Rating: Teen – but with a warning for language (our Buck is a salty one)
Summary: He was not letting something like a car bomb break the unbreakable Christopher Larabee.
DISCLAIMER: These Characters do not belong to me (but if they did, I'D share… probably.) That said, this story was written purely for self entertainment and no money is being made, has changed hands, or has been paid out for the contents therein. The Author wishes to thank MOG for the ATF AU, she came up with it, and graciously lets others play there. Special thanks to my Beta – Van, who made this piece so much better than it began as, and to "S", (who has threatened me with a Death by Larabee-Glare if I mention her by more than that) – it's totally her fault that I got into fan fiction in the first place. Without her encouragement (nagging), constructive criticism, and long talks on characterization, I might still be writing pathetically depressing purple poetry, and what prose I did write, would NEVER be finished…
Written for the Prompt: I’d enjoy a good Hurt/Comfort story with Chris having the hurt and Buck providing the comfort.
~Constructive Criticism will be graciously accepted
~Flames will be used to toast marshmallows
Chris Larabee clutched the bottle of whiskey closer to his chest. For taste, there was no better drink than a nice, aged, single-malt Scotch whiskey; but when it came to a drink to get you numb enough to dull the pain of a world in ashes, there was nothing better than the cheapest Rye Whiskey the liquor store had to offer.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work well enough. He could feel his thoughts sluggishly trying to form through the fur coating his brain, but the memories continued to flit back and forth like bats woken too soon from their naps. Great, there’re bats in my brain. Bats in my belfry.
“One bat flies in through the door. That makes two bats in my belfry. But wait, there’s more!” he mumbled. Adam always loved that song when he was really little. Used to drive Sarah nuts with it. Worse than when Buck tried to teach him the beer bottle song.
His left hand tightened on the neck of the whiskey bottle, while his right hand pulled his service weapon a little closer to his face so he could focus blurry eyes on it. Just one squeeze of the trigger, if he did it right, and he could join them. He wouldn’t have to try to fill up this empty, aching hole in his gut any longer, wouldn’t have to pretend that everything was all right. Nothing would ever be all right again without Sarah and Adam. He’d never hear her laughing at him, when he came in soaking wet after getting on the wrong side of one of Buck’s pranks. Never see her smile – the one she reserved just for him, or the one she always gave Adam, or even the one she saved for Buck.
The stupid lug didn’t even realize he had his own Sarah-smile, one that said she didn’t know whether to laugh at him or give him a hug to make it all better. No, Buck had just taken it all in stride and teased Chris that he had one more woman fall for his animal magnetism. Kept saying how one day Sarah was going to wise up and dump Chris’s skinny ass for Buck’s manly charms. Stupid fuck. He should have lured her away. He should have taken Sarah away from Chris because then she would have been safe, not killed because of him.
He could still hear the piping of the bagpipes at the funeral for the two of them, Amazing Grace sliding into Taps as the caskets were lowered into the ground. It played in an endless loop in his head, like a song he couldn’t get out of his mind. Just over and over, the mournful cry of the bagpipes – day is done. Clang. Day is done. Clang.
Wait a minute. There was no bell tolling at the funeral. Sounded like that old ship bell that Sarah had gotten to hang out the back door, the one that she threatened to use to call him in for dinner when he was out with the horses. Clang. Why would that be ringing now? And who was yelling at him when he just wanted to forget the world?
After trying to call when Chris didn’t show up for work, and not getting an answer, his partner, Detective Buck Wilmington, decided to just swing by the ranch and check things out. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time the electricity decided to go out. It wasn’t unheard of for the phone lines to go down. The ranch was rather remote; something could have happened that prevented Chris from calling in, contacting a neighbor, getting help… Maybe he finally got kicked in the head by one of the half-trained Mustangs he was always taking in. Maybe he was sick – it was flu season. Maybe he was still drunk off his ass from last night, Buck finally admitted to himself.
Hell, it wasn’t that he didn’t feel for the man. He did. He missed Sarah and Adam more than he thought it was possible to miss a woman he wasn’t related to and wasn’t sleeping with. It ‘bout ripped his heart right out of his chest when they died, same as when he found his mother’s body after she’d been killed, so he thought he knew the rage that filled Chris’s heart. He understood the thirst for vengeance. He was right there with him, ready to take down the sorry bastards who set the bomb that ended the lives of Sarah and Adam Larabee. But first they had to find them. And they weren’t going to find them by crawling into a bottle. Buck knew from personal experience that whiskey didn’t solve anything. Any numbness found at the bottom of a bottle was fleeting at best.
