Disclaimer: Iím not making any money from this. The characters of Magnificent Seven donít belong to me, Iím just borrowing them.
Thanks: Thanks to J.K. Poffenberger and S. Berry for creating the Little Britches universe.
Feedback: Please be kind. This is my first attempt at writing a fanfiction story. I hope you enjoy it.
Warning: Corporal punishment of a minor.
The last week the town of Four Corners seemed to attract every outlaw within a hundred miles. First it was a group of amateurs causing a saloon brawl after accusing Ezra of cheating. Next was an attempt on the bank. The last straw was when a two-bit gunslinger called Chris out. In the past, Chris would have killed the other gunslinger outright, but he was a changed man since 7-year-old Vin and 5-year-old JD came into his life a year ago, so he just disarmed the fool. Buck locked him up and Nate patched him up. At the onset of trouble, Vin and JD were forced to stay in the boarding house. This lead to two very bored children, who were exceptionally happy once they were allowed out to play, with a warning to stay out of trouble.
The afternoon was quiet, so far, and Chris was glad because he was exhausted. He decided to locate Vin and go for a ride just to relax. He met up with Buck as he walked past the saloon. After sharing his plans, both fathers decided to go together. They had last seen Vin and JD playing near the jail, so they headed that way.
Meanwhile, behind the jail, Vin and JD were re-enacting the bank robbery from earlier in the week.
"Iím tired of this game Vin." JD whined. He always ended up playing the bad guy and he didnít like it.
"Okay. Why donít I Ďtend Iím papa Chris and you cain be the man who called me out." Vin suggested.
"I donít wanna be the bad guy no more. Iíll be papa Chris."
"You cainít JD, yer too short." Vin always played his pa.
"Am not!" JD yelled. "íSides, we ainít got no guns."
"I do." Vin said proudly.
"Yeah, I do." Vin moved a small wooden crate and pulled out an old rusted revolver. "See." Vin held it out to JD but wouldnít let him touch it.
"Whereíd ya git it Vin?" JD asked with awe.
"Found it. It ainít go no bullets, but we could Ďtend."
"I donít know Vin. Papa Buck told me guns ainít toys."
"But this is an old gun that donít work. It cainít hurt us none."
"Positive, Ďsides it cain be our secret."
"Okay, iffen yer sure." JD trusted Vin.
"Iím sure." Vin put the gun into his pocket and signaled JD to start playing. JD would call ĎChrisí out and Vin would draw and Ďshootí him. They were so engrossed in their play they failed to hear their fathers approach.
When Buck and Chris walked behind the jail and saw their boys Ďplayingí with a gun, their good moods evaporated.
"VIN!" Chris yelled.
"JD!" Buck yelled at the same time.
"What in the hell are you two doing?" Chris approached Vin and took the gun from him.
"Donít Ďbut paí me. What have I told you about guns Vin?"
"That they ainít toys." Vin was nervous. He had never seen Chris so angry.
"Exactly. Then why were you pretending to shoot JD with this very real gun?"
"It ainít got no bullets in it. I checked."
Chris looked at the gun and saw how rusted it was. "Thatís beside the point. Where did you get this gun Vin?"
"Behind the livíry." Vin lowered his eyes.
"WHAT! You two have been playing with a gun for a week?"
"No sir. JD didnít know Ďbout it Ďtil today."
Buck looked at the dark-haired boy and knelt down in front of his son. He wiped away the tears and lifted JDís chin. "Son? It that true?"
"Yes sir." JD nodded.
"You know yer not allowed to play with guns Little Bit, so why?"
JD just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Vin said it was okay."
"Vin was wrong son. Guns are never okay to touch. No matter what, until I say so. Understand?"
"Yes papa." JD wiped at his eyes and looked at Buck. "Am I in big twuble?"
Buck smiled. ĎBig troubleí was JDís way of asking if Buck planned on spanking him. "No Little Bit, but if I find out you were playing with guns again, you will be. Understand?"
"Yes sir. Iís sorry papa." JD hugged Buckís neck and sobbed.
"Shhh. I forgive ya JD. Just donít do it again." Buck stood with JD still in his arms. He turned to Chris. "Iím gonna take JD to the boarding house. Maybe a nap is whatís needed."
"Okay Buck. Weíll be along shortly, after Vin and I have a very necessary talk about obedience and guns." Buck just nodded and headed to the room he and JD kept.
