Connecting the Dots


ATF Alternate Universe


The kid had been irritable for the past two days. He seemed tired. When Buck had asked him about it, he said he was 'fine', but he had nearly bit Buck's head off with his irate response. JD was far from fine and everyone else except the kid recognized it. Now he sat in the surveillance van fidgeting more than normal. He was wriggling incessantly in his seat, constantly scratching some part of his body.

Buck was fed up with the kid's short-temper and now his fidgeting. The ladies man had been forced to forgo a date with the lovely Carrie to be on this stakeout. "Ya got ants in your pants, JD?" he asked irritably.

"No," snapped JD.

"Then quit your squirming. You're driving me nuts."

"That would be a short drive, Buck," retorted JD.

"Ha-ha!" scoffed Buck as he cuffed JD on the back of the head. He smiled inwardly at the kid's attempt at humor. "He doing anything?"

"Nope. Still snoring."

"Ah, the exciting work of an ATF agent," said Buck. "This is the stuff that is never glamorized. Sitting for hours watching someone sleep!"

JD shook his head and scratched his neck.

"Dang it, JD. Quit scratchin'!"

"It itches." JD stopped himself short. He wasn't about to tell Buck about the rash he'd noticed earlier in the day. Buck would tease him mercilessly about some sexually transmitted disease or something. The young agent worked hard to control himself. 'I will not scratch. I will not scratch.' His hand started to creep up toward his stomach, but he forced it back. 'C'mon, JD. Focus!' he thought, shaking his head. 'Dang, it itches.' He shot Buck an angry glare as he scratched his arm, 'Hah! Knowing Buck, he probably put itching powder in my laundry just to get even for short sheeting his bed the night Gail came over.'

Buck sighed in exasperation.

"Well, I'm sure it's your fault," accused JD. "You put itching powder in my clothes, didn't you?"

"Now why would I do that?" replied Buck as he adjusted the binoculars.

"Well, after the incident..." JD covered his mouth with his hand. He almost spilled the beans. Maybe Buck hadn't figured out it was his fault. Vin had been known to pull a few stunts himself. Maybe Buck thought that it was Vin who had short-sheeted the bed since Vin had been at the apartment that day.

Buck smiled to himself. So it had been JD. Well, the kid had better watch out, 'cause Buck Wilmington owed him big time. The short sheeting had brought a premature end to a very romantic moment with Gail.

The two men fell into a comfortable silence as they watched the house. It was only a few minutes before JD was scratching himself harshly again.

"JD!" Buck was exasperated. It was bad enough to spend the night on a boring stakeout missing his date with Carrie, but to have your partner fidgeting, squirming and scratching all night was too much. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he asked angrily.

"I got a rash. You happy?" snapped JD tersely.

Buck thought of a funny response, but held it back. The kid looked miserable. "Where?"

"It started on my stomach, but now it feels like it's everywhere," JD responded as he scratched his leg.

"Did you use a different laundry soap? I got a rash once when I was allergic to the new detergent."

"I didn't use different detergent Buck. What'd you do? Did you put itching powder in the laundry soap?"

"No, Kid, I didn't putting itching powder in the laundry soap." Buck frowned. He reached up and felt JD's forehead. "You got a fever, JD. You feelin' okay?"

JD shrugged. "A little tired and achy, I guess."

"Let me see your stomach."


"Just lift your shirt."

JD untucked his shirt and raised it enough that Buck could see his belly. At that same moment, the doors of the van opened and Chris and Vin entered.

"What's happenin', boys?" asked Chris curiously.

JD tried to pull down his shirt but Buck held onto it teasingly. "The kid here has a rash," announced Buck loudly.

"Thanks Buck. Why don't you use a bullhorn? I don't think the whole world heard you," complained JD.

"And he's a little cranky and he has a fever," added Buck.

Chris looked at JD's stomach. "That ain't a rash, JD. That's Chicken Pox."

"No way!" exclaimed JD.

"Ain't that akid's disease?" Vin added with a teasing grin.

"I already had it and besides, I ain't no kid!" protested JD, pushing away Buck's hand.

"You been around any sick kids lately?" asked Chris.

"Not really. I helped Vin with some of the neighborhood kids a couple weeks ago," the young agent replied.

"Any of the neighborhood kids been sick, Vin?" prompted Chris.

