Main Character: JD, Chris, Ezra
JD put the phone down, and put his head in his hands.
Chris Larabee watched his youngest agent from across the office. The rest of the team had left for the evening, meeting up for beers at Inez's. JD had offered to stay late and finish up the remaining reports.
+ + + + + + +
"Something wrong JD?"
JD's head shot up. "Oh Chris, I ... I didn't realize you were still here. Uh, no nothing's wrong."
"You look like yer dog just died!" Chris commented
"Uh, no ....," JD laughed. "It's nothing ... really."
"You know, I'm not just your boss JD," Chris crossed the office and sat on the corner of JD's desk. "I can be a friend."
He glanced at JD's laptop, hoping for a glimpse of what was troubling his young agent.
All he saw, before JD closed the lid was a glimpse of a spreadsheet.
"Sorry," JD looked up, obviously embarrassed that he'd been working on something personal. "Your reports are printed out, I'll get them for you," and he made to stand up.
"Sit down JD."
JD gulped, here it came .....
"Have you talked to Buck about it?"
"No," JD replied. "I mean .... talked to Buck about what?"
"Whatever it is that's causing you to loose sleep."
"How did ...?"
"Buck mentioned something ...," Chris gave JD a small smile.
"It's nothing Chris. Honestly." JD hung his head.
There was silence in the office.
"It's not anything that anyone can "sort out". I need to work it out." JD looked up and gave Chris a weak smile. "Really Chris, it's nothing. I'm sorry if it's distracted me from my work, I'll do my best to catch up ... I can come in this weekend."
"JD stop! You do more work in your lunch hour that anyone else in this office. Ask yourself, "Where are they all now?" ... downing beer at Inez's, while you're still here. I just want know what's bothering you, and whether there is anyway that I can help?"
JD dropped his head into his hands again. Maybe it really was true, a trouble shared was a trouble halved. It was something his Mom had always said.
JD looked up at Chris. "If I tell you, you have to promise not to tell Buck."
"Umm ... JD," Chris held up his hands. "Not tell Buck? I'm not sure that's such a good idea."
"You have to promise."
"Well, how about we find out what the problem is first."
"I borrowed some money back in Boston, when my mom was sick."
"And you're having some problems paying it back right?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, and now their threatening me."
"What the bank?" Chris asked in astonishment.
"No! The banks wouldn't lend us anything. We didn't own property, Mom couldn't work. The banks wouldn't talk to us."
It was Chris' turn to sigh.
"So someone in the neighborhood stepped in?"
"Yeah. I know it was a stupid idea, but we had no choice," JD hung his head.
"JD .... JD, look at me," Chris reached over and put a hand on JD's shoulder. "You did the best you could. I know it was tough for you, but you took the initiative and looked after your Mom the best you could."
JD nodded his head.
"How much do you owe them?" Chris questioned.
"Close to $5,000."
"Wow, JD. How much did you borrow in the first place."
Chris looked puzzled. "You haven't paid anything back?"
"Oh, I've paid them probably more than I ever borrowed," JD shot back. "But, I was slow paying back until I got this job, and ... and it just kept mounting up, and ... I never seemed to make a dent."
"I take it their interest rates were a little higher than the banks .... Bastards!" Chris hissed.
JD nodded, and looked down at his hands.
"And they've started to threaten you?"
"They said they'd send someone to "talk" to me if I didn't make another payment this week."
"You were going to tell us about this when exactly?"
"Chris," JD stood up to face his boss. "Buck can't know about this. You know he'll go ballistic, and he'll want to help .... and, and .... and it'll get messy, and someone will get hurt."
"Then how do you plan on dealing with it?" Chris asked.
"I'll get a bank loan. I've been working here for seven months now, it should be easy."
"What and pay them another five grand, on top of the thousands that you've already paid them?" Chris was angry now.
"I know it was stupid, god I know." JD looked at Chris, his face pale, his eyes red.
