His Choice

by Spice

Disclaimers The characters of The Magnificent Seven belong to CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, and The Mirisch Corp. Original characters belong to me. Not making any money on this.

Notes: Thanks to K. Poffenberger and S. Berry for creating the Little Britches AU. I've been reading all of the wonderful stories lately, and I kept wondering, what if we pushed them ahead ten years? So, I'm not sure if this qualifies as an LB story, but it does take the basis from that universe.

Vin continued mucking out the stalls, not really paying attention to JD's long monologue until he heard his name.


"I said, can we ride with you to the dance?"


The younger teen rolled his eyes as he peered around the corner of his own stall. "Me and Casey, doubling with you to the dance?"

"I ain't goin' to the dance, JD." Vin filled his wheelbarrow and pushed it out of the barn to dump it.

"What do you mean you ain't goin'? I thought you were gonna ask Mandy? How am I supposed to get there if ya don't?" JD followed with his own wheelbarrow.

"Ask Buck or Dad."

"But, Vin."

The older teen just held up his hand before making his way back into the barn. JD pouted a bit, his brain furiously trying to figure out someone his brother could take so that he wouldn't have to resort to asking his dad for a ride. I'd never hear the end of it!

When Chris and Buck arrived home that evening from work, they sensed some tension in the air. Nodding to each other, they each took their son in opposite directions to try and figure out the problem.

"So, Kid, what's up?" Buck looked at his son, tilting his head to study the young man.

"Nothing, Dad."

"I don't buy it, JD. There's too much tension in the house. What's going on?"

JD sighed and settled on the sofa in the den. "I asked Vin if Casey and I could ride with him to the dance next Friday. He said he wasn't going. Last week, he told me he was going to ask Mandy Michaels. This week, he gets all mad if I mention anything."

"Maybe she said no, and he doesn't want to go with anyone else." Buck stroked his mustache as he thought about the problem.

"I don't know. I just wanted to ride with him."

The pout on the young man's face gave Buck another idea. "And you didn't want me to take you."

Looking up, the young man cast surprised eyes at his father. "How did you know?"

"Think I never had that problem? Only it was my mom." The man smiled. "We'll figure something out."

Out on the porch, a similar conversation was occurring.

"So, what's up with you and JD?" Chris leaned back in the glider swing, casually sipping a beer.

"JD wanted me to take him to the dance."

"Don't think he'd look particularly good in a dress."

Vin couldn't help the small chuckle that escaped him. "Dad."

The blond grinned before putting his bottle on the porch floor. "Don't want him interrupting your date?"

"Don't have a date."

"Then why did he think he could go with you?"

The teenager sighed and looked out into the darkness. "He kept pesterin' me about the dance; tellin' me I needed to find someone to take. I finally gave him a name just to get him off my back."

"Did you ask her?"

"Naw, I knew she was goin' with someone else."

Chris studied his son. "Then why'd you tell JD you were going to ask her?"

"He's always pointin' out some girl, saying she looks hot 'n stuff like that. Keeps pushin' me to ask 'em out. I'm gettin' tired of it."

They were silent for several moments as Chris tried to figure out a solution. He hit upon one possible reason and tentatively offered it.

"Would you rather go with someone other than a girl?"

Vin frowned for a moment then started laughing. "I ain't gay, Dad. Know a couple of guys on the team who are, but that's not the reason."

Inwardly, Chris sighed in relief. He also knew a couple of friends who were gay, and their constant struggles would have made him worry about his own son's problems in dealing with society if he had discovered that he was. Shifting his mind back to the problem, he picked up his bottle and drained it.

"So, why?"

"Everyone's always tellin' me I gotta choose one of the cheerleaders or one of the real popular girls since I'm on the baseball team. Tellin' me I gotta maintain an image since we're champions and stuff. Most a the girls can't talk about nothin' but their hair or who's goin' out with who or what car this one's drivin'. I was sittin' with some of the guys, and a coupla girls came over and sat with us. They were goin' on and on and on about what they were gonna wear and what their dates should wear and gettin' a limo and stuff. I finally just walked away."

Knowing Vin's nature, Chris could well understand his son's lack of interest in typical teenage girl interests. He pushed the swing with his foot, setting them into a gentle rocking motion.

"Is there anyone you would ask?"

Vin was quiet for a long time. "Yeah."

"I take it she doesn't fit into the mold your friends are trying to push you in."

"Naw. Anne's pretty quiet. She's helped with my trig homework. Real smart, on the honor roll and stuff." There was a wistful note in his voice.

