DAYTIME NIGHTMARE by Phyllis Loafman

ATF "Little Britches" Universe

Warning: Violence

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 elevator doors closed behind them and they started down. Josiah had escorted JD to the doors where they waited for Buck and Ezra to join them. It was Friday and everyone had different plans for the weekend. Mrs. Potter had brought the boys into town and Chris and Buck were going to take them out to eat and then to a movie.

The level where the men of Team Seven usually parked their vehicles was being striped so they had been forced to find alternate parking after five pm. Chris and Nathan decided to go ahead and get their vehicles before the others were ready to leave. Nathan was meeting Rain for dinner and a show that he had purchased tickets for over three months in advance. Jackson was running a little tight on time and he was heading over to change and pick up his wife after he got the vehicle. Chris decided to walk down with him since they had used the same lot after returning from lunch. Vin had asked to accompany them and Chris agreed because it would give him a few minutes to catch up on the boy’s day. Larabee told Buck that he and Vin would pick them up outside the front entrance.

Buck had to finish printing a revised report and he would ready to go. Ezra and Josiah stayed to entertain five-year old JD while Buck completed the task. After that was done, he had locked the office and joined the others at the elevator. The doors opened and they stepped on with Josiah holding the boy’s small hand engulfed within his own large one. As the doors had closed, JD reached up to the large agent, silently asking to be lifted up. Josiah obliged and took hold of both little hands. He lifted a giggling JD to eye level and placed a hand under the dangling feet. The boy placed his hands on the broad shoulders of the man as Josiah brought his hands together to support the slight weight as the boy stood in them.

JD seemed to be studying the face in front of him and Josiah patiently waited. He didn’t have to wait long.

"Mr. ‘siah? Do you know you have gray hairs even in your nose?"

Josiah laughed as Buck made a choking sound. He leapt across the small space and grabbed the boy by the waist. "JD!" he cried, planting the child on his hip.

Big hazel eyes turned to him, questioningly. "What? He does, Buck. Just look."

Wilmington was bright red as the elevator dinged and lurched to a stop. "Boy, you are going to be the death of me, yet."

The doors opened onto the lobby and the men stepped out of the elevator. They walked to the front doors and checked out with security. Buck could see Chris’ black Dodge moving slowly down the street through traffic as Larabee maneuvered toward the curb to meet them. Exiting the building, Sanchez and Standish headed in the opposite direction to a lot around the corner where they had been forced to park. JD waved as the two men moved off.

"BYE. See ya later. I wuv you, Mr. Ezra, Mr. ‘siah." JD yelled after the two departing figures. Buck shook his head at the little boy he held in the crook of his arm. ‘The boy has a big heart.’ Buck thought to himself.

The ATF agent was moving to the top of the stairs when motion to his left caught his attention. He was just turning to look when someone ran into him. Buck windmilled his free arm to maintain his balance as JD tightened his hold. The agent did not see the gun in the other man’s hand, but he heard the weapon fire and felt the impact as the bullet slammed into his shoulder. The force spun him around and he staggered down two steps before losing his balance and tumbling down the long staircase. As he pitched forward, he heard the small boy cry out.

Buck fought to maintain his hold and protect the boy with his own body, but the tumbling motion knocked the child from his grip as they continued downward. He could hear Larabee yelling something, but the sound was muffled and indistinguishable to him. As he rolled to a halt, he glanced back up the stairs to see the frightened child sitting on a step with blood trickling down his face from a cut above his eye. Behind the young boy, the shooter raised his arm to fire at Wilmington again. But just as the gun belched its lethal projectile, the little boy stood up, reaching out his arms to the agent. Buck watched in horror as the small body jerked. The boy’s chest exploded in a grisly mass of blood and fragments of bone. Buck Wilmington screamed.

+ + + + + + +

"NOOO!" The scream tore from his throat as he sat up, his arm reaching for the dark haired child.

"Buck. Buck, it’s okay. You’re fine. Lay back down."

"Chris?" Buck’s eyes sought out the voice he was hearing. Finally locating the man, he gripped the black sleeve. "Oh, God, JD. Oh, God. Chris….JD, he.." Buck’s voice quivered with raw emotion. His breath came in ragged gasps.

