by Robijean

Main Characters: JD, Buck, and Vin primarily

Summary : Safecracker Missing Scene - misunderstanding about JD's injury and Buck's response - Vin takes it upon himself to make things right.

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven and its characters are the property of MGM, Trilogy Entertainment, and the Mirisch Corporation.

I want to thank Sue M. for all the assistance and good advice she provided me in writing this story.

JD expected it to hurt, just not this much. It was worse than when he first got knifed. He had no idea if he'd be able to do this to himself again. The man was still there though, still a threat. Somehow he reached inside himself for the strength to fire again. He shot, the man fell and JD sat down right where he'd been standing, too weak to do anything more.

Nathan spotted JD on the ground in the middle of the street, turned his man over to Josiah and rushed to his side. While he checked him over to make sure he hadn't suffered a new injury, he lit into the boy.

"Boy, didn't I tell you to take it easy? That did not mean leaving the church, grabbing a gun, and taking part in a gunfight. It meant staying in the church resting on that pew, no matter what. Your dang shoulder's started bleeding again, and you already lost too much blood. Now, just sit still while I take a look and see where you're hurt. When I tell you to take it easy and wait, that is what you need to do. Sometimes I wonder if you got a lick of sense."

"I got enough sense to know that someone would've died if I didn't help," JD responded, his voice fierce with anger. "You guys needed me to cover you, and that’s what I did. And I'm not hurt, just couldn't stand up no more."

At that statement, Nathan finished poking around, deciding to move JD so he could tend to his shoulder, so helped him stand. He really needed to make sure the fresh bleeding stopped and soon. The kid couldn't even stay standing without help, constantly fighting for his balance so Nathan took a good grip on JD's arm to steady him. He proceeded to walk him over to the boarding house and to his room where he could take proper care of him.

Once JD was in his room and settled on the bed, Nathan again tried to make JD understand the seriousness of his situation. As he removed the old bandages covered with fresh seepage and blood, replacing them with clean ones, he wondered if the boy's actions would eventually lead to infection. As he worked, he proceeded to admonish him again.

"You're young, JD. You don't want to end up crippled. The wound to your shoulder is serious and did a lot of damage. You need to rest, not use your arm for a while. I don't want you to leave this room tomorrow, just stay in bed and rest.

"Don't worry about your duties. The guys will cover your patrols and turns at the jail. The day after you can sit outside part of the day but no working or any other strenuous activities. After a couple more days of that you can go back to sitting at the jail. After a couple of weeks you can go out on patrol again, but no riding out of town before that.

"It's very important you listen to me, if you don't you could end up without full use of your arm. I'm real serious about this and want your promise you won't leave this room at all tomorrow."

"I promise, but what about meals or if I want to use the privy," JD whined.

"I'll send Vin up with breakfast when he gets off jail duty in the morning," Nathan told him. "There's a chamber pot under the bed, I expect you to use it."

His ministrations finished, Nathan re-settled JD in the bed, and prepared to leave. As he opened the door, he turned realizing he needed to reassure JD about his actions although he still felt his earlier censure was justified.

"JD, you did good. Takes real courage to do what you did, hurting like you were. I know that, hell, we all do. You're becoming a good man. Now I want you do give me a man's word that you'll do the right thing, listen to me and allow that wound to heal."

With Nathan standing there in the door waiting, JD thought about what he was asking him to promise. He responded the only way he could.

"I promise to take care of myself and not to go against your instructions. You have my word, but only if there is no danger – if any of the guys need me, I will act.. Just as I know any of you would act for me. I don't want to end up a cripple but I'd hate it even more to be whole and one of you dead."

Nathan nodded and left the room. He marveled at the difference in the young man who had jumped off that stage just two months ago. He was a boy then, now he was fast becoming a man, a good honorable man.

JD waited for over two hours for Buck to come see him before finally drifting off to an uneasy sleep. A sleep that was filled with nightmarish dreams of one or another of the seven dying while he stood, watched, and did nothing.