"Are you afraid she'll say no?" Chris tried to look into Vin's eyes, but the young man kept his head down. "Or are you afraid you're not good enough?"

Having his fear verbalized brought the teenager's head up with a snap. When he looked into his father's eyes, he recognized the understanding and that it was tempered with love, just like it always was.

"Like I said, she's real smart. Don't know if she'd want to go out with me." Vin scuffed the toe of his boot on the porch floor.

"Does she ever laugh at you when you ask her for help with your homework?"

Thinking about it for a moment, the teenager realized that she had never turned him away when he asked for help, and she never made him feel stupid or anything. Chris could see the wheels turning, and he recognized the moment Vin made a decision.

"I'll ask her tomorrow."

"I think she'd be real lucky to go with you."

Vin was glad it was dark out on the porch so that his father couldn't see the slight blush that colored his cheeks.


At lunch the next day, Vin finally tracked Anne down near the trees that lined the quad in the center of the school. He stopped a few feet away, not wanting to startle her.

"Hey, Anne."

She looked up, a little surprised to see him there. "Hey, Vin. What's up?"

"Just wanted to talk for a minute, if you're not too busy."

Anne moved her books from her right side, shifting them to the pile on her left. She smiled at him and indicated the empty spot. "Pull up some grass." When he sat down, he fiddled with the paper bag that held his lunch, unfolding and folding the paper. Taking a deep breath, he finally looked up at her.


Anne smiled at him again, waiting. She figured he needed more help with his trig homework and was nervous asking for help again. No matter how many times she told him she was happy to help, he always stumbled over the request. Thinking she would help him out, she grabbed her math book.

"Need some help with trig again?"

Vin was startled for a moment then shook his head. "No, think I pretty much got it this time." He took another breath before mumbling. "Wanted to know if you'd go to the dance with me next week."

She raised an eyebrow, totally surprised by the request. "You want to take me to the dance?"

He nodded, grateful she understood the question considering how fast he asked it and that he didn't have to ask again.

"Me?" Anne couldn't help the higher pitch of her voice, shock coloring it.


"Are you sure?"

He frowned at her continued surprise. "Why wouldn't I be sure?"

"Because you could ask anyone. Why me?" She wasn't used to being asked to dances; the usual requests involved help with homework or labs. Really cute guys did not ask her out on dates. Anne remained on the outskirts of the popular cliques because she spent most of her time studying or working in her parents' gift shop, limiting her time with after-school activities. She worked hard on her studies so that she could get into a top-notch university and pursue her dream of being a veterinarian. That was one thing she and Vin had in common, much to her delight.

She looked up to find Vin frowning at her again. "Whaddaya mean, why me? Why wouldn't I ask ya?"

"C'mon, Vin. Half of the cheerleaders would love to go out with you. Half the girls in this school would love to be your date."

"I ain't asking them. I'm asking you." He studied her for a moment. "So, will you?"

Looking into his eyes, she saw that he really meant what he said. It only took a moment for her to make a decision. "Yes."

He grinned, nearly blinding her with his brilliant smile. "Well, I guess I need your address and phone number." After getting the information, he looked at her again. "Wanna come out to the ranch this weekend to meet my dad? One of the mares is gonna foal soon, might even be then. Maybe your dad can bring you out so he can meet me and my dad so he'll know who's takin' ya out."

Anne chuckled. "I'd like that." She took the piece of paper from him with his address and phone number, tucking it into her jeans pocket. The two of them quickly ate their sandwiches as they chatted about the horses at the ranch.

A bell rang, signaling that lunch was almost over. Vin stood up then offered a hand to Anne after she gathered her books. They walked towards the building, and Vin looked over at her.

"Call me on Friday, and we'll set everything up."

"I will. Bye, Vin." She smiled at him, pushing her wire-rim glass farther up her nose.

"Bye, Anne." He grinned and turned to head off to his next class.


Friday evening, Vin talked to Anne on the phone, then handed the receiver to Chris so he could speak to Anne's father. Both men agreed on a time for Anne to come out to the ranch before handing the phones back to their respective teens. Vin moved out onto the porch to finish his conversation as Chris and Buck looked at each other and smiled in remembrance.

JD had gone on a school field trip to a debate team competition and would not be returning until Sunday evening. Vin was kind of glad for that fact, afraid his younger brother would hound the pair all day on Saturday.

