Without You

by LT

Song Fic

Disclaimer: Don’t own ‘em, never will. Not makin’ any money off of ‘em, don’t sue.

Song and Lyrics by: Bobby Terry/Anthony Smith
Recorded by Lonestar

Fire, smoke, bad joke
That’s what my life’s been turned into
Hurt, cry, pray to die
That’s all that I’ve got left to do

Without you
Every time someone speaks your name
I feel my heart go up in flames
Without you
Nobody here to see me cry
Or wipe the teardrops from my eyes
Without you
I’m the only one that I’ve got left
And I can’t live with myself
Without you, oh, without you

"Buck, don’t you give up, ya got me!" Chris clutched at the shirtfront of his oldest friend. He was kneeling in blood but he didn’t seem to notice. He cradled the head of his long time friend in the crook of his arm and silently implored him not to die. The living room of Buck’s condo was a scene out of a horror movie but all Chris Larabee saw was the pale face and the dark red blood that oozed from the three holes in Buck’s chest.

"The ambulance is enroute, Chris. Should be here in just a few minutes." Nathan, ever the professional and always the medic, knelt in the blood beside his boss. He was worried about his "brother" but there were others in the room that were dying or dead. He saw that Buck was in Chris’s gentle care and so he turned his attention to the woman that lie beside Buck. He took a good look at the large hole in her head and knew there was no hope for her. He reluctantly reached up and closed her eyes. He got up and went to where the other woman lay crumpled in the corner. Her head was to the wall and Nathan carefully turned her body over. A bullet wound in the middle of her chest gave Nathan little hope of finding a pulse. He didn’t.

He got up and looked around the living room. There was no sign of the youngest member of Team 7. Nathan slowly made his way to JD’s bedroom and opened the door. He held his breath as he hurried over to the body on the floor. He gently touched the neck and found, much to his relief, a strong steady pulse. Gently, he shook the young man to try to bring him to consciousness. He found himself taking a deep breath as JD’s eyelids started to flutter. "Come on, JD, wake up. We need you to wake up."

The young dark haired agent slowly opened his eyes. He squinted at Nathan, recognition slowly dawning in the hazel orbs. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs and instantly regretted the movement. He closed his eyes tightly until the pain eased in his head and then he looked at Nathan again. "Buck?"

Nathan put his hand on the kid’s chest and pressed downward, knowing as soon as he answered the question that JD would try to get up. "He’s in the living room, JD. He’s been hurt but Chris is with him and the ambulance is on the way. I hear the sirens now. You just lay still now. Everything will be okay as soon as we get you both to the hospital." Nathan didn’t want to lie to the young man but he didn’t want the young man trying to get to his best friend. Besides, Nathan didn’t like the way his eyes were dilating.

JD could tell that Buck was in bad shape just from the anxious look on Nathan’s face. He wanted to get up and go to Buck. He needed to see just how badly he was hurt for himself. He pushed against the black man’s arm but his head spun and he didn’t seem to have any strength. "Nate, how bad?"

"I don’t know JD. He’s been shot but he opened his eyes for a second when Chris picked him up. Do you know what happened, who the two ladies are?" Nathan let up some on the pressure seeing that JD wasn’t about to get up.

JD closed his eyes and fought the nausea that seemed to be growing with every second that he was awake. He wanted to go back to the blackness but he couldn’t until he had the answer. "Why would she shoot him?"

"I don’t know kid, I don’t know."

Two months earlier

"These are the offices of ATF Team 7."

Buck heard the woman’s voice before he could see her. He recognized the lilt of her voice as belonging to Sharon Danielson, the General Office Manager for the ATF Department in Denver. She did the hiring and firing as well as the scheduling for all the secretarial staff for the three teams housed in the Federal building. Buck had dated her for about three months two years ago. They were still friends and occasionally had drinks together, but nothing more. Sharon came around the corner with a woman Buck didn’t recognize. He stood up to greet them.

"Hi, Buck. Awfully quiet in the offices today. Where’s the rest of the family?" Sharon smiled up at the big mustached agent. He smiled his best smile for both of the women’s benefit.

