Buck sat watching the news. He had gotten a call from Chris assuring him
that JD and Vin were all right. He had washed every price of glass in the
place and every blanket and sheet that even faintly looked like it needed
washing. He had vacuumed all the carpet and scrubbed the kitchen floor. He
lamented briefly that he wasnt at home because the cess pit could
definitely benefit from his energy.
Every time he started to relax, the image of JDs lifeless body swam
in his view, after spilling his iced tea in his lap, he gave up and went
in search of the sleeping pills. As the drug induced lethargy crept over
him, Buck almost wept with relief.
+ + + + + + +
It was cold in the warehouse and JD was shivering. He had traded coats with
Vin because the Texan was notoriously thin blooded. The sounds of traffic
outside would have lulled him to sleep if it were not for the sounds coming
from the couples in the nearby stalls. JD found himself moving closer to
Vin for warmth but he almost cried out when the arm wrapped around him and
drew him close.
+ + + + + + +
The car exploded and a wave of heat and smoke enveloped him as he cried out.
Chris tumbled out of bed, landing on his hands and knees. He knew that stress
brought on the nightmare and he tried to calm himself. He padded up the stairs
and looked in on Buck who was sleeping peacefully.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra stared at the warehouse, counting the people who moved in and out. He
watched several drug deals being made. Nathan glanced at the GPS tracker
that reassured him that both of his friends had not moved. It brought him
a small measure of comfort. Silence reigned in the car as the men watched
+ + + + + + +
Opening his eyes at the sound of glass breaking, JD was disoriented. He realized
that the warm body he was cuddled up to was Vin and sprang back, his heart
pounding. Slowly, his mission filtered thru the haze and he calmed. He crept
out of the stall and found a place to urinate and them decided to do a little
exploring. When he rounded a corner, three bigger, older looking gang members
Joel, Dean and Bo circled around JD, their eyes raking over him. Bo reached
out and tried to cup JDs face. When JD pulled away from that touch,
he found himself within reach of Dean and Joel who grabbed him and began
to pull him into a small office. Joel kept a firm hand over the young
agents mouth to prevent him from crying out.
Vin woke up and reached for JD. When he didnt encounter the kid with
either hand, his eyes sprang open and he jumped up. Following his ears, he
heard the muffled grunts and muted blows. Opening the door silently, he found
JD struggling against the three bigger men. Slipping the switchblade from
his pocket, he grabbed the biggest guy and placed the blade near his jugular.
Get yer hands offa him, NOW! Vin shouted, his drawl thickening
with his temper.
The men rolled away from JD and the kid came to his shaky feet. He moved
in a wide arc away from the men to get behind Vin. Shoving the man he held,
Vin grabbed JD and shoved him back toward the stall. He didnt speak
to JD for the next half hour. Gerard stuck his head in and studied the two
I hear you had some trouble?
Yeah, your boys jumped JD. If you cant control them any better,
maybe we better find another place to stay. You promised that no one would
I have taken care of it. Dont go, please? Gerard saw something
in the longhaired young man that he wanted to explore but he needed to get
rid of the kid first.
+ + + + + + +
The ringing of the phone woke Buck and he raced down the stairs. Too late
to catch the call, the answering machine light blinked. He pressed the button
to listen to the message.
Hey Buck, its Emily, Dr. Franklin. I wont be able to keep
our appointment today because of a family emergency. Ill check on you
Erasing the message, Buck headed for the bathroom. He found a note from Chris
taped to the refrigerator. He would call later. Lacking the nervous energy
from the past two days, he threw himself into the recliner and cruised the
TV channels. Nothing held his interest and he dozed off only to startle himself
awake out of the nightmare.
+ + + + + + +
Vin and JD walked around the block waiting for Ezra to show up. When the
Jag came to a stop, the southerner rolled down the window and negotiated
a price before opening the door. Kitty strolled by in time to hear the southerner
inquire after the kid.
Bring him along, my treat, Ezra offered.
