Magnificent Seven ATF Universe

Table Talk, Poker, and Cunning Plans by Sue M

Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em...damnit!

Thanks to Mog for ATF

Characters: JD, Buck, Chris

Ratings/Warnings: Some bad language

Originally two small 'fluff' stories, now brought together as one

Thanks to Blackraptor for their generosity in housing my stories

It had been a long, tough day in work, and not helped by JD taking off early without so much as a word. As Buck entered the CDC he sniffed the air, and his mouth instantly watered from the tantalizing aromas that tickled his nostrils. He grinned and called out.

"Honey, I'm home!"

Buck chuckled on hearing mumbling, and he was sure at least one expletive reached his ears from the direction of the kitchen. Hmm, JD was cooking? Buck wondered if this was why JD had skipped out early. Thinking back on it, the kid had asked what time the brunet might be home, but Buck hadn't even considered it might be because he was cooking dinner.

Buck entered the living room, and he gasped softly at their usually debris-covered dining table. It was laid for two, cutlery, wine glasses and their best…well, their only, china; there were even napkins in napkin rings. Now Buck wondered if he was intruding.

"Uh…are you expecting company, JD?"

The youth's voice drifted back from the kitchen. "Nope, just you."

Wilmington's eyes narrowed. 'Just me? But…it looks kinda…romantic.' Buck went pale. 'Oh God! Two men, living together. Was JD trying to tell him something?' Before he could get his head around the idea, the young man in question entered the room with a huge smile on his face.

"Hi, wash up and take a seat at the table. We got tomato soup to start. I even baked some bread."

"To start?" Buck wondered, aloud. "There's more?" He headed to the bathroom to wash his hands.

JD nodded. "Yep, we've got four courses to get through."

As they sat enjoying their first course, the banter was its usual light and playful self. Buck watched JD crumble bread into his soup. He sure didn't seem like he had something big on his mind…and yet…something wasn't quite right.

Buck salivated at the next course when JD brought it in. A juicy rib-eye steak, with garlic butter and onions, mushrooms, peas and a huge jacket potato with sour cream, bacon bits and cheese. The younger man poured out some wine, a Californian red and lifted his glass to his housemate.


Buck grinned and returned the salutation. "Bottoms up, Kid." He took a sip. Uh, JD…"

Dunne looked at him. "Yeah?"

"This meal is amazing, son. What's the occasion?" And there it was, the look from JD that told Buck there was definitely more to this.

JD smiled, awkwardly. "Later, okay? Let's enjoy our meal first."

Despite the underlying concern on the part of the brunet, they did indeed enjoy their steaks. By the time they were done eating it, Buck pushed back in his chair.

"Man, I'm so full."

"Shoot, I hope not," JD warned as he cleared the plates, "Got dessert, and then cheese and crackers still to come."


Buck made a contented sound as he bit into apple pie and vanilla custard. "Oh my God, that's amazing, Kid. Did you make this? What's in it?"

JD's grin was huge. "It's my mom's recipe, I haven't made it in a long while, and thought today would be a good time. It has cinnamon and a tiny drop of…ah…can't tell you that. But I'm glad you like it."

By the time they go to the cheese and crackers and a freshly brewed coffee, Buck was stuffed but still desperate to know what was on his friend's mind.

"So, are you gonna tell me what's bothering you, now?"

JD stood to start clearing the plates. Buck grasped his wrist and nodded for him to sit. "JD?"

The youth took a deep breath and he sat back down. JD stared at his clasped wrist for a moment before looking up. "You and me get along real well, right?"

The brunet nodded. "Sure…why?"

"You know…" JD gnawed at his lower lip, "…you know I love you, right?" He instantly blushed. He had never said that out loud to a man before, and only once to a woman, and that was his mom.

Buck's heart pounded as he stared at the younger man. 'Oh God, this was it. What to do…what to say…?' The last thing he wanted to do was hurt JD's feelings.

"Kid, I…love you too…but…but not like…not like that." He hastily released JD's wrist.

At first, the youth frowned, and then JD went from blushing pink to blood-drained white, his eyes widening as Buck's words sank in.

"What! Oh God…Oh God…you mean…you mean like…? NO! No…oh shit." He covered his face with his hands and moaned into them. "Oh shit, shit, shit…I knew I'd screw this up."

