Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em...damnit!
Ratings/Warnings: Some bad language
Thanks to Phyllis for her sterling work in keeping me straight!
"I Love Autumn."
Buck sighed heavily as he stared absently out of the conference room window at the shedding trees, only turning slightly at a warm hand on his shoulder.
"Come and sit down...Travis'll be here any minute."
"I can't be here, Chris..."
The blond closed his eyes, swallowing, then looked at Buck. "I know, big guy, and I promise as soon as we do this, we're outta here."
"He needs me...I can feel it..." The brunet's voice was a mere whisper as he took his seat at the conference table. He made eye contact with Vin, and choked at the haunted look in the Texan's eyes.
"He needs us all." Josiah's words were firm but there was no admonishment. This was not where Team Seven wanted to be, but they would do their duty...and then be gone.
"Gentlemen...just talk me through it and you can leave." Travis spoke as he entered the room, quickly taking a seat and sitting patiently, waiting for someone to make the first move.
Chris began to speak.
FOUR HOURS PRIOR
"You stick close to Tanner and listen to everything he tells you...or I'll whup your ass!"
JD watched Buck move to take up his position, eventually looking at Vin. "I've been with you four months now. Survived almost getting mowed down by a van while saving his ass, watched everything, did all I was told to do. How much longer is he gonna keep doing this?"
Tanner chuckled. "Try...'always'. Kid, he's adopted you...ain't no changing his mind now; like it or not, you're stuck with him."
JD sighed. "I know, I know, and I don't really mind, but I sometimes wonder if he's just expecting me to screw up anyway. I haven't, have I...screwed up...much?"
Vin shook his head. "Nope, but I also think you're wrong. It's not about screwing up, JD...it's about..." Vin blushed slightly as JD looked on in interest.
"...family. Since that first big bust...something happened, something changed. Don't you think?"
Dunne nodded. He knew exactly what Vin meant. He'd worked with police officers before, but he'd never felt about them the way he felt about these men. JD knew, without a shadow of a doubt that he would give his life for any one of them, and they for him.
Both looked up to the sound of the voice over their headsets and prepared themselves. 'Showtime.'
Buck looked back at the young man who had burst into his life four months ago. His stomach knotted at the thought he was out in the field on this op, not safely ensconced in the surveillance van. He shook it off. When the hell did one life, the life of a boy he had only just met, become as important to him as the air he breathed? He smiled to himself.
From day one.
Damnit...just as Larabee was getting on his feet and Buck was feeling a sense of independence... this kid shows up. He looked to the Heavens.
'Thank you, God.'
Buck got the nod from Larabee and he spoke into his mic.
As the elegant yacht pulled alongside the jetty and tied off, Chris strode forward, his badge held up as he walked, Buck and Josiah flanking him.
"ATF! Place your hands on your heads and drop to your knees."
Familiar green eyes stared back at him from the deck. "What is all this about?"
"I'll ask the questions, Stanford," Chris called. "Drop to your knees, NOW!"
Four well-to-do and very disgruntled men glared back at the ATF agents, but did as they were told. JD licked his lips nervously as Vin adjusted the position of his M24, his eye fully focused in the sight as, from their covert position, he covered his teammates. The easterner was certainly glad Vin was watching their backs as he realized how exposed the other five were, Nathan now bringing up the rear.
Suddenly one of the men on the deck drew a weapon, Vin instantly shooting the man in the shoulder to prevent him from firing.
Larabee sighed as they boarded the boat. "Now, why did you do that? Do you really think we're that naïve?"
'Stanford' called back. "Of course not, gentlemen. No more than we would be foolish enough to hide anyone below deck, either. Please refrain from firing on us."
Understanding the message, Buck whispered into his comm as Chris answered, looking down at the men on their knees. "We only shoot at those who fire on us, so can the chatter and keep still."
While the five agents began frisking the men kneeling on the deck, JD stealthily made his way to the stern of the boat from the dry dock boathouse he and Vin had been concealed in, gasping softly on spotting a man exiting the hatch to the engine room. He whispered into his mic.
He heard Buck's voice. "Hold, Vin's coming."
Before JD could reply, or draw his gun, the man spotted him and, hopping the rail, hit the dock running. JD raced after him in hot pursuit.
"Damn!" Vin had barely had time to secure his rifle and start toward JD when he saw the chase begin. Reporting into his comm, he hurried after them.
Chris was relieved as the DPD officers rolled up and took the men off their hands. He pointed at Stanford. "Hold this man separately, I want to question him."
With a nod, the officer pushed a cuffed Ezra into the back of a squad car. The sound of gunfire had them all turning to look. The rest of the team headed off toward the direction it had come from.
