Rating: PG-13  Language, Intense subject matter

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

Warning: This story is dark and deals with intense subject matter. Nothing graphic is depicted, though. Don't say I didn't warn ya. <g>

Spoilers: The Trial

Author's Notes: This is one of my older stories. I wrote it in January of 2001 and it was published in the fanzine, Legends of the Magnificent Seven #2. Please visit the Demon Bunny Press website for ordering information. I was told to wait until August 25 '02 before putting it up on the internet. So, here it is. :)

A huge thank you to Mog for starting the ATF/AU and letting all of us write in it. :) I've never really written Nathan or Josiah, they've only been back up players in a few of my stories. I just don't have a grasp on their personalities, how they talk, how they think. Anyway, I just wanted to try and write them and this is what happened. Thanks to Mog for starting the ATF/AU. Thanks to Penny, Judy and NotTasha for betaing. And thanks to Heather and Robin for all their encouragement. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Please let me know what you think.


What to Say
By: Ruby

It was Saturday evening and Josiah needed to grab a case file so he could get a jump start on his research for Monday. He stepped off the elevator into a dark office. He could see just a hint of light coming from the other end. Someone must have left his desk lamp on, he thought. He reached up and flipped the light switch on, bathing the room in fluorescent light. Walking towards his desk, he heard something and turned to find Nathan Jackson sitting quietly at his desk.

"Nate?" He walked over to stand next to his best friend.

He watched as Nathan closed a folder he was looking at. Placing it on his desk, he leaned back, running a hand down his face before looking up at Josiah with red, blood-shot eyes.

Josiah could see telltale wetness on the EMT's cheeks and he immediately became concerned. "Nate?" he asked again, his voice a whisper.

Nathan closed his eyes, shaking his head. He took in a long, deep breath before slowly letting it out and looking back up at Josiah. Sighing, he silently held the folder out.

Josiah pulled the chair away from the nearest desk and dragged it close to Nathan. Turning it around, he straddled it and reached out to grasp the offered information from his friend.

He slowly opened the cover, wondering what could possibly make his even-tempered, rational friend sit in the dark - crying. A picture, paper clipped to the front page, caught his attention. The older black man's eyes were tired, his face grizzled, but Josiah could definitely see a resemblance. 'Obediah Jackson,' the caption read. He looked up at Nathan, confused.

"My father." The words were spoken softly with a hoarse, raspy voice.

Josiah's brow was furrowed as he nodded once and glanced back down at the paper. The word 'prison' caught his attention and he quickly glanced back up at his friend. Closing the folder slowly and laying it back on Nathan's desk, he reached out a hand and laid it on Nathan's knee. He wanted to hear the story from his friend, instead of reading about it in the record.

Nathan swallowed, running his hand down his face one more time. He nodded, and taking in a deep breath, started talking. "Not a lot of people know about this." He glanced away, as if feeling guilty that he'd never told Josiah about one of the most important parts of his past.

Josiah squeezed his friend's knee, reassuring him.

Nate smiled sadly, patting his friend's hand, acknowledging the comfort. "Chris knows. We talked about it when he hired me. But, it's not something that I'd really wanted everyone to know. An ATF agent whose father is in prison for manslaughter." Nathan winced, as if just saying the word upset him. "He," his voice cracked and he paused, catching his breath to start over. "When I was seven, my..." he took in a quivering breath, "my mother was raped." His hand clenched into a fist. "She was raped and beaten, almost to death." He looked down, running his hand down his face to catch the tears. His eyes narrowed, and he starting breathing in short, harsh huffs. "But she didn't die - not then. She was in the hospital for so long. Her body healed, eventually. But her mind..." He shook his head. "And my father wasn't any help. He was a proud man. So proud." He glared off into the distance. "He didn't blame her. I know he didn't. But he didn't comfort her either. He was so mad...so mad at the man who did it. He let his anger consume him until he was full of rage. My mother was lost. I tried to help her." He looked up at Josiah, his eyes pleading. "I did."

Josiah nodded. "I know," his voice croaked with emotion.

Nathan's lower lip quivered and he looked down. "But she didn't want to talk to me about it, didn't want to hurt me, didn't want me to know what happened." He looked up again. "What *really* happened." He slammed his fist on his knee. "We were lost. Each one of us. We were together, but we were alone...and lost."

