Once gathered in the living room, Vin made a grab for the remote, beating Ezra by less than a nanosecond, or whatever was the shortest amount of time measurable by man. Ezra quickly rebounded by making a grab for the elusive object, causing Vin to fall off the end of the couch onto the floor. Of course, Ezra saw this as the perfect opportunity to complete the theft and quickly followed the other man to the floor, whereupon a tug of war began over the remote.
"Boys, if you don't mind," Josiah's deep voice cut through the various shouts of 'since when do you care what's on tv Ez, I thought you hated it' and 'I refuse to be subjected to monster car rallies or the WWF on Christmas Eve'. Both men stopped their struggling to look up at Josiah. They both knew what that tone meant; behave or I will bust both your asses and you know I can do it.
Silence descended on the living room, the remote now securely in the possession of one Josiah Sanchez. Vin and Ezra sat on either side of the bigger man on the couch, both trying in vain to appear as if giving up the fight for the remote had been their idea.
"So where did J.D. go?" asked Nathan, suddenly remembering they hadn't seen the kid recently.
"He retreated to his room a while ago," answered Ezra, glancing at Josiah out of the corner of his eye, trying to gauge whether or not he could regain possession of the remote any time soon. During one sideways glance, his eye caught Vin's doing the same thing and both men froze, an unspoken agreement passing between them. If you see an opening, go for it, I'll back your move. He can't take both of us....can he?
A dark haired blur suddenly wiped across their vision.
"J.D., where you goin'?" asked Vin, watching the kid hurry across the room, coat on, towards the front door.
"Well, that is apparent, Mr. Dunne, I think what Mr. Tanner was trying to ascertain was a specific destination."
Ezra's long winded statement was punctuated by the slamming of the door as J.D. made his exit.
Vin and Nathan both jumped up and headed for the door.
"Damn!" Vin cursed. The two chasing men were all the way to the sidewalk before they caught up with J.D. Damn, the kid is fast, thought Vin.
Tanner now grabbed J.D.'s arm and spun him around. "Where you goin' kid? It's Christmas Eve and you got no wheels."
Nathan stood behind J.D., blocking off one avenue of escape.
"Geesh, guys, can't I go for a walk without getting the third degree! I ain't under house arrest!" yelled J.D., wresting his arm from Vin's grasp.
"Of course you're not J.D.," Nathan said, "Vin didn't mean that, it's just that it's a strange time to be taking a walk, don't you think? Besides, you been kind of in a bad mood all night....or rather for a few weeks now. Something you wanna talk about?" Nathan's voice had a calming effect on the young man.
"I'm sorry guys, it's just that it's been kind of a bummer Christmas so far, you know? First my bike is stolen, then I can't afford a new one, then Buck makes a big deal of buying all these great gifts for you guys and he hasn't even....." J.D. stopped suddenly, embarrassed by what he was about to reveal. Great, just great, go crying to Vin and Nathan about how Buck didn't buy you a gift! Talk about being a big crybaby.
"Never mind, you guys go on back, I'm just going to walk around the block, get some air, I'll be right back." J.D. turned from the other men and proceeded to walk down the sidewalk.
Vin and Nathan watched him walk away.
"Man needs to walk, I guess we should let him walk." Nathan nodded in agreement at Vin's statement as they both turned to go back.
Meanwhile, Buck and Chris were done with their Christmas errand and were on their way back to the party.
"I still don't see why I had to come with you Buck," snapped Chris from the front seat of Buck's truck.
"Well, I knew if you stayed behind, you'd spill the beans. The way that kid was moping around with that old hang dog face, you'd never last, you'd have taken pity on him and told him," answered Buck, glancing over at Chris and taking great delight in the frown that was now marring the other man's features.
"Now don't go denying it, you know it's true...and don't go givin' me that evil Larabee eye neither, I'm immune, ya know."
Chris tried one last glare in Wilmington's direction, noted that his old friend was totally ignoring him, and resigned himself to just spending the rest of the trip in silence. Evil eye, I'll give him the evil eye. And I would not have fallen for that 'hang dog' look on the kid's face either, I wouldn't have told him, no matter how pitiful he looked or acted....no sir, not me....so what the hell am I doing in this truck now, uh? I didn't have to come, I could have told Buck no, I ain't coming with you, who's the boss around here anyway? Ah crap, who am I kidding....Larabee, you're a sap, you know you would have spilled your guts to the kid within two minutes of Buck walking out the door. Never could stand practical jokes, not even when they promise a happy ending. Besides, it would serve Buck right to ruin his little game and give the kid the upper hand for once. Yeah, that's why I would have told him, to teach Buck a lesson.....sure, that's good...keep telling yourself that Larabee, maybe one day you'll believe it. I wish I could pinpoint exactly when I lost control of things. Christ, I'm hopeless.
