons shoulder.
"I doubt your brother is in that wreck. You've got to calm down baby boy," James tried to soothe his son.
"No, I just know he is in that wreck. It's this stupid month. I just knew something was going to go wrong," Vin claimed his blue eyes wide with alarm.
James was perplexed. Stupid month? What did that mean? Vin's mother died in August. What the hell was the boy referred to?
Another bulletin came on the TV stating that there had been five fatalities and several critical injuries.
The words were barely out of the reporters mouth before Vin was up and putting his coat on.
James felt his heart jump into his throat. If Vin thought he was going to let him leave in this shit he had another thing coming.
James gripped Vin's arm tightly.
"Where to do you think you're going?"
"Chris is hurt...I just know it. I have to get to the wreck," Vin insisted trying to pull away.
James tightened his grip until Vin winced. Damn but Vin hadn't realized just how strong his dad really was.
"Young man. You are NOT leaving this house. If Chris is hurt they will call us then WE will leave. I will not have you driving like a bat out of hell on those roads risking your own life," James voice was implacable. Vin was not leaving the house.
Vin tried to pull away again but his dad's grip just got tighter. Finally Vin reached up and tried to pry the fingers off his arm.
Max decided that he didn't like the way James was treating his master so began barking at the older man.
"Damn it dad let me go. Chris could be dying...I need to be there," Vin all but screamed.
"What the hell is going on in here," came a very familiar voice from the doorway.
Chris stood there, covered in snow and ice pellets but he was alive.
James and Vin paused then Vin broke away from his father's suddenly lax grip.
Chris found himself with an armful of kid brother. Vin was clinging to him tightly the slim body shaking in reaction.
Chris flinched but he was careful not to telegraph to Vin that he was hurting. The truck had slid on the road to the house and he had wrenched his shoulder. However he wasn't about to tell his family about it, it was no big deal. What was important was finding out why his kid brother was so upset.
Chris stared at his dad over Vin's head silently demanding to know what the hell was going on with his brother.
"Vin tried to call you, we saw the news about the wreck. He was sure you were involved in it," James tried to explain the situation to his oldest son.
Chris put his hand behind Vin's head pressing Vin's head down to his shoulder. In response Vin just wrapped his arms around Chris's waist.
It took several minutes before Vin stopped shaking.
Chris carefully took a step back. Vin had his head down refusing to look at his brother; his cheeks were red with embarrassment.
Vin...look at me. I'm fine. What's going on?" Chris softly said.
Vin mumbled something but his family couldn't understand what he said.
Chris reached out putting his hand under Vin's chin. Slowly he raised his brother's head to look into anguished blue eyes.
"What's got you so spooked? I've been late before; there have been wrecks on the highway before. What else is going on?" Chris asked.
Vin licked his lips then gnawed on the bottom one. Chris and his dad exchanged a look. Vin had begun doing that habit since the whole Ella thing. They had not mentioned it figuring that Vin was figuring things out in his head. Chris decided maybe they had let it go to long and should have addressed it long before now.
The blond knew why they hadn't. It would have brought up the whole mess with that woman. Chris had to admit that he just wanted to forget that whole incident and he knew his family wanted to just push it to the back. Of course the fact that the bitch was still running free was a worry but not one they thought about everyday.
"How about we all sit down on the sofa and talk. I'll fix us a drink. Dinner is in the oven and will wait," James suggested.
Chris pulled Vin over to the sofa where they waited for their father to join them.
Once they all had a Jack and coke in their hand Chris gently asked, "What's going on Vin? There has been something in the back of your mind bothering you since the...the whole Ella thing. Talk to us."
"It's stupid," Vin replied taking a sip of his drink wrinkling his nose at the taste. Vin seldom drank the heavy stuff but at least his dad had not made it as strong as his brothers.
"It's not stupid if it is bothering you," James said patting Vin's leg.
Vin sighed and slumped back resting his head on the back of the sofa staring up at the ceiling.
Chris left him alone for a few minutes knowing his brother was collecting his thoughts.
