Disclaimer: The Magnificent 7 belong to CBS & Mirisch. The Universe belongs to Mog. Not making any money just having fun.
Authors Notes: This is a sort of sequel to my story Scars. It's not necessary to have read Scars first, but it might help. Thanks to my proof reader Tina. Thanks to Judi, KRH & Lady Angel for letting me use events from their story Full Exposure. Don't know if the legal thing about the 'statute of limitations' is right and I don't care this is fiction; it's a plot device.
Size: Approx 125K
Officer Larabee was re-reading the letter that had arrived that morning, it made him smile on the inside. He had been a cop for three years and had just been approved for transfer to the detective division. In six months he could hang up his uniform forever. He was just filing the letter safely in his locker when the Captain sent word he wanted to see him.
"Chris congratulations." Captain Fernandez extended his hand.
"Thank sir." Chris smiled back.
"Don't know why I'm so happy I get a man trained so he's just about ready to turn into a dam good peace officer and I lose him. Still well done."
Chris could feel a 'but' coming.
"In the mean time I want you to take on a new partner, with Jack away on compassionate leave you're in need of some one."
Chris's partner Jack was on extended leave because his wife had been recently paralysed in a car crash.
The captain continued.
"Do you know a sergeant over at the 18th precinct called O'Halleran?"
Chris thought a moment.
"Don't know him but I've heard of him."
"Good man, old school, hard but fair."
"Just so, which is why six months ago he was paired up with a rookie called Wilmington fresh from the academy. Every thing seemed to be fine until two weeks ago when O'Halleran was admitted to the ER."
"What happened to him?"
"Some one beat the crap out of him, and I've met O'Halleran ain't many men can get the better of him."
"Who the hell did then?"
"What! What the hell for?"
"Don't know, neither one of them's talking, O'Halleran says he fell down some stairs, Wilmington, who by the way had bruised and cut knuckles and a split lip. Says we'll have to ask O'Halleran."
"What is this to do with me?"
"Wilmington is your new partner, it's Friday here are all the papers, he'll be here Monday."
"What! No you gotta be kidding me why the hell is he still on the force?"
"Because O'Halleran won't press charges, and because I wan'a know why."
+ + + + + + +
Buck Wilmington had wanted to be a cop for as long as he could remember which considering his childhood experience with the police was a strange thing. But as he said to his mom, "You can't change things unless you're on the inside." On that first day he was so proud and so nervous, as he took a deep breath and walked with as much confidence as he could muster into the locker room. Some where ahead of him he could here voices.
"Hey here's yours Pat; Wilmington"
"Wilmington .Wilmington I knew a Wilmington when I worked vice."
Buck's heart missed a beat.
"Yeah she was the classiest whore you ever met, but a hard nosed bitch, I'd roust her booty and then offer to, you know, forget it for a consideration in kind, but no; not her, cash only every time. Runs or ran this 'Gentleman's Club' if you know what I mean. She's a hard assed bitch I tell you, but pretty? You never seen the like."
You can do this Buck. he told him self. Then he headed in the direction of the voices.
He came around the corner to find four veteran officers near his assigned locker. He went to the locker and opened it.
"'S what it says on the door."
"Hi I'm Pat O'Halleran I'm your new partner." The man extended his hand. Buck put on a smile and they shook.
O'Halleran was tall about six foot which still made him shorter than Buck by a good few inches and while Buck was all lean muscle, O'Halleran was built like an ox, a very strong ox. He was in his mid forties with the ruddy complexion of a man who lived life to the full but neglected himself along the way.
"Say kid you got a sister?" The other men grinned at each other.
Buck frowned, "No why?" As if he didn't know.
"Well there's a hooker in this town called Wilmington, if she's your big sis we could be on to a sweet number."
Buck could have hit the man right then, but he had always known something like this would happen, he just hadn't bargained on it on the first day but hell, if he wanted to be a cop he was going to have to deal with it.
"Well I ain't got no sister nor do I have a mom, an aunt, a cousin not even a granny. And since were on the subject, Wilmington is a common name just like O'Halleran an I bet there's a lady of the night out there with that name too."
He watched the older man, for a moment he thought that he was going to deck him but then a smile spread across his face.
"Well hell kid I bet there is, your okay, you don't take no crap, do ya kid!"
