Story Challenge: Write a story inspired by a song, not a songfic issued by Jan. The song is Tell Her by Lonestar.
Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven do not belong to me nor am I making any money off of them.
Main Characters: Nathan and Buck
Nathan stormed into the office space he shared with six others. It was a Monday morning and like so many others, Nathan hated Mondays. He hated today like few other Mondays he had experienced. The weekend had been a disaster and now he had to face his co-workers, men who were more like family than his real family was. He wasnt ready to tell Josiah what had happened, let alone the other five.
Nathan Jackson was an early riser, had been his whole life. It was not unusual for him to be the first to arrive at the office. Today he thanked whatever power was above that he had beat all the others to work. He had time to compose himself and put his emotionless face on before the others saw the anger and hurt that now resided there. He was a paramedic and as such he often had to put on his game face, hiding the facts from family and friends about the true condition of their loved one. Well, today, he would use that to protect himself from the men he worked with, the ones that loved to stick their noses into everyones business.
He sat down at his desk, a cup of freshly brewed coffee in his Worlds Best Doctor mug, and turned on his computer. He would bury himself in work today and maybe, just maybe, the others would stay away. Ha! Who was he kidding? Josiah would see right through him and the instant that happened, the news would be spread like a plague. And then, the nit-picking would begin and he would have to relive the whole weekend over again, and again, and again. After that, he would have to listen to condolences, remonstrations, and remedies. He wasnt in the mood for ANY of them!
His life had been in perfect order until When exactly did the fight begin? He had thought Raine was perfectly content with their life. He loved her and she loved him, or at least he thought she did. She was going to school, working part time as a nurse. They had a lovely two-bedroom apartment, saving for a house of their own. They were engaged although a wedding date had yet to be set and that was definitely her idea. Where had it all gone wrong?
He thought back to the week before and realized that Raine had been in a bad mood on Wednesday. She had gone to bed early without saying good night. He hadnt seen her on Thursday as the team was working diligently on a bust that was to take place on Friday. On Friday, the gun buying deal went off without a hitch. It had taken place late in the afternoon and by the time they had completed their paper work, it was going on eight P.M. Nathan went with the other guys over to the Saloon, where they had dinner and a few beers. When he got home around midnight, his fiancé was already sleeping. Saturday, Nathan went out to the ranch that Chris Larabee owned. It was his turn, along with Josiah, to clean stalls and groom horses. Each of the Seven had a horse, which they all kept at Chriss. Before Nathan and Josiah were finished, the others had shown up and all seven went for a trail ride, arriving back at the ranch shortly after sundown. They had sandwiches and beer and they all departed around nine.
When he got home, Raines bags were packed and sitting by the front door. Nathan stood in the doorway, his mouth open, his eyes glancing first at Raine and then at the luggage.
Whats going on, Sweetheart? Is somebody ill or injured? You should have called me and let me know! He moved into the hallway, making his way past the packed bags and into the living room. There he received another jolt. The stereo system was missing, as was the television. Raine, what in the hell is going on here? He turned in anger, his face showing the multitude of emotions that had hit him like a tornado.
Im leaving, Nathan. Ill let you know when I find a place to live. I had the stereo and TV when I moved in so I thought it only fair that I take them. Ill be back for my books and the rest of my clothes. A tear ran down her cheek. I cant do this anymore, Nathan.
What do you mean, you cant do this? I thought we were happy, that you were happy. You never said a thing about a problem! He took several steps towards her but she backed away from him.
I have tried to talk to you, Nate. All last week I tried to tell you. You were always busy or too tired or, I dont know! You have time for your work, for the guys, for your classes, but you never have time for us anymore. I cant live with a roommate! I want my man, my lover, the man I thought I wanted to marry. She wiped tears from her face with the back of her hands. Im tired of it all. I tried to make it work but I cant do it by myself. She leaned over and picked up the two bags. Good-bye, Nathan. And she was gone.
All night long he had tried to figure out what had gone wrong. He hadnt done anything different. They were both busy people with jobs and schooling and friends but they loved each other. They should be able to talk to each other and work things out. Why hadnt he seen this coming!
Sunday, Raine had come back for more of her personal items. Nathan had tried to talk to her, to point out the error of her way of thinking. The conversation quickly escalated into an argument. Raine ended up running out the door in tears, leaving her stuff behind. He hadnt heard from her since.
