by Sue M
Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em but if I could they'd be on season 10 by now!
Ratings/Warnings: Some bad language
Thanks to Mog for the wonderful ATF/AU
My thanks always to Phyllis, who is not just my beta but a friend and inspiration also.
Sequel to Luck of the Draw
Ezra was all talked out, but JD wanted more. As he sat alone in the CDC, he glanced at his computer, 'time to do some digging'.
Buck threw another balled up paper at Standish and silently cheered as the man finally looked his way.
"At last. . .what did he have to say?"
"Mister Wilmington, I am officially on sick leave, please refrain from interrogating me."
"I was only curious. That was the kid, right?"
"I will say to you what I just said to him. . .drop it. . . now."
Standish stayed remarkably calm despite Tanner's sudden appearance behind him.
"Is this about the warehouse thing again?" he asked.
Ezra stood and faced him.
"I would rather leave it at that, JD's obvious confusion right now is concern enough and I will not have his state of mind the butt of office jokes. Now, if you will excuse me? My physician said I should rest, and as I only came here to assist with the investigation report, which is now complete, I will endeavor to take a professional' s advice."
"WAIT!" Vin ordered. Ezra turned back to him.
"I know you two went through shit in that warehouse last week; hell, it was no picnic for the rest of us to have to watch 'em dig you outta there, but you got no right suggestin' we would make JD's state of mind an office joke. We know somethin's up and we just wanna help, is all."
Ezra sighed and nodded back at the two men. "You are right, and I apologize for my accusation. . ." He gestured to the desk chairs. "Sit. . . please."
Buck and Vin rolled two chairs together and waited.
+ + + + + + +
JD pinched the bridge of his nose. Despite hours of searching, there were no reports that suggested there had been a girl murdered that matched the description of the one he and Ezra had seen at the warehouse. Neither had there been a suicide. Almost ready to give up, he gave it one last shot and entered 'rape', regretting his actions instantly as a long list of girls and women scrolled up the screen for several minutes.
Suddenly, the youth sat bolt upright and clicked back a few pictures.
"Oh my God. . ."
He swallowed nervously as he read her profile.
"Emily Nowaczyk. . .nineteen. . . student. . ."
JD rubbed his hand over his face then jotted down her address. Hearing the apartment door opening, he pushed his mouse to the corner of his screen and it instantly changed to his Magnificent Seven screensaver.
"Hey, kid! Got someone here to see you," Buck called.
JD swiveled around to see Vin grinning at him.
"Hey. . ." JD frowned, "What are you guys doing here at this time of day? I bet Chris is at a meeting, isn't he?"
Vin flicked the youth's shoulder, "Why? D'ya think we can't leave the office without his permission?" He looked at a grinning Buck.
"Ok, yeah. . .he is. . .all day. So what you been up to?"
JD shrugged, "Aw, y'know. . . stuff."
Vin looked at the computer, "Nothing illegal, I hope," he grinned.
The easterner rolled his eyes. "Nooo. . .are you staying or do you have to get back soon?"
"We can stay. . .no cases right now; are you guys thirsty?" Buck spoke as he headed for the kitchen.
Vin was perched on the desk and nodded, JD held up his milk to show he already had one. The Texan put his hand on the desk and 'nudged' the mouse. The screen flickered off the screensaver to reveal the photo and details of Emily.
"Who's this?" Vin asked, pointing to the screen.
JD didn't make eye contact, "Err. . .dunno, I was just looking at something, just happened to stop on her."
Vin stared at his friend, willing him to share more. When nothing was forthcoming, he pushed.
"So, what are you searching for?" he peered at the screen, "Rape? Not exactly light reading, is it?"
JD pushed the mouse to reinstate the screensaver. "So what? I just wanted to check something out, no big deal."
Vin held up his hands, "Ok, ok. . .I was just curious." He watched JD get up from his seat. "Where are you going?"
"To the bathroom, if that's ok with you." The youth limped away.
