"You sure you're okay with this?" Chris asked JD, for what seemed the millionth time in the past 4 hours.

"Chris, no disrespect. . . but if you ask me that one more time. . . I'm likely to go find Joey and take my chances with him," JD answered, from where he sat next to Chris and Vin . They were in a ground level storage building on the docks. . . waiting for Boxer and the gang to make their arrivals, then wait for Ezra to make the deal, exchange money and then rush the group.

"I think he's tryin' to tell you to shut up, cowboy," Vin smiled, knowing JD was probably paling at what he was translating.

"That ain't what I said Vin! It's. . . just. . . well. . . I'm gettin sick of the same question. . . I mean. . . Hell. . . all I knows is I didn't tell him to shut up," JD defended himself, "You trying to get me killed?" JD whispered sarcastically to Vin, the panic in his voice quite noticeable.

"Naw, just got bored. . . needed some entertainment," Vin laughed quietly.

"Well, shows about to begin, both of ya hush," Chris ordered, seeing the small group of teens arrive at the docks, followed moments later by Boxer.

"Shit," JD whispered as he counted the group on the platform.

"What?" Chris asked.

"You was right Vin, there's 15 guys still. . . he didn't loose no one . . . " JD said, his tone a mixture of relief and horror. . . relief he'd listened to Ezra; horror at the thought that Ezra and Vin had been right, Joey knew. "I should've known somethin was up when he called," JD added, disappointed in himself.

Even though things hadn't worked out the way they were suppose to, Chris was proud of JD. From the minute he'd gotten the case, JD had kept his head, he'd needed to think fast and keep on his toes, the operation itself wasn't suppose to go this fast. . . but it had. . . and given the fact that not only was JD physically and mentally exhausted, the kid had never faltered.

"You can have Joey, son," Chris said.

"Thanks 'Dad'," JD smiled as he whispered.

The three agents watched silently as Boxer and the group talked, then as Ezra pulled up to purchase the two crates filled with guns.

"Uh-oh," JD whispered, he hadn't taken his eyes off Joey since he had arrived at the docks.

"JD?" Chris questioned.

"Joey knows Ezra's car," JD said evenly.

"He meet Ezra?" Chris asked, if he had. . . they were in definite trouble.


"Lets just listen to the conversation and see if Joey's paying attention, he might be concerned with just his money right now," Chris reasoned, this had been one of the few times Ezra had worn a wire; not that Boxer was trusting. . . he just didn't care.

"Nice ride," Joey said suspiciously.

"Well. . . Thank you. . . .the undercover agent that I procured it from I'm sure use to think so as well," Ezra smiled.

"Jesus. . . " JD said, "what's he thinking?" he asked quietly.

"Pullin' the wool over Joey's eyes," Chris said, noticing the smile appear on Hall's face.

"There a problem squirt?" Boxer's voice boomed.

"Nope. . . it's cool," Joey stated.

After merchandise was inspected and talk of money, the dealer and the buyer shook hands, Ezra rubbed his hands together greedily, the signal for the bust. . .

'FREEZE ATF!' was heard in 3 different directions, catching all off guard.

Buck and Josiah came from the other side of the docks, taking Boxer and Ezra. Ezra played his part to the hilt spouting off about his Civil Rights, no proof. . . he was lost and was asking for directions. . . how he wanted badge numbers, he wanted his lawyer and that he'd be out of jail before they could finish the paperwork. As soon as Boxer was in custody. . . Ezra was uncuffed and chasing after teen gang members.

Vin, Chris and JD had exited the storeroom guns drawn, JD saw three teens pull weapons and soon after drop; Nathan, who was in an adjacent building, took down one. . . Vin and Chris taking the other two.

Chris caught sight of Joey running behind the alley between two small structures, which appeared to be guard shacks.

"JD!" Chris yelled from where he was, holding two teens at bay, JD was already after him.

"I assume that no one will object to myself and Mr. Tanner backing up our fearless agent on his endeavor?" Ezra asked.

"Be careful," Chris instructed.

