Caught by the Odds

by Purple Lacey

First story in the Angel Girl series.

"What did you just say?" Buck Wilmington whispered, as he stared at Morgan Charles who was seated across from him at the conference table. They were alone together at the conference room of the ATF's premier group of agents, Team 7.

"You heard exactly what I said you son-of-a- bitch. Julie's dead, and it's your fault!" cried the distraught woman.

"I haven't even seen Julie in months. How her death be my fault?" Buck slowly questioned. He had fond memories of the 2 months he had spent dating the lovely Julie Morgan. She had a sweetness about her that made him feel 10 feet tall when she smiled at him. Sorrow for her loss was slowly taking hold of his heart. "How did she die?"

"You bastard! She died yesterday. She had a stroke, due to complications of her pregnancy."

"Pregnant! Julie was pregnant?" Buck gasped.

"Yeah, she was pregnant with your baby!" Morgan hissed as she swiped at the tears that were starting to roll down her face.

"My baby!" Buck leapt out of his chair in shock. "What are you talking about. It couldn't have been my baby! We took precautions. Besides, Julie would have told me if she was pregnant!"

"Listen, asshole. The best form of birth control has only a 94% success rate. That means 6% of the time it fails. The odds caught up with you, and Julie paid the price. She was my best friend, but I never agreed with her decision to wait until the baby was born until telling you. She said she wanted to come to you with the baby so you could see that she was able to care for it herself and was not going to try to trap you into marriage or make any demands of you. She was going to give you the chance to have a part in your child's life if you wanted, but didn't want to force you into anything. Personally, I think she should have nailed your balls to the wall for the way you used her and then walked away."

"I never used her," Buck protested. "I cared for her. We were friends. We had some a good times together, but neither of us ever said anything about getting serious or permanent. She ...."

"Oh God, you make me sick! I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for the promise I made to Julie. I don't think you deserve her, but my hands are tied," the woman sobbed.

"Awh, Julie.." Buck whispered as he raised the his hands and and rubbed them down his face. His broad shoulders slumped as he considered the loss of such sweet and loving woman.

"Anyway, I just want to finish this and then never lay eyes on you again for as long as I live," stated Julie's friend.

"Finish what?"

"This is a letter Julie asked for me to give you in the event something happened to her. I guess she must have had a bad feeling or something . Here," she said as she passed the letter to him.

Buck ripped open the envelope and started reading as Morgan rose from the chair to leave.

"Wait! It says here I have a daughter! The baby's alive?" Buck shouted.

"Yeah, the baby lived. She's fine, and like I said, you don't deserve her, but Julie wanted you to have the baby if something happened to her. For some insane reason she thought you would be a good father. The baby's at Denver General Hospital. Julie made it through the delivery but had the stroke a few hours afterward. She wrote you that letter right after she got back from the delivery room and made me promise to give it to you. She barely had time to hold her own child before she died. She didn't even get to decide on her name," the woman sobbed as she broke down once more.

Buck reached over and took the distraught woman in his arms. They stood and shed tears together for the loss they shared. Each was lost in their own thoughts, until the woman suddenly realized where she was and jerked out of his arms.

"Bastard. Don't touch me," she muttered before storming out of the room, leaving Buck behind bewildered, grieving, and scared.

"Wow, I guess the old animal magnetism ain't what it used to be, huh, Buck? That woman stormed out of here looking like she wanted to take a blunt object to your head," JD joked as he entered the conference room a few minutes later.

Buck just continued to sit with his back to the door, staring at the piece of paper in his hand, and did not answer.

"Buck," JD said, as he moved around the table to look his friend in the face. What he saw caused him to leap forward and put his arm around the big man's shoulders. "Buck! Are you alright?"

Buck slowly raised his tearfilled eyes to his best friend and said, "No. No, I'm not alright, and I don't know if I ever will be again," before his face crumpled and he buried it in the shoulder of the person who was like a brother to him.

JD wrapped his arms around his friend and drew him tight against his body. The pain that was radiating from this normally strong man was almost too much for his young friend to handle. JD didn't know how he could help Buck, but he knew he didn't have to figure it out alone. JD did what he always did whenever he was in over his head, he called for back up.


Chris Larabee, entered the conference room with the rest of Team 7 on his heels. Seeing the frightened look on JD's face as his oldest friend leaned into the arms of his youngest agent, Chris hurried over and put a hand on Buck's shoulder.

