Part of the Larabee Family series.
Summary: Thanksgiving comes to the Larabee family.
Buck heard Chris laughing in his office. Wandering that direction he saw his old friend hanging up the phone.
"What's so funny stud? If you don't mind my asking," he inquired.
"Dad was wanting to know where the duct tape was. Vin is driving him crazy. Dad is threatening to duct tape him to a chair."
Buck joined Chris in laughing at the mental picture that conjured up. They could just see Vin duct taped to a chair, duct tape over his mouth, blue eyes flashing at his hapless dad.
"What's Junior doing? I can't imagine what that boy could do to make James want to use duct tape on him. James is like you when it comes to Vin," Buck commented.
Chris's eyes grew sharp at the last comment.
"What am I like when it comes to my brother?" Chris asked his curious peaked.
"You think that boy damn near walks on water. He has you twisted around his little finger, your dad to. Now if this was just about anyone but Vin that would be a bad thing. But Vin doesn't use that power for anything bad, the boy just doesn't have it in him."
Chris contemplated what Buck had said.
"I don't think Vin damn near walks on water. I love my brother but he isn't perfect."
Buck smirked to himself. Chris was in total denial. Time to make his point.
"Will is certainly doing a good job filling Vin's shoes," Buck commented as though changing the subject.
Chris was startled at the change.
"Yes Will is very good but no one can fill Vin's shoes. Vin was the best sharpshooter the ATF ever had. And hell Buck you should see Vin with a bow and arrow. My kid brother is just as good with that as he is with a rifle," Chris enthused.
Then he noticed Buck's grin.
"Fuck you Buck. I'm just stating facts."
"I see. How about training the horses? Buying the stock? Taking care of the ranch. Keeping your dad out of trouble. Helping Nettie with her ranch. Spending some time with Josiah helping with the poor. Assisting his former neighbors in Purgatory. Then there is..."
Chris stood up and held his hand up.
"Enough. You just proved it to yourself. Vin is damn near perfect. However like I told you before Vin does not have me wrapped around his little finger."
Buck decided not to pursue the conversation, he would bide his time. Chris would cave in to Vin over some little thing and then he would have the pleasure of saying 'I told you so'.
"So I take it everything is back to normal?" Buck asked carefully not saying Ella's name.
"Yeah. You know Vin forgave me but I still walked on eggshells around him and dad for a while. Hell it took longer for dad to forgive me for the way I treated my brother than it did for Vin to. After a few days of being agreeable to anything Vin said or did my brother let me have it. I think he was tired of me asking him how he was feeling. Thank God his arm and ribs are finally healed. Of course he will have a scar from the burn but the doctor said that will fade."
Chris smiled as he remembered how Vin had grabbed him by the arm and dragged him into the family room. There the three men talked again about the Ella debacle. Vin assured his older brother that all was forgiven. Vin also informed his brother that if he didn't begin to act like the old Chris Larabee Vin was going to have to do something drastic.
Chris knew his kid brother; Vin could be a sneaky little shit when he wanted to be.
So everything had gotten back to normal at the Larabee ranch much to the relief of all involved. At least as normal as it could with the knowledge that Ella was still out there on the loose. Until the woman was caught she was a threat to Chris and his family.
Buck watched as affection filled the green eyes. He knew Chris was thinking about his brother and he thanked God again for bringing that scrawny Texan into Chris's life.
Buck just wished that Ella had died that day. The vicious woman was still out there and he knew Chris worried that she would sink her claws into Vin again. The woman had hated Vin before now she was sure to not only hate him but also despise him. After all it was Vin who made Chris see her for what she was.
"So Thanksgiving plans going well?"
"Vin shot two turkeys for the meal. Everyone will be there. That's why Vin is driving dad nuts. He insisted on putting up some decorations and everything has to be perfect. Dad isn't allowed to leave anything lying around. Vin has become a clean freak."
Buck laughed shaking his head.
"Vin a clean freak. That is a shocker I've seen his room."
Just then the phone rang. Chris picked it up and a broad smile crossed his face.