"JD ... kid!" Chris stood up. "I'm not mad at you. You did what you had to. I'm just angry at these loansharks that prey on people who just need a little help. Shit kid."
"Please don't tell Buck ..."
"Kid, you know it'll break his heart to know that you needed help, and he didn't know about it."
"I just want to sort this out my way, please Chris. I feel stupid enough about it, without everyone else knowing." JD stood up, his voice dropping to a whisper.
"JD! Let me at least think about it for a while .... JD?"
"I ... I ... look thanks for the offer, but this is something I need to work out for myself."
"No JD. I'm your boss, and as such I'm responsible for you - on both a professional and a personal level. Just, don't do anything rash. Okay?"
JD looked at Chris.
"I mean it JD, just let me think on it."
"But only if you don't mention it to Buck."
"Okay. But you promise me that when the time is right, you'll tell him."
JD nodded again.
"Alright then. Let's go get a couple of beers."
"Thanks Chris, but if it's okay with you, I'm just going to go home. I'm tired, and tomorrow I promised Vin we'd go hiking - so I'd like to get an early night."
"Fine JD," Chris walked back towards his office. "But remember, don't do anything until we've spoken again."
JD left the office, and headed back towards the condo he shared with Buck.
Chris left in the opposite direction, and headed towards Inez's.
+ + + + + + +
It was noisy in the bar, but he found a seat next to Vin at the table the team had commandeered.
"Where's JD?" Buck asked.
"Said he was tired, went straight home," Chris shouted across the table. Buck frowned.
"He say anything to you Chris?"
"I don't know, just can't figure out what it is that's bothering him."
"He's hiking with you tomorrow, right?" Chris asked Vin.
"Yep, thought we go out to Black Canyon ... kid's never been.".
"Good," Chris and Buck said in unison. Maybe Vin could get the kid to open up.
Buck finished his beer, and decided to call it an early night. No one was fooled, they knew he wanted to check up on JD. They were all concerned about their young friend, and hoped that Buck would be able to help him.
As Chris left the bar later that evening, he took Ezra to one side.
"Can we talk?"
"What here?" asked Ezra
"No," Chris turned, making sure no one else was close by.
"My apartment is a five minute drive," Ezra offered.
"Fine, I'll meet you there."
+ + + + + + +
"Well, it's sounds like a classic loanshark operation," Ezra sighed. "Once you've borrowed from these vultures, it's almost impossible to pay them off. The interest they charge accumulates so fast, most of these unfortunate souls are paying off the loan for the rest of their lives. Have they made threats against Mr. Dunne?"
Chris nodded. "Apparently their contacts reach far beyond Boston."
"Do they realize that he's a federal agent? Surely if they did they'd back off."
Chris shrugged his shoulders. "He won't let me tell Buck, and I'm not sure how to help him. He doesn't need these kinds of threats hanging over his head, he's got enough to worry about just doing this job."
"Do you have any idea who these ..... these .... these ... sorry words fail me. Who these vultures are?"
"Nothing, just that they work out of Boston."
"If we knew the neighborhood, it probably would be too difficult to locate them."
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Chris gave Ezra a small feral grin.
"That maybe we should pay them a visit Mr. Larabee? Yes, I think we're on the same page."
"I need to check JD's personnel files, see if I can find an old address."
"Well what are we waiting for Mr. Larabee. Allow me to drive."
+ + + + + + +
Buck came home to find JD laying on the sofa in front of the TV, fast asleep.
He sat down next to his young friend, and nudged his feet. JD moaned, shifted a little, but didn't wake up. Buck wondered what it was that was worrying his young friend, and when he would finally tell him. Whatever it was Buck hoped that it was nothing too serious.
"JD .... Hey JD," Buck shouted
"Huh! ..... what?" JD sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Hey Buck, when did you get home?"
"Just came in, but I swear boy I could have been the Russian Army and you wouldn't have woken up!"
"Just tired Buck," JD yawned.
"Then go to bed sonny!"
