By Shellie Williams

Missing Scenes and an Epilogue for M7's "Achilles"

June 25, 1999 by Shellie Williams

This is a missing scene and an epilogue for 'Achilles'. The story jumps from scene to scene (chronologically) in the episode, and if you haven't seen the episode, you'll probably be lost.

Warning: Spoilers for 'Achilles', also contains some scenes word for word.

Disclaimer: No profit was made from the writing of this story. Magnificent Seven is owned by CBS.

Thanks, Suzan, for giving me a home for my snippets, and thanks to you and Penny for doing such a wonderful job editing.


Opening the door, he stepped into the room with words of heart-felt sympathy on his lips, preparing to apologize all over again, but the sight of Nathan, Josiah, and Hiram's bowed heads and the very still young woman they sat next to stole all words from his mind. He felt chilled through to his soul when he realized what he had done. Annie was dead, and his life was changed forever.

One look at her husband numbed his senses, and after mumbling something he was sure was incoherent, he fumbled his way out of the door and into the night. A shroud of disbelief fogged over his mind, and for a moment, he couldn't accept what had happened. Part of the adventure of moving out west and working with the Seven meant killing, he had always known that. Hell, it was half the reason he had stayed around to fight in the Seminole village. His first experience with killing a man hadn't been as glorifying as he had thought it would be -- taking a soul from the world brought with it a heavy price of conscience, not a heady feeling of elation. But he'd lived through the soul-searching and found he could sleep convincing himself the killing was justified -- until now.

How could he justify Annie's death?

She had been so sweet and friendly to him. Why, just that morning, he had spoken to her as she strolled past him on her way to the bank.

Remembering her quick greeting sent a surge of desperate need through his heart, and he suddenly wished with all his soul he could turn back time and keep her from being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and keep her death from creating such a black hole in his heart.

After he left Nathan's room, he wondered aimlessly through the town's alleys, too confused and numb with grief to understand who he was or where he was going. He found a dark corner and sat down on an old whisky barrel. His hat twisting in his hands and his heart dying in his chest, he sat alone with Annie's ghost and whispered words of sorrow and regret.

The gunshots from the middle of town passed unnoticed at first, until he heard Buck's name shouted. He stirred, replaced his hat, and joined the Seven just as everything was over. The coroner was dead in the street -- Achilles and his men had struck in the middle of the night, stealing his dead brother's body. And when he found out the ex-soldier had taken Annie's body by mistake, J.D.'s world crumbled all over again.

He shied away from the others, but they were too caught up in the rush of excitement to really notice, and he was glad. He wanted to be alone, to bear his cross in silence and figure out what he was feeling. Dawn brightened the town's streets shortly after Achilles' violent attack, and the good citizens of Four Corners began to stir. When Hiram learned that his wife's body had been taken, he demanded the Seven go after her. Chris had his hands full with the crowd, but he handled it well.

Better than I ever could.

He felt lost. Walking down the street later in the day, he noticed the looks thrown his way, saw the eyes hidden under lowered hat brims. People glanced at him, then turned a cold shoulder and whispered to their companions. When Casey ran up to him and asked him if it were true, if he'd killed Annie, he snapped at her, irritated to find even she was listening to the rumors. Only problem was, they weren't rumors -- they were true. He *had* killed Annie, and the killing had turned him into a murderer in his own eyes.

Managing to keep to himself most of the day, he found himself on the same whiskey barrel that night, but couldn't seem to sense Annie's presence. Thinking of her body in the hands of Achilles brought on a wave of sadness. The man had demanded his brother get the "proper respect", but was he giving Annie any respect?

Hands grabbed at his jacket labels and jerked him up before he even registered another person's presence. Achilles. Fear rushed in and replaced the grief and he quickly agreed to the man's terms. Anything to get Annie back to her family for her burial. The night passed slowly as he argued with his better judgement, but by the time the sky grew grey with dawn, he made his decision.

Knowing Chris would probably assign him the safe job of staying to keep watch over the town while the others retrieved Annie's body, he decided not to tell the Seven and he left at daybreak, Hector's coffin loaded in his wagon. The chill he felt in his bones when he slung the man's limp body over his shoulder to carry him out of the jail stayed with him, stealing past the numbness invading his mind. No feelings of courage or justice clouded his judgment. In fact, he couldn't seem to feel anything lately but grief and fear, and he was tired of both.

