Disclaimer: Just playing. I know they're not mine. If they were they'd be on season ten by now!
Summary: JD meets Casey for the first time. Does "love at first sight" really exist? How does it fit into a dangerous lifestyle?
Author's notes: This is my first fic. Thanks to Mog for her amazing AU. Thanks also to Phyllis, Stefanie and Lu for encouraging me to "go for it" and Abs for being a technical wizard!
This is my take on JD & Casey's first meeting and early days.
JD couldn't contain his smile as the truck turned into the driveway of Chris's ranch. Team Seven had had a pretty grueling week, hence Chris's invitation to them all for a weekend of cook-out, riding and general "down time". JD loved to ride. He loved his horse. But most of all he loved spending time with these wonderful men he considered family.
Chris stepped out onto the porch to greet them as the truck pulled in.
"Thought you'd got lost!" he smirked.
"Blame him!" Buck called back, gesturing towards JD. "Do you know how many stores we've been to to find PINK marshmallows, not white, oh no, had to be pink!"
"White don't taste as good." Pouted JD as he started pulling their gear from the truck.
"Yeah, right." Buck huffed back, secretly smiling and winking to Chris. They followed Chris into the house and was instantly greeted by the other four men.
"At last!" stated Vin. "We've already drawn lots; Kid, you an' me get to camp out in the barn."
"Cool." JD replied. He loved spending quality time with Vin. "Better than having to listen to Buck snore all night." He added. Buck cuffed him lightly across the back of his head.
"I do NOT snore!"
"Of course, Mr. Wilmington," Ezra stated, "and Mr. Dunne isn't known for his excessive conversational skills!"
"Hey!" Buck and JD called out together. The others snickered.
Chris held his hand in the air.
"Before this escalates, about the cook-out tomorrow. I hope you don't mind, but I've invited my neighbour Nettie and her niece Casey to join us. I wanted them to meet you all." Soft murmurs could be heard, no-one seemed to mind. "Good. Now go eat the pizza in the kitchen before it gets cold!"
Actually, JD did mind. This was meant to be a guys' weekend. Why did Chris have to involve someone else? He shrugged. To hell with it, he'd worry about it tomorrow after the ride.
+ + + + + + +
Vin was a very early riser. JD groaned as he felt his blankets being tugged. His nose twitched at the smell of coffee.
"C'mon Kid, rise 'n' shine!"
"You have GOT to be kidding me, it's still dark!" JD groaned.
"Naw, just getting light," answered Vin "best time of day."
"Says you!" JD sat up, wearily taking the offered coffee. "Thanks."
"Thought we could get a head start. Wanted to show you that ridge up yonder."
"Yeah, great!" He jumped to his feet. "I'll go 'n' saddle the horses"
"Already done, Kid. Just waiting on you."
"Ok, be right there!" He ran off to throw water in his face and brush his teeth. JD was back at the barn in record time. Vin slapped JD on the back and let his arm drape across his shoulders.
"Cool." came JD's reply. He really needed to find another word to express himself.
+ + + + + + +
Later that afternoon, showered and changed, the men began to prepare the barbecue.
"So, this niece," began Buck, "she single?"
"Good Lord." sighed Ezra
"What?" asked Buck, "I was just curious."
"Yeah, right." JD offered, "We all know your kind of "curious" Buck."
Buck ignored the laughter and touched his hand to his heart.
"For your information," Chris, answering the question, "she's barely eighteen, and, before you ask, Nettie's in her sixty's." More laughter. Never one to be outdone, Buck nudged JD.
"Eighteen huh, this could be a match made in heaven!"
JD rolled his eyes. "To borrow a phrase, "good Lord!"
The cook-out was well under way. Nettie and Casey had gone through the introductions and everyone was settling down to enjoy the food. Buck nudged Nathan and gestured towards JD. He was sat on the porch steps enjoying a coke and some food, his back against one of the supports. He was staring out towards the empty corral. Casey had approached him and dropped down next to him.
JD looked across at her." Hi yourself." Why was his stomach doing little flip-flops? "So you're in college?" he continued.
"Yeah, Veterinary degree." she smiled.
God, there was that weird feeling again. He looked down suspiciously at his burger.
"Cool" Damnit! That dang word.
"So, you been out riding today?" She asked. Shifting a little closer.
"Naw just got back from college. I'm going back tomorrow night. Won't have time this weekend. When are you going back?"
"Same as you, got work Monday." He couldn't help it but he caught himself smiling back at her. She sure had a pretty smile.
"So, JD, you like music?"
