Welcome to the Family

by Anneack

Alternate Universe: S.S.I. – Seven Securities & Investigations

Notes: This was done as a birthday story for Katy. Rumor has it that she is a Buck fan so here is a Buck tale for her. Thank you to Blackraptor for housing my stories and Sue who was so kind as to beta this for me and without her help it would not be nearly as good.

Carrie Ann Dunne smiled up at the woman that had entered the sick room in the Children of the Sun compound. For the first time in her life she was actually happy to see her. Well, maybe not happy, but she did need to talk to her. She could hear the bells outside ringing to call people in for the noon meal. It was doubtful that she would live to hear the six o’clock bells calling dinner. There were plenty of regrets in her life, short as it had been, but very few people that she was not at peace with as she faced her death. This woman was one of them.

“Don’t punish JD because of me,” she requested.

“I would never do that; it’s hardly his fault,” the tall, slim, blonde replied. She was not friendly, but was warmer than usual.

“I want him out of here. For better or worse, I chose this life, he didn’t.”

“What makes you think that I can do anything for him?”

“Because the others disappeared and you had something do to with it,” Carrie swallowed.

The superior blonde nearly nodded. This woman was dying, so there was no reason to deny her involvement.

“Casey…” Carrie began.

“Is not your concern.”

“David has plans for her as his next wife,” the young woman coughed.

“I was aware of it and the situation is being tended to,” the answer came in the cold, clipped tone she knew so well.

Carrie didn’t talk, but only nodded.

“I’ll send JD in to say good bye,” the blonde told her, more gently this time.

She smiled weakly and prepared to meet the one other person she had not done right by. For his sake she should have left years ago; or if she could not bring herself to leave then sent her son to his brothers.

A smallish boy in his late teens with his mother’s large dark eyes and longish black hair quietly entered the room. It was the only time in almost seventeen years that she had known him to do anything quietly.

“Mom,” he whispered, sitting in the chair by her bed and taking her hand.

“Hey, precious boy,” she smiled at him. He had deserved so much better than what he had gotten here.

“What’s going to happen now?” JD asked, biting his lip like he had as a young child.

“Christine will tell you what to do. You have to leave; when you get out find your brothers.”

“What about Casey? I can’t leave her here! He’s going to marry her…” JD said it all in one sentence.

“I think Christine is going to send her with you, but I don’t know. You’ll just have to trust her. She doesn’t want Casey to marry him anymore than we want it.”

The boy nodded.

Carrie Ann smiled at her beloved son and then closed her eyes. He was going to get out and be free to lead his own life. She could die in peace.

JD blinked, sniffed, and closed his own eyes as she faded away and the tears began. Slowly, he put her arm over her body and got up.

The blonde woman re-entered the room. “We have very little time; come, JD.”

Taking one last look back at his mother, he followed Christine.

Casey was waiting for them in the hall.

At a nod from the imperious woman, Casey fell in line behind them.

She lead them to door that was normally locked.

“Directly across from this door is a large tree, the fence gapes there and you can squeeze under it. Go straight and you’ll be in the forest. Go as far and as fast as you can. Always in a straight line, when you hit the river follow it to the left. It will eventually lead you to a small cabin. Stay there until someone comes. It might be a few days, but someone will come. You must light a fire in the fire place though to let them know you’re there,” Christine directed.

They both nodded.

Christine opened the door and the two slipped out and ran for it. In twenty minutes the guards would be making a patrol. No one was allowed to leave the compound without permission. Inside was the only safe place for the Children of the Sun to live.

Wriggling under the fence as directed they sprinted into the woods with all the speed and endurance of youth. Whatever life held for them, it would no longer be the religious cult that had been their lives up to now.

An hour outside of Denver, Buck Wilmington yawned and stretched enjoying the comfortable recliner he inhabited. The News at Ten was over, and he was thinking about heading to bed. It wasn’t often that he had the house to himself. Normally he enjoyed having his brothers with him, but every now and again he enjoyed an evening solo. Not that he would have objected if he had been able to spend the evening with Sandy like he had planned, but it was hardly her fault that she had had to work.

Reaching over, he picked up the phone that had begun ringing. “Hello?”

“This is Gloria Potter, Buck is that you?”

“Yes ma’am it is, can I help you with something?” He asked, curious about what the woman they had hired to watch over one of their two cabins might need. It could be a repair that needed to be done. Or, since it was a safe place for those escaping from the Children of the Sun cult that his father had founded, it might mean that someone needed a pick up and help adjusting to the outside world.

“Someone’s at the cabin and the flag is out. People have been asking around in town for JD, so I’d guess that it’s him. They were also asking about Casey Wells is missing so I would guess that she went with him,” Mrs. Potter reported. She liked the brothers and had been helping them keep an eye out for when their youngest brother got out or could be gotten out.

“I’ll leave right now,” Thank you so much for letting us know,” Buck wished he could have reached through the phone and kissed her.

