The Power of Love by Phyllis

"Little Britches" (ATF) Universe

DISCLAIMERS: The following is a work of fan fiction. The characters of Magnificent 7 are owned by and copyrighted to CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment, every one in the western world but me. Taking them out to play and promise to return them, no matter how much I want to keep them.

The boys knew something was wrong. Buck and Chris always came home. If they didn't, they called and talked to them before bedtime. It was bedtime and they hadn't called. Mrs. Potter was still there. They always called.

The sound of a car in the drive drew them to the hallway. Gloria Potter opened the door and spoke to someone, quietly. She nodded and turned to reveal Ezra Standish standing in the doorway.

JD felt Vin tightened the grip on his hand. The younger boy turned questioning eyes on the taller and older boy. "What's happening, Vin? Where's Buck and Chris?"

"Shhh." Vin turned his attention back to the adults. He watched as Mrs. Potter got her purse and coat and headed to the door. She turned to say something to Ezra and caught sight of the boys in the hallway.

The look in her eyes put a cold grip of fear on the older boy's heart. Vin stood up straight and began to back away, pulling JD along with him. The dark haired boy looked at his friend with tear filled eyes. JD's head swiveled between the adults and the older boy.

Vin saw Mrs. Potter incline her head toward the boys and Ezra turned toward them. Vin saw the man's face and what he saw was the face Ezra called his 'poker face' and he felt the fear grip his heart tighter. Vin pulled JD close as Ezra started toward them.

"Gentlemen. I would have thought you would be asleep at this late hour. How do you feel about my tucking you in for the evening? Then, in the morning, we will drive to town to break our fast at my favorite restaurant. You can have anything that you want."

"Where's Buck and Chris?" JD asked. He had pulled out of Vin's arms and stood with his fists propped on his hips.

Ezra squatted in front of the boys and placed a hand of the shoulder of each. "Boys, let's go to the bedroom and talk." He gently herded them in the direction of the room. As they turned, Standish glanced over his shoulder at the woman. She smiled weakly and nodded as he indicated he would call. She left the house, locking the door as she went. Ezra turned and entered the boys' bedroom. He found them sitting on one bed, huddled together. Ezra had hoped to put this conversation off until the morning, but there would be no putting it off now.

"Mr. Tanner, Mr. Dunne, as I am sure you are aware, the five of us, Josiah, Nathan, Buck, Chris and I are in a very dangerous business. We plan very meticulously every detail of each operation we partake in, but sometimes things go wrong." He watched the boys for reactions to his words. JD bit his lower lip and Vin stared past Ezra at a point over his shoulder.

"There was an incident during the operation this morning. We were…"

The southerner was cut off as Vin Tanner drew clear blue eyes back to meet his own green ones. "Are they dead?" the boy asked.

Standish saw the younger boy's head jerk around at the blonde's words. Eyes the size of silver dollars that were threatening to spill over with tears, stared at the older boy. The man watched as the dark head slowly dropped and buried itself into the chest of the seven year old. Small arms wrapped around Vin's waist and tightened.

The man reached out and smoothed the dark hair. "No, they are not dead. Mr. Larabee is uninjured. He, along with Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sanchez, are at the hospital."

Ezra's hands moved to grip the toes of JD's bare feet. He had not failed to notice that Vin Tanner had visibly relaxed, but maintained his hold on the younger boy.

"Mr. Wilmington was…injured. He received a blow to the head, JD." He smiled slightly as the pale face turned toward him.

"He bumped his head? Like I did when the bird man tried to take me?"

Ezra nodded. "Yes, something akin to that." Before he could continue, JD spoke again.

"I'm okay now, so Buck'll be okay, too. 'Sides, Chris always says that Buck has a hard head, so he'll be fine." The little boy's head bobbed up and down as he tried to convince the man.

Standish felt the lump form in his throat as he listened to the child. How could he tell the boy what the doctors had told them? How could he crush his hopes and bring an end to the relationship the boy and the man had built over the past few months? The southerner glanced at the other little boy and he saw realization in the older child's eyes. Vin understood what Ezra could not vocalize. His grip on JD clenched and that caused the child to stop speaking.