Ezra and Vin were near the place they last saw JD, as they passed by the shacks they came to an open space designed for parking. They quickly went back to the shacks undetected. They carefully peered around the corner, there they saw JD, and a very frightened Joey, held tight against the body of Henderson with a gun at the young leaders head.

Vin looked the area over, he signaled to Ezra indicating a way to get closer; then enabling the two agents to come from behind Henderson. JD's eye's were focused forward, his gun aimed in Henderson's direction, his peripheral vision detected the two agents as they moved silently in between buildings; he understood what their objective was.

"Let him go," JD said evenly.

"Put it down Dunne, or he's dead," Henderson replied.

"He's got nothin to do with this," JD stated, taking a tentative step towards the ex-detective.

"One more step and I'll blow his head off," Henderson warned, causing JD to stop.

"It's me you want . . . not him," JD said firmly, "You kill him then you ain't no better than the guys you busted in Boston," hoping to make Henderson see what he'd become.

"You've killed people, broke the law. . . and look what they done. . . they made you a cop. . . You're always working an angle aren't you?" Henderson sneered.

"No angle, just changed direction," JD referred to turning his life around.

"Different direction? Hah! You're smarter than anyone I ever met Dunne, you know that?"

"What makes you say that?" JD asked, he could see Vin and Ezra in the shadows moving closer behind Henderson. He wanted to keep the man distracted long enough so the two could get to the captor before someone got hurt.

"5 years ago you were killing people, now, here you are getting paid for it. Doesn't seem right. Those men. . . they know what you did for fun . . . before you got a badge?" Henderson asked.

"Yeah, they know," JD said seriously. He could tell where this conversation was going. . . and that Vin and Ezra, and most likely the others would be hearing more than he really wanted them to about his life as a gang member.

"They know about the people you killed?" Henderson asked.

"I didn't kill your brother," JD tried to redirect the conversation.

"No, but you were there. . . and all the rest of them. . . what was it you called yourselves again? Oh yes. . . Warlocks. . . all of them. . . gone. . . dead. . . so that leaves you".

"He was in a gang. . . not like he didn't know the risk," JD stated.

"Did you understand the risk?" Henderson asked.

"Everyone knows," JD answered.

"So why is it you managed to stay alive?"

"I knew when enough was enough," the young man stated firmly.

"You mean it got too hot for you, so you went somewhere else. . . a bit cooler," Henderson referred to JD's jumping from gang to gang.

"Call it whatever you want," JD said.

"What made you decide to become a cop anyway. You know I've always wondered that? Was it the idea of being able to shoot people and have it be okay. . . what?" Henderson asked.

The others had made it to the guard shacks in time to hear the question Henderson asked, Chris was aware that Ezra and Vin were making their way towards Henderson and Joey slowly so not to cause Henderson to act anymore irrationally than he already was. Chris conveyed to his remaining team to stay put, with a glare to Buck making it clear their would be no rush on Henderson; JD had the situation under control for the moment.

"You did," JD answered a fact, his arms were beginning to burn with the effort it took to keep his aim steady, but his voice remained firm.

"Me? You mind telling me how that's possible?" Henderson laughed out.

"How many times you take me in Henderson? 10/12?"

"At least," Henderson said, not knowing what that had to do with anything.

"How many times I get shipped to the hospital?" JD asked, his head tilted slightly to the left.

"Damn," Buck whispered, he'd seen some of the other mug shots of JD; ones where JD was beaten, Buck always figured he'd gotten the injuries in a turf war. . . but know he realized they had come from somewhere else.

"You resisted arrest," Henderson defended, he didn't know other were listening.

"8 times? In two months? You wanna know why I wanted to be a cop?" JD said sternly, his voice growing louder.

"He's gonna lose it Chris," Buck stated.

"Vin and Ezra are almost there; we stay," Chris said, he knew JD was at a dangerous spot. If JD let his emotions get to him, Chris knew Henderson was a dead man. . . but Chris had no doubt that the ex-Boston cop wouldn't take JD and Joey with him.

"I wanted to be a cop cause I got sick and tired of getting the shit kicked outta me by cops like you! You wanna know somethin. . . back in Boston. . . you weren't no better than me. . . at least I knew where the line was. . . and when I became a cop. . . I never crossed that line!"