Jotting a note to let the others know where he was off to, he left to pick up the two teenagers. He chortled and rubbed his hands in excitement. JD was the last of them; all his siblings were out of the cult now. Vin was the only one of them that had still been around when JD had been born. The two of them were a lot younger than the rest of the brothers. He was twenty years older than JD and thirteen years older than Vin. He had loved getting to know Vin and could hardly wait to meet JD. Hopefully the kid would stay with them; actually for the next year he wouldn’t have an option as he was still a minor. They had wanted to go after him before, but his mother was still alive and had custody. Apparently, either something had happened to his mother or he had decided to leave without her.

Shadow, Chris’s black German Shepard followed Buck out of the room, an indiscreet wag of his tail sending the paperweight holding down the note on to the floor with the paper following and sailing under the easy chair.

“Sorry boy, you can’t come with this time,” Buck patted him and left. He would get there in the middle of the night, but the faster they could get the kids as far away as possible from the compound the better.

It was time to collect his kid brother and hopefully Casey as well. He knew that the family’s friend, Mrs. Nettie, had been worried about her great niece, Casey. She had recently won legal guardianship of her, but the Children of the Sun had refused to hand her over. She was currently involved in the legalities of continuing the fight. The brothers had been debating how they could help. Ezra was a lawyer and giving her his services for free. Buck, Chris and Vin were all private investigators, but kidnapping even in the interest of giving the minor to the legal custodian could get messy to say the least. As a bounty hunter, Vin couldn’t be barred from entering a premises if he was after a someone, but no bounty was involved in this situation.

Four and a half hours later, at three in the morning, Buck’s classic red Chevy truck pulled up in front of the isolated building. Josiah had bought it a few years after leaving the cult and hired Mrs. Potter to keep and eye one it and see that it was kept fully stocked. None of them used it, except as a place for those wanting out of the cult to come for help.

“Kids?” He called out.

A small teenage boy with dark hair and eyes came out.


“Yes, who are you?” JD asked uncertainly.

“You’re brother, Buck Wilmington,” Buck slowly reached into his back pocket and pulled out his driver’s license, handing it to the kid.

JD took it hesitantly, looked at it and him and handed it back. “Mom, mom said to get out and to find you and the others; that you’d help me.”

“We sure will,” Buck assured him, smiling. That boy looked ready to leap six feet in the air and not come down.

Just then a girl a few years younger than JD came out.

“This is Casey Wells, a friend of mine,” he began.

“I’m Buck Wilmington, nice to meet you. I was told that she was with you. Your Aunt Nettie’s real anxious to see you little lady,” Buck smiled at her.

“I want to see her too,” she smiled nervously.

Pulling out his cell phone, Buck looked to see if there were enough bars up here for him to get a call through to Nettie. Now that he was certain that they had Casey, he needed to call her as soon as possible. Luckily she already had a room set up for the girl since it was only a matter of time before Casey joined her.

No bars. A call could not get through from here; he closed the phone.

“We best get going,” he told them. Casey was not the only one with new family waiting on her. JD had five other brothers waiting on pins and needles to welcome him into the clan.

They just nodded and moved towards the truck.

The large man grimaced, realizing that taking one of the family firm’s SUV’s might have been wiser. There would be plenty of room for the three of them, but it looked like Casey was a little uneasy around strange men. Not surprising considering that she had just left a cult where girls were married off at fifteen to grown men.

Buck was pleased and relieved when JD opted for the middle. The boy evidently had some sense. Casey would be more comfortable with him between them.

Silence descended as they began their drive down the mountain. JD and Casey were looking out the window taking everything in, and Buck was tired enough to want to concentrate on his driving.

“Buck?” JD asked, uncertainly.

“Yeah, kid?”

“Mom,” JD sniffed slightly, “Mom died right before I left.”

“I’m sorry, I lost my mom before I left too,” Buck told him softly.

“Do, do you think that maybe, well, I don’t want her buried in there because then I could never see her again,” JD started slowly and finished in one breath.

“Ezra’s a lawyer; we’ll get him on that as soon as possible. If anyone can get you custody of her body it would be him.”

“Um, who’s Ezra?” JD inquired.

Buck grinned, “Ezra Standish. He’s one of your brothers; he was never in the cult so you likely never heard of him.”

“I grew up hearing all about Josiah, Chris, you and Vin; but I didn’t know that dad had any kids outside of the cult,” JD said, wide eyed.

“Well, he had two sons outside of his marriages, Ezra, and Nathan. He met their mothers while he was on the road at his preaching meetings trying to gather more converts. Like I said, Ezra’s a lawyer, and Nathan’s a doctor.”

JD nodded, falling silent as he chewed his lip. Casey was watching them, but said nothing.

“How are you doing, Casey?” Buck asked, glancing over at her.

“Okay, I guess. Do you know Aunt Nettie?”

