Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirish and MGM. No money is being made. This fanfic is purely for entertainment purposes.
AU: Little Britches
Author's Notes: Thanks to K. Poffenberger and S. Berry for creating the LB universe and letting others write in it. This story is in progress. I have the first two parts written and I'll put the next part up as soon as it's done. It's not beta-ed yet, I'm waiting until its finished.
Feedback is LOVED! Please let me know what you think. Thank you, Ruby :) [email protected]
Baby Chickens (or a better name as soon as I think of it <g>) LB/AU
Buck glanced up as the cabin's front door opened and closed. He looked over his shoulder as he moved the eggs around in the frying pan. "Boys 'bout ready for breakfast?" he asked Chris who was walking through the room.
Chris stopped and glanced over at him, a grin on his face. He rubbed his chin with his thumb and his finger. "Well, give 'em a few minutes. Vin's messin' with Peso and there's chicks in the pen and JD's excited. You'd think he'd never seen a baby chicken before." He chuckled as he shook his head and rolled his eyes. "I swear, that little boy..."
When Chris' voice drifted off, Buck looked over at his best friend and saw the sad half smile on his face. After a moment, Chris shook his head and frowned deeply. He cleared his throat loudly and glared over at Buck.
The two men stared at each other for a moment and then Chris turned around and stalked out of the room, slamming the door on the way out.
"Mr. Buck!" JD squealed as he ran into the room. "Guess what?" He jumped up and down, waving his arms in the air.
"You wash up for breakfast?" Buck grinned as he asked the little boy the question.
"Yeah!" JD ran over and hugged Buck's leg as he looked up at him. "Guess what's in the chicken pen?" A huge smile split his face.
Buck carried the plate of eggs over to the table as he looked down at the small boy attached to his leg. "Chickens?" he gasped, his eyes wide.
JD untangled himself. "No, silly. *Baby* chickens!" he squealed as he ran around the room. "Ow!" he yelped as he bounced off Chris Larabee's leg.
Chris shook his head as he looked down at the little boy lying on the floor. He reached down and picked JD up. "You okay?" he asked.
JD nodded. "Yeah. Sorry, Mr. Chris." He gave him a sweet smile.
Chris sighed as he ruffled JD's hair. Sitting him back down on the floor, he said, "That's okay, little bit. Just be more careful."
"Okay," JD exclaimed.
"Where's Vin?" Chris asked the boy who was climbing up into his chair.
"I'm here!" Vin called out as he ran into the room. "I washed up," he told them as he also took his seat.
Chris smiled at him, sitting down at one end of the table with Buck at the other.
"Scrambled eggs and bacon, boys. Dig in." Buck smiled as he watched Vin carefully spoon some eggs onto JD's plate for him. "Oh, I forgot." Buck stood quickly and walked over to the stove. In a moment, he came back with a basket. "I boiled some eggs too. I know how much you boys like 'em." He gave Chris a wicked grin as he sat the small basket in the center of the table.
Chris narrowed his eyes at him. "You're the one cleanin' up all the shell shavin's for the rest of the day."
Buck shrugged as he grinned. "Already peeled 'em," he said smugly.
Chris snorted as he smiled. "Yer learnin', Bucklin."
Buck rolled his eyes.
JD grabbed an egg out of the basket and dropped it on his plate. "I like the yellow part. Vin, you want the white part?" he asked his cousin.
"You want that egg, JD, you've got to eat all of it. Okay?" Buck looked at him sternly.
JD sniffed. "Okay," he agreed sadly. His disappointment only lasted a second before he was smiling happily again. "Mr. Chris, there's baby chickens in the chicken house!" he said between bites. "A bunch of them."
"JD, don't eat so fast." Chris frowned as he watched JD shovel scrambled eggs and bacon into his mouth and then wash it down with a big gulp of milk.
"Got to, Mr. Chris." He looked up at him as he shoveled more food in and quickly swallowed. "I'm gonna go play with the baby chickens when we get done. They're cute and they're small and they look like little balls of yellow fuzz. I'm gonna name them. Every one of them." He took another huge bite of food.
"Got to be careful with those babies, JD." Buck looked down at him. "That mama chicken might get mad if you're messin' with 'em."