Without realizing it, everyone else's eyes had drifted towards the youths. Buck couldn't contain his smile as he watched his "little man" softly laughing and constantly grinning at the lovely little girl next to him. He looked across at Chris, smiling. What was this he was feeling, pride? His thoughts were interrupted as JD called out.
"Chris, do you mind if I show Casey the horses?"
Chris smiled back at him waving his hand.
"Knock yourself out, son." He watched as they strolled over to the barn, squealing and giggling. Were they "play-fighting"?
Nettie glowered at Chris.
"How old did you say JD is?" she asked him.
"Just turned twenty." He replied. "Why?"
"Just wonderin' is all." she stated, watching them walk away.
"Ma'am" spoke Vin "JD's a real good kid. You've nothing to fear there."
"A veritable lamb." added Josiah
"Totally honorable." Nathan.
"Madam, a finer young man you would be hard pressed to find." Ezra.
"One of the best." Buck.
Nettie looked at the men, mildly amused. "I see." They were interrupted by a loud high-pitched squeal of laughter from the barn. Nettie looked back around the circle of faces. Each man looked away.
JD was more than happy to show Casey the horses. It was a subject he was comfortable talking about
"Your horse is so cute." She found herself saying, was it his horse she was really referring to? She thought.
"Thanks" JD replied, chuckling slightly at her choice of words. "You'll have to show me yours one day."
"JD, really!" JD looked back at her, confused, and then realized what he had said. He blushed.
"Er, um I mean..." He stammered.
Casey giggled harder.
"I'm just teasing," she snorted.
JD looked back at her. Narrowing his eyes he stepped towards her.
"Why you....!" He grabbed at her waist and dumped her into a pile of hay.
Casey squealed and giggled all at once, desperately trying to roll away through her laughter. JD pinned her gently and stared into her eyes.
"You were saying?" he chuckled. She tried to wriggle free but it just brought him closer to her. Suddenly they became aware of the positions of their bodies. JD jumped to his feet, brushing himself down. "Guess we'd better get back." He helped Casey to her feet.
"Mmm, yes, perhaps we should," she agreed.
+ + + + + + +
An hour later Nettie looked at Casey, sitting opposite her.
"Honey, I think we should be gettin' back now."
"Aww Aunt Nettie," she groaned, "just a little longer!"
Her Aunt was about to speak when JD interrupted her.
"Ma'am, I'd be happy to drop Casey home a little later if you wanna go on ahead."
Nettie looked at Casey whose eyes had widened in hope and anticipation.
"Got my bike in the back of Chris's truck. I'll take good care."
Casey could barely contain herself. Nettie sat back.
"Fine. But I warn you young man, I want her home before it's dark."
"No problem." JD smiled back at her.
"Right, then I'll be on my way. Goodnight Chris. Thank you for the invitation and the lovely evening. Gentlemen, It was a pleasure to meet you all". She glanced around the group, finishing on JD. He squirmed slightly as he met her gaze.
"Goodnight Nettie, always a pleasure. Thanks for coming over." Chris leaned over and kissed her softly on her cheek. The rest of the Seven stood up and nodded to her as she walked towards her car.
Buck nudged at JD, winking at him.
"You sly dog!" he whispered.
"Knock it off Buck!" JD breathed and turned back to Casey, smiling, hoping she hadn't heard him. He looked at Vin.
"Vin I've only got one helmet, can I borrow yours?"
"Sure Kid, I'll go an' get it for ya." He rose and walked into the house.
"When will it get dark?" JD asked of no-one in particular.
"'Bout an hour." Vin answered having quickly returned. He handed JD his helmet.
"Thanks." JD looked at Casey. "Don't give us much time." He pointed out.
"We could leave now," she smiled back. "There's a little bluff on the way home with amazing views, I could show you."
"Cool," (damnit). He grabbed his keys from just inside the door. "Just let me unload my bike." He walked towards Chris's truck. Vin trotted after him before anyone else could get up.
"I'll give ya a hand."
In a few minutes the roar of a bike engine could be heard. JD rode into view, Vin riding behind him. He turned and pulled up next to the porch, facing the exit to the ranch. Vin hopped off and rejoined the others.
"Ready?" he asked Casey, popping on his helmet. Casey put Vin's on, needing a little assistance. She nodded and climbed on behind JD.
"You'd best hold tight." JD spoke through his helmet.
That was all the invitation she needed. She placed her arms tightly around his waist, leaning the side of her face against his back. He felt strong and warm. She looked back at the men with the biggest smile ever, as she snuggled against his back.
"Bye and thanks." She beamed.
"Won't be long!" JD called and they were gone. The men looked after them. Buck turned to the others, dwelling on Casey's beaming departure.