A silly grin came to the sharpshooter's face and he shrugged, "Sorry, JD. Couple of thekids are sick now." He emphasized the word 'kids' and bobbed his eyebrows at JD.

JD shoved Vin playfully. "I ain't a kid! This is all your fault, you know!" Vin laughed and backed out of Dunne's reach. JD swung his arms at him a couple of times, but gave up quickly and began scratching his stomach again. "Oh great. This is just great," moaned JD.

Chris chuckled. "I'm sure that's what those spots are, JD." He turned to Buck. "Take him home, Buck. Call his doctor and find out what to do. Oh, and on the way home you should stock up on baking soda, calamine lotion and Benadryl." Chris shook his head at the thought of the difficult week that lay ahead for JD. "Well, at least you've had Chicken Pox, Buck."

"Boy, did I! That's one illness I won't forget. I was twelve. Let's see. I was dating Lucy..."

"Buck!" protested three voices in unison. They all had heard one too many of the adventures of the amorous ladies man. Buck gave them a hurt look, which gave way to his infectious grin.

"What about you, Vin?" asked Chris.

"Yeah, sure," Vin responded a little too quickly. He had no idea if he had had Chicken Pox. His mother had died when he was five so it wasn't as if he could go ask her. Vin had been through a number of foster homes and the Denver Children's Center, but his medical records were incomplete. He didn't want these guys feeling sorry for him. Vin remembered being sick a lot as a child, so he probably had had Chicken Pox. He must have had them.

Chris looked at the sharpshooter. Vin had a distant, lost look in his eyes. He had gone somewhere deep in his memory. Chris shook his head almost imperceptibly. Something as simple as a childhood disease had sent the Texan deeper into his protective armor. Vin never liked to talk about himself, and Chris knew no further information would be forthcoming on any of his childhood illnesses.

"Well, I suppose it doesn't matter now anyway. We've all been exposed," said Chris.

"What do you mean?" asked JD.

"JD, Chicken Pox is contagious. One of the reasons they spread so easily is because you are contagious a couple of days before the spots show up - so you pass them on before you even know you're sick."

"Oh great, now I've exposed everyone."

Chris smiled. "It's okay, JD. You had no idea. I'm sure most of us have already had them. Besides, most adults are immune to them. Don't worry about it. But make sure you check with your doctor."

JD nodded as Buck pulled him out of the Van. "Nothing's going on in there. Jacobson is still sleeping."

Chris nodded. "We'll call later to check on JD."

As the doors to the van closed, Chris looked over at Vin. He was still in that far away, private place of his. "Vin? You haven't had Chicken Pox, have you?"

"Sure I have. I always got everything the other kids had," said Vin defensively.

"Okay, okay," soothed Chris. Vin was probably right. Even if he didn't know for sure that he had had them, it was highly likely that he had. "You want to be ears or eyes?" asked Chris quickly changing the subject as he held up the headphones and binoculars.

"Eyes. I listened to him snore last night," grinned Vin. He took the binoculars and put aside his melancholy feelings. He grabbed a piece of cold pizza from the box and began to munch on it as he focused on Jacobson's house.

Chris smiled at the Texan. He watched him dismiss the emotions he was experiencing and dive into his work. Vin Tanner had a gift. Chris wished he could dismiss his own pain that easily. After thinking on it for a few minutes, Chris realized that it was likely that Vin wasn't really dismissing his pain. He was stuffing it behind that protective wall and would have to deal with it when it seeped out again. Maybe it wasn't such a gift after all.

The men watched and listened in silence. Neither felt the need for small talk, although Chris wished the younger man would tell him what disturbed him about the Chicken Pox question, but he would not push Vin for answers. His private life was his private life. Two hours later Chris needed a break. Sitting in a cramped van made him stiff. He stretched his arms above his head, causing his joints to pop. "Need a break?" he asked Vin.

The Texan lowered the binoculars and looked at Larabee. A slow lopsided grin crossed his face. "Nah,I'm fine," replied the younger man. Chris saw the glint in his eye and knew Vin was implying something about his age.

"Yours is coming Tanner," Chris threatened teasingly. "Hope you got eyes in the back of your head."

"Won't need 'em. I'll hear ya comin' with all them creaking bones."

