Note: Okay this was my first at A/U fiction, kinda bad, but I’m getting better. LOL. I know it’s a little confusing, but I just threw it all together. Oh, and thanks to my beta, Sa..., wait, well, you know who you are.

Samantha sits on her bed, its early morning and the ranch house is actually quiet, considering it’s a Saturday. Mary, Nettie, and Casey had gone shopping taking Billy and Alexis with them. They had invited her, but she declined the offer. Josiah and Nathan were at some charity event, and JD, Vin, Buck, and Ezra had managed to slip off to go fishing. She hears Chris in the kitchen frying bacon. Travis had finally given them a weekend off and they planned on taking advantage of it.

There was one word to describe Samantha right now; bored. She had flipped through all the TV channels and nothing was on, checked her e-mail two times already, and had put her hair up three different ways. She could always call Jaclyn, had the rat not gone to Florida.

She gets up and walks to her window. It’s sunny outside, but of course it would be, summer was finally here. Then an idea struck her.

"I’m going to mow the lawn," she yells from the front door.

Chris walks around the edge of the kitchen, bacon in hand.

"You volunteering? Usually I have to threaten you," he states, handing her a piece of bacon.

"It’s sunny, I’m bored, it’s warm, I’m bored, and I need a tan," she says, taking the bacon piece then walking out, CD player in hand.

After about thirty minutes the phone rings. Chris runs to get it, muttering something about how it better not be Travis.

"Larabee," he says, holding the phone to his ear.

"Payback time," the voice on the other end threatens.

"What?" Chris asks, but hears a click and knows the caller has hung up.

He hangs up the phone and hears a single gunshot. Looking up, he realizes something is wrong; he no longer hears the lawnmower running. He quickly races to the door, grabbing the phone as he goes. He runs onto the porch to see the lawnmower sitting riderless on the side yard with Samantha lying beside it, not moving.

"Sam!" he yells, running towards her.

He kneels beside her, noticing the blood on her shoulder.

"Chris," she says weakly.

"I’m here," he says dialing 911.

He places a hand on her shoulder and looks around for the shooter. There’s no one in sight, but he can’t worry about that right now. Right now he has to get Samantha to a hospital.

"JD, I told you to leave the radio alone," Buck says, as he drives back toward the ranch.

"Alright, alright, I’m just sick of listening to Toby Keith," he replies, sitting back in his seat.

"Well, I’m about sick of the two of you bickering over nothing," Ezra states.

Then they hear the sound of ambulance sirens and watch as the ambulance passes them.

"It looks like it’s headed toward the ranch," Vin says, sitting up in his seat.

"Yeah," Buck says, speeding the vehicle up. They reach the ranch as the paramedics put Samantha on a stretcher. The four men quickly get out and look to Chris. Ezra begins to run toward the ambulance, but Buck grabs him.

"Hold on Ezra," he says.

"I’ll meet you at the hospital! Call Nate and Josiah!" Chris yells, then gets into the back of the ambulance.

"Come on," Buck says, pulling Ezra back to the SUV.

They get back in the vehicle and follow the ambulance to the hospital.

The five stay in the waiting room as Samantha is rushed into the emergency room. Vin and JD are sitting in chairs, Chris is pacing the floor, Buck is wandering back and forth in front of the doors she disappeared behind, and Ezra is leaning against the wall with his head down. The mood is solemn and each are worried about what the outcome will be.

Chris flashes back to the first time he met her. She was stubborn and very independent, but she needed a place to stay and they would have sent her to foster home, had he not stepped forward and agreed for legal guardianship. She was only sixteen at the time, and this year she was going to be eighteen. He remembered their conversation like it was yesterday:

"I’m sorry Mr. Larabee, I don’t need your sympathy or your help. I have lived the past year and a half all by myself, no need for people to start helping now," Samantha says, sitting in a chair across the desk from Chris.

"I’m not saying you’re helpless, I’m simply stating that you need a roof over your head and food on a table. I’m offering you that. That is until you’re eighteen, then you can decide whether you want to stay or not," he explains to her. "It’s this or a foster home and I promise you, they won’t have horses there."

He smiles at her and she looks down hiding a grin.

"I guess so," she says, not looking up.

"What?" he questions, knowing he’s won.

She looks up and grins.

"I said I guess I’ll do it, but I ain’t making no promises," she tells him.

"Fine, I’ll go sign the papers," he says standing up, then walks out the door.

He stops outside the door, after shutting it behind him. He had known Samantha’s parents when he was a bit younger. They were ATF agents as well, so when he had found out about her going to a foster home, he knew he had to get her out.

