It was Friday night and Vin looked over at JD who was still frantically typing away at his computer.
They were supposed to be at the ski resort downing a few beers and relaxing before two days of snowboarding. It was rare to get a weekend free, and Vin was determined to get JD away from the officeat some point this weekend.
"JD you ready?"
"Just a couple more minutes Vin .... Promise," JD called back. "Chris really wanted this finished before I left ... just a few .... Sorry."
"'S'okay, take your time." Vin leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.
Hell, he was tired, and if he was tired JD must be exhausted. They had all finished up a month long case, well everyone else had except JD and Ezra. The two of them were left to finish up the reports and analyze the data they'd collected. Ezra was working from home, due to Maude visiting, so JD was left to face the "Wrath of Larabee." Vin chuckled to himself .... it would make a good movie.
Forty five minutes later JD finally closed down his computer and collected his laptop and files.
"Oh no you don't," Vin told him
"Vin man, I can't leave it behind. I promise not to open it." JD raised two fingers in a salute. "Unless I have to..." He looked over to Chris' closed door. He smiled at Vin.
"Yeah well, it's the weekend so he hadn't better call!"
Vin walked over to the closed door, knocked once and entered.
"We're off, see you Monday."
Chris looked up briefly from his computer.
"Yeah, and make sure you're in one piece."
"I'm 'boarding with JD, what could possibly go wrong?"
"Huh!!" came Chris' reply.
Finally out of the office, Vin followed JD home to pick up his gear. Vin pulled his jeep up beside JD's bike in the basement garage.
"What's Buck up to this weekend" Vin asked, as they made their way to the condo.
"He didn't say, but let's face it, Buck's probably got 'em lined up around the block. When I told him I'd be gone for the weekend he was smiling like a Cheshire cat."
Less than five minutes later, JD and Vin stood on the door step, and felt rather than heard the condo door slam behind them. Buck was screaming about messages and checking them, and telling JD exactly where he intended to stick his snowboard.
It seemed that Buck had left JD a message telling him that all of his snow gear was sitting in the back of the Buck's truck, and that was parked in the garage.
Unfortunately JD didn't get this message until he was walking into the condo. Equally unfortunately, Buck had decided to do his Friday night entertaining in front of fire in the living room.
As JD and Vin stood outside the condo wondering what had just happened, Buck's "friend" stormed out behind them. Obviously she wasn't amused.
JD and Vin decided they should probably make a run for it.
"Oh shit, I'm in for it when I get back." JD sunk into the passenger seat of Vin's jeep.
"Man, doesn't he ever warn you about this kind of thing? .... I mean walking in on that is enough to scare ya."
Vin looked over at JD, and saw the beginning of a smile on his face.
Before long they were both giggling like school boys.
JD's phone sprang to life. Looking at the phone, he sighed as he saw the call was coming from Buck.
"Shit, here it comes."
"Hey, let me take it." Vin grabbed for the phone
"Bucklin' dude .... Calm down .... He's right here ..... No you can tell me ....." Vin had a big smile on his face. "I'll let him know ..... aha! .... And you too!"
"Well?" asked JD
"He'll get over it. As you said they are probably lined up around the block!"
A short while later JD's phone rang again. Looking at the screen, and relived that it wasn't Buck, JD answered the phone to Chris.
The rest of the journey JD talked to Chris, talking him through the reports that JD had produced that afternoon.
".... It had better be. I need it Monday morning!" was how Chris ended his talk with JD. "Let me speak to Vin."
JD held his hand over the phone. "He wants you now."
Vin rolled his eyes and took the phone.
JD tuned out, realizing that the conversation wasn't business but just Chris catching up with Vin and enquiring about his weekend. After several minutes Vin closed the phone and handed it back to JD.
"Don't know why he couldn't ask you about that."
JD just shrugged his shoulders. He and Chris didn't "small talk." In fact JD didn't think Chris Larabee ever "just chatted."
No sooner were they checked into the motel, than JD's phone rang again. This time it was Josiah who needed help with his iPod. Josiah, until recently, used a portable cassette player, but had decided it was time to upgrade.
Vin lay down on his bed, and closed his eyes. JD moved into the hallway, and spent the rest of the evening talking Josiah through the iPod set-up. If was after 11:30 when he turned out the light.
"Everything okay with Josiah?" Vin asked in the darkness
"I think it's official, he's joined the 21st Century."
"Does he understand what's he doing?"
"Nope, and probably never will," JD replied with a chuckle.
Vin woke to a fresh cup of coffee sitting on the bedside table.
"You've been out already?" he asked JD
"Yep, couldn't sleep so I decided to make myself useful."
Vin smiled, the Admin's were right ... JD would make someone a wonderful husband some day.
"What's Casey up to this weekend?"
"She's skiing at Vail with her room mates."