+ + + + + + +
Back at Buck and J.D.'s, Nathan and Vin had returned and joined the rest of the team trying to figure out how the evening had disintegrated into what it had become.
"Well gentlemen, this is turning out to be quite an auspicious Christmas Eve, wouldn't you say?" Ezra spoke from his perch on the couch, holding up the glass of brandy he was currently enjoying.
"I don't know about auspicious, but it is certainly unusual," said Josiah. "Are you sure J.D. will come back soon?" he directed this question to Nathan and Vin.
"Yeah, he'll probably be back before Chris and Buck, if he knows what's good for him," answered Nathan.
"I know I'm gonna have a talk with Buck when he gets back, he's up to something and I got a feelin' his little plan is going in the toilet real fast," Vin's statement was met with nods of agreement from the other men. "He's gotta know when he goes too far when it comes to these elaborate jokes he plays on the kid. J.D.'s only got so much patience."
"What do you think he's up to Vin?" asked Josiah.
"Kid almost said something out there; I think Buck's makin' him think he didn't buy him a gift, just so he can go out and make some big entrance with it tonight."
"Sounds like something Buck would do all right," said Josiah.
"Yeah, well, he may have gone too far this time, I just hope his little plan doesn't jump up and bite him in the ass," added Nathan, taking a sip of his own glass of brandy.
"Now that is something I would gladly pay a fee to observe," said Ezra, earning the scowls of the other men. "What? You aren't going to claim that you wouldn't enjoy that spectacle yourselves, are you?"
"Ezra, shut up," the chorus of voices rang out in the living room as if cued by an invisible conductor.
+ + + + + + +
J.D. didn't want to go back, but he knew he couldn't just walk around all night. How pitiful was this? Wandering aimlessly on the streets on Christmas Eve like some homeless person. Man, I have got to get a grip! It's just some stupid gift, why am I so worked up over this? Besides, Buck must have gotten him something better than whatever he could buy at a 7-11; no way would he do that to him. Buck may be a bit overbearing sometimes, but he wasn't thoughtless or heartless. No way. In fact, Buck had the biggest heart of anyone J.D. had ever met. He would give the clothes off his back to a total stranger if they needed them. How could I think he would deliberately not get me something for Christmas? I'm just pissed off about my bike and the insurance company and all that crap. That's it. It's this time of year too, everybody trying to hard to be cheerful and happy, even when they really feel like shit. Well, I sure feel like shit right now. Moping around and acting like some stupid kid. That'll convince them I'm on equal footing with all of them, sure...keep this up J.D. and Chris'll haul your ass off to computer research or something and then you won't have to worry about proving yourself to them anymore, no siree, the only thing you'll have to worry about is how much hard drive space you need.
J.D. was so deeply in self-pity mode that he failed to realize he had come to an intersection and since the cosmos was conspiring against him these days, it was inevitable that the only car within a quarter mile that was now travelling towards the corner would impact with the only pedestrian within a quarter mile.
The last thing J.D. remembered was thinking about a career in the computer research division of the ATF when all of a sudden the world exploded into a stomach churning motion. How the hell did I get on a roller coaster? qIt was the last thought he would have before finding himself face first on the asphalt. He didn't really remember being hit or the impressive flip he had done off the windshield of the car. The old cliché about time slowing down during accidents didn't seem to apply here. To J.D., less than a second had elapsed from the moment he stepped off the curb to where he was now; kissing the pavement. It was also surprisingly quiet, perhaps due to the fact that the street wasn't a major thoroughfare and the car that hit him was probably the only one within a few miles.
The next thing he was aware of was someone yelling at him. No, that can't be right, why would anyone be yelling at him? He didn't do anything wrong, did he?
"Hey, mister, you all right?" the driver's voice seemed to be booming into J.D.'s ear. "Are you sure you should get up? You might be hurt, let me call 911 or something, oh man, oh man, I never even saw you, must have been the dark clothes or something....hey, hey, wait....shouldn't we call the police or something?"