"What's wrong? Talk to me, Buck," Chris ordered.

"Oh God, Chris. . ." Buck raised his head and Chris saw everything he was feeling in the tearful blue eyes.

As the team surrounded their distraught teammate, the whole story poured out of Buck. Each man was stunned at the tragic tale.

Nathan was the first one to realize their teammate was a little shocky and sent Vin to get a soda from the vending machine. "Add a little sugar to the soda before you bring it back, Vin," Nathan advised.

"Can do, Pard. Hang in there, Buck. I'll be right back." Vin said as he raced to the breakroom to follow Nathan's instructions.

"You know we're here for you, Brother," Josiah declared.

"Yes, Mr. Wilmington. We all feel for your loss. Assistance is readily available should you require it. You have but to ask," confirmed Ezra.

Buck nodded his head to acknowledge the assurances of his friends, but kept his head lowered as he stared at the table in front of him.

Vin returned with the sweetened soda, and Nathan took it from him and passed it to Buck.

"Try to drink some of this, Buck," Nathan said.

Buck gazed at the frosty can with indifference but raised it to his mouth and drank until the soda was gone. He handed the can back to Nathan but remained silent.

"Buck, why don't you lay down on the couch in Chris' office for awhile, alright? Give yourself a little time to recover, and then we can all talk," Nathan said, reaching for Buck's arm to help him rise from the chair.

He started to guide him out of the room. Buck allowed himself to be led out of the conference room, but as they started down the hall to Chris' office, he suddenly jerked away from Nathan's hand and ran for the door. He ran to the elevator, and the door opened to let out another agent just as he reached it. The rest of Team 7 was not able to catch him before the doors closed.

"What happened?" JD asked in confusion, "Where's he going?"

"Where else would he go, JD? He's going to see his baby girl," Josiah answered calmly.

"That man is in no shape to drive," Nathan stated firmly.

Ezra nodded his head in agreement. "Indeed, Mr. Jackson. I believe it would be in the best interests of all the unsuspecting citizens of this fair city if we were to pursue Mr. Wilmington."

"What are you standing here for? Get moving," ordered Chris as they all started out after their colleague.

+ + + + + + +

Buck entered the hospital and headed straight to the elevators that would take him to the hospital's nursery. He was familiar enough with the hospital to find his way without having to ask directions, having spent a considerable number of hours there whenever he or one of his teammates was injured, which was often. He seldom had a reason to visit the nursery but was aware of its location in the multi-storied building.

Leaving the elevator on the seventh floor, he turned right and strode to the glass walled viewing area that allowed visitors to see the newborn children. He looked from bassinet to bassinet trying to find his own child. That one had a blue card, a boy, nope, That one had a blue card, nope. That one had a pink card, maybe, nope, wrong name. That one had a pink card....... The words, GIRL WILMINGTON, jumped out at him as his eyes found the tiny child nestled in a pink blanket in the middle row of bassinets. Buck felt his heart stop, as for a single moment time stood still while the new father gazed on his child and fell completely and irrevocably in love.

The moment was broken as the nurse on duty in the nursery approached the window and Buck waved to get her attention. The nurse smiled and exited the nursery door to the hall as she said, "Hi, can I help you?"

Glancing at the name tag on her uniform he said,"Yeah, thanks, Karen. That's my daughter. I can I hold her, please?" Buck raised pleading eyes to the nurse.

"What's your name, Sir?"

"Wilmington. Buck Wilmington," he replied as he whipped out his ATF ID card and badge. "That's my baby there, see." Buck said eagerly.

The nurse laughed but carefully examined his credentials. "Hey, I've heard of you. You're one of the "Magnificent Seven" right? Your team is infamous in this hospital. I never thought we' get to see you on this floor though."

Buck, chuckled faintly and tried not to let his impatience show, but for once was not interested in flirting with a pretty woman. All his concentration was on the little angel on the other side of the glass.

"Why don't you come with me and we'll get you suited up so you can hold her?" said the nurse as she led Buck to the door into the nursery. She handed him a blue gown to put over his clothes and led him to a sink to have him wash his hands before leading him to a rocking chair near the viewing window. Buck's eyes never left her as she reached into the bassinet and picked up the newborn. He couldn't help leaning forward worriedly as she walked toward him with his child. He was ready to leap up in a second if she had shown any signs of dropping his little angel. The nurse chuckled softly at the concern on his face as she gently placed the baby into her fathers arms, and moved away to allow him some privacy. Buck never noticed her departure. He was completed focussed on the small person that now held his heart in the palm of her tiny hand.