"Oh Lord, that boy's in for a world of trouble!"
+ + + + + + +
After a little while, Casey tapped JD on the shoulder and gestured for him to climb a small hill, which he did. At the top he put his feet on the floor and turned off the engine.
"This it?" He asked, removing his helmet and ruffling his hair. Casey followed suit and got off the bike. She held out her hand
"Come and see."
He put down the bike stand and took her hand. God, it was so tiny. They walked to the edge and looked over. JD gasped his eyes huge with wonder, almost childlike. His mouth had dropped open slightly. The sun was setting and bathed the enormous expanse of valley with a soft, orange glow.
"Oh wow!" was all he could say.
"I knew you'd like it." Casey breathed, turning into his body and looking into his eyes.
JD got that weird feeling in his stomach again, but now he felt his chest tightening too. Why was he unable to take his eyes off her mouth? He forced himself to look back up at her eyes. Without realizing, their faces had gotten closer.
Casey gently put her hands to his face, leaned in and softly kissed him. JD closed his eyes and melted into the kiss which slowly got deeper. He gently placed his arms around her back moving in closer, which she reciprocated and was lost in the moment.
After a few minutes they slowly moved back a little, their faces still close and a little flushed. It was a rare moment. JD was lost for words. He couldn't tear his eyes away from hers.
"Had a feeling you'd be a good kisser!" Casey smiled, kissing the end of his nose,
"I..." JD stammered "Wow!" He smiled, nuzzling the side of her face, smelling her hair.
"Just so's you know, she continued. I don't make a habit of kissing boys I've just met."
"Me either, GIRLS, I mean!"
They both laughed.
"So where do we go from here?" he asked. "I'm gonna be totally honest with you. Between taking care of my Mamma before she died, working all hours to support us and getting my degrees in a class where I was several years younger than the girls I was around and being short to boot, I'm not real experienced around girls!"
Casey stroked his hair, looking at him with a mixture of tenderness, affection and sadness.
"For the record, I've never had a boyfriend, either."
"Just so's we know we're on the same page," JD stepped back slightly, looking into her eyes." I like you, you like me and we'd like to see each other again?"
Casey laughed softly, pulling him gently back towards her.
"Most definitely. Now for God's sake kiss me 'coz I'm gonna be late and I want it to be worth it!"
Buck could feel himself relax as he saw the distant single headlight and hear the buzz-saw noise of JD's bike engine.
"Mamma bear can relax now" snickered Josiah, handing Buck another beer.
"Huh!" Buck huffed back, taking up a long bench to himself. The rest of the guys were sat around him on various chairs and benches, basking in the warm glow of the porch lights and enjoying their beers and conversation.
They all smiled towards JD as he acknowledged them after parking up his bike and walking back.
Nathan offered JD a beer, but JD smiled, shook his head and grabbed a coke instead. Buck patted the bench he was on and JD plopped down.
JD swiveled so his feet draped off the arm of the bench and absent-mindedly laid the back of his head on Buck's knee. Buck looked across at the gathering, tickled by the amused looks all round. Buck wasn't real surprised. At home this was usually a prelude for a heart to heart. He draped his arm across the back of the bench.
"Now I know the ladies find me soft and cuddly Kid, but..."
Without looking up or aware Buck was talking, JD said,
"Can I ask you a question?"
"I believe you just have!" JD didn't acknowledge the comment.
"Do you believe in love at first sight?"
Six men stared at each other and shifted in their seats. Oh oh!
Buck smiled as he looked down to see JD's face staring up at him upside-down.
"Well, it's never happened to me, but yes, I believe there is possibly such a thing."
+ + + + + + +
A week gone by and a bust was imminent. Nerves were on edge as the men headed for home that night, knowing the next day was the day of action. JD was running around the CDC like a headless chicken.
"Keys, keys, keys!" He kept yelling.
"On the hall stand!" Buck yelled, not looking up from his newspaper for fear of rolling it up and hitting JD with it.
"Will you just go already!" He yelled at him. "Casey's gonna think you've changed your mind!"
"I KNOW!!!" JD bellowed back "Got 'em. See you later! Thanks again for the truck!"
The door slammed, shaking the apartment.
"You're welcome!" Buck sighed. The 'phone rang. "Wilmington."
"Buck, it's Chris, can you talk?"
"Well I'm not busy if that's what you mean."
"Is JD there?"
"Good. I need to ask you something." Chris paused." Do you think he's up for this tomorrow?"
"Sure he is why d'ya ask?"
"I just feel he's been a little pre-occupied lately. Don't you?"
