The Ranch
I. Remembering A New Beginning

by Karin

DISCLAIMER: not mine..never have been never will be; just borrowed them for a bit <g> I did put them back when I was if they are not there..not my fault!!

RATINGS: PG-13 (more G then anything..I think maybe one bad word)

WARNINGS: Well..Don't know if this should be a warning or not..maybe it should be. This is set in ..I know <gasp> ..An AU of my very own's one of those things that kept invading my head..wouldn' t allow me to work on anything at all until I gave into I did. If ya hate assured there will be no more stories in this AU..if you like it..let me know.

NOTES/COMMENTS: I have to give a huge Thanks to Leslie and betas supreme! I knew Leslie wouldn't have a problem making sense of my ramblings..but I worried about you guys did great keeping up with my manic writing!!


The young man stepped off the bus and adjusted the back pack straps that he carried on one shoulder. As the bus began to slowly pull away he stood straight, taking in the view that lay before him. He had done the same routine for 6 months now, well...stepping of the bus had only been 2 months, but that was splitting hairs. Had it really been that long? So much had happened, so much had the time he couldn't imagine his life being any where close to normal again..but then, what was normal exactly? Had his life ever been normal? Certainly seemed to be back East, that is until he landed here; he figured most wouldn't call his current home environment ‘normal'....stable? safe?..yes..Normal?..hardly, more like..what was it the judge had called it...unconventional..oh was unconventional, but it was home.

JD Dunne's home.

He never thought he'd be able to call another place home, never thought he'd be able to use the word family either, but he had it all. As bad as things were at times, he still considered himself lucky...he knew not many in his situation were as fortunate to find people to ‘pick up' where another had left off.

He breathed deeply and and began the walk down the mile long dirt road, coming to where the white fence encased the pasture, sending a ‘shhh' to the excited occupants as he continued to remember. He thought of the group he'd met here....his family.

There was Nathan Jackson, a tall African American. He had been hired for his medical background. He'd had medical training in the Army, but never really practiced it as a civilian, Nathan always smiled when he said.. ‘I know enough to be dangerous'. The young man thanked his stars more than once that the man was there.

Josiah Sanchez was brought in about the same time as Nathan. Nathan had been working in a clinic, Josiah a homeless shelter; they often crossed paths when one of the homeless were sick or needing medical attention. Josiah was a part time philosopher/ part time preacher. He had strayed from his missionary father's teachings. Josiah often said the man was a walking contradiction.. preached one thing, led his life in an entirely different manner.

Ezra Standish, the young man had often wondered how he'd been hired. JD'd heard rumors, Ezra had been hired on a whim of sorts..when questions arose of his past happenings he was asked to leave; in the process of doing so, when a call came in for help. Ezra had been instrumental in ‘clearing up' the ‘misunderstanding' with big words and a long winded speech that either left the police officers baffled, confused or a little of both; probably both the JD decided.

Vin Tanner...a walking mystery. first he had been; there were still things JD didn't know about the man, didn't really want to know. Well..yes he wanted to know if the rumors of him were true, but JD would never ask him ...he'd wait until Vin told him himself. The man spoke volumes..but never with words, he talked to you with his eyes. With Vin it wasn't what he said; it was what he didn't say. He always had an ear for the young man, and during the tough times Vin was always there..knowing when something was bugging JD and how to get him to talk about it. Tanner could sense the slightest mood change with him, and for that..well..for that he hated him at times..but for that JD knew he'd always love the man, no matter how mad he'd make him.

Then there was Buck. Buck Wilmington. Things had started out pretty rough with the tall, long legged man. Buck showed every emotion he ever felt, never holding them...or his tongue for that matter. If JD hadn't done something just right, Buck was always there to set him straight, in no uncertain terms. But the younger man learned to take the comments and criticisms in stride and mostly with a grain of salt. The man, as hard as he could be on the him, was also just as affectionate and not afraid to show it...especially with the ‘ladies'. Buck had said it was his ‘animal magnetism'... the young man had suggested a bath to Buck to take care of that problem.

Of all the men that he called ‘family' not one meant more to him than the did. Chris Larabee. Chris had given him a family to call his own, something he had never expected. Chris often told him it was the other way around, having lost his wife and son in a fire, it was nearly 5 years now.

Through the months he'd learned that Chris and Buck had been partners, detectives with the Denver police. Chris had become a target of someone, they burned his house down thinking he was in it..unbeknownst to them, Buck and Chris had traveled to New Mexico following a lead and decided to stay one more night instead of flying into Denver, getting there around 2 a.m.; Chris came home to fire trucks and flames; that event sent him into a downward spiral, Buck was there to pick up the pieces and take the shots that Larabee dished out.