Buck looks back at the emergency doors. Still no one has come to let them know anything. His mind begins to wander and he slowly fades back into a favorite memory of Samantha:

"Buck, stop it. We promised we’d have these sundaes ready when the others got back," she says, blocking another nut that was thrown at her.

"Alright, alright," Buck says, turning back to the sundae he’s working on.

Samantha busily starts setting the finished sundae’s on a platter. She looks up as a handful of nuts hit her in the face.

"That’s it!" she tells him.

She grabs a bottle of chocolate syrup and squeezes it all over Buck. He quickly grabs his bottle and retaliates. They end up covering themselves in chocolate and have made a huge mess. Then both look up at the sight of an intruder.

"What’s going on here?" Chris asks, looking at the mess.

Samantha smiles and points childishly to Buck, who does the same pointing to Samantha.

Buck smiles at the memory and walks back to a chair and takes a seat.

Ezra slowly looks up to see if anyone is headed their way. There is no one. He looks back down and thinks of the night Samantha had waited for so long:

"Well, come on down. He’ll be here any minute," JD yells up the stairs.

"I’m coming, I’m coming! Boy do I hate dressin’ up," she mutters, walking down the stairs.

Samantha comes down in a long light blue dress, the hair on her shoulders in curls, and her make-up done perfectly. She looks at the shocked faces.

"Well, how do I look?" she questions, raising a brow.

Buck takes a picture. She raises her hand to stop another picture.

"I’ll take that as an 'okay'," she says.

"No, not just 'okay'... you look beautiful," Chris says walking over to her.

"Thanks," she says blushing.

"Now, who’s this guy you’re going with?" Vin questions.

"Some guy in my English class. I finally agreed to go with him, since no other date appeared," she says with a smile.

"Well, all of you get together," Mary says taking the camera and motioning for the seven to move and stand behind Samantha.

"Our little girl’s all grown up," Buck teases.

Samantha playfully punches him in the shoulder, then both turn to face the camera as Mary takes a picture.

Samantha then has a seat on the couch to wait for her date.

Thirty minutes later the phone rings and Chris answers it from the kitchen.

He nods his head, saying he understands and hangs up the phone, then looks at Ezra and shrugs his shoulders.

Samantha is sitting on the couch playing a game of speed with JD when Chris comes into the living room after his phone conversation.

"That was your date calling. He said to tell you he’s sorry, but he’s not going to be able to make it," he tells her.

Samantha looks up with a frown on her face.

"Figures. The one night I get dressed up to go to a prom, my date cancels and leaves me stranded," she says, then gets up heading to the stairs.

"Where you going?" Vin asks.

"My room to change. You don’t go to the prom without a date," she states, then turns back heading up the stairs.

"Wait," Ezra calls to her, walking out from the downstairs hallway.

He’s fully dressed in a suit and tie. Samantha looks down and sees this and a bright smile crosses her face.

"You do have a date," Ezra tells her.

"Oh Ezra," she says, walking back down the stairs, "thank you."

"You’re welcome, but it’s my pleasure," he says, as she hugs him.

"Where’d you get the tux?" Nathan asks.

"Oh, just something I had in the back of my closet," he says, grinning.

He then turns to Samantha offering her his arm.

"Well darlin’ what do you say? Shall we make an appearance at your prom?" he says smiling at her.

"We shall," she replies taking his arm.

As the two head for the door Vin turns around on the couch calling to them.

"Oh, and Ez?"

Ezra turns back to look at him.

"Have her back by eleven," he says with a smile.

"Yes sir," Ezra replies with a salute.

Then he and Samantha turn and head out the door.

The memory brings a slight grin to Ezra’s face, but he then quickly looks up again to see if anyone has come with any news.

Once again there is no one.

Vin sits patiently waiting and begins to remember the first time Samantha had worried them all:

"What do you mean she’s gone?" Chris asks.

"She left about two hours ago on her horse," JD states.

"I told her to be back in one hour. Something’s got to be wrong," Chris says, heading out the door.

"Where you going?" JD asks, following him.

"To get the boys. We've got to go find her," he replies.

"I’ll get the horses ready," JD says, then turns to leave.

About thirty minutes later Buck sits impatiently on his horse as Vin looks at the ground searching for tracks.

"I told you we should have put a low-jack on her when she first arrived," he states.

Vin gives him a ‘you’re stupid’ look, then looks up as Samantha rides into the clearing.

"Hello boys," she greets them.

Vin looks up, the memory being interrupted as a nurse walks by but not stopping to give them any information.

JD stares back down at the floor, realizing the nurse isn't going to stop. Pushing away scary thoughts, he lets his mind slowly fade into a good memory of his friend:

"No, no, you need to re-word this right here differently," Samantha says, pointing to a place on the piece of paper JD holds.