Buck turned to leave the office. There was no doubt who was on the phone.
Buck paused in the doorway shamelessly listening in. He was sure he would be enjoying himself in a few minutes.
"No Vin you don't need anymore pumpkins in the yard. You already bought six...no you don't need any more corn stalks either. I think two turkeys are enough with the ham and prime rib we will be having...'heavy sigh'...okay go ahead and buy whatever you think you need. If you think we need another turkey then go ahead and get one. See you later," Chris said.
Chris hung up the phone and then glanced at Buck who was just smiling.
"I told you so, stud. Wrapped around the little finger...real tight."
Chris just glared but it lacked the usual fire. He wouldn't admit it but Buck was right. Chris just couldn't deny Vin anything.
"This is our first family Thanksgiving. I want it perfect for him," Chris explained.
"Perfect just like Vin?" Buck teased.
Chris mock growled, "Get the hell out of my office Buck or I will take back the invitation to Thanksgiving."
"I'm going stud. Just glad to see you so happy."
Chris sat quietly for several minutes after his old friend had left. Buck was right he was happy. Usually as the holidays approached he would become distant. After all his family was dead what did he have to celebrate? Even when Vin had joined the team he still got a little depressed this time of year. It was better after Vin arrived but it was still very hard. This year though with the knowledge that Vin was his blood brother well he was actually looking forward to the holidays. Vin and dad made coming home a joy. It was a warm happy loving home he lived in now.
Chris looked around his office. Damn why was he still in the office. This was the day before Thanksgiving, he could be at home with his family helping get ready for the guests they would be having tomorrow...no not guests more family. For that was what the team was. The six other men on the team and their families were like one big extended family. Will was a part of that family now. Not only was he the sharpshooter for Team 7 but also he had saved Vin's life. This would be the first holiday that Will spent with the team. Will's family lived back East so he was thrilled with the invitation.
Walking out to the bullpen Chris announced "Lets get an early start on the holiday guys. I will see you all tomorrow; remember the first football game starts at 11:00. See you there. Lets go Buck."
Chris and Buck hurried out of the office both men anxious to get home.
Buck's car had broken down and was in the shop so Chris had picked him up. Buck was going out to the ranch with Chris and spend the night.
The rest of the team took less than five minutes to pack up and leave.
Chris was heading out of town when his eye caught a sign that said in big bright letters PUMPKINS FOR SALE.
To Buck's amusement Chris pulled into the parking lot.
As the men got out of the truck Chris calmly said, "Not one word Buck not one fucking word or you will be walking to the ranch."
"Truthfully Chris I think it's sweet how you want to do things to make Vin happy."
"I am not sweet. Vin had such a lousy childhood that anything I can do to make up for it I do," Chris explained.
Buck wisely kept his mouth shut. He figured eventually Chris would get over the guilt about Vin's childhood.
Chris bought the biggest pumpkins he could find.
After they were loaded in the back Buck commented, "You couldn't just buy one or two, you had to buy ten."
"I want to make sure Vin has as many as he wants. Besides they are being donated to a shelter in Purgatory after the holiday. They will be used to make pies for Christmas."
"Whose idea was that?" Buck asked already knowing the answer.
"Vin's," Chris replied.
"I tell you Chris that boy's shoes won't even be wet when he walks on that water."
Chris just caved in.
"You might be right Buck. You just might be right."
Arriving at the ranch Buck was amazed at the front yard. It actually looked festive.
"Vin did all this?"
"Well Nettie called him last week to have him come over and help her put some things out. Vin really thought it looked cool so she came over and helped him do our yard."
Walking into the house they found James in the kitchen making some chili for dinner. Since it was only around two o'clock he was surprised to see the two men.
Taking a deep breath Buck sighed, "Damn James I remember how good your chili is. I am really looking forward to dinner."
"Where's Vin?" Chris asked. He was surprised Vin wasn't already there asking why they were home early.
James glanced his oldest son.