Vin put JD in the back and got into the Jag. He winked at Kitty as they pulled
I gotta talk to Chris, Ezra! Vin said as he watched out the window
to see if any of the gang members were watching.
Fear not, Mr. Tanner, Mr. Larabee will be at the restaurant. I hope
Starving! JD announced loudly.
At the restaurant, Vin gestured Chris into the mens room and jumped
You have to get JD out before he gets hurt! I can get to Gerard but
not while protecting the kid. He nearly got himself gang raped this
Calm down Vin. Give it another day or two. JDs smart, hell
be okay. Have you got anything on the guns yet?
No, but Gerard keeps hovering over me so I expect hell make his
Okay, lets get back out there and eat.
Kitty, Betsy and Rita were on the corner when Ezra dropped Vin and JD near
the warehouse. Rita leaned in the open door and made an offer and the southerner
My tastes run a little contrary to the ordinary, Miss. Perhaps another
They spent the rest of the day pan handling in the neighborhood before returning
to their stall to rest for a few hours. Gerard hit him up for the money as
soon as they came in and told him that there was a present for him and one
for the kid in their stall. He found a blanket and rolled up in the blanket
was a gun.
+ + + + + + +
Buck struggled thru the morning. He talked to Chris after he left Vin and
JD. He could hear the tension in the team leaders voice. After picking
over some leftovers for lunch, Buck popped another sleeping pill and curled
up on the couch.
+ + + + + + +
For the next couple of days, Vin and JD met with Ezra or Chris everyday to
get money, a hot meal and the latest info on Buck. JD was beginning to settle
in to the mission and was much more careful around Gerard and the others.
They always spent a little while pan handling with the others before turning
in at night.
JD was curled up under the blanket asleep when Gerard stuck his head in and
caught Vins eye. Carefully moving away from his sleeping friend, Vin
followed the gang leader to another stall within sight of JD but out of earshot.
I have something I want to show you, Gerard whispered.
So show me, Vin said dispassionately.
You have to come with me. Its not far.
Vin looked back to where JD lay and shook his head.
Dont worry about him. I told you that I took care of the problem.
Come on, well only be gone a half hour, tops.
+ + + + + + +
Josiah eyed the GPS tracker and nudged Chris.
Theyre splitting up. Vin is headed west from the warehouse.
+ + + + + + +
The small, boarded up storefront was covered with an assortment of gang graffiti.
Gerard led Vin to the side of the building and slipped into the basement.
It was dark and Vin was immediately on alert. His hand closed on the gun
tucked into the back of his jeans. A light came on and he found himself looking
around at a small arsenal.
What do you think? Gerard asked after seeing the light in Vins
WOW! Are you planning World War III or something?
Nope, better than that. See, a couple of years ago, my kid brother
was in trouble with a gang. He tried to get me to join and I refused. Those
bastards killed my brother and dumped him on my mothers lawn. Im
gonna pay them back in a big way. Were getting ready to have a big
gangbang and Im gonna kill every one of those bastards.
So what has this got to do with me? Vin asked nervously.
I want you for my lieutenant.
I thought Joel was your lieutenant, Vin said cautiously.
Joels dead. I made an example of him for messing with your
Vin struggled to get his breath for a moment. Gerard had killed Joel and
it was his fault! Despair surged over him and he staggered to sit on one
of the crates. He hadnt seen the other young man and just figured he
was out recruiting.
Why? Whyd you kill him? Vin managed to stammer.
Because I told you that no one would mess with your kid. Whats
the deal with you two anyway? You dont want to share with me but you
took him with you this morning.
The guy gave me more to watch, Vin said quickly. JD and
I are new at this.
Gerard approached the Texan and tried to embrace him and Vin pulled away,
drawing the gun and pointing it at the mans heart. Gerard quickly
backpedaled and held his hands out in a protective gesture.
+ + + + + + +
Chris jostled Buck lightly and sent him to bed. The house was still immaculate
and his friend looked exhausted. He rang the office to check his messages.