JD glanced from Ezra to Vin and back again. "I'm sorry, Mr. Ezra. I inner' rupped."

"That is quite understandable, Mr. Dunne. I think perhaps, that since you are awake, that we shall suspend this conversation. We will pack a few things and travel to my abode. How does that sound, young sirs?"

The two boys quietly scooted off the bed and moved around the room, gathering clothes and placing them in small overnight bags retrieved from the top of their closet by Standish. Ezra had them gather a few toys and games, knowing they would be with him for a few days. The trio carried everything to the front room. Ezra checked to make sure everything was locked or turned off.

"What about the horses? Who's going to feed them?" Vin asked.

"I believe Mr. Larabee has called someone to take care of that for him."

They moved outside and Ezra locked the door.

"Mr. Ezra? How come you got Chris' truck?" JD asked even as he walked over and waited for Ezra to open the door for them.

"Mr. Larabee thought you might be more comfortable in his truck. It is bigger and your seat fits in here better than in my automobile."

"Yeah, your car is kind'a small. I can't see out when we ride in it." JD informed him as he climbed in the back seat of the Dodge. "Can we go see Buck tonight?"

"Not tonight, JD. Chris will be over tomorrow. He may even be there when you rise in the morning." Vin's eyes lit up at the mention of Larabee. Ezra knew the boys loved both men, but, as in most families, some were favored over others. JD had Buck and Vin had Chris; that was just the way it was. Ezra was unsure of what would happen if Buck did not survive his injuries. He climbed in the truck. Glancing in the rear view mirror, he asked, "Everyone buckled up?"

"We're ready." Vin informed him. Dropping the powerful vehicle into gear, Standish headed back into town.


As the southerner had hoped, JD was sound asleep when they arrived. He carried the small boy into the house, closely followed by Vin. He had a spare room that had been used only one time since Ezra had moved in. The king size bed dwarfed the form of the little boy as Standish placed him in the middle of the large bed. Even after Vin joined JD, the tiny lump they formed under the coverlet was almost unperceivable.

Quietly, he started out of the room, only to be called back by a young voice.

"Mr. Ezra?"

"Yes, Mr. Tanner? Can I be of assistance?"

"Is Buck dying?"

Ezra stroked the blond hair away from the blue eyes. "We are praying for him, Vin, but he was grievously injured. The doctors do not hold as much faith in his ability to recover as we who know him intimately do."

Vin stared blankly at the man, so Ezra said, "We hope not, Vin. We certainly hope not." A slight nod could be felt under the man's hand. He reached down and pulled the covers up to the boy's neck. "Sleep well, Mr. Tanner. I will see you in the morning."

"Night, Mr. Ezra."

Vin heard the door click shut and he wrapped his arms tighter around the young boy next to him, feeling the slender shoulders shake as the five year old silently cried.


The next four days passed with no improvement in Buck Wilmington's condition. The doctors had advised Chris that his teammate and closest friend's vital signs were weakening. The ATF leader was at Buck's bedside almost continually. Josiah and Nathan relieved him often, but Chris never went very far. The few times he had left the hospital, it was to go to Standish's townhouse to visit the boys.

Vin heard the door open and turned to see Chris Larabee trudge in. He leapt to his feet and met the man half way across the living room. No words were exchanged; the two simply clung to each other. JD sat with his back to them and did not move until he heard the cushioned chair behind him creak. He stood and moved to stand by the weary man. Chris reached out and gathered the small boy into his lap. Vin stood to one side, leaning on the arm of the chair.

Chris frowned as he pushed limp hair out of the boy's face. "You doing okay, squirt?"

"Yes." JD reached up and placed a hand on the man's whiskered cheek. "You okay?"

"Yeah, JD, I'm fine, just a little tired."

"You can use our bed to rest," the little boy offered.

"Thanks, but I think that I'd like to get something to eat. You two want to eat some supper with me?"

The boys both nodded and Chris smiled. "Okay, why don't you keep playing while Ezra and I whip up something?"