+ + + + + + +

While Nathan was caring for JD in his room, the rest of the seven had gathered at the jail. Buck was looking for JD but wasn't too worried when he didn't see him. He figured he was still at the church resting and would join them soon.

Josiah noticed how Buck kept watching the door. Realizing he was expecting JD, he leaned toward him and quickly, quietly told Buck what had happened.

"Nathan took JD to his room after the gunfight. He needed to rest and is probably sleeping by now. Chris knows and is working on reassigning his duties for the next few days."

Not realizing that Josiah had left a lot out of his explanation, such as JD's participation in the gunfight, Buck decided to join Chris in the saloon as soon as the meeting ended. They needed to talk. Buck didn't go to JD's bedside and unknowingly inflicted the greatest pain of the day on the boy.

+ + + + + + +

JD woke the next morning with his horrific dreams foremost in his mind. A knock on the door and a request to enter delivered in a Texas drawl, let JD know breakfast was here..

As Vin entered with a tray of biscuits and preserves, he found JD attempting to sit up in bed. JD finally made it and vowed he wouldn't lie flat in the bed again until he was fully healed. Trying to sit without using his shoulder muscles was impossible and using them hurt like the devil.

Vin sat the tray on the table beside the bed, reached over and put a pillow behind JD's back.. Comfortable finally, JD looked over at the tray, the preserves were strawberry, his favorite and there was a big pitcher of lemonade on the tray with his breakfast, enough for the entire day. It made him feel good knowing Vin had made such an effort, even to remembering his favorite preserves and drink.

"Ya feeling okay? Ya's stiff, ta be expected. Don't worry 'bout it none it'll only last a coupla days. Ya hurtin' sides the stiffness? Ain't never easy gettin' knifed.

"Wanted ya ta know, ya done good yesterday, ya should be proud. Not many men woulda acted like ya did. Known me a few, glad ta add yer name ta theirs."

Vin could see JD was pleased with what he said. He gave Vin a small smile, but it was obvious something more than the pain of his injury was bothering the kid.

JD was fussing with his bedclothes and looking down at his food. He only looked at Vin the once to give that little smile. He acted like a man with something weighing heavy on his mind. Vin wondered what. Finally JD managed to get the words out and what he said shocked Vin to the core.

"Vin, is Buck mad at me? First, I got stabbed and couldn't help Olivia. Buck didn't even speak to me at the church he was so angry. Then, I left the church when Nathan told me to stay, must've made him real mad. I waited for Buck to come see me after the gunfight and he never came. Is he so mad at me he don't want nothin' to do with me no more? 'Cause I got myself stabbed and then disobeyed Nathan?

"Don't he understand? I had to try and help Olivia, couldn't just let that man take her without trying to stop him. And I couldn't let you guys go into a gunfight without me covering you. Why don't he understand, why's he so mad that he won't even talk to me?" JD was blinking back the tears he refused to let fall, as he questioned Vin about Buck's feelings.

"JD, it ain't that, Buck don't even know 'bout the gunfight." Vin hastened to reassure him. "I don't think anyone ever told 'im how hurt ya was, he didn't know it was serious or he woulda been there fer ya. He cares 'bout ya, he wouldn't want ya thinkin' this way. I want ya to stop thinkin' that, he'll be by to see ya 'fore days end. Mark my words.

"Now, I got ta leave, get some rest, got the afternoon patrol. Nathan is bringin' ya dinner 'bout noon so he can check yer wound. Josiah is bringin' up supper come evenin'. So ya jist take it easy and stop frettin' on things."

Vin quickly left the room. He needed to find Buck. JD needed to see Buck, needed to stop worrying. Vin had to talk to Buck and make him understand what JD was feeling. JD was still young and didn't understand that Buck had a lot on his mind at the church yesterday evening. That's likely why he didn't speak to him. Now Buck had to make his peace with JD, so the kid could focus on getting better.

+ + + + + + +

After leaving the boarding house, Vin spotted Buck with Chris over by the morning stage. They were seeing Terry and Olivia off. He walked over and joined them, meaning to speak to Buck as soon as they left. Unfortunately his opening comment about the time sent Buck running after the stage and Olivia.