Looking the equipment over, Vin brought the picture back up and clicked 'print'. Thank God JD's equipment was 'state of the art' he thought as the printer made fast work of the task while he kept checking for JD's return. As soon as the printout dropped out, he quickly pocketed it and pushed the mouse to bring back the screensaver just as JD approached.
The young agent leaned over his desk and saved the page to his bookmarks, then proceeded to shut the computer down.
"There's a basketball game on in an hour," he informed the two men just as Buck was joining them. "Shall we watch it?"
"What if we make a night of it. . .call the guys?" Buck asked.
"Cool. Not sure Ezra's up to it though," JD sighed.
"Well we'll call him anyway; see if he's interested, maybe Nathan can pick him up on the way." Buck began dialing.
+ + + + + + +
JD had dozed off long before the game had ended his pain killers still in affect. Buck nudged him.
"Hey, kid, come on, let's get you to bed."
A little disorientated, the youth stretched and barely acknowledged anyone before he disappeared into his room. Ten minutes later when Buck checked on him, he was sound asleep.
"Ok, Vin. . .what's got you all edgy?" Chris asked.
Vin looked at Ezra as he fished out the printout.
"D'ya recognize her?"
Ezra's features paled, "Oh Lord. . .no, it can't be. . ."
"Is it her, Ezra?" Vin pushed.
"I. . .I cannot be sure, but. . .my God, I believe it might be."
"Would you care to let the rest of us in on this now?" Larabee growled.
Standish looked at the Texan then addressed them all as Vin passed the paper around.
"The girl you are looking at. . .I think. . .is the girl JD and I saw at the warehouse on Halloween."
"You mean the ghost?" Nathan asked.
Ezra nodded, "I know this must seem incredulous, Lord knows I have tried to dismiss what we saw that night, but the girl in that photograph. . .it is...her."
Josiah nodded, "The only question I have is what is her connection to the building you were in? If JD has come up with this, she clearly wasn't murdered there."
Chris had been listening intently and when he shifted in his seat, the others expected criticism.
"Looks like we need to do a little digging, don't we?"
+ + + + + + +
Two days later and after hours of searching and cross-referencing on his computer, JD stepped out of the cab and looked at the address on the paper in his hand. Satisfied he was in the right place, he paid the driver and limped over to the single-story house. He knocked on the white front door and glanced around him. The lawn was neat, the house painted pristine white with matching shutters, the epitome of a happy home. He turned as the door opened, revealing a pretty woman with auburn hair in her mid-forties. 'Her hair's the same color as Emily's' he thought.
"Can I help you?"
"Hi, I'm. . .was...a friend of Emily's. I'm real sorry to disturb you, I just wanted to pay my respects."
The woman beamed, "Are you Andy?" then her smile faded, "Oh, you... you can't be. . .Andy died, how stupid. . .what was I thinking. . .are you his brother? You look so much like him."
JD hated lying, but he didn't want to distress the woman with false hopes of an investigation.
"Yes, I am. Is this a bad time?"
"There's hardly a good time these days, please, come in."
She directed him to the kitchen and a chair in the corner.
"Would you care for a drink?"
"Yes, ma'am, that would be good, thanks. . .could I have some milk, please?" JD grimaced slightly and absently rubbed his leg. The woman saw his actions.
"Of course. Have you been in an accident?" she asked as she reached for a glass and the milk.
JD frowned, "Oh, the limp. . .err yeah. . .I came off my bike," he lied.
"Hmm, those things can be so dangerous. Here you go." She handed him his drink and took the seat opposite him. "Now, what else can I do for you?"
"Oh nothing, thanks ma'am, I just came to say how sorry I was about Emily. . .I've been away. . .I'm sorry I haven't called earlier."
"Well, you must be in quite a state of shock, what with your brother, then Emily. How is your mother?"
JD drank nervously, "Well. . . you know. . . about as well as you'd expect, under the circumstances. "
"Yes, of course." Her face saddened. "He was such a hero. . .Emily never got over it, you know. . .that's why. . .that's why she . . .ended it all. . .she couldn't forgive herself. Would you like to see her room? There are a lot of photos of the two of them there."
