Part 1 - 3 | Part 4 - 6 | Part 7 - 9 | Part 10 - Epilogue
JD opened the envelope with trembling hands, it contained the trial transcript, the medical report and photos and a taped affidavit. By the time he had read the reports and looked at the photos he was already distressed, after he had listened to the tape on Buck's own hi-fi he was inconsolable. That anyone could have done that to another person was bad enough, but that someone did it to Buck, his Buck The bastard deserved to die - any doubts he had about Buck killing the man disappeared. Now he understood why Buck had reacted as he did, why he recoiled from all men, why he had gone against everything he believed in to kill an unarmed man. Above all, JD knew to what lengths Buck would go to protect him; he knew it was that taunt about getting him once he'd finished with Buck that had made Buck pull the trigger.
Oh God - I pushed him in to this, I made him a killer.
But then he could hear Bucks voice in his head. Hell kid - don't blame yourself, it's no-ones fault but that bastard.
Why Buck? Why didn't you let me in, I could have helped. But then he came to his senses. Who are you kidding Dunne? How could you help, you have no idea what it felt like to go through that.
He was still lost in these thoughts when Chris came up. He found JD sitting on the bed, a picture of Buck, (lying in a hospital bed connected to a ventilator, not to mention other machines, his body covered in bruises, and the evidence of recent surgery) in his hand. As Chris approached he looked up, tears running unhindered down his cheeks.
"Oh God, Chris," he breathed.
Chris looked down at the picture in the younger mans hands, and was transported back to the day in the hospital when he'd taken the taped affidavit.
+ + + + + + +
"Pleases state your name for the record." Chris said formally.
"Buck Wilmington" he said. Chris then proceeded to the part he was dreading.
"What happened on the night of the third of March?"
"I was on a date with Maria but she was on the night shift in maternity, so we just had a meal and said goodbye outside the restaurant. I walked down the street looking for a cab - I was opposite an alley, when a man knocked into me and I felt my leg sting." Buck's voice was strong and clear he could have been giving evidences in a traffic case, but his eyes had dropped.
"Then what?" Chris prompted.
"I felt light headed almost immediately then I began to stagger and I remember someone picking me up, I guess I passed out after that."
He looked up at Chris; in his eyes Chris could see that he really wanted to end it there, that this was the easy bit.
Chris wanted nothing more than to stop, but he couldn't - he had a job to do and much as it was hurting his friend, it would also help him, by putting the monster that was responsible behind bars forever.
"What's the next thing you remember?" he asked.
"Coming round in that room." Whatever Chris could see in his eyes, his voice was still strong.
"I'm sorry Buck, but I need you to be specific."
"I came round in a cabin of some kind, I was naked, my hands were handcuffed and suspended above my head, and I was suspended so that my toes just barely touched the floor. I was alone." There was resignation in his voice, and the words came out as though they were rehearsed.
"How long were you alone?"
"Don't know five, maybe six hours, could have been more. Hell, could have been less, it was dark the whole time."
"When were you not alone?" They were getting closer to the difficult stuff.
"When he came in." There was darkness in his voice now.
"Who came in?" As if he didn't know the answer.
"The man, the one who...who the one who did this." Chris realised Buck didn't know the name of the man under arrest.
"What did he do to you Buck? I 'm sorry pal, but you have to say it, all of it."
There was a long silence. When he restarted his voice was noticeably quieter and with just a hint of emotion.
"He came in, and he started to talk to me. He said I was good looking - that I had a good body, he touched me stroked." The last words were choked with emotion.
"What did you do?" Chris was dreading the answer and beginning to loathe himself for asking the question.
But Buck managed to answer in clear if quiet tones. "Called him every foul name in creation, tried to kick him, pretty dumb huh?"
"No, it wasn't dumb, it was natural, go on - then what?" Chris reassured.
"He laughed, said as how I had spirit, but he would take care of that, thats when he got the bat out."
Before Chris could ask another question Buck continued, the emotional crack in his voice more noticeable.
"He he hit me with it, not too hard, just enough to wind me. He waited until I was breathing normally again then he did it again, and he kept doing that over and over again, and every time he'd hit a new spot."
"Do you know how long it lasted?"
"No, it got light out though."
"Did you say anything?"