"JD’s in DC teachin’ a computer class, Josiah’s still laid up, Nate and Vin are helpin’ out Team 8 and Chris is meetin’ with Travis. That leaves little ol’ me to man the office. Hello there, darlin’, I’m Buck Wilmington. Nice to meet you. And you would be?"

The new woman stared up at him like he was a god descended from Olympus. Her mouth slightly ajar, she didn’t answer him right away. Her big brown eyes were glued to the handsome face before her. Sharon nudged her and she stammered, "Barbara, Barbara Wabash. I’m new here." The words came out breathless, her desire for the man in front of her dripping off every word.

Buck grinned to himself. The old animal magnetism was working again. He quickly assessed the woman before him and found he was interested. Of course, if the body before him had breasts and was breathing, he was usually interested. This one, though, was strikingly beautiful. She had long auburn hair, which he could tell was died. She was about five foot six and about one hundred and twenty pounds. Her body curved nicely in all the right places and she was wearing a blouse that accentuated her buxom bosom. She had pouty lips and beautiful brown eyes. She smiled tremulously at him and he took her trembling hand in his, lifting it to his lips. "Welcome to the ATF, darlin’."

Sharon shook her head. She would have to warn Barbara once again when they got back in the elevator. She could see the effect that the ladies man was having on her new employee and she didn’t want to have to discipline her like she had so many others. Too many of her female employees seemed to take entirely too much time on the fourth floor in the offices of Team 7. "Pull in your fangs, Buck. She’s just starting today. Don’t scare her off before I can even get her trained. Come on, Barb, let’s get back to the tour. See you around, Stud." Sharon pulled on Barbara’s arm and led her back to the elevator. Barbara Wabash unwillingly followed her boss, her head still turned towards the laughing ATF agent.

Once they were in the elevator, Sharon turned to Barbara and warned, "He’s a Casanova, Barb. If you’re in it for a marvelous time in bed, go for it. If you want more, stay clear of him. He’s bedded almost every woman in this building, married or single. He is an eyeful though, isn’t he?" Sharon chuckled at the almost pained expression on the young woman’s face. "I didn’t ask before, are you married or engaged, Barb?"

The auburn haired beauty licked her suddenly dry lips and stared at the closed elevator doors. "I think I’m involved." She never took her eyes from the door.

Sharon sighed and punched the button for the fifth floor. Wilmington had struck again. At least, Sharon sighed to herself, he was a gentleman and would treat her with respect. And, she would have the time of her life for a few weeks!

Two weeks earlier

"Buck, please, what did I do wrong? Just talk to me, sweetheart! Dammit, don’t turn your back on me!"

Buck slowly turned and faced the upset red head. He took a deep cleansing breath and then once again he tried to explain. "I’m sorry if you thought there was more to our relationship than there was, Barb, but I’m not in love with you and I won’t continue to see you. I thought you understood that from the beginning. Believe me, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I date a lot of women. There is no special one for me. We had some fun but now it’s over. Just let it go, will ya!" This was about the twentieth time he had told her the same thing. Most of the time it had been over the telephone but the past few days she had begun her assault on him at work. Why couldn’t she get it through her head that he didn’t want to see her anymore? "Barbara, listen to me! You can’t do this at work. You’re embarrassing yourself." He lowered his voice even more so that only she could hear. "Darlin’, if you are pregnant, than I will give you all the support you want but it’s not going to get me to marry you. I’m not going to move in with you and I’m not going to stop seeing other women. Now, cut it out!"

Barbara was desperate. She wanted Buck and she was determined to get him back into her bed and permanently in her life. Why couldn’t he see how perfect they were for each other? Why was he being so stubborn? She had taken him to her bed willingly and had treated him like a goddam king. She had bought him everything he needed to live with her. He didn’t have to pack one blessed item! She had found out his favorite food. She had found out what he liked to do in his time off. She had structured her life around his and yet he still insisted that he was through with her. Not even the fact that she was pregnant with his baby could get him to change his mind, for Christ sakes. Well, she would just have to be more stubborn than he was.