He watched the two go back to the corner where toys were piled. Larabee noticed that some of the toys were new and made a note to talk to Standish about it.

Ezra had heard Larabee enter and did not intrude on his time with the children. He had stayed in the kitchen, knowing Chris would seek him out. He paused in cutting vegetables as the team leader came into the kitchen.

"Any change?" His only answer is a shake of the blonde's head. He noted that the man looked bone weary. The ATF team leader was pale and drawn. He had not shaved since the day of the operation that had gone bad for Team Seven. Dark circles under the eyes and deep creases, created by constant worry, marred the handsome face. "You need to eat better, Mr. Larabee; for the children if not for yourself. You should rest, also. Why not stay the night? The bed is more than ample for the three of you and I will attend to Mr. Wilmington this evening."

"No. Thanks, Ezra. I have to go back as soon as we finish eating. Thanks for the offer, though."

Chris had joined the undercover agent at the counter and he helped himself to some cut broccoli as he asked, "Ezra, the toys.."

Ezra cut him off with a wave of the hand. "I am aware of the house rules about buying the boys' gifts. I told them that the toys were being taken to the shelter for the children there, but we needed them tested beforehand to make sure that everything worked. I am aware that is hedging a bit, but I confirmed that the two children were aware that none of the things I purchased would be going home with them."

Chris dropped his head and glared at the southerner through hooded eyes. He decided it was not worth the effort to verbally spar with the man and asked what he could do to help.

"I have everything under control. I would enjoy some company if you do not mind. Also, I find that my glass is empty. If you would be so kind, there is a bottle on the top shelf of the door. Please, feel free to help yourself to anything. I have several items to choose from, but I believe you will find your beverage of choice on the center shelf."

Chris smiled as he pulled out a beer and the bottle of red wine. He filled the glass sitting on the counter and returned the wine to the refrigerator. Taking a seat at the counter, he glanced over his shoulder to assure the location of the boys.

"Ezra, how have they been? Everything okay?"

Standish scraped the cut vegetables into the steamer and then turned to face the blond. He also glanced into the living room and then back at the man seated in front of him.

"They have been perfect, Mr. Larabee. They have been inordinately quiet, neat, polite. Ordinarily, I would have no complaint about this, but these are not ordinary times. I have observed them at play and it is extremely lackluster. I understand that they are worried, but it is the lack of their parental guardians that has them so very apprehensive. Vin is always better for a while after you have stopped by. JD is.."

Ezra stopped speaking as he turned to check on the oven. He made an adjustment and, taking the wine glass, joined Chris at the bar.

"JD is in trouble. You have surely noticed that he is pale and losing weight. I have tried to make him eat, but he almost always succumbs to nausea anytime I have taken that stand. Vin gets very upset with me at that point. I have stopped stipulating that he must eat everything and have changed my tactic to one of offering him the things he likes most. Nathan has examined the lad and agrees that there is nothing physically wrong with him. It is a stress related problem that, hopefully, time will cure."

Chris listened intently to the agent's assessment of the situation and nodded in agreement. "Thanks, Ezra. You're doing a wonderful job watching the kids. I'm very grateful that you could do this for me."

"It has been my pleasure to be of assistance, Mr. Larabee." Standing, Ezra turned off the timer a second after it sounded. "I believe that was the signal informing us that dinner is ready. If you would ask the boys to clean up, I will set the meal on the table."

Chris stood and moved to the living room. "Boys, dinner is ready. Ya'll go wash up and come to the table."

'Yes, sir' was the response they gave him. They stood and headed down the hall to the bathroom. Chris joined Standish at the table and they waited for the boys. A moment later, the kids joined them and plates were filled and placed in front of the boys. Chris kept an eye on the amount of food actually consumed by each of the children. Vin seemed to eat as well as ever, though he ate slower than Chris had ever seen. JD ate very little and seemed distant throughout the entire meal. Larabee noted that the normally talkative youth was almost nonverbal in his responses.

They finished the meal and the boys were excused to go into the living room while the men cleared the table.

"Doesn't he talk..I mean, usually, JD will talk a blue streak, even if he's nervous. I don't think he said more than three words at dinner."

