Magnificent Seven

"Lil' Ones and Ghost Stories Don't Mix"

Summary: Chris learns the hard way that Lil' Britches, Lil' Pard, and Lil'Bit don't need to be listening to any of Uncle Buck's stories. The thunderstorm doesn't help, either.

Author's Note: This story is dedicated to Latin Girl Writer, who gave me the idea for it. So here's to Gaby, from Honduras. Thank you for being a devoted reader. It's appreciated.

Warning: None this time. One-Shot.

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just wrote this story for fun.

Sheriff Chris Larabee was exhausted. He had just spent the last three days tracking a dangerous outlaw only to end up killing the man in a shoot out that could have been avoided. He had run out of coffee two days back, and all he had had left to eat was bacon and stale biscuits.

He was more than ready to get home. He wanted beer, a bed, and to see his boys…in that order.

Unfortunately, it began to rain by the bucketfuls just a few miles from Four Corners and by the time he reached his ranch it had developed into a huge thunderstorm.

Great, Chris thought as rain poured off of his drenched form, this is just great!

Now the only two things he wanted was to be dry and to sleep.

He made it to his ranch near midnight. After putting his horse and gear away, he trudged to the house wearily. There was no lights on, and he hadn't expected any to be. The boys would have been put to bed hours ago and Buck tended to be snoring logs by ten o'clock most nights unless of course he had company and that wouldn't be the case at the ranch.

He had made a rule when JD, Vin, and Ezra had come into their lives that there was to be no "company" at the ranch. If Buck wanted female companionship he would just have to have it at his room in town; which was why he tended to spend most of his time there rather than at the ranch.

He had, however, promised to stay with the boys as Josiah was visiting his sister—who was a nun—and Nathan had been called to another time for a medical emergency that required his doctorin' skills.

Chris made his way inside, being as quiet as he could in his slushy clothes and squeaky boots. Heading into his room, he stripped down completely and then crawled into bed.

He sighed. Wonderful!

He closed his eyes and prepared t sleep.

The squeak of the door and the sound of little feet tip-toeing into the room reached his ears.

"P-Pa," the whispery voice of his youngest son, JD, spoke in the darkness, "you awake?"

Chris opened one eye. "Lil' Britches," he growled, "what are you doin' up? Yer supposed to be asleep?"

"W-Was waitin' on you, Pa," the seven year old told him. "I-I'm scared, Pa."

Chris opened the other eye and peered at the boy in the darkness. "What's there to be scared of, son?" he asked him. "Did yer brothers do something to you?"

JD shook his head. "N-No, sir," he replied. "I-I just don't like the thunderstorm and I was afraid of…well, something."

Chris sighed. He was so tired, he really didn't want to have to get up—plus, he was butt naked under the blankets. "You want to sleep in here with me," he offered the boy, "just for tonight, mind."

"Can I, Pa?" he asked, hopefully. "I'll be real quiet. I promise."

Chris couldn't help but grin. "Sure, son," he told him, pulling back the covers, "hop in. Just for tonight, now."

JD did just that, his little feet nearly kicking a vital part of his father's anatomy.

"Hmph," Chris huffed. "Watch those feet, Lil' Britches."

JD giggled. "How come yer ain't wearin' nothin', Pa?" he asked, snuggling up close to his father to get warm.

"I just got in, Lil' Britches," he told him, wrapping an arm around. "I was drowned from head to toe. I had to get outta my wet clothes and just decided to climb straight into bed since it's so late."

"Oh," JD said, "okay."

Chris grinned. "Close them eyes, Lil' Britches," he instructed his son, "and let's get some shut eye."

JD did just that, and Chris prepared to do the same.

The sound of the door opening again, however, alerted him to another pair of feet tip-toeing across the floor. "Pap?" he voice of his "middle" son, Vin, whispered to him.

He looked up. "Yeah, son," he whispered, being careful not to move the sleeping JD, "what it is?"

"Um," Vin asked, nervously, "may I sleep in here with you and JD?"

Chris was confused. At eight, this was indeed a very odd request. "Why, son?" he asked.

"I'm, well," Vin admitted, "I'm scared."

Chris sighed. "What's there to be scared of, son?" he asked. "Did Ezra do somethin' to you?" He doubted it, but he had to ask.

