~~ Aftermath… ~~

by TJ

"You going home?" Bonnie asked, always concerned.

Kate looked up from her computer screen and offered a confused smile. "Oh, yeah… in a bit. I have to finish this up for Travis," she indicated the papers on her desk.

Standing beside their friend, Lori cocked her head. The tone of their boss' voice wasn't at all committed to her statement. "You okay, Kate?" she frowned. "All kidding aside… You really haven't been yourself today."

"I'm good," the natural blonde offered quickly. "You two go on now," she noticed Wilmington and Dunne waiting. "Looks to me like your evening is booked," she forced a smile.

Bonnie's grin made her look at the floor.

Lori couldn't help but smile, too. "It's Friday night, Kate… you coming to the saloon?"

Lansky's gaze dropped and she scanned the papers again. She wasn't sure exactly what she wanted to do. Larabee's door had been closed since she'd left him there… stunned, most likely. She needed to talk to him, but not at the watering hole. Everyone would be there, and she wanted it to be quiet. "Not sure, " was the elusive response.

Lori and Bonnie were disappointed in the blonde's reply. This woman was more than just their boss. Kate was as good a friend as any, and had proven on many occasions, that she could be a wonderful confidante to them all. This closeness led to their concern over the sudden change in mood. Yet, they also knew better than to force the issue. Lansky was an explosion waiting to happen if you pushed the wrong buttons. Everyone knew that for a fact.

"Well, we'll see you if you get there then," Lori smiled as they turned for the door.

Bonnie read the 'let's not push it' in Lori's eyes. "Night, Kate," she called back as they joined the guys and departed.

Another half-hour came and went before Kate found herself waving goodbye to Josiah, the last one to leave. Again, her eyed drifted to the closed doorway. She still wondered what he was doing in there.

More time passed and her mind wandered as fingers tried desperately to finish the report Travis needed first thing Monday. It was just so hard to make sense out of words with so many much distractions in your head. Finally constructing the last sentence, Lansky moved the mouse to the 'save' command.


He startled her, yet Kate's head turned only slightly before her eyes drifted back to the screen. "Been there long?" she was curious.


Closing out all the programs that were active on her toolbar, the blonde brought up the 'Shut Down' command and hit the button. Rubbing a tired hand across her cheek, she sighed.

"Wanna go eat?"

A tongue darted out to wet barren lips.

There was a pause between each response. "We can't talk at the saloon."

She still hadn't turned to face him and Chris desperately needed to see her eyes. "Do we need to talk?" 'God!' He wanted to… but he didn't want to push.

Kate took another deep breath. Her eyelids suddenly felt heavy and she gave in to their weight, hands snaking up to support her head as it fell into them. "You… didn't answer my question?" she finally spoke; the words carried no emotion.

He couldn't stand it any longer. She'd practically told him never to say those three little words again… and she hadn't waited for his reply. Covering the short distance between them, Larabee spun Lansky around in her chair, his arms dragging her hands from her face before resting firmly on her thighs. Chris knelt in front of her. "Damn it, Kate. You never gave me a chance."

Although she could feel the frustration in his voice, she was trying desperately to deal with her own anger. One hand pulled free, then the other. They met on his cheeks and she stared. "I didn't give you a chance… or a choice."

His words came quickly this time, his voice lowering a notch. "But, why?"

Her eyes pleaded with him to understand, but she knew, all too well, that she could never explain. "It doesn't matter."

"To me it does."

In a moment completely out of character, Lansky lowered her lips and kissed his forehead. Her mouth lingered, tasting the salt on his brow. Breathing in the scent of the man… she wanted… but feared she would never truly have. "Maybe one day I can explain it," she answered. "But not now… not now… I just… Just… know that I can't hear those words, Chris… It's just not…"

Taking her hands in his, Larabee pulled back and searched her eyes. He so wanted to understand, yet, he could see… something. Something in her face that he didn't recognize.

How many times had they talked about him? Endless conversations aimed at making the anger and pain in his heart go away.

Rarely had they talked about Kate's past.

Chris suddenly realized that he was angry with himself for never asking. Here and now, there was something in her eyes that he had never seen before.

It made him nervous.