Ezra stacked the dishwasher as he told Chris, "He talks very little. I believe I can count the times he has initiated a conversation since coming here on one hand. He is aware of what is happening, Mr. Larabee. He can tell by the attitudes that Josiah, Nathan, and yourself project when you come here. He fears he is losing his father and he is scared."

Chris ran his fingers through his short hair and ended with them interlaced behind his neck. "What am I going to do, Ezra? I can't raise them without Buck. I can't."

"Oh, you are very wrong, Mr. Larabee. You can and you will, if it is necessary. But let's just pray that it will not be."

Ezra placed a hand on Chris' shoulder and ushered him into the front room. He got him to sit down and told him that he was going to take a shower while there was someone there to keep an eye on the boys.

Chris leaned back and closed his eyes. He was just drifting off when he felt a hand on his leg. He popped open one eye to see Vin standing next to the chair. Over Vin's shoulder, the man saw the younger boy curled up asleep in the middle of the toys. Reaching down, he drew the slender boy into his lap. Vin promptly laid his head on the man's chest and sighed. Within moments both were drifting off to sleep.


A while later, Ezra came down the stairs and entered the living room. He smiled when he caught sight of Chris and Vin sound asleep in the overstuffed wingback chair. The man's arms held the child close, his cheek resting on the top of blond haired boy's head. Both had lax mouths and looked to be resting well.

Standish thought to himself, 'it's about time.' Chris was in desperate need of a good rest while the boy was in desperate need of the man. Ezra felt a smug satisfaction that he had gotten Larabee to relax for a while. Secure that they were well, he went to the spare room to check on the younger boy.

He opened the door and entered the dark room. Not wanting to disturb the boy, he did not turn on the light. There was plenty of light coming in from the hall to see his way across the room. He was surprised to find the bed empty and still made up from that morning. Frowning, he moved back to the living room.

Ezra did not see the youngster in the front room, so he moved on to the downstairs bath. It, too, was empty, as was the dining room, kitchen, and laundry room. Panic began to set in as he bounded up the stairs to check the second level of the house. He did not find JD anywhere. Quickly going back down, he moved to the front door. The lock was not engaged and Ezra jerked the door open. He stepped out into the cool night and scanned the area. The boy was nowhere in sight.

As the southerner reentered the house, he noticed the boy's jacket was not hanging where it should have been.

"Oh, dear Lord." He thought back on the few times JD had spoken unbidden. It had been to ask to see his foster father, only to be told, 'not yet'. He had been told by all of them that he could not go to the hospital and see Buck. Yet none of them had really explained why. Would the boy, given the opportunity, attempt to go by himself? Ezra had no doubt in his mind that that was exactly what had happened.

"Chris", he called. He moved into the room as the man sat up and stretched as much as he was able with the boy in his lap.

"Ezra? Sorry, I guess I fell asleep." Chris looked at Ezra and froze. Then he asked, "What's wrong? Is it Buck? I didn't hear the phone."

"No, it's not Buck. No one called." Standish dropped his head for a moment and rolled his lip inward to moisten it. "Chris, where's JD?"

The blond frowned and looked at the spot where he had last seen the boy. "He was asleep, over there among the toys." The blonde's voice faded as he realized the boy was gone. His eyes quickly took in the remainder of the room and came back to rest on the man standing in front of him. "Ezra?"

"His jacket is gone and the front door was unlocked."

"Dammit!" Chris slammed his fist down onto the arm of the chair.

Vin had awakened and was sitting in the man's lap. He quickly climbed down and headed for the door.

"Where do you think you're going, Vin?"

"We have to go find JD", the boy said, never breaking his stride. Ezra had to smile; even knowing it would draw a hard glare from his boss.

"Ezra, grab a cell and call Josiah. Vin and I will head toward the hospital. You take the opposite direction. He can't have been gone long", Larabee said as he checked the time. He grabbed Vin's jacket and handed it to the boy. Pulling his own jacket off the hook, he told the boy, "Come on, Vin. Let's see if we can find JD."

The three people left the house and went in search of the little boy.