"Buck, it was a dream. JD is fine. Lay back for me, okay?" Chris pushed at the chest of his oldest and closest friend. Wilmington did not release the firm hold he had on Larabee’s shirt.

"No, I saw.." He clenched his eyes against the tears blurring his vision as he once again remembered the horrific scene that played over and over in his mind. Turning away from Chris, he whispered, "Oh, Lord. Please."

Chris placed his hand on Buck’s face and forcefully turned it toward him. "Buck, you listen to me." He waited until the red-rimmed eyes turned to meet his and then he continued. "JD is fine. He has some bumps and bruises, but he wasn’t shot. The shot you heard was from Ezra’s gun. He and Josiah heard the commotion and came back as the suspect fired. He turned and pointed the weapon at Ezra and Josiah. Ezra shot him"

Buck was looking at the man with a blank expression, his eyes blinking rapidly. He swallowed past the dry desert that his throat had become. "JD’s all right? He’s not dead?"

Chris nodded. "He's fine. Scared pretty badly, but he's fine, Buck. Vin is there with him as well as Josiah." Chris could see the doubt in Buck’s eyes. "I would not lie to you about something like this, Buck. You know that. JD is down in pediatrics. They only wanted to keep him because he was so upset, but he’s fine."

Chris was startled as the injured agent suddenly sat straight up. "I have to see for myself" Buck announced as he threw back the covers.

"Whoa, hold up a minute, stud. You are not going anywhere." Chris put his hands on Buck’s uninjured shoulder and pushed him back onto the bed.

"Chris, you can take me down there, or I’ll just sneak out later and do it on my own. Which way do you want to do it?"

Larabee had seen that look before. He nodded, but held up a hand as Buck made a move to get off the bed. "You sit right there until I get a wheelchair." Buck opened his mouth to protest, but Larabee cut him off. "You ride or I’ll have them restrain you."

Buck’s nostrils flared in frustration, but he nodded curtly.

Chris was back within moments with a chair and a nurse. Admonishing them for the foolhardy act, she moved IV bags and disconnected monitors from the agent. She and Chris helped him into the chair and Chris wheeled him to the elevators. Two minutes later they were entering the children’s ward of the hospital. Halfway down the corridor, Chris stopped the chair. He moved around in front of Buck. The ride down had taken a toll on the injured man. He sat hunched over with his eyes closed and his head lolling on lax muscles.

"Buck? You up to this?"

A nod was his answer, so Chris pushed open the door and wheeled the man into the room. Things were the same as when he left. Josiah was sitting in a chair under the window, reading. Vin was lying on the bed, curled around his sleeping friend. He raised his head at their entrance and, at the sight of Buck, he wiggled off the bed and moved over and stood next to the man. After looking him over closely, the young boy gave Wilmington a gentle hug. Buck returned the gesture with a quick rub of his hand down the boy’s back. Vin smiled and moved to join Sanchez. Chris moved Buck over to the bed.

Buck sat watching the boy sleep for a few moments before finally reaching out and touching the warm hand of the child. A shudder ran through the man’s body at the contact. Now he believed the boy was alive. He dropped his head as his strength waned and he slipped into a healing slumber, his hand still resting on top of JD’s.

Larabee sat quietly watching. He figured to allow Buck some time with the boy before taking him back to his own room. As much as the man needed rest, he needed the peace of mind that being with JD would bring. So Chris waited.

Vin moved to stand in front the black clad man and placed his hands on the man’s knees. Chris reached down and lifted the boy onto his lap, hugging him tight. Vin leaned into the chest of his foster father. He shivered against the black shirt and then sighed as he felt the arms tighten around him.

"You okay, Vin?"

The boy nodded against his chest.

"Are you cold?"

The boy shook his head.

"Bad day, huh?"

The soft sound of agreement from the boy reached the man’s ears. Chris closed his eyes and laid his head on the soft blond hair of the boy. "They’ll be okay. Both of them will be okay."

Another nod, but it was slower. Larabee felt the boy relax in his arms as he drifted off to sleep. He continued to sit, holding the young boy. Chris thought back to when the boys had been discovered in the warehouse. He remembered all the ugly things the two had seen in their short lives. Each day he was amazed by the innocence that they had managed to retain.

