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By: Cin

Fandom: Mag 7 ATF/AU

Rating: PG-13, mild language

Disclaimer: This was written for fun no profit is being made. The Magnificent Seven belong to CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group and Mirisch Group. Thanks to Mog for the ATF/AU. Don't own them but if they go up on Ebay let me know I'll bid.

Author Notes: The following is a short story in answer to a July 4th challenge. The idea came from discussions about how we like to hurt the ones we love. This is a spoof on those injuries. Thanks to the following authors who have provided such great fiction that is mentioned within; Winter: Change In Plans, The Gift, The Greatest Gift, In From The Cold; Tracy: Penalties; Linda: Trick or Treat, Whitewater Weekend; Kelly A: Revenge; Lady Angel: Thanksgiving ATF Style; Wendy H: Perhaps Tomorrow and Deirdre: After The Rain. Oh and some of the injuries are my own.



Declaration of Independence

By: Cin


"So what kind of fireworks are you bringing, Vin" JD asked as they tossed a Nerf ball back and forth, over the desks of their teammates. It was Tuesday afternoon July 3 and the team was finding it hard to concentrate on work, as their thoughts were more involved in the BBQ and festivities planned at Chris Larabee's ranch the following day for their annual July 4th celebration. In fact the mid-week holiday made it hard for anyone to concentrate on work the entire week.

"I thought I'd. . ."

"There won't be any fireworks this year boys." The gruff voice of Team 7's leader startled Tanner as he turned to face his friend and boss. Startled as much by his appearance behind him as he was by his dictate on no fireworks.

"Whatcha mean cowboy?" The sharpshooter scowled.

"Yeah," JD wondered, "What's the 4th without fireworks?"

"Safer," Wilmington answered as he walked by his roommate, cuffing the back of his head as he passed.

"Hey," Dunne shoved the big man as he passed. "Since when has that stopped us?"

"Precisely," Nathan spoke up. "We decided we want this to be a safe holiday for once."

"May I inquire who was involved in this decision?" Standish asked. Although he thought it was a fine idea, if it was something the team voted on he was a little hurt that he was not included.

Larabee turned his green glare on his undercover agent, knowing where his thoughts were turning. "Buck, Josiah, Nathan and I decided we wanted a relaxing holiday with no visits to the emergency room for once."

The other three agents nodded their agreement to the leader's statement. The three agents not included in the vote scowled at their teammates as they ciphered through to what they were insinuating.

"Ya tryin' to tell us somethin'" Vin scowled at the four men, seeing a day of fun evaporating before his eyes as he noted their determined looks.

"Yeah," Buck laughed. "You're trouble magnets."

He batted at the Nerf ball thrown at this head by his roommate as the southerner sputtered his outrage. "Surely you do not consider me in that statement."

"Yes, brother, we do," Sanchez stated mildly.

Before Standish could work up a scathing diatribe Larabee silenced all the protest. "No fireworks that's final, no arguments, no discussions."

The three who were feeling more than a little insulted by their teammates scowled.

"I can't believe you could associate me in with these ruffians," Ezra was truly affronted.

Josiah quirked a disbelieving eyebrow at the undercover agent. "Are you forgetting what happened last year with the sparkler?"

JD snorted, "Yeah Ezra, you'd of thought you'd never handled fireworks before."

The undercover agent's smooth poker face kept the others from seeing his discomfort as the observation hit close to home. He could not call his childhood normal, and he was seldom allowed to participate in what was considered juvenile pursuits. Standish's frown did appear as he recalled the destruction of one of his favorite Armani shirts. He winced remembering the first and second-degree burns he received before they could extinguish the flaming cloth.

Dunne's chuckling was cut short by a glare from Nathan. "There's nothing funny about someone getting hurt JD."

"So no fireworks," Chris's green-eyed glare swept over his friends, seeing everyone's compliance. Larabee turned back to his office. Just before he reached his door he turned back to the others.