Anne arrived at nine, her father getting out of the car to meet Chris and Buck and talk. Vin introduced himself, shaking hands with Mr. Johnson before taking the girl out to the barn to look at the horses. After Mr. Johnson left, Chris and Buck slowly headed towards the barn, giving the teenagers time to talk a little before they intruded. When they arrived, Anne was petting Peso and telling him what a beautiful horse he was. The two men were a little surprised how well the gelding accepted the attention.

The teenagers spent the day wandering around the ranch, taking a short ride out to some of the pastures so that Anne could see some of the wild horses still roaming over the ranchland. The mare didn't foal, much to Vin's and Anne's disappointment, but they still had a good day. She stayed for dinner and helped Vin clean up afterwards, and then Vin drove her home so he would know how to get to her house the following Friday to pick her up.

He called her on Sunday, "just to catch her up-to-date on the foal" as he told Chris. His father hid the smile that threatened to break out. Buck left the room.

When JD arrived home Sunday evening, happy because his team had placed second at the competition, Vin informed him that he would take the younger couple to the dance after all. JD hounded him to find out the name of his brother's date, but Vin just rolled his eyes and left the room. Before he went to bed, though, he heard Chris and Buck talking about the girl who had come out to the farm.

"Vin's taking Anne Johnson?"

Both men looked at the teen. Chris frowned. "Is there a problem?"

"Well, I mean, she's nice and all. She's not real popular though."

"And being popular is a prerequisite to going to the dance?" The blond leaned against the kitchen counter.

"No, but Vin could go with any of the popular girls. I hear 'em talking all the time about him." JD poured himself a glass of milk.

"Maybe he likes her. Did ya ever think of that?" Buck asked his son.

"I guess he does if he asked her. I just hope he's prepared to get ragged when his friends find out."

"But you're not going to rag him, are you, JD." Chris didn't ask, he stated it.

JD understood the implied warning. "No, sir."


On Tuesday, several of Vin's teammates overheard him asking Anne about a corsage. When the girl finally left, they all harassed him about his date. The teen just stood there and listened for several minutes before looking at them.

"I don't want to hear anymore. I asked Anne, I'm taking Anne. Y'all don't have to sit with us or talk to us if ya don't want to." Then he turned and walked away, leaving the other boys rolling their eyes and laughing.

JD heard the guys talking in the locker room, and he cringed as he heard them talking about pity dates or maybe Vin getting lucky since no one ever asked Anne out on dates. They simply thought he was doing the girl a favor, unable to understand why the quiet young man would choose her over the more popular girls who would go out with the baseball star in a heartbeat if asked.

Debating on telling his brother, JD finally decided to keep quiet about the whole incident, not wanting to annoy the other teen with gossip. It was hard not to say anything to the guys, though, working on various ideas to defend his brother's choice. He sighed and finished changing clothes before heading out into the hall for his next class.


Because the dance was actually the spring formal, Chris and Buck took the boys to get fitted for tuxes. The two young men had arranged for the corsages themselves. Buck tried not to grin at JD's choice of a large orchid. He did choose to have it made into a wrist corsage, and Buck stopped worrying about the weight of the flower pulling Casey's dress off her shoulder. Vin chose white tea roses on a simple wrist corsage.

The two young men huffed and rolled their eyes as Buck took picture after picture. Ezra, Josiah, and Nathan had all come out to the ranch under the excuse of watching a football game, but the teens really knew they were there to watch the festivities. Each man gave the young men a lecture, and Ezra slipped them some extra cash, "just in case" he whispered to them.

The teens climbed into Vin's Honda and headed out to pick up their dates. Casey was closer, so when they arrived at Miss Nettie's, JD walked up to the door and knocked. Nettie appeared in the doorway, waving to Vin before inviting JD inside. Five minutes later they walked out the door, and Casey was fingering the corsage as she smiled. JD held the back door open for her and then slid in beside her. Vin put the car into gear and headed for Anne's house.

When he got there, he left the car running and headed for the front door, the corsage box clutched in sweaty hands. He knocked and then smiled at Mrs. Johnson when she opened the door.


"Come in, Vin. Let me go tell Anne you're here." The woman smiled and ushered him into the foyer before heading down the hall.

Mr. Johnson stepped out of the den, coming forward to shake the young man's hand. "Hello, Vin. Did that mare ever foal?"

"Yes, sir. He's a real beauty. Has some good lines, should make a real good racer when." The young man stopped speaking when he caught sight of Anne.

Mr. Johnson turned and then grinned as he caught sight of his daughter. He sighed, realizing that she had grown up. Mrs. Johnson smiled as she looked at the young man waiting with her husband.

