Sick Day

by MMW

Disclaimer: The characters of "The Magnificent Seven" belong to MGM, Trilogy, etc and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended. The Little Britches universe was created by JD Poffenberger and S Berry. It was brought into the ATF world by Barbaretta Hayden.

Note: Many thanks to Phyllis for her help with this piece

Monday morning arrived far too soon for JD. He was supposed to write a report for school over the weekend. Friday he had been so excited to be home, he had dropped his backpack and forgotten about it.

He remembered the report Saturday morning when he awoke and told himself he would do it that morning. At least, that had been his plan until he became involved in Saturday morning cartoons and lost track of time.

Still, there was Saturday afternoon he could spend on it. At least, he could have spent time on it if Chris and Buck hadn’t needed to go to the big Walmart. The huge store had too many interesting things in it for him to pass up a trip, so the afternoon had passed.

Working on the report Saturday evening wasn’t an option for the boy; after all that was when all four of them had fun together, whether playing games, watching movies, or just horsing around. There was no way the report would get written Saturday night.

Sunday, JD awoke with a sense of urgency about his report.

He knew he needed to get it done; it was due first thing Monday. Throwing his covers off, he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed.

“You ready yet?” Buck asked, stepping into the room.

“Huh?” JD asked, puzzled.

Wilmington sighed and stepped into the room, crossing to JD’s dresser. “You need to get dressed, JD. We’re going to be late.”

“Late?” JD asked, staring at his backpack.

“Yes, late,” Buck replied, setting clothes on the bed next to the boy. “We’re going to Josiah’s church this morning and then spending the day with him, Nathan, Raine and Ezra. Don’t you remember?”

Big hazel eyes blinked up at the tall agent as JD suddenly remembered the plans that had been made. His eyes flicked once more to the backpack and he mentally shrugged. When it came down to a choice between homework and his uncles, there was no choice. “’Kay,” Dunne replied, bouncing off his bed and getting dressed.

The day had been wonderful and lots of fun. JD had fallen asleep on the drive home and didn’t even notice as he was bathed and put to bed.

Monday morning, JD woke with a start. “My report!” he gasped, struggling to throw off his covers.

“Hurry up, JD!” Vin commanded rushing into the room to grab his shoes. “Dad and I are going to be leaving soon to drive my diorama to school. You’ve got to hurry if you’re coming with us.”

Panic began to set in as JD scrambled to his dresser. Not only was he running late, but he hadn’t worked on his report at all. He wondered briefly how Vin had gotten his diorama together and then remembered that his friend and brother hadn’t been watching cartoons with him Saturday and Vin had been busy on Friday after school, leaving JD to play with the dogs. Realizing that those were the times Vin had been working on his project, JD thought that maybe he should have been working on his report then too.

“Vin! JD!” Chris’ voice called out. “Time to go!”

Letting out a frustrated sigh, JD made a decision. Turning to face the older boy, he said, “You go, Vin. I’ll take the bus.”

Tanner hesitated in his path, looking at the other boy. JD didn’t like the bus and especially didn’t like riding it by himself. Why the other boy would volunteer to do so eluded Vin.

“Vin! JD!” Chris called again, impatience evident in his voice.

“Coming!” Vin called. Looking in the other boy, he nodded and headed for the door.

JD was just able to hear the murmur of voices as Vin told Chris about JD’s change of mind. He heard Chris call to Buck to let the other man know that JD was taking the bus just before the front door closed.

Letting out a heavy sigh, JD knew he’d only bought himself about ten minutes, not nearly long enough to get his report written. As he stood contemplating his options, he remembered the teacher telling them that if one of them was going to be out sick, they would need to have their parent or other adult call them in to the main office.

The idea continued to develop and soon JD knew what he needed to do. A small portion of his mind told him that it wasn’t a good idea, a portion that sounded a lot like Vin, Chris, Da and his uncles, but he knew it was his only chance.

Doing everything like he normally would, JD quickly got dressed and grabbed his backpack. He rushed into the kitchen and quickly wolfed down the cereal waiting for him before calling out “Bye, Da!” and racing out the door.

He ran down the driveway until he was out of sight of the house and then quickly found a hiding place. Moving as best he could back to the house, he watched as the door opened and Buck stepped out onto the porch. The bus was just passing the bottom of the driveway and Wilmington paused, watching it before turning back into the house. A few moments later, he left again and went to his truck, turning it on and leaving.

Relieved that he had the house to himself, JD made his way to the back door. He knew they kept a secret key there and quickly had the door unlocked and the key replaced.

Walking over to the phone, he paused, remembering the rules about not calling someone without permission.

With a heavy sigh, JD knew he would have to break the rules. Picking up the device, his finger was poised over the dial pad when he realized he didn’t know the number.

Replacing the receiver, he headed off to the kitchen and soon found the number to the school on the list of contact numbers they kept.

It was as the phone was ringing he realized he would have to make his voice sound deeper since only adults could call in. That was all right, though, he could do it.

+ + + + + + +

Bonnie, the receptionist at the school, picked up the phone and gave the standard greeting.

“Hello,” the voice greeted.

Bonnie’s brow furrowed at the sound. The voice sounded odd, almost as if a child was trying to make his voice sound adult. She hesitated a moment, wondering if she should say something or not.

The voice continued a moment later, “Please mark JD Dunne absent today.”

Concern rose within the receptionist. The whole school was aware of the two orphan boys and what they had been through. She hoped the little brunet was alright, but something about the voice still sounded odd. She hoped it wasn’t trouble. “And the reason for his absence?” she asked.

“He’s… sick,” came the hesitant reply.

Bonnie paused in her note taking, her suspicion coming to the fore. Mr. Wilmington or Mr. Larabee always called the boy in when he was ill. Given the strange voice and the fact that neither of the men were calling, she couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t JD himself on the other end of the phone. “May I ask who is calling?” she inquired, already looking up Mr. Wilmington’s work number.

“My uncle,” came the firm reply in a voice that could only belong to JD.