Thanks to Mog for ATF
Disclaimer: Just playing. We know we can't keep 'em...damnit!
Thanks to Phyllis for betaing. Thanks to Mari for the awesome wall. And thanks to Blackraptor for archiving this for us.
The package arrived at 0700. The call came in 0900. The bomb went off at 1200.
People were running, crying, screaming, and staring as a few tried to help those in pain.
It was the worst disaster that the young man had ever seen. Tears slowly slid down his face as he watched mothers search for their young. His feet would not move... no matter how hard he tried he couldn't get them to take him away from the chaos.
Pieces of glass and metal covered the ground and as the young man studied the destruction before him... his stomach churned and he emptied it in the road where he stood.
In the distance, he could hear the sound of sirens as they rushed to the location. Vehicles came from every direction to aid in the search of those trapped in the burning building. Fire engines emerged on the scene. Before the trucks could come to a full stop, men were jumping off and rushing to set up the hoses. Fire gear was unloaded, the hoses were hooked up to water pumps...men grabbed their face masks and headed for the burning inferno.
The day started out like any other for Larabee and his team. Buck and JD arrived with doughnuts and coffee for everyone. Josiah, Nathan and Vin were typing up reports from the bust that had occurred the previous night. Chris and Ezra were in Larabee's office, going over the undercover agent's next assignment.
"Mornin' guys," JD said as he and Buck entered the bullpen.
"Get `em while they're hot, boys," Buck called.
"Buck, JD." Nathan said as he nodded.
"Thank you, brothers," Josiah acknowledged.
Larabee and Standish came out of the team leader's office, as work came to a stand still and the coffee and doughnuts were devoured.
"Nice of you boys to join us," Larabee said.
"Aaah, now Chris, we came bearing food and your favorite coffee, surely that warrants us at least a smile?" Buck spoke as he chewed.
JD snorted his coffee at that thought, causing Chris to narrow his eyes at the younger agent.
"Seeing as you're in such good spirits JD, I have a job for you. While we go over the details of the Burrows case, you can go with Josiah to the Burridge Center to help the ladies with their planned Teddy Bears' Picnic, today."
JD laughed, then looked at Josiah who was positively beaming at the offer of assistance. Dunne's face dropped.
"For real? Aw hell...no offense, Josiah, but...a kids' party?"
"And don't forget to take yer teddy bear," Vin teased, causing the others to laugh.
Josiah walked over and put an arm around the young man's shoulders, "I truly appreciate the gesture, John Dunne...as will Nettie, Casey, Inez, Mary and Rain."
JD knew he was done for. He sighed. "Fine...when do we have to be there?"
Sanchez pushed the youth's cap into his hand.
"About a half-hour ago."
Casey looked around the center's main hall, smiling at the decorations and colorful paper plates and cups. Mary and Inez were talking and laughing as they laid out the food, Nettie was arranging the chairs and Billy attempted to help her, but was struggling with the weight of the solid, wooden seats.
"Nettie, some of the boys will be here to help soon," Rain advised as she brought in more balloons. No sooner had she spoken than JD and Josiah walked in the door. Casey beamed and almost ran to her lover.
The young man was a little taken aback as Casey threw her arms around him, and even more surprised when her kisses bordered on passionate, but happily returned them.
Reacting from a small cough from Nettie, the two parted. JD touched Casey's face affectionately.
"So...not pleased to see me, then?" He smiled.
Casey giggled and placed her hand on his handsome face. "I'm always happy to see you, JD."
"If you've quite finished, young man, we have plenty for you to do," Nettie admonished.
"Yes ma'am," he answered and got right to it.
Josiah approached Inez, Mary and Rain. "Ladies, the hall looks amazing. What time are we expecting our guests?"
Mary checked her watch. "They should be here by eleven...we have an hour."
"Excellent, let's get to it."
In no time, the 'guests' were arriving, the guests being teddy bears, who could only attend if they brought a human friend with them. JD stood next to Josiah toward the back of the hall, his eyes pricked with tears. Sanchez squeezed his shoulder.
"Are you alright, JD?"
Dunne sniffed, "Yeah, sorry, Josiah. It's just...what you've done here, helping single moms like this..." He looked up at the profiler, "I only wish my mom'd had this kind of help."
Josiah looked at his young friend compassionately, nodding his understanding.
Buck looked at his watch, 11.45 am, he sighed. The Burrows case had been all Ezra, up to now, with no serious groundwork to be done. He wondered what his roommate was up to. Answering the ringing phone, he paused, taking precious seconds for the words spoken to register.
"Wh...what? Say that again? Where...WAIT. ..WHERE?"
Buck's pale features glanced around the room, alerting the others to his distress. He rested his eyes on Chris' office door.
The blond was instantly at his door.
"Didn't say...holy shit."
Ezra frowned, "Then why call us? Surely it would be more prudent to call the local constabulary for something like this?"
Chris was at Buck's side. "Did the caller say anything else?"
Buck inhaled. "He said, 'Your bitches think it's funny, encouraging children to father bastards. When my bomb goes off, they won't think it so amusing.'"
"Our *bitches*?" Vin questioned, "Who could he be referring to?"
For a few moments, there was silence. They startled at Nathan's sudden cry. "The center...could he have been referring to the center?"
Buck pulled out his cell and dialed JD.
JD was in the kitchen and about to take out more lemonade when his cell rang. He smiled as he recognized the ID, noting the time at 11.59 am.
"Hey...you okay...? Buck? Hang on I need to step out of the building, I can't quite hear you."
He walked to the exit and was just about to walk away to a clearer spot when a noise roared around him and a pressure and pain threw him forwards, his cell falling from his hands.
Buck impatiently waited for JD to answer, "Kid...no... wait, I have to..."
He looked at Larabee..."Poor signal..." Everyone heard the explosion just before the phone went dead.
Buck went white. "Oh dear God...we're too late."
JD dragged himself to his feet, unaware of the gash on the back of his head or the glass in his upper arm. He turned to see the smoldering building he had just walked out of, looking at the burning, gaping hole that was once the kitchen, the very place he had just been.
He was unable to comprehend the devastation and hysteria around him, turning and retching at the sight. Aware of approaching sirens, his feet suddenly found they could move and before he realized what he was doing, and ignoring the calls to him, staggering, he re-entered the building.
"Josiah, Casey, oh God...where is everyone?" he yelled as he tried to see through the thick clouds of billowing smoke circling around him. The further JD went into the burning building, the harder it was for him to see and soon his breathing became labored, as oxygen was fast being replaced with smoke. Within a few feet, he stumbled and dropped to his knees. Pushing up, he struggled forward a few more yards, but blood loss, a head injury, and lack of oxygen soon dropped him again and this time he failed to rise.
Outside the burning building, mothers were appearing, screaming and crying for their children. People from the surrounding area gathered, trying to help, but the fire was so intense, it drove everyone back. The sound of sirens could be heard getting closer as the chaos continued.
