Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em damnit!
Main Characters: JD, Vin
Warnings: No animals were injured during the writing of this story!
Summary: Plans go astray, personally, and professionally.
Note: Inspired by a picture prompt from Jo.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Well, I've excelled myself this time. What's Buck always saying? Don't do stuff just because you're mad. Well, he's right again, I went off all half-cocked about the plans Vin and me made, and this is where it's gotten me; sitting half-way down a cliff with a broken arm and probably a concussion. Ooh. Hmm, probably shouldn't touch my head. Damn, that smarts.
What was I saying?
And what are you looking at? Dumb dog. What are you doing all the way out here alone, anyway? If you hadn't gone over first, I'd still be up there Oww, can't point with that arm.
What was I saying?
Trust me to land on my ass and on the pocket with my cell in it. I guess yelling any more is pretty pointless too. I mean, I came up here for some solitude. Well, I got that alright. Jeeze, every part of me hurts, even my hair.
Stupid, JD. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
What was I saying?
Quit licking me, dog, this is all your fault. That and Chris's. Aah, who am I kidding? This little stunt is all Dunne.
FIVE HOURS EARLIER
JD crashed into the bullpen, and stalked into Chris's office, neatly sidestepping Buck to do so. Chris didn't look up from his desk.
"Something I can help you with, Agent Dunne?"
"What gives, Chris? Vin and me had plans today, plans we've been making for over a week. Why'd you pull him in?" It was only when Chris's gaze rose to meet his did JD realize how close to the desk he was. He swallowed and took a half-step back.
"Why I cancel my men's personal days is my business, agent and I'll thank you to leave it there."
Momentarily intimidated and trying to ignoring Buck's face pressed up against the door, JD took a breath and rallied. "Swell, so being granted a personal day is okay providing it's understood the boss might be clawing it back when and as it suits him, and despite knowing plans are in place for that day?"
Chris's glare intensified. "What's your point?"
JD sighed, inwardly. What was his point? Was it that his and Vin's day was shot to hell by a last minute cancelation? That Chris didn't figure JD important enough to call back, too? Or at least offer an explanation as to why? This was a team after all, wasn't it? He deflated right before Chris's eyes.
"No point, sir. Thanks for your time." He turned and skulked off.
Larabee watched the youth turn back. He wanted to say sorry, because he was. He knew Vin had been looking forward to their day, too. But if the kid was going to storm in all piss and vinegar, he didn't deserve an explanation. "What will you do now?"
JD shrugged. "Follow the plans through, I guess." He left.
Chris watched JD and Buck have an animated conversation outside his office before the boy left. He shook his head 'no' at Buck's move toward coming in, and puffed out his cheeks.
It was hardly his fault Vin's part in an undercover assignment was being pulled forward. So why did he feel like crap?
"Holy shit, Junior "
Several hours later Tanner entered the bullpen and glared at Buck's stare before warning him off from commenting.
"Can it, Bucklin." He then entered Larabee's office. Vin didn't miss the flash of surprise on Chris's features. He rubbed at his head. "Yeah, hideous, isn't it?"
Chris grinned. "Never saw you as dramatic, Vin. It had to be done, get over it."
Vin huffed. "Easy for you to say. Okay, I've done all you asked, and read my prep notes from JD. What now?"
"Now? Nothing. Tomorrow? It all kicks off. Go home and relax. You should relax."
"I need to call JD."
Chris sat back and tossed his pen down on the desk. "Not sure you'll get hold of him."
"He decided to continue with your plans. Well, at least head out there."
The Texan paused for thought. "Okay, that's where I'll be."
Chris stood. "Vin, don't "
Tanner offered a wry grin. "Chill out, Cowboy, I'm just ridin' up there. Climbin's gonna have to wait for another day." He looked at Chris. "The Kid?"
"Pissed as hell."
