Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em...damnit!
Thanks to Mog for ATF
Characters: JD, Orin Travis
Ratings/Warnings: Some bad language
Summary: When feeling ill turns out to be a good thing
Notes: Remtef – Regional Mobile Enforcement Team (RMET) (Source – ATF Bible)
Inside Federal Courtroom three, Orin Travis adjusted his tie as he watched his youngest agent give evidence with the maturity of a seasoned professional. Travis had quickly learned that, when JD Dunne believed in something, and had the evidence to back it up, his conviction was unswerving, and rarely did a valid question in court faze him.
Today was such a day, and Orin regretted Chris and Buck were unable to witness JD's testimony; they would have been proud to see how much the greenhorn cop they had taken under their wing was coming along. But today, Team Seven were about to bust one Lytton Ziegfeld, importer of tobacco, and narcotics, and who had been staying under their radar for way too long.
As a result, JD was due to attend a court appearance alone, and when Travis learned of this, he offered to accompany the trainee agent. Ultimately, he was also responsible for the young man's development, and right now was getting a front row seat in just how well JD's instruction was coming along. The jury was enrapt with the young man's composed delivery, and Orin was sure JD's youthful appearance wasn't doing him any harm, either. Even the defense attorney smiled once or twice over something JD had said with his usual gusto.
Orin again tweaked his tie. He hoped court would adjourn soon, he was feeling tired, and achy, while switching between experiencing flushes, and chills; and had been since the previous evening.
At Team Seven's raid location, Chris Larabee watched their sharpshooter rappel to the ground from the building's overhead rafters, before he glanced across at the successfully detained Ziegfeld. The man threw him a glare that almost rivaled Larabee's. Chris smiled and approached the man flanked by Josiah and Buck.
"Enjoy your last moments of freedom, Lytton, because you're going away for a long time."
"You have no idea what you've just brought down on yourselves," Lytton hissed.
"That sounded like a threat to me, huh boys?" Chris replied.
"Indeed it did," Josiah agreed.
"And in front of three Feds, too. Tut, tut, Lytton," Buck added.
Ziegfeld smiled. "But, I'm here, officers. I can't possibly be held responsible for any mishaps while I'm in custody."
He grunted as Buck and Josiah frog marched him toward a waiting squad car. Chris watched him go, but the man's words caused an unexpected chill to settle in the pit of his stomach.
Within the hour, and with Ziegfeld and his henchmen on their way to jail, Team Seven and several DPD officers began the tedious job of closing down the scene. Buck's phone vibrated and he removed it from his pocket before grinning at the incoming caller ID.
"Hey Kid, you all done?" Buck laughed. "Sounds like you nailed it. Where are you now?" He nodded. "Okay, have fun. We should be back at the office in…" he looked to Chris who signaled a time.
"About an hour. Huh?" The brunet grinned. "Yeah, we're all good; Nathan took a whack in the face, but nothing more serious. Yeah, yeah; he's okay. Later, Kid." As he closed his phone, Buck noted five men looking his way. He grinned.
"Kid did good, Travis's words, not JD's, though he was happy to relay them."
The group chuckled.
"And it would seem, in his own, inimitable way," Ezra commented, causing more quiet laughter.
Buck rounded up. "He and Orin are grabbing a coffee, and then heading back to the office."
Chris and Buck exchanged looks; both relieved JD had come through okay, despite the lack of 'last minute' coaching he was accustomed to.
Chris nodded. "Good, that's one more scumbag about to be taken permanently off the streets." He gestured to their task ahead. "Come on; let's get this done and us out of here."
In the coffee shop to one side of the courthouse's main lobby, JD's jacket was already off and his tie askew. As he sucked a particularly thick chocolate milkshake, through a straw he couldn't help noticing his AD's pale, waxy complexion. "Sir, are you okay?"
Orin dabbed at his face with a handkerchief. "I appear to be a little poorly. A cold, I think." He stood. "Excuse me, John; I need to use the bathroom."
JD nodded and watched him go. While he genuinely hoped Mr. Travis was okay, he silently questioned if he was bad for wondering if the AD would want his choc chip muffin when he returned.
Ten minutes or so later, Orin had still not come back to his seat, so JD asked the cop at the table next to him if he would watch their seats and his jacket while he located AD Travis. Luckily he knew the cop, and the officer was happy to oblige. Walking into the men's bathroom, JD spotted Orin standing at the sinks and patting a paper towel over his face. He was about to approach the man when a thunderous noise followed by the whole building shaking brought stonework tumbling down all around him and Travis. Something heavy hit the back of him and as thick dust to fill the air, JD was propelled forward forward, and into darkness.