"Well...yeah, but I don't think there's a problem with commitment to the job in hand." Buck felt a little flutter of nerves in his stomach.
"I just need to believe he's 100% on this. This could be tricky tomorrow."
Buck was getting angry
"Are you doubting him? 'Coz if you are...!"
"Hold on Buck, I just needed to talk it through with someone, you know what's at stake, and I don't mean the bust!"
Buck sighed. "Yeah I know, pard. All I can say is that I believe based on what I've seen today, he's 100% up for it. Is that any help?"
"Yeah, I guess it is. Sorry Buck, but you know this has got to be right. I think the world of JD, of all of you, but I have to protect the team, too. I have to be sure."
"Yeah Chris, I know. No problem pard."
"Oh, and Buck."
"You ever repeat to the guys what I just said and I'll have your ass in a sling! Buck...are you laughing Wilmington...?"
+ + + + + + +
The film had been great. Their meal even better. Casey and JD sat in Buck's truck outside Casey's student digs, coming up for air for the fifth time.
JD turned to look at her.
"What about it?"
She looked him full in the face.
"Don't you ever worry, you know, 'bout getting hurt?"
"Sure. But not when it's going down. You've gotta stay focused or you'll make a mistake. It's just what we do."
Casey sighed hard.
"What is it Case?"
"I don't wanna say."
"C'mon, out with it."
She looked deeply into his eyes, her own filling.
"I'm scared. Scared that you'll get hurt, or...worse." She started to cry. JD hugged her tightly.
"Hey, hey, come on now. The chances are real small, believe it or not, and I work with the best guys on the force. Hell I worry more about letting them down than the other way round." He kissed her forehead softly.
"I get the feeling something's happening soon." She touched his face. " Promise me you'll be careful, please!"
"Always!" JD snuggled closer, feeling her body racked with sobs. He couldn't help frowning, and then shook it off. Hell they'd be fine, they always were, weren't they?"
As JD drove away, Casey stared out of her window, watching him leave. Her roommate Becky joined her at the window.
"Cute!" Casey turned to her.
"Do you believe in love at first sight?"
+ + + + + + +
It was a cool, grey day. The warehouse smelt dank and musty. Crouching behind some crates JD could feel his heart pounding. He had all the guys in view. Vin up high, Nathan and Josiah to his left Chris and Buck to his right, Ezra "making" the deal.
He checked his weapon for the umpteenth time.
As well as nerves, Casey's words were bouncing around in his head. He tried to shake it off.
Suddenly Chris's shout.
"FREEZE!! ATF!!! " God he'd almost missed it.
"Get a grip JD!" he screamed in his head. One of the suspects was approaching him. He stepped out from his cover facing the man square on. He held his gun two-handed high in front of him, arms outstretched.
"Freeze, ATF! Stop or I'll shoot!"
In that split second Casey's face popped in his head, crying, pleading with him.
"What if you get hurt, or worse?"
Someone screamed his name, several gunshots, why was he flying backwards? Why did his chest hurt? Ow, why is the floor hard? Why is it getting dark? "Buck..."
+ + + + + + +
Buck was distraught, pacing frantically. He'd said he was up for it, 100% prepared. Totally focused.
But Chris knew. He'd seen it, and he'd been giving them an out. But no, Buck knew best.
"Goddamnit!" He screamed, pounding the walls."Goddamnit to hell!!!"
Chris grabbed him and held him firmly, face to face.
"Why? Why did you have to ask me? Ya shoulda just dropped him. What do I know?" Buck was sobbing uncontrollably. Chris held him close. The rest gathering around slowly.
"Yes, I asked you, but it was still my call. Blame me. I made the decision, not you. Buck, are you listening to me? It's not your fault!"
Buck looked up at Chris, huge tears dropping from his eyes and onto his shirt. He leaned hard into Chris, fisting Chris's shirt tightly at the back. The other men were finally close enough to lay a hand on the pair, needing the comfort also.
"Agent Wilmington, Agent Larabee?"
The men looked up and towards the doctor. Buck held his breath.
"John is out of surgery and in post-op." She looked around the small gathering.
"He's one tough young man, I'll give him that" she smiled. "It was a clean
shot, no bullet to remove, just some tendon and tissue damage, oh, and a broken collar bone. He lost quite a lot of blood, so he's a little weak and dehydrated right now, but we're addressing that problem. Also, he cracked the back of his head when he hit the floor, so he has a mild concussion. All in all, there's every chance of a full recovery once we know his concussion won't be an issue."
Everyone exhaled at once. Buck approached the doctor, shaking her hand vigorously.
"Thank you, thank you. Can we see him? Please?"
"All of you?"