JD nodded. "Yes, thanks, I would."
Vin slapped a file down on Larabee's desk.
"The rape took place eighteen months ago; Emily Nowaczyk was also badly beaten but managed to escape."
The others had joined Vin in Chris' office. Vin continued.
"This is the twist. . . she committed suicide six months ago. Her father found her on her bed, clutching a photograph of her boyfriend. She'd taken her father's sleeping pills. He's currently in a facility for the mentally ill in Colorado Springs. . .breakdown. "
"Because he found her dead?" Buck asked.
Vin nodded, "That and the trauma of the rape, that's why he was taking sleeping pills; the girl became withdrawn and hardly talked. . . she lost a lot of weight and had been monitored at one point. . . suicide watch."
Chris sighed. "And she was raped at the Business Park?"
"Yeah, but get this, someone did die there that night." Vin tossed down a photograph of a nineteen year-old boy.
JD stared at the photograph on the nightstand and without realizing it, had walked over and picked it up.
"I assume you're close in age," Mrs. Nowaczyk stated.
"Yes," JD whispered, as he looked at the image of a young man that could indeed have been a brother, his features similar, his hair dark and long. JD touched his own shorter hair as he examined the photograph. He then looked at Emily, but instead of seeing the smiling features in front of him, he could only see the auburn- haired darkly-clothed figure beckoning him and Ezra in the corridor. He shuddered as the woman put her hand on his shoulder.
"Are you alright, dear? You've gone awfully pale."
JD took a deep breath, "I. . .I'm sorry. . .the shock. . .you know?"
"Of course, I understand. I'll leave you for a moment so you can have some privacy."
He tried to stop her, he didn't really want to be left alone, but couldn't form the words. He found himself walking around, touching her bed, her stuffed toys and looking at the photograph.
"Why, Emily. . .?" he whispered. . ."Why did you come to me?"
He jumped as the woman came back to the room.
"Are you ready to come downstairs now, dear?"
"Yes ma'am. . .thanks. Err. . . may I borrow this photo. . .to make a copy of it?"
"Yes of course, but you will return it, won't you?"
"Oh, yes, ma'am. . .you have my word."
Five men stared at the photo.
"Amazing," was all Josiah could think of to say as he studied the deceased boy's features.
"Creepy," was Buck's offering.
"OK." Chris stood and started to pace. "What's his connection to this girl?"
Nathan had picked up the file and was studying more pictures.
"This is the boyfriend?"
Vin nodded and sighed. "Yeah, and this is gonna tear you up. The night she was raped, Emily and. . ." Tanner checked the back of the boy's photo. ". . .Andy. . .were making out in his car just around the corner from the Business Park. Five guys pulled them out of the car, took them to the building Ezra and JD were in on Halloween, beat up the boyfriend and took turns beating and raping Emily while they forced him to watch. By the time the third guy had finished, Andy managed to break free and started pounding on 'em, screaming for Emily to run, which she did. By the time she found help and the police got to the park, Andy had been stabbed to death."
Each man made a noise or movement projecting their disgust. Vin concluded.
"I guess Emily never got over it, and that's why she ended her pain, poor kid."
"Did they ever get these guys?" Nathan wanted to know.
Chris resumed his seat. "Good work, Vin. I guess we should tell Ezra and JD all this."
Buck's cell rang and he frowned as glanced at it and then answered.
"Hey darlin'. . .no, he's not here. What time was he due to meet. . .?" The brunette looked at his watch and his frown grew deeper. "And you called the apartment? Ok, honey, I'll get back to you. . .don't fret, he can't ride or drive yet, he's probably been distracted."
Buck looked at the others, "JD missed a meet-up with Casey. He's not answering either his cell or the apartment."
Chris picked up his phone and dialed.