Softy Vin began to speak, "Since I found out I had a brother and father I've been happier than I'd been for years. Then Ella appeared and I realized how easy it would be for it all to fall apart...quit the guilt thing Chris this isn't your fault. It all came back to me, it seemed like my whole life when I was happy something always happened to screw it up."
Vin paused and took a drink.
"Go on cowboy," Chris urged patting his brothers shoulder.
"The ironic thing is that I've been happy...I mean real happy three times in my life...this was before I met Team 7. With the guys my whole life turned around for the better. The first time was with mama. I had come home from kindergarten to find her crying though I remember she tried to hide it. There was a man with her, I think it was her boss. I had made her a Valentine card at school; she smiled when I gave it to her. Then...then she told me that in a few months she would be going away but not to worry because...damn I don't remember her boss's name. Anyway that he was going to contact my father who would come get me."
Here James gasped as Chris paled then he became pissed.
"No one contacted me Vin. Why didn't you tell me about this earlier?" James asked.
"Because I could tell when you realized I was your son that you had no idea I existed. Why bring up old news that no one could do anything about. It wasn't your fault the guy never contacted you," Vin explained.
Chris was furious as he spat out, "That damn bastard. If he had called we would have come after you. You would have been safe all those years. If I find out who he is I will have a little chat with him."
Vin grinned at his brother. It was nice to have someone like Chris always so willing to defend you.
"It over with Chris."
"Not if it is still bothering you it isn't."
"It's not just that one incident. Anyway a few years later when I was with Chanu and Kojay we were planning a Valentines Day party, I was really looking forward to it. The damn social workers showed up and hauled me away to put me with a family who had four kids and just needed me for the money. I worked like a dog for that family and they treated me worse than they did the family cat. Of course I ran away as soon as I could. Nettie found me and well you know how she got me into school. I was in high school and was in love or thought I was in love with a girl named Charlotte. Charlotte claimed to love me to. It was February again we were going to the Valentines Day dance at school. She called me late that day saying she was sick and wouldn't be able to go. I offered to go sit with her keep her company but she said she didn't want me to get sick. A friend of mine convinced me to go to the dance with a bunch of friends. We could all hang out together."
Vin paused to take another drink. Chris and his dad exchanged looks they had a feeling where the story was going.
"Anyway at the dance who should I see but Charlotte dancing with her former boyfriend. Oh she tried to apologize but I realized she had just used me to make him jealous. What really hurt was when he laughed at me saying that his girl would never be serous about a loser like me. Charlotte never defended me."
At this point Chris jumped up and went to pour himself another stronger drink. If he didn't he was going to put his fist through a wall.
As he sat back down Chris saw Vin staring at him worry clouding the blue eyes.
Giving his kid brother a weak smile Chris said, "I'm fine. I would love to pound one of these jerks who hurt you into the ground but I'm fine."
Vin had to laugh at that comment which lightened the atmosphere just a bit.
"I'll tell you what if I see any of them again I'll let you know," Vin teased.
"It's a deal," Chris replied.
"Finish your story son," James urged he wanted to get to the bottom of what caused his son to lose it earlier.
"Well, it all happened in February. Mom finding out about the cancer, I get taken from Kojay and getting dumped by Charlotte. I really hate this month. Then things have been going along really well...I guess I was waiting for something bad to happen. Chris being late, the wreck the feeling I had and the fact that it was February. Dumb I know but I just couldn't shake the feeling that it was all going to just go away," Vin finished.
"We're not going away Vin. Granted we can't control the future but I plan on being around a long time," James soothed his son.
"Hell no. I mean who would keep you in line. Not to mention the guys. I don't think anyone else could keep those wild guys in line," Chris teased.
Vin smiled, "That's true. I think I'm turning into an old worry wart."
Chris tugged Vin in for a hug.
"No, you've just had a lot of bad breaks in your life. You know there are certain times of the year that I hate. You've always been there for me through those, I'm here for you," Chris asserted.