There were a couple of worried sounding messages from Emily on the answering
machine, so he called her.
Dr. Franklin, Chris Larabee. I just got in and got your messages. Did
you ever talk to Buck?
No, I was really beginning to worry. Is he all right?
He was asleep on the couch when I got in. I sent him on up to bed.
Are you all right? You sound tired.
A heavy sigh floated thru the phone.
Bad day at the office. I will get out there and see him tomorrow. Thanks
for calling. How are Vin and JD doing? She was concerned about JD
Theyre fine. Hopefully this will all blow over in a couple of
Settling into his bed, Chris hoped it would be over soon. He didnt
like the way Vin had spoken to him. It was a sure sign of just how bad the
Texan thought the situation was. He tossed and turned a couple of times before
sleep claimed him.
+ + + + + + +
Vin knew Gerard was watching. He could feel the hungry eyes watching his
every move as the gang consumed their evening meal. He kept JD close and
made his posture protective. When they settled in their stall, Vin drew JD
close and began to tell him all that he had learned while out with Gerard.
Theres a little store front two blocks west of here. It looks
like it may have been a restaurant or something. Its all boarded up
with graffiti all over it. In the basement is a small arsenal and the shipment
of C-4. If anything happens, you get the hell out of here and get to the
others and let them know. Theyve got enough stuff to start a war over
JDs eyes went wide at the information.
Are we going to tell the others?
Not yet, I need to find out what gang theyre after so the police
can keep them out of the way. Well let them know about the cache of
weapons but we cant move on it until I get the rest of the
information, Vin whispered.
Gerard watched as Vin and JD cuddled under the blanket. He had arranged to
separate the boy from Vin in the next couple of days. He smiled as he watched
Vin spoon his lean frame around JD and tuck the blanket around them snuggly.
+ + + + + + +
Buck had gotten permission to drive and Josiah brought the truck to the ranch.
He had figured out how to get thru his days and nights. Using the sleeping
pills kept the nightmares away at night but he had to be careful not to take
them during the day so that he would run out. After making a few phone calls,
Buck connected with one of his informants who had connections with a local
drug dealer. He managed to buy enough Ritalin and sleeping pills to get him
thru the day. Emily came in the morning and stayed for an hour or two and
then he would do whatever cleaning he could find to do. After lunch, he would
pop a couple of sleeping pills. To perk himself up in the evening when Chris
was home, he was tossing back Ritalin. If his friend noticed the shaking
hands and hyperactivity, he didnt comment on it.
+ + + + + + +
Thursday afternoon, Gerard caught Vin coming back into the warehouse. He
was fairly bouncing on his heels as he tried to convince the sharpshooter
to come see his surprise. Sending JD to their stall, he went with the gang
On the main floor of the warehouse, the gang had cleared a large section
of the floor. Benches had been set up around the perimeter. Gerard watched
for Vins reaction.
Whats going on? Are we having a sit down with another gang?
Yeah, the last one theyll ever get to have, Gerard spat.
This is for the gang that killed your brother? You never told me, what
gang was it, who are we taking out?
The Red Dragons. They are the ones who killed my brother.
Vin knew the Red Dragons. They used to be a really rough group of kids but
most of the older kids had been sent to prison for one thing or another.
The group that called itself Red Dragons now was not the same group that
had killed Gerards brother.
I know some of the Dragons. Theyre just kids. I dont think
its the same group, Vin said as he looked around the room. He
was horrified to see that the benches had been wired with C-4.
Doesnt matter to me. Maybe these are the younger brothers of
the original Dragons. Either way, theyre gonna die tomorrow night.
As my lieutenant, I want you at my side when I push the button that ends
their miserable lives.
Okay, but how are you gonna do it without getting killed yourself?
Looks like you got enough explosives under there to bring down the whole
warehouse down on them.
Gonna have to sacrifice some of the chickens. Theyll have the
guns and theyll keep the Dragons from leaving. When this is over,
well have to find a new place to crash but well be the most respected
gang in the Denver area.