Wilmington put his hand to his own chest, almost as if checking his heart was still beating. "What the hell is going on, JD? You're giving me indigestion."

It took several long moments, but finally JD looked up at his best friend. Buck's gaze softened at the distraught expression on his partner's face.

"Talk to me, Kid. I want to help."

JD swallowed, gesturing to the table. "I wanted this to be special, y'know? In case it was…it was one of the last times…" He choked on the clog of emotion in his throat.

Buck tilted his head to see JD's eyes. "What are you saying? Last time...?" Buck paled. "Are you saying you want to…uh, want to move out?" Now Buck's heart was pounding. He didn't like how this conversation was going at all.

JD shook his head vigorously. "No…no I really don't but…" JD's head dropped. "Maybe I should."

Suspicion creeping in, Wilmington sat back in his chair. "Who's said something?" When JD wouldn't answer and continued to drop his gaze, Buck knew he was on the right track. He waited patiently for the youth to continue, his emotions now turning to anger as he began to drum his fingers on the table.

At last JD looked up at him and took another deep breath before speaking. "Don't be mad."

Buck shook his head. "I won't, I promise." He hoped he could keep it.

JD licked his lips, nervously. "A few days ago I was in the Saloon waiting for you guys to show up. I was in our usual booth, and I'm guessing no one knew I was there as one of the DEA teams came in, sat in the next booth, and started talking about us…Team Seven."

Buck nodded. "Go on."

"It was all good at first…except…" he swallowed again, "…except it turned kinda personal. One of them mentioned me, it wasn't too bad, reckoned I was doing pretty good considering how young I am and all, but then…then one of them asked if I was…gay." JD could see the fury in Buck's eyes, but decided to keep going and get it over with.

"Another said he thought not, but had wondered about two men sharing a home together, especially as one was in his thirties and had to either be desperate, or gay to want to share a house with another guy at that age. Right about then Inez came along and spilled a beer all over the guy. She apologized, but as she turned away, she looked at me and…winked."

Buck tried to control the anger in his voice. "Was this about three days ago, when we barely got a word out of you all evening?"

JD nodded.

"Jeeze, Kid, you had us worried. You'd left the office in such good spirits. Why didn't you tell us?"

"And spoil your evening, too?" He smiled a little as he caught the what, like it hadn't been already? look on Buck's face. He switched back to an earnest expression.

"Buck, would you like me to move out? I don't want guys talking about you like that. Shoot, I'm used to being made fun of, and being called gay is really not an issue for me but, you shouldn't have to put up with remarks like that. You're one of the bravest, kindest, most honorable men I know…certainly better than the assholes talking about us, so who are they to judge someone like you?" JD sighed. "I guess they made one good point, though, I should be standing on my own two feet by now."

Buck leaned over and once more grasped his partner's wrist, but more soothingly this time. "I'll ask again, do you want to leave here?"

JD shook his head, vigorously. "No," he said, softly.

Buck smiled. "Good, because I don't want to change a thing…unless you want to. I like how we live…it's fun and there's never a day goes by which is like any other. I really do see you as the kid brother I never had but always wanted and I like hanging out with you and doing stuff that brothers would do, and one of those things happens to be sharing a home. I don't give a fuck what others think, or how it looks to them. I'm happier than I've been in years, so screw 'em. And, don't forget, not only are you paying half of all costs here, I promised that when you get to twenty-one, you'll own half this apartment, so you're hardly living off me."

He looked sternly at JD."And let me also remind you that no one deserves to take shit from anyone, and you sure as hell shouldn't put up with it. So no more of this 'I'm used to it', crap."

Buck then smiled at the youth. "I will make one exception to you leaving, though." He bobbed his eyebrows mischievously, and smiled as JD looked at him curiously.

"If Inez knocked on that door right now, or anytime soon, and proposed to me…your lily-white ass would be outta here so fast you'd experience G-force."

JD grinned, and then both men laughed, heartily. Buck was uplifted to see his little brother's face looking trouble-free again, and despite never having plans to discuss this particular topic, he oddly felt as if a weight had been lifted from his own shoulders. An idea however was formulating in the brunet's head, half of which would undoubtedly make JD happy, the other half he felt sure would not only satisfy himself, but five other fiercely protective men, too.

"Hey, how about we call the guys over for a poker night tomorrow?"

