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.

Warning: Bad Language

AU: LB/ATF - Thanks to K. Poffenberger and S. Berry for creating the LB universe and letting others write in it. Thank you to Barbretta H for her story Dreaming of Angels, bringing the boys to the ATF universe. Thanks, Mog for the ATF universe. ! :)

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, any mistakes are mine and were made after the beta. This is an LB/ATF story, but the subject is a little dark and there is bad language. I wanted to write another Halloween story. Wanted to see if I could write 'creepy.' Definitely influenced by the TV shows 'Ghost Whisper' and 'Medium.' Also, I've been spending a lot of time looking at ghost pictures at Ghoststudy.com. Some of those pictures make me wish I didn't sit with my back to the room. LOL!  I love Halloween. ;)

Feedback is loved.

 

Mr. Mason

LB/ATF

By: Ruby

Part One

Buck walked down the hall. Hearing voices in JD and Vin's room, the tall ATF agent stopped, putting his ear against the door. His brow furrowed and he glanced back down the hall to make sure that Vin was still sitting at the kitchen table with Chris. Yep. He sure was. Well, huh. Buck shook his head. JD was definitely having a conversation with someone. 'Did the five-year-old have an imaginary friend?' Buck wondered. He'd heard of such a thing, though he'd never had one himself. Time to find out, he thought, as he quietly opened the door.

"And this is Mr. Buck and Mr. Chris," JD said from where he lay on his bed, holding a pile of pictures in his right hand while he pointed to the top picture with his left index finger. There was a bright red plastic chair pushed flush up against the bed. "See, that's Buck and that's Chris." He turned his head to the left, seemingly listening to someone who sat in the chair. JD turned over the next picture. "Here's another one. It has all of us. That's Vin. You've met him."

Buck blinked a couple times as he stared at his foster son. He cleared his throat, startling the boy. JD looked up at him, his eyes wide. "Hey, little bit," Buck said. The hair on his arms stood up as soon as he stepped into the room. He shivered, the cold seeping into his bones. "Who are you talking to?" he asked, as he walked up to the bed.

JD glanced at the chair and then back up at Buck. "Mr. Mason. He lives out in the trees."

The back of Buck's neck tingled. He swallowed, his mouth dry. Chuckling lightly, he reached down to ruffle JD's hair. "Oh he does, does he?"

Earnestly, JD bobbed his head. "He started visiting me last week. Vin can't see him, but that's okay. Mr. Mason said he don't mind. He likes to talk to me." He smiled.

Buck nodded, glancing at the chair and then back at JD. He sniffed, cocked his head and then pursed his lips. After a second, he cleared his throat. "So, is... Mr. Mason still... here?"

JD stared up at him. "Uh hum."

"Uh..." Buck's eye twitched. "Where is he now?"

"Standing right behind you," JD told him as he stared at a spot behind Buck's shoulder. 

A shudder crawled up Buck's spine and he resisted the urge to look behind him. "Oh he is, is he?"

His eyes getting bigger, JD nodded ominously. 

Laughing awkwardly, Buck grinned. "So what's Mr. Mason doing?"

JD's small mouth puckered up. "Staring at you." He shook his head adamantly. "And he don't look happy no more, neither." JD glanced at the spot behind Buck, his eyebrows drawing together as he frowned. "I don't think Mr. Mason likes you much, Mr. Buck, he's looking at you kinda funny," JD's voice quivered slightly. He sniffed. "I think... " He shrugged, nodding. "Well, he looks *real* mad at you."

Buck glanced over his shoulder and then back at JD. 

But JD was staring at the window now. He looked up at Buck. "Mr. Mason is leavin' now, but he said he'll be back." He nodded. "Said he wants to visit you, Buck." JD looked down at his bed. "Ewwww." His nose crinkled up. "Mr. Mason got blood all over my covers. That wasn't very nice," he said, wiping something invisible off his sheets and Scooby Doo blanket.

Buck snatched JD off the bed, turned and made it out the door in two long steps, slamming the door behind him. 

 

Part Two

Buck darted down the hall and into the bright kitchen. 

Chris and Vin stared at him as he deposited JD into the chair next to Vin. Breathing hard, his face shiny with sweat, Buck went over to the sink and turned on the faucet, dunking his head under the icy water.

Wide eyed, Chris glanced from JD to Vin and then over to Buck, who was shaking the water from his hair as he stood staring out into the darkness beyond the kitchen window.

Running trembling hands down his face, Buck slowly turned to face the others in the room. His face completely white, he opened his mouth but no sound came out.

Pouting, JD stuck his lower lip out. "No fair. Mr. Buck didn't help me get my blankets clean."

