Vin cautiously moved deeper into Sheriff Bank's living quarters. Moving slowly he made certain to stay well within the traffic areas uncertain of 'proper' manners. He seemed to disappear within the folds and hood of the grey cloak.
"Just relax, Vin," Darryl Banks urged keeping well back. Don't want to scare the kid any worse than he already is. How in hell does Larabee deal with this on a daily basis? Damn, I wish I hadn't raised my voice to him.
"Together Vin, just like I promised," Chris assured the youngster.
The desperate sapphire eyes almost seemed to glow from within the hood. /What do I do?/
/What do you mean, cowboy?/ Chris relaxed slightly as Vin made contact. At least he's reaching out.
/Never been in nobody's . . . private rooms as a free man, except fer yers, the boys and Demetri's./ Vin answered hesitantly.
"Sheriff Banks invited you into his home. That means you can take the cloak off if you want," Chris suggested.
Vin glanced uncertainly toward Banks and his deputy before turning back to Larabee. Taking a deep breath Tanner strained his shoulders and lifted his head. Turbulent sapphire eyes meet Larabee's straight on. The youngster obviously pushed past the nightmare conditioned responses of a hound. A shaky hand reached up and pushed the hood back before Vin shrugged the hated garment off.
"I'll hang this thing up on one of the pegs over here," Henry gently whisked the offending garment away.
"Thank you for allowing me into your home, Sheriff Banks." Vin said softly his gaze not quite meeting the other man's.
"I'm sorry we got off to a bad start, Vin. Make yourself at home," Darryl invited.
"Not sure why I'm offering, I mean you just left the care of dozens of Romney women trying to fatten you up. Can I get you two anything to eat?" Banks asked as he moved into the kitchen.
"You can get your own," Darryl glared at his deputy currently rummaging through the cabinet.
"Thanks Darryl, don't mind if I do," Henry responded with a smirk.
"Nothing for me, we were well fed," Chris admitted ruefully patting his stomach before moving over to the comfortable looking couch. Maybe I can get Vin to settle if I do.
Tanner's nose twitched and he shifted a bit until he spotted the bowl full of fruit. Vin inched closer to the temping bowl. /Peaches/
"I hope you were serious," Chris chuckled. He's almost drooling.
"What?" Banks looked confused.
"Vin, ask first. Sheriff Banks might be saving those peaches for something special," Chris ordered.
Darryl smiled warmly at the obviously enraptured youngster. I can buy more tomorrow. When Banks started to offer the boy one, Larabee shook his head to stop the move.
"You're a guest in Sheriff Banks' house. Now what would Ezra do?" Larabee asked.
Vin looked from the peaches back to Chris for a long moment. Taking a deep breath the ex-hound raised his head and looked toward Darryl. "Can I have a peach, Sheriff Banks?" Vin asked politely.
"May I have a peach?" Darryl automatically corrected.
"Sheriff Banks, may I have a peach . . . Please?" Vin straightened a bit and the sapphire eyes met the man's gaze full on.
"I done it right?" Vin looked over at Larabee.
"Ezra couldn't have done a better job," Chris praised.
"Would you like a drink to go with it?" Banks offered. Manners, no telling what else they've had to teach the poor kid.
"Yes Sir," Vin answered.
"Milk, coffee, tea?" Darryl asked.
"Coffee please," Vin began to relax a bit as he tried out this being a guest thing.
"Here take these, while I get drinks," Banks handed the boy the bowl of peaches and headed over to start coffee.
Larabee, Banks and Henry Connor began exchanging small talk as they got to know each other.
"Vin Tanner!" Chris thundered looking over at the youngster.
Vin quickly slurped the last of the peach before looking up at Larabee. A few pitiful denuded pits were all that remained of the lush fruit.
"You were told you could have A peach, not the whole bowl," Chris reminded sharply. "What would Ezra say?"
Vin fidgeted a moment before looking up. "That first one was just about perfect. Seemed rude you not acceptin' yours, so I ate it to be polite. Was going to set the bowl back, when I got to thinking about what Ez would do. . . so I ate 'em all."
Chris opened his mouth hesitated, then shut it . It was peaches, that damn gambler would have too.
"Vin . . ." Larabee began his reprimand.
Henry and Darryl began to snigger at the unrepentant Tanner. Busily the boy began to lick the juice from his fingers, quite unconcerned by the upcoming lecture.
"Vin the bathroom's this way. Think you need some soap and water to get all the juice off." Henry hurriedly urged the boy up and out of the room. Glad to see him acting like a kid.