At the scene of the bust, and just as the team were at last handing over to DPD; Chris's pager went off. He unclipped it from his belt and read the message. One by one all five federal agents' pagers also sounded. With six gazes fixed on the communications, no one spoke until Vin looked up and his husky voice broke the silence.
Seconds later, six men in three vehicles sped toward the city running full lights and sirens.
Despite the heavy city traffic, by the time Team Seven's trucks arrived, the cops had cleared a path for emergency vehicles to head directly to the smoldering courthouse. After jumping from their vehicles, the men quickly donned their ATF jackets, grabbed kit bags, and approached the scene.
Activity on the large forecourt was frenzied, as firefighters, police, and paramedics moving over debris and between numerous casualties and several covered bodies. Emergency vehicle lights flashed silently, smoke and dust hung thick in the air, and endless papers fluttered and swirled around like giant snowflakes, some settling on the ground among the rubble and casualties. While individuals sat on the cold ground and courthouse steps in shock, or were huddled together in distress, rescue crews were hastily assessing everyone found outside. Large colored stickers adorned many; yellow was to alert paramedics that the person was in need of attention, red for urgent assistance, and black for those who hadn't survived.
The men of Team Seven tried to ignore the carnage and commotion to focus on the damaged corner of the building, but the scene of desolation made it impossible, and they began their task with heavy hearts.
"Sit rep!" Chris demanded of the cops in the control van, while trying not to think about who he would normally depend on in there,
The DPD officer currently in charge filled him in, but there was little to tell. As of yet, no one knew what caused the explosion, whether it was a faulty gas line, or something more sinister. Even as blueprints of the building were called up on a laptop in the operations truck, the six men already knew that the area affected was the main lobby, several lower level offices, and the coffee shop.
"Is everyone out of the building?" Josiah asked.
"No, and there are also folks trapped in there, we can hear them calling."
As Chris, Josiah, and Ezra were gathering information; Buck, Nathan, and Vin had joined working firefighters and were combing the area, occasionally stopping to help a stunned person staggering from the building, to guide them toward help.
All three acknowledged the lingering smell of an incendiary device. Buck looked at the crumbled building before his watery gaze moved back to his two companions.
"If…if Orin and JD were still…" Buck couldn't finish, he couldn't bear to articulate what was foremost on his mind.
"JD's got nine lives, Buck. The Kid and Travis'll be fine," Tanner assured, not wanting to consider the worst-case scenario, either.
Buck swallowed around the chunk of emotion in his throat. "Yeah, but…how many of those lives has that little trouble magnet already used up, Vin?"
"I reckon he's still got a few to spare," Nathan said with an attempt to sound convincing at the same time as, with trepidation and practiced eyes, the three spread out and continued to scrutinize the wreckage
JD was jolted awake to a terrifying reality and a stream of cold, gushing water soaking his body. He coughed harshly, disturbing the thick, dusty air, and groaned as he tried to move off the littered washroom floor, but a weight at his back held him fast. He took a small, calming breath and cautiously tested each limb, to find he could comfortably move all but one. He understood something had happened to his left shoulder…and that attempts to move it caused it to hurt like hell. The weight at his back gave a little when he tried again, and the boy felt confident he could shift it, though it would likely take some careful maneuvering.
Little by little, he eased out from under the weight. Using his good arm, he eventually succeeded to stand on shaky legs. Despite his wooziness, trained eyes surveyed the scene in the male restroom, or what was left of it. The object that had pinned him down was the half-buried door he originally came in through, but now a solid wall of rubble blocked the entryway where it once stood. A steady stream of water was spewing in an arc from a fractured pipe under one of the cracked sinks. Dust blanketed the shattered urinals and toilets, and chunks of rubble littered the inside of the cubicles and restroom floor.
JD noted that the high window was shattered, but the frame was still intact and letting in precious light from outside. He coughed again, and hugged his aching ribs, taking small breaths to ease his discomfort. Once he achieved some lung capacity, he figured he'd start yelling, meanwhile, his horrified gaze continued scanning the devastation to eventually rest on the partway collapsed ceiling. He quickly understood that, had a beam of the bowing section not come to rest on the tops of the cubicles, he and the AD would have been crushed.
