Atlantan Legacy VII – Happy Birthday

by Squeakypeep

Disclaimer: Not Mine.. no profit.

Acknowledgements: Mog’s Universe - Thank you.

Warning: OFC

Thank you everyone for your ideas, I’m working on them. The temptation is to write about Rorie, but I do try to keep the stories about the Seven and their interactions with her and with each other as much as possible. I am trying to explore the relationship between Ezra and Vin in particular, and how each of them reacts in a parental role.

Note: Cleopatra means ‘Her Father’s Glory’, a girl who adds lustre to her father’s name.

Wednesday 2nd May
Standish Kitchen
‘A picnic! We could go out on the horses…’

‘Stop. No horses for a fortnight remember? The Kool Aid fiasco?’

‘But Daddy, it’s my birthday…’

‘Rorie, you are not going out on Uncle Chris’s horses. I am prepared to suspend the month’s grounding for one day in light of the fact that it’s your birthday but the horse ban is separate and non-negotiable. Think of something else.’

Ezra sighed. He was fast running out of sanctions. He’d grounded her for a month after she took to the streets of Denver alone while he was undercover. She was to spend every evening after school in her bedroom, only allowed out at weekends. There were to be no special treats and no practical jokes. That last one had proved to be the toughest challenge for the child.

She lasted two days. Then she’d put Cherry Kool Aid in his showerhead and been banned from going riding for two weeks. Pretty soon he’d have to turn her over his knee.

‘I did say sorry you know. It was supposed to be funny.’

‘You were not supposed to be playing any pranks. I was pink and sticky all day. I did not find that remotely amusing.’

The back door slammed. Ezra winced.

‘Hey Ez. Hey pumpkin.’ Vin arrived back from basketball practice with the kids in Purgatorio. ‘Why the long face?’

‘Daddy won’t let me go on a picnic for my birthday.’

Vin turned to Ezra who clarified, ‘on horseback.’ Vin nodded.

‘Okay well, what other ideas have ya got?’

‘Dunno.’ The usually cheerful child was definitely sulking.

‘Mebbe we should jest stay home and do yer homework.’ Rorie looked appropriately horrified by that suggestion.

‘But, but…’

‘Or we could hike out and have a picnic, mebbe camp overnight. Chris has been promising Billy for ages ta take ‘im camping when the weather got better an’ it’s a Saturday.’

Now Ezra looked horrified. ‘Mr Tanner…’

‘Yeah! We can tell creepy stories by the campfire and toast marshmallows. It’ll be great. Can we Daddy, can we?’

The suave undercover agent threw the sharpshooter a speaking glance. ‘If you are quite sure that that’s what you want.’

‘Yeah. I’ll go get Barbie into the right outfit.’ She took off.

Vin grinned, dumping his rucksack by the back door and pulling a beer from the fridge. ‘The right outfit? She gits more like ya ever’day.’

‘Mr Tanner, I can assure you that you will pay dearly for this.’

Vin laughed. ‘Yep I expect so. It’ll be worth it – com’on Ez, ya know ya love camping really!’

Saturday 5th May
Rorie’s Fourth Birthday

They’d actually left the evening before. Rorie had wanted to wake up on her birthday out in the ‘wilderness’.

Chris had led them to a small creek campsite, only three miles from the Ranch and the two kids had had a happy time poking around in the shallow water while the men set up tents without their ‘assistance’.

In reality, Chris and Vin set up the tents. Ezra supervised.

Rorie inevitably woke up before Ezra, whose tent she was sharing, but she already knew better than to wake him. She was snuggled tightly against his chest, secure in his sleeping bag, and she spent long moments extracting herself, as clumsily careful as only four year old could be.

Ezra had woken with the first movement but kept his eyes closed. He was aware that if he played possum she’d go and play with Uncle Vin and he could stay in bed, at least for a little while.

She climbed out of Ezra’s arms and on silent feet trotted over to the neighbouring tent where she crawled in with the Texan. It was not yet light out and Vin grinned, in no doubt that ‘Daddy’ was fully awake and well aware of exactly where the child was going. He let her shuffle about in the confined space of his sleeping bag until she kicked him strategically and he grabbed her feet and held her still.