"Oh, by the way. Ezra, Josiah will be by to pick you up tomorrow. Vin you're coming out with Buck and JD."

"Excuse me, Mr. Larabee."

"I wanted to ride my bike."

"No way, cowboy!"

The blond held up a hand ending the vocal protest. "And we're serious no emergency room visits this time for you three."

"Don't need no babysitter, Larabee, we know the way ta your place," Tanner protested.

Jackson cleared his throat, "Traffic's liable to be heavy, don't want a repeat of that one time."

A collective shudder could be felt from all the agents as they remembered how close they came to losing the youngest members of the team. Riding together on Tanner's Harley to Chris's ranch for a weekend gathering, they were hit by a drunk driver. JD suffered a compound fracture so severe the doctors originally thought they would have to amputate his leg. Vin going through the car's windshield and being impaled on a piece of glass had faced the threat of being paralyzed from the injury.

"That reminds me," Larabee snapped his fingers, "Ezra no sushi either."

Standish rolled his eyes but agreed with his leader that he would not want to suffer through the affliction tainted clams had caused himself and the recovering sharpshooter during that same time.

"That was a once in a lifetime deal," Tanner continued to protest. "I drive out there all the time with no problem."

"Once in a lifetime?" Larabee's eyebrow shot up in disbelief. "Somebody else care to remind Mr. Forgetful."

"M-o-o!" Josiah's deep baritone bellowed in the perfect imitation of a cow.

Standish winced and turned pale from the memory of another trip to Larabee's ranch. Riding to the ranch with the sharpshooter, they encountered a cow standing sentinel in the roadway. In Vin's frantic efforts to miss the beast they were hurled down a ravine. Ezra did not want a repeat. It was bad enough then, as he had to deal alone with a friend's lifeblood flowing past all attempts to stop it.

"I believe I will stand down from any arguments on mode of transportation," Standish agreed.

"Takes the fun outta everythin'," Vin grumbled as he flopped down in the chair behind his desk.

"Now Junior," the ladies' man tried to mollify him. "The ladies are going to be out there too and you don't want to distress them by one of you three having a horrible accident. Besides I don't need any interruptions. I've got my own plans for some sparks between me and Inez." He winced as the Nerf ball bounced off his head.

"No fireworks, remember, Buck," JD snarled.


= = 7 = =


The blond reached over and slapped the alarm off. Sitting up he rubbed a hand down his face, then raised his arms above his head in a satisfying stretch. Still trying to work out the last vestiges of sleep he rubbed a hand over his bare chest as he took a deep breath. Ah. . . that smell was heaven. Coffee was just what he needed. Coffee. . .what the hell!

Jumping to his feet he grabbed a pair of his black jeans and struggled into them as quick as he could and headed for the door. Practically running down the stairs he pulled up short as he slid into his dining room. His frown deepened as he saw the slim young man sitting there casually drinking a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper.

"Tanner what the hell are you doing?"

"Good Mornin' to you too, cowboy."

"Where are Buck and JD?"

Vin shrugged, "Still at their place I guess."

Larabee closed his eyes tightly, sighed and counted as slow as he could to ten. The ringing of the phone interrupted him. Reaching through the entrance of the kitchen doorway he grabbed the receiver.

"Yeah. Well you were late. Yes he's here. No he's not dead yet."

Tanner rolled his eyes.

"I'll try to leave some of him in one piece for you. Okay be careful"

Chris glared at this friend as he hung up the phone. "Thought I told you Buck was going to pick you up."

Vin rose from his chair and headed into the kitchen. "Told ya I don't need no babysitter. Was ready to go is all."

"Look we just want a relaxing day with no. . ."

"I know, I know. Don't beat a dead horse," Tanner stopped his friend's tirade. He moved past him into the kitchen, got a fresh coffee mug and filled it. "Here you're a bear 'fore you have your coffee."

