DISCLAIMER: The following is a work of fanfiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., or anyone else who may have legal rights to the characters and settings. I don’t own the characters (but, oh, what I wouldn't do to change that.) This story is strictly for entertainment. No monetary gain will be made from it.
Comments and creative criticism greatly appreciated at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Buck Wilmington walked into the Four Corners saloon and looked around for other members of the Seven.
He spotted Chris Larabee right away at a table in the far corner, slowly sipping from a bottle of whiskey.
"Jesus" Buck thought "It's not even lunch time and he's already at it."
Buck continued looking around and came across JD Dunne and Vin Tanner sitting at a table. Vin was drinking coffee, and JD, his usual mug of milk.
Buck decided the odds were favorable that they would be better company than Chris would at the moment…but he was soon to be corrected on that assumption.
"Hey, boys" Buck greeted. "How are you gentlemen this fine mornin'?"
"Obviously, not as good as you," Vin replied, with a sly, knowing smile on his face.
"Well…I must say that I did have myself one spectacular evenin' last night," Buck smiled, as he sat down in a chair next to JD and plopped his long legs up on the table. "We really don't wanna hear about it, Buck," JD snapped.
"My, my, my. What's got you all riled up, boy? Or maybe you're just jealous of all my lady friends. I bet that's it, what do you think, Vin?" Buck teased.
"Don't know, Buck," Vin said. "The kid seems to be in a rather sour mood today. Has been all mornin'. It's been a real treat, I must say, sittin' here with him."
"Geez…I'm sorry I'm such a burden to be around. Can't a guy have any peace around here?" JD asked, in a sharp tone.
"Well, JD boy, you are in a mood. If you're tryin' to act like Chris, you're doin' a pretty good job of it, kid. But…you need to look a lot meaner," Buck laughed.
"Just leave me alone, Buck." And with that said, JD stood up to leave.
Buck grabbed the boy's arm and asked in a concerned voice, "JD, what's wrong, kid?"
"Nothin', Buck. Not a thing." And he walked out of the saloon.
Buck and Vin sat and looked at one another, both rather confused by the boy's departure.
"Well, I guess he's entitled to be in a bad mood once in a while," Buck said finally. "Just so he don't make a habit of it."
"Probably just got some things stewin' in that head of his," Vin reflected. "Not an easy age, you know. I wouldn’t go back to that age again for all the beef in Texas."
"Oh, I hear you on that. Still," Buck thought out loud, "JD's not usually touchy. He's usually in a good mood. One of the few of us that is, I might add."
"Why don't you just leave the boy alone?" Chris stated as he approached the table where Buck and Vin were sitting. "Buck, do you have to analyze everything the boy does. You're smotherin' the poor kid to death! Let him be."
"Well," Buck said, "I guess when I see someone hurtin', I just can't 'let them be'."
"Who said he's hurtin'?" Chris asked. "Just because he's in a bad mood? Christ, Buck, people do get in bad moods sometimes, don't mean a thing."
"Maybe you're right, Chris" Buck conceded. "Just don't seem like JD, though."
+ + + + + + +
Buck strolled over to the jail and walked in, thinking he'd find the kid reading one of his dime-store novels, or asleep behind the desk, like usual. Much to his surprise, JD was nowhere to be found. Odd, since the jail seemed to be his favorite hangout.
He continued on down the street, checking several different shops and businesses along the way…but still no JD. Finally, he reached the boarding house where he and the kid both had a room.
"Kid wouldn't be in his room this time of day," Buck said to himself. "Oh, what the hell, I'll have a look."
Buck knocked on the kid's door. No answer.
"I didn't think so," Buck thought.
As he turned to leave, Buck thought he heard a slight noise coming from JD's room. He knocked on the door again. "JD, you in there, kid?"
"JD. You in there, or not?"
"Go away, Buck. I don't feel like talkin'." came the reply from the other side of the door.
Buck didn't like the sound of the boy's voice. Buck had a feeling…he just knew…something wasn't right.
"JD. I'm coming in."
Buck turned the knob and was glad to find that the door wasn't locked. He was shocked at what he found.
JD was lying on the bed, shivering, and his face was as white as a sheet.
"What's wrong, JD?" Buck asked The kid looked terrible.
"Buck…just leave me alone, OK? I don't feel like talkin'," JD said in a hoarse, barely audible, voice.
"It's OK, kid. You don't have to talk. I'll do all the talkin', OK? Just let me sit with you for a while, OK?"
"OK," JD said as he curled up and started to shiver even more. Buck got a blanket out of the dresser and put it over the boy, and tucked it all around him.
"You feelin' pretty bad, huh? That's OK. We'll just sit here for a while." Buck said soothingly as he rubbed the boy's shoulder and panicked when he felt the heat radiating off him.