+ + + + + + +
The relationship seemed to be off to a good start, and in truth O'Halleran was a good teacher. He didn't ride Buck nor tease him, well not much, he explained things and included the young man in every aspect of the job and its social life. Buck for his part was a good student, despite his own natural impulsiveness and what O'Halleran saw as an appalling abundance of energy. But so confident was he in Buck that he let him see the real Pat who took kickbacks in kind from almost every petty crook and small business on his patch. It wasn't just hookers who were expected to give their services free in return for him looking the other way, fences, pimps, pushers, liquor stores, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, pawn shops, everybody paid. He rarely took cash, generally he took services and goods. Buck reckoned he never paid for any booze or food. Buck hated O'Halleran, and everything he stood for, he was just the kind of cop Buck didn't want to be, could never be. He kept a diary of every illegal thing he saw, just in case, like his mom had taught him. "Always put it in writing love you never know when your gonna have to defend your self."
Six months into the partnership and Buck was getting ready to bust lose. He'd seen enough, he had decided to go to the lieutenant and ask for a new assignment. But events forced his hand.
They were in the worst part of their patch when O'Halleran made Buck, who was driving, turn down an ally. He'd spotted a new girl working the street, new girls had to be shown where things stood. She was tall, young, Buck reckoned about seventeen, and black. O'Halleran pulled her into the ally.
"Hello darlin' your new, when you get here?"
"I ain't your darlin' and I ain't tellin' you not'ing," she spat out defiantly.
O'Halleran grabbed her slender throat. "You! Bitch; will do what I say, tell me what I want and when I'm through you'll give me what you're selling or I'll run your scrawny, under age butt in so fast you'll wonder if you was ever out here!"
"Let her go," Buck voice was low and threatening.
"I said let her go."
O'Halleran turned to face Buck a look of puzzlement on his face.
"What is the matter with you kid she's a whore, a hooker, she's nothing, she's something you scrape off your boot."
"She's a person, now let her go."
"Let me tell you something boy, a hooker is not a person, she ain't fit to be in the presence of respectable folk, you want your mother walking the same streets as this?"
"For the last time let her go."
O'Halleran released the girl, who fell to the ground clutching her throat and gasping. Buck bent down and with out ever taking his eyes of O'Halleran asked if she was all right.
"I'm ok," she confirmed.
"Then get out of here while you can." The girl fled.
O'Halleran backed away from Buck a little trying to work out what had just happened. The tall young man before him looked dangerous, but he had no doubt he could take the kid, strong and young he maybe but you needed cunning to win a street fight.
"You going soft on me boy?" the older man asked.
"I want a new partner," was all Buck said, as he started toward the car. O'Halleran grabbed his arm as he passed and pulled him around to face him.
"Don't you walk away from me, your nothing, youre a boy, you know nothing."
"I know youre a dirty cop, a low down dirty cop and a bully and I don't want to be anything like you!"
The blow court Buck off guard, as it slammed across his face, he reeled, already tasting the blood in his mouth. But Buck had learned how to defend himself from bullies when he was very young, he immediately went on the attack. O'Halleran never landed another blow it was all one way way.
"What's the matter boy," O'Halleran turned as he backed away from the onslaught, "your ma give it away?" O'Halleran knew after the second blow that he was beat, now he had to goad the kid into doing enough damage to get him kicked of the force and get O'Halleran a nice bundle of compensation cash.
"Well not to you she didn't, what was it you said, 'cash only'."
O'Halleran tried to work out what he had said, then the light dawned. "Cindy Wilmington's your mother."
Buck said nothing he just took one step closer to the older man.
"Well, well, well who'd thought, you; a fine upstanding law officer nothing but a dirty son of a whore, a bastard whore house bra "
He never finished the insult, as a rain of blows sent him to the ground, where they were joined by kicks. It took only a few moments to cause substantial damage and for Buck's red mist to lift. He stopped as quickly as he had started, backing off, appalled at his own capacity for violence. He'd always had a temper but he'd never let it get to him like this. O'Halleran lay on the ground curled in a ball and laughing. He was actually laughing.
"Oh your ass is mine now boy, your through, and you know what I'm gonna sue you from now until eternity."
Buck took a deep breath and then squatted down close to O'Halleran's blooded form.
