Disclaimer: I don't own the Magnificent Seven, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Warnings: AU; Sanchez Family universe; slight angst
Follows A Little Help From My Friends
Toledo, Wyoming 1938
Ezra Standish sat at the desk in the one room school house. When he had first arrived in Toledo there had only been a total of seven children in the community: the Sanchez boys, the Potter children and the Travis boy. As the country slowly recovered from the depression which had engulfed it, so had Toledo. Families that had moved away in the first few years of the financial disaster began to return. With their return, the number of children grew until there were fifteen school-age children and the need for a school grew. Ezra had been surprised when he was asked to teach in the small school. On reflection he supposed he was likely, aside from Mary Travis, the most qualified person in town.
A noise from outside drew his attention. Frowning he got up and walked to the door.
"Dirty injun," Lucas James sniped as he shoved Vin to the ground. "My uncle says you shouldn't be allowed to associate with decent folk."
"That will be quite enough Mr. James," Ezra snapped, interrupting the fight before it could progress. "You have been warned in the past Mr. James."
"You're just taking up for him because you work for his pa. You ain't even a real teacher," Lucas smirked.
"Aren't, Mr. James," Ezra automatically corrected the boy. "As to my qualifications, that is neither here nor there, we were discussing your behavior. I believe that a two-week suspension is appropriate for your deplorable attitude."
Lucas bristled. His uncle was an important man around here, this dandy couldn't tell him what to do. "You can't do that."
"I believe I just did Mr. James," Ezra returned, biting back his own smirk. "If your attitude and actions do not improve upon your return you shall be expelled from this school."
"My uncle won't let you get away with this," Lucas warned.
"I'm afraid your uncle will find that I have full authority to punish scholars as I deem necessary." Ezra stepped down from the porch. "Go home Mr. James, do not return for two weeks." Ignoring the school-yard bully, he reached down to help Vin to his feet. "Are you all right Vin?"
"Yes sir," Vin replied while dusting off his britches.
Ezra frowned at the breathless quality of the boy's speech. "Would you go inside and wait for me Vin?"
Vin nodded. The ten-year old was grateful for the chance to rest. Though he would deny it, the small fight had left him feeling weak and out of breath.
"Is Vin gonna be okay Mr. Standish?" JD asked, his dark eyes filled with fear. His brothers stood nearby, the same fear reflected in their eyes.
It was a fear Ezra was familiar with. He saw it each time Vin had an episode. "He will be fine JD, he simply needs to rest," he assured the eight year-old. "Recess will be extended by thirty minutes," he called to the rest of the children. Predictably they scattered, returning to the games they'd been playing before the drama of the fight. Patting JD on the back, he sent him off to the care of his older brothers, turning away, he headed back inside.
He smiled at the sight that greeted him as he stepped into the small building. Sitting at his desk, his head laying on folded arms, Vin was sound asleep. Brushing a hand fondly through the boy's hair as he passed him, he thought back to the events which had caused Vin problems for the past three years.
It had only been a few months after he came to work for Josiah. Seven year-old Vin had suffered from a sore throat for a week. The poor child had been fairly miserable, but had recovered nicely. Or so they had thought. Two weeks later, however, the boy had been struck down by illness once more. The poor boy had suffered greatly for weeks, fever, joint pain, chest pain and an overwhelming fatigue had kept him inactive even months after the initial illness had passed. Ezra well remembered the fear Josiah, indeed the entire family had suffered as Vin fought for his life. As frightening as the initial illness had been, it was when the doctor diagnosed Rheumatic fever that the real fear began. The children didn't understand exactly why that diagnosis was bad, but they picked up on the fear of the adults. For there wasn't an adult alive who wasn't aware of the deadly nature of Rheumatic fever. They could do nothing but wait to see if the medicine the doctor prescribed would save Vin's life. Josiah, Ezra and Nathan had taken turns caring for the young boy as he struggled to breathe while biting back cries of pain. It was as if the boy's own body were attacking him, a frightening thought.
Luckily Vin had recovered from the dangerous illness, though it had weakened his heart with the result that he often tired easily. The doctor had said that while Vin would continue to suffer from the effects of the fever throughout his childhood, the true effects on his heart wouldn't be known until he reached adulthood. He might even, as many did, suffer a recurrence of the fever in his twenties. The doctor had cautioned Josiah that Vin would always be in danger as a result of the Rheumatic fever, but that each year which passed increased the chances that he would enjoy a long, full life. The news had been difficult for all of them, though it obviously hit Josiah the hardest. Knowing that they could lose Vin at a young age had caused them all to nearly suffocate the boy with their caring. It had taken Vin breaking down in tears, asking if he was going to die, for them to realize what they'd been doing. From then on they had done their best to allow Vin to live a normal life while they treasured every moment spent with the child who never failed to bring joy to those who loved him.
A small sigh pulled him from his thoughts. "Are you feeling better Vin?"
Vin blushed. Though he knew he needed the rest, it always embarrassed him to fall asleep in the classroom. "Yes sir," he quietly replied.
"Then perhaps you would like to go ring the bell," Ezra offered with a smile. He returned the young boy's grin as Vin hurried to the front of the school.
It would be two weeks later that Lucas James returned to school with a changed attitude. Ezra could only hope it would last.
Hope y'all liked this one. I know it's short, but it's been rattling around in my head for months now and I wanted to get it written down. Please feed the muse with reviews.
A/N: This story is dedicated to my Aunt Carol. I never knew her, as she succumbed to the effects of Rheumatic fever at the age of seven. From the moment I saw a picture of this frail child sitting astride a horse I have been fascinated by her. Perhaps it was simply the fact that she was only a child, as I was when I found the picture, when she died. Perhaps it was fact that here was a member of my family, a sister to my mother, that I would never know. Whatever the reason, the tragedy of her short life has long held a fascination for me, even some thirty years after first discovering her existence.