"I sent the child to the barn. I told him that the house was spotless, the yard looked awesome and to calm down he was driving me crazy. I told him the barn might need to be cleaned up. Of course it doesn't he keeps it clean but I was about ready to strangle him."
"Child! Damn if you're calling Junior a child then he must have gotten on your nerves," Buck said.
"That boy has more energy than a two year old on a sugar high. Do you know I sat down on the sofa and put my coffee on the table? I went to the bathroom for a minute when I came back he had picked it up and taken it to the kitchen. He had dumped it out and put the cup in the dishwasher. MY coffee. So I just put my foot down and banished him from the house."
"Dad, you didn't hurt his feelings did you? You know how Vin takes things to heart," Chris said worrying about his brother.
"I don't know Chris. I may have a little. You would think he had never had a Thanksgiving dinner before."
Chris quietly said, "Well this is the first time he will have one with his family. He wants it to be perfect."
James looked guilty at that comment.
"I figured you boys got together the last couple of years at the holidays. Damn I better go apologize."
"We did get together dad but now he has a father and a brother. Don't worry dad I'll talk with him. Maybe I can get him to relax a bit."
Buck and James watched as Chris headed to the barn.
"Damn I shouldn't have told Vin that he was driving me crazy. I bet the boy is real upset with me."
Buck patted James on the shoulder.
"Chris will talk with him. Don't worry it will be fine. I'm going to take my bag to the bedroom and then I'll be back to taste test that chili."
Chris walked into the barn. Vin was in Peso's stall and he was talking to his horse.
As Chris walked in that direction he overheard what his brother was saying.
"Well Peso I think I pissed dad off. Of course I have been going overboard on the whole Thanksgiving thing. I sure hope Chris isn't aggravated with me. I don't want to wear out my welcome."
Chris felt his heart constrict at his brother's words. It sounded like Vin was still a little insecure about his place in the family. Which was funny since Vin was the center of the family, the heart and soul that made this little family work. Of course that bitch Ella did her part in making Vin think twice about his place in the family.
Chris's first instinct was to stalk back to the house and inform his father of what his words had caused but he paused.
Vin was an adult. Therefore Chris would let the two men talk it out. However no way was Chris going to let Vin think he was irritated at him or that he might wear out his welcome.
Chris deliberately made some noise as he walked up to the stall.
"Hey cowboy. Peso been a messy boy today?"
Vin looked up startled. He had been so immersed in his job that he hadn't heard his brother enter the barn. Vin stared at the blond wondering if Chris had overheard what he said.
Chris carefully smiled not wanting to let Vin know he had heard him.
"Dad told me to come out and clean the barn. I've been driving him crazy. Do you know he even threatened to duct tape me to a chair," the last comment was said in a very indignant voice.
Vin walked out of the stall locking it behind him.
Chris just shook his head, tossing an arm around Vin's shoulder.
"I don't think he would have done it. Dad's just not used to all the hustle and bustle of the holiday. Generally he has been on the road with his buddies," Chris soothed.
That seemed to mollify his brother a bit.
Then Vin asked, "Have I been driving you crazy to?"
This one was easy.
"Not at all. I am actually in a holiday mood due to everything you've done. My life was cold and lonely after Sarah and Adam were murdered. Then you show up and life is looking up. When I found out you were my brother well that just made it better. I am so glad you're here Vin," Chris sincerely said.
Vin stopped put his hand on Chris's arm and softly stated, "I'm glad we found each other. I'm glad to be here to."
Chris pulled Vin close for a quick hug. Glancing upwards he mouthed, 'Thank you God.'
Turning Vin towards the truck Chris said, "I see you haven't gotten out to get more pumpkins yet so I brought you some."
Vin was ecstatic. The pumpkins were larger than any of the others he had.
Chris helped his brother and soon they were all put where Vin wanted them.
Walking in the back door the smell of cooking chili filled the air. Buck was sitting at the table with a small bowl in front of him.
James was at the counter his back to the door.
Vin glanced at Chris then walked over to their dad. Vin hated for there to be friction in the house.
Buck kept his head down pretending to be oblivious to what was going on.
