The view outside of the window was a winter wonderland. It had been snowing in and around the Denver area for a couple of days and everything was covered in a thick, white blanket. JD was excited; he and Buck were going skiing that afternoon. They had already loaded the equipment in the trunk of the car, the skis securely buckled to the rack on the roof. He could hear the shower running in the upstairs bathroom, so he headed for the kitchen to get the cooler ready.
Less than two hours later, the duo was headed out. The back seat was filled with an assortment of dry clothes and insulated suits for skiing. The floorboard held the cooler filled with drinks and bags of munchies for the drive. JD was tapping his left foot to the music blaring from the speakers as he and Buck sang at the top of their lungs. They had left the main highway and were on a smaller blacktop that wound around the mountain and led to the ski resort.
It took only an instant for disaster to strike. Although JD was a good and careful driver, he couldn't control the other drivers. As he was coming around a curve, a tractor-trailer veered into his lane. The passenger side tires dropped off of the blacktop and the air was filled with the cry of disbelief as the car became airborne, propelled through the guardrail. Something in the undercarriage snapped as the car landed on the steep slope, jolting the passengers. The engine roared as JD's foot came down on the accelerator and the car found purchase on the rocky ground. Shooting forward, impelled by the tires and gravity, the car rolled down and onto the icy surface of the lake.
When he realized that they weren't moving, Buck opened his eyes and looked around. His stomach clenched as he saw the thinner section of ice and the water below. Reaching across the car, he grabbed JD's arm. "JD! JD, we have to get out of the car! JD?" He looked at his roommate when he got no response. JD was unconscious, blood seeping from a cut high on his forehead and running down his face. "Kid, don't do this to me! We have to get out!"
An ominous cracking sound raced across the ice and Buck's heart clenched. He immediately began rolling down the window on his side before struggling to reach across to roll down the driver's side. He released his own seatbelt and then tugged on JD's. Just then, the front end of the car dropped and water began pouring in through the lowest corners of the windows. JD's seatbelt was jammed!
Panic set in as the car slipped farther into the icy water and it began pouring across Buck's thighs. The shock of the temperature made him gasp, it was as if someone was cutting him. He struggled with JD's seatbelt again, trying to force it to release as the water filled the floorboard, freezing his feet and lower legs. It occurred to him to cut the seatbelt and he shoved his hand into his pocket to retrieve his knife. His hands were trembling as he opened and locked the blade. He began sawing at the seatbelt even as the water rose and began to cover JD's lap. One part of the seatbelt separated and Buck tugged frantically at it, trying to pull it back through the buckle. Because it was wet, the material swelled and couldn't be freed. Shocks of pain that nearly took his breath caused Buck to pause in his efforts. He thought he heard voices but he couldn't stop to check. Suddenly, a horrific thump sounded on the car's roof, causing him to duck. A man's head appeared at JD's window.
"You gotta get out, man! The car's sinking fast!"
"I can't get him out, the seatbelt is stuck!" Buck shouted.
The man disappeared from the driver's side window and reappeared at the passenger side. He reached through and grabbed Buck's arm.
"I can't leave him! Help me get him out!" Buck shouted more frantically at the man.
"Come on! You gotta get out! I'll come back for him!"
Buck realized that his hands were too cold for him to hold the knife securely and he feared that he might cut JD if he tried. Turning to the stranger, he stammered, the cold water causing him to shake uncontrollably. "You'll come back for him?"
"As soon as we get you out! Come on!"
Reluctantly, Buck looked back at JD and then turned to pull himself out of the car. The stranger was there, holding on to him and pulling him to the roof. Another man stood on the rocky edge of the ice, holding a rope in his hands. He tossed the rope and the man caught it, wrapping it around both of them as he struggled to stand on the seriously canted angle of the roof. When the man holding the other end of the rope pulled, they both staggered to the trunk and then to the edge of the ice. It seemed to take an eternity for them to reach the rocks. Buck was having trouble concentrating as he fell to his knees, dragging the man down with him. The rope was loosened and pulled off as Buck tried to curl up into a ball. Something was dropped over him and he opened his eyes to see that it was a blanket. He closed his eyes for a moment before he remembered JD and he struggled to sit up again.