He found Annie's coffin just where Achilles said it would be and knelt down to remove the lid. Relief flooded through him when he found her body undisturbed. Her innocent face brought to mind her children, and the unfairness of the two little ones suffering through life without a mother. A flash of his own mother, and the sense of loss he'd experienced with her death tightened his chest.

Grief pulled through his heavy spirit again. The familiar tug was wearing him down, crumbling his usual sense of self-preservation.

"I wish it'd been me and not you." He'd never more sincerely meant any words in his life. Death was preferred over this constant sorrow, and if he was here to meet his end at Achilles' gun, then so be it.

When Achilles arrived, he listened with forced attentiveness as the man explained his name. The conversation was so surreal. Exhaustion from little sleep since he'd fanned his gun in front of the bank and his misguided bullet had struck Annie dulled his mind. When Achilles' raised his gun with a nonchalant, "Nice talkin' to ya, pup," Death caught him by surprise. He froze, wondering if he'd just made the worst mistake of his young life. Annie's white face came to mind and the image of his own body, lying in a coffin, hair combed straight, suit nicely pressed and cleaned, flashed through his thoughts. Would he be just as alone in death as he felt now? Going to his grave with Annie's death on his shoulders filled him with dread, but it was too late to do anything about it.

Gunfire rang out from the surrounding trees and Chris' familiar voice stabbed through his desolation.

"This doesn't need to go any further."

Achilles' men refused to stand down, though, and when the bullets began to fly, Buck's command of "J.D. stay down!" was unnecessary. He dove behind the coffin and his empty hands pulled at the brim of his hat, as if the small round bowler could shield him from lead. Death passed over him, thumped into the ground beside him, and he began to tremble as his fear blossomed until it filled his mind and froze his limbs and he couldn't move, couldn't quiet his heaving breaths, and couldn't think.

He heard Buck yelling, but couldn't answer. "J.D., are you hit?"

Then Chris scolded him, and he still couldn't move. "J.D. what's the matter with you? Comin' out here by yourself?! You coulda got--"

The words stopped, caught in the air above him, and J.D. shivered, ashamed of his fear, ashamed of the Death he had sought after then run from when opportunity knocked.


Buck knelt beside him, placed his rifle on the ground and reached out and touched his shoulder.

He glanced past his friend and saw the Seven standing there, watching him. Get up, you fool! You want them to think you're the boy they're always saying you are?

His body refused to obey the frantic commands and his gasping breaths turned into something worse. He squeezed his eyes shut as treacherous tears filled them and ran down the sides of his face. Warm hands clasped his own where they were gripped in his hat and pulled till his fingers came loose from the brim.

"Come on, J.D., let's get back to town, son." Quiet words unnerved him when he figured he'd be shouted at instead, and J.D. shuddered, then opened his eyes. Buck leaned over him, his forehead creased with worry, and the older man tugged till he sat up. His friends watched, heads bent low. Vin, Josiah, Ezra, Nathan, and Chris. Men who's courage he envied and who's respect he'd earned.

"You all right, J.D.?" Chris stepped forward and offered his hand, which J.D. took as he pulled himself up from the ground.

Nodding, J.D. withdrew his hand and ducked his head, brushing off his backside and hiding his expression under the hat which brought him so much teasing and grief.

"Haven't seen you around lately, son." Josiah's quiet rumble brought his head back up and J.D. acknowledged his concern with another nod. The stiff wind blew against his face and he reached up and wiped the dried traces of tears away. Josiah's strength was a wellspring of assurance filling the empty hole of his soul, and he smiled quietly toward the ex-preacher.

"Sorry." He glanced up for a moment but the expressions of worry he saw in each of their faces robbed him of the necessity of holding eye contact. "Been kinda preoccupied lately, I guess."

Vin shrugged. "Lots been happenin', lots to keep a man's mind busy."

"Yeah, well . . . " Buck walked over to where both coffins stood and gently patted the one J.D. had hid behind. "At least you got Annie back."

The quiet encouragement unsettled him and he turned his back to the men, not fully in control of his emotions. A hand on his shoulder and Buck's gently lilting voice behind him calmed him, steadied his nerves. "What's say we get her home."

Without turning around he nodded, then moved to climb up into the wagon's seat. Waiting until Buck and Vin loaded the small coffin into the bed of the wagon, he clicked his tongue and urged the horse forward. The other men gathered their horses and moved in near him, silent sentinels. Confusion and questions still swam through his mind and he had a lot of thinking to do, but knowing his friends stood by him gave him the strength to keep searching for the answer, to keep searching for peace. Meanwhile, it was time to get Annie home.