Chris chuckled as he slapped the headset over Vin's head, letting the earphones snap none too gently over the sharpshooter's ears. Vin replied with a hand gesture that would have earned a stern lecture from Miss Nettie.


Chris and Vin were waiting in Chris's office when Ezra and Josiah arrived at ATF headquarters. Nathan was taking a well-deserved vacation.

"Good Morning Chris. Vin." Josiah nodded his greeting.

"Morning, Josiah." Chris peered around the big man to see the Southerner, observing his mood. "Morning, Ezra."

There was some sort of mumbled response from the undercover agent who was famous for not getting along well with mornings.

"Where are Brothers Buck and JD?"

"Sick leave, Josiah," responded Chris. "Apparently JD has picked up a case of Chicken Pox."

That grabbed the Southerner's attention. "Young Mr. Dunne has been stricken with the Varicella Virus?"

"Jeez, Ez. You make it sound like a horrible disease," said Vin. "He's just got an itchy rash."

Ezra raised his eyebrows. "You obviously have not had the experience of the reprehensible affliction."

"Have so," defended Vin. He frowned. He didn't really understand why it was so important to him that the others believed he had had Chicken Pox. Maybe he just wanted some part of his childhood to be normal.

"Then you would recall the dreadful itching and the abominable scabbing," Ezra pointed out.

"I was a little kid."

Chris watched Vin struggling with himself. The Texan obviously couldn't remember when he had the Chicken Pox or how badly he had had them. In any case, for some reason it bothered Vin deeply. In order to save Vin further turmoil, Chris stepped into the discussion. "It doesn't matter now. I just wanted to warn you two in case you haven't had them yet."

"I had the dreaded disease when I was eight," confirmed Ezra.

Josiah nodded. "Me too."

"Well, we're on stand down status. With Nathan out of town, JD sick, and Buck, Josiah and I testifying in court this week, there isn't much of a team left.

"Hell, Ez and I can run things," said Vin. Ezra raised his eyebrows questioningly at Tanner's suggestion.

"That's quite all right, Vin. I'd kinda like to have an office left when I get back," teased Larabee.

"I'm wounded," said Vin with a laugh as he clutched his hands over his heart as if he was injured.

Chris smiled. "Team 8 is taking over the surveillance. They want you as a consult, Ezra, but that won't take all of your time." The undercover agent nodded his response as Chris continued. "JD's gonna need some company while Buck is in court."

"I can help out," volunteered Vin.

Ezra squirmed a bit but finally agreed to help with JD as long as he would be there in the early stages of the disease. Thinking about the oozing blisters of Chicken Pox made him shiver.

Chris almost laughed at the Southerner's squeamishness. It was amazing what little things would bring down strong men. Ezra could stare down an automatic weapon with barely a flinch, but don't get him near a scab. Chris shook his head. "Okay. Let's set up a schedule."


The Wilmington-Dunne household was not a pleasant place to be. Team 7's happy, exuberant kid agent was angry and frustrated. The doctor had not been helpful. JD was ready to write this stuff off and head to work, and he was informed he would have to stay home for at least five days, probably longer. Then the doctor had the audacity to tell him that he could do nothing about the itching. JD would have to use calamine lotion and soda or oatmeal baths to soothe the irritation. JD cursed softly as he realized that Buck would be mother-henning him to an early death if the scratching didn't accomplish that feat first.

It had only been a few hours, but already it was getting old. It was Buck's natural instinct to take care of JD and protect him, but the kid had turned into a whinny brat this time. 'Bu-uck. Could you get me a drink?' 'Bu-uck, I can't reach the remote.' 'Bu-uck. It itches.' Buck swore that if he heard his name turned into a two-syllable word one more time, he would drown JD in the oatmeal bath and to hell with the consequences.

JD was saved from the oatmeal bath fate when Chris and Vin arrived after work with take out. Chris choked back a laugh at the scene before them. Hyperactive 'sick' JD was bouncing off the walls and Buck, the caretaker was sprawled in the recliner, looking rather exhausted. He knew it wouldn't be long before the full force of the illness sent the restless kid to bed, and then it would only be worse for Buck.

"JD," growled Chris. "Get in bed." JD saw that his tone allowed no argument so he sighed and trudged slowly to his bedroom, mumbling the entire way.

"You all right, Bucklin?" asked Vin with a wry grin.