Before heading out, Vin called JD's cell, but he was heading for a poor reception area so wasn't really surprised the kid's phone went to voicemail. An hour later, he reached the summit of the rock face they had planned to climb down and then, if they still had any energy left, go right back up again.
He saw JD's bike, and smiled, but his smile faded when it occurred to him JD wasn't around. Kid, if you've gone climbin' alone, I'm gonna rip you a new one. He walked to the overhang and called down.
Vin was surprised to be answered by a dog's yip. He glanced around but saw nothing or no one around.
"Huh?" He placed fingers in his mouth and whistled. "Yo, JD!"
Propped up against the cliff face, JD jolted awake. Did someone call him, or was he dreaming? Come to think of it, when did he fall asleep? His companion yapped and seemed excited about something above them. The pair looked up. Seconds later, a familiar voice called his name. JD smiled.
"Thank you, Lord VIN, DOWN HERE!" He noted a pair of blue eyes staring down at him. He didn't miss the cuss word, either.
"Aww, for fuck's sake. JD! Hold on!"
JD giggled. Lord he felt woozy. "Hold on, he says where we gonna go pooch, huh?"
Tanner placed a call, and received an order to stay put and wait for help to arrive. He walked back to the edge. "JD, you hurt?"
"Nah, I'm fine!" he slurred.
Tanner shook his head. 'Shit!'
With or without climbing gear, there was no way Vin could stand around while a friend was halfway down a cliff and possibly injured. Decision made, he locked up his bike, took a water bottle from the pannier, and snapped it onto his belt.
Realizing that for safety reasons his gun would have to stay with him, Vin checked it was secure. He sat down and dangled his legs over the cliff edge. After plotting his next move, Vin eased himself over while making a half turn to face the rock wall. He located hand and foot holds, and then slowly began his tricky, free-climbing descent.
After Vin's phone call, the silence in the elevator on the way to the Federal garage was finally broken by Buck. "I was trying to warn you, Chris. I knew what he was planning on doing the moment I saw JD storm out of your office, and he waved me off " Buck sighed hard. "Damn that kid!"
"Let's not jump to conclusions," Chris warned; his voice soft, low, and strained. "Vin made a point of saying JD hadn't gone climbing, so I have no idea what's happened, yet."
"I've got Mountain Rescue on standby, but I told them we were hoping to sort this out ourselves," Nathan reassured.
There was more contemplative silence. This time, Ezra broke it. "What did Vin actually say?" he asked.
Vin was to be Ezra's back-up for tomorrow. The southerner truly hoped JD wasn't badly hurt, but he couldn't help worrying that long weeks of hard work wasn't about to fall apart should Vin also become injured.
"Vin didn't say much," Chris replied. Like Ezra, his own concerns, both work related and personal, also conflicted.
The elevator car door opened and they hurried to Chris and Nathan's vehicles. "JD was talking, but Vin didn't know why he ended up half way down the cliff. There were no signs of climbing gear around, or on JD's bike."
Blinking slowly, and holding one arm against his chest, JD struggled to his feet and watched what appeared to be four boots and two sets of Vin's jeans-clad ass, making their way down to him.
He screwed up his face in thought. There was something he needed to tell Vin wasn't there? JD felt sure there was, but be damned if he could think what it might be. Just as rocks crumbled under one of Vin's boots, JD remembered.
"It's real loose the closer you get to this ledge, that's how I fell." His call-out drained the color from his face. Resting against the rock face he slipped back down to the ground, much to the delight of the limping dog. "Feeling a bit weird, Vin just gonna sit a while."
Vin was closing in on the ledge when one foothold collapsed. His boot slipped as the rock below it gave way.
Being an accomplished climber, and while dangling with one hand, the Texan swung and easily and quickly found another hold. As he blew out a breath to steady his nerves, he heard JD's belated warning; but it was the final remark that caught Vin's attention.
"JD, hold on, stay awake now, y'hear?"
Sitting down, JD pulled the needy dog in close. "Sure I'll get up in a minute...just need...to rest..."
