by Megan

Disclaimer Magnificent Seven doesn’t belong to me, they belong to Mirisch, CBS and others.

Chapter 1

Buck was late. He couldn’t believe it. It was the one day he needed to get to the office on time for a huge meeting, one for which Chris said to make sure that everyone was there on time. Buck still didn’t know how his alarm got set two hours later than normal. Lucky for him when he woke he, saw the time, and got out of bed. What was weird, though he didn’t dwell on it, was that Chris hadn't called him to yell at him for being late. Now, thanks to a bad accident and lousy weather, he was finally arriving at the ATF.

Slamming on his brakes, he put his car in park, turned the engine off, and headed through the doors after showing his ID. Making his way to the elevators, he noticed the out of service signs on them- all of them. Wanting to scream, he slammed open the stairwell doors and climbed to the seventh floor. Getting there, he stormed into the office. Hoping against hope that he could calm Chris down and come up with a good explanation of why he missed the meeting.

Entering, he stopped. There wasn’t anyone there. It was empty. Shaking his head, he hurried to the conference room. He paused outside them. Hearing the low tones of people talking inside, he opened one door and stepped in, glad the room was dark. Before he shut it, he drew his head up. He stopped. He looked at the man giving the talk. He scanned the screen and the pictures. Taking it all in at one glance, he took a step back out the door. Slamming it shut, he took off to the nearest bathroom.

He didn’t hear one voice in the background exclaim, “what the... shoot." Buck left the area and barely made it to there in time to throw up.

Kneeling in the stall, he allowed the cool porcelain to cool him. “How could this day get worse?” Buck thought. He ignored that notion, for other opinions, much darker, fought for supremacy in his mind; mainly, “Why now?”

No one knew about that case, not even Chris. It happen during the year he and Chris had disappeared from each other’s life. Now it had come back. Even worse, this was kept from him and he’d now found out about it anyway.

Buck sat up. He had to get out of there, now. He didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want any of his teammates to come and ask if he wanted to discuss it or say they understood what happen to him. A bark of laughter came at that thought, like they could ever understand, ha! Leaving the restroom, he headed to his truck. Then, thinking it was better for him not to be driving in the state of mind he was in, he locked the vehicle and headed out into the rain, hoping a walk would allow him to forget the day.

Silence reigned in the conference room. The men were shocked. The ‘what the… shoot.’ still hung in the air, as well as the slam of the door. No one in the place moved. All of them were in stun from the quick entrance and exit of Buck. No one wanted to break the stillness that had settled there. Chris was the first one to break the spell; he sat back down, still staring at the door.

Chris couldn’t believe how this had all gone wrong. They had tried to make sure Buck would miss this meeting. They made it seem like an accident: Buck’s alarm was set to go off two hours late, thanks to JD; the elevators were out, so Buck would have had to climb the stairs; and even moving the conference room. Buck still found them. Chris rubbed a hand through his hair, how could this day get worse? After a few moments, he lifted his head, made eye contact with Vin. Vin nodded and got up. He quickly left the area in search of Buck.

Chris needed something or someone to focus on, so he wasn’t thinking about what or where Buck was. He turned and glared at the speaker. The lecturer, for his part, wasn’t even paying attention to Chris or anyone else. He was totally focused on the door that Buck had entered. Suddenly, as if his strings were cut, the talker fell into a chair. He sat there numbly, still watching the door.

Chris watched this for a few seconds. Looking at the lecturer. The man was around 5’7, with ash blond hair and gray eyes. He had a trim build and he was slightly younger than Buck. Chris shifted his gaze for a second to check out the portal. When the entryway didn’t open, he turned back to vistor. Tiring of the silence, he spoke to man. “So, what about the bust and why did you look like you were going to faint when Buck came into the room?”

The lecturer turned and slowly looked a Chris. He blinked once, took a deep breath and started to talk. “I was on the task force. I left about a month before the raid. My wife was pregnant and she was having problems with the pregnancy. The team felt I should be with her and not dealing with the case. So, at their insistence, I left to help her.”

At this point, the speaker got a distant look in his eyes. “I saw them all the day or so before the foray. My son had been born a week earlier. They all had come to see him and congratulate me. That was the last time I saw any of them alive. After the bust, I tired to see Buck, but they wouldn’t let me. They kept trying to find out how the raid could have gone wrong. Almost the entire task force was killed. I... I... tried to contact him during those days. But the security was too tight. Nothing was getting in. They finally moved me to a different office and I was forced to move away. They wouldn’t allow me to talk to him. They wouldn’t even let me attend the funerals for the other agents.”

After speaking, the lecturer slumped back in the chair, looking down towards his feet. The rest of the group was still.

Finally, before Chris could break the silence, Ezra spoke up. “Mr. Perreault, while this is all fascinating, what actually happened at the raid?”

Jack Perreault took a deep breath. Letting it out slowly, he responded, “No one is completely sure what materialized. The only survivor, that saw anything, was Buck. Buck, though, didn’t say what befell What we could determine was that the FBI liaison was a mole planted there by the person that they were taking down… beyond that, not much else. We are we certain that the only one alive, who saw the person, is Buck. And all we can recollect is that he escaped the bomb that was placed for him. We don’t have a grasp of exactly what he saw. He's never talked about it as far as I‘ve been told."

The rest of the team was silent. They didn’t be certain of what to say. It was hard to believe what the man was telling them. Finally, Nathan looked up at Jack. “What was the name of the suspect they were trying to take down?”

Jack shrugged his shoulders. “We don’t have a real designation for him. All we realize is that people call him 'The Dragon'.”

“The dragon? Isn’t that a little comic bookish?” Ezra asked with a disbelieving look in his eye.

Jack shook his head slowly. “I wish it were. It would have saved us a lot of trouble. But he is real. The only label we ever found out about was the name Dragon. And that term was what the task force determined. What else they figured out, no one cognizes. Most of the notes, papers, and computer records the group had were burned in a fire in their headquarters the same day that they died. The only things we could find were some handwritten files composed in Buck’s shorthand. No one as been ever able to figure out what type of stenography it is penned in.”

The others in the room nodded. They all, at one time or other, had tried to interpret Buck’s handwriting and found it impossible understand. Before they could ask Jack another question, the door opened. All of their eyes turned to portal.

Vin opened the barrier door and walked through. Stepping into the gathering and looking at Chris, his voice broke the stillness that had descended into the room. “Buck isn’t in the building and his truck is still in the garage.”

While the rest were learning about the case, Vin had left the meeting at Chris’s nod to go find Buck. Slipping quietly out of the room, he headed to the nearest restroom, thinking he would find Buck there. He entered, only to find it empty. Puzzled, he looked around the area to see if Buck had been there. His trained eye picked up on the wet paper towels in the trash. Nodding to himself, Vin turned around and vacated. As he left he looked at the stairwell. Wandering over to it, he opened the door and started to head down. As he reached bottom, he entered into the lobby area. Looking around, he noticed the security guard by the door. Wandering over to him, he asked. “George, did you see Buck coming this way a few minutes ago?”

George looked at Vin and answered. “Yeah. I saw Buck. He came racing out of the stairwell towards his truck. Didn’t even bother to say hi.”

Vin nodded. Thanking George for his help, he went out the doors and went towards where the team parked their cars. Getting there, he noticed that Buck’s vehicle was still in the lot. Swearing under his breath, he rushed to the sidewalk. Looking down both streets, he didn’t see Buck.

Cursing even more, he stalked back into the building and went to Team’s seven office to make sure Buck hadn’t doubled back. Not seeing him there. Vin cursed and almost hit his hand against the wall. Chris wasn’t going to be happy. Vin made his way back to the conference room. He didn’t want to tell Chris that Buck had wandered off into this weather. Pausing outside entryway to the conference room, he stopped and stared at wall. Chris was going to mad. Taking a deep breath he opened up the door and stepped in.

“Buck isn’t in the structure and his truck is still in the garage.” Those words hung in the air for a second before it sunk into anyone’s head. Buck wasn’t there. “Where has he gone?” wandered through everyone’s mind.

Chris took a look around. Taking a deep breath, he was about to issue an order when his cell phone rang.

Everyone in the room was startled. The loud ring of Magnificent Seven music shattered the moment. Chris reached into his pocket and opened it up. He growled into it, “What?”

Chris nodded, listening for another minute, then said, “Inez, could you just keep an eye on him. We’ll be there shortly. No, just leave him alone. We’ll get him.”

With that he hung up his phone. Glancing at the rest of the table, his team was about to leave to get Buck when Chris stopped them with one question. Looking at Jack, Chris asked, “What does this all have to do with Buck now?”

Jack looked at Chris and said, “There are reports that the dragon wants to reopen his shop in Denver. Already several of his people have showed up here. Buck is the only one who can ID him. Buck is a loose end. The Dragon doesn’t like loose ends. Buck’s life is in danger. The word is Dragon wants Buck dead. And what Dragon wants, he usually gets."

With that being said, the group left the conference room, leaving Jack behind in their rush to the saloon. The group piled into two of their automobiles, and drove to the bar. As they all reached the building and got out of the cars, they stopped at the door. Chris looked at them all, nodding to them he entered the structure with them right behind him.

Invading the dark interior of the saloon, they allowed their eyes to adjust before they started to look for Buck. Inez, seeing them, pointed them towards the corner where Buck was sitting, staring at an unopened whiskey bottle. The six men paused and stared, Buck looked horrible.

He was still soaking wet from the rain, water steadily dripped off him making pools of water on the floor and the table where he sat. His countenance was expressionless as he stared blankly at the vessel of drink. His hand kept running up and down the side of the glass, jerking away from the cap on top of it. Buck hadn’t even looked up when the rest of the team came through the door. The lines around his face that one didn’t notice usually were deeper than normal and his visage had paled to a bleached white, making Buck look like he had aged ten years. The group moved forward until they were standing across from him. No one wanted to move or speak; they were unused to seeing Buck so still.

Sharing worried glances among each other, the unit headed towards the missing person, Chris giving a quick nod to Inez. Stopping at the table, the team sat down in chairs, quietly staring at Buck hoping he would be the first to break the stillness. They were bound to be disappointed. The squad sat there in silence, waiting for a move, a glance even a nod from Buck. They didn’t get anything.

Finally, after fifteen minutes of quietnes area? Why not? You didn’t seem to want me at the meeting and I sure didn’t want to stay there.”

“You shouldn’t have wander out of the building.” Chris repeated, growling a little as he said it.

Buck just looked up from where he had been staring at the whiskey bottle. At first he was going to reply with an angry retort, but that stopped at his tongue as he looked at Chris. Instead Buck replied, “Why? What’s wrong?”

Chris blinked in surprised before he could stop it, he blurted out, “Dragon wants to kill you.”

The reaction from Buck was not what the team was expecting. The fear and disbelief that quickly splashed across Buck’s face and was quickly hidden again scared them all. “What do you mean, Dragon wants to kill me? I don’t even now anyone by that name,” Buck said, acting stupid, trying to hide how much the name scared him.

“It isn’t going to work, Brother Buck. We know that you know, playing dumb isn’t going to work. We are certain you remember the name,” Josiah said as he gazed at Buck.

Buck slowly shook his head, muttering to himself “no, no, no.” The other six looked at each other. They didn’t really realize what to do. Buck was the one who usually comforted them all or gave the positive reinforcement. They never realized how hard it was for someone else to give that. One thing they all knew was that they needed to get out of the saloon and back to the office where they could talk about the case. But first, they had to get Buck listen to them.

Chris’s gaze kept shifting around the room, never quite landing on anyone spot. Finally, with a deep sigh, Chris spoke to Buck. Catching Buck’s eyes to make sure that Buck was listening, Chris spoke up, “Buck we were asked to keep you out of the meeting. We didn’t know why, but we knew if we told you not to come that you would find a way to come and sit in on it. That is why I told JD to change your alarm. We figured that if you just accidentally missed it you wouldn’t think anything of it. We were going to tell you later, in private, but, well, that didn’t work.”

Buck just looked at oldest friend. He didn’t remove his eyes from the blond as he stared into Chris’s seeing the truth in the green orbs. Bowing his head, Buck broke the contact and slumped into his chair. Not knowing what to do, Chris just kept looking from one team member to another.

Finally, Josiah spoke up, “Brother Buck,” at this Buck looked up at Josiah, “we need to get back to the ATF. We need to share information in a more secure environment than the saloon.“

Buck nodded slightly but he didn’t get up right away. The whiskey bottle had caught his attention again. The rest of the team just looked at each other. Chris finally cleared his throat and said, “ You all head back to the office and see what you can dig up on the case. I will meet you there with Buck.”

The group nodded. JD was about to say something when a quick glare from Chris shut him up. He meekly headed to the cars with the rest of the unit. When the team had left the saloon. Chris turned back towards Buck.

Buck though wasn’t paying attention. A speck on the wall had caught his gaze or at least that was what it looked like. Chris, feeling a bit uncomfortable, started speaking again trying to gain Buck’s concentration. “Buck, we have to go, the rest of the team will be waiting for us.”

Buck still didn’t move. Chris sighed. This was going to be harder than that he thought. Clearing his throat again, he reached out and grabbed Buck’s chin. Forcing Buck to look at him, Chris slowly said, “We have to leave.”

Buck absently nodded. Growling softly to himself, Chris rose from the table and headed to the door. Stopping a couple feet away, he waited for Buck to follow. It took a few minutes, but Buck finally got up and took after Chris. Chris nodded to Inez again as he passed her and opened entryway. Buck came out after Chris. Just as Buck and Chris were reaching Chris’s car, Chris turned and tackled Buck. A loud bang followed.

In the car, heading for the ATF building, the rest of the seven were sitting quietly. No one wanted to say anything. They were each lost in their own thoughts. They didn’t want to admit that Buck’s reaction at the saloon hadn’t spooked them at all. So lost in mentation, everyone in the van jumped slightly when Nathan’s cell phone went off. It startled all, including Nathan, who didn’t realize someone had changed his normal ring to an ambulance wail. Grabbing the cell phone and opening it, Nathan spoke into it. The others strained their ears trying to hear what was said, but they had no luck. They could only listen to Nathan’s responses.

“Hello? What! Are they okay? We will be there soon. Don’t let them go anywhere until we get there.” With that, Nathan shut his phone. Looking over at Josiah, Nathan said, “Josiah, we need to turn around. There were shots fired at the saloon."

Nathan held up his hand to keep everyone quiet. “Guys, I don’t know much. A friend who is a paramedic called me. He doesn’t have any information on how Buck or Chris are. All he knew was that there were shots fired. He called me to let me know.“

The five in the van were quiet. They had just left the two of them at the saloon. How could this attack happen so fast? They just learned about the threat less the an hour ago. Worry for their missing comrades raced through their minds. All of them hoped though, that the teammates would be fine.

In a lavish penthouse suite, across town from the saloon, a phone rang. A manicured hand attached to a silk clad arm picked it up. A cultured voice said into the phone, “Yes?” A frown quickly appeared on the face. After several minutes, the person started to speak.

“What do you mean? He failed, kill him. I didn’t want him dead yet. Now they will be guarding him and it will be harder to kill him. Make the sniper an example. I don’t care. I want it to be made clear that failure isn’t a option.”

The phone was dropped onto its cradle with a loud 'thunk'. The frown remained on the visage, this wasn’t in the plan.

Josiah’s van screeched to a halt outside of the saloon. Everyone scrambled out of the van and rushed to the front of the building where the police stopped them. They all reached for their badges. Showing them to the law enforcers, Josiah, in a calm voice, explained why they needed to get past them. The police officer nodded once he heard the story and allowed the team through.

The unit bent under the police tape and headed into the thick of personnel and people. They were desperately trying to find Chris and Buck. Vin, with his keen eyes, was the first person to spot the two. Chris and Buck were sitting on the edge of an ambulance being check out by the paramedics. The squad, almost as one, turned and started to walk towards the two, ignoring the all the chaos around them. As they got closer they could hear Chris complain to the paramedics.

The first glance the team saw of them were of a very much, mud covered Buck and Chris. The paramedics were checking both of them out for any injures. Everyone in the group let out a breath that they seemed to have been holding since they heard the news that Chris and Buck had been shot at. They all walked over to the ambulance to check to make sure that both of them were all right.

At closer glance they could see that it looked like they both rolled around in the mud. There were leaves and sticks stuck to the two of them. Vin was the first to reach them with JD right behind him. All of them stopped a couple of feet away from the two of them. Chris looked up at all of them. Seeing the worried looks directed at Buck and himself, he spoke. “We are fine, the sniper missed us. Broke my window but missed us. Nate could you tell them we’re fine and have them leave us alone, we are just muddy. We need to go and take a shower.” Chris turned back and glared at the paramedics.

Nathan sighed. Looking back at medics, Nathan walked over to where they were checking out Buck and started to talk to them. As Nathan talked to them , the rest of the team started to talk to Chris.

“So, Cowboy, what happened?” Vin asked concern coloring his voice.

Chris looked up at the worried eyes of the team. “I don’t know, we were coming out of the saloon, I saw a glint of sunlight off some metal, then I tackled Buck, then the shot. Beyond that, I have no clue what happened after that.”

“What about Buck, did he see anything?” JD asked as he kept glancing at Buck who seemed to be staring at the ground lost in thought.

Chris shook his head. “I don’t even think he knew he was outside until he hit the ground.” At this Chris glanced over at Buck and then back to the group. “Look, we need to get back to the office and talk about this case, and we can’t do this while we stuck here.”

They all nodded in agreement except for Ezra who replied, “Mr. Larabee, you also might wish to partake in a shower.”

Chris looked down at himself, noticing for the first time how muddy he was. “You are properly right, Ezra.”

Nathan finally came back to the group after checking out Buck who didn’t make a single protest as he was looked over. “The paramedics said you can go. The police though, will want your statements, then you can go.”

Chris nodded. Looking around quickly, he started to give orders. “JD, find a cop we can give our statement to. The rest of you talk to the people around here and see if they saw anything. I want to know if the cops have found anything out." The group nodded and, with one last glance at Buck, started doing the jobs Chris assigned them.

Twenty minutes later with statements giving to the police, Chris and Buck sat waiting in Josiah’s van for the rest of the team. Chris kept glancing over at Buck. Buck, for his part, was not paying attention. He was still trying to grapple with the news that the Dragon was back in town. The whole incident with the sniper, the mud, and even rain hadn’t even dawned on him yet.

Chris was worried. Buck was silent and hardly moving. It was so out of character of Buck that Chris had to keep pushing the fear he had for Buck away from himself so he could concatenate on keeping Buck safe. Chris was relieved when he saw that the rest of the seven were coming towards Josiah’s van. Taking a deep breath and letting it go, he tried to hold his patience for the group to reach him. When they did, he held up his hand. The team stopped in front of him.

“Guys, before we talk about what you found out, Buck and I need to shower. We also shouldn’t talk about this case around here. We don’t know who is listening, so let’s get back to the ATF building. Buck and I will take a shower. We will grab some lunch and then talk about the shooting and the case.”

Everyone agreed. They all piled into Josiah’s van and pulled away returning to the ATF. Everyone was happy when the drive to the building was over. The enclosed space of the van amplified the worry and tension the team had. The convert glances to Buck scared them all. They all piled out of the van except for Buck who just slowly get out of the van. Worried glances exchanged, Chris started towards the building basement where the gym was located. He needed to get out of these clothes and into something dry, even if it was his sweats. Buck started to follow Chris, not even paying attention to the others in the group.

JD had run over to Buck’s truck and pulled out Buck’s set of extra clothes. JD ran up to Buck and tried to hand them over, thinking that Buck would take them. Buck though didn’t even bother to grab them. The clothes fell onto the floor of the garage with a loud thud. Chris twirled around and looked at Buck. Buck didn’t even flinch; he just stood there, staring at the ground. Chris sighed. He looked at the rest of the team. This wasn’t good. They needed for Buck to be normal. Without his normal presence, the team seemed off balance, wrong. Shaking his head, Chris looked at the team one more time. Clearing his throat, he started to throw out orders.

“Vin, take JD and go grab some lunch for us. Josiah, see what you can pull up about this Dragon or the case. Nathan, call the forensic team at police headquarters and see what they have about the sniper. Ezra, see if you can find Jake, we need to talk to him. We will meet back in the offices in twenty minutes.”

The group nodded at Chris, but didn’t move, they were all still staring at Buck with concern looks. Chris cleared his throat and glared at the unit. Everyone broke up at that point to do their various tasks. Chris watched for a minute to make sure everyone was doing their task, then grabbed Buck’s duffel and headed to the showers with Buck trailing behind him.

Getting to the shower room, Chris quickly took off his clothes, grabbed his towel and soap, and headed for the showers. Half way to the showers he stopped and checked on Buck. Buck was still just standing looking lost. Chris turned around and headed back to Buck. Shaking him gently, Buck looked up at Chris with a distant look in his eye. Chris shook his head. Grabbing Buck’s chin gently, he looked into his eyes and said, “Buck, you need to get undressed and take a shower.”

Buck looked at Chris for a minute, then nodded. Chris went back to the shower stall, making sure that Buck was getting undressed.

Finally undressed, Buck headed for a shower stall near Chris. Still lost in denial, he turned the water on automatically. Adjusting the temperature, he stood under the water, letting it wash all of the dirt and mud off his hard, muscular, lanky body. Slowly the hot water started to work its way to warming his cold body. Buck started to come out of his funk. He blinked, then blinked again. Shaking his head slightly, he looked around. Muttering to himself, he wondered how he got into one of the shower stalls in the ATF building and why. Closing his eyes for a second, he let his mind wander back to this morning.

He had arrived late for the meeting, opened the door and then had seen Jake. Buck snapped his eyes open. Jack Perreault… He hadn’t seen him since before the bust. Trying to remember what happen after that, Buck couldn’t. It all started to get hazy. Getting to the restroom he remembered, then needing to go for a walk, then after that it got even more vague in his mind. He thought he was at the saloon at one point and then on the ground in the mud with Chris? Buck shook his head, which couldn’t be right. Why would he be in the mud with Chris?

Thinking for some minutes, he looked at himself. He could see the faint signs of mud on his arms. Shaking his head, he decided the mud part must be true.

Grabbing the soap, he started to wash off the rest of the mud. As he let the water remove the residue of soap on him, he leaned against the tiled wall for a second. He needed to get his head together. What if someone got hurt when he was out of it? He couldn’t let what happen to the task force happen to this team.

Buck shut off the water. Finding the smoothing patter of the water against his body annoying rather than relaxing as it had been. He reached for the towel that was hanging over the stall door and started to dry himself. Finishing the drying, he open the stall doors and headed towards the locker room.

Chris was already there, almost dressed. He stopped pulling the shirt on when he noticed Buck coming from the shower.

Buck almost stopped when he saw the look on Chris’s face. Stopping for a minute, he struggled and put a smile and a slight jaunt onto his walk. Coming up near Chris, Buck took a deep breath and said, “Hi, Chris, how is it going?”

Chris, for his part, was stunned. This couldn’t be the same Buck that had hardly registered anything this morning. “Ummm… what’s wrong?”

“Why nothing, Chris, so what been going on?”

“Buck? What is going on? Before the shower you were hardly aware of your surroundings and now you are acting as if the last four hours nothing had happen.”

Buck’s fake smile and the air he put on slowly deflated as it dawned on him how long it had been and how worried Chris was. “No, no, it couldn’t have been four hours, Chris’. You’re lying, I couldn’t have been out of it for that long.” Buck rambled under his breath trying to wrap his mind around how long he was out of it.

Chris quickly put on his shirt and started calling Buck’s name. After several minutes, Buck looked up at Chris. “What, Chris?”

“Pal, you left us for a minute. Are you with us now?”

“Sure, Chris. What’s going on? Why am I in the shower room?”

“You don’t remember the sniper? The saloon? The mud?”

Buck looked at Chris and almost swore. He thought that to be a dream. Taking a deep breath, he asked, “You mean that happened? It wasn’t a dream? It wasn’t some vague memory from the past?”

Chris shook his head.

Buck wanted to punch something. Instead he looked at Chris. “Sorry, I... I must have been in shock. I thought it all might have been a bad dream. I guess it isn’t.”

Chris looked at Buck. Patting his friend on the shoulder, Chris shook his head. “I’m afraid not. Now, why don’t you get dressed and we will head up to the office and talk about the case?”

Buck nodded.

Chris, seeing this, returned to dressing. Buck shook his head and got up from the bench. Slowly grabbing his clothes and putting them on, one thought kept running through his head, how he wished it was a dream, because reality would soon to be to hard to bear. Finishing dressing, Buck turned and followed Chris up to the offices.

Buck and Chris arrived at the office. Hearing voices from the conference room, both men headed towards the room. Chris, arriving there first, opened the door and entered, stopping just inside the door. Buck came up behind Chris and before he entered the room, he stopped and stared. They both blinked wondering how the one table in the room could hold that much food and not collapse. Chris looked at JD and Vin, both of whom had several piles of sandwiches and donuts in front of them.

“JD? Vin? I said get us lunch, not buy out the deli.”

JD and Vin looked up at Chris from behind their stash. Vin smiled at Chris and replied, “We were hungry and you didn’t tell us what you wanted and well, we wanted to get what you liked so we just grabbed some of everything.”

JD nodded in agreement with Vin. His mouth full of one of the sandwiches they had gotten.

Chris just shook his head. Taking another step in he was about to say something back to Vin when Buck stepped into the room.

The joking around stopped, all eyes, filled with concern, turned to Buck. Buck shifted his weight, being uncomfortable being stared out. Clearing his throat he strode into the room saying “Hi, guys, sorry about running out earlier. Needed some air.”

“Buck are you okay? You seemed to be out of it for a while?” JD asked in a concerned and worried voice.

Buck just looked at JD for a second then spoke, “I am fine, just needed some air.”

The rest of the Seven just looked at him with disbelieving eyes. Buck started to fidget from all of the attention that was on him. Reaching out, he grabbed a sandwich and a soda, from the table. Nathan, seeing this, quickly reached out and replaced the soda with some warm calming peppermint tea. Buck looked at Nathan, smiling a little he said, “Nate, I don’t need tea, I’m fine.”

“Buck, drink it. You were wet and cold for several hours. Drink the tea.”

Buck looked at Nate and then the tea, then back at Nate. With a finger, he moved the tea away from him and towards Chris. Nathan shook his head, reached, and put the mug in front of Buck again. Staring at him sternly, Nate spoke, “Drink the tea. Don’t worry about Chris, he has some of his own.”

Chris was about to protest when he saw Nathan glaring at him. Clearing his throat he swung his gaze to Ezra and said, “Where is Jack?”

Ezra straightened up in his seat and brought his gaze back to Chris. “I have the unfortunate duty to inform you that my former compatriots deemed it necessary to take the man into protective custody.”

Chris looked at Ezra, “You mean the FBI took Jack to protective him?”

Ezra nodded. Chris slumped into his chair. “That is just great. They took him. He's the only one besides Buck with any information we could use.” Glancing over at Buck who wasn’t paying attention, but staring into his tea, Chris sighed. Looking over at Nathan, he asked, “Nathan? Did you find out anything about the sniper?”

Nathan slowly shook his head. “Nope, they haven’t finished going over all of the evidence yet. They said that I should have a report on it tomorrow.”

Chris nodded then looked at the rest of the team. All of them but Buck looked at back. Buck seemed to be enthralled with the tea that Nathan had him drinking. Gazing at Buck, Chris announced to the team, “Until this case is solved one of us will be with Buck, constantly guarding him. He is the only witness to live who knows what the dragon looks like. Dragon will probably continue to try to kill Buck.”

The rest of the team nodded. Not for the first time today, did the group realize how much in danger they were in. Buck, who hadn’t been listening to the group, suddenly looked up. “Chris I don’t need protection.”

Chris shook his head. “Buck, you don’t remember the sniper?”

Buck shook his head slightly. “Yeah, but he missed. Beside who said he was aiming at me.”

The team blinked, worry and puzzlement swimming in all of their eyes. They all turned their questioning gazes at Buck. Buck started to shift uncomfortably again. Vin spoke up. “He was aiming for you. Chris hasn’t gotten anyone that mad lately.”

Buck looked at the floor, not wanting to acknowledge the worry and concern of his teammates.

JD, not liking the tense atmosphere, tried to lighten up the room. “Good thing he was a bad sniper, and not someone like Vin.”

Vin nodded and the rest of the room agreed, except for Buck who quietly murmured to himself, “Maybe he should have been.”

With a growl, Chris grabbed Buck by the shirt and slammed him against the wall, holding him several inches off the floor. Chris started to speak softly. “Don’t you dare say that! I don’t want you to say that. You are my brother in every way. I couldn’t lose you. I won’t let you die. I won’t let anyone hurt you even if I have to protect you from yourself.”

Buck looked down at Chris. When Chris had first slammed him against the wall, anger rose in him, then as Chris talked, Buck started to feel ashamed of the words he had said.

Chris searched Buck’s eyes and finally, seeing something other than defeat and depression, nodded and let Buck go. Buck staggered as his feet hit the ground. Chris reached out and helped steady Buck. When Buck had found his balance, Chris let go, both turning and heading to their seats. A strained quiet had settled over the room. No one really wanted to break it.

Ezra finally cleared his throat. “As touching as the last scene was, I think we need to get back to the matter on hand. We still haven’t discussed how we are to find the person who is after Buck.”

The group nodded, and settled deeper into the chairs. When they were set, they all looked to Chris to start the discussion.

Chris, for his part, was ready to start giving out jobs. Standing up he started to talk. “Okay, we need to get the report on the sniper. Nathan and Vin, you two work on that. See if you can get it before you leave tonight. Josiah, how is the profile going?”

“Not well, I need more information on this person.”

“Did you get any of Buck’s old notes?”

Josiah shook his head as Ezra spoke up. “It seems that our friends at the FBI will not turn over Buck’s notes.”

Chris started to growl. “What do you mean they won’t give us the file?”

Before Ezra could answer Chris, Buck spoke up. “Doesn’t matter.”

“What do you mean it doesn’t matter?” Chris demanded.

“I have copies of all of my notes at the apartment. The notes the FBI have aren’t all of them.”

“What?” Chris asked, staring at Buck. Buck ignored the interruption and continued to talk as he stared at the table. “They didn’t get all of my notes. The notes that I have at the CDC are safely hidden. No one knew about them, and I forgot about them until I came across them cleaning.” With that said, Buck fell into quiet again. Not waiting or wanting to see the team’s reaction.