"Ezra, is JD with you? Ok, if he turns up, will you let me know? Thanks." Chris had been thinking about it, but in that instance Buck had received the call, he knew he needed to bring the Team together to get some answers.
"Oh and Ezra. . .you're expected at the ranch this weekend." He raised his eyes to look at the others, "You all are."
+ + + + + + +
JD frowned as the doorbell rang. He had arrived home and had instantly booted up his computer to scan in the photograph.
With a sigh, he pressed his eye to the spy hole and then opened the door.
"OW!" He held his arm as he recoiled from the thump Casey had just given it.
"What did I do now?" he whined.
"It's what you didn't do. . .I waited an hour for you, you could have at least called."
Realization dawned on him, "Oh, crap. . .I'm so sorry, I completely forgot. . ."
"Oh lovely. . .it's nice to be classed as 'forgettable' ," Casey complained as she flounced into the living room, JD hot on her heels.
"I. . .I didn't mean it like that, Casey. . .I just got tied up with some. . ."
"Who the hell is this?" she waved the freshly printed photo in the air.
"Hey. . .careful with that! You wouldn't know her."
"And you're with her because. . .?"
JD grinned. "That's not me."
Casey did a double-take, then blushed.
"Oh. . .sorry, it looked like. . .anyway. . .don' t change the subject. . .where were you. . .mmmmf."
JD kissed her, partly to shut her up, and partly because he wanted to. He felt her relax and after a while, she pulled gently away.
"I suppose you think that's all you need to do, huh?" Her voice was softer now and she moved forward to kiss him again, but JD ducked away.
As he had kissed her, this young woman he knew he was falling in love with; Emily's face had popped into his mind. Now, he felt unsettled and unsure of himself.
"Casey. . .I. . .I have work to do. . .I'm sorry, can we take a rain check?"
"But you aren't working at the moment. . .how can you be busy?"
"Err. . .I'm working on something. . .I said I'd look it up for the guys. . . should be done in a few days."
Casey was angry again.
"Oh really? Well, maybe I won't be available in a few days. . .and don't bother calling me. . .I'm. . .I'm going to be. . .busy."
JD started to approach her but she backed away.
"Oh and just to let you know, I was offered an opportunity to study in Europe for six months; initially, I turned it down. . .but I might just change my mind now."
"Casey, I would never want to stop you doing something as exciting as that. . .but don't say yes out of anger. . .say yes because you want to."
The young girl burst into tears, "Well, thank you so much. . .I'm so grateful for your support. I'll bear that in mind when I do decide. JERK!" She headed for the door and slammed out.
JD pinched the bridge of his nose. . ."I suppose I should have said 'no Casey. . .don't leave me. . .' but if I'd said that she would have probably accused me of trying to stop her from doing something exciting. . ." He pushed his hand through his hair. "Damn!"
He picked up the photo of Emily and Andy, focusing on Andy, "At least you did right by your girl...but you paid a hell of a price."
JD was totally engrossed in his computer when Chris, Vin and Buck walked into the apartment, barely looking up to acknowledge them.
Buck crossed to where he was sitting and cuffed the youth on the back of the head.
Turning, he rubbed his head. "OW! What the hell did I do now?"
"Where's your cell?" Buck asked.
JD pointed. "In my jacket. Why?" He watched his roommate cross to the coat stand and fish out the phone. Buck held it to the youth's face for inspection.
"Why is it not on?"
JD gasped, "Oh shit. . .sorry, I turned it off when I went to visit with someone and forgot to switch it back on. . .I've been so preoccupied lately. . ." he looked up at the men with slight embarrassment.
"You should be. . .Casey. . ."
"Oh please don't go there, Buck," he sighed, absently rubbing at his arm, "I've already had two earfuls from her."
"Where did you go, JD?" Chris inquired, realizing what JD had on his screen.
JD dropped his head. 'Busted.' They each took a seat and he proceeded to fill them in, and Vin did likewise for him.