They had caught up to the man who had been hired to torch the house, when Chris tried to get him to tell him who hired him, the man refused.Chris had raised his gun, intending to force the man to reveal who had hired him. The man refused, escaping back into the small house where he had been hiding. Seconds later it blew up; forensics later positively identified the charred remains of Cletus Fowler and Chris's hopes of bringing someone to justice, once again, went up in flames.

They had met Vin later on that year, working on a case in a place called Purgatorio. A run down, tough part of Denver that was a Hell mouth of criminal activity. After settling a case concerning one of the youths that lived in the same building as Tanner; Buck had made a comment about parents letting their kids run their own lives, not taking responsibility for their lack of parental guidance, Vin had calmly told him that most of these ‘kids' didn't know anything but trying to survive. He would admit to the fact that there were a few that were just bad to the bone, but felt strongly that most of the teens in the area and surrounding ghetto-like places, if offered or shown, would and could have a chance.

It had been Vin who suggested, after a visit to Chris's ranch, that it would be the perfect setting for city them that there was something different out there in the world besides tall buildings, pollution, drugs, violence and gangs.

A call from a desolate gang ridden place and Chris began to seriously consider Vin's suggestion. A young teenage boy was shot, in front of his mother, point blank. The reason for his death was heartbreaking...the teen refused to sell the drugs offered for safe passage to school to his classmates or join their gang...the straight-A student's life was cut short and a brilliant 13 year old mind was lost to the world forever.

Six months later, the others were asked to join Chris in his endeavor. Both Chris and Buck quit the force, Vin, Nathan, Josiah and Ezra came on board, living at the ranch during the week, some going to apartments they rented on the weekends, or as in Josiah and Nathan's case, back to their clinic and shelter.

In that union, Four Corners was born. For 8 weeks in the summer, inner city and underprivileged kids (ranging from 8 to 18) were brought here for one purpose..hope. The rest of the time the house was at the mercy of the state. Children of all ages were brought to stay for days, weeks sometimes months until a foster home could be found. They had dealt with instant orphans, children that were removed until their mother or father completed rehab or the most heart breaking of all.. abused children.

Four Corners became a refuge to some..the abused children learned to trust again, that there still were people who cared. The same could be said for the children removed from the homes, Four Corners offered stability..even if for a day, an end to the chaos they had known; and hope for the innocent victims of drug addiction.

The summer kids learned a bit more than the others and once in a great while the men were rewarded with another visit the following summer. For 8 weeks in the summer the children and teens who visited were expected to share in certain duties. By sharing in these responsibilities, they learned to cook, cooperate and help without being asked. Four Corners also provided schooling, they were expected to attend classes for 2 hours every day; if one chose not to attend, privileges were taken away. The cooking, cleaning, taking care of animals, tending a garden, keeping the bunks clean and helping with house chores gave these kids not only responsibility and discipline, but self worth and pride. With kind words of praise with a job well done the reward of an a special horse ride or camping out, made the kids want the men to be proud. The discipline wasn't forced upon them, but was subtle and nearly undetectable. Hope was their reward, leaving with self esteem and confidence to face the cruelties of their life back in the city.

The dark-haired young man's smile began to morph slowly to a frown as he remembered how he'd come to be here at the ranch. He remembered the conversation as if it were only yesterday, the smell of the room, he could still smell the lavender perfume as if it were part of the air. The woman's face was a bit distorted, making the frown grow longer..the guilt of not remembering every detail of the woman's face wearing him emotionally.

But the words were clear as he made the first step to the porch....

6 months earlier..Boston, Massachusetts

JD closed the brochure and looked at his mother.

"You can't be serious?" he nearly chuckled out.

"Yes," she paused, "It'll be good for you to get out of here..see that there's more than this.." she coughed as she motioned with her hand to the clean, but grungy two room apartment.

"I ain't .."

"I'm not.." she corrected.

"I'm not leaving you here..not like realistic.." he pleaded.

"Honey can get some school time in," she changed the subject by pointing to the brochure.


"What are you.."

The teen sighed.."What are you going to do for money? I only got en..."


"I've only earned enough to last you a month if I'm gone," he pointed out the financial difficulties she'd endure if he was away.

"And if you're not here to eat everything in sight..the money will last close to 3 months," she smiled. "You're going," she added sternly.