Chris nodded, looking at the rest of the team and his watch. He started speaking again. “Buck will stay with me tonight. We will stop at the CDC and pick up some clothes for Buck and the notes.”

“They’re not there.”

Chris growled a little. “Where are they then?”

“They're in a bank safety deposit box.”

Chris nodded. “ We will bring them in with us tomorrow. The rest of you can go home and get a good night sleep, and we'll attack the case in the morning.”

JD, hearing that Buck was going to stay at Chris’s place, waited till Chris finished and said, “Chris, Buck can stay with me at the apartment. Nothing will happen to him.”

JD looked at Buck who hadn’t moved from staring at the table. Chris could see the worry and fear for Buck in JD’s eyes. “JD. Instead, Buck and I will head out to the ranch. You can join us there, after you grab some clothes for yourself and Buck.”

JD nodded, feeling more anxious than before about letting Buck out of his sight. Seeing JD’s agreement, Chris looked over at the rest of the group. “The rest of you, head home, get a good night sleep and we will tackle this in the morning.”

The team nodded. Chris sat back down. Before JD and Vin could get up to leave, Chris pegged them with a glare. “Before

you two leave, please clean up the table and put away all thee extra food.”

“Umm… Cowboy?” Vin said quietly. “There isn’t any extra food.”

Chris looked down at the table. Noticing that all it held were empty wrappers and packages. Chris, turning faintly green, amended, “Then clean up the rest of it, before you go.”

Vin and JD both nodded and started to clean up. Chris got up and looked over to Buck, and worried.

After the couple of sentences that Buck had uttered about his notes being in a local Bank’s safe deposit box, he hadn’t said anything since. Looking at Buck, Chris sighed. Buck was sitting in his chair his arms folded in front of him, staring down at the table. The strangest thing that stuck out to Chris was that Buck was still. He wasn’t fidgeting or moving, or even watching the room. He was just still. Chris thought for a moment, trying to come up to when the last time he saw Buck so still and couldn’t place it. Feeling the worry for Buck that had been trying to crawl up his spine all day grow bigger, Chris walked over to Buck. Unaware that Vin and JD were watching him, he went over to Buck and put a hand on his shoulder. Turning Buck’s chair to face him he kneeled so he could look into Buck’s eyes. Catching Buck’s eyes, Chris spoke softly, so that only Buck could hear him. “Buck, you ready to head out?”

Buck nodded.

Chris sighed. Chris stood up and helped Buck up. They both walked through the conference room door and headed towards the elevator to Buck’s truck. Getting to Buck’s truck, Chris fished Buck’s keys out of Buck’s coat pocket and unlocked the doors. Settling Buck in the truck, Chris turned it on, put it in drive, and headed out towards his ranch as the sun started to set.

Buck stared out the window.

Chapter 2

Chris pulled up to his house and turned off the engine . He looked over towards Buck who had been silent the entire drive. All he had done was look out the window, ignoring everything around him including Chris. Taking a deep breath, Chris unbuckled his seat belt and opened the door of the car. Chris was surprised when Buck mirrored the actions on the other side of the car. Shaking his head slightly, Chris locked the car and headed for the house. Buck got out of the car and followed Chris. Ignoring Chris’s concern gazed, Buck headed to the couch and fell into it, lying on it, staring at the ceiling.

Chris just sighed. Uncomfortable with the quiet for once, Chris moved towards Buck until he was leaning over him and blocking the view of the ceiling. “Buck, you hungry? I noticed you didn’t eat the sandwich you grabbed at work.” Buck said nothing, just continued to stare Chris wanted to growl, throw something, anything to get the frustration, concern, and worry released. Shaking his head, he continued to talk as he made his way into the kitchen. “Buck, I am going to make some steaks for dinner. That okay with you?”

Chris stopped to listen, nothing from Buck. Shaking his head again, he started to get the ingredients he would need for dinner when he heard a motorcycle pull up into the driveway. Going towards the front door, he pulled his gun out and waited. Watching intently, he waited until he saw the driver. Seeing that it was JD, he opened the door and walked out to him.

“Hi, Chris, How is Buck? I got some clothes and stuff for both of us. So how was the drive? Is Buck feeling better?”

Chris shook his head. “JD, slow down. He is the same he has been since the meeting - quiet and ignoring everyone.”

JD sighed. Nodding to Chris, he went to place their bags into the spare bedrooms. Chris watched JD slowly make his way to the room. Shaking his head, he headed back into the kitchen where JD joined him to finish making dinner.

Just as Chris and JD finished making dinner, they both heard another car pull into the driveway. Looking at each other, they both pulled their weapons and headed to the front door so they could see who had pulled in. Both of them crouched behind the front windows and waited for the person to show themselves. Slowly the person got out of the jeep they were driving. Before the person took a step towards the door he called out. “Hey, Cowboy, how you doing?”

“Vin? What the heck are you doing here? You are supposed to be at your place getting a good night sleep.”

Vin saunter up to the porch and stopped in front of Chris, who had come out to the porch when he realized it was Vin. Smiling,

Vin replied, “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Vin, you couldn’t even possibly have been home to sleep and considering that it is only 8:30, I highly doubt you even tried.”

Vin just smiled and walked into the house to place his duffel in his usual room. Chris just shook his head and headed back into the kitchen to cook another steak... or four. Just as the last steak was cooked and ready to be put on the table, the group of Vin, JD, and Chris heard the sound of three other cars coming up the roadway. Chris just shook his head, grabbed his gun, and started to walk to the front door. Not even bothering to check who it could be, he wandered onto the porch and waited for the rest of the team to pile out of their cars.

Not to be disappointed, the other three members of the team, grabbed their bags from their car and headed towards the door. Chris smirked at the group, and asked, “So, you guys couldn’t sleep?”

Josiah smiled, “No, I just felt that with Buck and JD here you might need some help.”

Chris just shook his head and turned to Nathan. “And you?”

“I forgot to give you some more peppermint tea for Buck, and I felt that I should bring it up," Nathan said as he showed Chris the bag with the tea.

Ezra, who was walking behind Nathan, looked up and said, “I seemed to be unable to fall asleep.”

Vin, from behind Chris, yelled out, “Already used that one.”

Chris just glared at Vin. He walked back into the house, glaring at the group of them. Muttering to himself about teammates and not listing to the person in charge he stomped his way into the kitchen.

Buck, for his part, hadn’t moved from the couch except to turn on the t.v and flip through the channels. He ignored the rest of the group coming into the house and even ignored them when the rest of the team sat down in the room.

The team saw this and worried. The behavior was so unlike Buck that it unnerved them all. Finally, after what seemed like years to everyone watching t.v, Chris called that supper was ready.

They all marched into the dining room and took their usual seats. Once they were all seated, they noticed that one seat was empty. It was Buck’s. Chris, shaking his head, headed towards the couch where Buck was resting. Standing next to it, he looked down at Buck, who was staring at the t.v. Shaking his head, Chris placed his hand on Buck’s shoulder and shook it slightly.

Buck’s eyes and face moved and looked at Chris.

“Time to eat, Buck.”

Buck nodded and followed Chris into the dinning room. He took his seat. When Buck took his seat, the rest of the team started to pass the food around the table. Buck reached for his glass to take a drink and found a mug of tea there. Looking at the mug with a distasteful expression on his face, he looked at Nathan.

Nathan saw the look smiled and said, “Drink the tea. You need it. No arguments or anything.”

Buck looked at Nathan with his best puppy dog eyes. Nathan just shook his head and pointed at the tea. Buck sighed, slumped down in his chair, and stared at the tea.

During this little scene, the rest of the team watched the interaction between Nathan and Buck and tried to hide their smiles. When it was over the team dug in and ate.

After dinner Buck mumbled something about going to bed and slowly walked to his bedroom, ignoring the concerned looks of the rest of the team. The team, for their part waited until after Buck had left the room and they heard the door shut before they started to talk in hushed voices.

Nathan was the first to speak. “Chris, Buck hardly ate his meal. I don’t know if he even touched it. It looks like he just moved it all around his plate. Buck also didn’t even eat the sandwich at lunch. He just stared at the tea.”

Chris nodded, and looked at the rest of the team. JD who couldn’t deal with the silence anymore piped up. “What is wrong with Buck? I have never seen him like this.”

“I agree, Mr. Dunne. He has acted more like Mr. Larabee today than himself. Which is very worrisome.”

Chris shrugged, “I don’t know. He won’t talk about it. “

”Well, brothers, we won’t know what is bothering brother Buck, until he talks about it. Until he does, we just have to make sure he knows we are here and support him.”

The rest of the Seven took Josiah’s words to heart. The tension and worry slightly depleted in the room. After several minutes, Chris broke the now lighter silence. “Well, if you all are going to be staying here for the night, then you can share the job of guarding Buck. Nathan and I will take the first watch, JD and Ezra can take the middle and Vin and Josiah the last. Also, since I cooked the dinner, the rest of you get to clean up.”

“Mr. Larabee, I am sure that you only need four people to clean up. Since I would hate to delve into menial labor like this, I will retire to the living room.”

“Ezra, help clean up. It won’t kill ya,” Chris ordered, reinforcing the order with a glare.

Ezra sighed, “Fine.”

Chris nodded, got up from the table and headed for the door to go to the barn. “I am going to do a quick patrol around the house.”

The group nodded and started to clean up the dishes and dinning room.
It was hot.

Buck could feel the sweat drip off of him. He had one of the windows cracked slightly, hoping it would let some air in. He wiped the sweat off his forehead. Looking closer at the t.v. monitors, he slipped the headphones back on. Sitting in his chair, he started to check on his teammates. He looked for the leader and sighed with relief as he saw him. Clicking the comm link open, he spoke . “All set in the warehouse, we are just waiting for Dragon to show.”

Clicking the link off, he waited for the confirming click. Buck waited… several minutes past. During each of those minutes , the tension, worry and stress rose in the van. Finally, when Buck was about to check back in, the leader moved. Someone rolled him over. Buck was looking into the dead eyes and blood soaked body of the team leader.

Buck quickly went to the monitors and checked his other teammates well being, as he frantically called each of them. He looked at each team member, each one was ether slumped over in a puddle of blood, their head twisted backwards on their body, or covered in blood. Buck was in shock. His team was dead. He didn’t even see the assailants. Almost in a panic, Buck ripped off the headphones, throwing them at the monitors.

“No, no!” Buck repeated to himself, the no getting louder ever second. Running to the back doors of the van, he tried to open the doors. They were locked. Buck frantically banged against the doors, trying to open them with brute force. After several minutes of trying to get out, he looked back at the monitors. He saw movement.

Buck raced to the headphones he had discarded. Putting them on, he opened up the link. “You there, are you alright, are you alive?”

The voice that came out of the comm link wasn’t one of his teammates. It was cold, evil, and a harsh laugh. The laughter froze Buck’s blood. “Oh, your teammates are gone. Gone to the dark and you did nothing. But don’t worry, you will soon join them.”

Buck suddenly jolted up, a scream caught in his throat. The sudden shot of adrenal had left as soon as it had come, leaving him with ragged breathing and a shaking body. He lay tangled in his sheets. He was oblivious to it. He kept mumbling to himself it was only a dream… only a dream. Knowing that the dream could have been true. Buck struggled out of his twisted damp sheets. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Buck ran his hand through his hair, trying to wipe the images from his dream, knowing that it was useless. Glancing at the clock, he sighed. It was only 3:00am. Shaking his head, he knew he wouldn’t get anymore sleep that night, so he got up to flick on the light switch.

Quietly, he dressed, putting on his shoes, he shut the light off and slipped out of the bedroom. Checking around the corners of the hallway and quietly slipping pass Ezra and out the back door. He headed for the barn. Opening the door, Buck walked down to his horse’s stall. His horse greeted him with a soft snort. Buck open the door to the stall and slipped in.

Reaching out, he grabbed a brush and started to brush his horse. Allowing the smooth, repetitive motion to help him shake the last vintage of the dream. Slowly, ever so slowly, Buck stared to relax. It had only been a dream. It hadn’t happened again. Not yet and it wouldn’t if he had anything to say about it.

Buck stopped brushing and leaned his head against his horse, allowing the warmth of the horse to help banish the sudden chill he had.

So wrapped in thoughts he didn’t hear JD come back or Vin come in and get Peso. Neither of them saw him, as he was deep in the shadows of the stall and not moving. His breathing was covered up by the other horses.

After a time, he didn’t know how long it was, he didn’t really care. He moved to the head of his horse and allowed the horse to lay its head over his shoulder. He slowly started to pet Beau's neck. After awhile the warmth of the horse relaxed him enough that he started to talk. “God, why is this happening now? I thought I dealt with this or at least put it behind me.”

Buck’s horse huffed slightly as if he was saying “Ya, right,!”

Buck leaned more into the horse for warmth and strength . Also, maybe some understanding.

“I can’t lose another team. Chris and the guys don’t understand what the Dragon can and will do. I don’t want them to get hurt for something that they never knew about till yesterday. A thing that happen before I knew most of them. I don’t think I could tell them about what happened to the team. I know they want to know what Dragon looks like but how can I give them information that I don’t want to give them. All the information will do for them is get the team in danger. It is safer if they didn’t know. I can’t have the team trying to protect me and get hurt or killed while doing it. I am not that important to the team for them to risk their lives like that. I got myself into this situation by surviving something I shouldn’t have. I can’t have the team paying for it. "

Buck suddenly stopped talking as he heard the neighing of a horse. Buck jerk his head up and turned to the door. Buck jumped backwards into his horse as Vin came into his line of sight. Vin was coming slowly, checking every inch of the barn with two guns out in his hands. For a minute, Buck looked at Vin and his guns and then finally spoke, “Good Morning to you, Vin.”

Vin stopped and looked at Buck suspiciously. He looked around the barn for a second more, then looked back at Buck. Slowly, he put one of his guns away, the other, he lowered, but kept it at the ready. “Who ya talking to?”

“My horse," Buck replied as he turned his back to Vin to continue petting his horse. Vin shook his head, “Kay, then what can’t you have us pay for?”

Panic and fear danced across Buck’s face, he searched desperately to give Vin an answer praying Vin didn’t hear the lie in his voice as he stated, “Well, I didn’t want you to pay for a new… saddle for the horse.”

A puzzled expression dawned on Vin’s face, then, one of suspicion. Buck was an awful liar sometimes and this was one of the times. Glaring at him, he watched as Buck shifted from foot to foot, refusing to turn his eyes to meet Vin’s. Vin shook his head, they would have to find out what Buck was trying to protect them from. “Sure, now you better come in or I’ll tell Nate that you are out here without a coat.”

Buck laughed slightly; Vin was relieved to get a chuckle from him.

“You wouldn’t tell Nathan about me being out here all night in the cold without a coat, would you?”

“Yep,” was all Vin said as he turned and started to walk back to the house. Buck relaxed for a second, then, when what Vin had said sunk in, Buck hurried after Vin calling to him. “Vin, hey, Vin, you really wouldn’t do that to me. You wouldn’t tell Nathan that I been out here all night. You wouldn’t... You would. Please, Vin, I can’t take anymore of Nathan making me drink his tea’s. Please don’t tell him. Come on be a pal.”

Vin turned back to Buck and just looked at him. Buck started to worry. He didn’t like the look in Vin’s eye. “Come on, Vin, what would it take for me to do so you won’t tell Nate.”

Vin just stared and shrugged his shoulders before turning back towards the house. Buck stood still for a minute and chewed his lip. He really didn’t want to deal with Nate right now. Sighing slightly, Buck looked up at Vin. "Fine, what do you want to know, so you won’t tell Nate about my outside excursion.

Vin smiled, ”Well, tell us about Dragon and why he has ya running scared?”

Buck’s faced paled at that name. He couldn’t tell the team about Dragon. He wasn’t sure about the whole incident himself. All he knew is when that name was spoken his entire world seem to disappear and feelings with no memory would appear. Shaking slightly, he couldn't make himself to answer Vin.

Vin, for his part, was worried. He didn’t think that the name alone would get such a reaction from Buck. Dropping his one gun, he raced back to Buck. Gently grabbing Buck’s shoulder, he shook slightly while calling Buck’s name. “Buck, Buck!” Worry and concern could be heard coloring Vin’s voice. Buck finally looked up at Vin.

Shaking his head a bit, Buck asked, “What?”

“You okay? You zoned out for a minute.”

“Yea, I am fine… Look, Vin, I’ll tell ya all at the office about Dra... Drag.... Dragon. I just can’t do it right now. Please.”

Buck looked up at Vin, pleading with his eyes to let it rest till they get to the office. Vin looked at Buck’s eyes for a moment. Debating within himself, Vin finally nodded. Buck released a sigh of relief. “Bucklin, you will tell us at the office about this bad guy.”

Buck nodded, Vin nodded and headed into Chris’s house for breakfast with Buck trailing behind him. Before Vin entered the house, he turned to look at Buck. “You do realize that I am going to tell Nate that you were outside all night.” With a mischievous smirk, Vin raced into the house. One could hear Buck calling after him. “VIN!”

Josiah shook his head. It seemed like Buck had regained some of his normal self this morning. He was talking at least; of course, after the discourse Nathan gave him, after Nathan learned on how Buck spent his night. Josiah shook his head. Never thought he would see Nathan get that evil of a grin on his face before. Made breakfast interesting though. Nathan, consistently trying to feed tea to Buck and trying to check his temp. While Buck alternated between glaring at Vin and telling Nathan he is fine. Josiah shook his head, grabbing his coffee, he went to refill it before Chris came back with Ezra to give them an assignments.

Settling back at the table with a fresh cup of coffee, he watched as Chris almost dragged in Ezra who seem to be barely awake. JD came in soon after bouncing into the room. Josiah shook his head, he wondered if JD ever stopped bouncing. Settling back in his chair, he watched as Nathan, JD and Chris started to gang up on Buck, to force him to eat his breakfast and drink his tea. Josiah couldn’t help but smirk slightly. Buck was stubborn when he didn’t want something. Taking a sip of his coffee, Josiah pondered the situation the team was in.

Out of all of the team, Josiah would guess that Buck would be one of the last people to have such a tragic episode in his past. The fun loving rogue wouldn't have something like this happen to him, then join another team. To be willing to expose oneself to that possibility again was quiet amazing. Josiah was happy in one way that something like that had never happened to him. Watching a team that you work with, murdered. On another side of the issue, he was sorry that it had to happen to one of his teammates… brothers. Hopefully though, their stubborn brother would listen to them and take the support that they offered, instead of leaving them in the dark. Also, hopefully Buck, with their help, could work through this case and not fall into the depression and fear from yesterday.

Josiah was brought out of his pondering by Chris.

“Alright, when we get to the office, we need Buck,” Chris looking at Buck, who, after been bullied to eat and drink the tea was staring at the table, refusing to meet Chris eyes. Shaking his head Chris continued. “To tell us about the task force and what info they had about the Dragon.”

The slight flinch, was not missed by Josiah’s eye. Josiah made a metal note to talk to Buck about Dragon and why he always feared hearing that name.

Chris continue talking, “I'm going to be driving Buck in, we'll be stopping at the bank then coming to the office. The rest of you, I want you to see if you can find out about the sniper from the police. Also, see if you can get any info from the FBI about Dragon."

They all nodded. Everyone got up and left except for Josiah who looked at the bottom of his empty cup for a second. Getting up and grabbing his cup, he looked outside at the sunny day, murmuring to himself, “At least I don’t see crows.” Josiah turned and went to place his mug onto the counter. When he turned his back to the window he missed the single crow that landed in front of the window.

Chapter 3

Everyone but Chris and Buck sat at their desks in Team Seven's office. They were all busy trying to follow up on yesterday's sniper attack on Buck. All five were so focused on the phones that they didn't notice the intruders, at first, but slowly they all stopped and almost as one, glared, eyeing the intruders like they were prey. The two individuals shifted uneasily. They both felt like they had entered into a lion's den and that they were the snack.

The older agent of the pair cleared his throat and started to speak. " I am Agent Rob and my partner is Agent Domingo, we are with the FBI. We are looking for a Buck Wilmington."

The team looked at each other; slowly smirks appeared on their faces. The FBI agents started to feel even more unsettled. They both felt like chickens left with the foxes. Sweat started to break out on their faces. Just about the time Agent Rob was ready to break the silence, Vin asked in cool, indifferent voice, "Really?"

"Err, yes. It is an order from the top," Agent Domingo stated firmly, trying to gain some ground with the Seven.

Ezra spoke up. "You gentlemen - and I use the term loosely - should be able to see that Buck Wilmington is not here. Nor do we know where he is. So you can go back to your boss and tell him you have failed."

Rob and Domingo looked at each other. They didn't know what to do. They weren't supposed to leave without Buck. Their boss would not be happy with them.

Agent Rob looked at the five members of the team. "Well, we will wait here for him. I am sure he will show up sooner or later."

The five men glared at the two agents, none of the five wanted the fibies to stay around and get Buck. Josiah decided to take matter into his own hands. Getting up from his desk he stood up before the two agents. Glaring at them, he spoke his voice low and booming. "Now, it seems you two don't understand. Buck isn't here. We don't know where he is. I suggest you leave now, before I answer a burning question I have. I have wanted to find an answer for it for years. You see my question is, How many limbs can be torn from a human before they die. I am sure you two would like to help with the experiment..."

Agent Rob and Domingo looked at each other. They slowly backed out of the room, scared to death that if they turned their backs, they would be torn apart limb from limb. Once they had gotten out of the door, they turned and ran. They neither paid attention nor stopped as the elevator doors opened. They just ran past them to the stairs. They slammed open the stairway's door and rushed down the flights of stairs without looking back.

Chris and Buck stepped out of the elevator. Buck was holding several notebooks and folders. They both looked down the hallway after the fleeing agents. The two men looked at each other. Shrugging their shoulders at the questions they saw in each other's eyes, they took a step out of the elevator. Buck brought up the argument they had been having since the bank. "Chris, I don't see why you don't just let me go to a corner and type up my notes? Then I could just pass them out and I wouldn't have to talk about it. I mean, I wouldn't want to bore you or anything. All that I could remember would be in my notes."

"Buck! No. I want to hear it all from your mouth, not from your notes. We can't ask questions of your notes. Besides, you said you would."

This debate continued until the two of them had entered into Team Seven's office. The two of them paid no attention to the other team members, their argument taking all of their attention. Finally, they stopped in the middle of the room. Looking around, they noticed how quiet the rest of the team were and also how the rest of the team was staring at them. Chris glared at the group. Buck just stood there, shifting from foot to foot, feeling very uncomfortable under the stares of the team. Looking up, he smirked at everyone and headed to his desk, where he sat down, placing his notebooks and folders on to his desk. Turning on his computer, he tried to ignore the stares of his teammates. He started to transcribe his short hand. The rest of the team, including Chris, found it difficult not to watch Buck.

Chris shook his head, then growled, "Who were the two people leaving the office?"

"The two men - and I loosely call them men - claimed that they were from the FBI and that they were here to pick up Buck and place him into protected custody," Ezra replied with a sight smirk on his face.

Only Josiah saw the slight flinch Buck gave when the FBI was mentioned. Josiah added the flinch to the list of things he was going to talk to Buck about when he got the chance. Shaking his head, he slowly turned his attention back to the conversation just in time to hear Chris ask a question. "So, did anyone learn anything new about the sniper?"

"Yeah, some, not a lot. The police didn't recover that much from the scene. They barely figured out where the bullet was shot from. They said they may have some more later today," Nathan piped up, from his desk.

Chris nodded. Looking around, he cleared his throat. Before he could say anything though, a loud noise made him turn his head. Buck hadn't paid attention to the others talking. It was probably about him, and he didn't want to hear it. He just wanted this case to be over. If he was honest with himself, he never even wanted this case to be started. Now he just wished the team would forget about it. Sighing to himself, he shook his head and entered his password into his computer. As he waited for the computer to finishing loading, he flipped open the first notebook, shaking at what he had written there. He absent-mindedly reached into his top drawer to grab one of his notepads. As his hand reached for the notepad, Buck paused. There was an item in the drawer… a box. Looking around quickly to make sure that the rest of the team wasn't paying attention, he slowly drew out the package. Placing the package on his desk, he looked at it. There was no card or note to tell him who it was from. Buck picked up the small package again. He stared at each side, wondering if it would explode. Shaking his head slowly, he dismissed that idea. If it was going to explode it would have already done that. Slowly he grasped the box and pulled the lid, gazing at what lay beneath the lid.

Sitting on a mound of black tissues paper, almost blending in, was a figurine… a black one. It looked to be made out of Obsidian. He carefully picked it up. Holding it in the palm of his hand he had his first clear look of it. He paused. Staring at it. Swallowing, he quickly dropped the figurine as if it had burned his hand, jumping up from his chair so fast that it fell with a loud bang to the floor.

The other members of the team turned to look at him. Buck paid no attention to them. His eyes never left the fallen figurine. His ears didn't hear his teammates call out to him asking him what was wrong. His eyes didn't notice them coming closer. His whole mind was focused on the figurine. The black piece of stone that could only have been left by the man who terrorized him in his sleep. Buck ignored everyone - the cries asking what was wrong, the hand on his shoulder - his whole being was focused on the one item.

He could only stare at the black dragon that now sat on his desk, taunting him, showing him that wherever Buck was, the Dragon would be close behind able to strike him whenever the villain wished.

Buck closed his eyes. Finally, he could look at it no more. As his eyes closed, the world seemed to snap back into place. It seemed to speed up from the almost frozen pace it had been. Buck opened his eyes. He jerked back a little as he saw himself looking into a pair of brown eyes. "Nate, you think you could back up a little?" Buck asked.

"Umm, sure, Buck, you okay? You looked like you were going to faint for a minute?"

"I'm fine. Just got up too quickly."

"What exactly made you get up too quickly?" Chris asked.

"Just a present, Chris… nothing more. You can go back to discussing whatever you were talking about."

Chris looked at Buck, not believing that it was nothing. "What was the present and why don't you want to share it?"

"Nothing. Just talking to myself."

"Buck I don't think so. What is going on?" Chris growled.

"Yeah, Buck. What's wrong? You look like you saw a ghost," JD stated with concern lacing his voice.

Buck just shook his head. "Nothing is wrong. Nothing, I just had a shock when I touched the desk. That is all."

The six looked at each other, not believing for one second that Buck was telling the truth. Vin walked over to Buck's desk and picked up the stone dragon. As he held it in his hand he could feel the anger boil up. Fighting to maintain control, Vin looked at Buck. Catching Buck's eye, he held up the figurine. Buck's eyes gave him away as he looked quickly away from the Dragon. Vin was about to speak, when Chris spoke up seeing the interaction between the two. Striding over to Vin, he grabbed the Dragon out of Vin's hand. Gripping it tightly in his fist, he turned to Buck. "Is this what had you startled?"

Buck didn't answered. He looked everywhere but at Chris and the rest of the team. Finally though, the silence bothered him too much. Sighing to himself he spoke, "Yes."

"Yes? It is from the Dragon isn't it?"

Buck nodded again. Chris growled in frustration. "That is it. We are going to the conference room and you will tell us everything you remember about this Dragon person and the task force. Right now!"

Buck look up startled. He was about to open his mouth to protest when Chris glared at him. As usual, Chris's glare didn't affect him, but having the rest of the team glare at him the exact same way stopped him from saying anything. Sighing to himself, he hung his head, gathered his notebooks, and then walked out towards the conference room.

JD, not waiting to see if anyone followed, bounded out of the door after Buck to follow him. The rest of the group looked at each other for a second before following him. Chris was the last one to leave, slamming his hand holding the dragon onto the desk. Leaving it there, he turned and left the room, never noticing that the head of the Dragon slowly fell off into the trash.
Across town in a penthouse suite, dark brown eyes, filled with hate and malice, glanced at a grandfather clock that had been ticking in the corner of the room. A smile graced the lips of the person staring at the clock. The person almost wanted to laugh at the thought of Buck Wilmington finding the little gift. Stretching slightly, the eyes turned back to the paper. Soon Buck Wilmington would join his former teammates in death.

Buck entered into the conference room first. He was not looking forward to this conference. He had tried to delay it, but after the incident with the desk drawer and the present, Chris wasn't going to let him avoid it. Buck shuddered slightly. He didn't want to talk about it, especially having seen how easy Dragon could get to him. Sighing, he slumped into his chair. Fiddling with the notes he brought in, he ignored the rest of the team as they enter the room and took their seats.

As the rest of the Seven entered and sat, they looked at Chris waiting for him to start the meeting, but they were glancing out of their corner of their eyes to check on Buck. Each hoping that Buck would not notice the worried looks.

Chris, entering the room last, sat down. Clearing his throat, he looked at Buck. Buck didn't bother looking back at him. Shaking his head slightly, Chris cleared his throat again, "Buck, you should start." Buck looked at Chris for a long moment. He debated whether or not he could talk the group out of this. One look at everyone's faces told him he wasn't going to have any luck. Sighing slightly, eyes firmly fixed on the table in front of him, he started to speak. "We were formed. We tried. We failed. I spent some lovely time in a hospital. The end."

The six other members of Team Seven stared at each other. Chris finally turned and growled softly at Buck. "We want to know what happened, not the cliff-note version of the case."

Buck looked up at him, trying to play innocent, then replied, "what do you mean cliff-notes? I told you everything, nice, short and complete."

Vin slowly shook his head, "That ain't what you promised. You said you would tell us everything."

Buck sighed. He had a faint hope that they would have taken the cliff-note version of the story. Now that they hadn't, he had to find a way to tell them about the incident. Looking down at his hands, he tried to think how he would tell the team. Finally deciding on a way while protecting himself from the memories, he started to talk. "Month before the final mission, the team received intelligence about Dragon. We learned that one of his top lieutenants was poking around some old warehouses. When we learned this, we put surveillance on the lieutenant hoping he would give us a clue on Dragon's plan. It paid off. We learned that at a certain warehouse on a certain day, Dragon would be on hand to solidify his base in Denver. We spent the next two weeks planning for this bust. We got the blue prints for the warehouse and made several visits to the site to get the layout of the place. We planned out the bust to the last detail. We kept the plans to ourselves, as we didn't know whom we could trust. The day of the bust, we all got to our places on time, ready to take down Dragon. Unfortunately, it didn't work out and the team died and as I told you before, I spent some lovely time in a hospital."

