Affirmation of Soul

by Suzy B

ATF Universe

Disclaimer: The characters from the television program The Magnificent Seven are the property of Trilogy and The Mirisch Co. I am making no money from their use. This Story is created for entertainment purposes only, no infringement intended. Not to be copied without permission from the author.

Warning: This is a relatively depressing story so if you don't need depression please go no further.

Scuffed brown boots kicked aimlessly at the tiny pieces of asphalt that heavy traffic had jarred loose of the flat blacktop. Heavy traffic that had worn on the asphalt's soul and was slowly disintegrating the very substance that held it together. Kind of like the way loss eats away at your heart and soul. A deep heartfelt sigh left the lips of a man whose heart held more pain than he thought was possible. Two months of memories barely held the fragile shards of a heart that he had no choice but to give. But for every moment of pain there was an hour of memories of happiness that they had shared.

Deep blue eyes brimmed with tears that seemed endless, the depth of his pain knowing no bounds. Stopping him in his tracks. He scanned the surrounding roadside almost sightlessly before he veered across the patchy black asphalt crossing the double yellow lines that dissected the road. Moving aimlessly yet with a definite purpose he walked up a slight incline until he reached a stout pine tree and slid down its rough bark. Not noticing or caring as the bark bit into the skin of his back, his blue broncos jersey riding up as it snagged on the bark. He sat for several minutes, his eyes transfixed on visions that weren't before him. Images of the short time they had had together, that had burned indelibly etched on his memory.

The cessation of physical activity was the first crack in the dam of pent up sorrow. One muffled sob was the first to breach his quickly unravelling control, then a second and a third until there was no longer defining breaths between, just one long heart wrenching, gulping sob that tore at his heart and purged his soul of some of the crushing pain he was carrying. Seconds faded into minutes then blurred into oblivion as his grief consumed him. Long trembling fingers slid through his tousled hair as the back of his other hand scrubbed against his tear wet face. The sensation of warm metal touching his skin stilled any movement as he drew his hand away his eyes fixed on the wide band of gold that circled his left ring finger.

For one fleeting moment a trace of happiness coloured his face with a gentle flush, before more recent memories kicked in and overpowered the happiness with the deep pit of sorrow that had been gouged from his soul. Pulling the ring from his finger, he kissed it. Lips pressed against the gleaming gold that hadn't even been given time to tarnish before she had left him. Slipping it back onto his finger he struggled to pull his emotions back under some semblance of control.

Finally he understood Chris's self destructive spiral when Sarah and Adam were killed. While he had felt their loss deeply himself he had never truly understood Chris was so hell bent on joining them. Until now. Part of his soul had been ripped away and the jagged edges fluttered in the wind, begging for the seamstress of destiny to make them whole again. The only difference was that for the rest of his life he would cherish her memory and let the part of her soul that remained with him live.

Lifting himself from the ground he picked his way down the small incline toward the roadway he had left. It had only been two days since the funeral and he couldn't seem to find a part of his world that she hadn't touched. In the two small months they had, there wasn't a part of his world that she hadn't shared. Not that he would change that for a minute, she was his love, his wife and his life, his world was hers, but with her passing everything hurt even more. Even things as mundane as making coffee brought tears to his eyes.

He laughed wryly to himself through his tears. For a man who was not only a reknowned womaniser but a man who truly loved the fairer sex, it had taken a woman who had only ever slept in his arms to break his heart. Maybe that was what made it so hard to face his bed since she had left him. She had slipped away from him peacefully in her sleep, held in arms that adored her more than life. His lips pressed against her forehead as he felt her slip from the life they had shared so briefly.

Nights had become the longest part of his existence, Dark hours filled with the soft tenderness of the smile that she kept just for him, the remembered words they had shared in the darkness as they lay in bed and watched the sun rising through the windows. Talking their way through her pain, in his own way offering her whatever comfort he could possibly share. If he could have taken her pain and suffered it for her he would have. As she suffered bravely he had begged whatever gods would listen to him to ease her torment, knowing that to ease her own pain was to take her from him and increase his own.

The nights now led him to the cemetery. Hours of one sided conversation that eased the pain in his soul and made his voice hoarse as he spoke to the cold marble headstone that represented the warm loving woman that had been his wife for what seemed like a heartbeat. When the pain of loss he had endured began to be too much for him to bear he started to walk, long lanky legs eating up the distance he covered, trying to walk away from his pain. But it was a futile battle, like trying to sweep a pavement in a gale. Just as you thought you had it under control a sudden gust of memories would set his emotions awhirl once more.


Buck paced the corridors his fear for his young roommate almost a tangible being accompanying him as he paced backwards and forwards along the pristine white hospital floors. His boots tapping on the floors rhythmically. It seemed like hours before that JD had been wheeled into surgery, his skin pale, his breathing weak. Ever since the gurney had disappeared through the swinging theatre doors Buck had been pacing. In deference to the continued sanity of his teammates he had moved into the corridors, but his pacing hadn 't slowed or changed.

