I heard this song and just… loved it.

It’s such a beautiful thought and wonderful imagery, and Tori Amos has a nice voice, too.

It was hard to find something to use it for because many of my characters lack this close relationship with their father, but then… There was Burditt. Burditt is a great father and father figure.

And there’s how Dillon doesn’t see the good in himself after all that his biological father did to him, so this part can fit for his relationships with just about everyone as well as Burditt and Larina:

“Your must learn to stand up for yourself
Cause I can’t always be around”
He says

When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast

The part about things changing so fast fits in well with the story, because Larina’s life is completely flipped around at the beginning, and everything she thought she knew and had is gone, and she has to find a way to live with those changes, same with Dillon.

Plus I think, while several things led up to it happening, the way that Larina and Dillon lost their friendship must have seemed fast and horrible for both of them, leaving them both floundering for a while afterward, and that fits as well.

I had to use the lines about the white horses for this story, though, because they live on a ranch and care for rescue horses. The white ones are special, though, as the little fic shows.

Still, there’s a lot of Larina and Burditt that goes with this song.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

All the White Horses

Author’s Note: I wanted to use the song I chose for this piece a while now, but I didn’t really have an appropriate pair of father and daughter. I still thought of it when I worked on things for Dillon and Larina, and part of the lyrics fit with the relationship that they share. She always saw more in him than he saw in himself, and that part of the song seemed to fit.

So did everything with Burditt, as he was the father figure for them both, and he really was the one to show everyone how much they matter, how much he loved them and wanted them to love themselves.

I took scarf as the prompt/item from the digital package. The song and this concept could be extended into a longer arc or fic, and I kind of thought prefacing it with something from the present, and maybe I will if I work it into the novel. I’ll see.

It does follow Keeping Warm, as Dillon is still recovering in this one, but I liked the idea of connecting it a little. The main influence, though, has got to be Tori Amos’ “Winter.”


All the White Horses

“I thought you said hot cereal was fine as long as there was no milk in it,” Thyda said, peering over into Dillon’s bowl. Larina almost swatted her away. He didn’t need a lecture, and he was still kind of sick, so Thyda had to leave him alone.

“Is that too much?” Sorina asked Dillon, and he looked up at her, eyes full of guilt for pushing around his cereal instead of eating it. Larina wouldn’t have minded so much if he didn’t look like he was afraid of being punished for it, too. “Sweetheart, you’re still getting better. You don’t have to eat it all if it’s too much for you.”

He nodded, his head still low, and Larina reached over to take his hand just as the back door opened. Dillon jumped, and Burditt winced, but then a wide smile overtook his face, his excitement carrying him over to Sorina. “They’re back.”

“The road graders?”

“No,” he said, laughing. “Why would I care about that? We’ve got us a cozy home here where we all can stay nice and warm, and it’s done all right in getting our boy back to good health again, so we’re fine all cuddled up good here.”

Dillon frowned a bit, coughing as he reached for his cocoa. Larina bit her lip, hoping he wasn’t getting sick again. He was supposed to be better, not worse. Burditt gave him a look, a bit concerned, but that faded when he looked at Sorina. Larina didn’t think anyone could love someone as much as Burditt loved her.

“The horses, Briar Rose. They’re back.”

She smiled, reaching over to turn off the stove. “Everyone bundle up nice and warm. We’re going outside.”

“Why?” Thyda asked. She looked over at Dillon. “He shouldn’t—and it’s cold. I know that we have to do chores, and the animals need care, but we’re not done with breakfast yet—”

“This is something you won’t want to miss,” Burditt said, reaching over to grab coats off the rack and pass them around. “We’ll bundle you up extra warm, just in case, but I want you to see this, too. Come on, little bit. I would have thought you’d be jumping at the chance.”

She grinned back at him, pulling on her own coat and zipping it up. She took out her mittens and then shoved them back in her pocket when she saw that Dillon wasn’t moving. He drew his legs up against his chest and coughed again.

“Maybe you should go without me.”

“I’ll carry you if I need to,” Burditt told him. “I don’t want any of you to miss this. I don’t know when we’ll see it again—it’s been years since Sorina and I saw them the last time, and you won’t want to miss it. I promise. Come on.”

Larina held up Dillon’s coat. “I’ll help you.”