Vin shook his head, and spoke up before anyone could say anything. "That isn't what you promised, you said you would tell us everything, including what happened at the bust."

Buck glared at Vin, he didn't want to talk about the bust. What he could remember of what had happened wasn't something he wanted to talk about or even think about. Buck shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Nodding to himself, he cleared his throat. "Well I can't tell you much about the that day. As I said before, I was in the hospital for awhile. One of the injuries I had was a bad concussion. When I woke up, I didn't remember what had happen that day at the warehouse. The doc didn't think my memory of that day would come back."

The group shared looks. They didn't know whether to believe that his memory was gone or if he just didn't want to share what happen with them. Ezra cleared his throat and spoke up. "Buck, if you do not remember the day, then why would this Dragon want to kill you? You would not pose enough of a risk to try and kill."

"I don't know, Ezra, maybe he thinks I would remember but I haven't."

Chris stared at Buck; there was something Buck wasn't saying. Buck was hiding something from them. He wasn't being completely honest. Buck remembered something. What it was, Chris couldn't say but he had a feeling Buck wouldn't part with it unless it was forced out of him.

Vin wasn't having any of it, he knew Buck remembered something, but what he didn't know was how to make Buck talk. Taking a deep breath, he was about to say something when Nathan's cell phone went off.

Nathan looked down in surprise. He had forgotten that he had brought the cell phone in with him. Looking at the group sheepishly, he answered it. The group listened to the one sided conversation.

"Hello… Yes, I was waiting for those results. What do you mean? They found him where? Did they… They know where he lived? Yes, I will meet you there. Shortly… Yes, I will be there shortly."

Nathan hung up the phone then looked at the group. "That was the police. They found the sniper from yesterday - dead. Apparently, Dragon didn't like that he failed. The cops found out where he lived. They're heading over there to see if they can find out anything about the sniper and a connection to Dragon. They asked if I wished to join them at the apartment."

"Nathan, go, and take Vin with you. See what you can find out about the sniper and his connection to the Dragon."

Nathan and Vin both nodded and got up to head out the door. Chris looked at the group that was left and was about to say something when the door opened before Nate could open it. Everyone tensed, waiting, but all that appeared was an administrative person. The person was startled and for a second, said nothing. Finally, when Chris turned and glared, the person talked. "Judge Travis would like to talk to you, Mr. Larabee. He said it was important."

Chris growled. He didn't want to have Buck leave his sight. Torn for a moment, he shook his head. Glancing back at the administrative person, Chris growled out, "I will be up shortly."

The admin person nodded and left, heading back towards Travis.

Chris looked at the team after watching the admin leave. Meeting each of their gazes, Chris spoke. "Nate, Vin, head out towards the sniper. Ezra, work with Buck on getting those case notes typed out. JD, see what you can find on the Internet about this Dragon. Josiah, finish up this character profile."

The group nodded and the team started to leave the conference room. Buck stayed sat at the table, not paying any attention as Chris, Vin, Nathan, and Ezra left the room. JD ignored the rest of the group and sat by Buck, waiting for him to say something. Josiah, seeing this, walked over, laid his hand on JD's shoulder, and whispered something into JD's ear. At first, JD just shook his head, then Josiah whispered more urgently in JD's ear. Finally, JD nodded and got up from the table. Josiah took JD's seat. With one last glance, JD left the room closing the door behind him.

Buck felt Josiah's eyes on him. Instead of turning and looking at his friend, Buck got up and started to pace in the small confines of the conference room. He really didn't want to talk to Josiah. The Profiler just seemed to know how to make him say stuff he didn't want to say. Buck kept pacing, trying to decide what his chances were of escaping. Unfortunately, Josiah was between him and the door.

Buck finally stopped pacing and leaned against one of the walls of the conference room staring at Josiah. "Yes, Josiah?"

"Brother Buck, there seems to be some things that we need to talk about."

"No, I don't think so. I'm fine. You're fine. Everything is right as rain."

Josiah just stared. If this is what Buck thought fine was, he needed some help. "Buck, you aren't fine. You haven't been yourself since you learned that Dragon was after you. Now what is going on?"

Buck looked around the room, he didn't want to talk about Dragon or anything related to it. "Nothing is going on, Josiah."

Josiah didn't believe it. Buck wouldn't even look at him. Sighing slightly, Josiah tried a different tactic. "Buck, why are you flinching any time any one says FBI or Dragon?"

After flinching at both those words, Buck looked at Josiah, "I don't flinch."

"You just did."

"No I didn't. It was your imagination."

"No. You did flinch. Watch… Dragon."

Buck flinched again.

"See, I told you."

"It doesn't mean anything. It's just a nervous tic."

Josiah shook his head. Finally getting up from his seat, he walked over to Buck. Standing in front of him, so Buck couldn't go anywhere, he grasped Buck chin so he could look into Buck's eyes. "What is going on?"

Buck wanted to escape. He didn't want to have this conversation. He didn't even want to talk about the situation. If he could, he would almost wish he had missed the whole case from the beginning. Finally, in one last hopeful idea of getting out of this conversation without saying anything, he said, "Josiah, I don't know what you think is going on but nothing is going on."

Josiah wasn't buying it. Deciding a new, clearly stated sentence of what he wanted to know from Buck was needed, he asked, "What happened during the bust of the Dragon that has you acting so strangely?"

Buck just stared, he didn't want to answer. He wasn't going to answer. But the sleepless night, the shock of the stone Dragon, the stress of trying to say too little or nothing, just seemed to crashed on him for a moment of weakness. He whispered as he slid to the floor, "I don't remember."

Josiah stared in shock. He didn't expect to get a confession from Buck. When Buck hit the floor, it snapped Josiah out of his daze state. "What do you mean you don't remember?" Josiah asked as he crouched down to look at Buck.

Buck, lost in thought, started to ramble. "I spent time in the hospital due to injuries. Getting out of the van, I hit my head. When I woke up, I was calling for my teammates. A nurse... I overheard a nurse tell me they were all dead. Before I could say anything, people were around me asking questions about the bust. They wanted to know why the rest of the team was dead and I wasn't. They tried to tell me it wasn't my fault, but I was the only survivor. They had to be wrong. I had to be the one that they should blame. I was alive and they were dead. I was supposed to watch their backs. I failed."

As Buck's voice trailed off, Josiah remained crouched there in shock. He didn't know what to say. He had never seen Buck like this, so... so... guilt ridden. He couldn't tell him it would be better. Telling him that he wasn't guilty wouldn't work with Buck, he wouldn't believe it. Finally, taking a deep breath, Josiah tried to snap Buck out of it. "You didn't fail. If it had been humanly possible to save them, you would have. From the sounds of it, you barely survived. The only way for you to honor your dead teammates is to take Dragon down. You need help. You aren't St. George. You do not need to slay the Dragon by yourself or protect us from him. Unlike St. George, you have six brothers who are willing to fight for you - willing to fight with yourself. We can't do this without you helping us and telling us about the Dragon. Don't try to slay this dragon by yourself." Josiah's voice petered out. Josiah just stared at Buck, hoping his voice reached Buck, his words were listened to.

Buck, for his part, just stayed silent. He didn't know how to respond. He understood the words, understood what Josiah was trying to tell him. But, this was different. He had failed. He lived. He couldn't save those he was trusted to guard. How could he ask for anyone else to solve his mistake, his failure? The rest of the Seven were like family to him. How could one ask his family to go into danger?

Buck finally refocused his gaze onto Josiah. He searched Josiah gaze for the answer to the problem, praying he would see his answers in Josiah's eyes. Josiah held Buck's stare for a long moment. When Buck looked away, Josiah wondered if Buck found what he had sought. Before Josiah could ask Buck what he saw, Buck rose.

Leaning against the wall for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts, he finally spoke. "Thank you, Josiah. I know I don't have to fight against the Dragon by myself, but it doesn't mean that I don't want to. I can't let what happen to the other team happen to you guys. I wouldn't be able to deal with it. I can't let the Dragon hurt any of you. I will protect everyone on the team before I allow Dragon to harm anyone."

Before Josiah could say anything, Buck got up and headed for the door. Opening the door, he almost plowed into JD who had been trying to listen to the goings on in the conference room through the thick door. Buck stopping himself before running into JD and grabbed the younger man to help him get his balance back. "You okay, JD?"

"Yeah, Buck, I am. Are you okay?"

"Fine. What are doing out here?"

"Wanted to make sure you were okay."

Buck smiled, "Okay. What are you going to tell Chris when he asks if you finished your search?"

JD smiled slightly, "He will understand. I'll tell him I was worried about you."

Buck shook his head. Grabbing JD in a headlock, he started to drag JD towards his computer.

Josiah, reaching the door of the conference room and seeing the antics, shook his head. He knew that this was going to be a very long and draining case, and Buck still had a lot of issues to address. Shaking his head again, he turned, closed the door to the conference room, and then headed after Buck and JD to get started on his profile of the Dragon.

Nathan and Vin arrived at the dead sniper's hotel, The Brown Palace. They entered the posh hotel room. Looking around the expensive hotel room, they made their way over to Nathan's contact, Chip.

"Hey, Chip, how's your wife?" Nathan called out.

Chip looked over and nodded at Nathan, "Dale? She's fine."

Nathan glared at Vin, whispering to him, "Vin, not a word"

Vin glanced over at Nathan raising his hands in defense, "I wasn't going to say anything."

Nathan gave Vin a sidelong glance, then turning back to Chip, "So, Chip, what do you have?"

"Not much, Nate, we do have a couple of items of interest though. The hotel has the room registered to a Greg Station."

Vin's eyes widened at that name. Nathan seeing this, turned to Vin, "You know this guy?"

Vin absently nodded with a puzzled look on his face. "Yea, Buck got lucky, Stubbs never misses."

Nathan stopped and looked at Vin for a moment, shaking his head. "Vin, do you memorize assassins for a hobby?"

Vin glared at Nathan, shaking his head, he replied, "no, he was in the military, he was a pretty good sniper."

Nathan was about to say something, then, thinking better of it, he just shook his head and muttered to himself, "I don't want to know." Turning back to Chip, Nathan asked "What else?"

"Greg used a security box in the hotel, when we opened it we found this." Chip brought up from behind the desk a sniper gun.

Nathan's eyes widened when he saw the rare gun. Vin, on the other hand, moved forward, slapping on a spare pair of gloves, Vin took the rifle from Chip. He slowly examined the gun from all angles. Lifting the gun up, he settled it into his hands. Looking over to Nathan, he said, "this gun has one purpose, it isn't a toy, it is a gun for killing."

Slowly, Vin put the gun down, and handing it back to Chip. "That is an expensive gun. He wouldn't have left it behind to go to a meeting."

"He didn't, he was forced out of the room. He was found dead earlier this morning, a note was pinned on him, giving us this hotel and room number. When we arrived we found this note taped to the inside of the door."

Chip reached and grabbed a note that was covered by plastic. Handing the type-written note to Vin and Nathan. The note read:

Dear officers of the Law,

Gray Station. aka Snubbs, is very sorry for any inconvenience that he might have caused you. He was shown the errors of his way. We took it upon ourselves to reprehend him. He is now very sorry for taking the initiative of trying to kill Buck Wilmington. He has learned his lesson about hurting people before it is asked of him to hurt them. We hope that his trying to kill Buck Wilmington doesn't upset anyone… least of all, Buck Wilmington. We would like to make sure you know that Snubbs will not bother you ever again.

Yours truly


After the signature there was a stamp of a black dragon's head. Nathan, after reading the note out loud, handed it to Vin. As Vin looked at the note, Nate was wondering around the room, checking to see if there was anything else that they might have missed. As he reached the corner, his foot got caught on some loose carpet. Taking a step back, he knelt down, and lifted the edge of the carpet. Seeing a CD laying on the floor, he looked up and called for Vin to come over.

Vin walked over and crouched next to Nathan. "What's up?"

"Do you know of a reason why Stubbs would hide a CD under the carpet?"


Reaching down, Nathan went to pick up the CD. Just as he reached the CD, he quickly drew back his hand. Cradling his hand to his chest, he sucked in a lung full of air.

Vin turned and looked at Nathan. "You okay, Nate?"

Nathan shook his head, "nothing, I am fine."

Vin frowned, "Nathan, what's wrong."

"Nothing, I'm fine."

Nathan looked at Vin, as he cradled his hand next to his chest. Vin glared. "What happened to your hand?"

"Nothing, Vin. I just need a band-aid, it is just a scratch. I'm fine."

"Nathan, if is just a scratch then why are you bleeding all over yourself?"

"It is nothing, it is a small cut. I am fine."

"Nathan, give me your hand, it can't be that bad."

Nathan shook his head, reaching out with his other hand, he carefully picked up the CD, and started to get up from the floor.

Vin sighed, reached out and grasp Nathan's wrist. "Nate, this isn't a scratch."

"Sure it is, it is just a scratch."

"Nate its a six inch cut, still bleeding, you are going to need stitches."

Vin crouched down and scanned the floor. "Here it is, Nate. Looks like you struck a nail, that was put in the floor. It looks like a rusted nail. You are going to need shots." As Vin was saying this, he started to smile. Just the thought of Nathan having to endured stitches and a shot for some reason it just made him feel happy.

Vin, standing up, reached out and helped Nathan standing. Looking around the room, he spotted Chip. "Hey, Chip, I need to take Nathan to the hospital, he hurt himself, nothing serious. We'll talk to you later."

Chip nodded and waved as Vin practically dragged Nathan from the room, ignoring the medic's protest that he was fine.

Dragon watched the video of Vin and Nathan leaving the dead sniper's hotel room. A small smile graced Dragon's face. One of the Seven hurt themselves, "Good," Dragon mumbled, "one more thing going the way I planned. Soon Buck will be alone again, I then will be able to attack and extract my revenge. No one escapes the Dragon."

Chris stomped into team Seven's offices. The meeting with Judge Travis wasn't a happy thing. Stopping in the middle of the room, he looked around. The room was almost empty. The only people in the room were JD and Josiah, both of them working on their different jobs. Turning around, he glared at JD and Josiah. "Where are Buck and Ezra?"

JD and Josiah looked up. "Hi, Chris, Vin and Nathan called, Nathan gashed his hand on a nail, and Vin had to take him to the hospital to get some stitches. They'll come back here to give you a report on what they found." JD finished as he looked back down to his computer.

"Where is Buck?"

Josiah looked up from where he was calling people. "Buck and Ezra went to a conference room to work on deciphering Buck's notes."

"Which conference room?"

"Chris, don't worry, Buck is fine. Ezra and Buck just went to a conference room so they wouldn't bother us. They should be back soon," Josiah stated then went back to calling on his phone.

Chris growled softly, he was about to head out and look for Buck, but just as he was about to leave, his cell phone rang. Growling even more, he opened the phone and answered it. "Yes!" he barked into the phone.

"Good to hear your voice, cowboy. I was just calling you, to let you know that Nate and I stopped and picked up a late lunch for the team. We will be back in about 15 minutes. See ya then, Cowboy."

Chris shut down the phone and then glared at Josiah and JD. Mumbling to himself, he headed into his office.

Several minutes later Buck and Ezra came into the room. "We have the most pertinent facts done. They should finish printing out shortly."

JD and Josiah nodded. Buck headed towards his desk to check his e-mails and phone messages. Ezra continued to his desk also. "So, has any one heard anything from Nate and Vin?"

JD looked up from his computer. "Yea, Vin called in. Nate gashed his hand on a nail, when he was reaching for something. So Vin had to drag Nathan to the hospital so he could get some stitches and a shot."

Ezra's eyebrow rose up hearing that. "So, how did Nathan hurt himself?"

JD continued "He reached for a CD and ripped his hand up on a nail. They had to go to the hospital, Nathan didn't want to go."

Ezra snicker, the entrapped healer hurting himself. Then Vin, who usually gets hurts, had to drag Nathan to hospital. Chuckling slightly, he settled down into his desk chair to work on some reports.

Buck had half listen to the conversation. Shaking his head, he turned to his computer and started to check his e-mails. Seeing if there was anything of interested in his inbox.

Several minutes later, the group in the bullpen could hear Nathan protesting down the hall. "Vin, I'm fine, you don't have to carry everything, the doctor said I just couldn't get the wrappings wet. You don't have to open everything for me, or push every button. Also, you don't have to remind me about taking my pills, or sitting down and resting. I'm fine," Nathan replied.

"Sure, Nate, I don't think you're fine. You're protesting too much."

Nathan stomped into the bullpen, glaring at all of them. Muttering underneath his breath, Nathan slumped into his chair, glaring at the group of men, just waiting for them to say something about his injury. No one said anything. Well for at least a whole five minutes. Then JD spoke up, "So, Nate, how did you get injured?"

"I just cut my hand on a sharp nail, nothing serious," Nathan replied.

JD nodded, then staring at the huge bandage that was on Nathan's hand, JD asked another question. "So, how big was the nail?"

Nathan just growled. Which didn't deter the rest the team from making comments. "So, what day is it? It must be a first when the person who doesn't get injured on assignments wasn't Vin. Instead it was a Nathan. Wonder what the odds are of it."

Nathan just glared at Ezra. He wasn't appreciating the jokes, at his expense. It just wasn't fair, he wasn't supposed to get injured. Sighing, Nathan looked around the room to check to see if there was anyway for him to distract the rest of the team from his injury. His gaze stopping at Buck, Nathan suddenly got worried. Buck didn't look okay. He was very pale. Getting up quickly from his desk, he headed towards Buck, calling out as he did "Buck, you okay?"

Buck didn't pay attention when Vin or Nathan came in, he heard the rest of the team commenting on the fact that Nathan got hurt. Buck thought it was funny, but he needed to think about what Josiah said in the conference room. He understood that Josiah felt that he shouldn't try and protect the group from Dragon, that they could take care of themselves. But they didn't know Dragon, they didn't know what Dragon could do, or was able to dish out to those who were against him. Buck don't know if he could deal with anything happening to the team, his brothers, his family. Shaking his head to clear it slightly, he looked up when he heard another snicker at Nathan.

Shaking his head, he turned back to his computer to check through his email. Quickly going through and deleting the 52 spam messages he had out of 54, Buck just sighed. JD was going to have to set up new spam blocker soon. Closing his eyes for a moment, he tried to clear his head. He could feel a headache starting to blossom. The lack of food, sleep, and the dousing he had yesterday was starting to take a toll on him. Hearing laughter, Buck opened his eyes. Looking over at the group, he noticed Nathan shaking his head and muttering something. Closing his eyes again as the room started to spin slightly. He brought up his hand and wiped away some sweat. He was tired. He could also feel a slight cold coming on. Wiping his hands across his face, he tried to wipe away how he felt. He shook his head, trying to clear it. It didn't work. Buck felt worse.

Buck was so focused on trying to clear up his sight, he didn't hear when Nathan called out his name. Nor when the group from the office surrounded him, asking if he was okay. He didn't react to the group until JD placed a hand on his shoulder. Jumping up slightly, Buck tried to turn around but the room swayed in front of his eyes. If it wasn't for Josiah and JD, Buck would have fallen.

Josiah maneuvered Buck back into his chair. Nathan crouched in front of Buck, trying to get Buck to focus in on him. Buck just shut his eyes, Nathan rested his hands on Buck's knee. Nathan cursed silently his bandaged hand. After several minutes, Buck finally opened his eyes. Looking at down at Nathan, Buck blinked. After a slight cough and clearing his throat, Buck spoke. "Hey, Nate, what are you doing."

"Nothing, how are you feeling, Buck?"


"Sure, when was the last time you ate."

"Ummm, Breakfast?"

"Buck, you didn't eat anything at breakfast."

Nathan looked at the rest of the guys. "Josiah could you go and grab something Buck could eat."

Josiah nodded. Getting up, he quickly left the room to the break room hoping to find some soup or something.

Nathan didn't pay attention to Josiah's leaving. He focused in on Buck. "Buck, what is the problem, you have a headache?"

"Nothing, I 'm fine Nate."

"Buck, you aren't fine, you aren't fine at all. Tell me what is wrong. If you don't, I will get Chris."

Buck mumbled to himself. "It is just a headache, I just need some aspirin, then I'll be fine."

Nathan shook his head. "I don't think so, Buck, you need to lay down and eat something."

Buck frowned, "no, Nate, I will feel better shortly."

“Yea right.” Nathan replied.

Josiah came back from the break room with a cup of soup. Nathan was about to reach for the cup when he realized he was reaching with his bandaged hand. Sighing, Nathan looked up at Josiah, "could you hand the cup to Buck."

Josiah nodded and waved the cup of soup in front of Buck's face. Buck blinked for a couple of minutes. Reaching up, he grabbed the soup, holding it in his hands he stared at it. Nathan shook his head. "Buck, I need you to drink the soup."

Buck looked down at Nathan. "I'm not hungry, Nate."

Nathan sighed. "Buck, drink the soup now."

Buck stared down at Nathan.

After Nathan stared at him for a couple of minutes, Buck shrugged his shoulders, then lifted the cup of soup, and drank it. Nathan smiled when Buck finished the soup. Josiah grabbed the cup and set it down onto the desk. Then the group all turned to look at Buck. The soup helped revive him but he was still a little dizzy and his headache was still pounding. Closing his eyes, he tried to control the pounding in his head. Nathan looked at the Ezra, Vin, JD and Josiah, "guys, could you give him some room."

The other members nodded and slowly and quietly back away from Buck.

Nathan nodded his thanks. Nathan rose up from his crouch, standing over Buck, Nathan leaned closer to Buck. "Buck, how bad is your headache?"

Buck cracked open his eyes. "I am fine, just give me a minute."

"Buck you aren't feeling well, are you feeling sick?"

"Nate, I feel fine, I am just tired. Just give me some time."

" Are you sure?"

Buck rolled his eyes, " I'm fine. Look I just needed to eat something and I'll be fine shortly."

Nathan just shook his head. "Look, Buck, why don't you go to the break room couch and try and get some rest for a while."

"I'm fine."

"If Nathan wants you to take a nap, then take a nap Buck," Chris growled.

The rest of the team turned and look at Chris who had come out of his office. Buck raised his head and glared at Chris. "I am Fine."

Nathan shook his head, "No, you aren't. You need to relax and get some sleep."

Buck started to shake his head. He didn't need to be treated like a four-year-old. He didn't need a nap. He was about to protest when his eyes fell on JD. JD looked up at Buck. Showing Buck big puppy dogs eyes. Buck closed his eyes. JD knew that he couldn't stand against the puppy dogs eyes. Shaking his head, Buck sighed. "Fine. I'll take a short nap. Alright?"

Nathan and Chris nodded. Buck slowly got up from his chair. Glaring at Chris and Nathan, Buck headed to the couch to lay down. Muttering about overbearing friend and medics.

Chris watched Buck until he got to the break room and got out of sight. Then, turning towards Nathan, he asked, "Is he alright?"

Nathan glanced back at where Buck had disappeared. "Yea, he just needs some rest. He should feel better after some sleep."

Chris nodded, looking over at Vin and he glared. "So what did you find out at the hotel."

Vin swirled his chair a bit. "Not much, we found a note written by Dragon."

Nathan nodded and took up the story. "The letter showed that Stubbs was killed by Dragon. Apparently Dragon didn't approve the shot Stubbs took at Buck. We found his rifle in the room. We also found a CD. Vin, do you still have it?"

Vin nodded and grabbed his jacket and started to go through it, looking for the CD, finding it, he tossed it to JD. "Don't know what's on it."

JD placed the CD into his hard drive. Opening the CD, he checked at the file menu. Clicking on one file, he frowned. Looking up at the group, he spoke, "He encrypted the CD, it's going to take me awhile to decrypt."

Chris nodded. Turning back to Vin and Nathan, he waited to see if they found out anything else. "Anything else?"

Vin and Nathan looked at each other. Nathan spoke up. "We're still waiting for some reports from the CSI's about what they found in the room."

Chris nodded. "Alright, JD work on the CD and try to get some information from it. Josiah how are you coming on the profile?"

"Working on it. Dragon is out to finish what was started when Buck's team died. Buck is a loose end. Dragon wants to play with Buck. He wants him to regret living through the case. He has a detailed plan on how to get Buck back for ruining his plans. The rest of us aren't important. As long as we don't wreck his plans we aren't in his equation as a threat, just a obstacle to be moved or work around."

Chris nodded. "Anything else?"

"I need to get some more information before I comment more about him. Whatever we do, we have to be aware that he is after Buck, he wants to get Buck alone so he can exact his revenge."

The team nodded. Almost as one they looked over towards the break room where Buck was trying to take a nap.

Buck lay down on the couch, he was tired, but he didn't want to sleep. He didn't want to fall asleep. He didn't want the team to know that he was having nightmares. Also, he wanted to know how the investigation was going. He wished he could remember more about Dragon. Buck wished he could remember Dragon's face, or voice or something. Instead, all he had was the fear and the guilt that the name brought up. Leaning back against the couch, Buck wished if he could to start this whole week over again, he would of missed the meeting totally, maybe even taken the day off. Anything to not have known that Dragon was back.

Sighing, he listened to the bullpen, he wished the team would be a little less protective… Chris especially. He understood that the team was concerned. Dragon though, wasn't their problem. Dragon wanted only him… no one else. He didn't want the team to get hurt because of him. Buck sighed, shifting on the couch, he looked up at the ceiling. Closing his eyes, he allowed his mind to drift.

Some time later, Buck felt a hand on his shoulder, shaking it. Opening his eyes, Buck's blue eyes stared into a pair of large hazel eyes. Sitting up, Buck looked over at JD, "Yes?"

"How are you feeling?"

"Alright, what's going on?"

"Nothing much, I've been trying to decrypt a disc that Nathan found. The rest of the guys have been working on trying to figure out what the Dragon is up to. So far though they hadn't found anything. Chris called it a day. He wants us to meet up at the ranch."

Buck nodded. Getting up from the couch, he stretched. Turning, he headed into the bullpen. Getting to his desk, he shut down the computer. Waiting for his computer to shut down, Buck started to put away his stuff. Grabbing his jacket, he started to head to the door. Before he could take a step, he heard Chris bellow. "Buck!"

Buck sighed, he had almost made it to the door. "Yes, Chris?"

"Where do you think you are going?"

"To my truck?"

The rest of the team looked up from their desks, waiting to see what would happen.

"By yourself?"

"Yes, last time I looked I could drive my truck."

Chris glared, marching over to were Buck was, he grabbed Buck's keys. "You aren't going by yourself, someone will go with you to the ranch."

Buck looked at Chris. "Give me my keys, I am perfectly able to drive myself to the ranch."

Chris glared at Buck, shaking his head, he headed towards his office with Buck's key. Buck stared at Chris for a second, before finally following Chris into the office, shutting the door behind him.

The other Seven looked at each other. They shook their heads and settled down into their chairs for a show.

Inside the office, Buck and Chris were glaring at each other. Buck spoke first, "Chris, what are you doing?"

"Protecting you, since you don't seem to care."

"Driving my truck isn't going to kill me."

"It might, if you insist on going out there and driving it yourself."

"Chris, I'll be fine, would you feel better if I take one of the others with me?"

Chris nodded. "It would be even better if you allowed one of us to take you to the ranch."

Buck shook his head. "I don't want to hide behind one of you. You could get hurt. One of the others could get hurt. I don't want the team hurt because of me."

Chris shook his head. "Buck you don't want to get them hurt, we don't want to see you get hurt by this mad man. You shouldn't have to face him alone."

"I'm not facing him alone, but I don't have to hide behind one of you constantly. How will I deal with the Dragon?"

"With our help."

Buck threw himself onto the couch in Chris's office. Leaning back on the couch, he refused to stare at Chris. Chris waited for Buck to come back. Buck didn't say anything though. Didn't even acknowledge that Chris was staring at him or the time was passing. Chris started to fidget. A silent Buck made him nervous. Finally, not able to take the silence, Chris asked a question. "Buck, are you okay."

Buck didn't move, he just stared at the ceiling. Chris got even more nervous. Chris went over to Buck and sat down on the couch next to him. Looking at Buck, Chris placed a hand on Buck shoulder, squeezing gently. Chris looked at Buck. "What's wrong?"


Chris shook his head. "There has to be something."

Buck just stared at the ceiling for a minute. Finally, he sighed. " I don't need a baby-sitter. I can look after myself, I don't need someone following me around every second of the day."

"We aren't trying to be your baby-sitters. We want to make sure Dragon doesn't get to you. We... I can't lose you."

Buck looked at Chris for a minute and then walked over to the window and looked out. Staring out at the city for a couple of minutes, Buck finally turned towards Chris. "I understand why you want to protect me, but I don't need it. If all of you keep trying to protect me from Dragon, he'll go after you to get to me. I can't allow him that. I can't allow him to hurt any of you."

"I can't promise that we won't get hurt. I don't know what Dragon will do. But we will not let you sacrifice yourself because you are worried about us getting hurt."

Buck stiffen up. "You don't know what he'll do. He'll kill you, you'll be dead. He'll enjoy killing you. He'll kill you and make me watch then kill me. You don't understand. I can't let him get to any of you. I can't let any of you get hurt because of me."

Chris walked over to Buck and grasped his shoulder. Looking into Buck's eyes, Chris spoke. "No matter what you think of this Dragon, or how much danger you think we're in. We aren't going to leave you. We won't let you face the fear of Dragon alone. Even if you try to lose us we'll follow you, you can't lose us. No matter what you think Dragon is going to do."

Buck stared at Chris for several long moments. Buck nodded his head. Chris nodded back, headed to his desk chair to grab his jacket. Grabbing it, he turned and joined a much calmer and relaxed Buck.

As Chris's office door open, the rest of the team turned and looked towards the door. Both Chris and Buck shared a smile as they heard a sigh of relief from the rest of the team. Shaking their heads, Chris looked at the team. "Finish up what you are doing then meet us at the ranch."

The rest of the team nodded as Buck and Chris walked out the door of the offices. JD moved to follow them out the door but Vin stopped him. JD stopped and stared at Vin for a moment. Vin just shook his head. JD got a puzzled look. "Why? Why shouldn't I follow them?"

"Right now, Buck needs to spend some time with Chris."

"But, why?"

"Because, Mr. Dunne, Chris has a long history with Buck. Chris feels he must help Buck like Buck has helped him in the past. Well, if that is enough discussion gentlemen, I am going to head to our leader's ranch." With that, Ezra got up and headed toward the door. The rest of the team grabbed their coats and followed Ezra.