"I was a 15 year veteran, I know the laws! What made you such and expert all of a sudden? The accommodations. . . the recognition. . . what? What made you such a expert?" Henderson seethed, he'd been there for over 15 years. . . he'd never gotten the recognition he thought he deserved, "What made you so good?"

"I broke most those laws. . . I knew the right questions to ask a gang perp. . . unlike you who thought the best way to get answers was to cuff a 14 or 15 year old kid. . . put him in the car. . . drive to an alley, drag him out and beat the shit out of him hoping you scared him bad enough that he'd rat out. . . Never worked did it?" JD relayed what Henderson had done to him time and time again, "You want to know what's funny Henderson?"

"What's that?"

"I never got a beaten as bad as the ones you gave me. . . not even when I was warring," JD compared.

Joey suddenly snapped at what he was hearing. . . Henderson had told him to play along when he ran into him after rounding the corner. . . . . . but hearing JD had sent him over the edge. . . the guy holding the gun to his head used to rough up his 'prisoners', Joey was too aware that this man could care less wether he killed him. . .

It all happened suddenly. . . Joey kicked Henderson in the shin hard, Henderson bent instinctively in reaction, Joey broke free and ran back towards the shack, all the agents came out of their hiding spots, Henderson recovered and aimed his gun at Joey. . . two shots were heard simultaneously, two dropped.

Vin and Ezra were at Henderson's body instantly, they noted the look on the man's face that would stay there permanently. . . His eyes wide with shock and the small red 'dot' between them.

JD took the two steps to Joey who lay on the ground face down. He could see the red patch growing from the side of his chest. He gently rolled him over, so his former 'leader's' upper body lay on his bended knees.

"Nathan!!" JD yelled, "Hang on Joey," JD said.

"Why . . . are . . . you. . . help. . . ing. . . me?" Joey staggered his words.

"It's my job," JD smiled, he lifted Joey from the ground; he thought it was taking Nathan to long to get to him. . . so he lifted the teen from the ground and began to slowly carry him.

"You. . . ever. . . a real. . . .ferret?" he asked, his voice getting weaker.

"I told you I was the best, that weren't a lie," JD said.

"I told you. . . .not . . . to . . . cross. . . me. . . " Joey stated, putting his free hand into his pocket and pulling out a knife.

JD heard the click of the knife blade being exposed, right before he felt the burn in his back. He could feel it enter. . . then the blade being pulled out, still he carried Joey. . . he felt it again. . . this time to his side, his jaw clenched and he fought the urge to scream and drop Joey.

JD felt Joey relax in his arm, every step he took he could feel the knife, still embedded in his side. He kept the pace he had started, finally meeting Nathan. With ease he lay Joey back down on the pavement and stood.

"He gonna be okay?" JD asked breathlessly; with the others attention directed at Joey, JD put his hands to his hips, the pain brought his attention to himself momentarily; without thinking he pulled the knife from his side as if it had been a splinter in his hand.

"Yeah, JD. He'll be okay. . . sore but he'll live," Nathan said.

"Henderson's dead," Vin said as he approached the small group, "You done good JD, real good," Vin praised the breathless young agent, at how he had kept his head, and patted him on the lower part of his back.

JD nodded and shyly smiled between breaths, even when Vin patted his back he never made a noise. Vin's smile disappeared suddenly as he felt the warm, sticky liquid on his hand; he knew instantly it was blood. He took a step back and looked JD's back over, he could see the tear. . . no two tears in JD's shirt and the maroon spot growing from them.

"JD?" Vin said quietly.

"Huh?" JD said, looking at the sharpshooter. Vin noticed then that JD was growing pale, he knew there were only two shots so by the power of deduction. . .

"Watch for a knife," he warned the others.

"I got it," JD said matter-of-factly, bringing the bloody knife and hand up to show Vin.

Vin turned back to the others, JD had said it quiet enough that the others didn't hear him, but Ezra, who had made his way to Vin and JD, had.

"Perhaps we should sit down and allow Mr. Jackson to take a look at you," Ezra stated.

