Seeing the
Other Side

by Karin

ATF Alternate Universe

DISCLAIMER: not mine, wish they were

RATINGS: PG-13 (some naughty words)

WARNINGS: h/c angst, it's me writing it, what were you thinking.

NOTES/COMMENTS: Well, I never claimed to be a leader but a follower! Everyone else has dabbled into this AU, so..I decided to give it a try. I've been wanting to for awhile..but it never came to me what to write about, until just recently..anyone who follows me knows what I'm like. So anyway..Thanks to Mog for creating this AU and even though I didn't ask I hope she doesn't mind. I hope you enjoy's been a pleasure to write about things I know for a change!!


Chris Larabee put the receiver back on the phone and stood. He walked over to his office door and opened it to see if all the team members were there. Ezra was at his desk, looking through a catalog, what he didn't know. Nathan and Josiah seemed to be in a discussion about some thick book he remembered Josiah had lent to Nathan; they were no doubt discussing their opinions. Vin sat casually at his desk, feet crossed on top of it watching the antics of the two other team members that made up the very effective ATF group.

Buck had instigated another war of unusual weaponry against the youngest member and his roommate, JD. JD ducked behind his desk as he took a shot, then reloaded. He peeked over the desk again, and was hit in the head by the shot Buck had sent.

"Hey, you're cheatin', Buck! Your rubber bands are bigger than mine!" JD yelled back as he stood, getting another rubber band to the chest.

"Not my fault," Buck smiled.

"Why's your's bigger than mine then?" JD accused.

"Genetics," Buck smiled with raised eyebrows, not at all talking about the same thing.

"You see what I have to put up with, Casey? He's always thinking about that thi.." JD began.

"Hey Butch and Sundance, Chris is ready for the meeting," Vin said smiling as he stood, seeing that Chris was leaning against the door jamb, hanging his head and shaking it.

The men filed into the room and sat down in chairs next to the big table, Buck gave Chris a wide innocent smile as he walked past him.

"Sorry, Chris, he started it," JD apologized.

"I figured as much," Chris said sternly, knowing that this was not the first incident, nor would it be the last.

"He started it, Chris!" Buck yelled back, seeing the kid stop.

"And the silly string last week?" Vin defended, he saw Buck bring it in.

"It was for later, can't help if the kid got into it."

"You sprayed my desk, Buck," JD said, sitting next to him and Casey sitting next to him; he leaned over to her again, "I told you he's always trying to get me in trouble," he smiled.

"Will you stop talking to her and pay attention?" Buck said, aggravated.

"You don't have to yell at her again," JD said defensively.

"You know what she did last night?" Buck asked the rest of the team. "I found my sheets in the living room! All ripped to shreds!"

"She was just mad cause you wouldn't let her come," Vin defended, after all he had been there.

"As much as this conversation is...entertaining, I hardly think this meeting is being held to discuss the habits of Miss Casey, with all do respect, my dear," Ezra said smiling at Casey, who seemed to return it with her big brown eyes.

"What's the plan, cowboy?" Vin asked.

"Glad someone seems to remember why we're here. Warehouse on 7th and Steele, we've been asked to assist DEA in a shooting gallery raid. Nathan, Josiah, Ezra, Buck, and me will assist on the raid; Vin, JD and Casey will help with the sweep," Chris gave out the assignments.

"Vagrants?" Nathan asked.

"Yup. We checked the local clinics and hospitals, they don't have a needle exchange in the area, so there's a good chance they're dirty; that means she finds something, if you can, you dump it before looking," Chris ordered.

"Double gloves, and long sleeves, heavy ones if ya got them," Nathan pointed out.

"How long we got?"

"Friday morning, right after sun up. DEA have staked it out for a week, same group have been showing up steady. First thing in the morning, hopefully with any luck we'll get the dealer too," Chris answered Buck's question.

"Maybe get some of these people some help in the process," Josiah offered.

"Yup, it would be nice wouldn't it," Vin said.

"They'll be four med crews and two ambulances, treat some of them if they have to, they are going to be there for basic triage, and for anyone who might get stuck," Chris finished.

"Well, if ya don't mind, I got some sheets to pick out," Buck said as he stood.

"Don't you mean buy?" Nathan asked.

"Nope, JD's paying for them."

"ME? I didn't tear them up!"

"Well, if Casey is the one that has done the damage then she should reimburse you for your loss," Ezra stated what was obvious.

"She's a dog, Ezra!! Or have not noticed that?" Buck laughed out.

"I know that, Mr. Wilmington. I believe she gets compensated well for that nose of hers does she not, Mr. Dunne?"

"Well, sure she does..but that's only for food and Vet bills," JD explained.

"Well, then I guess you better submit a voucher for 150 bucks, kid, to pay back for the sheets she tore up."

"I'll just pay for them if you're gonna get all prissy about it, they're only sheets, Buck. I don't know why you're all uptight over them, it's not like you ever use them," JD said coldly, and walked out of the room, Casey walking slowly behind him.

The others followed and went back to their tasks or left to get lunch, Buck was headed out the door but was stopped by Chris, Vin had stayed behind as well.

"The dog being there that much trouble?" Chris asked.

"Yes! I mean no..hell, I don't know," Buck said.

"You two been fightin' again?" Vin asked.

"Not really fightin', just disagreeing alot," Buck offered.

"He's been on my case about what I choose to do on my time, guess he's just mad cause I been comin' home late."

"..or not at all?" Chris figured.

"So? I'm a grown man!"

"He knows that, Buck," Vin said, trying to bring a sense of calm to the room.

"It ain't like I'm bringing them home, what business is it of his anyways?"

"He worry's about you just like you do him," Chris said.

"Well, I'm a big boy and can take care of myself, 'bout time he learned that," Buck said, walking to the door.

"Seems I remember someone saying the same thing," Vin said nonchalantly

"I don't need a keeper, Vin, he does."

"He's twenty-five, Buck, I think he can manage," Chris laughed out a bit.

"He lived with his mother, Chris, until she died, then he comes out here, he ain't never been on his own."

"So instead of letting him do for himself and take care of himself you've decided he still needs his mother taking care of him," Chris put out.

"Are you sayin' what I think you're sayin'? Cause if you're saying..."

"That you're worse than a mother hen with a gaggle of chicks? Oh yeah," Vin smiled back.

"Fine. You just tell the kid the dog stays here," Buck said, pointing to the floor.

"Can't do that, Buck, dog's gotta be with it's partner," Chris said after he stopped chuckling.

"You know what I think? I think you're jealous of Casey," Vin said seriously.

"Jealous? About a dog?! No, I'm disappointed, the kid finally gets some female attention and it comes from a dog!" And he opened the door and left the office.

"What's wrong with that?" Vin asked Chris as he headed out the door.

