Main Characters: Vin, Chris
Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven and its characters are the property
of MGM, Trilogy Entertainment, and the Mirisch Corporation.
At the almost desperate sound of Vins voice, Chris rose to his feet, dropping the folder he was holding, and tucked the cell phone closer to his ear, as if that would bring him closer to his son.
Whats up, cowboy? he asked, forcing himself to keep his voice calm.
After nearly a week of consideration, Vin had decided to accept the invitation from one of his friends to spend the night at the other boys house.
It had been a big step for the seven-year-old.
This would be the first time hed spent the night with someone outside his extended family.
Chris had made sure the little boy was comfortable with the idea, talking about how much fun he would have, and reminding him that, if Vin changed his mind and wanted to cut the visit short, all hed have to do was call.
Chris had also made sure Joeys mother understood that he was to have free access to their phone should Vin need it.
Vin had seemed excited, helping Joey plan the evenings activities, choosing the toppings for his own personal-sized pizza, and packing the things he would need for the night.
When Chris had dropped him off, Vin had given him a hug and a smile, then raced off with the other boy.
Now, it was apparent that the evening had not gone as planned, and there was something wrong.
Can ya come pick me up?
Chris didnt bother to ask why.
There would be time enough for questions later.
He nodded, even though Vin couldnt see it, and said, Im on my way.
He glanced at his watch.
Itll take me about 30 minutes.
Is that okay?
Yeah, was sighed from the other end.
Why dont you gather up your stuff, Chris directed, so youll be ready when I get there.
Do you want to stay on the phone with me until I arrive?
There was silence for a moment, and Chris knew Vin was considering his offer.
No, he finally said. Its okay. But, thanks, Dad.
Ill be there before you know it, Chris promised.
He grabbed his coat, tossed a, Going to pick Vin up, in Buck and JDs direction, and headed for the door.
A familiar shape stood framed in the living room window as Chris pulled the Ram into the driveway and turned the engine off.
He barely had time to open his door before Vin was flying down the sidewalk toward him, Cat in one hand, his backpack dangling from the other.
Behind him, Joeys mother came outside, moving toward the truck as well.
Hey, cowboy, Chris greeted, lifting Vin into his arms, Cat, backpack and all.
As Vin tucked his head into Chriss shoulder and wrapped his arms around his dads back, Larabee looked questioningly at Mrs. Franklin.
Im not sure what happened, she started.
The boys had dinner, and were having fun playing with Joeys toys, and then Vin told me that he wanted to go home.
I tried to convince him to stay, but
Her voice trailed off and she just shrugged.
Chris nodded curtly, his attention focused on the boy in his arms.
Thanks, Mrs. Franklin.
Ill take him home now.
Maybe its because hes never been allowed away from his family? she suggested, raising her eyebrows in what appeared to be accusation. I mean, most children his age-
Good night, Chris interrupted firmly, knowing that if he didnt leave now, hed end up saying something unsuitable for little ears.
Turning his back on the woman, he headed back to the truck.
Here you go, Chris soothed, gently unwrapping Vins arms and lifting him into his car seat.
Vin automatically buckled his seatbelt, then as Chris watched, pulled Cat tight against his chest and closed his eyes.
Chris let out a sigh before getting in the front seat.
Full of questions, he knew that now was not the time, and if he tried to push the issue, the little boy might clam up.
The ride back to the ranch was made in silence, only the whisper of tires against the road accompanying them.
Upon their arrival home, Chris could only watch as Vin quietly departed the Ram, his backpack hanging over one shoulder, and still firmly holding Cat against his chest.
The little boy made his way through the house, answering Buck and JDs greetings with a faint smile and wave before entering the bedroom the two boys shared.
Chris met Bucks inquisitive glance with a shrug and a slight shake of his head.
Buck responded by nodding in the direction the young boy had gone.
Chris thought for a moment, and then headed the other direction, toward the study.
Inside that room was the old rocking chair that Sarah has used, first when Adam was a baby and then beyond.
Chris and Vin had found that spot to be a special one, a place where Vin could sit with his father, and either simply cuddle or share things happening in his life.
Chris hoped that, after taking a few minutes to think things through privately, Vin would make his way there,
If not, Chris would head for the bedroom.
It wasnt long before Chris felt the presence of his son.
Vin was barely visible, standing to the side of the doorway.
Instead of speaking, he met his sons eyes, and then, in invitation, held his arms open wide.
The seven-year-old didnt hesitate.
He scampered across the floor dragging Cat behind him, and into his fathers embrace.
Giving the child a hug, Chris lifted Vin up into his arms, and then moved toward the rocking chair.
Settling into the cushioned surface, he turned Vin so the boy was resting comfortably against his chest.
The two remained in that position for several minutes, Chris rubbing Vins little back, the little boy slowly relaxing against his father.
Did something happen at Joeys? Chris asked, his voice almost a whisper.
Vin shrugged, pulling Cat closer.
Chris waited patiently, continuing to rub Vins back.
Joeys dad was yelling, Vin finally said, his voice a matching whisper.
Chris stiffened slightly.
Vin shook his head.
No. At Joeys mom. An
And what? Chris prompted.
He was usin really bad words.
Chris took a deep breath.
Did that scare you?
Vin twisted to look up at Chriss face.
A little, he admitted.
I didnt like hearin those words.
They made you uncomfortable, uh made you feel funny? Chris amended.
What did Joey do?
Nothin, Vin said with a tone of disbelief.
Its like he didnt even hear em.
He added sadly, Maybe his dad says those words all the time.
Maybe he does, Chris agreed.
He looked down at his son.
You did the right thing.
Yer not mad at me, fer calling ya and makin ya come pick me up?
Chris shook his head.
Im glad you called me. Thats exactly what I want you to do, if youre somewhere where you start to feel uncomfortable, or if someone is doing something wrong. You know Ill always come get you, right?
Vin was silent for a second, obviously thinking.
Dad, do ya think Joey will still want to be my friend?
Yes, I think so, Chris reassured.
But maybe next time, we can ask Joey to come over here instead.
Would you like that?
Chris rubbed Vins back one last time, then asked, Do you want to play with JD for a few minutes before bed?
When Vin nodded, Chris brushed a kiss on top of his sons head and whispered, Im proud of you, son, before releasing him.
The little boy graced him with a happy smile, then ran out of the room, calling for JD.
Chris leaned back in the rocking chair.
Hed let the boys play a little longer than usual, and then before bed, hed make sure Buck heard about Vins reason for coming home early and told him how proud he was, too.
After all, with all of the choices Vin would have to make in the days and years ahead, a little reinforcement regarding wise choices never hurt.
Authors Note: based on something that happened to my nephew