"Joey got shot Ezra. . . Nate's kinda busy right now," JD said.

"And ya' got yourself stabbed. . . " Vin nearly laughed out.

"Just a cut," JD smiled, he honestly thought that's all it was, besides being out of breath a bit, he felt the same as he had for the last three days, "You guys worry too much," he said lightly, wavering slightly as he'd finished.

"And you, my friend, don't worry enough," Ezra said, catching JD, who's knees had begun to buckled.

"Oh Shit!" JD said, generally sounding surprised that he'd not only collapsed, but that he had been hurt, as the two men eased him to a sitting position on the pavement.

Vin touched Ezra's shoulder, he looked up as JD leaned against him and nodded that he acknowledged Vin was getting the others.

JD saw them all but Josiah approach quickly.

"For cryin' out loud. . . Don't everybody need to be here Ez," JD said with ease.

"You think I'm going to tell them that. . . and risk my life?" Ezra tried to laugh out. Ezra was worried, he was beyond worried. . . and he knew Vin was as well. . . and soon the others would be. Not once had JD said he was fine, to the gambler that translated to 'I'm hurt, really bad'.


JD didn't feel any pain. He was sore, but if he'd been stabbed. . . twice like Vin said he had been then he thought for sure he'd be screaming at this moment, but he wasn't. He had heard or read somewhere that when one is hurt and on the verge of death, there wasn't any pain. He was going from surprise to panic suddenly. . . he wasn't ready to die.

"Lemme see," Nathan said. He examined the wounds, the one on his side was bleeding steadily, the one to his back seemed a bit too close to JD's kidney than Nathan liked.

"How bad you hurtin JD," Buck asked, like he was gauging how much comforting he would need.

"Not. . . just. . . ," JD said, his eye's welling up at the realization that he still wasn't in pain, JD's voice growing weaker as the adrenaline left his body, like it was part of the wounds that trickled out blood.

"Scared?" Chris finished, his voice low and easy.

"Real scared," JD said directly to Chris, why he didn't know. . . maybe it was because he'd asked the question, but JD knew that if JD's fear were true Chris would say so. . . Chris had never lied to him, cover anything up or keep him from something the others didn't think he'd be able to 'handle'.

"Me too JD. . . me too," Chris admitted to no one but JD.

"I don't wanna die, Chris," came a tear filled plea, like Chris could somehow prevent it with one of his classic glares.

The distant sound of sirens let the men know the ambulances were arriving.

"Hang on kid, don't go givin up on Ole Buck now that the cavalry is here," Buck said, with a forced smile.

"Joey's hurt. . . make sure they do good by him," JD said to Nathan. He knew that some of the doctors at other hospitals treated gang members differently than other patients. . . at least that's the way it was in Boston.

"They will JD, you know FC General is good to everyone," Nathan comforted, he knew JD's worry. . . .he'd seen it back home in the south.

Nathan stood and approached to two paramedic teams.

"Gunshot and stabbed twice," was all Nathan indicated, not telling the paramedics who was where.

"We got the GSW," the medic known as Stacey offered.

"Guess we got the stabbing," the other senior medic, Mack, said.

"You got one of our guys," Nathan said.

Mack and his partner Dean looked over to where the other team was, taking stock quickly in the age and dress of the young boy they deduced that it was. . .

"JD?" Dean asked.

"Yup," Nathan said dryly, Dean and Mack both shivered at the same time. . . if Nathan didn't appear to be optimistic, how could they be?

"How bad?" Mack asked.

"Mighta got his kidney. . . I dunno," Nathan relayed.

"Hey JD, how ya doin?" Dean asked, waiting for the response that drove everyone on the squad and the hospital crazy. . . He didn't get it.

"Dyin" JD said seriously.

"When'd you become a doctor?" Mack replied, never missing a beat, as he began to inspect the wound of much concern.

"It don't hurt."

"Doesn't mean you're dying JD," Dean smiled, knowing that more than likely JD was in shock, which could be just as bad as the wounds. . . knowing JD.

"Joey all right?" JD asked Dean

"Stacey and Mike are workin with him," Dean smiled, looking over his shoulder, "Looks like he's gonna beat you to the hospital".