Chris was the first to arrive. He mumbled good morning and then disappeared into his private office with a large mug of coffee. One down. Josiah was next. He chatted with Nathan about the weather and the paint job that he and several other members of his congregation had done for an elderly woman on Sunday. He didnt seem to notice that Nathan was exceptionally quiet for a Monday morning. Vin was the third member of Team Seven to arrive. He listened to Josiahs story and then went to work finishing the inventory from Friday. He left the room and went to storage without saying a word to Nathan. Buck and JD arrived two minutes before eight, per usual. They were arguing over a football game they had watched Sunday afternoon, completely oblivious to the others and their problems. Nathan breathed a sigh of relief. He had been given a reprieve for the time being.
He was checking e-mails when Ezra showed up. Long ago, Chris had accepted the fact that Standish worked on his own schedule. Rarely did their boss make a stink about Ezras sense of time. Ezra hung his Gucci sport coat on his wooden hanger and filled his mug with coffee.
Good morning, gentlemen. And how was your Sunday? Mine was spent in the company of an extraordinary woman of gentle breeding. Her name in Monique and she is an angel. We had a picnic with champagne and strawberries and she sang French lullabies to me as I lay with my head in her lap. It was pure bliss!
Sounds like a keeper, Ez! Monique, huh? That the same one you were bitching about last week, saying she was too needy? Buck turned in his chair, giving the Southerner his whole attention. Any tidbit about women interested him. His obsession seemed to be women and he had a habit of telling the others all about his love affairs. They would all listen but rarely believed anything that Buck said when it came to women.
No, Mr. Wilmington, that was Mariah. I met Monique last Wednesday at my antique dealers. She comes from South Carolina and has a delightful Southern lilt.
Nathans blood began to boil. The loss of Raine and all the dreams they had shared blotting out all sense. The mindless drabble of his two co-workers was driving him to say something he had no intention of revealing. Will you two SHUT UP!!! We have work to do! This isnt the Mary Poppins social hour!
Four heads turned towards the normally stoic black man. Four mouths hung open in complete shock. Four sets of eyes demanded an explanation but didnt get one.
What the hell is up with you, Nathan? Ya got a bone stuck in your craw? Buck wasnt shy about butting into other peoples lives. When it came to one of his brothers he would take just about any risk.
Nothins wrong with me! Why does there have to be anything wrong for me to want some peace and quiet instead of the ridiculous drivel coming out of your mouth this morning? Nathan stood, ready to defend himself. He had found a target for his anger and frustration.
Nathan, Buck didnt mean anything. Were all concerned, this just isnt like you. Josiah, the oldest member of Team Seven, tried to bring the escalating level of emotions back down to where they could calmly talk about what was eating at their medic.
Just keep your nose outta this, Josiah. Bucks interfering is enough for any one person. He turned back to the tall scoundrel. You think you know so much, dont you? Youre just full of advice for everyone. Well, ya know where you can stick your advice!
Goddammit, Nate, I aint got a clue what your bitchin about. Its obvious to all of us that somethin happened yesterday thats got ya all upset but takin it out on me aint gonna help. Why dont ya just sit down and tell us whats going on. Buck spoke calmly but his body was trembling with adrenaline. He had no idea why Nathan was jumping down his throat but he wasnt going to take it for long.
And why dont you just go to hell! Its my life and I dont need you or any of you, he flung his arms wide to encompass the whole office, meddling in my business. Im sick and tired of all of you trying to tell me what to do! Just leave me alone! And as for you, Wilmington, you can take all the knowledge you have about women and stick it in a thimble cause thats what you know about em. If you had one iota of understanding about the ladies, youd be happily married with a passel full of kids by now instead of alone with no one you can turn to. Youre just a pitiful blowhard!
Bucks face turned cold. He took a step towards the black medic, his hands clenched in fists. You aint got a clue as to what I know, you son of a bitch. The words came out low and menacing, almost a hiss. He felt a hand on his arm but he didnt notice whose it was. He attention was solely focused on Nathan. I reckon Raine left ya, thats why youre acting like this, so Ill let it drop. But, dont you ever say anything to me about my love life again, you hear me, Jackson!
Nathan, dont you say another word. Chris turned towards Ezra, his hand still holding Bucks forearm. You got a meeting in half an hour with Mitchell, right?
The undercover specialist nodded. The tension still filled the air but no one spoke except Chris. They waited for his explosion.