Come on, Gerard, the chickens are just kids! You cant seriously
be thinking of blowing up your own people!
The gang leader stepped right into Vins face. His eyes were completely
devoid of compassion as he glared hard into the pale blue eyes.
If you dont stand with me tomorrow night, your little chicken
will be plucked and fried. I might just have a piece of him myself.
Vin felt his throat go dry. He looked around the room again before he nodded.
Gerard smiled when he saw the indecision in the other mans eyes. He
knew hed pushed the perfect button. His stomach tightened in anticipation
of the explosion that would avenge his brother once and for all.
+ + + + + + +
Emily let herself into the house when there was no response to her knock.
She had been unable to get there that morning because of a crisis at the
hospital and hadnt been able to get to a phone. The sound of soft snoring
drew her to the living room. Buck was sound asleep in the recliner. She touched
his shoulder lightly and called his name.
Buck? Wake up, big guy. Buck?
When he only growled slightly and continued sleeping, she began to worry.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, she slipped upstairs and began to look
around. She checked the guest room and all of the drawers before moving on
to the upstairs bathroom. The medicine cabinet held Tylenol and band-aids
but nothing else. In the closet, she found linens, toilet paper and a shaving
kit. On impulse, she picked up the shaving kit and gave it a quick shake.
The unmistakable rattle of pills had her opening the leather case. Two bottles
rested on top of the traditional shaving gear. The Ritalin and the bottle
of uppers were both half empty. Tucking everything back into the case, she
carried it downstairs with her and prepared to wait.
+ + + + + + +
Vin headed back to his stall to talk to JD. They had to get out as soon as
possible. When he reached the stall, the kid was nowhere to be found. With
a feeling of dread, he retraced his steps to Gerard.
Where the HELL is JD? He growled as he took hold of the gang
I have no idea. I assure you that I had nothing to do with his
disappearance. Did you ask any of the others? Maybe he found something else
It took most of an hour to find JD. Hed gone to help one of the girls
who had twisted her ankle. Vin found him in another stall wrapping a new
Ace bandage around Betsys swollen ankle. He looked up in surprise when
Vin rushed in and yanked him to his feet.
Where have you been? I told you to stay in our stall!
She was hurt! I took five dollars and got an elastic bandage for her
ankle! JD yelled defensively.
Vin shoved his partner toward their stall, berating him every step of the
way for making him worry. Fortunately, JD had the sense to go along with
+ + + + + + +
The TV came on suddenly and Emily nearly jumped out of her skin. Buck scowled
but began to stir in the recliner. As he lowered the footrest, he noticed
Emily for the first time. His eyes danced over the shaving kit before meeting
Do you want to talk about it? She asked pointedly.
Its the only way I can get thru the day alone. If I doze off
on my own, the nightmare wakes me. Im only using the sleeping pills
at night and this stuff to get me thru the day, he explained.
I want you to go and pack a couple of changes of clothes and come with
Where are we going?
I want you to voluntarily enter the hospital, Buck.
She waited for him to object but he silently got up and walked up the stairs
to his room. When he came back down, he had his overnight bag. Hi picked
up the shaving kit and removed the bottles before adding it to his bag.
Ready to go? Emily asked.
Will you call Chris?
As soon as we get to the hospital, she answered.
Ezra and Nathan relieved Josiah and Chris in the surveillance car. The team
leader was stiff from sitting in the car. He was concerned that they hadnt
seen Vin and JD all afternoon, but their GPS tags showed them together in
the warehouse. He had just started the truck to drive home when his cell
Chris, its Dr. Franklin. I just wanted to let you know that Buck
admitted himself to the hospital a little while ago.
What happened? Is he all right?
Calm down. Hes fine. Well, not fine, but he knows he needs help.
Hes been abusing prescription drugs for morning and evening. Its
good that hes willing to check himself into the hospital, it means
hes willing to admit he needs help.