"I'd say he's taking to being a guest," Darryl laughed picking up the abandoned bowl.
"I'll pay for them. Knew better than take my eyes off him as far as peaches go," Chris chuckled ruefully.
"Forget it, as long as he doesn't get a bellyache over them, it was worth it just to see him relax." Banks smiled warmly.
Henry grinned widely as he rejoined them. "What are you going to tell Joseph when there's no peach pie tonight?"
"I'se sorry, didn't mean to cause trouble. Should have realized them peaches was meant fer special'," Vin was obviously upset when he returned.
"Don't worry on it. It made me feel good seeing how much you enjoyed those things. Now watch while I make an executive decision." Banks ordered.
Vin looked confused as he tried to puzzle out what the Sheriff was saying.
"As Sheriff, I'm ordering my lowly deputy, Henry Connor out to restock my larder. While he is replacing the cheese, crackers, assorted sundries he just inhaled from my cabinets, said Deputy can replace one bowl of peaches while he's at it." Darryl firmly escorted his friend to the door and pushed him out. "Do the rounds while you're out."
Residence of Joseph Ellison
"I'd sure feel better if one of us could talk to Chris and Junior," Buck grumbled before setting down his coffee cup.
"I really don't see any way to do that safely," Joseph warned.
"This late in the game. They're going to have pictures of everyone of us," Isaiah reminded. "The best thing we can do is draw as much attention away from the boy as possible."
"I know you're right," Buck admitted. "Just hate feeling so useless."
"We're not exactly useless," Isaiah grinned.
"What's going on in that twisted mind of yours?" Buck demanded worriedly. Worse than Ezra when he gets going.
"I think Nathaniel and I need to go visit the local missions, a little preaching, healing and mingling. Be just the kind of places that they'd expect us to hide Vin. It'll take more than a couple of UNPK observers to keep track of us, Once the locals notice the Peace Keepers some folks are going to be slipping off to avoid being seen. Have to bring in more watchers to try and keep track of all of them." Isaiah blinked benignly.
Buck grinned widely and nodded. "That ought to have the UNPK acting like their pants are on fire and their asses are catching."
"Where are the high stakes poker games held?" Isaiah asked impishly.
"Liberty Saloon, The Hyatt Hotel . . . Which just happens to be a block over from the Sherriff's office," Joseph laughed.
"Need to keep Ez out of there then," Buck groaned.
"Of course not . . . It's just where he needs to be," Isaiah corrected.
"Brother Ezra will garner considerable attention . . . hotel rooms, people coming and going."
"He'll take a whole lot of watching," Buck laughed.
"I'll have my father join him for the evening," Joseph smirked. "Way I understand it Standish is an excellent player and Dad loves a challenge. UNPK would be very, very cautious not to cause trouble with the owner of Ellison Enterprises there."
"You sure Ez'll have back up?" Buck demanded.
"My father has his own security team . . . ," Joseph began to laugh. "Oh God, tell me that this isn't Maude Standish's boy."
"Well, Ez's momma's name is Maude," Buck admitted worriedly.
"My dad has mooned over that woman for 20 years. She shows him just enough interest to keep him hoping. There's no way in hell he'd let anything happen to her son."
"Think Ezra might be the safest one of us all." Josiah chuckled.
"If he made it through childhood he can take care of himself. I figured she would have eaten her own young. Woman scares the crap out of me," Ellison admitted.
"Leaves JW and me," Buck reminded.
"Heffner's Gentlemen's Club," Joseph suggested. "Lots of 'private' rooms. Members and their guests. Lots of . . . deals get brokered in the back rooms. Lots and lots of secluded entrances. It'll drive the UNPK crazy trying to cover all the exits, much less keep track of what's going on inside."
"What kind of Gentlemen's club?" Buck asked curiously.
"Excellant food, superb library, sitting rooms . . ." Ellison grinned as Buck sighed miserably.
"Sounds stuffy as hell," Buck groaned.
"There's darts, billiards of course, a gaming room . . . Oh yeah, mustn't forget the bordello."
"Damn, it sounds like my kind of place. They have daycare? Need to do something with JW while I'm busy." Buck enthused.
"None of us are members," Isaiah reminded.
"I have a lifetime membership," Ellison admitted ruefully. "My maternal uncle Jack O'Neals' idea of a 21st birthday present."
"Sounds like a great uncle," Buck enthused.
"I always thought so."