Taking a deep breath, Chris put his arms under the boy and stood, moving to the bed. Vin mumbled some, but did not wake up. Chris laid the young boy next to his friend and watched as he instinctively curled around JD’s small form.

"Chris, may I offer my services? I can take Buck back to his room." Sanchez stood, placing his book on the chair and stretching.

The ATF team leader shook his head. "Thanks, Josiah, but I’ve got it. Buck’s dealing with some demons and I want to help him deal with them. Would you mind staying with the boys?"

Josiah shook his head. "Of course not, Chris. I am more than happy to assist you." Josiah placed a light blanket over the two boys as Chris moved around to the wheelchair. "Nathan called earlier. Travis got Ezra’s paperwork pushed through. He was cleared in the shooting. Seems the suspect tried to carjack someone a couple of blocks away. A security guard saw him and chased him to our building. It was just a case of bad timing for Buck."

Chris listened and nodded as Sanchez filled him in. "Where are Ezra and Nathan now?"

"I believe they went home. Nathan asked if they should come to the hospital. I told him it was not necessary. I hope that was all right with you."

Chris looked at the profiler and smiled. It was a tired gesture. "Of course, Josiah. I really appreciate your help. I should have checked on Ezra myself. Should have made sure that he got through the investigation okay."

"Don’t berate yourself, my friend. You had a full plate to deal with. Buck was shot, JD injured and inconsolable. Even Vin was suffering. Ezra bares no ill will toward you and Nathan was only glad to help. He told me that Rain chased him out of the theater after the call came in."

The blonde man listened intently to the older man. The team had become a family after the arrival of the boys and that fact was never more evident than when there was trouble. They closed ranks and it did nothing but make them stronger.

Chris moved around and placed a hand on Buck’s shoulder. "Buck" he said softly. The sleeping agent slowly raised his head, but his eyes remained closed. "Buck, time to go back to your room."

Chris recognized how very tired the man was when the only response he gave was a slight nod. Larabee took Buck’s hand off the tiny hand he had been holding and laid it in his lap. He moved around and took hold of the handles of the wheelchair. After a nod to Josiah and one more look at the boys, he pushed his friend out the door and back up to his room. The nurse assisted in getting the weak agent onto the bed. Buck was asleep before she had hung the IV bags and reattached the monitors.

Chris took up a seat in the chair he had abandoned earlier. He slouched down in his seat and crossed his ankles. The night drew on as he napped.

+ + + + + + +

The doctor arrived early. He found Buck sitting up in bed and Chris staring out the window.

"Morning, gentlemen. Mr. Wilmington, how are we doing this morning?"

Crinkles appeared around the dark blue eyes as Buck smiled at the man. "Well, I’m doing just fine, Doc. I have no idea how you’re doing."

The doctor smiled. One of the main complaints patients always had was of healthcare givers habit of including themselves in the questions. "Point taken, Mr. Wilmington. Let’s have a look at that wound."

Chris had turned and now stood leaning against the windowsill, watching. The white-coated man moved to the side of the bed and, untying the gown, pulled the garment off his shoulder, exposing the bandaged shoulder. A nurse came in carrying a tray with supplies. Doctor Wills removed the bandage, tossing the soiled material onto the tray. He palpitated the area around the wound. Buck grunted at the pressure to the tender flesh. The pain was at a minimum thanks to the painkillers in his IV.

"Looks good. There’s no inflammation, no infection is apparent. Good work. You continue to improve at this rate and I should have you out of here tomorrow."

Buck nodded and glanced over at Larabee. The man’s face was unsmiling, but his eyes revealed his emotions. They had known each other long enough to be able to understand each other without words. Chris was relieved at the announcement.

Doctor Wills redressed the wound as he talked. "I’ll be back tomorrow if you have no problems today. I’ll have some instructions for you for home care, but I see no reason why you can’t go home tomorrow."

Chris held out his hand to the man. The doctor shook Larabee’s hand and left the room. Chris turned back to the bed to see Buck struggling to pull the gown back onto his shoulders. Moving to the bed, Chris took hold of the material and pulled it into position and then tied the string that held the gown in place. Wilmington sighed as he relaxed into the pillows.

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Finally, Chris glanced at his watch as Buck dozed. Standing caused the chair to scrape and Buck opened his eyes to see Chris on his feet.