“Don’t need,” Dillon coughed, “help.”

He pulled on the coat and buttoned it up, and Burditt took the ugly wool hat and covered Dillon’s head with it, handing him an oversized pair of mittens, too. The ones they found when Sorina dug out an old coat of Burditt’s for Dillon had unraveled, and so they didn’t have any that fit Dillon right—he wouldn’t wear hers or Thyda’s because they were pink—but Larina figured he could curl his hands inside the big ones and be plenty warm. She went to the rack and took down Burditt’s scarf, winding it around Dillon’s neck until she could hardly see his face.

“Hey,” he protested, trying to push the scarf away. “I’ll trip over this thing. It’s too big.”

“If it had more colors, I’d be reminded of a television show,” Burditt said with a slight smile. “Don’t worry. We’ll manage. Everyone ready?”

Larina nodded, and Burditt grinned. “Let’s go see them, then. Careful now so as not to spook them, but come out into the yard.”

She followed him out the door, almost falling into the drift right beside it—they needed to shovel a wider path again—and she stopped when she saw what Burditt meant by them. Horses. Dozens of them. A whole wild herd, more than half of them as white as the snow surrounding them.


“When I first saw them, I knew I wanted to raise horses here,” Sorina said, taking Thyda’s hand and smiling at the sight even as her breath fogged in front of her. “I wanted something just as wonderful and majestic.”

“They’re beautiful,” Thyda whispered. “Almost like a dream.”

Larina nodded, reaching for Dillon’s hand, but he wasn’t next to her. She frowned, turning around and hoping he wasn’t lost in the snow, and her mouth dropped open when she saw one of the horses had come up on the other side of them, sniffing at Dillon’s hat like it wanted to eat it. He laughed, and the others started to stare as well, watching him pull off his mitten and offer his hand to the horse, who sniffed it and licked at his palm.

“I guess we got two miracles this morning,” Burditt said. Sorina nodded, leaning against him and pulling Thyda with her as they all watched. Larina put her hand in her pocket, smiling herself when she found the oats in there.

She walked over to Dillon, trying not to spook his new friend, but she did. He looked back at her with a frown, and she held out the oats, hoping he could lure that beautiful mare back to them. He took the oats. The mare snorted, and he waited.

After a few moments, the horse stepped closer, nudging his hand and eating all of the oats in it. Larina wished she had more, but when she checked her pockets, the mare spooked for good, running away from them and starting the rest of the herd off as well.

She sighed. Burditt put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, little bit. They stayed longer this time than they ever had before.”

“But I scared them away. All of them.” Larina sighed. “Dillon was able to feed one. That’s special. It was wonderful. I just frightened them.”

“No,” Burditt said. “Dillon has a gift with animals, he does, but you do, too, and you’re all very special, wonderful children. Don’t forget that he wouldn’t have been able to feed the horse if you hadn’t carried the oats with you in your pocket.”

“Little matched pair you two are,” Thyda said, snorting. Sorina shook her head, leaning down to touch her face.

“Don’t think we don’t need you just because those two are good with animals. All us silly dreamers need someone around us whose practical, and that, my dear girl, is you,” Sorina told her. “We love all of you for who you are, and you’re all special to us.”

Dillon dropped the mitten he was trying to put back on. “You don’t love me. No one does. No one could. It…”

“That’s what your father said. He was lying,” Burditt insisted, and Larina thought Dillon was going to cry. He was already coughing again, loud and almost as bad as he had been when he first got sick. Burditt reached for him, but Dillon whimpered and ducked away.

“You might be Larina’s friend, but that doesn’t mean none of the rest of us care about you,” Thyda said, shaking her head as she left Sorina’s side to go to him. “Everyone loves you, Dillon. I don’t know why you don’t see it.”

He shuddered, and Larina wrapped her arms around him, holding on tight as he did. She knew it would take a long time for him to believe that they loved him, but she’d prove it. She’d prove it every day. That was what they saw in him, so much that was sweet and kind and good and special, and he’d know it someday. They’d show him that.

Just like Burditt had showed her and Thyda already.