Watching his green pools dance with confusion, Lansky knew that he might never be ready to hear her explanation. The doubt in her heart was real and the past in his eyes spoke clearly. Chris wasn't done with his history yet. Not enough to move on, anyway. With anyone else, he might be able to fake his way through the present, but Kate wasn't about to live a lie.

Three little words… That's all they were! But they'd cause her nothing but pain.

More than that though, she wouldn't hear them from Chris Larabee.

Not until he had truly said goodbye.

Lansky glanced away, wondering what right she had to ask that of him.

Answering her own doubt; Kate huffed seemingly to herself. 'She had no right at all!' Sliding the chair back, she stood. "Think I better go home."

There was no other word for it, Chris was confused, but he couldn't let her go that easily. "Supper?" his voice was hopeful.

Grabbing the backpack from under her desk, the woman pushed in her chair. "Think it's best… we don't."

The silence was eerie.

Larabee didn't understand what was driving him but he needed to be sure, almost desperate for her company. "I… It was raining… last night… I left my coat."

She knew he was looking for a reason. "Not tonight."

There was a heavy sigh, yet expressed silently. Chris didn't try again. He watched her leave, feeling the departure as though he would never see her again. He turned for his office, grabbing the leather jacket from the coat rack as he shut off the light.

Kate's words echoed in the darkness, 'I can handle that… can you?'

He'd been searching for an answer for three hours… hadn't found one yet.

As he headed for the parking garage, Larabee thought about his words, 'I love you, Kate'.

He questioned himself, 'Why did you say that?'

The answer sounded stupid. 'Because you do…'

Did he?

'Well, you said you did'

"Do you even know what that means, anymore?" he chastised aloud as the truck door slammed closed.

The drive home happened in the blink of an eye. His mind lost in thought. Pulling up beside the ranch house, Chris realized the forty-five minute trip was over, and he squinted questioningly. His head was awash. Feelings jumbled and confused in his heart. A tired brain desperately trying to make sense of the last twenty-four hours.

His intent was honest; his need real.

Last night's journey to her apartment had been urged on by a want. A longing he'd often felt, yet, never before acted upon.

She was just so damn… attractive.

'Not just in the physical sense' He shook the thought off.

Chris wasn't a shallow man. They had discussed 'beauty' before. Kate had been blunt, telling him that his moodiness made him 'a waste of such good real estate'.

Larabee was self-conscious, but she made laughing it off so easy.

His rebuttal was quick, 'I ain't nothing to look at… and don't you go lying through your teeth, trying to embarrass me, either'.

The recollection made Chris smile as he kicked off his shoes and settled in his big comfy chair. 'The physical stuff' he pondered… the shake of his head strengthening his acceptance and amusement.

Kate wasn't tall or skinny… hell, she didn't even have a bubbly personality to make up for what she wasn't.

What she was seemed a whole lot more important.

She was strong… a thriving bundle of energy who cut straight through his crap and gave as good as she got when he was really out of control. She was his friend. One he'd opened up to, probably more so than to Buck about certain things. She had a great shoulder…

One that hadn't wavered as they'd stood by their graves that first year that he'd known her…

He'd let Kate in and she had accepted him. For who he was… not who she wanted to make him.

He frowned… 'Admiration?'

He wondered if that was a better word for his feelings.

He'd known what true love was… once.

What he felt now wasn't the same… 'Maybe it doesn't even come close'.

But there could never be another Sarah in his life.

'Could there?'

With a heavy sigh, Larabee set his empty beer bottle on the side table. 'So many feelings'.

He hated feelings.

Flicking off the stereo and light, Chris checked the door and set the alarm before finally heading for bed.

'Kate understands' he smiled, snuggling into the pillow.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

In the pre-dawn glimmer, Larabee awoke with a start. Sweat beading from his brow, his chest pounding.

Forcing his anxious heartbeat to slow, along with his breathing, Chris realized he'd been dreaming again. Remembering, all too vividly, the last time he's shared his bed with his beloved wife.

Sitting up, he growled away his anger. It had been months since the last dream…

'Why now?' he begged in the darkness.

Annoyance evident, the agent threw himself back on the bed; a lazy arm forced across his eyes to shut out the memory of the void… all he had left. Below the hand, his eyes squeezed tight.

Unable to shift the image of Sarah from his mind, Larabee rolled over. His green pools saw the empty pillow beside him and suddenly… his wife was gone.