"Only fair. . . he got hurt first," JD said with a lazy smile, never flinching as Mack touched both wounds attempting to figure how deep the wounds were.

"Where's the guy that got you?" Dean asked, keeping up the conversation as he stuck an IV needle in JD's arm, distracting him from the procedure that he knew JD hated.

"They just took him to the hospital," JD stated, "I felt that you know," he scowled at Dean.

"Least ya didn't hit me this time," Dean smiled; the last IV he attempted on JD was in the middle of a bad fever after getting his pinky finger set, Dean had just happened to be there and offered to help when JD began to thrash. The second he pricked JD, he hit the medic.

Josiah and Nathan had gotten the stretcher out of the back of the rig, setting it next to the men.

"Nathan, can you drive?" Mack asked.

"You guys head to the hospital. . . we'll meet you there," Nathan instructed his fellow team members.

"I'm goin with ya'," Buck stated.

"Not this time Buck, isn't gonna be any room," Mack stated.

"I'll be waiting for ya kid," Buck said to JD, wanting to be there in the ambulance, the kid hated riding in the ambulance. . . fact was. . . the kid hated everything about ambulances and hospitals.

"We'll see you in a bit," Chris smiled, uncharacteristically squeezing JD's hand.

JD was taken away from them and loaded into the ambulance. The men turned to see Vin sitting on his heels next to Ezra who sat silent on the pavement.

"Come on Ez, he'll be all right," Vin tried to reassure.

"He seemed very emphatic to the contrary, Vin," Ezra said quietly.

"He's scared, most likely he was in shock. . . come tomorrow he's gonna be wishin' he couldn't feel it," Vin smiled as he stood, extending his hand to Ezra, who grunted as he pulled himself up.

"I hope you're right, Mr. Tanner," the southern man sighed.

"Me too Ez," Vin said, both walking fast to catch up to the group ahead of them. Vin cast a look back over his shoulder, the ambulance hadn't left yet and there seemed to be activity inside. . . this can't be happening Vin thought, turning his head quickly to the man who walked next to him, who returned the favor of reassurance by putting and arm across the man's shoulders.


The five man team arrived at the hospital, following the stretcher carrying Joey they entered the emergency room, not a word was spoken between the men.

"That's that guy that said he was his father," a tall young man said, pointing towards Chris.

The older man left his wife and son and approached the serious looking man.

"Excuse me, are you JD Dunne's superior?"

"Yeah, who wants to know?" Chris asked sternly, he wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone but a doctor.

"Robert Thompson. . . my son Bobby. . . had an incident with your agent Dunne," Thompson said, wondering if the light would come on.

"Mr. Thompson. . . I'm sorry for what happened to your son, but if you'll excuse me. . . I have an injured Agent coming in," Chris said impatiently.

"Is it him?" Thompson asked.

Ezra and Vin had heard the raised, aggravated voice of Chris from the waiting room, they left Josiah to deal with Buck and approached Chris and the other man.

"There a problem here?" Vin asked, not recognizing the man.

"No problem, I just wanted to let you know, my wife and I aren't taken any legal action against your Agent," Thompson said hastily.

"Legal action?" Ezra asked.

"Mr. Dunne asked us not to hold the ATF responsible for what he did, we had thought about it, but having him come to me. . . face to face. . . take responsibility for his actions, well. . . it changed our minds. Bobby's fine and learned a hard lesson," Thompson said.

"And what lesson would that be?" Ezra asked for the other two men.

"Not to judge a book by its cover," the young man said, approaching his father.

"You the one JD beat up?" Vin heard himself ask, not meaning to. The 18 year old was twice as big as JD. . . and had at least a good foot of height than the young agent.

"I started shooting off my mouth, I egged him on. . . I did throw the first punch. . . I missed. . . but I threw it," Bobby smiled, "Is he here?" Bobby asked suddenly, he wanted to tell himself that they weren't pressing any charges.

Chris was about to answer when he saw four nurses and Doctor Lassiter jog by them towards the door. . . he followed them and saw Josiah holding Buck around the chest, after Lassiter had pointed to the two men, Chris knew Lassiter had been in contact with the ambulance and most likely told Josiah to keep Buck back.

