Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em but if I could they'd be on series 10 by now!
My thanks to Mog for ATF, to K Poffenberger for the LB universe and to all the wonderful authors who have made this AU so special.
Thanks, as always to Phyllis, for beta-ing and so much more.
This is my first LB...so don't judge too harshly! LOL
Sunday at the Larabee homestead was normally a loud and vibrant day. It was Buck and Chris' favorite day of the week, as they got to spend it at home with their boys.
Today, however had been a quiet affair, Vin was sitting quietly coloring, Chris next to him 'assisting', while JD and Buck were watching cartoons, curled up together on the sofa.
At first, Chris was amused at the way Buck's head would slowly roll backward then jerk forward as the big guy desperately tried to stay awake. But now his attention had turned to the dark-haired five-year old, curled tightly into his father's body as he slept.
The boy looked flushed. The blond stood and walked over to the dozing pair, placing his hand on JD's head, grimacing at the heat there. He stroked the boy's face gently, calling him.
"Hey, JD? Hey, baby boy, would you look at me for a minute?"
Keeping his thumb in his mouth, a pair of hazel eyes peeped open to look at his dad.
Chris smiled, "Do you feel ok, li'l bit?"
Frowning deeply and with huge tears clinging to dark eyelashes JD slowly shook his head.
Buck was wide awake now and looking into his son's face while stroking back the black hair. He looked at Chris, still trying to work out what was happening.
"Where does it hurt, son?" Buck asked him.
Removing his thumb, opening wide, JD pointed into his mouth, pushing his finger deep inside.
"It i'...'ere," he grunted, tears falling now.
"In there? Where li'l bit, your throat?"
Returning his thumb to his mouth he nodded, snuggling back into his da's broad chest.
Chris and Buck exchanged looks as Chris felt around the boy's neck glands, finally stopping at the front, just under the boy's chin and next to his windpipe.
"Tonsils," Chris said, confidently.
"What do we do?" Buck was worrying now.
"I'll get him some medicine and I'll call Nathan." Chris rose from his crouched position and headed for the bathroom.
Vin took his dad's place, gently holding his brother's free hand as he watched the five year old drift back off to sleep.
"Is he real sick, Buck?"
"Naw, he'll be fine once Nathan checks him out. He just needs some medicine is all."
Chris returned with a bottle..
"Nathan's on his way, and he's bringing a friend of Rain's who was visiting them this evening, with him, he's a pediatrician."
"That's lucky," Buck nodded, gently rousing his son to take the now offered medicine.
JD looked at the medicine spoon in front of him and opened his mouth.
Chris deposited the liquid onto JD's tongue and smiled at him, as he watched the boy painfully swallow.
"Well done, little man, would you like a...."
Before he could finish, JD vomited, jerking forward as he did so. Vin jumped back in horror, while Chris ran for a towel and Buck sat them both forward so as to support his back and stop his boy from choking should he throw up again, which he did, three more times.
As JD spluttered, he started crying, sobbing hard but making only soft noises as his throat made it difficult to speak.
"I's cold, da!" the little boy sobbed, and despite knowing he should be keeping him cool, Buck hugged the shivering form tightly.
Chris proceeded to mop up the mess on the floor, handing Buck a damp cloth for JD's face.
"Vin, can you get me the ear thermometer?" Chris asked.
Vin nodded and trotted off to locate it, returning in a short time. The bleep confirmed their fears of a high temperature and while they waited for Nathan and his friend, the two men and older brother coaxed the sick five year-old to sip water, while Buck soothed and cuddled his shivering son.
+ + + + + + +
Within the hour, Nathan and his friend, Doctor Simon Halls, had arrived. Simon asked for JD to be put in his bed so he could comfortably examine him. Buck leaned heavily against the door jamb as he watched his sad little boy being poked and prodded. Chris and Vin hovered in the corridor to the bedroom with Nathan.
Twenty agonizing minutes later, Simon had concluded his examination and, seeing JD had nodded off to sleep, and asking Vin to sit with him, he directed the three men into the living room to sit and talk.
"Well?" Buck asked, leaning forward in his chair.
"Has he had this before?" Simon began.
All three men nodded, "Yes," Buck answered, "About three times in the last six months, but never as bad as this."
Chris was nodding in agreement.
Simon sighed slightly, "I assume he and Vin have a pediatrician?"
Again, they nodded.
"I need to speak with him as soon as possible. This is what I think we should do, please hear me out, and then I'll answer any questions you may have when I'm finished. JD's tonsils are about as bad a case as I've seen. It's no wonder he's sick, the pustules at the back of his throat are literally hanging, causing him to swallow pus, which is making his stomach very unsettled.