"Well if I'm through so are you 'cause if I go down so do you, I got dates, times, lists of every dirty deal and pay off you've done since I joined you, all neatly typed and copied, I even got photos and tape."
O'Halleran squinted at him through rapidly closing eyes. "You internal affairs boy?"
"I ain't your fucking boy and no I ain't internal affairs, just a rookie out of the academy who's mom taught him to trust no one and record everything."
+ + + + + + +
Chris Larabee was as mad as hell his last six months in uniform and he had to partner some wild kid from the academy who'd just tried to beat his last partner to death. He threw the documentation concerning his new partner on to his desk. Then he brooded for a good hour, it was more like sulking but he wouldn't admit that, even to him self. Eventually he started to question his own assumptions, why did O'Halleran not press charges, if the man was unstable how did he make it through the academy? The captain was right he wanted to know why.
The first thing he did was read the medical report on O'Halleran; broken and cracked ribs, broken nose, cracked eye socket, cracked pelvis, massive bruising causing internal bleeding, but not bad enough to require surgery. Chris was incredulous that one man could do that much damage to a seasoned and notoriously tough cop like O'Halleran, and be relatively unscathed himself. Next he read the academy psyche report on Wilmington, which stated that he had a quick temper but other than that was remarkably stable and balanced. The over all picture the academy tutors painted of him was unremarkable. He didn't excel at classroom studies, in some subjects he barley scraped in, not that he wasn't smart, all the reports stated he was a bright student but lacked concentration and was easily distracted. He was better than average on the range. He also excelled at driving coming top of the class by a long way, (this was probably because he was taught to drive by the boy friend of one of his mothers friends, a professional get-a-way driver called Sal) and he was good at self defence. Chris took time over this report, which stated that Cadet Wilmington had attended all the classes and had been very attentive but the tutor suspected that if cornered, he would revert to the scrappy, not to mention dirty but effective, street style fighting he was so good at. The most interesting report Chris found was the one on people handling skills, dealing with the public, witnesses and victims, the tutor virtually said there was nothing she could teach him he was a natural. He graduated 36th out of 70 in his class.
His fitness reports from the 18th precinct were very good, every one seemed to agree he was bit cocky but had great potential. Chris decided to get some first hand information, to speak to people who had actually met him, he started with the other members of the academy class. His investigations painted a picture of two different men. Some of the men thought he was a smart ass, arrogant, hot headed and over confident, some that he was a good guy, reliable, friendly, patient and unselfish. But the women were universal, they all liked him without exception, words like generous, kind, sympathetic, gentle were used and most of all that he respected them. Chris got the distinct impression that he had slept with almost all of them, which might explain the attitude of some of the men, they were jealous. Nothing he found gave any indications as to why he had turned on his partner. So come Monday Chris prepared to meet Buck Wilmington for the first time with, he hoped an open mind.
Chris was at his desk at precisely nine AM he looked up at the door to see a tall thin young man with broad shoulders and an immaculate uniform walk in, he recognised Wilmington from his picture in the files. Buck walked down the row of desks looking for Chris's name. He was nearly there when Chris heard.
"Buck! Buck Wilmington is that you?" Chris looked around to see a young rookie called Sofia Gonzales, coming down the isle between the desks.
"Sofia honey," he greeted her.
"You transferring here?"
"Hay we gonna have some parties?"
"Always darlin', but right now I gotta find a guy called Larabee. You know him?"
Sofia pointed at Chris. "He don't party much," she said by way of a warning.
As she turned and retreated up between the desks Buck gave her a playful slap on the behind, from what Chris had seen of the young women, had anyone else done this Gonzales would have been screaming sexual harassment.
Buck presented himself in front of Chris's desk. "Buck Wilmington reporting as ordered sir," he said in neutral tones.
Chris looked into his face and then smiled. "Don't call me sir my name's Chris," he said by way of an introduction.
+ + + + + + +
In the weeks that followed Chris became even more incredulous, Buck had, just as the reports had indicated huge potential to be a really great cop. He worked hard he wasn't afraid to learn and he partied hard. But most of all he could handle people especially women and kids. Buck for his part was happy, he liked Chris who was an honest man, and that was all Buck asked in someone, he let Buck learn and he let him make mistakes with out condemning him. Chris hadn't been sure what to expect Wilmington to be like but this wasn't it, what ever had happened between him and O'Halleran it was hard to imagine the man he had read about and who was now his partner was the same man who had battered his first partner into the ER.