"They'll be fine" a soft voice murmured from behind him

"Excuse me?" Buck turned to speak to the owner of the voice, his nerves strung tight

"The person you are waiting for" she stated "They'll be fine" her voice was filled with certainty Caught up in his concern for his young roommate Buck barely registered the lilting voice of the woman who stood before him. Dressed in a fluffy robe and slippers, her black curly hair tousled and unruly, her right hand wrapped around an IV trolley that fed into her arm. She smiled gently at him as he studied her.

"I hope you're right" Buck nodded

"I know I am" she replied her pale face lit by a warm smile that Buck couldn 't help but respond to "But if you want to talk about it I'm here" Buck watched her silently for long moments before he stepped closer to her and extended a hand to her "Names Buck Wilmington Ma'am" he spoke softly

"Can I buy you a coffee?"

"Evangeline Carter. I don't drink coffee" she shook her head slowly "but I' ll walk down to the cafeteria with you" Buck nodded almost imperceptibly and extended one hand to her. She slipped her tiny hand into his and walked beside him as he shortened his stride to accommodate hers.

Settling into a table in the small and sparsely decorated cafeteria Buck made sure she was seated and then walked up to the register, returning with two steaming cups.

"I don't do coffee" she shook her head as he placed a cup in front of her

"It's not coffee" Buck smiled at her "It's herbal tea" he sank into his own seat opposite her

"Do you want to talk about it?" he murmured softly looking into deep blue eyes that were clouded with worry

"I'm just worried about a friend" he spoke softly his voice catching on his final words

"She must be very special to you" Evangeline whispered

"She?" Buck spoke confused then shook his head to clear it "No it's not a woman it's my housemate. We're both in law enforcement and he was shot tonight" he explained briefly

"I'm sorry" she paused "How badly?" she asked before she could stop herself

"I don't think it's too bad" Buck spoke confidently, his confidence faded as he continued "But JD has a way of turning a paper cut into a life threatening issue" Evangeline reached out a hand to cup Buck's as they settled around his coffee cup "He won't leave you" she whispered, her eyes crystalline with the tears that his pain has brought.

"He'd better not" Buck chuckled as he turned his hand to cup her fingers in his, somehow comforted by the touch "I'd be forced to kick his butt if he even tried"

"See" she closed her fingers around his "I knew there was a smile inside that handsome face" His smile widened and he looked more closely at her face, her skin was pale, even paler than JD's under her unruly mop of blue black curls. She had been pretty, she still was but her beauty was now overlaid with a veil of pain that her eyes tried vainly to mask. But it was there. It pinched at the corners of her plump pink lips and tugged at the edges of her pale blue eyes.

"I shouldn't be bothering you with my problems" he spoke slowly confused by how right it felt to be sharing this time with her

"I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want to hear Buck" she answered "I watched you in the corridor" she shrugged "You seemed so alone. I couldn't leave you like that"

"You don't even know me" he replied pointing out the flaw in her logic

"Oh but I do" she smiled "I know you are a good kind man who cares about his friends"

"I'm a cop Ginnie" he shrugged shortening her name automatically "Nothing more, nothing less"

"That's what you think" she murmured somehow warmed by the way her name sounded on his lips "But I know better" Buck reached out both hands and took her in his across the cracked linoleum tabletop "Are you gonna be in here much longer?" he murmured "I'd like to take you to dinner" Buck didn't know what he had said but her eyes filled with tears "Not long" she murmured softly He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her lightly on the knuckles his thumb tracing the almost transparent skin that his moustache had tickled

"Well when you get out we'll have us a bang up night on the town" he spoke

"I'd like that" she looked at the scarred tabletop refusing to lift her eyes to his

"I should be getting back to JD" Buck stated "Can I walk you back to your room?"

"I'd like that" Evangeline murmured again unable to form another thought.

Buck stood and waited until she slowly climbed to her feet and standing on hr left side he wrapped an arm comfortingly around her waist. Walking slowly at her side, they moved silently through the corridors towards the waiting room where she had found him. She faltered in her step the longer they walked her fingers clinging to the IV trolley with a white knuckled grip. Feeling her discomfort he moved one large hand to fold around her free hand and offer her a tiny fragment of comfort in a world that was obviously filled with pain.