Vin knew papa Chris was angry if he was talking about spanking him. He could count the amount of times Chris had resorted to spanking on one hand. Instinctively, Vinís hands went to cover his backside. "Iís sorry papa. I wonít do it no more, promise."
Chris saw Vinís posture and sighed. He found a crate and drew Vin over with him to sit down. With Vin standing in front of him, Chris lifted Vinís chin. "Son, you promised last month too, when I caught you playing with my rifle. I told you then how dangerous guns were. Did you understand me then?"
"Yeah." Chris gave Vin a disapproving look and Vin quickly said, "Yes sir."
"Then you should remember what I promised if you disobeyed me and played with another gun?"
Vin nodded. "ButÖ"
"No buts young man. Guns are dangerous and I need to know youíll obey me on this point."
"Papa, I donít wanna spanking." Vin hiccupped as he wiped at his eyes.
"And I donít want to do it, but I always keep my promises." Chris took his skiddish son and turned him around. He landed five swats to Vinís bottom with just enough force to make his point without really hurting the boy.
Vin on the other hand, sobbed. Chris gathered Vin into his arms and soothed him afterwards. "Shhh. I still love you Vin. I always will."
"Love you too papa." Vin hiccupped.
"I forgive you cowboy, but I also want you to know that if I catch you playing with another gun, Iíll tear yer tail up, and good. Understand?"
"Good." Chris kissed Vinís temple and released him. "I think some time in our room will help reinforce my point."
"And maybe a nap." Chris took Vinís hand and led a sputtering child to their room where he tucked him in for a nap.
+ + + + + + +
An hour later, Buck and Chris were sitting on the boardwalk outside the boarding house while Vin and JD napped.
"I donít know what to do with that boyís attraction to guns."
"Heís a natural Chris. Maybe if you taught him how to shoot. He is 8 and Iím sure your pa taught you early."
"Iíve thought about it. Maybe I could teach him to use a rifle, but not a six-shooter. Heís too young for that."
"He has a birthday coming up too. Maybe a new rifle after he learns how to take care of one."
Chris was about to respond, when he heard the soft footfalls of a child coming out of the boarding house. "Papa?" Vin whispered.
Chris smiled and patted his lap. Vin didnít need to be asked twice, but quickly moved into Chrisí lap and snuggled close.
"Iím sorry papa." Chris barely heard the soft apology as he held Vin tighter.
"I know son. I forgive you."
"Love ya." Vin mumbled sleepily.
"I love you too Vin." Chris looked toward Buck and smiled. "Vin?"
"You awake?" A slight nod was his only answer. "Iíve decided that Iím going to teach you how to use a rifle."
Vin sat up. "Really?" Vin looked at Chris expectantly.
"Really. Of course it wonít be until after the two weeks youíre grounded for."
"Aw! Two weeks? But ya already punished me." Vin whined.
"Vin? You were spanked because you disobeyed me, but youíre grounded because you were playing with a gun. Understand?"
"Yes sir. Afterwards, youíll teach me ta shoot?"
"Yes, but only with me and when Iím around. We can talk about it later." Chris smiled at Buck as Vin said, "Okay."
Chris and Vin snuggled in companionable quiet until JD woke up. Buck explained how JD was also grounded for two weeks because he knew better than to play with guns. JD nodded and looked to Vin for confirmation. Vin smiled at him and apologized for getting him in trouble.
The small family headed to the restaurant for a snack before getting both boys settled into their rooms at the boarding house; after all, they were grounded.
+ + + + + + +
Three weeks later the family was back out to the cabin that served as their home. Chrisí shack was now twice the original size, after the other guys spent a good part of last summer expanding the small shack to accommodate four people.
Buck was watching Chris teach Vin all about gun safety as he relaxed as JD napped inside. Chris spent that first week showing Vin how to care for a rifle and all of the rules that went along with it. Vin was proving to be a natural. Now, Chris was getting to the good part, in Vinís opinion. He set up some empty bottles for target practice behind the barn and was going to finally let Vin shoot.
"Now son, brace the stock of the rifle against your shoulder like I showed you." Vin was using a smaller rifle that Chris explained was his when he was a small boy. Chris helped Vin get the rifle stock positioned properly. "Good. Now target a bottle with the sight. When youíre ready, ease the trigger back slowly." Chris stood behind Vin to help keep him stable when the rifle kicked.