"Quick, someone grab the elevator!" Vin yelled.
"No...stairs will be quicker," Chris said.
Five men flew down the stairwell, their feet barely touching the steps and bodies bouncing off walls to maintain a firm footing as they raced toward the garage.
"Buck, you and Vin are with me," Larabee yelled as he ran to his truck.
Ezra and Nathan jumped into the southerner's Jag, tearing out of the garage behind Larabee.
As they raced to the Burridge Center, Chris ordered Buck to call AD Travis and apprise him of the call they had received. Taking the fastest route possible, the five men of Team Seven reached the Center just as ambulances were pulling in. In the midst of the chaos, Chris and his men's fears came to light; people were running in every direction. Screams could be heard and everywhere they looked, people were crying and holding on to each other as if each of their lives depended on the strength of the other.
The five agents spread out, searching the crowd for their missing team members as well as the women. Nathan was beside himself in his search for Rain. As he looked toward what remained of the building, his heart nearly stopped. Twenty feet ahead was a young woman with her back to him, bent over and attending to a small child. Believing it to be Rain, he called out, only to have his strength drain away when the woman turned and it was not his wife.
Nathan was returning to his friends when he caught sight of a rescuer exiting the building, carrying a small body, its head and face obscured by a makeshift bandage. He made his way to the child as the fireman prepared to give first aid to the victim.
"How's the kid? Is he going to make it?" Nathan asked.
"Not sure, I'll know more when we get him to the ER."
"Name's Nathan Jackson; can I help? I'm an EMT."
"I'm Joe, sure can use a hand. Could you hold the kid while I adjust the bandages?"
"I'm with ATF Team Seven and two of our men were in there as well as my wife and some friends when it blew. Anything I can do to keep busy would really help."
The man pulled some equipment from his kit and glanced up at the dark- skinned agent, "Say, don't I know you? You're an agent, you say?... yeah, we met at a seminar last year." The EMT asked. He smiled with relief at Nathan's coy nod and having a qualified helper. "I've heard of your team, it's a pleasure to work with you."
As the bandages came off, Nathan's breath caught as little Billy Travis' face was revealed.
"Oh my, God!" He looked on in shock, his eyes searching, "Chris, Chris! Over here, and hurry, it's the Travis boy!" Nathan shouted.
Upon hearing Jackson calling, Chris rushed over to see what had his agent so upset.
"Nathan, what is it? Did you find Rain?" Just then the child started to cough, catching Chris' attention and the man's eyes widened. He crouched down.
"Billy, Billy, it's me, Chris." He looked from Nathan to the EMT, question in his eyes. "How is he?"
"Sir, we just won't know anything until we get him checked out at the hospital. Is he your son?"
"No, no...he was with his mother...a friend of mine...inside, at the party." Chris let out the breath he was holding as he stood. "I'll call his grandfather; he'll want to be here for him."
Billy was loaded into the ambulance with another victim of the fire and as the vehicle headed for the hospital, Larabee pulled out his cell and called Orin Travis.
Inside the burning building, JD came to as a blast of cold water hit him in the face. He opened his eyes to see a ruptured water pipe spraying water from a water fountain that had been knocked from the wall. He rolled to his side in hopes of getting away from the cold spray. He only stopped rolling when his body landed against something. As he felt the obstacle, realization set in that it was Josiah's body. Ripping the good sleeve off his wet shirt, JD wiped Josiah's face in hopes of bringing the man to.
Being unable to rouse Sanchez, JD tried to move the heavier man toward safety. But Josiah's size, coupled with Dunne's condition, prevented him from moving the man, leaving him realizing that his only recourse was to find his way out and get help. As he began to crawl in the direction he believed there to be an opening, a hand reached out and grabbed him. He turned sharply.
"Josiah!" JD gasped, "You're alright, thank God, you scared the hell out of me."
The profiler struggled to sit up. "What happened?" he grunted.
"Bomb, I think," JD stated simply as he coughed. "We gotta find the others."
"I think it best we find a way out," Josiah decided, gesturing behind him, "The flames are too intense to go back."
"But Casey, Nettie, Mary, Rain. Oh God...Billy!"
Sanchez held his aching head, "Son, I understand, but I fear time is against us."
JD covered his face as he tried to come to terms with Josiah's words, the touch revealing an ugly gash close to his left temple, blood running steadily from it. As if drained by the emotion and the now searing pain in his injured arm, the younger man found himself suddenly overwhelmed and fighting the welcoming darkness, but was snapped back by a firm hand on his face.
"Come on, son," Josiah urged, "Let's go."
The two men pulled themselves to their feet and clung to each other for support as they tried to find a safe way out of the crumbling building.
Relieved at finally finding some of who they were searching for, Chris and Vin were helping Rain settle Mary, Casey, Nettie and Inez into the waiting ambulances. The ladies had successfully emerged from the building, cut and bruised and very shaken, but otherwise unharmed. Buck was staring at the devastated building for the longest time, willing Josiah and JD to walk out. When he saw the girls were safe, he approached Casey and Nettie.
"Darlin'," he touched Casey's face tenderly. "Did you see JD or Josiah?"
Casey sobbed, "No, oh Buck," she grasped his arms, "Find them, please, find them."
He patted her arm, "We will, honey, we will. You go on in the ambulance and get checked out, okay?"
She nodded sadly and did as she was told. Wilmington turned to Larabee, Tanner and Standish, his face showing the strain of not knowing, but before he could speak a huge crash sounded from behind them and they all turned in time to see half of the building collapse.
"Oh, dear God, no!" Buck wailed. The four men stood mesmerized by the swirling dust. Nathan joined them. No man spoke; they just stared.
A shout went up and as the dust began to clear, two clinging forms limped out of the debris. Buck's heart soared and he took off toward them, closely followed by the others.
JD could no longer remain upright and he began to sink to the ground, Sanchez falling with him. Much to the easterner's surprise, strong arms caught him and guided him slowly down. He just managed a look.
Dunne could say no more as he slipped into oblivion, falling neatly into the brunet's outstretched arms.
Sanchez grunted with the strain of trying to keep them upright, finally relaxing as he realized their teammates were with them.
"Josiah, how bad?" the medic asked as he and Ezra helped the failing man to a waiting ambulance.
"I believe we'll live, brothers," he smiled weakly, "As I pray others have, too."
Ezra assisted the man toward the ambulances, following behind Wilmington and Dunne.
Buck had scooped up his fading friend in his arms, turning and staggering toward a waiting paramedic. After a few minutes of watching his partner being poked and prodded, he spoke.
"Is he okay?"
"Nothing broken," came the reply. "But he's got two nasty head wounds and some glass in his arm, maybe some smoke inhalation. He needs oxygen and x-rays."
As Team Seven watched their two friends being loaded into the ambulances, they took one last look at the horrific scene. Buck jumped in with JD and Vin with Josiah, with Larabee and Standish following in their vehicles.
