Devil's Hand

by Cindy Brewer

ATF Alternate Universe


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Ezra thrust the key into the lock and quickly removed the handcuffs from his friend's wrists. Buck's now unconscious form slumped to the ground.

Ezra risked a glance at the fire and was alarmed to see how quickly it had spread. The flames now consumed the front and left wall of the building.

Trying to stay as close to the floor as he could Ezra moved around to the front of the pole and gathered Buck in a fireman's tackle and headed for the office.

Halfway to the office a burning piece of ceiling tile fell just inches from Ezra's feet. The ATF agent quickly dodged to the left nearly dropping Buck in the process. Ezra warily skirted the hazard and moved into the office quickly walking toward the window. Standish lowered Buck's unconscious form out the window as gently as he could. When his own feet hit the ground Ezra turned to face the concerned face of Vin Tanner and a dozen fire fighters.

The southerner took a step toward Vin before he fell into an unconscious heap at the tracker's feet.


Chris Larabee wearily pulled a chair next to his old friend's hospital bed. They had brought Ezra and Buck in around eight o'clock. Ezra being Ezra had regained consciousness first.

Chris glanced at the clock on the wall of the intensive care unit. It was nearly two in the morning and Buck had yet to wake. The doctors had assured Chris that this was normal reaction to the amount of smoke Buck inhaled, but they were keeping him in ICU just in case.

Leaning back in the small chair Chris rubbed a weary hand over his face as he thought of the events of that evening. Vin's shot had only winged Zellar's left arm. Tanner had personally escorted Zellar to his cell wanting to make sure this time that they threw away the key.

Mary had come out of surgery with flying colors and was expected to make a full recovery. Chris had pulled a few strings allowing Billy to spend the night with his mother knowing that was what they both needed most.

Buck stirred jerking the weary leader's attention back to his old friend.

Chris leaned forward just as Wilmington's eyes opened, "Old friend, you just used up one of your nine lives."

Buck grinned wearily, "More than a one I think," he replied hoarsely, "What the hell happened anyway? I feel like I was run over by a train."

Chris laughed softly, "Not quite. Zellar set the warehouse you were in on fire. Ezra pulled you out."

Buck nodded, "Zellar dead?"

Chris shook his head, "Vin winged him, he's in jail, for good this time."

A dark shadow of pain flashed through Buck's eyes as he turned his head away from Larabee, "Jail's too good for the bastard."

Chris's head snapped up surprise in his blue eyes, "Ezra didn't tell you?"

Buck looked at his old friend, "There wasn't a lot of time for chit chat. I was in and out."

"Buck, "Chris said softly, "JD's alive."

Wilmington jerked straight up ignoring the pain that flashed through his rib cage, "You tellin' me the bastard was right?!"

Chris cocked his head to the right, "Zellar told you the kid was alive?"

Buck nodded, "I figured he was only doin' that to save his neck but he led me to the warehouse claiming that's where JD was."

"And he was partially right," Larabee replied quietly, "JD was there but he managed to escape and made his way back to your apartment, that's where I found him. He was badly dehydrated and malnourished."

Buck met Chris's gaze, "Level with me, Chris, is he really gonna be okay?"

Chris grinned, "You know the kid, take more than this to keep him down."

Wilmington nodded as he swung his legs over the side of the bed, "He here?"

Chris nodded, "I had him at the ranch but as soon as everything was over I had Nathan check him in here. He's sleeping in a room few doors down."

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Buck slowly sat down into a chair next to JD's bed. He just sat there for a long moment watching the kid sleep.

The dark haired agent raised his eyes skyward and sent off several prayers thanking whoever it was that had brought the kid back to him.

His life had been dark and barren without JD.

The youth stirred and rolled onto his back, his eyes blinked sleepily several times before they finally focused on Buck.

"Buck?" JD asked hoarsely as he struggled into a sitting position.

Buck blinked away the moisture that had suddenly formed in his eyes, "Yeah, kid, its me. Didn't mean to wake you, go back to sleep."

JD grinned tiredly, "You look like hell, Buck."

Wilmington returned his smile, "I look better than you."

JD's eyes drifted closed and just before the youth drifted off to sleep Buck heard him say quietly, "You're still full of crap, Buck."


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