Chris smiled as Vin left. He sat down behind his desk and sat back, putting his feet up on the desk top. When did I stop being the leader of a group of men and become the peacekeeper to the most dysfunctional family I've ever laid my eyes on?

People had said that the group acted like a family, the more time went by the more he began to believe them. First there was Josiah, he was the older brother that everyone turned to when they had a problem or question either about religion or life. Nathan was the brother that you went to if you were hurt, or not feeling well before you went to the doctors and dished out tons of money to find you had a bad cold. Ezra, well he would be the 'black sheep' of this makeshift family, he walked a fine line most of the time.

Buck was Chris' oldest friend, he'd been there when Sarah and Adam had been killed and after all he put Buck through he was still there. Buck lived life to the fullest, everyday was another adventure and another date or at least another number to call for later. He also was JD's best friend and protector, self appointed of course. They had a rough start at first, Buck just couldn't see past the kid's youthful appearance, but that had worked out.

Vin was the quiet one, JD spent a lot time just talking with him. He probably knew more about the kid than even Buck. He was also Chris' best friend, they seemed to be able to read each other which was no small feat, they were both hard to read. He didn't have Chris 'figured out' or vice versa, but they understood each other, with a nod or a look, they were always on the same page.

Then there was JD. JD was...hell there were no words for him..he was just JD. He was the youngest of the seven, looked more fifteen than twenty-five and that usually worked in favor for the ATF (they could get just about anywhere undercover with JD), but very rarely did it work in JD's favor. He always had to show his ID badge when trying to go out with the guys, if he'd decided to get a beer they would always ask for ID. And of course then there was the thing about the dog. Chris didn't really see the point, but here was JD, acting the younger brother who wanted a puppy.

JD had arrived six months ago, and for three months steady that's all the kid had talked about, getting a dog. He had one back in Boston and missed the fact he didn't have one here. JD had begged one too many times and used that look that made the arctic ice melt instantly, Chris said he would think about it and as JD shut the door to his office, he'd picked up the phone and called Boston.


He remembered the conversation like it was yesterday. He asked JD's sergeant how JD had gotten into that area, and O'Malley had said the kid had swept in a raid and liked the idea of a dog, asked his sergeant, and was signed up. The instructors told O'Malley the kid was a natural, the instructors at the K-9 academy were so impressed with his ability that they had offered him a full time position, but he had declined. It wasn't what he wanted to do, so instead they gave him the pick. He'd chosen the dog he had gone through training with.

He was partnered with a mixed breed kennel dog, that was just about to be adopted out to a civilian family when JD came into the program. The officers there, just like at the police academy, underestimated the kid and gave Max a another chance, knowing that neither would do well. Max had been through the program twice, but lacked the discipline.

The two were a perfect match. JD had a patience with the dog and had been caught after class working with the dog, going over and over and over a certain aspect of the training until it was right. Max would do anything for JD, not out of fear, but out of the unconditional love the two had. By the time graduation rolled around, all the dogs were leashed as they paraded around, but one. Max never left the kid's side and did everything perfect for the display part of graduation.

Max unfortunately died in the line of duty in a bust that had gone very bad. Max and JD were on sweep, the building had been declared safe, but were unaware of a hidden room, and as the dogs and their partners were let in the shots began.

O'Malley told Chris the story in detail. The shots were heard and then return fire, when everything stopped agents and the dogs came out, not all unscathed but all were alive, when they realized JD and Max were unaccounted for, they look towards the kid's sector and saw nothing. Two officers were headed in when JD came out, carrying Max. The paramedics considered these animals to be part of the team and treated them as such, they did all they could for Max as they rushed him and JD to the animal hospital where Max died. No one even knew that JD had been hit twice in his side until later.

Two weeks later Chris took JD to the K-9 academy in Denver and JD picked out a dog, a mixed border collie springer spaniel from the local shelter named Casey, who had failed certain aspects needed to graduate and was on 'death row'. After six weeks of very intense training, Casey graduated at the top of her class; with in two days of being on the job Casey had proven her worth in another DEA assist, they were sweeping and Casey found a stash, four kilos of pure cocaine. Chris decided then and there she could stay.

Buck, on the other hand wasn't too sure, after all he had to live with her. Which quickly became apparent was going to be very difficult. Casey was trained well, but if she did something, like sit on the couch, Buck would loose it and Casey would get back, by chewing a shoe, a boot, or the sheets like last night. Chris knew that if Buck would have given JD the chance to correct her or tell her 'no', they could've avoided the whole situation.

"He's jealous," Chris smiled.

"Who's jealous?" the young voice asked, jumping Larabee slightly.

"You ever knock, kid?"

"Not when the doors wide open and the guy inside is talking," JD said with a smile.

"Knock anyway."

"Sorry. So um...who's jealous?"

"Never mind, what did you want?" Chris asked, hoping he was going to change the subject.

"Oh, I need Thursday morning off," JD said.

"What for?" Chris asked, JD hadn't asked for anytime off since he'd gotten here, he felt he needed to ask.

"Personal business," JD shrugged.

"Got anything to do with what happened this morning?" Chris figured the kid had enough of Buck, or Buck had given him an ultimatum.

"That? No."

"Why do you need Thursday morning off?"

"I told you, personal business."

"Fine. You going to be back in the afternoon?"

"Yeah, should be, unless something comes up," JD said, not realizing it had opened a door for another round of questions.

"What could come up?" Chris asked.

"I mean, if I have to be there longer than I expected, that's all," JD said, beginning to panic a little.

"Where exactly is it that you need to be, JD?" Chris leaned back in his chair.

"Somewhere besides here, why are you asking me all this stuff?" JD asked a little more defensive then Chris thought was necessary. Something was definitely up.

"Well, to be perfectly honest here, son, if you're going to be distracted I can't count on you to do your job, now can I?"

"What makes you think I'm gonna be distracted?" JD was getting nervous.

"That came out wrong, JD," Chris sighed out honestly.

"Did it?" JD questioned back, "If Buck needed time off you'd give it to him, or any of the other guys without asking all these questions, I'm just asking for the morning off," JD shot back, there wasn't any way he could put this off.

Chris sat back and looked at JD. He'd only been here six months..six months..the words repeated over and over again in his head. Then it clicked.

"Okay," Chris said, like JD had just asked him then, "Under one condition."

JD thought he answered okay a little to quickly after all those questions.

"What's the condition?" JD asked, in an accusatory way.

"I need to ask a couple questions and you answer them honestly."

"I can't promise that, I'm sorry," JD said honestly.

"Fair enough. You going for blood test?"

JD thought for a long time, did he really want to get into this now. No, he really didn't, but he might have to, he looked to Chris one more time and something in his eyes told him it was okay..whatever it was, it would stay here. JD sat back in the chair.