Nathan had finally spotted his wife, assisting with the injured and rushed to her side. He ran his hands over her face, examining the cuts and bruises beneath the dust and dirt, before drawing in the woman he loved close as he thanked God for keeping her and their friends safe. He escorted her to her car. After helping her into the passenger seat, he fished out his spare keys and followed the others to the hospital.
In the shadows, directly across from the Burridge Center stood a lone figure, a small smile of satisfaction forming upon the face, the face of evil.
TV cameras were everywhere, filming the debris that was scattered across the ground as well as a few covered bodies. News reporters spoke of the bombing, telling of the event that was taking place at the time of the explosion.
One cameraman zeroed in on a lonely little boy crying for his mother as a woman was loaded into the ambulance, him following after her, and they were taken away.
While watching the chaos that ensued, a great feeling of accomplishment welled from within. Taking one last satisfied look at the destruction, the figure turned and left unnoticed, into the shadows.
Upon entering the hospital, the cries of women and children permeated the hallways. A frantic Mary begged Chris to find Billy for her.
Chris soothed the distraught woman. "Mary, calm down, I'll find Billy. You have my word."
As Chris walked out of the room which they had placed Mary, he ran into Vin. "Vin, have you seen Billy or Orin?"
"No, Chris. I've been in with Josiah, Nettie and Casey. Is Mary worried?"
Chris nodded his head just as Buck and Ezra joined them. Without a word, the four men split up and started searching for Mary's son and his grandfather. As time passed and their search revealed no sign, Larabee and his men began to worry. It was half an hour later when Buck found himself outside the critical care unit and to his surprise Orin Travis was sitting there.
"Orin, please tell me Billy isn't hurt bad."
"Buck, he hasn't woken up and they have him on oxygen. Is Mary alright...have you seen her?"
Buck nodded. "She's fine far as I know; just worried bout Billy. She's down on the second floor. If you want to go on down, I'll stay with Billy."
"Thanks, Buck; I know you're worried about JD and Josiah. I'll see if I can get Mary released and come right back."
After what seemed like an eternity, Buck rose to his feet and started pacing the floor like a caged animal. The same questions repeated over and over in his mind, 'What's going on with Billy? What kind of animal would do this?' Then the elevator doors opened and Orin and Mary appeared. Wishing them well, Buck returned to the ER just as another gurney appeared from the direction of x-ray. As he looked on, Buck recognized his partner and roommate JD Dunne.
"JD? Kid?" He looked at the orderly. "Is he gonna be okay? Where are you taking him?"
"Sir, please stay back, we've just come from x-ray and he's about to go to surgery to remove glass from his arm and repair the damage it caused."
"But you don't understand, he's like...my little brother."
The nurse accompanying JD touched Buck on the arm. "I'm sorry, sir. I'll let the doctor know you're here."
With a nod of gratitude, Buck watched as his surrogate sibling was wheeled into the ER. Ten minutes later, he was next to JD and holding his wrist, talking soft encouragement to the bandaged youth as the oxygen mask over JD's mouth and nose hissed softly. Within half an hour, all of Team Seven had visited Josiah in his room a few floors up; the same room in which JD would be joining the profiler, as soon as the doctors were satisfied with his progress. It would be a long night.
Casey sighed as JD pretended to sleep. Two days on and not even Chris could get the easterner to open up. All he had said of the incident was to ask how everyone was. The pretty brunette stood and leaned over to kiss JD's head, then left.
JD's heart ached but he wasn't ready to talk yet. His mind had been going over the events in minute detail and he had come to wonder whether his cell signal could have set off the bomb, the thought of which was tearing his heart out. With that thought, he eventually drifted off into a restless sleep.
The next time he woke, he could hear the hushed voices of all his teammates as they chatted with Josiah. He lay there quietly and unmoving as he allowed the gentle conversation to drift over him. One phrase captured his mind and before he realized, he was turning toward his friends. They all smiled, Buck approached.
JD nodded, his eyes searching his partner's in earnest. "Buck...did you say the bomb was set off by remote?"
Wilmington nodded. "Most certainly...short- range, too, which means the bastard was right there when it went...kid...what' s wrong?"
Dunne put his arm over his face and sobbed, the relief washing over him. Chris moved to JD's side where he and Buck waited for the youth to look at them, the rest of the team looking on in confusion.
"I...I thought my cell had set it off," the young agent confessed.
Buck sighed in relief. "No...and even if it had...*I* had called *you*, remember?"
JD frowned, he couldn't remember much at all, but what he could...was the stuff of nightmares.
"JD..." Chris began, "...the police are gonna want to talk to you soon. If you're not up to it...I'll put them off."
JD looked at his leader helplessly. "It's more a case I don't remember much...just noise and...and screaming..." He felt his emotions catching up with him again, looking toward Josiah in the bed next to him. "How could someone do something like this...to women and children?"
Josiah returned the look with kind eyes. "Evil knows many faces, son, but it comes from within...don't try to make sense of it...just rejoice in the fact it wasn't worse."
"Not much to cling to is it?" the youth whispered.
Josiah sighed. "No."
The bomber clicked on the light in the makeshift photo lab, smiling at the carnage displayed in the prints and stopping on the images of JD and Josiah emerging from the collapsed building. It hadn't taken much digging to reveal who they were, the younger man was already known to the bomber. In this lunatic's mind, the young agent was considered a bastard...the son of a whore...and that simply would not do... would not do at all.
Putting the photos aside, work was resumed on the bomb that was under construction. Its new home had been decided and it was all the bomber could do to hold back a full blown belly laugh at the thought.
Even though three weeks later Josiah and JD had returned to work, they were on light duties. Buck insisted JD ride in with him each morning, and for once the youth didn't argue, neither man aware they were being watched.
They had been assisting in the investigation of the Burridge Center bombing but to no avail. Despite hundreds of photographs having been taken, no individual seemed to stand out as someone they'd seen in crowds like this before. JD had spent two whole days randomly cross- referencing images but with so many faces it was an insurmountable task. Only dumb luck or sheer doggedness would win this battle, and the team was becoming increasingly concerned at JD's refusal to ease up.
The youth looked up to see Nathan hovering over him.
"You suffered head injuries, son...don't push yourself so hard. We're all here to help you..."
"No..." JD interrupted, "I can do this...something will come up, you'll see...I just have to..."
Chris' voice carried the weight of authority, but it was intoned with concern. He handed the youth a bill.
"Go get us some decent coffee, will ya?"
JD knew it was pointless arguing. Buck tossed him his keys.
"Take Betsy; the better coffee shops are ten blocks away."
With a sigh, JD rose to his feet, took the money from Chris' fingers and snatched up the keys from the air as they arced toward him. He was out of the door in seconds.
"Thanks, Chris." Buck looked at Larabee, the blond nodded once.