That was how his teammates found him, completely enthralled by the little girl in his arms. The wonder and love on his face struck them all silent as they shared this moment of complete joy with the oblivious man behind the window. They watched as he opened the blanket and counted her fingers and toes, then stroked a large finger gently against the satin skin of her face as she slept. He grinned as the little rosebud mouth turned toward his finger and made sucking motions in her sleep. He watched in awe as the baby's eyelids fluttered then slowly opened to reveal eyes the exact shade of his own. He took one small hand in his own and when she wrapped her little fist around his finger and held on tight, his heart swelled with so much love he was afraid it was going to burst.

Karen approached with a small bottle of formula and held it out to Buck. "It's time for her next feeding if you want to give her her bottle, Mr. Wilmington." The agent eagerly reached for the bottle and took it from the nurse's hand with a quick smile and a thank you. Turning back to the the child, he stroked the small mouth with the nipple of the bottle until she latched on to it and started sucking hard.

"My, you were hungry weren't you darlin'? Yeah, daddy's little girl was starving. " He cooed as the child watched his face over the top of the bottle. qqq "Damn, he looks like he really knows what he's doing," exclaimed JD.

"Well, he had lots of practise," Chris said softly.

Josiah turned to gaze on the team leader and said softly, "You okay Chris?"

"Yeah. I'm okay. I won't lie to you, it still hurts ," Chris admitted, " but not like it used to. He loved my son almost as much as I did, Josiah, and he was there for me when I needed him. Even when I treated him like shit, he never gave up on me. How could I not be here for him now? Besides, look at him. Look at that face. How could anyone be anything but happy for him." They both turned back to the window to watch this new addition to their little family.

"He will require much assistance in the days to come," Ezra remarked, never taking his eyes off the pair behind the window.

"He'll get it," said Nathan confidently. "Whatever he needs. The seven of us should be able to handle one small baby with no problems."

"He's gonna need things for her; clothes, a crib, stuff like that," Vin threw in.

"Adam's crib is stored in the attic at my house. She can have it if Buck wants. There's also a lot of other things up there that might be useful," Chris said quietly, "like the changing table and a dresser, a car seat and some other stuff."

"You sure, Chris?" Vin asked watching his friend carefully.

Chris turned and smiled at the sharpshooter. "Yeah, I'm sure. I can't think of a better person to give it to than the daughter of the man in there, can you?"

Vin slapped him on the back and grinned, "No, Cowboy. I sure can't."

Buck laughed as the baby in his arms pushed the nipple of the bottle out of her mouth with her small tongue and began blowing small bubbles of formula. "Well, I guess Daddy's angel has had enough, hmm? It's play time now, isn't it. Yeah, that's right."

His friends grinned at the faces the lady's man was making for the small child before he carefully lifted her onto his shoulder and gently rubbed her back. They all broke into laughter at the look of intense pride on his face when she let loose with a loud burp.

"Hey, what's he gonna name her?" JD suddenly spoke up. "She's gotta have a name. Do you think he'll let us help come up with one?"

"I think Monique is a lovely name for such a beautiful child, don't you agree?" stated Ezra.

"I kinda like Candy, 'cause she such a sweet little thing," offered JD.

"Please, Mr. Dunne."

"Common, Ez, Candy's a nice name. Right Josiah?" JD argued.

" Personally, I've always been rather fond of the name Rebecca," Josiah tossed in.

"Rebecca's nice, but not as sweet as Candy," JD replied. "What do you think, Vin?"

"I' have to say Amanda," replied the sharpshooter.

The team continued to argue over names and discuss ways they would be able to help their friend as he continued to coo baby talk to his little darlin'. Karen almost had to rip the child from his arms when she told him visiting hours were over and he would have to leave.

"Dr. Vincent is her pediatrician and he should be making rounds soon. He can tell you when you will be able to take her home," Karen said to distract the new father who was practically wrestling her for possesion of the child. These appeared to be magic words as Buck reluctantly relinquished the child and watched the nurse lay her back in the bassinet.

"Are you going to be with her all night, Karen?" Buck asked.

"No, my shift ends in another 3 hours, Mr. Wilmington, why?" Karen asked.

