Rating: T - Suitable for teens, 13 years and older, with some violence, minor coarse language, and minor suggestive adult themes.  I'm switching over to these Fiction Ratings.  Fiction Ratings.

Warning: Bad language

AU: ATF Thanks Mog! :)

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirish and MGM. No money is being made. This fanfic is purely for entertainment purposes.

Author's notes: Thanks to Phyllis for the great beta. I just wrote this real quick the other night... so I hope it's half way decent. I wanted to write something for the Anniversary! :)


Feedback is loved.


Back Then


By: Ruby

Well, here it is again, another year. Wow. I can hardly believe it. I've been with Team Seven for three years now... to the day!

I can still remember my first day, my first month, my first year. I remember everything. The beginning... back when it was all I could do to make myself believe that I was on this team. This team of amazing cops. Man! I still have to pinch myself some mornings when I wake up. I'm on Team Seven! *The* ATF team. We've got one hell of a record. Just damn good at what we do. And we work so well together... which amazes a lot of people.

I think people look at us individually and think we'd never be able to work with each other. But we do. And we all get along. Well... not every second of every day. Josiah told Ezra that he was going to kill him the other day. I mean, not like Josiah would really kill Ezra... but, he sure did threaten him.

And Buck and me, sometimes we argue and fight... but pretty much only when he won't let me do my thing. He's so protective. Too protective. Some days I want to say to him... "Hey, I'm twenty three years old. I'm an adult. I can do this job." But... I'm afraid that Buck still sees me as that twenty year old rookie, coming out of Chris' office with that huge grin on my face. Oh, boy, was he pissed. He and Chris got in that huge fight... and I sat outside and listened while the rest of the guys gave me awkward half smiles.

Oh, man... that seems like yesterday. Back when Chris was still 'Mr. Larabee'. I worshiped the ground he walked on. Still do... but it's not the same anymore. Now I see Chris as the man, the human, who can make mistakes and still go on. Back then I thought he walked on water. I thought that there was no way he could ever make a mistake. But he does, and he goes on. Just like he forgives us our mistakes. ...Even if it might take him a little while.

I'm sounding like Josiah here. "Forgive us our mistakes as we..." Josiah's the best. I really don't know what I would do without him. I can *talk* to him, you know? I mean, really talk to him without feeling like I'm betraying my 'manhood' like I do if I try to talk to Buck or one of the other guys. Josiah makes it so darn easy to talk. And he doesn't analyze you, doesn't look at you like you're under his microscope. He *could* be that way... the profiler in him would make it so easy. But Josiah doesn't do that. He's a friend. One of my best friends.

Vin's sort of like that too. I can really talk to Vin. I'm not sure why we get along, but we do. I think I really annoyed him in the beginning. I wasn't sure if we'd ever get along. He used to look at me like I was a waste of space. I would ramble on and on and then that look would come into his eyes... like he was picturing me at the end of the scope on his sniper rifle. Vin can be very 'Ranger' sometimes.

But... after I while I learned not to ramble and make a fool out of myself and I started to enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with Vin. With Vin you can sit in silence and the quiet doesn't scream at you. You don't have that overwhelming need to fill that silence. You can just sit and be friends whether you're talking or not. Vin's great.

And Nathan. Oh, man! Nathan's saved my life more times than I can count. And I can actually use the word 'literally' here.

I remember one time, I hadn't been on the team very long, and I took a bullet to the chest. It was right above my vest, so close to *not* hitting me... but it did. I was scared, I'll admit it. Okay, I was terrified! I'd never seen that much blood before. *My* blood... all over the place... on my chest, on my face, on Nathan's hands.

I was getting that lightheaded, funny, you're-losing-too-much-blood feeling. And he looked down at me, while he was pressing that cloth to the bullet hole, and he looked at me.... so... I don't know how to explain it. His face was grave, but reassuring at the same time.

He nodded at me and said, "JD, you just stay with us, you hear? I know you aren't feeling too good and I know you've never been shot before but what you're feeling right now is to be expected, okay? The bullet didn't hit your heart, so you don't need to worry about that. You just hang in there and let me take care of you. That's what I do, JD. I take care of the rest of you."

