by Heather F.

Disclaimers: Not mine, No money made etc.

Warnings: Grammar, spelling…just wrote it tonight. ?able language.

Thanks: Mog started M7 ATF world…as for story idea ‘thanks’ isn’t exactly on the tip of my tongue.

Ryan Kelly, in an unconscious act, leaned forward, toward the television. His team, team eight, mirrored his anxious movements. Beer bottles were clutched white knuckled. Labels ,soggy from the bottles’ sweat, slid sideways. Every piece of furniture, in his modest home, held an ATF agent. All eyes stayed glued to the 36’ TV screen.

"There they are!" Dave shouted out unnecessarily and pointed toward the greyish figures that stood some distance in the frame. The mangled remains of building seemed like grotesque landscape in the background.

"Damn Larabee," Kelly’s voice rang with soft awe and profound sadness. They counted the number bunched around the figure of Larabee. Chris stood a few inches shorter than his fellow teammates but even on TV he herald an aura of command and respect.

Without hesitation, they others counted. Five. Two were missing. God damn it. Not them. Not Team 7…they were invincible. Nothing can happen to Team Seven.

There were only five.

A flurry of cries and cheers erupted across the speakers that carried surround sound to the occupants of the room. The newscaster’s voice spoke of the sudden tapping of a victim, yet unseen, still buried under the rubble.

A tapping, a persistent unmistakable tapping. A rescue dog sat above the area in which the sound had been heard. The camera zoomed in on the yellow Lab.

A sixth man joined the converging five. Though their jackets read ATF no one could truly make out the letters through the grit and dust that covered the men. Only their height differentiated them from their team mates.

The men in Team 8 recognized their fellows on the television screen. Nathan stood near Josiah, Buck motioned from the top of the debris pile, waving frantically. Vin and Chris matched each other as they gracefully scrambled up piles of debris and carnage created by twisted hatred.

JD ran amongst them. Shorter than most but somehow he commanded a respect that was bigger than the man’s stature. JD stood tall with his team mates and in their midst headed toward Wilmington.

The Newscaster asked his camera man to follow the scene.

Team 8 edged their chairs closer to the Television.

A flurry of activity began. Bucket brigades started with Team 7’s components leading the way. Though, even in their well organized and single minded determination one could tell something was missing. A part of the whole was gone, an intricate part of that small group of men was absent. A force necessary for its existence. And out of desperation for the life of something greater than themselves, the members of Team Seven worked.

Team Eight held their breaths. They blinked eyes and fought back tears. They ignored beer bottles and pizza that had seemed like a good idea until it showed up at the door.

The newscaster’s voice hummed on about the sound of life under the barrier. He talked in a hushed tone about the six driven men working feverishly for a possible survivor.

EMTs, Firemen, Policemen and National guardsmen all pitched in, bloodied hands, sweating faces and beating frantic hearts poured every ounce of energy to reach the source of the tapping.

Someone screamed. An alarm. A motion detector sounded. Warnings and evacuations were sounded. Men started fleeing the surrounding area.

The ground shifted.

Debris, resting on an over hanging, bomb created, arch began to weave. Men paused and backed up. If it came down it would crush them…it would snuff out the weak life that tapped fervently beneath their feet.

One man did not retreat instead he stepped boldly forward, then two…then three and finally a pack. With a will stronger than those that created this destruction. A team of strangers walked back into the path of disaster and acted for the good of one.

Buck Wilmington, acting purely on instinct, acting in a manner that would make his mother proud, leaned his back up against the low arch taking some of its weight. His face grimaced in pain. His legs trembled and his back strained.

Josiah Sanchez, a step behind, joined him. Together the two men encouraged their teammates to continue digging. Someone was alive below them.

A firefighter took one cautious step forward. Then without further hesitation acted. He stood beside the two straining ATF agents and shared the load. Suddenly a slew of rescue personnel added their strength, doubled over with a slab of debris resting dangerously across their shoulders they supported the arch. They supported the tenuous life below them.

Team 8 held their breath, "Those crazy son’s of bitches…"

"I’m buyin’ Wilmington a beer when he gits back." Awed but not surprised voices rang their agreement.

Under the protection of their fellow men, the remaining ATF agents and rescue crews continued to dig for the life trapped below.

With breaths held and fists knotted, Team 8 watched the TV. Some wiped at eyes but none made comments.

Then it happened.

From the frustrating distance of Denver, the ATF agents watched as JD dropped to the ground. He shouted, though his words were lost before they reached the camera man. Dunne’s head disappeared from sight and then his shoulders.

Ryan Kelly feared the ‘Kid’ would have gone down the hole had Jackson not grabbed him.

Dunne wiggled his head and shoulders back up and nodded vigorously. He wiped frantically at his eyes all the while smiling and nodding. Damn kid had the brightest teeth.

Vin nudged JD aside and suddenly his head and shoulders disappeared. This time, Nathan latched onto the back of Tanner’s belt. After a moment, Jackson began to slowly haul the sharpshooter back.

Slowly, inch by inch, Tanner was pulled from the unseen hole. Dust and sand cascaded down around him but the Sharpshooter held on…to something.