Larabee had only driven a couple of blocks when Vin yelled, "There he is." Chris looked in the direction the boy was pointing and relief flooded his body as he saw the child.

The man pulled up beside the small boy and parked. He got out of the truck and planted himself in front of the boy.

"JD. What do you think you are doing? You can't be running around the streets by yourself. Especially at night."

The boy hesitated for a moment. "I want to see Buck." He made a move to step around the man and Chris grabbed the boy up.

"JD, you know you can't see him. We've all told you that."

Chris was not prepared for the resistance the boy suddenly put up. JD began to twist and turn, his little fists flailed around until one caught the man in the lip. Larabee grunted at the pain and the salty taste of blood, but did not lessen his grip on the boy.

"I have to see Buck. Ya'll won't help him, so I have to do it." The boy had begun to cry, but he continued to struggle.

Chris frowned as he fought to understand the words. He finally managed to capture the small arms and wrapped the boy within his own arms. "JD, what are you talking about? We're doing all we can for him, son. The doctors are doing all they can for Buck. But now all we can do is wait."

The dark hair flew around wildly as the boy tossed his head. "He's lost and no one will tell him how to get home."

Chris carried the boy back to the truck and placed him in the seat next to Vin. The older boy reached out only to have his hand slapped away.

"JD, why do you say that? What makes you think Buck is lost?"

The little boy wiped his nose across his sleeve and looked at the man. "Cause he told me."

"Buck told you he was lost? When did he tell you this?"

"Tonight. I was asleep and Buck was calling my name and then I saw him and.." JD's head dropped and his shoulders shook as he cried. "..and he had a big white bandage on his head. And he looked scared. But Buck's never scared. Is he, Chris?"

Larabee's mouth opened and then closed it again. He thought for a moment and then told the boys to buckle up. He closed the door and went around to get in as he reached for the phone in his pocket. He hit speed dial as he got in and started the truck. He was dropping the Dodge into drive as he talked into the instrument.

"Ezra. We found him. He's fine. Meet us at the hospital. JD needs to talk to Buck."


Nathan was coming out of Buck's room when he saw Chris and the two boys coming through the door. The medic frowned, knowing that the kids would not be allowed into the ICU to see the injured man and he moved to intercept them. He glanced past them as Ezra jogged through the door. Nathan turned a worried look back to the team leader. Vin stood beside Larabee, his eyes wide at the quiet rooms that surrounded the nurses' station. Each room that contained a patient had the curtain partially drawn. There was a multitude of machinery in those rooms, each with lights blinking and beeps going off continually.

JD was in Chris' arms, his head lying on the man's shoulder. Chris rubbed the boy's back to gain his attention and JD raised his head and looked at the man.

"JD, I have to talk to Nathan and the doctor. You wait here with Vin."

The boy nodded. He seemed distracted, but Chris figured that the oppressive atmosphere was the cause.

Ezra glanced down at the boys as he passed to join the three men. Chris was talking quietly, but with a considerable amount of animation. The doctor's head continued to shake.

".. reasons that children are not allowed in the ICU, Mr. Larabee." The doctor tried again to explain to the man. They had been over this many times in the last four days, both men sure of the righteousness of their view. None of the adults noticed as JD walked around the station and disappeared into one of the cubicles.

Vin had closed his eyes against the stark reality of pain and death that this place seemed to hold. When he opened them to take JD out, he found he was standing alone near the doors. Panicked, he whirled around looked for the little boy Chris had left in his charge. Not seeing JD, Vin quickly moved to Chris' side and tugged on his sleeve. Larabee looked down with his mouth opening to say something, until he saw the boy's face. Chris' eyes immediately scanned the room for the second boy. The other men quickly did the same thing.

"Dammit." Chris said under his breath. "Ezra, you go that way. Nathan, take that direction. I'm going to check Buck's room." He took Vin by the hand and headed to the room that had become his second home in the last week.

Chris stepped through the door of the small room and stopped in his tracks. JD was standing in the plastic chair the nurses had found for the men to use when more than one kept watch over the unconscious man. The boy had moved it close so he could put a hand over the rail and touch the man lying in the bed. Chris could hear the boy speaking quietly into Buck's ear.