Chris put his hand on his youngest agent's arm. "This is a cold case, son. . .you have to let it go. It can't be explained; that incident at Halloween, it just. . .happened. "
"No. . .no, Chris. . .that can't be it. . .she saved our lives. . .how can you ignore that?"
Chris handed him his cell. "Call her. . . call her and thank her. . .do it now!"
"You know I can't. . .are you making fun of me?"
Chris sighed, "No. . .no I'm not. . .I just want you to see the futility of it all."
"Ok, I get it. . .thanks." He turned back to the screen.
"Chris has invited us out to the ranch for the weekend," Buck informed him.
"Cool, thanks," the youth replied, not turning to look.
"Apparently there'll be lots of naked ladies there."
"Ok. . ."
Buck looked to the others, exasperated. Chris gestured with his head and they went out into the outer corridor.
"Don't push it, Buck. . .he's just restless from not being at work. Perhaps I should arrange for him to come back on extra-light duties after the weekend."
"That'd be good. Thanks. See you in the morning."
+ + + + + + +
JD sat on the porch at the ranch, staring into space. The others had gone for a ride, but JD was unable to do so because of his injury, the same for Ezra. Standish strolled out to sit with him.
"You seem far away my friend, missing our compadres?"
The youth nodded, "Yeah, I guess. . .they offered to stay but that's crazy, why should we all be bored?"
"Indeed. Tell me, I hear you have been doing some investigating with some remarkable results. Are you done with it, now?"
Dunne turned to him. "I can't get it out of my head, Ezra. . .I believe she really did try to save us. . .I feel so. . .so. . ."
"Frustrated? " the southerner finished for him.
"Yes. . .I wish I could get some closure on this. . .but I know I can't."
"We are worried about you, JD, I'm worried about you, you're neglecting yourself and your friends, let it go and come back to us, son. . .before it consumes you. Surely you have felt your mother's presence at times of despair. . .why is this so different?"
JD dropped his head. . ."I wish I knew, she haunts my dreams and invades my thoughts through the day. . .I just wish I knew why."
"Maybe a talk with Mister Sanchez. . ."
"Maybe. . .but not yet." He looked out at the trail, "Looks like they're back already."
JD excused himself and went indoors. The others rode up to the porch, Buck tilted his head as he looked at Ezra, but the reply was a soft shake of the head. Buck sighed.
Midway through the week, Casey called JD's cell. After a quick conversation, he limped to Chris' office and knocked the door.
"Chris, Casey needs to see me, I was wondering. . ."
"Go!" Chris nodded.
"Do you need a lift?"
"Naw, I'll get a cab, thanks, I need to do something first."
Buck looked up as JD came back and slipped his jacket on.
"Yeah. . .meeting up with Casey, see you for dinner?"
Buck grinned widely, "Yeah. . .later kid."
Once the youth had left, Buck turned to the others, "Well, that's better isn't it?"
Josiah nodded, "Considerably, he also asked if we could talk tomorrow. I think he's turned a corner, Buck."
"God, I hope so."
+ + + + + + +
Dunne stood quietly as the birds chirruped in the trees around him. He had placed the flowers gently down and was studying the headstone.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't help you, Emily. . .I just wanted to thank you for what you did the other day, for Ezra and me. God bless."
He walked back to the waiting cab and issued new instructions, time to make amends.
Casey smiled as JD approached her in the coffee bar, but her smile didn't carry to her eyes. JD ordered more drinks and held her hand, brushing his lips lightly across hers.
"Hi, how have you been?" he asked.
Her eyes filled, "It would have been nice if you'd said that a week ago."
"I'm sorry, I've been so distracted. . .but I'm back now. What did you want? Do you wanna catch a movie?" He frowned as tears spilled down her face. "What's wrong. . .is Nettie ok?"
She nodded, swallowing hard, "JD. . .it's best I do this quickly. . .I. . .I decided to take up the European offer. . .I'll be gone for six months at least."
