The Card

by GSister

Main Character: JD

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…

And an extra-special Thank You to BMP. This was written for that Awesome Author’s Birthday, and given with exactly that card. BMP graciously consented to its being posted for others to share.

~Constructive Criticism will be graciously accepted

~Flames will be used to toast marshmallows

J.D. Dunne’s face lit up when he found the greeting card. It had a horse on it – that was always good. A cowboy – could go either way. He read the caption, and opened it up. Score. Yes, this was the card he was buying.

As he stood in line at the cash register, he was hit with second thoughts. Would he like it? Would he even understand it? J.D. nodded to himself, the outward movement corresponding to the inner argument going on in his head. He’d understand it. After all, Chris “Don’t Call Me Cowboy” Larabee hadn’t been living in a cave all those years. And J.D. knew for a fact that Chris’s taste in music was a lot more eclectic than that of J.D.’s apartment mate and Chris’s oldest friend, Buck Wilmington.

(Oldest friendship, kid,” J.D. could practically hear the older man growl in his head. “Chris and I have the oldest friendship out of the guys, or if you want, he’s known me the longest. His oldest friend,” he stressed the adjective, “is Josiah.”

That was usually when Josiah Sanchez stood up and announced in his booming voice, “I’ll show you old, Brother Buck,” and proceed to demonstrate his youth and vitality on the helpless Wilmington.)

J.D. shook his head at the thought. He wondered some days if Buck would ever grow up. He grinned when he remembered he had the perfect card tucked away for Buck’s birthday, the one that said, “Growing Older Is Mandatory, Growing up Is Optional”.

But was this the right card for Chris? Would he know what it meant? J.D. thought again to his team leader’s CD collection. From Classical to Country, Rock-A-Billy to Rap, Jazz to Gospel to Punk, and all forms of Rock and Roll from Elvis to the Eurhythmics, Do Wop to Hip Hop, just about every form of music was represented in Chris’s collection, some more than others. Chris didn’t buy music according to class; he bought what he liked according to mood and whether he liked the sound. And J.D. knew that every member of ATF Team Seven had left their mark on that collection. He had even started making bets with himself when he rode in Chris’s Blazer. When he pushed play on the CD player, would he hear one of Nathan’s smoky Jazz favorites, Buck’s Jimmy Buffet, or Josiah’s war protest songs or African Tribal melodies? Would it be Punk Rock that poured out of the speakers, or Big Band Swing? He still marveled at the last one. Somehow, the Punk Rock didn’t surprise him as much as the Swing. He still recalled the look of pleased surprise on Buck’s face when Wilmington heard the music, and the looks traded back and forth between Buck and Chris were too quick for most of the rest of them to read. J.D. was pretty sure he’s seen a moment of embarrassed chagrin on his leader’s face before it was covered with his usual glare. Buck wore an expression of smug glee, as if teasing his long time friend, before his expression melted into the dopey look that mothers give babies when they say their first words, or that Buck gets sometimes when he looks over a sleeping Larabee who had been injured saving a teammate’s life against impossible odds but would live to tell the tale. J.D. was pretty sure at that moment that the Swing Music had something to do with Chris’s late wife.

J.D. looked at the caption on the card again. “But if everybody Wang Chung tonight, who will watch the herd?” the thought balloon above the worried cowboy read. He nodded to himself. It was the right card. Not only was he certain that Chris would understand the musical reference, but there was more than one reason that Christopher Larabee was the best team leader the ATF had. It wasn’t all due to his military training and tactical expertise. There was more to it than his little advertised abilities at diplomacy and political savvy. It even went beyond the fact he could glare a criminal into giving up, and had the leadership ability to mold a group of six misfits, loners, and mavericks into a strong, cohesive team. No, one of the biggest reasons for his success as the leader of Team Seven was, in Buck’s words, Chris Larabee was the biggest Mother Hen to strap on a gun.

J.D.’s turn at the register came, and he paid for the card, along with the few other sundry items in his basket. He was sure Chris would understand it. And he was sure that he’d appreciate the sentiment inside the card as well.

As he left the store for the parking lot, and stowed his purchases away on his motorcycle, he imagined Chris’s response to the card. He could just see the mock Larabee-glare, green eyes twinkling as he asked, “You callin’ me a Cowboy, J.D.?”

Maybe he’d better give it to Chris in the office, just so Chris didn’t shoot him after all…

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