JD nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah? Cool."

"Mind you…" Buck warned, "…this thing we discussed, doesn't go outside this room."

JD grinned and again, nodded. "Agreed, and thanks for understanding." He stood to clear the remaining dishes from the table, stopping for a moment, to look Buck square in the eyes.

"Y'know, I always dreamed of having a brother, too. I used to pretend a big, handsome guy would walk into our apartment one day, Mom would throw her arms around him, then turn to me and say, "John, this is your big brother. He went away for a while, but now he's back to take care of us.'"

The wistful look in JD's eyes about broke Buck's heart. He tapped JD's hand. "Yeah well, I guess your dream pretty much came true…hell, big time, you got six of us."

JD continued to clear the table, his grin wide as he waggled his eyebrows. "Yeah, but only one who loves me."

As JD walked into the kitchen Buck watched him go. He stood to help clear away, and smiled to himself. "I wouldn't bet on that, Kid."


The next evening, JD surveyed the living room of the CDC, and nodded with satisfaction. The place was clean and tidy and the table was set ready for their poker game, with a few snacks set on it, and the bulk on the coffee table, which he had placed close by. He looked up as a dripping, naked Buck fresh from the shower, stepped into the living room while towel drying his hair.

"Aaarrgghhh…my eyes, my eyes!" JD teased.

Buck grinned and wrapped the towel around his waist. "This looks great, Kid, you really are looking forward to tonight, huh?"

Dunne nodded. "Yeah, I guess I am. Buck…?" he hesitated, "…aww, never mind."

Still dripping water, the brunet walked forward, and stopped just in front of him. "What? No secrets, Kid…remember? "

"It's…well, let me tell the guys about the other day, okay? Please? I feel kinda embarrassed about it all now, but I know I have to explain."

Buck squeezed his shoulder. "No problem." He then bent and shook his head so his wet hair sprayed his young roommate. Laughing, Buck retreated quickly.

"You fruit loop!" JD howled and made to chase after him, but stopped before he'd taken more than two steps. He laughed and shook his head. The guys would be here soon; and there were still things left to do. Buck could wait.


The first to arrive were Vin and Chris, instantly making themselves at home. Chris watched as Vin and Buck passed a few comments. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but those two were up to something. He smiled as JD offered him and Vin a beer.

Tanner took a swig from the bottle. "Thanks, Kid. You ready to lose some money?"

JD grinned at the Texan. "Hey…I'm getting better every time. I just hope they drop the 'biggest loser takes a shot' rule tonight. I really don't want to get sick."

Vin ruffled JD's hair just as Ezra came in. "Maybe we should make it 'winner takes a shot' for a change," he suggested.

Ezra nodded as he took a seat. "That sounds reasonable, don't you think, JD?"

Dunne nodded, straightening his hair after Vin's actions. "Sure…that way I'm never gonna take a shot." He walked away, chuckling. Chris watched him go but didn't miss the look between Vin and Ezra. Now he was really curious.


Bringing in fresh beers, JD nodded to the newly arrived Josiah and Nathan, set the bottles down on the table, and then took a seat there. Once they were all settled, he looked at his friends.

"Before we start, I just wanted to say something about several nights ago…at the Saloon."

The men looked at him, and patiently waited for JD to continue.

"I want to apologize. I was a little down, and I think I even snapped once or twice. It was nothing you guys did. Here's the thing. While I was waiting on y'all to arrive, some asshole in the next booth over decided to entertain himself and his friends by examining mine and Buck's personal life." He took a swig of soda and looked around at them all. Stopping at Buck, he grinned at his 'big brother'.

"Buck set me straight last night, and reminded me I should trust in my friends more and pay no mind to the idiots…and of course, he's right. So, I'm sorry."

Buck leaned forward. "If you just give me a name, Kid, it'll be history."

JD offered a crooked grin. "It is history, Buck…okay?"

Chris watched as Buck nodded and relaxed back, but there it was again, that look between Vin and Buck…and did Ezra just glance at them? Now Chris thought about it, their positions around the table were different. Usually JD was between either him and Buck or Vin and Buck, but he was next to Ezra tonight. Had that been orchestrated?

Shaking it off for now, Chris picked up the hand Ezra had just dealt, while trying not to grimace at his cards. He grinned at JD's obvious pleasure at his hand. No wonder the kid never won.