Vin sighted and pulled the trigger. Instinctively he closed he eyes as the rifle barked, kicked and would have knocked him off his feet if Chris hadnít caught him. Vin opened his eyes and looked at the row of bottles. One was smashed.
"I HIT IT!!!"
Chris smiled. "Yeah you did Vin."
"Can I try again?"
"Yep. Keep your eyes open this time." Chris helped Vin a couple of times and then moved back to watch. Vin managed to hit every bottle he aimed at. Buck slowly came toward the couple and smiled.
"Heís a natural, stud."
"Yep. I asked if he ever learned to shoot but he said no. Heís a great shot when he has time to aim. He hasnít missed yet."
"Papa?" Buck turned when he heard JD call from the porch. JD had no shoes on and his hair was bed-messed. He looked even younger standing there rubbing at his eyes.
"Hey Little Britches. Did you have a good nap?" Buck asked as he picked JD up. JD snuggled on Buckís shoulder and nodded as he put his thumb in his mouth. Chris ruffled the little boyís hair and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Vin a good thot." JD mumbled around his thumb.
"Yes JD, Vin is a good shot." Chris smiled again. "JD? Has Vin ever shot a real working gun?"
JD shook his head. "He had a sliníshot before we gotted here. The Ďdults on the train tooked it away. Vin didnít knowed it but I seed him cryiní. I think the sliníshot Ďlonged ta his real pa."
Chris was saddened, but he couldnít bring the treasured slingshot back, so he decided he could help Vin heal with new experiences.
Vin turned and saw that JD was awake. He carefully set the rifle down on a barrel and headed toward Chris, Buck and JD.
"I got Ďem all pa!" Vin was beaming.
"Thatís great son." Chris picked Vin up and hugged him tight. "Keep this up and Iíll have to take you hunting and see if you can hit moving targets. Then we can have meat on the table more often."
"Yeah!" Vin wiggled to get down, so Chris set him down and went to retrieve the rifle. After checking to make sure it was empty, he handed it back to Vin. "Remember how I showed you how to clean the rifle Vin?"
"Yes sir." Vin took the rifle and headed into the cabin to clean it. Chris watched over him while he made dinner and Buck played with JD.
+ + + + + + +
Three weeks later, Vin was able to shoot and hit bottles when Chris tossed them into the air (in case he was ever attacked by a flying bottle). Vin was also very excited because tomorrow was his birthday.
"Thatís the last one cowboy. Letís go get washed up for supper."
"Okay pa." Vin cleaned the rifle like he was doing it his entire life. After supper, Chris and Buck gave the boys a bath and tucked them into bed.
"Could ya tell us a story?"
"Sure son." Buck lulled both boys to sleep with his deep voice spinning a tale of knights and princes.
+ + + + + + +
The next morning, Vin was up bright and early doing his chores. When he finished he entered the cabin to see Chris putting breakfast on the table. Vin beamed when he saw the flapjacks, his favorite.
"Happy birthday Vin." Chris said as he hugged his son.
"Thanks pa. Iíll go wash up."
"Good. Will you also wake JD for me please."
"Yes sir." When Vin returned to the main room, a sleepy JD was shuffling behind him. Chris smiled at the rumpled 6 year-old with his thumb in his mouth.
"Morniní Papa Chris." JD mumbled as he headed for the door and the outhouse. He would have bumped into the door if Buck hadnít opened it at that very moment. Instead JD bumped into Buck.
"Hey Little Bit. You need to wake up and watch where youíre going. Hurry to the outhouse and get back for breakfast. This is a special day."
JD remembered and was instantly awake. He turned to his "brother" and hollered, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY VIN."
"Thanks JD." Buck noticed JD was gearing up to ask a hundred questions, so he intercepted the boy before hand. "Outhouse first Little Bit. Questions later."
"Okay." JD ran out the door and returned and washed up as Chris called everyone to the table.
+ + + + + + +
After breakfast was consumed and cleaned up, Chris told the boys to settle in front of the fireplace for gifts. JD was bouncing with so much excitement Buck let him give Vin his gift first.
Vin opened the cloth JD handed him. Inside was a small jack-knife. Vin looked at JD and then Chris.
"Itís okay Vin. Buck helped him pick it out. You know how to whittle and I think youíre old enough for the responsibility. Just keep it away from little hands."