"Nah." JD shook his head. "She won't mind 'cause I ain't gonna hurt them." He said, self-assured, as he took a drink of milk, smiling and showing his milk mustache.
Chris and Buck rolled their eyes at the young boy's words.
JD took another gulp of milk and another huge bite of eggs. "Where'd her babies come from, Mr. Buck?" he asked as he took another bite. He shrugged. "Did she buy 'em at the store? We buy stuff at Mrs. Potter's store."
Buck chuckled. "JD don't talk with your mouth full," he admonished. "And those babies hatched from eggs, silly." He cocked his head toward the hard-boiled eggs in the middle of the table. From the corner of his eye he saw Chris frantically shaking his head at him. The room was silent and he looked down to see JD, his cheeks puffed out with food, staring at the eggs.
JD looked from those eggs to the window, and the chickens on the other side. Suddenly, he paled and leaned forward as he opened his mouth to let the partially chewed eggs and bacon spill from his mouth and land with a plop on his plate.
"Blech!" Vin turned away.
"JD!" Buck started to admonish when he noticed that JD was paling even more. Chris had already stood and was quickly walking towards him when JD let out a strangled sob as he shifted to the side and threw up next to his chair. Chris had him by the shoulders the next time he threw up and he glanced over to see Buck staring at the small child, open mouthed.
JD was crying inconsolably as he again threw up. "We ate baby chickens!" he sobbed between breaths before he threw up again.
Buck swallowed hard as he looked up and met Chris' eyes, finally understanding just what was going on. He felt about two inches tall as he watched Chris rubbing the boy's back as he held him sideways in the chair. Dry heaves shook the little boy and then Chris was holding him up against his chest, uncaring of the mess on the front of the little boy.
Vin appeared with a wet towel and Chris smiled down at him as he took it and started wiping the crying boy off.
"We killed baby chickens!" he cried. "We ate 'em!" JD was sobbing, his voice hoarse and his chest heaving. Chris squeezed him tight as he rubbed his back, rocking him slightly as he stood there.
"Shhh, son, it'll be okay. Easy now, it's all right." The blonde rancher soothed.
Buck was shaking his head, his mouth still open when Vin looked over at him, his eyes hard. "You shouldn't've told him that, Mr. Buck. He's too little to know about the baby eggs." Vin spoke with wisdom far beyond his short years.
Buck nodded as he slowly stood, watching Chris and his 'son.' He walked over, reaching out and grasping the boy. "Here, Chris, let me take-" he was interrupted by a loud squeal and JD trying to crawl up Chris to get away from Buck.
"No. No," the dark haired boy cried. "You killed them babies," he accused.
"JD," Chris admonished. "Buck didn't kill anything. Let's sit down and talk about this."
"No!" JD screamed as he started to squirm in Chris' grasp. He pushed away and Chris set him on the floor. "No!" He yelled again when Buck leaned down to pick him up. He was sobbing uncontrollably as he ran from them and into the boys' room.
Vin put his hand up when the two men started to follow him. He gave them a hard look and then followed JD.
He found JD in the middle of his bed, blanket pulled over him, sobbing.
"JD?" Vin asked, his voice small as he crawled up onto the little bed. "Can I come in there?"
The bump in the middle of the bed made a sound and Vin took it as a yes. He crawled up to the head of the bed and then underneath the blanket and into JD's little protective bubble. There was just enough light coming through the blanket that Vin could see JD's face and the wet tear tracks that ran down it. He reached out and pulled his little cousin into a hug.
"We been eatin' baby chickens, Vin," JD sobbed as he laid his head against Vin's chest. "Eatin' em," he said it like it was the worst thing in the world. "Them little fuzzy yellow babies! We been killin' im!" he cried.
Vin shook his head as he spoke into JD's hair. "The eggs we eat ain't the same as the babies, JD." He told him, his voice assured. "Buck was wrong."
JD shook his head hard as he moaned. "No. Buck ain't ever wrong. He said that them eggs are baby chickens."
Vin sighed deeply as he thought about what he was going to say next. "Well, see JD, it's..." he thought about if for a few more minutes. "See, they aren't babies yet. They're just eggs. They ain't babies till later."