Chris stared from JD to Buck, his look searching. After a moment, he took a step toward his friend. "What's going on Buck? What's on JD's blankets?"

Buck stared down at his foster son. He swallowed hard, his tongue thick. 

"Mr. Mason got blood on my blankets, Mr. Chris. It's all gross. He bled on them while he was waiting for Buck to come."

Shaking his head, Chris raised his hands. "What? What's he talking about, Buck?" He turned and started down the hall, his intent clear.

"Chris." 

Buck's voice stopped him in his tracks. Turning, Chris's eyes widened when he saw the look on Buck's face. 

"There's no one in there," Buck told him.

Chris glared at him. "Just what in the... " he glanced at the two staring boys, "heck is going on here, Buck?"

Buck didn't answer. Instead, he walked over to his briefcase leaned up against the dining room wall. Opening it, he pulled a folder out. Stepping over to the kitchen table, he snapped a black and white surveillance photo down on the shiny mahogany surface.

Chris walked over to look down at the picture. 

JD gasped, leaning forward, his voice high, "That's Mr. Mason, Buck." He looked up at his foster father, his eyes bright. "How'd you get a picture of him?"

Chris and Buck shared a dark, wide-eyed look before both ATF agents stared down at the photo of Thaddeus Mason, the gunrunner... that Buck had shot and killed the week before.

 

Part Three

"JD, are you sure this was the man you were talkin' to in your room?" Buck asked his foster son.

"Uh hum." JD frowned. "But I don't really like him no more because he bleeded on my sheets. I didn't know he was hurt." He gulped. "Maybe we should go out in the trees and try to find him."

"No!" Both adults yelled in unison. 

JD ducked down in his seat, pouting again.

Vin stared at his friend and then glanced up at their protectors. 

Buck squatted down next to his son. "JD, there isn't any way that you could have talked with Mr. Mason. The man we're talking about... well, he isn't alive anymore."

JD gasped. "You mean he was dead?"

Buck shook his head. "He *is* dead, JD. You couldn't have been talking to him."

"But I was!" JD defended. "He said his name was Mr. Mason and that he knew you. He said he was waiting to talk to you. But he was dead?" The little boy looked around the table. "Ewwwww."

Blinking a couple times, Buck glanced at Chris, silently asking for help. Chris just shrugged. Buck looked back down at JD. "There's no such thing as ghosts, JD."

"Ghosts?" JD squeaked, as though this was the first time the thought had crossed his mind. "Agggh!" He ran to Vin and grabbed him around the middle. "I talked to a ghost!"

"No." Buck pulled at his hair. "You didn't. You just... " he glanced at Chris. "I tell you what, why don't you guys go strip JD's bed down and bring me the stuff? I'll wash it and Vin can help you remake your bed."

"K." JD agreed reluctantly. "But there won't be a ghost in there, right?" 

Shaking his head, Buck wilted, tired. "No, JD." 

JD latched onto Vin's hand and pulled him down the hall. "I hope not. I don't want to talk to any ghosts. Especially dead ones."

*****

An hour later, Buck and Chris sat at the kitchen table, staring at Thaddeus Mason's picture. 

"You can't honestly tell me that you're believing this shit. That you believe in ghosts? The man's dead, Buck. There's no way he's 'talking' to JD." Chris sighed disgustedly.

"And I'm telling you what I saw. JD was talking to 'someone'. There was someone there. I can't explain it to you, but I know it was Mason."

Chris shook his head. "You killed him, Buck. -Shot- -him- -dead-. He's not coming back as some god damned ghost and talking to your son."

"Fine!" Buck threw the picture down and it skidded across the table and then fell to the floor. He stood up, knocking his chair over. "You explain why JD recognized the picture." He paced back and forth. "You tell me how he knew his name was Mason. You've got all the answers. You tell me Chris, because I'm not so sure."

"Buck," Chris tried to reason as he watched his friend pace. "Listen to yourself. You washed JD's sheets and blanket, because there was imaginary 'blood' on them. Okay. You told him not to talk to strangers, even apparently transparent ones," he sneered. "All right. What more do you think you can do?" He huffed, glaring at Buck. "And I'll tell you how JD knew Mason's name. Because we talked about him. You know we've mentioned his name at least once in front of the boys. You might not want to admit it, but we're not perfect. We bring our work home with us. You shot and killed a man. And that man's name has come up in conversations this past week. With Nathan. With Josiah. With someone. It has!"

Buck shook his head. Pursing his lips, he picked his chair back up and sat down heavily, his body sagging with weariness. 

