Chicken One Day,
Feathers The Next

by Phyllis Loafman

Disclaimer: 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.

I sat in the passenger seat of Buck's pickup, my mood as gloomy as the weather on the other side of the window. The week had not a single redeeming minute I could remember. We had been working a case that started with guns and explosives and ended with child abuse and porn. Okay, there was one minute of redemption; we had stopped the sick bastards. The FBI was working the porn angle with information that my team, Team Seven, had supplied them. That information had been gained after a little persuasion from Chris Larabee.

Not too many criminals could stand up against the Larabee glare. Hell, there weren't many people at all that wouldn't wither under Chris' scrutiny. If the man would just frown or grin maniacally or something. But no, he just stands and stares, that look on his face like he was calmly trying to decide on what to have for lunch-your liver or your heart. Buck and Vin are about the only two people that Chris' glare doesn't work on much at all. Buck just ignores it, 'water off a duck's back' he would tell me. While Vin just glares back, daring Chris to say something. Vin's attitude is one of 'push me and you can take this job and shove it'; and he would. I'm sure of that.

The week started out bad with spring rains. It was a nice gentle rain that washed the streets clear and air clean and it was refreshing. But it prevented me from riding my bike. Buck had a fit when I had told him I was leaving Monday morning with every intention of riding the motorcycle.

"Are you crazy? It's bad enough that you ride that thing in good weather, but to ride when it's raining is just plain fool-hardy, kid. No, I ain't going to allow it. You can just ride in with me."

"I've got a rain suit, Buck. It's no big deal to ride in the rain."

Well, my partner about lost it at that point and I was just tired of arguing, so I relented and had been stuck in the pickup all week. The rain continued to fall, day after day. It was nothing really heavy, just steady.

Tuesday, Chris had sent me to the courthouse to get a warrant issued. Okay, I could do that, I thought. I arrived back at the office with the warrant and handed it to Chris. He took one look at it and tossed it back at me. I still remember my fingers chasing the fluttering piece of paper to the ground. Picking it up, I looked closely and groaned. It had the wrong date. The girl had typed 03-25-01.

Apologizing, I bolted for the door and made a quick run back to the courthouse. I listened as the girl apologized again and again. Her dad was in the hospital and she had been distracted. I told her it was okay, that I didn't mind coming back. After checking more closely this time, I told her thanks and hoped her dad would be okay. My pocket rang as I exited the elevator. Answering the cell, Chris instructed me to meet them at the address on the warrant, if I had gotten that part right. Hearing Buck having to defend me in the background did nothing to improve my mood, so I quickly acknowledged the order and hung up.

The deal was set to go down on Wednesday. Halfway through, with Ezra and Josiah inside a warehouse, the wire stopped transmitting. Chris was standing at my shoulder as I checked the instruments in front of me.

"Get 'em back, JD," Larabee had growled. If anyone had asked later, I would have sworn I felt hot breath on my neck. I had wanted to growl back that it wasn't my fault that their equipment was old and worn. But, instead, bit my tongue before that statement verbalized itself. It was my fault. I was responsible for the upkeep of all our communication equipment. Luckily, I was able to correct the problem and get it going again after only a few moments.

Thursday was destined to go as badly as the rest. Thunderstorms struck and the computers began to act up. The team was in the middle of entering their reports. Interviews with the suspects, the catalog of confiscated arms, explosives, laptops, PDA's, beepers, phones, cars, keys, identifications-real and false, and everything else the suspects had in their possession at the time, as well as everyone's account of the bust disappeared in a millisecond. No brownout, no warning, just instant darkness. I could hear growls and howls and cursing and prayers, all from different areas of the office. Blink, power was once again on. Computers winked back to life, beeping and whirring. And then, almost simultaneously, six different voices cried out.