"How are things anyway?" Vin asked
JD raised his eyebrows. "Okay, I guess. I'm just not sure it should be this much work!"
JD had been dating Casey for about 4 months now. From Buck's reports on the fledgling relationship it involved a lot of "kissing and making up."
"I don't seem to ever be able to do the right thing," he sighed.
"That's women for you. The mysterious sex."
"That is definitely a Buckism!" JD laughed. "So are you ever going to get up?"
The day of snowboarding was awesome. Vin had been a convert to snowboarding ever since he saw JD fly down the mountain last year. He'd thrown out his skis, and JD had been teaching him at every opportunity; much to the disgust of the other members of Team 7.
"Abomination," said Buck
"Fucking menaces," Chris commented.
"Fixing to do some real damage," Nathan added.
However, despite Vin and JD's reputation as trouble magnets nothing had happened to either of them ... yet.
After a full day on the slopes, JD and Vin decided to grab a quick dinner and then go to a local bar which featured live music at the weekends.
Whilst Vin was showering JD checked in with Josiah, and then spent the next hour talking him through the whole iPod procedure again.
Vin had to smile at JD talking to Josiah, he definitely had the patience of a saint when it came to the rest of the team.
The bar was lively, fun and very noisy, so JD missed his phone ringing the first two times. He caught it on the third time, and was surprised to see the call was from Casey.
When Vin went looking for JD twenty minutes later. He found him sitting outside forlornly looking down at his phone.
"Problem JD?" Vin asked
"No, well yeah ... oh I don't know." he looked up at Vin. "Casey just dumped me. Told me she'd met someone else, and that she was sorry."
Vin looked down at his young teammate. Was there anyone who didn't give the kid a hard time?
"Who's the someone else?"
"Someone from school she said. Someone who's got plenty of time to spend with her."
"Shit. I'm sorry JD."
JD shrugged his shoulders. "Just kind of the way my life's going at the moment"
Vin sat down beside him.
"Wanna talk about it?"
"Not really," he looked up at Vin, "but thanks anyway"
After a short silence, Vin stood and pulled JD up beside him.
"Then I suggest we grab a few beers, and check out what else this bar has to offer!"
Sunday was another day on the slopes. The sun shone and the fresh powder was perfect for snowboarding.
Vin finished his third run of the day, and was looking around for JD at the bottom of the slope. He normally was a slow second to JD, and so he was surprised not to see any sign of him.
After a ten minute wait Vin's protective instincts started to pick up. Grabbing the next chair lift he decided to retrace his tracks in search of JD.
About half way down the slope he came across a small group of people. Sitting in the middle was JD.
"Are ya okay, JD?"
Vin looked down at his friend. He had an ugly welt across his cheek, his ski jacket was ripped open on the sleeve, and he was cradling his right wrist.
"Yeah, just didn't see him coming."
"What happened?" Vin asked looking around at the small group.
"I stopped to help, and some .... gorilla just barreled into the back of me. Luckily he only hit me, and missed Sofie." He motioned to a small girl who stood smiling at everyone.
"JD saved me," she beamed. "I fell over, and he saved me!"
"Thanks man," a young ski instructor stood in the group. "It would have taken me ages to get back up to her. Just sorry you got hurt helping out."
"Yeah, me too!" smiled JD.
"Let me radio in for first aid."
"No!" JD immediately replied. "I'm fine, I can get there myself."
He stood up, to prove the point.
The young instructor looked a little dubious, but Vin, taking pity on JD, stepped in.
"It's okay, I've got him from here."
"Bye JD ... " called Sophie as the instructor led the group away. "Byyyyyeeeeeeeeeee."
Two hours later Vin looked up from the magazine he was thumbing though.
"I need to go get an x-ray. They think it's broke."
"Well Einstein, I could have told them that when you came in."
JD looked wiped out.
"So where's the nearest hospital?"
"I think we should just head back to Denver. It can wait until then."
"You sure? ... It looks pretty nasty."
"The ice is helping some, I'll be fine".
Unfortunately, the traffic was bad and the two hour journey back to Denver was stretching into its third.
Vin looked over at his normally talkative passenger. JD was sleeping, head resting on the door, and quietly snoring. Vin wished he could just pull over and take a nap, but he knew that JD needed to get his wrist seen to tonight, and sooner rather than later.
Finally the traffic let up, and Vin pulled up to Denver General. At least here they'd get some preferential treatment; they came often enough.
"Hey JD, we're home."
JD blinked awake, and grinned. Denver General definitely felt like home, just not as comfortable.
Thanks to their being regular visitors, and also very popular with the nursing staff, JD was moved through the emergency room quickly and efficiently.
Unfortunately charm couldn't get him through a backed-up x-ray department, so it was after midnight when the two youngest members of Team 7 finally emerged.
JD was asleep again by the time they got back to the condo he shared with Buck.