Keeping Warm

Author’s Note: So I am starting out a new test version of the digital care package. I’m going to do a set that’s all for Dillon and Larina’s story, since I have been trying to get past where I keep ending up blocked and finish their saga. I have a lot of stuff from their past, and it felt right to go there with this one, though I admit it made it difficult to find a song that went with it.

In the end, I cheated a bit and used one I used before, but I think it still fits if I look at the overall arc of the friendship Dillon and Larina share, so… I’m going with “Keep Warm” by Ingrid Michaelson. I chose a soft blanket as the prompt/item in the care package.

I know this isn’t necessarily the happiest of little fics, but I couldn’t resist this image, either.


Keeping Warm

“He started coughing at breakfast,” Sorina said, shaking her head. “By this afternoon, he was hacking. That poor boy. I’ve never seen anyone get sick quite so fast.”

Burditt grunted, going to the window and looking out at the night. It wasn’t as dark as it should have been, not when the snow was making the ground outside bright, but Larina thought he figured it was still too dark. “Sometimes I think Morely doesn’t have the sense God gave a mule. Letting that boy run around at all hours without proper clothes in this weather all because he’s too scatterbrained to remember that a little kid needs care—”

“Burditt,” Sorina said, her word a warning. Larina knew that tone. That was the one she used whenever he was talking about something he shouldn’t in front of her or her sister. Or Dillon. This time it was both of them, though she didn’t know how much Dillon could hear when he was coughing like that and shuddering—his eyes hadn’t opened in hours.

She reached over to pull the blanket up over him again. “How sick is Dillon?”

Sorina sighed, touching her hand to Dillon’s head with a grimace. “If the weather were better, I think I’d take him into the doctor. Right now, though…”

“I don’t think even the truck will make it to the end of the driveway. I haven’t hooked up the snowplow yet, but I will,” Burditt said, folding his arms over his chest. “First thing in the morning, if his fever hasn’t broken, we’ll take him in to the hospital. Right now, we’re just going to have to wait.”

Larina bit her lip, looking back at her aunt and uncle. She was afraid they were going to make her go back to her own room—it was late—but she wanted to stay here until she was sure Dillon was going to get better.

“Come on, Larina. Time you were in bed.”

She pushed the hand off her shoulder. “Dillon is so sick, though. Please—don’t make me leave him when he’s like this. He’s—I don’t think he should be alone while he’s so sick.”

“You can’t watch over him all the time.”

“Yes, I can,” Larina insisted stubbornly, knowing that she always would. She’d always try, at least. “And tonight, I’m staying here with him. Someone should be there. When he was with his dad and his dad was hurting him and he was in pain or sick, he had to be alone. He’s not alone here. We promised him that. I’m going to stay.”

Burditt put a hand on Sorina’s back. “Little bit’s right. We did promise him he’d be safe and looked after here.”

“He’s not alone when Moxie’s with him.”

“That’s not the same,” Burditt and Larina objected at the same time. He laughed, and Sorina rolled her eyes. “You can’t fight both of us, and you know you have a soft spot for him, too.”

“It’s hard not to,” Sorina said, brushing back some of Dillon’s hair. “He’s such a sweet little boy, and I don’t—I don’t know how anyone could have done what his father did to him because hurts just seeing him like this—and I know no one did it, it was an accident, and he’ll get better, but this poor thing. First his father, now this…”

“He’s going to get better. And he’s here where he’s safe,” Burditt reminded her. “We’ll take good care of him no matter how long he’s sick.”

Larina nodded, adjusting Dillon’s blanket before crawling up next to him and taking his hand even as he coughed. He didn’t open his eyes, wasn’t aware of what she’d done, but she didn’t care. She was going to be right here when he woke up feeling better. She wasn’t leaving his side.

Meeting Thunder

Author’s Note: Well, last night’s post may have created a monster. Or ressurected it, I suppose. This is actually a plot that I worked on before, but already I see myself expanding it and filling in a lot of what I skipped when I first did it, and the characters have already changed a lot since the first version of this got envisioned, but I think I’m already more attached to this version.

You can tell because I’m stretching the definition of mayhem to let this piece go in. The horse is a bit destructive here, so… it almost counts?

Meeting Thunder

“Quit looking at me like that,” Dillon muttered, shaking his head. He swore they all thought he was a horse that would spook at any second, jump over the nearest fence and break a leg or something else in a fall. He wasn’t. He was fine. He was a lot better than they thought.

