Author's note: I have no idea how the adoption system works...so don't kill me if I've got the facts wrong. And I also have no idea what Chris' parent's names are, anyway... enjoy...
I wish that I'll get to spend this Christmas with a happy family.
There, Vin thought, finishing of the last sentence, I really hope this letter will reach Santa soon...
He took one last look at the letter with the word "Santa" scrawled in front and fed it to the mailbox, hoping that it would reach it's intended destination as soon as possible.
Vin had never lost faith in the spirit of Christmas, especially the rounded man in a red suit. He never lost the faith when Santa "forgot" to bring his presents for the two years since the death of his mother, nor did he lose faith when all his dad ever did on Christmas was get drunk and vent his hidden anger on the unfortunate boy. No matter what happened during the past two Christmases he still believed that Santa would grant him his wish this year, for he knew it was too important for good ole Santa to forget.
Slowly he trudged back to his house, dreading the fact that his dad was home and that he was most likely drunk again.
As he entered his less than welcoming home, Vin could smell the strong scent of cigarette smoke. Dozens of beer bottles were thrown all around the house. Luckily for Vin, his dad was knocked out cold. But he knew that the peacefulness would not last for long.
Please, Santa...grant my wish, he pleaded.
A middle-aged woman sat alone on a swing, staring at the clear sky. As she looked at the stars hanging up in the sky, she couldn't help but wonder if there really was a Santa.
Nah... there couldn't be, the logical side of her thought. Oh! But how she wished there was, how she wished that he didn't only grant wishes for children, for she desperately wished to have a child.
It wasn't like she did not have any children. Instead, she already had a child of her own. But 17 years have passed since the birth of her first son and soon he would be leaving for college. The woman could not help but succumb to the "Empty Nest Syndrome". A disease that strikes when the child she once knew was growing up into an adult and leaving her nest.
The woman wished hard, half believing that it would never come true, but still she wished. Please, grant me a child, someone that I could dote on...
At Vin's School...
"Good morning, Miss Nettie," Vin greeted his class teacher.
He liked her lot and she seemed to feel the same way about him. She was the only person in his life, other than his mom, who really cared for him. During lunchtime, she would "donate" him some money to buy his food, for his father never provided a cent for him.
"Good morning, Vin," Miss Nettie greeted back, staring as Vin took his seat.
Her eyes never left Vin's back until he reached his desk. Somehow, the young boy had crawled under her skin and caused her to constantly worry about him. Well, anyone would if they knew what kind of family life he had. Sometimes, she couldn't help but wonder how a boy like him could have a rogue for a father.
"Class, let's begin..."
Time passes very fast when a person is having fun. Not that school was fun, but he loved anything that kept him away from home. Before he knew it, the school bell rang, signaling the end of school. With a heavy heart, he trudged back home.
As soon as he opened his front door, he had a strong feeling that something wasn't right, yet he couldn't place his finger on it. Then, out of nowhere, came his dad. Beer bottle in one hand, belt in the other.
Oh no...it's coming...
"Come here, boy," grunted Vin's dad. He had this mad look in his eyes that stopped Vin dead in his tracks. Vin wanted to scream as loud as he could, but then his father would only hit him harder. Vin wanted to run away, but the drunken man would soon chase up.
Cornered, with no one to save him. All Vin could do was accept his fate and not show his father the pain he felt.
+ + + + + + +
Miss Nettie was worried sick. It had been two days since Vin last came to school and she feared that Vin's father had gone overboard this time. She had called the house numerous times, but never once did anyone pick up the phone.
Just as she was deep in thought, she was called to the principle's office.
Every step she took seemed to weigh a thousand pounds. Dreading the worst news, she opened the principle's door. The principle was a kind old woman, always wearing a soft smile.
"Have a seat. As you know, one of your students, Vin Tanner, has been having some family problems."
Nettie nodded. Her heart was beating fasters and faster. Was she going to tell her that Vin was dead?
"Well, two days ago, Mr. Tanner had a little too much to drink and was less than rational when Vin came back from school..."
"He beat him?" Nettie asked in a near whisper.
"Yes. Luckily for Vin, one of his neighbors heard his screams and called the police. Right now Vin is under the care of one of the social workers."
Nettie would have jumped up and down with happiness and relief if she wasn't in the present of her boss. It was time somebody took action!
"So Vin's okay?"
"Save a few bruises and a broken arm, I'd say he is quite lucky, considering. I just thought you would like to know since you two are quite close."