"Stay still, man! Just stay still. You'll warm up in a few minutes!" the man shouted.
"JD! He has to get JD out!" Buck said as he stared at the slowly sinking car.
The man who had rescued Buck, Phil Torrens, was the driver of the truck that ran them off of the road. His partner, Jack Peters, had begged him not to go back for the second man. The car was too deep for the driver to have survived. Phil opened his own pocketknife and took several deep breaths before slipping into the frigid water and reaching into the car window. The driver was fully submerged, but bubbles still filled his nostrils, a sign that he hadn't breathed in any water, yet. Wrapping his numb hand around the seatbelt, he began sawing with the knife. Just as his own lungs were burning for lack of oxygen, the seatbelt gave and he backed out of the window. The car was almost completely submerged and he felt a moment of panic. Looking to the shore, he saw the other man staring at him and he knew he had to get the kid out, if only to rescue his body for the funeral. Diving back under the water, he felt for the open window. Grabbing the kid by his long hair, he maneuvered him through the opening and pushed him to the surface.
Buck dropped the blanket and crawled out onto the ice to reach for JD as the man struggled to get him to shore. It barely registered as he pulled the kid into his arms that the body was almost stiff, the eyes open and unseeing.
Phil collapsed to his knees and looked at the two strangers he had just rescued. He realized that the older man didn't know that the kid was dead; he was carding through the wet hair and talking soothingly to him. Jack reached out and felt the kid's neck for a pulse.
One of the stranger's hands came across his field of vision and Buck realized that he was checking JD for a heartbeat. Like a Mack truck, it hit him, his best friend and roommate wasn't breathing.
"NO! No, you can't die on me like this! JD! Please?" he begged as he shook the still body. Throwing his arms around the younger man, he hugged the limp form to his chest and sobbed.
Seeing the despairing man rocking the young man in his arms, Phil decided to try to help. He had taken the CPR training when his son was born and had managed to renew it every year. Shaking his freezing hands to circulate the blood, he reached out and pulled the dark haired boy from the older man's arms. He tugged the wet shirt out of the way and pressed his ear against the cold chest. No sound from either heart or lungs, he had to work fast. Checking his physical markers, he placed the heel of his hand in position and began to administer CPR. With the first compression, water burst from the kid's nose and mouth. Phil turned the body to the side and let the water drain out before beginning again. Jack dropped on the other side and began to do rescue breathing. After a couple of minutes, they stopped.
"My God! He's breathing," Jack said. Phil stopped the compressions and put a trembling hand against the side of the man's neck. Unsure of his frozen fingertips, he pressed his ear again to the bare chest. A steady, even beat fell on his ear and he wanted to sob for joy. "We gotta get him to a hospital!"
Jarred out of his reverie, Phil nodded and struggled to his feet. The other man surged forward, pulling the blanket from his shoulders and wrapping the younger man in it. He gathered his friend into his arms and turned to look up the steep embankment.
By the time they reached the blacktop, three other cars had stopped and several gawkers lined the broken guardrail. An older man rushed over and grabbed Phil by the arm. "I have a van. I can take them to the hospital."
Buck turned and nodded to the stranger, unable to control the shaking of his body or the chattering of his teeth. The man led him to a Ford van and opened the sliding door. Welcome heat wafted out and Buck's knees almost failed. He managed to climb into the van after the man took JD from his arms and settled him in the back, bench seat. The man pulled a blanket from behind the seat and draped it over the kid, tucking it in around him. The middle seats were captain's chairs that turned completely around and Buck dropped heavily into one while the man who had rescued JD took the other.
Jack watched as Phil got into the van before he walked toward the tractor they had left around the curve on the narrow shoulder. The van managed to turn around and start back toward the main highway and he eased in behind it. As he followed the van, he thought to himself that it was time to find another line of work.
"My name's Phil Torrens," the man said.
"Buck Wilmington and this is JD Dunne. I ... I don't know how to ... thank you for ... saving us ... him. He's like ... a brother to me."
"I just hope he makes it," Phil said softly.