"Yeah," he said, crossing his arms, like he was hugging himself.

"For what? Something happen on the job back East?"

"No," JD almost laughed out. "HIV test," he said simply.

"JD.. I... I shouldn't have pushed you," Chris tried to back peddle and go back and just leave it at 'Okay' and take back 'under one condition'.

"It's not what you think, Chris," JD smiled out, "The reason my mom died... she got into an accident...she got a bad transfusion."

"Why would that have anything to do with you getting tested?"

"A year or so before she died, she'd fallen, she was pretty weak then and she'd cut herself and well, I'd gotten a scratch on my arm. I wasn't really thinking and just picked her up. We mixed," JD said, never looking up from the floor.

There was a long pause as Chris digested what he was hearing. He tried to pick his words carefully.

"Are you....the reason you're having the test is you.."

"Sick? No, I get them every six months just to make sure. It suppose to be every year, but.. Well..if I do.. I wanna catch it early," JD shrugged his reason.

"This why you been on Buck's case?" Chris surmised.

"You ever know anyone with AIDS?"

"Not personally."

"I mean, my mom didn't have a choice ya know..I just don't understand why he would do what he does..he's ain't superman," JD said, looking directly to Chris.

"Does Buck know, about your mother?" Chris asked, knowing he didn't.

"Well, no," JD said quietly.

"You gonna tell him?"

"Wasn't plannin' on tellin' anyone," JD gave back honestly.

"Why?" Chris asked.

"Cause of your reaction. You would have been fine if I told you that I got stuck, right?" Chris didn't answer. JD continued, "You think Buck's gonna be fine if he finds out why my mom died?"

"I think you underestimate Buck."

"Look, Chris..I'm fine, and I'll most likely be fine. I don't see any reason to tell him unless something happens." The two men were silent. Chris was on the fence with this. JD broke the silence.

"Everyone knew in Boston, the guys were okay with it after awhile, but the first few months no one wanted to get near me. I can handle one at a time, not all at once. If it was you, Chris, would you tell everyone?"

As much as Chris would have liked to say yes he couldn't.

"I honestly don't know. I'd like to say I would, and know that my friends would be okay with it."

"I've only been here six months, I'm still trying to prove my place here..and as long as everything is okay I don't plan on telling anyone else" JD said.

"Who else knows?" he was pretty sure it would be Vin.

"I told Ezra, I ran into to him at the peds' wing at the hospital couple months ago. He surprised the hell out of me. Never thought Ezra would be the type to go and spend time with sick kids," JD smiled.

"Ezra's full of surprises," Chris smiled back, really surprised that JD hadn't said anything to Vin.

"So do I get Thursday morning off?" JD asked, relieving a bit of the tension.

"Yeah, you want the day?"

"No. Rather be busy than waiting around for a phone call," JD smiled.

"You'll know that day?"

"I'll know before I leave work."

"All right then. Now get back to work, and, me a favor?"

"What's that?"

"Leave the rubber bands in your desk." JD smiled back and walked out the door.


"Hey anyone seen JD this morning? He was already gone when I left," Buck asked.

"He took the morning off," Chris said, refilling his coffee cup.

"What for?" Buck asked.

"He just said he wanted the morning off," Chris said.

"And you just gave it to him without asking why?" Buck asked.

"What's the matter, Buck? Lost track of your chick?" Vin smiled.

"Very funny."

"He said he had some personal business, he'll be in later."

"What kind of personal business?" Buck asked again.

"Buck.." Chris tried, when the topic of discussion walked through the elevator doors.

"You mind tellin' me where the hell you've been?" Buck shot out as he walked to face JD.

"Well good morning to you, too," JD said harshly as he walked past Buck and to his desk, taking another sip of the orange juice he carried.

"Well? Where were you?"

"I had something to do. Is that all right with you?" JD laughed out a bit.

"No, it's not, you were gone before I left, no note, no nothing," Buck said his hands on his hips looking down to JD who was sitting at his desk.

"Didn't know I needed to leave a note 'mom'," JD said again with a laugh, taking another sip of juice.

"I didn't know if you got in an accident or something..would have been nice to tell me where you were going," Buck said a little calmer.

"Well, I'm here now, and I'm all in one piece," JD smiled.

"Next time let me know if ya don't mind," Buck said.

"Sure thing 'Mom'," JD smiled, taking another sip just as Buck cuffed him in the back of the head.

"And stop calling me that," Buck said, sitting down at his desk.

"Stop acting like one and I will," the others snickered at the observation.

Buck just smiled sarcastically then noticed that something was wrong. "Where's Casey?"

"She's in here sleeping," Chris said.

"I dropped her off here so you wouldn't have to deal with her," JD said.

"Casey and me had a talk last night, I think we got everything all straightened out," Buck said.

"Hey, Casey, come look who made it to work," Chris called back to the office.

Casey made her way out of the office and in two leaps had her front feet on JD's lap, tail wagging vigorously with a steady thump thump thump as her tail hit the desk.

"Okay, that's enough lay down and stay." And she did so. She never moved the rest of the day, unless asked.

The agents had busied themselves with getting ready with familiarizing themselves with the layout of the building, talking to other agents, those agents from the DEA calling to go over certain aspects of the raid and what not.

"Phone, JD, line three," Josiah yelled from across the room.

"Dunne..oh hi.. ..I'll have to let you know...okay too," JD smiled and hung the phone..and went back to work. He took a cautious look and thanked God Buck wasn't there. He grabbed some papers off his desk and headed for Chris's office.

He was about to walk into the office, but remembered to knock, "Got a minute?" he asked as Chris brought his head up from paper work.

"This is what I've gotten as far as the DEA's concerned of where we're supposed to be sweepin'."

"Thanks, you know you figure with all these computers and what not there wouldn't be this much paperwork," Chris smiled.

"Maybe someday they'll invent something that can do all the paperwork for ya."

"That'd be nice, but then I guess we'd be bored do death."

"I suppose," JD smiled and headed for the door.

"You hear anything yet?" Chris asked.

"Yeah, I'm okay."

"Glad to hear it, you let Ezra know?"

"Yeah, he emailed me when the phone rang," JD laughed.

"He sits two desks away from you and he emails you?" Chris couldn't help but grin.

"That's Ezra for ya..why walk and ask when you can sit and ask," and JD left the office.

As the door shut, Chris brought his hands to his face and rubbed his face. I getting to God dammed old for this. What ever happened to just worrying about one of your guys getting shot.


The meeting was brief and the ATF agents loaded into the van they used when on a raid, they headed for a meeting area the DEA had picked out a couple of blocks away from the targeted warehouse. The sun hadn't even risen and the DEA agents went over assignments, who the agents would be partnered with, most of which everyone else had worked with before.