"You just wait, Junior. You get to take care of the terror tomorrow while I'm in court." Buck let down the foot of the recliner and sat up. "You got food in those bags?"

"Yep." Vin danced a bag in front of Buck.

"Smells good."

"We'll keep it warm, Buck. You grab a quick shower. Freshen up a bit."

Buck didn't argue with Chris. He headed for the bathroom.


After dinner, with JD tucked safely into bed, Buck had nodded off in the recliner. A smile crept across Larabee's face as he watched his oldest friend sleep.

Vin saw the grin and was curious about what had made Chris smile. He remained silent, however, not wanting to disturb the pleasant thoughts that came far too infrequently to the man who had suffered greatly through the tragic loss of his wife and son.

"I was just thinking," said Chris. He glanced over at Vin and caught the grin on his face. He knew Vin was wondering what he had been thinking about. He returned the grin. "When Adam was five, he had a case of the Chicken Pox. He was a lot like JD. Had more energy than he knew what to do with. By the time Buck and I got home, Sarah was so exhausted that she fell asleep in the middle of dinner." Chris smiled broadly at the memory of Sarah nearly falling into her Chinese food. Chris had carried her up the stairs and gently put her into bed and kissed her goodnight. He watched her sleep for awhile and then tiptoed back downstairs.

Buck grunted and shifted in the chair before beginning to snore.

Chris nodded toward the sleeping agent. "Buck came to the rescue that time. He kept Adam occupied for hours so Sarah could get some rest. Shoot, Adam even wore me out."

"He's a good friend," said Vin.

"Will you two shuddup? I'm trying ta sleep here." Wilmington blinked open his eyes as two couch pillows hit him.


JD was miserable. He was covered with tiny red blisters. He had them on his arms, legs, stomach, back, face. He had them in his armpits, in his ears, in his hair - he had them everywhere. His doctor had said it wasn't a severe case. JD had a few choice words he'd like to tell the doctor.

He itched everywhere. The soda baths gave only temporary relief. And it sure wasn't any fun having Buck watching him like a hawk twenty-four hours a day. All he had to do was move his hand and Buck would be hollering at him, 'Stop scratching, JD. You'll get an infection. You'll have scars and then you won't get the pretty girls.'

The worst part was that after his fever broke, he felt okay other than the miserable itching. But he couldn't go out. He was contagious until the spots had scabbed over and dried. He was bored. JD laid on the couch and watched cartoons, sports, and movies. He played computer games. Then all the sudden Buck would be hollering at him about scratching. 'Dang. It ain't my fault. I don't even know when I'm doing it.' Buck had even made JD sit on his hands for awhile. That was until he figured out JD was scratching his legs while he was sitting on his hands.

Today Buck had to testify in court. His warden was leaving and Vin was coming over. JD breathed a sigh of relief figuring Vin would be a lot more lenient with him. JD was still in bed when he heard Buck coming down the hall giving instructions to Vin.

"...And then after the soda bath, you put the calamine lotion on." Buck stuck his head in the door. "Morning Kid. I just want to show Vin how to do the calamine lotion."

"Buck, I can do it..."

"Yourself. Yeah, I know. But you can't get the places you can't reach! Roll over on your stomach so I can get your back."

JD complied. The need for relief from itching was greater than the embarrassment of his friends seeing all.

Buck dabbed the lotion on the cotton ball and touched it on a pox. He dragged it gently across to the next spot. He kept dabbing more cotton balls and going from spot to spot, almost as if he was connecting the dots. JD let out a sigh at the temporary relief.

"Ya see?" asked Buck.

JD turned his head to look at Vin as the sharpshooter began to chuckle. "What?" he demanded.

Vin nodded to Buck.

"Pay up!" said the ladies man.

Vin flipped him a quarter. "I'll be damned. I never figured on that."

"What?" asked JD in exasperation.

"Nothing, JD. It's just iffen you connect the dots like Bucklin just did, you got a picture of a nekkid lady on yer back." Vin stepped back as a camera flashed.

Buck quickly scrambled away from the bed, with camera in hand, laughing as JD pelted him with his pillows.


JD was right. Vin was a lot easier on him than Buck. In fact, Vin had napped several times during the day, giving JD free reign. He helped with the calamine lotion and got JD soup and juice or water when he wanted it, but for the most part he just sat on the couch. JD didn't think much of it since Vin was usually quiet. The only thing he found annoying was the few times Vin reminded him not to scratch, and the numerous times Vin asked if it was too hot in the apartment.