I spent the next five hours retrieving all the information I could. I finally convinced everyone that the work would get done a lot faster, if they would kindly leave it to me. The six decided to go to the Saloon and have some supper. I told Buck that I could catch a cab down there as soon as I finished. Around nine that evening, just as the last report was printing, Buck walked off the elevator and entered the room, carrying a plastic container with my favorite burger, some fries, and a large coke. Wilmington's reward was a sigh and a grin as the food was consumed. Buck carried the last report in and laid it on Larabee's desk. With one arm thrown across my shoulders, we locked up and left for the evening.

Friday at last, that was my first thoughts that morning. Me and Buck headed to work to find everyone had arrived on time, even Ezra. We wrapped up the last of the paperwork concerning the week's work and Chris invited everyone out to the ranch. He had said 'for a working half day off and a barbeque'. To everyone's surprise, even Ezra had agreed to come. He was looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

Vin and me were both looking forward to riding. Chris was quick to nix that idea, stating it was too wet to ride. Vin rolled his eyes and I know I looked disappointed. We all headed out with Vin and Ezra riding with Chris and, Nathan with Josiah together in Nathan's Ford. Josiah told us he had to stop by the shelter and drop off some papers. Chris was stopping off at the store for supplies. Chris told Buck they would meet him at the ranch. Chris didn't even seem to notice that I was standing there too. Geez, I lamented, maybe I should just stay in town and call Casey. Then I remembered she was out of town for a friend's wedding in Maine. 'Good grief, JD, why don't you whine a little bit?' I told myself.

Buck had clapped me on the shoulder, drawing my attention back to the men around me and then propelled me in the direction of the pickup. 'Come on kid, we can stop and grab a couple of movies.' And, with that, the three vehicles left the parking garage for a quiet weekend.

Buck and I had stopped at the video store and rented four movies and were now almost to the cutoff that led out to the Larabee spread. I sat, staring out the window at the water that was really building up in the fields. At least now I understood why riding was probably not a good idea. Sighing, I figured that I could at least groom Seven and enjoy the company of something that wasn't asking for something or yelling at me about something.

Buck sat across the way, oblivious to my discomfort or silence. He was going on about his date earlier in the week. He couldn't understand why Amy had been so upset at his evening plans. I shook my head. I may not be great with women, but I do know that you don't take a first date to fast food stand and a movie with a lot of violence. Blade II wasn't the type of movie that most women want to see on a first date.

I glanced past Buck to the swollen stream. Lots of stuff was being swept downstream. Something caught my eye. Was that..Oh, no.

"Buck! Stop." I yelled.

I felt the truck lurch as we hit the shoulder and skidded to a stop. "What's wrong, kid? You ain't sick are ya?" I heard him ask as I throw open the door and jumped out. I hadn’t even noticed that the others had caught up to us. I ran over to the bank of the stream, scanning the water. I was vaguely aware of more doors slamming, but I didn't have time to explain.

There she was again, her head just above the water. I yanked my jacket off and struggled out into the chilly water with it. I figured that if I entered the swollen stream below her, I could make it to the middle and intercept her as she came by. I swam as hard as I could, trying to keep an eye on her as I did.

Almost there. Here she comes. Got ya. I find myself talking to her. I wrap my jacket around her body and across her chest so I can haul her toward shore. I can feel her blond hair tickling my mouth. She's carrying a baby and having trouble keeping it's head above the water, so she doesn't struggle as I begin to tow her to shore.

As I come close, several hands reach out and pull us to dry land. My jacket is pulled out of my hand as I kneel, coughing. Someone, Vin judging by the soft-toed boots I can see, is pounding on my back. I hold up a hand and he takes hold and steadies me as I stand. That's when I hear Buck say, "He's not breathing."

My head jerked around to see my partner using CPR on the tiny body. My head is swimming as we all stand around, watching the drama unfold. Josiah has his arm wrapped around the mom, stroking her wet hair. Ezra is returning from one of the vehicles with a couple of blankets. He hands one to Josiah and stands next to Chris and Nathan as they watch Buck.