Many of the other officers especially the older ones however resented Buck being given another chance, and they made their feeling very clear, Buck never rose to their bait which Chris found most impressive.
+ + + + + + +
Any lingering doubts Chris had about Buck were put to rest two months after they first met, one cold snowy December day in the city centre. Chris and Buck were off duty, they had been for precisely three minutes according to Buck's watch, so they decided it was okay for Chris to call into the bank and get some cash out. He was going shopping that night for a Christmas present for his fiancée Sarah. The bank was about to close and they only just made it in time. Both still in uniform and armed Buck waited while Chris queued up at the teller's window. Suddenly four people walked in wearing biker's leathers and helmets, they spread out and produced automatic weapons.
"Everyone down on the floor!" they shouted in unison.
Buck went for his gun but was too slow the black clad figure next to him slammed a gun barrel down across the back of his hand producing a grunt of pain and sending the gun clattering to the floor. Chris did manage to clear his holster, only to be shot in the arm for his trouble. Clutching his upper right arm he sank to his knees as Buck ran to him.
"Don't go thinking that silent alarm you set off is gonna get you any more cops than we got right here, 'cause it ain't we cut it," one of them informed the bank officials.
The robbers rounded up everyone, cops, guards, customers and staff in the back of the foyer, relieved Chris of his gun, collected Buck's from the floor and then shut the bank on time so no one outside would suspect anything. Leaving one of the gang to watch them the other three took the manager to the vaults.
"Let me look at it," Buck said to Chris, peering at his arm.
"It's just a scratch," Chris replied, irritated with their inability to stop the robbery.
"Well let me look anyways."
It was only a crease, the bullet had sliced across Chris's biceps. It would need stitching but that was all.
"How's your hand?" Chris asked, noticing Buck cradling it tentatively.
"Broke," was all he said.
Chris looked more closely, it certainly was swollen.
"I've broken enough bones and fingers I know how it feels, and it's broke," he replied bitterly.
Buck watched the guard in black leather, who ever she was she had a great figure that was for sure, and she was young, and nervous. She hadn't fired her weapon, nor hurt any one, not yet, maybe he could work with that.
"Red," he suddenly said out loud.
She turned to face him.
"You say something pig?"
"I bet you look good in red, something elegant, simple lines, maybe a halter neck with you hair up on top. Bet you'd look a million dollars in red."
"Buck what the hell are you doing?" hissed Chris, but Buck ignored him.
"Pretty girl like you, you'd turn every head in the room." Buck smiled at her.
"Since you never seen my face what do you know?" she replied uneasily.
"All women are beautiful, don't much matter if it's on the inside or the outside, and they're all powerful," he continued. "Yeah it's you women who got the power, you can make us men do anything you like."
The girl snorted, "A lot you know."
"I know," he said quietly, "that one of them," he pointed to the vault area, "has you believing your nothing with out him, that you're only important, you only have any status as part of him, that you on your own don't count."
"You know nothing. He loves me, we're gonna get married."
"If he loves you why would he put you in danger, I wouldn't let the woman I love risk her life or her liberty for me."
The girl shifted uncomfortably, as Buck continued.
"He ever buy you roses, take you dancing, how often does he tell you he loves you, does he give up a night with his friends at the bar to take you to a nice romance at the movies?"
Buck got slowly to his feet, his damaged right hand hanging limply at his side.
"You're convenient, thats all, until the next one, you are not a part of him you are you and not part of any one else, maybe some man will want to be part of your life, but believe me no man who wants to own your life really loves you."
Buck was walking slowly toward the girl her gun pointed right at his chest.
"You ain't gonna find him in the joint, and if you go through with this your gonna be there a long time, maybe you'll get away tonight, but then youre a fugitive, can't never settle down. Do you see him settled devoted family man, staying home every night with you and the kids."
Buck was now right up close to her the gun pushed into his stomach.
"You ain't shot no one you ain't pulled the trigger and you ain't even stole nothing yet, thats short time, easy time, you go through with this and it's life, honey, all that beauty wasted."
He gently pushed the gun down and away putting his thumb in the breach as he did. She practically collapsed in to his arms, pulling off the helmet as she did; she was beautiful. He guided her back to the others where Chris cuffed her as she sobbed quietly.