Ill be right there, Chris announced.
No! Give me a couple of days with him. Hes ready to talk. Hes
finally reached rock bottom and hes ready for help.
A deep anguished sigh sounded thru the phone before Chris spoke again,
Tell him that were all pulling for him.
Ill call you in the morning. I have a feeling its going
to be a long night.
Buck sat on the side of the hospital bed. Shame and terror vied for control
as he watched the nurse taking his vitals. He flinched when she stuck him
to draw blood. When she finally left the room, he moved to stand by the window.
From the height of the floor he was on, he could see the area where Vin and
JD were undercover. The sight of a DPD car racing up the street with lights
and sirens ratcheted up he anxiety and he wished he could drink himself into
+ + + + + + +
Vin shoved JD up against the wall and began to growl in his ear. Dunne shoved
his hands away and scowled back. Vin pressed his against the wall and whispered
in his ear.
Make them think we are having a lovers spat. Get out of here
and go to the surveillance car and tell them where the stuff is. Ill
make sure you arent followed. Tell Chris to round up the Red Dragons
and keep them away. Gerard is planning to kill them.
What about you? If you got what Chris needs, lets both go!
I cant, JD, I have to try to find out where theyre getting
the stuff. You go and Ill get out in a day or two. Now, take off and
dont look back!
JD struggled out of Vins grasp and shoved him hard enough that he fell
before he ran from the stall. Vin gave him a moment before he ran out after
him, calling for him to come back. Dean stopped JD for a moment and immediately
let him go when he realized who he was.
One of them is coming out in a hurry, Nathan told Ezra.
The two agents got out of the car and caught JD. As they were waiting for
him to catch his breath, Ezra realized that they had an audience. He grabbed
JD and threw him against the car, cuffing him.
Call it in, Ezra shouted, well book him on
Nathan only nodded as the southerner shoved JD into the car. Bo and Kitty
had ducked into the alley to hide. When the car pulled away, they hurried
back to the warehouse. Vin was just running onto the street and they caught
him by the arm and dragged him back inside.
Dont go out there! They just picked up the kid for soliciting.
They handcuffed him and took him away!
When they were several blocks from the warehouse, Nathan reached back and
removed the handcuffs. Ezra studied the kid in the mirror as he drove. When
they finally parked at a brightly lit gas station, Ezra spoke.
Are you all right, Mr. Dunne?
Jeez Ez! You about scared me to death! Whyd ya bust me like
We had an audience. A couple of the gang members were on the corner
across the street. I had to make it look convincing.
Id say you succeeded. I have to talk to Chris. Vin game me the
location of their arsenal. Hes gonna stay another couple of days to
try to figure out whos supplying them.
+ + + + + + +
The phone rang and Chris shifted slightly. By the second ring, he was starting
to waken. By the third ring, he sprang from the bed and snatched up the handset.
The five men met at an all night café. JD passed along the information
that Vin had given him. Chris was boiling mad that Vin had sent JD out like
that. After staring hard at the young agent for several minutes, Chris closed
his eyes and massaged his aching head.
Hows Buck? JD asked.
He checked himself into the hospital this afternoon, Chris
He what? What happened? Is he all right? JD spat the words out
so fast that they were a mere jumble.
Calm down, JD. Emily found him this afternoon at the ranch and discovered
that hes been abusing some prescription drugs. She talked him into
admitting himself so he can get some help.
I want to see him, JD demanded.
Not until Emily says hes ready. Now, we need to contact Clint
Lawson, hes with the unit that keeps track of the gang activities.
I also need to call Judge Travis and bring him up to speed. Were going
to need all the back-up we can get.
+ + + + + + +
Eight hours later, six ATF teams, every DPD officer that could be spared,
the bomb and arson squad and two teams of FBI agents converged near the
warehouse. Reluctantly, Chris allowed JD to go back in to try and get Vin
out or at least get him into a vest. Nathan set him up with another set of
bruises so that he could say that the cops slapped him around. Gerard allowed
Vin a few minutes with JD before they got into position to blow up the building.