Take Buck with you and get out of here. The tone left no room for argument but Buck tried.
Chris, I He got no further. The glare that Larabee was famous for stopped him.
The green eyes took a softer, sad, look and barely above a whisper, Chris said, Let me take care of it, Pard. He needs a few truths told and I think JD and I can handle it, okay?
Buck took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. His oldest friend, the one he had gone through hell with, was on his side and that fact stabilized the infuriated man. He gave a small nod to Chris and turned on his heel. He caught Ezra by the shoulder and the two men grabbed their coats and headed out of the office.
Nathan hesitated at the door. He didnt really want a drink but he didnt want to go home to the empty apartment either. The drink won out. He entered the Saloon and glanced around. He didnt see any of his friends. He didnt really think that he would as it was past midnight and tomorrow was a workday. He saw Inez and he waved to her. She gave him a glare that stopped him in his tracks. Someone must have told her about the fight in the office today. He sighed heavily, his head falling to his chest. He felt so bad about what he had said, especially to Buck, and he hadnt had the opportunity to apologize to the ladies man yet. He deserved to be on the receiving end of a glare or two.
Can I get a drink? he asked the fiery bar owner.
Si. A beer or something stronger?
A beer would be just fine. Thanks Inez. He sat at the bar and the bartender moved away to pour him a draft beer. I guess you heard about my stupid reaction today, huh?
Si. I also talked to Raine this evening. You cannot expect her to sit around and wait on you hand and foot while you are out enjoying life, Nathan. She needs your attention for love to survive. You men are so ignorant sometimes. A woman needs affection more than anything else in her life. She needs to know you are thinking of her.
Yeah, youre right, Inez. I was so busy doing what I wanted, taking for granted she would always be there for me, I forgot she needed me to be there for her too. He nodded to the bartender as he sat the beer in front of him. Inez smiled warmly at the black man and then moved off towards a back booth. Nathans eyes followed her, instinct on his part to watch a curvaceous woman. He couldnt see who she was talking to but she seemed to be rather intimate with the man. She stayed there for several minutes and then moved away to continue her job. Nathan started to turn back around when he heard a familiar voice. Nate.
He spun quickly around and found Buck standing by the back booth where Inez had just been. Buck, what are you doing here?
I come here most nights. Inez gets off in a few minutes and I like to take her home. Feel better just knowing shes safe and sound. Why are you here instead of hitting your knees and begging the purty little filly of yours to come back home? Buck waved for the black man to come join him, which he did. Nathan slid into the booth and noticed Buck was drinking a Pepsi.
Pretty tame there, he said, pointing at the can. He wasnt ready to talk about the ass he had made of himself today.
Dont want to drink and drive Inez home. Buck said no more, waiting for Nathan to explain his actions of the day. Chris and the others had met him earlier at the bar for a few beers and supper. They had explained about Raine leaving Saturday night and the fight Nathan and Raine had had on Sunday. Chris had privately explained to Nathan the facts of life as far as Buck and women went.
Chris knew that Buck had been raised by women, not just his mother but the rest of the chorus line too. Buck spent many a night sitting in the dressing room listening and absorbing when he was a small boy. As he did up zippers and fetched missing shoes, the ladies would tell him how to behave, as a man should, to make a woman feel special. Attention, affection, and respect were drilled into him like the alphabet and numbers were to other small children. Chris figured Buck knew more about women than almost any man alive. The fact that Buck needed to help people was one of the reasons he had so many lady friends. Most of the time, he helped women get back on their feet after life had knocked them down to the ground. He was good at it and women parted company with him smiling. JD had informed all of them that Buck had actually been in a serious relationship for over six months, which stunned them all. None of them had heard of this woman, they only heard stories of long ago conquests. JD told them he figured it was up to Buck to tell them when he was ready.
Buck, you and Inez, is she the one? JD said you had been getting serious with a woman for some time now. He sipped his beer as he waited for his answer.
Yeah, I didnt want you guys to tease her about it so I didnt say anything. Shes different than all the others. Shes an angel and for some unknown reason, she seems to care for me too. But thats enough about me. Lets talk about you and Raine tonight, seems like the thing thats botherin you. What was the fight about? Buck stretched his long legs out in front of him. His full attention was on the friend across from him.
Nathan lowered his head, the weight of the past three days crashing down upon him like a load of bricks. He loved Raine more than anything and to think she could just throw it all away, he couldnt comprehend what would make her do such a thing. And then to take out his fear and frustration on an innocent friend who was just trying to help, it was too much for the normally calm and rational man.
