Maddy

"Awww Vin, why do I gotta clean the stables? I dint mess em up!" Cried the
ten year old girl that stood before him, arms folded across her chest
defiantly.

"Cause'n I said so, an besides this way I cain keep an ye outta trouble," he
replied simply causing her to scowl.

"An if I don't?" She asked dangerously. Vin lowered his hands to his waist,
settling them on the thick, brown, gunbelt he wore whilst giving her a
pointed look.

Her eyes widened, she may have been a challenging child but she wasn't
stupid (well, most of the time anyway), she enjoyed sitting as much as the
next person.

"Oh alright! I'm goin', I'm goin" she said backign away out of swatting
range slowly before turning and running for the stables.

"Well ya caint say that kid ain't a smart one," Buck called from ebhind Vin.

"Yeah, faced with the option of cleanin the stables or Vin's belt, I woulda
chose the stables too," JD commented, only to give Buck reason to take off
his hat and smack him upside the head.

"Ow, what was that for?" JD whined. Buck smacked him upside the head again
causing the two to scramble in the street. Vin sighed and rolled his eyes
before heading to join Chris in front of the boarding house.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Inside the Stables.....

Maddy raked through the hay that covered the ground, cursing the entire
time.

"Clean the stables, it'll keep ye outta trouble..." she imitated in Vin's
voice, "sheesh, I ain't a baby for cripes sake!" She said while angrily
tossing her rake aside. She sighed heavely and walked out the door.

It had been about a year since she had come to live with Vin and the others
of the seven. Her mother had taken a liking to the small town and to a
certain Mr. Vin Tanner. Before either of them knew it, Maddy and her mom had
settled into the town and then her mother died in a tragic shoot-out that
often frequented the town.

Although he didn't know why he did it, Vin took a liking to the little girl,
she was tough as nails and full of attitude. No one pushed her around. He
actually admired her for it, well at least he would if she didn't drive him
so damn crazy half the time.

The seven had made it their personal duty to take the kid in and raise her
proper, though they didn't know why. In part it was for Vin, and Vin did it
partially because he too loved Maddy's mother.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"MADISSON ELIZABETH!" Vin hollered for the tenth time from the stables, "aw
hell where did that bloody kid git to this time?"

Maddy had been walking for a long time now as she took a seat on a nearby
rock. It wasn't fair, before moving to this town she had never had to do a
chore in her life. Her mother never even made her make her own bed, well
that was until she met Vin Tanner and the rest. Somehow they managed to
convince Maddy's mother that a little hard work was good for a kid, and thus
they continued instilling that belief on Maddy after her mom's death.

Maddy sat watching the sun set over the valley. She was generally happy with
her life here, and though she missed her mom a lot, the seven men made up
for any feeling of lost love she may have. But, they were so strict, she had
to tell them where she was goign at all times, she had to be in bed by eight
p.m everynight, eat three square meals a day, do billions of chores, and go
to school and church.

Maddy drifted into her own thoughts when the klip klop of horses hooves
quickly approached.

"Maddison Elizabeth, what on earth do ya think yer doin girl?" Vin yelled
once he recognized the small, shadowed figure sitting on a rock.
He jumped off his horse and ran immediately over to her, taking her small
shoulders in his hands. He bent down and looked her over makign sure that
she wasn't hurt.

Maddy looked into his worried eyes, "I'm fine Vin, really."

Vin looked at her carefully then turned her around and gave her a hard swat
to her backside.

"OWw." she whined, reaching her hands back to rub her backside.

"How many times do I gotta tell ya? when yer tol ta do somethin, ya do it.
An' ya dont go runnin off all through town without anyone knowin where ya
are."

"I'm sorry. I just dint wanna clean the stables, it aint fair!"

"You're goina earn your keep just like everyone else young lady." Chris
added from behind her. Maddy had been so busy with Vin that she didn't even
notice that Chris was there too.

It should have been obvious though, between Chris and Vin she couldn't get
away with anything. They were really the only two she listened to anyway.

Maddy looked up at the man in black, uncontiously taking her hands away from
her backside, which was a mistake because the moment she did so Vin gave her
another hard swat.

"Owww dammit Vin!"

"watch yer language young lady. Come on, let's go home and talk."

Maddy looked between the two men, any talk that Vin or Chris wanted to have
with her was never comfortable on her part.

"I'm sorry, I just lost track of time, I was goign to back and do it
honest!" the little girl tried, giing her most innocent, angelic look
possible.

Vin let out a small laugh "nice try kid, you used that one last time
'member?"

"oh."

"let's go."

Maddy nodded and walked with Vin over to his horse, where he lifted her onto
the front of his horse.

They set out, the two men and the little girl, it didn't take as long as
Maddy would have liked to get home.

Vin helped her off Peso and sent her to her room with a swat, "I'll be there
in a minute, I'm goina bed Peso down."

"yessir." she responded before running up to her room.

"What are goina do with that kid Pard?" Vin asked his closest friend and
partner.

"I couldn't tell you Vin, but she's gotta learn to stop taking off like
that. For safety more than anything."

"I know, and me and her are goina have ourselves a talk bout that right
now."

Vin walked the creaky steps up to Maddy's room and knocked before allowing himself in.

When he got inside he looked around the room in curiosity, he couldn't find Maddy anywhere.Vin took a deep breath and slammed his way down the stairs.

Chris looked up from his coffee, "what's up Pard?"

"kid aint in her room."

"She ain't?"

Vin shook his head and headed out the door. Chris sighed and followed.
There was just no peace with Maddy around.

**************
Maddy sat on the gate to the corale, enjoying the beauty of the night. She had grown tired of waiting for Vin and decided that she wasn't in the mood to be punished tonight. She hated how he always told her what to do, and how she was actually expected to listen.

Honestly, you'd think he'd learn by now that Maddy never stayed put very long.

"Maddison Elizabeth, you git yerself over here right quick girl." Vin called from a little ways behind her. Her eyes went wide as she jumped off the gate and took off towards the stables. She almost made it before she bumped into a large, dark figure. Said figure had no problems picking her up and tossing her over his shoulder.

Maddy struggled with all her might until a firm swat to her backside quieted her motions and attempts to break free.

"I suggest you settle down." The voice said calmly.

"Chris?"

"yes?"

"Oh Chris please lemme go, Vin's gonna kill me."

"Sorry kid, you should just be lucky I don't tan your hide for this little stunt along with Vin."

It didn't take long before Vin showed up, and the two men headed toward the boarding house with the squirming girl still over Chris' shoudler.

Chris walked up the stairs to Maddy's room and deposited her on the chair in the corner of the room, then turned it around to face the wall.

"HEY!" Maddy complained, getting up from her spot.

Chris grabbed her and swatted her backside firmly again, then sat her down Hard. This time Maddy did not stand up.

Then Chris and Vin left the room and conversed in the hall.

~~~
Maddy sat on the chair, staring blankly into the corner in front of her. How boring. She crossed her arms in front of her and pouted. She looked along the wall to the open window and contimplated leaving again, but that probably would be detrimental to her posterior. But still, it was tempting.

TBC