I remember it, word for word and I can still hear him saying it. I was so scared, and those words were like a salve on my heart... my mind... easing my fears, making me feel like I might just live.

That's what I think of Nathan when I *think* of him. "That's what I do. I take care of the rest of you." *That's* Nathan. I mean, that's not *all*. But... I think in Nathan's mind, we're his responsibility, and he takes his responsibility very seriously. God forbid one of us ever dies on him. I don't know what that would do to him. I really just don't know.

Then there's Ezra. Ezra and me... we're friends, I think. I don't really know if Ezra likes me sometimes. I really wonder about that. Worry about it. I think sometimes that Ezra looks down on me. Not... not like I'm not worthy of him... not like that. But just... I don't' know how to explain it.

I really like Ezra... but he knows a lot of things that I don't. I don't know which fork to use if we're all at a fancy restaurant. I don't know anything about operas... or plays. Never had the money for them... or the inclination. But Ezra... he's *so* sharp and *so* with-it. I don't know anyone else in the world who's as with-it as Ezra.

And, oh my god, is he good at his job. It's like watching a snake charmer. That's what Ezra reminds me of - a snake charmer. Hope he never finds out that I think that. I wish he liked me more, or thought more of me... but maybe that'll come. Maybe this year...? I can only hope.

Chris? Mr. Larabee. Wow. What can I say? He's *it*. I can't ever express how much he means to me. I never knew my dad. Never even had an idea about him. But the first time I met Chris it was like... this feeling. Like... *he* could be my dad. Oh, not like... really. Not like he was with my mom or anything. No... more like... I *wished* he were my dad. I really worry about what he thinks of me.

I hate screwing up around him. Even stupid little things like messing my reports up. Oh, I'll laugh with the rest of the guys, but I'll be stewing over it for weeks, thinking... if I can screw a simple report up... what else can I screw up? And I worry that Chris thinks the exact same thing. What's JD going to screw up next?

Hell, I know I wouldn't be on his team if he really thought I was a screwup. He makes me want to be better, be smarter... hell... he makes me want to be taller!

I'd do anything for him. Anything. If dying would help... I'd do it. If he asked me to jump off a building because it's what I was *supposed* to do... hell... I'd be over the ledge in a second. I'm not saying that I can't think for myself... or, hell, maybe I am. I don't know. All I know is that I'd do whatever I had to do to keep his trust. To make him never regret the place he gave me on his team. My team. Our team.

Our Team. Team Seven. Seven. Let's see... who else is there?

I've talked about Josiah and Nate. Vin and Ezra. Chris. So I guess that just leaves Buck.

I kind of hit on Buck a little already. Hah! That made me laugh. Hit on Buck. That's *not* what I meant. I meant... I sort of mentioned Buck a little. Just that we argue sometimes. Oh, he can make me SO mad sometimes.

No one can make me as mad as Buck Wilmington can. He has this... knack... for it. Like he took a course in it... and aced it, obviously. If there was a class for pissing-JD Dunne-off, Buck would be a straight-A student. Hell, he'd be the teacher!

Yep, he can make me madder than a wet hen. Not sure why a wet hen would be mad... but, anyway...

So, where was I? Oh, yeah... Buck. Buck... well, he didn't like me AT ALL in the beginning.

Back then, wow! He didn't want me on the team. He didn't want anything to do with me. He thought I was too young, too green, too... everything. I talked too much, knew too much about computers, didn't know enough about everything else... or, as he put it... the *important* stuff.

Yeah, he hated me. Well, maybe not 'hated'. Disliked *strongly*.

He thought I was going to get one of them killed. God, just thinking about that makes a chill crawl up my spine. But... he eventually came around. Not sure what the deciding factor was. If it was saving his computer a thousand times, or saving his life that once, but suddenly he was a friend. And then Bam! We were roommates, best friends, brothers. Like we'd known each other all of our lives.

Amazing stuff. Fate, I guess. And now... even when we fight and argue, he's still my best friend. I know the harping and all is because he cares about me... doesn't want anything to happen to me. Well... guess he couldn't stop it this time.

Anyway... I guess that's everyone now. Everyone except me, and I already know about me.

