Only When It Rains
Summary: Buck is late for work and Chris goes in search of him. In the process, he learns a little more about his old friend.
Acknowledgements: I need to say 'Thank you' to my beta Monica for being patient enough to wade through my commas; to Gate for badgering me to finish this; to Mog for creating this wonderful universe to play in, and for allowing others to play with her toys <g>; and to Cindy Combs for writing that crossover that got me involved in this universe to begin with. And, of course, to all you readers who keep this whole thing going. Thank you.
Special Agent Chris Larabee glanced through the doorway of his office as JD, the last of his team members to arrive, entered the bullpen alone. His eyes narrowed when he realized that only the one man had entered. He quickly got to his feet and strode towards the door.
"JD," he called, "where's Buck?" The two men were roommates and often rode to work together.
"I don't know," the younger man admitted nervously. "He was actin' kinda strange last night, and when I woke up this mornin', he was gone. I was hopin' he would be here." His eyes flicked about the office, skimming over the faces of the other four agents in the office, but not seeing the one he wanted.
"Strange how, JD?" Vin asked quietly, his soft Texan drawl startling JD out of his search.
"Well, I got in kinda late last night after my date with Casey," he began slowly, shifting nervously from foot to foot. "Buck was standin' by the windows, just lookin' out. At first, I thought he was waitin' on me, an' was gonna chew me out for bein' late, but he just stood there, like he didn't even see me. I asked if he was okay, and he said he was fine, just waitin' for the rain." JD shrugged.
"What?!" Chris' head snapped up at the last statement, his green eyes piercing into the younger man's. "What were his exact words?"
"Ummm, he said 'Don't worry 'bout me, kid. I'm just waiting for the rain. Go to bed.' That's it." He looked hopefully at his commanding officer, "Do you know where he's at?"
"Maybe," Chris muttered. He turned quickly and reentered his office, but exited a moment later with his coat in hand. "I'm goin' out for a bit. JD, get those surveillance reports from Team Four from last night. Josiah, collect everything you can on Wallace and start on a profile. Vin," He was cut off by the sharpshooter before he could finish.
"Just go, Cowboy. We got everything covered here. Go do what you gotta do." The Texan met his leaders eyes and the look that passed between them calmed the older agent more than any words could have.
He nodded and tipped an imaginary hat to the others before hurrying for the elevator. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall of the lift as he remembered the last time he had heard those words.
It was a few months after Sarah and Adam had died, and Chris was drunk, again. Buck was helping to clean him up after a busy night of drinking and brawling, again. In his drunken stupor he had asked his friend why he didn't seem to care that Sarah and Adam were dead."I do care, Pard'," Buck replied quietly, stunned by his friend's words. "You know I do."
"Bullshit," Chris angrily replied. "I haven't seen you do no mournin', ain't seen you shed one tear over their deaths."
"I have. I do," Buck admitted, softer still, "but only when it rains."
Buck's cryptic response had been lost on him at the time, but when JD mentioned 'waiting for the rain', it had all suddenly come back to him. The tone of Buck's voice and even the look in his eye. His friend was hurting. How could he have missed it? Because he was too absorbed in his own grief to give a rat's ass about anyone else. Including his best friend. Buck had practically been part of the family, how could he be so dense as to not realize that Buck would be affected by their deaths, too?
He got out of the elevator and headed to his truck, instinctively knowing where his oldest friend had gone.
The weather man had been predicting rain for the previous night, but it hadn't actually started until the early hours of the morning. It was still coming down steadily at nine o'clock, so Chris made sure to drive carefully. It wouldn't do to get in an accident before he could find his wayward agent.
As he drove down the slick streets of Denver, he thought again of the events that had led up to this point in his life. He and Buck had been cops, and damn good ones at that. But when his wife and child were killed in a bomb meant for him, his life had gone to hell. But Buck had stayed by him. Chris had treated him like shit, said some of the most god awful things to him, but his friendship had never wavered. When Chris was commissioned to start a new team for the ATF, Buck had been the first person he had thought of. Then Vin came along. Somehow that quiet Texan had managed to get past all the walls he had set up after the bombing like a hot knife through butter. He knew that his easy friendship with Vin had hurt the jovial ladies' man, but he had said nothing. Luckily, JD signed on soon afterwards and gave Buck a new focus, but he never forgot his oldest friend. Chris and Vin even had the spurs to prove it. Buck had given them one each as a blessing of sorts. Or maybe a thank you, he still wasn't sure which.
As he pulled up to the gates of the cemetery he felt a pang, the same pang he felt every time he came here, to the cemetery where Sarah and Adam were buried. He came here on their birthdays and his anniversary, but never on the day of the bombing. That day was still spent alone, and very, very drunk. This time, as he left the warm, dry confines of his truck, he remembered the day he had watched the two caskets being lowered side by side into the ground. It had been raining then, too. His thoughts drifted back to that time as he slowly walked down the road.