“I sure do, she’s a real special lady,” Buck reassured her. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to go live with someone that you had never met. Especially while still a teenager. He had at least had Chris, and he had been a legal adult when he had left, well, more like Chris was thrown out and he had gone with him. If he hadn’t he would’ve likely been tossed out as well before too long. Their father, like most cult leaders, did not tolerate young men who were natural leaders, and that was Chris to a T; Buck was as well if his military career was any indication. He and Chris had lived with Josiah for a year and then enlisted. After basic training, they were asked to take the test for OCS and passed with surprisingly high scores so were sent to Officer Candidacy School and graduated as Lieutenants.

An hour and a half later, seeing a rest area, Buck entered and parked. Pulling out his cell phone, he saw that they were now in range. Smiling, he dialed.


“Nettie, it’s Buck. We’ve got Casey. I’m heading home with her and JD now.”

“Oh my lord! How is she?”

“Just fine and pretty as a picture,” he answered.

“Can you put her on?” Nettie asked eagerly. Those bureaucratic good for nothings and their red tape had had her ready to take her old Spencer Carbine to the whole lot of them.

“She’s right here,” Buck handed Casey his cell phone.

“Hello,” She said timidly, holding it up like she had seen him do.

Smiling, the girl walked a little ways off, shyly answering questions.

Buck yawned, and stretched. Keeping Casey in view, he headed over to the vending machines with JD following him with looks toward Casey every five minutes.

“She’ll be fine,” Buck assured him. “What do want?”

JD looked at the selections and blinked. “Um, what’s good?”

“Sorry kid, I’ve been out for so long that I forget that you haven’t had this stuff. Is there anything you’re allergic to?”

“Not that I know of.”

Buck pulled out change and got a Snickers and a Milkyway as well as a Reese’s pieces. Between the three there should be something for all of them. The soda machine was next and would be harder. He liked all three candy so could happily finish whatever they did not like, but these were a different story. He was a cola or Dr. Pepper person and did not like the clear ones.

“Any thoughts?” He asked JD, and Casey who had joined them.

“I like grape juice,” Casey said cautiously, handing him back his phone.

“Grape it is,” Buck selected a grape soda for her. Considering she was raised in a world where women were seen and not heard, he was glad to see that she had the backbone to voice an opinion.

JD and Casey watched in wonder as they machine bumped, thumped, and deposited a soda in the pick up slot.

“What do you drink at home?” JD asked him.

Buck laughed. “Well, Nathan swears the stuff is evil; Chris and Josiah says it’s too sweet; Ezra has the occasional Coke; I prefer Dr. Pepper, and Vin,” Buck shuddered, “He likes Mountain Dew.”

Both kids stared at him.

“You all live together?” JD sputtered.

“Well, we all live on the ranch. Nathan’s married and lived in what used to be the foreman’s house when it was a working ranch. The rest of us live in the main house.”

“Why do you live together? I thought that people lived alone out here?” Casey asked.

“Well, some people live like that, we don’t. It started with Nathan moving in with Josiah while he went to medical school. Chris and I lived with them for a while before we went into the navy. We came back after we were discharged only planning to stay until we found other places, but we found that we enjoyed living with them so we stayed. I’m not sure why Ezra came, but when we got out of the service he was there and hasn’t ever left. Vin stayed with us until he was eighteen and joined the army, and when like me and Chris he moved back in after leaving the military. And now you’re coming as well. We’re family and we found that we liked being together so we all live in the house.”

This was a far cry from what the two had been told about life was like out here. They had been told about how people live in nuclear families and there were no ties to one another. Yet, there were, apparently, seven men who lived together because they enjoyed one another’s company and happened to be brothers.

“JD; pick a soda,” Buck reminded him of the task at hand.

“Oh, um, well,” he stared at the options.

Buck selected a Dr. Pepper and when it came out, opened it and offered the bottle to JD. “Take a sip and if you like it you can have one; if not you can pick something else.”

JD had some. “It’s good. I think I’ll get a Coke and try that too.”

Buck got him one.

The boy’s eyes lit up on tasting it.

Buck laughed, nothing like your first shot of caffeine.

The three climbed back into the truck and set out once more. The candy bars were cut into threes and the bag of Reese Pieces opened for all to share. Silence fell again as the two teenagers looked out the window, fascinated by everything.

Looking over at them, Buck remembered again how isolated it was growing up in the compound. This was likely the first time the kids had seen anything beyond the walls surrounding the Children of the Sun’s property. Well, that would be ending for them starting today.

Nettie was there to greet them as they pulled in to her driveway. It might six thirty in the morning, but an old farm wife like her had likely been up for hours. The large man smiled as he got out. Casey and JD exited a little more cautiously.

“Casey,” the old woman said, embracing the girl.

“It’s good to meet you Aunt Nettie,” she returned the hug.

“Thank you,” the woman said to Buck and JD.

“I, I didn’t do anything ma’am,” the boy blinked at her.