But Chris’s pain went beyond any that Buck had ever seen. He’d learned when they were SEALS together Chris had untapped depths in him, the potential for mayhem the likes of which were rarely seen by any man living. He’d thought he’d seen some of those depths when the team lost a man on a mission, especially when it might have been prevented if the Brass had been just a little more forthcoming with the right information that was needed to bring every man home and get the job done. But he’d barely scratched the surface.
Buck knew if Chris ever managed to work past the pain – well, the sons-of-bitches who had killed their Sarah and Adam never stood a chance in hell. The trick would be getting Chris past the pain to the point where he could focus on getting the bastards, get the man to the point where the gaping wound in his heart had a chance to heal. Buck sighed as he got out of his truck. It sounded so easy.
He opened the unlocked door of the Larabee ranch house and walked into chaos. The living room, once the pride and joy of one Sarah Connelly Larabee, looked like the aftermath of a Middle Eastern Peace demonstration. There was a bullet hole in the television set. Books were strewn around the room, tossed about like so much ticker-tape refuse in high wind, pages ripped and separating from their spines. Videos were flung around the room like the final moments of a Blockbuster store explosion. Furniture was moved and tipped, thrust aside like a giant child with a tantrum. And in the center of it all – in the middle of all the devastation, was one of his worst nightmares.
Chris was on the floor of the living room, listing to the side, leaning against the couch, sitting among the debris of one of the worst drunken rages Buck had seen to date. In his left hand, Chris held a bottle of whiskey, three-quarters gone. A couple of six packs of its cousins were scattered on the floor, the end tables, and one on the couch. In Chris’s right hand was Chris’s Denver Police Department issued revolver. With the safety off.
“Chris?” Buck spoke softly, not wanting to startle him into pulling the trigger. “Chris? What are you doing?”
There was no answer. The blond man sitting in the middle of the chaos in a half drunken stupor acted as if he weren’t even there. That was all well and good, and Buck would have just pulled the bottle of whiskey from his left hand and frog marched him into the bedroom to sleep it off, if it weren’t for Larabee’s right hand. The right hand that was clenched around his service revolver. The service revolver that was tapping out an uneven rhythm against Chris’s temple. Tap…tap tap. Tap… tap tap. His finger kept sliding to the trigger, and then off.
Oh shit. No. Not this. Not now. Please God, not this. This wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was to help Chris get past the pain, not give in to it. And since when did Christopher Fucking Larabee ever give in to anything? Buck’s jaw started to tighten. No. He and Sarah had to practically blackmail the damn man to get him to take a fucking medical leave out of the SEALS. He was not letting something like a car bomb break the unbreakable Christopher Larabee. “Damn it, Larabee!” he exploded at his best friend. “You do not get to take the easy way out! You hear me! You think Sarah would be proud of you for splattering your lack of brains all over the couch she spent three days picking out?” Again, the man on the living room floor barely seemed to hear him. Shit.
Buck looked around for something to get Chris’s attention. Something short of drawing his own gun – that would just defeat the purpose, after all. His eyes lit on one of the few intact items left in the living room. On the mantle above the fireplace was one of Adam’s coloring books— Peter Pan vs. Captain Hook. Adam liked the pirates in it. In fact, he’d liked them so much he would beg Sarah to ring the old ship’s bell that she’d found at an estate sale and hung outside the back door, claiming it was the only way to call Chris in from the barn that he’d listen to, him being Naval Trained and all. Chris had just given her a sly smile and hung the damn bell. That bell gave Buck an idea.
He circled the living room, heading for the kitchen door. Chris never noticed. Just outside the kitchen door the brass bell hung, its short rope clacker ending in an elaborate seaman’s knot that Buck had put there to impress Sarah, ‘to give her something to hold on to when she rang for the idiot to come in out of the rain’. Chris had just snorted at the time, giving him a look that was half amusement, half acknowledgement that he was full of shit and they both knew it, but he left the knot as it was, and had dutifully hung the bell. Chris had once told Buck if you rang the bell hard enough, it could be heard almost anywhere on the property. Chris liked knowing Sarah had a way to call for help if she needed him and he was outside with the horses. Let’s see if this still works to call you home.
He snatched the bell off the plant hanger and brought it back to the living room. Chris hadn’t moved – just kept tapping his temple in some damn macabre version of Taps. Tap… tap tap. Buck pulled the striker back and gave the bell a hard clang. The expression on Chris’s face changed to one of confusion, so Buck did it again, harder.