Just Ezra and JD were left in their first game and Standish called. JD beamed and put down a full house, the others laughed as Ezra groaned.

"I don't believe it…I beat Ezra." JD's grin was dazzling as he raked in his chips.

"Nice to see you being so modest about it, JD," Ezra said dryly, while collecting up the cards.

"Take your shot, Kid," Vin reminded.

"Huh? Oh yeah…" JD picked up the filled shot glass from the center of the table, and knocked it back. He instantly spluttered, despite his shot glass always being half soda, half liquor. Nathan got up to pat his back and offer a glass of water. At last, JD caught his breath.

"What the hell was that?" JD asked, wiping his eyes.

"Tequila," Buck informed.

"Tequila? Why not whiskey? I don't like tequila." JD complained.

"Thought it'd make a nice change," Vin said, smiling.

JD shrugged. "Good thing I probably won't win another hand."


Three hands later, JD was slurring slightly as he put down the empty shot glass, heavily, and swiped at his mouth.

"Lady luck is certainly with you tonight, JD," Ezra complimented.

JD nodded and smiled at Josiah as the big man set a plate of sandwiches in front of him. JD took a bite of one.

"She sure is…mmm…chicken."

"Glad you've put the other night behind you, Kid," Buck stated. "What do other teams know, huh?"

JD nodded. "Yeah…" He took a drink of soda, "…I always thought that Keegan was an ass, anyway…"

Chris saw Vin look at Buck and nod, a flash of satisfaction quickly replaced with a look the sharpshooter usually reserved for the punks the team fought against daily. Buck's look matched that of the Texan's and for the rest of the night, JD didn't win another hand. Chris was bothered. He finally thought he understood what was going on. He had seen two, maybe three men spend part of the evening trying to wrangle information out of JD by bringing down his defenses. Even if it was done in good faith…that was not the way to go about it. True to form though, the three made sure JD was fine throughout the evening, making him coffee and constantly passing him food. By the end of the evening, JD was as close to sober as possible and never far from Buck or Vin as the two men kept a close eye on him.


Rain came by to pick up Nathan and Josiah. Ezra had stayed within the alcohol limit and made his way home in his Jag while, with the next day being Saturday, and the group having made plans during the evening to head on to Chris's for a trail ride and cookout over the weekend, Chris and Vin elected to crash at Buck and JD's.

JD looked up as a somber Buck entered his room. "Something wrong, Buck?"

The brunet smiled. "Nah, just checking you're okay…you know…none the worse for wear after those shots."

The easterner grinned. "I told you, earlier, all those sandwiches and chips soaked them up nicely. Are Chris and Vin settled? Chris can have my bed if he wants, I don't mind crashing on the sofa or the recliner."

Buck shook his head. "No…Chris reckons he sleeps pretty good on the recliner. Listen, Kid, tomorrow Vin and me have a couple of things to pick up before we head on out to Chris's so we may not be back 'til around midday, do you need anything?"

"Don't think so, thanks. Buck…"

Wilmington turned back from exiting the room. "Yeah, Kid?"

"Thanks…for tonight. You were right, it did help."

JD frowned at what appeared to be a fleeting look of guilt on the big guy's face. The man in question approached, placed his hand on JD's shoulder, and his expression switched to one of earnest.

"You know I'd never intentionally hurt you, right?"

Dunne frowned. "Sure. Why do you ask?"

Buck sighed. "Well, the thing is, we set you up tonight, me, Vin, and Ezra…to win a few hands. We wanted you to loosen up a bit, but I…we…feel bad about it all now. JD…I'm sorry, it was unfair of us to do that knowing you'd be taking shots. Will you accept my apology?"

JD grinned, and then nodded. "I'd pretty much guessed something was up, I rarely sit next to Ezra, or beat him hands down." He looked down at the bed, and then back up to look Buck straight in the eyes. "Besides, I could never stay mad at you, bro…there is one thing, though."

"Name it…anything…"

"Can we not have tequila next time?" JD grinned as Buck laughed and squeezed his shoulder.

"You got it, Kid. 'Night."

"'Night, Buck."


"Where did you say you were going, again?" The next morning Larabee eyed the two men preparing to leave, and he checked his watch…9.30 am.