“I wouldn’t have been able to get to that cabin without you,” Casey informed him.

Buck covered a smiled with a hand. That little girl had it bad for the kid. JD seemed completely oblivious; well, ol’ Buck would give him a hand. After all isn’t that what a big brother is for?

“Christine’s the one that got us out,” JD replied.

Nettie looked at Buck. “Christine?”

“She’s Chris’s mother. She got Vin out as well. Chris didn’t so much leave as he was thrown out. David, he’s our father and one of the founders, supported the motion. I guess that Christine figured that if her son was not allowed to stay, then she would make sure that none of his other sons remained either.” Buck explained.

“I can’t believe that I was going to be forced to marry him,” Casey shuddered.

Nettie hugged the girl again. “You’re safe now.”

Buck took a deep breath, and thanked God that this sweet girl had been saved from being his father’s newest wife. “Well, that would certainly explain why Christine didn’t want you around. She’s never liked any of his other wives.”

“She was always mean to mom,” JD added softly.

Buck gave him a one armed hug. Considering how his mother had been treated by Christine, it was surprising how close he and Chris were. “She’s not having to deal with that anymore.”

Picking up the past tense, Nettie said nothing. She was an old woman and had seen enough of life to guess that the boy had lost his mother recently.

“Well, you boys come on in; As usual Buck, you’re just in time for a meal.”

“Your cooking does spoil a man,” Buck grinned.

Breakfast at that house was something to remember. Nettie did not believe in small or light meals. Nathan would have shuddered from a health point of view, but would’ve dug in right along with the best of them. There was something about good old fashion farm fresh food. Judging from the amount of food laid out she had been expecting them.

Scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, biscuits, and hash browns all landed on the table.

JD and Casey stared wide-eyed at the offerings.

“Help yourselves,” Nettie encouraged.

“Go ahead and try the ham and bacon, if you don’t like it you don’t have to finish it,” Buck told them, realizing the problem. They had never eaten meat. Vin had been leery at first to, until he had tried it and now was the carnivore king in a family who’s motto was ‘It’s meat, let’s eat!’

“Didn’t know your preferences so made some of everything, don’t feel like you have to eat anything that you don’t like,” the woman instructed, picking up on the difficulty.

Having already helped themselves to the eggs and potatoes, they now added on the meat.

Buck chuckled as JD nibbled on the end of his piece of bacon, and promptly wolfed it down and took another piece.

Nettie beamed; she did so love seeing a man really tuck into his food.

An hour later, it was time to get going.

Buck volunteered himself and JD for washing up, but was turned down.

Thanking her, the two headed out.

“We’re heading home now?” JD asked, as they left the farm.

“Need to put gas in the truck, but then, yeah we’re heading home,” Buck smiled at him.

JD was almost bouncing with excitement; or else was so tired that he was getting punchy.

“Ezra’ll be up by the time we arrive, we’ll get him started on trying to get your mother’s body,” Buck told him, not wanting him to think he had forgotten about that.

“Thanks,” JD replied quietly. “I really appreciate it, I mean I know that it probably seems funny to want to visit her after she’s dead, but, well, it’s important to me.

“Kid, my mom’s been dead for over twenty years and I still go to her grave for a visit when I need to have a good talk. Chris lost his wife and son and I know that he visits them. We’ll see that’s she’s put in the plot with the rest of our families.”

Buck remembered how it had hurt when he had lost his own mom, when you were grieving words were frequently not a big help. Not this soon anyway. JD was not only going to be grieving the loss of his mom, but also starting a totally new life. He remembered being there and how he had leaned on Chris through it; he would be there for the kid now.

Buck squeezed his shoulder, “When you want to talk I’m here. I wasn’t much older than you when I lost my ma.”

JD nodded.

Twenty minutes later, they found a gas station. The large man pumped, while his little brother ran in to use the men’s room. Afterwards, JD waited while Buck used the facilities.

Following his brother, the teen looked on with interest while he filled a large cup with a hot black liquid.

“Coffee,” JD guessed.

“The elixir of life, and only way that I’ll stay awake,” Buck explained.

“Want to try some?”


The large man poured a small cup. The kid sure was a pistol; he was trying to experience everything as fast as he could.

The teen sipped it and grimaced at the bitterness.

“Sugar or cream can fix that,” he offered.

JD dumped a packet of sugar and a packet of cream in it, and sipped again. Another cream went in, as well as another sugar.

Satisfied he put a lid on the cup.

“You and Vin, he likes coffee flavored cream and sugar too,” Buck grinned.

“He does?”

“Yep, of course he might not need that much cream and sugar if he didn’t make coffee that could make a corpse jump up and do the Can-Can,” Buck snorted, while paying.

“I think I kind of remember him,” JD said slowly.

“He was the only one of us still there when you were born,” Buck replied, as he got in the driver’s seat.