Dunne's heart clenched and thudded hard, "But. . .Casey. . ." he gulped back the emotion, "Don't, don't go because of a fight. . .please. "
"No. . .it's not just that. . .it's. . .it's everything. . .your job, my degree. . .so much pressure. I feel I need a change, and with you being so distant lately. . .I thought a break might do us good." She was sobbing now.
JD's own eyes filled as one lone tear ran down his cheek. He sniffed and licked his lips nervously.
"But. . .but I love you, I love you, Casey. . .I'll do better, I promise. . . I've just had a bad. . ."
"Ssshh. . .Ssshh. . ." She placed her finger to his lips and smiled a little as he kissed it. "It's not just you. . .let me do this. . .when I come back, we'll see how we feel then."
"When do you leave?" he choked.
"Two days." She stood to leave, closing her eyes as he grasped her hand and squeezed. Casey bent down and kissed his cheek but he turned quickly and their lips met briefly.
"I love you too," she whispered, pulling her hand away and walking toward the exit.
JD stood, turning to watch her as she walked away
"Then stay!" he yelled, causing the bar to go silent.
She turned and waved a sad goodbye, then she was gone.
Embarrassed now, he put his head down and left also, trying to ignore the stares.
+ + + + + + +
Buck stared at the clock, two am. Where the hell was he? He wasn't answering his cell and Nettie confirmed Casey was home.
Damnit! Where was he?
Wilmington jumped as his cell rang. JD's number flashed up.
"Oh thank God. Kid. . .where the fuck have you been?"
"Buuuck. . .sh. . .she. . . d. . .dumped me."
"Have you been drinking? You're on medication, boy. . .wait. . .who dumped you?"
"C. . .Casey d. . .did. I'm a...aall alone."
Buck was dialing on the house phone while speaking into his cell.
"Where are you, son? Tell me where you are."
"Dunno. . .i'ssss dark."
'Shit. . .shit. . .shit. . . ' "Focus, JD. . .where are you?" Buck turned to the house phone.
"Chris. . .JD's tied one on and I can't get him to tell me where he is. . . wait. . .hang on."
"JD? JD! Have you figured it out yet?"
The next word made Buck go cold.
"E. . .Emily."
The line went dead.
"JD. . .Damnit to hell!"
"Chris? I'm in a shitload of trouble here. . ."
Dunne dropped his cell into his pocket as he stumbled over the debris. The whole area had been taped off but there was no one guarding it. The cab was long gone, as was the alcohol in the bottle he was drinking from. He looked around and bellowed.
"EMILY! WHERE ARE YOU?"
JD felt very dizzy, but he was here now and determined.
He lost his footing on the uneven surface and fell face down, hearing a smash as he landed. He had banged his head when he fell and now was having trouble focusing as he tried to figure out why his side hurt. He rolled slightly and put his hand down at the site of the pain, feeling a sticky wetness.
"Oh. . .th. . .that can't b. . .be good," he stuttered, unaware the bottle had smashed underneath him. He looked up to see an auburn-haired teenage girl walking toward him, her hands outstretched. He stared for a moment in shock then rallied.
"Come. . .come with me. . ."
JD tried desperately to focus. "Wh. . .what?"
"Come with me. . .Andy, I need you. . .come with me."
JD shook his head to try and clear it. "But. . .I'm John. . .I'm not Andy. . ." JD felt a chill as the girl stood right next to him.
"I'm sorry. . .so sorry. . ."
She was gone.
"Nooo. . .wait. . .come back. . .WAIT!"
The combination of pain and alcohol became too much for him and he passed out.
Team Seven hit bar after bar to no avail, while the local PD scoured the surrounding area.
"What did he mean. . .'it's dark'?" Nathan asked.
"I have no idea. . .he said very little actually," Buck answered.
"I can't believe Casey dumped him," Chris growled, remembering the 'talk' they had had at the beginning of the young couple's relationship.
"Now...Nettie explained that she was going away and she suggested a break," Vin defended, then dropped his shoulders, "But, you're right, her timing sucks."
A cell rang.