Hiram greeted them on the outskirts of Four Corners. Without a word, J.D. climbed down and handed the reigns off to him, then climbed aboard the other wagon and rode it back into town. A few men were gathered around the jail and as soon as they caught sight of the seven, they began asking questions. Chris quietly answered them, his unassuming voice breaking through the confusion and calming the crowd. The men dispersed in groups of two or three, taking the news with them and mumbling under their hats.

Josiah touched the brim of his hat and moved off toward the church. J.D. took a step to follow, but Buck stopped him. "I want to talk to you."

He reluctantly followed the older man into the empty jailhouse, then removed his hat and slumped down into one of the waiting chairs.

Buck grabbed another chair and sat across from him. "What's going on with you, J.D.? Just what did you think you were doing, confronting Achilles like that? He coulda killed you." The older man's voice rasped through the quiet space between them as he leaned forward, elbows on his knees and turned his face toward J.D.

The sincerity of his friend's worry squeezed his heart, and the combination with the load of unbearable guilt he'd been harboring made him feel as if he were suffocating. He stood up, hands on his hips, and walked to the window. "I know it was stupid."

"You're gonna have to get past this guilt, son."

He glanced sharply at Buck, feeling as if the man had reached into his mind and pulled out his thoughts. Was he that easy to read? Buck's face tilted toward him, brows drawn together, sadness dulling his normally mischievous expression. "How, Buck? Annie's dead, and no matter the excuses, I killed her. Plain and simple."

"You're not a murderer, J.D. Hell, kid, I know, and everyone in town knows you didn't mean to do it."

J.D. shifted on his feet and dropped his gaze to the floor. "That don't make it right. I feel like I oughtta be payin' for this, somehow. Like, I owe Annie's family something for taking her from them."

Buck stood up but didn't move closer. "We all feel that way about something we've done, kid. Chris, Vin, Ezra -- we all have mistakes we're sorry for, and things we wish we hadn't done. That's just part of life."

"Yeah, well, I been thinkin' . . . " he trailed off, scared of the words floating through his mind. Like if he said them, they'd become real, but if he kept them hid away, they'd eventually disappear, and he could pretend he never brought them up.


He sighed heavily, as if a weight lay on his shoulders and the burden had grown to be too much. "I'm thinkin' maybe I should head back East. Maybe it's time for me to leave, Buck." Silence greeted his statement and after another moment, he turned to his friend. Buck stood frozen, his mouth slightly open and his eyes wide.


The older man let out a breath and raised his hands, then let them fall to his sides. "So that's it? You'll just run away?"

"I'm not running away."

"That's what I call it!" Anger replaced the shock and Buck's face tightened and he took a step forward. "Don't do this, J.D. Give yourself time to think, get it all clear in your head. Everyone here is ready to forgive you, if you'd just forgive yourself."

"I have thought about it! That's all I been thinkin' of!" Scared of the tears that rose to the surface of his anger, J.D. rushed forward and grabbed his hat, then headed for the door.


He froze, one hand on the door, but didn't turn around.

"You can't leave, J.D. I -- you just can't."

J.D. turned his head enough for his emotion-tightened voice to reach past his shoulder. "I can't stay, either." Opening the door, he left and walked swiftly away from the jail. The deep chasm of desolation he'd skirted since Annie's death swallowed him whole, and the thought of leaving Four Corners and everyone behind was like dumping dirt on his coffin. He felt so alone.

After Annie's funeral, Buck caught sight of J.D. walking back into town. The young man kept his head down and went straight to his room at the boarding house, speaking to no one. Something about him seemed different, but Buck couldn't put his finger on it. Acting on instinct, he rode his horse out to the small patch of land just outside of town where Annie was buried. The area was quiet, calm, and it was easy to imagine the souls resting there, peaceful like.

He found Annie's grave easily. J.D.'s gun belt and colts were draped over the wooden cross like a wreath, the boy's ultimate sacrifice that represented the end of his gunslinging career. Buck sunk down to one knee and reached out to touch the guns. He pictured J.D. standing here, making his promise to the young lady he'd accidentally killed while trying to protect the town, his youthful face drawn with lines of pain and sorrow. With all his talk of bravado, fast shooting and womanizing, J.D.'s innocence still lay wide open for anyone with eyes to see.

Smiling softly to himself, Buck gently took the guns. With a tip of his hat to Annie, he mounted his horse and rode back into town. He intended to have a talk with J.D.. He'd been rehearsing in his head what to say in order to convince the kid to stay.

