Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Note: Betaed by Phyllis
Feedback: Yes please.
"Buck?" JD asked.
"Yeah?" Buck was under his old, but much loved truck, treating a patch of rust; thus JD was addressing his feet.
"Seven is a odd number isn't it?"
Buck put down his brush and pulled himself out from the truck. "Little Bit, what's the matter?"
JD was looking puzzled. "Is eleven a odd number?"
"Yes," Buck replied cautiously.
"Oh." JD looked up. "We learned about odd numbers and even numbers in school this week.
"Ah, right, well it sounds to me that you've got it all sorted." JD didn't look so sure. "Anything else you want to know?"
JD shook his head. "I'm gonna go play with Vin."
"Okay." Buck watched the diminutive brunet walk away, clearly something was bothering him.
It had been eleven months since the two boys had come into the lives of ATF Team Seven, and in just a few days, JD would turn six. Vin had had his eighth birthday the month before, in line with his wishes, they had loaded all the horses into the trailer and all gone on a picnic ride up in the mountains. JD had requested a trip to Cowboy Land, a theme park based in a western theme. As well as rides, there was a cowboy stunt show, trick riding and a rodeo. Vin almost chose Cowboy Land as his treat, but the lure of riding his beloved Peso high in the mountains where there were no roads, or even people, had proved too strong.
+ + + + + + +
An hour later, Buck packed up his tools and headed into the ranch house he now shared with his oldest friend, Chris Larabee, and the two boys. Chris was in the early stages of preparing the evening meal.
"I got time to shower?" he asked.
Chris glanced at his watch. "Half an hour?"
"Fine." Buck turned to go, then turned back. "Vin say anything to you about numbers? Odds and evens?"
Chris thought a moment. "Nope, not that I recall, why?"
"JD seems mighty concerned about something to do with odd numbers."
Chris shrugged. "I'll ask Vin if I get the chance."
+ + + + + + +
Just before dinner, while the boys got washed up, Chris was able to tell Buck that Vin had no idea what was bothering JD. During the meal, it became increasingly obvious that JD was distracted and troubled. Since it was Saturday, the boys were permitted to stay up a little later than normal. After a bath, they changed into their pyjamas and settled down with their fathers to watch a DVD. This evening the movie was the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. There were a few bits that the boys, especially JD found scary, but that was half the fun, snuggling up to their dads for protection. There were the usual protests that they weren't tired when it came to bedtime but, as always, these protests went unheeded and the boys arguments lost credibility when they both yawned.
Buck had resolved to find out what was troubling the normally carefree JD before the weekend was over. His birthday was on Thursday and the trip planned for the following Saturday. The last thing Buck wanted was a miserable birthday boy.
+ + + + + + +
He and Chris retired to their respective rooms just after eleven and by eleven thirty Buck was asleep. Something woke him around one a.m. As he came fully awake he had a sudden feeling of being watched, flipping over to confront the intruder, he came face to face with JD, his low outline clearly visible in his glow in the dark Scooby Doo pyjamas.
"Hey there, can't sleep?" he asked softly.
JD shook his head.
"Wanna come up here and have a cuddle?"
That was all the encouragement JD needed to clamber up onto his father's big bed. Buck held onto the warm form that wrapped it's self around him. It still amazed him that - not only had his heart been stolen, but that anyone, much less a small boy would make him the centre of their world, place in him unconditional trust and grant him unconditional love. He gently stoked JD's silky black locks.
"What's wrong?" he asked softly.
"Come on, what ever it is, I bet we can work it out together."
"I don't want anyone to be unhappy," JD finally admitted.
"Why would anyone be unhappy?"
"'Cause the numbers are odd," came the enigmatic reply.
Forcing himself to keep his voice soft and calm, Buck pressed on. "Why don't you tell me all about it, start from the beginning."
"Okay, you 'member Uncle Ezra showed me all the pictures about Cowboy Land he got from the innernet?"
"Well I took the pictures to school for show and tell and I showed them and I told them I was going here for my birthday treat and well Mickey Kirkby he's been there and he tolded everyone all about it and he said all the rides are for two and that's a even number."