‘Stop shufflin’.’ He wheezed.

‘I’m trying to get comfy.’

‘Well don’t kick me.’


They lay still. The silence lasted for about twenty seconds.

‘Uncle Vin.’


‘You know what day it is?’

Vin pretended to give the question careful consideration. ‘Saturday?’


There was a silence.

‘Uncle Vin?’


‘You know what day it is?’

‘I think… May 5th?’


Another silence.

‘Uncle Vin?


‘You know what day it is?’

Vin couldn’t help it he laughed. ‘Yeah Pumpkin. I know exactly what day it is. Ya ain’t talked about anythin’ else all week.’

‘Uncle Vin?’

He surrendered. ‘Happy Birthday, Pumpkin.’

She giggled. ‘Thanks Uncle Vin.’

He propped himself up on one elbow to look down into the glowing face. ‘So how old are ya?’ He teased. ‘I can’t remember.’

‘I’m gonna be five.’

Vin snorted. ‘You’re four.’

‘Yahuh. But I’m GONNA be five.’ She grinned at him. ‘And I’m GONNA be six, and I’m GONNA be seven....’

A disembodied voice, recognizably that of a sleepy Larabee, rose to join in the conversation. ‘Don’t count on it. You might not even make it to daylight if you can’t be quiet. Go back to sleep, it’s not even dawn yet.’

There was a brief pause and Vin and Rorie pulled faces at each other.

‘Hey Chris, can we go fishing this morning?’ Billy put in his two cents.

Back in Vin’s tent the two early birds stifled their laughs as they listened to Ezra’s grumpy reply. ‘Whatever you decide to do, do it somewhere else.’

‘Hello, Daddy. You’re awake early.’ Vin buried his face in the pillow at his companion’s cheerful call.

‘Okay. That’s it. Everybody up.’

There was the sound of shuffling as Chris climbed out of the black tent he was sharing with Billy.

‘Com’on Ez. Out.’ He shook the scarlet structure under which the Southerner was hibernating.

‘There’s nobody here.’ The two Children, now on their feet, giggled.

‘Daddy!’ The sleep suited birthday girl stuck her head through the flap and kissed her father’s stubbly face, upside down. ‘You have to get up. We’re gonna have lots of fun. It’s my birthday!’

‘It is? Are you sure?’ He gave her a mock frown.

‘Don’t be silly Daddy, you know it is.’

Ezra grinned at the inverted face hanging two inches above his own. A curtain of strawberry curls enclosed them in a private world. Reaching outside the tent he grabbed her round the waist and lifted her body until she was suspended upside down over his chest. She squealed on cue and he laughed.

‘Happy birthday Baby Girl.’

‘Daddy, I’m not a baby, I’m gonna be five.’

‘So I hear.’

‘Are we going fishing? Can we look for wild animals? Are there bears? Or polecats? What about ‘wolfs’?’


‘There ARE?’

‘Good Lord, I hope not. Out you go, take your clothes and let Uncle Vin help you dress.’


Two hours later the campers were settled on the side of the creek. Both children were in possession of long poles with small nets attached to the end and were happily paddling about in the shallow water trying to catch anything that moved, and quite a lot that didn’t. The adults lay stretched out in the sunshine on the grass idly watching them play. Ezra, unwisely, slipped back to sleep, lulled by the warmth of the late spring sun.

‘I got one! I got one!’ Billy jumped from foot to foot, waving his net around. He rushed over to Chris to show him his ‘catch’. Chris peered into the net.


‘What is it Chris?’ Vin was alerted by Chris’s tone.

‘It’s a baby alligator.’ Chris chuckled.

‘WHAT?’ Vin sat up. ‘There ain’t no alligators here Cowboy. Let me see Billy.’

Billy strolled over to Vin, waving the net in his face and liberally showering him with cold water.

Vin examined the net.

There was a snorted giggle from the boy.

‘Billy you’re not supposed to laugh, it spoils the joke.’ Rorie spoke from behind him, grinning herself.

Vin retrieved the plastic alligator and raised his brows at the kids. He then turned to look at the sleeping undercover agent. There were a series of suppressed chuckles as he bounced his eyebrows playfully.

