DISCLAIMER: No they are not mine and Santa said I couldn’t have them (sniff, sniff)

NOTES/WARNINGS: Don’t know exactly where this one came from, plus it’s rough and unbetaed.

Vin’s First Thanksgiving
by Holly

As he sat at his desk typing away at his keyboard his mind began to wander. Glancing around at the other desks scattered about the area that was Team Seven’s, he couldn’t suppress the tiny grin that crept upon his face. What a difference a year could make.

It was nearly 5:00pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and everyone was busily finishing up their reports, anxious to get them done before the start of the long holiday weekend. It wasn’t that often that they were even able to enjoy such a luxury of a whole weekend off let alone four days. But, Larabee’s team had just finished up a difficult case the week before and Director Travis had promised them the entire holiday off, provided the reports were done.

Vin had worked all night for the last two nights to make sure his was completed. Writing wasn’t his strong point and the others knew it, but never called him on it. For which he was endlessly grateful. It had always been a problem when he was in school. Of course that felt like an entire other lifetime ago. For someone who had known very little in the way of family and kindness, he had gained a full new understanding of it in the last eight months.

Eight months since they had all been together? It seemed like only yesterday and yet it also seemed so much longer. They had been hard months for all of the members of the team, learning to trust and be trusted. One little gunshot wound a few months back and Tanner had come to really appreciate the term ‘mother hen’. The others had nearly driven him crazy, being so used to taking care of himself, but he was man enough to admit that it also felt good to know someone cared.

Six someones. It took some getting used to, but the concept of friends, or more like family, was quickly growing on the Texan who had learned early in life that he count on little besides himself.

It had been a pleasant surprise to find out he was wrong.

Now staring at this strange group of men he had next to nothing in common with except and unerring sense of justice, and possibly a streak of pure stubbornness that could make a nun curse, he felt an indescribable warmth spread through him.

Thanksgiving?!

It wasn’t that he had never celebrated the holiday. There was always the traditional meal whether it was at the table of a foster family that had almost begrudgingly taken him in after he had lost his mother, at the soup kitchens he had found during his time as a teenager on the street, or alone with a take-out meal in front of the TV watching football as a young adult. Thanksgiving came and went like all of the other holidays.

But this year was different.

Still sitting at his desk finalizing his report, Vin recalled how it had all come about.

He had spent the weekend at Chris’ due to the slight graze he had received in his left thigh during the recent bust. It had been the only injury for the team and though minor, one would have thought they had amputated from the way the others had hovered.

Chris had insisted Vin stay with him, just to keep the younger man from having to negotiate the steps in his apartment building. The wound, though minor had hurt like hell, so the sharpshooter had agreed without too many threats being issued by Nathan on the proper care of said wound. It had been that Sunday afternoon, when everyone had come over to watch football that Buck had begun his campaign.

Holidays were something Chris usually chose to ride out alone since the death of his wife and son, but something had made him change his mind this time. Maybe, he too was finding this new found family hard to turn his back on, but more than likely it had been one soft spoken comment with a lazy drawl that had changed his mind.

Everyone had been sharing the memory of their favorite Thanksgiving meal and Vin’s turn had come up.

Vin hadn’t known what to say. His own holiday experiences weren’t exactly memorable and he scrambled through his own assortment of memories to think of something to add. He didn’t want to feel left out. Not quite ready when he heard his own name called for an answer, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“Well, uh, I remember this time at Holy Angels down on Sycamore when they had the biggest feast ya ever seen, with sweet potatoes and even pie with whip cream. I’s so full that day I thought I’s gonna burst. They even let me have second helpings.”

It didn’t dawn on him what he had really told them until he realized the room had grown so deathly quiet. Only JD’s voice broke through.

“Hey, isn’t that where they do that free meal for the homeless you always talk about, Josiah?” The kid’s own words slapped him in the face as he realized that the others already knew that and that was why they were so quiet.

Vin seeing his error and not wanting to spoil the festive mood had quickly tried to cover. “Best damn meal I ever had. And free too.”

“So what,” Chris added jokingly, also wanting to spare his best friend any further embarrassment. “You eat me out of house and home and it’s free.”

The banter had quickly picked back up with Vin’s little revelation into his past quickly pushed into the background, but not forgotten, especially not by the team’s leader. So when Buck had begun to try and convince Chris to allow the brood to descend upon the ranch for the holiday he had acquiesced without too much wrangling. There was no way he would begrudge his best friend a real Thanksgiving.

Buck had been all excited. With that hurtle conquered the big ladies’ man had begun rounding up volunteers to bring this and that. It had seemed like a three ring circus to Vin, who had just sat back and watched in wonder. He’d never seen such excitement about Thanksgiving, or at least had never been a part of it.

Everyone had agreed to come, even Ezra, whose mother was off in Switzerland with her latest conquest. And the preparations were finalized.

Now the day was almost here and Vin felt his own excitement building as he sat watching his team members getting ready to head out.

Vin knew Chris had come out of his office and over to his desk, but couldn’t quite tear his eyes away from the sight of all of his new found wealth. These men had come to men a lot to him.

Yes, this year was definitely different. This year he had so much to be very thankful for.

Vin was thankful for friends who could drive you up the wall one minute and provide their shoulder to lean on the next. He was thankful for chance encounters that brought you to exactly where you were supposed to be and with the people you were supposed to be with. And, he was thankful that this year he finally understood what the holiday meant. It was a time meant to be shared with friends and family.

“You ‘bout ready there?” Chris’ question, though seemingly about Vin’s report, held a much deeper meaning.

Vin looked up, meeting his best friends green gaze and knew exactly what he meant. “Been ready all my life, Cowboy.”

END

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