With A Little Help From My Friends

by Teri

"Safecracker" from Buck's perspective

Summary: A look at Buck's thoughts, leading up to JD's injury and after, in the Episode 'Safecracker'

Disclaimer: Don't own them, wish I did. The Magnificent Seven and its characters are the property of MGM, Trilogy Entertainment, and the Mirisch Corporation. This is an attempt to fill in some gaps left in the episode 'Safecracker', so actual dialog is used when appropriate.

I want to thank my friend & muse, Retirw for her help and encouragement.

Buck pushed the tired horse as fast as he dare through the dark night. It was one thing to ride hard across the open ground when you could see the terrain, but this was suicide. The horse was apt to step in a hole and break a leg. Of course that might be considered lucky, because another scenario would be for the animal to trip and throw the rider. In which case, he could end up with a broken neck. By the light of the moon, Wilmington scanned the landscape ahead breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, the landmarks were starting to look more familiar.

Buck wasn't sure how much of a head start he had. He just knew that he had to make Four Corners before Coltrane and his gang. Chris had saved his life just hours ago, and taken a huge risk in doing so. Now Larabee, rather than Buck, was being considered the newest member of the gang of bank robbers. If not for the danger he knew his friend to be in, Buck might find it funny. However, staring down the barrel of a gun had a way of taking the humor out of most things. The report of the weapon still rang in his ears, and the look in Larabee's eyes . . . well Buck was glad he called the man 'friend'. Faking his death had been tricky at best and hopefully they had pulled it off. If not, Chris was a dead man. Larabee was depending on him to warn the others, and Buck was determined not to let him down.

Cresting the last hill, Buck could see the soft glow of what he knew to be the watch fires burning in the main street of Four Corners. Confident that he had arrived in time, he slowed the horse to a canter, not wanting to cause undue concern as he approached the town.

Heading directly to the sheriff's office, it was soon clear that no one was in the dark building. Wilmington turned his mount and slowly worked his way through town. He considered going to the Saloon, in search of Standish, but the glow from the windows of the church seemed to call to him. Josiah would be there, and he had to warn the others. Drawing closer he realized Vin's mount stood tied in front of the building, and candlelight seemed to radiate from the windows. Something was wrong, he could feel it.

Wilmington dismounted and tied his horse next to Peso. Quietly climbing the steps, he stopped just outside the door. He could clearly hear Nathan's voice from within the building as he said, "All right? Yeah, he's going to be all right . . . just as long as he takes it easy for a few days."

Buck's heart skipped a beat as Vin's voice drifted through the door. "You keep an eye on JD the rest of us will keep searching for the girl."

JD . . . Something had happened to JD . . . Nathan says he's going to be fine . . . Olivia's missing?

Thoughts whirled through the Buck's mind. Taking a deep breath to get control of his emotions, he schooled the expression on his face and pushed his way into the room past Ezra, to where Vin stood . . . to where he could see JD.

He only looked for a moment; it was all he could afford. The kid was pale and obviously in pain. Nathan was working on what appeared to be a wound in JD's shoulder and there was blood . . . lots of blood. Buck looked to Vin, "What happened?"

"Long story." Ezra's droll reply came from across the room.

Buck realized that Standish was going out of his way to NOT look at JD. Is that guilt in his eyes? The thought was fleeting as Vin asked, "Where's Chris?"

"With the gang . . . on his way to rob the bank," Wilmington responded.

At Nathan's shocked, "What?!" Buck responded, "It's a long story."

Vin moved toward the door, "Well, come on, we gotta find Olivia.

Buck glanced once more to his friend. Nathan was working on the wound . . . Olivia was out there somewhere, alone. A young girl in the hands of God only knew what type of men . . . JD was in good hands. Wilmington turned and followed the others out of the church to search for one small girl.

Once out on the street Buck hurried to catch up with Ezra, who was now walking down the boardwalk. He needed to know what had led to JD's injury. "Ezra?"

Standish avoided looking him in they eyes, but in response to the unanswered question began to talk. "After Mr. Dunne informed us of your plight, Chris and Vin departed to affect your release. Meanwhile, Mr. Sanchez and I were to entertaining the young Miss at the church. The hour grew late . . . I regret to confess that I fell asleep. When awakened by Mr. Tanner's return, we found that the young lady was missing and set about to discover her whereabouts. Mr. Tanner and I were standing a few doors away when we heard a gunshot and turned to see JD on the ground. He had obviously come across the culprits and had sustained a knife wound as the scoundrels absconded with young Olivia. While we took JD to the church, Josiah went to retrieve Nathan. It was shortly thereafter that you arrived. I feel it is my . . ."

"Ez, it weren't your fault," Buck assured the distraught Standish. "You did . . ."

"Buck," Ezra reached out to stop Wilmington as the two noted a group on horseback, riding down the street. "It's Coltrane."

The two men turned and saunter casually back down the walk, before ducking into the shadows of the building.