Since the need to speak to Buck was greater than his need for rest, he headed over to the saloon figuring Buck would be thirsty after his run. Almost an hour later, Buck entered. He had a wet head of hair and Vin figured he had visited the bathhouse before coming to the saloon. Buck looked around, spotted Vin at the table in the corner, and joined him there. Vin gestured toward the second mug of beer.

"Don't mind if I do," Buck said as he picked it up and took a long drink. "Thought you'd be restin' before goin' out on patrol."

"Need ta talk first," Vin replied, a serious tone to his voice. "JD's up in his room, feeling real bad 'cause ya' ain't been ta see 'im. Figure ya still don't know the whole story or ya'd been up there long 'fore now.

"JD was tryin' to save Olivia when he got hurt. He wasn't stabbed with a knife, the fella threw the knife so it hit with a lot more force, did a lot more damage. Then JD, he managed ta go some distance ta reach the street and fire his gun to get our attention. He was bleedin' real bad. Ezra and me, we took him right to Nathan at the church.

"He was in a whole lotta pain, but faced it like a man, ya woulda been proud, the way he handled hisself. He lost a lot of blood, and Nathan he was worried about the wound maybe cripplin' JD. Was real scared of infection settin' in, worked on him for nigh on 30 minutes diggin' out threads and such from the wound. JD he was hurtin' bad, ya could see it in his eyes. Finally Nathan stitched him up and 'bout then was when ya come in. Ya had no way of knowin' how bad it was, ya only knew we didn't have long 'fore Coltrane comes ta rob the bank.

"Now, Nathan he told JD ta stay at the church, ta take it easy, ya heard him yerself. JD knew, he heard the plans and knew it was just four of us against all Coltrane's men what with Ezra and ya rescuing Olivia.

"The two of ya rescued Olivia and Chris he started shooting up the street. The rest of us were down by town's end ta stop any comin' our way. JD he stepped out inta the street, had hisself a rifle and fired it at one of the gang, fired a second time and the man goes down. Only thing so did JD. Ya know, well's I do, firin' a gun while hurtin' like that takes a whole parcel a guts, doin' it twice like he done, real courage.

"He's down and I thought he's shot, turned out he was just too weak ta keep standin', don't know how he got out there tired and weak like he was, but he did it. And he did what he had ta do 'fore he went down.

"Nathan took him up to his room 'fore ya and Ezra brung Olivia out, so ya didn't know 'bout all that. I'm guessin' no one bothered to tell ya. I shoulda made sure ya knew 'cause what's hurtin' that boy the most right now is ya bein' angry with 'im."

Buck listened and Vin watched a multitude emotions pass across his face. Fear, anger, and worry predominant. Buck nodded at Vin when he finished and stood to leave. At the last moment, he turned and thanked the lanky Texan.

"Vin, don't know what to say. Or how I can thank you. Just know this, all your drinks tonight are on me. I appreciate what you just did for me and my boy."

Vin watched him leave, knowing that Buck would talk to JD and settle his worries. Let the kid finally have a good rest.

Ezra walked over to the table. He set down a fresh mug of beer and a plate of sandwiches.

"For you, Mr. Tanner. These are just my own small way of acknowledging your efforts on the young lad's behalf. He has a good friend in you. I am forced to admit that our friendship and support is not enough. He needs the reassurance of Mr. Wilmington's continuing friendship to regain his normal exuberant nature. As a result of your talk, I am sure that will soon be accomplished."

Vin raised his mug and emptied it. Then he grabbed the new mug and a couple of the sandwiches as he headed to his room for some much needed rest. He had the afternoon patrol and had now been up for well over 24 hours, but the loss of rest was worth it to help a friend.

+ + + + + + +

After Vin left his room, JD finished his breakfast and set the tray outside the door. As he ate he considered what Vin had said and decided he'd talk with Buck first chance he got. But he wouldn't worry about it any more. Buck was his friend and even if he was angry that wouldn't change. Look at the way he stood by Chris. He moved the chair Vin used over to the window and sat there looking out over the town as he drank lemonade and pondered the events of the last few days.