Knowing that JD was basically out for the count, Vin pushed him in the direction of the front door.
"I'll get that stuff JD, you just go up and open the door."
"Huh, oh yeah ... okay."
JD walked towards the condo, and Vin noticed a definite wobble to his walk. JD was a lightweight when it came to pain medication, and anything stronger than a Tylenol had him acting like a cheap drunk.
The door to the condo swung open, and Buck barreled out.
"Where the fuck have you been?"
"Not now Buck, please ... I'm ....."
"What's that on your arm ..... oh don't tell me ... didn't I tell you that board was a dangerous?..."
"Buck, please ... not tonight."
JD pushed gently past Buck and into the condo.
Vin came stumbling up the stairs.
"Buck .... A little help here ....." as he fell up the last step.
Buck glared at JD, but finally moved to help Vin.
"There's more in the car, can you give me a hand a minute?"
Buck looked back towards JD who was sitting on the couch, head back and eyes closed.
Vin grabbed him by the arm and pulled him towards the door; once outside he turned to Buck.
"Give him a break, okay? He's had a shitty day ... and doesn't need you laying into him."
Buck stood mouth open wide. "Lay into him .... I'll lay into him ... he ruined my weekend, he's broken his fucking wrist .... Yes, I'll lay into him."
"Casey broke up with him last night."
"Aah shit." Buck turned to look back at the condo. He hung his head, and let out a deep breath. "The way those two fight, it's no wonder." Buck's voice softened. "How's he taking it?"
"I don't know. It almost seemed like he was expecting it. Said it was just the way his life was going at the moment. So give him a break ... hey?"
"Yeah," said Buck with a wry smile. He looked at the jumble of equipment in the back of Vin's jeep. "Okay, so how much more of this shit is JD's?"
By the time they got back to the condo JD was fast asleep, curled up on the couch.
"JD, come on son, you can't sleep there."
With the help of Vin, Buck managed to get JD into his room. He was too far gone to help with getting undressed, so Buck just took off his boots, carefully removed his jacket and covered him with a blanket.
"What did they give him?" he asked Vin
"That explains it." Buck smiled, before turning out the light.
"I've got it from here Vin," he smiled " Thanks for looking after him. See you tomorrow."
Vin arrived early the next day for the weekly Team meeting. He was surprised to see JD and more surprisingly Buck already at their desks. Buck was reading the newspaper, and looked up at Vin when he entered.
"Early for you Bucklin?" Vin asked
"Yeah, well talk to JD about it. Insisted I bring him in early, and I mean almost last night, so he could get ready for this meeting. Can't ride his bike, so Mr. Mom needs to step in and help. I'll need a nap after lunch." He huffed, and went back to his paper.
JD looked over, and laughed.
"How's the wrist?" Vin asked.
"Fine, 'cept of course Chris is livid, and Nathan too. Anyone would think I do these things on purpose," he quietly finished.
"Conference room NOW!" bellowed Chris.
Five minutes into the meeting, Ezra arrived. JD was trying to explain how the report he had produced had all the information that everyone needed.
"Gentlemen," Ezra purred.
JD was glad to see Ezra. When it came to anything in the technical field most of his teammates were living in the dark ages. Ezra understood.
As he stood to turn on the overhead, Ezra notice the blue cast on JD's wrist.
"Mr. Dunne! May I ask why you didn't break both of your wrists?" Ezra announced across the table. "That would surely have delayed the reports just a tad longer!"
"It was an accident Ezra, I got hit by a ....."
"You don't say Mr. Dunne .... I had presumed you did it on purpose just to make my life more miserable ...."
JD just stared at Ezra. He looked down at his wrist.
"Told him snowboarding was dangerous," muttered Nathan
"Bound to happen eventually," added Buck
"I .... Um, I .... Um excuse me a minute." JD jumped up and made his way to the door.
"JD?" Chis bellowed
"I ... I just need to find that second report .... It's on my desk, I'll be back ......."
"What second report?"
"Where the hell did he go?"
"Why did you say that Ezra?"
"What's taking so long?"
"Shut up, for God's sake, just shut up." Vin surprised everyone. "Don't you ever give him a break?"
Five open mouths greeted Vin.
"I mean, do you realize how you talk to him? You treat him like the office boy."
"Wait a minute Vin..." Buck glared over. "You know I'd do anything for that boy."
"Yeah." Vin turned to Buck. "Except give him the opportunity of prove himself. He's not a boy Buck, he's a federal agent who has proved his worth time and time again. He doesn't need to be treated like a child. What he needs is support and encouragement, and someone who can tell him he's doing the right thing, that he's doing a great job."
"He's also not our resident techie." Vin glared at Josiah, who lowered his head.
"Or dangerous." Vin turned to Nathan. "No more than any of us!"
