Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven and its characters are the property of MGM, Trilogy Entertainment, and the Mirisch Corporation.
"Chris, you've got to see this."
Totally engrossed in his paperwork, Chris Larabee absently mumbled, "Hmmm?" without looking up.
"You've got to see this," Buck Wilmington repeated, moving a little closer, his eyes twinkling with merriment.
With a weary sigh, Chris marked his place on the page with one finger, and looked up at Buck. "Can it wait?" he asked, nodding toward the mound of file folders still awaiting his perusal. "I've still got-"
"Nope," Buck proclaimed, taking hold of the other man's arm and pulling him out of his chair.
"Buck, what the-" Chris began in a loud voice, more than a little perturbed at his friend's actions.
"Shh!" Buck frantically pressed one finger to his lips. "You'll wake them."
"Wake who?" Chris questioned impatiently.
Buck raised his eyebrows. "Who else lives in this house, pard?"
A hint of interest flickered across Chris's face. "The boys?"
"Yep." Buck pointed to the family room. "Come on, you've got to see this," he said for a third time. Without waiting to see if Larabee followed, the tall man headed for the next room. When he got to the door, he moved aside so Chris could see around him.
At the sight of the two boys sleeping on the couch, snuggling together and sharing a faded blue sweatshirt, Chris stopped in his tracks. He was barely able to muffle his chortle of amusement.
"They were watching TV. I heard JD say something about being cold, and the next thing I knew, both boys were wearing one of Josiah's sweatshirts. The same sweatshirt," Buck added with a chuckle, keeping his voice to a whisper.
"He left it here that day we all worked on the barn," Chris said in an equally low tone, his eyes still caught by the scene before him. JD and Vin were almost completely engulfed by the large shirt. The too-long sleeves covered the boys' arms all the way to and beyond their fingertips; the shirt enveloped both torsos, hanging well past their knees; and two heads poked out of the neck opening, side by side. The younger boy's head was slightly tipped to one side, resting on Vin's, and both children were snoring softly.
Buck nodded. "It was sitting on the end table, and I guess the boys didn't want to miss any of their movie, so..." He gestured with one hand. "I was going to tell them to take it off, since it belongs to Josiah, but they looked so da- ... uh, darn cute," he amended automatically. "When I checked on them a few minutes later, they were both sound asleep."
"Got your camera handy?" Chris asked, a smile on his face, his eyes shining with rare mischief.
Buck snorted loudly, catching himself at the last second with a hand over his mouth. He checked the boys apprehensively, but neither one had stirred. "Sure do." Heading for his bedroom, he returned a short time later with camera in hand.
Watching as Buck searched for the perfect camera angle, Chris held his breath when the camera whirred several times, and then a few times more, hoping the sound and flashing light didn't wake the boys.
"Got it," Buck finally said with satisfaction, closing the lens cover and placing the camera back into its protective case.
"I think we just found a perfect present for a certain "uncle."
"Hey, I want one, too," Buck protested, clutching the camera to his chest protectively.
"So do I," Chris admitted. "One for you, me, Josiah, Ezra, and Nathan," he counted, ticking them off on his fingers. "I was thinking four by six."
"Nah," Buck protested. "That's too small. How 'bout eight by ten."
Chris shrugged. "Okay."
"I'll drop the film off tomorrow after work," Buck promised, "and we can look for frames over the weekend."
"Sounds good. For now, I think we need to get a couple of boys off to bed."
"How do you want to do this?" Buck gestured toward the sleeping pair.
"Carry them like that." Chris leaned over, and, in one smooth movement, picked up both boys. "We can get them changed in their room."
"Good idea." Buck set the camera case on the end table before leading the way to the small bedroom the boys shared. Opening the door, he gathered up pajamas while Chris carefully lowered his burden to the bottom bunk. When the boys didn't stir, the two men removed the sweatshirt, then exchanged jeans and t-shirts for pajamas.
"Chris?" Vin murmured in a sleepy voice, as Chris lifted his son into the top bunk and tucked him in. He blinked his eyes, only half-awake.
"Go back to sleep, Cowboy," Chris said.
"'Kay," Vin yawned, his eyes already closing.
Chris placed Cat at Vin's side, whispering, "'Night, son," and placing a kiss on the boy's forehead before heading for the door.
JD didn't move as Buck covered him with a blanket, ruffled his black hair affectionately, and brushed a kiss across his cheek. "'Night, Little Bit."
Turning out the light, Buck quickly followed Chris out into the hallway. "I can't wait to see Josiah's face," the tall man laughed as they made their way toward the family room.
"We may end up with a lot of extra laundry," Chris commented in a wry tone. When Buck raised a questioning eyebrow, he added, "The other 'uncles' may decide to accidentally leave their clothes laying around, too."
Buck looked thoughtful. "Hey," he exclaimed, snapping his fingers. "Maybe we should leave a few of our clothes out."
At first, Chris rolled his eyes at the idea. Then, a wide smile lit up his face and he chuckled.
"What? Thinking 'bout Vin and JD wearing one of your black shirts?"
Chris shook his head. "I was picturing the boys in one of Ezra's fine Italian suits!"