Rating: PG-13 Bad language, Dark story

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

AU: ATF - Thanks Mog! :)

Author's Notes: Thanks to Phyllis for betaing this story for me. Feedback is always greatly appreciated. Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Ruby :)

 

Irreplaceable

By: Ruby

Buck whistled softly as he walked towards JD's hospital room. His roommate had been hurt in a bust, shot in the shoulder, but the wound had not been life threatening and he was now resting comfortably. Buck had sat with him all day and finally his teammates convinced him to take a short break. He had to admit that he did feel a hundred percent better after the quick breather. A smile lit up his face as he walked into his best friend's room - and froze at the sight that greeted him.

In the bed where JD had been lying, was a body - a body covered with a sheet.

Buck stared, blinking dazedly as he cocked his head in quiet disbelief.

At the foot of the bed, Standish, Sanchez and Jackson sat around a small square table, playing poker. Tanner and Larabee stood next to the window, their heads together, the vivid red sunset silhouetting them as they talked softly.

Wilmington took a step closer, not believing his eyes. He'd only been gone for ten minutes. Fifteen at the most. He'd got a cup of coffee and the kid something to read. JD'd been fine when he'd left. Well, hurting - but fine. Out of danger. Not critical. Not... he swallowed hard...

"JD?" His voice cracked. 

Jackson looked up at Buck and then over at the bed. Waving his hand nonchalantly, he explained, his voice flat as his gaze returned to his cards, "Oh. Had a adverse reaction to the medication. Seized up on them. Went real quick."

Ezra glanced up at Buck. "Are you in, Mr. Wilmington?"

Buck took a step back, his mouth opening in mute, horrified shock.

Neither Larabee nor Tanner looked over at him, both were in the midst of an animated conversation. Chris reached over, clapping Vin on the back as he grinned wryly.

Swaying, Buck reached out, grabbing onto the closest thing, which happened to be the doorframe. How'd he get that far away from the bed? Hadn't he just been standing next to it, looking down at JD, who was fine, sleeping quietly, pain medication flowing through his veins, relieving the worst of the ache from the gunshot wound?

No. JD was fine. Buck stared at the sheet-covered body on the hospital bed. That was not JD. The others were pulling a cruel joke on him. Cruel? Try horrifying.

"JD?" He took a step forward, staring at the 'body,' knowing that the kid couldn't stay still for this long. He'd twitch, let out a high-pitched peal of laughter, giving away the joke and alleviating Buck's terror. "Kid?" Buck's voice rose.

Vin glanced over at Wilmington. "He's gone, Buck." The sharpshooter shrugged as he glanced at the bed and then back at the tall agent. "We'll get'cha another one."

Buck stared at Vin, his mouth opening slightly and then closing with an audible snap before he asked, quietly, "Another... one?"

Vin rolled his eyes as he huffed. "Another *one*." He cocked his head toward the bed. "Dime a dozen, you know. I'll just run out and get'cha another one."

Buck swallowed hard. "A-ano-ther what, Vin?" his voice hardened, a chill coming over it. He took a threatening step forward. "You're not talking about JD."

Chris walked toward him, his hands up, a placating look on his face. "For god's sakes, Wilmington. Pull yourself together. It's not like you can't get another one."

Buck could feel his heart speed up and then it seemed to slow, ticking away softly in his chest, beating sluggishly until it finally stopped. He glanced around the room, meeting each of his teammate's eyes. "You can't get another one, Chris," he said, his gaze finally stopping on his oldest friend. "JD's," his voice cracked, "one of a kind. Irreplaceable."

Vin scoffed loudly as he walked up to stand beside Chris. "Jesus, Buck. Dramatic much?" he laughed. 

Standish stood from the table, straightening the cards in his hands as he stared at Buck with hooded eyes. "The boy is amongst the deceased. Happens all of the time in our line of work, Mr. Wilmington. You should know that by now." He pocketed the playing cards and then straightened his suit coat. "'Line of Duty' blah blah blah." He sighed, bored-sounding.