They reached the hospital and the driver got out to open the door. Phil got out first, waving off the orderly who rushed toward him. Buck stumbled, nearly falling on his face, as he exited. A firm hand pushed him into a wheelchair and rushed him into the ER. Another orderly climbed into the van and lifted the unconscious body from the back seat, depositing him on the gurney and rushing him inside.
Buck allowed the nurse to steer him onto the gurney but he refused to lie down, insisting on sitting so he could see JD. There was a flurry of activity around his roommate. Information was exchanged, faster than his shocky mind could comprehend. He pulled his soaked wallet from his pocket when the nurse asked for his name.
"How long was he in the water?" the doctor asked. Phil waited to see if the other man would answer before he spoke.
"Half an hour, altogether. Fully submerged for about ten or fifteen minutes," he said.
The doctor ordered a warming blanket and warm saline. JD's temperature was taken three times to verify it before additional procedures were ordered. A tube was passed into his stomach and warm water passed through it. JD's wet clothes were cut away and a nasty gash on his hip was discovered.
"How did this happen?" the doctor asked.
"I may have hit him when I was cutting the seatbelt," Phil admitted.
Another doctor stopped in front of Buck. "Mr. Wilmington, my name is Gil Starks and I'm going to check you over. I understand that you took a turn in the water too. Can you tell me how you feel?" Getting no answer, Dr. Starks pulled his penlight and cupped the man's chin gently. He resisted the urging to turn his head and the doctor checked his pupils anyway. "Mr. Wilmington, can you tell me what day it is?" Still, he got no answer. The violet blue eyes never wavered from the still form on the other bed. "I understand that you're concerned for your friend but I really need to make sure that you're alright," he said as he moved to stand directly in the man's line of sight.
His view of JD was blocked and Buck reached out and shoved the hindrance out of the way. They were checking the gash on JD's forehead. For the first time, he realized exactly how deeply blue the kid's lips had turned.
Dr. Starks grabbed the curtain between the two beds and pulled it around, once again blocking his patient's view of the other man. Before he could form his next sentence, cold hands took hold of him and a deeply angry voice hissed in his face.
"Leave me alone! I want to see what they're doing to JD!" Buck growled. The doctor tried to back away and Buck slipped off of the gurney, holding on to the man as he regained his balance. Releasing the doctor with one hand, he grabbed the curtain and hurled it out of the way. His feet were still fairly numb from being in the wet boots and woolen socks.
Realizing that the patient was slipping into shock, Dr. Starks relaxed and moved out of the way so that he could see the other man. After a minute, he carefully edged his patient back to the gurney. He supported Buck until he could remain sitting up on his own.
"What are they doing to him?"
"They're warming him. They have to do it slowly so that they don't send him into organ failure. I understand you went into the water too. How about you lie back and let the nurses get those wet things off?" To his surprise, his patient nodded and settled back against the raised head of the gurney and continued to stare across the room. Dr. Starks motioned for the nurse to approach. Slowly, carefully, they removed the sodden clothing and began gently massaging his limbs to circulate the blood from his core where it was warmer. After several minutes, he began to shake. The doctor ordered medication that eased the tremors and sent him into oblivion.
The phone at the ranch had been ringing for a while before Chris got to it. He had been coming up from the barn and heard the phone when he got into the garage. Breathlessly answering the insistent ringing, he was informed that two of his agents were in a hospital over an hour's drive away. The woman on the phone explained that both were in stable condition, but that JD was more seriously injured. Chris told them to call Denver General to get copies of their medical records. As soon as he hung up, he called the others and informed them of the situation. They agreed to meet at a truck stop so that they wouldn't have to take all of their vehicles. Josiah offered to go by Buck and JD's place to get them some more clothes.
Buck jerked awake and looked around anxiously. Finding himself alone in the room, he began to panic. It took him only a moment to lower the rail on the side of the bed and swing his feet over the side. His head swam and he nearly toppled over on his face. He discovered the IV in his arm and began clawing at the tape. The nurse arrived just in time to stop him from ripping the needle out of his arm.
"Where do you think you're going?" she asked as she hurried to his side and pulled his hand away from the IV. "You're in no shape to be up and about."
"Where's JD? Where is he?" Buck shouted as he grabbed the woman by the wrist.