Chapter 4

Chris pulled into the ranch, turned off the Jeep, and sat there, listening to the engine cool. Buck hadn't said a word the entire time. Chris didn't know where to start. Buck was never this quiet. Chris cleared his throat and looked over at Buck. "You do know the rest of the team will be here soon."

Buck said nothing; he just kept staring out the window. Finally, after several long uncomfortable seconds, he spoke. "Why are we at your place, and not the CDC?"

Chris blinked. Clearing his throat, he looked over at Buck. "We're here because Dragon probably has your place watched."

"So, he doesn't want to kill me yet. He wants me to suffer first," Buck replied without looking at Chris.

"Why would he want you to suffer?"

Buck ignored the question. Chris sighed. He wanted to grab Buck and shake some sense into him. Chris ran his hand through his hair, mussing it slightly. Looking out the window for a little bit, Chris finally spoke. "Buck, why are you making it so difficult to help. The team just wants to protect you. They don't want to see Dragon hurt you."

"It's too late," Buck mumbled.

"What do you mean it's too late?"

Buck looked up quickly, that wasn't supposed to slip out. "Nothing, so what's for dinner?"

Chris blinked. Growling softly, he asked again. "What did you mean by, it's too late?"

Buck closed his eyes; his tired brain was working slowly. He couldn't come up with a good cover for the comment. He decided to ignore the question. Chris waited for Buck to answer. When no answer was forth coming, he looked over at Buck. Chris, getting the feeling he was being ignored, seeing that Buck was looking through the window of the jeep, Chris shook his head. "Buck!"

Buck's head jerked, turning to look over at Chris, "What?"

"You haven't answer the question."

"What question?"

Chris clenched his jaw. "What did you mean when you said it was too late?"

"Nothing, I meant nothing about it being too late. Just my mouth running away."

"Nothing, Buck, nothing with you is always something."

Buck turned and look at Chris for a moment. Shaking his head, he turned back to the window. "I don't know what you mean, Chris, it's nothing. "

Chris was about to say something, when a beam of headlights could be seen coming up the drive. Chris sighed. "This isn't over you know. We will continued with this later."

Buck shrugged his shoulders, he reached over and opened his door and headed towards Chris's front door. Chris joined Buck in walking towards the front door. Opening the door, they both went into the ranch. Chris watched as Buck headed for the den. Shaking his head, Chris turned and watched as the rest of the team snake there way up the driveway. Staring out at the headlights, Chris wonder how he was going to get Buck to open up. Hearing several doors slam, Chris shook himself out of his stumper, he waited for the rest of the team come in the house.

The rest of the Seven looked at Chris as they walked into the ranch; Chris just shrugged his shoulders. Vin, seeing this, shook his head. JD looked at Chris for a second, then, hearing the noise from the den, he headed towards there, not bothering to look at Chris. Chris headed towards the kitchen to see what he had to feed 7 people with. Vin followed Chris into the kitchen and the rest of the team followed JD into the Den.

"So, find anything out?"

Chris shook his head. "No, he isn't talking, except to say he is fine. Which he clearly is not."

Vin smirked, "He is clearly not fine."

Opening the cupboards and staring at what he was seeing, Chris wanted to scream. "Why won't he talk about this?"

"Cause that isn't Buck."

Chris turned and glared at Vin. "What do you mean?"

Leaning against the counter, Vin shook his head. "He's like the rest of us. He isn't going to tell us stuff unless he is sure it won't hurt us."

Chris glared at Vin, the truth of the words hurt. "So what are we supposed to do, watch Buck self destruct."

Vin shook his head, "Make sure everyone spends time with him, including JD."

"What do you mean?"

"JD needs to spend some time with Buck without the rest of us around."

"What do you mean?"

"JD needs to spend time with Buck."

Chris glared. "Why?"

"JD needs to protect Buck. He sees it as his job."

Chris straightened up suddenly, growling softly. "What do you mean, his job?"

Vin sighed. "Buck protects him, he's supposed to protect Buck."

"What do you mean, he is supposed to protect Buck."

Vin shook his head, "Yes, protect Buck."

Chris growled out, "No, it isn't his job."

Vin rubbed his hand over his face, hoping some divine inspiration would come. What he got was Nathan coming into the room.

Nathan glaring at Vin for a second then walked towards a cupboard to grab a glass. Vin, spotting this, slid over in front of Nathan and grabbed a glass and filled it with water for Nathan. Nathan glared at Vin. Vin bowed slightly and handed the full glass of water to Nathan. "I could have done that."

"Aww, Nate, you have to take it easy. I was just trying to be helpful like."

Nathan glared, turning; he started to walk out of the room. Stopping, he turned. "Just so you know, the natives are getting hungry."

With that, Nathan left the room. Chris sighed, looking at the cupboards once more; Chris grabbed the phone, "Chinese or pizza. "

Vin smiled, "Pizza."

Later that night, after the last piece of pizza had been killed, and the evidence of the massacre had been cleaned up, the group had split up the nights watches again and all of them watched as Buck got up from the table, and isolated himself from the team in his room. Now the only people who were up were the two who were watching the ranch. Ezra was wandering around the house. Chris was wandering around outside, doing one of the last turns on a bed with twisted and knotted sheets pushed down to the bottom of the bed, the lone occupant of the bed lay on his back. He had tossed and turned for the last hour, finally stopping as he fell into a deeper sleep.

The quiet of the room was interrupted as the occupant of the bed started muttering, "no, no, no!"

He bolted up from the bed, sweat pouring from his face. He took several deep breaths. Untangling his feet from the twisted blankets, he ran his hands over his face and hair, trying to wipe away the last visage of the dream. Staring at the dark, the quiet of the room started to get to him. Shrugging his shoulders, he grabbed his clothes. He couldn't stay in the small dark, quiet room any longer. Grabbing his shoes, he forced his feet into them. Getting up from the bed, he grabbed his jacket, and slowly opened the door. Looking out from the small slit of the open door, he checked to make sure no one was in the hallway. Seeing all the doors shut, he quietly sneaked through the hallway, making it to the back door. He quietly opened the door, and slowly sneaked out of the house.

Carefully, he walked through the late night frost. Crushing the grass underfoot, he reached the door of the barn. He opened the door, and quietly made his way to Beau's stall. Beau snorted as Buck enter his stall. Buck dug into his pockets and pulled out a couple of dried apple pieces, which he gave to Beau as he patted his neck.

As the horse finished the treat, Buck moved closer, allowing Beau to hang his head over his shoulder so Buck could pet more of the horse's neck. Buck leaned in seeking the warmth after the nightmare. Wanted to scream. Why was the memory coming back now? He was happy not remembering. He'd kept that year hidden in a dark corner of his mind, but now it was coming back in bits and pieces. This nightmare was worse than the first one.
He had been stuck in the van again, sweat had been pooling at the base of his neck. The earphones and mic he was wearing started to itch. The team had been in place for several hours. Dragon should have arrived. The team had been tense since the beginning of the bust. All their months of hard work would accumulate in the takedown of the Dragon. Buck blinked his eyes, and as in all dreams the view suddenly changed. The monitors went static for a second. Buck frantically went into action. He started calling on the radios, hoping to raise someone. No one answered his calls; the airwaves had been silent. All of the electronics suddenly went dark in the van. Buck was left in the dark. The silence of the van crept up on him, making cold sweat break out on his body. Buck went to the doors but they wouldn't open. Someone jammed the doors from the outside. Buck was trapped in the truck. The TV monitors suddenly came back on. His team, instead of being in their assigned places, were kneeling on the floor. The team members were gagged and bound, Buck could see the fear in their eyes, the horror of what might happen. Buck went closer to the monitors. He couldn't move his eyes of the monitors.

He watched as a pair of hands reached around the first team member. One of the black glove-covered hands held a knife. The knife, in one swift movement, cut across the first team member throat. Bright red blood gushed out. A wordless scream of denial escaped from Buck's throat. Dragon killed each of the team members, laughing the whole way. The evil deed was done. Then Dragon turned and smiled at the camera. The shadows of the warehouse hid his face. Dragon then said,, "You will soon join your friends."

Buck blinked, bringing himself back the present, petting his horse. He sighed. Moving silently, he grabbed a brush and started to brush his horse, hoping the motion would help him.

Sighing, he let his thoughts roam randomly. These last few days had been a nightmare, and it looked like it would continue, putting his friends in danger. Danger that he didn't know if we could protect them from Dragon. Buck shuddered slightly.

Josiah's talked about him not having to face the dragon by himself and even Chris claimed he wouldn't be left to fend for himself. It just made him more nervous. They couldn't understand Dragon. Even if Buck told them everything, the team still wouldn't understand. Dragon didn't care. He wasn't out to make the rest of the team suffer first. Dragon just wants him… him alone. He was a loose end. A loose end that Dragon didn't like.

His horse snorted and Buck stopped brushing for a minute. Putting down the brush, Buck petted Beau's neck. "Sorry, girl, didn't mean to be that lost in thought. Maybe it would be better if I was St. George. That way the rest of the Team would be safe. Instead, the team keeps throwing themselves in the way of the Dragon, to save me. What are they thinking Beau? I lost one team already… I can't lose another. I just can't."

Buck fell quiet for awhile and a shiver ran up his spine. He moved closer to the horse, trying to share the horse's warmth. Leaning against Beau, Buck wished the team understood that protecting him wasn't as important as protecting the team. The team already wasn't at 100 %. Nathan was hurt, even if it was only his hand and a slight cut. He still wasn't going to be at 100% with only one hand. What if another team member got hurt? Hurt worse than a cut hand. What if, what if… Buck wanted to scream. If he just knew how this was going to end. Or if the whole situation with Dragon would be done… finished. Even better, if it had never happen.

If he could wish everything better, then he would be a millionaire. Smirking slightly at that thought of being richer than Ezra, the smirk quickly fell off his face. This wasn't a movie or a book. Happy endings weren't assured. That was one thing that worried Buck. Life rarely followed a book. Feeling a headache starting to show itself, Buck closed his eyes and leaned into the horse.

After a while Beau snorted. Buck open his eyes, stretching a little. He patted the horse. "Sorry, Beau, didn't mean to unload this all on you but the team already thinks that I am weak. I can't do anything without one of them following me, telling me what to do… just because I reacted badly. But, I feel like I'm a toy that they have to protect. I'm waiting for Chris and JD to comes to blows, each of them wants to protect me but they don't understand it is too late. Dragon already has us playing his game."

Buck suddenly straighten up, he had heard a noise. Looking around, he noticed a shadow moving in the barn. Clearing his throat, he called out, "who's there?"

A lone shadow moved and a man with his hand on his gun stepped out from wall of the barn. Buck glared at the person. "What are you doing here."

Vin smiled as Buck glared at him. "Figured since you talked to your horse last night, you would do it again. Didn't want to see your horse kill ya."

Buck glared at Vin even harder. "Beau wouldn't hurt me. Hurt you on the other hand…." Buck let the rest of the sentence trail off, as he still glared at Vin.

Vin just shrugged. Removing his hand from his gun, he walked over to Beau's stall. "See that you are wearing your jacket this time. "

Buck smirked at Vin, "Can't tattle now, can you?"

Vin just smiled. "I'm sure I will find something. So, why are you out here with the horse?"

Buck shrugged and turned back to the Beau.

Vin shook his head. "You know you're going to have to tell me sooner or later."

Buck ignored Vin, he continued to pay attention to the horse.

Vin sighed. Moving into the stall, he patted Buck's horse. "You know you're going to spoiled her"

Buck shrugged his shoulders again.

Vin smirk slightly. "Ya know, I'm not the talkative one of the team."

Buck looked at Vin for a moment and then just shrugged his shoulders again.

Vin rolled his eyes. "You going to say anything?"

Buck smirked.

Vin looked at Buck. Noticing the lines around the eyes and the way Buck's eyes squinted every once and a while, Vin fought to keep the smile off his face. "You got a headache?"

"No, I don't have a headache."

Vin shook his head. "Yes you do."

"No I do not."

Vin just shook his head. "Yes, you do, I know the look. You had the same look that week that Chris left you in charge of all of us."

Buck sighed and turned away from Vin, "I feel fine, there is nothing you have to tell Nate about."

"But, Buck, Nate would kill me if I didn't tell him."

He just looked at Vin. "Kill you?"

"Well there are those teas of his."

Buck just shook his head. "Not worried about Nate."

"Who are you worried about? What? Are you having issues with Chris and JD."

Buck nodded. Vin looked puzzled for a second, "Why do you have issues with those two?"

Buck just looked at Vin for moment, sighing, he spoke. "I can't go to the bathroom without one of those two standing behind me. I can't even make a noise without one of them wondering if I am going to break down."

Vin nodded, "Those two mother-henning you a little too much?"

"I can't breath without one of them following me around. I know they're concerned but I feel like they're treating me like a five year old."

"We're just worried Buck."

Buck nodded.

Vin thought for a moment. "You tell me what you were thinking about and I'll get Chris and JD to lay off you."

Buck thought for a long moment. Finally, after several long minutes, Buck nodded. "You goin' to shake on it."

Vin nodded. Vin reached out his hand to shake, before their hands met, Buck stopped. "You promise not to tell the rest of the team?"

Vin stopped, thinking about the promise. Finally, he nodded. The two of them shook.

Buck then moved away from Vin. He moved towards the front of the stall. Not looking at Vin, he started. "I had another nightmare. This one felt more real than the last one. I was in the surveillance van. The screens went fuzzy the same time the radios went out. As I tried to get back with the team, the monitor came back on. My team was on their knees, bound and gagged. As I watched, I heard an evil laugh. Cold sweat broke out on my back. Then, the hands... the hands…"

Buck trailed off, not willing to share the final part of the dream.

Vin was silent for a second, hoping that Buck would continue. When Buck didn't continue, Vin cleared his throat. "What happened with the hands?"

Buck sighed. "The hand slit their throats. There was nothing I could do. Nothing." Buck turned away from Vin.

Vin, for his part, was silent for a long moment. Finally, he moved towards Buck. Getting in front of Buck, he looked Buck in the eye. "Buck, there wasn't anything you could do. From all the reports we read, you were lucky to get out of the van alive. It isn't your fault that they died, and you won't lose us."

Buck looked back into Vin's eyes. "Are you sure?"

Vin nodded.

Buck started walking out of the stall and barn.

Vin followed.

Just as they reached the back porch of Chris's ranch, Buck turned. "Remember your promise."

Vin nodded. "I'll remember."

Buck nodded and opened the door to the kitchen. Vin followed Buck into the ranch.

Josiah and Nathan, who both were up, turned their heads when the door opened. "Hey, guys. You're up early aren't you, Buck?"

Buck nodded and headed for the table.

Josiah and Nathan looked at Vin. Vin just shrugged his shoulders and headed for the table. Josiah and Nathan just looked at each other, each seeing the confusion in each other's eyes. Shrugging their shoulders at each other, they finished getting coffee and headed to the table, wondering what Vin and Buck had been talking about.

Twenty minutes later, Chris walked into the kitchen and stalked over to the coffee machine. Pouring a mug, he quickly drank the coffee then proceeded to spew it back into the sink. Dumping out the rest of the coffee, he turned and looked at Josiah and Nathan who were sitting at the table. "Who made the coffee?"

Josiah smiled. "I did, it is a little weak. Can't quite have a spoon stand in it."

Chris sighed. Grabbing the coffeepot, he dumped the contents into the sink. He started a new pot of coffee, then turned back to Nathan and Josiah. "Have you guys seen Buck and Vin this morning?"

Josiah and Nathan looked at each other, then shrugged their shoulders.

Chris growled. "What does the shrug mean?"

Josiah and Nathan looked at each other. Both of them looked at Chris with big innocent eyes. "We don't know what you mean."

Chris marched over to the both of them. "Don't play games, have you seen them or not?"

Nathan looked at Josiah and Josiah shrugged. Nathan sighed. "Vin and Buck headed to the office early. They wanted to check something out. They said they would be there when we got in."

Chris started to shake with anger. "What do you mean?"

Josiah and Nathan looked at each other. This wasn't good. Vin and Buck had said that Chris wouldn't be that angry. Josiah cleared his throat. "Vin said that they were going to stop for breakfast. They were tired of cereal."

Chris growled.

Josiah and Nathan looked at each other. Buck and Vin were in so much trouble when they saw them again.

Chris plopped down into a chair; the quiet dripping of the coffee was the only noise. Nathan and Josiah sat quietly, not wanting to bother Chris. Chris for his part wanted to know why Vin and Buck felt like they needed to get away from the rest of them. What did Vin know that he didn't, and what was Buck hiding.

Before Chris could say anything or ask another question, JD came bouncing down into the kitchen. JD headed towards the coffee first. Before he started to pour his own cup, Chris spoke up. "JD, if you are going to pour yourself some coffee, pour me some too."

JD looked at Chris for a second and sighed. Pouring Chris a cup of coffee, he then poured one for himself. Placing the coffeepot back into its place, he brought the coffee to the table. JD placed his cup at the table, then handed Chris his. With his back turned, handing Chris his mug, he failed to notice that Ezra had wandered into the kitchen and swiped his coffee. JD sat back into his chair and reached for his coffee. His hand met with empty air. With a puzzled expression, he looked down where he remembered putting his mug. Not seeing it there, he looked around the table. He finally spotted Ezra who was hunkered down at the end of the table, huddled over JD's coffee mug. JD just stared as Ezra drank his coffee. Finally, after several minutes of watching Ezra, JD spoke up. "Ezra, that was my coffee."

Ezra raised his bleary eyes. "What was that, Mr. Dunne?"

"Never mind, Ezra," JD sighed and got up and headed back to the coffeepot. The rest of the group that were sitting at the table snickered at each other. JD came back and sat down, trying to glare at the rest of the group. It only made the team snicker more. JD tried to ignore them while he drank the coffee.

JD looked around, getting a puzzled look on his face. He turned and faced Chris. "Where are Buck and Vin? Shouldn't they be up by now?"

Ezra raised his head and looked around. Focusing his bleary gaze on Nathan, he raised an eyebrow.

Nathan sighed. "Vin and Buck decided that they wanted to eat out."

JD looked up. "They're by themselves? Is that safe?"

Josiah and Nathan looked at each other. Josiah shook his head. "It is fine. Vin and Buck can take care themselves."

JD finished drinking the coffee and got up from the table. "I'm done, I'm heading into the office."

The rest of the group looked at each other. Sudden realization dawned on all of their faces. Vin and Buck left alone. They could get into a lot of trouble. Swallowing the last of the coffee, the rest of the group around the table, finished their coffee and left.

Chapter 5

The rest of the team arrived at the office. All of them worried about what they would see when they arrived. However, Buck and Vin were quietly sitting at their desks, typing at their computers when the other five members of the team rushed in. Buck and Vin raised there heads at they heard the team crowd in the room. Buck looked over at Vin and said, "You owe me five dollars."

Vin turned and glared at the rest of the team. "Ya couldn't wait another 15 minutes."

Buck grinned, "Told ya, Vin, once Chris heard you and me had gone off together, he would be here as soon as possible."

Vin nodded, still upset about losing his money.

Not surprising Chris growled. "You were betting on when we would get here?"

The two bet makers nodded, both snickering slightly. It was funny. The rest of the team shook their heads as they sat down at their desk. The only one who didn't sit down or move was Chris. He was not a happy camper. Buck and Vin taking off without telling anyone was just irresponsible. Growling softly, he marched into his office. With the slam of the door, Chris shut out the rest the tea.

Buck and Vin looked at the rest of the team with an innocent expression that none of the team believed. Shaking his head, Buck turned back to his computer. Sighing slightly, he had some paperwork to catch up on. Hopefully nothing would happen to impede him from working on it.

After two hours, four members of the team were pulled out of reading Buck's notes by some fierce whispering that was going on. The members of the team turned and stared at the other two who were making the noise. Buck and JD had started whispering fiercely for the last few minutes. As the other members of the team paid attention to the two of them, they watch as JD said something then Buck, shaking his head, whispered something back. JD, shaking his head, whispered something back. Buck frowned and whispered softly back to JD. JD sighed and whispered something back.

Josiah, finally annoyed by all of the whispering the two of them were doing, said, "What are you two whispering about?"

Buck and JD were startled. They jerked up and stared at Josiah. Buck was the first to speak. "What?"

Ezra shook his head. "We would wish you two to tell us what you have found so interesting that you had to whisper about it."

JD just shook his head.

Buck just looked at them and said. "Nothing, just talking."

"We can see that, Buck, but what were you talking about?"

JD and Buck looked at each other, "Nothing" they both said at the same time.

The four of them looked at each other, then they glared Under the four combined glares, JD wilted. All at once, he started to talk. "I was just making sure that Buck was okay, and I wanted to know if there was anything I could do, or if he needed to talk about anything. "

Buck just shrugged to forget about it and turned back to his computer, effectively tuning out the rest of the team.

Vin spoke up for the first time. "Did he say anything?"

JD sighed, "No, he said to leave him alone."

Buck focused on his computer, not wanting to see the looks or questions in the team's eyes. He had already told them enough about what had happen. He didn't want to talk about it anymore. He wanted to at least have a normal hour without someone asking him how he was dealing with it or did he need to talk. Sighing, he started to flip through his emails, trying to see if he had any interesting ones. Unfortunately, he only had spam. He looked up, hoping everyone had cooled down int the few minutes it took to him go through his emails. Unfortunately, luck wasn't on his side. As he looked up, the team was staring at him. Sighing, he looked up at everyone, "What?"

The team looked at each other. "Nothing, Buck, you feeling alright? You have been awfully quiet. You need any more tea?" Nathan asked worriedly.

Buck wanted to scream at Nathan. He didn't need anymore tea. In a strained calm voice, Buck replied. "I'm fine, Nathan. I don't need any tea."

"If you're sure you are alright," Nathan replied.

Buck nodded, not wanting to give Nathan a reason to give him tea. Shaking his head at his close escape from more tea. Turning back to his folders on his desk, Buck tried to ignored the other members of the team. The team though didn't leave Buck alone.

"So, what were you telling JD?" Vin asked, still curious about the conversation.

Buck glared at Vin, "I didn't say anything besides, I am fine, leave me alone."

JD nodded, agreeing with Buck. "That's all he said."

Buck rolled his eyes, looking at the team, Buck got up from his desk. He stretched and headed toward the break room. He really needed coffee. It was only mid-morning; it felt like it should be the afternoon at sometime. Reaching the break room, Buck flicked on the radio for some music while he started the coffee machine. Staring at the coffee machine, he was half listing to the radio. Not paying attention to the radio, he startled when the DJ came on with a request.

"Thank you all for your calls, the next dedication goes out to Buck from Dragon, the song is from 'One more murder'. It's to remind you of unfinished business. Well, Buck, wherever you are, I hope you got the message." The song started.
One more murder in this town
Don't mean a thing just lock your doors and drive around
One more murder in this town
Don't worry the rain will wash the chalk marks from the ground

Buck quickly forgot about the coffee as the music washed over him. The world started to tunnel, his thoughts circling his through his head. How did Dragon know he would get coffee? How did he know that he would turn on he radio? How? Why? The questions just kept flying though his head.

One more murder in this town
Don't mean a thing you'll get a custom to the sound
One more murder in this town
Just block off the street and wrap the crime scene tape around

Buck didn't feel the coffee mug drop from his fingers. He didn't hear the crash of the mug. He didn't feel himself fall to the floor as the music surrounded him… taunting him. He couldn't do anything to stop it. Dragon could reach him everywhere. Nowhere was safe.

From outside the break room, the rest of the team heard the crash of the mug. Staring at each other for a second, the realization of who was in the break room hit them like a wave. They got up and as one started heading there. Chris, hearing the commotion in the bullpen, he got up and went to his door. Opening the door, he noticed that the rest of the team was making their way to the break room. Leaving the office, he started to head towards the break room.

When Chris reached the break room he was not prepared for what he saw. The radio was playing in the background. The shattered remains of the mug were spread across the floor. The song fading from the radio with a last refrain of 'One more murder...'

Buck was on the floor, his knees were drawn up to his chest, and his eyes were staring at the wall. Buck didn't even acknowledge the rest of the team. The team was surrounding Buck. None of them were willing to touch Buck. None of them knew what to do.

Chris walked through the group. Stopping in front of Buck, he crouched down. JD moved and placed his hands on Buck's shoulders. Chris looked up at the rest of the team. Vin went over and turned the radio off. Then moved towards the group around Buck. Chris nodded his thanks to Vin. Crouching down in front of Buck, Chris tried to catch Buck's eyes.

When that didn't work, Chris reached out and grabbed Buck's chin. Staring into Buck's eyes, Chris tried to get Buck to talk to him. "Buck, Buck, what happened?"

Buck didn't blink; he just stared at Chris. Chris growled softly. Looking up at the rest of the guys. Chris tried again. "Buck, come on, Buck, you are starting to worry us."

At first the team thought that didn't work, then Buck began to a breath and blink. Tilting his head, he looked at all of the guys. "What's going on?"

"That is what we wanted to know," Chris said softly staring at Buck.

Buck just looked around; he uncurled, making the team move away from him a little. "I remember coming in for coffee. I flicked on the radio. I was waiting for the coffee to finish, when the DJ came on." Buck's voice got softer and it strained even more as he went on. "There was a request. It was from Dragon to me. How did he know that I was going to listen to the radio at that point? How did he know when I would be getting coffee?"

The team just stood there silently for a minute. Josiah was the first to speak. "Buck, I don't know how he figured it out. Maybe he has the dedication on all of the radio stations and it was bad luck that you happened to hit the dedication on the radio. But we will find out."

Buck looked up at Josiah. He wanted to believe it. He really wanted to believe them, but Dragon has been able to get everywhere. How were they going to keep their promise? Looking down to the floor, Buck didn't want the group to see the thoughts running through his head. Finally, he sighed and nodded his head.

The team looked at each other. They were going to get Dragon if it was the last thing they would do.

Chris look down at Buck, "You ready to get off the floor?"

Buck nodded and started to get up. Chris reached out his hand to help Buck get up from the floor. When Buck had gotten up, he carefully stepped around the mess on the floor. Reaching around the group, he grabbed a rag. He started to lean down to clean the mess, Nathan though stopped him. "Buck, leave it, we'll clean it up."

Buck looked at the team. Nodding, he headed to his desk, ignoring the concerned glances of his teammates. Sitting at his desk, he just stared at the wall in front of him. He didn't know how long he could deal with Dragon. This morning he started to feel back to normal. But how was he supposed to be normal if every time he felt he could put his guard down, Dragon found a way to attack him again.

How could he believe the team, knowing that they had yet to keep Dragon from finding him and attacking him or leaving notes on him? How long before one of the team members get hurt because of this? How could he let his guard down? He would just have to be on alert constantly. Dragon seemed to attack when he wasn't paying attention. He would just have to stay on alert. Nodding to himself, he looked back down at his computer. Sighing slightly, he turned off the computer. Looking around, noticing that the rest of the team was still in the break room talking. Buck got up, and headed out of the office. He needed to be by himself for a while. He needed to clear his head. He needed to be doing something, other than letting the rest of the team help him. He was the only one knew Dragon… the only one alive that had dealt with him. If anyone was going to find Dragon he would.

Buck left the room. He needed some time to himself, without any of his mother hens watching him. He needed to be able to think about what has been happening the last few days. It seemed that every time he would get a gripe, someone would want to talk to him, find out what he felt, how he was dealing. And the times that they weren't, Dragon seemed to attack him. He just needed time to think, to sort through everything that had happened.

Finding himself on the roof of the building, Buck leaned against an air conditioning duct. Looking out at the city, Buck allowed his head to lay on the side of the duct. Closing his eyes, he tried to relax his tensed body.

The nightmare, dream, memory from the night, kept playing in his head. The deaths of his previous team… The blood from their wounds seemed to cross his thoughts constantly. He just needed time to sort through his memory, try to separate what was real and what was the nightmare. How could the team expect him to tell them what happened when it was hard for him to remember? It was hard for him to look at the team's eyes and tell them what they wanted to hear.

After a while Buck shook his head and started to head back in. By now the team would be frantic in trying to find him. But the time alone had help him come to terms with the memory or nightmare, and what the reappearance of Dragon had done to him. Opening the door to the roof, he started down the stairwell. Hopefully the team wouldn't be too mad with him disappearing.

Chris was mad. Buck had disappeared again. Again, Buck seemed not to realize that he is in danger. Buck went wandering off, when all of their attention was on what had happened. The minute the team noticed he was gone, they started searching for him. It had been over an hour and they still hadn't found him. He wasn't anywhere in the building as far as they could tell, but they also knew that he hadn't left the building. Chris was glaring at the phone, muttering dire threats about agents who decide they could wander around by themselves when someone was gunning for them. Pacing back and forth in the bullpen, the team had decided that one person had to stay behind, and he had been elected for it.

He paced back and forth in the bullpen, not paying attention to what was in the room. He was so focused on pacing that he didn't hear someone come in the room. Turning in his pacing, he first realize there was someone there when he almost running into that someone. Chris caught himself and looked up. "Buck, where have you been?"

Buck looked around the room. "Just been around.'

"Just been around! Just been around! We have been searching for you for the last hour and that is all you have to say. You have been around."

Buck looked down at the floor for a moment. "I needed to think about some things."

"You couldn't taken one of us with you?"

"You're all busy. I didn't think about it at the time."'

"You didn't think about it. There is a man out there gunning for you and you didn't think that you needed protection."

During this argument between Chris and Buck, Ezra walked in. "Mr. Larabee, I see you have found are wayward member."

Chris and Buck both turned to Ezra, Chris glared while Buck saw salvation. "Ezra, you're here… you want to grab some lunch?" Buck asked.

Before Ezra could say anything, Buck grabbed Ezra and started out of the office. Chris was about to say something, when Buck looked back over his shoulders. "Chris, Ez and I are headed out for some lunch, we'll be back shortly."

With that Buck and Ezra headed out of the office before Chris could say anything, Chris just glared as the two of them.

Ezra just looked at Buck. "Buck, where are we going?"

Buck closed his eyes for a moment, "Ezra, I don't care, I just need to be out from Chris's reach for a little bit. He's being just too protective."

Ezra quirked his eyebrow. "Mr. Larabee being too protective. I would think that Mr. Larabee has good cause for worry. You did disappear for a while."