“I’m just waiting for the drunk to reemerge.”

“That was two months ago,” Dillon said, and he had known even before he got half into the bottle that he would never be able to keep it up, not with his childhood. The smell of alcohol had burned its way into some of those old bad memories that he didn’t want to remember—didn’t need to remember. “And it was only for the one night. You know that, Burditt. I’m fine.”

“Any man who thinks he’s fine when his wife left him the way yours did is fooling himself.”

“No, I’d be fooling myself if I believed that any of you actually thought I wasn’t better off without her,” Dillon corrected. He knew no one thought much of her before he married her, and they thought even less of her now that she’d left him, and he didn’t entirely disagree. He mostly felt numb, as he had before. Maybe he’d feel it later.

Maybe he’d never feel it at all.

“I’m just glad I got you off the ranch,” Burditt said, and Dillon shrugged. He didn’t care what they did. He hadn’t cared about much since Meghan left.

“I’m not that bad.”

Burditt gave him another look, and Dillon shook his head, wishing the old man would stop trying to father him. He knew that Burditt meant well, and he did consider Dillon the son he never had the way that Larina and Thyda were the daughters he never had, but Dillon had gone through enough father figures over the years, and he didn’t want another just because his wife proved to be anything but what he’d thought she was when he married her.

“I think you—”

Burditt’s words were cut off by a shrill neigh and the sound of hooves pounding against wood. The stable shook with the bombardment, and both men frowned at the sight of the gate nearest them trying to shake loose from its lock. Somewhere down the row, wood splintered, and men cried out in pain. Dillon could hear the ground being trampled, thought it was impossible to see through the crowd that was gathered by the other end of the stable.

“Get back! That horse is insane!”

“He bit me!”

“Bit you?” A louder voice demanded. “Look what he did to Harry. He’s a killer! He’s got to be put down. Someone get the vet, now!”

Dillon exchanged a glance with Burditt. The older man shook his head. “Sorina would be over there telling them there’s no such thing. No such thing as a bad horse.”

“Just bad owners,” Dillon agreed, well aware of the woman’s mantra when it came to animals. He had heard that so many times before, first on his visits to the ranch with Morely when one of the horses was sick, and then later on his own when he worked for Sorina. He pushed his way through the crowd, forcing his way through the men driving the horse wild.

His eyes locked with the dark orbs of a panicked gelding. The horse panted, a bit of foam coming out around its mouth, and Dillon grimaced, taking a step closer.

“Son, you don’t want to do that.”

Dillon ignored the man that spoke, never having liked being anyone’s ‘son,’ even if it was common term around ranchers. He held a hand out to the gelding, eyes still on the horse.

“You know you don’t even have food, right? He’s not going to be fooled by that.” The horse turned toward the man who’d spoken, snorting, and Dillon moved between them before the gelding decided to charge. “You’ll get yourself killed like that.”

“Stop talking,” Burditt ordered, using the same tone he would when someone told Sorina she didn’t know anything about horses. Dillon forced all of the other noise out of his mind, listening only to the horse and what he was telling him in actions and body language.

He opened his mouth and spoke in a low, soothing tone as he refocused the horse’s attention on him. The fire in the eyes shifted, and Dillon reached for the rope attached to the halter, taking it with a loose hold, continuing his words as he edged forward.

The gelding threw up his head, jerking, and Dillon caught him, turning his fingers through the hair along the white patch that split the horse’s face down the middle. “Poor thing. You’re in pain, aren’t you?”

Another jerk of the horse’s head seemed to be an answer, and Dillon moved his fingers in small circles, taking a path down the horse’s head and along his neck, losing himself in the work. Sorina was the one that was truly gifted at this, but he tried to imitate her technique as he always had, even when he was still a kid.

“Damn,” the man behind him said, and the gelding tried to lift his head to react to the man’s voice, but Dillon calmed him again.

“Told you to shut up,” Burditt said, shaking his head. “What are you thinking, Dillon?”

“I think Morely would say he needs x-rays,” Dillon said, watching the horse’s reaction when he touched the creature’s back. “Your wife would be loading him in the trailer right now.”

“And you?” Burditt laughed. “Never mind. I know what you’re going to do.”