"Who will be watching over my girl, then? What's her name? Is she qualified? Has she ever been convicted of a felony? What...." Buck suddenly switched to serious agent mode.

Struggling not to laugh in the worried father's face, Karen reassured him that her replacement was a fully qualified registered nurse of the highest moral character as she gently lead him to the door to the hall and pushed him outside the nursery. She firmly closed the door in his face as he continued to question her about the name of her replacement so he could run the appropriate background checks he felt were needed to guarantee the safety of his little girl. Then Karen waved at all the handsome men that lined the other side of the viewing window before they hurried toward their teammate to stop him from kicking down the nursery door to get back to his daughter. Man, the nurses in the ER and ICU were not kidding, these guys were all major hunks!

+ + + + + + +

Buck lay on his back and stared at the ceiling over his bed. It was after 2:00 AM but sleep still eluded him. His emotions had been on a roller coaster ever since he had left the hospital. He was intensely saddened by the death of Julie. While he couldn't honestly say he had loved her, he had liked her and enjoyed her company. He regretted her loss not only for himself, but also for their daughter who would never know the kind and loving person that was her mother. At the same time, he was full of joy for the little miracle that God had granted him in the form of one tiny child. Half the time when the tears started to flow he wasn't sure whether they were falling in happiness or grief. He was emotionally exhausted but unable to let his mind slow down long enough to rest.

He got out of bed and silently walked downstairs to stand staring out of the balcony doors at the stars. There was so much to think about. So many things his baby was going to be counting on him to provide. He swore to himself that he would try his best to do right by his child. He just hoped his best was good enough. Buck had confidence in himself when it came to doing his job. He had faith in his ability to charm women. He knew he was able to make friends, and prided himself on being a good friend and a good person. There were so many areas of his life in which he felt secure, but fatherhood was not one of them.

Buck stood at the door lost in thought, and was startled when he felt a hand settle on his shoulder and give a gentle squeeze.

"Sorry Buck," JD said gently," didn't mean to scare you."

Buck turned his head toward his friend and smiled. "'S okay, kid. I'm fine."

"I know, but you need to get some sleep. Sleep's gonna be something you're not gonna see much of once we get little Candy home." JD grinned.

"How many times do I have to tell you, I'm not naming my daughter Candy!" Buck laughed.

"Aw come on, Buck. Just try it out. I'm sure it will grow on you," JD smirked.

"JD!" Buck reached behind him to give JD a quick 'brainduster'.

The roommates laughed together for a minute before the mood turned serious again.

"Are you sure about this, JD? She's my responsibility, but she's not yours. She's going to change your lifestyle just as much as she does mine if you stay," Buck whispered, not looking at his friend.

JD reached out and turned Buck's face back to him and waited until he was looking staight into his eyes. "You're my brother, Buck. She's part of my family now, so that makes her my responsibilty, too. If the positions were reversed, if I was the one who suddenly found I had a child to care for, would you walk out on me? We both know the answer to that, don't we?"

" I taught you right, kid."

"Damn straight!"

"It's gonna mean a lot of changes. I've been thinking about this apartment, for one. It's okay for now, while she's little, but she's not gonna stay little for long. We're gonna need a bigger place, with room for her to play, a yard maybe." Buck mused.

"So, we start looking for a house with a yard. Not a problem."

"We need to find someone to watch her while we're at work or on stakeouts," continued Buck.

"I've been thinking about that too. What if we get someone to live in, you know, like a housekeeper. She could not only take care of the baby, but cook and take care of the house too? Then we wouldn't have to do it and we' have plenty time for the baby and other stuff."

"Hmm, you may have something there, JD. This place sure isn't clean enough for a baby, and having someone with her all day in her own home sounds better than sticking her in a day care where she can pick up germs from every other kid there. I have to admit, the idea of coming home to a hot meal without having to cook sound appealing too, especially considering how neither of us is any good at cooking anyway. Yeah, it sounds like a plan, alright," Buck said, smiling at his friend, "How' you get so smart, JD?"

"Fruit Loops," JD joked.

+ + + + + + +

Buck found that the problems he faced never stood a chance against the combined abilities of seven motivated men. The morning after Buck's late night discussion with JD, all six of his friends gathered at his apartment to help whip it into shape so he could bring his baby home. Since it was Saturday they didn't have to work, and each voluntarily cancelled any plans in order to help their teammate. Buck was eager to get his little darlin' home, and her pediatrician had said she would be released on Sunday, so that didn't leave a lot of time to get everything done. Josiah and Nathan were the first to arrive bringing coffee and boxes of doughnuts and bagels. Next came Chris and Vin lugging the pieces of a disassembled crib.