"Doctor said he was going to check JD around nine. I’m going to head down there to see what he has to say. Do ya need anything before I go?"

"Nah. If you don’t mind, just stop by and let me say hi, then take ‘em home. No need in your sitting around all day. I plan on sleeping a lot."

Chris crossed his arms over his chest as he studied the man in the bed. "You sure?"

"Yeah." Buck closed his eyes as he relaxed into the pillows once again. Chris quietly left the room to head downstairs.

+ + + + + + +

Chris entered the room to find Ezra and Nathan had joined Josiah and the boys. Both kids were sitting on the bed, quietly playing a handheld video game. Ezra was sitting on the foot of the bed, watching. JD giggled as Vin drove the video car. The blond boy swayed as he drove the windy course; his tongue was sticking out slightly and moved from one corner of his mouth to the other and back again, over and over. Ezra was offering verbal encouragement to the young driver. Nathan was sitting next to Josiah, watching the trio.

"Good morning." Chris stated as he moved across the room.

Vin looked up at the words, his blue eyes wide. His eyes were drawn back to the video screen at JD’s cry.

"Crash. You crashed Vin."

The older boy rolled his eyes and tossed the game down, falling back against the pillows.

Chris crossed the room and placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. "Sorry, Vin. I distracted ya."

Blue eyes opened and looked at the man. "No big deal. It’s just a game."

Chris ruffled the blond hair and then looked at the dark haired boy. JD had fallen back on to the pillows alongside Vin. He was lying there staring up at the ceiling. Larabee took a seat on the edge of the bed. Reaching across Vin, he laid a large hand on the young boy’s stomach and patted lightly. "JD? How ya doing today?"

"I’m fine." The boy turned his large eyes to the man. Tears were glistening in them. "Where’s Buck?"

"He’s upstairs. After the doc checks you over, you want to go see him?"

The boy’s head bobbed up and down and a slight smile tugged at the little mouth. He giggled and curled into a ball as Chris’s hand tickled his stomach.

They didn’t have to wait long for the doctor to arrive. Doctor Hammond entered the room and smiled. "Well, good morning, everyone. Full house today."

Ezra stood and, taking the game with him, moved to join Nathan and Josiah. Chris took Vin into his lap and moved down to take Ezra’s position at the foot of the bed.

Chris watched as the female doctor approached the young boy, a smile on her face.

"Good morning, John. How are you today?"


The doctor frowned. "Excuse me?"

"His name is JD" Vin informed her.

"Oh, I’m sorry. JD. How are you feeling today?"

"Fine." He looked up at the woman and smiled. "Can I go see Buck now?"

"Well, let’s just take a quick look at you and I think you can get out of here."

She smiled as the little boy jumped up and sat on the edge of the bed. The woman looked him over, checking his ears and eyes. She checked the cut over his eye last and then pronounced him fit. The little boy quickly crawled across the bed and stood next to the black clad man’s shoulder.

"Chris, I can go now. Can we go see Buck now?"

The man smiled as the little body jumped behind him. "Soon as you get dressed, JD."

Nathan stood and pulled a bag from under his chair. "I got the boy a change of clothes here, Chris. Figured it was easier buying something new than going out to the ranch."

Chris shook his head. He appreciated the gesture, but if he didn’t keep a handle on his men, they would totally spoil the two boys that he and Buck had in their foster care. He glared at the medic for a moment, but gave it up when he saw he was not making an impression. He took the bag and turned to find JD was already stripping down to his underpants. Opening the bag, he pulled out underwear, socks, and a matched shirt and shorts. Larabee grabbed JD’s hands as he reached for his underpants.

"Hold on a minute, JD. Let’s at least close the door to the hall" Larabee laughed. While Vin was too shy to strip down in front of anyone, JD would run around butt-naked if they allowed him. Chris nodded as Ezra moved to the door and gently closed it behind the doctor.

Nathan moved to the door and told Chris as he crossed the room that he would go finish the paperwork to get the boy released and he would meet them in Buck’s room. Josiah joined Jackson as he left the room. It only took a couple of minutes to get the boy changed and ready to go. Taking both boys by the hand, Chris led them both to elevator bank with Ezra following behind. A couple of minutes later they entered Buck’s room and found him asleep. Vin walked over and placed a hand on the rail, watching quietly as the man slept. Chris noticed that JD stopped at the doorway and seemed reluctant to enter the room. A slight tug on his hand had his feet moving again.