‘We’ll just see what it will take to get you back in my arms, sweetheart. You have not heard the last of me by any means. You belong to me and not to anyone else!’ she thought as she attempted once more to get him to see the way it should be. "I love you Buck. And I know, deep in your heart, you love me too. We are going to have a wonderful life together, the three of us. I just know you’ll make a fantastic daddy." She stepped toward him and lifted her hand to touch his face but he sharply withdrew from her.

"Barb, face reality! We are nothin’ to each other. Now, LEAVE ME ALONE!" He turned and walked back into the offices he shared with his teammates, slamming the door in her face. He stood for a few moments with his back to the door, trying to compose himself before facing the others. All of them knew about Barbara Wabash and the hell he was going through because of his three dates with her. At first, they had been rather unsympathetic. They figured that if a man dated as many women as Buck did, one was bound to get pissed eventually. But as the weeks went by and she continued to hound him, they had all agreed that she was crazy and that he was being stalked. They would give him looks that said, I’m glad it’s you and not me, or, Sorry buddy, I haven’t a clue how to get rid of her. He was tired of it and he knew that it was starting to piss Chris off too. They had a big bust coming up and he didn’t want anything disturbing the concentration his men needed right now.

Chris Larabee was standing in the doorway of his office. He had a scowl on his face and a menacing glare in his eye. "In my office now, Wilmington." His voice was barely above a whisper.

Buck’s head dropped and he pushed himself away from the door. Hesitantly, he made his way into Chris’s office. He sat heavily on the couch, not daring to look at his boss. Chris had not shown the sympathy that the others had for his plight. He waited silently for the barrage to begin.

"I will not have one of my men arguing openly with anyone, particularly a woman! Do you understand me, Buck! It is totally unprofessional and I will not tolerate it! Do something about it and get her out of our business."

"I’m tryin’ Boss." He just couldn’t look his old friend in the eye. It was humiliating to have her come up to the office everyday and start in on him. He felt tired and drained. Chris didn’t know about all the phone calls he was getting, five or six a night between the hours of one and six in the morning. Buck had pulled the plug out of the wall in JD’s room and had turned down the ringer on the phone in the kitchen so at least the boy could get some sleep. Buck couldn’t shut off all the phones though in case Chris or one of the others needed them during the night. Ezra and Vin were undercover and coming to the end of their investigation. At any time, they could receive a call to take down the gunrunners they were after. So Buck had to answer every time the phone rang even if he knew, deep in his gut, that the call was from her. Even with a caller id attached to his line, he still had to answer because she had started to call from pay phones. She even called from their office several times. How she got in, he still hadn’t figured out.

"Get her to knock it off, Buck. Vin and Ezra may need us at any time and I don’t want her distracting you or the others. It was kinda funny with the flowers and stuffed animals but this is getting real annoying! I’ll go to Sharon if you can’t handle it but I’d prefer that you deal with it. You got me, Wilmington?" Chris got right in Buck’s face to make his point, even if the other man would not look him in the eye.

"I got it, Chris. I’ll talk to her again tonight and I’ll make her see how pointless this is. I’m sorry this is affectin’ all the guys and I’ll take care of it. I promise." Buck’s voice sounded lifeless and Chris backed away from him, looking him over for the first time in a week. Buck looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Chris’s voice softened and he reached out and put his hand on his old friend’s shoulder. When Buck finally looked up at him, he saw the sorrow in the gregarious man’s eyes. Chris sighed and said, "Why don’t you and JD come out to the ranch and spend a few days? She’s nuts, Buck. If you can’t reason with her tonight, you and the kid come stay with me for a while ‘til she gives up, okay. You look like shit, Pard."

Buck chuckled mirthlessly. He shook his head at his trusted companion and tiredly whispered, "No, I got to make her wake up and smell the roses. I’ll take her for drinks tonight and explain one more time what a bastard I am. She’s claimin’ she’s..knocked up, Chris. Insists that it’s mine. I don’t see how it’s possible but I guess stranger things have happened. If it’s true, than all this is my fault and I got to face the music. Guess my philanderin’s catchin’ up with me. Thanks for the offer though, Pard. I appreciate it."