"I mean it Vin," Larabee continued as he took a sip of the coffee before he could stop himself, forgetting it was Tanner that made it. Expecting the usual strong bitter brew he was surprised at the flavorful robust taste instead. It reminded him of the expensive ground Standish preferred. "This isn't your coffee.'

Vin smiled as he reclaimed his seat at the table. "Ez made it."

"Good morning, Mr. Larabee."

Chris jumped at the smooth southern drawl that came from behind him. He should have known these two would circumvent his orders. "You two have been spending too much time together."

Standish gave the blond his most innocent look, "Why whatever do you mean, sir?"

Any retort was cut short by the ringing of the phone again. Larabee waved to them both as he moved off back up the stairs. "That will be Josiah, you two can take your punishment." He missed the twin salutes received at his retreating back.


= = 7 = =


"You need some help Buck?" JD asked for about the tenth time as he bounced around the rogue who was preparing the grill.

"No, kid will you just go sit down and relax, we've got everything under control."

JD sighed with boredom. "Hey Vin, you want to play a game of catch?"

"Sure," the sharpshooter was ready for some activity. Their four teammates were driving them crazy not allowing them to do anything. In his opinion this was ridiculous. They weren't that bad, every get together did not lead to a visit to the emergency room. He jumped off his perch on the porch railing and moved to join the younger man in the yard.

"Oh no you don't," Larabee warned as he stepped out onto the back patio.

"Come on Chris!" Vin was truly exasperated now. "A little catch isn't goin' to hurt."

"Chris's birthday party, rattlesnake bite," Buck raised his eyebrow at the two.

"We're not asking the snake to play, 'sides I'm sure he's long gone by now," Tanner joked. The two older agents did not laugh.

"It wasn't funny Vin," Chris stated.

"Larabee will ya cut it out," Tanner fumed. "It's not like every game we play winds up like that."

"Sure seems like it," Buck snorted.

"Like when?" JD questioned.

"Oh well let's just add them up why don't we," Buck suggested. "Let's see there was the super bowl party, I believe you both wound up in the hospital on that one."

"That wasn't the game," Vin pointed out, " that was two buffoons with a grudge against Larabee."

"True," Chris nodded, "then there was a couple of hockey games I recall . . ."

"Okay," Vin held up his hand in resignation not wanting to delve further into the various sporting injuries. He would give them that one, there were quite a few. "Don't need the score card. Come on JD we'll go irritate Ez."

"Don't make him shoot you," Buck called after the retreating pair.


= = 7 = =


The three hobbled agents were in the living room of Chris's ranch house grumbling amongst themselves at the perceived unfair treatment by their colleagues. Although Ezra admitted to himself he would not debase himself in menial task, he did rankle at the fact of being told what to do, or in this case what not to do.

"It's just not fair," Vin griped again as he threw two cards down and retrieved the two replacements Standish sent his way.

"As you have declared several times, Mr. Tanner," Standish didn't mind the sharpshooter's distraction it was extremely profitable in this case.

"You don't agree with them do you Ezra?" JD questioned the southerner. He didn't see the peeved looked sent his way, as he was fully engrossed in the racing game he and Billy Travis were playing with the Play station.

"Well you two do tend to draw trouble, Mr. Dunne," Ezra smiled as he won another hand from the disgruntled player across from him.

"It aint' just us, pard," Tanner threw his losing hand down. "I know ya don't like bein' told what to do."

The Southerner nodded, "True, but. . ."

"But it's for your own good," whatever the undercover agent was going to say was finished by Mary Travis as she moved into the room to check on her son.

"Not ya too Mary?" Vin was astounded.

Mary licked her lips a little embarrassed to admit to her agreement in the curtailing of the three's activities for the day. "You all have made some unforgettable holiday moments, we just didn't want to add to the list."

"I believe my character has been viciously maligned," Ezra declared.