JD stopped, apparently believing he'd explained the problem.
"Well," Buck began, "two is an even number, why is that a bad thing?"
"Well I wanted to have Uncle Ezra and Uncle Nathan and Uncle Josiah come and I asked them and they said they wanted to come."
"I know and they are looking forward to it."
"Well with you and me and Vin and Chris that's seven and then someone would be on their own, 'cause if all the rides are for two people and we have a odd number then someone has to sit on their own and that's no fun."
Buck wasn't sure how much about odd and even numbers five year olds were taught, but he was pretty sure JD had understood a lot more than he was actually taught, sometimes just how smart his son was just hit him in the face and it scared him. Even as all this ran through his head, JD was still speaking.
"So I thought I could ask Auntie Rain, then that would be eight but then she'd be the only girl, so I was gonna ask Miz Potter but then it would be nine so I was gonna ask Miz Nettie, but if I ask her I have to ask Casey and then thats eleven." JD took a deep breath and then continued. "So then I was gonna ask Miz Inez 'cause she's nice and that would be twelve and that would be alright, no one would be on their own, but twelve is a lot of people and I know it's costs lots of money to go to Cowboy Land and Vin said we mustn't ask for too much. "
It took Buck a moment to realise JD had stopped speaking and assimilate what he'd said.
"Okay, let me get this right. You're worried that if only the seven of us go that's an odd number and that won't be fair?"
"But if you ask your Auntie Rain, she'll be the only girl, and that's not fair either."
"But if you invite Mrs Potter that's another uneven number so you were going to invite Miss Nettie, but you can't invite her and not Casey, so you thought of inviting Inez, but that would be too many."
Buck felt, more than saw, JD nod his head.
"Well, you sure have done some serious thinking about this. First off, yes it would cost quite a lot for twelve of us to go, but that doesnt mean we couldn't, we're family now, no one is going to send you or Vin away, not ever. If you really want to invite more people we can, though it's short notice, so you might find some of them have other things to do. Chris and I thought about inviting Rain but she is working in the hospital next Saturday."
JD sighed. "Oh, okay."
"But I don't think you need to worry about someone being on their own."
"But it's not fair."
"Well, not everyone likes all the rides; I don't like rides that go around and around very quickly."
"They make my tummy feel funny in a bad way, but that doesnt mean other people don't like them. And some of the rides are only for kids."
"But I want you to come on the rides with me," JD protested.
"And I will, if you want me too, but there may be rides you and Vin can go on without grownups, special little cowboys rides, and Chris and your uncles and I will watch and take pictures. And remember, someone will have to be filming, we want a video, don't we?"
JD remembered the fun they'd had watching the video of the mountain riding trip. "I guess."
"Me and Chris and your uncles will take turns filming. No one minds and that way no one will have to ride alone."
"I don't want anyone to be left out."
Buck pulled JD a little closer. "No one is going to be left out, I promise. Now do you want to invite anyone else to your birthday?"
JD thought about it, the only people he had thought of were all girls, he wasn't sure girls really liked cowboys. Most boys would have invited some school friends to their sixth birthday, but Vin and JD had been at their current school for less a month, not long enough to make close friends, especially for the Vin, who was still somewhat shy around strangers. The first school they attended wasn't able to meet their rather individual needs. They had insisted Vin be placed in a 'reading recovery programme' which separated him from JD and made him self-conscious about his lack of education. Conversely, they refused to advance JD or provide him with the extra stimulation his ever-active mind needed. With some help from the boys counsellor, Chris and Buck had eventually found both boys a place at a Montessori school where they could be in the same class and learn at their own pace. The trouble was there was waiting list and places for the boys had only become available three weeks ago.
"Do you think it will be okay if it's just us?" JD asked.
"Just the seven of us?"
"I think that would be fine." Buck kissed his son softly on the top of the head. "Now how about we get you back to bed, Vin might get lonely if he wakes up and he's on his own."
"It's not good to on your own."
"No son it isn't, that's why we're a family."