"If you are referring to the young man who came in with you, he's still in the ER. They are still raising his core temperature."
"I have to see him. Take me to him," Buck demanded.
"There isn't anything you can do for him down there," she protested. Before she could stop him, he had ripped the IV from his arm and left the room, ignoring the fact that his gown was open down the back and he was flashing everyone he passed. He hadn't reached the elevator bank when she caught up with him. "Mr. Wilmington, please wait. At least let me get you another gown and some slippers. I'll take you down in a wheel chair."
Reluctantly, Buck agreed and allowed her to escort him back to the room. She pulled another hospital gown from the closet and put it on him like a bathrobe. She handed him a folded thermal blanket and led him to the nurse's station and helped him into a wheel chair. Unfolding the blanket across his lap, she wheeled him to the elevator.
Buck came to his feet as soon as they reached the ER. He took several unsteady steps to the side of the bed and looked down on his young roommate. JD's lips were not as blue as before and they had placed butterfly strips across the cut on his forehead. Buck reached out and passed his hand lightly over JD's cheek, startled at how cool his flesh felt. He leaned heavily on the gurney as he willed his young friend to open his eyes.
Josiah and Chris parked their vehicles in emergency parking and raced into the ER. Before they had to ask the nurse, Vin spotted Buck. He nudged Chris and they hurried across to their teammates. A nurse spotted them and began to try to head them off. Nathan and Josiah turned, preventing the hospital staff from interfering. Ezra moved around the bed opposite Buck and reached out to squeeze JD's forearm. Chris gripped Buck's shoulder before he spoke.
"Hey, we got here as quickly as we could. Are you alright, Buck?"
A hard shudder ran through the ladies man as he turned to face his oldest friend. Their eyes met and a sob was torn from Buck's lips. He threw his arms around Chris and nearly took them both to the floor. Vin steadied the pair while watching the hospital staff.
The doctor finally released JD from the ER and had him placed in the room with Buck. He had yet to regain consciousness but his body temperature had finally reached something closer to normal. They would keep him until he was awake and they could assess his mental condition. Only with JD in the room did Buck agree to the nurse replacing the IV in his own arm. He was exhausted and immediately drifted into a deep, sound sleep.
It was mid day the next afternoon before JD moaned softly. Nathan and Ezra were immediately at his side. Buck struggled to sit up, in spite of Josiah trying to keep him down. Vin went for the nurse and brought her back with him. JD's eyes opened and he instantly panicked.
"Calm down, JD. You need to stay calm," Nathan soothed.
"Buck?" he whispered.
"Right here, kid," the ladies man called. JD sank back against the pillow and breathed easier.
"What do you remember?" Nathan asked as the nurse arrived.
"We were going skiing. We got off of the highway," JD answered.
"Nothing after that?" Ezra asked.
Brown eyes widened in confusion and fear before JD struggled to sit up again so he could see Buck. The nurse tried to coax him into lying back down and failed. Chris stepped up to the side of the bed and took hold of JD's arm and instantly ended the struggle. The nurse asked the standard orientation questions and JD answered correctly. She checked the IV and the catheter, which JD hadn't even noticed, before she left the room.
Once they were back to just the team in the room, JD asked again, "What happened?"
"The car went off of the road and into the water," Buck said calmly. "Do you remember that?" A frightened look crossed JD's face and he nodded. "You were trapped by the seatbelt."
Horror colored JD's face and he began to shake. Nathan leaned close, speaking soothingly. Buck was struggling against Josiah, trying to get out of bed. The doctor arrived and went directly to check on the younger man.
"Mr. Dunne, can you hear me? John? I need you to calm down and talk to me," the doctor said as he firmly squeezed JD's shoulder. When the brown eyes finally focused on his face, he spoke calmly. "I know that you've been through a lot, but I need to examine you."
The others backed away and allowed the doctor to check the kid over. JD admitted to a headache and to sore ribs. He was alert and oriented, which pleased the doctor. His temperature was normal and he had no sign of frostbite. The doctor told him that he had to stay overnight and would have more tests in the morning. Having gotten the word from the Denver hospital, the doctor didn't even try to send the others away. He did encourage JD to sleep, that his body needed rest to recover.