"Mom.. Don't make me go...I gotta really bad feeling about this.." he begged, his eyes pleading.

She looked into the large hazel eyes, her head tilted to one side; she had almost given in to the request when she heard the familiar muffled sound of gunfire in the distance. She reached a shaky hand to the young man in front of her, cupping his cheek in her hand, her thumb absently stroking at the black eye that the teen had received on his latest trip home.

"You're going," she said firmly.

"There's no way there's enough money," he said; the place looked nice, inviting..and last year he wouldn't have fought to go and would have embraced the idea. But that was last year..before his mother had gotten sick; before a trip to the free clinic and a few test later; before he heard the word cancer.

"It's free...," she smiled warmly, only half a was free, but the plane ticket was not..but she had managed to scrape together enough money for the short train ride to the airport and not quite enough for a round trip plane ticket; when she called back to cancel, the man she spoke to, a Mr. Standish, said that ‘the lad is more than welcome, we have certain criteria that certain individuals, such as the young man in question, are accepted to participate'.

"But..what if..I mean..Mom..Please," he begged again, not caring if the tears fell.

"You need to go...I need you to go..I need to know that I could give you something before.."

"No.." the teen said, cupping his hand over his mother's mouth before the word could leave, the word that was the sole reason he didn't want to leave...death.

"'ve never been able to be a kid.."

"'ve done the best you could.." he sniffed.

"And this is just another part...You need to know that there is more to life than need to go to school, I can only teach you so much..You NEED to be 16...and act like it," she smiled.

"Okay..Okay..I'll go..but...Mom..are you sure you want me to's for like 8 weeks!" He was submissive, but then quickly took it back. Not realizing this wasn't a ‘couple of weeks' trip after skimming over the brochure again.

"Go!" she laughed, embracing her one and only child.

"You sure about this?"

"I'm positive"

The Present

He wiped away the bittersweet memory on the back of his sleeve, skipping ahead to the memory of stepping out of the van marked ‘Airport Taxi' with just a back pack, the clothes on his back and a hat that would become the source of many aggravating statements and harmless fun.....

6 months earlier...Four Corners Ranch

"You lost son?" Buck asked.

"Not if this is Four Corners," he smiled, squinting at the bright afternoon sun.

"You the New Englander?" Vin asked, not able to remember the kid's name right off.

"I guess," he shrugged.

"You weren't supposed to be in for another couple hours," Buck said, then stepped back into the house, bellowing the founder of Four Corners' name.

"Oh..did I mess things up for you?" he asked as the ‘taxi' left the driveway.

"Nope..just not expectin' you is all..the other boys are in the middle of their tour of the place, I'm Vin Tanner," Vin smiled as he stepped off the steps and met the young man.

"This here's Chris, Chris..this is...ah..kid?" Vin introduced..still not knowing the teens name.

"JD..JD Dunne," the youth tried to smile as Chris nodded and shook his hand.

"Here a little early aren't you?" Chris asked.

"I guess so..Sorry," JD replied, hanging his 5 minutes and screwed up already..way to go. Keep this up and they'll send you home..Mom spent all that money on getting you best not disappoint her

"Nothing to worry about, just like to be there to pick people up, how'd you get here?" Chris asked, noticing the puff of dust heading down the long road.

"Airport Taxi," Vin smiled, knowing that they would receive one heck of a bill from them.

Chris winced..

"I can work it off..if it's a problem..honest..I don't mind..I can muck out stalls..clean tack..whatever..I," JD offered quickly.

"Not necessary..we have a special fund here for that," Buck smiled, knowing that Ezra's check was about to get tapped, again; Ezra had told them of the phone call from this boy's mother..and how Ezra had told her of some sort of fund to ease the burden financially (Ezra covered up his good heartedness with saying something about good PR..but the others knew that Ezra just didn't want to disappoint this woman), after the revelation Chris had told him that his paycheck would be deducted $50 a week until the $200 was paid off, Ezra only smiled.

"Really..I don't mind ..really," he offered anxiously again.

"You know how to cook?" Vin asked. The staff Mrs. Gloria Potter, although excellent at her job, was at a impasse at how to cook a New England Pot Roast, she'd wanted to make the new arrival feel at home..she usually did that when the ‘system' kids showed up and information was gathered from the others that came in the summer.

"I haven't poisoned anyone," JD smiled.

"You know anything about Pot Roast?" Vin asked again, hope in his tone.

"'s not that hard," he said, correcting his grammar himself.