Chris hung his head turning it back to face Thompson, Bobby and now his wife, he raised his head and looked at the younger Thompson saying, "He is now".

The group of people pushing the stretcher passed by Larabee and the group he stood with, the gasps of the family that stood in front of him were heard clearly through the constant chatter of the nurses, doctors and medics that rambled back and forth the vitals and injuries.

"Wh. . . what happened?" Bobby asked, after swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat.

"Got stabbed busting up the gang tonight," Chris said, he could hear Buck yelling at Josiah. . . and now Nathan to let him go. . . and yelling for JD.

"The bruises. . . I do that?" Bobby asked, ashamed at what he thought he done.

"Naw kid, that happened that night. . . after he talked to your folks, he got initiated," Vin said evenly.

"H. . . .he. . . he gonna be okay?" the teen stumbled over his words, not knowing if he wanted to know.

"Don't know son. . . " Chris sighed. . . turned from the group and headed for Buck and the others.

"God. . . was it worth it. . . I mean. . . Is the job worth your own life?" Bobby said absently, more to his parents, not knowing the other two were still listening.

"JD would say so," Vin smiled, Ezra nodded his head in agreement. Both agents then turned to join the rest of the 'family' to wait and hear news on their youngest 'brother'.

+ + + + + + +

The time passed slowly, everything seemed to be in slow motion, the doctor who was in charge of Joey's care had already given the men an update on his condition, nothing major was hit, and besides being sore and stiff , the young man would recover fully, Chris thanked the doctor and sat back down in the chair he had stood from, hoping that JD's news would be just as favorable.

Moments after the update on the teen gang leader, Dr. Lassiter came into the waiting room.

The men stood anxiously, no one had to ask the question, the doctor knew what it would be.

"He'll be fine," Lassiter said, there was a collective sigh of relieve and brief smiles.

"Whoohoo!!" Buck yelled, making his way to go see JD.

"Hold up Buck," Lassiter said.

"What? You said he was gonna be okay. . . come on Doc. . . you know how he hates wakin' up alone," Buck pleaded.

"He won't be waking up for a while, he's wiped out Buck. When was the last time he slept?" Lassiter asked.

"Well. . . He slept what. . . 16/17 hours ," Buck smiled.

"In how many days?"

"3. . . maybe 4," Chris hung his head.

"Last time he ate?"

"Near as we can tell. . . . . . he had a sandwich. . . but not much more that we know of," Vin revealed.

"He's severely dehydrated and bordering on malnourishment. We've got two IV's going right now. . . He didn't loose enough blood to be concerned about. . . but we are watching for those fevers he likes to throw at us. . . other than watching for infection I don't see any problems," Lassiter smiled.

"When can he leave?" Buck asked.

"Well, normally I'd say a couple days. . . but even then he's going to be too weak for me to feel good about discharging him. . . I'll play it by ear".

"When can we see him?" Chris asked.

"I'll give you half an hour with him now. . . that's it. . . I don't want to hear any 'but Doc' s from any of you. . . he needs to rest. . . . . . and I don't expect him to wake up for at least another 3 hours. . . if then, he's beyond exhausted. . . and the minimal blood loss didn't help any," Lassiter informed.

"An hour?" Buck tried to bargain.

"45 minutes. . . that's it. . . starting now," Lassiter said looking at his watch.

+ + + + + + +

The 6 men followed Lassiter into the room where they had moved JD into, the staff had taken him from the ER room to another after Lassiter left to go speak with the other Agents he knew would be waiting anxiously.

"Don't go trying to wake him up, if he does happen to wake up. . . try and get him to drink some water and go back to sleep," the doctor instructed.

"You bet Doc," Buck said.

Buck was the first in the room, followed by Vin, Ezra, Nathan, Josiah and then Chris, who had stayed behind to talk to the doctor briefly.

For the whole part JD didn't look any worse for wear, he was pale under the still fading bruises, and except for the two IV's running from each arm, he looked like he had just crawled into bed and fallen asleep.