I hear myself pleading, 'Please, please be okay, please breath' and I feel Vin's hand tighten on my shoulder. Suddenly, I hear a soft whimper and the baby's legs move. Buck sits back, grinning up to the others. Chris is smiling and Nathan takes the blanket and wraps it around the small body, rubbing warmth into its cold limbs. The mom stands close, guardedly watching.

The sound of a motor approaching draws our attention. Coming from upstream is a four wheeler with a man and young boy on it. It pulls up and stops. Almost before the wheels have stopped turning, the boy has jumped off and is running towards us. He slides to a stop. "Bridget" He throws his arms around the blond and hugs her, tears running down his face. "I thought we had lost you."

I looked up and saw the man walking up to Chris. He extends his hand and Chris shakes it.

"Name's Scott, Gary Scott. That's my son, Jeremy." Chris nodded.

"Chris Larabee. I take it these two belong to you?"

The man nodded.

"We thought she was lost." I saw the man's brow knit in confusion. "Wait. Two? Did you say two?"

Nathan walked over and handed the blanket to the man. Flipping the blanket back, the man smiled. "Jeremy, come over here. Look." I watched the boy rise and go over. "Oh, wow, Dad, he's okay. Oh, man this is great. I thought they were dead."

Chris turns and looks at me. Okay, here it comes. I had hoped he would at least wait until we were alone or away from these people, but I guess not. I know it was a foolhardy thing to do, but I couldn't just ignore them once I saw them, could I?

"This is JD Dunne. He's the one that pulled them out." I felt the heat rise in my face as the man turns to me.

"Son, I just want to say thanks. These two mean a lot to us. Not many people would risk their lives for an animal. Bridget was a gift from my parents. They're both gone now. She's was a birthday gift they gave him right before they died. I'm thankful you were around to save them."

Feeling something touch my leg, I looked down into the blue eyes of the little boy. He stood with the puppy in his arms and tears in his eyes. "Thanks, Mr. JD. This is Buddy. He's the last puppy that she had and Dad said we could keep him, but when we got home and saw the creek had washed the doghouse away, I thought I'd never see them again, but Dad said we could go look, cause Bridget might have been able to get to land and she might be okay, even if we couldn't find Buddy, but we did cause of you"

Any more words were cut off as his father covered the small boy's mouth. Everyone was laughing and Buck wrapped his arm around my neck. "Boy. And I thought JD could talk a blue streak." Then he ruffled my hair. Well, at least he tried. It was too wet to do much more than stand on end.

The man and boy mounted onto the four-wheeler. I watch as Josiah hands the puppy to Jeremy and Buck lifts the mama dog in front of Mr. Scott. Goodbyes are said and the Scotts head home with their animals.

I feel a hand descend on my shoulder and turn to see Chris standing behind me. Well, I had screwed up somehow every day this week. Why should today be any different? Now Chris is going to chew me out about risking my life to save a dog. But I'd do it again. Okay, maybe it was stupid, but I just had to try and I don’t care what Chris Larabee has to say, I'd do it again, in a heartbeat.

Chris grips my shoulder and I blink as he says, "Let's get you home and get these wet clothes off of ya. Too chilly to be running around dripping wet, kid." And then he leans in close and whispers into my ear. "Hell of a risky thing to do, JD. But I would expect nothing less of you."

I stand there in shock as Chris walks away. The others follow after him, but not before Vin gives me a slow nod and Ezra tosses out a salute. Josiah just gives me a big tooth filled grin and Nathan holds up two thumbs at me. Buck has come up and wrapped his arm around my neck again.

"Some days you have chicken and some days it's the feathers, as Mama used to say. Guess today, you finally get to eat the chicken, kid. Let's go get you warm and dry."

I don't know what the heck he's talking about, except for the last part, but I grin anyway as we head to the truck. I think maybe he's trying to say I did okay. All I know for sure is I'm cold and wet and ready to get home. I look up at him.

"Sounds good, Buck. Let's go."


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