Anne looked at Vin, realizing yet again how handsome he was. She shook herself slightly, telling herself it wasn't a dream. Vin bit the inside of his mouth to make sure was awake. He knew Anne was pretty, but seeing her in the formal gown simply blew him away.

Vin stepped forward as Anne stepped forward to meet him. He held out the box with the corsage, and she smiled at it.

"Would you?" She held out her arm, and he carefully pulled it out and slid it over her hand.

They were both surprised by the flash of the camera, grinning shyly at each other as her mother took another picture before they left. As they walked out to the car, JD looked over and his mouth dropped open in shock. Casey smacked his arm before the couple reached the car.

"Hi, JD. Hi, Casey." Anne smiled as Vin held the door open for her to slid into the passenger eat.

"Hi, Anne. I love your dress." Casey smiled as she leaned forward.

"Hi, Anne." JD nodded and smiled as Vin climbed into the driver's seat and shifted into gear.

They reached the high school fifteen minutes later, finding a fairly close parking space. JD and Casey held hands as they walked into the gym. Vin held out his arm, and Anne slid her hand into the crook of his elbow as he escorted her into the building.

Vin's friends were extremely surprised when they saw the couple. None of them had taken the time to look beneath the jeans and sweatshirts to see the young woman beneath the clothes. Dressed in an apricot-colored sheath, her auburn hair piled in ringlets on her head and wearing contacts instead of her usual glasses, Anne was the epitome of elegance. They moved to the refreshment table to get something to drink and munch on before heading to a table. Several of Vin's teammates stopped by to say hello and check out Anne. She acknowledged their hellos but ignored their looks.

When a slow song came on, Vin stood and held out his hand as an invitation. Anne smiled as she accepted, following him onto the dance floor. They swayed to the music before returning to their seats as the faster songs began to play. During one set, Vin led Anne over to the corner where pictures were being taken. As they stood together, he took a breath and smelled the soft perfume she wore. He really liked her.

They danced some more, ending up next to JD and Casey at one point. The foursome talked about what they would do afterwards, since their curfew had been extended to 12:30 and the dance ended at 11:00. They decided to join some of their friends at an I-HOP in town before ending the night.

Vin enjoyed himself, not saying much, but still smiling. Anne talked a little more than usual, surprising the others with her jokes. He really liked it when her hand slid into his, their fingers entwining as they rested on the booth seat.

A few minutes after midnight, he rounded up JD and Casey, who were sitting on the other side of the restaurant with their friends, and led the others out to the car. He dropped Anne off first, walking her up to her door.

Vin looked down for a moment at their clasped hands before looking back up. "I had a really good time."

Anne smiled, squeezing his fingers. "Me, too."

"Will you go with me to the movies tomorrow night?"

A smiled brightened her face, and she nodded. "Yeah, I will. What time?"

"I'll call you tomorrow morning after I finish my chores." He grinned at her.

"I have to work at the store from noon to six."

"We can go to the movie at seven, maybe get a pizza afterwards?"

She nodded again then stared at him for a minute.

Vin was a little nervous as he leaned forward and kissed her cheek. "Bye."

"Bye." Anne reached behind herself and opened the front door, backing inside the house as she continued to smile at Vin.

He waited until she was safely inside before heading back to the car. The moment he looked in the rearview mirror, he could see JD's smile. Rolling his eyes, he headed for Casey's house and purposefully didn't watch as JD said goodbye to his girlfriend. When the younger teen returned to climb into the front passenger seat, Vin just grinned at the pink lipstick covering his brother's face.


"That's a lovely shade of pink, you're wearing."

JD pulled down the visor and opened the mirror, scrubbing his lips with a McDonald's napkin from the glove box. He frowned at Vin, who was still chuckling as he pulled into the driveway and headed for the house.

"Well, at least I got a real kiss." He opened the door and climbed out when Vin turned off the engine.

"You sayin' I didn't get a real kiss?"

The conversation continued into the house, and Chris and Buck listened from the den.

"You kissed her cheek, Vin."

"Still, it was a kiss." The older teen pulled off his jacket and laid it over the back of a dining room chair, laying the cumberbund and tie on top of it.

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever." JD followed suit, slipping off his shoes as well. "Had a good time, though."

"Yeah, me, too."

The two men listened as their sons headed upstairs to change into pajamas. Buck smiled as he looked at his friend.

"Chips off the ol' block."

"You know, Buck, that really scares me sometimes." Green eyes appraised the other man.

Buck just threw back his head and laughed.


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