"You want I should go get Nathan, JD?"
"JD. I'm going to go get Nathan, and I'll be right back, OK?" Buck said.
"No." came JD's soft, pleading response, as he grabbed Buck's arm and held on. "Please, Buck. Don't leave me. I'm not feelin' too good. Don't leave, OK?" The kid was getting scared.
"OK, OK" Buck assured. "I'll stay right here. Don't go getting' all agitated on me now, boy."
"Sorry," JD said in a small voice. "I'm sorry."
Buck felt guilty. "You got nothin' to be sorry about, JD. You just calm down and rest."
"No…no…I'm sorry I was crabbin' at you and Vin before. I just felt…so…sick, and my head hurt so bad…like it was gonna split wide open. I'm real sorry, though," JD yawned as he started to go under.
"It's OK, kid," Buck smiled. "I'm just glad I didn't 'leave you be'. I'm glad I came to check on you."
When JD drifted off, Buck snuck out of the room and hurried over to Nathan's.
+ + + + + + +
"Nathan! Nathan!" Buck hollered as he burst through the door of the small, make-shift clinic.
"You raised in a barn, Buck. You forget how to knock?" Nathan asked.
"Sorry…no time for that, Nathan. JD's sick…got a real bad fever," Buck replied. "You gotta get to him right away."
Nathan grabbed some supplies and dashed out on Buck's heels.
When the two got to the top of the stairs, they could hear JD shouting from his room.
"BUCK!!! BUCK!!!" JD screamed.
Buck and Nathan hurried in. Buck ran to the kid's side. "I'm right here, JD. I'm right here."
"Buck," the kid grabbed Buck's arm with a death grip. "You said you wouldn't leave…but…when I woke up…you were gone."
JD's fever was raging.
"It's OK, boy. I just went to get Nathan, that's all," Buck said, feeling guilty for leaving the boy when he'd promised he wouldn't.
"Hey, JD," Nathan said in a calming voice as he began to examine him. "What's wrong with you, boy?" He felt JD's face and couldn't believe how hot it was.
"I ache all over, Nathan. And I feel real sick. Like I'm going to throw up…or pass out… not sure which," JD explained.
"Well….neither one's very pleasant, is it? We'll try and fix it so you don't have to do either one," Nathan promised.
JD's lashes began to flutter and soon he was out again.
Buck was pacing around the room like a caged lion as Nathan continued his examination.
"What do you think's wrong with him, Nathan?" Buck asked, not able to wait any longer.
"Well….lots of things can cause a fever and nausea. But I'm kinda worried about how he said he aches all over. Could be something serious."
"Oh, God," Buck thought. "Don't take him now. Poor boy ain't had a chance to live yet."
"Like what kind of 'serious', Nathan?" Buck asked, but not at all sure he wanted to know, either.
Nathan could read Buck's panic in his voice and decided to keep his fears to himself.
"Oh, Buck…could just be nothin' more that a cold. Sometimes people get real achy with a cold…JD could just be one of those people."
Buck had the feeling that Nathan was not telling him everything. "Come on, Nathan. People don't get like this over a cold."
"Some people do, Buck. Maybe not you…you're strong as a horse. But somebody like JD...he's a lot weaker...it's probably just a cold. Nothin' more."
Nathan continued to examine the boy, and Buck had a very uneasy feeling growing inside him…what was Nathan keeping from him?
"I'm gonna go to the restaurant and see if they've got any soup," Nathan said. "You stay with him till I get back?"
"Yeah…sure," Buck answered, not even really sure of what Nathan had said.
"Buck…you OK?" Nathan asked.
"Nathan…you're not bein' honest with me. I want to know what's wrong with the boy."
Nathan thought for a moment, then finally said, "Buck…I don't want to alarm you if it turns out to be nothin'." "If 'what' turns out to be nothin'?" Buck fretted.
"Buck…I think JD may have pneumonia. Now…I'm not sure about that yet…so don't go gettin' all crazy on me. We'll just have to see how he does for the next twenty-four hours or so."
"Pneumonia? That's serious, ain't it? I mean, people die from that, right?" Buck panicked.
"Yeah…it's serious…but it's not always fatal, Buck," Nathan assured the older man.
JD grabbed the two's attention as he began having a coughing fit. The boy was having a problem breathing and couldn't get any air.
"Buck??" the kid was getting scared, again. "Buck???"
"I'm right here, kid. Nathan's gonna bring you some soup? Sounds good, don't it?"
"No…don't want…any…soup," the teen said as he drifted off.
"Nathan…" Buck began.
"Buck, remember what I said. It's probably no more than a cold," Nathan said as he left to check on the soup.