Not sure what else to write about and there's not much else for me to do except write in this journal. I've been laid up in this hospital bed for six days now and they don't think I'm going to be getting out any time soon.

Buck's not leaving my side. He's been here almost the whole time except for when someone *makes* him go home and take a shower and clean up. But then he's back.

He makes me sigh, it's a long, sad sound.

I have to keep my shoulders hunched in, the book resting on my chest, as close to my face as I can get it. I feel like a hawk guarding its prey... but I don't want any of the guys to read what I'm writing. I'd just die if that happened. But with the way I'm scribbling away, they'd probably never be able to read my chicken scratch anyway.

Sometimes it makes me feel better to write it down, get it all out. Buck thinks I should write about what happened to me.

But I don't want to. I don't want to think about it. It hurt too much. I was scared. I'll never admit how scared I was... not even in this stupid book. I've never been that scared before... and If I was to ever be that scared again... I think I would rather just die right here and now.

Buck's giving me that funny look. I'm scribbling away... and he's shaking his head. He told me I could write up on my table. "Why make yourself uncomfortable all hunched down like that?" But if it's all the same I'll just stick with what I'm doing. I'm not really uncomfortable anyway. Heck, with the painkillers they've got me on I wouldn't care if I was.

I can move my arms... it's just my legs that I can't move. Not yet... if ever. The doctor's going to be coming in soon. We'll find out then If I'm ever going to be able to walk again.

Walk again.

Wow, such a simple phrase and it means so damn much. That bullet couldn't have hit me in a worse place. It lodged in my spine... it's *still* in there. They don't know if they'll be able to get it out. They had to wait for me to 'stabilize' first from the other two bullets.

Shot three times. Wow! That's a record, even for me. And I wasn't even on a case. Wasn't even working.

Who knew you could get 'car-jacked' on a motorcycle! There I was, sitting at the red light, waiting for it to turn green. I was daydreaming... thinking about going to the saloon later. And then Bam! I never even knew what hit me.

I was flying backwards off the bike and I caught a flash of the guy out of the corner of my eye. The bullet spun me around and I hit the ground face first, all of my breath whooshing out of me. I was trying to get up, didn't like having my back to him... and then Bang! Bang!

Two more shots and pain and then... this sort of numbness spreading.

*Not* a good feeling.

Then he was hunched over me, rifling through my back pockets, pulling out my wallet, my badge. I couldn't really feel him doing it... but knew that he was. At that point I wasn't really feeling too much. Even the pain was going away.

Then the guy was gone... roaring away on my bike. *My* bike. My Ninja. Bastard stole it... just like he stole the use of my legs. Maybe...

I'll never forget lying there, facing the pavement, my helmet making my neck stretch at an awkward angle. I wanted to pull the helmet off, I couldn't breath with it on, but I couldn't move, didn't have the strength to even really think about it.

Then there were legs around me, people talking, yelling, someone was screaming. Was that me? I don't think so.

I could barely breathe. How could I be screaming?

I remember thinking how stupid it was to go out like that. Getting shot down like that. Me. An ATF agent. Not like that makes it any better or any worse. It's just... embarrassing or something. That I could let some guy walk up to me in the middle of all those cars and just... shoot me. Jeesh! Real good cop work, there, Dunne. Real good. And then I wasn't thinking about anything... everything started drifting away. The voices were getting farther and farther away. And then nothing.

I woke up in the ICU. Spent a few days there and then they moved me here.

The door just opened. Oh... here comes the doctor.

Buck's got that look on his face again. I *really* don't like that look.

I'm going to have to put my book down and listen to what the doctor has to say. I want to know... and then I really don't.

The rest of the guys are filing in behind him... all wearing Buck's look. They've circled around the bed, like they're circling the wagons.

Okay... I've got to go... I've got to find out if I'll ever walk again. Ever... Christ! I don't know what I'll do if I'm paralyzed. "At least it's just from the waist down," someone will say... like that makes it better... not as horrific. Oh, god... what am I going to do? I'm not that strong. I don't think I could take it...

The doctor's opening his mouth. Shoot... here it comes...


the end?

...or maybe the beginning?


May 9, 2006


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