Buck continued to walk out of the building, taking a turn to a nearby deli the team liked to eat at. Entering the eatery, Buck went to the counter, still having not answered Ezra. As they both got a sandwich and a drink, they sat at a table in the corner. When they both were settled, Buck looked at Ezra. "Ezra, I'm just tired of Chris looking over my shoulder constantly. I just need a break from his hovering and JD's hovering. I just need to relax without one of them asking how I am feeling."

Ezra nodded, taking a bite of his sandwich. Ezra chewed and thought for a minute. "Buck, they're just worried about you. They just wish to show you they can be as big a mother hens as you can, when they're in danger."

"I don't need a mother hen."

Ezra shook his head. "They just want to make sure you're safe. They want to show that they can protect you as well as you protected them."

Buck looked at Ezra. "I don't need protection. I can keep myself safe."

Ezra sighed, "They're just worried about you, you haven't been yourself since this started. Running off without telling anyone. If it was anyone else, you would have given them a little chat."

Buck had the good graces to be embarrassed. Looking down at the table, Buck couldn't meet Ezra's eyes. Ezra was right, he would have talked to whichever teammate would have acting like he had. Sighing slightly, Buck by walking away from the team to be by himself.

Ezra looked around for a moment. This wasn't going good. A quiet Buck couldn't be good thing. Ezra sat for a moment in thought. Thinking for a second, he fought with himself. Finally, he spoke. "Buck, I don't know how it is to have my teammates killed in front of me. Before I was here, I didn't even have teammates, but I would like to think I now know what teammates do for each other. I don't think I know how I would react if I lost any of you, but I do know one thing. I know how it is to be alone, and how hard it is to do be able to do anything. It feels that you can't trust anyone, everyone is out to get you. I know fear. Don't let your idea that you have to protect us interfere with trying to keep us in the dark."

Buck hadn't look at Ezra turned away the entire talk.

Ezra didn't know if Buck had even heard his argument. Ezra didn't know what else he could say, or tell Buck. Finally, when Ezra was about to get desperate. Buck though finally spoke.

"Ez, I don't want to do it by myself. I can't let you all get hurt by Dragon. I barely survived my last team. How could I try to live though that again? I couldn't. I can't."

Ezra shook his head, "How is keeping us in the dark helping us, protecting us? What if not keeping us in the loop is going to endanger us even more than us not knowing? At least if we know what is going on we can protect ourselves. We can't protect ourselves now. How is that keeping us safe."

Buck sat quietly for a couple of minutes, playing with his sandwich that he hadn't touched. Finally, with a soft sigh, Buck spoke. "I don't know if I can talk about it. It's hard. I barely remember what happened that day. What I do remember is clouded in nightmares. I just don't know."

Ezra listened, the pain and the fear in Buck's voice was so out of place that, for a moment, it took his breath away. He was never the one that they talked to. He wasn't one of the team's mother hens. He wasn't used getting confessions from friends. He usually was the one with the problems and someone getting him to talk. Shoving these thoughts to the back of his mind, he concentrated on the problem on hand. "As much as I hate clichés… sharing the load, makes it lighter, or some such thing."

Buck smiled at Ezra. The mangled cliché brought him out of the funk he had started to fall into again. Shaking his head, he looked at Ezra. "If I am going to answer your questions, I rather do it with the rest of the team, so I only have to go through it once."

Ezra smiled, looking around, "So are we ready to exit this place, and go back to the office?"

Buck nodded and they both got up and left the deli. They headed back to the office.

Buck and Ezra enter into the office, they both nodded to Vin, Josiah, and Nathan. Ezra was about to open his mouth and speak when he heard the shouting from Chris's office. "What do you mean you allowed Buck to leave. He's in danger."

"JD, calm down, Ezra is with him. Buck will be fine."

"What if something happens? Do you even know where they are?"

"JD, Ezra dragged Buck from the room, said he was getting some lunch, I didn't have a chance to stop them. They are grown men, they can take care of themselves."

"You don't care."

"JD, I want Buck to be safe to, but Ezra can watch over him and keep him safe."

"He shouldn't be out in public, what if Dragon tries to get him again.'


"But it is my job to protect him."

"JD, it is all of our jobs to protect him."

"But he is my Buck."

"Your Buck?"

"Yes, MY BUCK!"

"He isn't something you own. He isn't your Buck."

"You just want him for your own."

"JD, what are you talking about."

"You don't want anyone else to be around him, 'cause you think it is your job… Well it isn't."

The team out in the bullpen could almost hear Chris's glared. "I am not."

"Are too."





At each not and too the two voices got louder and louder. Buck looked at the other members of the team inclining his head toward the door. They all nodded. Josiah left a note and the group left the room. They didn't want to stay around and see what would happen. They left the office, and headed to cafeteria. This late in the afternoon, they shouldn't be bothered by anyone. They marched down to the cafe, leaving the two fighting in the office far away.

The group sat down at a corner table. Nathan and Josiah had swung by and gotten coffee and tea. Nathan placed the tea in front of Buck. Buck took one sniff of the tea and glared at Nathan. Nathan just shook his head. "You need to drink something, and you don't need the coffee, the tea will calm you down. Now what did you want to talk about?"

Buck sighed slightly. He really hated tea. Looking down at the tea for a moment, he finally spoke up. "Ezra and Vin convinced me that I needed to answer your questions about what happen at the incident."

The group looked at each other, nodding . Josiah spoke first. "So what do you remember about what happen?"

"Not much."

Nathan looked up, "why?"

Buck looked up at the ceiling for a moment. "I told you guys I spent some time in the hospital for a while."

The team nodded. "Well, when the van blew up, I hit my head, cracked a couple of ribs, sprained some muscles, a lot of bruises and scraps, also one broken arm. I woke up two day later, the doctors didn't know if I would remember anything from bust.

The other four looked at each other. Waking up from a bust that went wrong, and you couldn't remember anything was almost a nightmare in itself. After several minutes of silence, Ezra spoke up. "Do you remember anything now?"

Buck sighed. "A little bit here and there, it is tough to figure out the difference between what was reality and what wasn't real. I think I remember some of what happened but I don't know."

Vin looked around the group, "What do you remember?"

Buck sighed, " I was in the van, doing surveillance. The team had just checked in. Several minutes past before communications and the surveillance went off line. I try to call them, but I couldn't raise anyone. I tried everything. It didn't work. I then try to leave the van. I couldn't because it was locked from the outside. All of the doors were locked. I turned back to the monitors and they were back on. Then it gets hazy. I see my teammates lined up and then just hands and arms reaching around their heads and neck. The hands slit their throats, and the next thing is loud laughter… then nothing."

The rest of the silence for a while, they were trying to deal with what Buck had told them. Finally after several long minutes of silence, Nathan spoke up again. "How long were you in the hospital?"

Buck looked off at the far wall for a moment, staring off into space. He finally answered. " I was in the hospital for a week, then at home for a couple of months."

The rest of the team stared at Buck for a minute. Nathan finally spoke. "Was there anyone there with you."

Buck looked at Nathan, "who was supposed to look after me?"

The group looked at each other. Finally Josiah spoke up. "What about Chris?"

Buck shook his head, and stared at the tea, swirling the liquid in the cup. "I didn't want to bother him."

"You didn't want to bother him? You were injured," Nathan spoke.

Buck shrugged his shoulders," it wasn't important, I could deal with the problems."

Nathan was fuming, "Someone should have been watching you. "

Buck shrugged his shoulders again. "I got along fine."

Nathan just stared, he couldn't believe the doctors would allow Buck to go home by himself. He said as much to Buck. Buck looked at him, and lowered his eyes, and murmur something. The group glared at Buck. Buck sighed, "I told the doc, that I had someone to watch me."

Nathan looked like he was about ready to explode. "You went home from the hospital by yourself."

Buck looked at Nathan. "It wasn't a big deal, I was fine, I just hung around and slept a lot. Look it is in the past. It is done with, stop getting all hot and bothered by it."

Nathan sat back in his chair with a frown on his face. Buck shook his head, looking at the rest of the team. He raised an eyebrow, "Any other questions?"

Vin spoke up. "So why is Dragon playing games with you?"

Buck look up at the ceiling, "Dragon likes to play with his victims, err problems."

Josiah turned and stared at Buck, "Why did you say victims."

Buck shifted uncomfortable in his chair, "that is what he called us in the notes he left the team. We were his victims. He would leave notes for us, he knew we were after him, so every couple of days he would send us letters, mocking and threatening us."

Ezra blinked, "We haven't come across any threats in your notes."

Buck mumbled something under his breath and Josiah frowned. "What was that?"

Sighing, Buck spoke up, "I don't have those, the threats and warnings, were destroyed in a fire."

"Fire?" Vin asked.

Buck nodded, "The offices we were using were set on fire, all of our records were destroyed. They didn't know who did it, but Dragon probably set it up."

"Did they ever find the miscreant?" Ezra asked.

Buck shrugged his shoulders, "No one ever told me."

The others looked at each other, exchanging glances as Buck yawned. Settling back in his chair, his eyes slowly close and Buck slowly drifted into a light nap.

Vin, noticing that Buck had fallen into a doze, focused the rest of the group's attention to this.

Nathan frowned a little, "We need to get Buck out of here."

The group nodded, "Hey, Ez, you think we could all crash at your house?"

Ezra stared at Vin, "What do you mean my house? I thought we had to go to the ranch."

"Yea well, I don't think any of us wanna be around Chris and JD right about now."

The rest of the group nodded, Josiah sighed and looked at the group. "One of us has to go and tell Chris and JD."

The rest of the group that was awake looked at Vin, "No, way, I ain't going do it."

Nathan and Ezra both stared at Josiah, shaking their heads negatively. Ezra spoke up. "Josiah, there is no way you could incite me to go up there and talk to those two."

Nathan looked at Josiah, "what Ezra said."

Josiah shook his head, "One of us will have to tell them. If we don't we will get it later."

Nathan and Ezra turned towards Vin.

"What? I'm not gonna up there."

"Vin, he won't kill you. Neither will JD."

"That ain't a reason. You go up to do it," Vin said as he pointed at Josiah

"Now, Brother Vin, I can't. We all know that you can take on JD, and Chris won't attack you. The rest of us will be waiting for you in the garage in a car for a quick get away."

"I still don't see why one of you can't go up."

"Look, Vin, you aren't scared of Chris, you get to deal with him," Nathan pleaded.

Vin sighed. He knew they were right, he just didn't want to do it, but he was the only one who could do this dangerous job and live through it. Getting up from the table, Vin headed back towards the office. As he left the cafe, he refused to stop and look at the rest of the group who were waking up Buck and heading towards the garage.

Vin slowly made his way into their offices. He didn't want to be here. Sneaking in to the team office, who would have ever thought. Standing in front of Chris's office, Vin stood there and listened to the conversation. "He is my Buck."

"My Buck."

That was all that he heard from the office. Shaking his head, he opened the door. JD and Chris didn't hear Vin come in, or even notice that Vin was standing watching it any them. Finally, Vin couldn't stand it. Putting his fingers to his mouth, and let go a loud whistle. That stopped both of the yelling teammates. Chris and JD turned and looked at Vin. Chris was the first to speak. "What?"

Vin just shook his head. "I just came to tell ya that the rest of us are leaving and that we will see ya tomorrow." With that, Vin left as fast as he could without a backward glance at Chris and JD.

For Chris's and JD's part, they just stared. They couldn't believe what they had just heard. Finally, after a few seconds, the meaning finally set in. The two of them looked at each other and blinked. Shaking their heads, they stared at each other. They both spoke at once.

"Chris... ?"

"JD... ?"

They both stopped and stared at each other. Shaking his head, Chris spoke. "JD, look you are right, I have been hogging Buck. I been trying to repaid Buck for what he helped me through, and in doing so I forgot that there is a team now. I don't have to do the whole thing by myself. I also should have taken into consideration that there were others on the team that wanted to protect Buck as much as I did. Forgive?"

JD stared in shock. Chris apologizing to him? Blinking, JD smiled. "Yea, you're forgiven… if I am. I didn't have the right to say that you lost the chance to be there with him, I was a little jealous."

Chris nodded. Looking out the empty office, Chris turned back to JD. What do you say, we go and find the rest of the team and tell them."

Nodding, JD and Chris headed out of the building towards their cars. They were going to find the rest of the team and apologize.

Chapter 6

Two hours later, they found themselves standing in front of Ezra's door. Chris and JD looked at each other. As they stared at the door, JD raised his hand and rang the doorbell. Both of them could hear the doorbell ring resounding in the townhouse. They waited for the telltale signs of footsteps toward the door. They had a long wait. After several minutes, they rang the doorbell again. They waited for another several long minutes. Finally, they heard the footsteps coming to the door, the footsteps stopped at the door. They waited several seconds. Finally, they heard Ezra's voice. "Who is it?"

"Ezra, open up," Chris growled.

Several minutes past but finally, they watched as the door opened slightly. Ezra peered out at JD and Chris. Shaking his head, Ezra turned his head and asked something to the room. It was too faint for Chris and JD to hear. Ezra finally looked back at Chris and JD. "You may come in, but be warned, if you wake up Mr. Wilmington, we will forcibly remove you."

Chris and JD looked at each other. Turning back to Ezra they both nodded and Ezra opened the door. As they entered the rooms they noticed that Vin, Josiah and Nathan were sitting in the living room of the townhouse. Ezra shut and locked the door, walking past Chris and JD. Ezra took the open chair in the room. The four sitting all turned and stared at Chris and JD. Chris and JD couldn't meet their gaze. Nathan was the first to speak, "Whatever you have to say, say it quietly, Buck is sleeping."

Chris and JD both blinked. Chris was the first to speak. "He's sleeping?"

Nathan nodded, "He feel asleep the minute that we got here."

JD looked worry at Nathan, "Why did you drug him, he doesn't like that."

"Because he hasn't been sleeping. He needed to get some solid sleep."

Chris also looked at Nathan, then the other members. "What's wrong with him."

Vin shook his head. "He's tired. Hasn't been eating and worried."

Chris and JD looked at each other in shock.

Josiah spoke up, "Brothers, with your arguing about who is supposed to watch him, you forgot an important fact. Buck should be your concern, not who should guard him the best."

Both Chris and JD hung their heads. They had been acting like spoiled three-year-olds. They forgot that this wasn't about them it was about protecting and helping Buck. They felt stupid and ashamed at the way they had been acting. Sighing, Chris ran his hand through his hair. Leaning against the wall, Chris shut his eyes. JD, standing next to him, looked down at floor. He couldn't raise his eyes up to meet with any of the others team members.

The rest of the team waited for either of the two to start talking. They weren't going to let the two of them get off easy. Chris cleared his throat. "I've been acting like a fool, I'm sorry, I forgot that there is a team of people to protect Buck and not just me."

JD looked up from the floor for a minute, "I've been the same way, I forgot we were a team and not that Buck's protection should be mine job only."

The other members of the team nodded, "I am glad, you both have seen the light," Josiah grumbled.

Chris and JD both nodded. "So, why did you drug Buck?" JD asked.

The team turned to Nathan, Nathan wouldn't meet the team's eyes. "Well, he needed sleep and he wasn't going to get any, so I just gave him a slight sedative to help him sleep. "

Chris just shook his head, "He isn't going to be happy, when he finds out about this."

Nathan just shrugged his shoulders.

Chris looked at the group. "Did you learn anything this afternoon?"

Vin, Nathan, Josiah, and Ezra nodded. "Let's fill you in," Josiah said with a smile.

The next hour or so the team told JD and Chris what they learned, and the group worked out what they needed to do the next day.

The shrill ringing of a phone roused him from his sleep. The quiet of the phone being picked up and soft voices talking in it further allowed him to rise even more to consciousness. He shifted, turning in the bed, trying to find a position to go back to the sweet embrace of sleep. Just as he was on the verge of going back to sleep, the phone rang again. By the second ring, one dark blue eye sleepily opened. It shut almost as quickly as it had opened. Shifting his body again, he stretched his arm over his head, arching his back. Bringing his arms back down to rest them behind his head, he allowed his eyes to slowly open and fall half-open. Staring at the beige wall across from him, he noticed something wasn't right. There wasn't a beige wall in his bedroom. Then like a tidal wave, the realization of where he was and why crashed over him.

Buck bolted up into a siting position on the bed. He had been drugged, how could they do that? Drug him, how could they? Tossing off the covers, he swung his legs down in order to get out of bed. As his feet hit the floor and he stood up, suddenly the room started to spinning. Falling back onto the bed, with a small plop, and holding his hands to his head, he waited for the dizzy spell to pass. After a few minutes, he slowly this time got up from the bed. Shuffling over to a nearby chair that had his clothes on it, he put them on, and headed out of the room, hopefully to find some answers.

Walking into the kitchen, he headed straight to the coffeepot. Grabbing a mug, he was just about to pour himself some coffee, when a dark hand plucked the coffeepot away. Buck looked up into the brown eyes of the healer. "Why'd you do that?" Buck demanded.

"You don't need coffee. Drink the orange juice instead."

"Nathan, I don't want any juice, I want coffee."

"Buck, you need to drink something besides caffeine."

Buck looked at Nathan. Nathan blinked, shaking his head again. Nathan handed Buck the orange juice. Buck looked down at the juice, sighing, he sat down at the table. Taking a sip, he placed the glass on the table, he looked up at Nathan. "You drugged me."

Sitting across from Buck, Nathan answered. "Yep."

Buck's mouth opened, he was stunned. "You admit it. You drugged me. Why?"

"You needed sleep. "


"But, nothing. Now drink your juice, Chris wants us to meet him at the office, they think they might have a lead to the Dragon. Josiah and Ezra are both trying to go check out the safe house where Jack is, so when you're ready, we can head out to the office."

Buck stared down at the table. "You drugged me."

Nathan huffed, "Look, can we move beyond that, we need to get going."

Buck grumbled some more, finally nodding, he swallowed the rest of the juice. He got up and went back into the bedroom to finish dressing.

Chapter 7

The office was quiet. Nathan was waiting for Buck to wake up and join them. Vin and Josiah had gone out to try to find some contacts that might have some information. JD was focused on his keyboard, trying to follow Dragon's money transactions. Chris was in his office, checking out his contacts and gathering the information that he could from his federal contacts. He was also checking with his federal contacts trying to find out everything he could about the rest of Buck's team.

The shrill ringing of the phone startled Ezra out of his thoughts. Glancing up, Ezra reached for the phone, "Hello."

"Is this Team Seven of the ATF?"

A puzzled looked came over Ezra's face. "Yes."

"I wanted to tell you that Jack and his family were killed in a fire at a safe house this morning."

Ezra was worried, "Who is this?"

"A friend."

"What do you mean, a friend?"

"Just that. Good-bye." The caller hung up.

Ezra held the phone to his ear for a few moments, shocked by what the caller had said. When it finally sunk in, Ezra put the phone down, and got up and headed towards Chris's office. Chris wasn't going to like this news. . Knocking on the door, Ezra waited for Chris to acknowledge the knock, and said to enter. Ezra walked into the room. "Mr. Larabee, I have recently be made aware of the fact that the safe house that Buck's compatriot had been staying in was burned down last night"

Chris frowned for a moment. "Jack Perreault is dead? How?"

Ezra sighed. "I don't know much. An informant told me of the fire. Nothing else."

Chris sighed. "See what you can find out about the fire. Also, tell me when Buck gets in."

Ezra nodded and headed towards his desk. Sitting down, he reached for the phone. Hopefully he would be able to find out what had happen.

Meanwhile, outside the ATF building, Vin and Josiah met up with Buck and Nathan in the parking garage. " Nathan, Buck, I see the both of you have decided to join us today," Josiah spoke at them.

Buck nodded and Nathan smiled. Vin started towards the door. Suddenly out of the corner of his eye, he noticed someone running towards the group. Turning around, he tried to figure out where the person was running towards. In a second, as the man came closer, Vin called out towards Josiah, Nathan, and Buck. "Guys, watch out."

All three heads popped up, Josiah was the first to react. He pushed Nathan out of the way and reached out and grabbed Buck, pulling Buck to the ground with him. Josiah did it just in time. As he was pulling Buck out of the way, the man that was running towards them, pulled out a knife and slashed at Buck. The man missed Buck but caught Josiah on the arm as they were falling.

Vin rushed to their side, Josiah gestured that he was okay. Vin nodded and took off after the man. Chasing after him, he dodged around the chaos that the man left on the sidewalk. After several blocks Vin turned the corner of a building where he saw the man turn down. He skidded to a halt. The man had disappeared. Vin turned and checked down all of the streets, hoping to find out where the man had gone. Sighing, he turned around and hurried back towards the rest of the group. His step quickened as he worried about the the three he left behind.

Arriving back to where he had left them, he looked worriedly at the three. "Nathan, is Josiah going to be okay?"

Nathan looked up from where he was wrapping Josiah's arm. "Yea, he should be, the ambulance is on its way. The cut is going to need some stitches."

Vin nodded, "how's Buck?"

Nathan glanced worriedly at Buck. "Not so good. He hasn't said anything since the attack."

Vin looked worriedly at Buck. "Have you called Chris yet?"

A quick look of guilt crossed Nathan's face. "Ummm, no."

Vin blinked. "What do you mean, no?"

Nathan looked down at the ground. "I thought you would be better to call him."

Vin looked at Nathan. "What do you mean you thought it was better for me to call him."

"He won't kill ya."

Vin closed his eyes, "Alright, I'll call him."

Nathan nodded. "You should hurry up and call. He might start worrying that he hasn't heard from us."

Vin growled softly. Taking his cell phone out of his pocket, he flipped it open and called Chris. "Hey, cowboy, how ya doing? Ummmm, define fine. Well, we were attacked. Well, really Buck was attacked. He's fine. Josiah isn't though."

At this point he had to remove the phone away from his ear. When the shouting had died down, some, Vin brought the phone closer to him. "No, nothing bad, just a flesh wound on his arm. Nate says he'll be fine. Where are we? Ummm, parking garage. No, umm, Buck and I will be up at the office soon." Vin nodded once. "Yea, bye, Chris." Clicking the phone shut, Vin looked at Nathan. "You own me one."

Nathan just smiled. "Well, have fun talking with Chris, I need to go with Josiah."

Vin reached out and grabbed Nathan's arm. "There is no way I am facing Chris alone." Vin looked over at Josiah, "Josiah can you go and get stitches by yourself?"

Josiah was about to protest when he saw Vin glared at him.

Blinking a coupled of times, Josiah nodded.

Vin looked back at Nathan, daring him to say anything about Josiah going to the hospital. Nathan wasn't looking at Vin though, he was looking at someone behind Vin. Vin, noticing this, turned slowly. "Hi, Chris, how is it going?"

"What happened?"

Vin looked around, really hoping that the ambulance would show up. Unfortunately, he wasn't that lucky. Smiling at Chris, Vin looked away for a minute. "ummm, nothing. "

"What do you mean nothing."

"Well, I already told you what happen."

Chris glared. Vin just shrugged. Before he could say anything, the ambulance pulled up, drowning out whatever Vin was going to say. Chris just glared at the ambulance. The ambulance wasn't affected by the glare. Chris sighed. "Nathan, go with Josiah. JD, Ezra, go take Buck upstairs. Vin will help me check for clues."

Vin sighed, he had really wanted to go upstairs with the other three. He could tell that Chris wasn't in a good mood. Looking longingly at the door to the ATF building before turning back to Chris, he smiled. "So, cowboy, what are we doing?"

Growling, Chris spoke. "We're going to check the area and see if we can find anything the attacker might have left."

Vin nodded, getting up from the sidewalk. He started to search around the area, trying to find any trace of the attacker.

Meanwhile, Ezra and JD had brought up Buck to the office. Buck wasn't paying attention to either of them. He hadn't wanted to go back to the office, he wished he had been able to go after the attacker and get some answers.

Upstairs in the office, Buck was slumped in his chair, his hands clasped loosely in front of him, paying no attention to what else was going on. JD and Ezra looked at each other, they didn't know what to do. JD finally approached Buck. "Are you okay?"

Buck looked up at JD for a moment. Rising from his chair quickly, he walked over to the windows and looked out. Looking down at the sidewalk, he watched for a while as people walked by. Finally, he turned back to JD. "I don't know."

Ezra quirked an eyebrow up, "You don't know what?"

"How I feel. How can I know? Every time I start to figure that out, something like this happens. How am I supposed to feel?"

JD looked at Ezra for help. Ezra sighed. He didn't know what to say. Clearing his throat a little, he spoke up. "You can't let this Dragon beat you like this. He wants to kept you unbalanced."

Buck huffed, "It's working! Every time I find stable ground, he goes and destroys it. I don't know how long I can continue with his game. How many of you guys I'll allow to get hurt."

Bristling, JD spoke up. "Its not about how many of us gets hurt, you can't control that, you can't control him. You can help us protect you and ourselves by letting us work on this like a team."

Buck looked at JD for moment. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders, "You're right but it doesn't make me feel any better to know that the team is getting hurt because of me."

Ezra walked up to Buck and placed a hand on Buck's shoulder. "Buck, we're family. Getting hurt happens, but it won't stop any of us from helping you against this Dragon."

Buck nodded his head. Heading back to his desk, he sat down and looked up at JD and Ezra. "So what is the next step?"

JD and Ezra smiled at each other. "Well, let's start at the beginning."

Agreeing, Ezra pulled up a chair and the three of them started going through all the information that they had.


The wine glass was flung across the room, splattering against the far wall. The red wine flowed down the wall looking like blood. The person who threw the glass, was standing and staring at an email just received. Growling, the person picked up the phone. Stabbing at the buttons, Dragon waited for the line to pick up. "What happened!"

"It didn't work."

"Why didn't it work?"

"I don't know. I believe that he didn't expect the other people to be around."

Dragon frowned, "Take care of him. I don't like failure."

"Yes, master."

Dragon slammed down the phone. "Buck Wilmington will pay for being alive."


Josiah and Nathan walked into the office and stopped. The office was dead quiet, deserted. They looked at each other. Stepping forward into the room, they looked around. Concerned, they headed towards Chris's office. Opening the door, they stared. It was empty. Looking at each other, they turned back to the room. Looking around, Nathan noticed a post-it note on his desk. Walking over, he picked it up. Shaking his head he looked at Josiah. "They're in conference room 7. They're going over everything that we have so far."

"I guess we're in for a little bit of a walk."

Nathan nodded in agreement. The two headed down the hall to the conference room. Opening the door, they stopped and stared. The table in the conference room was covered in paper. There was a trail of papers circling the room, climbing all the walls. Clearing their throats, they couldn't believe their eyes. Five heads suddenly turned and stared at the intruders.

Nathan and Josiah both smiled. JD was the first to speak up. "Hey, guys, you found us. Josiah you alright?"

Josiah nodded, "I'm fine. Doctor said that I needed to keep the bandages on for a week or so and to be careful with it."

The group nodded. Nathan stared at the conference room "So what happened in here?"

The group looked around them, realizing for the first time the spread of the papers. Smiling shyly at Nathan and Josiah, they shrugged their shoulders. "So, you find anything out?"

The group looked at each other. Chris finally growled, "No."

Ezra stared distastefully at the papers, "Please join us in this fun."

Nathan and Josiah looked at each other. Shrugging their shoulders, they took small careful steps into the room. Josiah picked up some papers. Reading the page quickly, Josiah frowned. "What exactly does a grocery list have to do with the case?"

Vin smiled. Snatching the list, he looked at the team. "Forgot where I put it."

The group looked at each other and laughed. With the release of some tension, they all turned and started to sift through the paperwork. Several hours past with everyone focused on what information they could find that might lead them towards Dragon's identity. So focused on the research were they that they didn't hear the knock on the door at first. After several minutes, Buck finally looked up from the corner of the room that he was working in. "Hey, someone get the door."

Vin, who was the closest to the door, reached and opened the door. Standing in the doorway was a delivery person. Swallowing loudly, the young man looked around at the Seven glaring men. "I… mmm... Have a delivery for a, hmmm... Buck Wilmington."

The group looked at each other. Not liking how this sounded, Vin looked over at Chris. Chris shrugged then nodded. Vin turned back to the delivery man. "Can I sign for it?"

"Sure," the man nodded enthusiasm.

Holding out a clipboard, Vin sprawled his signature on it. The delivery man took the clipboard back and handed over a small package. Vin plucked it from the man, thanking the delivery person, then quickly, he shut the door in the person's face. Looking down at the box, he looked over at Buck. "You want me to open it?"

Buck shrugged his shoulders. "Sure."

Vin unwrapped the box, and then opened it. Lifting the lid, he stared at the item in the box. The rest of the team impatiently waited. Finally, JD piped up. "What is it, Vin?"

Vin looked up. "It's was… is a broken figuring. Looks like it was once a stag or a moose, or a elk of some sort."

The team stared at Vin, "What type of animal is it, Vin," Chris growled.

Vin stared at Chris, he didn't want to answer. The answer though was taken from him.

Buck spoke up, "A broken buck maybe."

The room fell silence.

The team waited for Vin to say if Buck was right. Vin desperately didn't want to say it. Finally, after several minutes, he took a deep breath. "Yes, it's a buck."

Buck swallowed. Closing his eyes for a moment, he looked up at Vin and, in a slightly wavering voice, he asked. "Is there a note?"

Vin shrugged his shoulders. Looking around the packaging, he noticed a slip of paper. "There's a note."

Unfolding the piece of paper, Vin stared at the couple of words that were on it. A puzzled note crept into his voice. "It just says 'A promise that has yet to be kept'. I don't get it."

The rest of the room had no idea. A sudden memory flash though Buck's mind. He started to shake. The action was caught by the team. Ezra, who was the closest, moved over to Buck. "Buck, are you okay?"

Buck looked up into Ezra's green eyes. Nodding his head, he swallowed several times to get some liquid down his suddenly dry throat. "I remember something. I told you guys how we would got notes and gifts from Dragon during the case."

The group nodded.

"Well, one of the last ones we got before the bust had a promised on it. We ignored most of them, there should have been no way for Dragon to know of our plans. It said on it 'All that come after a Dragon gets burned, knights, wizards and even heroes. If you don't stop looking for the Dragon, the Dragon will make you stop.' We basically took it to mean, stop or he'll kill ya. We ignored it. Guess we shouldn't have."

Josiah frowned for a moment. "Buck, were these threats every directed at an individual person."

