Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Note: Betaed by LT
"What's going on?" JD hissed at Buck as they all trooped into the conference room.
"Don't ask me, but that vein on Chris' forehead is pulsing like its fit to burst, so he don't know either."
Vin came up behind them, munching on some kind of Danish pastry. "So who 'alled the mee'ng?" he mumbled though a mouth full of crumbs and apple.
"Presumably AD Travis," Ezra commented as they caught up to him.
"W'ts it 'bout?"
"I have no idea, and please..." Ezra brushed crumbs from his jacket. "Swallow before you speak!"
Inside the conference room, they found Josiah, who for some reason looked decidedly sheepish, and Nathan, who looked serious - which was normal for Nathan. Travis was also there, sitting opposite Nathan. As far as Buck could tell, he looked amused.
"Gentlemen, please, take a seat," he invited.
Yup, he's definitely amused, Buck decided.
"What's going on?" Chris asked, not making any move to sit. "Why are they here already?" He pointed to Nathan and Josiah.
"I was just following orders," Josiah pointed out quickly, moving away from Nathan to stand with the others behind Chris.
"Take a seat, Special Agent Larabee." This time there was no hint of amusement in Travis' voice. He didn't exert his authority over Chris often and almost never outside of his office; but when he did, there was no mistaking who was the boss.
For a moment, there was a silent stand off, before Chris pulled out his customary chair at the head of the table and sat. Once he was seated, the others took their own seats.
"Well?" Chris asked.
Travis looked at Nathan and then back to Chris. "Special Agent Jackson holds a unique position in this team, a position that exists in no other tactical team, in any other federal agency anywhere in the country. I want you to remember that, because it gives him special responsibilities. In respect of those responsibilities, he came to me with a problem, a problem he wasn't able to take to you." Travis looked pointedly at Chris. "I want that understood; he was not circumventing the chain of command. In this case, I am the chain of command - got it?"
Chris said nothing. He just glared at Travis and Nathan, who was very obviously avoiding looking at Chris.
"Translation - don't tear Nate a new one, 'cause he was only doing his job," Buck whispered to JD.
"Go on," Chris invited darkly.
Travis stood and headed for the door. "I'll leave you in Nathan's capable hands."
Once they were alone, Nathan took a gulp of water from the bottle in front of him, then stood.
"Right, well, the reason I asked Assistant Director Travis if I could see you all, is this." He held up a dictionary. "In here there are many definitions for the word 'fine.' The ones that interest us here today are number 11 - 'Satisfactory or acceptable,' and number 12 - 'Being in a state of satisfactory health; quite well.' I bring this to your attention because you all seem to have no knowledge of this simple and often used word."
He turned to his best friend. "Fine does not mean - I keep throwing up and seeing double, because I have a concussion."
Josiah gave a 'Who, me?' gesture.
"Yes, you, and you know it." He turned to JD. "Fine does not mean - I have food poisoning and am dangerously dehydrated."
Dunne visibly sank down in his chair.
"Fine does not mean, Ezra - my appendix is about to burst."
Ezra feigned indifference, but the slight flush to his cheeks told a different story.
"Nor does it mean - I have a fever of 104, because I have neglected my simple case of flu so long, that now I have pneumonia and can hardly breathe." He stared at Vin, who was looking at JD and grinning.
"He's looking at you," JD pointed out.
Vin's head snapped around. Suddenly, he was the one looking sheepish.
"And you can stop grinning like a loon," Nathan told Buck firmly, "Because, nor does it mean - I've been shot and right now I don't have enough blood left in me to keep a kitten alive!"
"I was trapped, what was I suppose to do?" Buck countered.
"Tell me you were hurt, so that I was ready as soon as it was clear."
"But then JD would have known..."
"Hey! I'm not a kid, I can handle it," JD pointed out.
"Well, you didn't tell me about the food poisoning."
"You had a hot date; I didn't want to spoil it."
"Do you really think I'd have gone on a date if I'd have known you were so sick?"
"Stop it!" Nathan bellowed. Five heads snapped around to look at him. Chris had never taken his eyes off Jackson. Now, they were eye to eye.
Nathan didn't want to do this, it scared the shit out of him, but it wasn't fair to single out the others out and not Larabee. Besides, if Chris would just admit he was less than 'fine' occasionally, maybe the others would.
"And fine doesn't mean - today is a particularly poignant one for me and I'm struggling to cope alone without taking my anger out on others or drowning it in alcohol."
There was an audible intake of breath from JD, Ezra's jaw actually dropped open, Vin moved away from Nathan, not wanting to be caught in the inevitable hail of lead, and Josiah looked like he was about to say something, but then thought better of it. Buck had no such inhibitions.
"He's right pal," he stated quietly. "We all need to trust each other a little more, even you." While Chris thought on in seething silence, Buck turned to Nathan. "I'm sorry Nate, I didn't mean to make your job any harder."
"Yeah, sorry Nate," JD chimed in.
"Me too, sorry," Vin admitted.
"I, too, wish to make my apologies," Ezra admitted.
"Sorry," Josiah admitted. "It was thoughtless."
All eyes turned to Chris. "I'm not making any promises, but, well, I guess you got a point," he finally admitted.
As they all headed back to their offices, Josiah patted Nathan on the back. "You okay?"
Josiah raised and eyebrow.
"Never been so scared in all my life," he admitted.
"I really do promise to be more open with you brother. Do you think it'll work with the others?"
"Not for a moment."