"They got a call one night, saying that the cops had arrested a man for rape and he fit the description that my mother gave. They bundled me up and took me to the neighbor's apartment." He paused, rubbing his arm. "It was late when they got back. They weren't talking. My mom, she looked...hurt," he swallowed hard, "like she'd been hit by a car. And my dad...I'd never, never seen that much anger and rage in a person. He scared me." He stood up, sending his desk chair rolling backwards. He ran his hand over his short hair, and started to pace.

Josiah rolled his chair back a little, giving him some space.

"We went back to our apartment. Mom was crying. She was sobbing. And Dad, he was...oh, God, he was so mad. I asked...I kept asking what happened. But they wouldn't talk to me. I didn't know what happened. Mom, she took me into my bedroom."

Nathan got a sad, wistful look on his face as he stopped pacing and looked over at Josiah. "She changed me into my night clothes and she told me that she loved me. She was so sad. I grabbed her and just held on. I was bawling, and she was crying, rubbing my back."

The tears were flowing down Nathan's face now, going unnoticed. "I told her that I loved her. No matter what happened, I loved her." He swallowed hard, his eyes wide. "She held me out at arm's length and she told me, she told me that," he sobbed, "that I was a good boy and she loved me. Then she kissed me on my forehead, before she tucked me into bed. She walked to the door, and she looked back before she turned off the light. I saw her eyes. They were dead." He sniffed. "I wanted to run to her. Grab her. But I didn't. I laid there, grasping the covers at my chin and crying."

Nathan sat down, slowly, gingerly. He rolled his chair so he was sitting at his desk. He picked up a paper clip and held it in his fingers. When he spoke, his voice was so soft that Josiah had to lean forward to hear him.

"I never saw her again." Nate glanced over at Josiah. "I never saw her again, Josiah, 'cause that night she killed herself."

Josiah didn't even realize that he'd stood up. The next thing he knew, he was on one knee next to his best friend, one hand on Nate's shoulder, the other bracing himself on the edge of the desk. "Oh, Nate," his voice croaked. Pulling Nathan into an embrace, he let his best friend cry.

After a long while, Nathan finally pulled away, rubbing his face.

Josiah silently pulled the chair over, so he could sit again by his friend.

Nathan smiled his thanks. Leaning back he shook his head as he spoke softly, "I found out later that while they were at the police department, my mom identified the man, the one who," his voice cracked, "did it. But, his lawyer came in, shouting about a technicality." He looked up. "He wasn't read his rights." He slammed his fist against his desk. "They had to let him go." His eyes were hard as flint.

Josiah shook his head.

Nathan threw the paper clip, watching it as it bounced on his keyboard to land in between two of the keys. "After the funeral, we moved. We kept moving. Like my father was trying to outrun the memory. I knew that he hurt. I could see it. But he wouldn't let me help him." He sighed, frowning. "He wouldn't help me." He looked over sadly at Josiah. "He started drinking. Drinking hard. One day, when I was still in high school, he left me some money and a note, and he took off." He looked away. "I found out later where he went." He glanced back at Josiah, his eyes as cold and hard as Chris Larabee's on a bad day.

"He went and found the rapist," he paused, "and he beat him...to death."

Josiah blanched, sitting back hard in his chair.

Nathan shook his head furiously, standing up quickly. He walked a few steps away, before turning back. "He went to prison, for life. I always...I wanted to..." he looked away. "I wanted to talk to him. Wanted to...but I didn't know what to say. I was so mad. I didn't want to be mad at him," he glanced back, "but damn it, Josiah, why'd he do it? He knew he'd be leaving me alone." He looked skyward, shaking his head.

Taking in a long, quivering breath, he turned back. "I just wanted to talk to him."

"Did you?" Josiah asked softly.

Nathan gulped, looking down. "No," he whispered.

"It's not too late." Josiah stood.

"Yes," Nathan whispered, looking up. "Yes, it is." Tears rolled down his face.

Josiah walked towards him.

"He died, Josiah." Nathan sobbed. "This afternoon...he died." He started to crumble towards the floor.

Josiah caught his best friend and engulfed him in his arms, hugging him hard. Nathan cried, and Josiah just held on.


the end - Jan 2001 (made a few changes Sept. 2002)


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