The Newscaster had stopped speaking. Not a sound could be heard. Rescue workers on different sections stopped their progress for a moment to watch the miracle.

This was why they worked so hard, This was why they tried so hard, this was why they courted death at every corner.

Someone had tapped and they had found them. Amongst this macabre pyre of death, life still burned. Persistent, unquenchable, irrefutable desire to live. Someone was alive.

Larabee reached down and grabbed Tanner’s shoulders. He stretched an arm passed Vin and latched onto something.

With Nathan, JD and nameless other ordinary men, turned heroes, they pulled on the ATF Agents.

With awed silence the object of their toil was revealed.

Two hands first. Gripped tightly within the grasp of the Texan. Then dusty hair, the same slate grey that covered the rescuers. A few more inches and then shoulders cleared the debris, a torso and waist…. A life…they found a life.

Suddenly greedy hands, hands that had been forced to touched so much death, so many cold and burned bodies, hands ached desperately to help a live one.

The survivor cleared the debris.

Men congregated around the unexpected living.

The newscaster stuttered for words.

Ryan Kelly felt his heart beat wildly in his heart. Those son’s of bitches…they did it…they did it. Only you Larabee….Only you and that Gawd Damn team of yours.

Someone screamed a warning and suddenly men broke from their huddle. Men jumped and hopped from pile of debris to pile. The survivor, held by his arms, feet barely skimming the uneven ruins was hauled between Vin and Nathan down toward safety.

These men would give up their lives for the one they had worked so hard to deliver from the bowels of carnage.

Buck, Josiah and those that stood with them, under the crumbling arch, counted to three. In loud voices that rang with resolve and stern finality, counted to three with the same intensity of a shuttle launch. On Three the men ran. They pulled and shoved one another forward out of harms way. No one left as last and no one racing ahead alone. A human chain hauling each other out of harms way. The spirit of rescue work.

The arch swayed and held.

Josiah, in that moment, knew he saw the work of a miracle.

The bridge of debris held. Men scrambled with frightening haste hoping not to become another casualty.

Just as Buck shoved the last fireman to safety the arch tumbled.

Heavy blocks of building rubble cascaded down in a terrible flood of dust and sound.

Visibility became nil. The camera still rolled. For a moment silence reigned again.

Team 8 paused…..across the city Orrin Travis held Evie to his chest as they sat stunned on their couch…..across the country, in a penthouse suite over looking San Francisco Bay, Maude Standish held a silk tissue to her nose and watched the television, uncaring of the mascara that marred her delicate features. Her new husband held her free hand, waiting for the dust to settle.

The camera focused on the ground level.

Firefighters, Police and EMT’s stood to the side. There was something about these now Seven men that respected distance. A family united.

With camera’s rolling. Six men stared at the Seventh. The seventh man shaky on his legs attempted to wipe dust from his jacket sleeve. The sleeve tore off in his hand. He pulled it from his arm and held it out as if it were a specimen that disappointed him.

"Talk to him Larabee…say something you bullheaded fool" Ryan quiet whispers wrapped around the room.

Six stared at the seventh. Then the undisputed leader stepped forward. Dust laden air separated the two men masking their features and hiding their skin. The seventh held out his hand in the attempts of a handshake.

Larabee ignored it and stared at his teammate. In a swift fluid motion, Chris grabbed the man before him and hauled him into an embrace.

The other five men waited only a moment before joining them.

There amongst the destruction, amongst the number of unnamed dead, within reach of death, seven men became a team again…..found family. A knot of seven stalwart fighters stood before a group of even braver heroes and held onto one another for dear life.

New York cheers lit the fading day.

The newscaster with a shaky voice and watering eyes spoke to the camera.

Team 8 whooped and high fived one another. Beer bottles were drained of their liquid and glasses clanked in cheers.

Ryan Kelly tried to lean around the newscaster, tried to peer around the announcer on the screen and peer at the group of men that once again told the Reaper to kiss their ass.

Kelly pulled out his phone and left a voice mail on Larabee’s phone.

Maude with tear blurred vision made a soft excuse and hid in the bathroom to shed her tears of joy, fear and frustration…..Her husband wondered why she sought comfort alone.

Evie Travis cried wracking sobs of relief into her husbands chest. The Judge held her tightly, wrapping support around her wishing he could reach the seven on the Television.


The sounds of on going searches filled the area. Once again he counted his men. Seven. Six friends surrounded him. JD slept beside Buck uncaring of the close proximity of the older man. Josiah sat beside Ezra as the undercover agent fell into a heavy sleep even though he lay on a concrete sidewalk. Someone had found a blanket and draped it over their undercover agent. A pair of work gloves sat nestled under his head. Nathan leaned against a brick wall on the other side of Standish hoping the close proximity of the southerner would be a constant reassurance of the possible success in the ongoing efforts. Vin floated like a ghost between the fringes of light cast by the flood lamps. Tanner wavered like the rest of them between exhaustion, relief and blind but searching anger to strike at those that created this living hell.

Larabee sighed as he checked his voice mail. He deleted most.

At one he actually smiled…. In a day full of too many lows and too few highs…Chris Larabee chuckled….You bastard Kelly


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