Dunne was almost on the man he was pursuing when the guy turned and fired. The bullet whistled past JD's shoulder but he kept going, determined this man wouldn't escape him. He didn't register the bullet the man fired next as it glanced off his skull, nor was he aware of dropping heavily into the water he had been running alongside.
Tanner cursed as the man opened fire, grateful the chase had made accuracy difficult. He slowed to train his own weapon on the felon when he yelled out his alarm at the sound of another shot and the sight of JD dropping to the side, to hit the water with a huge splash. Vin took a stance and fired twice. The man went down. On reaching the squirming offender, Vin took his weapon, releasing the clips. As Chris reached him, oblivious to the drama unfolding, Vin handed over his and the secured gun, ripped off his vest, kicked off his shoes on his way to the edge of the dock and dove into the water.
Larabee scowled. "What the hell...?" He turned as Buck joined him, the brunet looking around.
"Where's JD and Vin?" Buck paled at the look of alarm on the blond's face.
"Oh fuck." Handing over control to a just arriving Josiah and Nathan, Chris went to the edge, just in time to see a distraught Vin surface, gulp in a breath and go under again. He shuddered at Buck's howl, both men ripping off vests and instinctively jumping in to help as realization of what was taking place hit them.
Vin could barely haul up the heavy, water sodden body as his lungs screamed for air. With one final kick, his head broke the surface and he gasped and coughed as he flicked his head to move the hair hanging in his face. The muscles in Vin's arms burned as JD's heavy vest threatened to pull them both under again, when all at once, arms came in and relieved him of his prize.
Police officers were now in control of the downed, writhing felon, freeing up Josiah and Nathan, who eagerly reached out and took JD's unconscious form, hauling him onto the wharf. While Josiah and some officers helped Vin, Buck and Chris, Nathan pulled off JD's vest and placed an ear to his mouth, his fingers feeling the youth's cold neck for a pulse.
"He's not breathing!" In seconds, Nathan was performing CPR as three soaked, dripping men looked on in dismay. Buck initially clung to Josiah for support, before dropping to his knees next to the boy he thought of as a brother and take his cold lifeless hand as if to will life back into him. Still coughing, Vin shivered, now fearing he had been too late, while oblivious of Chris's hand on his arm as he took in the scene. It was only then he realized JD's head was bleeding profusely.
Just as paramedics were arriving, JD arched his back, inhaling noisily, then coughed up water. Nathan quickly put him onto his side and let out a shaky breath.
With the medics taking control, Buck rose to his feet, as did Nathan. The brunet leaned forward, hugging the team's resident EMT.
Nathan patted his back and stayed there for a few moments, the adrenaline rush slowly dissipating as trepidation kicked in.
Playing with strands of dark hair still coated with dried blood, Buck rested his hand above the bandages on JD's head as the youth lay unmoving in the hospital bed.
The brunet would never accept that, but until JD woke up, no one could offer him a definite answer, only probabilities. He looked around at the others then picked up JD's hand and held it to his heart.
"C'mon, kid. I promise I'll never yell at you or tell you what to do again. Just open those eyes, okay? C'mon, JD." He paused, thinking for a moment.
"Hey, did I tell you? Chris is doing Thanksgiving this year, Turkey, cranberry sauce, sausage stuffing, those little potatoes you love. Oh and Inez says she'll send over some lemon meringue..."
"I c...can't eat that..."
All six leaned forward as a pair of cloudy hazel eyes looked up at a misty-eyed, but grinning Buck.
"And why's that, squirt?" the brunet asked, his grin widening.
"Mom, says it makes me hyper." JD frowned at Buck, swallowing against the dryness in his throat. "Why is my head hurting?"
Chris smiled at him as he dropped a few ice chips onto JD's tongue. "Don't worry about that for now. Just rest and we'll talk later."
Nodding slowly, and sucking on the melting ice, Dunne went to settle down, when he looked back at Chris. "You're gonna cook a turkey?"
Larabee grinned and winked. "Yup, and Vin's gonna catch it for us."
JD looked at Tanner, clearly thinking hard on something. "Don't shoot it, Vin."
Vin frowned at his young friend's words, then chuckled. "No...why not?"
Just as he was drifting off, JD yawned. "Easier to get it...from... Wal*Mart..."
They all laughed, though JD was now asleep and oblivious to it. Buck looked at them all, then toward heaven, sighing with relief. "Thank God."
Josiah chuckled, looking around at the other relieved and smiling faces, then leaned over to rest a hand on JD's leg.
"Indeed, brothers, on this day, we are truly blessed."