Family Matters AU : (Another Brothers Old West AU)
Disclaimer: I dont own them Im just taking them out to stretch my imagination. Ill put them back when Im finished.
Judge Orrin Travis sat down in his chair with a sigh. It had been a very long week in Four Corners. It almost seemed like the crime rate went up since he moved here permanently. After his wife had died, he allowed himself to move closer to his daughter-in-law and his grandson Billy. He never knew how much his life was going to change when he made that one decision over three years ago.
Now, Four Corners had a US Marshall and was becoming quite a busy town. Rumor was the railroad was going to add a spur to the town sometime in the next couple of years. The biggest change that had come however was personal. Three years ago, Orrin had adopted seven children when an orphan train was caught in a flash flood. The train had been carrying twenty-five children when the flood hit. All but one of the adults survived and if it hadnt been for the heroics of seven boys, all of the children would have died also. Those seven boys stayed calm and helped everyone get to safety. They were heroes and the town people started calling them "The Magnificent Seven".
In the aftermath, the Marshall and Judge found homes for all of the children, except the seven. Every time someone would express an interest in one, the other six would cause some kind of trouble and ruin it. Orrin suspected that the bond the seven formed during the flood, was keeping them all together. Josiah kept saying it was destiny. Finally, the Judge had offered to take the seven until they could find someone who wanted all seven. A year later, Orrin, Mary and Billy loved all seven too much to let them go, so Orrin officially adopted them. He loved his boys, but some days he wondered what his life would have been like without all of the extra chaos.
"BUCK! Give that back!" six year-old JD yelled as he entered the house.
"No JD. This gawd-awful hat has to go," twelve year-old Buck replied as he held JDs hat out of reach.
"Pas at the jail JD," seven year-old Vin added as he followed into the house.
"Nope," ten year-old Nathan said.
"What?" fourteen year-old Josiah asked.
"He said Pas home," twelve year-old Chris added with a smile.
"Yes, I am home. Home trying to get some peace and quite. What is the problem?" Orrin said with his fists on his hips.
"Pa? Buck wont leave my hat alone," JD whined.
"Buck?" With one word, Buck put his head down as he handed JD back his hat.
"I was just playin."
"You know how sensitive he is about his hat." Orrin made a mental head count. "Wheres Ezra?" Six shrugs were his answer. "Was he in school?" Six nods. "But he didnt come home with you?" When he again got no answers, he asked, "Chris? Do you know where Ezra is?"
"No sir. He headed off after school with some friends. I didnt see where."
"Okay. I want you boys to get to your chores, homework and stay out of Marys way in the kitchen. Ill be back when I find your brother." Orrin headed toward the saloon to locate nine-year-old Ezra.
+ + + + + + +
Chris and Vin were in the barn mucking out the stalls. "Where to ya figure Ez got off to?" Vin asked.
"If hes smart, anywhere but the saloon. But I think thats where he was headed."
"Why didnt ya tell pa?"
"I wasnt sure, besides, I wasnt gonna rat out Ezra."
Chris and Vin finished up and were heading in to wash up when Ezra appeared. "Hey Ez? Whered ya get off to?" Vin asked.
"Ah, Vin. Chris. Just some afternoon diversion with acquaintances."
"Sure Ezra. Did pa catch you this time?"
"Whatever do you mean Chris?" Chris didnt get the chance to respond when they heard a loud voice from the porch. "I said NOW Ezra."
Chris and Vin noticed Ezra wince and turn toward the woodshed. It didnt take much to figure out what was next for Ezra. No one liked to be sent to the woodshed, unless it was their turn to bring in wood.
+ + + + + + +
Dinnertime was never a quiet time, but Orrin wouldnt change any of it. He cleared his throat and the table became quiet.
"Boys? I have to go to Sweetwater for a couple of days, so I want you to be on your best behavior while Im gone. I dont want to come home and have a line waiting at the woodshed. Understand?"
"Yes sir," was heard from eight boys.
"How long you gonna be gone?"
"Ill be back for Saturdays picnic, I promise. Dont worry." Orrin knew the four year-old didnt understand time yet, but the picnic was an important reference.
"I want you boys to help Mary and to obey her. I also want you to leave the Marshall alone. He doesnt need your help."
"We helped last week to find little Suzy Carters puppy," Vin said.
"Yes you did, but I was referring to setting traps for bank robbers. Loosening cinches of men you think are rustlers. Am I getting through?"
"Those were very effective deterrents that allowed Marshall Brice to apprehend the miscreants."
"Ezra, youve already felt my strap today, would you like to push for a second?"
"Good. Behave. Its that simple. You know what I expect and you know what to expect if you dont. I love you all very much and I want to keep you safe. Now finish up your dinner and go get ready for bed."
As children were asking to be excused, Orrin stood up and beckoned for Josiah to follow him into the den. Everyone else ohhed like Josiah was in trouble.
"Would you like to come with me to Sweetwater? I thought we could swing through Vista City on the way back so you can visit your sister."
"Id like that a lot. Thanks."
"Good. The stage leaves at 9AM so you should get to bed early."
Josiah headed upstairs to his room that he shared with Nathan. "You in trouble?"
"No Nate. Pa just asked me if I wanted to go with him and swing through and see Hannah."
"Hey thats great. Tell her I said hi."
"I will Nate and thanks."