Putting that he was wet, bloody, and in pain to the back of his mind, JD picked his way through the debris until he found the AD's dust-covered and rubble-enveloped body. Trembling fingers reached under the man's chin and JD felt for a pulse. It took a few seconds, but he sighed softly when he found a beat throbbing strong and true. Gritting his teeth as fiery pain from his injured shoulder spiked with every movement, JD used his good hand to shift the concrete, shattered porcelain, and bricks from the man's legs and waist. A groan stopped him and he leaned in.
"Mister Travis – Sir – Judge!"
He watched the man's eyes flicker open and he smiled. "Hi there. We're in a bit of a fix, but I'm pretty sure help is already here. Are you in pain, Sir?" Even as he spoke, JD was checking for obvious injuries.
Orin frowned and tried to place the raspy voice speaking to him. His eyes widened on seeing JD's face streaked with blood, but decided that, for now, telling him about it was unnecessary. "JD?"
"Yessir. Are you in pain?"
Travis extended a hand. "Help me up, son."
JD was no expert, but he was sure that Travis moving until certain there was no damage was a bad thing. "Sir, you shouldn't move…"
The Judge was adamant that he could, so JD reached out and helped Orin sit up a little. Silt and debris slipped from his upright body, causing the AD to cough. He raised a hand.
"I'm alright; just a little battered and shook up. How are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine, Sir. Looks like, so far, we've been lucky."
"You sound a little breathless, John."
JD shook his head. "I was trapped under the door for a while, and at first it kinda hurt to breathe, but it's easing a little, now."
The AD looked around at the damage. "Bomb or gas main?"
"Hard to tell. It all happened so fast."
"Educated guess, Agent?"
JD licked his dry lips. "Bomb, I think. There's a – smell hanging in the air."
Travis nodded. "I concur." He rested his head back against the tiled wall and looked up at the window. "Any chance of you getting up there?"
JD shrugged. "In truth, the roof is likely hanging by a thread. I might disturb something and bring the whole lot down."
"Not to mention climbing with one arm would be difficult." He smiled at the youth's reserved look. "I'm injured, son, but I'm not blind. You should try to support it…" He stopped when JD raised a finger to his lips to 'shush' him.
"Hear that? There's someone out there." JD moved toward the jet of water, took a quick gulp to ease his dry throat, breathed in as hard as he dared, and hollered. "HEY! HEY! ANYONE OUT THERE? HEY! HELP, WE'RE TRAPPED!"
To keep them occupied and not dwelling on JD's and Orin's whereabouts, Chris insisted Buck, Vin, and Nathan continue analyzing the scene with Team One, and to keep him apprized. Meanwhile, he, Ezra, and Josiah helped with removing rubble. A shrill whistle went out and the Fire Chief called for silence. Everyone listened expectantly.
"You hear that?"
Each person nodded and rescue workers cautiously made their way over the wreckage to one side of the collapsed coffee shop. Suddenly one man yelled out and pointed to directly behind the crumbling area.
"Here, it came from here!"
Firefighters, cops, and both ATF teams watched and waited as the men called out in answer to the cry for help. Their elation at a muted reply caused hearts to thud. While Nathan moved to join Chris, Ezra, and Josiah, Buck and Vin remained frozen to the spot as two of the rescue workers returned to the Fire Chief, and OIC Chris Larabee.
"He said he's Agent Dunne, ATF, and with him is AD Travis. They're trapped in the men's bathroom."
Chris's eyes closed momentarily to hear his good friend Orin, and one of his closest friends and teammates, were still alive. He opened them to elated expressions from Ezra, Josiah, and Nathan.
The Fire Chief whistled. "Man, looks like taking a leak may have saved their lives."
Movement behind him eventually caused Chris to look around. He quickly realized Buck and Vin were no longer close by. 'Damnit!'
On hearing the Fire Chief's comment, Buck and Vin could no longer accept doing nothing to directly help JD and Orin, and headed for the spot where the rescue workers had held the conversation.
JD's gaze tracked from the window above him to Orin. He squatted down. "Sir? What's wrong?" He tried not to panic when he noted the return of the man's waxy, ashen features. "Sir?"
"You recall I feared a cold coming on?"
"Well, it would seem I was right. My chest is tight." His trembling hands located a handkerchief and wiped at the beads of sweat on his brow and upper lip.