The large man grinned as they got back on the road, and JD reached for the truck radio. Buck had wondered how long it would take him to investigate that too. Twenty cats would not have as much curiosity as this kid.

“So, um, what are the others like? I’ve heard a lot about you guys, but I don’t actually know a lot about all of you, just some wild stories.”

Buck laughed, “Well, the stories are likely true; none of us are the type to quietly follow the rules and behave like so many angels.”

“Josiah’s the oldest and he was the first one out. He got our sister Hannah out and then started working on the rest of us. Their mother died right after Hannah was born. Chris is the next oldest. Christine is his mother. He’s never been much for blind obedience or following rules and pretty much got thrown out; and well, I guess I followed him, just like I always have,” Buck continued after a moment.

“So he snuck into the girl’s dormitory and you just followed him?” JD grinned remembering one of the tales he had heard about his legendary siblings.

“Which time?” Buck laughed. “We both snuck in there plenty of times, but I probably led those times.”

“Is that the reason you two had to leave?” JD asked.

“One of them; now, like you, we were born into the cult, but it wasn’t the life we would have chosen.”

“Me neither, I guess it was the life that mom wanted though,” the teen sighed.

“Well, at some point it was,” Buck replied. “Sometimes you think that you’re getting one thing and end up with something totally different.”

“I guess so. What are the others like?” JD asked, returning to the original topic.

“I’m the next youngest, I’m two years younger than Chris. My ma was his third wife and died when I was about your age. Nathan is next; he was raised in Montgomery by his mother and her husband. He was never in the cult. His mother died when he was about twenty, his dad died a few years ago of cancer. Then there’s Ezra, he’s a year younger than Nathan. He’s mom, Maude, is still alive. He was never in the cult either. Like I said, their mothers were women David met and got involved with for a time while he was out preaching on his conversion campaigns, so they were never part of the cult.”

“Dad never married their moms,” JD said thoughtfully.

“Nope, I can’t see Maude ever having joined the cult, and well, Nathan’s mom wouldn’t have been allowed in,” Buck began.


“She was black,” Buck answered. If JD had swallowed the cult’s crap about whites being better there would be a problem.

“Nathan’s black?” JD asked with interest.

“Is that going to be a problem?”

“No, I just never met anyone that was black before,” the teen explained easily.

“He’s just like everyone else in the world,” Buck informed him.

“Neat. And then there’s Vin, right?”

“Right, he’s seven years older than you. His mother was David’s fourth wife. She died when Vin was about five. We were trying to get him out; when he was fifteen we succeeded with some help from Christine.”

Before he could ask his next question JD’s eyes went wide eyed and Buck swore long, loud, and imaginatively as a deer suddenly bounded across the road. He stood on the brakes and swerved to try and stay on the road and hopefully avoid the animal.

Both men braced themselves as they went over the side of the road and careened down the mountain

Closing their eyes, they felt, rather than saw the truck slam to a stop as it collided with a large grove of fir trees.

“Buck?” JD groaned.

“JD?” Buck asked.

“We’re alive,” JD informed the world.

Buck snorted and laughed. “I think it’s safe to say that, kid. Keep still until I figure just how bad this is.”

“I’m not real good at keeping still.”

“Do your best,” Buck tried to open his door and found that it was stuck.

“Try to open your door,” he instructed.

JD tried.

“It’s stuck.

The large man tried to reach in back with the arm that had been in front of JD during the crash.

He bit his tongue to keep from howling.


“I did something to my arm. Try to reach back and open the window to the bed of the truck,” he said through gritted teeth.

Swallowing, JD reached back and opened it.

“Try to climb through it.”

For once JD was not minding his smaller and slighter build as he wriggled his way through the window into the truck’s bed.

Scrambling down to the ground, he zipped around to Buck’s door. He was sore but otherwise fine. He didn’t want to think about what might have happened if Buck had not shot his arm out and protected JD.

The teen saw that a branch was against Buck’s door stopping it from opening.

“Hang on,” JD called out as he hopped back in the truck bed and rooted about in the tool lock box that was in it.


“There’s a branch stopping your door from opening, I’m trying to find a saw or something to cut through it.”

“Do you see a tool with a red handle area and a chain covered blade?” Buck asked, thankful that he had only recently been clearing some land for a friend and hadn’t cleaned out the truck.

“Got it!” JD called out. “Man is this thing heavy!”

Buck laughed, Vin had said the same thing when he first handled one. “It’s a chainsaw. You’re about to get your introduction to power tools. Grab that and the goggles.”


“Put on the goggles because there’s going to be wood chips flying everywhere. Now, put the safety flap back. There’s a choke knob, turn that a few times, then pulled the chain three or four times and it should start. When you start on the branch you want to cut half way down then go under it and cut up,” He instructed, praying that JD was a fast learner and would not get hurt. If there was any other way to get out, he’d be using it. “Any questions? If you’re not sure about anything ask.”