"Oh, you mean switch them around?" he questions.

"Yeah, it just sounds better that way," she states.

"Hope Casey enjoys it," JD says, looking to his note.

"I’m sure she will," she replies.

"You sure know how to word things. What would I do without you?" he asks her with a grin.

"You would probably have Buck writing them," she says in a teasing way, giving him a smile.

JD looks up quickly as Nathan and Josiah walk into the waiting area.

"How is she?" Josiah questions.

"No one’s told us anything," Buck tells them.

"Mr. Larabee?" a doctor questions, walking up to Chris.

Chris nods his head, letting the doctor know he’s found the right person.

"Samantha is in intensive care right now. We got the bullet out, but she lost an awful lot of blood. I didn’t think she’d make it through the surgery," he says.

"Is she gonna be alright?" Chris asks him.

"It’s too soon to say, but there’s a good chance she might not make it," he replies somberly.

Chris turns away and walks to a chair and slowly sinks into it.

"Can we see her?" Nathan asks.

"Well, since it’s a delicate situation, I believe we can bend the rules a little," he tells them, turning to leave and motioning them to follow him. car.

+ + + + + + +

A few minutes later all seven men stand in a room, with Samantha in the middle on a hospital bed, tubes attached to her. Chris walks over and leans down, gently kissing her on the forehead. He then turns to leave.

"Where you going?" Buck asks.

" To find the coward who did this," he growls, then walks out.

Buck, JD, Vin, and Nathan, follow him out.

" Why don't you stay with her Ezra? If she wakes up, she’ll need one of us here," Josiah tells him.

"She’ll wake up, I know she will." Ezra says.

Josiah nods his head, then turns to follow the others. car.

+ + + + + + +

"Did you get her?" a man asks, as a younger man walks into the abandoned room.

"Yeah, boss, I got her. There’s no way she’ll pull out of this," he says walking over to the other man.

"Good, that’ll teach Larabee to mess with me," the man replies. car.

+ + + + + + +

"Who do you think did this?" JD asks, as Chris drives down the street away from the hospital.

"Who have we busted lately that would seek revenge?" Nathan wants to know.

"We did bust that drug ring a couple of weeks ago, but they all went to jail, except the leader who wasn’t at the factory," Vin says.

"Yeah, Jimmy Morris," Buck remembers, nodding his head.

"That’s who I think did it," Chris replies, then turns off the main road onto a small dirt road. car.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra pulls his chair closer to the bed and is leaning on the bed with his head in his hands, his elbows propping him up.

He looks up at Samantha.

"Come on darlin’, you can pull out of this. We know you can. We won’t let you leave us like this, besides, your birthday’s coming up and you'll want the presents we got you," he says managing a smile. "Oh come on Samantha, you can’t do this to us... to me. Sit up and yell at me if you want, but just wake up."

He looks back down and places his head in his hands again. car.

+ + + + + + +

"That’s him," JD whispers, looking through the binoculars at a man getting into a car. "That’s Jimmy Morris."

"You sure kid?" Buck questions him.

"Of course I’m sure. I’ve only looked at his picture a million times," he tells him.

"Alright, let’s follow him," Chris says, turning to get back into the car.

+ + + + + + +

About an hour and a half later, Ezra is sleeping, his head on top of his arms resting on the bed, near his friend.

Samantha slowly comes to and looks around the room. Finally her eyes rest on the familiar head of chestnut hair lying so near her and she moves her hand over to touch him. He wakes realizing that someone is touching his head. He puts his head up looking at Samantha, who manages a smile.

"She’s awake!" he calls out, hoping a nurse will hear him.

Just then, a nurse does walk in and looks to Samantha.

"Decided to join us here in the land of the living, did we?" she questions, walking over to remove the tube from her patient's throat.

Ezra gets up and moves to the door where Chris and the others have just walked in.

"She woke up," he informs them with a smile.

"Did you doubt that she would?" Josiah asks.

Ezra shakes his head, as the nurse walks over to them.

"Well, looks as if she’s gonna pull through after all," she tells them happily.

"Of course she is," Buck says, walking over to the bed.

"Did you find out who did it?" Ezra questions, as the nurse walks away.

"Yeah. I figure a few hours from now, the police will find a dead drug lord and think nothing of it," Chris says with a smirk.

He and the others then walk over to Samantha's bed.

"How ya feelin’?" Buck asks.

"As bad as I look probably," she states with a small tired grin.

"Boy you must feel awfully bad then," he replies, chuckling.

Vin walks over to stand beside Buck.

"I know you haven’t regained your full strength, so I’ll do the honors," he says, then smacks Buck upside the head.

She manages a laugh, as do the others.


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