It was a long evening for Team 7. Vin and Nathan went out to get food for all of them. Ezra was on the phone making arrangements for retrieving the car from the lake. Chris stayed beside Buck while he slept and Josiah stood watch over JD. When the others returned with sacks of take-out, they all dug right in. Nathan allowed a fairly high carb meal, knowing that they were all slightly shocky. JD awoke and was allowed some rich, clam chowder.
During the night, Buck was repeatedly awakened by nightmares. He kept seeing JD's lifeless body on the ground after being pulled from the icy water. Each time, a firm hand took hold of him and woke him, keeping him from waking JD with his panicked cries.
In the morning, JD was taken for a battery of tests, including an EEG to determine if he had any brain damage from being submersed in the icy water and not breathing. All of the tests were within acceptable parameters and the young man was neurologically intact.
Late in the afternoon, both Buck and JD were discharged. They were dressed in the clothes that Josiah had gotten for them. They were tucked into the back seat of Chris's truck, padded and insulated with pillows and sleeping bags bought from a local store. Nathan rode in the front while the others rode back with Josiah. They went to the ranch, naturally, and the two men were immediately situated on the sofa and covered with warm, cozy blankets.
By Monday, Buck was back to work and JD was on light duty because of the stitches in his side. The office was subdued; each man pondered the near loss of their young computer whiz. There was a steady stream of people in and out of the office all day of people who wanted to see JD for one reason or another. In the back of his mind, Buck was beginning to examine his actions at the time of the accident. He was working up to a massive load of guilt listening to JD relate how two strangers had arrived and saved his life.
Sitting quietly in the corner, Vin saw the gradual change in Buck's responses to the well-wishers. He easily read the emotion as guilt and slipped into the team leader's office. Chris looked up from the report he was preparing on the incident.
"Are they scheduled to talk to the shrink?" Vin asked.
"Buck and JD? No, why do you ask?"
"I just wondered. Has Buck ever come this close to losing a partner before?"
"You mean besides all the times I tried to kill myself?" Chris asked cynically.
"Just asking," Vin said gently.
Taking the hint, Chris nodded and pulled his Rolodex forward to look for the card he knew was still there. He had been to the woman after Sarah and Adam and still saw her a few times a year when he needed to vent.
JD looked up as Vin came out of Chris's office and an odd sensation washed over him. A name popped into his head and he decided to pull it up on the computer and see if he could figure out why. As soon as the three listings came up on the screen, he knew which one it was. Chris came out of his office and motioned for he and Buck to come in with him.
"Now I know that you're going to throw a fit about this but it's important."
"He's sending us to a psychiatrist," JD said.
Peeved that Vin had said something without waiting for him to inform them, Chris scowled. "He told you?"
"Who?" JD countered.
"How did you know I was going to suggest that you speak to a doctor, JD?"
"Her name is Rowena Martin and her office is on 71st."
"That's the shrink you saw after Sarah and Adam," Buck said, suddenly putting it all together.
"Yes, but how did you know, JD?" Chris asked again.
"I don't know! It just came to me."
The phone rang and Chris was forced to turn his attention to the call. Buck and JD slipped out of the office and closed the door. JD crossed to his desk and angrily hit the button to clear the screen before heading for the restroom. Once inside, he stared into the mirror for a second and shuddered.
At the end of the day, the team left the office together. When they stepped out on the parking level, they surged forward. They had taken only a few steps when JD stopped suddenly. The others, not noticing that he had stopped, went on toward their cars. Ezra paused to pull out his car keys and realized that JD was not behind him. He looked back and noticed the far-away look on JD's face.
"Josiah, look out!" JD cried. The profiler turned, looking for danger, and flinched as the windshield of his suburban shattered. All seven men drew their guns and began searching for the source. A guard came down the ramp, looking to see if everyone was all right. One of the other guards had been checking his gun and it misfired. Josiah leaned back against Vin's jeep, his chest heaving. Nathan holstered and ran to the profiler's side, checking his pulse. Ezra looked around the front end of Buck's truck to where JD had ducked. He couldn't forget the dazed look on the young man's face.
"Are you all right, JD?" he asked.
