Authors Note and Disclaimer: I do not own the man of the Magnificent Seven, John Watson does. CBS is a bunch of SOBs so they forfeit their rights. The events in Black Hawk Down were real, and the sacrifice of the men of Americas armed forces should not be forgotten. This story is written with the greatest respect for anyone who serves our country, in times of war or peace. This story doesnt fit with the Lili arc at all, in fact, shes not here. Rating is Strong PG-13 for language. No need to go read those to read this. Thanks to MOG, who gave us the sandbox, and to my Beta, Rhonda, who catches all spell check and grammar perfect miss. This story is for Jeff. Semper fi, my friend.
Feedback: Welcome but no flames please.
It was JDs turn to pick the movie for the teams monthly food and flicks fest, and he had been in Blockbuster(tm) for over an hour, trying to make up his mind. The last time they had gotten together, Josiah had made them watch Jesus Christ, Superstar, and Chris had nearly shot a hole in the television. Since then, there had been a series of rules about what could and couldnt be rented. Nothing with lots of singing. Nothing with Michael Biehn, it creeped them all out how much he looked like Chris. No romances, they got Buck too excited. Looking at the wall of new releases, he realized his choices had been cut drastically. He briefly considered Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, but decided someone might shoot him. He passed The Mexican, Kate and Leopold, and A Beautiful Mind, figuring they might all cause one or another of his teammates to hurt him. He was about to give up and head to Westerns when he saw it. There was only one copy left, which he had missed the first six times he had walked by.
Perfect, he said. Grabbing up the DVD, he pulled out his wallet to get his member card and some cash, then headed up for the line at the cash register. The guys were going to love this film.
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Whatd ya get, kid? Buck asked, as JD stepped over a burgeoning pile of laundry in the CDC. Neither of them had gotten around to doing laundry in weeks and if something didnt happen soon, they were going to have to start showing up for work naked.
War movie, JD tossed back. He wanted to try to at least get the room semi-clean before the guys got there, at least push the dirty clothes into the bedroom or something. As much as JD loved living with Buck-Im-an-eternal-bachelor-Wilmington, he sometimes wondered what his mom would say, or if she would even try to cross the threshold.
Buck glanced up from the fridge in the kitchen to watch his young roommate kicking a pile of clothes toward the coat closet by the door. Could work, the rogue mused, returning to the fridge where he was checking the beer stock. He knew Ezra would bring the fancy, European stuff he drank, and he had already made sure to get a stock of bottled water for Nate. Still, he wondered if he should run out and get another 12-pack. I mean, what could the guys find wrong with a war movie?
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Chris had swung by to pick Vin up on his way over to the CDC. The Texans beloved Jeep wasnt running yet again, and his bike had a flat. It simply hadnt been his week. What do ya suppose JD rented? he asked Larabee as the two drove in the direction of the condo complex inherited by their two friends.
As long as it isnt Harry Potter or Evita, I really dont give a damn, Larabee replied. The team leader cringed as he remembered the Gospels according to LSD that had been last months fare. Month before that, Nate had them all watching something about disease carrying monkeys.
The two of them pulled up outside the building in time to see Ezra exiting his Jag, carrying a case of Guinness and a bag from one of the gourmet supermarkets he shopped at. Gentlemen, the dapper southerner said. Any idea what cinematic masterpiece we are all being treated to this evening?
Dont know, JD picked it, Chris said. The undercover man groaned.
The best of Earnest P. Whorl. Lovely, Standish groused.
The three men rang the bell and heard a muffled, Damn it, Buck, I just picked up the clothes from that couch. Put that shirt in your room.
The members of Team Seven standing at the door chuckled as Josiah and Nathan joined them. Whats so funny, brothers? the profiler asked.
JD playing Mom, Vin answered, as the door opened.
Hey guys, the subject of their conversation said. Come on in, Buck ordered the Pizza about five minutes ago. Beer and stuff is in the fridge.
Damn it, JD, you coulda kicked the clothes out of the doorway, you think? Buck said, coming out of his room. Hey, boys, get comfy. Well throw the movie in here in a second.