A sudden wave of confusion attacked without warning. He saw Kate in his mind. She was sleeping soundly. Content…

She wanted to share his bed, of that much Chris was sure.

He wanted her there.

The flood of images from yesterday morning came gushing into his mind. 'Don't' he had growled. His words were spoken with so much intent. He'd seen her wither at his touch. Heard her climax at his urging, and he had been so unbelievably aroused.

Kneading the empty pillow, Larabee forced his hips into the sheets. He had wanted her so badly then… He knew he'd do the same if she were here now.

The wild, unfettered heat that had coursed through his veins twenty-four hours ago was so much a part of the man he was today. Partly, a deep desire to dominate completely and control the world that had stolen his life… some of his actions were pure, unadulterated lust.

And, there was anger there, too…

Green eyes closed again. Images of the women who had shared his bed flashed in his mind. Before… and after Sarah.

Before… Well, he was young and sex was great. He and Buck had caroused… no other word for it. They had stirred the heated passion of women's desires and enjoyed each and every encounter, right down to the last drawn-out kiss goodbye.

Yep, sex was great.

'But love was better.'

A smile creased his lips as his mind saw Sarah again.

'I lost ya, Stud,' Wilmington had mused the first time he'd met the petite brunette his best friend would one day marry.

Chris rolled to his back, his chin dropping as he recalled the words. Buck had known from the get-go… fallen for Sarah, too, but never in 'that' way.

His wife just did that to people. Made you love her without even trying.

Larabee sat up quickly, tears welling in his eyes without warning. Those same eyes rose to stare at the heavens as he chased the water into submission.

'God! He loved her'. Every breath belonged to her alone. Every beat of his heart echoed, waiting for her heart's companioning response. Together, they were unstoppable.

Together, they became one soul.

Forcing his eyes shut again, Chris flung back the sheets and stormed off to the shower.

There was his anger again. A burning void of blackness that he worked so hard to push away… yet, never quite succeeded. As the hot water rushed over his face, Larabee wondered if he would ever live a day without that void. His fists clenched so tightly, that his knuckles had turned white.

'Why now?'

The silent words had no reply.

He often wondered 'why' when these fits of remembrance drove his blood pressure up. He'd long since learned to push them away. Hide them from prying eyes and tortured friends.

'Yes!' he admitted for the millionth time. He had put friends through hell after the death of his family. No one deserved to go through his hell.

But he'd made sure they did.

They said that they understood.

'They didn't!'

He hated them for that.

'No… not really' but his anger never saw that far down the road. Chris was lucky… most of them really did understand.

Even Buck...

Forcing his face into the hot stream, Larabee tried to wash the images from his mind.

That night had been all about rage.

A blind hateful rage, so torturous… so wrong. Buck had pushed. The kind of 'reality check' that only a best friend could get away with... or so Wilmington had thought.

Their life long friendship was different after that night. Yet, for some inexplicable reason… it was still there.

Chris had pulled himself together as best he could. Tried to move on with whatever life a man could live with only half a soul for company.

Sure, there had been women. But his moods always drove them away eventually. Maybe he grew tired of them. Maybe he used his angry, dominating, self-serving lust to push them away.

Pulling on his pants, Chris stopped, hit suddenly by the thoughts in his mind.

'Push them away?' he frowned.

That didn't make sense. If he used that type of 'force' to push women away… Why had he used it yesterday… on Kate!

He didn't ever want to push her away. He wanted her close. He wanted her so incredibly close it scared him.

He frowned again.

Grabbing for his shirt, he shook the confusion from his brain, shutting his eyes tight to the ramblings in his head. "Damn it, Larabee," he muttered as he headed for the kitchen.

Today was Saturday and there was work to be done around the ranch. He hoped to hell, that the busy day could keep his mind from wandering any more.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Lansky stood at her balcony window staring out at the horizon. She'd been up for hours. Of all the things a long career in the military had given her, the inability to sleep in was probably one of the worst… 'Or the best'.

Kate sighed heavily at the thoughts running through her mind.

The sky was barely losing its night luster when she'd awakened. Reflections of blond hair and green eyes enveloped her and quickly drove her out of bed. As though the mindless wanderings of the previous evening weren't bad enough, now she had to 'wake up' thinking about Larabee, too!