Travis smiled at his companion's worried features. "It's alright, lad, I'm not having a heart attack, so relax." He looked around. "All this water and not a drop to drink.
With nothing to put water in, and while keeping his injured shoulder as still as possible, JD slipped one of Orin's expensive leather shoes off his foot. "Figured you'd rather use yours than mine," he grinned.
JD walked over to the water jet and rinsed the shoe. He got enough water to the AD to slake his thirst. Just as he was thanked, a groaning noise alerted the pair to the ceiling shifting. JD covered Travis with his body as dust and rubble crashed down when the beam moved in one, slight, jerky drop. With a fresh covering of grime, JD moved off his superior, and viewed the damage.
"We need to get out of here," Travis stated.
Wearily, JD looked at Orin and agreed with him. They were running out of time.
Buck and Vin picked their way over the debris as fast as possible until they reached the window from where JD called for help. Luckily, due to the design of the exterior area around the building, from the outside, the bathroom window was a foot above eye level. Linking his fingers together, Buck lowered his arms, and opened his clasped hands for Vin to use as a step up. Clinging to the sill, Vin called in through the broken window.
"JD! Orin! It's Vin. Can you hear me?"
Coming down after the adrenalin rush of being found, JD was huddled next to Orin and fighting sleep. He was wet, cold, his head ached, and his shoulder was hurting, all of which were making him tired and a little nauseous.
"JD, try and stay awake, son."
"I will, Sir, I promise." He was surprised at how slurred he sounded.
Travis was struggling too, and knew he needed to keep talking. "You did really well in court today, John."
JD nodded, but didn't look up. "Thanks, Sir, but you already said so earlier."
"I know; I just want to make sure you take it on board. I'm proud of how well you're doing, and I know your teammates are, too."
JD turned his head to look at the man. "Yeah? I mean, I guess. Chris rarely says much, but…" he shrugged his good shoulder and groaned at the pain that shot through his body. "I…I suppose the fact that I'm still on the team suggests that I haven't screwed up too much…yet."
Travis chuckled. "John, you're one of the pluckiest young men I've ever encountered, not to mention tenacious, and innovative. What you also bring to the team is vitality, and a fresh perspective, which helps tremendously in our line of work. You question and challenge everything." He held the boy's gaze.
"Team Seven was formed to work the tough cases, which often work out to be the most dangerous cases. I needed men who could think outside the box, while working relentlessly toward their objective. And you do, all of you, and that, along with the unique individuals in the team is what gives you the edge over others.
"I guess what I hadn't factored in was how it might affect you all mentally, and personally, but you boys have developed a unique support structure. It works. What I fear lets you down occasionally is our justice system, but I hope you keep battling, because this country needs fighters, not quitters."
JD swallowed. "Is the system why you gave up being a Judge?"
Travis again dabbed at his face with his handkerchief. "I was once a cop, and worked my way up to a Federal Judge. Congressman Redd presented me with the opportunity to go back into law enforcement, and allowed me a free hand to form a Remtef team. We instantly came up with Chris as the one we wanted to head the team due to our mutual association with the man, and allowed him to choose his lineup. I couldn't be happier with the result, or more proud of the men behind the success. And you should be too."
JD smiled and nodded. "I am, Sir. I could never thank you and Chris enough for letting me be a part of it."
"Your performance to date is thanks enough, lad."
>> "JD! Orin! It's Vin. Can you hear me?" <<
It took a few moments for the identity of the voice to sink in before JD struggled to his feet and moved toward the window. "Vin?" He could just make out the top of Vin's head.
"Hey Kid. Buck's here, too. I'm comin' in." As Tanner scrambled over the ledge, the ceiling groaned.
"NO! VIN, STOP, STOP!!"
The Texan froze and glanced down at an anxious Buck. "What's wrong, JD?"
"The ceiling's barely holding up. I'm afraid it might come down if you disturb it."
"Okay, okay. Hold on, I'll be back." Vin jumped to the ground. "Shit."
"What is it?" Buck asked.
"Sounds like it could all come down on 'em any second."
"Aww, Jeezus. We gotta get them outta there…now!"
Vin nodded. "I know, just have to figure out how without bringin' the whole lot down on top of them."
Leaving Buck to talk with the two trapped men, Tanner walked cautiously through the rubble and back to a very pissed Larabee. Vin didn't give Chris time for a lecture as he quickly pointed out the issue. With a structural engineer on site, and a specialist rescue team already at work, the men looked over the blueprints of the bathroom area, and its window. The engineer pointed.