The horses pulled to a stop in front of the saloon. From his vantage point, Buck could see Chris and Terry on either side of Morgan Coltrane, but could not make out what they were saying. Following the direction of their gaze, he saw Olivia in one of the windows above the saloon, a hand covering her mouth. As the horses continued down the street and toward the bank, the lace curtains were pulled closed.

Wilmington and Standish appeared from the shadows and moved with purpose across the street and into the Saloon. Once inside, Buck headed directly for the stairs and started up. Realizing that Standish was no longer following, he glance back and saw the man grab a bottle of whiskey from the bar and a lit cheroot from a patron's hand. By the time he reached the top step, Ezra was once again behind him with a plan.

+ + +

Wilmington watched Standish from his vantage point on the exposed rafter. The man was sprinkling whiskey on the rug, by the door of the room where they assumed Olivia was being held. He took a drag from the cheroot and the tip glowed red before dropping it to the rug where a flame sparked to life. He fanned the flame and the smoke began to curl under the door, before Ezra moved out of sight and they waited.

Their wait was rewarded, when moments later the door opened and Buck watched one of Coltrane's men step out of the room and attempt to put out the fire. Swinging from his perch, he kicked the man in the face before landing and entering the room, gun drawn.

Buck pointed his gun toward other kidnapper, who was in the process of drawing his weapon, and warned, "I wouldn't. Toss it." The man, threw his gun to the side, but continued to watch Wilmington for an opening.

"You all right?" Buck asked gently, to the apparently unharmed Olivia sitting on the bed.

A slight movement drew his attention to the now unarmed man as he contemplated going for his gun. "I wouldn't," Buck snapped. "Kidnap a child . . . I ought to shoot you now."

Buck watched as the man's gaze moved to Ezra, calculating his chances.

Wilmington's mind whirled. Olivia seemed fine, but JD's grimace of pain flashed in front of his eyes. Was this the man . . . or was it the other, who tried to murder JD? It didn't matter as anger boiled through is system. "Go ahead, reach for it," he snarled. Buck wanted a reason to fire, his finger tightening on the trigger. For Olivia . . . for JD . . . "I said reach for it." As the man began to move, Wilmington's struck out, hitting him with the butt of his gun.

Ignoring the unconscious man, Buck moved to where Olivia sat on the bed. "You all right?" He asked the young girl.

"Yeah," Olivia commented, appearing to take everything in stride.

Wilmington marveled at the composure of the youngster. Look at her, you'd figure she was off visitin' with family. Makes a man wonder, just what she's seen in her young life? Looking down he noticed the cigar box lying open on the bed, in front of the child. It held a virtual treasure of assorted items. Buck reached in and lifted out a pocket watch, allowing it to dangle in front of Olivia's face. "I believe this is my watch, young lady," he commented before slipping it into his pocket.

Buck watched as Ezra moved to the window with Olivia, in an effort to let Chris know she was safe. It was only a moment before he heard Standish comment, "There's your mama." Obviously Larabee saw Olivia and Ezra at the window, as the sounds of men yelling, running horses and gunfire was suddenly heard from the street. It ended just as abruptly.

The two men made quick work of tying up Coltrane's associates and putting out what remained of the smoldering rug. Olivia dashed from the room and down the stairs, taking advantage of the otherwise occupied lawmen.

Standish shook his head, "Mr. Wilmington, I think it would be prudent of you to follow Miss Olivia and see she is safely delivered to her mother. I will see that these miscreants are incarcerated where they can cause no further damage."

Buck was out the door and down the steps before Ezra finished speaking, and he heard the reunion of mother and child before pushing through the bat-wing doors of the saloon.

He turned to join Larabee in the street, but something pulled him forward. He continued down the street past the livery, where more of Coltrane's gang stumbled out the door. He was about to pull his gun when Vin, mares leg in hand, moved out behind the men

Wilmington was about to offer his help, when a movement down the street caught his attention. Looking closer, he could see a man lying in the street and then from between two horses a flash of gun metal and white. The swaying figure soon came into focus. . . JD.

Buck rushed to his friend's side and placed a supportive arm around him, just as the boy stumbled, his unsteady legs about to give out. "Its okay kid, I got ya."

"Olivia?" JD croaked.

"She's with her mama. She's safe." Wilmington volunteered as he took the rifle from the trembling fingers. It was obvious that JD had used his last bit of strength to stop the flight of the gang of bank robbers. "JD, ya done good," he said with pride evident in his voice.

Nathan was soon at their side. Buck had to grin as the healer moved to help support JD and ordered them to the clinic. The three men moved slowly down the street, as the others rounded up what was left of Coltrane's gang.

+ + +

Wilmington watched as JD lay in the Clinic's bed, surrounded by the others. Buck observed as the eyes drooped, even amidst all the chatter. He had so many things he wanted to say to 'the kid' but they would wait. Thanks to this strange assortment of men he called 'friends' there would be a tomorrow. Yes, he could wait until tomorrow. JD would still be here, and thanks to Larabee, so would he.