'And here I am doing it again' she cursed. Bringing the cup to her lips, she sipped at the contents, shaking her head as it lowered. Her eyes closed as her forehead met the cool glass of the window.

In her mind's eye, the blonde was replaying Thursday night over and over again… trying to figure out where she had gone wrong. He'd blatantly asked her if she's ever considered spending time with a lover... with him as her lover. 'Should have told him to leave right then and there' she scolded. But she hadn't wanted him to leave… not then, not ever.

If she were completely honest with herself, Kate would admit that she had 'wanted' Larabee, almost from the very first time she'd seen him. But things got complicated way too early in their professional relationship.

They were like oil and water at work. Her military experience and his weren't compatible in style, or approach. His attitude and mood swings drove her nuts and, being the headstrong individual that she was, Lansky wasn't about to let him go unchallenged. Risking her job and several growing friendships that first time, she'd torn a strip off Chris, wider than the Grand Canyon.

The large eyes and gaping mouths hadn't fazed her as she'd stormed back into the main office from Larabee's smaller one. Everyone had 'run for cover' as Chris followed her, literally fit to be tied.


One simple word had stopped him in his tracks. The glares between the two were scorching, yet, in the moments that followed, their eyes seemed to convey an understanding. Neither would let the other get away with 'crap', uncalled for or other wise. In the heat of their exchange, both recognized their own kind and knew instinctively that their relationship was now slipping into a whole new dimension. They had each other's back, like it or not.

The doorbell brought Lansky back from her thoughts. She frowned, "Who the…" Setting the cup on the dining room table, Kate went to answer the door.


One eyebrow rose inquisitively. "Josiah?"

"None other," the big man smiled.

A small chuckle erupted as Kate shook her head. She loved that big toothy grin the profiler had. It warmed her heart. "What are you doing here?" she asked, waving Sanchez in and securing the door.

"Oh… was in the neighborhood."

She looked at him and scowled, "Liar!" Moving past, she walked into the kitchen. "Coffee?" she inquired, knowing he'd follow.

"Seems my fabrications don't bother you that much," he nodded as she pulled a cup from the cupboard and turned towards the pot. "Not if you're offering hospitality, instead of stern words."

She chuckled again and picked up the glass urn. "I can do both, ya know."

Hands dug deep in his pockets. "I'm beginning to get that idea."

All movement ceased as Kate's eyebrows knitted. 'He knows?'

The silence was deafening and for a moment, Josiah wondered if he'd just lit a fuse. "Black is fine," he offered, hoping to re-engage the woman.

The profiler's words, meant or not, weren't escaping the blonde's attention. The proverbial 'cat' was already out of its bag and she wasn't about to let him get off that easily. Swallowing hard, Lansky tried to control the temper that was suddenly rearing its head. Nodding slowly, she poured the black liquid into the mug and replaced the coffeepot on its stand. Forcing a smile, she turned around. "What idea, Josiah?" she asked pointedly, her tone assertive.

A tongue darted out quickly to wet the profiler's bottom lip. "Shall we sit?" he smiled sweetly.

Kate's lips pursed. "Why don't we," she acknowledged sarcastically, an eyebrow raised.

Leading the way into the dining room, the woman picked a chair, sliding her cup towards her. She took a large swig as Sanchez made himself comfortable.

The big man smiled at his companion.

She forced a curl to her lips, the smirk obviously without amusement. Endless seconds trailed by at a snail's pace and Kate finally grew impatient with the man's annoying smile. "Spit it out, Josiah," she finally blurted out.

'Strike one' Sanchez mused. He knew he could have this effect on people. "Always straight to the point," he looked at her quizzically.

Her back stiffened. "Why beat around the bush?" she grinned. "Best get it out on the table before it festers and makes me want to puke!"

A single eyebrow rose. "Is that how this relationship makes you feel?"

Her 'Fight or Flight' training kicked in hard and Lansky silently cursed her loose lips. 'Oh, no you don't!' She thought quickly. She wasn't about to let the profiler psychoanalyze her. "You are kidding… right?" she glared at his blue eyes.

Josiah had been expecting her to challenge him on the 'relationship' issue, not be this direct. "Am I… that far off?"

For a few minutes, they simply stared at one another. Cups raised and lowered. Expressions changed and a battle of wills was clearly going on between the two.