Leaning over, the wiry Texan carefully placed the toy in the centre of the Southerner’s chest a mere inch from his chin. He then whispered to Rorie who nodded.

‘Aaaagh!’ She screamed, in a high pitch screech only achievable by small girls and howler monkeys. ‘Daddy! Look out! It’s gonna eat you!’

Ezra shot upright, leaping to his feet and madly brushing his arms against his chest to get the dreaded ‘wild thing’ off him. He took a few rapid steps backward and stood panting as he snatched for the sidearm he wasn’t wearing.

The others fell about laughing and he snorted, bending over and putting his hands on his knees as he tried unsuccessfully to catch a breath. ‘That was unkind.’ He watched the laughing group.

‘This calls for a little retribution.’ He grabbed the chortling Texan and hauled him to his feet, tossing him into the water. Vin, in the throes of a laughing fit, was unable to muster much resistance. The Southerner reached for his boss but Larabee was ready for him and made a quick countermove.

It was Ezra who joined Vin in the water.

The two wet Agents looked at each other and nodded. They advanced on the kids who ran screaming for the cover of the trees. Unfortunately for them, the two ATF Agents were much more practiced at chasing down their prey, not to mention the fact they had the added advantage of much longer legs. There ensued a fierce battle involving much splashing, dunking and tickling accompanied the entire time by shrieks of laughter.

Pretty soon four very wet, very cold, very happy campers were climbing out and wrapping themselves in the towels provided by Chris who had resumed his spectator’s position on the warm grass. He raised a blonde brow at Rorie as she approached, still dripping.

She leapt onto his lap and he reflexively caught her. He sighed. Being dry was never going to last anyway, not when he was the only one.

Plastering her soggy body against his, she grinned. ‘Love you Uncle Chris!’

He laughed. ‘Yeah, me too Shorty. That’s three I owe you! Don’t think I’m not keeping score.’

‘It’s my birthday! You can’t get mad with me today.’ She acted as if it were carved in stone.

Ezra peeled her away from Chris and engulfed her in a towel. ‘That is not a license to create havoc. The rules still apply.’

‘Speaking o’ birthdays…’ Vin exchanged looks with his team mates who nodded.

‘What?’ Rorie looked intrigued.

‘Time we packed up and headed back to the Ranch.’ Chris rose to his feet, accepting the damp towel from the Texan and rubbing it ineffectually against his wet shirtfront.

‘We’re going back? Now?’ Billy wasn’t sure he wanted to leave.

‘Yeah, the boys are coming over fer a barbeque an’ we’ve got cake an’ ice cream fer Rorie’s birthday. There may even be a few presents…’

‘I’ve got presents too? Cool.’

‘Come, you acquisitive little beast, let’s get you into fresh clothes and get ready for the hike home.’ Ezra took Rorie’s hand and set off to get them both changed.

Larabee Ranch

Already at the ranch when they arrived were Josiah, Buck and Nathan. They were just setting up the barbeque when Mary joined them, followed not long after by JD who had brought Casey with him.

‘Hello. You must be Rorie.’ The child nodded as she looked up at the pretty dark haired newcomer. She cast a speculative look at JD and back at Casey.

‘Are you Uncle JD’s girlfriend?’


‘It’s Okay Ezra.’ Casey nodded at the serious child. ‘I guess I am.’

‘Oh.’ She thought about that.

‘Do you do all that yucky kissing stuff?’ She made the appropriate grimace of distaste.

Ezra made a reproachful growling noise.

Casey laughed. ‘Sometimes.’


Casey was stumped. ‘Um…’

Buck recognised his field of expertise and jumped into rescue her. ‘Because it feels good, Short Stuff. You’ll understand when you grow up.’

Rorie threw him a disgusted look. ‘I’m not gonna. Boys are yucky. They smell of peanut butter and they pull my hair.’

Ezra grinned. ‘You just keep thinking along those lines, honeybee, and I may yet survive your adolescence.’

‘Nope. Not having one of those either.’ There was a short pause. ‘What’s ‘lesscents’ Daddy?’ The adults laughed.