"Not to start with, he didn't gag me so I reckoned there was no point calling for help, I cussed him, but in the end I guess I cried out some, I begged him to stop - I remember that."
Chris couldn't believe that Buck actually sounded ashamed about this, but now was not the time to deal with that problem.
"Did he stop?"
"Eventually, I was getting too tired to talk, and when I got quiet he stopped. That was the first time he he " Bucks voice trailed away to nothing.
God don't let him say what I know he's going to say, Chris thought.
"It don't matter." Buck's voice was so quiet he was barely audible.
"Yes it does, it matters, you matter, tell me." Chris hated himself more and more for doing this.
I should have let some one else do this, some one who doesn't know him, he thought.
"I can't I just can't." There was a pleading in the words and the voice Chris found hard to ignore, but he did, and he prompted.
"Did he assault you?" He coaxed.
There was a long pause in which Buck took several short panting breaths. Finally he said:
What Chris asked next was the hardest thing he had ever done.
"Yes." The voice was so small and the shame that filled broke Chris' heart.
"Buck - did he rape you?"
"You have to say it, I'm sorry."
"Oh God, Buck I'm so sorry, do ya' want to stop for a bit?" It was pathetically small offer of comfort, but he had to say something.
"No - if I stop, I may never be able to start again." Somehow he had pulled himself back, and his voice was stronger.
"What happened after that?"
"He left for a long time, all day I think 'cause it got dark again, God, it was so cold in there I couldn't stop shivering. I kept thinking I'll pass out soon then it won't hurt anymore, but I didn't. If I stood on tiptoe then I wasn't taking my weight on my arms, but my feet got tired and I couldn't keep it up. I was trying to get in some position where my arms and feet didn't hurt when I felt the dust fall on me."
As he began to speak about his efforts to help himself, his voice got stronger and more confident.
"It hurt to move my head, but I managed to look up at the hook in the roof, when I moved a lot of dust came down, so I started to worry at it - try and pull it down."
Then suddenly he stopped. Finally he continued in a more sombre voice.
"Then he came back."
There was a long silence; Buck looked down at the floor. Finally Chris had to prompt him.
"What happened when he came back?"
"It started again, with the bat, 'cept now there weren't no place left he hadn't hit before, so he stared on the old places. Mostly he just hit in the middle some place."
His voice was breaking again, a desperation in it that was hard to listen to.
"I tried to keep talking, cussing him and pleading with him. I was afraid what he'd do if'n I went quiet again."
There was another silence as Chris tried to control his own voice.
"How long did he hit you for?"
"No idea, I got a bit fuzzy, I guess I must have gone quiet 'cause he did it again." The words were muffled and choked.
Chris knew he had to elaborate, he didn't want to force him to say it again but he had to.
"Yeah." The single word was mixed with small sobs.
"Did he leave again?"
Buck sniffed and took the kind of breaths needed to bring tears under control.
"Not right away, he went out and then came back with a beer; he stood there and drank a beer in front of me, saying as how I was the best, how all the others had given up by now. Then he left, I think it was light again."
His voice got stronger again.
"I worked at the hook best I could - lots of dust came down, but it didn't move." Even though he was describing a failure there was pride that he had made some effort to help himself.
"How long was he away?"
"Don't know, until it was dark. Then he came back, he asked me how I was, can you believe that - he actually asked how I was?" For the first time there was anger in his voice.
"What did you say?"
"I cussed him some, then I said I was thirsty - big mistake."
"Said I was ungrateful, got a bucket of water and threw it at me, said as how I could have all that water if I wanted it so bad."
There was still anger in his voice, but then it trailed away to almost nothing,
"And it was so cold in there."
Chris realised his eyes had closed.
"Buck, you still with me pal?"
"I'm still here, tired though." His eyes opened, he looked drained.
"You want to stop - we can start again tomorrow?"
"No, carry on." Bucks eyes refocused on Chris.
"What happened after he threw the water at you?"
"I cussed some, had to keep talking, 'cause if I went quiet he'd he'd you know?" The fear was back in his voice.
"Yeah I know. Did he use the bat again?"
"Oh, he used it alright - felt like for longer and harder, least thats how it felt. I kept talking - I just had too."