"How old you reckon she is?" he asked Buck.
The younger man shrugged, "16, 17 maybe."
Chris quietly called 911, that done, he picked up the girl's gun while Buck took his gun from her belt, then with the younger security man they went after the rest. Buck was forced to carry the gun in his left hand but he reckoned at this range it wouldn't be a problem, Chris' arm still bled but not enough to affect his shooting.
The others were in the vault, they had stared to fill holdalls with cash as the manager just stood to one side watching. Chris caught his eye and signalled him to be quiet. The man stared at the two policemen for a second and then ducking behind a desk yelled.
"Look out!" warning the others.
That, Chris hadn't expected, all three bandits whirled around, automatics blazing, Chris dived under a desk firing as he went, his bullet ripped into the knee of one of the robbers, who went down howling in agony, the security guard followed Chris but since he was unarmed could do nothing. Buck fired at the bandit closest to him, but left handed in the panic of the moment his first shot missed, one of the automatic rounds slammed in to the top of his right arm, but he continued to fire left handed, killing one man outright. The third man and the traitorous manager were now trapped. Chris looked across at Buck leaning against a pillar, he hadn't seen Buck get shot and couldn't see the wound now.
"You okay?" he asked.
Buck nodded, this was the first time he'd fired his gun in anger, the first time he'd had to draw a gun, the first time he'd been shot at and the first time he'd killed someone. The adrenaline was coursing through him, he could almost feel himself getting high on it. He had to make a conscious effort just to think, not just think straight but to think at all. He didn't look at Chris but continued to look ahead back into the foyer, hoping he didn't look as wild as he felt and Chris couldn't see his chest pounding and the cold sweat breaking out on his forehead.
Chris took another moment to regard his young partner, he seemed to be coping, true he was breathing hard but then so was he, deciding Buck was doing alright he turned his attention back to the job at hand.
"You're trapped more police are on their way," Chris called, "throw out you guns."
The wounded man tossed his gun toward Chris. "Just get me a fucking ambulance!" he shouted.
"Oh come on now don't make us wait," Buck bellowed at the last man.
At the front the remaining security guard had let the police in. They made their way up to Chris and Buck.
"Larabee isn't it?" asked the sergeant, who was from a different precinct.
"Yeah, one down and not moving, one down unarmed with a leg wound, one in there armed, one other maybe armed maybe not, he's the manager and he's in on it," Chris reported.
"Okay you fellers pull back we'll take it from here."
They withdrew to the front to see the girl being taken out, she looked pleadingly at Buck.
"What's you name honey?" he asked.
"Rosie, Rosie de Silva."
"Well don't you worry ol' Buck I'll speak for ya."
"Thank you," she said, as she was lead past him.
The two of them stepped out into the night.
Chris turned to Buck, "You crazy? What was that stunt with the girl, you could have got you guts shot out?"
"N'ar she was never going to fire."
"You can't know that for sure."
"Well she didnt did she? I need a drink, we still off duty?"
"Yes but we both need fixing up then we gotta write this up."
+ + + + + + +
There was something about the way he spoke that sent a chill though Chris something was not right. Buck stuck his gun into his belt and headed across the street toward the nearest bar, snow was falling and as Chris followed he noticed the spots of blood on the fresh snow fall, they followed Buck as he walked his right arm hanging down useless at his side. It dawned on Chris this was more than a broken hand, he'd been shot. The blood was coming faster, there were more spots and they were bigger. He wasn't sure if Buck knew he'd been shot, because he seemed oblivious to the pain he must be in. Chris had forgotten his own wound, which was still bleeding although it had slowed to a trickle.
Buck walked up to the bar and ordered a whisky, the barman looked at him and then at Chris standing in the doorway. Chris gave a slight nod and Buck got his shot. He lifted it in a hand what had started to tremble. Then turned around to face Chris, as Chris watched he saw the colour drain out of him.
"She was never going to fire," he reiterated. "I know women, ask any one, Buck Wilmington knows women and she was never going to fire." He downed the shot of whisky.
Chris approached, Buck was looking down at the empty glass in his still trembling hand. The bar had gone very quiet.
"I'm sure your right Buck, but I think we should go get are selves checked over by the paramedic now."
"Its cold in here," Buck said abstractly. The bar was if anything stiflingly hot.