J.D. knew he had to get away from all that yelling, so he had gotten to his feet, somewhat shakily, and then tried to walk back towards home. His legs felt like rubber, but he was pretty sure he wasn't seriously hurt. Just some scrapes and bruises, that's all, he thought. I can handle that. So what if the streetlights were throwing off glowing balls of fuzzy light and the sidewalk was undulating like a rope bridge in a hurricane, I can make it. It's just like a hangover, it'll pass...if I can just make it home. Buck will kill me, but that's okay, the day's a total waste anyway, and it might make this headache go away....yep, death was a definite improvement.
J.D. wobbled towards home. Back at the scene of the accident, the driver stood next to his car, trying to decide what to do. He was still shaken; he had never hit a person before, but he was also confused. How could that kid flip onto his windshield, roll off, hit the pavement and then get up and walk back home? It was amazing that he wasn't hurt worse than he was, but the driver wasn't going to question his good fortune. After all, he had hit the kid in a crosswalk, he would probably be cited for it if the police got involved. He wasn't going that fast anyway. The windshield wasn't even cracked, maybe he wouldn't even have to fill out an accident report. The only reason to do that would be to get the dent on the hood fixed and it was a wreck anyway, so why bother. Besides, who wants their insurance rates to go up? With a shrug and a look around to see if anyone had witnessed the accident and seeing that he was still alone on the deserted street, the man got back into his car and drove off.
+ + + + + + +
Meanwhile, Buck and Chris arrived back at the apartment with the big surprise. Buck bounced out of the truck, eager to get the gift upstairs.
"You aren't seriously thinking of taking this thing upstairs, are you?" asked Chris.
"Why not? It'll fit in the elevator, come on, help me get it down."
Upstairs, the festivities had ground to a halt. Ezra was playing solitaire at the kitchen table, Vin and Josiah were watching some Christmas movie and Nathan was dozing in the easy chair.
Ezra suddenly slapped down a card and almost jumped from his chair.
"Aha! I won again!" he shouted, causing Nathan to wake up with a start and Josiah and Vin to look over in his direction.
"You okay there Ezra?" asked Vin, trying not to laugh at the sight of the slick undercover agent, flushed with pride over winning a hand of solitaire.
"I'm quite well, Mr. Tanner...but thank you for asking," he replied, sheepishly. "It seems I got a bit caught up in the game. Which wouldn't have happened had either of you two gentlemen agreed to play a few hands of poker with me."
"Yeah, right, then we'd just be watching our money disappear, no thanks Ezra, I think we'll stick to movies," answered Josiah.
"You hear something?" asked Vin, glancing over towards the door.
The other three men fell quiet, trying to hear whatever Tanner had heard. There it was, a muffled conversation that was getting louder and louder. Finally, the sounds took on the form of words and the four men all broke into smiles simultaneously.
"Goddammit, Buck, you ran over my toe! Watch where you're going!"
Chris in definite pissed off mode.
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry, the damn thing's heavy, what do you want me to do, carry it on my back!?"
Buck in equally pissed off mode.
"That might not be a bad idea! We should have left the damn thing in the garage, I told you it wouldn't fit in the elevator."
"Whatta ya mean, it fits, we're in here, aren't we?"
"Yeah, and I think part of it's permanently embedded in my crotch....move it over some!"
A shoving sound followed by a yelp of pain.
"Jesus, Chris! You trying to dehorn me or something!"
"Better you than me."
"I think our compatriots have arrived home at last," announced Ezra.
"Yeah and it sounds like they're rassling a bull in there, come on fellas, let's give 'em a hand," said Vin, getting up from the couch.
+ + + + + + +
Back on the street, J.D. Dunne was valiantly trying to get home. Somehow the few blocks he had walked to clear his head earlier had turned into at least 10 miles of hostile territory. His legs still felt like rubber, his head felt like it was going to crack in two and roll across the sidewalk and he had recently discovered that his left arm and shoulder had become an enemy of the highest degree. The pain had started a few minutes ago, a delayed reaction for sure, and now it was so intense that J.D. was afraid to look down for fear that he would catch sight of his arm dangling from a thin thread from his shoulder.
He passed another corner and looked up at the sign. What the hell street is this? It doesn't sound familiar, it should be Dunbar, shouldn't it? Why does it say Doomcab....wait a minute, maybe it does say Dunbar, I just can't seem to focus...okay, I think I'm going in the right direction, yeah, a few more steps and I should see the door to the building. I can make it, I'm almost there. Oh man, Buck is going to kill me twice for this.
Upstairs, Vin, Josiah, Nathan and Ezra had just emerged from the apartment when the elevator door opened and revealed what all the fighting had been about. Four open mouthed stares greeted Buck and Chris.