Buck thought for a moment, then shook his head. Josiah sat back against the wall with a thoughtful look on his face.

Chris stared at Josiah for a moment, "what is it, Josiah?"

Josiah looked up startled, not having realized the entire group was staring at him. "Well, that is, back when the team was trying to look for Dragon, Dragon threaten the whole team. Now another team is looking for him and he is only threatening one member of that team.'

The rest of the team looked at each other with a confused look on their faces. Finally, JD spoke up. "I don't get it, Josiah. Why would that be important?"

Josiah looked over at JD, "Well, Brother, you see, Dragon isn't out to kill any of us, just Buck. Which differs from last time. So, if we are lucky, he'll make a mistake that will lead us to him 'cause he is out for revenge now."

Vin frowned, "Didn't we already know this?"

Josiah nodded, "Yes, but he has missed two attempts to kill Buck now. Dragon's gonna get more rash with his attacks. Soon he'll make a mistake, and when he does, we can get him."

The others nodded.

Chris frowned a little. "Josiah, I would rather get him before he makes his mistake."

The group smiled in agreement. Nathan looked down at his watch. Frowning, he looked over at Chris. "Chris, what do think about calling it a day. It's getting on six o'clock."

Chris frowned then nodded. "Let's pick up this room. "

As they finished piling up the papers, Chris straightened and stretched. "JD, drive Buck up to the ranch. The rest of us will follow with dinner. JD nodded. Buck glared at Chris for a moment before he followed JD out. He could tell there was something that Chris didn't want him to hear. Frowning, he headed out of the room.

Chris watched as Buck left the room. Waiting several minutes till Buck and JD were gone, Chris looked over at the rest of the team. His gaze settling on Ezra, he frowned. "Ezra, did you ever learn anything about the fire at the safe house?"

Ezra frowned, eyes unfocused for a minute, he then looked up at Chris. "Mr. Larabee, that incident slipped my mind. If you wish, I can look into it before I leave."

Chris thought for a moment, "Just check and see if you have any calls on it. It can wait till tomorrow."

Ezra nodded. The rest of the team stared at Chris. "Cowboy, what fire?"

"You don't know?"

Nathan, Josiah, and Vin shook their heads. Breathing out a long breath, Chris ran a hand over his face. "The safe house that Jack Perreault w as staying in burned down last night. Jack and his family are dead. Just before Josiah was attacked we got a phone call about it. With everything that has happened today, I forgot about it."

Nathan frowned, "That isn't good. Are we going to tell Buck?"

Chris sighed, "I don't know."

Josiah looked thoughtful for moment, "If we tell him it might send him into shock again."

Ezra frowned, "He has a right to know, Jack was a friend."

"Yea, but we can't have Buck going off on his own."

Nathan frowned, "He wouldn't do that."

Vin shrugged his shoulders. "If he thought it would protect us he would do it in a heartbeat."

Chris inclined his head in agreement with Vin. "Let's wait until we get more information. Ezra and Vin, tomorrow see what you two can dig up about the fire. The more we know about fire the better I would feel. For some reason I have a feeling what happened to Jack is important."

Vin and Ezra both murmured their agreement.

Hearing the agreement, Chris opened the door to the conference room. "Alright, what do we want for dinner?"

Chapter 8

JD was driving with Buck in the truck, the silence in the vehicle was almost painful. JD shifted in the driver seat, glancing from the corner of his eye at Buck. Buck paid no attention, he was staring out the window watching the trees and road pass by. JD took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Buck."

Buck jerked slightly as he was brought out of his thoughts. Frowning a little, he looked over at JD. "What are you sorry for?"

JD sighed. "For the way I've been. I've been acting like a spoiled brat. I forgot we're a team and not that it's just you and me. I've been acting like a kid. I wanted to protect you like you protect me. I'm sorry. I haven't been acting how I should been acting."

Buck frowned in puzzlement. Shrugging his shoulders, he looked at JD, really looked at him for the first time in days. "What do you mean?"

JD fidgeted at the stoplight for a second. When it turn green, he started talking again. "Last night, when you guys left, Vin made Chris and I listen to ourselves. We were arguing about you like two kids over a toy. Instead of working together, each of us wanted to be the one to protect you. In all of that jockeying, we forgot that you weren't a thing. I'm sorry."

Buck sat silent for a moment. He really didn't know what to say. In all honesty, the last few days have been a blur. "JD, it's okay, you were just worried. It happens. I'm sorry that I worried you so much."

JD sighed. "Buck, you have nothing to apologize for. It was my fault. I ignored you. Cause I wanted to prove to you that I could protect you. I was jealous that Chris was the only one allowed to guard you. I was so wrapped up that I didn't think of what you needed."

Buck blinked and finally spoke up. "JD, don't worry about it. The last few days have been really stressful." Buck then turned back to the window. JD glanced over at Buck and frowned. Buck still didn't sound like the usually Buck. Turning back to the road, he hoped that Chris would be able to get through to Buck.

Arriving at the ranch, JD stopped and turned off the truck. Taking one long glance at Buck, he opened the door of the truck. Waiting for Buck to join him outside of the truck, JD walked up to the door to the ranch. Opening the door, he watched as Buck walked up to the ranch door. Frowning, JD shook his head. He hoped this case would be over soon and the old Buck would reappear.

An hour later, the rest of the team appeared. JD was waiting by the door. "What took you guys so long?"

Chris turned and glared at Vin and Nathan. Josiah just chuckled. JD frowned and turned towards Ezra. Ezra sighed. " Apparently, Vin and Nathan decided that they needed to have a rather loud argument about what we should have for dinner."

Nathan and Vin just glared at Ezra. "We weren't arguing," Nathan said while glaring at Vin. "We were discussing health benefits."

Chris, Josiah, and Ezra rolled their eyes. They had been listening to this argument for the past hour. Ezra, looking around, was searching for another topic. "Where's Buck?"

JD smiled. "He's watching TV."

The group nodded. Entering the ranch, Josiah and Vin brought the food to the kitchen. Nathan, Ezra, and Chris went and checked on Buck. Buck, for his part, was lying on the couch flipping through the TV channels. Hearing group coming towards him, he settled down and stopped flipping at a random TV show. Rolling his eyes a little, Buck spoke up. "If ya all are going to sneak up on someone, you should all be quieter."

The group stopped where they were sneaking in. Chris straightened up and glared at the group, then Buck. " So, how are you feeling?"

Buck rolled his eyes. "Fine, just relaxing."

The group looked at each other. Nathan was about to speak when Vin entered from the kitchen. "Dinner."

Buck got up from his couch and headed towards the dinning room. The rest of the team followed Buck into the room. Settling down at their places, the group enjoyed a relaxing dinner. Nathan though kept an eye on Buck, watching how much that he ate. What Buck ate wasn't enough in Nathan's book. Nathan, who was sitting across from Buck, frowned, then spoke up. "Buck, you need to eat more."

Buck looked up from where he was moving his food around his plate. "I'm full, Nate."

Nathan's frown got deeper, "You need to eat more, you haven't been eating."

Buck sighed, looking down at his plate. Pushing the food around a little bit more, Buck shook his head. "I'm full, Nate." With that, he got up and headed back to watch some TV. The rest of the team watched him leave the room. Nathan slumped back down in his chair. Instead of eating the rest of the food, he pushed his food around his plate. Josiah frowned, "Nathan, finish eating… you won't do Buck any good if you don't eat."

Nathan shook his head, pushing his plate away, he got up and headed out to where Buck was sitting.

The rest of the team watched Nathan go and join Buck watching TV. JD turned and looked at the team. "What's wrong with Nathan?"

Ezra looked around the table. "Nathan is worried about Buck, and frustrated that Buck isn't taking care of himself. He is probably going out there to talk to Buck."

After several minutes, the team started to eat. Hoping that Nathan would be able to figure out what was wrong with Buck.

Nathan approached Buck who was once again lying on the sofa. "Buck?"

Buck sighed. Sitting up, he looked at Nathan. "What?"

Nathan joined Buck on the sofa. Looking around the room, Nathan finally spoke up. "Look, I don't mean to be such a nag, but you have to eat."

Buck leaned back on the sofa. "I know, but I'm just not hungry."

Nathan stared at the flickering figures on the screen. "I know you might not be hungry but you need to eat more than you have been. You've already lost weight. Weight that you can't really afford to lose. In the last few days, you only had one night of sleep, that night you were drugged asleep."

Buck was silent for a moment, "I just can't. Every time I start to eat I think about my old teammates, and every time I sleep I dream about the bust." Buck closed his eyes. "I can't."

Nathan sighed. "You have to eat though, and none of the 'when this case is over I'll be fine' 'cause it won't work. You need to sleep and eat. At least eat."

Buck slumped down on the couch. "I just can't."

Nathan stared at his hands for a couple of minutes. "We'll get Dragon, Buck, so stressing about him won't do you any good. Not eating and making yourself sick from lack of sleep and hunger. You need to keep your strength up."

Buck couldn't meet Nathan's eyes.

Nathan sighed, "Alright, just try and eat more. We can't have you getting sick."

Sighing, Buck turned to watch the TV, flipping the channels. Nathan settled down and watched the TV with Buck. The rest of the team joined them.

Later that night, Buck was lying on the bed, staring at the shadows on the ceiling. He had been trying to take Nathan's advice and sleep. It wasn't working. His mind couldn't, or wouldn't stop running the problem with Dragon through his head. He shrugged his shoulders. He got up from his bed and opened the door of the room. Looking around and not noticing anyone, he started to head out of the room towards the back door. Just as he was turning into the kitchen, he ran into a body. Shaking his head, he blinked, He frowned as he realized who he had run into to. "Hey, Chris, what are you doing?"

"Where are you going?"

"I was just going to get some fresh air."

Chris frowned. "Shouldn't you be sleeping?"

Buck looked around the room for a minute. "Couldn't go to sleep, so I decided on a walk."

Chris raised an eyebrow. "Didn't Nate tell you that you needed to get more sleep?"

"Ummm, no?"

Chris frowned, "Are you telling me or asking me?"


Chris raised his eyebrow again.


Chris shook his head, "You should head back to bed and get some sleep, tomorrow is going to be a long day."

"Sure, Chris, I'll head back there, I just want to get a drink."

Chris nodded and moved to the side to allow Buck into the kitchen. Buck headed over to the sink to grab a glass and pour some water in it. Buck kept glancing out of the corner of his eye waiting for Chris to leave him alone. Buck finally frowned. "Don't you have somewhere to be?"

Chris shook his head. "No, I want to make sure you get back to your room first."

Buck frowned, "Chris I can find my way back to the room by myself. "

Chris smiled. "I know you can, but I want to make sure that you head back to the room without any detours."

Buck growled silently. "I won't make any detours."

Chris sighed. "I know you won't but I just want to make sure that you don't get distracted."

Buck shook his head. Placing his glass down in the sink, Buck turned to Chris. "Look, you don't have to hover, I can take care of myself."

"I know you can take care of yourself. I just want to make sure that you are all right. I also need to apologize."

Buck leaned back against the counter. "What do you mean you have to apologize. What did you do?"

Chris shifted his body weight. 'I've wanted to make sure that Dragon wouldn't get you so much that I forgot to make sure you were okay, and the rest of the team was alright."

Buck rolled his eyes. "There isn't any reason to apologize. What is up with people today and apologizing, first JD, then you. There is nothing to say you're sorry for."

"What do you mean?"

"There is nothing to apologize for."

Chris growled and his hands started flexing. Buck just looked at Chris. "Chris, relax, I don't know why you are so stressed about this apology, but you don't need one."

Chris couldn't stand it anymore. Grabbing a surprised Buck, Chris slammed him against the door. Before Chris could say anything, Nathan came walking into the room. Stopping abruptly, he stared at what was happening. "What is going on?"

Chris released Buck. Buck took one look at Nathan and Chris and darted out of the back door, disappearing into the night.

Nathan just glared at Chris. "What do you think you were doing?"

Chris turned and looked at Nathan. "What?"

Nathan couldn't believe his ears. "You were holding Buck against the wall, demanding him to accept his apology. That isn't how you get them to accept an apology."

"He wasn't listening. He kept saying it was nothing. He needed to accept the apology."

Nathan shook his head. "That isn't how you get people to accept it. You talk with them, without threatening them with bodily harm."

"I wasn't going to hurt him, just knock some sense into him."

Nathan really wanted to whack his head against the wall. Taking a deep breath, he spoke up. "Chris, you know all that sensitivity training that you were sent to."

Chris nodded with a frown on his face.

Nathan sighed. "Then use it."

"I get it, Nathan. I should go out and apologize the right way."

Nathan nodded. "You got the idea."

Chris nodded, and headed to the back door and out. Nathan watched him go and wondered who would need the bandages first.

Chris walked out of the door. Gazing around the backyard, he frowned. Spotting the barn, Chris headed in that direction.

Inside the barn, Buck was petting his horse again. The repeated action relaxed him. The warmth that Beau gave him relaxed him. Buck wasn't speaking he was just tired. He needed to get away from the rest of the team for awhile. He couldn't deal with the team always hovering. Focusing on Beau, Buck didn't notice the clomp of some hooves on the floor. He didn't realize that one of the horses had gotten free till he felt a cold nose in the middle of his back. Turning, he stared. "Peso, you should be in your stall."

Peso just glared at Buck for a minute before bumping his head against Buck's chest. Buck stared at Peso. Shaking his head, he spoke to the horse. "Look, I'm not Vin, go find your master."

Peso just glared at Buck, he wanted the attention too and too a step forward towards Buck. Buck took a step back but his horse between him and Peso. Peso snorted. He wanted to be patted too. Staring at the human, Peso didn't know what do.

Buck looked up as he heard more hooves hitting the ground. Looking up, he saw Chaucer walking up behind Peso. Buck leaned more against his horse. Looking over Beau's back, Buck wondered what he was supposed to do. He now had two horses between him and the door. Petting Beau, Buck was worried. This couldn't be good with the horses surrounding him. It couldn't be good at all. Looking around the barn, he looked for an escape.

He finally found an escape in the shape of Chris. Buck cleared his throat. "Chris, could you help me."

Chris stared at the group. "How'd this happen?"

"If I knew, I would have gotten away from here before I was surrounded."

Shaking his head, Chris grabbed Chaucer first. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a dry apple. Chaucer, smelling it, followed Chris back towards his stall, allowing Chris to shut him in it. Chris tried to do the same thing with Peso, but Peso didn't care. He wanted attention. After several minutes, Chris just shrugged at Buck. Buck laid his head on his horse's body. This wasn't good. "A horse getting the better of ya, Chris?"

Chris frowned. Shaking his head, he looked at Peso and Peso looked at him. Chris backed up and glared. "No, I think he would rather have you pet him."

Buck leaned against his horse, staring at Peso. Sighing, he moved in between the two horses. He started to pet both of them. While both horses were relaxing into the petting, Buck looked over at Chris. "Happy?"

"Yep, now I can talk to you without you running away."

Buck frowned, "what do you mean, we already talked."

"No, I talked, you allowed it to go in one ear and out the other."

"No, I listened, and told you it wasn't necessary."

"Buck, it was necessary. I've been going about this all wrong. I've focused all on getting Dragon, and not how all of this was affecting you. I forgot that you were a victim in all this, and you need a friend not someone who didn't care about your feelings. I need you to accept my apology about not taking your feelings into account."

Buck blinked, the only movement from him was the hands that were petting the horses. Chris waited patiently for Buck to speak. Buck finally spoke. "Using your sensitive training I see."

Chris stared. "No… Yes… Look that isn't important. Do you accept the apology?"

Buck rolled his eyes. "I accept the apology."

Chris frowned, "are you just saying that to please me so I won't brother you again."

Buck just sighed, and concentrate on the horses. Peso turned and glared at Chris. Chris just blinked at the horse. Buck just shook his head. "If it makes you happy, then yes, I am serious about it. I forgive you. Now get Peso back into his stall."

Chris just frowned. Grabbing Peso and leading him back to his stall, Chris just glared at Buck. "Why won't you take the apology?"

Buck turned back to his horse. Chris walked to the other side of Beau. "What is so hard about allowing us to apologize to you? Then you taking the apology to heart and not pushing it to the side like it doesn't matter."

Buck focused on his horse. "I don't mean to push it aside, but I don't see what you are apologizing for."

Chris was about to say something when they both heard the stable door opens. As they turned, Chris frowned and Buck smiled in relief. Vin was walking in to check on his horse before he went out on patrol.

Growling, Chris glared at Vin. "What are you doing here?"

Vin blinked, "Hey, Buck, thought you'd be here. Chris what are you doing to my horse?"

Chris just stared. "What do you mean what am I doing?'

Vin just nodded, walking over to Peso. Moving Peso away from Chris, he started to soothe the horse. "Its okay, the man in black didn't hurt you, did he...."

Vin's voice trailed off as he led Peso to his stall. Chris just stared at Buck for a minute. This was not going the way that he wanted. Chris just stood there, not believing what he heard.

Buck just smiled while Chris was looking at Vin. While Chris was distracted, Buck snuck out from behind his horse, locking the stall door, and slowly snuck towards the door. He was almost to the door, when Chris spoke up. "Freeze, Buck. Don't move closer to the door."

Buck froze. How did Chris know that he was almost out of the door? Rolling his eyes at the command, he stood there. Vin just smirked from where he was by Peso's stall. Nodding at Chris, Vin spoke up. "You and Buck head back to the house, its almost daylight."

Chris glared at Vin, then collected Buck from the doorway. Buck gave a long look at Vin, and followed Chris meekly out of the door. Chris heard Buck following him. Just as they reached the front door, Chris turned and waited for Buck to come even with him. Looking Buck in the eyes, Chris frowned, "You and I will have a talk about why you feel there is no reason to apologize and you not accepting them."

Buck shrugged his shoulders. Opening the door to the ranch, Buck went in. Chris frowned. They were going to have a talk soon.

Buck ignored Chris, entering the house and starting the coffee. He couldn't understand why JD and Chris kept apologizing. As far as he knew, there was no reason for them to apologize to him. It had been a rough couple of days. With Dragon coming back, and letting his team know about Dragon. He understood that they would be a little protective, he would have been the same. Shaking his head, he focused on making the coffee. Hopefully, the two of them would understand that there was nothing to apologize for.

Chris settled at the table. Leaning against his hand, he wondered what the new day would bring. He didn't have to wait for long. JD came bouncing into the room. "I found it."

Josiah, who came walking in behind their bouncing teammate, frowned. "Found what?"

"You know, the disk Nathan brought to me."

The group in the kitchen nodded. "Well, I finally decoded it."

"Good, you can tell us all about at work," Chris stated.

JD nodded, still bouncing. Buck looked up from where he was making coffee. "Really, you found something."

JD nodded, bouncing over to Buck. "Yep, I finally decoded it. "

Buck grabbed JD and ruffled his hair, "that's great."

JD beamed as he bounced over to the table. Grabbing a donut from the box they brought with them last night, he sat down. JD couldn't wait till he could show the group what he found.

Chapter 9

The group settled around the conference table while JD handed out folders and grabbed a dry eraser board and a marker. When they were seated, JD started his talk. "Okay, after several hours, I finally cracked his very difficult encoding system. Apparently, he used a personal code in writing the stuff. Now, on the disk, Stubbs had done some research. He had listed out the fronts Dragon uses and some of Dragon's high lieutenants. In the folder in front of you I've listed all the names that I could get out of the disk and what fronts they're using. The top two lieutenants are a Stan Gibbison. He is the owner of a warehouse. The other person is a woman named Andrea Young. She runs an accounting office downtown. Either of those two should have information about Dragon."

JD finished and stared at the group waiting for questions. They were quiet. They were all reading through the information that he had found. Finally, Chris looked up, "good job."

Looking over at the rest of the team, Chris frowned. "Vin and Ezra, you two will go see Stan Gibbison. JD and I will see to Andrea Young. We can have a little talk and if they don't agree to talk to us, we can bring them in and talk to them here."

Josiah, Nathan and Buck looked at Chris, none of them wanted to stay in the office now that they had some leads on the case. Before any of them could say anything, Chris spoke up. "You three are going to do research on these two people, we need to know everything you can find out about them. We need to know who they talk to and who they have contact with. Everyone know what they need to do?"

The group nodded. Most of the group got up and headed out of the room to get ready for the their roles in the case. Watching the group leave, Chris was surprised to see that Buck had stayed behind. "Anything I can do for you?"

"I want to go."

"Go where?"

"To interview the lieutenants."


"Why, Chris? I have a right to be there."

"No, you don't. I'm not allowing you to walk into the lion's den. There is no way I will allow you to get that close to one of Dragon's minion. You are going to help Nate and Josiah in research."

Frowning, Buck nodded. He still felt it was unfair. Getting up from the conference table, Buck headed out of the room. Watching Buck leave, Chris smiled, they finally had a lead.


Frowning, Ezra stared at the old warehouse. "Why did we end up coming here?"

"Cause Chris wanted us to."

Sighing and wiping his hands on a handkerchief , Ezra turned and followed Vin into the warehouse. Looking, Ezra sighed even louder. Vin looked over at Ezra, "what's your problem?"

"I hate all of the oil, grease and dirt. You know how hard it is getting rid of it from my clothes. I should get hazard pay."

Vin grinned. "Ya know, Ez, it could be worse."

Ezra raised an eyebrow. "I fail to see how."

Grinning evilly, Vin answered, "It could be paint."

Ezra glared at Vin, "That isn't funny."

Vin turned to the nearest worker to find out where the boss would be. The worker pointed them to the back of the building where the nice offices were located. As the two of them walked through the warehouse, they both noticed that most of the crates held random spare parts for a number of machines. Ezra carefully avoided all of the dirty boxes and most of the dirt on the floor. Vin just shook his head. Entering into the office part of the building, they both stopped and looked around. Ezra sniffed, "It seems that this is an elegant business chic."

Vin frowned, then nodded in agreement, "Awful lot of dragons around."

The two of them headed to the reception area. The receptionist smiled perkily at the two men. "Can I help you?"

The Ezra and Vin both smiled at the receptionist. Ezra turned up his charm. "We are here to see a Mr. Stan Gibbison."

The receptionist frowned, "Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes, he is excepting us."

The receptionist's frown deepened, "I don't think...."

Sharing a look with Ezra, Vin smiled and spoke, "Miss, we really need to see him. Could you help us?"

The receptionist would have melted into a pile of goo if she could. "Sure, I'll see if he is busy."

Vin reached over and put his hand over the phone. "He's excepting us. You wouldn't want to bother him, would you?"

Vin smiled his boyish smile again. The receptionist melted even more. "Here are some badges. His office is right down the hall to the left."

The receptionist wrote quickly on some paper, then gave Vin a piece of paper. The two men nodded and Vin winked at the women. As she blushed, they headed down the hall. Glancing over at Vin, Ezra frowned. "What did she give you?"

Vin looked at the piece of paper, "Looks to be her cell phone number, home phone number, work email, home email, and address of where she lives too."

Ezra shook his head, "You are getting as bad as Buck."

Vin just smiled. They both reached the door to Stan Gibbison's office. They opened the door, and Stan looked up from his desk. "What can I help you two with?"

Ezra smiled and looked at Stan for a moment, "We're looking to do some business. We were told that you were the man to see."

Stan looked at the two men. "Who told you to come to me?"

Ezra smiled, "A friend who shall remain nameless."

Looking suspiciously at the two men in front of him, Stan frowned. "I need to know who recommend you to me. Otherwise I can't help you."

Sharing a glance, Vin shrugged his shoulders. Ezra sighed. "The only name the person gave us was Dragon."

The blood drained from Stan's face. "Dragon told you to see me."

Ezra smiled. "Dragon told us you were the man to see about fulfilling our needs."

Swallowing, Stan tried to smile. Clearing his throat several times, he spoke again. "How do I know Dragon told you to come to see me. What is the password?"

Ezra and Vin looked at each other. Frowning, Ezra shrugged his shoulders. "Dragon, didn't give us a password."

Gibbison frowned, "I don't think Dragon sent you here. Who are you and what do you want?"

Ezra frowned. Vin just smiled, moving towards Gibbison. Vin leaned over the desk to stare at Gibbison. "You are going to tell us what we want, or I get to play with you."

Gibbison started to say something, then stuttered to a stop, staring at Vin's eyes. Blinking slightly, Gibbison swallowed then spoke. "I don't know who you are, but I will not tell you anything. You need to leave before I call security."

Ezra and Vin smiled at each other. "You don't want to do that," Vin growled.

Gibbison frowned, but took the bait. "Why not? Thugs like you aren't worth my time."

Vin and Ezra, as one, reached into their pockets and pulled out their badges, "Cause you are coming with us for some questioning," Vin spoke.

"I don't think so. I don't have to go with you," Gibbison spoke up.

Ezra smiled, "Yes you do. You're going with us and you're going to tell us what we want to know about Dragon, or I'll let Vin here, loose on you."

Gibbison turned and looked at Vin. Vin smiled and pulled a knife and started to clean his fingernails with the point of the blade. Gibbison stared at Vin, "I think you need to talk to my lawyers. You can show yourselves to the door. I have work I need to get down to."

Ezra and Vin looked at each other. Moving around the desk, Vin quickly captured Gibbison. Before Gibbison could move or say anything, Vin had both of Gibbison's hands behind his back. Gibbison started to protest when Ezra spoke up, "Stan… may I call you Stan? I suggest you be quiet or my partner may have to break something."

Stan swallowed. He allowed Vin to push him out from the room and out the back door that Vin had pointed out to Ezra earlier. Ezra opened the door and Vin pushed Stan out the door. Ezra allowed the door to shut. The group started around the building. Vin and Ezra were both startled when Gibbison started yelling at a crowd of men who were taking a break at the corner of the building. Both Ezra and Vin turned towards the men. Ezra reached to grabbed his badge to tell them that they were ATF. With both Vin's and Ezra's eyes off of Gibbison for a second, Gibbison took the chance to run to the opposite side of the alley.

Vin and Ezra turned back, seeing that Gibbison was running. Ezra and Vin both took off after him. After about fifty yards, Vin captured Stan Gibbison again. Frowning, he grabbed Stan. "Stan, Stan… why are you running. You'll just make yourself look even more guilty."

Stan just froze, then went limp. He was only mumbling, "I'm going to die, I'm going to die. "

Vin just shook his head, "You aren't going to die, just be quiet."

When Stan didn't quiet, Vin sighed and looked around for Ezra. Spotting him several feet away, Vin headed towards him. "Ez, what're you doing on the ground?"

Looking up, Ezra frowned, "While you decided to play hound to his fox, I had the misfortune to follow you, and slipped on some of refuse that was laying in wait for me. I think I hurt my ankle."

Vin stared at Ezra for a minute. After running Ezra's words through his translator, Vin nodded. "you tripped and hurt your ankle?"


"Well, can you walk on it? We got to get Stan here back to the ATF building and hope we can get something out of him."

Sighing, Ezra got up, gingerly putting weight onto his ankle. He limped after Vin and Stan. A larger sigh and groan were heard from Standish when he found out his favorite suit was ruined. It had collected a number of unidentifiable stains from the romp in the alley.

Vin just smiled and pushed Stan a little harder towards their car.

+ + + + + + +

Chris and JD pulled up in front of one of the new office buildings that had been built downtown. Chris shut the engine down and opened the door. Slamming the borrowed sedan's door shut, he turned to march into the building. JD followed, shutting the door just as firmly. He couldn't wait to tackle this minion of Dragon. They both pushed opened the doors of the office building. Ignoring the front desk, they headed for a bank of elevators. They already knew where they were going to find this Andrea Young.

Chris punched the button for the floor that Andrea had offices on. He wanted answers about this Dragon. Tapping his foot, he glared at everything in sight. JD stood next to him. For once, his usually bounce wasn't evident. He stood just as tall as Chris. He wanted to find out about this Dragon who threatened his family.

The elevator finally got to the floor they wanted. They exited the elevator before the doors even got a chance to open fully. Striding towards the office's of Young, they both ignored the receptionist who was standing there. They pushed open the door, leading to the inner room of Andrea's office. Stopping just as they reached the door to Andrea's office, Chris raised up one balled fist and knocked.

A female voice from inside called out, "Come in."

JD reached the knob before Chris and pushed it opened. They both entered the room and stopped in front of a large desk. Behind the desk was a fairly attractive woman who had several files opened. The women put down her glasses and asked, "What can I do for you?"

Almost snarling, Chris spoke. "Are you Andrea Young?"

The women nodded. "Yes, are you looking for me?"

"We want information on Dragon. We know he's one of your bosses," JD inserted before Chris could say anything.

Staring at JD for a second, Chris turned and looked at Andrea for an answer.

The women stared at the two men for a second. Frowning, she finally answered. "I don't know who are, and I don't know who you think you are, but even if I knew who you were talking about, I still wouldn't answer you questions. You don't have any right to ask me anything. Now get out before I call my lawyer."

JD stepped back slightly at Andrea's speech.

Chris blinked, then frowned. Almost growling, Chris spoke up. "Look, Ms. Young, JD is young and doesn't know what he is saying. I'm sorry if he insulted you." Chris spoke quite sincerely, even laying on a small half sorry smile on his face.

Andrea Young's defenses started to wilt softly. "I understand. The young are often rash and don't think. If you would like to send the young one out, I'm sure we can talk about something."

JD was about to protest when Chris glared at him. JD snapped his mouth almost audibly. He clenched his fists and walked out of the office, shutting the door behind him in a defiant thump.

Chris' eyes followed JD leaving. With the door shutting, Chris turned back towards Ms. Young. "The young one is gone, what do you want to discuss?"

Andrea smiled. Moving from around her desk, she leaned in closer to Chris. Lifting her hand, she gently allowed it to brush along Chris's arm. Chris banked the angry and the disgust that would turn Andrea away. Instead, he nodded and allowed a shy smile to flare on his face for a moment, lust to alight in his eyes. Andrea smiled and moved closer. Chris left his hands against the desk, allowing Andrea to do all of the work. He just smiled. Softly, he whispered into her ear. "I need to know some things first."

Andrea frowned. "Why?"

Smirking, Chris answered, "so the young one doesn't bother us."

She nodded, "whatever you want."

"What can you tell me about Dragon?" Chris asked as he gently allowed his hand to slide along her body.

She frowned but answered. "I don't know. He only gave us a phone number to call him He does all his business by phone, or e-mail."