The tonsils are seriously enlarged, and, in my opinion, they are unlikely at this point to revert to normal, which effectively means he will have regular attacks of tonsillitis, each attack getting more uncomfortable and painful."
All three men were shifting in their seats, and despite Buck's desperate desire to scoop his son up in his arms and nurse the little boy's pain away, he waited for the conclusion to Simon's decision.
"My opinion is that we admit him to hospital tonight, we can stabilize him and take a few throat swabs, though I don't think, under the circumstances they will be needed. I see he also has an ear infection."
Chris and Buck looked shocked.
"Please don't feel you've missed something, it's a common occurrence with tonsillitis, and is another good reason to have them removed."
Buck stood, "Removed? We can't just give him some antibiotics?"
"Yes," Simon nodded, "We could, but you'll be going through all this again in a very short time and again and again..."
Buck sat down hard, he got the picture. Chris, sitting next to him on the sofa squeezed his arm in support.
"What do you want us to do?" the blond asked.
"Pack a bag for him and do whatever necessary to prepare him for his hospital visit. Nathan is going to drive me to the hospital where I'll prepare for his arrival and admittance; I'll try to get hold of Doctor...?"
"Two Eagles, Jake Two Eagles," Nathan offered.
Simon nodded, "Yes, I'll contact him and then arrange for the operation."
"Is this operation dangerous?" Buck was a little rattled now.
"Well, there's a blood loss of around one fifth of the body's total volume, which is a lot for a child, especially one as young and as small as JD, but he'll be put on a drip instantly for around twelve hours afterwards and monitored closely so I don't anticipate too many problems."
"Dear Lord," Buck cried, slumping back in his seat. Simon went to speak but Chris halted him.
"It's just been a shock that's all. You go ahead and we'll get him ready."
Both men stood and said their goodbyes and watched Nathan and Simon leave, then sighing heavily they went back to JD and Vin's room to tell the boys.
Buck melted as soon as he saw hazel eyes peeping out from under black bangs and dropped to the side of the bed to comfort his boy. Chris tapped Vin on the arm and gestured for him to follow him out.
Chris sat his son down in the living room and told him what would be happening. Huge tears pooled in Vin's eyes as his father explained.
"He won't die, will he, dad?"
Chris hugged the boy tight to his chest, "Oh God, no son, he'll be in good hands, and as good as new in a day or two. And then we get to bring him home and spoil him, yeah?"
Chris felt Vin nod against his chest.
"So, are you going to help me be brave for him and Buck? I really think they need us right about now."
Vin pulled back, swiping at his eyes, his little jaw set.
"Yes, dad, let's go help them pack."
Buck lay on JD's bed on his back, JD across his chest, his little hand stroking Buck's cheek. Buck softly kissed the top of the boy's hair and quietly told him what was about to happen. JD rolled back a little and just managed to look into his father's eyes.
"'M I gonna come back?"
"Sure, you will in a few days, maybe a week at most. Then we can have a big party, would you like that?"
Black hair tickled Buck's chin as JD nodded.
Pulling the little body up higher, Buck raised his son's face gently to look into his eyes.
"Baby boy, you are the best thing that ever happened to me. I love you with all my heart, and I promise everything is going to be fine at the hospital, you'll see."
"Da," JD croaked.
"Yes, li'l bit?"
"Would you... go wiv me?"
Buck frowned, "Go where, son?"
"To va hofpital? I's scared da."
Buck kissed his son's head again and squeezed him as tight as he dared, "Li'l bit, I'm gonna be right there, every second, and so is Chris and Vin, I promise."
"And Unca Ezwa and Unca 'Siah, and Unca Nafan?"
Buck chuckled softly, "Oh I would bet on it...yes."
+ + + + + + +
A half-hour later, Buck stroked back the damp black hair, wincing at the heat from the still hot head. Vin sat cross-legged on JD's bed, his eyes never moving from his brother. Chris looked in to the bedroom.
"Ready?" he asked Vin and Buck.
Both nodded and Buck scooped his precious bundle into his arms, drawing him close.
"Da?" the boy rasped weakly.
Buck looked down with teary eyes, "Hey, li'l bit, just going to the hospital, ok?"
"Are you gonna cawy me?"
"You bet," Buck nodded and sighing, hugged him tighter. In a few hours those damned tonsils would be gone and his boy would be all better.