Chris leaned in and rested his forehead against Buck’s. He cupped his hand behind Buck’s head. The two old friends rested against one another for a long time, taking comfort from one another.

Two days earlier

Pat sat on the edge of Joyce’s desk. Most of the others were still at lunch and Pat was thumbing through the newspaper, gossiping with her best friend in the secretarial pool. Ten women shared the office on the sixth floor, keeping up with the correspondence and record keeping that went with three active ATF teams.

"Ah, I see Team Seven made the papers again. Nice raid they just finished, got a bunch of guns off the streets. Guess they can relax now for a few days." Pat said as she started to turn the page. Joyce grabbed at the newspaper but Pat pulled it out of her grasp. "There isn’t a picture, so no sense looking."

"Damn, I wanted to see those handsome faces. Sharon sure put the kibosh on things when she put her foot down. It’s all nutso’s fault. I sure miss seeing Buck. It’s like he’s hiding from all of us."

Pat put the paper down and turned her full attention to her confidant. "I hear he got a restraining order against her. I can’t believe Sharon hasn’t fired her ass by now. Everybody knows that Buck belongs to all the women of Denver. Where does she get off thinkin’ he’d feel anything special for her?"

Joyce shook her head. In the beginning she had liked Barbara Wabash. She had seemed kind of sad and Joyce could relate to that, having just gone through a divorce herself. Then the flowers had started to arrive on Barb’s desk every afternoon and she had claimed they were from her secret lover. Joyce had snuck a peek at the card one day. It had read ‘You are my reason for living. Love always." There was no name and Joyce and all the others had been disappointed. Finally, after repeated begging, Barbara had announced that the flowers were from Buck Wilmington. They had all been taken aback! Had Buck finally fallen for one of them? It was almost impossible to believe but they had no reason to think she was lying. They knew she had gone out with the ladies man a couple of times but they all thought it was over. Buck seemed to have his eye on the new security guard who worked down in the lobby.

The bouquets continued to arrive on a daily basis. Joyce had tried to get Barbara to open up a bit and tell her about her relationship with Buck. Barb had simply stated that they were madly in love and that they were going to have a baby. Joyce couldn’t wait to share that bit of information with Pat. Still, there was something amiss with Barbara’s story. Three days after Barbara’s announcement of her pregnancy, Joyce caught Barbara at the vending machine in the restroom. She was frantically trying to get a Tampax out of the machine. Joyce didn’t say anything to Barbara but she shared the news with Pat. Shortly after that, Pat and Helen had come across Barbara and Buck arguing in the hallway by the cafeteria. Pat had told Joyce that Buck looked ready to blow a gasket, that his hands were clenched into fists and that when he saw the other two watching them, he had turned suddenly and left. Barbara had turned to her office colleges and started crying, explaining it was a lover’s quarrel.

Then, just last week, one of the security guards had come up to their office and deposited a bouquet of flowers on Barbara’s desk. He had loudly announced that flowers would no longer be accepted for any ATF agent and that Miss Wabash was directed to discontinue the delivery of flowers to Agent Wilmington immediately per orders of AD Travis. Suddenly, it all made sense to the other women in the office. The flowers that Barb had been receiving with the mushy cards had been bouquets that were returned to her from Team Seven’s office.

Five of the women started teasing Barbara unmercifully after that. They would place a wilted flower on her desk everyday with a note that said, Screw you, bitch. The beautiful woman with the mysterious past would fly into temper tantrums each day when she came back from lunch. And they had gotten worse with each passing day until finally, Sharon had put an end to it. She had forbidden any more tormenting on the part of the co-workers and she had terminated any unauthorized visitation between her staff and the ATF agents on all three teams. Evidently, Ryan, Hernandez and Larabee had issued the same orders to their agents and everyone was complying. Even Barbara.