"Buck, I'm here. You follow my voice and come back, okay? Chris didn't understand, but I do. I love you Buck. And I need you, so you have to wake up now. I know that the doctor said you was hurt real bad cause I heard Mr. 'Siah telling Mr. Ezra yesterday. He said you was real bad off and probably won't never wake up. I guess that means you might go away like my mama and live with the angels." JD paused for a moment and wiped his face. "I don't want you to go, Buck. But if you really have to go and if you can't stay with me and Vin and Chris, would you do me a favor? Could you tell Mama that I love her? I didn't tell her before she went away."

Chris watched as the little boy stroked the man's arm as he spoke. He was vaguely aware that someone had come up behind him, but his full attention was on the boy begging his father to stay with him.

"Buck, I really think that you should tell the angels that you need to stay here, though, 'cause Chris can't take care of two little boys; 'cause Vin and me's a handful. That's what Miz Potter told Miz Nettie Wells once. I heard her. She said, 'It's a good thing those boys each have a man to watch over them, because one man couldn't handle both of them boys.' And then they laughed. I'm not sure why they laughed, but they sure thought something was funny. Anyway, Chris has Vin and I don't want to have to leave the ranch, 'cause I love Chris and Vin. Vin's like my brother, only he ain't. 'Course if you wanted to go some place else to live, that'd be fine with me. I don't care as long as I can stay with you. But you need to wake up, Buck. Ever' body is scared and not eating and not talking. I need you to come home, Buck." JD reached out and patted the man's sunken cheek. "Buck, have I talked long 'nough for you to find your way home? Please, Buck. Please, wake up."

Everyone was jolted as the alarm on the heart monitor suddenly screamed. The little boy stood up straight and fought to regain his balance as the chair rocked under his feet. Chris moved forward and scooped the little body into his arms. As he turned toward the door, the doctor and two nurses rushed in. Vin was standing to one side of the door, fat tears falling off his quivering chin. Nathan's hands rested on the boy's shoulders. Ezra stood next to Jackson watching the drama unfold inside the room.

Chris rubbed the shuddering back of the child in his arms. He wanted to scream. Scream for Buck to stop lying around and get up. Scream for someone to turn off that alarm. Scream for the injustice of Buck's death and JD's loss, and his own loss. But he didn't, he couldn't, not as long as he held the child. Instead he stood and watched as they worked to restart the silent heart of his best friend. He heard someone say, ' Still flat line, doctor.' 'Get the paddles and charge to 200.' Below all this though, Chris heard something else and he turned his head slightly and heard, from over his shoulder, a breath of a word, "Buck, pleaseBuckpleaseBuckplease." Over and over, the little boy repeated the words. Larabee's grip tightened.


"No! Wait."



Then again, beep. Beep.

Chris watched as the heart monitor beeped and the heart rate numbers started to rise. Finally, he heard the doctor say, 'He's back. I don't know how, but he's back.'

Chris stared as he saw Buck's fingers make a slow drumming motion. The doctor leaned over the man. After a moment, the doctor stood straight and turned to the five people watching from the door. Chris caught a glint of blue as his eyes locked with Buck's for a moment before the man slipped off to sleep, a slight smile on his face. The doctor wore a puzzled look on his face as he walked up to them.

"It seems Mr. Wilmington has a message for you." Everyone looked at him expectantly, except for the youngest of the group. "He said to 'tell little bit? that he talked real good.'"

Four pairs of eyes turned to the small boy in Larabee's arm. JD merely smiled as he sighed and drifted off to sleep. Chris looked back at the doctor. "Is he.." Chris left the sentence hanging, afraid to ask, afraid of the answer.

"I don't know exactly what happened. Mr. Wilmington's vitals have been dropping for the last two days. I truly did not expect him to survive the night. Now he's asleep. Sleeping. He's come out of the coma state he was in and his vitals seem to being stabilizing. I'm going out on a limb here, gentlemen, but I would say that, barring something untoward happening, Mr. Wilmington should be able to move to a private room within the next twenty-four hours."

