by Tapestri

Main Characters: Ezra, Chris, Buck, JD

Universe: Lost Lambs

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine, neither is the universe, I’m just taking them out for a spin.

Notes: This was written in response to have a Little Ezra story where Ezra had to choose between two of the others. In this universe Ezra is 13, Vin is 10 and JD is 5.

KT – thank you for creating such a wonderful playground, the first of the kid universes that got my interest.

Helen – thank you very much for your wonderful Beta work

Laramee – if it wasn’t for a nice lttle GG round-robin that you started, as well as your encouragement, I might never have put any fic up on the web. Thank you.

Tired of listening to JD and Vin arguing the merits of their respective choices for Saturday’s excursion, Ezra slammed his book down and jumped up from his chair.

“I don’t want to hear it any more! What makes you think I would want to go to the zoo to gape at mangy animals stuck in their cages; or go sit through some boring baseball game surrounded by uncouth bores? Either diversion entails becoming hot and sweaty from the sun, and sticky from some substance trying to pass itself off as food. You really think that I would enjoy something like that?” He turned away from them to find Mr. Larabee and Mr. Wilmington in the doorway. He pushed past them and ran across the field with images of Vin’s face and JD’s tears following him.

In the house, JD threw himself into Buck’s arms. Chris expected Vin to seek comfort as well, but he followed Ezra’s path with his eyes before looking up and saying, “I think we messed up.”

Chris sighed as he realized their plan had backfired. He and Buck had noticed how Ezra had been deferring to the other two in their choices for activities away from the ranch. They had hoped to help him feel comfortable enough to choose things he wanted as well. Giving Vin a hug, Chris met Buck’s eyes for a moment, and then headed out after their oldest boy.

He hadn’t gotten far before he saw Ezra coming back to the house. He was walking with his head down and shoulders slumped. Chris could tell the moment Ezra became aware of him as the boy straightened his shoulders and raised his head. Larabee waited for him.

“I was coming back to apologize. That was inexcusable of me.”

Chris looked at the determined face in front of him. “You were out of line, but I’m not so sure about the inexcusable part.”

“But I made JD cry.”

“Yep, and he’ll get over it. I think we need to apologize to you as well.”

“Whatever for?” Ezra looked up in surprise.

“Buck and I wanted you to feel you had a say in what we do together as a family. Seems we went about it the wrong way. We didn’t realize how much pressure it would make you feel.”

The dark head lowered again. “They were both so excited. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, but that proved an impossible hope.”

Chris heard the slight falter that told him Ezra was fighting to hold back tears and pulled him close knowing the boy needed the reassurance no matter how much he resisted.

“Come on, let’s go back to the house.” He kept a hand on Ezra’s shoulder as they walked back together.

+ + + + + + +

When Chris went after Ezra, Buck sat down and started talking with the other boys.

“All right JD, that’s enough now,” Buck said to the child in his arms.

“But Ezra yelled at me, and he said he didn’t like zoos, or baseball, or hotdogs, or … or…why doesn’t Ezra like them?”

“I think Ezra was upset and didn’t really mean what he said.” He turned to the other boy, “Vin, what did you mean when you said you messed up?”

“We just kept naggin’ at Ez, JD about the zoo and me about baseball.”

“But Vin, he was the one going to choose.”

“But we didn’t let him choose JD. We pushed him for what we wanted. Then we brought Buck and Chris into it.”

“How did you do that Vin?” Buck asked.

“I told ‘im that Chris would want to go to the baseball game like I did and JD said you’d enjoy the zoo.”

“So he probably felt like he would be choosing between us as well.” Buck looked at them and they both lowered their heads. “Seems to me some making up needs to be done.”

“How?” Vin figured it was going to have to be something good to make things right again.

“Well now, I’ve got me an idea . . .”

+ + + + + + +

Larabee felt the muscles under his hand tense as they re-entered the house and he gave a reassuring squeeze. There was silence for a moment as the two older boys faced each other and then both spoke at once.

“I’m sorry we kept nagging at ya.” ”I apologize for my outburst.”

They locked eyes for a moment longer and then grinned.

JD climbed off of his brother’s lap and walked over to them. “I polasize too.”

Ezra picked up the younger boy with a smile saying, “Apology accepted.” He then turned to Buck. “Mr. Wilmington?”

Buck waved a hand before he could get any further. “Apology accepted,” he said with a smile, deliberately using the same words Ezra had. “but we still have some business to take care of. Our trip to the city on Saturday. The boys and I have come up with something we think you’d enjoy.”

JD put his hands on either side of Ezra’s face turning it to look at him. “Buck says we can go to the movies. But only if you really, really want to. Do you really, really want to?”

“You won’t get hot and sweaty,” Vin said with a smirk.

“Though you will still have to deal with some foods of dubious origin,” Chris commented with a wink.

“The movie house sounds like a perfect plan, and I expect that there will be future trips where we can visit the zoo and attend a baseball game.”

Chris nodded. “Yeah, there probably will be, and I bet you’ll have just as much fun on those trips as the rest of us. In spite of any complaints you may make.”

“You may very well be correct, Mr. Larabee.” Ezra looked up at his guardian with a smile.

Larabee returned the smile and then looked over at Buck whose eyes held as much pride for their boys as he felt himself. Their makeshift family had truly become something special.