Buck heard Ezra and leapt up to run for his roommate. JD was seated on the running board, his gun pointed toward the ground between his knees. He was breathing hard and shaking like a leaf.
"Nathan!" Buck bellowed as he sank to his knees and eased the weapon from the kid's slack fingers. He put out a hand to keep Ezra from getting directly in front of JD. Nathan rushed over and knelt, automatically reaching out to check JD's pulse.
"I'm fine," JD said, twisting away from the approaching hand and struggling to stand.
"You don't look fine," Nathan said.
"I'm fine, leave me alone!" JD yelled.
Chris spun around from where he was looking over Josiah's vehicle while listening to the guard apologizing repeatedly. He saw JD walking away from the others and realized that the young agent was upset.
"Buck? If JD's okay, why don't you get out of here? We'll take care of this." He waited until his friend nodded and then turned back to the vehicle.
"JD?" Buck asked softly.
"Leave me alone! I don't want to go home right now!"
While Buck was standing there dragging his fingers through his hair, Vin moved closer to JD and kept him from walking away. Ezra waited a moment before moving to speak to JD.
"Would you be amenable to leaving with me to find a quiet place to have a drink?"
Startled brown eyes locked on his and Ezra saw him nod. He moved to unlock his car and waited until JD slid into the passenger seat. He nodded to Buck, to let him know he'd watch the kid's back.
Instead of the saloon, they headed for a little restaurant that Ezra knew would allow them to have privacy. He said nothing, sensing that JD needed to come to terms with whatever had him so shaken. On the parking lot, Ezra waited for the young agent to move. When JD finally sighed and unbuckled his seatbelt, Standish opened his door and got out. They went into the subtly lit room, where a man in an expensive suit hurried over and greeted Ezra warmly. He showed them to a booth in a corner, took an order for their drinks and dashed away.
"Ezra, I ..." JD began.
"You don't have to explain to me. You needed to get away."
"I don't know what's happening to me. It's scaring me. I keep having these ... flashes."
The waiter arrived with their drinks and a platter of appetizers. Ezra was relieved to see JD bypass the drink for food. He sipped his own drink and waited for his young teammate to talk again. They polished off the appetizers before JD spoke again.
"I think I'm losing my mind," JD said softly.
"How many of these 'flashes' have you had?"
"Three or four times today. At the ranch, I was having them back-to-back. I knew what people were going to say before they said anything. I saw you slip in the barn," JD said with a sly grin.
The waiter stopped again and Ezra ordered another plate of appetizers and JD asked for a soda. When they were alone again, the southerner took the wine list and stood it in front of him. He took the napkin and pulled out his pen. He drew something on the napkin and looked expectantly at JD.
"Can you tell me what I drew?"
JD closed his eyes and felt the wave of dizziness again, "No, but the waiter is going to spill a drink on the man at the table next to us in a moment."
Sure enough, the waiter got his foot caught on the chair leg and the tray he was holding tipped, spilling a drink into the lap of the man, causing him to jump up and trip over the chair himself, dumping the table over. While JD looked oddly horrified, Ezra laughed, hiding it behind his hand and picking up his drink.
"Well, there go my hopes of winning big at the races," Ezra said softly, bringing JD back to the reason they were here. He saw the fear flash again.
"I don't want this, Ezra. I mean ... what if I see something really awful? What if I see ...?"
"I understand your apprehension. Have you spoken with anyone else of this?"
"No, I don't want them to think I'm ... crazy or something," JD said, picking up his drink and gulping it. Ezra reached across the table and tipped the glass, stopping him from downing it. He took the glass away.
"You aren't crazy, JD. There has to be a reason that this is happening to you. You have to trust your friends. We're here for you. We'll get you through this."
They finished a second platter of appetizers and another soda before paying the bill and leaving. Ezra called Buck to let him know that JD was all right and find out if they were finished at the office. When he heard that they were at the loft waiting for them, he said that they were on their way. Not surprisingly, the entire team was there, Nathan having brought Josiah over since his suburban couldn't be driven. Ezra sat with JD in the Jag until he was ready to face the others.