Buck froze at the sight of the beautiful Jenny Lind style crib, and then looked into the eyes of his oldest friend. "But, but, that's......" he stuttered.

Chris gave him a gentle smile. "I' be honored if you' use this for your little one."

Buck couldn't get any words past the lump in his throat, so he just grabbed his friend in a hug and held on. That's the best thing about old friends, sometimes they understood even without words.

"Hey come on, pard," Vin grinned as he slapped Buck on the back, "we've got a whole truck load of stuff to bring in."

The others headed down to the truck and gave their overwhelmed friend a chance to regain the his composure before he joined them.

Ezra arrived just as the men began to unload Chris' truck. Ezra moaned and complained about having to do such menial labor but still managed to do his share. Buck and JD relayed the conclusions of their late night discussion and the rest of their team added their own opinions as they trooped upstairs with the contents of Chris' truck.

Chris brought the forms necessary to have the baby added to Buck's health insurance, and to change the beneficiary of his life insurance and pension. He also brought the paperwork necessary to allow Buck to take some time off for paternity leave.

Nathan provided a 'baby' first aid kit complete with rectal thermometer, baby tylenol, suction bulb and other assorted items he assured the roommates they might need. He also included written instructions for their use, as well as a list of emergency phone numbers.

Vin suggested a widow in his neighborhood might be interested in the job of housekeeper. "Her husband passed away about 3 months ago. He didn't leave her much and I know she's having a hard time. She was always a housewife, and has no other job skills. She has 3 grown children of her own but they live on the other side of the country and aren't able to help her much financially. If you offered her room and board I don't think she' ask for much in the way of wages, because I'm sure she' jump at the chance to get out of Purgatorio . I've known her for several years, and I can vouch for the fact that she's a good person, and was a good wife and mother. If you want, I could ask her if she's interested and then bring her over to meet you guys."

Buck looked at JD for his opinion and received a nod in return.

"Thanks Vin. I' appreciate it. If you say she's okay, I trust your judgement. Go ahead and ask her it she' be interested and we'll go from there," said Buck.

"Sure thing. Why don't I give her a call right now?"

"You know where the phone is, old son,"

"I might be able to be of some assistance in the matter of acquiring a suitable abode," stating Ezra.

"Huh," JD stared in confusion at the undercover agent.

Ezra rolled his eyes and sighed.

"He means buying a house, JD," Chris answered.

"Well why didn't he just say that,"

"If I may continue?" Ezra glared at JD. "I have certain connections in this area with one or two gentlemen in the real estate profession . If you were to give me your sine qua non, I may be able to locate a domicile worthy of our little Monique."

"What's a..." JD started then really heard the last part of Ezra's sentence, "Hey, we're not naming her Monique! We're naming her Candy!"

"I," Buck emphasized, "am not , repeat, NOT naming her either Candy or Monique."

"But Buck..." JD started.






After unloading the furniture, they all began the Herculean task of cleaning the apartment to meet the exacting standards of Nathan, the team medic. Not one germ was left unscathed by the time the team was finished. No dust mote dared show its face. No piece of dirty laundry existed in the whole place. Not one science project resided in the refrigerator. The place sparkled.

"Wow," Vin said," I never knew your carpet was blue!"

"Shut up, Vin," growled Buck.

Buck had decided that he would have the crib and dresser in his bedroom for the time being. He didn't want his little darlin' too far away. The rest of the baby furniture was temporarily scattered around the apartment where ever it would fit. Looking around Buck knew this was only a short term solution, very short term.

Vin came up behind Buck as the dark haired man surveyed the revamped apartment looking for anything else that needed to be done.

"I spoke to Rita Aragon. She's very interested in the job if you' like to meet her. I told her for now the job wouldn't be live-in until you find a bigger place, but she's willing to come here everyday and stay with the baby nights if you have to work. I told her you would discuss the particulars with her. Is that alright with you?"

"Vin, you are truly a lifesaver, my friend. I really mean that," said Buck as he threw an arm around the sharpshooters shoulders.

"Anytime, Buck. That little one of yours is one of the family now. We gotta make sure she's taken care of. She deserves the best. "

"Thanks, Vin. She's already got the six best uncles a little girl could ever have."