Sounds good, Larabee replied, grabbing beers for his men as they all sprawled out in the living room. JD bounced over and put the movie in the DVD player, returned to his seat, and hit the start button. The title came up on the screen, with a list of options.
Aw hell, Vin said quietly. Chris and Ezra, who were on either side of him on the couch, looked at the quiet sharpshooter.
Mr. Tanner, Standish said, taking in the sudden pallor on the young mans face. Is everything alright?
Vin, the team leader said. What is it?
Scuse me, the Texan said, as he slipping out of his seat and bolted for the door. He was out the condo before any of his friends could even move.
What did I do? the kid asked. Larabee glanced back to the screen and read the title.
Shit, he said. Damn it to hell. He got up and followed Vin out the door.
Most unfortunate, Standish concurred, looking at the screen. He then turned and followed Larabee and Tanner.
Dunne glanced back and forth between the door and his remaining friends. What?!
Black Hawk Down, JD? Buck said. Are ya nuts? Why not just rent Terminator or Navy Seals?
I dont get it? the young man said. He looking toward Nate and Josiah and hoped the two more level headed members of the team would explain to him what was going on.
The two looked at each other and paused a moment before it dawned on them. JD, Jackson said slowly. Vin was a Ranger in the army after he got out of high school, for about three years. Hes 28 now.
But, I dont understand, what does that have to do with anything? the kid asked.
Sanchez sighed. The soldiers that fought the battle in this movie were Delta Force and Rangers, JD, he said. Theres a good chance that Vin was there.
Oh hell, why didnt someone warn me, he asked. Then it dawned on him. Oh man, Buck, you and Chris were both in they Navy durning the 80s, huh? And Nate, you were in Desert Storm, and Josiah...
I wasnt in the military, JD, the oldest team member said, his eyes looking far off. But, I was in Asia with my father during Nam, and then after it was over, I worked in the region trying to find POWs.
Oh, wow, the teams youngest said. I didnt even think about it. I just figured since no one was singing or kissing or doing any of the other things you guys hate, it would be okay. I didnt think about you guys living this stuff. Oh man, Vin must hate me.
No, Im sure he doesnt, the medic tossed in. Its just, seeing it brought to life on screen brings up a whole lot of memories.
Give Brother Vin some time, son, Josiah said. Itll be okay.
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Vin had actually broken into a run as soon as he cleared the door of the CDC, utilizing the jogging path that ran through the condo complex. He pushed all out, sprinting and trying to out run the memories.
Mogadishu, July 1993
Incoming!!!! a sagreant yelled. Cpl. Vin Tanner hit the deck and rolled out of the way as a rocket propelled grenade flew into a building near his position, taking out part of the wall. He couldnt remember ever being this scared in his life. Just yesterday, he and his buddies had been messing around, playing cards and basketball at the base. Now some of them were injured, some were dead, and the rest of his unit was pinned down under heavy fire. It was supposed to be a simple prisoner extraction, an in and out. Damn.
Tanner, take out the guy with the granade launcher before were all fucked! the sarge yelled.
Hu-aa, sir, Vin said, pulling the sniper rifle up to his shoulder. He looked down the scope and found himself starring into the eyes of a boy no more than thirteen. Sir, hes a kid.
You got a shot, Tanner? the sarge yelled.
Yes sir, Vin replied, trying to keep his hands from shaking.
Then take the shot, the man said, returning fire from a portion of cover.
Hu-aa, sir, Vin said. Steadying his nerve, he focused his shot and squeezed the trigger. Across the square, the boy crumpled to the ground dead.
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He hadnt even realized he had stopped, his body hurting from the run, his hands shaking again at the memory. The boy he had shot had haunted him, haunted his memory. He hadnt thought about it much recently, so focused as he was on his friends, on his work. The horrors he had seen that day faded, but now he could see the images again, feel the familiar ghost of a burning sensation, on the scar on his one shoulder where some shrapnel had creased his arm. He had never been so glad to leave anywhere in his life as he had been to leave Somalia.