JD started to say something, but Vin cut him off.
"Don't ask me how, I don't know. All I know is that they ain't." He looked down into JDs eyes. "Them scrambled eggs ain't fuzzy when you eat 'em, are they?" He grinned slightly, as he nudged JD with his elbow
JD sniffled as he gazed up at his cousin. "No," he finally conceded, his voice a whisper.
"See?" Vin soothed. "They ain't the same thing. They's just eggs. Not baby chickens."
"But if they're baby chickens later, why aren't they baby chickens now?" JD cried.
Vin frowned at him as he pulled his mouth into a tight line. Finally, he said, "They just ain't, is all. Okay?"
He could tell by JD's look that it wasn't okay and Vin hated to think that one day the little soft hearted boy would put two and two together and figure out that fried chicken and chickens had something to do with one another. But for now he was just hoping that he could convince his cousin that he wasn't eating baby chickens each morning with breakfast.
"'K, JD?" He asked again when the little boy was silent for too long. "You believe me, right?"
JD stared at him, his eyes looking suddenly older. Vin didn't like it at all. "Yeah. Sure," he complied too easily.
Vin nodded as he said, "Well, lets get on back out there. You was awful mean to Mr. Chris and Mr. Buck. I think we should say we're sorry so they ain't mad."
JD looked away as he burrowed deeper into the blankets. "I don't want to," he said, his voice almost a whisper. "I don't feel good. Just gonna stay here for a while."
Vin could hear the stubborn, resigned tone in his cousin's voice and after a few minutes he just shrugged. He patted him on the back as he said, "Okay. But remember later were gonna get Peso out and brush him and maybe Mr. Chris and Mr. Buck'll let us take him for a ride."
"'K," JD agreed, but he didn't open his eyes.
Vin nodded and then started to back his way out from under the blanket. Daylight hit his eyes and he squinted at the sudden brightness. He saw both men standing in the doorway watching him. He knew they had heard everything. He just hoped they weren't mad.
Vin walked over to the two ranchers. "JD ain't feelin' too good." He looked up at them earnestly. "He's gonna sleep for a while," he half-asked and half-told the two men.
Chris nodded. Buck just shook his head, his face pale and his eyes bright. He turned around and walked out.
Chris reached down and ruffled Tanner's hair. "You did good," he whispered as they also turned and walked from the room just as the front door slammed closed.
Vin looked back at JD and said, "He's real sad." Chris reached down and picked him up. He nodded, as he looked out the window, his eyes on Buck's back. "I know," he answered.
"Sometimes it's real sad when you learn the adult stuff," Vin said, years of wisdom again in his voice.
Chris hugged him as he smiled sadly. "I know."
Vin nodded as he sighed. "JD's too young to know that stuff. Buck should've never told him."
"I know," Chris agreed as they walked through the kitchen. Chris watched through the window as his best friend walked dejectedly into the barn. "Buck didn't mean to tell JD, though. Buck's never had a son, and sometimes he don't think about stuff like we do." He looked at Vin eye to eye. "But he loves JD and would never want to hurt him so we'll just have to help both of them feel better."
Vin looked down, his eyes sad. "Yeah, guess you're right. Buck does like JD an awful lot and he hates it when he's sad."
"Right," Chris coached. "So, what should we do now?"
Vin looked back over his shoulder at his and JD's room, and then out the window at the barn. "Well, since JD's sleeping, guess we should go talk to Mr. Buck first. Tell him that it ain't his fault for tellin' JD about the baby chickens, that he just don't know how to be a pa yet."
Chris winced slightly as he smiled. "Well, ah... we'll word it better than that. But, yeah, we'll go tell Buck that it's gonna be okay and that we're not mad at him for what happened. Then we'll talk to JD after he wakes up and make sure he ain't mad at Buck."
"'K," Vin agreed and started for the door.
Chris grabbed him by the shoulders. He chuckled. "First, lets clean up this mess and get rid of the eggs. Then we'll check on JD one more time before we head out to talk to Buck."
Vin's nose scrunched up as he looked at the mess on the floor and the table, and then up at Chris. "Ugh!" After a moment, he grinned when Chris smiled down at him. "Okay."
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