“I’ve got it,” JD assured him. “I’ll have you out in a minute.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Buck tried to joke. The familiar RENYAA of the saw coming to life told him that the kid had gotten it going. So far so good. He had known JD less than a day, but there was something about him that was drawing him like a magnet. Was it like this for Chris when he had gone to pick up Vin? Was that why they were so close?

“YES!” JD called out excitedly as soon as silence descended as the motor engine on the saw was killed.

Using his good arm, Buck pushed against the door, while JD pulled on it from outside. Creaking, the door protested, but opened.

Slowly and cautiously climbing out, Buck tried putting his weight on his legs; hopefully he had not injured one of them.

Pain shot up his left lower limb.

Buck immediately sat back down on the driver seat he had just tried to leave.

JD said nothing but looked at him with large, dark eyes.

“Just give ‘ol Buck a minute and we’ll head on out of here.”

JD grabbed the branch he had sawed off and began stripping it of leaves and offshoots. Finished, he handed it to his brother.

“Maybe it’ll help,” he smiled.

“Thanks, it will,” Buck took the stick and turned to the teen so he was looking right at him. He had slurred slightly on those last words.

“Follow my finger with your eyes,” he told him, moving the digit.

JD did as asked, rubbing his neck. It was a good thing that he only had to follow with his eyes.

“Muscles starting to stiffen up?” Buck asked, worried. He had already noted that the kid had had trouble with the finger test and his eyes were not evenly dilated. While not a medic by any stretch of the imagination, he had learned basic medical training while in the Navy and he had lived with a doctor until Nathan had married. He knew a concussion when one was right in front of him; the stiffness might be whiplash or just temporary stiffening due to the accident.

JD nodded, “It’s not bad, just bothering me a little.”

“We’ll get it checked out as soon as we’re home. Sounds like you got a concussion, so let me know right away if you start getting dizzy or need to up end your stomach.” Hoping against hope that it might work, he pulled out his cell phone.

It flickered on and off; apparently it had been damaged in the accident, but it might get one call out. Crossing his fingers, Buck hit speed dial 1.

Miracle of miracles there was a connection. Static crackled over the line.

“Guys, I picked up JD; we went off the road avoiding a deer. The cabin is the closest place so I’m taking him there. I’ll use the radio to get hold of you from there,” Buck spoke into the phone.

The lights faded and the phone died; a victim of the collision.

JD looked at the path up to the road doubtfully. Saying it was steep was like saying his 6’ 3” brother was a bit tall.

“We’re not going up there.”

“What are we going to do?” JD asked.

“See that down there?” Buck pointed down to the river.

The teen nodded.

“We’re going down to it, and then follow it up to the family cabin. It runs in the backyard.”

“Okay,” JD agreed.

Firmly planting the stick from his brother, Buck pulled himself to his feet.

Leaning on the stick and protecting his bad arm as best he could, Buck started down the incline with JD next to him

Carefully picking their way towards the river they began slowly making the trek down to it. Buck lurched and fell as the stick he was hobbling with slid. JD lunged to catch him. The two achieved their goal and got to the river alright, slipping, sliding and tumbling the whole way and eventually landing in it.

Catching JD in his good arm, Buck pulled the dog paddling teen towards him. Getting his feet under him, JD took Buck’s weight on his injured side and they got to shore. Wet and exhausted, they collapsed on the bank.

Stepping into the headquarters of Seven Security & Investigation’s head office, otherwise known as the ranch house they all shared, and seeing the blinking light on the answering machine, Vin stopped to listen to the messages. It was strange that they had called here instead of calling on the person’s cell phone.

Vin listened twice, the static was all he could hear, but there was someone saying something.

“Seen Buck?” Chris asked, as he came in.

“No, I figured he’s stayed with Sandy, or maybe Katy, he mentioned that it was her birthday and he was planning to visit since she was in town; they had plans but I don’t know what for,” Vin replied. It was not unusual for Buck to be gone overnight.

“He said that he was going to go over the Miller file with me,” Chris growled. Buck’s love of the ladies could blind him at times; but he was a hundred percent reliable when he had given his word on something, and he had said that he would be here this morning.

“Aw hell,” Vin muttered. Something had to be wrong; Buck would never skip out on them without at least calling. He would absolutely not bail if there was an open case he and Chris were working on.

Chris dialed Buck’s cell phone.

“Not available,” Chris repeated the computer voiced message aloud.

“You look troubled, brother,” Josiah commented, joining his younger brothers.

“Buck isn’t home and hasn’t called,” Vin summed up their concern.

“That is hardly something unique or unusual,” Ezra commented, entering the living room to see what caused the gathering.

“We were supposed to go over Miller’s extortion case; and his cell phone’s not receiving,” Chris informed him.

“Then it would be most prudent to begin making some calls,” Ezra advised.

“There’s a message on the answering machine, but it’s so garbled it’s indecipherable; maybe that was him,” Vin suggested.

Chris ran into the hall where the machine was. He would be able to hear it better from the machine than by calling in and getting the message on his cell phone.