"Just gonna pick up a few things before we head out to your place. Inez said she'd make us up some of her awesome 'chicken with mole poblano'. Are you leaving now, Chris?" Buck wasn't lying, there were a few things he and Vin needed to do, Vin, for one, wanted to go home to shower and change, and pack an overnight bag.

Chris answered. "No, I thought I might hang around with you, guys. I could use getting a few things myself."

Buck couldn't believe how calm Vin stayed at that remark. Buck smiled and left the living room to enter the kitchen. "Sure thing, Stud," he called back. "But the trip might work better and faster if we split up for a while, is that okay?"

Chris reconsidered. "Uh, tell you what, you go ahead. I'll spend some time with JD and then head home. I reckon I can pick up what I need on the way."

Tanner nodded and grabbed his keys. "Fair enough. Ready, Bucklin?"

"Just a minute, Vin." Wilmington left the kitchen and knocked on JD's door. He opened it, and grinned at the mound in the bed, completely buried under the comforter. Buck walked over to the nightstand and set down a mug of coffee, laughing now to see one hazel eye and a shock of black hair peep out over the top of the covers.

"Nice look, Kid. Here, I brought you some coffee. Vin and me are heading out, but I'll be back soon to pick you up, so get your butt out of bed and in the shower."

JD stuck his chin out over the top of the comforter and smiled, sleepily. "Thanks. What time is it?"

"Coming up to 9.45, so, shake a leg and any other part that's still asleep. I'll call you when I'm heading back."

"Are you picking up anything in particular?"

Buck bobbed his eyebrows. "Inez's magnifico chicken with mole poblano."

JD beamed. "Aww, man, I love that stuff. Are Vin and Chris still here? Are they going with you?"

"We are still here, and Chris will be headin' home soon." Vin grinned. "Nice bed head, Kid. You okay?"

JD half-turned toward the Texan standing in the doorway. He grinned. "Yeah, I'm good, thanks." He yawned. "So, see you later?"

"You bet."

Passing the bed, Buck tussled JD's hair and chuckled at the growl he received for his trouble. While he and Vin headed out, JD pulled himself up in the bed, sat back against his headboard, picked up the mug, and sipped gratefully at the much-needed caffeine.

"Are you decent or should I give you a minute?"

Straightening, JD called back to Chris. "I got no shirt on, but otherwise I am."

Larabee entered JD's room with a grin, and carrying a plate of toast. He handed it to his youngest agent.

JD looked back at him. "Uh, thanks. Did I sleep through Easter, and Christmas and jump straight to my birthday?"

Larabee folded his arms across his chest. "Nope, I'm just about to head out myself, and I wanted to make sure you had food in your stomach before I go. I'll see you at the ranch, later."

"Okay, and...thanks, Chris."

The blond nodded. He hadn't lied, he was heading out, and he would see JD at the ranch later…but first, he intended to follow Buck and Vin.


"Inez doesn't mind us usin' the Saloon?" Vin asked, as he climbed into his jeep.

"Nope, and I really am picking up some chicken with mole poblano. JD loves the stuff and I figured it would be a nice 'thanks' for the meal he cooked us the other night. Keegan and the others have agreed to meet us there in half an hour," Buck replied, moving toward his Chevy. "I feel bad about not telling JD, but I need to do this…for me as much as him." He stopped to look back at Tanner. "You can still back off, Vin, this is my problem, I won't think any the less of you."

The Texan made a face. "What, and miss all the fun? No chance."


Inez smiled as the two Team Seven agents walked into the bar. She gestured with her head toward a booth. "They came in about five minutes ago."

Nodding their thanks, Vin and Buck joined five DEA agents at their table. "So," Kyle Keegan said, as he glanced up from his coffee, "What's so all-fired important to get us here at this time on a Saturday morning? If it's work, couldn't it have waited until Monday?"

Buck and Vin took their seats, and released slow, meaningful smiles. "It's not about work, Buck assured."


Chris pulled into the Saloon's parking lot and instantly noted the familiar jeep and truck parked next to each other.

"Damnit." Sometimes this gut instinct of his could be a real pain in the butt. He headed inside.


JD was dressing after his shower and had taken calls from Josiah, Nathan, and Ezra, and all three had been curious as to what Buck and Vin were doing this morning. The calls prompted events from the previous evening to drift into his mind. Buttoning his shirt, he walked toward the table they played on last night, and frowned as a few things began to drop into place.