Unfortunately, he got there just in time to say goodbye.

J.D. looked as if he was on the verge of changing his mind, but things were happening too fast. Buck wanted to stop everything. Stop the stage from heading out, wipe away the looks of loss from his friends' faces, and grab J.D. and yell some sense into his fool head. But none of those things happened. Instead, he watched as the boy he'd come to love as a brother boarded the stage, and drove out of his life.


He should have known something like this would happen. Protecting folks was in his blood, and J.D. didn't think twice before climbing out the door of the moving stage and clawing his way to the driver's seat. Just when he thought it was over, Achilles came at him from behind and nearly choked him to death. This time, he fought, determined to live through this adventure. Death no longer held an answer for him as hope surged in his chest when he gained the upper hand and threw the outlaw from the stage. Looking back over his shoulder, the sight of his friends backing him up gave him confidence, and he gathered the reigns and pulled back, slowing the horses and finally stopping.

He jumped down from the stage, releasing a huge breath of satisfaction, elated they were all alive.

One of the young lady passengers stepped forward. "Sheriff Wilmington was right. You saved us!"

The awe in her voice embarrassed him, and he nodded shyly. "Yes ma'am."

The other Seven arrived in a cloud of dust and he heard Buck's voice above all the noise. "All right, kid!"

"God was with us, ma'am." He turned from the ladies and walked to the men, letting out a little "whoop" of happiness as he pulled his hat from his head and straightened out the dent the brake handle had made while he was wrestling with Achilles.

"I'd say that was darned heroic, son." Josiah smiled down at him from atop his horse.

"I'd say that was darned lucky, preacher." He couldn't quite agree with Josiah's statement, but felt a grin of satisfaction stretch his face.

"That turn was perfect." Buck sounded happy, too, and his face shown with pride as he complimented him.

"Oh, Buck, come on! You know nothing I do is perfect!"

"If he was perfect, he wouldn't be one of us." Chris' smile belied his statement as he watched Buck walk up to J.D.

"But you are one of us." Buck stuck out his hand as if to offer a handshake and J.D. caught sight of his guns draped across the other man's arm. "And you shouldn't leave your guns out in the rain."

Vin and Nathan watched carefully as different expressions crossed J.D.'s face. Then they smiled and Vin slapped his knee with a grin of satisfaction that warmed his handsome face.

The kid reached out and grasped Buck's hand and took his guns. Buck began to laugh and he nodded his head. "All right."

"That was a pretty good turn, wasn't it?" J.D.'s admission was drowned out by the other men's laughter, and they all headed for home.

The town felt different as he rode in on the stage. They stopped next to the sheriff's office and J.D. climbed down, then helped the passengers disembark. They'd have to wire for a new driver, so the trip would be delayed for another day or two.

Chris and Vin set about organizing burial arrangements for Achilles and his men while the others wandered into the office. Nathan and Ezra sidled up to lounge into chairs and pulled out a game of checkers. Buck, Josiah and J.D. stood around, leaning their hips against available walls.

Josiah moved over between J.D. and the window and let his gaze drift out, following townsfolk on their way down the boardwalk. "You gonna leave on the next stage, J.D.?"

J.D. seemed startled by the question. He looked up at Josiah, then shrugged and turned to study the street. "I don't know. I felt different riding in, though."

"Different, how?" Buck joined them and leaned casually against the wall next to Josiah, one hand on his hip. His attempt to sound only slightly interested in the conversation was defeated by the open look of hope on his face.

J.D. smiled at his friend. "Maybe when eveyone finds out what happened, no one'll think I'm so reckless with my gu--" He stopped and swallowed hard, choking on his last word.

"What you did was brave, J.D.. I think you're finding a way to live with your own strength." Josiah's quiet voice drove straight through the despair swirling around him, and J.D. lifted his eyes to the big man. "You were willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good today, and you didn't have to shoot straight or true to do it."

"Am I missing something here?" Buck's look of utter confusion brought a rising bubble of laughter to J.D.'s lips and he gave in, helplessly closer to tears of joy. The tense mood was shattered and he reached out and punched his friend on the arm.

"You're always one step behind, Buck."

"Behind what?"

"Never mind. How about going over to the livery stable with me so I can buy my horse back?"

Buck's face split into a grin and he grabbed the young man in a quick hug. "After you, kid."

With a nod to Josiah, they left the room, confident things were beginning to right themselves again in their world.