"Come on boys, give us a hand, whatta ya doin', catchin' flies?" Buck was wrestling with the item, trying in vain to push it out the door without impaling Chris in the process.
Ezra broke the spell with a whispered, "Good Lord."
"What the hell did you do Buck?" Vin this time.
"Do? Whatta mean do? It's J.D.'s Christmas present, come on fellas, help us out here."
Between the six of them, they managed to get the item into the apartment, where it looked decidedly out of place. There was a huge red ribbon attached to the top with a tag hanging off that said, 'Merry Christmas kid, from Buck'.
"I don't believe it, I just don't believe it," Nathan said, shaking his head in astonishment.
"It's somethin', ain't it?" exclaimed Buck, running his hands over the smooth surface. "Top of the line, best one they make."
"How....how, uh, how much?" For the first time in his life, Ezra Standish stuttered.
"Now Ezra, it ain't polite to ask how much somethin' cost," replied Buck, still caressing the gift. "Besides, I know a guy who knows a guy and let's just say I got a pretty good deal."
"Kid's gonna have a heart attack when he sees this," said Vin, crouching down and examining the thing from the bottom up.
Suddenly it occurred to Buck that J.D. wasn't in the room. He hadn't even thought to ask the guys to make the kid go into the other room while he brought the surprise inside. The excitement of getting it up in the elevator and then into the apartment had distracted him so much he forgot it was supposed to be a surprise.
"Damn! Whatta ya mean, when he sees it, where the hell is he?"
"Oh, he went out for a walk a little while ago," answered Josiah, glancing at his watch. "In fact, he's been gone for about half an hour, thought he'd be back by now."
"A walk!? What the hell's he going for a walk on Christmas Eve for? Why'd you let him go?" exclaimed Buck.
"Come on Buck, he ain't two years old, he's allowed to take a walk for crying out loud," Vin answered, sounding not only annoyed at Buck for assuming that they had to 'watch over' J.D., but also a bit guilty for letting the kid take the walk considering the mood he was in.
Buck's anger subsided a bit when he realized how it sounded for him to be so upset that J.D. had merely taken a walk. Way to go Buck, kid would kill you if he could hear you now.
Up until now, Chris had remained quiet, content to just watch as his team members sorted things out. But Vin's slightly guilty look, along with a similar look on Nathan's face, piqued his curiosity. They all had observed what kind of mood J.D. had been in for quite a while and this impromptu walk didn't bode well.
"So who pissed him off enough to chase him out of here?" Chris' question was spoken quietly, but not without weight.
Four pairs of feet shuffled aimlessly. Various versions of 'uh', 'eh', 'well' and 'you see' overlapped each other as the four men tried to form a cohesive story.
"Never mind, come on Buck, let's go find him," said Chris, heading for the door, but he couldn't resist one last shot over his shoulder, "we'll discuss this when we get back."
Chris smiled once his back was turned on the guys. Nothing like a little Christmas Eve intimidation to put a man in the holiday spirit. What he failed to realize was that the joke was ultimately on him. In order for the intimidation to work, it had to be understood that Chris was pretty pissed off about the rest of them not keeping an eye on J.D. and making him angry enough to go for a 'walk' on Christmas Eve. These events wouldn't make Chris angry unless he cared about the kid with some of the same protective intensity as Buck did.
"So Mr. Tanner, weren't you going to have a 'talk' with Buck about ruining J.D.'s Christmas?" whispered Ezra, nudging Vin in the side.
"Shut up Ezra," hissed Vin.
+ + + + + + +
Chris was right behind Buck when the latter opened the door with a jerk. His displeasure was evident in his actions; Buck Wilmington did not like his surprises ruined. Little did he know he was about to get a surprise of a very different kind.
Buck barreled out the door and ran right into the object of their search. The impact knocked J.D. to the floor, a scream escaping him when he unfortunately landed on his sore left arm and shoulder. The scream was muffled though because Buck had indeed landed right on top of the kid.
"J.D.!" Buck's yell sounded deafening in the hallway. He scrambled to get up, trying to avoid hurting the kid anymore than he already had. "Are you all right? What the hell happened to you? Where did you go?" Buck's questions were coming faster than J.D. could answer them, if he could even manage to get enough breath to actually talk. The collision had knocked the wind out of him and that coupled with the agonizing pain that was shooting through his arm and shoulder was enough to strike him mute. All he could manage was a few inarticulate grunts that sounded more like the sounds of an injured animal than a human.