Vin stood behind the older man and quietly said, "I'm sorry I've been driving you crazy and that I dumped your coffee out."
James turned around took one look at his youngest sons upset face then pulled Vin into his arms.
"It's okay son. I know how excited you are and how you want everything to be perfect. I should have had more patience. Tell you what you leave my coffee alone and we'll be fine. Okay?"
Vin smiled in relief.
"It's a deal. Now I have a question. Why does Bucklin get a bowl of chili? You told me we had to wait until dinner to eat it," Vin asked.
"I am taste testing it to make sure it is good enough to serve tonight Junior," Buck commented.
"You are so full of it Buck," Chris said as he sat down at the table.
"Vin you sit down there. I made come hot chocolate. It's getting cold out there and we don't want you to get sick."
Vin sat down but he frowned.
"You sound like Chris. It's not like I get sick all the time," Vin protested.
Buck choked on his chili. Chris just froze looking at his brother with wide eyes.
"I don't. You guys are exaggerating."
"Well Vin. I agree you haven't been sick since I have been here but I have heard about the past," James said as he sat cups of hot chocolate down in front of the men.
Buck declined as he was already drinking a beer.
"Let me see Junior. Last year you came down with bronchitis twice since you didn't take the antibiotic like you were supposed to."
Chris piped up, "You had the flu last year and again early this year. That was after we forced you to take the flu shot. You of course had to come down with a flu that the shot didn't take care of."
"Then there was the strep throat in the spring and the..." Buck added.
Vin interrupted, "Fine. You made your point. I don't think I'll come down with anything this winter. I have two mother grizzly bears hovering over me."
Chris exchanged a smile with his dad and Buck. Vin's words were complaining but his tone of voice said something totally different.
Vin was pleased to have people who cared and worried about him around.
James leaned across the table and dropped several marshmallows in Vin's hot chocolate much to his youngest son's pleasure.
"Thanks dad," Vin said taking a sip of the wonderful drink.
Chris looked at his father.
"Don't I get marshmallows?"
James simply smiled.
"We don't have any more."
"You mean you gave Vin all the marshmallows. We could have shared," Chris mock frowned.
Vin laughed, "I told you dad likes me best you just never believe me."
"Just for that comment," Chris said as he reached over and plucked a marshmallow out of Vin's hot chocolate.
Vin glared at his brother, turned in his chair and held his drink close.
"That wasn't nice."
"Never said it was."
"Well you don't get any more."
"If I want more I'll just take them."
Before the teasing argument could accelerate to a wrestling match James simply said, "Boys cut it out or I will send you both to your rooms."
James got up to stir his chili on the stove.
To Buck's amusement Vin stuck his tongue out at Chris.
To Buck's astonishment Chris stuck his tongue out at Vin.
James standing with his back to the table said, "I will wash those mouths out with soap if those tongues come out again."
Vin looked at his dad wondering how the hell he knew what they were doing.
It didn't surprise Chris, his dad always seemed to know when he did something wrong when he was a kid.
James walked over to the table, ruffling Vin's hair much to the former sharpshooters chagrin.
"Parents always know baby boy. We always know."
Vin blushed at the endearment but he vowed right then that he would be more careful in the future. Soap on the tongue sounded downright awful and he wasn't sure if his dad was joking or not.
The rest of the afternoon flew by. The house was all ready for the big day. The turkeys were ready for the oven. The men had decided to deep fry one of the big birds.
The men turned in early that night. Thursday was going to be a busy day.
The men got up early the next day and began to get things ready for the houseful of people they were expecting.
Chris got the fireplace going so the family room was nice and cozy. Snacks were placed around the room for the football games.
James was in charge of the kitchen with Vin assisting.
Chris and Buck set the table. Chris had bought extenders for the table so that everyone would be able to sit together.
JD and Casey arrived with Miss Nettie. Miss Nettie immediately went to the kitchen to supervise she said. Josiah then arrived with Will in tow. Nathan and Raine arrived with their two-year-old son Isaiah. Ezra was the last one to get to the festivities. Maude was with him. Ezra's mom had come to the Thanksgiving dinner last year when it was held at Ezra's home. Chris had assured his teammate that Maude was more than welcome this year.