"No!" Vin hollered. "Damnit, JD! Kid!"
Again the rock face crumbled beneath his boot, but this time Vin's toes and hands weren't quick enough to find a hole. He slammed his body against the stone and grit his teeth as exposed arms took the brunt of the impact. Fortunately the action slowed his descent enough for him to drop heavily onto the ledge feet first.
The dog wriggled away from JD and, despite limping heavily and favoring one front paw, he wagged his tail at Vin in greeting. The Texan bit back the sting of the bloody scrapes to his arms and bent forward to pat the dog's head.
"Hey there, fella. So you're the reason this crazy buddy of mine climbed down here, huh?" He looked around then down over at the long drop.
"Good thing this is one big outcrop." He moved to a semi- conscious JD and gently checked him over. "Looks like you broke your arm, Kid. Buck's gonna be pissed at you for that." He hissed as the bloody, scraped flesh on his arms rubbed against his jeans.
"Shoot I guess Chris ain't gonna be too pleased with me, either. Good thing I can wear long sleeves for this assignment." Recalling JD was able to stand earlier, so likely had no back, neck, or leg injuries, and while minding the youth's damaged arm, Vin sat down and scooped JD toward him. He used a finger to wipe at the dribble of blood running the full length of JD's face, and was rewarded with a flicker of dark eyelashes and a sliver of a hazel gaze.
"Hey, you with me?" Vin grinned at the blink. "I just thought I'd drop in."
JD frowned, then his eyes opened wider as he stared at his friend. "Holy shit, Vin, what happened to your hair?" His brow furrowed deeper and he winced at the effort. "I am awake, right?"
Tanner offered a dimpled grin as he rubbed at what was left of his hair. "Yeah, your sight's good." He helped JD sit up.
JD grunted, grateful for the warm body at his back. He craned his neck to look at Vin. "Why's your hair so short?"
"Ezra needs me sooner than expected. If I'm meant to be recent ex- army "
"...You're gonna need short hair, right." JD shifted, winced, and groaned. "Sorry."
"Getting pissed off about our plans being canceled, not calling for help before climbing down here after the dog." Again he looked back at Vin. "I'm not sorry I came for the dog, though."
Tanner nodded. "Me either, though next time, you'd better darn well call someone first."
JD closed his eyes. "Duly noted." His eyes opened to a sharp shake.
"Yo no sleepin' okay?"
Vin pulled the dog in closer and then helped JD drink from the water bottle, and the dog to lap water from his hand. In order to keep him awake he encouraged JD to talk about their current case and all the research the young tech had prepared for it.
They were eventually interrupted by a familiar voice.
Vin grinned and yelled in response. "You hollered, Cowboy? We're down here. Gonna need help, JD's a little beat up, but it's not too serious. Oh, and there's a dog!"
Arriving at the summit of the rock face to which Vin had directed them, the five men alighted and instantly spotted two familiar bikes parked up side by side. Chris and Buck strode to the cliff's edge and Chris called out. On hearing Vin's reply, the pair looked at each other before glancing at the other three when they joined them.
"Damn. Nathan, looks like we'll need help after all."
Nodding, the team's EMT placed a call. Ending it, he looked at Chris. "I should go down to check on them."
Reluctant to have any more people at risk, Chris wasn't too happy with that idea, but eventually agreed. He ignored Buck's plea to go instead, his argument based on the fact that Nathan was more useful in this situation, and also that Vin assured them JD was okay, and Vin never exaggerated. Nathan prepared, but before he could make his drop in, a whistling man, a shouting woman, and a crying child joined them.
"Can we help you, ma'am?" Buck asked.
"I don't suppose you've seen a small dog around here, have you?" she replied.
Vin's earlier words reverberated in the team's minds. >> "Oh, and there's a dog " <<
Josiah approached. "What's the dog's name?"
"Pooky," the little girl sniffed.
"Vin," Buck called, "Does the dog with you have a tag?"