"Come to the kitchen and pay for that taxi," Vin smiled as he led JD into the house and towards the kitchen.

Present....on the porch of the ranch

Chris Larabee looked to the watch on his wrist and shifted in his chair.

"He ain't late," Buck smiled, shaking his head at the fact that his oldest friend had looked at the time not just 10 minutes ago.

"Nope, just saw the bus drop him off," Vin said, pulling the horse he rode to a stop in front of the men on the porch.

"How's he look?" Chris asked concerned.

"Like he's thinking," Vin sighed.

"Is that good or bad?" Buck asked.

"Probably both," Josiah smiled, coming into the middle of the conversation as he stepped up the stairs and sat in the rocking chair next to Buck.

Chris sighed, the answer wasn't any help. JD had woken that morning in regular spirits. He'd eaten, showered..did his whole morning routine in the same way he did every day for school. He'd gone to the den to print his report, then the mood changed... drastically. As Chris stared down the dirt driveway, his mind focused on the morning events..

7:30 a.m. that morning

"Today's Thursday?" he'd asked as a general question after he came back into the kitchen.

"All day," Buck smiled his answer.

"You okay JD?" Vin asked, being the first to notice the dark cloud forming around JD.

"Ahh..yeah..I ..I just forgot something that's all," JD tried a weak attempt at a smile.

"What did you forget?" Chris asked, the half hearted smile let him know that something wasn't quite right with JD.

"I gotta go..don't want to be late," JD avoided the question, grabbed his backpack and hurried out the kitchen.

"Where's the boy?" Ezra asked, missing the whole kitchen scene as he came in from the living room.

"He just left," Nathan answered as he stood to put his coffee cup in the sink.

"Oh..I thought I was taking him to school on my way into town," Ezra questioned.

"Guess he forgot that too," Buck said as he copied Nathan.

"No..I think he needed some air, he looked a little pale," Nathan offered.

"Or he just wanted out of here before we got to asking him what was wrong," Vin decided.

The men all shrugged, knowing that JD would reveal his behavior in his own time. Either that or Vin would get it out of him or at least get some clues as to what was bothering him. The men left the kitchen and headed out to take care of the various chores that needed tending. They had gotten word that three kids would be coming in the early afternoon and they wanted to be ready for their arrival.

The memory flashed back to after JD arrived...nearly 3 weeks into JD's stay.

Vin had come in early that morning, told Chris that something was wrong with JD..he'd offered to take him for an early morning ride, when he said ‘no thanks' quietly he knew something was bothering the ‘kid', the nickname Vin had stuck him with.

JD confided to Vin that he had a bad feeling..that something wasn't right. Chris and Vin told JD that it wasn't unusual for someone..even at the ripe old age of 16 to be homesick..JD assured them that it wasn't homesickness..that they just didn't understand..something was wrong back home. Then stormed out.

A week had gone by, JD didn't seem to be as bad but the dark cloud was still there. The ‘guests', as Ezra called them (the older ones anyway) were allowed to use the phone every other week. It was nearly another week when JD was allowed to call home..there wasn't any answer.

JD told them he knew something was wrong..had been..something had happened. Again the others convinced him that, it being early back east, that she was out and he could try later, and that if something was wrong that they would have heard something by now.

Four hours later Chris was answering the phone from a Massachusetts detective, informing him that they had been trying to locate the son of a woman. They asked about JD..called him John Dunne, the son of one Katherine Dunne; the officer described JD to a tee; Chris finally acknowledged that he was there..but was so legally ( thinking maybe they thought the boy was a runaway). The officer already knew that. They had just found the number in the telephone records..had been calling several numbers over the last two days since they'd gotten copies of the phone bill.

Chris finally asked why JD was a concern to the officer and why he was calling, had he been a witness to something? Done something wrong before he left? Although Chris highly doubted it, JD just wasn't the type.

When Chris got the answer..he'd wished he'd never asked..wished that he would have let JD use the phone 2 weeks earlier when he had that ‘bad feeling'. Chris and Officer...Delaney he remembered..talked for another hour, Chris taking notes and telling the man he would tell JD.

Vin had walked into the office as Chris had hung up the phone.

‘You okay?'

‘Where's JD?'

‘I'll get him,' by Chris's tone, Vin knew the news was not good, his fear was confirmed at the gentle request ‘get Josiah too'.

Chris pinched his eyes at the memory, he'd once thought that the hardest thing he'd ever been through was finding out he'd lost his family, he'd been wrong. The hardest thing he'd ever had to do was tell one 16 year old kid that his mother had died, not today..not yesterday..but two weeks ago.