"I feel kinda sorry for her, Pat. You know we all dream of becoming a Mrs. someday and I know that Buck’s been in that dream of mine. She just got caught up in her dream. I mean, I’d give just about anything to have ol’ Buck’s boots a permanent part of my décor. Bet you would too, right?"

Pat got a goofy grin on her face as she seemed to drift away for a few seconds. She giggled a little and said, "I’d give anything just to have his boots under my bed again. That man sure knows how to show a lady a good time in the sack. Maybe I’ll give Buck a call. We split on good terms. Maybe we could have another ‘roll in the hay’."

Neither woman had seen Barbara come into the office. Neither of them had seen her watching them, listening intently to their conversation. However, both of them saw her coming at them with a letter opener raised above her head. They scrambled to put the desk between her and themselves. Barbara stopped on the opposite side, her arm still raised threateningly.

"You goddam bitches, leave my husband alone. He’s taken, do you hear me! He’s mine!" She brought her hand down and buried the letter opener in the top of Joyce’s desk. She stood before them, her chest heaving angrily. Her eyes glazed with hatred, she sneered, "If I ever hear any of you talking about Buck again, I’ll cut your heart out. He belongs to me and no one will get between us again. You got that, bitch!"

By the end of the day, Barbara Wabash no longer worked for the ATF.

Guilt, shame, I’m to blame
For all the pain I put you through
Cold, stoned, mind blown
There’s nothin’ left for me to lose
I’m the only one that I’ve got left
And I can’t live with myself

Without you
Every time someone speaks your name
I feel my heart go up in flames
Without you
Nobody’s there to see me cry
Or wipe the teardrops from my eyes
Without you
I’m the only one that I got left
And I can’t live with myself
Without you, oh, without you

Twenty minutes earlier

JD opened the door to find Barbara Wabash standing in the hallway. He wanted to slam the door in her face but he was a gentleman and she was a woman, if not a lady. He blocked the way into the loft he shared with his teammate and "big brother" Buck Wilmington. No one else was home at the moment although JD expected Buck to be home from the grocery store any minute now.

"What do you want? Buck’s not here and you’re not supposed to be anywhere near here. I think you better just leave, Miss Wabash." JD knew all the troubles that Buck had had with this psychopath and he wanted her away from their doorstep, before his friend got back.

"I don’t mean to intrude, but Buck called me and asked me to bring over this doctor’s certificate stating I’m pregnant. I wasn’t lying to him. He’s going to be a father." She held up an envelope. JD could see a doctor’s return address in the left corner. She stood there in the hallway, in her jeans and a sweatshirt, a large purse hanging on her shoulder that she tucked the letter back in. She sure didn’t look dangerous. Maybe Buck had called her. JD knew, if it were him, he would sure want to know if she was or wasn’t lying about something as important as a baby.

"Well, I guess you can wait if you want. Buck should be home in a few minutes. Why don’t you have a seat in the living room. I have to check something in my room. I’ll be back in a minute." JD started to walk away from her, his head still turned to see exactly what she was going to do.

"Do you mind if I get a glass of water? I’m sorta nervous about this whole thing." She looked genuinely sorry about all the fuss she had been putting Buck through. She had stopped the phone calls and the gifts that seemed to be on their doorstep every night for five straight weeks. Maybe she had finally faced the truth.

"Sure, no problem. Glasses are above the sink. Help yourself." JD entered his bedroom and closed his door. He hurriedly reached for his cell phone and hit the auto dial for Buck’s cell phone. ‘Dam,’ he thought as he heard the beep beep beep of the busy signal. He hung up and quickly hit the redial. He turned as he heard the door swing open behind him but he didn’t react fast enough to avoid the cast iron skillet as it crashed down onto his skull. He dropped to his knees and then, as Barbara struck him again, he lost consciousness. He didn’t feel the third or fourth times she brought the skillet down on his head.