The dining room table was groaning with all the food. Josiah and Will had gone in together and bought the ham. Ezra and Maude had brought the prime rib. Ezra also insisted on bringing wine to have with a toast at the meal. Everyone else brought side dishes to go with the meal.
With football on the TV everyone congregated in the family room. James shooed Vin out of the kitchen so he could enjoy the game.
The dinner was timed so they would be eating after the game. After all they couldn't miss the Denver Broncos.
Vin and James carried the turkeys out to the table. Vin was flushed with pride as everyone commented on the how big the turkeys were.
Chris insisted that James sit at the head of the table with Nettie at the other end. Chris sat on his dad's right side while Vin sat at his left side. Nettie had Casey on one side while JD sat on the other side. Everyone else filled in the rest of the seats.
James stood up tapping his wine glass to get everyone's attention.
Everyone picked up their wine glass in preparation for the toast.
"I want to thank everyone for coming today. This is a day that is meant to be spent with family and friends. I am so happy you all could be here. On a personal level I have to say that this is one of the best years in my life. I started out the year with one special son and now I have two. I just want to say that they both make me very proud to be their father."
Vin blushed at the praise. Chris smiled at his dad.
In a hushed voice Vin said, "We are proud to have you as our father."
"That's true dad. We couldn't do it without you," Chris added.
Sips of wine were taken as the toast was over.
Just then Isaiah tapped his spoon on the high chair.
"Eat," the little boy commanded.
"We will Isaiah. First Josiah would you give the blessing," James said.
Everyone held hands as Josiah said the blessing.
Then the food was passed. By the time dinner was finished most people were groaning saying they would never be able to eat again they were so full.
Compliments abounded for all the great cooks that provided the food. A special thanks was given to Vin for providing the traditional turkey as the main course.
Vin had blushed with pride, his blue eyes were shining he was so thrilled to have everyone he cared about at his home.
A word that he never thought he would say because he never thought he would have one. Thanks to some divine intervention he was now in the bosom of his family.
With everyone pitching in the dishes were done in no time.
Everyone stayed to watch the football game and have some dessert. After everyone had left the three Larabee men sat down with a sigh.
It had been a big day but one that was well worth all the work.
Chris was talking to Vin when he noticed that his brother wasn't replying to his question.
Vin was sound asleep sprawled out on the sofa.
James and Chris just looked at each other and smiled.
Chris got up gently pulling Vin's shoes off. Chris then pulled the afghan off the back of the sofa and covered his brother.
"It was a good Thanksgiving," James sighed settling back in his chair ready to enjoy a nice quiet evening at home.
"Yes it was. I think I enjoyed watching Vin more than anything," Chris commented.
"Yeah the boy was walking on top of the world. It did my heart good to see how happy both of you were," James said smiling at his oldest son.
Chris smiled back totally relaxed.
"I am so glad you are here with us dad. I know that Vin has thrived having you around. It has let him live a little of the childhood he missed. I am thankful for that," Chris said.
"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else son. Do you think we should get Vin into bed?" James asked.
Chris glanced at his slumbering brother, then at the warm fire in the fireplace just soaking up the love and peacefulness that was in the room.
"No. He's fine. With the fire going he is warm enough. I just want to enjoy the quiet and the peace of the three of us together on Thanksgiving."
James leaned back and relaxed.
"Amen son. I agree wholeheartedly."
As the quiet deepened a slow drowsy Texas drawl filled the air.
"Ya know come tomorrow we need to start getting the place decorated for Christmas. I have some great ideas."
Chris and James sat up stared at each other with wide eyes then turned their glances to Vin who was watching them carefully from the sofa.
Chris and James both dove at the sofa at the same time not giving Vin a chance to escape their tickling fingers.
For the next few minutes the Larabee home was filled with laughter to go with all the love.
It was a Larabee Thanksgiving to remember.
A Larabee Christmas and New Year's