by Twyla Jane
The disclaimer is and always will be I dont own em and never made a plug nickel off em. Wish I did. This is a series of stories where Ezras a child and the remaining seven are adults. In a Modern universe where the boys are working in Chris and Bucks 4C agency as private investigators, bounty hunters and body guards. A Christmas story at Mac Creadys urging. Okay here it is. The title is from a song by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. 12/24/01
Disappointment was evident on the youngsters face as he gazed out from the warm living room as the snow fell in thick sheets to the ground. The reflection lights from the decorated tree blinked colorfully against the ever-whitening world as the day was beginning to slip into evening. He had dared to hope that this Christmas would be different, but he was alone again on Christmas Eve. Well that wasnt exactly true the boy wasnt by himself but he wasnt sure that the houses only other occupant was Nathan Jackson and Ezra was pretty sure that the man didnt like him. He wouldnt even have been there except the ex-paramedic was the only person Buck could reach on such short notice. Wilmington had been watching him while his father Chris was away, but he had abruptly leaving earlier in the day after receiving an urgent phone call informing him that there had been some kind of accident. The twelve year old had been left behind to wait. For most of those two hours it had taken Jackson to arrive the boy had stood by the window watching and waiting. The normal half hour drive for Nathan had been lengthened considerably by the large snowstorm was rapidly sweeping through the region.
Little was said after black mans arrival and the awkward silence grew as the day stretched on. The phone hadnt rung since Buck left. There had been no word from the elder Larabee who was supposed to arrive back home that evening, not even a call from his sister Tilly or Grandpa Hank. The disappointment Ezra felt he believed lay with himself for wanting something so much and never considering for an instant that the wish would be denied. Ezra silently berated himself for believing in the promise made. Chris had said they would be together and any hope for that was fading with the light. His mother had been right. Leaning his forehead into the cool glass, he wondered when he would stop thinking of her as that. But it seemed that the woman who more or less raised him was correct. No matter how good the intentions had been, he couldn't get rid of the dull ache that had settled in his chest.
Absorbed in his thoughts Ezra was jarred back into reality after being startled by a warm hand that touched his shoulder banging an elbow into the windowsill. After reeling in sheer panic for a fraction of a second he realized it was Nathan. The man was crouched down in front of him. The dark face filled with concern while watching him intently as he got his bearings.
Unable to speak just yet he nodded and rubbed at his elbow.
I guess you didnt hear me suppers ready
The words were choked as the boy tried to maintain an impassive face. A losing battle that night as his lower lip involuntarily trembled at the aspect of spending another holiday alone.
You know hell be back as soon as he can.
Then why hasnt he called?
The phone lines are dead
Your cell phone isnt
Ive tried calling Chris myself but all the circuits are busy come on to the dinner table and try to eat
Ezra blinked back the tears that threatened to fall. He took one last look at the twinkling Christmas tree and its barren skirted base. The decorations were hung in clusters, the silver garland drooped in places and the fir itself was a bit off kilter tilting slightly to the left the tree was not even close to resembling any store holiday display he had ever seen, it was better but it meant little without having Chris there. Head hung low he numbly followed Nathan into the kitchen.
The embers glowed in the fireplace, the dim light cast heavy shadows across the living room. One oclock in the morning Nate Jackson sat quietly in the darkened room he was weary, but a growing worry ate at him as he sat alone with his thoughts after putting an exhausted Ezra into bed. It was Christmas day. He had been planning to spend this day in Denver with Rain. He remembered wanting to get to her place before the weather got any worse but a sudden call from Buck Wilmington had changed all his plans and sent him out into the snowstorm headed towards the Larabee ranch. Most of that message had been garbled as the phone line crackled and hissed but one thing came over loud and clear Chris Larabee had been involved a car accident on the way home from the airport. There hadnt been any more information than that and Buck hadnt wanted to unnecessarily alarm Ezra so the boy wasnt told.
The ranchs phone line was dead. There was just static coming over Jacksons cellular, the batteries had run down and the forgotten charger was on Jacksons kitchen counter. If no news was supposed to be good, thought Nate, then why had a sickening feeling of dread settled over him as he watched the boy through out the day? Ezra had been unusually quiet and pensive never wandering far from the living rooms large bay window. Nate could clearly see that Ezra knew something was wrong but the boy hadnt said a word about those fears beyond asking the single time about why no one had called. The day had been awkward for both he had done his best to not to add to Ezras fear. Maybe he should have said something, anything to comfort the child. Nathan sank deeper into the sofa trying to fight off sleep until those guilty thoughts chased him into his dreams.