On entering the garage at the base of the Federal building, JD opened the driver's door to Buck's pickup and jumped in. Before pulling the door closed behind him, he pushed the key into the ignition and turned it through the first click. Something caught his eye and, frowning, before he turned the key again, he bent his head to peer under the steering column.
"What was that...?" As his eyes searched, he took in a huge gulp of air. "...oh God!"
He could feel his body start to tremble and took deep breaths to calm himself as he kept one eye on the flashing red light he had activated when he turned the key. Once he had his body under control, he moved his free hand to his pocket and fished out his cell, hitting speed- dial while praying the only thing to set off this bomb completely would be a slip of his fingers and not his phone. He closed his eyes to compose himself as Buck answered.
"Buck...I need you..."
Team Seven were crowded around JD's monitor, studying the pictures from the bombing, when Buck's cell, laying on his desk, rang. Grinning at the ID as the brunet reached over to answer it, he thumbed the talk button.
"Don't tell me you've lost your way, squirt..." His body stiffened at JD's words, alerting the others to a possible problem.
Wimington was now all business."I'm here, son...go ahead." Buck rose to his feet and looked to Larabee, his eyes reflecting alarm. "You did good...we're on our way..." they were instinctively heading out the office door, "...just stay calm and hang in there, JD...we're coming." He pulled them away from the elevators.
All six were now heading down the stairs at breakneck speed, five of them replicating their journey of just a few weeks earlier.
"Chris, clear the building," Buck panted as he continued his downward journey, "Bomb..."
By the time they hit the garage, the building was emptying.
JD was always glad to see his teammates, but this time was almost too much for him. His face glistened with sweat, his bangs soaked and heavy as he fought to keep his fingers and body in control. He had no doubt what would happen if he relaxed for even a millisecond.
Buck's heart ached when he saw his best friend, but except for a little wink, he instantly went to work, crouching down to get a look at the device and in the hope he could trace where the wires, if any, were leading. Chris was assisting; Vin stepped in close to the youth.
"You're doin' real good, kid. I'm just gonna go and take a look under the back of the truck, see if there's anythin' else we should be concerned with. Okay?"
JD swallowed, then whispered. "'K." He closed his eyes for a second, opening them to see Josiah next to him.
Josiah smiled. "If anyone can do this, son, Buck can."
JD halted a shudder. "God, I hope so," he whispered. "Shouldn't you guys be wearing vests or something?"
"Don't think it would do much good even if we did," Josiah answered, honestly.
Dunne swallowed, his voice hoarse through lack of moisture. "Then you should go. It's bad enough I had to drag Buck into this. When the bomb squad arrives...promise me you'll haul him out of here."
"Nope, ain't gonna happen, kid." Tanner winked as he returned to JD's side and held up a bottle of water that he had retrieved from his jeep. Opening the bottle, Vin apologized, "Sorry, it's warm, kid, but you need to stay hydrated."
Fighting with saturated bangs, JD cocked an eyebrow at the comment, even as he took a sip and the Texan pulled the bottle back. Vin chuckled at the youth.
"Are you in pain, JD?" Nathan asked. He had just returned from Chris' truck with a tool box, handing it to Buck who was now on his back underneath the front of the pick-up, Chris at his side.
In truth, JD was more, numb than in pain. "Naw, I'm good, thanks."
Chris handed Buck his requested tool.
"How ya holdin' up?"
Buck grunted from his position on his back on the ground. "I reckon I got it figured. Get the guys outta here, Chris, I can't be sure I got it right."
Larabee, still crouching, looked impassively at his explosives expert.
"Are you or JD leaving?"
Buck huffed as he ran his fingers along the wires he now knew he needed to cut. "Very funny, pard. If JD so much as twitches that ignition..."
Team Seven's leader nodded. "Thought as much." He stood and faced his team.
"Buck thinks he's got this bomb figured, if you're gonna leave, now's the time."
Four men stared back at him. Ezra spoke.
"Mister Larabee...my esteemed colleagues and I cannot think of a single other place we would prefer to be at this juncture." "I'm making it an order, Standish." "Then consider us on report...*sir*."
While Chris half-smiled as he saw the rest of his men nod, JD's raspy whisper broke through.
"Please...please don't do this...it's bad enough Buck has to stay...you have to go guys...please."
Vin held out the water for JD once again. "Like I already said, kid... ain't gonna happen."
Dunne pleaded with them, terrified for his friends' safety as he doubted his own waning strength. "But...but I don't think I can hold this position much longer."
"JD," Ezra smiled, "You are one of the most resilient people I know... you *will* do this, as will Buck. Of that I have no doubt." He scanned the young man's face, noting the sweat now working its way from the ends of JD's bangs in tiny droplets. He winked and moved to see how Buck and Chris were doing.
"I'm ready, Chris...I've pinpointed the wire I reckon should disarm this thing. Maybe you *should* get the guys outta here."
Chris was about to speak when JD's voice cut through the tension.
"Buck...hurry, I got a cramp."
Despite people talking around him, JD was now unable to respond, his full concentration focused on keeping his fingers from moving. His eyes were screwed up tightly and he missed the concerned looks of his teammates to each other. Suddenly his eyes flew open and frightened hazel eyes looked to each teammate, but his message was for the man under the truck.
"Buck...hurry, I got a cramp."
Despite knowing it could all go to hell any second, the men standing around JD moved closer in a subconscious effort to offer protectiveness and support.
"Here we go, kid," Buck called back. He looked to Chris and six men held their breath as their explosives man counted down mentally.
He cut the wire, the snap of the cutters eerily amplified in the cavernous, silent garage.
No one moved, hardly daring to breathe. Chris grinned down at his oldest friend still lying on the floor, the hand holding the cutters, frozen in position.
"You did it, you old bastard."
Buck released his breath. "Hey...less of the 'old'."
Larabee helped him up and the two hurried around to where JD was still holding the keys, the youth's breathing becoming more labored by the second. Buck leaned in and began to uncurl the rigid digits, JD fighting him at first as if unable to comprehend the situation.
"C'mon, kid...I got ya." He leaned into the cab and wrapped his arms around the slender form.
Glazed hazel eyes, stared into dark blue. Buck nodded to the unanswered question.
"It's all over, son...come on...let me help you outta there." As he spoke, he was pulling the trembling body toward him, clutching his best friend tight to his chest as he pulled him from behind the wheel.
As soon as JD's feet hit the floor, his knees buckled, five men all surging forward to help.
"Whoa...easy there, kid...let's put ya down over here." Buck practically dragged the easterner to a supporting pillar and, as he eased him slowly to the floor to rest the youth's back against the support, the brunet crouched down to push sweat-soaked bangs from JD's eyes.
"Y'alright there, bro?"
JD couldn't stop shaking as his adrenaline rush dissipated. Nathan wrapped a blanket around the youth as Vin squatted to offer more from the water bottle, neither of the seven men remotely concerned with the now frantic activity around them. Finally, JD spoke.