"I've got a couple interviews set up tomorrow. We'll need to get him replaced pretty quick." Larabee grinned over at Tanner. "Knowing the way Vin here seems to contract viruses on his computer and all." He rubbed his chin as he tried to hide his smile at the squirming sharpshooter.

"That last once came from Team Five, I swear, Chris."

"Excuses, excuses." Josiah smiled as he stretched from his seat, reaching for the ceiling, popping his back. "If you hadn't been *reading* that e-mail at the time, you wouldn't have gotten that virus on your computer."

"Couldn't help it." Vin ducked his head sheepishly. "It looked so in'eresting."

Buck stared at his friends, his teammates, his... He'd never seen these men before in his life. Who were they? And why was there a dead body lying on the hospital bed behind them? His head hurt, almost as much as his heart.

"Well, anyway," the tall blonde man said as he walked up to him, slapping him on the back. "We're heading out, now. If you want to stay here and cry over spilt milk -"

The longhaired man let out a loud snort.

"-you're more than welcome to. Us?" The blonde cocked his head to the men who were standing around him. "We've got better things to do than mollycoddle you."

The group walked past him, out the door, leaving him alone in the room. 

Alone.

Except for the body.

He took a step closer to the bed. Buck hated to be alone. Always had. He loved company, of any kind. He'd always been good at making friends. Never had any trouble getting dates, women just seemed to love him. So, he'd never really had to worry about being alone.

But, now? Now, he was alone. Utterly, and totally, alone. 

Except for the body.

Buck wondered who it was. Why would someone be in his room? This was his room, right? Jesus, his head hurt.

And he was alone.

"All alone," the body under the sheet said.

"I've got you," Buck told it.

"Not anymore, Buck. I'm dead," the body answered, sounding so much like JD Dunne that Buck's heart stopped.

"Kid?" he asked.

"Yeah, Buck?" 

Buck blinked his eyes open, looking up into the concerned gaze of his best friend. JD leaned close to him, looking him in the eye.

"JD?" Buck's voice was a whisper from where he lay.

JD swallowed hard as he glanced up to someone else in the room, a look of relief lightening the lines on his face. "Yeah, Buck," he said, looking back down at him, his voice cracking as he smiled. "We're here. You're going to be fine." He took in a quivering breath, sounding like he was trying to be strong. "You scared the crap out of us. Your..." he paused, looking at something off to the side and then back, his voice soft, "heart stopped. A couple times. But..." he reached out, laying his hand over Buck's, "you're gonna be okay now. You're back with us."

"I thought you were dead, kid," his voice hoarse, Buck shook his head slightly against the pillow as the tears welled in his eyes. "You were dead."

"No," JD's voice cracked as he leaned closer. "You saved me, Buck. You took the bullet for me. You've been out for a few days now. Critical. They weren't sure if you..." he stopped when Chris came up behind him, laying a hand on the young ATF agent's shoulder.

Buck looked up at his oldest friend, who looked at him with such a look of relief and admiration that it made Buck's eyes burn.

"You were real sick, Buck," Chris told him. "You came to and were doing better, but then something happened with the medication they were giving you and..." he sighed as he shook his head. "JD's been here the whole time, talking to you non-stop." Chris squeezed the back of JD's neck as he glanced down at the young agent and then back at Wilmington. "Well, you're all better now," he said with finality, the team-leader in him making it a fact.

Buck nodded. "Yeah, pard. I'm better." He smiled at Chris before looking over at JD, whose eyes were bright. It had all been a dream. A crazy drug-induced nightmare. He wondered what it had all meant. There must be some place in his subconscious where those thoughts had come from, but Buck wasn't up to analyzing dreams at the moment. The thing that was important was that JD was fine. The kid was alive. And it looked like he, himself, was going to live. Life would go on. He sighed, tired but not wanting to go back to sleep. "So, kid, you been taking up the slack for me while I was away?" He grinned slyly at his young friend. "What do my nurses look like?"

"Do you ever quit, Buck?" JD's wide smile lit up his tired face. 

"Never," Buck said, grinning. "I'm irreplaceable."

"You sure are," JD agreed.

 

May 2004

 

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