"Hey, Buck. We gotta go shopping. She still needs clothes, and blankets,and diapers, and all that other baby stuff," JD was so excited he was practically bouncing in place.

"Yep," Josiah spoke up, "that's next on the list. Who's going?"

+ + + + + + +

It was with some surprise that the employees of BAByTown watched seven determined men march through the doors of their store looking as if they were prepared to kick ass and take names. As the team spread out to browse the shelves Buck stayed by Chris since he was the only one with first hand experience when it came to a baby's needs. Chris helped him pick out receiving blankets, changing pads, and sleepers while Nathan and Josiah had a rousing debate on the merits of cloth versus disposable diapers. Chris showed him the best kind of formula bottles and nipples to buy while JD, Vin, and Ezra argued on whether it was more appropriate to buy the little girl the tiny baseball uniform that JD liked, the velvet and lace dress that Ezra preferred, or the miniature cowboy boots that Vin found.

Over the course of the next hour, the employees and other patrons of the large specialty store were treated to a show never to be repeated. Small groups of shoppers began surreptitiously\kerning36 following the men around the store, desperately trying to muffle their laughter at the antics of the unconventional group. As Buck and Chris wandered the store, their observers saw Buck turn and face his friend and speak to him in a voice that was too low for any of them to hear. What ever it was, it affected the blond man deeply, as he nodded his head and whispered a reply to the dark haired man beside him, then reached out and grasped him in a quick hug, before they moved along to the next item on their list.

As Buck and Chris approached the checkout counter they found their teammates ahead of them, each with his arms loaded with shopping bags full of what they considered essential baby items. When added with what Buck had already been advised to purchase, the child had enough clothes to be able to change 4 times a day for a month without wearing the same outfit twice. They each had at least one stuffed animal, and JD had three because he couldn't make up his mind between the Barney, the old fashioned Teddy bear, or a cute little mouse that had "I Love You" embroidered across its chest. It was becoming apparent to Buck that one of his biggest problems was going to be how to keep his friends from spoiling his daughter rotten.

The gang made one last stop at the grocery store where Nathan reviewed the nutrional information on each and every brand of baby formula before advising his friend on the best one to stock up on for little Tanya. Buck just groaned, filled the shopping basket with formula cans, and walked away. Chris followed behind with a big smirk on his face. The two men left the other agents arguing about the name of their new niece while they went to find the disposable diaper aisle.

Buck and JD's apartment looked like a Macy's had exploded when everyone had finished removing their purchases from all the shopping bags. The next hour was spent finding places for all the paraphernalia. Eventually everything was crammed into the overstuffed drawers and closets, and seven exhausted men finally had a chance to sit down and rest.

"I can't believe we actually got everything ready in one day! Thanks, you guys. You know I never could have made it without your help." Buck said, glancing around to look at each one of his good friends. "I'll never be able to repay any of you for this."

Chris just smiled and said, "You paid that debt in advance, friend, and several times over." Five other heads nodded in silent agreement.

"Man, I'm starving. Let's order pizza," said JD, looking around for any takers.

"The walking stomach speaks!" Buck laughed reaching over to ruffle the black hair of his roommate, "Pizza it is, and it's on me. Then I have get back to the hospital for my angel's evening feeding."

+ + + + + + +

Sunday morning found six men once again gathered around the viewing window of the Denver General Hospital's nursery. The seventh man was seated in the rocking chair happily holding his daughter while he patiently waited for the doctor to make his rounds. As soon as he had the doctor's okay, they were prepared the hustle his little darlin' home where she belonged. For now, the new father was content to hold his child and softly sing Jimmy Buffett songs to her.

Karen was once again on duty and had the happy priviledge of informing him they were good to go. Buck shot her a dazzling smile, rose from the rocking chair and nodded to his friends on the other side of the glass. While he held on to his precious one, the other men carried out the obligatory sample packs and literature, and soon six men were back at the apartment waiting for the guest of honor to arrive, video cameras at the ready.

Buck crossed the threshhold and held his daughter up so everyone could see her. "My friends, I want to introduce to you my daughter, Angela Sarah Wilmington. Angel girl, this is your family."

At that, the the newest member of the Magnificent 7 family slowly blinked her eyes then went back to sleep, secure in the arms of her father, surrounded by her other six protectors.

The End

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