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: I wrote this some time last year. Phyllis beta-ed it for me. I actually wrote a whole other story to go with this one, but it never really worked. So I'm just going to post this story.

Feedback is loved.

Read Phyllis' back story to Why: By Inches




By: Ruby

"JD?" Nathan walked out the back door of Inez's bar, looking left and right for the young agent. "JD? You out here?"


Nathan heard the soft voice and turned towards it. JD was leaning against the chain link fence, looking up at the stars. Nathan sighed. 'Damn this job.' He walked over to his friend; he didn't speak, he just mirrored JD's stance and stared up at the sky. After a few long moments JD finally spoke.

"I just keep seeing it over and over."

Nathan heard the young man swallow hard and he wasn't sure if the action was from emotion or bile in his throat. He shook his head. He couldn't blame the kid for either. "Yeah," he agreed.

JD twined his fingers through the metal fence and shook it hard. The sound of metal clinking almost hid the sob that came from deep inside him. "God dammit, Nathan." He looked down. "Dammit."

Sighing hard, Nathan looked down also, his hands clenching into fists. "I know, kid."

JD shook his head. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse. "It just doesn't matter what we do, what kind of precaution we take. The vests, the training, the weapons..." He sighed and then glanced up into Nathan's eyes. "It can all be over in a split second. One bullet to the brain... and it's... over." He squeezed his eyes shut in pain and then looked down. "I saw the look on his face. The surprise. I don't know if it hurt. I wonder if it hurt. I just keep... seeing... it."

"I know, JD. I..." Nathan really didn't know what to say.

"He was right next to me, Nathan. Right next to me. Not two feet away. I can still feel the-" He shuddered, looking up at Nathan and then back down. "Why was it him and not me? Why wasn't that bullet two feet to the left? Why?" his voice cracked and he scrubbed a hand over his eyes. "Davis was a good man. A good agent. And now he's dead." He looked up at the stars, his eyes shiny. "And I'm not." He sniffed. "And I *don't* *know* *why!*" He punctuated each word with a bare handed slap against the rough chain link fence.

Nathan reached out, grabbing JD's hand before it could strike the metal again. He could feel the slickness of blood. "JD." The young man wouldn't look at him. Nathan reached into his back pocket and pulled out his handkerchief, wrapping it around the young agent's hand, then he grasped him around the wrist, shaking him. "JD!"

JD looked at him then, tears running down his face. 

Shaking his head, Nathan's voice cracked as he said, "There's no rhyme or reason to it, kid. And you can't think that there is. Davis was killed and you weren't. You can't feel responsible because *you* didn't die, you hear me?" JD looked down and Nathan shook him again. "JD? I said, do you hear me?"

JD looked up at him then. "Yeah," he whispered. "I hear you."

Nathan blew a sad breath out. "JD."

The young agent looked away. "I just can't... help... but wonder, maybe it should have been me."

Nathan let go of JD's arm and then reached over and grasped him behind his neck, pulling him closer. "JD, what you're feeling is normal, everyone does it. 'Why not me?' It happens. But at the end of the day you have to realize that *you* lived. It won't do Davis' memory any good if you crawl inside yourself and die. The rest of the team, we've watched you. For five days you've just withered away. Died a little every day. You think that's not killing Buck? Chris? You think they wouldn't... all of us... wouldn't do *anything* to take that pain away from you? Do you?"

JD shook his head slightly.

"They're sorry Davis died. They're damn sorry." Nathan sighed. "But they're glad that you're alive." He squeezed JD's neck again. "It just happened. Don't keep blaming yourself for making it out of that firefight alive."

JD sniffed before slowly nodding his head. He glanced up at Nathan and then quickly back down, wiping the tears from his eyes. "Think I should go back in there and apologize to Chris?"

Nathan cocked his head, his eyebrows high. "For calling him a son of a bitch and telling him to mind his own business?" He cracked a smile. "Oh... I don't know."

JD grinned. He spoke softly, "Can't believe I did that." His eyes widened. 

"Well, can't say as I was expecting it. But Chris knows what's going on. And he cares about you. He'll understand." Nathan winked. "You might need to call his mama and apologize to her, though."

A wide grin broke out across JD's face. "I'd rather face Chris than Mrs. Larabee anytime."

Nathan pulled the kid in for a quick hug and then let him go. "Come on, better get back in there." He clapped him on the back. "Don't want Buck to have a coronary waiting to find out what we're doing out here."

"Yeah. Good ole Buck." He looked up at Nathan. "Thanks," he said softly.

Nathan nodded, smiling fondly at him. "Anytime, JD. That's what friends are for." 

April 14, 2006

Read Phyllis' back story to Why: By Inches

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