He could still see those hazel eyes slowly go blank and void, still could see JD shaking his head no, as Chris told him that he'd gotten ‘a phone call'; the sorrow filled quiet words JD spoke.. ‘she lied ..she said everything would be okay..why did she lie?'.

That was their first hint that, the news of his mother's death wasn't totally unexpected. None of the adults knew that JD's mother had been sick. To say JD was devastated or heartbroken would have been an understatement..the words he spoke let them know that it was still a shock.

Two hours later Chris was on the phone, talking to a judge. Judge Orin Travis had sent many a ‘case child' to him, after the phone call the Judge called on an ‘old friend' in Massachusetts; told him of Larabee's request, gave Chris a resounding review.

An hour after making that call to the judge, Chris was telling JD that he wasn't going back to Mass to become part of the ‘system'; that Chris had gained temporary custody of JD and he was more than welcome to stay. Chris had requested the body of JD's mother be exhumed, to bring her to Denver..having made arrangements before her death, she'd been cremated and her ashes scattered off from Cadillac Mountain..the last place that they were able to afford to go on vacation. Josiah had arrange a memorial, feeling JD needed closure; hoping that JD would at least be able to say goodbye some way.

A month later, Chris was awarded full custody, and had taken it a step further by asking JD if he could adopt him; JD took all but a breath to answer.

That was three months ago, he'd known JD for close to six months now..he couldn't help but smile, he still tried to figure what possessed him to do everything he had..he'd met a lot of kids in JD's situation..but none had tugged on his heart strings like this kid had. Josiah called it fate. Not the best explanation in the world, but one Chris was willing to except.

"You okay pard?" Buck asked, noticing the distant look Chris had as he looked towards the form making its way to the house.

"Yeah, just trying to figure out what's bugging him," Chris sighed.

"He'll let us know when he's ready to talk," Buck tried to reassure; truth be told he wasn't so sure..they had seen JD struggle through memory flashes of his mother. Sometimes something one of them would say or do would make the normal smile turn on a dime. But this time, this time was different..JD had never run or tried to avoid a question; and this morning he'd done both.

Buck and the others followed Chris into the house, not wanting to give JD the impression they were waiting for him, ready to find out what the problem they had to gang up on him to drag it out of him.

+ + + + + + +

JD climbed up the last step and onto the porch, he hadn't noticed how quiet it was, figuring that he'd been too focused on his memories to notice.

JD removed the newspaper cap that he wore backwards from his head as he always did before he entered the house. Ruffling his hair to remove the hat hair he knew he probably had, he turned the knob and opened the door.

"Hi!? I'm home!" he said with a raised voice, as he walked from the living room into the kitchen.

"Shoes!" Mrs. Potter said sternly.

"Where is everybody?" JD asked, taking his shoes off as directed, he walked to the mat that held shoes next to the door in the kitchen and placed his sneaker there.

"I don't remember a hello young man," she reprimanded, with a smile.

"Hello Mrs. Potter," he smiled, "So..where is everyone?" JD asked again.


"Yesssss," he answered again, getting a little aggravated.. all he wanted was an answer to his question.

"A lot?"

"Not enough that I can't do it later," JD snapped out, the aggravation getting the better of him.

"I didn't just hear what I thought I heard did I?" came the stern voice of Chris Larabee from the other side of the kitchen.

"I..I.." JD stuttered, "Sorry Mrs. Potter..I'll get doing my home work now, I'll do the dishes after supper," JD offered, knowing that it was Vin's turn.

"Let me know when you need the table set..and I'll do that too," JD added, grabbing his back pack and heading up the stairs off the kitchen to his room, he'd never walked away from Chris before, but he just wasn't in the mood for the third degree.

"He was only aggravated that I put off his question," Mrs. Potter explained, after hearing JD shut the door.

"I know, he still hasn't the right to speak to you that way," Chris said, a smile of understanding easing the guilt Gloria Potter felt.

"You need to go talk to him," Gloria ordered. She knew that JD was normally more polite and respectful than most adults, and that JD snapping at her only meant something else.

Chris nodded then headed up the stairs. He stood at the door for what seemed like hours. He'd held his balled up hand to the door several times before he finally managed a knock.

"Come in," the voice from the other side answered.

"We need to talk," Chris said evenly, but not sternly as JD turned his head from the window he was staring out of.

"I'm sorry know..talking to Mrs. Potter the way I did," JD apologized, hoping that was all they were going to discuss.