He had stood beside the graves and watched them bury the loves of his life. And right beside him stood Buck. That night was the first of many drunken nights followed by hung over mornings. There was yelling and accusations, tears and fighting. He didn't remember much of the time immediately following their deaths, but what he did remember, involved Buck.
As he approached the graves of his wife and child, he slowed down. He didn't want to intrude on his friend's solitude. Buck sat cross legged at the foot of the graves staring straight ahead. His head was bare, and he made no move to wipe the rain from his face. Finally, he tilted his face up to the sky and sighed.
"I miss them," he eventually said, sadly.
"I know," Chris replied, still trying not to intrude. He knew how private grieving was. But Buck had stood by him years ago, waiting to offer him a shoulder to lean on, now it was his turn.
The silence stretched out, neither one willing to break the solitude. Finally Chris spoke up quietly. "I'm sorry, Buck."
"What for?" the dark haired man asked, surprised.
"For everything that happened back then," he replied. "I don't know why you stayed, but I know that I didn't deserve you."
Buck was silent for a minute before responding slowly. "One of us had to be strong then, pard', and is sure as hell wasn't gonna be you." He glanced up and flashed a little grin, to show no hard feelings.
"Still," Chris continued, "you put up with a lot of shit. You didn't deserve all the crap I put you through. Why did you stay?" It was a question he had dying to ask for a long time now, but never had the courage.
"Why?" Buck repeated slowly, "Because I already lost them, I couldn't bear to lose you, too." Silence once again blanketed the pair. Eventually Buck spoke again. "I loved them, too, you know. Not the same way as you, of course," he hurried to clarify, "but I loved them just the same."
"I know, Buck. They loved you, too." Chris closed his eyes and allowed the long buried memories to surface. "Sarah once told me that you were the first of my friends to actually view her as an independent person, and not just my girlfriend. That meant a lot to her. And Adam, he just thought the world of you, Lord knows why." He grinned at his friend and was pleased to see a smile in return.
"That's because I used to bring him cookies every time I visited," Buck smiled fondly. "It was our little secret."
He looked again at the graves and this time Chris looked too. There, sitting in front of Adam's grave, was a plastic plate with two chocolate chip cookies covered in plastic wrap. Sitting in front of Sarah's was a single yellow rose. "Hope you don't mind me bringin' flowers to your lady," Buck joked quietly.
Chris nodded and allowed a small smile to show. "It's all right, Buck. I know you wouldn't try anything, and if you did, Sarah'd break your jaw."
That caused Buck to laugh, and it was a welcome sound. "You got that right, pard'. She was a strong woman. She'd have to be to put up with you," he grinned at his friend to lighten the words.
"Yeah, she was," Chris drawled, looking sadly at her headstone. "She was far better than I deserved." He dropped his eyes and shook his head. "I'm the one that should be lying there, not her."
"Don't talk like that," Buck hurriedly admonished. "Look at all you've accomplished. The Team and everything. You've got a good thing going here."
"I had a good thing going there, too." Chris closed his eyes and tilted his head up to the sky, mimicking Buck's earlier movement. "I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I hadn't stayed that extra night in Mexico. I could have caught a different flight. I could have been here," his voice trailed off as his mind got lost in the 'what-ifs.'
"I'll tell you where I'd be right now," the disconnected quality to Buck's voice was enough to bring Chris' focus off of the past and into the present. "I'd be sitting here alone, mourning the loss of three friends. I'd be living alone, and have some little dead end job, just waiting for something that would never happen. After a while of feeling guilty over that night, I decided that I was glad we had stayed. If I couldn't have you all, I at least wanted one of you safe."
A momentary flash of anger filled Chris as he listened to his oldest friend, but it dissipated when he realized that he wasn't saying that he was glad Sarah and Adam were dead, but that he was alive. They sat in silence for another few minutes, digesting the information, until once again Chris broke the silence. "Thank you."
Buck's eyes were questioning as he glanced over.
"Thank you for telling me. And thank you for being there for me. You saved my life, twice."
"Anytime, pard'. That's what friends are for." He glanced up at the sky again and commented: "Rain's lettin' up."
"Yup," Chris nodded. "Guess it's time to head back to the office. And Buck," he turned to face the taller man, "the next time it rains, warn the kid, he's worried about you."
"Sure thing," he smiled as he glanced back at the graves, where a single beam of sunlight was streaming down on them. "But something tells me there will be clear skies for a while." He slung an arm across Chris' shoulders and steered them both towards the entrance. "Now let's get back, I don't want to miss any of Nathan's lecture on the perils of pneumonia."
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