"He does way more than his share ... " Vin looked at Ezra. "He's on time, he's courteous, he does he job, he never gripes and he's always, always ready to help anyone."
"And I'm proud to call him a 'friend.'" Vin spun lastly to look at Chris.
"Any team in this building, shit, in the country, would take him at the drop of a hat. But he's a loyal member of Team 7, one who looks up to and respects each and everyone one of you - and all he gets in return is .... is ...... shit .... You all know what I'm talking about!"
With that Vin turned and left, leaving the remaining members of Team 7 stunned. Vin was a man short on words. In fact, his outburst was probably more than he said in the last month.
Each man silently thought about Vin's words. They reluctantly realized that everything he had said was true. Because of JD's youth, they tended to overlook the important contributions he made to the team. Vin was right, JD never said "no", never complained, and despite the pressure the team was under always had a smile on his face.
"I fear I may have been the straw that broke the proverbial camels back," Ezra finally broke the silence.
Buck stood up, and moved towards the door.
"Let it be Buck," Chris said "Vin's more than capable of dealing with it"
"But I ...." Buck began
"No Buck, this is for all of us to sort out. However, not now - you all have work to do. Let things calm down, and we'll talk later.
Chris pushed back from his chair and left the room. The remaining members of the team sat looking at each other.
Silently they all gathered themselves together and returned to their desks. Passing by JD's desk, none of them failed to take in the piles of folders and papers stacked all around his computer.
A few minutes later, Vin came back into the office. He went to Nathan, and after a brief exchange Nathan grabbed his jacket. Buck jumped to his feet, but sat back down when Nathan gave him a smile and motioned him to stay put. Obviously, whatever the problem was, it wasn't serious.
Nathan came back 15 minuets later, and announced that Vin had taken JD home. It seemed the boy's wrist was causing him a lot of pain, but he'd refused to take anything more than a Tylenol because of the side effects. He needed to rest, and sitting at his desk, was not going to help anything.
"Vin just explained that JD was hit by an out-of-control skier after he had stopped to help a little girl who'd fallen. I guess my theory about snowboarding might be wrong, still doesn't change my opinion that the boy's a trouble magnet!" Nathan smiled "Guess I should let Chris know."
"I'll do it," offered Buck. He entered Chris' office.
"Vin's taken JD home, his wrist was playing up. Ezra's right though, he wouldn't have been much help today anyway".
"Still a lot more useful with one hand, than you," Chris growled.
"Maybe I should go and check ....." Buck started
"No!" Chris was still staring at his computer. "Vin's right, he's not a child."
Buck glared at the top of Chris' head.
"If we loose him over this, then I'll ....."
"Don't make threats you ain't going to follow through with Buck." Chris finally looked up.
"I know exactly how valuable JD is, and I ain't aiming to let anyone else get hold of him."
"Well, best you let him know that," Buck replied before abruptly turning and leaving the office.
When Vin returned to the office two hours later he went straight to Chris' office.
"How is he?" Chris asked without looking up.
"Fine," came the reply.
When no further information was forthcoming Chris looked up.
"And?" he asked.
"And, he's asleep."
"And ... are you going to explain your earlier comments?"
"I treat every member of this team fairly. I know JD is young, but I treat him with as much respect as I do every one of you."
"You don't get it, do you?" Vin stared. No one else, even Buck would have got away with talking to Chris Larabee like this, but such was the strength of their friendship.
"He needs you to tell him. He's twenty-one for God's sake. Twenty-one. I think you forget that. He should be partying up in some frat house, 'boarding every weekend, and planning a future which involves mountains of cash. Instead, he works a job that pays shit, requires more hours than there are in the day, and is dangerous. But it's a job that he loves more than you could ever know. And all he wants in return is a family of friends, one that will be there at all times."
"Yeah, well he's got more than that in just Buck..."
"Yeah," Vin laughed. "But would it hurt your hard-assed image so much, to occasionally ask how his weekend went, or ....."
"I get the idea, Vin .... I'll ..... work on it." He looked up, giving Vin a quick grin. "Now get back to work, I'm a man short."
Just as Vin was leaving, Chris asked, "Will he be back tomorrow?"
Vin shrugged. "Probably. Why?"
"'Cause this f...ing computer is close to pushing me over the edge, and JD's the only one that seems to be able to fix it ... damn not sure why I pay for Ezra to attend these conferences if ..."
Vin closed the door as Chris continued his tirade. He looked and smiled at the rest of his teammates.
"We should probably stay clear of there," Vin jestured to Chris' office, "for a while."
As he walked back to his desk, he noticed the files on JD's desk were missing, and it was possible to actually see the desk underneath. Looking around the office, he noticed the piles on Ezra's and Josiah's desks.
"Just lending a helping hand Brother," Josiah smiled.
"Earning my keep," Ezra added.
"Well, that's more like it." Vin grinned. "Yes!"