'How can one man be so completely annoying and so completely loveable, all at the same time?' She snorted visibly and Sanchez frowned, wondering what was going through her mind.

"Something you want to share?"

Once more, pursed lips were his only answer.

Taking another drink, the big man set the cup aside and reached across the corner of the table to take her hand in his. "Underneath that hard exterior… Kate Lansky has a heart, and a soul."

He continued, unabated by the glare she shot his way. "Seems to me, that… just maybe… someone, who hides as much as you do… could tell you that."

Her eyes left his and settled on the thumb that softly teased the back of her hand. There weren't very many people who could knock down her walls without the slightest hint of a warning, and for that; Kate hated Sanchez with a passion. Yet, the confusion that had plagued her for the last two days, all of a sudden, seemed to clear.

Allowing Chris close did make her want to throw up. It scared her that much, but for so many more reasons than the profiler could ever know. Squeezing his hand, the woman gradually returned her gaze to his. "Guess that includes you, too, huh?" she carried the discussion in another direction.

The grin that crossed the big man's lips was all too subtle. "A conversation for another century," he mused, getting to his feet.

"Maybe," she answered, slowly following him to the door.

The profiler stood facing the exit. He sighed heavily before turning only his head, "Thanks for the coffee."

There was a lingering silence before she smiled softly. "Thanks… for the chat."

Opening the portal, Josiah stepped through it and glanced back at the blonde. "Centuries don't come around every day, Kate. Maybe it's best… we don't waste them… when they arrive." With that, the big man grinned, turned his head back, and walked away.

Lansky watched him go before gently closing the door.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Busy tending the stalls, Chris paid little attention when he heard the familiar vehicle drive up and park on the other side of the barn. He continued with the arduous task, taking out his frustrations by throwing the material as far as he could.

His mind so set on his chore, purposefully intent on not letting it wander; Larabee had all but forgotten the presence of his visitor when the voice spoke.

"Is this what they mean by, seeing shit fly?"

Another heave saw more of the manure land at the profiler's feet. Chris straightened his stance, wiping the sweat from his brow. He leaned on the pitchfork, breathing heavily from his labor.

Sanchez grinned, cocking his head. Watching carefully for signs that he shouldn't be there. Finding none evident, he proceeded with his reason for coming. "You were quiet yesterday," he observed.

Larabee's eyes met Josiah's.

The silence was lasting too long.

"And here you are now… working out your… frustration?"

The blond's stare remained vigilant as his breathing began to slow.

Josiah was cool. He hadn't come to pry, only to offer help… in his own subtle way, of course. Forcing one hand into his hip pocket, he pursed his lips and nodded slowly. "Want some ice water?"

Licking at his bottom lip, Chris wiped his mouth with his forearm. He glanced at the ground before meeting the profiler's eyes again.

The motion was slight, but Sanchez couldn't miss it. A small grin curled one corner of his mouth before he turned and walked back to the house.

Josiah filled a pint mug with water from the fridge and delivered it, as promised. Returning from the barn, he frowned.

Larabee's gaze had been so tightly focused on the horses as they skirted around the corral; it had taken two appeals to get the man's attention. Even more curious was the fact that the blond hadn't objected when his friend offered to serve another full glass, accompanied by some lunch.

Preparing a light meal, Sanchez set the trays out on the porch and called his boss. He waited patiently, sitting only when Chris arrived. They ate in silence and the profiler watched as more water was consumed, Larabee's mug filled twice from the pitcher.

Green eyes finally focused on those of his friend as Chris relaxed back into his chair. "Real good," he offered, indicating the empty tray. "Thanks."

Sanchez smiled. "Thought you might like it."

The hard work had calmed his thoughts some, but Larabee was an impatient man at the best of times. Saturday the ranch wasn't normally open for visitors. Chris knew the profiler hadn't come all the way out to his place for nothing. He also understood that the big man wasn't normally one to interfere. "Something I can do for you, Josiah?"

They still held each other's gaze. "You fed me lunch. Thank you."

"And?" the tone was impatient.

The older man smirked, sitting forward in his chair. He looked out around the ranch and sighed heavily. "And you've been out here… alone… long enough. You should take advantage of company… when it comes to call."

Chris frowned. He knew damn well that his friend wasn't talking about himself.

