Welcome Home!

by Lyn

Note: This is my second LB ficlet. After a long dry spell this little short story just begged to come out.

Thanks to all those other creative LB writers that set up this AU.

The children looked up as the classroom door opened and a cart was pushed into the room by Mr. Beidler.

“Children,” Mrs. Roquette began as Mr. Beidler maneuvered the cart containing a 17” lap top computer into the room and stopped alongside the chairs, right beside the desks used by Vin Tanner and JD Dunne. As he began plugging the machine in and booting it up, Mrs. Roquette continued. “We have something special. A special message from someone.”

The kids all began talking, asking questions at the same time. “Quiet please. Quiet. Now if those in front of the computer would turn their chairs sideways, the rest of you should be able to gather around and see the screen. That´s it. No pushing.”

In just a few moments the kids were in position, all leaning in to see the screen with a minimum amount of pushing and shoving. Mr. Beidler looked at the kids once, stilling any further noise, and then hit a button, bringing the screen and the attached web cam to life.

“Hey boys!” a familiar voice came over the speakers attached to the laptop.



Chris Larabee´s face filled the screen. The collar of a camouflage shirt could be seen and a matching cap covered hair cropped even shorter than usual.

“How are you boys doing?”

“I´m good! We´re in school right now! But I guess you know that don´t ya?” an exuberant JD answered.

“Yes, I guess I do. How about you Cowboy? You doing okay?”

“I´m fine,” Vin replied, one of few real smiles of late emerged on his face. While both boys had been troubled by Chris´ six month civilian deployment to Iraq, Vin had had the worst time. His mood had been greatly subdued, almost to the point of depression, and the young boy had been spending at least one afternoon a week at Dr. Will´s office. “When are you coming home?”

“Soon, Son. Real soon, I promise.” The blond gave his son a smile, his eyes sparkling. “Hi kids! Mrs. Roquette. Mr. Beidler. I´d like to thank you for doing this. It means a lot to me.”

“We´re happy to do it. Kids? Say hello to Mr. Larabee.” A chorus of young voices shouted hello.

“Guess what Chris? Yesterday we went to the zoo and we saw a whole bunch of animals and…” JD, in his usual fashion, was off and running, barely stopping to breathe between sentences.

Vin just sat back and watched his father, drinking in the sight of him. As JD talked, Chris´ smile increased. And it appeared to Vin that his father was walking as he listened. The camera was all bouncy, like someone was using it and walking backwards while filming. Every so often the camera angle changed and it looked to Vin like there were lockers in the background.

There could be lockers in Iraq, right? Only these lockers looked a lot like the same ones they had in the hallway. Vin slid off his chair and moved a few inches closer to the laptop.

Then he saw a bulletin board in the background. Surely they had bulletin boards there too, but this one…this one had a poster on it just like the one near his classroom.

“Dad?” Vin whispered, then louder, “Dad!!” and he took off running, slamming his way out the door and launching himself into the waiting arms of his father. Buck stood nearby with a camera in hand, providing the live feed into the classroom where JD was watching the screen intently, puzzled by the sudden disappearance of Vin and then his reappearance in Chris´ arms.

“Chris? Hey!!!” realization hit and with that JD was running into the hall as well. Chris knelt down, his son still cradled in one arm, and welcomed JD into the other, lifting the pair with a slight grunt.

“You´ve both grown while I was gone,” he said, rubbing his cheek against Vin´s head as tears streamed down the boy´s face. He glanced over at the classroom door where the rest of the children were now crowded. Mr. Beidler and Mrs. Roquette stood in the hall preventing any of the kids from leaving the room.

“I imagine you´ll be taking the boys out early?” Mr Beidler asked with a grin as Mrs. Roquette began shooing the other children back to their desks.

“Oh yeah!” Chris replied. “I´m thinking they´ll be out tomorrow as well,” he added as he turned to carry the two boys out to the waiting truck.

“Not a problem. Enjoy the long weekend boys. And welcome home, Mr. Larabee!”