Buck finally managed to bring J.D. to a sitting position and Nathan had suddenly materialized at his side.
"J.D.? Can you hear me son?" Buck said, taking note of how the kid's left arm was dangling uselessly at his side and how the left side of his face was one massive bruise from the hairline to the jaw.
Nathan was cupping J.D.'s head with both hands, trying to look into his eyes. "J.D.? Can you hear me?"
"I'll call 911," Josiah's voice, somewhere behind them.
The fuzzy images slowly cleared and the roaring in his ears stopped. J.D. might not have heard Nathan's or Buck's questions, but he heard that.
"No hospital," he sputtered out. "Just need to lie down for a minute."
Buck's laugh sounded more like a bark. "Yeah right kid, that's all you need is a nap. Come on Nathan, let's get him inside and wait for the paramedics."
Buck carefully lifted J.D. from the right side, trying not to jostle the left arm. The others cleared the path to the door and soon everyone was inside the apartment. Buck guided a groggy J.D. to the couch and helped him sit. J.D. seemed to have surrendered to the idea that he was going to the hospital and didn't protest anymore. Truth be told, he was feeling like he had exited his body and was watching the proceedings from somewhere else. All the activity, talking, moving and general excitement had sapped what little energy he had left after struggling his way back home. Now he just wanted to stretch out on the couch and sleep, if everyone would just shut up.
"Paramedics are on their way," said Josiah from somewhere near the kitchen. "How is he?"
"Well, that arm is broken for sure and he might have a concussion, also seems to be going into shock," answered Nathan, now sitting next to J.D. on the couch. Buck was on the other side, afraid to touch the kid for fear of hurting him more. But nothing could stop him from talking to him.
"J.D.? What happened to you kid?"
When he got no response, Buck tentatively reached out and tipped J.D.'s chin towards him. "Kid? You in there? What happened?"
The words finally penetrated J.D.'s haze and he turned clearer eyes towards Buck. But instead of looking at Buck, his gaze went past his roommate and latched onto the forgotten object sitting in the middle of the living room. His voice came out as a faint whisper.
"Why is there a motorcycle in the living room?"
The silence in the room was profound. Not only had everyone stopped talking, but moving as well. All eyes turned towards the motorcycle, oblivious to all the attention it was receiving. Phantom silver was the actual name of the color, but in the muted lamplight of the room, it gleamed with an inner light and the red ribbon shone like a beacon; it looked like a motorhead's idea of the ultimate Christmas tree.
J.D. thought he must be dreaming or hallucinating. It must be the knock on the head, he thought. Why would a motorcycle be sitting in the middle of his living room with a red ribbon tied around it?
Buck broke the silence. "Merry Christmas kid! It's a ZX-12R, top of the line Kawasaki Ninja....you like it?" Buck was grinning so hard his face looked to be in danger of splitting in half.
Before J.D. could answer, there was a knock at the door, followed by a voice announcing that the paramedics had arrived. Chris went to let them in.
On the couch, Buck was still waiting for J.D. to answer, but the kid was staring at the bike like he expected it to disappear in a mysterious cloud of mist. Buck nudged him slightly, "Well? Do you like it? Are you surprised? I wasn't sure what model to get, but the guy said this was the best one and I thought, well, only the best for you, right kid?"
The paramedics intruded right then and set to work. They asked questions like 'what happened', 'did he ever lose consciousness', and 'what's his name', which were answered thusly; 'we don't know', 'we don't know' and 'J.D. Dunne.' It was the best they could do since they still didn't know what had happened. J.D.'s head had cleared enough to realize that the two strangers in the room were paramedics and they would undoubtedly be causing him much discomfort very soon. He couldn't even feel his arm anymore, he figured it must be numb or maybe it had mercifully fallen off and his head was still pounding, but at least he could think somewhat clearly.
"Mr. Dunne? Can you hear me?" asked one paramedic whose name tag read 'Tom Wesley'.
"Yeah, yeah, I can hear you. It was a car, I got hit by a car," he answered. Things were clearing up nicely now and J.D. braced himself for the outburst he knew was forthcoming.