"Larabee. Yes. . .where? Is he ok? WHAT? Holy shit. . .which hospital? Thank you, Officer Bell. . .I owe you one."
Chris took a deep breath.
"They found him."
Chris looked at Buck, "The Business Park."
"Is he ok?" Josiah asked.
"Get to the car. . .someone let Ezra know what's happening; I'll fill you in on the way to General."
+ + + + + + +
Five men stood listening to the doctor in disbelief.
"So the puncture wounds from the broken glass aren't life- threatening? " Nathan stated more than asked.
"Correct, but he's been violently sick which has exacerbated the injury and having so much alcohol in his system caused him to bleed out more than I would have liked but he's in surgery now to remove some glass fragments and debris and for suturing. We'll let you know when he's in recovery. Oh and you might want to let his girlfriend know, he seemed anxious to talk to her."
"Actually, they just broke up." Buck offered.
"Shame," the doctor shrugged, "Emily doesn't realize how much he cares for her."
The five men paled.
"This is a fucking, living nightmare," Buck groaned and sat down hard.
They all joined him. They were used to waiting.
JD felt like his mouth was full of grit. He must have licked his lips because he felt his head being lifted and a straw placed against his lips.
He took in some liquid and relaxed. He felt his hair being gently stroked.
"Buck?" he rasped.
"Yeah, kid. . .who else? " Buck leaned into his surrogate brother's ear and whispered, "God, you really scared me, boy. Promise me you'll never do anything like this again."
"Sh. . .she didn't want me."
Buck frowned, "Casey's been here but she had to fly out today, she said she'll call you."
"N. . .no. . .Emily." The youth was struggling to keep his eyes open.
Buck looked at Chris helplessly then leaned back to JD.
"Yeah. . ." He swallowed, "She wanted Andy. . .not me. . .she...she told me."
JD finally gave in and drifted back to sleep. Buck looked at Larabee.
"Chris, I'm scared. . .what if he's lost it. . .what are we gonna do?"
Chris squeezed his friend's shoulder. "We're not going to panic and we're going to take it a day at a time. . .ok?"
Buck nodded, "Yeah, yeah. . .a day at a time."
The two men stood shoulder to shoulder, forming a barrier from the world for their young teammate, and knowing four other men would do the same.
They would get through this. . .the two men sat down, prepared to wait.
+ + + + + + +
Being home and on the sofa was comforting, but JD felt unsettled and began looking toward his pc.
"Let it go, kid. . .you're gonna rest even if I have to sit on you!"
Buck sighed at his friend's sad features and sat on the coffee table, looking JD in the eye.
"Talk to me. . .please."
"About what?" The youth reached for his drink, wincing at the pull of his stitches and giving a weak smile as Buck handed it to him.
"Anything, everything. You can't avoid Casey's calls forever, son. She's worried about you."
"Yeah. . .right."
Buck maneuvered his head until he finally caught the younger man's eye. "You haven't told me what happened between you two."
JD looked the man square in the eyes and was just about to tell him to let it go, when he relaxed, realizing he did want to talk about it.
"What did I do wrong, Buck? I know I've been a little distracted. . .ok a lot distracted but it's how it works for us. . .she's busy. . .I'm busy. . . we see each other. . ." He choked but Buck resisted the urge to comfort him just yet.
Dunne's voice was almost a whisper now.
"The sad thing is. . .the first time we say we love each other. . .is the day we break up."
"Aww kid. . ." Buck leaned forward and cupped the back of his friend's neck giving it a light squeeze.
Unable to look at Buck, JD raised his hand and gave the brunette's extended arm a squeeze back in return, remaining like that for a minute or so until the doorbell interrupted them.
With an affectionate pat to the back of Dunne's head, Wilmington walked to the door and returned with Vin and Josiah. Tanner picked up their jackets and Josiah walked over to the sofa and started to help the young man to his feet.
"What's going on?" JD asked
Josiah grinned, "A bust I think you'll want in on."