James tousled his son's hair.
"That's right son. Families stick together and help each other. Next time you are fretting about something tell us, let us help carry the burden."
"I will. You know I do feel better. Chris is home safe and sound and...well it did feel good to talk about it."
"Good. Now how about some dinner?" James asked.
Vin jumped up smiling, "Sounds great. I'm starved and it sure smells good."
Dinner was lighthearted steering clear of serious topics.
Chris was formulating a plan in his head. Vin hated February since bad things seemed to happen to him in that month. So big brother was going to make sure something good happened in the month.
Vin was watching Chris noting how he was gingerly moving. Chris said he wasn't involved in that wreck and Vin knew it to be true. Chris would not lie to him especially after Ella. So Chris had done something else but didn't want to worry his family.
James watched both his sons. They were so much alike. They tried to protect each other and worried something fierce over the other one.
Later that night James had gone on to bed leaving his sons watching a late movie.
"How did you hurt your shoulder? I could sense you were hurt." Vin quietly asked.
Chris just grinned.
"I hoped I could keep it from you but I should have known better."
"Yeah you should have. But I do understand why you did it. Of course I would never try to hide an injury from you," Vin commented then he couldn't keep a straight face as Chris turned an incredulous look at him.
"You have to be kidding me. Who drives everyone crazy by answering I'm fine anytime they get questioned if they are okay? I mean come on Vin I've seen you standing there bruised and bleeding and you say 'I'm fine," Chris retaliated.
"Okay you made your point. Don't change the subject what happened?"
"The car slid and I wrenched it when I fought the wheel. It wasn't anywhere near the big wreck."
"I can put some Ben Gay on it later," Vin offered.
"Sounds good. Thanks."
"Vin are you sure you don't remember the mans name who was with your mom that day?"
Vin had to chuckle, "No big mother hen brother I don't. I mean the guy had no ties to me. Let it go."
Chris sighed, "I guess. I just can't help thinking that if he had of called dad everything would have turned out different."
"Yeah but he didn't. If I have to try to let things go so do you," Vin pointed out.
Just then Chris's phone rang, he spoke to the other person a few minutes then hung up.
"Vin when you and dad were doing up the dishes I made some phone calls. I decided to make sure you had something good happen in the month of February. Next week the three of us are going on a four-day hunt in Mexico. It will be nice and warm. It should be a good time."
Vin turned to face his brother.
"You didn't have to do that Chris. I'm not a kid."
Chris cocked his head to one side and replied, "Okay I can call Phil back and cancel it."
As Chris reached for his phone Vin laughingly grabbed it from his brother.
"But I accept. I can't wait to get out of this cold weather. Next year I'll think of our trip and not of the bad stuff," Vin said.
Chris smiled, "Good. That was my intention. Now how about that shoulder rub?"
Vin happily massaged his brother's shoulder already thinking of the trip ahead. But more than the hunt, more than the warm weather he was anticipating spending quality time with his family.
Vin then made his brother get up and take a hot shower.
Chris just shook his head affectionately at his brother. When he left the shower Vin was waiting with a glass of water and a pill.
"This is an anti-inflammatory Nathan left the last time I pulled a muscle. It should help. You only had one drink and that was a few hours ago," Vin explained.
Chris wanted to turn the pill down but if he did Vin would pitch a fit and probably get dad to back him up.
Chris took the pill and crawled into bed. He had to admit after the massage and hot shower his shoulder did feel better.
"So now who's behaving like a mother hen?" he teased his kid brother.
"Well I guess it's my turn now," Vin replied back pulling the blankets up over his brother.
As Vin walked towards the door Chris called out, "Thanks Vin for everything."
Vin turned and smiled, "Thank you Chris. For everything and for the trip next week."
Unspoken were the words of love. But it was there in the heartfelt thanks and the looks on the faces of the brothers.
Sharing another smile Vin then left the room to take his own shower. He was actually looking forward to sleep because he just knew he was going to be dreaming of hunting with his brother and father...and the nice warm weather.