"Okay, okay .... "sonny"! "
"You off with Vin tomorrow?"
"Yeah, and I'll stay over at his place tomorrow night ... give you some breathing space!" JD smiled at his roommate.
"What's that supposed to mean," Buck answered.
"Means you'll have the place to yourself ... well you, and some lucky .... lady!"
"Lucky indeed!" Buck smiled. "We missed you at Inez's tonight."
"Yeah, sorry Buck ... I was just really tired."
"Anything you want to talk about?" Buck asked.
"Nah, Buck. Everythings good," he smiled. "Really."
Buck smiled back, but he knew before long he was going to have sit JD down and get to the bottom of it. Maybe Vin would find out something tomorrow.
"Night kid," Buck called after his young friend.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra sat down at JD's desk. It was covered in files, and papers, so much so that Ezra wondered if it should be considered a fire hazard.
With Chris' permission, he was looking for some kind of a clue as to who it was that was making his young friends life such a living misery.
It was obvious to everyone that JD was scraping by. He probably earned less than anyone else on the Team, simply because of his lack of seniority. He shared a condo with Buck, rode a second-hand bike, and apart from his prized snowboard and hockey stick didn't seem to own much else. Knowing now what he did, Ezra was surprised that he'd managed to survive at all.
Despairing of the mountain of paper, on the desk he leant over, picked up JD's phone, and hit redial.
The phone was answered immediately.
"O'Doul .....," the voice announced. "Who's this ...... ?" the voice at the other end of the phone asked.
Ezra hung up. It was too early to play his card, plus Ezra thought that meeting Mr. O'Doul in person might be entirely more effective".
"Chris ..... I've got a name," Ezra called out.
" .. .and I've got a neighborhood," Chris answered back.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra was amazed and yes ... impressed that JD had managed to survive in this neighborhood for so long.
Chris sat beside him in the rental car. "And I thought I grew up in a Shitsville!"
"It's a credit to our young friend that he ever managed to get out of here." Ezra looked over at Chris.
Chris nodded. JD's credentials were impressive enough on their own, but throw in the kind of upbringing he had and they were damn near incredible.
Ezra and Chris sat outside "The Blarney Stone", an Irish bar, in the neighborhood that JD had grown up in. They were waiting, and hoping that the information they had managed to get was good. In this kind of neighborhood no one was giving anything for free, especially information about concerned Trevor O'Doul. The only information they had, was that O'Doul was known to visit this bar on Saturday nights.
After watching at least half a dozen thugs arrive; any number who could have been O'Doul; Chris and Ezra decided to make their move.
As they entered the door the noise was deafening. However, once they crossed the threshold the noise level dropped to near silence. To be honest, Ezra thought they probably did look a little out of place. One man, standing over six foot tall and dressed completely in black, and the other in an Armani suit -- in a sea of Red Sox sweats and caps, they stood out like a couple of sore thumbs. Ezra had hoped that they could ask some discreet questions, have a quite word in Mr. O'Doul's ear and be back at the airport for the last flight back to Denver. However, as he reassessed the situation, he realized that probably wasn't quite the way it was going to play out.
"We're looking for O'Doul," Chris announced.
Ezra sighed, nothing like getting right to the point.
There was silence in the bar.
"I said .... I'm looking for O'Doul," Chris repeated.
"And who would be asking?"
"I am," Chris looked around the bar. Any number of the men standing around could be O'Doul.
"And what's your business?" a voice asked from somewhere in the back of the bar.
"I'd like to talk to him"
A small man in his fifty's stepped away from the bar, shadowed by two men - at least the size of Josiah, if not larger.
"I'm O'Doul, and who are you?"
Chris approached the man. "Is there somewhere we can talk, perhaps in private."
O'Doul looked at Chris, sizing him up. "Out the back ....my office. After you ...."
Ezra followed Chris out of the back of the bar, wondering if they would come away unscathed. The noise in the bar started up again, and Ezra wondered if the odds of their survival were being discussed.