As soon as they entered the loft, Josiah got up and came toward JD. Ezra saw the kid flinch as he was hugged and he hoped that the profiler wasn't inflicting unwanted mental images on JD. He didn't think it was triggered by touch, since the waiter at the restaurant hadn't touched him.
"Thank you, thank you, John Dunne, you saved my life," Josiah whispered before he let go.
JD stumbled away from Josiah and headed for an empty chair. Nathan started forward, only to have Ezra wave him off. They all stepped back and waited until JD and Ezra were ready to talk.
"Buck, Chris, I don't know how to explain this," JD foundered and looked to Ezra.
"Take your time," Standish urged.
It took him a while to order the words in his head before he spoke. "Ever since I woke up in the hospital ... I've been having these ... flashes in my head. I see things before they happen."
"You saw the bullet shatter my windshield?" Josiah asked.
"Yeah, and I saw the name of that shrink you're sending us to," he said to Chris.
"This has you really rattled, doesn't it?" Nathan asked, assessing the rapid breaths and trembling of the young man's hands. He saw JD nod. "Is there anything in particular that triggers these flashes?"
"No, they just come to me. At first, I mean, I thought it was just a coincidence. We've been in the hospital often enough that I knew what they were going to say and do. But when we got to the ranch and it was still happening, it started to freak me out."
"Could this have been caused by ... what happened to him?" Chris asked of Nathan.
"I don't know. There have been cases where people had premonitions after near-death experiences. The brain is largely not understood. Seeing the future, that is something I really don't know much about."
JD slipped into an exhausted sleep that night. When he awoke, he lay in his bed trying to figure out some way to rid himself of this unwanted 'gift.' After tossing and turning for a while, he drifted back to sleep. By the time the alarm went off in the morning, he was feeling just miserable. Buck told him that he could stay home if he didn't feel like going in to the office but he didn't want to be alone.
It was the middle of the morning when JD began to chuckle softly. The five men in the bullpen began to look around nervously. A few seconds later, Chris began to curse loudly enough to be heard through the closed door. When he came out, he had toner powder all down one leg of his pants.
"Damn defective toner cartridge!" the blond cursed as he brushed at his clothing.
Over the next few days, JD's visions had retreated to a point where he thought that they had gone away completely. Even when Ezra's coffee mug, which had been dropped by the cleaning staff and cracked, was leaking on his desk blotter, he didn't sense anything. When Buck's date showed up unexpectedly in the office, causing the ladies man to quickly conceal the picture of another girl, JD hadn't gotten even a twinge.
Things settled down as JD was released to full duty. No mention was made of the fated ski trip.
The mission was to have been simple. They were providing backup to Team 5 at a meet. It was supposed to be a simple takedown. And it would have gone without a hitch but for one thing, it was Team 5 that was being set up. One of the key players on the other side had recognized the new buyer as an ATF agent.
From the safety of the surveillance van, JD and Josiah monitored the abandoned service station. There was no way to get anyone on the inside of the building before the bust. Two agents from Team 5 rolled up in their Mini Cooper as the bad guys arrived in their Cadillac Escalade. Over the mic, JD listened to the greetings between the four men and rolled his eyes at the macho small talk that ensued.
Out of the corner of his eye, JD saw a tiny sparkle. Letting his gaze fall on the small, blank screen, he felt the vision sweep over him. His hand leapt to touch the cold glass for a moment before he gasped. He knew there wasn't time to explain.
Hearing JD's startled inhalation, Josiah focused on what he was hearing of the meeting. When he realized that the men were just discussing the coming March Madness match-ups, he focused more on the young man instead. He saw JD's hand brush the monitor screen, even though it was dark. When JD suddenly threw himself out of the chair and against the door, Josiah lurched up to follow him.
"Good God!" Ezra exhaled as he saw the computer whiz running down the sidewalk. "Chris, we've got trouble!"
The team leader turned to see what was happening and his jaw clenched. He wondered what JD could have heard that would cause him to leave the safety of the van.
Buck saw JD running toward the gas station and he shot out from behind his cover to intercept the kid before he ruined the bust. Vin watched from the only vantage point he had been able to find. Through his scope, he saw the four men, armed with AK-47's sneaking up on Buck's former position. Knowing he had no choice, he clicked off the safety and opened fire.