Chris hadn't noticed until now, but as they had spoken Buck had gone from a reclining position to a tight foetal position, his knees were pulled up to his chest. Chris realised it must be painful, he had serious abdominal injuries for a start, not to mention broken and cracked bones, but he seemed oblivious. He was crying again his words coming in short, quiet bursts between sobs.
"I asked him I pleaded with him over and over again please please please but he just hit harder."
He was rocking slightly back and forth, sobbing to himself. This was not the time to push, so Chris just let him ride it out. Eventually, when he was cried out, he looked up. Chris could see some inner resolve make him steady his voice.
" I must have blacked out 'cause the next thing I remember I was alone again, and it was cold so cold." His voice faltered then steadied.
"It was light again so I figured he wouldn't be back for a while so I tried to pull on the hook again. Wasn't as strong as I was before, but I felt it move some, so I tried again, kept at it, eventually it came down. I fell down on the floor - don't know how long for, took me a while to stand up and I was a bit shaky, but I got to the door. On the other side was a kitchen kinda place, and it had a phone, so I called you, guess I was lucky you were there - don't reckon anyone else would 'a understood. Don't remember much after that, sorry."
"God, Buck don't say that! You aint never to say youre sorry for any of this. Never, none of this was your fault! That'll do for now you get some sleep."
Chris turned off the tape.
"Do you have to go now?" Bucks eyes pleaded with Chris to stay.
"No - I can stay, and you know Sarah is gonna come and see you later too." Chris smiled in what he hoped was a comforting way.
"Chris, tell me what happened after I called you?"
Chris studied his friend's face; yes, he needed to know.
"You didn't make much sense, but you said to trace the call, you said 'help me Chris', you said it so many times, then you said it was getting dark and you had to go. Then you dropped the phone. We traced the call to the cabin - when we got there Ross was in the cabin."
"Ross?" Buck interrupted.
"Thats his name, Ross, we surrounded the cabin, he saw us, he set fire to the cabin and surrendered."
"Why, whyd he set fire to it?"
"Destroy the evidence, he reckoned we wouldn't find you or if we did you'd be dead - and he would deny all of it."
"But you found me."
"Dogs found you, took some time but thats what saved your life."
"You were so cold it slowed your blood loss - if it hadn't you'd have bled to death."
Buck nodded, he looked very tired.
"Now you really do need to get some sleep, I'll stay until youre asleep ok?"
Buck had been in a coma for the first two after they found him, and had stayed a further two weeks in the intensive care unit after that, and only left the day before Chris' visit. Ross had broken or cracked almost every rib, broken a collarbone, cracked a shoulder blade and cracked his pelvis; he had inflicted so much internal damage that his kidneys had shut down. One of the broken ribs had nicked his liver and another had punctured a lung, and as a result he had pneumonia, and one lung had partially collapsed. He was bleeding from four other small internal ruptures. His feet dragging on the rough floor had picked up dozens of splinters, many of which were infected. The handcuffs had cut so badly into his wrists that in places the bone was exposed. He had had nothing to drink or eat in three days and was dehydrated and exhausted, suffering from hypothermia and shock from the cold and loss of blood, making his heart beat irregular. The doctors were amazed he had survived at all, conjecturing that the extreme cold, as he lay huddled and naked in the snow, under the log where the tracker dogs found him, had slowed the internal bleeding enough to stop him bleeding to death.
Before he came out of the coma, the doctors, or rather the nurses, noticed an emerging problem. As his level of consciousness rose, male hands even male voices made him recoil, any male presence caused near panic. As well as pulling away his heart rate would sore and his respiration become dangerously irregular. A psychologist specialising in the type of trauma Buck had undergone ordered that for the time being he could not be cared for by men, only female nurses and doctors were allowed near him. But despite this added problem, in tender and safe female care he began the slow road to recovery. When Chris had come to see him the first time he was told not to touch him, even his voice distressed Buck, but Sarah had come, she talked and read to him. Even when he was awake the doctor told Chris not to touch him.
The taped affidavit had been needed because Ross was due to appear at an arraignment hearing. The police had very little to go on except Buck's evidence, on a subsequent visit Chris and another officer had shown Buck some photos and he had immediately picked out Ross. The police vehemently opposed bail but their evidence was weak without an eyewitness and they knew it. But the tape had been their ace in the hole; the judge was a middle-aged mother of teenage boys. It could have been her eldest son she realised, tortured, traumatised and sobbing on the tape. Photos taken of Buck not long after he was out of surgery made her feel sick, she could see the damage done to a big, strong young man, who to her was only really a boy, and she secretly longed to envelope him in a mothers healing embrace. Ross was denied bail.
