Disclaimer: Unfortunately, the Magnificent Seven do not belong to me. Not making any money from this either. But, for the love of the boys, I persevere.... And I also bow down to the creator of the ATF AU. Thank you.
A lil' note from the author: My FIRST Magnificent Seven fan fiction. My first fan fiction of any sort, actually. Still new at this, but would like to stay on for long. Your reviews would make my day; doesn't matter if you liked it or otherwise. Thank you for reading.
Warning: Death fic
They only realized it was their anniversary when JD's voice sputtered through their ear piece.
"February 22nd," the youngest agent had mused, and all six other heads snapped to attention towards him. They had been staking out on the catwalk of an old hangar, waiting to arrest some illegal gun traders, God only knew from where. Although it had been foremost in all seven agent's minds at that time, he could not remember anything from that particular sting. It was just among the hundreds...thousands, perhaps, that his team had successfully pulled off. But JD's words had stuck to him.
JD's observation was followed by several different exclamations for a certain bodily excrement of both man and animal from the seven agents.
Then, Buck suggested they bust the sons-of-bitches delaying their party and get drunk afterwards. It was a well-received plan and in less than ten minutes, the gun dealers were downed and the seven had one hell of great party that evening. It was their fifth anniversary. They had toasted their drinks to their motto, "All for one and one for all". And promptly began the teasing of himself, JD, Buck and Vin in no particular order. Even Chris, Josiah and Nathan were not spared. Looking back, he remembered their days, despite the grimness of their job descriptions, were never devoid of laughter. Holding it together was a bond even stronger than blood. They were fellow agents, friends, best friends, anchors....They were everything. To him. And to each other.
Eight years later, and three years to the day of the christening of little Bucklin Christopher Nathaniel Ezra Josiah Devin Dunne, JD succumbed to the bone cancer that ate away his insides for half a year. He had been in a lot of pain. But he cried because he was leaving his brothers. His wife, Casey, knew JD loved her and little Bucklin unconditionally. She also knew that she and little Buck came in a close second if any of his brothers were in the immediate vicinity. It was an attribute observed by many. Individually, the Seven were formidable. Together, they were....gods; as one agent from another team once said, more than a little awed.
He smiled at the aptness of the description. They were powerful men, all of them. Each with a shrewd, sharp mind and physically fit. They had derived their powers from each other. And there was never a thought of messing with one of them. The Seven retaliated as one if anyone was foolish enough to hurt one of them.
But it was hard retaliating against the silent enemy that took their youngest. The six pallbearers wore a look that sent cold shivers through the mourners; a mix of grief and an undeniable urge to eradicate the person responsible for eliminating one of them. The Seven hated Fate intensely at that moment, and as they each fired seven shots for JD using their weapons, they were each mentally slaying Death, crying for their fallen comrade, for their breaking hearts and shattered souls. They were they last to leave the cemetery; it was almost eight hours after JD had been laid to rest forever that the remaining Seven (it would never be six, Chris had promised JD) left. It would take another six months for any of them to look at JD's desk in the office and not to feel tears pricking their eyes. Requests from other agents and higher brass to fill JD's place in the team were turned down with ruthless animosity. After the third try, Chris had marched into Travis' office and told him that the minute the next transfer request came in; Team 7 would quit on the spot and kill the sonofabitch who thought he was good enough to replace JD. It was not as if the applicants were bad; most of them possessed skills JD would have been impressed with. But as Vin succinctly put, with a dangerous glint in his eyes...it's not just JD. Nobody requested to be transferred into Team 7 again.
Thirteen months later, on a beautiful summer day, Chris was shot while coming out of a grocery store. He had been shopping for the barbeque at his ranch, a weekly get together that was almost a ritual to the Seven. He was shot in the back by some half-brother of a small-time gun dealer, who took big offence to Chris sending his pond scum brother to prison. For life. With two broken arms and a limp. Chris never saw the coward who shot him in the back. He did, however, call Vin and told him he was shot. Someone at the grocery store had called an ambulance, but it was delayed due to an accident in front of the hospital. Vin had called Buck, who had been on the way to Chris' ranch. Buck had never driven that fast before and got to the grocery store in two minutes, which was fourteen minutes too fast on a normal drive. There was so much blood on the parking lot. Someone had tried to help, but it was not enough. Buck held Chris on his lap, asking his oldest friend to hang on. Chris died five minutes after Vin came, holding Vin's hand in their patented arm - grip. Buck broke down. Vin did not even blink an eye.
Vin cried two days later when he pumped seven rounds into the man who shot Chris Larabee in the back. This was after he crippled the man with a shot from the building across the street from his apartment. Team 7 tracked down Chris' killer within twenty-four hours of his death; rest and nourishment had been an unnecessary bother. The remaining Seven had been there for the execution. They were duly suspended from work. Not that they cared anymore. Chris was buried at his ranch, in the grave his brothers dug for him themselves. They gave a seven gun salute and collapsed beside his fresh grave, not knowing what to do next. They just collectively hoped that wherever Chris was at that moment, he had a glass of whisky, a cheroot, and his wife and son with him.
Vin was tried in a Bureau court. He did not say anything; he was too distracted turning the spur in his hands. It had been a gift from Buck, for him and Chris. It was Buck's way of blessing the friendship between Chris and the younger agent. The other spur was on Chris' grave. Vin did not hear anything save for the last few words of his trial. He was cleared of all charges, but still had to serve a three-month' suspension. The rest of Team 7 promptly took three months sabbatical, claiming inability to perform duties due to traumas suffered. The suspension was withheld.