"What of it?" Chris asked.
"There are two non-load-bearing joists running horizontally back from that section under the window, if we slab between them, we can get to the casualties from a lower angle, and without fear of collapsing a wall, or the ceiling."
"Slab?" Ezra asked.
"Slabbing," the engineer replied as he demonstrated by finger-drawing on the blueprint in a square outline. "If we remove these four wall slabs, it's both wide, and low enough to pull them out quickly, and we stay well clear of the ceiling."
"And the risk to the trapped men?" Nathan asked.
"There's always a risk," the Fire Chief replied, "but under the circumstances, it's the best option we have. There's no time to get heavy machinery in for this one, and as it's all pretty unstable right now, we might end up doing more harm than good if we disturb the area, or attempt to shore it up."
"It'll be faster," the engineer rounded.
Chris was already moving. "That's good enough for me. Let's do this."
Buck was standing facing the damaged wall and looking up at the window. "Wish I could see you, Kid."
JD's stance on the other side was mirroring Buck's. "Me too, Buck."
"How's Orin doing?"
The youth glanced at the drowsy AD. "In and out. Hey, Buck."
JD touched his palm to the tiled wall. "If this doesn't work out, I mean, if I uh…ah jeeze. Anyhow, there's a box in my nightstand…"
"Damnit, JD, don't do this."
There was a pause as Buck noted the strain in JD's voice. He placed his hand against the brickwork. "Okay, what of it?"
"Inside the container is a key to a safety deposit box. Apart from instructions for a donation to The Sisters of Saint Ignatius in Boston, and envelopes for the guys, everything else in there is yours."
The emotion welling in Buck's throat made speaking difficult. "Kid…"
JD closed his eyes and a solitary tear escaped. "Please, Buck, please promise me you'll deal with it."
The brunet sniffed. "You have my word…not that any of this is even relevant."
JD smiled to himself. "Sure, I just wanted to know you'd take care of it."
Buck inhaled a shaky breath. "Like I said, Kid, you have my word…" He composed himself. "Though you're gonna feel real stupid you shared that when we get you guys outta there."
"I'll take my chances, Bro."
The rescue workers moved in and instructions were called down to JD. He apprised them of the situation from his and Orin's perspective, then helped Travis away from where the rescue team was about to start work. He tried, for the moment, not to worry about the groaning ceiling, and the water in the room that was now knee deep.
One of the rescue team fed a camera on the end of a flexible pole and maneuvered it in through the window to get a good look at what they were dealing with. The images were relayed on a monitor for all to view, and Team Seven were visibly shaken to see their bloodied friends huddled together in several inches of debris-littered water. A paramedic pointed to JD.
"He's favoring one shoulder."
A rescuer nodded. "Might be an issue for a manual winch."
Chris straightened. "He's a tough kid. We'll worry about fixing his shoulder once he's out."
Both men nodded, the rescuer answered. "Yes Sir, but we still have to assess all probabilities. There's a good chance they have rib, and/or internal injuries." The look he received from the stern ATF commander told him the man had already considered that.
With a warning that they were about to start, a concrete saw roared into life and the first oversized building block was cut around. Metal strips with grips were gently tapped into the incisions and chains clipped to the strips' hooked ends on the outside of the wall. With several men on each chain, and with a nod, they pulled steadily until the first slab thumped to the ground.
The saw was directed at the next one, and when that slab was pulled free, a small hydraulic support was placed in the center and between where the removed slabs once were. It took over an hour to extract all four slabs while adjusting the support but, despite concern that the water was now waist deep, and the two casualties were shivering violently, there was a decent sized square opening, and a large body of men ready to haul the injured out.
Chris peered in and smiled, despite his concern. "Good to see you both."
After a brief exchange of words, and JD assuring them he was more than capable of working the ropes at his end, the youth helped Orin up and over to the wall with the opening.
"You go…first, John."
JD shook his head. "No Sir, I'm fine. This trip's all yours."
Confirming that he understood the instructions, JD took the lowered strap, placed it under the AD's arms, slipped the center webbing between his legs and secured the locking clips. He then called up that Travis was ready. When the men above took the strain, JD put his good shoulder under the man's butt and pushed as the guys above pulled. He quickly replaced the AD's shoe, and allowed himself a mini fist pump once Travis's feet had disappeared through the hole. However, his relief was short-lived when the ceiling creaked and more silt and rocks came down. While trying to keep calm, JD looked at the crumbling ceiling then back to the opening, unsure now if he was shivering, or trembling.