It had been a tense night and an even tenser morning as the tonsillectomy was performed. Vin sat on Chris' lap through most of the wait while Buck paced. Ezra demonstrated card tricks and Josiah told stories, while Buck still paced and drank coffee, and paced.
Finally, Doctors Jake Two Eagles and Simon Halls approached them, smiling.
"All done gentlemen," Jake beamed, "JD will be in recovery shortly and you can see him there. He's on a monitor and an IV but that should all be gone by tomorrow. He did real well, Buck."
They all shook hands, even Vin, and sat down in relief, to wait. Vin hugged cat, then looked at both his dads.
"I got an idea," he smiled, "You know I gots cat? Can we get JD a special toy to hug too?"
Buck walked over to the boy, and as he grinned at the eight year old, he ruffled his hair.
"That's a great idea. Would you and Chris go pick something out for him later?"
Vin nodded enthusiastically and Chris winked his approval. Standing as a nurse came to show them to recovery to see JD, they all followed her, Chris taking Vin's hand and winking again to reassure the boy.
Seeing his son all tiny and pale in the bed reduced Wilmington to tears as he took the boy's hand and kissed it.
"He feels so much cooler," Chris smiled as he touched JD's forehead.
Vin approached his brother, hesitating for a moment, then, pulling a chair to the side of the bed and climbing on to it, he quickly and shyly kissed him on the cheek. JD stirred and started to open his eyes. Buck closed in.
"Hey there, li'l bit, Daddy's here, and Vin and Chris and Ezra and Josiah and Nathan. Don't try to talk just yet, ok? Just take a little sip of water."
JD sipped on the straw offered him, screwing up his face as he tried to swallow. His little chin wobbled and his eyes filled and Buck drew the boy carefully into a hug.
"Ssshh, it's ok, it won't hurt for long. You're such a brave little man. Would you like Vin to climb up and give you a cuddle?"
JD nodded, and Buck placed his boy down on the bed as Vin removed his shoes, climbed up and soon settled down. As the two boys snuggled together their eyes drooped and they were soon both fast asleep. A few hours later, with the brothers still sound asleep, they and the bed were transported to a private room and the men of Team Seven settled down for the duration.
+ + + + + + +
Two days later saw JD full of energy, though still a little hoarse. He was listening to Josiah read a story while he waited for Buck, Chris and Vin to return with something Vin had said was a surprise. Ezra had taken the position on the bed and was happily curled around the little form, his chin resting on top of the dark hair, as JD, who's free hand had reached up to touch Ezra's hair, was twisting a strand around his index finger while he listened to the story. Nathan was dozing in the chair on the other side of the bed next to Josiah. They all looked up as the absentees returned, Ezra reluctantly unwrapping himself from his adopted nephew and straightening his clothing as he greeted the three family members. JD was beaming as Vin approached with a gift-wrapped package.
"This is for you, from all of us 'coz you were so brave."
JD's eyes widened, as his smile grew wider. He excitedly took the package.
"Fank you, wha' is it?"
"Open it and see, son." Buck grinned.
The little boy ripped open the package to reveal a velvety soft, large, bay colored stuffed pony with golden flowing mane and tail. For a moment JD said nothing, he just stared at it.
"Don't you like it?" Vin was worried about his choice now.
Huge tears dropped from JD's eyes, "Vis is really mine?"
Vin nodded enthusiastically as the men choked up.
"I love him, he's really mine? I al'ays wan'ed a pony, fank you."
JD stretched out his arms to his brother and gave him a huge hug and a wet soppy kiss, causing Vin to wipe his cheek with the back of his hand as he made a face. One by one, each man received a hug, and as JD hugged Chris, he rasped "I love you, dad."
A little choked, Chris hugged him tighter and kissed his head, "Love you too, JD."
When Buck finally got a turn, the emotion of the last few days caught up to him and spilled down his face. JD kissed his da on the nose, "Don't cry, da...do you wanna hug my pony?"
"Nuh uh," Buck sniffed, "I want to do this..." and he carefully started to tickle his son until the squeals became too much for the boy's still sore throat.
The next day, JD was all packed and ready to go home. Buck was the only one to collect him as the others prepared his little welcome home party back at the ranch.
Buck swept his son up from the bed and rested him on his right hip, getting a face full of stuffed pony as JD hugged the toy close to him.
"I's never gonna get baddie tonsools again, da?"
"No, li'l bit, they're gone now. You all set?"
JD nodded, smiling.
"Ok then, let's go home, son."
Father and son walked happily out from the hospital, and drove back to the home and family they loved.