Larabee's eyes refocused on the land that was his home. The wide-open spaces and freedom that he loved so much were right here. He'd learned to live without company, and Josiah's 'hints' weren't sitting well. "Last time I checked… who a man kept for company… was his own business."

Sanchez cocked his head. "Yep," he agreed, not wanting to push an unwelcome issue. Getting to his feet, he turned to look down at his boss. "Just wanted to make sure you could still see the difference between business… and friendship."

Larabee didn't flinch on the outside, but his internal defenses sprang into high alert. 'He knows?' The reference was too clear in Chris' mind. Kate had, long ago, stopped being a business associate and Josiah was the first one to notice it then. He wasn't exactly sure how the profiler knew something else had changed in their relationship, yet, the blond was positive Sanchez had rationalized his uncharacteristic behavior…

"Think I'll be headed out now," the older man stepped toward the edge of the deck.

Chris gained his feet and followed all the way around the barn in silence.

Climbing into his vehicle, Josiah smiled as the blond leaned against the doorframe. Tapping Larabee's arm through the open window, the profiler quickly offered a reassuring grin as he turned the ignition.

"Thanks for coming," Chris offered politely. Stepping back, he returned the big man's wave as Sanchez put the truck in gear and drove away.

As he watched the swirling clouds of dust track the departing vehicle, Larabee took a deep breath, forcing it out briskly. A hand darted up to rake his blond hair and he shook his head, the hand slapping back to his sides with a loud 'smack'.

Frustration still ruling his thoughts, Chris headed back to the ranch house.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

The setting sun found Kate skulking in her apartment staring at a black coat.

It reminded her too clearly of Larabee and she breathed a heavy sigh. Her eyes drew closed as she thought again about the hours she had spent in his arms. The passion he had shown her was beautiful. Left her wanting more, and the 'more' had gone on, and on. Yet, even more than that bliss, the primal tendencies he had displayed the morning after were so overpowering. So incredibly basic at the core of her being that the lust was overwhelming. Carnal desires set free to do as they will.

He did.

Her craving for more was indescribable.

Scrunching her eyes up tight, the blonde shook her head quickly. With a loud growl, she launched herself angrily off the sofa. Taking in a deep, cleansing breath, she grabbed her running shoes, slipped them on, and cinched them up tight. The thought of jogging for miles set firmly in her brain, Lansky snapped on her key pouch, and secured the door as she left.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

He was back in the shower again. This time washing off the day's strenuous activities rather than the previous nights disturbed sleep. Either way, Chris knew damn well that the hot water could never succeed in washing thought of her from his mind. Nothing could do that. Even before their lovemaking, Chris understood Kate meant more to him than just being his 'secretary'.

He chuckled. 'God! How she hates that word.'

The smile slowly died on his lips as he remembered other words…

I love you, Kate.

I was only being honest when I told you…


Why are you mad at me? Was it too much? Did I hurt you?

What? Hurt me… God! No… Why would you think…?

No, Chris… last night was the most extraordinary experience of my life. This morning was the most incredibly erotic encounter I have EVER had. God, Chris… you could never hurt me.

So, you want to… love with me… but not be loved BY me?

Physical love, Chris… that's all I want. That… I can handle that… can you?

Larabee's hands clenched tight and he drove his face under the water. 'Since when did loving someone become so complicated?' he cussed silently.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

"Evenin', Buck," Vin offered his greeting as Wilmington finally joined them at Team Seven's usual table.

The rogue sat down beside his date. He smiled a greeting to the couples at the table before a frown slowly replaced the grin.

"What's eatin' you?" Nathan queried.

"Strangest thing," the ladies' man scratched his head. "We saw Kate sittin' in her van as we arrived," he winked at his girl. "I sent Bonnie on in and went ta talk to her."

"Is she coming in?" Lori asked enthusiastically.

"Nope," Buck replied. The scowl was still evident on his face. "Said somethin' about just wantin' ta see where everyone was, then she said good night and took off."

"She sure was in a funny mood yesterday, too," Sharon observed with a slight pout.

"Chris, too!"

They all looked at JD with varying degrees of amusement. Then slowly, they glanced around at each other, heads starting to shake and grins appearing on their lips.

Dunne's expression was the epitome of surprise as he finally clued in to what everyone else was thinking. "You don't think?"

Buck was more than amused and nodded quizzically, "Hell, yes!"

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

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