Graduation Day

by MMW

Disclaimer: The characters of “The Magnificent Seven” belong to MGM, Trilogy, etc. and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

Another name was announced. Another polite burst of applause sounded. The ceremony had been going on for an hour and a half already and it had maybe thirty more minutes to go. That was fine by Buck Wilmington. Today and tonight he had nowhere to be, no one to meet. Tonight he had set aside for a different sort of celebration.

It had taken less time than he thought it would to accomplish this, the first, very necessary step in his plan, but it was finally done, or would be within the hour. Of course, his background as a Navy SEAL had helped greatly as had his single-minded determination.

A small smile curved his lips as the faces of various women he had met recently flitted through his mind. Maybe not too single minded, he corrected.

Still, those around him had looked at him with awe and a little trepidation, looks he normally associated with his friend, Chris Larabee. But nothing was going to stop him until he had all the information he needed.

Buck had never been the best student, believing that book learning was only a small part of what life was about. His mother had always shaken her head when she received his report cards, knowing he was capable of better grades, but, at the same time, understanding why he failed to get them. Mom had been wonderful that way, Wilmington mused.

In the Navy, he had taken classes at local colleges and by correspondence. It was after he and Chris left the SEALS and just as they were about to join the Denver PD that he finally finished the long journey to his Bachelor's degree.

That was enough schooling for him. More than he thought he really needed to do what he wanted. Never in his life had he thought he would deliberately seek out more education. And never had he thought he would excel at academics. But, then, his world had been turned upside down in one moment, in one unthinkable, unspeakable moment and an explosion of light.

In that one moment he had lost a sister, a nephew and his best friend. Oh, the shell of Chris Larabee was still there, but the soul, the spirit that had shined so brightly was gone. Buck had tried to be there, tried to help Chris, but his friend made it abundantly clear there was no place left for the man he called brother.

Wilmington still kept tabs on Chris, though. He still made sure the bills got paid, the horses were tended and Larabee stayed out of jail. He just did all that without Chris’ knowledge.

Now he would finally be able to do the one thing for his friend that would either lead Chris back to the world of the living or destroy him forever – discover the murderer of Sarah and Adam Larabee. It would not be an easy task and he would have to be careful, but, as with his journey back to academia, nothing would stop him from accomplishing his goal.

Buck’s attention was called back to the present by a restless shifting in the audience.

“… And finally, with a Masters of Science degree in Forensic Science, Buck Wilmington.”

Rising to the polite, and relieved, applause of those gathered, Buck climbed the stairs of the stage, accepted his diploma, switched his tassel from one side to the other, and left the platform, moving one step further on his road to vengeance.