"Where's your room?" he murmured softly

"Next floor" she forced out through clenched teeth "I'll be fine Buck" she whispered as she slipped out of his grasp and sank into a hard plastic chair

"Yeah" he nodded as he knelt in front of her "Sure looks that way" he lifted a thumb to gently wipe away the beads of cold sweat that dotted her upper lip

"Go and check on JD" she spoke her voice strained "I'll be fine" He smiled at her "JD has five more men in that waiting room" he gestured

"Besides you said he'd be fine and I believe you" his eyes turned serious again "I won't leave you alone like this"

"I am always alone like this" she turned her pain glazed eyes on him

"Not anymore" Buck replied calmly

"What if I were to come and wait with you?" she smiled at his words "I'll feel the same in bed or here" she murmured "And I'd appreciate the company"

"Then consider me your companion" he nodded and helped her to stand so they could walk slowly into the waiting room.

She weathered the curious glances of the men who inhabited the small waiting room, spread around the miniscule area enough to give each man their own space but every one of them definitely connected. Buck had positioned his long lanky body beside her on the hard green plastic chairs, and as she endured the speculative gazes she couldn't help but feel that she was somehow intruding. Starting to rise and make her excuses to the man beside her, he clasped her hand tighter and pulled her back down to the chair and settled his arm across her shoulders pulling her against his side, letting her sink into his loose embrace. The only sign of his prior agitation the incessant bouncing of his feet as they lay crossed in front of him.

"I should go Buck" she murmured against his chest as she snuggled beneath the warm arm

"Why?" Buck frowned as he tightened his arm "Should I get a nurse?" he slipped one hand under her chin to tilt her face up to his

"Mr Wilmington?" a nurse's voice spoke from the doorway of the small room.

Clasping Evangeline's hand tightly he slid out from beside her trying not to move her too roughly as he stood to face the newcomer, not even noticing the others were already standing waiting for the verdict on their young companion.

"How is he?" Buck's voice was hoarse, his throat dry, his heart in his mouth. The only things he was truly aware of were the young nurse who stood before him and the gently reassuring grasp of Evangeline's fingers in his.

"He's waking" the nurse smiled brightly "And he's asking for you Mr Wilmington" she nodded in confirmation of her words as she watched them register to his mind. His mouth curving into a grin before he could stop it. He turned to kneel in front of Evangeline

"Will you be alright" he paused "I need to go and see him" he spoke calmly

"Go" she nodded "I'll wait right here for you" she smiled

Buck lifted her fingers to his lips and kissed them gently then followed the nurse from the room. Stepping through the door to his young flat mates room, he couldn't help but release a soft exhalation of relief as he watched him. Pale and unmarked except for the bandaging that covered his chest and left shoulder, his ebony hair falling haphazardly over his forehead and against the pristine white of the pillow his head rested on. Thick black lashes brushed dark shadows of exhaustion on the younger man's cheeks. Buck couldn't help himself he crossed to the bedside and folded one of JD"s hands in his, his other hand brushing an errant lock of hair from JD's forehead.

"Dammit JD" he spoke softly "You've gotta stop doing this to me. The old heart can't take it"

"You're full of crap Buck" JD's weary voice stated

"Maybe Kid" he paused a wide smile splitting his face "Maybe....How do you feel?"

"Like I've been hit by a truck" JD answered finally opening his glassy eyes to look at Buck

"Want me to get a nurse?" Buck frowned resting his hand against JD's forehead checking for a temperature

"You think there's one out there you haven't hit on" JD spoke his eyes closing wearily

"Haven't hit on one Kid" Buck spoke sinking into the chair at the bedside

"Tell me you're not hitting on the doctors" JD's eyes opened watching his friend closely

"Would you believe the patients?' buck smiled guiltily

"Tell me?" he sighed as he closed his eyes again

"She's beautiful, witty, kind and caring" he spoke softly his mind retreating to the woman in the waiting room "You'd like her JD" he continued

"She's gonna be out of here in a few weeks and then I'm gonna take her to dinner" his voice trailed off as he realised that JD had slipped back behind a curtain of unconsciousness. Buck stood and brushed the hair back from JD's forehead then pressed his lips briefly against the cool skin "Rest little buddy I'll be back later" he murmured and walked from the room, intent on letting the others spend some time with their youngest.

Returning to the waiting room, a wide smile on his face he nodded to his friends. With that one smile and nod they all knew that JD would be okay, but they still needed to see him to confirm in their own minds that he wasn' t going to leave them. Buck turned to where he had left Evangeline to find the seat empty, spinning back to find a reason for her absence his eyes met Chris'.

"She said she would see you later" he shrugged

"Damn" Buck sighed gently shaking his head he turned and retraced his own steps back to JD's room, waiting patiently just inside the door until the others had verified JD's condition for themselves and then settled in for the remainder of the night. He folded his long body into the ridiculously small chair at JD's bedside, his long lanky legs stretched out before him. His booted heels resting of the faded blue blanket that covered JD's bed. His head dipped forward, his chin resting on his chest as he tried to catch a little of the sleep he had missed that night.

The gentle touch of a nurse's hand on his shoulder dragged him quickly back to earth and away from dreams of ebony haired angels.

"What is it?" he asked instantly awake "Is JD okay?"