They all laughed, grateful to release some of the tension.
"I could not have put it better myself," Ezra concurred.
Blinking back tears, JD looked at each one of them. "You crazy bastards...you all stayed." He swallowed and dropped his head. "Thank you."
Vin squeezed his arm. "Couldn't let you and Buck have all the fun, could we?"
JD nodded but didn't look up. Chris touched his face. "Don't try and analyze this, JD...not here, anyhow. We had a good day."
JD finally looked at his housemate. "Buck..."
Wilmington leaned in and at last, gave JD the embrace he had wanted to for the past few minutes. "You okay?" he whispered, smiling at the nod into his shoulder and the muffled 'I will be' as JD's arms returned the clinch.
Eventually, JD pulled back and they helped him to his feet. The youth looked at them all, never more proud of them than at this moment.
God, he loved these men.
"You don't still want coffee, do you?" he asked.
Again, they laughed. Chris put his hand to the back of his youngest agent's neck and squeezed.
"Oh, I think we can come up with something a little stronger than that," he grinned. He looked at the others.
They all nodded. "Saloon."
They left the bomb squad and forensics to it for now. Larabee touched one of the forensic team on the arm and pointed to the mounted cameras. "I want those pictures."
The man nodded his understanding and watched seven men walk away and out of the building.
Despite it being a day late, Team Seven, minus its youngest, were in the conference room attending a debriefing. Buck had talked them through the bomb. Just like the one at the Burridge center, it was crude but lethal. Had it gone off, the Federal building would have been devastated. A cry from the outer office drew their attention and they all looked up to see their young tech rush into the room, clearly elated over something.
He put down three pictures on the conference room table, taken from the garage cameras, then added two from the scenes at the Burridge center. They all studied them. Larabee offered his infamous kick-ass grin
"Got the bastard!"
JD grinned, "Got a name, too!" He handed his leader a piece of paper. Chris looked at it in shock, then walked around to stand next to the youth, squeezing the younger man's shoulder.
"Good work, kid."
"Thank God for technology, huh? Sure speeds things up." He rubbed absently at his previously injured arm, his face all serious as he glanced at Josiah. "Had a personal interest in this one, and I don't just mean the people close to us."
Chris nodded his understanding. Anyone who could endanger women and children deserved to get the book thrown at them, and he wanted to be the one doing the throwing.
"Don't suppose you got an address?" Larabee asked, hopefully.
"Got three," JD's smile returned, "This one's recently had a phone line installed."
"Do I want to know how you found that information? " Chris asked. The look on JD's face gave him his answer. "Never mind. Okay, guys...what say we go and introduce ourselves to this individual?" He didn't need to say it twice.
Outside the critical care unit, Mary and Orin were waiting for the doctor to finish his examination of young Billy. For three weeks, the boy had been in and out of consciousness, without really ever being coherent, swelling within the skull being the diagnosis. The child's body had shut down in an effort to heal itself.
Mary was distraught that her son had been unconscious for so long. "Oh Orin, I'm so worried. My poor baby." Looking at her father- in-law, her lip trembled as she admitted, "I'm scared, Orin."
The AD smiled kindly, the weariness reflected in his face. "Now Mary, I'm sure he'll be fine. My grandson is a tough young man and his body has healed nicely. I have all the faith in the world that he'll open his eyes very soon. Hopefully the doctor will be able to tell us more once he's finished his examination. "
Just as Orin finished reassuring Mary, Doctor Sims walked out of Billy's room.
"Mrs. Travis," he nodded then looked toward the AD, "if you'll just follow me, please." He led them to a room offering them a little more privacy.
"Please, Doctor. I can't take this. I need to know how my Billy is," Mary said.
The doctor nodded, "Please, have a seat."
As the two sat, Orin looked toward the man. "Well, Doctor, how is my grandson?"
"Billy is stable," the man reassured them. "I know it doesn't seem like it but he's holding his own. The nurse is preparing him for another MRI; I hope that the test will tell us more about what is going on."
Mary clutched at her father-in-law' s hand. "Thank you, doctor. We appreciate all the work you've done. "
The man nodded before moving away from the Travis'.
Turning to the man, Mary clutched his hand. "Orin, thanks for being here for us. I know you have an agency to run and an investigation to handle."
"Mary, you don't need to worry; I'm not going anywhere."
She shuddered as she sobbed softly. "I can't lose him, too."
"Now, Mary, there'll be none of that; you are not going to lose Billy." Just as Orin got Mary a little more settled, his cell phone rang.
"AD Travis speaking." He straightened at the voice that greeted him.
>"Travis, Larabee here, we got a lead on the bomber."<
Travis nodded, finally sensing a breakthrough. "Keep me informed."
>"Yes, sir. Orin, any news on Billy?" <
"They just took him down for an MRI...Chris...he still hasn't woken up, Mary's beside herself with worry."
Back at the ATF office, Chris paused. "Tell her for me...Billy will be fine. He's a strong boy and I feel sure everything will be alright," and with that he closed his cell.
Larabee turned and looked at his men. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go get us a bomber."
With that, seven men hurried out of the door and headed for the elevators. As one, they entered the garage where they split. Half of the team headed to a bureau surveillance van and the rest loaded into Josiah's SUV. In record time, the men known as The Magnificent Seven were headed out in the hope of taking down the bomber.
On the way to apprehend the suspect, Larabee went over the plans once again, leaving nothing to chance. Confident that they had covered everything, he settled in to wait. When they were close to their destination, both vehicles pulled over. Gathering in the surveillance van, they waited as the structure was scanned and listened to. They heard no talking, but scraping sounds alerted them to someone's presence. They exited the van and proceeded on foot.
As they approached the building their suspect was holed up in, JD, Buck and Ezra branched off, circling to the right while Josiah and Nathan went left, leaving Vin to take to a sturdy tree that overlooked the front of the house and a large picture window. When everyone was in place, Larabee approached the door, a warrant safely tucked in his ATF jacket.
From his position, Vin had a clear view of what appeared to be the main room of the building. As he watched, a figure wearing a jump suit suddenly appeared, a hat shadowing the features. There was no way at this point, of telling the identity of the bomber.
Larabee was about to make a surprise entrance when Buck's frantic voice came over the wire.
"Chris, it's JD!" then his voice died out.
"Buck? Come in, Buck, where are you? Report, Nathan."
"Yes, I, too, am here."
"Got yer back, cowboy."
"Right here, Chris."
"Buck. Answer me, damnit."
Larabee took a calming breath. "Josiah, you see anything?"
"No Chris, wait...there he is... looks like he's searching the ground."
Vin's voice broke through. "Well, hell, cowboy you aren't gonna believe this, but I got my sights on JD."
Chris was relieved. "Well, are you going to keep it a secret, Tanner? Where is he?"
"He's actually in the buildin'."