"He means me Ďcause Iís too little. Right papa?"
"Exactly Little Bit." Buck smirked.
"This one is from me." Buck said as he handed another gift to Vin. Inside was a leather bag full of marbles.
"These are great Papa Buck. Thanks."
"Happy Birthday Sport."
Chris handed Vin his last gift. "This one is from me. Happy Birthday son." Vin took the package and slowly unwrapped it as Chris watched the care Vin was taking. He had truly forgotten how much fun it was to watch a child open a simple gift.
Vin stared at the unwrapped gift for a split second before he beamed at his father. "WOW!"
"You like it then?"
"Like it? I love it. My very own rifle, thank you papa." Vin hugged Chris tightly. "I love it."
"Iím glad. The same rules apply though and you can keep it with mine over the door. I put another rack up just for this rifle."
Vin looked at the door and noticed the new rack. How come I didnít see that earlier? "Thanks papa. This has been the best birthday since mama passed."
"I love you very much Vin."
"I love ya too."
With presents done, Chris shooed both boys outside to play while he and Buck finished chores. Once chores were complete, Buck and Chris got everyone ready to take the boys to town for supper and another celebration with Josiah, Ezra and Nate. Vin and JD were scrubbed clean as Buck saddled the horses. With overnight provisions, two clean boys and all the horses saddled, Chris started out the door.
Chris turned to the birthday boy. "Yeah son?"
"Can I take my rifle? I wanna show the guys."
"On one condition." Vin nodded. "You let me put it on and off Peso. And it doesnít go loaded."
"Thatís two conditions pa." Vin smiled.
"Keep being a smart mouth and Iíll just have to give you your birthday spanking now." Vin giggled. "Do we have a deal?"
"Deal!" They shook and headed outside, where Chris strapped the new rifle to Pesoís saddle and mounted up.
+ + + + + + +
Four corners was quiet for a change. The boys headed for the boarding house after bedding down the horses. Then they met up with Josiah, Nate and Ezra for supper. Miz Nettie and Casey joined them also. After dessert, Vin received more gifts. Miz Nettie gave him a handmade quilt for his bed. Casey gave him a bag of candy knowing about Vinís sweet tooth. Chris promptly put the bag up after Vin picked out one piece for everyone. Josiah gave him a buckskin jacket that Kojah made at the village.
Lastly, was Ezra. When Vin opened the box from Ezra, tears filled Vinís eyes. Without any words he hugged Ezra tight. A whispered "Thank you Uncle Ezra," was heard.
Chris, who was concerned about the tears, looked into the box and felt his own eyes misting up. He looked at Ezra and asked, "How?"
Ezra smiled. Vin carefully pulled the long missing sling shot from the box. He showed it to Chris. "Itís the same one my real pa gave me. See those marks? I did them when I dropped it in the fire once. I thought it was gone forever."
"Well," Ezra cleared his throat. "Before the ladies from the orphan train departed, one fine lady came to the jail looking for the sheriff. She handed me the slingshot and asked me to dispose of it properly. She was prattling on about inappropriate toys for children. She told me she had taken it away from Master Tanner, so I put it aside to deal with later. Then I overheard Masterís Tanner and Dunne talking about a special slingshot that was Ďstolen by the adultsí. Vin seemed quite upset and I had planned on returning it then, but then all the trouble in town started. Then I decided it would make a nice surprise for a young man on his day of birth."
"Yer a big softie Ez." Buck said as he slapped Ezra on the back.
Vin held tight to his slingshot as he sat on Chrisí lap. "Thanks everyone. This has been the best birthday ever."
"Happy Birthday Vin," was heard from all.
After the coffee and cake were gone, Buck got the boys to help carry Vinís "loot" to their rooms as Buck and Chris carried their sleeping sons. Buck said his goodnights and he and Chris went to their separate rooms. Vin woke up as Chris undressed him and got him into his nightshirt. "Do you need to use the chamber pot?"
"No sir. I had the best time pa." Vin slurred as Chris tucked him in.
"Iím very glad son. I love you very much Vin. Happy Birthday." Chris kissed Vinís forehead.
"Love ya papa." Vin feel asleep even before Chris got undressed and crawled into the bed. Vin instantly snuggled close to Chris and sighed in his sleep. Chris held him close and with one final kiss, Chris drifted to sleep with a smile on his face.