"He's fine and sleeping comfortably" the pretty young blonde spoke "Which is more than I can say for you"

"I'm fine"

"Yeah right" she scoffed "You're going home" she lightened her tone "At least for a couple of hours"

"Nope" Buck dug in his heels, nobody was chasing him away "He's not waking up alone"

"He won't be" she nodded "You can go get a couple of hours sleep and be back and he won't even know you've been missing"

"Nope" Buck shook his head firmly

"Fine" she shrugged "Then you wait in the waiting room" her voice developed an official edge that would have matched Larabee's. Buck rose and walked slowly out of the room turning to check one final time on JD before he continued down the halls.

Pushing through the doors that had admitted JD's injured body so many hours before he took a deep cleansing breath of the hazy air of a city beginning to stir. Letting his feet carry him on their own journey his mind filled with the images that had terrified him so during the night. No matter how many times he saw it he couldn't get used to seeing the Kid so badly hurt. He didn't know what it was that frightened him so badly when it happened, maybe the fact that he was a bundle of nervous energy, always moving, always in motion, never still. When JD was still, so deathly pale and still as he had been last night, he was afraid, no terrified that the irritating nervous energy wouldn't start again.

A smile creased his face as he realised that last night had been different. It had taken a handful of words and the voice of an angel to convince him. Words that the others on the team had told him over and over, yet he had failed to believe them. Evangeline's words had been full of the conviction that his brothers had been unable to find. She knew that JD would be fine and he believed her.

Pausing in his steps he turned on his heel and retraced his steps to the hospital, pausing only long enough to stop and pick up a bunch of flowers from the gift shop in the foyer before he made his way past JD's room and towards his new destination. Pushing the door open he slipped slowly into the room watching the sleeping woman in the bed before him. The fact that the ebony curls he had admired so much were on a mannequin head sitting on the bedside table didn't disturb him. He put the flowers on the table the covered the end of the bed and reached out with long tender fingers to touch the wispy brown hair that unevenly covered her sleeping head.

He leaned on his elbows on the bed, his fingers tracing the satiny baby soft locks of hair that they encountered. He watched as her eyes opened, a gentle contented smile curling her lips as she emerged from a happy dream, before panic and finally shame filled her face and her eyes filled with tears.

"you shouldn't be here Buck" she spoke as she pushed his hand away

"I came to say thank you" he murmured watching her panic increase "I'm sorry" Her eyes flashed quickly to his and she stopped her movements "What are you sorry for?"

"I didn't mean to upset you" he shrugged "I wanted you to know how much you meant to me" Her fingers lifted to touch the hair that had barely begun to grow back after this round of chemotherapy "I didn't want you to see me like this"

"Like what" he murmured with a shrug "Nothing can change the way I see you Angel"

"Yeah right" she snorted and batted his hand away as he reached out to touch her

"Ginny" he murmured trying to choose the words that would make her understand his feelings "A famous man once said the best and most beautiful thing in the world can not be seen or even touched they must be felt by the heart" he paused and took one of her hands in his pressing it against his chest "He's right you know cos last night my heart felt yours"

"Buck" she spoke softly shaking her head

"The outside doesn't matter darlin, it's what's in here that counts and in here you are more beautiful than the most precious flower"

"I want to be that on the outside for you" she whispered lifting her teary eyes to his

"When you're well you will be Ginny" he murmured leaning forward to press his lips against hers.

"No this is too fast" she shook her head and pulled away from him "No I won' t let you" she paused "I can't let you get close to me"

"It's just a tad too late for that Ginny" he spoke with a wry chuckle "I think it was too late the moment you spoke to me"

"You don't understand" she sobbed

"What? You have a huge husband at home that's gonna kick my butt for visiting his wife?" Buck smiled

"No I'm not married" she smiled through her tears "I'm divorced"

"A significant other that I should be hiding out from?"

"No" she couldn't help but smile at his persistence "I'm alone"

"Then maybe I'm offending you" he stepped back quickly for the first time realising that maybe his affections were unwanted

"No it's not that" she shook her head reaching out to clasp his hand "I don' t want to hurt you" she murmured

"You let me worry about me" he nodded seriously as he sat on the edge of her bed

"You worry too much about your friends and forget about yourself" she murmured cupping his face with one trembling hand "I will always worry about you" she murmured unable to stop the renewed tears that fell. Her thumb traced the dark circles that shadowed his eyes and she moved in her bed, patting the mound of pillows that she leaned against "There's room here for you for a little while" she offered

"I should leave and let you get some sleep" he started to move away

"Hold me?" she asked in a whisper

"Always" he murmured as he reached forward to wipe her tears from her cheeks then moved to lay against the soft fluffy pillows opening his arms to her. She snuggled into him sighing as his strong arms closed around her, allowing her world to recede until there was only the two of them.

to be continued...

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