After a noisy meal of hamburgers, steaks and hotdogs, with not a vegetable in sight, much to Nathan’s disgust, Josiah and Mary disappeared into the house and collected a Barbie cake decorated with four candles. JD got out his video camera and there was a loud, if somewhat off key, rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ and Rorie and Billy took turns blowing out the candles until there were only four sorry looking stumps left.

‘Time fer presents.’ Vin produced a pile of gaily wrapped packages from their hiding place in the woodshed.

‘Wow!’ Rorie tore into the top gift before her father laid a restraining hand on her arm. ‘It would be advisable to read the labels Dahling, before you unwrap each parcel, in order to be able to render the appropriate thanks to whomever gave you the gift.’ She nodded and turned to the label.

‘This one is from Uncle Josiah.’ She glanced at Ezra, ‘can I open it now?’ He nodded.

‘Wow, a Barbie car! Thanks Uncle Josiah.’ She leapt to her feet and gave him a hug.

‘You’re welcome Cherub.’

She dashed back to the pile and the adults grinned.

‘To Rorie, love from Uncle Buck.’ This one turned out to be a Barbie Horse, complete with saddle and accessories. ‘Thanks Uncle Buck, now Barbie can go riding even if I can’t.’ She hugged Buck as she shot a look of triumph at Ezra who rolled his eyes.

Uncle JD and Casey provided Barbie with a Horse trailer, while Uncle Nathan’s gift of a toy medical kit made everyone laugh.

‘It even has pretend band-aids! I figure you can’t do too much damage with those.’ Nathan teasingly tugged Rorie’s plait as he accepted his hug.

‘Thank you Uncle Nathan.’

‘It was my pleasure, Sugar Plum.’

Uncle Chris’s present was a certificate for riding lessons from a local equine school. Ezra raised his brows.

‘I checked with her nanny who agreed to take her to classes once a week after school, when she’s allowed to ride again. I figured she can take the classes while we’re at work and we can help her at weekends.’

Ezra nodded. ‘A thoughtful gift, Mr Larabee. I think I can agree to that.’

Rorie grinned at her father. ‘Thanks Uncle Chris. That’s great!’

‘You’re welcome Shorty.’ Chris looked sheepish as he returned the enthusiastic thank-you squeeze.

Having opened the present from Mary and Billy, a fairy castle that opened to reveal play make up, jewellery and hair accessories, Rorie turned to the last gift on the table.

‘Happy Birthday Pumpkin, Love Uncle Vin.’ Rorie tore the paper off and laughed. The adults groaned at the sight of the multi-colored Super-soaker. Vin reached under the table and produced another.

‘Watch out kid, mine’s loaded!’

‘That’s what you claim!’ Buck laughed.

Vin squirted Rorie who jumped up and shot away.

‘Not fair!’

The two children ran about the yard, screaming at the tops of their lungs, pursued by the armed Texan. Tanner wasn’t a sharpshooter for nothing and both children were soon drenched. Vin finally ran out of ammunition and called a halt. He then helped Billy fill up while Buck helped Rorie.

The adults sat around drinking coffee while the two children conducted a super-soaker war for nearly an hour. Eventually they declared a truce and rejoined the adults.

Rorie climbed onto Ezra’s lap, getting him damp in the process. She began to stick her finger in his discarded frosting, transferring it into her mouth and sucking noisily, until he handed her a fork.

Ezra looked over to Chris who smiled and disappeared back into the woodshed, behind where the two Standishes were sitting.

‘This is from all your Uncles Shorty.’ Chris appeared carrying a finely crafted miniature saddle, with Rorie’s initials tooled into the leather.

‘Wow! Cool!’ Billy got up to take a closer look.

Rorie gaped. ‘That’s for me? It’s my very own?’

‘Ain’t nobody else with the initials ‘ACS’ that I know. Cowboy?’

‘Nope, me neither. I guess it has to be for you.’ Chris grinned at the child’s expression of awe.

‘I… I…gee, thanks everybody!’ Rorie dashed around giving all her Uncles huge hugs. Each one returned the embrace, feeling the chid wrap her magic around each of their hearts.

She returned to look over the saddle, balanced on the chair she’d occupied during the meal. ‘Look Daddy, look. Did you see?’

‘I did. You are a very lucky girl. It’s just as well your Uncles don’t bear grudges for all the pranks you’ve pulled on them.’ He smiled at her as she climbed onto his lap again.