Orrin checked on all of the boys before he went to bed. First was Chris and Vins room. Chris was helping Vin practice his spelling. He told them to get to bed and tucked them in. Next stoop was Buck and JDs room where he found them both sound asleep already. Nate and Josiah were already in bed so he headed to Ezra and Billys room. Billy was sound asleep but Ezra was still awake.
"Time for bed Ezra."
"Yes sir. Pa?"
"I apologize for my poor judgment earlier."
"I know Ezra. I want you to stay out of the saloon while Im gone. Okay?"
"Thanks you, now get to bed. I love you."
Orrin headed to his own room and collapsed into bed and was instantly asleep.
+ + + + + + +
Four days later, the stage pulled into Four Corners. As Orrin and Josiah got out of the stage, Mary and Billy met them.
"GRANDPA!" Billy hollered as he jumped into his grandfathers arms.
"Hey Billy. Were you a good boy?"
"Yes sir, but Chris, Buck, Vin and Ez are in jail. Nates at the clinic and JDs home with a cold."
"Whoa Billy. Lets find out what has been happening." Orrin put Billy down and asked, "Okay. What happened? Is Nathan okay?"
"Certainly Orrin. Nathan is helping the doc because he enjoys it, not because hes sick or anything."
"Good. Why are the others in jail?"
"Thats a long story and I think Ill let them tell you about it. Theyve only been in there for a few hours. Marshall Brice knew you were coming home today so we let them stay until you could get them. He thought it would make a bigger impression on them."
"The only thing thats going to make an impression on them is my strap. I told them to stay out of trouble."
"They actually did very well until last night and this morning. They lasted longer than I thought they would." Mary giggled.
"Hes fine, just a little cold. I left Mrs. Potter with him because Billy wanted to meet you at the stage."
"Ill go get the boys and be right along. Josiah could you take my bag home please."
"Sure pa." Josiah, Mary and Billy headed home as Orrin headed for the jail.
+ + + + + + +
"Hes gonna kill us," Buck groused.
"Serves ya right. This is all your fault anyway," Chris countered.
"Chris is right Buck, you and your stupid ideas."
"Remind me in the future not to entertain any more of your ludicrous notions."
"Hey you guys all thought it was a good idea at the time. Besides we did stop that guy from stealin from the mercantile."
"Buck, he was Mrs. Potters nephew. He wasnt stealing."
"I didnt know that at the time."
They all became quiet when the door opened. "Hey Marshall. What did they do this time?"
Marshall Brice laughed. "Have a seat Judge. They decided to break into the mercantile and caused quite a bit of damage trying to 'capture' Mrs. Potters nephew."
Orrin groaned. "When will they learn?"
"Well, it was a misunderstanding, and if the man had been a crook the plan worked well, but Jake was just trying to help Mrs. Potter and didnt expect to get jumped in the storeroom and end up tied up."
"They tied him up?"
"Like a prize Christmas dinner. Then they came and got me. By the time we got back to the mercantile, Mrs. Potter had found Jake and was coming to get me also."
"Was she angry?"
"At first yes, but once she knew what happened, she thought it was funny. Even told me I should watch out, that the 'Magnificent Seven' would someday take my job."
"What about the damage?"
"Mrs. Potter agreed to let them clean up after school and on Saturdays to pay off the damage. Ezra was the only one who complained about it."
"He would. He hates to get dirty. Can I take them home?"
"Sure. I only locked them up to prove a point. I also figured they would scatter once you got home and I was saving you the hassle of hunting them down to kill them."
"I appreciate that. Ill just take them home to kill them. That way I can hide the bodies under the barn."
Both men were laughing as Marshall Brice retrieved the keys. As the approached the cells, Orrin put on a stern face. "BOYS!"
All four of the boys jumped up to face their father. "Correct me if Im wrong, but didnt I tell you to behave while I was gone?"
"Yes sir," was heard from all.
"Then why are you in jail?"
"It was all Bucks fault." Ezra pointed.
"I see. Lets go home, boys. We will discuss this there and then move it to the woodshed." Marshall Brice unlocked the cells and four very subdued boys followed their father home.
+ + + + + + +
The house was finally quiet. Orrin sat down in his favorite chair to enjoy his cup of coffee and the quiet. He was almost finished his coffee when he heard footsteps on the stairs.
"Yes Vin? Why arent you in bed?"
"Can I come down fer a minute?"
"Sure son." Orrin patted his lap and Vin climbed up and snuggled for a minute.
"Ya still mad?"
"No son. Im not mad any more."
"Love you," Vin whispered.
"I love you too Vin. Did you need something else?"
"I.." Vin hesitated.
"Its okay Vin. Go ahead."
"I got a eighty on my spellin while you were gone."
"Really? Thats great Vin." Orrin reached into his pocket and pulled out some change. "Hold out your hand son." Vin put out his hand and watched as his father put two shiny pennies in his palm. "There you go. Maybe next time Ill have to shell out more."
"Thanks pa." Vin snuggled back down and was quiet for a few minutes. "Pa?"
"Should I give my pennies to Mrs. Potter fer the mess we made?"
"No son. Mrs. Potter said you boys could work off that debt. You keep your pennies."
"Why dont we get you back up to bed. The picnic is tomorrow and I dont want to go with grumpy kids."
Vin giggled as he was set on his feet and lead upstairs. Orrin tucked him in and checked on all of the boys before he headed to bed himself. He would need the energy to get through a picnic with "The Magnificent Seven" and the trouble that seems to follow them.
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