I've been resting here in my room. The stage pulled out an hour ago with Terry and Olivia. I've been thinking over the events of the last few days. It's really strange but I never saw myself changing, but I must have. I'm not the same young man that jumped off that stage just 2 months ago.

I didn't even see it happening, learning from Chris, Buck and the rest of them. Two months ago, if I'd seen some men taking Buck and Terry, I'd have confronted them. Jumped right out and tried to stop them. Most likely would've got Buck, Terry or myself killed, maybe even Olivia.

When I saw them being taken, Buck looked at me and I knew what he wanted and I did just that. He wanted me to keep Olivia safe and get help. I had to let them ride out of there even though I was scared to death I might never see him again, that they might kill him. I had to let someone else ride out to rescue them.

It wasn't easy and the me of two months ago wouldn't have paid any heed to Buck. But that isn't me anymore and I'm real glad. I think the new me is the better man. Thing is I don't know how long this me will last, seems like I'm always learning more from each and every one of our gang, Chris Larabee's gang.

Later when I got stabbed, all I wanted to do was curl in on myself and make the hurting stop.. The me from before probably would have dropped where it happened, he never would've moved to get help, never would have fired his gun in the air to attract their attention. Of course, that me was alone in this world, he didn't have anyone to go to for help, no one who would care enough to come.

That's another big change for me, having so many friends, more than I've ever had in my life. It had been just Ma and me for so many years. Now I've got six men who I can depend on for help and support. After I got hurt Vin and Ezra didn't go after those scum who took Olivia, they got me to Nathan and they stayed until he said I'd be okay.

Nathan, he told me to take it easy. When I said I wanted to help, he said I shouldn't move around, I needed to take care of myself, I shouldn't put any strain on my wound. The past me would have listened to Nathan. He would have stayed there and done nothing, too worried about hurting more, making Nathan angry, about what the others would think if I didn't do as I was told.

Instead I picked up a rifle and went out there. I brought down one of those bastards before he could get Josiah or Nathan when they broke cover. It hurt like nothing I ever felt before when I fired that gun the first time. The old me wouldn't have shot again. But I knew as long as that robber was still on his horse he was a threat, so I braved the pain and fired again. Another change.

I noticed that Chris shot at them too, but Josiah, Nathan, hell even Vin didn't rely on their guns. Guess I still have more to learn. My first instinct was to use a gun. I guess maybe I'm learning more from Chris than the rest. Buck wouldn't be too happy about that even though he loves Chris like a brother. Buck he doesn't approve of a man living by guns alone if there's another way.

Anyway that's what I've been thinking on sitting here in my room, taking it easy like Nathan wants. Been thinking on what if a man doesn't change, what if he stays the same, doesn't grow or learn? If I hadn't changed, would we be burying more than a couple of outlaws today, would we be burying one of our own? Guess we'll never know, 'cause I've changed, I've grown, and I've learned. And I'm just going to keep on changing, growing, and learning as long as I ride with these men. And I wouldn't have it any other way, 'cause I can't think of six better teachers.

A loud pounding on the door broke into his reverie.

+ + + + + + +

As he heard Buck's voice a smile came to his lips even as red rose to color his cheeks.

"JD, you got a girl in there. If so, you better get decent 'cause I'm coming in," Buck was hollering so everyone in the boarding house could hear. Then in a much softer, caring tone he continued. "We need to talk, kid."

Buck opened the door and came into the room. Seeing JD sitting by the window, he came over and sat on the sill. Just sat and stared for a moment, looked the young man over for what, he didn't know. Finally satisfied with what he saw, he poured JD some more lemonade and began to speak.

"JD, I didn't know until a short time ago what all happened yesterday. I knew you were stabbed but didn't think it was serious. I never imagined the fellas hanging around for any length of time, thought they would be out hunting for Olivia. I should've known they were there because it was bad. I should have realized the truth, but I didn't.