+ + + + + + +
Buck refused any offer of psychiatric help, but Chris and Sarah persuaded the hospital to allow him to come to their home for a one-night weekend. He was still ill and weak but his mental state was the real worry, so the doctor had agreed. They settled Buck in the spare room after a peaceful day at home. On instructions from the doctor, Sarah placed pillows on each side of the tall young man to try to prevent him curling up in to a protective foetal position as he slept, he tended to do this every night and it wasn't doing his damaged internal organs any good. During the day they had already seen an improvement, he had taken a drink from Chris and in doing so touched hands with him with out apparently noticing. Later, Chris had made a conscious decision to pat his young friend lightly on the back as he said good night. He was gratified that Buck did not flinch and in fact wished him good night in return.
The night however was different, Sarah had been up four times as Buck was tormented by nightmares, the nurses had warned her about it, told her how bad they were, how heartbreaking and gut wrenching, but nothing prepared her for it. Chris could only watch. The nightmares had got worse as the level of sedation was reduced; now that he was no longer on intravenous medication they were stronger than ever. He pleaded to be spared, for the pain to end, he begged to die. He tried to curl up but Sarah and the pillows frustrated his efforts.
Sarah woke up at about seven to a quiet house - she had gone to bed for the fourth time at about four in the morning. Chris was nowhere to be seen. Getting up she found her husband standing in the open doorway of the guestroom. Curious, she got up and walked to stand beside him. What she found amazed and delighted her. Buck was sleeping soundly and apparently peacefully, certainly he looked peaceful as he lay on his side curled slightly and protectively around a large stuffed bear, it was hers, Chris had won it at a carnival last summer. She put a hand around Chris's waist and leaned into him.
"You can't ever tell him, take it away before he wakes," she instructed firmly, in a hushed whisper.
That was the beginning, from then on he began to heal - not just the physical injuries, but at least on the surface, the mental injuries. The old Buck slowly returned, the gregarious, fun loving, earthy, generous Buck, eventually even the old uninhibited Buck returned. Always comfortable in the company of women, his experiences had no effect on his feelings for them and his comfort in their presence. His touch phobia about men abated slowly. A man comfortable with his own body he had never had a problem being naked, not in front of women or men it just didn't bother him, until Ross, but even that returned eventually.
Of course the trial was a major hurdle. What had been hard to say alone in a hospital room to a friend was near impossible to say out loud in open court, but he managed. By the time the trial came he had regained some of the weight he had lost and was able to walk tall without the pain that had made him hunch over for weeks after he left hospital. Yet anyone looking at him could still see the signs of lingering infirmity, and a hunted look that touched all who saw and listened to him in the courtroom.
Buck prospered, he and Chris were one of the most successful partnerships in all of the DPD's detective division. Chris worried that his friend had not slain the demons that had surfaced in those early nightmares, he had just buried them so deep that they could no longer be heard. Chris worried for years that one day the demons would find a way out, every time they dealt with a case that had similarities Chris would hold his breath; waiting to help his friend slay the demons, but they never came back.
"I know kid, I know," Chris sat next to him. "He came through it once, he can again, this time he ain't hurt and he has you."
"Why did he try to stop me knowing, I tell him everything - I thought he ."
"He's ashamed of what that man did to him, frightened he'll be less in your mind, scared it'll somehow, I don't know, risk your friendship."
JD sighed. "Why? Why would he doubt me, nothing can come between us, nothing," he affirmed.
"Don't tell me - tell him; but remember, when it comes to Ross, he doesnt react, doesnt think rationally, its all instinct. Rationally he knows it won't affect you two, but rationale doesnt really come into it. This evidence, you and me, we're the only ones who have seen it, you understand?"
JD nodded, trying to wipe the tears from his face.
"I heard what the doctor said." JD said quietly. He didn't need to say more Chris knew he would never leave the apartment until Buck no longer needed him.