+ + + + + + +
Under the watchful eye of the two Josiah clones, Chris approached O'Doul.
Ezra wasn't close enough to hear exactly what was being said, catching only occasional snippets. Chris' back was towards Ezra so he couldn't see what was happening, so instead he decided to keep a close eye on the two, hopefully gentle giants.
The meeting didn't take long, and was finished when Chris turned way from O'Doul and walked away. As he passed by, he gently brushed aside the two giants.
"Ezra, let's go. The matter is closed."
Ezra looked back at O'Doul. He looked a lot paler than he had five minutes ago, and nowhere near as confident. The two giants looked to him, but he shook his head, and turned back towards the bar.
"What exactly did you say to him," Ezra asked as they got back into the car.
"Not a lot," Chris replied. "Just pointed out to him, that JD's loan was now officially paid in full."
"How do we guarantee he won't be back?" Ezra asked.
Chris turned and smiled. "Apart from the fact that Chris Larabee has his ticket?" he laughed. "Well, just to seal the deal, he wrote me a little receipt."
He held up a dollar bill that had scruffy writing around the edge.
"You think it will hold up, I wouldn't think it's worth the money it's written on"
"Huh," Chris snorted "..but then neither was that loan. I wonder how many other people he has in the same situation. I think a phone call to the local authorities might be in order. I'm sure he's "untouchable", but it will make me feel better knowing I tried."
"Of course Mr. Larabee, but for now, let's get of this hell hole," Ezra started the car.
+ + + + + + +
"JD ... my office now," Chris called across the room.
"Oooohhhh... what did you do kid?" Buck asked, laughing at his young roommate's apprehensive expression.
"Shut up Buck!" JD shot back as walked by.
"Chris?" JD asked as he stood by the door.
"Come in JD, and shut the door ..... sit down."
"Is something wrong? I left the reports on your desk this morning."
"No, JD ... nothing's wrong. I just wanted to give you this."
He place the dollar bill on the desk.
JD looked at it, and then picked it up to get a better look at the writing around the edge of the note.
He looked up at Chris, "What does this mean?" he asked.
"It means your debt is paid, and that is your receipt."
"But how? How can it be?" JD was confused.
"I paid a visit to Trevor O'Doul."
JD sat opened mouthed.
"How did you know? I don't understand Chris, who ... who told you?"
"No one," Chris replied
"Then ..... I don't understand." JD reached up rubbed in forehead.
"It's over JD, you don't need to worry about it anymore."
"What?" JD looked up. "Of course, I do! This is why I didn't want anyone else involved. I don't know when I can pay you back Chris. Aarrh!" JD shut his eyes and threw himself back into the chair.
JD opened his eyes. "I'm sorry Chris. I mean ... please .... I'm sorry, don't get me wrong. Thank you for paying off the load, it's just ...."
"JD, will ya please just listen for a moment. You don't owe me a penny. The loan was paid off years ago, at least it would have been had the interest rate been close to normal. I simply pointed that out to O'Doul, and he ..... understood."
"Whaaa ... huh .... !" JD struggled to reply.
"JD, son. It's over," Chris smiled across the desk.
"Chris .... I'm ....really"
Chris nodded at him.
"Oh man, thank you ... thank you ..... thank ..."
"Yeah, I get the point JD. Now, how about you get back to work?"
"Sure ... yeah, sure, sure. Thank Chris, really I don't know how I'll ever pay you back," JD gushed.
"No paying back due JD. Just looking out for my team," Chris looked up at his young agent. "There is one thing you can do for me though."
"Sure Chris anything."
"Talk to Buck. He's been worried about you."
"Yeah, okay" JD smiled. "And thanks again Chris ... you have no idea what this means to me."
"JD ... the matter is closed," Chris smiled. "Now, get outta my office, and get some work done!"
JD turned to go.
"But, hey for the record .... you're welcome."
JD smiled as he left Chris' office ... yep, this was going to be a beautiful day.