Taking in a long breath and letting it out slowly, Chris stared at him. "Buck, you're tired. It's been a hell of a week. You just... I don't know... overreacted. There's nothing in JD's room. JD's not talking with anything that's not just a figment of his imagination."

Buck shook his head, his face pale, his mouth a thin white line.

Sighing, Chris leaned forward. "JD's got one hell of an imagination. You've said so yourself. He heard us mention Mason's name and a man named Mason started visiting him. He overheard one of us talking about how Mason had died and then this 'Mason' 'bled' all over his sheets. He's a five-year-old boy, Buck. Blood and gore and horror stories... that's what he's all about right now. It's close to Halloween. All these damn Halloween shows. Ghosts and goblins and ghouls. It was bound to happen."

Staring at him, Buck sighed out a long breath. "Fine, Chris. I see what you're saying. There's just one more thing I'm going to say before I turn in tonight."

Chris watched him as he stood. 

Buck walked over and picked the picture up off the floor. Walking back over to the table, Buck laid the picture down. His blue gaze swept over the photo. He looked at Chris. "JD might have heard us mention Mason's name," he paused. "But tell me this, Chris... how did he know what he looked like?"

The two men stared at each other. After a long moment, Buck stepped back from the table. "I'm going to check on the boys and then I'm going to bed."

Chris watched him go. Then he stared back down at the photo. Thaddeus Mason's dark eyes stared back at him. "Damn it," he hissed out.

Buck took a step but then stopped and turned to Chris. His voice was soft, controlled. "Why won't you even consider it?"

"Because." Chris turned in his seat to glare up at Buck. His voice was low, the emotion raw. "If there's going to be ghosts in this fucking house, why isn't it Sarah and Adam? You tell me that, Buck. If there are ghosts, and they talk to us, you tell me why it's not Sarah." He slapped his palm down on the table. "Why it's not Adam!" He yelled. "Why would some sonofabitchin' gunrunner come and talk to JD?" He lowered his voice, glancing down the hall and then back. He shook his head. "Why not my *son*," his voice cracked. "Why not my *wife*?"

Buck swallowed the lump in his throat as he stared at his best friend. 

"I don't believe it because I can't. Because I won't." Chris' breath was ragged. 

Nodding, Buck looked down. "I get'cha Chris." He started to walk away; Chris' voice stopped him.

"I don't know how JD knew what Mason looked like." He shrugged, meeting Buck's gaze. "That's something I can't... explain."

Buck threw his hands down in exasperation. He shook his head and blew out a long breath. "Hell, I don't know Chris. Maybe it was on the news. Maybe his picture was in the paper. I don't think so. I'm almost one hundred percent sure it wasn't but..." He shrugged. "Maybe."

"Guess it's one of those inexplicable things." Chris smiled, relieved not to be arguing anymore.

"Did you just make that word up?"

Chris smirked at him. "Yeah, just now."

"Hum."

"Maybe JD won't remember this tomorrow," Chris said hopefully. 

"Are you kidding?" Buck smiled. "He remembers everything. He'll be talking about this for weeks. Months." His eyes widened. "'The ghost in my room.' He'll eat it up." Grimacing, Buck reached out and grabbed onto one of the chair backs, his grip white-knuckled on the wood. "It's just... I can't tell you... " he looked down, "how much it scared the shit out of me. Just to think. Just the thought that... maybe... " He shook his head. "Damn." Glancing up at Chris, he shrugged. "Never mind."

Chris stared at him. "I get'cha, Buck."

Buck nodded. "Yeah." Finally, Buck pushed away from the chair. "I'm turning in." He smirked down at Chris. "Don't be walking into my room tonight with a sheet over your head. I *will* kill you."

Palms up in pure innocence, Chris laughed. "I wouldn't do that." The corner of his mouth turned up. "At least not twice." 

"Night, Chris." 

"Night, Buck. Don't let the things that go bump in the night... bite." He laughed and then laughed even harder when Buck glared at him.

Buck flipped him off on his way down the hall. 

Chris sat silently, looking down at the picture on the table, dark obsidian eyes staring up at him. The skin on the back of his neck prickled. Someone was standing behind him. He turned in his seat, expecting to find Buck. "I thought you were going to take a-" his voice cut off mid sentence. There was no one there. And he could hear the shower running.

He shivered as goose bumps rose on his skin. He glanced back down at the photo on the table, narrowing his eyes at the offending gaze staring up at him. Darting his hand out, he grabbed the picture and flipped it over, snapping it facedown on the table. He glanced around again... he could have sworn he heard laughter.

October 30, 2005

Sequel: Trees

 

Feedback is loved. Thanks. Ruby ;)

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