> "Glad you've put the other night behind you, Kid, what do other teams know, huh?"

"Yeah…always thought that Keegan was an ass…"

…"Listen, kid, tomorrow Vin and me have a couple of things to pick up before we head on out to Chris's so we may not be back 'til around midday, do you need anything?" <

JD's jaw dropped open as he looked at the clock…10.30 am 'Keegan! damnit,

Buck!' JD grabbed the phone and dialed. "I need a cab…uh, let's start with J. Watson's bar…Four Corners." He hoped he'd guessed this right. "I can't believe I gave him a name."


Sitting in his Jag, Ezra couldn't help smiling when he saw Nathan's Explorer pull into the parking lot at the rear of the Saloon, Sanchez and Jackson stepped out and approached him.

"Seems that we all came to the same conclusion, gentlemen."

Josiah pointed to Chris's Ram. "And it looks like it's a full house."


"So, what's all this about, Wilmington?" Keegan eyed the two men warily. He and his teammates only knew of Team Seven by reputation and hearsay, they had never spoken to them before today.

Buck's glare burned into him. "We came here today to give you a friendly word of advice. If either of us hears of you guys bad-mouthing any of our Team in a public place again, we'll happily demonstrate why we earned the nick-named 'Magnificent.' You don't know us, or anything about us, so keep your cheap, snide, ignorant remarks to yourselves. Is that clear?"

The other four men shuffled awkwardly. They had instantly grasped to what Buck was referring.

Keegan stared in defiance. "Fuck off, Wilmington. You have no right to tell us what we can or can't talk about…" he gasped as Vin grasped his wrist, and applied pressure.

"I believe the only answer we needed from you there was…'got it'." Vin released the man's hand and sat back, satisfied to watch him try to discretely shake off the pain.

Another of the men spoke. "Look, I don't know where you got your information from…" he looked suspiciously over to Inez.

"Don't even go there. That lady has nothing to do with this, her only involvement was to allow us to meet here, away from the office," Buck assured. "You were overheard talking and we got to hear about it, and that's all you need to know. Now, we're gonna get up and walk out of here, but not before I hear an apology from you, you worm."

"A what, now? To who…you? Hell, I can't even remember what we said. You may think you're special, Wilmington, above reproach, but as far as we're concerned…you're no better, or different than any one of us."

"You keep thinking that. Your team results are poor, so you need all the help you can get."

They all looked up to watch Chris Larabee take a seat. The team leader turned to Vin and Buck.

"I can't leave you two alone for five minutes, can I?"

Keegan nodded to himself and smiled. "Oh, I remember now. You guys came in the other evening and sat in the next booth over to us. Only one guy on your team would evoke this kind of reaction, and he didn't come in with you...but he sure as hell left with you...and now I know who overheard us talking." His smile turned to a sneer.

"I always knew I was right about that kid…way too young to play with the big boys, and about as much backbone as an invertebrate. I mean, just look how many of you came here to defend him."

Buck was furious but before he could move, Chris's hand stayed him. He then leaned forward, fisted the front of Keegan's shirt and lifted the man out of his chair.

"You aren't anywhere near qualified to make such declarations, fuckwit. Now, I suggest you and your team get the hell outta here before I turn these two shy, retiring fellas loose on you."

He tossed Keegan back into his the seat, and then watched all five DEA men stand. The three Team Seven men got up and followed them out to the parking lot, nodding their thanks to Inez, and gratefully taking her Mexican specialty from her as they left.

Outside, Chris shook his head to see Ezra, Nathan and Josiah leaning against the Jag. He was even less pleased when a cab pulled up and a clearly furious junior agent, hair still wet from his shower, jumped out and headed for them double-quick. Tanner cursed under his breath. Buck put up his free hand in a placating gesture.

"Now, Kid…"

JD launched into him and shoved Buck backwards with both of his hands. "How could you do this? This was private, Buck…God, no wonder people think I'm just a stupid kid."

"Stop saying that, JD. Hear us out."

JD again pushed Buck, hard in the chest. "Shut up, I don't want to hear any of it. I trusted you." JD looked around. "All of you." He glared at Vin and, despite feeling a little guilty, Tanner met his gaze.