There were six teams on the raid, four officers were to a group. They would storm the place, secure it then a two person team with a drug dog, and would sweep the place. Once the raid agents delivered whoever to where ever they had to, they would assist in the sweep, looking for used needles, left over bags, or forgotten ones.

Vin and JD both felt a bit uneasy as they found they would be following the raid team of Royal and Stevens, two DEA agents that everyone, including the DEA agents that worked with them, had called GI Joe and Rambo, none too affectionately. They had garnered the reputation as two hardasses that felt these raids were just a waste of time, go after the dealer and solve the problem is the way they would run things, where as the DEA would rather 'starve' the dealers by taking away their customers, causing them to be less careful and exposing themselves and easier to 'deal' with.

All the agents were in there perspective groups and had been assigned a number, as had the sweeper teams to make it fair, basically one wanted to work with Royal and Stevens, and they felt the same towards the others

"Well, kid, keep your eyes and ears open," Vin said as they got into another van filled with sweepers.

"Seems I had to go with the Gung-ho twins last raid we assisted," JD replied.

"You get them again, JD?" a DEA agent by the name of Tony asked.


"I swear you got the worst luck. Sorry to hear that, me and Ben are right next to you two, we'll keep are eyes open."

"Who you followin'?" JD asked

"We got Buck, Heidi, Sam, and Deacon."

"Who's with Rambo and GI Joe?" Ben asked.

"I think it's one of your guys and Josiah, not that it really matters," Vin said.

"Not that they need anyone else, hell I don't know why we have jobs.. Royal and Stevens could have the whole country rid of every junkie, dealer, and drug taken care of if it wasn't for us!" Ben laughed causing the rest of the van to erupt.

The van became silent, most of the dogs began to stir sensing the excitement, JD did what he always did, stroked Casey's head, looking out the window as his leg jiggled up and down nervously. The men listened intently to the traffic on the radio, listening for the all clear for them to start their end of the operation.

"All Clear," came over the twelve radios.

"Ready to earn your check, Zeke?" Ben asked his dog, who pranced excitedly with the rest of the dogs.

JD, Vin, and Casey made their way past the triage area and the truck that transported suspects back to the jail for processing and entered the building. The sweep was going well, no surprises so far, Vin and JD had picked up well over a hundred needles so far, a few used bags and a few forgotten ones. The two agents had upturned countless boxes and crates that Casey had signaled had something in them.

They came to a large crate and Casey had come unglued, Vin and JD manage to finally up turn it.

"Okay, chill out Casey, hold her up, Vin," JD said.

Vin grabbed a hold of Casey's collar and held back. "Careful, JD," Vin cautioned.

JD flashed his light into the crate and saw a man, "Come on out."

The man made his way out of the crate then extended his hand to the young Agent, JD offered his hand to the man who took it, taking his other hand he stuck JD with a needle and pushed the contents into JD's forearm until an empty syringe remained.

"SHIT!" JD yelped quickly bringing his arm back, gabbing his forearm.

"JD!" Vin yelled letting Casey go and pulling his weapon.

Vin's yell had alerted Ben and Tony who came running.

"Hey!" Tony yelled.

"Take care of him!" Vin yelled as he held on to JD's other arm.

"Shit shit shit shit.." JD chanted quietly.

"We got a stick," Ben called over the radio.

"He got a dose, too, Ben," Vin said.

"Change that, we got a stick and a dose."

"How much was in there?" Tony asked the man.

"Just two and a half."

Tony looked back to Vin.

"Shit," Vin said under his breath. "How ya doing, kid?"

"Fine," JD said, never looking to Vin.

"Look at me, kid."

JD did as he was asked and turned his head to Vin, he looked to JD's eyes and again cursed silently, his pupils were already beginning to constrict.

"What the hell happened?" Chris asked, he had already talking to Tony and Ben.

"We followed Royal and Stevens, that's what happened!" Vin yelled out, not really caring who listened, most of them would probably agree.

"Shit," Vin said again as JD became extremely relaxed.

"Easy, kid."

"I'm messed up, Chris," JD smiled out, his voice dancing with the drug.

"Yeah, you are certainly that," Chris said back seriously. "Hey Nathan!" JD greeted, another smile.

"They find out what was in that?" Vin asked Nathan.

"Yup, heroin," he said solemnly, he knew that with JD's stature and the fact he didn't do any drugs, the guy had given him enough for an overdose. Chris stood.

"They already took him, Chris," Nathan pointed out as two medics made there way to JD.

"Buck's downtown at the station, too," Chris said out loud to no one, just pointing out a fact.

"His reps are slowing down, Nate, we got to load and roll," Daren, a medic that all the men were familiar with, relayed taking the stethoscope from his ears and let them hang around his neck.

"Okay." And they lifted JD onto the stretcher.

"I'm coming," Chris stated.

"Me, too," Vin said.

"Not enough room, take care of her," Chris pointed to Casey, Vin nodded and grabbed the dog's collar as she tried to get into the ambulance with her partner.

"You stay here, girl," Chris said patting her head.

"We'll be right behind you," Josiah said, closing the doors and watching it take off.


"Four Corners General, this is truck thirty-five," Daren called the hospital.

"Go ahead thirty-five."

"General, were in route with a twenty-five year old male, possible heroin OD. His pupils are pinpointed, and he's becoming combative, unable to get any vitals at this time."

"Ten-four, thirty-five, what's you ETA?"

"Ahh.. two minutes. General, he's ATF," Daren added, letting the hospital know what to expect.

"Ten-four. We'll be expecting your arrival in two. General out."

"Ten-four, General, thirty-five out."

"Hang on guys we're almost there," Daren relayed as he looked to the two men who were attempting to hold JD down from pulling the O2 mask off his face and the I.V. they had stuck in his arm. The syringe that had been stuck now sat on the bench where Chris sat in a plastic bag.

The ambulance came to a stop, the doors flew open and a controlled chaos took over as Chris stood there, not able to do a thing to help. He'd never felt more helpless in his life, he was joined by three more members as Josiah came to a screeching halt.

The five members of Larabee's team walked through the door, following the path of the stretcher, the medics, Nathan and a crew of doctors all seeming to talk at the same time..medics giving off vitals, doctors, nurses shouting out and taking orders as JD still fought off the help, causing them to finally restrain the kid.

"The dog can't be in here, sir," an orderly said to Chris as all five members watched from the window to where JD was. Ezra, Josiah, Vin, Casey, and Chris all seemed to watch, Chris put his hand on the dog's head, her front paws on the window.

"She stays," Chris said firmly.

"Animals aren't allowed in here, sir, I'm sorry."

Vin reached down grabbed at Casey's collar, "She stays," he repeated Chris' words showing the orderly her badge.