Vin was glad for a quiet day. For some reason he was really tired. 'Musta been the late night surveillance,' he thought. And he was so hot. He figured Buck had the thermostat cranked up so JD was comfortable, but it was unbearably hot. He absently scratched his chest as he drifted off to sleep during a Gilligan's Island rerun.

The sound of voices drew him from his sleep. He yawned and stretched before opening his eyes.

"Some babysitter you turned out to be," grumbled Buck.

"I'm not a baby, Buck!" complained JD. "And I don't need a sitter."

Vin didn't answer. Chris took one look at the Texan and sighed. He lay his hand against Vin's forehead checking for a fever. Vin batted it away, but not quick enough. "You're sick."

"I'm fine," snapped Vin, scratching his chest again.

"Unbutton your shirt."


"Open your shirt. Let me check for a rash."

"I ain't sick, Chris," Vin complained.

"I know. I know. Just humor me."

"Fine!" said Vin curtly. He unbuttoned his shirt and shrugged it off. Then he pulled his Tee shirt over his head. "See. I'm fine!"

"Damn," said Chris softly.

"Um, Vin?" said JD.

"What, JD?" the Texan growled.

"Looks like I get to play connect the dots now," the kid laughed.

Vin looked down at his chest. Sure enough, blisters were forming. "Aw, hell!" Vin scratched his arm.

Chris laid his hand over Vin's hand. "Don't scratch."


Chris had never seen so many Chicken Pox on one person's body. Over night Vin's chest and torso had sprouted at least a hundred of the nasty blisters. He was glad he had insisted that Vin spend the night at the ranch. The Texan would have been too miserable to take care of himself. With a small smile, he reached out and shook Vin's shoulder gently.

"Aw, Chris," Vin moaned, but it sounded more like 'kwith'. He quickly looked away from Chris, but not before the blonde saw his embarrassment. The Texan had a very slight lisp that became much more pronounced when he was tired. Vin was painfully shy and Chris had often wondered if perhaps the lisp was part of the reason Vin was so quiet. "What is it, Vin?"

Vin just shook his head, refusing to speak.

"Come on, Cowboy. I got an oatmeal bath waiting for you," said Chris gently. It was clear Vin was not feeling well. He knew Vin was regrouping before he spoke again.

Vin slowly sat up, gathering his bearings before attempting to stand. He owed JD big time. If the kid had felt half as bad as he did now, he owed him an apology for the teasing. It wasn't just the itching that bothered him, the Texan ached everywhere. Slowly he stood. He took a couple of stumbling steps before gaining his balance.

"You all right?" asked Chris with concern.

Vin just nodded and headed for the bathroom. He slipped out of the sweat pants and tee shirt, then his boxers and socks before stepping into the scummy bath water. It looked horrible but he knew the relief would be worth it. Settling into the tub, Vin shivered slightly. "Cold!"

Chris put his hand in the lukewarm water. "No. It's fine. It just feels cold because of your fever."

"Can't you put mo' hot water in?"

"No. Hot water is bad for the blisters." Chris sighed as he watched his friend shiver in the oatmeal bath. Vin always felt the cold more than any of the others. Larabee smiled inwardly at the layers of clothes Vin always wore. It would have to be a hundred degrees out before Vin Tanner would take off his shirt.

Vin's hand snaked up out of the water and began scratching his neck.

"Hand," said Chris firmly.

Vin sighed and put his hand back in the water. He never opened his eyes. It was too much effort. Besides, they itched too. JD was lucky. He didn't have any spots on his eyelids. Vin tried to get his mind focused on something else so he could forget the aggravating itching and the achy muscles.


A couple of hours later the sharpshooter found himself resting on the couch in Buck and JD's apartment. He didn't remember the drive in from Larabee's ranch where Chris had insisted he spend the night. He remembered the stop at the clinic, however. The doctor had said, 'Yep, you've got Chicken Pox.' 'Duh,' thought Vin, but he had wisely kept his mouth shut. He knew he was short-tempered and was taking his frustration out on those around him. Vin sighed loudly, drawing JD's attention to him.

"You okay, Vin?"

Vin pulled the headphones of his Walkman off his ears. "Yeah. I'm just so hot."