“You want to give up, Larabee?” he yelled in his best Drill Instructor imitation. He pushed the panic he was feeling down as deep as he could, didn’t let it show in his voice. “You want to give up, you ring the bell. You got that? You don’t give up until you ring the god damn bell and let everyone know you want to give up.” Like hell you’re going to ring this bell, Larabee. He cleared his throat and began again, louder. “Go ahead, ring the bell and we can all go home. Ring the bell if life’s too hard for you. I thought you had what it took. I thought you were a Navy SEAL. But you’re just a little girl. Go ahead and ring the bell Larabee. Ring the God. Damn. Bell.”
The voice slowly made it through the sludge in Chris’s head. Buck. Buck’s voice. When did they go back to boot camp? When did Buck become a Drill Instructor? And what the hell was he saying? He tried to focus, tried to make the drill sergeant tone sharpen into actual words.
“You heard me, Larabee. You don’t get to give up until you drag your skinny ass over here and ring this damn bell and let everyone know that you don’t have what it takes.” Don’t have a skinny ass. Sarah had liked it just the way it is. She said so. But Sarah was gone. Before he could focus on that, the bellow filtered in again.
“Go ahead, quit if you want, but you do it like a SEAL. Ring the damn bell, Larabee.”
No. He didn’t ring the bell during hell week when he cracked two ribs. He wasn’t about to do it now.
“You want out of this life? You want to prove to everyone you didn’t have what it takes to live for the best thing that ever happened to you? You want to give up before we catch the shitheads who killed your little boy and the best lady you ever met? You go ahead. You come over here and ring this damn bell and let me know you don’t have what it takes. C’mon. I dare you.”
Chris’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. Give up? Who said he was going to give up? He wasn’t going to let the bastard who killed Sarah and Adam win. As much as he wanted to just throw in the towel, just lie down and let the world pass him over, he couldn’t. He didn’t know if he had the strength to get up, but he had to. His work wasn’t done. God, he was so tired…
Buck took note of the small twitches, the forehead twisting in concentration. His voice was getting rougher as he barked out yet another round of belittling comments, hoping each one would be the last. C’mon ol’ dog. I know you’re in there somewhere. It looked like he was getting through to Chris, finally. The hand holding the gun dropped away from Chris head to land heavily at his side. Buck swooped over in one motion, dropping the bell and scooping the gun out of Chris’s hand, putting the safety on it as he tucked it in the back of his own waistband.
“Buck?” Chris’s voice was soft, weary.
“I’m here pard. You don’t have to do this alone.”
“I’m so tired. I miss them, Buck.”
“Me too, Chris. Me too.” Buck’s voice was soft. “We’ll get through this, pard. I’ll help you get the bastards who did this. But it won’t work if you give up on life. It won’t work if you take the easy road out. You opt out now, and they win. And I never took Chris Larabee for a quitter.” He reached around his friend and pulled him to his feet, face twisting into a grimace at how easy it was. Chris was wiry, but all muscle and usually heavier than he looked. Seems the damn man lost a few more pounds, he grumbled to himself. Guess that meant Buck was going to have to do a little babysitting, make sure the man actual ate his meals instead of drank them. Damn cowboy. “Let’s get you to bed, pard.”
“Buck?” The serious tone in Chris’s voice made Buck look down at the friend he had clenched to his side, one of Chris’s arms dragged over his shoulder for leverage. Chris’s head lolled down like it was too heavy to lift, but he made an effort to tilt it to the side to look up at Buck.
“Yeah buddy, what do you need?”
“Buck, you know you ain’t my type, right?”
Buck couldn’t control the snort that escaped. If Larabee’s twisted sense of humor was coming back, then everything would be okay. Eventually. It would take time, and most likely more black moods and alcohol than Buck wanted to think about now, but in time, he had hope that Detective Christopher Larabee would be back out on the streets, watching his six, ready to get him into, and out of, all kinds of interesting situations. “Ah, you don’t have to worry, Larabee. You ain’t got enough curves for me. Why, did I ever tell you about the time that I dated the Carlotski twins?”
He kept up the patter as he dragged his friend up to the bedroom and put him to bed. He tried not to think about how many times he had done the same thing for his godson as he undressed his partner and slid him under the rumpled covers. Chris was asleep before Buck had the covers pulled over him.
His friend all tucked in, Buck sat back on the side of the bed, and just watched him sleep for a moment. “We’re gonna get these guys, Chris. I promise,” he whispered. He sat for a moment longer, just enough to make sure he wasn’t going to lose Larabee to alcohol poisoning, then made his way down the stairs to start cleaning up the aftermath of the drunken rage.
~ el fin ~
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