"Marcus? Something the matter?"

"Dr. Rydell, I was just telling these men the dog couldn't..."

"I'll take care of it, Marcus." Who nodded and returned to his desk. "Heard ATF was coming in, figured it had to be one of you're boys, Chris."

"Yeah, she stays, Saul," Chris said, never taking his eyes from the room.

"How bad?" Saul asked.

"OD," was all Chris could get out, all the men's eyes turned to see Buck being escorted by Ben and Tony.

"What the hell ha...ahhh Jesus," Buck said, making it to the window, just as JD started having convulsions, the staff then pulled the curtain, no one needed to see this.

Buck hadn't looked long, but he'd gotten and eye full, he'd never seen so many tubes. He knew JD's clothes were in a heap on the floor, he didn't know how many bags were hanging off the tree that held them, he'd seen the patches on the kid's chest, the cuff taking blood pressure, and worst of all the tube that was stuck down the kid's throat to help him breathe.

"Who the hell raided that area?!" Buck demanded to know, sitting down in the lobby chair, the others joining.

"GI Joe and Rambo," Vin said.

"Shit!" Buck sighed out heavily putting his hands to a face. Only to remove them due to the whining and wet tongue of Casey licking his hands. She stopped as soon as Buck removed his hands. She jumped into the chair next to Buck and lay her head on her adversaries knee, whimpering and looking to where her partner was.

"Me, too, Casey, me, too," Buck said, placing his hand on her head, stroking the back of her neck.

"Chris, any word?" a voice from behind Chris asked. Chris turned to see the DEA officer in charge of the operation and everyone else involved now standing in the lobby in civilian clothes.

"Not yet," Chris said.

"You didn't let them in here did you?" Vin asked standing to look for the two men he held responsible for JD being in the condition he was in.

"No, I filed a formal complaint with the department, they've been close too many times. I hate to say it, but you and I both know there wasn't a damn thing I could do until now," Delaney said, honestly apologetic that things had to go this far.

"I know."

"IA should have a field day with them."

"How's he doin, Nate?" Vin asked seeing him pass through the group of men.

"Not good. He's having a hard time, doc's thinking about rapid detox," Nathan relayed, head hanging and his hands on his hips.

"Don't they usually do that on the long terms?" Buck asked, almost afraid of what more the kid had to go through.

"Yeah, doc's decided that if any of his vitals drop again he's going ahead with it. He doesn't have a lot of options, Buck, if he keeps doing what he's doing he ain't gonna make it," Nathan laid it out on the table for everyone.

"Does he think it'll work?" Chris asked, what everyone else wanted to.

"Right now it can't hurt, he doesn't have any other options."


Nathan turned and walked to the medic who had called him, with a nod he turned and returned to the group.

"His blood pressure just dropped again, he's gonna do the detox," Nathan informed.

"We gonna be able to see him?" Chris asked.

"There moving him up to ICU, we can go up there. We're not going to be allowed in the room though." Nathan had already asked the doctor about that.

"Fine." And the group of men and one dog headed to where JD still was and waited for him to be brought out.

"We'll be here, Chris, let us know."

"Bob, it takes six hours," Chris sighed.

"Then I guess we'll be bringing you up something to eat," Delaney smiled.


They wheeled JD out of the ER and onto the elevator, Casey attempted a bolt but was stopped by Buck's command of 'no, stay', she sat next to the standing man, whimpering. The other members of the raid team also saw JD, they hung their heads or turned away, their hearts all sunk, the kid was hooked up to machines and IV's. They didn't think it was humanly possible for them to all be hooked up to the kid.

The group of seven then went to the next elevator, pushed the button for the ICU, got off as the doors opened and followed the gurney, then prepared to watch their youngest member... no, friend... no, brother, fight some more.

The only thing the men who waited could be thankful for was the kid was out of it completely. They had all taken turns at looking through the window, sitting and pacing. The pain that JD was going through was evident on his face and could be heard through the muffled cry he'd let out, but the Doctor guaranteed he wasn't feeling it, nor would he remember it. He would most likely be sore and tired, but it was the only option they had left.

On the fifth hour the elevator door opened and Delaney and five agents came out and to the men, all were carrying sandwiches and coffee, as promised for the men.

"How's he doing?" Delaney asked, sounding a bit hopeful.

"He's made it through the worst of it, Doc thinks he's gonna be okay."

"Glad to hear it. I heard from IA."

"That was quick," Chris said.

"Yeah, well the reason they were each transferred out from their perspective units were for the same reasons we've been bitching about them since they got together."

"So what's gonna happen, they get transferred out again? Become somebody else's accident waiting to happen?" Buck said, standing next to Chris.

"No, IA's thinking criminal charges."

"Seriously?" Chris said, he never liked IA, his opinion was changing, for the moment.

"Yup, there heading over to the warehouse tomorrow. Going to go over Royal and Stevens sector, figure out if they would have noticed the crate or if the only way to know was with a dog. Either way they are out."

"Great, then we'll have to deal with two ex-cops running loose."

"Probably," Delaney agreed to Vin's statement. "Kids been awful quiet, maybe we should ask the.."

"Doc?" Buck asked.

"He's doing fine, he should be waking up as soon as the anesthesia wears off. He's gonna be tired, sore, pretty disorientated; that all depends on how much he remembers, might even be a bit crabby."

"How long's he gonna have to be here?" Vin asked impatiently.

"Well, we usually keep our rapid patients over night, but I'd like to keep him for a few days, he did get stuck, were going to need to run the battery of blood tests," the doctor said, then added, "The needle is down in the Lab getting a test done on it." The men knowing what test was being done.

"I'll let the others know he's gonna be okay," Delaney said with a smile.

"Thanks, Bob," Chris said, shaking his hand and getting a pat on the shoulder from the man.

"You want me to take Casey, Buck? Her and Zeke get along," Tony offered, pretty much knowing that it wouldn't happen.

"Naw, she ain't no trouble, are ya?" Casey sat and wagged her tail.

The men left and entered the elevator to tell the lobby full of off duty DEA agents that the kid was going to be okay. And the others sat in the chairs and let out a collective sigh, the kid had won round one.

They all seemed to be silently thinking the same thing, please let this be the only battle.


By the time the men were allowed in to see JD, he looked pretty normal, well as normal as he could anyways. He was pale, curled into a ball sleeping, having not yet awakened from the anesthesia, the heart monitor was still there but not as intrusive, all but one of the IV's were still there, the doctor said that was just there to rehydrate; the intubation tube was gone, the only sign of any assistance in breathing was the nasal canula.

JD's eyes began to open, he looked at Buck, the look would have broken a heart made of stone. His eyes filled, and as he blinked, two huge tears escaped. One going across the bridge of his nose, the other disappeared into the pillow.