"You sayin' you wouldn't do this for us, JD?"

Dunne was shaking to his boots, but the anger suddenly dissipated with that one, heartfelt question, and a flash of sincere blue eyes. Hell, yeah, of course he'd do it for them. JD dropped his head for a few moments, desperately trying to compose himself. He looked up at a touch to his shoulder.

"We're done here. Let's go."

JD nodded at Chris. Yeah…he was beginning to feel pretty stupid, and really wanted to get out of there.

The whole team had gathered round now. Buck passed the food to Josiah and put his hand on JD's arm but the youth shrugged it off, he wasn't quite done with Buck yet. As they turned to leave, it was barely audible but they all heard Keegan's parting remark.

"Bunch of pussies, all talk, no action. Didn't I tell you that all we've heard about the so-called, 'infamous' Chris Larabee was just a heap of horse shit."

Chris and the others halted, momentarily undecided as to how to respond. JD turned and quickly walked back to the men. He stood in front of Keegan and glared at him. Total outrage for his comments about Buck previously, and now regarding a man JD considered a true legend and a personal hero rose from his toes in a spike of energy and with a punch Tyson would be proud of, JD swung at the man's jaw. There was a crack as his fist and Keegan's jaw connected. The wallop sent the DEA man flying backwards several feet to land on the ground butt-first and heavily dazed.

No one moved, shocked at what just happened. They watched transfixed as, through clenched teeth, the furious young agent stepped forward and spat out his words at the man on the ground.

"No one gets to talk about Chris Larabee like that. You're not fit to lick his boots you…back-stabbing, spineless, jerk-off!"

JD took another step toward Keegan, but Chris's feet finally moved and intercepted by placing an arm around JD's waist, lifting him up, and spinning him back toward Buck, Nathan and Vin. He pointed a finger at the protesting easterner.


Larabee turned to the DEA team who were now with their downed member, and he spoke. "We can make this official, or we can walk away and call it quits…your choice."

With help from his teammates, Keegan staggered to his feet. He put his hand to his chin and waggled his jaw. He stared at JD for a few moments before he finally spoke.

"I'm sorry Mr. Larabee. Sorry, Kid."

The DEA team nodded, turned, and walked to their vehicles. In seconds they had jumped in and driven off.

Team Seven watched them go, while Nathan was staring with concern at JD, who had suddenly gone a ghastly shade of white. "JD, you okay?"

Buck, who was still holding onto JD, turned the youth around and checked him over. He was shocked when JD leaned in hard. "Shoot…I…I think I broke my hand." His knees buckled slightly and Buck and Vin eased JD to the ground. The others moved closer as Nathan talked the young tech through his breathing, and checked out the rapidly swelling fingers and knuckles. Jackson nodded to Larabee.

"I think he might be right."

Chris first closed his eyes, then on opening them, tilted his head and looked to the sky. "Aww, shit!"


A subdued group sat around Chris's porch that evening. Buck was seated on a bench, his arm draped lazily over JD, who was stretched out on his back, his cast hand lying across his chest and his head resting on a pillow on Buck's thighs. The pain meds issued at the hospital were strong and JD was sleeping soundly. Ezra, Vin, and Buck had all voiced how bad they felt about the execution of their little plan, despite JD's earlier assurance that he had forgiven them.

Josiah and Nathan had nodded their understanding of their intentions, but as yet, Chris barely talked all evening as his mind went over earlier events. He was surprised at the pride he'd felt at the actions and words of the twenty-year old who he decided was worth taking a chance on just under a year ago. When Chris finally spoke, the men startled slightly at the break into the silence.

"If something like this ever happens again, you come to me first."

They all nodded their concurrence, while watching as the blond got up, touched the back of his hand to JD's forehead, and then disappeared indoors. A few minutes later he returned with more beers, which he handed out, and also a blanket, which he proceeded to drape over the slumbering easterner. As he retook his seat, Chris chuckled softly.

"Remind me never to get JD mad enough to lash out."

Nods, and soft ripples of laughter, accompanied the clinking of bottles. In companionable silence, the men reflected as they sipped their beers.

So much for cunning plans.

Why was it they always seemed to work in the movies, and on TV, but often failed miserably in real life? However, lack of success aside, what it did achieve was to bring them even closer together.

And that was definitely a development they could live with.

The End

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