+ + + + + + +
The police weren't happy that the main witness was unavailable, but they could do nothing but wait. Eventually they posted a man outside and left. Vin and Ezra also left, in the morning they would call the others and put them in the picture. The forensics officers returned in the morning and finished their work, then informed JD he could clean up the blood from the floor and walls. JD had spent the night sleeping on the floor of his own room, in sight of Buck but a good six feet away. Chris slept in Buck's room. Neither man slept well, unlike Buck who slept the dreamless deep sleep of the heavily medicated. Even so, JD noticed that he remained in a tightly curled position. JD worked hard to remove every trace of the nights events before Buck woke. Chris left to speak to the police and the others, the day dragged on as Buck slept -every now and then JD would check on him. At about three in the afternoon, with Chris returned and the apartment cleaner than it had ever been, Doctor Chin arrived. She briefly looked in on her patient who continued to sleep, then returned to the living room.
"I imagine the police are keen to speak to Mr. Wilmington," she commented as she accepted a coffee from JD. Chris said they were, in fact they were putting pressure on Chris and Travis to allow it as soon as he woke.
"Well I'm his doctor for now, and I say not until I've, and maybe even a colleague, have assessed his mental state. If it's alright with you I'd like to stay until he's awake, it shouldnt be too long now." Chris detected real concern in her voice.
"Doc - is there something we should know?" he asked, wishing JD wasn't in the room.
"I remember Buck, I treated him about a month ago, I took out some stitches, he made an impression." She looked up at JD who was still standing at the back of the room.
"Well he does that, but you get over it." Chris said light heartedly.
"No, it wasn't like that. The other women told me about him, this big ATF agent who could charm the birds out off the trees, how no woman he'd been out with had a bad word to say about him. Like most I didn't believe them, until I met him. Truly good, kind, gentle men are rare, they're an endangered species and I want to do what I can to ensure this one comes through unchanged."
When Chin closed the bedroom door, she made just enough noise to wake Buck, not fully awake, but enough to begin the waking process. He had a headache and a strange taste in his mouth. He opened his eyes. The first thing he was aware of was that it wasn't dark, sunlight streamed between the closed curtains. It lit up the room, not his room, so the first question was why was he in JD's room in JD's bed? He realised he was naked, which posed another set of questions. As he looked out from the warm, safe comfort of the bed, he spotted a neat pile of dark clothes on a chair, surrounded on the floor by JD's dirty laundry. "Those are my sweat pants." He said to himself. Next, he noticed the sleeping bag on the floor beside the wall. That begged another question. Why was JD sleeping on the floor on the other side of the room? He tried to work out what had happened, he remembered being in Montana, a long stressful mission. He remembered coming home with JD and Chris and falling into bed. And then !
"Oh God" he said out loud as the nights events began to flood back.
But try as he might he couldn't get the events straight, he could follow the events in his head as far as Ross pointing a gun at JD, there was nothing, it was all blank until he woke up in JD's bed. The bed was comfortable and felt safe, but his bladder was becoming insistent. Slowly he crawled out of the bed and put on the clothes JD had left. He glanced in the mirror; he needed a shave and a shower he decided. Quietly, he opened the door, and could hear voices. Chris and a woman he didn't recognise. He looked toward the stairs and saw JD sitting on the side of the sofa. JD saw him, the two men looked into each other's eyes for what seemed like a long time. Then JD smiled a small smile and nodded his head, he got up and moved further into the room, allowing Buck to go upstairs unnoticed by the others.
He was almost at the top when Chris spotted the movement and came toward JD, a questioning look on his face.
"Man needs a shower and a shave, man deserves some privacy," JD explained quietly.
+ + + + + + +
When Buck returned downstairs, almost an hour had past and the sun was setting. He was still dressed in the dark sweat bottoms and long sleeved tee shirt JD had brought him, his feet still bare. At the bottom of the stairs he paused and studied to floor where Ross had fallen.
"I didn't imagine last night did I; he was here?" he asked just to be sure.
"It was real, he was here." JD confirmed. Buck looked up at his young friend. Although the shower and shave had improved his outward appearance, his eyes still held the frightened haunted look of the night before.
"Did I kill him?" A vague memory was trying to surface, despite the best efforts of his subconscious to suppress it.
"Yes" JD replied.