"The events down in Purgatorio and the worry about Coltrane's gang coming to rob the bank were on my mind. Don't know if I could have handled one more worry right then. Maybe that's why I didn't pick up on what was happening. Figured I'd talk to you later after the robbery attempt.

"That didn't happen, was told you needed to rest and were probably sleeping in your room.. Didn't want to rouse you so I went to the saloon. If I had known you'd done a fool stunt like going out injured to take on Coltrane's gang, I'd have been up in your room in nothing flat. Guess it's a good thing I didn't know, got me a temper and sometimes I talk first and regret later.

"I'd have a different apology this morning, if I'd lit into you last night. I know what you did and why you did it. I worry about you kid, don't want you getting' hurt.. But sometimes a man has to risk himself to save others. You did just that and I'm real proud to ride with you. Wanted you to know that."

JD didn't know what to say when Buck finished. He'd been so sure Buck would be angry, he knew how to handle that, but Buck proud of him. He didn't know how to react. He had no way of knowing his smile had done his talking for him. As Buck spoke JD's small smile began to grow until it was a big grin reaching his eyes. Buck grinned back and asked.

"You plannin' on drinkin' all that lemonade yourself or you goin' to share with a friend."

JD pointed to a glass on the dresser and when Buck brought it over, poured him a large glass.

"So does this mean, you ain't gonna yell at me."

Buck grinned back and said, "Least not 'til you're feeling better. Then we are going to have a talk about this middle of the street business. That's a Chris Larabee stunt and I thought I'd taught you better'n that."

JD just laughed and said, "I might just be learnin' the most from Chris. Thought crossed my mind earlier."

"Over my dead body, kid, over my dead body. One Larabee is too many, no way we need two."

They continued to sit in a companionable silence as they watched life in town through the window and sipped their lemonades. Those that said they were never quiet would have been surprised at how long their silent celebration of life continued.

+ + + + + + +

The next day found JD sitting on the boardwalk enjoying the sun and fresh air. He watched Vin arrive in town from the morning patrol and head over to the saloon. He got up and headed that way himself.

As he entered the saloon, he looked and found Vin at his favorite corner table facing the room so he could see everything and everybody. JD had asked Buck once why Vin and Chris sat that way. Buck said it was 'cause they wanted to know if any enemies entered. As he headed over he wondered if one day he'd have to do the same.

Vin was drinking a beer and had a plate of food. JD motioned to the barkeep to bring him the same. As he waited for his food, he stared intently at Vin.

"Somethin' 'tween my teeth?" Vin asked as JD continued to stare.

"Huh, no, nothin'," JD managed to get out. Fortunately the barkeep came with his food just then so he didn't have to continue speaking. As he thanked him, paid, and began to eat, JD tried to find the right words. Finally he decided just to speak from the heart.

"Vin, I'm real grateful to you. Talking to Buck like you did. Oh, he tried not to let on it was you. Knew how'd you feel about being thanked for doing things. But if you hadn't spoken to him and he'd found out later on well, I'm just real glad you said somethin' when you did. Real glad and well, thanks."

Vin smiled at JD's confused statements.

"If'n yer that grateful, how 'bout sharing some of that cobbler with me. It's peach and I'm a mite partial ta peach," he asked with a hint of laughter in his voice.

"I'm grateful but not so I'd give up any of this cobbler," JD shot back, smiling at Vin. Things were okay between them. "But if you can get some peaches from Miz Nettie, I'll get Miz Potter to make 'em into a pie, then buy the pie for us to share."

"Cain't do better'n that. Peach pie shared with a friend. Looking forward ta it, looking forward ta havin' a friend ta share the good times as well as the bad."

"Vin, you got six friends," JD stated all serious. "Don't you know that?"

"Might have six friends, but only one willin' ta share his pie." Vin said as he laughed.

The two young men finished their meal and began a friendly game of cards. Vin figured JD wouldn't mind not being allowed to do much if a friend kept him company.

The End