Buck took over as the head of operations in Team 7. Vin and Buck packed Chris' stuff and Buck moved into the office. But he could not stay in there for more than ten minutes at a time. He joked he felt the 'Larabee glare'. But everyone knew that the wound was just too raw.
Nathan was the first to leave the team voluntarily. After Christmas that year, he resigned and took up teaching first-aid and basic medical courses for paramedics in California. The remaining Seven were drunk during his farewell party and heart-broken during his departure. It was the last they saw him alive. Three years later, the team received a telegram from Rain. Nathan dead stop heart attack stop. The doctor who had always monitored their eating habits and groaned at the amount of junk everyone ate died of the very disease he fought to prevent among his friends. The remaining seven went to California and were the pall bearers. They shot their guns seven times. And at the airport, Josiah bade them farewell. He was going to Guatemala. He wanted to reach out and help people. Buck argued that he already was. Josiah said his soul needed mending. They had watched the big man go, crying softly in the airport.
Buck died the following summer, three weeks before the anniversary of Chris' death. He died taking a bullet meant for a little boy, who had been used as a hostage by gun runners. He took the bullet to his head; doctors managed to take it out, but Buck never came out of a coma and on the third day, he flatlined. He was given a posthumous award for bravery. He was buried with the medal and a picture of himself, JD and Chris taken during JD's first Christmas with the team. Josiah was not there, but seven shots were fired during Buck's funeral; attended by agents, acquaintances and of course, the women he managed to charm and date, either married or otherwise.
The two remaining seven quit their jobs the next day.
Vin had moved into Chris' ranch after his best friend died. He tended to Peso and Pony and spent a few minutes during the day talking to Chris. Ezra visited him often, but they would not talk much, just sit and drink beer, each thinking about the times they had with their brothers. Two years later, when Ezra visited Vin at the ranch, he found the Texan sharpshooter dead near Chris' grave. He had put a gun in his mouth. It was Chris' birthday that day. Ezra went through the proceedings mechanically; he never thought Vin, of all people, would do what he had done. It was a coward's way to end his sorrows and problems. Chris would have killed Vin again if he was alive. But then again, as Ezra stood by Vin's grave, next to Chris', he really did not think Vin had been a coward after all. Vin just wanted it to end. How many times had Ezra found himself wanting it to end, wishing for it to end? For he knew, that there would never been an end. His brothers would have found each other. And Vin was probably with them now. Ezra never went back to the ranch again. He left for the south of France the next morning.
Twenty - five years later, in the last remaining month of his sixty-third year, Ezra fell down the stairs of his home and broke his neck. He was found by his housekeeper and taken immediately to the hospital, receiving the best attention money could buy. In the last twenty years, he had been a security consultant for banks across Europe. Like Vin, Chris and Buck, he never married. And he was never successful in a relationship beyond two weeks. He donated to a lot of causes in the US but never returned even once. The day before he fell, he had received a letter, dated six months back, from Belize. It was written by a missionary, conveying him the news of Josiah Sanchez's death. Josiah had been fine, healthy, in fact, for a man who was seventy - eight. But then one morning, he just did not turn up at the school he was teaching at. The villagers at the edge of the rainforest found him in his bed. He had died in his sleep. They had found an old diary of Josiah's and in it, Ezra's letters, dated two years back. The missionary wrote to Ezra, feeling Ezra had to know of Josiah's demise. And for some reasons unknown to him, the missionary also sent him the photograph that Josiah had been holding in his sleep. It was the photo of Team 7, on their second day together. It was taken at the scene of their first bust, all seven of them just standing, silently conferring among themselves after the success of the operation. They seemed as if to be in deep discussion, but they were actually arguing about where to go for a beer and if JD was old enough to drink. It was taken by an agent from another team, who said he had been blown away by the arrogance, the confidence and the telepathic understanding between the agents who had worked together for less than forty-eight hours. To Ezra, they looked like gods, their guns by their side, each within the hallowed circle that soon came to be known as the Magnificent Seven. They were unstoppable. They were invincible. At that time.
Ezra drank the whole night. He came out of his room the next morning, suffering the kind of hangover he was thirty years too old for. It was a classic Team 7 after-party hangover. He was about to take the first step down the staircase, when he heard someone call him.
"Chris?" Ezra managed before he mistook the step he had been using for twenty years. And the rest was the darkness that Ezra had been awaiting for a long, long time.
"Fashionably late again, Ez?" Buck's voice was unmistakably sarcastic.
"Sheesh, Armani, ya couldn't get here sooner, could'ya?" Ezra had wanted to hear that Texas twang for so long that he had forgotten it.
Ezra opened his eyes and saw his brothers, Team 7. They were all alive. It had been a bad dream. Chris was here. Vin too. Josiah, Nathan, Buck and JD.
They did not say anything. They looked at him. And he knew that everything had happened just the way it did. Now, they had come for him. Just the way he remembered them. Just the way they were in their prime. He looked down at his own hands and saw that he too was also young. And strong again.
"C'mon, Standish," Chris said, holding out his hand. "Time to go."
Ezra had waited all these years for this moment. He got out of bed and followed his brothers into the white light beyond them.
"We got work to do," JD added, as Ezra was received back within their circle. Ezra felt complete again.
They were gods. They would live forever.
The doctors declared Ezra Standish dead later that morning. Two broken vertebrae was cited as the official cause of death; though it was puzzling how it turned fatal when it should have cost him the use of his legs instead of his life. They found him clutching a photograph in his hand, looking peaceful and contented. His housekeeper confirmed that it had come with a letter the day before. It was apparently a photograph taken of Mr. Standish when he was younger. He told them that the six other men in the photograph were his life-brothers.
End note: Don't hurt me, please? I did what I did, only because this is my way of immortalizing them. Thank you for reading.