Buck seemed to take this in, as a look of alarm passed between Chris and the doctor; neither had counted on Buck not remembering what happened. The big man began to walk to the kitchen, by now Chris was standing just to the side of the door. Buck stopped, his eyes cast down. It took Chris a long few seconds to work out what had happened, and then move into the room. With the obstacle out of the way Buck moved into the kitchen and began to make himself coffee. Doctor Chin had watched the whole encounter with interest. It wasn't her field of expertise, but since Chris had assured her Buck would not accept psychiatric help, she would have to do. Getting up she followed her patient into the kitchen.
"Hello Buck," she said quietly as he studied her, knowing he knew her but unable to place the face or the voice. She moved a little closer, as before he showed no fear or apprehension, her presence, unlike what she had observed in proximity to his close friend, did not bother him.
"I'm Doctor Chin, I took your stitches out about a month ago," she was gratified to see him smile.
"I remember, you had a very gentle touch." The fact that even in these circumstances he found the charm and courtesy to flatter her only confirmed her earlier statement about him.
"Buck," she began gently, "I also attended you last night. Do you remember that?" He looked up from his coffee making, with a look of curiosity and fear.
"Don't remember a lot of last night if the truth be told, kinda thinking that might be best." She could sympathise with his view but knew it couldn't, wouldn't be.
"We both know thats not so, it won't be so, no matter what you want, eventually you will remember."
He knew she spoke the truth, even now vague memories came and went.
"I gave you a sedative last night, you agreed to it, the police want to question you but they can't until I say so." He finished making the coffee and looked her in the eye for the first time. "As of then I became your doctor - everything between us is confidential." He nodded his head once to indicate he understood. "You were in a state of shock when I saw you, I've seen how you are with Mr. Larabee and Mr. Dunne, even though they are your closest, as I understand it, friends."
"JD's family," he corrected. "And what you saw will pass, it did before and it will again." He was defensive which was just what she didn't want.
Damn, I shouldn't be doing this he needs a real psychiatrist. But then she reminded herself if it wasn't her, he would probably get no help, unless his employers forced it on him and stubborn and self contained as he was, forcing him against his will would be worse than useless.
"I'm not a psychiatrist, but I think it would be good to sit down with the others and talk through last night and see if any more comes back." She flinched inwardly as he visibly trembled at the prospect.
Finally he agreed, and cradling his coffee he re-entered the living room, seating himself on the sofa next to the doctor with JD and Chris in the two armchairs. With her encouragement he described what he remembered of the events. Of course much of it was new to JD and Chris. JD had in the past month seen Buck wake from nightmares, and look frantically around the room for the object of his fear, to actually find him there, in the room must have been terrifying in the extreme he speculated. They all heard how he was forced down the stairs at gunpoint and of Ross pointing a gun at JD. It was at this point he began to get vague. He had some memory of shooting Ross. He definitely remembered seeing him lying on the floor, with a bullet hole in his head. But of Ross taunting him, humiliating him, threatening JD, of him attacking Ross and disarming him he had no recollection. Buck looked down at the floor unable to add any more to the narrative.
"So someone gonna fill in the blanks for me?" he asked still looking at the floor. Chris wanted to do just that with his version of events, then when Chin was gone and Buck was feeling stronger he would have to tell his oldest friend the truth. But the doctor intervened.
"No I think you have to remember for yourself, how ever long it takes, if you're told what happened then that will be come part of your memory."
"So, what difference does it make?" he wanted to know.
"You will incorporate into your memory of events someone else's, even two peoples points of view, it will be like youre looking in, not looking out."
"But I'm gonna read their statements or at least hear them in court, how can I help but hear their accounts, what if I don't remember before then?"
She hadn't thought of that, her advice had been gleaned from reference books and a very long conversation with a friend practising psychology in LA. Unfortunately, this friend mostly treated neurotics and teenagers with eating disorders he was of only limited help. She had eventually gotten access to Buck's notes from fourteen years ago, they however just stated that, (apart from the truly horrific catalogue of physical injuries), he developed a touch phobia which faded without treatment.
"To be honest guys, I don't know what to advise, I'm not an expert, and," she turned to Buck "and you do need an expert - whatever you think."
"No way, no shrinks, never!" Buck stated vehemently.
For as long as Chris had known him, Buck had hated psychologists, he was happy for others to see them, but he would never ever allow them to get their clutches in him. There was more to his hatred than just the macho reluctance to discuss feelings or admit he needed help with his emotions. But whatever it was Buck was adamant. Chris gave the floundering doctor a 'told you so' look.
