by Wendymypooh

This story takes place in the MCAT AU created by tannertexaslady, but isn’t a part of the series.

Jason Tanner stormed up the steps of the Tanner home and opened the kitchen door. He slammed the door shut and practically ran through the other rooms to get to his bedroom.

“Jason Tanner, what in the world has gotten into you?” Max Andrews exclaimed, as she came out of the twins’ nursery.

Jason ignored her question and tried to walk around her to continue on to his room, but Max placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

“Leave me alone!” Jason shrugged away from Max and headed for his room.

“Jason, apologize to Max for being rude, now!” MCAT Agent Vin Tanner commanded his son with a firm tone.

Jason stiffened slightly as he realized his father had witnessed his behavior. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled under his breath.

“Try again.” Vin didn’t know what had happened to upset his son so much, and he intended to find out. First though, he was going to make sure that Jason understood having upset feelings didn’t mean he could be disrespectful to his elders.

Jason turned toward Max, and looked up at her with his blue eyes swelling with unshed tears. “I’m sorry, Max.”

Max stared down into the troubled face of the young boy and smiled. Her heart melted at the sight of his tears, but she didn’t want to undermine the lesson that her employer was trying to give his son. “Thank you Jason for apologizing.”

Vin nodded to Max that he would take it from here, and the housekeeper quickly left the hallway. Jason went for his room as soon as Max moved out of the hallway. Vin followed his son into Jason’s room.

Jason was lying sprawled on top of his bed, his slender body shaking with sobs. Vin’s heart turned over at the sight. He walked over to Jason’s bed and set down on the edge of it.

“Suppose you tell me what’s troublin’ you?” Vin asked Jason, running a soothing hand across his son’s back.

“I hate Caleb Wilmington, and I’m never talkin’ to him again and you can’t make me!” The muffled words came between gasps of breath.

“Hate’s a very strong word, Jason. It’s one we don’t use in this family, regardless of whom we’re talkin’ about,” Vin stated calmly. “Besides, Caleb’s your best friend.”

“Not anymore, he’s not. Not ever again.”

“Jason, sit up so I can understand you better.”

Vin waited until his son complied with his suggestion. “Now, tell me what Caleb said or did to make you so upset with him.”

“He said that you and Mom don’t love Andi and me as much as you love Bren and Trey because we are adopted and they aren’t.”

Vin wrapped his arms around Jason and pulled him into a hug. “Your mom and I love you kids just the same regardless of whether you were born to us or not. Even though you might not have my blood running through your veins, you do have your mom’s, so that makes you not only Tanners, but Larabee’s too.”

“That’s better than Caleb. He don’t have any of Aunt Inez or Uncle Buck’s blood,” Jason said proudly.

“Stop right there,” Vin told him sternly. “Caleb is a Wilmington in all ways that matter most and he’s not only your cousin, but you friend too. I don’t know why he said what he did, but he was wrong for saying it just like I’m sure you said some things that weren’t nice either.”

Jason glanced guiltily down. ”I told him that Uncle Buck only adopted him because he felt sorry for him.”

“Then you were wrong, too. Your Aunt Inez and Uncle Buck love Caleb, period. It doesn’t matter the ‘how or why’ of it, just that they love him, like your mom and I love all of you kids.” Vin told him. “Now, we’re goin’ to head over to the Wilmington’s so you can apologize.”

Jason nodded. “I hope Caleb forgives me. I didn’t mean what I said.”

“I’m sure he will.” Vin ruffled his hair as the two of them started toward the door. “Caleb’s a lot like your Uncle Buck. He might get mad easier than some of us, but he’d got a big enough heart to forgive his friends when he knows they didn’t mean the things they said in the first place.”

Vin and Jason didn’t have to far. Buck Wilmington and Caleb stood in their living room.

“Max let us in.” Buck told Vin over their boys’ heads. “Caleb has something he needs to say to Jason.

“Jason has a few words he needs to be tellin’ to Caleb too.” Vin replied, as both men nudged their sons with their hands.

The two boys eyed each other. Then Jason stepped forward. “I’m sorry, Caleb. I didn’t mean the hateful things I said to you.”

Caleb smiled. “Me neither. I should have never said your mom and dad don’t love you as much as Bren and Trey. I know that’s not true.”

“Really?” Jason asked, his blue eyes lighting up.

“Really. Are we still friends?” Jason threw an arm around Caleb’s shoulders. “We’re cousins.”

“Can we go outside and play?” Caleb asked his dad.

“If it’s alright with your Uncle Vin, it is alright with me.” Buck said.

Both boys turned toward Vin expectantly. “Go on you two, no more fights.”

“Thanks, Dad.” Jason hugged Vin and ran outside.

“We won’t!” Caleb vowed before following Jason.

“Whew, I hope all their arguments are always so easy to settle.” Buck told Vin.

“Me too, Bucklin. Me,too.”