The two agents huddled together in their stall while Vin examined the bruises
on JDs face. Gerard watched them for a while before slipping away.
JD slipped Vin the vest and whispered the information to him.
JD was wired for sound. Chris was relieved to hear Vin put on the Kevlar
vest. Nathan and Josiah kept a tight rein on the blonde team leader to keep
him from blowing the whole plan. They could tell that he wanted Vin and JD
out of the warehouse. Vin whispered that he was going to try to get the detonator
from Gerard and then he would signal for the others to come in. The
chickens not holding weapons were being sent to the storefront
building for safekeeping. The DPD had the building surrounded and would move
on it when the others moved on the warehouse.
Vin checked the wire again. JD had also slipped him a bright yellow stocking
cap to put on when the shooting started. Every officer and agent would be
watching for the cap and would not shoot at the wearer. JD hesitated when
Vin told him to get out. He wanted to stay and watch his partners back.
Finally, reluctantly, he slipped out with the others.
+ + + + + + +
With trembling hands, Buck changed the channel on the TV. He was fighting
sleep. Emily had been in a couple of times to check on him. She informed
him that Chris knew where he was. Buck begged her for something to help him
sleep and shed refused. His blood work was a mess from the combination
of OTC medicines and the sleeping pills hed been ingesting. She brought
him a carafe of chamomile tea.
+ + + + + + +
The cordoned off area around the warehouse was crawling with law enforcement
officers. An emergency triage area had been set up on the next block and
several ambulances were on stand by. Nathan was surprised to see Rain hurry
across the staging area. He embraced his wife and buried his face in her
shoulder. They had hardly seen each other since the others went undercover.
A loud click and a brief whistle of feedback was followed by a somber voice
announcing that they were getting ready to move into the warehouse. The medical
teams made final checks of equipment and supplies and held their breath.
Josiah made a final check of Ezras vest before turning to Chris. Team
7 was going in behind Team 6 on the west side of the building. JD caught
Ezras eye and got a nod before they lined up to wait for the signal.
Looking down on the gathering area from above, Gerard vibrated with excitement.
Vin had gone with his friend and had returned quickly, not wanting to miss
the big event. Dean and Bo were also on the ledge watching the warehouse
floor. Their chickens were happily chatting and snacking on the
junk food set out on the tables. The Dragons were due any moment.
Vin saw the detonator sticking out of Gerards pocket and eased in alongside
of the gang leader. He managed to ease the devise, about the size of a garage
door opener, out of his pocket and removed the batteries. After sliding the
detonator back into place, he rolled over and looked over he shoulder.
Whats up, LT? Gerard queried.
I just wondered where you got the C-4? Can we get more if we need to
adjust a few more attitudes? Vin asked.
Yeah, its easy. My cousin Kyle is in the military and he smuggles
it out to me whenever he can. I keep him supplied with sex toys. Sometimes
he kills them when he gets overexcited but its worth it.
Im gonna take a leak, dont start the show without me!
Vin called softly as he worked away from the ledge.
On the ground, that was the signal. Every door opened and law enforcement
officers flooded the building like a swarm of locusts. Most of the kids dropped
their weapons and surrendered. A few opened fire and were wounded. In the
pandemonium, someone accidentally ignited one of the blocks of C-4. The explosion
startled the people on the floor and they scattered.
+ + + + + + +
The movie ended and Buck channel surfed for another. Emily had brought in
a pizza for them to share a couple of hours ago. Shed tried to talk
to him about what he was feeling but he had rebuffed her sharply. He found
a channel showing an old John Wayne movie and settled for that.
+ + + + + + +
When the small block of C-4 exploded, it took out several of the gang members
and three DPD officers who were ushering them toward the doors. In the complete
panic that followed, several of the gang members opened fire on the ATF agents
trying to disarm them.