'Come on, guys, it's coming down…it's coming down.' Bloody, shaky fingers raked his dirt-encrusted hair as more creaks and splintering sounds reached his ears.
"Hey! I think the ceiling's coming down!"
Above ground, cheers greeted the first casualty out. Before Orin was stretchered into an ambulance he clasped Chris's offered hand.
"Glad you're okay, Judge."
Orin pulled an oxygen mask down from his face."Thanks to you and these good men, Christopher." He tugged him closer. "I just wanted you to know, you're doing a great job with JD, Chris. He's a good kid, and will be a great agent."
Larabee smiled. "Yeah, he is. He's making my job easier than I expected." He patted the man's arm and replaced the mask. "Go get fixed up. I'll drop by later."
"With Mary; and on their way to the hospital."
Grateful for the information, the AD finally relaxed.
At the same time JD's panicked cry came up, the cameraman turned sharply to the others and called with urgency. "Guys, that roof's about to go any second now."
Celebrations over, attention above ground snapped back to their task in hand. Buck pushed forward and grabbed the strap. "Lower me down there."
The leading rescue worker took the webbing and passed it to the front man. "Get a grip, we need to be quick, and hauling one out of there is a hell of a lot easier than two."
Seeing the thumbs up from the front, everyone took up positions and waited for the signal.
JD slipped the lowered winch strap under his arms and legs, tightened the clasps, and took a deep breath. This was going to hurt, he knew that, but at least he'd be alive. With a call and a tug on the rope, and to the backdrop of ever-increasing creaks and rumbles from the roof, JD pushed his feet against the wall to help propel himself up as he was hoisted. However, his pain and exhaustion had weakened him, and halfway up, his foot slipped just as another jerk to the equipment came from above.
The violent movement wrenched his damaged shoulder, and as he cried out in agony, his feet lost purchase. The rescue team registered the sudden dead weight. The camera operator called out again.
"The roof's going, the roof's going! Haul ass!"
The crew tripled their efforts until a cry went out. Vin, Buck, and Josiah appeared at the front from nowhere, and they and two rescuers grabbed the strap and JD's pants belt and dragged him through the hole. JD had barely cleared the opening when the alarming, thundering sound of a mass of heavy rubble hitting water at speed echoed below them.
As JD was eased down onto a stretcher, his screwed up eyes flickered open and he groaned. "Aww, man. That was intense." A warm hand took his and he smiled up at Buck.
"Hey," he rasped, noting now that the rest of his friends were gathering around him. "Is Mister Travis okay?"
Joining the pair, Chris nodded when it was clear Buck couldn't speak. "He will be."
Oblivious to the paramedics setting up an IV and checking him over, JD swallowed. "I ruined my best shirt and suit," he said to no one in particular.
Buck finally made a sound, his liquid gaze fixed on his best friend. "Well, I know what to get you for Christmas, now."
JD huffed. "Jeeze, Buck, way to spoil a good day." The six friends around him chuckled.
Bravado slipping, JD turned his head to try to hide his emotion as it rushed to the surface. Buck leaned in and whispered into his ear. "Hang tough, Kid, it's over."
He smiled when JD nodded, but grew concerned on seeing the youth's eyes close, and his features go slack. They all looked to the paramedics, one of whom was checking JD's vitals.
"He's okay; just a combination of pain, exhaustion and medication."
Buck stared at the boy's battered features, and fingered JD's blood encrusted shirt collar before following the stretcher into the ambulance. "Yeah, well; he's out of there. He'll be fine, now."
Urging Josiah, Nathan, and Ezra to follow after the departing vehicle, Chris and Vin approached the rescue worker's team leader. Larabee extended his hand. "Thank you."
The man smiled and shook hands. "Still a long way from done, but this was one good conclusion."
Graham Pearson, Team One's leader, joined them. "Go ahead, Chris, we got this one."
The Fire Chief concurred before either Chris or Vin could protest. "Got more fresh guys on the way. Go, be with your men."
With a grateful nod, and after handing over all their evidence and notes, the pair headed off to the hospital.
"Evie, for the love of God, stop fussing, woman."
