Paying for his soda and sandwiches in the staff restaurant, JD spotted a solitary figure at a table and joined him. The weary officer looked up as JD took a seat, smiling as he recognized the young agent.
"Hi Paul. Not disturbing you, am I?"
"Nah it's good to have some company. I think people are avoiding me."
JD unwrapped his food. "I guess no one really knows what to say to you. I was sorry to hear about Baxter I can't imagine how much you must be missing him.. How long were you partners?"
"Five years," Paul answered. "Department wants to line me up with a new partner, but he was so much a part of my life, y'know? I can't imagine having to start again, especially knowing it's never going to be the same."
JD nodded his understanding as he bit into his food. "Sounds like you need more time. Shoot, he hasn't even been buried yet, has he?"
The officer sighed. "No. That's this afternoon, decided on a small official ceremony."
Taking a sip of soda, JD placed a hand on the man's arm. "Would you mind if I came along?"
Paul smiled, warmly. "Yeah? That'd be real nice of you, JD. So far, I think it's only me and the captain."
Getting up, JD nodded. "I'll be there. What time?"
"It's at 3:00."
"See you later, then."
Buck passed JD's bedroom, surprised to see the youth standing there in Speedos and a white t-shirt. He stepped in.
"Still not dressed, squirt?"
"I don't know what to wear, Buck."
Smiling sympathetically, Buck opened JD's closet and picked out a long-sleeved, casual, striped white shirt, black denim jeans and black denim jacket.
"This will do fine."
JD offered a tight smile and nodded. "Thanks."
"Yeah, I'm fine just feel so bad for Paul."
Buck squeezed the back of JD's neck. "Yeah the guy's having a rough time. Maybe after today, things will get better."
Starting to dress, JD sighed. "I sure hope so."
Standing in the small cemetery in the warm sunshine and soft breeze, JD watched the ceremony take place. Officer Paul Jones looked so sad as he observed his partner go to his final resting place. JD sighed and stepped back slightly, comforted by the presence of six men at his back, smiling as one of them put a hand on his shoulder.
"Thank you for coming," he whispered. Buck squeezed his shoulder, Chris spoke.
"Least we could do, thank you for telling us about it. Losing a partner in the line of duty is a hard thing to live with." They all jerked as seven riflemen fired three volleys over the grave. JD silently prayed he would never have to attend such a ceremony for one of his teammates, he knew he could never be as brave as Officer Jones was today. ~
They all straightened as Jones approached, clearly pleased they were there. "Thanks, guys. I can't tell you what this means to me. I'm told they're trained to take the bullet but I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with what he did for me that day. I know he was just a dog but, to me, he was no different to either one of you brave, loyal, dedicated and honorable. A true partner in every sense of the word." He smiled sadly and moved past them. "Thanks for being here.."
Buck could feel the tremors coursing through his roommate's body. He leaned in, catching the others' attention as he spoke.
"Don't go there, kid. If we dwell on the 'what ifs' we'll make mistakes. We know every situation we go into is potentially dangerous, but, we'd still take the bullet for any one of us. Just like Baxter did."
JD turned to look at Buck, glancing across at all six of them.. "I know Baxter was trained but, I reckon he did what any partner does for the partner he loves it's instinctive and I reckon Paul knows that just like each of us knows we would, too."
After a few moments reflection, they all moved to their vehicles they needed a drink and maybe a little time to be together as partners...friends. ..brothers and to raise a glass for a fallen colleague.
To say farewell to Baxter.
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