"Hit by a car! Where? Why...how did you get back here, wait a minute, you walked back here, what the hell's wrong with you?" Buck's tirade was expected and J.D. realized that it wasn't entirely unpleasant. At first, when he and Buck had first met, J.D. had bristled at what he called the 'smothering' behavior. He couldn't understand why the older man felt the need to treat him like a kid who didn't know anything about anything. He had tried to impress upon Buck that he was an ex-cop who had been on his own for a while and knew perfectly well how to take care of himself. Besides, he was now an official ATF agent with a gun and badge and all that other stuff. What right did Buck have treating him like a kid all the time? Lecturing him about procedures, yelling at him when he did something that didn't meet with the great Wilmington's approval, asking him what time he was going to be home when he was going out, telling him to wear a heavier coat because it was cold outside, harassing him for riding a dangerous motorcycle and telling him that the nurses at the hospital called bikers 'future organ donors'.
But now, sitting here on his couch, feeling like something the cat not only dragged in but also mangled beyond recognition, he realized that he secretly cherished all that smothering. He knew that intellectually he should rebel, but emotionally he wanted to revel in it; let it wrap around him like a warm soft blanket and just give in to it. He would never tell Buck that, he did have his pride after all. Of course, if he took a minute to really think about it, he would realize that Buck already knew. It was a rather elaborate dance that both of them excelled at; a dance that protected J.D.'s pride and at the same time satisfied the deep need of both men to fill an emptiness in their lives that they hadn't even realized was there.
"I swear, kid, you must have been standing behind the door when the good Lord gave out brains. Why didn't you stay where you were and call? Do you even have your cell phone with you? How about the driver? Didn't he stay there and call for help?"
"Buck, give the kid a break, uh, he's not exactly working on all cylinders here," said Chris, trying in vain to get Buck to stop his interrogation long enough for the paramedics to get J.D. ready for transport.
"I don't need to go on that, do I? I mean, it's just a broken arm, can't I just ride to the hospital in the truck?" asked J.D., alert enough now to realize he was being coaxed onto the gurney.
"Sorry Mr. Dunne, but you probably have a concussion too, so it would be safer to just let us do all the work, okay?"
"Yeah, J.D., just listen to them, you got a concussion for crying out loud," said Buck, hovering nearby.
Just as J.D. was being settled onto the gurney, a thought came into his head with such force that the other men thought it was a spasm of pain. He reached out with his good hand and grabbed Buck's arm with an iron grip.
Buck kneeled down next to the gurney. "What is it J.D., you in pain?" he asked, concern deepening his voice.
J.D. looked at Buck with overbright eyes caused by the concussion. His left eye was already swollen shut from the bruise running down his face. He looked like a prizefighter after a particularly bad round. His grip on Buck's arm was strong though, borne of desperation; he wanted to get the words out before the world receded into that gray haze that was threatening from the corners of his vision.
"You bought me a ZX-12R for Christmas?" J.D.'s voice was barely a whisper, but in the silence of the room, no one had any trouble hearing it. The other men were watching the scene play out, afraid to disturb their two friends and at the same time a bit ashamed for what felt like eavesdropping.
Buck reached out and patted the hand that was gripping his arm so fervently, then slowly unfolded J.D.'s fingers and laid his hand back at his side on the gurney. Before answering, Buck reached up and indulged himself by running his hand down the unbruised side of J.D.'s face and then leaned in close to his friend's ear. "I would never forget you at Christmas, J.D. I'm sorry about all this, I never meant for this to happen. Next year I promise, I'll hide the gift where you can find it, okay?"
"You shouldn't have Buck, it's too expensive, it's...."
"Shhh, you be quiet now, time to go."
J.D. was determined to get his point across. "No, Buck, really, it's too much, I don't deserve..."
Buck put two fingers over J.D.'s lips, stopping the protest.
"You deserve it kid, believe me. And as soon as that arm is better, you can break it in all official like, okay? Oh and hey, wait till you see the matching helmet I got ya, it's a peach."
J.D. managed a nod, he didn't think he could trust his voice right now. He really didn't want to break down and cry in front of everyone, but a warm, choking feeling was working its way up from his stomach and he was afraid it would burst forth any second into a sob. Way to go Dunne, just start blubbering, that'll help your image. Just hold it together a little while longer, man, why can't I just pass out?
"Let's move him," said one of the paramedics.
"Wait," J.D. had gotten control of his voice again and motioned for the now standing Buck to crouch down again. The older man did and J.D. grabbed onto the front of Buck's shirt.
"Thanks Buck, it's the best Christmas ever," he whispered.
Now it was Buck's turn to try to force down the massive lump that had formed in his throat.
Buck folded his hand over the smaller one at his shirt and squeezed.
"You're welcome kid and Merry Christmas."
Comments to: CLShannon@aol.com