“Unintelligible, but if you would allow me; I know someone that works with sound equipment and might be able to clean it up a little,” Ezra offered.

“I’ll call the police and report him missing; it’ll be something,” Vin sighed. As a healthy and mentally competent adult, Buck would not be considered high risk.

“The rest of us will call around,” Chris decided.

Buck had to be somewhere and if this was a case of his being so enamored with one of his lovely ladies that he lost track of everything, he would kill him with his bare hands!

Buck groaned; pain he was in major pain. Cautiously, he opened one eye and instantly closed it again. Retching, someone near him was upending their stomach. There had to be a reason that he was sleeping on the river bank, but he could not the life of him figure out what it was. That would require a functioning brain, and he had misplaced his.

“Too much of the bottle, Chris?” Buck asked, sighing. Chris with a hangover was nothing he needed when he had a hangover himself.

“I’m not Chris; It’s me JD,” A worried voice responded.

JD? But JD was still in the compound …. In a flash it all came back.

“You okay kid?”

“Yeah, I guess so, are you?”

“I’m not dead, so for now that’ll have to be enough,” Buck said, wincing as he rolled on to his stomach and began carefully pulling himself up.

Looking over he saw that JD was now holding his left arm.

Great, now on top of the injuries from the crash, JD had injured his arm when they had done their Jack and Jill impression and tumbled down the hill. Chris was going to lose it when he saw them.

With no stick as a prop, Buck found himself using JD as a crutch, while the teen leaned against him to keep in a straight line. His concussion appeared to be progressing nicely as he was now dizzy and had trouble with his stomach.

Thankfully the cabin was only about five miles; but that felt about as easy as climbing K2 in his bare skin right now. JD, he would do it because he had to get JD to the cabin and get him help. He could do this for the kid.

JD grunted slightly as Buck readjusted his weight. He just wanted to lie down and rest, but Buck had said he couldn’t do that. One step, surely he could do just one step more. For Buck, he could do it for Buck. He really needed help and would not leave him, so JD would just have to make it to the cabin.

Slowly, step by step, the pair made their way up river towards the cabin and help.

The five brothers gathered in their living room. Their two missing brothers had to be found. None of Buck’s girlfriends knew where he was. The police had made a note of it, but unless there was reason to think that Buck was in danger, he was not considered high risk. Ezra’s friend had cleared up the tape as much as possible, but other than being certain that it was Buck, nothing else was intelligible.

“Where would Buck have gone alone and without telling us?” Chris asked aloud.

Vin picked up his chirruping cell phone. “Tanner.”

“Hey Mrs. Nettie, what can I do for ya?” He asked.

The others looked as Vin stood up suddenly. “Casey’s with you? That’s great! Buck dropped her off this morning? When did they leave? We haven’t seen Buck and we’re trying to figure out where he is. No, don’t you worry, we’ll find him. I’ll call you the second we have news. Bye.”

Vin smiled at the four men surrounding him.

“JD and Casey got out last night. Buck went to get them and dropped Casey off about seven this morning. Nettie fed him and JD breakfast and they left about seven thirty.”

“Halleluiah! We’ve got a place and time to start looking,” Josiah boomed.

“That must have been the call that was so garbled,” Chris took a deep breath and let it out.

“He would still have answered his phone,” Ezra pointed out.

“Okay, so, he has JD and he’s been driving all night after having been up all day. He would’ve been tired, where might he head between here and Nettie’s if he needed some shut-eye?” Vin asked.

“The cabin!” came in four part harmony.

“So, he was heading her or to the cabin from Nettie’s, he’d be on the same road most of the way,” Josiah commented.

“Ezra, do you know how to work the radio?” Chris asked. Josiah and Buck were both radio enthusiasts and had set up a HAM radio in the cabin where they got better reception.

“Indeed, they have been most generous in sharing their interest with me.”

“Ezra, you stay here in case he calls or radios in or anyone else does,” Chris ordered. “Nathan, make sure that you have a full medical bag in the car, just in case.”

“Godspeed,” Ezra told them as the four ran out the door, and he headed to the radio set the men had in the house.

Minutes later the SUV was headed towards the only road that went to the cabin.

Thirty minutes later Vin rode shotgun watching for any signs of trouble that their brothers might have gotten into. Nathan and Josiah were in back praying that they would not die as Chris took the corners on two wheels ignoring the laws of physics.

“Hold!” Vin called out.

Josiah made a mental note to get the brakes looked at again on the SUV as it slammed to a stop. They would be feeling the abuse after this jaunt.

The Texan leapt from the vehicle, and scrambled down a path of destruction recently created by a vehicle of some kind.

“Dear Lord,” Josiah prayed seeing a familiar red truck crashed into a group of trees.

The three followed Vin down to the stuck truck.

“Where are they?” Chris snarled.