Buck sat in the chair next to the kid's bed and tried to keep himself calm. "Kid's just got a bad cold…that's all," he told himself. "Always got to get himself into a situation…never does anything I tell him…I told him the other day it was cold…but does he wear a heavier coat…no, course not…can't tell the fool kid nothin'. Don't listen…might as well be talkin' to a log…"
Suddenly, JD woke in a panic.
"Buck!!!!!!!" the kid screamed.
"It's OK, kid. You're just havin' a bad dream, that's all. Now calm down." Buck told the boy, stroking his hair to reassure him.
"Buck??? It was a dream? It seemed so…real," the kid started coughing again. Buck thought he would never stop, when finally, he did.
"Easy, kid. You try not to talk for a while. I know that's hard for you, JD, but try it…anyway."
"I don't feel…too good… Buck," the kid said.
"I know, JD. Now you just rest. You'll be better real soon," Buck stated.
"OK," JD said as he drifted off.
Nathan returned with a bowl of hot soup.
"I hate to wake him, but let's see if we can get this down him, Buck."
Buck lifted the boy up and slid behind him so Nathan could try to feed him the soup.
"C'mon, JD. Let's see how you like this. It's chicken noodle. You like that, right?" Nathan asked.
"No…I don't want it…Nathan.," the kid said weakly.
"C'mon, JD," Buck said from behind the boy. "You do what Nathan says."
"No. I said…no." his eyes fluttering.
"Now, JD…you need to eat somethin'" Nathan stressed.
JD was becoming agitated. "I said…NO!!" as he shoved Nathan's arm…sending the soup and bowl tumbling onto the bed.
"JD!!" Buck yelled. "Now look what you've done. You can be such a little pain-in-the-ass sometimes, I swear."
"It's alright, Buck," Nathan said quietly.
"No it ain't alright, Nathan. Kid's got no respect for how hard you work to try to save his pint-sized ass," the situation was getting to Buck…he was beginning to unravel.
"Buck…" Nathan was trying to calm the older man down before he'd say something he'd regret later on.
"Now we gotta change the sheets and everything, JD. What've you got to say for yourself, boy?"
Nathan put his hand to the boy's face. His fever was raging.
"He's passed out, Buck. I was tryin' to tell you…it ain't JD actin' like this. It's the fever. You try havin' a fever like this and see how you feel…see how you act. It's easy to find fault when it ain't you goin' through it. Now…if'n you ain't gonna help with the boy…and have a little patience…then just go on and leave him and me be."
"Sorry, Nathan," Buck confessed.
"Fine…but it ain't me you should apologize to. If'n JD wakes up…I suggest you apologize to him. Now, help me get him out of this bed so I can change these sheets."
"I'll get him," Buck said gently. He proceeded to easily lift the boy from the bed and held him close to him while Nathan changed the sheets.
"You can put him back now," Nathan said.
Buck continued to hold the boy…he seemed a hundred miles away.
"Buck…I said you can put him back now," Nathan repeated.
"Oh…yeah…sorry, Nathan. Just thinkin'," Buck said.
"Better watch it, Buck. Thinkin' can get a man in a lot of trouble," Nathan observed.
"Just thinkin' that the last things I said to the kid were not very nice. Thinkin' I gotta make up with him…thinkin' what if I don't get the chance…" Buck trailed off, tears welling up in his eyes.
"Buck, don't be thinkin' that way. Kid's gonna be OK. He's gotta be. The rest of us couldn't live with you if he wasn't," Nathan teased.
The boy in Buck's arms started to stir.
"Yeah, kid…I'm right here," Buck said.
"Why you holdin' me? Christ…Buck…put me down," the kid was embarrassed.
"Sure, kid," Buck said as he placed him gently back in the bed, making sure he was covered completely.
"You feelin' any better, JD?" Nathan asked.
"Yeah…maybe…a little. Did I…make you…mad before, Nathan? I remember something…did I throw…something…at you?" the kid asked in a tiny voice.
"No, JD. We just spilled the soup, that's all. Don't you worry about it," Nathan assured the kid.
"Yeah, kid. You got nothin' to be sorry for," Buck said. "Me, on the other hand…I'm sorry about the things I said to 'ya, kid. Real sorry."
"I don't really…remember…much, Buck. So…" the kid started coughing again…and panicking.
Buck slid behind the kid again and propped him up against his chest and held him. The boy began to calm down instantly.
"Thanks…Buck," the kid said.
"Sure, kid. Get some rest."
"Buck…Nathan…I'm sorry I've…I've been crabby…" JD said, between coughing fits.
"S'OK, kid," Buck said. "Everybody gets their turn at bein' in a bad mood, JD…it's just your turn, that's all."