"When did he get stabbed?" Buck asked, breaking the silence from where he'd sat for the last 15 minutes next to JD's bed holding the limp hand to let JD know that he wasn't alone.

"When he was bringing Joey over," Nathan said, he'd heard Mack ask JD on the ride over.

"Kid weighs more than JD, how the hell did he carry him?" Buck asked again.

"You can do some amazing things when you're scared, Buck," Chris stated.

The silence found the room again, as everyone's mind seemed to go back to the lot where it all happened, trying to figure out if they should have seen when JD got hurt, each one thinking they let JD down in one way or another, again.

"We could have lost him. . . I don't think it's a good idea to put him undercover again," Buck sighed.

"That stab wound didn't do half the damage to him as those pictures did," Vin said hanging his head.

"I can't believe we fell for that. . . I wish I hadn't believed what I saw," Buck again said.

"Except for Ezra, we all fell for it," Chris tried to ease the guilt.

"Ain't no excuse. . . we. . . . . . I. . . .should have known he wouldn't be doing that sort of thing," Buck seethed, his disappointment in himself prevalent.

"Let's just be happy that he's still around so we can make it up to him," Nathan said.

"Gentlemen, if I may point out, he has already forgiven you all; or have you forgotten that?" Ezra finally spoke.

"When did he do that? He never said nothin' to me?" Buck asked, slightly hurt that others seemed to have been forgiven.

"It's not what he said Buck, it's what he didn't say," Chris smiled.

"Gentlemen. . . times up. . . and I will call security," Lassiter smiled.

"I can't let go Doc, he'll think I ain't here. . . " Buck said, sending his most pitiful look to him.

"Buck. . . go away," came the all to tired voice from the bed, causing the others to stop midstep and turn.

"Hey kid. . . Ho. . . " Buck began, but JD cut him off.

"Can't a man. . . just lay in . . . .bed. . . For a bit. . . with out. . . gettin harassed?" JD's eyes were still closed, too exhausted to open them, but the small tired smile told the others all they needed to know.

"You bet, son. . . Come on Buck," Chris said, again squeezing the hand that Buck had finally let go of, "Get some sleep".

"Chris. . . Joey. . . he okay?" the young agent once again tried to open his eyes, to make sure that he would be told the truth, but they didn't cooperate.

"He's just fine JD," Lassiter answered.

"Thanks," saying that, JD's body relaxed a bit, the others knowing that JD had fallen back to sleep and complied with the doctors orders.

+ + + + + +

It had been 3 weeks since JD had started his first undercover case with the ATF. He was released from the hospital a week after he had been admitted; after being sent home he made only two trips back, under protest, with fevers that suddenly assaulted him. He'd spend the night and glare at who ever had brought him there, once Buck. . . the other time Vin and Ezra, on the ride back home.

A week later JD was given the okay to go back to work, nothing more than surveillance for at least two months Lassiter had ordered, much to JD's dismay, and no assisting on any raids or busts.

The papers had come out with the story of Henderson and his connection with a particular ATF agent. . . . . . the media seemed to twist things around somehow, JD's picture was never shown, his name never given. . . but his whole history had been told for all of Denver.

The seven member team where at Chris's ranch, relaxing for the weekend. that's what they told JD. . . they had actually wanted him out of the city. . . the stress of the stories in the paper and on TV were beginning to wear. . . but even then. . . .they couldn't escape it.

JD turned the TV on after they had eaten lunch, the others sat in various places or stood around the living room area; the noontime news anchor flipped over a piece of paper. . . .looked up from the next and spoke.

'Now more on the story we have been bringing to you all week. . . We have learned this week that the former gang member that is now an ATF agent had an altercation with Bobby Thompson, an 18 year old student at Potter's High School. . . we caught up with Thompson and we spoke with him. . . Jim. . . '

"Great. . . " JD sighed.

'Jim Peterson, I'm standing with Bobby Thompson. . . the young man who was assaulted by the ATF agent. Bobby how are you?'

'I'm fine', the young man seemed to be aggravated.

'You contacted us after seeing our report, is that right?' The reporter asked, stuffing the microphone into Bobby's face.