"We're family." Buck insisted.
"Well seeing as he's alone in there, I don't see why not, but please, quietly!"
+ + + + + + +
As one they walked into the room, greeted by a cacophony of beeps. JD looked pale and still, a nasal canular feeding him oxygen, his head and shoulder bandaged. Buck and Chris took each side of the bed, the others stood beside them. Chris found himself holding JD's arm, Buck was stroking his fingers through JD's hair, secretly thanking God. They all stood quietly for a minute, drinking in the scene. Buck tensed as he saw JD's eyebrows move together slightly.
"Hey, JD can you hear me, it's Buck. Hey c'mon now, the gang's all here. How 'bout you let them see those pretty brown eyes o' yours."
A soft sigh. Eyelashes fluttered.
"Attaboy, and again, you can do it."
One slit, then two, and open.
"There y'are." Buck chuckled.
JD swallowed hard. Nathan passed Buck a beaker of water with a straw. JD sipped gratefully.
"Thanks." he rasped.
"You'll be in your own room soon. You'll be more comfortable there." Buck whispered.
JD looked up at him then slowly and painfully turned towards Chris.
"S...S...Sorry Chris..." he stammered, gulping again.
"Why JD?" Chris asked, leaning in.
"I...I screwed up." Tears rolled from the corners of his eyes, dropping sideways from the end of his nose. Chris raised up his thumb and gently brushed them away.
"We got 'm son, that's all you need to know. Just concentrate on getting..." JD grabbed Chris's hand firmly, taking Chris by surprise.
"No! C... Casey told me the n...n...night before, sh... she was scared for me. I couldn't get it outta my head." His eyelashes fluttered, his head drooped and he drifted off.
"Shit!" Chris looked at Buck, then the others, "Shit! She messed with his head. The night before a bust, she messed with his head!"
"Easy pard," Vin spoke. "She wasn't to know."
"We have to talk to her, get this sorted. She has to understand or he's finished." Chris was determined.
"We will, we ALL will." he looked around the group. They nodded their agreement.
"Get her on the 'phone," Chris growled, "NOW!"
+ + + + + + +
As Casey walked into the bar affectionately nicknamed "The Saloon" she glanced around nervously. She had been surprised when Buck had
called. Why did they need to see her? She thought it best to meet off-campus. Seven law-enforcement officers turning up might cause a stir!
Her eyes finally rested at a table. There, there at the back she thought to herself. Six... SIX!!
"Where's JD?" she asked, sitting next to them.
"We gotta talk to ya Casey." Vin said, softly.
"Where's JD?" she whispered, her eyes filling.
Chris looked directly at her.
"He's in the hospital..." she gasped. Chris continued holding his hand up slightly. "He's gonna be fine."
Tears dropped from her eyes, hitting the table. Buck pulled her towards him in a hug.
"Now then, li'l darlin' He's doin' good. But it's important we have this conversation with ya." he gestured around the table including her.
"This here's his family, and we need to let you in on a little family secret. But I must warn you, if you can't handle what we're about to tell you, you may have to consider your options."
Chris took over. "To survive in our jobs we have to stay focused, we can't afford to let something or someone mess with our heads."
She nodded again.
"We can't voice our insecurities for fear of failing. Do you understand where I'm going with this?"
"We know you care for JD, and he sure as hell cares for you, but if you intend to stick around, you gotta understand, we can't, won't, talk about our cases. We HAVE to stay away from the issues, or they cloud our judgment. Yes?"
"Did he get hurt because of something I did?"
"Not directly, but he made a mistake, and he's learned from it. Can you?"
Casey inhaled catching a sob. "I...I..."
"Here's where he is." Chris pushed a piece of paper towards her across the table. "If you think you can stay on this roller-coaster ride, come and see him and the matter will be closed. If not, we'll take it from here, and the matter will be closed."
+ + + + + + +
JD poked at the lime-green jello with dismay. He winced slightly, trying to get into a comfortable position. Is this what it comes down to? Pain and jello? Buck poked his head round the door.
"Well howdy do!" he grinned. "Ya up for a visit?"
JD sighed, "God, yes, anything but looking at this jello!" Buck backed out of the door and opened it wider.
JD's eyes widened, as did his grin. "Casey!"
It was all she could do not to run to him and tell him she was sorry, but she remembered the "deal".
"Watcha doin' here? Don't you have school?" He asked.
She kissed him hard on the lips, widening his smile further. Buck chuckled and backed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
She sat on the bed next to JD, taking his hand in hers and staring deeply into his beautiful hazel eyes. She returned his smile.
"Let's just say, today, I decided I like riding the roller-coaster!"