"JD!" Buck yelled as he tackled his roommate. A bullet burned across the back of his thigh as they hit the ground. In the maelstrom that followed, over a hundred shell casings would be expelled from all of the weapons. One of the crates that Buck had been hiding behind exploded, sending a column of fire into the night sky. A few moments later, a second, stronger explosion shook the gas station itself, taking out two walls and a portion of the roof.
He awoke to the continuous beeping of a heart monitor. JD's head felt as if it was trapped in a vise that was slowly crushing it. In a moment of panic, he tried to sit up. Big mistake. As soon as his head was higher than his stomach, he was violently ill. Firm hands took hold of him and supported him until the heaving stopped. When he was lowered to the pillow, a damp cloth swept across his sweaty face.
"Just breathe deeply, JD," Josiah said. "You're going to be fine."
"Buck?" JD asked, remembering that the last thing he had known was his friend running toward him and the horrible flash he had seen before leaving the surveillance van.
"He's in surgery. They're repairing the damage to his leg."
"His leg? He's alive? I saw ... it was ... an explosion!"
"You saved his life, son. If you hadn't gone to him the way you did, he'd have been killed, Nathan too," Josiah explained.
"Did everyone get out alright?"
"Mitchell from Team 5 got some nasty burns and Fourshie broke his arm and got a concussion but they'll live. You did good, John Dunne."
"It was awful, Josiah. I saw it happening and I had to stop it. I saw it!"
"Another flash?" Chris asked as he entered the room.
"How's Buck?" JD asked as he tried to sit up again.
"He'll be along in a few minutes. The surgeon repaired the torn muscle. He'll have another scar to show off but he'll live. How are you feeling?" the team leader countered.
"Headache from hell but I'll be alright."
True to his word, nurses wheeled Buck in a few minutes later. Vin and Ezra followed the rolling entourage. The room was oddly quiet while the nurses checked the IV again and connected the monitor wires to the wall sockets.
"He will be groggy and disoriented when he begins to wake up. Please don't let him overexert himself," the nurse said before leaving them alone.
"Nathan is staying in the emergency room with Mitchell's family. He said he would be up later," Vin explained.
In the morning, when Buck awoke, he immediately looked for his roommate. JD was still asleep, his arm thrown across his eyes to block the light. As soon as he moved, Chris stood and leaned over the bedside rails.
"How do you feel?"
"Did anyone get the license of the truck that hit me? Is he alright?"
"He'll be fine."
"Good, when we get home, I'm gonna kill him," Buck announced. "He never shoulda broke cover like that. He could have gotten himself killed."
"If he hadn't, you'd be dead," Chris said softly. At Buck's startled look, he explained, "The boxes you were hiding behind were filled with explosives. The whole meeting was a setup, Mitchell's cover was blown."
"How did he know?"
"He had another premonition. He said he saw you die."
The two men were never alone until they were discharged from the hospital. After the others left the ranch, Buck and JD got up and headed for the guest room to lie down. JD was still suffering the after affects of a minor concussion and Buck was still very sore from the surgery on his leg and was forced to get around using crutches.
When it had been quiet in the room for a few minutes, Buck spoke, "I never got a chance to thank you for saving my life."
JD rolled to his side and studied his roommate. "It was no different than you saving me when the car went into the lake."
"I ... I ... it wasn't me, it was that other guy."
"But it was you who called me back. You told me not to die on you."
Surprise lit Buck's features as he struggled to sit up, "I never told you about that. I never told anyone about that."
"But I heard you. You didn't let me go."
"Took me too long to get you broken in just right, kid, I didn't want to go through the hassle of starting all over again with another greenhorn."
"Sure Buck. You are so full of-"
"I thought you were going to sleep in there," Chris called from the hall.
"Yes, Dad," Buck answered, rolling his eyes. JD grinned before rolling over to face the wall. Buck rolled gingerly into a comfortable position and was soon deeply asleep.
There were no more premonitions or flashes of insight for JD. Like a door opening and then closing, the ability vanished as suddenly as it had begun. But it left behind a bond, similar to the one Chris and Vin shared. Whenever one of them was in trouble, the other always knew and came to the rescue.