"N-No, sir," Vin answered, "I just don't like thunderstorms and…uh…stuff."

Chris nodded, pulling the covers back on the other side. "C'mon, Lil' Pard," he said, "get in and watch them feet. I ain't wearin' nothin'."

Vin smiled. "I'll be careful, Pap," he promised, "and I'll be really quiet." He crawled in and Chris wrapped both the covers and his other arm around him.

"Comfy?" Chris asked him, as he lay his head on his shoulder.

"Yep," Vin said, content. "I promise it'll just be for tonight."

"Good," Chris told him, "now close them peepers and get to snorin'. I'm certainly gonna."

"Okay, Pap," Vin said, closing his eyes. He was snoring in seconds.

Chris sighed, and closed his eyes to go back to sleep a second time.

The door creaked open a third time. "Papa," the voice of his oldest son, Ezra, whispered.

Chris groaned and sat up, being careful not to wake either of the boys lying beside him. "All right, Lil'Bit," he said, "what's goin' on here? You scared too?"

Ezra bit his lip, but nodded. "Yes, sir," he admitted. "I can go back to my room, though, if I'm bothering you."

Chris sighed. Ezra was still getting used to being part of a family and the last thing he wanted was to make the child feel unwanted. "No, son," he told him, "I just want to know why all three of my boys are so scared all of a sudden. It can't be the thunderstorm, cuz we've had lots of those and you three weren't this scared before."

"Well," Ezra said, hesitantly, "I guess it's kinda Uncle Buck's fault."

"Buck?" Chris asked, puzzled. "What'd he do?"

"Well," Ezra said, shrugging, "he kinda told us a ghost story."

"Oh, he did, did he?" Chris asked, his eyebrow coming together.

Ezra nodded. "Yes, sir," he admitted. "I know we're being silly, Papa, but…"

"But you three are little boys and little boys have a right to get scared," Chris told him. "Get your butt in this bed, Ezra Phillip."

Ezra smiled and crawled into the bed to lay next to JD. He was soon fast asleep.

Chris sighed. Wait 'til I get my hands on Buck!

Finally, at last, the sheriff was able to close his eyes and blissfully drift off into sleep.

The next morning, Buck Wilmington entered the kitchen to find Chris pouring himself a cup of coffee.

"Well now," he said, smiling, "look what the thunderstorm dragged in last night. How'd it go, Pard?"

Chris smirked. "Good," he said, "I got 'im."

"That's great," Buck said, pouring himself a cup. "Me and the boys did all right. They missed you, tough."

"I know," Chris told him, sipping at his coffee. "They told me so last night."

Buck looked perplexed. "Did you wake 'em up or something?" he asked. "Cuz all three were snorin' like babies when I went to bed."

"Nope," Chris said, sipping some more. "They told when they all three crawled into bed with me last night. Apparently, they were scared of something."

Buck sputtered and choked on the coffee he was drinking. "Scared?" he asked, coughing uncomfortably. "What they have to be scared of?"

Chris smirked. "I asked them that myself," he told him, sipping away, "and it's the funniest thing they told me you told 'em a ghost story last night. That true?"

Buck blushed. "Well now," he said, "I mighta…"

"Buck," Chris said, dropping the indifferent tone. He glared at his best friend.

"Ah, hell, Chris," the other man stammered, "I was just tryin' to take their mind off you being gone."

"I understand that, Buck," Chris said, "and I appreciate, but the next time you tell those three a ghost story you and me are headin' out to the barn…with a good ole Hickory."

Buck gulped, and downed the rest of his coffee in one sip.

"Well, now," he said, putting his cup in the sink, "I'd best be getting' into town. Wouldn't want any out laws to think we weren't doin' are jobs now, would we?"

"Nope," Chris agreed, smirking, "we certainly wouldn't. Me and the boys'll be in later."

"Right," Buck said, waving. "Adios, Pard." With that, he was out the door.

Hmm, I don't believe I've ever seen him move quite that fast before. I wonder if it was something I said.

Chris sipped his coffee some more and smiled.

It may have been one hell of a night, but it certainly looked like it was going to be a great day.

The End

(AN—if any one would like to write in this universe, they are more than welcome to. Thanks and please review.)