‘Nah, they’re pretty cool… for grown ups.’ She grinned at the spluttering.

‘High praise indeed.’ Ezra chuckled.

‘Can I try it out? Please? I know I’m not allowed to ride but just for a minute?’ She looked at him pleadingly.

‘Well Honeybee, we’ll see.’ Ezra reached into his pocket and withdrew a small lumpy package. ‘You still haven’t opened your present from me.’ He handed her the parcel.

‘There’s more? Thanks Daddy.’ She tore the paper off, tossing it into the pile being held by Casey.

In her hands she held a tangle of leather straps. ‘It’s a bridle, and it matches my saddle, thank you Daddy.’ She kissed his cheek. ‘Look it’s got something written,’ she peered at the letters before turning up the other way and trying again. ‘It says ‘Cle-o-pat-tra’. She sounded out the unfamiliar word. ‘Cleopatra. I think this must be for someone else Daddy. It hasn’t got MY name on it.’

Ezra grinned at her. ‘Well honeybee I don’t expect you to wear it.’ Now she was very confused and he laughed. ‘It’s hers.’ He pointed over to where JD was standing by the barn.

There beside him was a medium sized pony, a young bay mare, standing completely still, ears pricked forward towards the group at the picnic table.

Rorie looked at Ezra. ‘Daddy?’

‘Happy Birthday Baby Girl.’ He kissed the tip of her nose.

‘She’s mine?’ The Southerner nodded, matching her serious expression. ‘Truly?’ He laughed.

‘Yes, truly. And in light of the fact that it’s your birthday, I am prepared to allow you to have a short ride. Would you like to come and meet her?’

Rorie smiled slowly.

‘Thank you Daddy!’ She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him fiercely.

Ezra buried his nose in her hair and hugged her tight, breathing deeply of her scent, a mixture of shampoo, fresh air, frosting and Rorie. He’d missed so much of her life, he was determined to make the most of every hug, every sticky kiss and every precious moment she chose to spend with him. There was no way HIS child would grow up feeling unloved or unwanted. All the years he’d been without true affection had led him to this moment and he wouldn’t change a minute of it. He met the Texan’s eyes over her head. Vin winked. He knew exactly what the Southerner was thinking.

Ezra stood, taking the child up with him, and the whole group approached the newest member of the Larabee stable.

Rorie was asleep by the time she was packed into the car. The two children had each had a turn with Cleo, walking around in the corral being led by either Chris or Vin. It had been agreed that Billy would also be able to take Cleo out for rides, whenever Rorie wasn’t around, to make sure she had enough exercise and to help Billy learn to ride solo. Billy was ecstatic, it was almost as if he’d been given a pony himself.

‘Ya know Ez,’ Vin spoke from the passenger seat of the Jag as they roared along the quiet streets, ‘this whole thing kinda worries me.’

The undercover agent shot him a questioning look before refocusing on the road.

‘What the hell are we gonna do at Christmas?’

Ezra laughed. ‘Let’s leave that up to Santa shall we?’ He flicked the indicator to make a left into the driveway.

‘Personally Mr Tanner, I took immense satisfaction in making up for three birthdays missed.’

‘I’m with ya pard.’

Sunday 6th May

Vin and Ezra sat in the den, each working on their own project. Vin was flicking through gun catalogues and Ezra was checking his investments online. Finally Ezra shut down his computer and leaned back in his chair. He chuckled.

Vin looked up from his magazine. ‘What?’

‘You probably won’t find my musings humorous Mr Tanner.’

‘Ez ya can’t jest laugh an’ not tell me why. Spill it.’

‘Very well if you insist. I never envisioned, when I joined Team 7 that within three short years I would find myself with six highly unconventional ‘brothers’, settling down in domestic bliss with a child, a couple of animals and a monster of a house complete with white picket fence. My humor, I am sorry to say stems from your position in this dynamic.’


‘Well, if I am the Father, Rorie is the child and this is the house, what are you? Mom?’ He laughed again.

Vin growled. ‘Jest don’t expect ta exercise any conjugal rights ya dang Southern fool or ya’ll be givin’ that rebel yell three octaves higher.’

The End

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