"Hey kid, how ya feelin'?" Buck asked

"Tired," he said slowly, his voice so hoarse it sounded like he had gone days with no sleep or water.

"Get some more sleep, we can talk later," Buck instructed.

"Okay," he whispered hoarsely again, another set of huge tears retraced the previous paths as his eyes closed and he slept.

Two hours later JD woke up again, still not totally with it, but Chris could see questions forming in the kid's eyes.

"Hey kid, how ya doin'?" Chris asked.

"Fine," he said, then swallowed, he winced as he did so. " I at the hospital?"

"Yup. You remember what happened?" Chris asked, Vin stood behind him.

"Not much, we we're on sweep right?" JD seemed to ask Vin.


"Oh shit. I got stuck. Some guy stuck me. Why do I feel so awful?"

"You ODed," Chris said steadily.


"The guy dosed you, he ODed you," Vin offered.

"Buck here?"

"Yeah, he just took Casey out for a little walk."

"They let her in?"

"They didn't have much of an option thanks to our effective leader," Ezra said, as he entered the room with a cup of water.

"So when can I get out of here?"

"Drink, you sound like one of those women who smoke four packs of cigarettes a day," Ezra instructed.

"Thanks, so when can I leave?" JD asked before drinking the water.

"Couple more days," Chris said.


"You been way up and came down even faster in one day, Doc wants to make sure you stay at one level for awhile, kid," Vin said.

"Oh." JD began to think and looked around, noticed the bandage on his arm where the syringe had been. "They testing the needle?" JD asked Chris.

"Hey, look who's awake!" Buck said passing all the men.

"Hey Buck, hey Casey," JD smiled, "She been okay?" JD looked to Buck, knowing how they felt about each other.

"Just worried, just like me," Buck said. "You scared the shit out of me kid, try and not do that again okay?"

"Can't promise that, Buck, but I'll try okay?" JD smiled.

"Can't ask for much more than that," Buck said, messing the kid's hair.

"Come on up, Casey." She leaped onto the bed, laying next to her partner, laying her head on his chest, he put his hand on her neck and yawned.

"Time for you to get some rest, we'll be right outside," Buck said

"Kay," JD yawned out again and quickly fell asleep.

"Come on, Casey," Buck said, the dog never moved. "Fine, stay there in that bed, I'll go out here and sleep in the chair." And he left.

"She ain't stupid, Buck," Vin smiled.

"If you ask me I say she was a typical bit.." Buck shot back.

"Buck," the five men in front of him stopped him.

"What? I was gonna say bitty who worries too much," Buck smiled.

"Sure," Chris said.


JD woke up the next morning finally feeling the soreness of what he'd been through.

"Morning, son. You okay?" Chris asked, seeing the change in the kid's face.

"Besides this killer headache and the fact every time I try and move I'm stiffer than a piece of wood, I'm fine."

"Glad to hear you're not complaining," Chris said.

"Where'd Casey go?" he asked, trying to move his head to where she had been.

"Out with Vin, relax," Buck said.

"Glad to see you have finally awakened from your slumber," Ezra said as he entered with the rest of the missing team.

"Wish I hadn't of. Can you turn the lights down or pull the shades or somethin'?" JD pleaded.

"You head hurtin' that bad, JD?" Nathan asked.

"No, I'm making it all up," JD shot back sarcastically, his eyes shut and his brow wrinkled.

"I'm gonna find the Doctor," Nathan said quietly.

"I see why these people get hooked on this shit, I'd do anything to get rid of this," JD said through clenched teeth.

"Morning gentlemen."

"How long you had the headache, JD?" Doctor Peters asked.

"I dunno, since I opened my eyes."

"I'm going to give you something to make it go away, it'll take a few minutes but hang in there."

"Okay," JD became quiet as he tried to ride it out.

JD began to relax and as he did he fell asleep.

"That suppose to happen?" Buck asked.

"It usually does, it'll be like a 'power nap' he'll be asleep for about ten minutes, he'll be better for awhile, then we can give him aspirin once we get ahead of it."

"How long's he gonna be like this, Doc? I mean the headaches and what not?" Vin asked, coming into the conversation, Casey jumping back on the bed.

"The headaches won't be so bad, the mood swing, don't really know; most likely he'll be like that the rest of the day, you have to understand that it's nothing he can control, he's been through an awful lot in a short time. He's not an addict. They know what to expect, he doesn't."

"He should be a joy when they come for his blood," Ezra said.

"He might be fine, Ezra," Buck shot back.

"The emotions run pretty raw, if he's worried about the test he'll most likely be real upset."

"You mean everything will be a bit of overkill?" Chris tried to understand.

"Yes, that pretty much says it all, he'll be better tomorrow, and the next day, and so on."

The day was definitely a roller coaster for the men when dealing with the kid, okay one minute, not too happy the next and usually working its way to downright ugly, then a long nap. He was indifferent about his blood getting taken for tests and by the end of the day, pretty much all the men were emotionally drained.

As promised the next day started much better, he woke up in a good mood and stayed that way, until he got tired and once again it was overkill. Instead of saying he was tired he would just about drop and fall asleep. He'd slept for three hours when the doctor came in, holding a folder.

"Those my blood results?" JD asked, he knew the battery of test would take longer than his 'normal' blood test unless they had found something.

"No, these are from the needle. The tests came back negative."

"Well, that's good then, he's all set then?" Buck said.

"It doesn't mean anything, Buck, all it means is there wasn't any blood on it, doesn't mean someone else didn't use before."

"Your blood work looks good so far, you'll need another in.."

"I know, three weeks," JD said casually, "Can I go home now?"

"Mr. Wilmington, if you'd come with me and sign the release forms we can have him out of here in an hour."

"Sure," Buck said, bothered by something JD had said, he made a mental note to ask him about later.

"Let's get Casey outside for a run, Josiah," Nathan suggested, he also noted that JD seemed to know the routine as far as getting tested after a stick and made a mental note as well.

"After three weeks you come back in two months, isn't it?" Ezra asked. Vin thought it a pretty inappropriate time to ask that kind of question, but noticed the kid didn't seem upset..just nodded his head staring at the foot of the bed, never realizing Ezra had made his way to the bed.


"I thought the worse was over, I get it done every six months, get the phone call. Now I gotta start all over again, I don't wanna do this again," he sobbed out.

"You're not alone this time, we'll be right here, no matter what. You hear me, no matter what," Chris said as he too sat on the bed, he raised his hand and grabbed at the back of JD's neck and pulled him into his shoulder and let him cry.

Ezra had leaned into JD and had whispered something, JD had responded and Ezra stood, patting JD on the back.