'Yeah I did. . . I just wanted to say you need to drop this thing now; he was just doing his job. . . '

JD couldn't help but smile at the teens statement.

'. . . beating you up was his job?' The reporter interrupted.

Bobby sent a menacing look to the reporter and grabbed his mic.

'I don't know his name. . . honestly. . . but if I did I still wouldn't tell you. . . Joey always called him Ferret. . . anyway. . . He didn't start the fight. . . I did. . . why ain't important. . . he didn't want to fight, he ducked a lot. . . he only hit me after I hit him more than once, he's a good man. . . probably could've done a lot worse, hurt me worse you know. . . but he didn't. He was sent into the school to get into the gangs. . . so we could get them out of the school. . . he did his job and did it real good. . . personally. . . I don't care how they do it. . . there's no place for gangs in school or anywhere else. My friends and I just want to say thanks'.

Bobby smiled and stood back. . . the camera panned out to show the shot of a homemade banner, held by 8 students. . . and at least another 50 standing behind them. The banner had only 2 words on it Thanks Ferret. The crowd echoed Bobby's words, and the reporter gained control of the mic and signed off over the cheering crowd.

JD smiled shyly, a sense of pride filled him but didn't allow himself to express it. . . not like Ezra would have. . . in a round about way. . . or how Buck would have done directly. JD looked to Chris, who brought his eyes up to meet the young agent that many told him was a mistake to hire due to his age and inexperience.

"Well?" Chris asked, the question making no sense to any of the men but JD and Vin.

"It was worth it," JD said simply, hanging his head back to the floor.

"All of it?" Chris asked.

"Could have done without gettin stabbed. . . but it was still worth it. . . we got 'em," JD said quietly, the other agents knowing what Chris had asked.

"Naw. . . you got'em kid. . . we just helped ya out," Vin said, slapping his hand on JD's shoulder.

The others stood and gave JD there congratulations on a job well done, causing the young man to blush every time someone praised him.

Ezra leaned over from the couch and whispered, "As I previously stated, it is hard to bask in the glory if you're dead. . . and I have no doubt that this is much more satisfying".

"You're right. . . again. I don't know why the guys don't listen to your ideas more often Ezra. . . " JD said honestly.

"Well. . . since you have stated the obvious point. . . maybe you should honor me by encouraging the others to take my recommendations into consideration. . . over dinner perhaps?" Ezra said, thinking he had talked in circles enough to confuse JD in offering to pay for dinner. it's the least the boy could do. . . considering Ezra justified his thought.

"I'b be more than happy to Ez," JD smiled, standing from the couch. "Hey Guys!" JD yelled to the others as he walked to the kitchen, Ezra followed JD with a smug look on his face," Ezra's gonna take us out for dinner!" JD finished, he turned back to Ezra and smiled, he hadn't been fooled.

"Mighty nice of ya Ezra," Vin smiled, noticing that Ezra had paled trying to cover the failed plan with a shy smile.

"Mighty nice," Chris added, figuring that Ezra had been had.

"You sure do come up with some really good ideas Ez," JD said loudly and sarcastically.

Ezra gave JD a sarcastic smile, then changed it quickly to the others.

"I'm in the mood for a big huge steak," Buck said, motioning with his hands at how big the steak would be.

"Got great steak at Gloria's," Chris said, knowing it was the most expensive restaurant in town.

"Oh. . . and Maine Lobster is in season!" JD exclaimed, "Been way too long since I've had that!"

"Well then. . . I suggest we leave now. . . try and beat the dinner crowd," Ezra said, knowing that the place had a waiting list.

The men all exited the house, Ezra grabbed JD by the arm and pulled him back into the house.

"That is not exactly what I had in mind. . . I know for a fact that you have been paid, and your wallet isn't lost," Ezra said, tilting his head slightly.

"I know that. . . .but. . . well. . . you see. . . my check had to go into my checkin' account. . . and all I have for cash was in my wallet. . . but. . . it's . . . kinda stained," JD smiled, referring to the fact that his money had blood stains on it.

"An they think I'm the conman!" Ezra accused, pushing JD slightly out the door, shaking his head happy that the young man was there to tease.


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