For a few moments there was silence, then Chris spoke again. "How the hell'd he get in there?"
Vin's reply was instant. "Don't know, but from the looks of it, we got trouble, and now Buck's headin' your way."
Chris turned to his oldest friend. "Now what?"
Wilmington ran up, shaking his head.
"You're not gonna believe this but the ground swallowed JD. One second, he was right there next to me, and the next time I turned around, he was gone. There's some kind of opening. Looks like someone covered it up to keep people out. Then, damnit, I'm talking to you and my wire goes out."
"JD's in the building and before you say a word, no, I don't know how he got in. Vin spotted him. Buck, I need you to go back and re- examine the last place you saw JD. See if there is any other way to get in or if we can widen it."
As Wilmington headed back to JD's position to search, Larabee informed the others of the change in plans and the five men regrouped.
It wasn't long before Wilmington was joined by the others, alerting Larabee of the hole just big enough for Dunne to fall through. Tanner was the only one that would fit in the apparent access opening to the sewer system but he had a visual on Dunne and Larabee didn't want to pull the sharpshooter from his perch and risk any more of his men, deciding on a more direct approach.
JD had been walking just behind Buck, when suddenly the earth seemed to open up and he went crashing down. When he recovered and reoriented himself, grateful he wasn't injured; he realized he was in an underground passageway. He looked up, shocked at the distance he had fallen. Unable to get out the way he'd gotten in he attempted to contact the team. He quickly realized that his mic and headset had been damaged, so he tossed the broken equipment away. JD followed the passage.
As he approached a large room, Dunne advanced slowly, his gun drawn as he looked from side to side. He was nearly to the entrance when the creak of a door resonated somewhere behind him. Dropping to the floor he crawled behind some boxes only to discover them to be labeled 'TNT'. JD held his breath as a lone figure walked into the room dressed in a black jumpsuit.
"Vin you still have him in your sights?" Chris asked.
"No, the perp entered the room and JD took cover."
"You got a visual on the perp? Can you give us a description? "
Vin looked carefully before answering. "Negative."
Chris turned to his anxious men at the entrance to the building. "Well, guys, looks like a waiting game; I just hope JD can stay undiscovered. "
No sooner did Larabee express his thoughts than they heard a commotion coming from inside.
Unable to contain his fury as he watched the suspect examine some of the explosives, JD revealed himself, his gun drawn.
The figure spun around, shocked at the sudden confrontation and the man standing in front of him.
"Why can't you just die? You're like a never-ending nightmare. No matter what I do, you just keep on coming...like a pit bull. Never giving up, you and your friends...always having to show just how good you are. Well, Agent Dunne, I finally have you right where I want you and you're not leaving this building alive...even if I have to die with you...so be it."
JD frowned. "Have me? But why? What did I ever do to you?"
"It's your fault...it's all your fault! You took him away from me!" The man's eyes flashed with fury.
JD tried to stall for time. "What's my fault...took who away? Tell me and I'll try and fix it."
"No! The time has come...this is the end. He'll be sorry, I promise you that...sorry he cared for you and never gave a second thought for me."
Despite his growing concern for this person's sanity, Dunne hoped he could keep the conversation going until help arrived.
"Just tell me who'll be sorry and why, if I'm gonna die, at least let me know what I'm dying for."
"I know all about you now, Dunne. I know you are a bastard just like me. I know you live with Buck Wilmington...MY FATHER, YES THAT'S RIGHT... *MY* FATHER. The man who destroyed my life...the man who cares for you while his own child is forgotten."
The person standing in front of JD was red with fury; JD's own heart beat triple time as he tried to take in the words he had just heard. Before he knew what was happening, the bomber lunged at him. As the young agent was defending himself, the perp grabbed for his gun. Dunne doubled his efforts and a fierce struggle ensued as the two wrestled for control of the firearm. Suddenly, the gun went off and the two bodies lay unmoving, one on top of the other as silence enveloped the building.
Five men approached the building cautiously, starting at the sound of gunfire. Larabee keyed his mic.
"Vin, you see anything?"
"Josiah, Nathan, take the back. Ezra, Buck you're with me."
Without a word, Josiah and Nathan took off for the back of the building, while Larabee and the others waited for them to get in position." Vin continued observing from his post.
"Chris, all set," Josiah radioed.
"On three...one, two, three." The men burst into the building, Wilmington going right, Standish left and Larabee down the middle. Josiah and Nathan entered the back, working their way forward. As Sanchez and Jackson entered the building, they discovered boxes filled with explosives.
"Chris, there's enough explosives back here to blow up all of downtown Denver," Nathan relayed.
"Vin, you copy that?"
"That's a copy."
Buck's distraught voice came over the comm. "Oh shit. Nathan, get over here now!"
Jackson answered. "I'm on my way."
As he made his way toward Buck's position, the rest of the team converged on the same area. Ezra, Josiah, and Chris slid to a stop behind Nathan and Buck as they crouched on the floor with Vin arriving seconds later.
Their back up had arrived on time, but Dunne's impromptu entrance into the bomber's house, had them late to the party. The other teams had checked the house, cordoned off the area, and called the bomb squad to the presence of explosives. Buck had thrown the bomber off to the side and was trying his best to prevent the blood from flowing from their unconscious youngest agent.
"Come kid, don't die on me," Buck pleaded.
As the others watched, Ezra stood guard over the suspect, studying the face of the bomber as the body laid off to the side while Nathan worked feverishly to stop the life giving blood from flowing out of JD's chest, the Kevlar vest now discarded in an effort to deal with the wound. Vests were mandatory, but fired on at such close range, were almost ineffective.
Just as Nathan got the blood flow under control, the paramedics arrived and an IV was hooked up to Dunne prior to loading onto the waiting stretcher and wheeled out, Buck following close behind.
As they left, Ezra drew the attention of the others to the bomber. "Mr. Larabee, if you would be so kind as to give me your attention, I believe I can ID the perp."
"You got it, Ezra...get on with it."
"Do you recognize this young man? I believe we received notice that he was to be a new addition to team 3."
"His name, as I recall, was Kupchik and if I am recalling correctly, the attached photograph that accompanied the paperwork...is of that young person lying there, and who I believe has been the cause of the recent mayhem in our fair city."
Chris looked to his EMT who had been examining the stunned suspect. "Nathan, is he all right?" he inquired.
Jackson nodded. "He's fine; got a small lump on his head."
Glancing around, the men noticed a stack of boxes knocked over next the where the two men had struggled. Apparently, it seemed one of those crates had fallen over and glanced off the suspect's head soon after the gun had fired.
Larabee's eyes narrowed with no sign of sympathy in them. "Good, I want him transported to our offices for questioning. I'll call Travis... I believe he'll want to be there." Larabee said.
Larabee called Orin Travis while Sanchez settled Kupchik into a waiting squad car to be transported to headquarters.