Mary smiled, "Then you forget the Thanksgiving the Nichols brothers paid a visit."

"But that wasn't our fault," JD spoke up. "And there is still the fact that it doesn't happen all the time."

The blonde gave them a look that said 'oh really', "What happened that Labor Day you all tried to go whitewater rafting? Or the Halloween that Oswald punk paid you and Buck a Trick or Treat visit."

"But see," JD was eager to clear his name. "That was all someone else's doing, we didn't set out to get hurt."

Mary nodded her agreement, "Yes that's why Chris calls you trouble magnets."

Vin snorted, "Still ain't right."

"Oh and lets not forget your own list of disasters. There's the Thanksgiving you broke your wrist. And lets not forget a favorite of mine, the Christmas party for the kids in your neighborhood when you were mugged, that was certainly fun."

Vin sank a little in his chair but still felt the imposed restrictions on the three were unfair.

"I do believe our compatriots have had their fair share of mishaps from time to time," Standish pointed out.

"Remember that one Thanksgivin' we got hit here," Tanner nodded, "Chris was the only one hurt then."

Mary shuddered remembering that day, "Yes, well he says he has that covered." Having enough of the gruesome trip down memory lane she turned to return to the kitchen.

"What's he going to do hire the National Guard for protection?" Dunne was beginning to see the futility in fighting any longer. It was true they were trouble magnets, but then as he saw it so was the whole team. They had certainly seen their share of injuries and disasters.

Vin and Ezra where chuckling at the youth's statement. They too knew their team seemed to draw trouble and doubted anything could really be done to prevent it. But given their friend's current overprotective behavior they could just imagine Larabee trying to do just such a thing. With his glare he could accomplish anything. Their chuckles died as the sound of a helicopter was heard flying overhead.

Started blue eyes met humorous green ones across the coffee table. "Ya don't think. . ." Vin started. Ezra shrugged and the two started chuckling over their own paranoia.


= = 7 = =


"Are our brothers still decrying the injustice of it all?" There were chuckles from all corners of the large kitchen. Nettie Wells was at the sink washing vegetables. Nathan and Rain were at the island table cutting up onions and tomatoes. Inez was making hamburger patties and piling them on a large platter. Casey, Nettie's niece, was getting the condiments out of the refrigerator, preparing them to set out on the table.

Mary smiled as she entered the beehive of activity. "Of course."

"It's for their own good," Nathan mentioned once more, "and ours."

"They'll see that when they escape a day at the emergency room," Nettie reassured everyone.

"That will certainly be a change," Rain agreed. As an intern she had seen several of the seven as patients. Worse was seeing the aftermath the concern and worry left on the waiting team members.

"I'll believe it when I see," Inez laughed, knowing the track record of these men. She hefted the platter. "I'll take these out to our cooks."

"I'll set these on the table, then see if I can cheer JD up," Casey gathered several bottles and followed the feisty bar owner out of the kitchen.

"You watch how much cheering up girl," Nettie called out after her niece while she continued to mutter under her breath. "Kids these days don't know what to do with them."

"Josiah, could you help me get those pitchers down?" Mary asked. "I'm going to make some tea."

"Why sure," Josiah moved to the shelves she was pointing to. Seeing that even with his height he would need a little help, he brought over a small step stool.

"Now, be careful," Mary warned.

Josiah chuckled, "Isn't that the watchword of the day."


= = 7 = =


"Think we're being too unreasonable?"

"Hell no, Stud," Wilmington answered his friend without reservation. He squirted some lighter fluid on the charcoal. "Makes for a little peace and quiet anyway."

Larabee chuckled, "You sure you know what you are doing there?"

"Now you know you're talking to the bar-b-cue king here," Buck answered as he poured on a little more lighter fluid. "You want to soak the charcoal thoroughly so it lights quick and you get a nice hot flame." The rogue continued regaling his friend with his knowledge as he worked on thoroughly soaking the charcoal. He was distracted further as Inez walked out onto the patio. "Hello darlin'" He smiled a greeting.