+ + + + + + +

Buck stepped out of the elevator, the sprightly blonde by his side. He was juggling two bags of groceries and his cell phone. "Hold on a sec, Chris, I gotta dig my keys out. Tracey, hold one of these bags for me, will ya, darlin’." The phone started to slide away from between his ear and shoulder and he just managed to catch it without dropping the groceries as Tracey grabbed for both bags. They were laughing as Buck fished the key to the condo out of his tight jeans and handed it to Tracey. "I’m back Chris. Yeah, JD and I can come out for a little trail ride tomorrow. Sounds like fun. So, you’re on the way to Mary’s huh. All right Stud. Good for you. Tracey and I are gonna take each other on at the racket ball court. She caught me comin’ in and actually challenged me. Me, the king of the court, and she thinks she can beat me. Course she said, beat the pants offa me, so maybe I’ll just let her win."

With that statement Tracey punched him in the shoulder as she turned the key in the lock. She was laughing as she walked ahead of Buck into the messy loft. She stopped abruptly as she came face to face with a very attractive auburn haired woman who was dressed in a very flimsy black negligee. The smile quickly left her face as she looked into the cold, angry eyes.

"Buck, who is this?"

"Oh shit! Barbara, what the hell are you doin’ here? Where’s JD?" Buck pushed Tracey slightly back so that he was between her and Barbara. He didn’t realize Chris was still on the phone and could hear every word.

"He’s in his room. He wanted to give us some privacy. Who’s she, Sweetheart? Another one of your whores? You know I don’t like it when you look at other women." She approached him and put her arms around his waist, raising her face towards his for a kiss. He dropped the groceries and pushed her away from him, averting his face from hers.

"You’re nuts, Barbara. I want you to leave. Here, put this on." He threw her a jacket of his that lay across the back of the sofa. She didn’t catch it, the coat fell at her feet. Again, she stepped toward him but he nimbly sidestepped her advance. He swung around her and backed his way toward JD’s bedroom. "Tracey, I’ll catch you later. I’m gonna check on JD." By this time the phone had fallen to the floor and disconnected as it landed. He turned his head slightly to locate the doorknob and he heard the distinct sound of a gun being cocked.

He swung back toward Barbara and saw that she had a gun aimed directly at Tracey. "NOOO, Barb. Honey, come on, you don’t want to do that. Come here, I want to see how luscious you look in that nighty. Black sure does look good on you." He took a few steps toward her and as she turned toward him and away from Tracey, he lunged for the gun. The shot rang out loudly in the confines of the loft. He heard Tracey scream as he staggered back a couple of steps. He grabbed at his stomach and immediately saw blood oozing from between his fingers. He dropped to his knees, the pain was horrific. He fought the blackness that threatened to overwhelm him. He looked up to see Barbara advancing on the terrified blonde. He grabbed the back of the sofa with both hands and pulled himself to his feet. He took a step toward the women.

Barbara backed Tracey into the corner made by the living room wall and the short wall that made up the entryway. Tracey screamed and begged, her hands flew in front of her face. "Please, don’t! No, I’ll leave. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize he was taken. Don’t kill me, please!" The downstairs neighbor pleaded for her life but Barbara knew the truth. She knew this athletic little blonde bimbo was trying to seduce her husband and she would not stand for it. She held the gun out, aimed, and pulled the trigger. The bullet went straight and true. Barbara turned and saw Buck staggering toward her.

"We were meant to spend eternity together, my love. I couldn’t make you see that before. But now, you, me and our baby will be together always." She smiled at Buck as she fired again and then again. Buck fell, blood spilling from three bullet holes. Barbara Wabash knelt by the prone body and sighed. She touched the pale face of the man she wanted more than any other and raised the gun one more time.

Ten hours later

Four men sat in the surgical waiting room. It seemed like they had been waiting for days in this small industrial room with its florescent lighting and year old magazines. Numerous people had come and gone. Three shift changes had taken place of the candy stripers that manned the red telephone.

The big ex-preacher was not with them. Josiah was sitting with JD who had been admitted to a room with a severe concussion. The young man had never fully awakened again after his few words with Nathan. Josiah had volunteered to sit with their youngest, saying he would pray for both of the fallen brothers.