"Thank you. Just one more question, what's going to happen to him?"
"Hopefully someone will adopt him, seeing how his dad is as a parent."
Adoption did not seem like such a bad option since Nettie knew a lot of loving families that would love to take Vin in.
+ + + + + + +
"Christopher Larabee!!! Get off the phone this instant!" shouted Maggie Larabee at her son. Oh, it had been so long since she could have a decent conversation with her 17-year-old son. All he ever did was talk on the phone with his girlfriend.
"Yes mom!" shouted Chris to his mother, not before saying a hasty goodbye to his girlfriend.
Just as the phone touched the phone cradle, it began to ring.
"Hello," Chris greeted the caller, followed by a "Mom it's your call!"
Chris could see Maggie's expression change from frustrated to joyful as soon as she heard what the caller had to say. Happily, with a spring in her step, she pulled her husband away from his newspaper and told him about the good news, leaving Chris to wonder what was going on.
He didn't have to wait for long though. At dinnertime, his mom broke the news to him. The caller was his Aunt Nettie, and her reason for calling...to tell her mother about one of her students that was in hot water.
"Nettie has asked me whether we would take him in...and well...I said yes..." Maggie told her son, watching him closely for any signs of disproval.
Well, of course Chris was shell-shocked. This news came out of nowhere. By the look that his dad gave him, he had approved too and Chris wasn't left with much say in the matter. Chris had known for a long time that his mother wanted another child...but this was too sudden.
Soon he found himself acknowledging. "Okay" he said, but deep down he felt a little unsure.
+ + + + + + +
"A brother?" Chris's best friend, Buck, asked. He could not help but stare at Chris, surprise written all over his face.
"Yeah. Seven years old, and according to my Aunt Nettie is the most adorable kid alive."
"So does he have a name?"
"Vin Tanner...I think," Chris answered, making a mental note to ask his mom again.
For the rest of the evening, none of them brought up the subject about Vin again. Buck could see that Chris was not at ease with the subject, and truth to be told, Chris detested the subject of the soon to be "little brother". Part of him wanted to be the only child although he knew that it sounded stingy.
+ + + + + + +
Vin sat quietly on the couch and dared not move an inch. His social worker had said that someone would be visiting him soon and had also asked him to put on his best clothes, which wasn't much.
Minutes ticked by as he waited for his mysterious visitor. He hoped that it wasn't his father or another policeman.
Over the pass few days, many people had paid him a visit, not for social reasons, but to ask him about "Life With Dad". They ranged from policeman to social workers to a therapist. And Vin hated all of them. Never did they give him his own breathing space.
Now as the door creaked open, Vin held his broken arm close to his chest like a comforting teddy bear, wondering who could it be. He expected someone with a cold stare and a notebook in hand. Instead it was a woman in her early 40's and she wore a warm smile, unlike those of his usual visitors.
"Hi, Vin," said the woman and then she introduced herself as one Maggie Larabee.
For the rest of the day, Maggie and Vin spent most of the time talking and sometimes playing toys, which were scattered all around the room. Soon, playtime was over and Maggie went home, leaving Vin to ponder upon the reason of her visit.
+ + + + + + +
"So do you think we get along well enough?" Maggie asked the social worker after she came out from the playroom. Unknown to Vin, a social worker had been watching them interact through a double window, deciding whether Maggie would be able to handle Vin.
"You did just fine. If all the paperwork is signed and approved, I think Vin will be able to go home 2 days before Christmas," she replied with a smile and walked off.
+ + + + + + +
Oh no...now what, Vin thought. Here he was sitting in an office room, which strangely resembled his principle's office, and once again, no one had told him the reason of him being there.
After awhile, a young woman walked in, introduced herself in a friendly manner as Miss Clemens and took a seat on the chair opposite him. All Vin could do was stare at her, hoping that he wasn't here for any sort of punishment.
"Vin," she started. "How did you like Maggie? The woman that visited you the other day."
Oh boy...is this a trick question? What are they going to do if I say yes or if I say no? A thousand thoughts seemed to pop out of nowhere in Vin's head. Making a quick decision, he decided to tell the truth, no matter what the outcome.
"Yes," he replied, hoping that she wasn't going to explode on him.
"Oh I see. What do think about staying with her permanently?" she asked again.
Permanently? This is too good to be true...
"I'd love it," Vin answered with a big smile plastered on his face.
"So be prepared to move out of here tomorrow," Miss Clemens said, smiling brightly. And she couldn't help but smile even more when she saw Vin jumping up and down with joy.