They moved across the room and sat down to wait. Chris pulled JD onto his lap and called Vin over. Ezra whispered that he was going outside and would wait for the others there. Chris nodded an acknowledgement.

Within five minutes, Buck started showing signs of waking up. He opened his eyes and lay, staring at the ceiling for a moment, before he turned his head and saw the three pairs of eyes watching over him. The man smiled at them and received three smiles in response. Vin moved back over to the bed and placed a hand over Buck’s.

"Hi, Buck. Are you better?" Vin asked.

Wilmington nodded. "Yeah, I feel better, Vin. Thank you for asking." Buck’s eyes moved to Chris and the dark haired boy that sat quietly in his lap. JD wasn’t one to sit still for very long. The big man noticed that the little boy would look at him and then look away. Buck knew the child was upset and scared by what had happened the day before. Buck had seen it in his eyes yesterday. He held out a hand to the child.

Chris stood and moved over to the bed. JD clung to him for a moment and then reached out to Buck. The boy slipped from Larabee’s arms onto the bed. JD sat on the edge of the bed, not touching the man. He just sat looking at him. Buck waited. He didn’t want to rush the child. The boy had a shock and needed time to think about what had happened. Finally, JD reached over and touched Buck on the face. He smiled as the tears welled in his eyes. Chris wrapped an arm around Vin when the little boy moved next to him.

Buck wiped a tear from JD’s face as it spilled out. "Come here, little bit." He held his arm out to take the boy into a hug. JD leaned over and wrapped his arms around the man’s neck. Buck cuddled the boy into his shoulder. He was not prepared for the image that sprang into his mind.

JD stood and reached out. The bullet struck him in the back and the little boy died instantly. The image was so unexpected that Buck gasped and thrust the boy away. The movement took everyone by surprise. Buck had paled at the intense feelings, JD scrambled away, and Chris made a grab before the little boy fell off the tall bed. The startled boy wrapped his arms and legs around the blond man, burying his face in the man’s shoulder. Chris frowned at his old friend as he felt the trembling boy press against him.

Buck lay back on the pillows breathing rapidly. He felt as if he were about to pass out. The blood had drained from his head and his heart was going a mile a minute. He knew he had scared JD and wanted to comfort him, but the picture in his mind prevented him from doing that. Smiling weakly, he lied to Chris, "Sorry, pain caught me off guard. I’m sorry, son. I didn’t mean to scare ya."

Chris nodded, though he wasn’t real satisfied with the explanation, but he wasn’t going to question Buck in front of the boys. He moved back to the chair and sat down. Vin joined him, placing a hand on JD’s back and lightly rubbing as he glared at Buck. Vin knew that Buck was hurt but he shouldn’t have pushed JD away like that.

The big-hearted agent was stricken by what had just happened. He was as affected as the boy, but he didn’t know what caused the reaction and was upset that the images from his nightmares were now invading his waking hours. He knew that the image wasn’t real. But it could have been, if Ezra and Josiah had not come back. The boy could have died. The thought made Buck nauseous and weak. He lay against the pillows, pale and shaken.

The door opened and the three other members of the team walked in. They stopped just inside the threshold, sensing the tension in the air. Chris stood and walked out of the room, closely followed by Vin. Unsure of what had happened, Ezra and Nathan followed them out, but Josiah stayed, allowing the door to close quietly behind him. He stood quietly, waiting for Buck to acknowledge him. The man in the bed turned his head and studied the profiler before waving him over.

"Brother Buck." Josiah didn’t push. He would allow Buck to tell his story when he was ready.

"I hurt the boy, Josiah." The pain was evident in the man’s voice. Wilmington threw his arm over his eyes. "I had some nightmares about the shooting. I saw..I thought I saw JD die, shot by the gunman. Chris says that I had to be told three or four times that he was okay and I dreamed the whole thing, but it was so real."

Josiah sat and listened. It was obvious that the man was very upset by the visions. The only way Buck would get past this was to talk it out.