"I'll make up a soda bath," volunteered the younger man.

"Thanks, JD. I appreciate it." JD got up and moved toward the bathroom. "JD?"

"Yeah Vin?" said the kid as he stopped and turned back to the miserable Texan.

"I'm real sorry for teasing ya. If I'd a known it was this bad, I wouldn't a said nuthin'."

"Don't feel bad, Vin. I should apologize to you. I sorta wished them on you after you teased me. I'm real sorry. I think you got 'em a lot worse than me."

Vin stiffly got up and followed JD to the bathroom.


For most of the morning Vin and JD had dutifully kept their word and not scratched themselves but by early afternoon it was unbearable. JD 'accidentally' rubbed his back on the doorframe as he walked by it. Vin would probably have a tougher time explaining how the broom handle could 'accidentally' scratch his back. It wasn't long before they were combining their efforts. They had quickly learned where the phrase 'You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' had come from. It had to be someone with Chicken Pox! They figured if they helped scratch each other, then they weren't really breaking their word. After all, each man had promised to try not to scratch himself. That didn't cover scratching the other guy.

Modesty had been overcome by necessity. The ability to reach itching spots quickly even had the shy Texan roaming the apartment in just his boxer shorts since he discovered that a tee shirt and sweats just intensified the irritation.

Both men had spurts of energy throughout the day and, when those brief spurts of energy coincided, it was wise to watch out. One such moment found JD caked in white residue from his soda bath. Vin had completed his bath first and made up the bath water for JD. One look in the mirror told the kid that Vin had added extra baking soda to his bath water. Lots of extra soda. When JD stepped back in the tub to rinse off, there was no water. He tried the faucets again. Nothing. He tried the sink. Nothing.

"Vi-in!" he yelled when he heard the giggling Texan. He knew the culprit had turned off the water at the shut off valve in the kitchen. Well, two could play this game.

Vin stuck his head inside the bathroom door. "Jeez JD, you're white as a ghost!" he teased.

"Vi-in!" whined JD. "I got some in my eye! It hurts!" Vin quickly moved in to help his teammate. JD smiled inwardly. Vin had fallen for his ploy. When Vin was close enough, JD doused him with the calamine lotion he had been hiding behind his back. "At least I ain't pink like the Energizer Bunny!" he quipped.

Vin stepped back in surprise as the lotion ran down the side of his face and dripped onto his bare chest. Vin put his hand to his cheek wiping off some of the pink liquid. He looked at his hand with a scowl. JD thought for a moment that Vin was going to get mad, but the kid started laughing in relief as the Texan gamely began spreading the lotion around on various spots. "Thanks JD. I was just startin' to itch again."

JD looked around the room. Between his baking soda and Vin's dripping calamine lotion, the place was a mess. "Oh man! Buck is going to kill us."

"Not us, Kid. You. Buck is going to killyou. I didn't pour the calamine all over." Vin grinned as he headed back to the water shut off valve in the kitchen. "I'll catch the water for ya."

JD quickly rinsed off the residue and dabbed on the calamine. By the time he was done, he was worn out. It seemed that just as suddenly as the energy came, it was sapped. He walked past the couch and the snoring sharpshooter. Vin's headphones had skewed sideways as he slept. JD smiled, heading for his bed.


Chris and Buck had spent the day in court testifying in the McElvoy case. The testimony had gone well, but would probably last a couple more days. They had left Vin and JD in each other's care making them swear not to scratch. Buck and Chris were on their way back to the apartment, having picked up dinner at the Chinese Take Out on the way.

"I betcha they figured out some way to scratch without breaking their promises."

Chris smiled at Buck's suggestion. He was probably right. Both of Team Seven's youngest members were men of their word. If at all possible, they would keep their promise not to scratch themselves. Chris grinned bigger. "We should'a made them promise not to scratch each other."

Buck chuckled. "I still can't believe they both came down with the Chicken Pox. 'Makes 'em seem even younger, don't it?"

Chris nodded. He hated leaving Vin and JD alone today, but it couldn't be helped. Josiah was tied up in court just as he and Buck were. Ezra was on loan, consulting with Team 8 and Nathan would be back from his vacation in two days. JD seemed to be doing okay. Sure, he was uncomfortable, but he was progressing normally. Vin was the one who worried him a little more. His fever was still high, hovering between 103 and 104 most of the time and he was a bit lethargic. The doctor had told Chris that the sluggishness was from the fever and he would get some energy back when the fever broke in a couple days.