+ + + + + + +
Just like the social worker had said, Vin was up and ready to start a new life 2 days before Christmas.
That day, he had woken up before the sun showed its face. He ate breakfast quickly, dressed up in record time and was ready before you could say "thing-a-ma-jig".
Excitedly, he hopped up and down, nervously waiting for his ride to arrive.
+ + + + + + +
The Larabee household was also in a hustle. Maggie was busy tidying the house up for the hundredth time and Mr. Larabee was helping her. Both of them were very excited about the new arrival to their family. The only one in the house that wasn't up and up about the whole idea was Chris.
He spent most of the morning hiding in his room, determined not to be part of all that. He knew that his actions were childish, but he couldn't help himself. This "cub" was entering his territory.
Suddenly, the bell rang. And from upstairs he could hear the cries of joys coming from his parents. He could just imagine them hugging Vin and kissing Vin and doing all types of stuff. And he knew any moment now his mother would be knocking on his door asking him to meet his "brother". And Chris would be in his worst mood.
Just as he expected, Chris found himself downstairs, looking at his brother.
"He's cute," Chris told his mom. There he'd said it. It was true though. Vin was adorable, but that didn't mean he was any more welcomed than before, Chris told himself.
+ + + + + + +
Vin liked his new home, it was welcoming and nice, but for some reason, his "elder brother", Chris, didn't like him very much. He thought Chris was nice, but Chris had avoided him like the plague most of the time. And during dinnertime, Chris had even eaten his dinner elsewhere.
In the end, Vin decided not to give much thought to it, guessing that Chris wasn't really used to having a sibling around, and sometimes Vin felt the same way too.
After dinner, the whole family gathered in the living room where a warm fire was burning. Maggie was reading a book, while Vin and Mr. Larabee were playing a game of cards, which wasn't easy for Vin who had a broken arm.
Chris on the other hand wasn't doing anything quiet. Instead, he was on the phone having a heated conversation with someone on the other end. All of a sudden, he slammed the phone and stalked off angrily to his bedroom.
Vin decided he would talk to Chris, just in case he needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to shout at. Either way, he was well trained in both fields.
Chris heard the knock on the door and opened it, thinking it was one of his parents ready to lecture him on his attitude. To his surprise, it was his "younger brother".
"What do you want?" he asked, sounding a little annoyed.
"I just thought that you'd want someone to talk to," Vin replied, hoping that he was doing the right thing, for Chris seemed ready to bite his head off at any moment.
Somehow, Chris didn't. And he felt that there was something about the way Vin said it that made him want to spill it all out. And he did.
For hours, Chris talked about his teen life and all the problems it brought, and about the fight with his girlfriend he had over the phone. All Vin did was listen, he never interrupted and never asked unnecessary questions.
By the time Vin went off to bed, Chris was feeling a whole lot better than he was before. It was than that he realized that his "younger brother" was a lot more mature than any other 7-year-old he knew, and he soon found himself changing his opinion towards Vin.
+ + + + + + +
The next day, it snowed. Chris and Vin had been up early making snow angels. Vin's snow angels looked a little weird because of his injured arm. After breakfast, Buck came over to meet the newest Larabee. Along with him came all kinds of jokes that made Vin laugh more than he ever did in the past 2 years.
They spent the whole day together, making snow angels or shooting snowballs at each other. At the end of the day, two tired to the bone teens and one still energetic boy walked into the house. There, cups of hot cocoa with marshmallows were waiting for them. By this time, Chris had realized how stupid he was for feeling threatened by Vin coming into the family and was as close with Vin as brothers could be.
At a quarter to 6, Vin was wide-awake. The first person he decided to wake up was Chris. Slowly he crept towards Chris, and he...shouted! Which of course brought Chris up with a shock.
Soon, Chris' laughter as he tickled Vin and Vin's playful screams brought their parents home from dreamland. By 6, the whole family was sitting around the Christmas tree opening presents.
"I'm sorry, Vin. It came all of a sudden and I didn't have time to get you a nice present," Maggie said as soon as Vin opened his Christmas present.
"That's okay. Being able to live with you all is the best present ever!" Vin replied with a smile.
"Ah. I'm so tired."
"I would be too if I spent all night giving out presents all around the world."
"You don't say. But I do think that I did a nice job with the woman and the boy. Don't you agree?"
"Yes. And I want to know why they say my nose is red? I don't think...."
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