Blessings and Gratitude

by ReaperWriter

A Thanksgiving Story

Disclaimer: No infringement…blah, blah, blah. Thanks to all of you, and know you are all on my list of people I am thankful for…

Author’s Note: This is a stand alone piece and doesn’t fit into either of my exsisting series.

Denver, Thanksgiving Eve, 11:45PM

All was quiet at the moment, accept for a pair of very steady beeps. Usually, a noise like that would grate on a man’s nerves, but to Vin Tanner, it was the most beautiful sound in the world. It was constant proof that his world hadn’t been shattered today. He fingered the sling on his arm, the one he had gained when Chris Larabee, a man he loved like the brother he never had, had shoved Vin aside and taken a bullet meant for the young sharpshooter. The scrubs he now wore had replaced the blood soaked shirt and jeans he had been wearing. He shuddered as he remembered the look of surprise on Chris’s face when he had seen the blood pouring out of his own chest. His eyes took in Vin’s face as pallor closed over his own, and then he smiled and his eyes slid shut.

"NO!" Vin could hear himself scream in his mind. "NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! Goddammit, Chris Larabee, don’t ya dare think ya can die on me!!! YA HEAR!" He had quickly used both hands to put pressure on the wound, trying to stop the flow of blood. "NATHAN!!" Then Vin had looked up, and his whole world stopped turning. Ezra’s actions seemed to mirror his own, but the person under his hands was…Nathan.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra Standish hated hospitals. He hated them with every fiber of his being, and since coming to Denver, he seemed to be spending more and more time in them. It really was a situation he would love to remedy, but short of leaving Denver, there was no way that would happen. He might have taken that road a year ago, when he first arrived in this city, but not now. The only way he would leave now was if all six of his friends left with him, or if he died. The one wasn’t likely, but the other seemed more and more feasible as time ran on.

Ezra glanced across the bed where he now kept vigil to where Josiah sat, hands clasped so tightly the knuckles seemed to be permanently white, praying to his God to keep the two men in the ICU unit breathing through the night. Ezra wished he had that kind of faith in something as he looked into Nathan’s still, pale face. He wasn’t aware Nathan could be pale, his skin always being such a rich dark color, but Ezra could detect the pallor there nonetheless. His own body hurt from being slammed into by Nathan, and in turn, slamming into Josiah. He couldn’t understand why the medic hadn’t gotten up sooner until he felt the warm, wet slickness of blood on his hand, and seen the look of surprise in Nathan’s eyes, right before they slid shut. Ezra quickly pulled himself out from under the man, saying to Josiah, "Call an ambulance, officer down." He found no exit wound, and immediately used his jacket to try to stem the flow of blood. "Don’t you dare expire, Mr. Jackson, or I swear I shall follow you to whatever there is after this life, and drag you back by force if necessary." Just then, he had heard the strangled cry of a Texas drawl from across the room.

"NATHAN!" Looking up, his green eyes had met Vin Tanner’s blue ones across the warehouse floor, and Ezra knew they were in a hell of a lot of trouble.

"Two officers down, Mr. Sanchez," he said, willing Nathan to stop bleeding out on the warehouse floor.

+ + + + + + +

Buck Wilmington had experienced nightmares all his life. He was plagued by them as a kid, and even now, he sometimes woke up so afraid he would shake. This was worse than all his nightmares put together. It wasn’t that he hadn’t seen Chris Larabee shot before. He had, more times then he wished to think about. But somehow, whenever one of them was hurt, Nathan was always there. Nathan knew what to do. Nathan could make sure they held on long enough to let the doctors do their work. Never in his worst nightmares did Buck think one day, Nathan would go down.

He glanced over to where JD slept on the hard floor, an extra blanket and pillow from a thoughtful nurse keeping him off the cold tile. The boy had held it together, not crying until they walked into the ICU unit and saw the identical heart monitors, the identical machines fighting to keep two of their own alive. Then he had broken down hard. JD was so empathetic, it was hard enough when one of their number was hurt, let alone more, and it being Nathan…well, Nathan just seemed kind of invincible. He was the one standing by to put it all back together. Buck said thanks to whatever higher power was granting the kid some rest. Buck couldn’t rest though, and catching Vin’s eye, he knew the sharpshooter wouldn’t rest either, not until they knew both of their brothers were coming home.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah was praying hard, harder than he had in many, many years, that God would grant him just this one wish, and he would never doubt again. Lord, you have always seen fit to keep Nathan out of harm’s way, while thrusting Chris into it. I suppose we have simply accepted that as the way of things, until this day. I know, Lord, that the doctor said there was no way either of them should have made it this far, and that in itself is a miracle, but Lord, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A time for family to gather, and remember having family is the truest of blessings. None of us has family really in the traditional sense, Lord, except Ezra’s ma, and so I am asking you, don’t take them from us tonight. Don’t take the only family we have the day before we were all prepared to all sit down and give thanks to you. Josiah looked at Nathan’s face, pain evident even at this level of unconsciousness. Lord, I don’t want them to suffer, either. I just want to them keep here a while more. Lord, if you want one of us so desperately, take me. I don’t mean much, measure wise, against those two, and I know I haven’t been as faithful as possible, but Lord, I would give up all for them. Just let my brothers live.

+ + + + + + +

The sound of two alarms jarred the five men keeping vigil to the core. "NO!" Vin said as the doctor and two nurses rushed in. They ordered the five back as they began fussing over the two members of the family lying prone on the bed. Vin felt helpless as he watched, unsure what they were doing since Nathan wasn’t there to explain it to him.

Ezra watched it unfold, and he suddenly realized he had Josiah’s faith in something. It was faith in the six men he called friends, the six men who were brothers to him. And he was about to lose his religion.

Buck froze, and starred hard at what he could see of the two men lying on the bed. His thoughts ran to the only presence he was sure of, the only one he felt could help them now. Sarah, I know you’re watching this. Don’t take him yet Sarah, I still need him here. And don’t let Nate go running off either.

JD had come full awake at the sound of the alarm, flashing back to when his own mother had died. The noise was the same, and the implication was the same, only worse this time. This time, two people he loved would leave him. Please, God. Please, please, please.

No, No, No, No, NO!!! Lord, be merciful, please. Josiah fought down the wave of nausea that threatened to engulf him. All he needed was this one miracle, here and now.

Suddenly, the alarms stopped. So did the beeping. And tears sprang to every man’s eye. Dr. Slater, so used to dealing with these men, turned around and took in the looks of grief with surprise. "Boys," he said softly. The five members of Team Seven looked at him. "I think I have some people here who want to say hello." He and the nurses stepped back, and five mouths dropped open. From their respective mounds of pillows, Chris and Nathan lay smiling tiredly at all of them, their eyes clear and bright.

A nurse helped Nathan sip some water, and he managed to say weakly, "Did we miss out on turkey?" Ezra glanced down at his watch. 12:01 AM.

"No, Mr. Jackson," he said. "You and Mr. Larabee made it to Thanksgiving right on time." Both Chris and Nathan smiled again, than drifted off to sleep. As their teammates settled in to ride out the rest of the night, Josiah’s thoughts seemed to echo in all their heads.

And for this, we are truly grateful.


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