Chris smiled. Reaching behind him, he grabbed a pair of cuffs he'd carried in with him. Grabbing her arms, he pulled them behind her and locked the cuffs in place. When Andrea heard the click of the cuffs she frowned. Looking at Chris, she had a question hanging in her eyes. Chris just smiled. "Thank you for the information."

"What?" she asked, not comprehending what was happening. Chris just smiled. "I'm after Dragon. I could care less about you."

Walking to the door of the office, he motioned for JD to come in. JD came in looking over at the hand cuffed Andrea. "Did you get the information?"

Chris nodded and JD smiled. "So what are we going to do with her."

"Taking her with us. She worked with Dragon, I'm sure she can give us more information on him. You call the police."

Nodding, JD replied. "Yep, they should be here in a couple of minutes."

Nodding, Chris allowed JD to watch the prisoner as he sorted through the desk, looking for any mail from Dragon or Dragon's telephone number.

Finding both as the police entered the room, Chris looked up. "You can take her to the station. Book her for smuggling weapons and attempted murder."

The two policemen nodded.

Andrea at this point started cursing Chris and JD, throwing threats at them. Chris and JD watched as she was taken away, both with a faint smile on their faces. They both checked out the room one more time, making sure they didn't forget anything. JD grabbed the hard drive of the computer and the two left the room.

They left the building, intent on dropping their evidence off in the car. They didn't notice a black SUV that was speeding towards them. Chris for some reason, looked up. Seeing the SUV barreling down at them, he dropped what he was holding and lunged towards JD, pushing both of them out of the way. They both landed hard, the wind knocked out of them. Chris rolled off of JD. He attempted to stand, but his ankle screamed in protest and he fell again. . JD heard Chris yelp in pain. Frowning, JD tried to get up to see what was wrong with Chris. As JD placed his hands down to push himself up, he also yelp in pain. He scrambled into a sitting position holding his wrist.

Chris and JD both looked at each other and sighed as they heard the ambulance sirens coming down the street. They shook their heads. Nathan wasn't going to be happy about them being hurt.


Buck stared at the clock, then the window, then back down to his computer. Nathan and Josiah both looked at each other. Buck hadn't spoken or done anything since the other four team members left to confront Dragon's minions. Josiah sighed, moving over to where Buck was sitting and leaning against the desk. "You okay, Buck?"

Buck jerked his head up. "What, Josiah?"

"I asked if you were okay?"

"Yea, sure."

Looking over at Nathan, Josiah shrugged his shoulders. Nathan walked over to join the other two. "Buck, you sure you're alright? You don't look so good."

"I'm fine."

"You sure? You look rather pale," Nathan said, while moving closer to Buck.

"It's not that, Nate."

Josiah frowned, "You want to be out there with the other guys, don't you?"

Buck nodded, "It isn't fair. I should be there."

Nathan and Josiah looked at each other, each reading the question in the other's eyes. "You understand, why you're with us. If you were out with the other groups, Dragon may have an easier time in getting you. You're the only person who Dragon is worried about," Nathan finished as he sat down next to Buck.

Buck snorted. "Fat lot of good. I don't remember anything important. Can't even remember his face."

"Maybe you're just trying too hard to remember."

Raising an eyebrow, Buck frowned. "What do you mean trying too hard, Nate?"

Josiah spoke up first. " Sometimes when you try too hard, things don't happen. You have to relax and allow it to come."

Nathan nodded in agreement with Josiah. "You need to relax. Worrying about this won't make it come any faster to you."

Letting out a puff of air, Buck just frowned. "So I shouldn't think about it. I should just let it come. How? Every time I think I can relax, I get a present from him, or one of you guys get hurt."

"You can't sulk here. We have leads we can follow up here. Maybe taking you mind off of Dragon for a little bit might help you," Nathan suggested.

Nodding, Buck agreed. "Alright, I'll try that."

Getting up from his desk, Buck looked around the room. "So, what are we going to do?"

Before Josiah and Nathan could advise Buck what they were going to do, Ezra's phone rang. The three men looked at each other. Josiah took several steps toward the phone. Picking it up, he spoke . "Hello? No, Ezra isn't here right now, can I take a message. Yep, Really! When did it happen? Okay, yea… could you send that information to me through fax? Yep, okay, I'll tell him when he gets back. Thanks... Bye."

Hanging up the phone, Josiah frowned. He turned to the other two men in the room.

Nathan looked at Josiah, noting the frown on Josiah's face. "This isn't good news is it?"

Josiah shook his head. Taking a deep breath, he looked over at Buck. "Buck, I think you need to sit down."

Buck sat down, "Josiah, just tell me."

"It's about Jack and his family. The safe house… someone, dragon most likely, burned it down a night ago."

Buck just looked down at the floor. He couldn't raise his head to look at Josiah or Nathan. His mind was having problems with wrapping itself around the fact that he was the only one alive from the task force now. At least while Jack was alive, he wasn't the only one to remember the team. Now though, he was the only one left, and the only target.

Nathan and Josiah both stared at Buck. This wasn't good. Buck wasn't acknowledging them. They walked forward, and then each placed a hand on the Buck's shoulders. "You aren't alone, Buck, you have the team. We will not allow Dragon to hurt you."

Buck blinked and shrugged his shoulders at what Josiah said. Speaking softly, he answered the statement, "I have a feeling the whether or not I get hurt is already taken out of our hands."

Before Nathan or Josiah could answer the statement, they all heard a noise from the hallway. They all turned and listened.

"You guys okay? You sure? I mean, the Doctors said you should rest for the rest of the day. Not to come back to work. Maybe I should take you guys home. Course, Nathan is here, and I'm sure he would be interested in what happened."

Nathan made his way to the door. "What happened, Vin?"

Vin just smiled. For once, he wasn't hurt. "It seems that Chris hurt his ankle, and so did Ezra. JD decided to be different and hurt his wrist."

Nathan frowned. Josiah, who had followed, also frowned. "Vin, you hurt anywhere?"

Vin smugly smiled. "Nope, for once, I'm not hurt, not even a scratch."

Nathan and Josiah just blinked. Nathan finally spoke. "This must be a record. Almost everyone else is hurt, and Vin still isn't scratched."

The group nodded in agreement. Before Nathan or Josiah could ask another question, the group saw Buck. As JD rushed over to check on Buck, Chris frowned. "What happened?"

"We just found out about the fire at the safe house. Jack is dead."

A guiltly looked passed over Ezra and Chris's face. Josiah caught sight of it. "You two knew and didn't bother telling the rest of us about it."

Ezra looked at Chris, "With all the excitement yesterday, I forgot about it."

All three turned to look over at where JD was talking to Buck. Ezra spoke up, "I, too, forgot about it. We should have told him yesterday and not have left it for you to tell him. I am sorry," Ezra said as he looked up at Josiah.

Josiah sighed, "I know but... we can't make mistakes like that. We need to know any developments. Buck now is the only witness, and we have to protect him. We can't fail him."

The others nodded. The rest of the team made their way over to Buck. Hopefully they could help control the damage from Buck learning about Jack.

Chapter 10

Two hours later, the team was located in their conference room. Papers were spread everywhere. The team was around the conference table. Chris cleared his throat. Looking around, he could see the tiredness and determination in everyone's eyes. Closing his eyes for a moment, he spoke. "I know you are all tired, but we need to figure out where Dragon is before he can strike again. Josiah, why don't you go first and tell us what happened with the fire."

Josiah looked around the room. Then, passing out some copies, he started to speak. "Well, the safe house Jack and his family were hidden in, was burned down. From what the arson squad can figure out, it was started simply by gasoline. The house was torched sometime early in the morning, they think it started around three o'clock. The agents that were watching the place were knocked unconscious and dragged away from the house. They found three bodies inside. From dental records they can match the three people in the house, as being Jack and his family. They also have found a gift that was delivered to the house today. Inside the package was a black obsidian statue of a dragon." Josiah finished, and looked down at the papers he had. Glancing over, he checked on Buck.

Buck was paying attention to the folder in front of him. He refused to look up and meet Josiah's eyes.

Frowning, he looked over to Ezra and Vin. "You two find out anything from your prisoner, Stan Gibbison?"

Ezra and Vin looked at each other. Vin looked at Ezra. Ezra shook his head, and started to speak. "Stan Gibbison, is one of the Dragon's right hand people in Denver. He wouldn't talk at first but Mr. Tanner persuaded him that it was in his best interested to share any information that he had with us. It seems that Dragon owns several warehouses around the city. From what Stan said, the warehouses are holding everything from enough weapons to supply a small country for a number of years, to more than enough MRE's (meals ready to eat) to feed said army. . The other warehouses he uses for legit business. He runs machine parts and other small items at those places. Stan got his orders through a phone call or messenger service. He eHEHhnever had direct contact with Dragon. He has a phone number to call Dragon for emergency. The phone number isn't listed, and we're still trying to get a warrant for getting the owner on the phone number. We should have it all by tomorrow. Beyond that, the man doesn't have anymore information about Dragon."

Chris nodded, looking over the group. While Ezra was talking, Chris watched Buck. During the talk, Buck never looked up from his folder. He didn't even seem to notice that Ezra had stopped talking. Shaking his head, with a finally concerned look at Buck, Chris started to speak. "Andrea Young is another of Dragon's lieutenants. She controls most of the high-end business interests. Trading stock, the money from the gun trades and drug trafficking. She actual had some numbers and an email address where she would send information to Dragon. We have people tracing the phone numbers and JD is running a trace on the email with the tech department. Soon we should have a idea where Dragon is located." Saying that Chris fell silent.

The rest of the group looked at each other, except for Buck, who stayed focused on the report in front of him, not acknowledging what was going around him. The team noticed this. It couldn't be good. Finally, Chris nudged Buck. "Buck, you have anything to add."

Buck absently shook his head, while he stared down at the file, staring at the same page he had been looking at during the briefing.

The team exchanged glances with each other. As the team exchange concern glances, JD spoke up as he poked Buck. "Buck, you okay?"

Buck didn't seem to hear JD. Finally, JD grabbed Buck's shoulder and shook it slightly.

Buck suddenly looked up and blinked. "What?"

The team focused on Buck.

Chris spoke up. "Are you alright?"

Buck blinked, "Hmmm, yea, I'm fine, just thinking about something."

Josiah spoke up, "What were you thinking about?"

Buck's eyes glazed slightly back in thought. He shook his head as if to clear it. "I... Something isn't right."

"What isn't right?" Nathan asked.

Buck just shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know? Just something isn't right."

"Is it something about the case?" Chris asked.

Buck just frowned. Picking up the folder and flipping through it, he just shrugged his shoulders. "I told you I don't know, but something is wrong. Something is wrong with this picture. The fire, something is wrong about it. I just, I don't know. Okay, I just don't know, but something is wrong."

As he finished, he slammed his folder down onto the table and was about to get up, to leave the room.

"Buck, stop."

Startled, Buck sat back down and glared at Chris. "What?"

"Calm down."

"I am calmed down, I just... just think something is wrong. Something isn't right, but I don't know what."

Chris's lips thinned while he thought for a minute. Before he could say anything, Nathan spoke up, "Don't force it, Buck, it'll come to you. Just relax. Let it come to you."

Buck looked over at Nathan and quirked his eyebrows up, "Let it come? You sound like Josiah now, Nate."

Chris just shrugged his shoulders, "They sometimes have good advice."

Buck frowned but just shook his head. He stood up. "I'm getting some coffee."

The rest of the team exchanged a glance, and JD stood up and followed Buck out of the room. The rest of team settled and started reading over the notes and making other comments.

Buck grabbed his coffee cup. He needed coffee. Lots of coffee. Grabbing the coffee mug, he poured himself a cup. Nodding to JD, Buck put the pot down and lifted his mug to his mouth. He took a long drink of coffee. As he pulled his mug away from his mouth, he started to gasp. Dropping his mug to the floor, the resounding crash was lost in the frantic shouts of JD.

As JD caught Buck, he screamed for Nathan quickly, as he tried not to panic for Buck.

Nathan and the rest of the team, rushed out of the conference room. JD looked up at Nathan, "What's wrong with him Nathan?"

Nathan frowned for a minute. Getting up, he pushed his way through the team. Running to his desk, he reached for the first aid kit under his desk. Grabbing it, he rifled through it, grabbing his Epi-Pen. Rushing back to Buck, he jabbed the needle into Buck's flesh. Buck started breathing easier but he had lost consciousness during the short time that Nathan had been gone. Nathan frowned, "someone call an ambulance."

Josiah pulled himself a little bit away and dialed his cell phone. Calling quickly for ambulance and giving them the information the emergency personal needed, Josiah shut his phone off. Rejoined the others, he looked at Nathan for some answers.

Nathan took one more look at Buck, and looked at the rest of the team. "Buck had an allergic reaction to something, I think."

Chris frowned. He was about to say something when the paramedics came rolling into the room. They pushed their way through the team, with Nathan motioning the rest of the team to move away. The paramedics started to work on Buck, they both were frowning at what they found, and what Nathan was telling them. Lifting Buck onto the stretcher, they strapped him down. JD shot up and started to follow the stretcher. Chris held him back and allowed Nathan to go with the stretcher.

When JD looked up, he was about to say something, but Chris just shook his head. "Let Nathan go with Buck in the ambulance. The rest of us will follow after it."

JD nodded, and grabbed his jacket and wallet really quickly and just beat the rest of the team out the door.

They reached the hospital and rushed into the emergency room. Racing into the room, the group skidded to a halt when they saw Nathan sitting in one of the chairs. Nathan was staring at the doors to the treatment area. As Nathan turned and looked, he frowned for a second, then marched up to Chris. "Why didn't you tell us he was deathly allergic to cashews!"

Chris stopped in his track, like he had been shot. Frowning, he looked at the team. "How was he given cashews?"

Nathan just glared, "Why didn't either of you tell me he was that allergic to them?"

Chris frowned, "Look it's in his file."

Nathan still frowned, "that is a file I can't look at."

Chris shrugged his shoulders.

Nathan was about to say something when JD spoke up, "What's wrong with Buck."

Nathan frowned, "He had a server allergic reaction to cashew oil. He was rushed to the in OR because he was having trouble breathing."

"He'll be alright, won't he?"

Nathan looked at the whole team. Running his hands through his hair, he sighed. "He should be fine. We got him to the hospital in plenty time." Glaring at Chris again, he continued, "The doctor should be out shortly."

The group looked around at each other and settled into the uncomfortable chairs, glancing at the swinging doorways, waiting for the doctor to tell them what is going on with Buck. Finally, after a very long hour, the doctor came out to the waiting room. Looking around, he started towards the group of men. The team moved and surrounded the doctor, all of them waiting for the news that the doctor would tell them.

The doctor looked at the group. "Are you here for Buck Wilmington?"

The group nodded as one. The doctor raked his eyes over the group. "He had a sever allergic reaction to cashews. He was lucky. We were able to counteract the reaction. His swelling has gone down, and he is breathing on his own. He is still a little out of it. We are going to kept him for the night."

Before Nathan could ask, the doctor continued, "he is also dehydrated, and exhausted. We gave him some fluid and he is sleeping right now."

The group nodded, "Can we see him?" JD piped up.

The doctor nodded, "He is in room 789. You can see him and one or two of you can stay with him."

The group thanked the doctor and headed towards the room. Nathan though stayed behind to ask some more questions. He met up with the rest of the group quickly though, before the group had entered into Buck's room.

Entering into the room, the group stopped and looked at Buck, then almost as one, they turned and looked at Nathan.

Nathan frowned. "He'll be fine, and leave him to sleep he needs the rest. Now that you have all seen him, go home and rest."

Chris frowned and JD was ready to protest, as were the rest of the team. Ezra and Josiah were getting ready to argue and Vin was just smirking. Nathan glared, then looked at Vin, and shook his head. "Everyone, including me, is injured. We won't do Buck any good if we fall over in exhaustion."

Vin spoke up, "I'm not injured. I'll stay and you guys can relive me in the morning."

Everyone mouth's was about to open in protest when Nathan growled out. "Vin can stay. After a shower and some sleep, I'll come back and relieve him."

Chris and JD were about to argue when Nathan glared. They shut their mouths. They would work on Nathan on the way to Chris's ranch. Vin watched as the rest of the team said goodnight to Buck while they shot Nathan glares. Nathan shrugged his shoulders as he gave some instructions to Vin. Vin just shrugged his shoulders and nodded that he would watch Buck, and nothing would happen to Buck during his watch.

Chris and JD stopped Nathan before he was able to leave the hospital. Josiah and Ezra joined the group. Chris was the first to speak. "How can you make us leave. You left Vin as the only guard. Dragon has already tried to kill Buck once today, how are we supposed to stop him if there is only one of us here?"

Nathan, who rarely lets his temper show, blew up at Chris. "Would you listen to me for once. We're all hurt. You, Ezra, and JD were just let go from the hospital earlier today. You all need to rest. Josiah needs to rest from his slash still, and none of us will help Buck if we are too tired to move. I don't like it anymore than you do, but if we collapse when he needs us, we aren't doing him any good. So we are going to go back to our respective houses, and take a shower, change into clean clothes and take a nap. I will come back in four hours and relieve Vin so he can go home and get a shower and change of clothes. Now, go home before I have to call Travis." Nathan finished and stared at the group, daring them all to contradict him.

They were all silent, and one by one, they nodded, and started to leave the hospital. Just as Chris was about to leave, Nathan grabbed him and stopped him. "We need to talk."

Chris frowned, "what do you mean we need to talk?"

Nathan just glared. Chris huffed slightly but followed Nathan to a nearby all-night cafe. As they settled and ordered coffee, Nathan took a deep breath, "I need to know if there is anything else?"

"What do you mean anything else?"

Nathan waved his hand in the air. "Else, as in any other surprises. Are you allergic to anything? Or will we learn about what you're allergic to after you have a reaction?"

Chris frowned, "No, I'm not allergic to anything."

"Any one else allergic to anything?"

Chris blinked for a moment. Shaking his head, he spoke, "Nope, at least nothing we don't know about."

Nathan nodded," anything else medical I should know about. Sickness, illness, pains in the joints. I can't do my job if you all hide these things from me. You should know better than any of them."

Chris shook his head, "I don't get it, Nate. Why would you need to know about Buck's allergy? It isn't like it is one you have to worry about really. It isn't like cashews are that popular to use in stuff. Buck avoids the stuff. This is maybe the second time I have ever seen a reaction to it."

Nathan frowned, "Chris, you don't understand. What if it was something we could give him… something that had cashew oil in it or cashews. Without knowing about the reaction, he could die. He almost did. Allergic reactions aren't anything you should play with it. Buck should have told us, but you should have made sure he told us."

Chris frowned, "Why, 'cause I'm the boss?"

Nathan wanted to scream. "No, 'cause you are his friend."

Chris hung his head and took a sip of his coffee before clearing his throat. "I honestly forgot, Nate. The last time he had a reaction was a long time ago. Until today, I didn't think he had any. I am sorry."

Nathan leaned back in his chair, and breathed through his mouth. "Buck was lucky that I had the epi-pen. That severe of an allergic reaction isn't good. He should be wearing a medical alert bracelet. To let people know he is allergic to cashews."

Chris laughed slightly. "Nate, this is Buck. He wouldn't wear it if you paid him. He isn't like that."

Nathan nodded in agreement. As they finished their drinks and paid for them, they got up and left the diner. Nathan stood for a moment and looked at the night. "Chris, go home take a shower and sleep. There isn't anything else we can do tonight."

Chris nodded. As he headed to his truck, he looked back at Nathan. "You too, Nathan, tomorrow is another day."

A couple of hours later, Nathan found himself at the entrance of the hospital again. Shaking his head, he wondered if he could get a spot in staff parking since he was here almost as much as staff. He headed into the hospital, not having a problem with finding Buck's room. Walking into the room, he stopped. "Vin, you can lower your gun. I am not about to kill Buck."

Vin tilted his head with a half smile on his face, "Don't know about that, Nate. You seemed plenty mad enough to do it last night. Wouldn't want to risk it."

Nathan shook his head, "You even think about it and I will not give you the coffee I'm holding."

Vin put away his gun and reached for the coffee. "Guess not today."

Nathan pulled up a chair to Buck's bed. Settling in it, he looked across to Vin. "He woken up yet?"

Vin shook his head. "Sleeping beauty hasn't made a sound yet. He is going to be alright, isn't he, Nate?"

Nathan nodded his head. "Yep, he'll be fine with some rest. Course, I don't think he is going to be happy to find out that he is spending time in the hospital."

Vin just shrugged, "Better him than me."

Nathan smiled at that. Nathan turned and looked at all of the machines attached to Buck. Happy to see they were all in the normal range, he leaned back into the chair. "I can't wait until Dragon is taken down. I don't know how much more of this Buck can take."

Vin was silent for a moment, "He'll be alright, nothing can keep him down long. We'll find Dragon and take him down. Stop him before he hurts Bucklin."

Nathan half nodded in agreement. Thinking for a moment, he spoke up. "Aren't you suppose to be heading home for a shower and some sleep. Just 'cause you aren't injured doesn't mean you can go without sleep."

Vin smiled. "Nate, I'll take a nap here, that way if there is trouble I'll be able to help. Not like you can order me home 'cause I'm hurt."

Nathan snorted, "Guess you are right, but you still need to get some sleep."

Vin nodded. Moving off slightly, he plopped down on a cot, he had the doctor drag in. Nathan watched as Vin fell asleep. Shaking his head, he turned back at Buck. Frowning slightly, he stared at the sleeping man. "When you wake up, you and I will have a nice long talk about getting ones allergy secrets and why that isn't a good plan. We will talk until you get it through your thick head… that it isn't a good idea." With that Nathan fell into silence and listened to the two men in the room sleep.

Chapter 11

Buck drifted for a moment. He was tired, but the annoying beeping sound he heard kept trying to wake him up. Sighing, he frowned. When did he fall asleep?

Slowly, with some struggle, he lifted his heavy eyelids. Once he got one open he tried the other. After a few moments, he had finally gotten both of his eyes open. He blinked. After several blinks, the blurring went away. He saw a ceiling… a somewhat familiar ceiling. Moving his head, he stared at the machine that was beeping at him. Frowning even more, he moved his arm a little bit. He could feel the pull of the IV in his hand. Before he could try to get up, he heard Nathan yelling at him. "Buck, what are you doing. Relax, you're in the hospital."

Buck stopped trying to remove the IV. Swallowing several times, he nodded to Nathan when he was given some ice chips. After a couple of minutes, Buck tried to talk. "What happened?"

Nathan smiled, "You had an allergic reaction."

Buck frowned for a minute. "How?"

"Seems someone doctored the coffee with cashew oil. Sent you straight to the hospital."

The reaction Nathan got wasn't the one he was excepting. Buck turned pale. Closing his eyes for the moment, he turned and looked at Nathan. "No one knew except for Chris and dead men…" Buck's voice trailed off for a minute. This wasn't good. Thoughts raced through his head. Like a door suddenly opening, memories he had long forgotten, flooded into his brain. Things he thought were only a nightmare of a bad time came rushing over him. Biting his lip, trying to control the pain of the memories flooding his mind, he ignored Nathan's worried voice. It all fell into place. Only a handful of people knew he was allergic to cashews. It wasn't something he told people. Chris knew, Sarah had known. The members of the task force had known. They were all dead except one. The only one who was left alive. Buck wanted to curse and scream when he remembered who it could be. After several long minutes of trying to contain his anger, he opened his eyes up again.

The first thing that Buck saw were the worried eyes of Nathan standing over him.

"Buck, you okay?"

Buck tried to smile. Finally clearing his throat, he spoke up. "Fine, Nate, just remembered something. Chris around?"

"Hell, no! Nathan got medieval on him and sent him home, and everyone else that was injured. I only got to stay 'cause I am not one that is injured."

Buck nodded. Sighing, he looked up at the ceiling.

"Buck, what is wrong," Nathan asked with concern.

Buck stared at the ceiling, not wanting to meet anyone's eyes. "I just figured out who Dragon is, Nate. I'm not so happy about knowing who it is."

Vin and Nathan exchanged looks. This couldn't be good. "Who's Dragon?"

Buck looked at his two teammates. Shaking his head, he spoke. "Dragon is Jack Perreault."

Nathan and Vin looked at Buck. "What are you talking about, he's dead."

"He isn't dead. I don't know who died in that fire but it wasn't Jack."

Nathan and Vin looked at each. Nathan nodded towards Vin. Vin nodded and headed out of the room to call Chris. Nathan watched as Vin left the room. Turning back to Buck, he raised his eyebrow. "You sure?"

Buck nodded. "Yes, it is him. I remember now."

Buck closed his eyes for a moment, trying to forget the memories of his team being murder. Opening his eyes again, he looked at Nathan. Sighing, he spoke again. "It is him, Nathan. He killed the team. He killed them while I watched. We trusted him, we thought he was one of us. He saw him before the bust in which he killed the team. He's the only one who would know about my allergic besides Chris. It isn't in my files. The task force learned of it on one of the poker nights we had. He was there. He would have known about my allergy to Cashews. It isn't something I spread around."

Nathan nodded. "Okay, Vin's calling Chris. Chris will be here soon. So will the rest of the team. when they get here, we can plan what we are going to do."

Buck nodded in agreement. Laying back against the bed, he closed his eyes for a moment. Just a few seconds after he closed his eyes he heard a grunt, from Nathan. Frowning, his eyes flew open. "Nathan, you okay?"

Buck looked around the room. What he saw made his blood run cold. "What did you do with Nathan?"

Dragon or Jack Perreault, just smiled. "He's still alive, just knocked out. You, on the other hand, will not be so lucky. "

Buck frowned, "They know about you, I told them. They'll find you and kill you."

Dragon laughed. "They won't find me. Once I leave Denver my old identity will disappear. They won't be able to find me after some nice plastic work."

Buck swallowed lightly, "You going to kill me here? With all the security and things, you won't get out the front door."

Dragon just smiled, motioning to one of his cronies. The crony moved. Reaching for the IV, the thug plunged a needle into the line.

Before Buck could do anything, the world started to fade and he fell unconsciousness.

Chapter 12

Vin hung up from talking to Chris. Ending the call, he looked out the window for a second. He felt a cold shiver run up his back. Something was going to happen, he could feel it. Pushing away from the window, he headed back towards Buck's room. As he approached it, he heard voices. Creeping closer, he heard Buck speaking to someone. When he heard the other person speak, he moved closer. He was ready to barge in when he stopped. The leader spoke. "Take him. This is too public a place to kill him here. We won't get away. He should be unconscious now. Unhook him and pick him up. We'll leave the hospital and take him to the warehouse. There we can kill him at our leisure."

A grunt from a thug was the only reply.

Vin backed into another room. Leaving a crack open, Vin watched as the bad guys left Buck's room, carrying Buck between them. As soon as they had gotten far enough down the hallway, Vin sneaked in to Buck's room. Noticing Nathan on the floor, he rushed over. Finding Nathan breathing and a pulse, he let out the air he was holding. Nate was just knocked out. Pressing the nurse button, Vin left the room and watched as the group went down the back stairs. Slowly, he followed them out of the hospital.

As Dragon and Buck got in a black SUV, Vin grabbed his jeep, and started to follow the SUV. As he followed them in traffic, he grabbed his cell phone and called Chris.

"Vin, what is it?"

"He has Buck, I'm following them now."

"What! Where is Nathan? How did Dragon get Buck?" Chris bellowed through the phone.

"I don't know, Chris. Nate was knocked unconscious. They're heading towards the warehouse district, beyond that I couldn't tell you. Just get yourselves down here. Nate will be fine."

Chris growled slightly, "Alright, will we be there soon, don't lose them."

Vin snorted, "I'm not going to lose them."

With that, he hung up. Concentrating on where Dragon was going.

In Chris' SUV, JD looked towards Chris. "What's wrong? What's going on? Is Buck all right? Why are we changing the direction? I thought we were going to head towards the hospital?"

Chris glared at JD for a moment. "Get on your phone and call Ezra and Josiah. Dragon has Buck. Vin's following them, Nathan is fine. But we are going to need the rest of us at wherever Dragon is taking Buck to."

JD was stunned for a moment, "When? How did Dragon find Buck?"

Chris shook his head. "I don't know, but you need to call the rest of the guys, we need to save Buck."

JD nodded, drawn out of his shock by Chris's voice. Grabbing his cell phone, he dialed Ezra and Josiah telling them quickly about what is going on. When he finished those conversations, he turned and stared out the window. His eyes not seeing the buildings or people as they past in a blur. He couldn't believe that Dragon got Buck. He hoped that the team would get there in time.

Next to him, Chris was having the same thoughts. He was berating himself for leaving. He should have stayed. He shouldn't have listened to Nathan. He should have stayed at the hospital. He let his guard down, and now Buck was in the hands of the one man that wanted to kill him. Growling slightly, he pushed his truck harder, determined to catch up with Vin.

Across town, Ezra frowned at his phone. This wasn't good… Buck was taken by Dragon. Staring at the cars in front of him, he started to plan the fastest way to the warehouse district at this time of the day. Buck wouldn't end up like his old team did. He couldn't believe that Dragon was Jack. That the one who started this with the meeting was the one behind the whole thing. Dragon pulled the cloth over all their eyes. Dragon fooled him. The person on the team that can spot a scam 20 feet away and he didn't see it. He took a turn on the yellow, ignoring the beeps. He wasn't going to be late. They would take down Dragon. They would stop him.

Josiah cursed as he got off the phone with JD. At least Nathan was going to be all right. How could they all have been so taken? They never thought Jack was the bad guy. He hadn't seemed the type to be a mastermind of the criminal activities that Dragon was. Not only did they accept Jake into the room, but also, they let him know everything. They were all fooled. Growling slightly, images quickly flirted through his head of hurting Jake as bad as he had the team. Ignoring the visions, he concentrated on driving… getting to the warehouse district as fast as he could.

Nathan groaned. It felt like a ten-ton truck had hit him. Someone was shining a light into his eyes. Blinking several times, he squinted. Lifting his arm, he pushed the penlight away from his eyes. "What happened?"

"Sir, lay back, the doctor is checking you out. We found you unconscious in a patients room."

Nathan bolted up from the bed, not paying attention to the pain in his head. "What? Is the patient all right? What happened?"

The nurse and doctor frowned. The doctor finally answered. "The patient wasn't in the room when we found you."