"Okay, but I think you should tell the police what you know now, before your evidence is contaminated," she conceded.
That suited Chris. "You wanta do it now - I can have them here in ten minutes?"
Buck was still looking at the floor. "I get someone else with me while I do this, lawyer, friend, doc?"
"Lawyer, doc, sure - I don't know about friend - we can ask."
"I want to get it over with," he stated, he still hadn't looked at anything except the floor.
+ + + + + + +
Chris made the phone call. The police department heeded his advice and sent a pair of female detectives to interview Buck. Officer's Shmitt and Curtis were sympathetic. After all, the victim was a convicted kidnapper, who tortured and assaulted his victims, probably a mass murderer, the killer was an ex cop, federal agent and a former victim of the deceased. More than anything the Denver PD wanted to be able to say self-defence/justifiable homicide. The killer was handsome and even traumatised he was charming, he needed care, he elicited, albeit subconsciously, their need to mother and protect, even their desire. So the two officers went easy on him, Doctor Chin had no need to intercede and it was all over in less than an hour.
Chin said goodnight, promising to return in the morning and leaving her home and cell phone numbers just in case. Buck declined JD's offer of food, despite the fact that he hadn't eaten for over twenty-four hours. Nevertheless, JD ordered pizza, making sure he chose all Bucks favourite toppings just in case it tempted him. After Chris and JD had eaten and Buck had refused all offers of food, content with two more coffees, a silence fell on the apartment. Buck was still sitting on the sofa, his knees pulled up to his chin, arms wrapped around his shins head down so the only the top of his head was visible.
His two closest friends looked at him helpless as to what to do or say to help. They couldn't even give the silent support of a hug or an arm across the shoulders.
"Buck?" JD tried tentatively.
He got no response.
"Ya gotta eat something, please, if it were me you'd make me."
Buck's head shot up and instantly the younger man knew he'd said something wrong, talking to Buck was a like walking through a minefield with no map right now.
"It ain't never gonna be you kid! Never, not while I still breathe!" Dark blue eyes blazed with determination. "I'll never let that happen to you," he added vehemently.
Even as he said it he heard Ross' voice in his head threatening JD, taunting him as to how he would get to JD even from prison, he saw himself holding a gun on the unarmed sadist, and still that voice echoed in his mined.
"No, no, no, no, no," he whined, clutching his hands over his ears in futile effort to block out the voice.
JD was half out of his seat and heading for Buck before he stopped himself. Chris also got up but much more slowly - he moved to the centre of the room and squatted down in front of Buck - only about three feet from him as he spoke.
"Buck pal, he can't hurt JD he's dead, remember, you killed him - he can't hurt you or JD," he spoke just loud enough to penetrate Buck's muffled ears and the mantra of 'no, no, no'.
Buck looked up, and registering Chris' proximity, shot back so fast that as his back impacted with the back of the sofa - it moved a good foot back.
Chris continued. "It's alright - I'm not gonna move from here - I'm just gonna stay here, but I need you to listen, okay?" Buck nodded very slightly. "Good, Ross is dead, say it for me pal say it out loud, come on with me. Ross is dead."
"Ross is dead," Buck said with Chris.
"Ross is dead," Buck repeated to himself.
Tortured blue eyes looked up and over to JD and then back to Chris. "He really is gone isn't he?"
"Yeah old friend, he really is gone, he was gonna hurt JD and you killed him. Now you have to let us help you, please let us help, let Dr. Chin get you the professional help you need," Chris pleaded.
Buck's eyes bored into him, in his heart he knew he needed help, no matter how much he told himself he could handle it, that his friends could not, would not hurt him, still Chris' proximity was sending him into a state of primeval fear he just couldn't stop. But as much as he feared men, and hated and feared the way he felt, he hated and feared psychiatrists more. Slowly he shook his head and once again his eyes found the floor.
"Why Buck, why won't you, I know you don't see it as weak, you tried to get me to one often enough, remember?"
"And did you ever go?" Buck shot back.
"No, no I didn't, but if I if you hadn't got me out of the bottle when you did, I was considering it."
Buck's eyes remained locked on Chris. "You did it Chris, I just kept you safe 'till you were ready."