Vin nodded down to the river, “Reckon Bucklin ‘d try to get to the cabin. If he’s hurt, his best bet, likely would’ve been going down to the river and following it to the cabin.”

“Vin, follow the river and see if they went that way, the rest of us will continue along the road and see if we can find them,” Chris ordered.

Wishing one another luck, Vin headed down the trail, such as it was, while the others climbed back up to the road.

“Damn, you two sure got yourself into one heck of a mess,” Vin sighed minutes later as he saw the path his two brothers falling bodies had made as they had rolled down the steep hill into the river.

Tracking was something that Vin had proven to be gifted in while in the army, and that had also served him well as a bounty hunter. The trail this pair was leaving a six year old could follow blindfolded.

“BUCK! JD!” He hollered, seeing his missing brothers all but crawling up the hill towards their goal of the cabin.

Vin pulled out his cell phone and speed dialed Chris.


“Found ‘em, we were right, their heading up the hill to the cabin. They got banged up, but no blood flowing and seem to be okay,” Vin informed him.

“We’re almost at the cabin, we’ll meet you there,” Chris informed him and disconnected the call.

“Hey, Vin,” Buck smiled tiredly at him.

“Good to see ya; the others are nearly at the cabin,” The young man told him.

“You don’t look so good, JD, let’s see if we can’t get you some help,” Vin smiled at his younger brother.

“It’s been a bad day; well, actually it’s been a great day, it’s just the last few hours that have not been our best,” JD responded, slurring.

“Know what ya mean, had a few days like that myself,” Vin chuckled.

“Buck’s really great, he’s gonna have Ezra bury mom with everyone else’s family,” JD told him.

“He really is one of a kind,” Vin agreed, mentally noting Buck’s promise, he would see that it was done if Buck was laid up and unable to follow through.

“Hey there!” Nathan called as they joined the trio half way up the hill.

Josiah and Nathan took over as Buck’s prop and half helped half carried their large brother up the hill. Chris and Vin took JD, guiding and keeping him upright.

“Emergency room,” Nathan said, as Buck and JD were tucked between him and Vin in the back seat. Josiah was up front as there was no way that the four would fit in back if two of them were the size of Buck and Josiah.

“Ezra, it’s Vin, we got Buck and JD, but they’re needing a trip to the emergency room. Listen, JD’s mom died yesterday and he wants custody of her body so he can bury her with the rest of the family,” Vin called their missing brother and brought him up to speed.

“I shall begin immediately; he’s not to trouble himself on that account,” Ezra replied. “I’ll meet you at the hospital.”

“Thanks,” JD smiled at him. “I’d really miss her otherwise.”

“I’d miss my ma as well if I couldn’t visit her grave,” Vin looked over at his new brother. He remembered him vaguely as a small boy with dark hair and eyes. Apparently he had remembered correctly.

“Hang on and we’ll have you two at the hospital in no time,” Nathan assured them.

“Cool! I’ve never been at a hospital before, I’ve never even been to a doctor,” JD giggled.

Vin chuckled, JD was evidently really out of it.

“Thanks for the rescue, guys,” Buck hissed as they hit a bump and it jarred his leg.

“No problem,” Chris called back from the driver’s seat. “Why didn’t you tell us what you were doing, though?”

“Left you a note; was going to call or radio from the cabin.”

“The paperweight was on the floor when we got home; wanna bet the note is under something?” Vin snorted.

“Even Ezra wouldn’t take that bet,” Nathan replied.

They were still laughing about this as they pulled up to the hospital.

Nathan jumped out and ran in to get some help.

Minutes later two orderlies and a nurse came out to collect the injured. Vin went with JD, while Josiah accompanied Buck, and Chris went to park.

Nathan greeted Chris and Ezra ten minutes later as they entered the waiting room. The two had met up in the parking lot.

There was nothing for them to do but wait until someone came out and gave them news. The important things were that they would be fine and JD was finally where he belonged with the rest of the family. It was just sad that he had had to lose his mother before he could get here. They would have loved to get them both out.

Four hours late they were finally home. Chris smiled as he peeked into what Vin had dubbed the sick room.

Buck was sprawled on his bed with one arm in a cast due to a broken collar bone, and an air cast supporting his badly wrenched knee. Apparently broken ribs were no longer taped or Buck would have been sporting that as well.

A second bed had been hauled into the room, where JD, his broken arm in a cast, was now sleeping. They had a room set up for him, but as he had to be woken every hour due to his concussion it was easier to put him here. That way Nathan could check them both at once.

Besides, Buck has insisted that the kid be put in here with him. Having been in the boys’ dormitory since he was ten, he would not be used to sleeping alone and would sleep easier sharing a room.

The blond nodded, as Buck blinked his eyes open and gave a slight wave with his good arm.

David Wright’s seven sons were together, solid and united in spite of him and his cult. It was a dream Josiah had had since he left the cult, and had passed on to his brothers as one by one they had left their father’s world and joined their brothers.