"Vin, we need to talk," Ezra said simply. No fancy words no charm and what worried Vin the most, he was upset, not mad upset, sad upset.

"Ezra?" Vin asked as he was taken out of the room and into the waiting area they had haunted for two days.

"You need to sit."

"I'll stand."

"Fine, I need to sit."

"What's this all about? What's he talking about every six months and starting over."

"He took the morning off the other day.." Ezra tried to start.

"I know that," Vin said his hands on his hips, wondering where this was going.

" be tested," Ezra let hang, hoping Vin would catch on.

"For what?" Vin asked. Ezra sighed and put his head into his hands, and quickly shot his head up.

"For HIV, his mother died of AIDS and there was a chance that their blood mixed a few years back," Ezra finally got it out all at once.

"Jesus," Vin said, sitting down heavily in the chair.

The busy hospital was suddenly void of buzzers and dings and the voices paging some one as Vin sorted through what Ezra had just told him, he knew the kid's mother had been sick, real sick, why didn't he know? He felt hurt that he didn't know, that JD had never told him but that diminished when Vin realized he'd never asked him.

"Buck know?" he asked suddenly.

"Not that I am aware of, Chris and I, and now you, are the only ones who knows."

"What's this do for his chances of not getting HIV?" Vin found himself asking.

"He's been fine for three years, but any encounter with that element isn't a good one, it would be no different than if it had been you or me," Ezra said simply.

"How long have you known?" Vin asked, Ezra taking it like he was assuming JD was sick.

"He's not sick, Vin, I assure you."

"He wasn't until Friday at least. When did you find out he was getting tested?"

"I found out a few months ago, and as far as Friday is concerned Mr. Tanner," Ezra's tone changing, " Until I hear the words that say otherwise he is still healthy, and I hope you follow my example."

"I didn't mean it to come out like that, Ezra, I'm's just.. Jesus," Vin tried again.

"Well, who's ready to go home?" Buck smiled as he came into JD's room an hour and a half after he had left, giving Ezra time, Vin to deal, and JD to grieve, and all of them to pull themselves together.

Before Buck had come back, Nathan and Josiah had also been told, and JD had asked Vin and Chris to stay the night, he wanted to tell Buck, he didn't feel it was right to hear it from someone other than himself. The men had agreed, understanding that JD wouldn't be able to answer some of Buck's questions or maybe not be able to deal with the way Buck would react.

The ride home was quiet, JD had slept most of the thirty minute ride and made it into the apartment and to the couch. He couldn't contain the smile on his face as he saw the three men walk in the door.

"Hungry, kid? That hospital food was the pits."

"How would you know? You didn't eat it."

"Well, I felt bad that you did."

"Oh, yeah, you felt bad enough not to share that pizza with me yesterday?"

"Are you hungry or not?" Buck asked.

"You gonna cook?"

"Well yeah, I don't see Chef Boy Ardee any where in the kitchen do you?"

"Hey, Chris, you think the hospital delivers?"

"Why I ought to.."

And the chase was on, no one would ever know that JD had just been released from the hospital from an overdose of heroin or that he was worried sick about blood test he'd have to wait another day for, and then another and then another and another. Buck had no idea that his world of fun, endless dates and sleepless nights were going to be questioned again and that this time he would know why.

Chris and Vin watched with smiles on their faces and a bit of sadness in their eyes. They thought the kid was pretty naive in the ways of the world, when in fact he had learned some of the hardest ones in life. Bad things happen to good people. Vin hung his head, Chris looked up and both shared the same thought, like they had done so many times with out knowing it; and asked whoever it was they were talking to please not let it happen again, he was a good kid who has had to suffer for years, he deserved to be okay, he's earned it.

The two turned to the kitchen and started cooking dinner, the kid's favorite, Chris' spaghetti and Vin's sauce.

Vin peeked out of the kitchen as JD had jumped from the back of the couch, Buck close behind, and surprisingly Casey behind Buck.

"Hey Batman and Robin, and Dynomutt, spaghetti's on," Vin yelled.

"Dynomutt?" Chris asked.

"Blue Falcon's sidekick," Vin smiled.

"What's that got to do with Batman and Robin?"

"Nothin', Chris, but Batman and Robin didn't have a pet, unless you think of Alfred as one," JD said, in a very Josiah like way.

"Yeah, Chris. Everyone knows that," Buck said sarcastically, he hadn't a clue who Alfred was.

"Let's eat," Chris said sitting down.

The men finished up and Buck began to clear the dishes from the table.

"Hey, Buck?"

"What ya need kid?" Buck yelled back to the living room.

"I need to talk to you" JD said, not looking to the man.

"I'm getting the ta.."

"We'll get it, Buck, go on," Chris said.

"You know something I don't ?" Buck asked as he walked to the living room.

"Not for long," Chris said quietly, gathering up some dishes.


What's up ki.." Buck was interrupted by the phone, "Yeah? Well, hey there, darlin....awe hell ..well can I take a raincheck?..... Well I haven't been home or you know I would have called you, Meli...Miranda," Buck raised his eyebrows to the kid, impressed by his own save, "Well..I can't tonight sweetheart..oh..really.. No..ya can't came here..... he just got home....... really?.. Can I call ya back? bet..same to you..I will..Bye."

Buck looked at JD with a wide grin that disappeared as soon as he saw the disapproving look on the kid's face.

"You ain't gonna start this shit again?"

"Buck.." JD tried

" way, you start this again and I have a mind to call Melinda.."


"..Whatever, I'll ca.."

"You can't even remember her name, Buck! Doesn't that tell you anything?"

"Yeah, that I'm a busy guy!"

"And you're proud of that? Do you have any idea what might happen if you sleep with the wrong person, Buck? Just time!! What are you gonna do if one of these days a girl calls you and tells you she's sick? Huh..what are you gonna do then? We can save ourselves the gas and go together and get HIV tests done!"

"Well, this is going well," Chris said softly

"I thought so," Vin replied softly as well neither one of them moving away from doing the dishes in the kitchen.

"I'm a grown man, JD! And not like it should matter ..I'm careful! I'm sorry about what happened to you and I'm sorry that you're gonna have to go through all that, but one don't have nothing to do with the other! You see the women I go out with, kid, ain't none of know!"

"You can tell just like that? Well, why the hell do they have all these tests done then huh? Shit, I'll just ask you! Well, Buck? Am I sick?"

"He has a good point," Vin pointed out from the sink.

"That he does," Chris agreed.

"How the hell am I suppose to know?!"

"That's my point!"

"I just know all right?! Now just drop it!"

"NO..You can tell right? Fine you tell saw pictures of my mom, right?"

"Yeah, JD, what's that got to do with any of this?"

"You tell me was she okay? I mean, you know she was sick..but other than that she was okay right?"

"He shoots," Chris said.