Two days on, and in his bed situated a little way from the AD's, JD giggled, unsure if it was the meds still being pumped into him, or that Missus Travis was a real funny lady – or both. Their injuries were mending, while the AD was also being treated for bronchitis.
Evie Travis huffed. "Fine, I'll go fuss JD."
JD raised his good hand. "Uh, ma'am, I'm good, I – oh, thanks." He smiled up at Evie as she gently pulled him forward, plumped up his pillows and then eased him back. Actually, it did kinda feel better. He winced as he adjusted the position of his strapped shoulder.
"Are you in pain, dear?"
"Nah, I'm fine…"
"A sure sign he's anything but." Buck and Vin entered the room carrying coffees, and a soda for JD.
The boy smiled as he took his drink. "Thanks."
Vin approached, winked, and slipped a Caramello bar inside JD's sturdy, blue sling. The sharpshooter grinned at the full wattage smile in return. It was good to see JD feeling positive again, he'd been real quiet since the incident.
Later, the rest of the team was in the two-bed room; and while JD slept, Chris was informing Travis of how the case was progressing.
Orin shook his head and Evie dabbed at her eyes with a Kleenex. "Six dead, and twenty eight injured. Horrific. Do we know why?"
Chris shook his head, no. "There are few leads, and none of those are solid. We know it was a pipe bomb, and that it detonated in the coffee shop, but there's no signature to clue us in on those responsible. No DNA matches from CODIS, and nothing from AIFIS on any fingerprints found. The pipe contained ammonium perchlorate and gasoline, which, when combined makes an unstable mass sensitive to friction and shock, but, just to be sure it went off, this one also had a digital timer."
"We're trying to trace where that digital clock came from as we speak," Vin added. "As for the ingredients…neither is hard to get hold of, so we may have hit a dead end there."
"CSU are looking over footage from the surveillance cameras in an attempt to track when the bomb was placed, and by whom," Josiah rounded.
Travis sighed. "Terrorism?"
Chris answered. "We're not ruling it out, and I'm still not sure it wasn't somehow related to the Ziegfeld bust the other day, but with no trace matches as yet, and no one claiming the bombing, we're keeping an open mind, for now."
"Ziegfeld? Let's hope he's not involved," Orin replied. "That man has deep pockets, a lot of family, and no conscience."
Chris eyed his team. "Yeah, well we have a lot of experience, shit-loads of patience, and are as stubborn as mules when on a case."
Ezra cut in. "In the hope of finding a connection we're looking into employees, everyone who signed in to the courthouse, and at every case that was to be heard that day." He looked from Orin to JD's sleeping form. "Whoever did this, will pay."
JD's sudden restlessness caught their attention. He was clearly in the throes of a bad dream, and judging by Orin's, Evie's, and Buck's expressions, it wasn't his first. Still asleep, he sat up and hollered out.
"No! Hurry, hurry, it's coming down, it's coming down!"
Buck pulled JD close and talked quietly to him until JD blinked awake. As he swiped at the beads of sweat that dampened his bangs and clung to his upper lip, JD dropped his gaze. "Wow...sorry. That seemed so real."
His expression initially dark to see JD's despair, Vin attempted to brighten, and responded. "Good timing, Kid. We're talking about how to catch the bastards who set the bomb."
JD took a moment to slow down his heart, then patted Buck's arm in thanks. He looked at Larabee as his hushed request carried across the quiet room. "Let me help."
Chris grinned. "Wouldn't have it any other way."
"Hey, Kid." JD turned his head at the touch to his arm from Buck. "We heard earlier that he case you were testifying for…the trial was relocated, and Parks was convicted." Buck's heart soared at the approving nod, and grin from his partner.
"Are you alright, dear," Evie asked and passed him a drink. She smiled when he simply nodded.
Chris noticed JD picking at his covers. "JD?"
The boy glanced around at everyone. "I, uh, I was only thinking yesterday that, if Mr. Travis hadn't been feeling poorly, we would have still been in that coffee shop taking our break."
Travis nodded. "Indeed. That day, my ill health turned out to be a very lucky break for us."
The silence in the room spoke more than words ever could. However, while grateful for the safe recovery of their friends, and many of the folk attending the courthouse that day, Team Seven had a mystery to solve, and a bomber to find, and Travis knew his men would leave no stone unturned to do just that. Now, though, it was time for appreciating that for once, falling ill had been no bad thing.
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