All Hallows Eve

by Jeanne

A "Little Britches" Halloween story

Disclaimer: They aren’t mine. They never will be but I love to sneak in and play. Thanks to the talented writers who thought up LB giving us a whole ‘nother version of ‘our guys’. Oh, and no plot bunnies were hurt in the making of this.

Authors notes: This one just came to me suddenly. Blame it on my mood, and the lady in the ficlette wouldn’t leave me alone. Halloween, or all Hallows Eve is the eve before all Saints (or Souls) Day. It is said the dead walk during this night.

The small ranch house was quiet at last. The air inside was warm and heavy with moisture from the pan on the stove. The musty medicinal smell of the simmering Osha permeated everything, helping struggling lungs breathe.

It was dark except for the fire flickering and the moonlight pouring in through the windows. In front of the stove sat Chris Larabee in the old rocker. His head tilted back in exhausted sleep. It had been three long days of fighting the fever and congestion. With three longer nights fighting the fever induced nightmares. At last he could doze but even in sleep the lines of worry hadn’t left his handsome face. Nor had his body completely relaxed. His arms wrapped protectively around the precious bundle he held.

Wrapped in the hand-made quilt slept the finally quiet seven-year-old Vin Tanner. His face still flushed, damp curls clinging to his forehead. His breath still coming in wheezing rattles from the congestion that had settled in his chest days ago. Every breath was hard won but at least it was no longer followed by the bone-shaking cough that had prevented any rest the last three days.

One small hand stuck out and tightly rapped white-knuckled fingers were twisted into the front of Chris’ long johns, fisted tight as if holding on for dear life. Vin’s head leaned on the strong chest and arms that held him. Drawing strength from his new father without even being aware of it.

It was the wee hours of the morning and Vin’s fever seemed to have finally broken for good this time. The rocker hardly moved as the two slept, drawing comfort from being near to each other.

Unnoticed, a soft creamy glow appeared in the corner of the cabin, slowly forming until a young woman appeared. The gold in her light brown hair shimmered in the light and her blue eyes shown with love and she gazed on the sleeping forms. The long white dress made a soft rustling sound as she stepped forward. She was very young, hardly more then a child herself, and she knelt down looking into the face of her child.

"Vin," she whispered. "Oh baby, I miss you so." She reached out as if to touch him but drew back her hand knowing this was impossible. Incorporeal beings could not touch corporeal ones. Yet she longed to hold him in her arms once again.

Tilting her head to one side she spoke again. "I got to come tonight, it was my turn. Besides you’ve been so sick. I watch, you know. I do, all the time. It broke my heart when you were sent away on that long train ride to Kathleen’s. I’d hoped things would be better for you, but then you and JD were sent to the orphanage. I was there Vin, I was. When you were in the dark place and when they hurt you. I couldn’t do anything and that hurt me so. I wanted to stop them, to save you, but I couldn’t.

"All I could do was be there. I pleaded with Heavenly Father to help you. He’d say, 'All in good time. There is a plan.' But I couldn’t see it. I...I even got mad at Him." She smiled. "But He understood and I stayed near you. Now I see this is what He had in mind all along for you and for Chris too.

"And then you were on the orphan train. I thought, 'Now, now my Vin will find a family and he and JD will be happy.' I was scared when you came to this place, no one wanted you and JD. Chris scared me. He had such a darkness about him. All that pain and the deepest kind of sadness.

"But then he took you in. I’ll tell you a secret. I can see into Chris’ heart. Isn’t that odd? But I can. I saw the big empty place inside him and it was shaped just your size. It took lots of work to make him admit it, too. Sarah whispered to him all the time to make him understand that you needed to stay. That he needed you in his life.

"You have to understand, to,o my sweet Vin, Chris needs you to help him be the man he was, the father he was meant to be. You bring out the best in Chris you make him smile and laugh and want to live again. You give him a reason to keep fighting to keep trying.

"And you my sweet, Chris will help you grow up to be the man you must be. You already are courageous and loyal, but Chris will show you about honor and duty. He’ll help you be the kind of Tanner I know you can be. Don’t be afraid, my Vin, to love Chris. Let him in your heart and trust him. He will always protect you and take care of you.

"I have to go now, I love you my son. I’ll always be near by." This time she did reach out and touch one of the curls and with tears in her eyes she slowly faded.

Vin stirred, snuggling deeper into Chris’ arms, "Mama?" he whispered.

Chris tightened his grip, "Easy cowboy, I’ve got your back."

The End

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