A second unfortunate shot ignited another block of C-4 attached to an upright
support beam. The beam shifted and the upper deck it supported began to groan
ominously as it shifted. After a minute, the boards began to snap and fall
to the concrete floor. An electrical line was ripped free of its mooring
and danced across the floor throwing sparks. An FBI agent and an ATF agent
were pinned in a corner by the arcing wire.
From the loft above, Gerard was furious! He pulled the detonator and pressed
the button. When nothing happened, he opened the case and began to curse
aloud. Over the sounds of the pandemonium below, he heard the sound of a
hammer being thumbed back and he looked over his shoulder.
ATF, just stay right where you are, Vin said as he aimed at the
Just then, the second explosion caused the building to shudder and Vin was
distracted for a moment. Dean vaulted across the open space and grabbed the
gun. Suddenly, it was three on one and Vin went down under the barrage of
kicks and punches.
On the floor of the warehouse, order was coming together. Most of the young
people had been escorted out and the officers were conducting a search of
the building for any others that might be hiding. The bomb and arson squad
was busy removing the detonator wires and C-4 as it was discovered. Team
7 followed the men moving toward the upper floors. Chris was worried because
there had been no sign of Vin.
Climbing the stairs behind the search team, Team 7 and most specifically
Josiah, JD couldnt see anything. He had told Chris about the stalls
that they had been using. They spread out on the second floor and searched.
They moved up to the third floor.
In the triage area, Nathan was tending to a young man who had been thrown
from his feet by one of the explosions and had a bused nose and split lip.
Several of the kids had been brought in for treatment along with the DPD
officers who were injured. He kept watching the door, waiting for one of
his accident-prone teammates to be carried in.
When the rain of kicks and punches stopped, Vin lay very still. Bo wiped
the blood from the gash above his eye where Vin had hit him. Dean was sporting
a split lip and bloody knuckles as he panted to catch his breath. Gerard
had taken the least damage preferring to watch the fight from the side with
the gun he had picked up when it was knocked from Vins hand.
Thinking that the younger man was not a threat, Gerard moved closer and nudged
him with one foot. Seeing the head roll limply, he sneered. Shoving the gun
into the back of his pants, he bent over and grabbed Vin under the arms.
What are you going to do? Theyre searching the building, we have
to go! Dean whined.
Im gonna make damn sure he never crosses my path again,
Gerard hissed as he dragged Vin toward the ledge.
Chris and Ezra rounded the corner and froze. From their vantage point, they
could see Gerard backing toward the edge with Vin. From the other direction,
JD ran out. The gang leaders eyes widened at seeing the young man in
an ATF jacket running toward him. The slight form didnt slow as it
approached. JD threw a quick right and connected with Gerards jaw,
knocking him away from Vin.
Time slowed until the span of time between heartbeats felt like an eternity
as Chris and Ezra watched the scene unfolding before their eyes. Chris realized
that Gerard had a serious height and weight advantage over JD. The gang leader
circled away from Vin and herded JD toward the edge. Vin began to stir and
rolled over onto his stomach as he tried to push up to his hands and knees.
JD looked at his teammate for a moment and Gerard charged.
At the last second, JD ducked under the hard flung right fist and moved away
from the edge. He waited for Gerard to turn around and popped him quickly
in the face. The gang leader staggered away from JD and stepped toward the
edge. JDs next punch set the man to swaying dangerously on the edge.
Gerards arms waived wildly as he struggled to avoid falling. With one
hand, he clasped JDs arm as he fell.
At the same moment that he realized that he might fall, JD felt a hand brush
against his back and curl in his belt. He landed hard on his knees and was
pulled onto his stomach. Gerards weight was pulling him over the edge
in spite of the grip Vin had on him. Chris and Ezra rushed forward to try
to help Vin pull JD back.