When all was settled, Larabee and Tanner returned to the office with the suspect. Jackson and Standish proceeded on to the hospital to offer support to Buck and get an update on Dunne.
The ambulance had pulled up to the bay doors of ER and JD was rushed into and through the doors marked `authorized personnel only', leaving behind a very worried Wilmington.
Jackson and Standish eventually found Buck pacing the surgical waiting room for some word on JD's condition. Seeing the worry on the rogue's face, Nathan went in search of his friend, Doctor Miller, who he knew was on duty in emergency that day, in hopes of ascertaining information on JD's condition.
When Nathan returned with news of JD, Rain, Inez, Casey and Nettie were now there also.
"Nate, what did you find out? Is he gonna be alright?" Buck asked.
"All I know from ER, is that he lost a lot of blood and it was touch and go, they almost lost him twice before he even got to the operating table...shock, they think. As soon as he's out of surgery, he'll be moved to critical care."
"Oh God, Aunt Nettie," Casey cried as tears flowed. Nettie gathered her niece into her arms as the young woman sobbed.
A few hours later, a surgeon entered the waiting room asking for the family of John Daniel Dunne. Ten people stood and walked toward him, he took a small step back in surprise.
"Mr. Dunne came through surgery and is as well as can be expected. At the moment, he is holding his own; however it will be some time before he's awake. The nurses are getting him settled in SICU and then two of you can see him, but only for five minutes at a time. Is that understood?"
Buck nodded, eager for more direct information. "Yes, doctor, thank you. Can you tell us anything about his condition?"
"He is a very lucky young man; the bullet missed his heart, that's what took so long in the OR, it collapsed a lung. We removed the bullet successfully, but not without difficulty. We will, of course, be keeping a close eye on him. He's not out of the woods yet... infection is always a possibility so for now, you will be required to wear masks and suit up...for his protection. Now, if there are no further questions, I need to check on my patient."
"Thank you, doctor," Nathan replied.
In the back of the squad car, Kupchik was getting agitated.
"Hey! I can't move my arms. What's going on? Where are you taking me?"
After a few minutes of the constant ranting, Tanner's elbow found its way into the Kupchik's gut, bringing an end to the enraged ravings.
Once they arrived and started up in the elevator, Kupchik started ranting again, all the way to the interrogation room, about injustice. Only when Chris fisted the man's shirt and glared at the madman, did the ranting stop.
"Get this piece of shit out of my sight before I do something I won't regret," Larabee said.
Josiah and Vin took the suspect into the interrogation room to wait for Travis before the questioning could begin.
"Run a background check on Kupchik. I want everything from time of birth to now, and get a doctor in here, he needs to be checked out before we can talk to him."
"Understood. " As Josiah headed for the door to gather the information, AD Travis walked in and nodded to Sanchez, then headed for the interrogation room.
"Gentlemen, good work, sorry to hear about JD. Any news on the boy?"
"No, nothing yet, Orin...how's Billy?" Chris asked.
"He's the same still not responding. They have run all kinds of tests but nothing's shown up as yet. Mary is really scared."
"Sorry to hear it, but Billy's a strong kid, I have a good feeling he'll wake up soon." The two men stood in silence for several minutes, lost in their thoughts.
"Chris, sorry to interrupt but I got that info on Kupchik and I think you should see this before we go in." Josiah handed over the file he had dug up on Kupchik.
"What the hell? No way...this is bullshit." Larabee stormed into the interrogation room, his eyes blazing.
"Listen Kupchik, I don't know what you're trying to pull but it isn't going to work."
Everyone could feel the hate vibrating off the angry suspect. They waited until Kupchik's head slowly rose and he made eye contact with Larabee.
"I don't care what you *think* you know, Larabee, HE *IS* MY FATHER!"
Chris threw the file onto the table and took a seat. "I've known Wilmington for many years and I know for a fact he's not your father; it's not possible."
"He is...my grandmother told me...I tracked him down...took me years but I finally found him and no one is going to convince me otherwise, not even the great Chris Larabee."
Chris pursed his lips as he thought for a moment.
"Alright this is getting us nowhere and all we have is your word. What we need is proof," AD Travis said. "Tanner, Sanchez, head over to the hospital tell Buck that he needs to take a DNA test, have Nathan stay with him."
While Travis and Larabee waited, they continued to question Kupchik.
"Why did your grandmother tell you Buck Wilmington was your father?" Travis asked.
"My grandmother raised me and when I was old enough, she told me all about my birth. Said my mother died giving me life and that a no good, son of a bitch by the name of Buck Wilmington was my father. Said the coward took off when he heard about me. Since then, I've been looking for the bastard."
"Just who *was* your mother?" Travis asked.
"Her name was Lucy Beechmen and her only crime was loving the wrong man."
"Where was it that she met Wilmington?" Larabee asked.
"They were in school together and very young...that's why she died...the man is scum."
Chris shook his head. "No way...Buck would never have hidden something like that from me if he'd known."
Kupchik snarled out a reply. "You lie. He was with my mother...grandma wouldn't lie about a thing like that to me."
"Maybe she's not lying...maybe she believed it to be true. You'll see the truth when we test both of you, the truth will come out," Larabee said.
Sanchez and Tanner entered the critical care unit looking for Buck and Nathan, instantly spotting Nettie and Casey sitting near the window and walked over to see how they were holding up. Nettie explained that Nathan and Ezra had gone for coffee and that they would be back soon and that Buck was with JD.
As if hearing their names, Nathan and Ezra appeared in the hallway, carrying trays of coffee and food. Just as they reached the waiting room, Buck exited a room on the left side of the hall and joined them.
"Buck, how is our young brother...has he woken up yet?"
"No, Josiah and I'm really worried, Doc says he could wake up any time...his vitals look good, but still...nothing. It's a waiting game," Buck said. He frowned at the two men.
"Chris not with you?" Nathan asked.
"Brothers, we came to relieve you. Buck, Larabee needs you to take a DNA test," Josiah responded.
"Why? What's up?" Buck asked, paling slightly.
"You know we can't talk about it here... come with me and I'll explain," Vin replied. Wilmington and Tanner moved away, leaving Josiah to offer a brief explanation to the others.
After Buck had taken the test, he and Nathan headed back to the office. Larabee met them in the outer office and explained the situation in more detail. Upon entering the interrogation room, Kupchik saw Wilmington and tried to get up with the intention of attacking him.
"YOU BASTARD I'LL KILL YOU. YOU RUINED MY LIFE. YOU USED HER... THEN THREW HER AWAY LIKE SHE WAS DIRT."
Wilmington was taken back by the outburst. Larabee and Jackson intervened, preventing Kupchik from getting anywhere near the startled agent.
"Now wait just a dang minute here, who was it that I was supposed to have *thrown away*?"Buck asked as his mind cleared.
"That would be my mother, Lucy Beechmen. Admit it...you knew her and used her and once you had your pleasure, you just...walked away."