Vin checked the dog's collar, then called back. "Pooky, why?"
The five men noted the alarm on the dog's owners' faces. "We think we've found Pooky's owners," Buck explained.
Excusing themselves, and using rope from the back of Chris's truck, the four men lowered their anxiously waiting EMT over the cliff edge. No sooner had Nathan's feet hit the ledge, several trucks pulled up at the top of the precipice.
"The cavalry is here." Ezra announced.
Buck and Chris accepted a slap on the back from Josiah, relieved this would soon be over.
Almost 6:00 a.m. the next morning and Buck checked the time as he sat in a hospital room watching JD sleeping. He had offered to wake the lad every hour until the doctor was satisfied JD's concussion wasn't serious. Then, hopefully, they could go home. Vin's scrapes had been cleaned and dressed, and though Chris and he were told to leave just a half hour earlier, they stayed. The others were ordered home a couple of hours before that, but Chris fully expected to hear from them soon.
"How's the dog?"
All eyes turned to the sleepy youth and Chris smiled. "Doing okay, just a broken leg, nothing more."
JD sighed and closed his eyes. "Good." Suddenly they popped open again and he looked at Vin. "Shoot, I actually thought I'd dreamed that haircut."
Tanner ruffled his shortened locks. "Nope it's real."
JD pointed to the dressings covering Vin's elbows and the underside of his forearms. "Your arms." He looked crushed. "Jeeze, I'm sorry."
"It's nothin'," Vin assured. "Just a few scrapes. You doin' okay?"
"And don't say 'fine'," Buck warned, staring at his combined best friend, housemate, partner, and little brother.
Dunne chuckled. "I'm doing okay, thanks, and really hoping to go home soon." As he spoke, he glanced hopefully at them all.
"Doc was pleased with you on the last visit. I reckon we'll be on our way soon enough," Buck assured. "So, you wanna explain why you ended up halfway down a cliff and holding a dog?"
JD shrugged his good shoulder. "I rode up there, to the ridge," he glanced shyly at Chris. "To uh, cool off. I heard barking, but thought nothing of it figured some folks were walking a dog around there, somewhere. Then I realized it was coming from below where I was standing."
He offered a lopsided smile. "The dog was looking up at me so dejectedly. I couldn't leave it there, could I? I mean, it might have gotten all excited and fallen clean off the ledge."
"We guess not, but you could have called for help first," Chris admonished.
JD's gaze dropped to look at his strapped arm. "Yeah, sorry."
"But then, when have you ever done things by halves?"
Chris's newest words had JD looking up and smiling. Buck leaned in.
"Just 'cause you did good, don't mean I won't kick your butt if you do something like this again."
Now JD was relaxed. This felt much more normal. "Sure, Buck. Message received." The look between them suggested that, though the point was made, they both knew JD could never not do something if he believed it was the right thing to do.
And Buck could never kick his butt, but he'd continue to threaten to do so, anyway.
Several minutes later, all gazes moved to the door as Ezra entered the room. The southerner smiled. "JD, good to see you doing so well."
JD grinned and pushed up further with his good arm. "Yeah, I`m fi uh, okay, thanks."
"Couldn't sleep?" Chris asked the undercover specialist as he did a double-take of the time. It was not even 7:00 a.m. yet.
"On the contrary," Ezra replied as he took up a seat. "Earlier, I received a call from the assistant district attorney. He says Logan has skipped the State, maybe even the country. Rumor has it he owes money and his creditors were not prepared to wait for our upcoming transaction. In short, our assignment is over for now."
The squeak from Vin had everyone looking his way.
Vin's hand was on his shorn hair. "Aww man, are you tellin' me I got my hair clipped for nothin'?"
There was a moment's silence before JD giggled, which was quickly followed by the other three's chuckles. Vin glared at his friends' laughter, but couldn't help eventually grinning himself.
"Hey, Kid, I may need to borrow your cap for a few months."
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