Chris had seen Vin stop suddenly and bend over, hands balled in fists on his knees. It was nothing he hadnt expected. He and Buck had been sent into some bad spots as SEALS when they were young, and occasionally, a movie would bring that back to them. He had heard Ezra following him down the path and put up a hand to let the southerner know their friend had stopped.
Ezra had never seen real war, had never been in that uniform. However, when he had first joined the FBI, he had worked a case with the DEA, culminating in the raid on a guerilla group in Columbia. The war on drugs was a lot more bloody and violent than most people knew, but then again, he had seen the country he had bled for prove to be a nation of amnesiacs. He would guess that until the movie came out, most people werent even aware their armed forces had fought and bled in Somalia. He was sure they wouldnt know of the DEA agent that he had known who was in Arlington Cemetery, coming home from South America in a body bag.
Chris walked up to his friend slowly, laying a hand on the same shoulder the shrapnel had creased. The hand brought a fresh wave of memories for Tanner, and he found himself sinking to his knees.
Mogadishu, July 1993
He stared at the 19 body bags, laid out in the hanger of what had once been Mogadishus airport. 19 men who would be coming home again, but wouldnt see their families or friends. It had been so damn senseless. And now, the rumors had begun that they were being pulled out. Nothing had changed in the country. The warlords still held power. People were still starving to death and being strafed by their own countrymen. Children were shooting at each other, for Christ sake. He wondered what it had all been for.
A hand found its way to his shoulder, and he turned to find his sergeant standing there. You did good out there, Tanner. More men would be in here if you hadnt taken that shot. The man turned to walk toward the door.
Sir, Vin said. The man turned.
What did we do out there, sir? he asked.
Our jobs, Corporal, the older man answered. We did our jobs.
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You ever see combat, pard? Vin asked.
Couple of times, Larabee replied.
What about you, Ez? he asked, as the southerner moved out of the shadows.
Not officially, Mr. Tanner, but something like it, yes, Standish replied. He had moved to sit next to the Texan and the team leader, on the grass at the edge of the trail. All three men were silent for a while, before the sharpshooter spoke again.
I can still smell the smoke of burning tires. I can remember the blood on my uniform from where I caught shrapnel, he said, his eyes closed and his voice full of emotion. I can hear the screams of wounded men, and I can hear the whine of incoming shells. But, the worst thing is the eyes. I can still see their eyes, the men I killed. I didnt think I could anymore, but...
It never really leaves you, Chris finished.
Only the dead have seen the end of war, Ezra added, softly. Plato.
Im sorry, guys, Tanner said after a moment. I guess I just sorta freaked out.
Understandable, Mr. Tanner, the undercover agent said. We all have our demons, which can be triggered by the smallest things. But do you think we might head back to the, I shutter to say, comfort of our friends domicile? They recently watered this particular grass and I find my postierior to be a bit moist.
The other two men laughed. Go ahead, Ez, Larabee said. Well be right there. They watched as their friend moved back down the path. You okay, cowboy? the black clad man asked after a moment.
I reckon I will be, Vin said. But, ya think we can watch something else?
Imagine so, Chris said. Come on. Together, the two of them headed back up the path.
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JD looked up from the couch as Chris and Vin walked back in the door. The DVD was back in its case, replaced by a worn tape of Young Guns. Josiah and Nate were in the kitchen, dishing up pizza onto plates, Ezra was changing into dry pants, and Buck was taking a phone call in his room. The kid jumped up and moved toward his friends.
Vin, I am so sorry, he said, but the Texan simply smiled and shook his head.
Ferget it, JD, he replied. Ya didnt know. No harm done.
Hey, Vin, you want cheese, pepperoni, or super-meat? Josiah asked. Nathan sighed loudly and he used paper towels to try to suck some of the grease off the top of the pies.
Super-meat, he replied. And grab me a beer while youre at it, can ya,Siah?
Sure thing, the profiler said. Soon all seven were once again settled in to watch the movie. As the credits began, meaningful looks were exchanged among the six oldest, thankful their seventh had been innocent enough not to know a war movie could be that upsetting. It was one more bond in an already strong chain, one that wouldnt break any time soon.
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