"Don't sell yourself short kiddo, without you I wouldn't be here now and we both know it."
A small smile appeared on Buck's strained face. "Who you calling kiddo, old man? Besides you and Sarah did the same for me, I was just repaying the favour."
Chris' memories flew back to the dark days after the first time Ross got his hands on Buck, and how Sarah had helped him work through and past the nightmares and the fears when no one else could, since then as now he wouldn't accept professional help.
"That was all Sarah," he said quietly.
"No, it was both of you, I felt safe with you first," Buck said softly.
God if only Sarah was here now, at least she'd have been able to hold him, Chris thought as he watched his friend wrestle with his demons. Demons he had always known would come back one day, demons that had never really been vanquished, only locked away, but like Ross, they had now escaped. Before he could think more on this, Buck stood and retreated further away from his two friends. Without another word he walked into kitchen. When he returned a few minutes later, he had yet another mug of coffee. Then with a quick sideways look at his two closest friends he disappeared upstairs.
+ + + + + + +
"Well, that went well," Chris commented miserably.
"It's not your fault Chris," JD said quietly. "What are we gonna do?"
"I don't know JD, I just don't know, we can't help him unless he lets us and even if he agrees to the help he still doesnt know what really happened."
Chris had been having a sickening feeling that what he had done, done in the heat of the moment, done in what he believed was Buck's best interests, was a mistake. It was complicating an already complicated situation. He looked across at JD who was slowly and silently tidying the room, keeping his eyes very obviously down, not looking up at Buck's room or meeting Chris eyes. Finally, with the living room and kitchen looking immaculate, he returned to the living room and met Chris' gaze questioningly.
"Go to bed JD, it's early days yet, who knows what will happen tomorrow?" He could see in the young man's expressive face how unhappy he was to leave things unresolved. "We will not desert him, and whether he likes it or not we will help him, but for now it has to be at his pace," he affirmed.
JD nodded. "I know Chris, I just wish I could make him feel better, I don't know what to do, what to say. He always knows what to say what to do when I'm hurt or upset, it comes so easily to him. Least ways, thats how he makes it seem."
"I know he does, it's one of the things he does best, we all have to play to our strengths, he doesnt expect you to turn into him every time he's hurt, you just have to be yourself and be here, for now that's all we can do."
+ + + + + + +
Buck was determined not to sleep, the previous night he'd been heavily sedated. Now that his system was clean and he had a clear head, he knew the nightmares would return. That, he couldn't deal with yet. He knew he called out when he was dreaming, no doubt Chris or worse still JD, would come running. Either they would come in and try to help him, which frightened him more than the nightmares, or they would just stand and watch from the doorway, which would be humiliating. Just in case he couldn't stave off sleep he locked the bedroom door. Not even bothering to change his clothes, he sat on the bed nursing his coffee. Try as he might, he could not get his mind to shut out the events of the previous day. Eyes open or closed they played in his head, music on or off Ross' voice taunted him repeatedly. They were the same threats to hurt JD over and over again. Eventually he gave up trying to block them out and embraced the memories. Having finished the coffee, he sat on the bed resting his back against the wall, and ran through the events in order. But no matter how often he did it he always came up against the same brick wall. He remembered holding Ross at gunpoint, Ross was unarmed and JD was talking to him, then nothing. He had no memory until he woke up in JD's room.
Good detective that he was, he tried to fill in the blanks logically. How had he lost control of the situation to the degree that Ross was about to kill JD and he had been forced to kill him? That was what Chris said he did and he had no reason to doubt it, but how? Ross was nearly ten years older than Buck and although he was very tall, he wasn't well built, you could even call him skinny. Buck just couldn't understand how he had fucked up so badly. Because clearly that was what had happened, how else could he explain it? Finding no answers, he turned on the radio to a talk station in an attempt to distract his mind. By three a.m. he was struggling to stay awake, he considered sneaking downstairs and going out for a walk but that presented two problems, first getting past Chris, who was a notoriously light sleeper and two; how he would cope if he encountered strange men outside? In the end he didn't go, instead he just opened the window as far as it would go and climbed onto the window ledge, sitting there with his legs dangling out of the window. It was cold but that at least kept him awake. He watched the dawn come up; watched one small corner of he city come to life.
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