Nathan pushed away from the bed. Grabbing his cell phone, he started to dial, ignoring the doctors and nurse's protest. "Hello… Vin? What is going on?"

Vin frowned. "You okay, Nate?"

"I'm fine, where is Buck?"

"Dragon got him. I'm following him. I called Chris. He was going to tell the rest of the team to head towards the warehouse district."

Nathan frowned, "Where are you going? I'll try to meet you."

Vin's frowned could be heard through the phone. "Nate, stay at the hospital, you aren't going to do any good."

Nathan growled. "Just tell me where you are going. I'll meet you there with a ambulance."

"Alright, we are heading towards the warehouse district. I don't know which one yet. If you are coming, don't run the sirens."

Nathan nodded. Hanging up his phone, he turned and walked out of the room door, not listening to the protests of Doctor and Nurse. Nathan left to set up the ambulance.

Vin hung up the phone. He turned his attention back to following the SUV. He concentrated on following the SUV, not wanting to lose Buck in the maze of warehouses. Finally, after a while, the SUV stopped at a warehouse. Vin pulled out of sight of the group and called Chris on his cell phone. "Chris, they're at the warehouse at the crossroads of Poppy and Crane... Don't worry, I won't do anything stupid. I'll just take a closer look."

Hanging up the cell phone, he placed it into his pocket. Reaching in back, he grabbed his ATF bulletproof vest and his sniper rifle. Locking his jeep, he headed towards the warehouse, trying to figure out the best way to get into the warehouse without being seen. He wouldn't do anything stupid. He would just be set if anyone else did anything stupid.

The rest of the team pulled up several minutes later to Vin's jeep. Chris cursed when he saw that Vin hadn't waited. Coming up with a quick plan, the team headed to the warehouse to get Buck back.

Inside the warehouse, the mood was anything but set. Buck was rudely woken up from his drugged sleep.

"Wake up Wilmington, its time to face your justice."

Buck sputtered and spit as the cold water dripped off of him. Shaking his head, he blinked several times. Clearing his eyes, he stared up at Dragon. "Where am I?"

Dragon smiled, "this old place… this is where you are going to die. I'm surprised you don't recognize it."

Buck frowned and looked around the warehouse. Frowning, he spoke. "Sorry, don't recognize it, but then again, I don't spend time in warehouses."

Dragon walked over and punched Buck.

Buck fell over. Struggling, he sat up again, wishing his hands weren't tied behind him. "What was that for?"

Dragon smiled, "Just trying to jog your memory. I see that it didn't work. Since it didn't work, I'll tell you. You haven't actual been in here. But over on the far wall there… that's where I killed the task force. Where I happily slit each of their throats while you watched. That was your first mistake, living through the bomb. You wouldn't believe how mad I was that you survived. Of course, you didn't remember, so I decided to let you live for awhile."

Buck snorted slightly, interrupting Dragon's monologue. "So you decided to let me live… how nice. I didn't know you liked me all that much."

Dragon frowned. Taking a step forward, he was about to hit Buck then stopped. "No I won't hit you, at least not yet."

Buck just shook his head. He was about to say something, when he felt a meaty hand clamped on his neck. He froze.

Dragon smiled. "That is one of my many friends. I suggest you be quiet. They don't like prisoners talking. Now, where was I? Oh, yes… your team. The task force, you included, were stupid, so stupid. Not once did you think that Dragon had a spy in your little force, much less Dragon himself. I laughed at your feeble attempts to find me. Every time your team got close, I threw more false leads into the pile, facts that didn't work. Still you did mange to get close. But before you all learned too much, I was able to stop it."

Buck growled. Ignoring the hand around his throat, he spoke. "You bastard! We went to your child's Baptism. We visited you and your wife. You played poker with us, shared the weekends. You killed your wife and kid."

Dragon just smiled, "I know, the kid was a genius stroke. Not that he was mine though… The wife, I paid her to act that way. The kid was some child born to a druggie. They had their uses, but I didn't need them anymore. You were remembering, and I couldn't have that. You could of ruin my empire. I couldn't have that though. Of course, I couldn't help but taunt you. I wonder how you acted when you learned I died. Poor little Jack, never had a chance."

Glaring, Buck couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You're insane. You don't have an empire. You are just a bad guy. A deranged one at that."

Dragon shook his head. "Buck, Buck, Buck… you just don't understand. I don't know if I should try to explain, you don't seem to get it. It was never about you. You were a loose end that I needed to tie up. In a few minutes, you will be tied up."

"My team knows who you are, they've seen you."

Dragon waved his hand in a dismissing manner. "They won't find me. They were less impressive than the task force since all they seemed to go on were the clues that I left, and your memory. I have nothing to fear. Now this conversation bores me. Places to go, people to see. It has been fun. But it is time for us to leave." With that, Dragon pulled out a gun. Aiming it at Buck, he motioned for his thug to move away. "Its been fun, Buck, but if it's any conciliation, at least I won't slit your throat." With that, he pulled the trigger and a shot rang out.

The shouts of 'ATF Freeze' resounded in the mostly empty warehouse.

The thugs froze, they dropped their weapons. The agents came towards the center of the room. The leader detached himself from the group and headed towards the center of the warehouse. He swallowed once, looking at the floor. He rushed to the two bodies. Where the bodies lay, there was a pool of blood forming under them. Rushing over to them, he threw the almost headless body of the Dragon to one-side. He bent down and searched for a pulse.

His frantic search came to a halt when he felt the pulse. Looking over his shoulder, he shouted for Nathan. Nathan came running with some paramedics, and they started to work on Buck, pushing Chris out of the way. Chris watched for a moment then headed to Dragon's body.

Flipping it over, he stared at the ruined head. He didn't notice as Vin and the rest of the group came up behind him. Looking over at Vin he nodded his head, "good shot."

Vin shrugged his shoulders, "Should have been a bit faster."

"Dragon's dead. We won't have to worry about him anymore."

Nodding, almost as one, the team turned away from the dead body of Dragon. They turned towards Nathan. Chris was the first to speak. "How is he, Nate?"

Nathan shrugged his shoulders, "He should be fine, but we need to get him to the hospital."

Chris nodded, "Go with him. The rest of us will be there shortly after we secure the scene."

Nathan nodded and followed the paramedics taking Buck out of the warehouse.

The rest of the team secured the scene and waited for back up units so they could head to the hospital. After giving their statements and handing the area over to the police and other agents, the group jumped into their cars and headed out of the area, towards the hospital.

The group raced into the hospital, an eerie scene that almost followed identically to what had happen almost 24 hours ago. The group skidded to a halt when they reached Nathan. Nathan blinked as the group stopped two feet from him. Raising his eyebrow, he looked at the group.

Chris stepped forward and growled. "What is going on?"

Nathan sighed. Turning to look at the door to the operating room, Nathan turned back at the group. " I don't know. They won't talk to me. The nurse said that the doctor would be out soon."

Chris frowned, "how long is soon?"

Nathan shrugged his shoulders, "that was an hour ago."

The team deflated for a moment. Grabbing seats, they sat down. They sat silently, watching the door, waiting for the doctor to come. Finally, after 15 minutes, Nathan got up and headed over to the nurse's station to find out how much longer. Josiah looked at the group that was falling asleep and got up, murmuring something about coffee.

Five minutes later, Nathan was sitting with the group again, and Josiah was back with coffee for everyone. The group sat sipping coffee as they waited for the doctor to come out. Just as they finished the coffee and Nathan was ready to go back and bug the nurse, the doctor came out into the waiting room. The group got up as one and zeroed in on the doctor.

They came to a stop. Chris moved forward and waited for the Doctor to talk.

The Doctor stared at the group for a moment. Blinking, he started to talk. "Are you here for Mr. Wilmington?"

Chris nodded. The doctor looked at the group for a minute. "Do you wish to sit down?"

Chris almost growled, shaking his head. The doctor nodded and started to talk. "The bullet wound was the least of his problems. The bullet went into his shoulder, while it was in there however, it chipped the shoulder blade as it was leaving and tore through some muscle. That will be fine in a couple of weeks. He had a couple of broken ribs. He is going to have some deep bruising and be really sore. He is also exhausted, and dehydrated. He is sick. We have him on some antibiotics, and hopefully it will help him. He also has the remains of a sedative in his system so he will be sleeping for awhile. Now normally not any one of his injures would worry us though having all of these though isn't good."

JD spoke up. "He'll be alright, won't he?"

The doctor looked at the group. "He should be fine. The virus he has shouldn't cause too much trouble, but we are going to watch him."

"Can we go visit him?" JD asked.

The doctor looked at the group for a minute. Finally, he nodded. "You can see him, but only one of you can stay with him tonight."

The group started to protest but the Doctor wouldn't hear it. "I'm bending rules allowing one of you to stay, the rest of you need to get some sleep. You either take it or none of you will stay."

Chris nodded. Looking at the rest of the team, he frowned. "We agree to that. One of us will stay after we see Buck."

The doctor nodded, "Good, your teammate is going to be back in his previous room, so you can visit him there."

The team nodded and started towards the elevator to get to the room. Nathan stayed behind for a second to find out more about Buck's condition.

The group halted outside of the room. Chris turned and looked at the group. "We will follow the doctor's orders. "

The group nodded.

Looking at the group to make sure that the group understood, Chris allowed the group to head into the room.

The group quickly entered the room, and stopped and looked at Buck. Moving around the bed, the group turned as one and stared Nathan. "He's going to be okay, right, Nathan?" JD asked.

Nathan took a deep breath. "Yes, he'll be fine. After some rest, he'll be fine."

The team nodded, taking more faith in Nathan's words than the doctor's. "Which one of us is staying?" JD asked.

The team looked at each other. The group started to argue between themselves. Each member of the team had a reason why they wanted to stay with Buck. Finally, Vin just shrugged his shoulders, grabbed the chair, and took a seat. Then waited patiently for the rest of the team to fall silent. Finally, after an hour of whispering fiercely from the group, they all fell silent.

Vin spoke up to fill up the sudden void of noise. "I'll stay. Since I'm not injured, and I got some sleep."

The group turned and looked at Vin. "What did you say?" Chris growled.

"I said, I will stay, since I'm not injured and did get some sleep. Besides, Buck won't wake up till tomorrow."

"Vin's right, the rest of us need some sleep. We can come back tomorrow," Nathan said agreeing with Vin.

The rest of the team wanted to argue, but Nathan and Vin hurried everyone out of the room. Nathan was the last one to leave; making sure Vin would contact him if anything happened. Vin nodded and watched as everyone left the room. Turning back to Buck, Vin grabbed a seat and settled. "It's just you and me now, Bucklin."

Chapter 13

Two days later, Chris marched into Buck's hospital room. "Where do you think, you're going?"

Buck turned and looked over at Chris, "I'm leaving. I'm fine."

Chris raised an eyebrow. "I don't think so."

JD smiled, "I told you Chris would agree with me."

Buck frowned. Sitting back in the bed, he crossed his arms. He glared at the two men. "I'm fine. There is nothing wrong with me, that won't heal just as fast if I was at home in my bed."

JD was about to say something when Chris interceded. "JD, don't you have a date with Casey you have to get to."

JD nodded, "Yea, I was just waiting for you to get here." With that, JD said good-bye to Buck and Chris as he hurried out the door to meet Casey.

Buck and Chris watched him leave. The minute that JD was judged to be out of earshot, Buck started to get out of the hospital bed again. Chris frowned. "What are you doing?"

Buck sighed, "What does it look like, I'm trying to leave."

"I don't think so. Get back into bed or I'll handcuff you there."

Buck sat back down on the bed and stared at Chris. "I want to leave. I'm fine."

Chris moved further into the room and settled in a chair. "No you aren't."

"Yes I am."

"No you aren't, or I'll get Nathan to play this game with you."

Buck crossed his arms across his chest while he stared at Chris, "It isn't fair."

Chris refrained from telling Buck how much he looked like a five-year-old that didn't get his way. Instead, he cleared his throat. "If you're done trying to prove that you are well, we have some things we need to discuss."

Buck frowned, "I don't have anything to talk about."

Chris smirked. "We have alot to talk about. "

"No, we don't. Dragon's dead. The end… nothing left to talk about."

"Oh, there are lots of things we have to talk about."

"Really, like what?"

Chris smiled, "Lets see… we have to talk about you not accepting my apologize… not telling us about Dragon, not listening to Nathan, and so much more."

"No, we don't. Dragon is dead, I try not to listen to Nathan, and I already accepted your apology. Nothing else to talk about."

Chris smiled, "First off, Dragon may be dead, but we still have lots of holes. Like how you figured Jack was Dragon? Especially when you said you couldn't remember anything."

Looking up at the ceiling for a moment, Buck shrugged his shoulders. "I remembered."

"So what did you remember besides who Dragon was?"

"This and that… remembered what I did with a book I had been looking for."

Snorting, Chris shook his head in disbelief. "I don't think that's all that you remembered. You want to try again."

Buck squirmed, "I told you everything. I told you of the bust, who Dragon was, and how I escaped out of the van."

Chris quirked up an eyebrow. "How did you escape the van?"

Buck blinked, "I escaped from the van, all safe and stuff."

"I don't think so. What did you do to bust the window?"

Shaking his head, Buck laughed softly, "You have to remember how small those windows were. Vin as scrawny as he is, wouldn't have fit through."

"So how did you escape?"

"I… well, you see… I knew I had to get out of the van, and well, the doors were locked, and wouldn't open. The windows were too small. I got out through the windshield."

"What was that? You have to speak up."

Sighing, Buck repeated himself, "I got out thorough the windshield."

"What? How did you get out through the windshield."

Buck stared at the wall for a moment. "I broke the window, then crawled out the window. I hit my head, when I slid off the van. I was just far enough away when the van exploded..." Buck trailed off, lost in memory.

Chris allowed Buck to trailed off for a few moments. Finally, Chris broke the silence. "So you escaped the van through the windshield then you stayed in the hospital and then went home by yourself."

Buck nodded in agreement. Chris frowned at the Buck for a moment, "So why when you got out of the hospital you went back to your apartment by yourself."

"Yea, so everything turned out fine and Dragon's dead now."

"So why didn't you tell us all this when we first asked you about it?"

"I didn't remember it. So did you guys find out more about Dragon's empire?"

"You're changing the subject, but to answer your question, we are slowly dismantling every part of his illegal weapons and drug business. He had spread across most of the west. With him gone, his business is folding up."

Buck nodded at the news. Knowing that the death of Dragon was doing some good made him feel a little better on what had happen. Before he could ask another question, Chris spoke again.

"So why aren't you accepting my apology?"

Buck raised his eyebrow, "apology for what? "

Chris quirked up an eyebrow.

"Oh that… Chris, I already accepted it, move on."

"Buck, you didn't accept it."

"Yes I did, I said something like, I accept it."

"You said it but you didn't mean it."

"Yes I did, just 'cause you think I didn't, doesn't mean I didn't, err did."

Chris blinked and frowned, "You're still trying to please me, just take the apology."

"How am I supposed to take it, I told you I accepted it."

"You're just saying it, to make me happy and make me stop asking you."

Rolling his eyes, Buck shrugged his shoulders. "You know you are getting rather obsessive about this apology, I think you need to move on."

Chris glared.

Buck yawned.

Chris continued to glare at Buck.

Buck just blinked, slid down on the bed, and slowly closed his eyes. After several long minutes, Buck sleepily spoke. "You can glare all you want, I'm tired, and I'm going to sleep."

Chris almost growled, "Don't worry, I'll be here when you wake up. We can continued the conversation when you wake up."

Buck just grunted, then closed his eyes, and hoped the conversation wouldn't continue when he opened his eyes again.

Chris watched as Buck fell asleep. Rubbing his hands through his hair, he leaned back and closed his eyes for a minute. Taking a deep breath and letting it go, Chris opened his eyes. Frowning, he looked around the room for a few seconds. Before he could do anything, a voice startled him, "Hey, Cowboy, you aren't doing a very good job, are ya?"

Chris turned around and glared at Vin. "What are you doing here?"

Smiling, Vin wandered into the room. Going over to Buck, Vin looked down at Buck. "He doing okay?"

Chris sighed, "Alright? He hasn't talked about anything yet."

Vin laughed slightly, "Like you would talk about anything either."

Chris growled slightly, Vin just shook his head. "Be nice, I brought dinner for you."

Chris grunted, but didn't reply.

Giving Chris, his dinner, Vin dragged another chair over. "So, Cowboy, you planning on living here."

Chris growled, "No, I'm not going to live here. I'll go home."

Vin smirk, "Sure."

Chris just glared and started to eat.

Vin, finishing his dinner, threw the refuse away and leaned back in his chair and rested his eyes.

Chris, eating the last of his dinner, sat back and looked at Vin. "You sleeping here as well?"

Vin smirked, "Nope, just waiting for you to finish so we can leave."

"I'm not leaving."

"Cowboy, you gotta leave. You need sleep and a shower before you take Buck home tomorrow."

Chris glared at Vin for a minute, "I'm not leaving. I haven't finished talking to him."

"You can finish tomorrow. He won't wake up till then and Ezra will be here soon to watch Buck. You need to get some sleep."

Chris growled softly, "I need to finish talking to him."

Vin rolled his eyes, "Ezra will be here shortly, and you haven't been home since Buck was put in the hospital. You need to go home for a night. The rest of us will hang out here watching Buck. You either leave now, or Nate said he would strangle ya."

Chris glared, "You aren't going to let this drop."


Crossing his arms, Chris shrugged his shoulders. "Fine, I'll go home, but I'll be back tomorrow to pick up Buck, and if anything should happen...."

"You'll kill us."

Chris shook his head and got up slowly from the chair he had been seating in. "So where is Ezra?"

"You are looking for me?" Ezra asked as he entered into the room.

Chris turned and looked at Ezra, "When did you get here?"

"I'm sure Mr. Tanner here, told you that I'll be watching Buck for the night. So you should have no worries about his safety."

Chris glared at Ezra, "I'm not worried, I was just leaving."

Ezra smirked and sat down in the now empty chair.

Before Chris could say anything else, Vin started to push Chris out of the room, before he could protest about the arrangement.

Ezra watched as the two men left. As they got out of sight, Ezra turned and looked at the sleeping man.

Buck slept on, not waking up during the little drama that had taken place.

Making himself comfortable, Ezra grabbed one of the books that had been left by different members of the group for Buck or themselves. Opening the book, he started to read, occasionally glancing at Buck to make sure that he was okay.

Early the next morning, Ezra, who was napping on the nearby cot, startled awake. Blinking a little bit, Ezra frowned till he figured out where he was. Finally remember where he was, he looked over at Buck. Getting up from the cot, he walked over to Buck who was mumbling and frowning in his sleep. Reaching the sleeping agent, he reached out and gently shook him awake. "Buck, Buck, you are having a nightmare."

Buck jerked upright and blinked several times. Looking over at Ezra, the dark haired agent spoke. "What are you doing here?"

Ezra snorted, "I'm replacing Chris as the person who is watching you, to make sure you don't wander out of the hospital by yourself."

"I wouldn't wander off," Buck said as he crossed his arms.

Smirking slightly at Buck, Ezra rolled his eyes. "Even if you act like a ten-year old, you aren't going to get me to believe that you wouldn't wander off by mistake."

Buck shrugged his shoulders and leaned against his pillows. "Didn't mean to wake you up. You can go back to sleep, it's still really early for ya to be awake."

Ezra settled in a nearby chair. "It might be a little too early for me to wake up but I'll just keep you company until you fall back asleep."

Buck glared at Ezra, "I ain't going to fall back asleep, I'm not tired."

Ezra smirk, "If you aren't going back to sleep, is there anything that you want to discuss?"


Ezra leaned back in the chair and stared at Buck for several minutes, waiting for him to speak. Buck stared back, determined not to say anything. Several minutes passed. Neither of the two men said anything, each waiting for the other to break. Finally, Buck looked down at his clasped hands and blinked.

Ezra just waited.

Finally, Buck mumbled something.

Ezra raised his eyebrow.

Buck sighed.


"I'm still waiting for you to talk."

"There's nothing to talk about, everything is fine."

"How can everything be fine? You found out the only other survivor of the task force was the one who killed them. You have to have some problem with it."

Buck shrugged his shoulders. "He's dead, what's there to have a problem with?"

"The fact that he pretended to be part of your team, a friend."

"It's over with, he's dead, what's left. The case is done."

"You know what, you wouldn't let me go with that answer, so how do you feeling about Dragon."

Buck frowned, "You and Chris talk before you guys came here?"

Ezra raised an eyebrow, "No, I did not talk to our illustrious leader about this. But I have been betrayed by people that I trusted."

Rolling his eyes slightly, Buck sighed, "Ezra, its not a problem. He's dead, he got what he deserved."

"You have to feel a little cheated. You will never get revenge on him for what he did. What he made you watch."

"He's dead, it isn't worth thinking about. I don't want to remember what happened. It's finished, case closed."

"Its not case closed. What he did to you, what you had to witness can't just be brushed aside and forgotten."

"I can't forget it, but it's stupid for me to keep reliving it over and over again. I'm not going to worry about. It's over with."

Ezra leaned back in the chair. Thinking for a moment, Ezra finally asked a question that had been lurking in the back of his mind when the conversation started. "How can you just ignore his betrayal and not feel that you been cheated out of getting revenge for what he did?"

Shrugging his shoulders, Buck closed his eyes for a moment. Sighing, he spoke up. "He's dead, Ez, there isn't any mystery or question on who killed my team anymore. There isn't a question that he didn't get what he deserved. Do I wish that he suffered for what he did. Yes, but ending up dead is good enough for me. I know his reasons, I know why. All the questions are answered, I don't have any unanswered questions. It's over, my ghosts can rest in peace."

Ezra blinked, "You still have nightmares though."

Rolling his eyes and sighing, Buck looked up at the ceiling for a second. "Ez, I said I don't want revenge or feel cheated, but I still got to deal with my teammates dying and watching them die. It is going to take awhile. Now enough of this heart to heart, when do I get out of here. I'm fine."

"Sometime today I believe, unless Nathan feels that you should stay longer."

"Nathan would have me stuck here for a week, tied to the bed if he could. Luckily, Nate's not the doc."

"Buck, you keep talking like that and I'll leave ya here."

Buck and Ezra turned, as they both frowned at seeing Nathan standing in the doorway smiling. "I thought our fearless leader was picking up our injured comrade."

"Chris is coming, he's just parking the car. He wanted me to make sure that you, Ezra, weren't trying to help Buck escape before the doctor could see him."

"I wouldn't have done that."

Buck perked up slightly in his bed. "You mean if I asked, Ezra, here would have helped me get out of this hospital."

Ezra looked horrified at the thought. "I would have never done anything like helping.”

"Glad to hear you say that. So you won't escape next time you're stuck in the hospital."

Ezra frowned at Chris. "How long have you been here?"

"Long enough to hear you say that you would never escape the hospital."

Before Ezra could start a replied, Buck spoke up. "So when do I get out of here."

Chris smirked slightly. "As soon as you get dressed, we can be on our way."

"Where's my clothes?"

Chris smiled and tossed a bag of clothes over to Buck.

Buck grabbed the bag. Opening it, he started to pull out his clothing, ignoring the other three men. Shaking their heads, the three men, exited out of the room, and closed the door.

Several minutes later, Buck opened the door. Looking at the three men waiting outside the room, Buck stopped for a second and leaned against the door jam, holding his ribs slightly. Before Nathan could say anything in protest, Buck had pushed off the doorframe and was heading out of the room towards the closest elevator. The three men looked at each other and started to walk to catch up with him.

Exiting the elevator, Buck made a b-line for Chris's SUV. Leaning against it, he looked at the rest of the guys. ""What took you guys so long?"

Nathan frowned, "Buck, you were in such a rush to get out of the hospital, you forgot to grab you meds."

Buck glared at Nathan for a moment, "You didn't have to remember them, I don't need them."

Nathan glared right back at Buck. "You do need them. Chris and JD will both make sure that you are going to take them."

Buck frowned, "I'm going home, I can take care of myself"

The three team members just stared at Buck for a moment.

Shaking his head, Nathan spoke up. "Buck, you aren't well enough to be by yourself."

"I'll have JD to watch me."

"And how do you plan to climb the stairs," Nathan asked.

Buck frowned, "I would think of something."

Chris shook his head, "Nope, you and JD are staying with me for awhile."

"Why can't JD stay at the CDC?"

"You try to convince him," Chris said as he moved over to the drive's side of his SUV.

Buck sighed, and got into the SUV. Looking at Nathan and Ezra, he frowned. "What are you two going to do now?"

Ezra smiled, "Unlike you two, we poor working stiffs have to go back to work."

Buck shook his head.

Chris leaned over and buckled in Buck and looked at the men. "Yea, you two better get back to keep the rest of the group in line."

Both Nathan and Ezra smirked as they watched as Chris pulled away with Buck. Watching the SUV go out of sight, Ezra and Nathan looked at each other. Sighing, they headed towards their cars to head into work.

Inside the SUV it was quiet. Buck was looking at the window, leaning heavily on the door. Chris was driving, but every so often, glancing over at Buck. Finally, Buck sighed, and looked over at Chris. "What?"


"Then why do you keep staring at me? I'm not going to jump out of the car to get away."

"I didn't think that you were going to jump out of the car. I just wondered if you had fallen asleep or not."

"I haven't, I've slept enough lately. So why do you kept glancing at me, like I'll try to escape somewhere."

"I'm not glancing at you for that reason. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

Rolling his eyes slightly, Buck sighed. "I'm fine."

Raising an eyebrow, Chris snickered slightly. "Are you sure?"

Buck leaned back and closed his eyes. "Yes, I'm sure."

Chris nodded, and turned back to driving, silence falling between the two of them again.

Several days later, Chris arrived back at his ranch. Getting out of the car he headed into the house. As he entered into the house, he frowned. Putting his keys down, he moved towards the living room. As he reached it, he frowned. No one was in the room. Scanning the area for a moment, Chris started to move to the back porch.

Reaching the back porch, he frowned. Stepping out onto the porch, Chris walked up to the reclining person. Standing in front of the person, Chris's frown deepened. "What are you doing out here?"

Buck looked bleary up at Chris, "Enjoying the weather."

"It's freezing out here. You could get sick."

"Mm… not sick, I'm fine."

Chris's frown didn't go away. "You've been drinking. You're on meds, you aren't supposed to be drinking."

"Not on meds, didn't take any today."

"You didn't take any? Buck you need to take those, you could get an infection, or sick."

"I'm fine."

"How much have you drunk."

Buck screwed his eyes up for a second, "Three... no… four beers, I think.

"FOUR BEERS! Buck you're still recovering."

"I'm fine, been doing nothing, for awhile now."

Rolling his eyes, Chris sighed. "Come on, let me get you back inside."

Buck stared up at Chris. "Don't wanna go inside, want some fresh air."

Bending down, Chris started to help Buck up. "Well, I'll open a window for you. You do realize that if Nathan finds out that you've been outside, he'll kill ya."

Buck shrugged his shoulders, "Don't care, wanted to have some fresh air."

Chris, finally getting Buck inside, dumped him on the couch. Sitting down on the chair next to him, Chris was silent, just staring at a slightly drunk Buck. Finally, with an effort, Chris asked one word. "Why?"

Buck turned and bleary looked at Chris. Frowning slightly, he responded. "Why what?"

"Why… How did you join another team after what happened to the task force."

Buck was quiet, staring at the far wall.

Chris started to worry that he had gone to far.

Finally, with a deep breath, Buck answered, "why not."

"That's not an answer."

"Yes it is, same as the question."

Chris glared at Buck.

Buck glared back for a second, till he turned away and slumped in the couch. "Not drunk enough to answer it."

"Just answer the question."

"You get drunk first."

"I'm not getting drunk, and I won't tell Nathan about this if you tell me."

"That's blackmail."


Pouting slightly, Buck sighed, "Fine, but I'll denied it."

Rolling his eyes, Chris nodded in agreement. "Fine."

"Cause you asked and I didn't have anything better to do."

"That isn't an answer. "

"It is," Buck replied as he stifled a yawn.

Chris sighed, "It isn't the answer to the question. Just because I asked you, and you were bored."

Buck shrugged his shoulders, "It's why."

"Weren't you worried about what happened to the task force would have happen with the new team."

Buck blinked at Chris for a second. His eyes half closed. Just as Buck fell asleep he murmured out. "All the time."

Chris blinked, sitting back against the chair. He closed his mouth, and sat quietly thinking about what Buck just let slip. The quiet snores of a slightly drunk Buck was his background. Several hours later, Chris shook himself awake, and stared at the still sleeping Buck. Finally, levering himself up, he placed a blanket over Buck. Walking into the kitchen, he started making dinner. All the while, his thoughts were drifting about the case, and Buck's admission.

The arrival of JD brought Chris out of his thoughts. Looking down at JD, Chris shook his head. "Quiet, Buck's sleeping. Apparently he decided to go off his meds and get drunk."

JD frowned, "He got what?"

"Drunk! Don't know how, why but he should have known better."

"Yes he should have, but we aren't going to Nathan about this."

"Why not?"

"Because I say so."

JD was about to ask a question but the glare Chris gave silenced JD. JD finally shrugged his shoulders. "Fine, I won't tell Nate about it, but Buck better not do it again. "

Chris smirked. "Don't worry he won't do it again."

A week later, Buck was finally able to escape his caretakers/baby-sitters. Bundled up as he was, he was still shivering. He ignored the shivers and stared at the gravestones laid out in front of him. In one hand he held six deep rich golden roses. Silently, he placed one rose on each gravestone. He then moved to the center of the six stones. Sitting down on the cold wet grass, he stared at the gravestones. Finally, he spoke softly. "He's dead. Your murder, the betrayer is dead. My new team killed him. He won't ever be able to inflict what he did on us, on any one else. We've finally got him. You can rest in peace now."

With that, Buck got up from his sitting position and turned and walked away from the cold gray gravestones. Walking away from the gravestones he didn't notice the six men who walked up to him. He finally noticed them when he bumped into them. Stopping, he looked up at the eyes of the six men. Sighing, he gazed at all of them. "What?"

"Nothing… we were just waiting for ya. We're taking you out to dinner to celebrate you coming back to work."

Smirking slightly, Buck looked at all of the team. "Fine by me. What are we waiting for?"

Shaking their heads, the group turned and walked out of the cemetery, leaving the six gravestones by themselves with yellow roses in front of them blowing in the wind.

The End