"Now son..." Buck began.
"Son, SON? What's wrong with you? Can't you tell a lady when you see one?"
All in the room were shocked. Any female features had been hidden by the jumpsuit, the woman's hair cropped short.
"Woman? That is a matter of opinion. You might be a female, but you sure aren't a lady. As far as knowing your mom, yes, I knew her. She was a sweet thing," Buck replied
"Buck, we're talking about school here," Larabee reminded, "You can't seriously tell me you fathered a child at thirteen?"
"You destroyed her life and I bet you never thought about her, again. Didn't know you left something behind, did you? Well, here I am and I'm going to make you pay."
At Travis' request, a doctor drew blood for the DNA test and the suspect relaxed, convinced that soon she would have solid proof that Wilmington was her father.
Buck, Chris, and Nathan returned to their office to get some coffee. Buck was lost in thought at the young woman's accusation. He had always been highly developed for his age in the sexual department, but knew without a shadow of a doubt his first time with a woman had been at sixteen, and it had most certainly not been with Lucy. He remembered the young girl was sweet on him...but he recalled she had suddenly disappeared halfway through the school year...never to be seen again.
The two men looked at Buck. Wilmington looked back at them.
"Luther Doyle...he was seeing Lucy at the time...just before she up and disappeared. Come to think of it...never saw *him* again after that school year, either."
Chris looked at Nathan. "Go run Luther Doyle through the computer, see what comes up."
Nathan nodded and left. Buck sighed and sipped his coffee. He realized that this delusional female had caused all the carnage at the center and JD's injury, because she had believed Buck to be the cause of her mother's death and all her own misery. Larabee tapped him on the shoulder.
"Don't, pard, I know where your mind's going and you can stop right now. This is *not* your fault."
Buck shuddered. "God, what a mess, Chris." He drained his cup and ran a hand over his face. "If we're done here, I'd like to get back to JD."
The blond nodded. "Sure thing, I'll be with you shortly."
Wilmington and Travis arrived at the hospital at the same time only to go their separate ways. While Travis went in search of Mary, Wilmington headed off to join Ezra, Vin and Josiah who were still with JD.
Dunne was only allowed two visitors at a time and when Chris and Nathan eventually arrived, the blond joined Wilmington in JD's room. Jackson headed off to the waiting room in search of the others.
Josiah looked up. "Brother Nathan, how did the questioning go? Did you find out what was behind the attacks?"
Seeing Nathan enter the waiting room, Vin and Ezra walked over to him just as they heard Josiah ask his question.
"Yes, indeed, Mr. Jackson, do tell what brought on all this mayhem," Ezra asked.
Nathan proceeded to explain what had happened since they had returned to the office.
"You mean to say that maniac was a young woman?" Ezra asked.
"Yes, and apparently her mother died after giving birth to her. Turns out a guy by the name of Luther Doyle is involved somehow. There's an APB out on the guy as we speak." Nathan replied.
While the four agents discussed the case, Wilmington and Larabee were watching over JD. Dunne lay in the bed, several different leads attached to various monitors keeping track of the agent's vitals. As he slept, the two men talked.
"Oh man, Chris just look at him. What a mess...to think this is all my fault."
"I don't know, Buck, considering what he's been through he looks pretty good to me, and enough with the guilt, pard...told you, let it go. Best get out of here for now and let him sleep, there'll be time enough to see him later, let's go talk to the guys."
The two agents met up with the other men in the waiting room and after exchanging a few words with his agents, Larabee headed off to find Mary Travis while the other five men snuck back into JD's room.
~ It didn't take Chris long to find Travis. As he exited the elevator to the floor which housed children's intensive care, he came face to face with Orin.
"Chris, how is Dunne? Was he able to tell you anything?"
"No, Orin, he was out of it. How's Mary holding up? Has Billy woken up yet?"
"Afraid not. Why don't you come in and see for yourself?" The two men entered the quiet private room.
Mary smiled as he entered. "Oh, Chris, I'm so glad you're here, he just won't wake up. I've been talking to him and reading his favorite book to him but...nothing seems to work...even Orin has tried."
Chris pulled the woman to her feet and embraced her, eventually pulling her away slightly to look at her. His fingers gently brushed hair from her face.
"Mary, when was the last time you took a break and got some fresh air?"
"I can't, Chris, I just can't leave him."
"Sure you can...just for a little while. Orin, take Mary out for some fresh air I'll stay with Billy."
"You promise to send someone for me if there's any change?" she pleaded.
"Mary...yes. I promise. Now...go."
Mary kissed Billy as she told him she would be back soon, before walking out of the room with Orin. Larabee settled down in the chair next to the bed and began talking to Billy.
"Well, Billy, sure hope you wake up soon, I'd hate to have to go fishing alone. Just thinking of eating all those fish by myself gives me a belly ache. Come on, partner, time to get up and catch us some fish."
The hour passed with Chris telling tales of his fishing days and all the fun there was still to be had. Orin and Mary were just entering the room when a small voice could be heard.
"Chris...can we really go fishing?"
Chris grinned at the blue eyes looking back at him. "You bet, little partner."
An elated Mary rushed to her son's side. "Billy, oh Billy, how do you feel? I was so worried."
"Did you hear, Mom? Chris said we can go fishing. Grandpa, you can come too, Can't he, Chris?"
"Sure Billy, soon as you and JD are all better, we'll all go, how about that?"
The little boy smiled. "Swell."
As he recovered, JD had been shocked to hear that the bomber was a woman. When Luther was found and DNA tested, despite never doubting Buck for a moment, JD was greatly relieved for his best friend when it was proven that Luther was a match for the girl who had reigned terror, mayhem and murder on the city of Denver.
Despite being found guilty and against Team Seven's wishes, Kupchik, or rather, Beechmen's sentence was deferred and she was committed to a psychiatric hospital for assessment.
Buck was still harboring guilt for JD's injury and as he watched him prepare for the fishing trip with Chris and Billy he thanked God the young man was still alive to enjoy such things. JD looked at him.
"So...you coming or what?"
Buck frowned. "What?"
"Shame...would've been fun."
Buck rallied. "Huh? Run that by me again."
"I asked if you were coming with me," JD grinned. "I already spoke to Chris, 'sides...I'd kinda like it if you would." He walked up to his surrogate big brother.
"Maybe then you could begin to forgive yourself for something you had no control over.... and we could get back to yelling at each other and generally driving each other crazy."
As JD stood in front of the man who had shown him limitless patience, kindness and...yes...love, he grinned. "Billy bet me ten dollars you couldn't be ready in five minutes."
Buck pulled the younger man into a tight embrace, then just as quickly pushed him back. "You're gonna lose this one!"
As JD watched the big man lope off to get his things together, he took a deep breath and smiled to himself. So he'd lose this one...he could live with it. It was rare he ever felt like a loser around Buck and the amazing men of Team Seven.