"Your mom.. Yeah, she was a good women, hell, you told me that. Like I said, what's that prove?"

"It proves you don't know if someone's okay..She had AIDS."

"He scores," Vin said as he hung his head. Both men headed out of the kitchen and into the living room.


"She got in an accident when I was a kid..she got a bad transfusion. She got real sick, and we found out," JD's eyes began to fill, "Buck, I know you been living the way you have for awhile, but you just ain't seeing the other side. I have, I grew up with it, I live with it and now I gotta do it all over again..It ain't pretty, Buck," tears streamed JD's face, "She didn't have a choice, you do and your going out with all these women thinking they're okay, maybe they ain't, Buck. You might as well just...just put a gun to your head hope to God there ain't a bullet in the chamber! I gotta worry about me, Buck, I don't wanna have to worry about you, too," JD said quietly, the tears coming relentlessly from his eyes.

Buck sat heavily onto the chair.

"Thursday, you were gettin' tested on Thursday, weren't you. Why?"

"My mom fell and when I went to help her up I cut myself. She'd already cut herself on the same thing and there was a chance we mixed, I been gettin' tested every six months ever since, and I been fine; but now the needle thing.." JD began to fade, Chris and Vin could see it in his face, and his posture and in his voice.

"I think you need to get some sleep, kid, come on.. let Chris and Buck talk for awhile."


"Get some sleep, kid, we can talk in the morning," Buck said quietly, forcing a smile.

"You sure?" JD asked at his bedroom door.

"You bet," Buck replied and JD shut the door.

There was a long silence as Chris pulled a chair to sit in front of Buck. He sat and looked at the man, the man who loved life and loved to live it, sit silent his hands folded with his head resting on them.

"You okay?"

"Jesus, Chris, he could be sick," Buck choked out, like it was the first time he heard it.

"Yeah, he could be, but he's not, not right now; right now he's okay."

"For how long though?"

"Can't answer that, Buck, but I hope it's for a long time. Don't write him off so quick," Chris said in an even cool tone.

"I'm trying not to, but with the kid's luck.. I.." The tears finally leaving the safety of Buck's eyes.

"I'd say his lucks been pretty good for three years, Buck. If, and I stress the IF, IF he test positive, whether it's tomorrow, next week, next year, or five years from now, we know he has a chance of stayin' positive for a real long time with out ever getting AIDS.. I know that doesn't sound like much, Buck. You and I both know the kid's to stubborn to go where he doesn't want to," Chris tried with a smile.

"He is stubborn if nothing else," Buck smiled through the wet eyes.

"It ain't a death sentence like it used to be either, they got stuff that works," Vin added

"He sleeping?" Vin nodded his reply to Chris.

"So I guess we just go on, business as usual?" Buck looked to the two in front of him.

"Ezra seems to think that's best, until we know otherwise, the kid ain't sick," Vin said.

"The fact that he's at risk isn't going anywhere, but we don't need to let the idea beat us, or him, before we find out anything else," Chris said with conviction.


JD was able to go back to work after a week of recovery time, he had gone back to work and had found it was nice to be back, it wasn't like before in Boston; if anyone was staring he didn't know it they weren't avoiding him and that made JD feel less self conscious.

Buck was still taking numbers but didn't stay out as late as he used to, JD had remembered thinking that if nothing else good had come of it, at least Buck had listened. JD had wanted him to get a test done, but didn't want to push it. He and Ezra had begun to go to the pediatric AIDS wing at least once a month and Vin had come by a few times, Josiah and Nathan were hooked and were there as often as they could be.

AFT business was just that, they had a few undercover jobs to do, had some raids, and organized street bust assist with the DEA, business as usual. JD had been back for all his blood tests which had all turned out negative.

JD had taken his six month test on this particular morning and the men answered the phones on the first ring, causing JD to smile a bit. He thought it was pretty funny when Chris Larabee himself came out to the pit and away from the safety of his office, the phone rang on Ezra's desk and he picked it up instantly, saying the one word that no one ever heard him say when he answered the telephone.


JD couldn't control himself and he blurted out a snicker, causing the room to erupt.

"It's for you, Ezra," Chris said, giving the man back his phone..casting an icy glare over the pit, as he did the snickers diminished

"For me? Well, what a surprise." He took the receiver, and was about to push the hold button.

"Maude says hello, Josiah," Chris shot back as he walked to his office.

"Dear Lord," Ezra said as he pushed the button. "Yes? Mother!..what a surprise...I'm sorry I can't talk..yes, I know ..but you see.. I can understand your concern ..but we are wait...that's not what I'm saying..there's an important call... no, I'm not saying you're not important," Ezra sent a pleading look to the other men for help.

"Aw, come on guys, it's Maude for cryin' out loud," JD said. He got up from his desk, went over to Ezra's desk, and sat on the edge of it. He bent over as he and Ezra listened to Maude rant about her latest trip or husband, JD wasn't really sure which.

"JD, line two," Vin said quietly.

JD stood, and Ezra slammed down his receiver. "You mind?" JD asked Ezra, finding his feet didn't seem to want to work.

"Most certainly," Ezra stood from his chair, which JD sat in. JD took a deep breath and put the receiver to his ear, he went to push the number two on the phone but he was shaking so bad he couldn't seem to find it.

"Where the hell is it!" he yelled out frustrated, Ezra took the boy's finger and landed him on the two, "Thanks," and he pushed the button.

"Hello?'re sure...okay... I don't wanna do that now? ...Okay well let me check," he pointed to his calendar, which Vin tossed to Ezra, no one was able to read the kid's face.


The men's hearts began to sink. He was making an appointment. This couldn't be good. The men's' minds began to wonder at the possibilities, and none of them were good.

JD started turning the pages in his calendar and Ezra noticed he was going through the months, he passed two months and the kid was fumbling through the pages as fast as he could. Ezra held up two fingers.

Then three.




And JD stopped, on the twelfth he wrote down, 'blood test 8:30 a.m.'.

"Okay..thanks," and he hung up the phone.

"Six more months!" he smiled. And the men did as well, Chris looked at his watch. 1:30.

"How the hell are we going to get anything else done today. First round's on me," and they filed out.

"Thanks, Chris."

"You bet."

Chris smiled as he left that Friday afternoon following his men and one dog into the elevator, he rolled his eyes and shook his head as the doors closed.

"Hey watch it, Buck, that's my foot you stepped on."

"If your elbow wasn't diggin' in my thigh.."

"You started it by steppin' on my foot."

"Well if you weren't so short maybe people would see you more often."

"Hey, Ren and Stimpy you mind keeping it down, Chris is buyin'."

Yup, business as usual with the most dysfunctional family I ever laid my eyes on, Chris thought, and he couldn't be happier.


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