Chris nodded as he went to JD's desk and pulled out the chair to sit in.

"That's not what I want to talk about," Chris said, gauging JD's body language.. JD knew the talk was about what happened this morning.

"Isn't anything else to talk about," JD stated, turning his head back to the window.

"I think there were fine until you found out that today's Thursday..the 24th, that a special day," Chris asked.

"Not any more," came the whispered answer. Chris knew was her birthday.

Chris rose from his chair as he heard the quiet words and stood behind JD.

"You should have said something," he said, his tone soft, warm..caring.

"How? I could I forget? What kind of son forgets his mother's birthday?" JD said, his voice straining to remain in control.

"The kind that doesn't want to remember the pain of losing someone he loves," Chris said, turning JD gently around by the shoulders so he looked directly into his eyes.

JD hung his head, not convinced that he should be allowed to forget something so quickly..she had only died 4 months ago..or was it 5? He tried to remember the last time he'd seen her..why was it he could see the apartment..the layout..the sounds that were outside the room..the smell....but not her face..why?

"You're a good son, no one could ask for a better one," Chris tired again to reassure JD.

JD turned away from him, no longer able to hold back the tears; he leaned his head against the cool window, how could Chris look at him if he knew he couldn't remember what his mother looked like...she had meant the world to him..and he couldn't remember.

Chris was at a loss as to what to ease the pain and the guilt JD obviously felt that he'd forgotten her birthday, he never forgot Sarah and Adams birthdays..or the anniversary of their deaths..but this year..this year would be had to be; he wouldn't spend the week out in the small cabin alone..he had responsibilities at home..he had a son that needed him..this year, he wouldn't forget the day they died, but it wouldn't hurt as much.

Chris was brought out of his thoughts as the kid's whispered words were heard.

"I..I can't see her anymore," JD revealed, his voice clearly showed how ashamed and guilty he felt.

"That doesn't mean you've forgotten her," Chris answered.

"What?" JD asked sharply, " How can you say that? I can tell you what she looked like, but I can't see heads gone back to the last time I saw her..I remember every little thing about that day..but I can't see her face!" JD yelled through great sobs.

"JD.." Chris said softly, he grabbed JD and embraced him..Chris never thought he'd stop crying.

"Listen to me. That's what a memory's not about seeing's the sounds, the smells.. Can you feel her? Remember how safe you felt when she'd give you a hug?" Chris felt the nod against his chest. "That's all a memory is, son. I think..the reason I can't see Sarah and Adam, the reason you can't see your hurts too much. I think it's their way of trying to make it you understand what I'm saying?"

"You don't think she's mad..because I forgot her birthday?" JD asked.

"No..I'm sure she's happy that you've been able to move on..That's the hardest thing to do JD..doesn't mean you've forgotten them..I took me nearly 3 years to do that, and I'm sure there's nothing more Sarah wanted more to do then to come down here and kick my butt to get on with it," Chris chuckled out.

"I.." JD sniffed as he pulled away from Chris, "I guess you're right. Mom would've had a right down good fit..all she ever wanted me to do was..." JD began..letting the rest of the words stall.

"Was what?" Chris encouraged.

"She hated me quitting school to get work..but she couldn't work anymore..and she was proud, you know...didn't want to get any aide or I got work...last thing she said before she sent me out here was that she wanted me to a know? Just be 16," JD said with a shy, sad, smile.

"Well, then I'd say you've done your mother might not be the most typical 16-year-old I've ever seen, but then again..we aren't the most typical family, either," Chris smiled.

JD nodded, he sniffed again, cleared his throat and tried to compose himself.

"I guess I'd better go get the table set, I'll do my homework after I get the dishes done," JD nodded.

"Don't forget to set for 3 extra," Chris said as JD walked to the door.

JD nodded, then turned to face Chris, "Thanks..." JD smiled, then added, "Dad," and left the room and headed downstairs.

Chris stood there, a warm smile crossed his face and he hung his head. He looked to where the opened door was, "Anytime, son," he said softly.

He crossed the room and turned in the doorway, grasping the door knob with one hand, he let his gaze survey his son's room, his mind suddenly flashing back to the day JD had arrived...the look on the kid's face as he said he could work off the ‘taxi' fee, the smile he held as he helped Mrs. Potter in the kitchen that day. The eyes then went upwards, "Thanks for sending him to me. Sarah thanks for that kick in the ass," he smiled and shut the door, ready to have supper with his family.


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II. Lavender and Lilacs