"When I took hold of him, just now, I saw it all over again. Exactly like the nightmare." Buck removed his arm and looked at the older man. "He’s sitting on the steps and then he stands and reaches for me and the gun fires.." Buck choked on the words.

Josiah stood and moved closer to the bed. "Buck, your mind is running a worse case scenario. You had a pretty good shock. The man shot you, could have killed you, if he had used a larger caliber gun. The boy could have been killed. But he wasn’t, you weren’t. You need to think this through. Allow your mind to work it out."

Buck nodded. That sounded reasonable. Just had to think it through and he would be fine. It sounded so simple, so easy. He nodded at the big man. 'Sure, I can do this. We survived. JD's okay, I'll be okay. Go home, recuperate, go back to work. Done it before, I can do it again.' The words ran through Buck's mind. He knew Josiah was right. The shooter wasn't after him or trying to hurt the boy. They had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Chris was pretty angry when he left. You think I should call and explain?" Buck asked quietly.

"Well, brother, you know Mr. Larabee a lot better than me. What are your feelings on that matter?"

Buck sighed as he sank into the pillows. "Think I better wait until after the boys are in bed. He might actually listen before he goes to yelling." Wilmington looked over at the window, sunlight streaming, heating the room with it's midday rays. "I need to figure out how to explain it JD. "

Buck turned back to Sanchez. "I hurt that little boy bad. I .. " Buck couldn't say anything else as he remembered the look on the boy's face.

Josiah leaned forward, resting his arms on his legs. "Those boys are the most forgiving creatures I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Talk to him, Buck. He'll forgive and forget long before you do."

Wilmington nodded and the two men sat in silence. The nurse came in and disconnected the IV's. Lunch came and left. Finally, the injured agent drifted off to sleep. Josiah spoke little as Ezra returned and joined him in his vigil. When Buck awoke around five that evening, he told both men to go home.

Buck ate his dinner and talked the nurse into letting him shower. He felt somewhat better after he had cleaned up. He thought about what he would tell Chris and how the man would react to the story. Screwing up his courage, he reached for the phone, only to have it ring. Buck knew it was Chris and his hand paused. Ring. He drew in a deep breath and picked up the receiver.


"Hi, Buck. It's me, JD. Are you okay, now? I'm sorry about hurting your sore shoulder. I'll be real careful when I see ya tomorrow." Tears sprang to the man's eyes as the child rambled on. Josiah was right when he stated that the boy would forgive and forget long before he did. "So, is it alright if I come tomorrow when Chris comes to get ya? 'Cause I can stay here if ya want me to. I can wait. Chris and Vin and me 'pracussed' how to hug your sore shoulder. So what do ya think-should me and Vin wait for ya here? We don't mind."

Buck started laughing. He didn't believe the boy had drawn a breath yet. The man figured that kid must have lungs like a whale they held so much air. Buck was still laughing when he heard Chris tell the motor mouth to go watch TV with Vin.

"Buck? You still there?"

"Sure, Chris. I'm here. I was trying to figure out how to get a word in edgewise."

The two men laughed together. Chris finally said, "Yeah, that boy can talk. Never seems to need to breathe."

The conversation stalled as both men figured out what to say. When they decided what to say, they ended up speaking at the same time.

"Buck,.." "Chris"

Once again they endured a heavy silence. Buck finally jumped in and spoke up. "Chris, I need to explain about this morning."

"No, you don't. I know what happened" Chris interrupted. "Don't think that I don't. Buck. I've had the same feelings with Vin. Sometimes, I'll be holding him or looking at him and I see Adam, after the bomb, in the hospital. I choke on it. Not what happened to Adam, but what could happen to Vin. What if it happened again? Could I go through it again? I know exactly what you were thinking. I haven't tried to explain it to JD yet, but I'm pretty sure he didn't buy the story that you concocted. But we can worry about that tomorrow. We'll be there around noon to pick ya up. I figure the others will be here by the time we get home. So get some rest and we'll see ya tomorrow."

Silence was the only answer Larabee got. "Buck? You there?"

"I was just waiting for ya to take a breath. You taking lessons from JD?"

"Shut up, Buck. We'll see ya tomorrow."

"Sure thing, stud." The two men broke the connection. Buck lay back and relaxed into a restful sleep for the first time in the last two days.


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