Chris took one more step toward his partner, a substantial pool of blood had now collected below his right arm. Suddenly Buck slumped back against the bar as Chris short forward to eases his descent to the floor.
+ + + + + + +
Chris, his arm supported in a sling, paced back and forth outside the OR of County General Hospital. Buck had been in surgery for four hours now and Chris was getting frantic.
"Chris!" he turned to see his girl friend and soon to be wife running in. "Are you okay?"
"Its just a flesh wound but Buck's still in surgery." She saw the fear in his eyes.
Sarah had met Chris's partner a few times and she got the feeling that in the short time they'd been together the kind of friendship that lasts a life time was forming. Buck always treated her as lady and as an individual not an appendage to Chris and for that if nothing else she had warmed to the man, but she had to admit you didn't really need and excuse to like Buck. Something told her he might be young but he would keep her man safe. Both turned as a gowned and alarmingly blooded surgeon emerged.
"Are you Mr Wilmington's family?"
"He doesnt have any family, I'm his partner," Chris explained.
"He'll be in recovery soon, I'll let you in as soon as I can. The bullet broke his arm we've had to put in a plate and screws to hold it together, it is such a bad brake he may have to keep the plate forever. The muscle and tendon damage will take some time but he should make a full recovery. He did however lose a hell of a lot of blood, we were very lucky, much more and there might have been serious complications, as it is he should be out of here in less than a week."
Chris sat beside Buck's bed waiting for him to come out of the anaesthetic. He was still connected to a bag of blood, not to mention a drip, heart monitor, and oxygen. Eventually the young man began to stir. His eyes opened and Chris could see he was focusing on him.
"Don't try and talk, you're going to be fine, you got shot in the bank and lost a lot of blood." he explained quietly. All talk of broken bones and muscle damage could be saved for later. Buck nodded very slightly, he reached out with his good left hand and Chris put his hand in Buck's.
Four days later Buck was going crazy in the hospital, despite the medication his arm hurt all the time, making him irritable, and with his right arm and hand immobilised he was severely restricted in what he could do for him self, and the frustration was building. Chris was worried about him because the hospital was unhappy to release Buck to his bachelor apartment. But if something didn't change soon he'd discharge himself. After talking it over with Sarah they decided to offer Buck their spare room. Then he had to convince Buck.
"Look Buck I know you hate it in here," he started, "but you can't go home to your place alone not yet and you know it."
Buck scowled at him. "I'll manage," he growled.
Chris ignored this and continued with his pre-rehearsed speech.
"Or you could come back to my place, we've got a spare room and we'd love to have you. Home cooked food, cable TV, free beer. What do you say? Besides my place is only twenty minutes from here, you live nearly an hour away, and you'll have to come back here for physio."
Buck refused to make eye contact. "I can manage," he reiterated sullenly.
"You probably can manage but we both know it will be 'only just', and 'only just' is going to slow your recovery down. Let us help, good food, lots of rest you'll be back in the car annoying the hell out of me in no time."
Buck continued to look down.
"What?" questioned Chris, trying to work out what might be the problem. "I know we haven't talked about it, getting shot, killing someone an' all, but if you want to just say the word, don't know if I can help, I never killed any one my self " He stopped because Buck shook his head.
With out looking up Buck spoke softy, "I got no problem with all that, he was trying to kill me and you and probably anyone else who got in his way, I signed on to protect people thats my job, it's what I do." When Buck did finally looked up Chris was surprised to detect fear in his new friend's eyes.
"It's that I I never stayed at anyone's home before, except for you know "
"Never, you never went on a sleep over as a kid?" Buck shook his head. "You never went to a friends home in the summer?" Again Buck shook his head.
Buck looked shamefaced. "I don't know how I'm supposed to act," he said quietly.
What he didn't say was, "I was raised in what amounted to a brothel, with all the activities and language that involved, and I'm scared that my only knowledge of 'normal' families comes from TV and is probably flawed."
"Buck you don't act, you're just you, Buck Wilmington just as you are is just fine with us."
Chris found Buck's admission of this gap in his social knowledge heart stopping, when he told Sarah she cried. They went together the next day to collect him. It was a Sunday, Buck walked slowly up to the front door with Sarah while Chris put the car away. She showed him his room and unpacked his bag for him, she could tell he was uncomfortable and ill at ease. He also looked drained and tired. She sat down next to him on the bed.