The muffled sound of jingling bells and laughter woke Nathan Jackson. For a brief second he forgot where he was as the bright morning light reflected off the snow flooded the room and he was pushing the hand made afghan off his legs when he heard Bucks loud snort as he entered the room stamping the snow off his feet as he came in escorting Larabee, who slowly trudged in with the aid of crutches. A blue fiberglass cast poked out from jeans that were slit and safety pinned, the cast covered Chris right leg from his toes to just under his knee. Chris growled as Tilly and Hank followed him in having a hard time controlling their own laughter.
Morning Nate The giggling pair chimed together.
A huge wave of relief flooded through Jackson. Wilmington broke into a face splitting grin and Nate couldnt figure out why but it didnt matter his friend was okay or at least he would be.
Chris you better let Ezra know youre here
Nates tone carried an urgency that prodded Larabee down the hall into his sons room.
Buck had followed Chris as far as the door but left him to wake Ezra on his own. Hobbling into the room he sat on the edge of the bed, noting the bedding was is a state of disarray a vivid testament to a rough nights sleep and Chris began to rub gentle circles on the slender back as he whispered.
Ezra wake up its Christmas
Dark lashes fluttered, green eyes snapped open and a tired smile grew across the sleepy face. Youre here I thought came an almost wispy reply.
Couldnt break my promise besides I have a surprise for you
As the youngster sat up in bed he noticed the cast and didnt hear the last part of what Chris said.
You broke your leg? Ezra almost sounded relieved as the words rushed out.
That I did Chris didnt get to finish before he was wrapped in a tight hug from his son. Come on and help me into the living room .
The sleepy twelve year-old walked carefully by his fathers side not noticing all the people in the living room until Tilly giggled out. Hey runt. The sound of her sound voice caused Ezra to grin even wider, a warm feeling rushed through him as he realized that Grandpa Hank was there along with the rest of the 4C agency. Buck and JD were busy shoving presents under the tree and Josiah popped his head out of the kitchen motion for Vin to join him.
How? The question squeaked passed Ezras lips.
Everybody was supposed to get here yesterday Chris grimaced as he sat down next to Nate who hadnt moved. Was supposed to be a surprise A sudden pain stopped Chris explanation and spurred the ex-paramedic into action within a few moments the lean blond was settled onto the couch with his leg propped up on pillows.
Then Pop had to go and break his leg come on runt we better go help cook breakfast if we want it to be edible and Ill tell you all about it
Tillys smirk and giggled words received a half hearted glare from the elder Larabee as she led her younger brother into the kitchen.
Nate sat on the coffee table and stared at Chris a moment before he asked. What exactly did happen?
A chuckle that came from Hank Connelly who still stood across the room caused Larabee to frown again. It wasnt that funny!
Yeah it was I guess that part didnt get relayed after we got picked up at the airport and we were almost out of Denver when the truck slid on some ice and off the road into a snow bank this fool gets out leaving Tilly at the wheel and decides to push only the truck slides backwards
You got run over by your own truck?
He sure did I tried telling him wed be better off waiting for a tow truck
Shut up Hank
By this time even Chris was smiling and Hank chuckled again excusing himself as he went to get a well-earned cup of coffee. That wide grin dimmed, as he saw the serious look on Nathans face.
Chris I thought My God I
Im sorry Nate we couldnt get a call through because the telephone lines were down and your phone
My cells battery is dead Larabee reached out and squeezed his friends arm, listening as Nathan continued. I didnt know what to tell Ezra
It will be okay
No its not... I think he knew and he didnt say a word.
And you got to see a side of Ezra youre not used to seeing Ill talk to him about it.
What a day it had been, after Chris arrival at the ranch the remaining road had been plowed and cleared enough to allow the Travis Family and Rain to join them for a raucous brunch. The last of them had left an hour ago Tilly and Hank were still cleaning up dishes in the kitchen. Ezra had curled up next to Chris on the couch a fire roared in the fireplace. Ez? He gently brushed his hand through the mop on chestnut hair that was burrowed into a pillow that rested against his hip. The boy stirred. Green eyes blinked open and stared up at Chris.
Im sorry for scaring you...
The stray tear trickled down a flushed cheek was quickly wiped away by a small hand. I overheard Buck Ezra sat up and looked at his father through reddening eyes and was pulled into a warm embrace. Chris rested his chin in the unruly hair and spoke. I know
Im glad you kept your promise. Ezras words were mumbled into the flannel shirt that Larabee wore.
Me too Ezra, me too.
Merry Christmas Daddy.
Merry Christmas Son.