Buck frowned, "Now hold up. . .he's in no fit state. . ."
"Buck. . .it's ok," Vin soothed, "Now come on, time's a-wastin'."
Mindful of JD's injury, the men walked slowly and eventually stepped outside the apartment building, moving to Chris and Nathan's vehicles, complete with waiting drivers.
After traveling five or so minutes, JD could stand it no longer.
"Where are we going?"
Vin looked at Chris and Chris nodded. The sharpshooter half-turned in his seat to look at Buck and JD.
"Tillie from IT helped us with all the evidence you had collected, DNA reports, other victims, and cross-referenced it with the FBI DNA database. . .it seems one of the guys the night Andy was murdered has been arrested recently on a rape charge, but got off when it went to court. He and four other friends have been under surveillance until we could get an arrest warrant. What are the chances his four friends can be placed at the SOC that night too?"
JD sat upright, "Oh God. . .you mean what I was digging up might actually take these guys down?"
Tanner smiled, "It'll play a big part, yeah."
Dunne eased himself back and closed his eyes as relief swept over him. . .he didn't know why. . .yet,. . .but he just felt like a weight had been lifted. He felt Buck squeeze his arm and keeping his eyes closed, he smiled. The second squeeze told him 'message received.'
As the DPD kicked in the door to the townhouse, backed up by five members of Team Seven, JD watched from the safety of a squad car, secretly wishing he could have been a part of it. His curiosity piqued as Tanner and Wilmington escorted the suspect to Dunne and stopped him just short of the car.
JD got out and stared the man up and down.
"I hope you rot in hell, you bastard."
The man said nothing as Vin and Buck held him.
"JD," Buck said, "Would you read this scum his rights please?"
"My pleasure, Agent," JD grinned. . . and did.
With a nod from Vin, they marched him away. JD felt exhausted and happy for the first time in weeks. He smiled to himself as the three walked away, he knew they would have to read him his rights again, as JD was not officially on duty, but he loved them for allowing him that moment. He looked at Chris as the blond approached him.
"It's looking good, well done, son. . .a little unorthodox but if it gets this scum off the streets, it may take the edge off some of the pain you've gone through."
He led the young agent to the Ram and they headed home.
+ + + + + + +
JD looked at the photo one last time as he knocked on the door. With Buck and Chris sat inside and Ezra stood outside, leaning against Chris' truck, the southerner watched as the auburn-haired lady gratefully took the photo and kissed the young man on the cheek. He smiled at the youth as he returned to the Ram, walking to meet him.
"Time to close the book, Mister Dunne?"
JD nodded, "Yeah, I think so, Ezra, I really think so."
As Chris' vehicle pulled away, JD looked back at the house. He twisted in his seat as he caught sight of an auburn haired girl smiling, her arms entwined with a dark-haired youth, also smiling, as they stood at the garden gate of Mrs. Nowaczyk's house.
"Did you. . .did anyone see. . .?"
He turned again to look but the figures were no longer there.
"You alright, kid?" Buck asked.
"Erm. . .err. . .yeah, yeah. . .sure, just fine."
He turned and settled back in his seat as he suddenly felt warm and comforted.
"Yeah," he sighed and sadly took out his wallet and stared at the picture of him and Casey standing smiling, arms around each other at the gate to Nettie's house.
JD swallowed as his emotions came to the forefront once again. Now he had to come to grips with trying to go day to day without the first girl he'd truly loved. To remember she wouldn't be there, just down the street when he needed her, or feel the confidence of knowing someone so special was. . .his.
To be. . .'single' again.
He put the photo back in his wallet and held it close to his heart as he hunkered further down in the seat, the lyrics of a song playing through his mind.I don't quite know,
How to say,
How I feel. . .
Those three words. . .
Are said too much. . .
They're not enough.
If I lie here. . .
If I just lay here. . .
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
JD sighed softly and leaned his head against the truck window.
"Yeah, everything's just. . .'fine'."
Lyrics from 'Chasing Cars' - Snow Patrol