Chris parked the truck. "Well, I guess we'd better see what they're up to."


"Aw jeez, I'm dying here," complained JD as he applied pressure with one finger on his cheek, just in front of his right ear.

"At least ya don't got 'em in your throat," whispered Vin raspily. Even talking now made his throat hurt. Having Chicken Pox sores in your mouth and throat was bad enough, but having to use liquid antacid as a mouthwash to ease the pain was worse. Chris had bought him cherry antacid, but it was still horrible.

"I gotta do something. It's driving me nuts." JD looked at Vin. Despite the sharpshooter's fever and discomfort, there was a spark of mirth in his eyes. "Yeah, I know. Short drive. Can you help me out here?"

"What do you want me to do?" asked Vin, taking off his headphones and setting his Walkman aside.


Buck put the key in the lock and turned it. He opened the door and stepped inside. The scene before him caused him to stop in his tracks, making Chris run into him and almost spill the drinks.

"Almost there," whispered Vin huskily.

"Hurry!" whined JD.

Buck's mouth dropped open in shock. It looked like Vin was naked, sitting on top of JD on the couch. He was bent forward, his face over JD's, his long hair hiding what was happening... "What the hell is going on?" squeaked Buck.

JD's head jerked toward Buck's voice.

"Dang it, JD! Hold still!" barked Vin.

JD sat up, dumping Vin backward on the couch making him bang his head on the arm of the couch behind him. Fortunately, the arm was padded.

"I wasn't scratching!" said JD guiltily. A racing stripe of calamine lotion streaked from his ear to his nose. The Q-tip in Vin's hand told where the line of lotion had come from, but it didn't explain the flashlight Vin's other hand. The sharpshooter had the 'deer caught in the headlights' look on his face.

"J-JD has one in his ear. I was t-trying to see so I could put lotion on it," croaked Vin. The sharpshooter swallowed and closed his eyes in pain.

The voice was pathetic and Chris winced, knowing it was hurting Vin to speak. "Please don't talk, cowboy. " Team 7's leader looked at his calamine dotted agents in their boxer shorts. He shook his head. They looked like two little boys caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

"C'mere, JD," said Buck with a chuckle. "Gimme that," he said to Vin as he swiped the Q-Tip and flashlight. "Now where is this spot supposed to be?"

Chris sat down next to Vin on the sofa. The Polaroid picture on the end table caught his eye. "What's this?"

"JD," rasped Vin.

Chris held his finger to his lips, indicating the Texan shouldn't speak.

"That's for the Wall of Fame at the office," crowed Buck as he dabbed the calamine in JD's ear.

Chris grinned at JD's moan of displeasure. Larabee looked at the picture and chuckled. He knew exactly who had drawn the calamine lotion lady on JD's back. Chris was just grateful that it had been cartoon characters that Buck had drawn with Adam's spots. A soft sigh escaped his lips as he remembered how good Buck was at entertaining Adam and keeping his mind off his itching. He wished he could do as well with Vin.

"Your turn Junior," said Buck with an evil grin, approaching with the calamine lotion.

"Be nice," warned Chris.

"Aw, you're no fun." Buck began dabbing calamine on Vin's spots. He began to chant,

Calamine, calamine, calamine lotion.
Ooo ahh! It's the magic potion.
Itchy-itchy, scratchy-scratchy,
Got one on my backy-backy.
Wish it'd go away...

"Buck, shut up," said Vin grumpily.

"What'sa matta with you, boy? Weren't you ever in the cub scouts? That's a famous campfire song!" Buck laughed. "Ok, so you don't like that one? How 'bout 'Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop'? You know that song?" He began to dab more lotion and sang very badly,

Itchy, itchy, scratch and twitch;
Chicken Pox all spots and ick
Bumpy, lumpy, swollen legs;
Give me lotion, please I beg.
Red and oozing, gooky crust;
Itch relief is now a must.
Help me bathe in calamine,
Go to work another time

By the end of the verse, Buck was dancing around the room. JD had his hands over his eyes while Vin held his hands over his ears. Chris, on the other hand, remained silent as fond memories of a younger Buck performing the same songs for his little boy flooded his heart.


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