A Stumble in the Dark

Luna Dey

March 2007

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This is just a little PWP piece that was done in response to a challenge that I posted on my Mag 7 Het list. Don't worry Slashers it doesn't get explicit. <G> The challenge was to write a story that used a list of five unrelated words and one phrase. The words to be used are: tornado, brownie(s), swordfish, corn dog(s), and vitamins. The phrase was: Why is there a bra in (on) the ____? This was my own response to the challenge. I can't ask everyone else to do something that I'm not willing to do my self, right? <wink>. Thanks to my Beta Antoinette/RiverOtter for checking this one over for my ever-present mistakes.

DISCLAIMER: Trilogy, MGM, and the Mirish Corporation own “The Magnificent Seven” characters. NBC Studios, NBC Universal Television, DreamWorks Television, and Gary Scott Thompson Productions own “Las Vegas.” They are not mine. The only purpose of this story is for entertainment. No money is being made.

It was a dark and stormy night when six members of team seven returned from a five-day conference in Salt Lake City. Their youngest member had been assisting team four with a sticky surveillance problem and had stayed behind. It seemed that his expertise was in high demand. He had told the rest of the team that he really didn't mind missing this conference, since there was nothing really interesting to him on the agenda.

JD had offered to stay at Chris' ranch and take care of the horses so he didn't have to call on his neighbor. He'd helped out often enough to know what to do. Chris had left him a list of daily chores just in case he needed a reminder.

4 days earlier:

Buck laughed as he watched JD packing for the short stay at the ranch. He had packed more than any of the six who were traveling, including Ezra. "Kid, yer just stayin' at Chris'. You know if you forget something that you can use what he has there. He won't care."

"I know that, but I like to have my own stuff." JD continued packing, pajamas, work clothes, barn cleaning clothes, underwear and socks. Then he tossed work shoes, tennis shoes, slippers, and barn boots into a large shopping bag; followed up by adding shampoo, shaving kit, vitamins, mouthwash, toothbrush and toothpaste to the suitcase. Just when he thought he was about done, he decided to add CDs, DVDs, a couple books, a sudoku book, a jigsaw puzzle, and some computer games.

"You really think yer gonna use all that stuff?" Buck dug through the suitcase and counted a dozen complete sets of clothes. "You know Chris has a washer and drier."

"I believe in being prepared," JD said.

"Well that oughta do it. Boy scouts aren't that prepared. " Buck shook his head and left the kid to his packing.

A few minutes later Josiah arrived, with the remaining five members of the team, to pick up Buck. "Kid, I'm leaving. You sure you're gonna be all right out there on yer own?"

"I'll be fine, Buck. You guys have a good trip," JD called out from his bedroom. "See you all Saturday." By the time he loaded his car, he had a big suitcase, a small suitcase, the shopping bag full of shoes, a duffle full of the music, games and movies, and a bag full of munchies, including a box of brownie mix that he wanted to make. 'Maybe, Buck was right. This is a lot of stuff,' he thought, but decided against leaving anything behind. After all, he might need it.

+ + + + + + +

Either Buck or Chris called every evening after the sessions let out to be sure that everything was okay. JD insisted he was doing fine. But on Friday night Chris was puzzled when he flipped his cell phone closed. "I would have sworn that I heard a woman, or women, giggling in the background when I talked to JD. You don't suppose…?"

"Nah, not JD. It was probably just the TV or a video…hummmm wonder what kind of video the kid got to watch while he was all alone if it had giggling females in it." Buck bobbed his eyebrows suggestively, causing the others to laugh.

"Well, just goes to show, you never know." Josiah offered his two cents worth. "It's always the quiet ones."

"Hell, ain't nothing quite about that boy," Buck said. "I oughta know. I'm the one that's gotta live with him."

"True, but something's not quite setting right with me about this," Chris insisted. "I know we were going to leave in the morning, but what do you all say about heading out tonight instead?" It was a little after 6:00 pm and the drive would take at least eight hours with pit stops for coffee and restrooms.

"If it would make you feel more comfortable, then let's go. We can take turns driving if I get too tired," Josiah offered. "I do think you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. We all know that JD is a responsible young man."

Back to the present:

The storm had raged on through the entire long drive home, moving eastward at about the same pace that they did. They just couldn't outrun it. At times it had rained so hard that they had to pull off, unable to see to drive. Instead of eight hours, the trip had taken closer to nine.

They pulled into Chris' driveway about three in the morning and everything was eerily dark. There was no sign of light anywhere except the flashes of lightning that still crackled overhead.

"Power must be out," Chris said. "That or a breaker blew. I don't think I showed him where the breakers are."

The men dragged themselves out of the SUV and dashed for the door. Chris had his keys out and ready, but with no light at all he had trouble finding the keyhole. He ended up waiting for the next flash of lightening, and then pounced on the keyhole, like he thought it would sprout legs and run away. At last he had the door open and six soggy, tired men fumbled their way inside in the dark.

"Stay put! Let me get a flashlight." Chris eased his way toward the hall closet where he had emergency flashlights and candles stashed. There was a thud followed by, "Umpf!"

"Chris? You okay?" Vin edged farther into the blackness looking for his friend.

"Ouch! Get off my hand!"

"Whoa! Watcha doin' down there, cowboy?" Vin jumped back. "Shit, what did I just step in?"

"You hurt?" Nathan sounded concerned but wasn't sure if he dared move. His medical instincts kicked in and won out. Moving forward, shuffling his feet across the floor to avoid stepping on anything, he managed to get to Chris' side. He bent down to see if he could feel for any injuries and ended up sticking his finger in Chris' ear.