The ATF agents were speechless. They stood motionless, looking from the doctor to the man in the bed to the little boy asleep on Chris Larabee's shoulder.

Finally, Nathan Jackson shook himself out of his daze enough to thank the man and herd the others out of the ICU unit. They sat in the waiting room as they tried to come to grips with what had just happened.

Josiah came through the doors and walked quickly to the group. He could see the shocked looks on the men's faces. Vin sat next to Chris, his entire body appeared to be tucked in behind the arm that supported the weight of the five year old. Sanchez could not see JD's face and was unsure as to whether the boy was asleep or crying.

Ezra finally looked up at the team profiler and smiled. "Mr. Wilmington has awaken and is now sleeping peacefully. The doctor thinks he can be moved, in all probability, to a private room tomorrow."

Josiah stood for a moment, absorbing the news that Standish had just given him. His face broke into a toothy grin as he declared, "Praise the Lord. Brothers, Praise the Lord."

Ezra looked at Larabee. The man had shifted the little boy into his other arm and now cradled him in his lap. He absently patted the boy's bottom as he wrapped his free arm around the slender form tucked up to his side. Chris held Vin tightly as he looked at the sleeping five year old. "Yeah, Josiah. Praise the Lord. Praise Him for the power of the love of one little boy."


Four days later, four men and two little boys arrived at the hospital to secure the release of the tall agent. Twenty-hour hours after Wilmington had woke up in ICU, he had been moved to a private room. There he was allowed visitors and the two boys could not have been happier. They were allowed to visit each day for a short while, but each day they got to stay longer. And now, Buck was coming home.

Chris and Nathan had sat the two boys down and explained that, while Buck was able to come home, he was still weak and they had to be quiet and not pester him. Both kids had sworn to good and not ask Buck a lot of questions.

Buck was ready when the group arrived. He had been ready since waking up in a private room four days prior. But while he felt fine, he had severe headaches for a couple of days. His mobility and speech were still slightly impaired, but he improved each day. The doctors had told him and Chris that he should make a complete recovery and would be able to return to work within six to eight weeks, providing he followed the physical therapy regime and did not over tax himself. Buck had agreed to all the provisions and Chris had sworn to watch him.

Josiah and Nathan had piled all the flowers onto a cart and taken them to Josiah's Suburban for him to take to the shelter. A little color was always welcome at the utilitarian, but somewhat drab facility.

Ezra had acquired a wheelchair and he and Chris helped Buck maneuver into it. They started down the hall with Chris pushing as the two boys danced alongside. Ezra had gone ahead and rang for the elevator. It pinged just about the time they arrived and the five entered the car for the short descent to the garage level where Sanchez and Jackson waited.

Buck sighed as he relaxed. He was definitely ready to go home. He turned to Ezra as the car slowly moved down.

"Ezra, how come you have so many toys at your place?" Wilmington asked.

Ezra raised one eyebrow and smiled. "I have explained to Mr. Larabee and the boys that the toys were going to the shelter. I only purchased them in hopes of distracting the boys from their worries."

Buck frowned. "No, the toys that were there before this all happened."

Ezra looked confused and a little worried. "I am not sure I comprehend your meaning, Mr. Wilmington. There were no toys at my residence before last week."

"Sure there was Ezra. I remember 'cause JD looked so peaceful curled up asleep in amongst 'em; I really hated to wake him up. Must have been the last time we were over there. Don't you remember? Chris and Vin were asleep in that old chair near the kitchen door." Seeing the confusion on Standish's face, Buck waved his hand. "Don't matter, Ez. Heck, maybe I dreamed it."

Buck's attention went to the doors as the elevator dinged and the doors opened. Ezra had out a hand to hold the doors open. The two boys got off and ran into the arms of the two agents waiting in the parking garage. Chris started forward, pushing the wheelchair off the elevator. He glanced over as he past Ezra and their eyes met. Was it a dream or did something really happen that night JD said Buck called to him? Neither man was sure. What they were sure of though, was that the love and conviction of one little boy might have saved their friend that night. And that Buck Wilmington was going home due to the power of that love.

The End