"Buck," Inez greeted him with a bright smile of her own as she sat the platter of meat down on the table beside the grill "Try not to burn these, senior."

"Oh darlin' don't worry, you'll be begging for more," Buck grinned his most devastating smile. Chris could only roll his eyes at the man's obvious attempts at flirtation.

"I think I'll stay on my diet," Inez smirked as she walked back into the house, "a girl must watch her figure."

"Oh I'll watch it for you," Wilmington drooled as he watched her swish her hips through the patio door. He struck a match and threw it into the pit

The whoosh of flames was unexpected and caught the ladies man unawares. The scream of pain was instantaneous as the heat seared his face and hands. The fire reached out for more fuel and latched on to his shirt. Inez hearing the man's agony rushed back to the door and added her own screams of terror.

The leader of Team 7 jumped into action immediately and ran to his friend's side. He got Buck to drop to the ground and attempted to smother the flames, ignoring the pain to his own hands.


= = 7 = =


"Are these the pitchers you want," Josiah pointed to the four glass receptacles on the top shelf.

"Yes," Mary nodded.

Josiah stretched his large frame to reach the first of the glass containers, fleetingly wondering why they made storage areas so high, or why anyone would want to utilize such space. He felt the small stool wobble under his weight. The screams made everyone in the kitchen jump, and the pall of disaster continued.

Startled and already off balance by reaching above him, Josiah lost his footing and fell from his precarious position cracking his head against the counter on his way to the floor and sending one crystal pitcher to its own demise.

Expertly slicing through the various vegetables before him, Nathan jumped at the unexpected screams and crash. An expert in various uses with knives he made an excellent cut down his own thumb and into the palm of his hand.


= = 7 = =


The three agents in the living room heard the screams and jumped to action. Vin and JD headed for the patio, followed closely by Casey and Billy. Ezra was following until the large crash and the string of words that would make a sailor blush bellowed from the kitchen causing him to make a detour.

The two younger agents slid to a stop at the sliding glass door together. Taking in the situation, Vin retraced his steps and grabbed the afghan from the back of the couch. Tossing it to Dunne he raced to the kitchen, sliding past a startled Standish he grabbed the fire extinguisher on the wall without even noticing the commotion in the room.

Standish paused in the doorway as he took in the scenario in the kitchen. Rain was holding a towel around Nathan's hand as she held the limb up and was pressing her fingers against the underside of his upper arm. Ezra could see the white towel turning red in several spots. Mary and Nettie were kneeling on either side of Josiah's prone form on the floor, talking to him as he blinked up owlishly at them.

Vin slid back into the room beside the astonished undercover agent. His mission being to get Rain or Nathan to come tend to his two scorched friends on the patio. Looking on with surprise equal of that to the Southerner, he bit back a chuckle at the irony of the situation.

Ezra and Vin shared a look and grinned broadly, "Emergency room" they echoed together.


= = 7 = =


Chris Larabee paused in the entrance to the hospital waiting room. Expecting to see his healthy agents and other guest waiting for them he was surprised to find it empty. He frowned. First in pain, he didn't want to admit it but the bandaged hands he held before him hurt like hell. Thankfully the burns were no worse than second degree. Then he began to wonder if one of his friends were worse than they first thought and the others were elsewhere receiving bad news.

"Mr. Larabee?"

The frowning blond turned to the young nurse that moved up to his side. "Yes."

"Your friends said to give you a message. They went to the parade and said they'd be back to take you home."

"Parade?" The Team 7 leader's brow crinkled in confusion. His team and his friends went to a parade. They didn't wait around to see how the injured were doing? This day certainly went to hell in a hand basket.

The pretty blonde looked up at Larabee like she was wondering what planet he was from, "It is the Fourth of July," she informed him as she returned to her desk.