"Buck, I want you here, I don't offer my home to people out of obligation or pity, only to people I want in my home. You're Chris' partner that makes you family, if I trust you with my man's life I'm sure as hell going to trust you with my home. And you have to trust me and Chris to help you until you can help your self." Buck looked at her and nodded.
"Hey pard, the game's on you coming?" Chris called from the living room.
Sarah stood up and looked down at Buck, then she extended her arms, he held up his good left arm and allowed her to help him up. He went into the living room to find a can of beer sitting on a low table in front of a comfortable leather armchair, the football match was about to kick off. Buck sat down tentatively, he was thirsty but knew he couldn't drink the beer, the doctor had been quite clear about mixing the painkillers and alcohol, it was a definite no no.
"Er " he started, "Could I get a different drink?" he asked quietly.
Chris frowned, "You don't like beer no more?"
"I do painkillers don't."
"Oh shit I'm sorry I should have known." Chris was embarrassed. "We've got coke, root beer, orange juices "
"Coke is fine."
The game had been on for about fifteen minutes when Denver scored a spectacular touch down.
"Did you see that!" Chris called over.
"Shhhh Chris," Sarah warned, "he's asleep."
Buck's long legs were stretched out in front of the chair his head rested off to one side almost on the armrest, as he slept peacefully oblivious to his surroundings.
+ + + + + + +
Buck stayed for two months over Christmas and into February. They fell into a routine, Chris and Sarah would rise early and take breakfast together, then after Chris left, Sarah would help Buck if he needed it and give him breakfast, then go to work herself. To begin with all Buck did all day was watch TV and sleep, mostly he slept, but as he got stronger and more adept at using his left hand he insisted on helping with some of the chores. On Buck's last Sunday when he had long ago given up painkillers in favour of beer, Chris asked the question he'd been longing to ask since the day they met.
"So go on tell me why?"
"Why did you beat the shit out of O'Halleran?"
Buck wasn't so drunk he didn't know what was going on.
"Is that why they put you with me, 'cause I'm gonna tell you the same thing I did everyone else, ask O'Halleran what happened to him."
"Pard this is between you and me, partners, friends no one else."
"Off the record?"
"I swear to God."
Buck thought a while trying to decide if he could trust Chris, he generally wanted to trust people, it took a conscious effort on his part to hold that trust back until he was sure, and not just go with gut instinct. Usually his gut was right, but he had got it wrong once or twice and it had hurt him, so as time went on he had taught himself to be more circumspect. The one thing he was sure about was that Chris was an honest man, so he decided to trust him, with at least some of the truth.
"He's dirty and he's a bully, that day he stared picking on this little working girl, she wouldn't play ball and he stared to hurt her, I snapped."
Chris looked at Buck's lanky form stretched out on the sofa, for a long time.
"That all true?"
"Can you prove any of it?"
"Yes, but not so as it'll hold up in court and if I do he'll have me for assault."
There was another long pause, before Chris continued. He believed the story on face value, but Buck could have stopped O'Halleran hurting the girl with out half killing him, there was something more to this.
"You ever going to tell me the real reason?"
In the Middle
Chris transferred to homicide. On Chris's recommendation, two years after joining the force Buck became one of it's youngest detectives. The two of them formed their second and closest partnership. Sarah had a son called Adam. Buck practically lived at Chris and Sarah's house, he baby sat for Adam, ate Sunday lunch with them, Sarah did all his washing, and to Adam he was Uncle Buck.
Then came the tragedy. A car bomb meant for Chris killed Sarah and Adam. Chris was destroyed. For six month he wallowed in a pit of whisky fuelled self-destructive rage, despair and self-pity. All Buck could do was stick by him, keep him safe, and take what ever Chris threw at him. Eventually Chris sobered up enough to re-evaluate his life, he left the police and joined the ATF to make a new life; to escape the memories, he didn't see much of Buck for a while. When he looked at Buck he only saw the good times the four of them had had and the black time Buck had seen him through, and it was too painful to see. But when he was asked to recruit and form his own elite unit, Buck was the first man he called. Reunited; their partnership was reformed; the bonds of trust unbroken. And in all this time O'Halleran was never mentioned again, he faded from their memory.
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