It’s How You Ask
November 12, 2012
Answer to “You can quote me on that” challenge on Vin F&D list
"I told you this might happen."
"Let's not and say that we did."
"There is no time like the present."
Now you need to write a story that includes all three quotes<g>. They don't have to appear in the order given but they can't all appear in the same paragraph!
# Any AU
# No shorter than 100 words and no more than 1500 words
Summary - You Can Quote Me on That challenge - The Judge asks the boys a favor
Length: 1484 words
“I can’t do that,” Judge Orin Travis said.
Chris Larabee shrugged. “Then all that’s left is to ask them.”
Travis nodded solemnly and peeked through the blinds covering the window between Chris’ office and the bullpen. He saw the six other men pretending to be busy, but each of them covertly cast at least one glance toward the office while he watched. Except Tanner, who grinned and gave a little salute. Travis quickly released the slat and faced Chris.
“Guess there is no time like the present.”
Larabee exited his office with Judge Travis just a step behind. Six sets of eyes met his, a mix of curiosity, anticipation and worry showing in all. “Boys, Judge Travis has something to talk to you about.”
He nodded to the older man and took up a lean against the edge of Nathan’s desk.
Travis looked around the room, still uncertain how to phrase his request. Larabee had been no help, offering only that he should ‘make it an order’ to ensure their compliance. But he couldn’t do that, not for this… could he?
Realizing that Team Seven was waiting for a response, Travis cleared his throat and began, “Well, I’m looking for some help, a few volunteers, that is…” he stopped as Buck popped up out of his chair.
“Sorry, Judge,” Buck said, sidling toward the door as he spoke, “I’ve got a hot date, would love to help, but…” and with a shrug, he was out the door.
Travis blinked and almost missed Tanner’s quick “Dentist” as he followed right behind Wilmington. Knowing how difficult it was to get the sharpshooter anywhere near a dentist’s office, Orin was pretty sure Vin’s excuse was a lie… besides, they didn’t even know the date yet.
He hesitated a moment too long though, allowing JD to mumble, “I’ve got a… well, you know, that thing, sorry,” as he slipped out the door.
And Nathan Jackson was right behind him, having pushed past Chris. “Sorry, Judge, Rain and I made plans ages ago.” And he was gone.
That left only Standish and Sanchez. Their desks were furthest from the door, though both had made it to the door just after Jackson, and bounced off each other in their haste to leave.
They looked at each other, then back at Travis and said at the same time –
“I promised the church I’d help rebuild some pews…”
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be sick that day…”
Orin opened his mouth as Standish’s words sunk in, but the two men had managed to share the doorway, quiet effectively, almost waltzing out chest to chest.
Larabee chuckled. “I told you this might happen.”
“Do you have any other suggestions?”
Chris grinned. “Let me handle it.”
The next day being Saturday, the boys were all out at Chris’ ranch to enjoy a quiet weekend riding their horse. Chris carefully did not mention the Judge until they were well away from the ranch and settling in to eat the lunch they’d packed for the ride.
“We need to talk about yesterday,” Chris said, determined to be heard. Quizzical eyes met his. “The Judge…” he prompted.
“Let’s not and say that we did,” Buck quickly replied.
“Yeah, cowboy,” Vin agreed. “Last time we ‘helped’ the Judge we ended up at a bachelor’s auction for one of Ms. Evie’s charities.” He shuddered at the memory.
“Indeed,” Ezra supplied, “I have no wish to find myself purchased by some elderly matron with roving appendages.” His shudder mimicked Vin’s.
Chris nodded and held up his hands to stave off the other comments he was sure were coming. “I would agree with you completely…” he paused for effect, “If this was the same sort of situation, but it’s not. You didn’t even give the man a chance to explain.”
Josiah rubbed his chin. “I wondered why he didn’t just ‘tell’ us what we were volunteering for.”
Nathan nodded. “Yeah, it’s not like we had a choice before, even though he had Ms. Evie ask us real nice.”
“Well,” Chris said, “that’s because this isn’t something he can really order us to do. It’s not something he should have to order us to do,” he added catching each of them with his eyes for a moment before continuing.