"Where is everyone?"

Chris turned at the arrival of his oldest friend. He bit back a laugh as he took in the man's mussed appearance. He couldn't help it, he knew the injuries were serious, but knowing how his friend crowed about his appearance he found this visage amusing. His hands were covered in bandages like Larabee. An open hospital gown served to cover his bandaged chest, as his own shirt was damaged beyond repair. What made Larabee bite back a laugh was the shiny appearance of the rogue's face. It was covered in ointment and the obvious firebrand trim the rogue's hair had received wrecked havoc on the man's good looks. Hair as in mustache and eyebrows singed back to a miniscule bit of shadow on a beet red face.

"They went to a parade," Chris finally answered Wilmington as he helped his friend into a chair.

"Who went to a parade?" Jackson asked. His left hand was also heavily bandaged and his arm was resting in a sling holding his hand elevated against his chest.

"Everyone apparently," Chris was still astonished there was no one waiting to see how they were.

"What happened?"

The three agents turned to see a nurse wheeling Josiah into the room. His light blue eyes looked confused and he rested his head on the arm secured on the arm of the wheelchair like it was too heavy to hold upright.

Reading the questioning looks accurately she assured them he was okay. "Doctor said he's fine, might be a slight concussion. Just do the usual. Watch him closely for any changes in alertness and take it easy for a few days."

The three nodded as they were well versed at the care and treatment of mild concussions. It was a good thing the seven of them were so hard headed; they certainly gave their heads a workout in the hard knocks department.

"Good, y'all ready to go?"

Four sets of accusing eyes turned towards the owner of the soft Texas drawl.

"Wow, Buck you look like shit!" JD declared as he came in behind the sharpshooter.

Before he could think about it Wilmington shot back with his standard answer to the taunt, "Hell kid you know that ain't possible."

Standish coughed as he tried to hide a laugh, joining his teammates as the ladies man made his declaration. "Have you gazed in a mirror lately, Mr. Wilmington."

Any responses were ignored as Chris bellowed at the three only seeing their desertion of injured comrades. "Where the hell were you?"

"Didn't the nurse tell ya?" Vin was startled by his friend's anger.

"Yes," Chris hissed out slowly. "She said you went to a parade."

"It was cool," Dunne enthused. "It was just a few blocks from here."

"You didn't stick around to see how we were?"

The three uninjured agents exchanged glances at the tone of Larabee voice. It sounded more injured than his hands.

"I assure you Mr. Larabee," Standish chose to explain. "We made quite sure you were all well cared for and no major injuries were evident."

"Ya didn't want Billy to miss the fun, did ya?" Vin hit Chris with something he couldn't deny.

Larabee just glared.

"It's the fourth," Vin continued. "Let's just say we declared our independence. 'sides who was it said they didn't want to see us three in the emergency room."

The three uninjured teammates shared a grin as the other three injured agents glared at their leader.

"Let's just get out of here," Larabee ignored them with a growl.

"Yeah we're going to take everyone over to mine and Buck's place then we're going to take the women over to the picnic," JD explained their plans as they began moving to the exit.

"What?" Again four startled sets of eyes turned to the younger three.

"Yeah," Vin agreed. "Ez here got all of ya meds. Figured the loft was closest ya can rest up there while the rest of us take in the celebration. Billy wants to see the fireworks." Tanner couldn't resist the final jab.

"Whose idea was it to leash these guys?" Larabee growled.

"Yours!" came the unanimous shout from the other three injured friends.

"No more plans," the dark clad leader huffed as he angrily stalked toward the exit.

The three healthy agents frowned at each other, briefly similar thoughts ran through their minds that they should feel bad about their friends, after all they were going to miss all the July 4th celebrations. Then they thought of the harassing they had put up with the last two days about their own past injuries. Nah. . .Paybacks are a bitch! The three youngest high fived each other seeing a happy forth in store for them after all.


The End