Vin sat next to Chris. There was very little he could say to make his friend feel any better. A doctor had found them nine hours and eighteen minutes ago to tell them that Buck was being rushed into surgery. They were unable to stabilize him in the emergency room. He was loosing blood as fast as they could manually pump it into him. They would do everything they could to save his life but he didn’t hold out much hope. Then he left. Nineteen paper cups lay strewn about the area where the four men sat. Nothing more was said between them. All the words of encouragement had already been used up.

Ezra stood up and stretched his tight aching muscles. Maybe this time he could find a bottle of water or juice. Any more terrible coffee and his eyes would turn from green to brown. Nathan stood too and, without saying a word, they walked side by side towards the door.

As Ezra and Nathan reached the door to the hallway, it was pushed open. A doctor walked in and moved straight toward Chris. He was a surgeon they had met several times before. Ezra thought his name was Dr. Owens. Nathan and he followed the doctor back to where Chris was now standing.

"He’s still alive. I don’t know how but his heart is still beating. He’s walking a thin line but he’s a survivor. They’ll move him to CCU in a few minutes. I know one of you will want to be with him all the time so I’ll make sure the nurses know. This was as bad as they come, gentlemen. I’d advise all of you to stay out of the line of bullets for awhile."

"He’s gonna make it then, right Doc?" Chris couldn’t believe they had cheated death once again. He held his breath.

"The third bullet knicked the lining of his heart. Blood filled the lining and we suspected that some heart damage was done but the cardiologist did a magnificent job. The next twenty-four hours will tell but I’d say he has a fighting chance. He’s lucky you got there as fast as you did or he would have bled to death." He reached out and shook Chris’s hand. He nodded in encouragement to the three others. "By the way, how is the boy? I saw he was injured too."

"He’s gonna be just fine once he hears this news. Thank you Doctor. Can I see him now?"

"Yeah, let’s move you down to CCU. I’ll get you in as soon as he’s settled."

Forty-eight hours later

Chris sat beside his oldest friend. The machines beeped continually, reassuring him and the others that Buck still clung to life. He had not regained consciousness since coming out of surgery but the medical staff had assured all of them that the ladies man was doing as well as could be expected. The leader of Team 7 stood up and stretched. He studied the pale face and noticed the eyelids flicker and then partially open.

"Hey there, Pard." Chris said softly.

Buck nodded slightly, his throat too dry to talk. He felt Chris take his hand and squeeze a little to let him know everything would be all right.

Chris smiled, although a single tear drop found its way to the corner of his eye. "It was way too close this time. You were in surgery for nine hours while they repaired your stomach and heart. That was two days ago. We’ve been kinda anxious for ya to wake up."

"Water?" Buck croaked out.

"Fraid not, Pal. How about a few ice chips?"

Buck nodded and was rewarded with the cool moisture on his lips.

The door opened and both men looked to see Ezra enter the room. He saw that Buck was awake and his heart felt ten times lighter. He smiled at the tall man. "Mr. Wilmington, you look one hundred per cent better than the previous times I have laid eyes on you!. Are you feeling better?"

Again Buck nodded in lieu of speech. He was already exhausted and ready to go back to sleep. His eyelids drooped.

Ezra moved forward to stand right next to the bed. He leaned in, his voice soft but compelling. "Buck, I just came from the medical examiner’s office. He confirmed that Ms. Wabash was NOT pregnant! We did discover, however, that she was a psychopath who moved here recently from California. Evidently, she stopped taking her medication. She had lots of problems in Los Angeles, her hometown. Somehow, she slipped through the government employment process. Simply put, she lied on her application. I thought you might like to know that. You may go back to sleep now." Ezra had his hand on his friend’s shoulder and patted it gently.

"J…D?" Buck whispered, attempting to keep his eyes open.

Chris squeezed his hand once again. Quietly, he answered, "His head hurts, he has a concussion, but he’ll be fine. You know that kid has a hard head. I’ll go tell him that you woke up, okay? Someone will be here when you wake up again. Rest now."

Buck sighed and was once again asleep.


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