“I believe an explanation is in order,” Ezra said.
Chris smirked. “You all were so quick to make your escape that the Judge didn’t even have time to get to that part. See it’s the anniversary of Steven Travis’ death in a few days, and with the holidays so close, it’s been hard on Mrs. Travis the last few years. The Judge thought she might like it if we joined them for their Thanksgiving celebration, might make her feel better.”
“Why us?” JD asked, “Aren’t they going to have their family over?”
Larabee shook his head. “Just Mary and Billy. They don’t have any other children and their other relatives have plans at home, on the East coast.”
“So, why us?” Vin repeated, confused. He liked Mrs. Travis, and even the Judge when he wasn’t being the ‘boss,’ but being invited to share a family holiday?
Chris shrugged. “It’s the Judge’s idea. He didn’t explain his reasons.”
Josiah nodded slowly to himself.
Nathan nudged him with an elbow. “Spill it, preacher. You obviously have some idea.”
Josiah smiled. “Well, I think Mrs. Travis, and to some extent the Judge, too, have come to think of us as family. We’ve been through quite a bit together in the last few years. I even got a birthday card from them this year.”
“Me, too!” JD exclaimed, excited to finally understand the gesture.
The others nodded, adding up the little clues. Birthday cards, care packages when they’d been injured, plates of cookies and other goodies showing up in the break room. Even homemade sandwiches and easy to reheat meals being delivered when they’d been working long hours.
They had all been grateful for the kindnesses, but at the end of the day, they’d been forgotten in the rush of adrenaline and the crash after the bust was completed.
Ezra cleared his throat. “I believe I am free for the festivities. Mother has plans to be in Europe over the holidays.”
“Rain’s going to visit her family out of town,” Nathan added. “I can make it.”
“Wonder if they want us to bring anything?” Buck said.
“Forget it, Buck!” JD answered with a grimace. “Mrs. Travis is a great cook, only thing you can make is burnt toast.”
“Hey!” Buck protested, “You sure do eat enough of my cooking, boy. And I only burnt the toast ‘cause you changed the setting on the toaster.”
Chris looked at Josiah who nodded his agreement and then to Vin who seemed surprised. Chris tilted his head questioningly.
Vin just shrugged. He didn’t want to say it out loud. He’d found one family already with his six team mates… brothers. How could he explain what it meant to find out that Mrs. Travis and the Judge thought of them as family, too? Add in Nettie and Casey, Mary and Billy and even Inez and he had more family than he’d ever hoped for.
Vin smiled at Chris who had a worried look on his face. “Hope the Judge knows what he’s doing, adoptin’ us like this.”
The others stopped teasing Buck when they heard his words. They exchanged glances and looked to Chris.
“Perhaps we should inform the Judge of our availability,” Ezra said tentatively, “and confirm the invitation.” The trepidation in his voice that the invitation might be revoked was clear to all of them.
Chris nodded. “We can call them when we get back to the house.” He jerked back, away from the six cell phones that had been thrust in his direction.
Vin chuckled. “There’s no time like the present, Cowboy.”
Chris gave a mock growl, but nodded and grabbed the phone from Vin’s hand and punched in the Judge’s cell number. “Hi, Judge… no, it’s Chris, I’m just borrowing Vin’s phone… We’re all fine, just got through discussing your proposition. We were hoping the invitation is still open…” Chris smiled broadly, looking at the worried faces surrounding him. “Great, I’ll let them know. Did you need us to bring anything?”
A few moments later, Chris hung up and handed Vin his phone. They all waited impatiently for Chris to confirm what they had heard. He let the silence stretch until Vin smacked him on the shoulder.
He chuckled. “It’s confirmed, we’re all invited to spend Thanksgiving Day at the Judge’s house. He said he’d ask Evie if she wanted us to bring anything.”
Broad grins lit up seven faces and they started to discuss what they could do to make the day perfect for their hosts. Privately, each man was contemplating their good fortune and eagerly looking forward to spending the holiday with their newly discovered family.
Did you like it? I’d appreciate it if you let me know. JudyL