Seeing the opportunity to take out all of the troublesome Feds at one time,
Dean jumped up and started toward Chris. Ezra glanced up and quickly pulled
his drop gun from his ankle holster and fired, Dean stumbled
and went over the edge with a cry of pure terror. He hit the concrete floor
below like a sack of wet sand and JD clenched his eyes closed to avoid the
bloody spectacle. Ezra turned the gun on Bo and the young man sank back on
his haunches with his hands raised.
After hearing the gunshot, the search teams converged on the loft and helped
drag JD and Gerard up. JD immediately toppled onto Vin who lay sprawled on
the floor. Chris shifted back from the edge and sat down for a moment. Ezra
moved closer to the edge and looked down. An unpleasant twinge of vertigo
surged thru him and his stomach rolled. After swallowing hard a couple of
times, he backed away.
It took a couple of hours to complete the sweep of the warehouse and the
storefront. All of the young men and women captured in the storefront were
taken to the police station. Nathan left the triage area and checked Vin
and JD thoroughly after hearing what had happened. Neither man was seriously
harmed. By the time the sun was coming up, Team 7 was just finishing the
last details on the bust and was preparing to get some rest. Chris insisted
that the team gather at the ranch.
+ + + + + + +
Emily watched as Buck began to toss in his sleep. He had resisted sleep for
most of the night in between begging for something to help him sleep. The
first couple of times he dozed off only to startle himself awake, drenched
in sweat. Just as the sun rose, he finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
She uncurled her legs from underneath her and stretched before moving to
the bed. Buck had his hands wrapped around the bars on the bed rails as he
fought thru the nightmare.
He was back in the old west setting. They were shooting at the Spevack gang
who were camped in the bottom of a little valley. The gang was shooting,
keeping them pinned under cover as they tried to mount their horses. Buck
fired, noticing with satisfaction that the man toppled backwards off of his
When several of the gang had fallen, Buck turned and asked where JD was.
Chris shouted back that he had been left with the female bounty hunters.
Moments later, a single gunshot rang out and he went crashing thru the woods,
calling for JD. He found his young friend lying on the ground as his life-blood
poured out of a hole in his side. As he gathered the kid into his arms, the
scene shifted and it was the dream of finding JD in the sand, dead.
No! JD? Bucks hoarse voice called as he shook himself out
of the dream.
Its okay, Buck. JDs fine, Emily said as she rested
a hand on his shoulder.
Looking around the room, Buck sighed.
I thought theyd be here by now.
I told them they couldnt come until you and I talk about
But you cant! Dr. Franklin, please, I need to see them. I have
to know whats going on with JD and Vin! Theyre undercover.
Im sorry. Not until you talk to me. Buck, youre hurting
inside and if you dont get it out, you will endanger others. I cant
allow you to return to work unless I feel that you arent a danger to
yourself or the others.
For several minutes, Buck warred with his emotions. He wanted to stay angry
at her, it made it easier to hide the fear. The idea that Chris wasnt
coming to his rescue frightened him a little. A soft voice reminded him that
Chris had spent a week in a jail cell after their last fight. He realized
that no one had gone to see him, to comfort and reassure him, either. Clenching
his fists in the blanket, he rolled over with his back to the doctor, shutting
He remembered that last fight with Chris. It was about three months after
Sarah and Adams funeral. Chris was drinking and fighting with anyone
who as much as looked his way. The bartenders in the area all knew to call
Buck when it looked like things were getting out of hand. It was a truck
driver that night, the one who brought it all to a head. He picked a fight
with Chris over the way the blonde was staring across his table.
Bucks cell phone rang and the bartender told him that Chris was getting
riled up. In the five minutes that it took for him to get to the bar, Chris
had already begun to swing on the larger man. Buck waded into the fight and
tossed the truck driver out the door. When he turned back to try to coax
Chris out of the bar, his friend turned on him. Chris beat Buck until he
lay unconscious on the floor.
It took a couple of hours to talk the arresting officers into burying the
paperwork and holding Chris in a cell until Buck got out of the hospital.
In the week that he sat in the jail, Chris dried out and had time to think.
Having reached rock bottom, he was willing to accept help.