"I'm fine." Chris pulled away from Nathan's reach." Nothing hurt but my ass where I landed on something hard when I fell."

"What would that be, prey tell? The floor perhaps?" Ezra couldn't resist saying.

Ignoring Ezra's remark, Chris continued to talk to Nathan. "You want to check out my ass too?"

"Is that a proposition?" Nathan teased.

"In your dreams," Chris said. You could hear him moving around, but couldn't see what he was doing. Something that sounded like an empty bottle rolled across the floor and bumped into the wall.

"Well, I can tell you now that it's broke," Nathan responded, "'Cause it's cracked."

"Smart ass," Chris grumbled through the sounds of grunts as he managed to get back to his feet. He took a couple more cautious steps and when he didn't encounter anything else, he got a little bolder, only to land flat on his face when his feet became entangled in something.

"You on your ass again?" Buck asked. "You got some kind a fetish about that floor or something, stud?"

"Buck…Shut up!" Chris fumbled in the dark to find what had tripped him. "What the hell? Someone take this." He held his hand out until someone managed to find it in the dark. "Is that what I think it is?"

Buck took the garment and ran it through his hands, and then chuckled. "If you think it is a lady's nightie, I'd say you're right."

"And, of course, no one else would know better than you." Ezra felt around in the dark trying to feel his way past the others to find that closet.

"That's my boob, if you don't mind!" Nathan slapped away the questing hand. "Always had my suspicions about you."

"Mr. Jackson, I assure you, your boob does nothing to arouse my interest."

"Interesting choice of words." Buck snickered.

"Oh, grow up!" Ezra snapped. "Ahhh… I do believe I've found it." Ezra pulled the closet door open and rummaged around until he found two flashlights. He turned one on and then handed the other one to Chris, now that he could see him.

"Whoa! What happened to my house?" Chris shined the light around the living room and was shocked at the state of things. It looked like a tornado had blasted through the room and then doubled back in case it didn't get everything the first time.

"Oh my god! Were you robbed? Where's JD?" Buck was instantly serious as he checked out the damage.

On closer examination, it was clear that it hadn't been a robbery, or any other foul play, unless you called 'wild party mess' foul.

"He had a party? In my house? Without my permission?"

"Without us?" Buck added.

"Why is there a bra in the fish tank?" Josiah asked.

"Probably for the same reason there is a thong hanging off the swordfish's snout." Ezra shined the beam at the mounted swordfish on the wall.

There were beer bottles, coke cans, snack bowls, and glasses all over the place. Not to mention the corn curls and chips on the floor, and mixed in here and there was another choice undergarment or two.

"Hey Vin, just found out what you stepped in," Nathan pointed to the spot on the tile in the hallway, where there was the squashed remains of a half eaten corn dog.

"That's it. Where is he?" Chris fumed. "I left him here to take care of things and this is what I find when I get home. Of all the irresponsible…" his tirade continued as he stormed through the house toward the bedrooms, and he didn't care what he might walk in on.

"Now Chris..don't go flyin' off the handle. Let me take care of it." Buck shot past him to try to run interference for the kid.

"JD, you'd better be gettin' out here. Chris is on the warpath." He threw open the guest room door, but it was empty. When he got to Chris's room, he pushed the door open and found a rumpled bed, and he could just barely see the top of JD's head and another brunette head sticking out from under the covers. "JD, you've gone and done it now. Chris is gonna kill you."

By now the rest of the team had made it into the room, just in time to see Buck grab the covers and pull them back.

"GOTCHA!" JD and Casey yelled as they sat bolt upright in the bed; both fully clothed.

Casey cracked up when she saw the stunned look on Buck's face. Grabbing a laughing JD for support, the two toppled over in a heap, hugging each other and wiping tears.

"You shoulda seen your face," JD said between fits of laughter.

"This isn't funny," Chris complained. "What about my house?"

"It isn't as bad as it looks now, not when you turn the lights on. Don't worry, Casey and I'll clean it up." He was finally starting to get control, but each time he looked at the expressions on their faces, he would fall apart again.

"Son, why would you pull something like this?" Josiah asked, trying not to smile.

"I knew Chris would have to come rushing home if he thought I was up to something, and Casey and I figured we might as well give him something to find." He hugged his girlfriend a little tighter and kissed her smack on the lips.

Before JD or Casey had a chance to react, Chris lunged at the bed, and came back with a large overstuffed feather pillow. One swing, and he managed to connect with both occupants of the bed.

There was a stunned silence for a minute while everyone digested what had just happened, and then all hell broke loose. JD and Casey both grabbed pillows and ganged up on Chris, but he managed to give as well as he got. It didn't end until all three collapsed back on the bead, hot and gasping for breath.

"JD…"Chris gasped. "Get out of my bed."

"Aw but Chris, it's late," JD whined.

"You can look at it as late, or you can look at it as early. For you two it is early. If you get my meaning." Chris looked at them and smiled that half smile he had when he had gotten the better of someone. "Trash bags are under the sink."

Josiah loaded up the rest of the team to take them on to their respective homes, all of them still chuckling over JD pulling a good one on Chris, and how they couldn't believe Chris got in a pillow fight.

Chris, drifted off to sleep, lulled by the sound of rain on the roof, and the sound of the clean up going on in his living room. He roused slightly and chuckled when he heard JD exclaim, "I'm not fishing that bra out of the fish tank."