Im sorry about today, Buck. I know that dont take the sting away but I was taking out my frustrations on you. I hope you can forgive me? He raised pain-filled eyes to his good friend, hoping that the mans big heart would extend to him this night. He didnt have long to wait for his answer.
Aw hell, Nate, nothin to forgive. Yeah, I was a little ticked off but when Chris explained it to me, hey, Ive been there. Just curious, Nate, did ya sit down and listen to her or did ya just get mad cause her bags were packed? Buck eyed his teammate, midnight blue penetrating into dark brown.
The medic shook his head. I guess I lost it immediately. There was nothing she could say that would explain her leaving me like that. But now that I think back on it, I guess she just felt abandoned.
Yeah, I reckon she did. When you find the right one, brother, ya got to let her know what she means to ya and never, ever, take her love for granted. Would ya take a little advice from a pitiful blowhard? Buck smiled when he said it, letting Nathan know he held no grudge.
Nathan smiled sheepishly back and nodded. If itd help me get Raine back, Id listen to Ezra. Of course Ill listen to an expert.
Ah, now, thats more like it. The three keys to a womans undying love, attention, affection, and respect. It dont have nuthin to do with the gifts you buy or the money you spend. It dont have nuthin to do with sex, good or bad. It doesnt matter if you live in a mansion or a studio apartment. What matters to a woman is that you let her know she is the most important thing in the world to you, that you couldnt make it through the day without her love. She wants your time and patience and understanding. She doesnt want you to solve every problem, just listen and help her work her own way through it. She has a brain and she knows how to handle the world around her despite what we macho men think. A woman is a complicated soul, so much more than us men. Just try to make them happy! Its all we can do, Nate.
The medic stared at Buck, comprehension slowly dawning in his soulful eyes. Its that simple?
Simple! the ladies man snorted. I never said simple, my confused friend. Theres nothing simple about a woman, any woman. She had so many emotions and feelings running around inside her, not a day goes by that she wont mystify ya. But, and heres the good part, if ya listen, shell tell ya all about em, cause thats somethin a woman can do. Men have one hell of a time with getting the words out but ladies can throw em at ya like they was nuthin. He stopped and took a drink of his soda. Now, what you need to do, is go find her and give her a big kiss. Reassure her that shes special and that you couldnt go on without her. Tell her that you love her, Nate, and keep telling her everyday. Make sure you take the time that she needs from you. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than spending time with her. Go, talk to her. And dont stop until shes back in your arms! And then when shes back home, keep talking to her so she never has to doubt your love for her again. Got it?
Shit, Buck, I dont know if I can do that. Its not in me to talk about my feelings. Its part of what makes me a good medic, keeping my feelings inside, not letting em show. How am I supposed to open up for Raine? I love her, shes my world, along with you guys, but I cant just spout poetry and mush every night!
Ya aint listenin to me, how ya gonna listen to Raine? Concentrate! Spend time with her. Tell her ya love her, plain out. Here, Ill show ya. He turned slightly and scanned the room. Hey, Beautiful, can ya come over here for a minute? Inez smiled at him and slowly made her way towards where the two men sat. When she arrived, Buck patted his knee and she perched upon it. Darlin, I have told ya today that youre the light of my life?
Si, I believe you did. What else do you have to tell me? She grinned mischievously and ran her hand through his thick dark hair.
How about that I love you, Inez. You are an angel for putting up with me and my shit and I am so grateful. He gently kissed her cheek.
That will do. I love you too, mi amour. She gave him a quick kiss and then got up. As she walked away, she turned back and threw him another kiss. He was grinning like a loon when he turned back to his co-worker.
Okay, I guess your bull shit works. Ill give it a try, Buck, but it aint gonna ooze out of me like it does you. Nathan laughed at Bucks pained expression.
Ah, Nathan, that hurts. He leaned forward so that only Nathan could hear. It aint bull when Inez is the recipient. Now, get out of here. You got some beggin to do.
Nathan grinned and stood. Thanks, Buck.
See ya tomorrow, Pard.
+ + + + + + +
The next morning, a dozen roses arrived for Agent Buck Wilmington, ATF. A half hour later another dozen arrived for the same agent. One card was signed, Thank you, Raine. The other card was signed, Tonight!!!
So you say your love's about to end