Could Be Luckier

by Kris

ATF Virtual Season II episode

Disclaimer: The boys do not belong to me, I repeat this daily. I do take them out for fresh air. Mog created the ATF universe. Heather F. created Ryan Kelly.

JD Dunne looked at his co-workers and grinned, "I'm sure glad I don't have to go to court today. I hate having to dress up."

"Mr. Dunne, Mr. Wilmington and Tanner look better today than I have ever seen them." Ezra replied to JD's observation.

"That's only cuz you dress like that every day, Ez. They look normal only to me, they look like their going to church." JD grinned as Buck threw a wad of paper at him.

Chris walked out of his office and six pairs of eyes looked up. Chris smiled to himself before he looked around at them, "Tomorrow's a free day, but Thursday, at my house, eleven o'clock. That should be late enough for even you Ezra. We all help make the meal."

Ezra looked back at he man, "I thank you for the invitation, but I will be dining with my mother."

"Ah Ez, I was hoping you'd be with us this year," JD then added after Buck cuffed him upside the head, "Of course, I understand about eating with your mother and all." But it was hard for him to hide his real disappointment.

Chris looked at his watch, hiding his own disappointment, "Okay, let's head for the courthouse."

+ + + + + + +

Chris locked his vehicle as he watched Buck, Ezra and Vin walk into the Hall of Justice. The rumble that preceded the forceful blast, didn't give Chris enough notice to yell a warning out. He dropped to the ground as JD dove under the front end. Josiah and Nathan dropped to the ground behind the truck.

Shattered glass flew as flames followed the building rubble. Chunks of debris soared out hitting vehicles, knocking the fountain over and injuring people. The heat of the blast peeled the paint of all vehicles parked outside of the first level parking lot. The dust and dirt was so thick, no one could see the damage that building had sustained.

Twenty-one seconds later, amid the dust, Chris was up and running toward the building, Nathan close on his heels. Josiah waited for JD, then they both ran to the aid of their friends.

Chris had his phone out, dialing the fire department. Sirens could already be heard in the background. He called Travis and requested the bomb squad.

The Denver Sheriff's department marshaled whatever forces that weren't inside and mobilized a rescue force. Fire Department engines started pulling in and working on the structural fires as soon as their feet touched the ground. One side of the building looked as thought the roof had collapsed, the other looked as though a wrecking ball had spent the morning pounding it.

Chris ran over to what was fast becoming the Incident Command System Center. This was under the Sheriff's jurisdiction and all would defer to them in this emergency. Chris listened and quickly surmised that the daycare center would be the primary focus of the rescue effort.

Chris did inform the ICSC Commander, "I have three ATF men in there, they had just entered the building when the blast occurred."

"We've got no less than thirty kids in there. They're in a part of the building where they have a real chance. Your men are probably dead." The Sheriff Command representative turned away, dealing with other questions.

Chris was seething, his men weren't dead. They had to try. He felt a gentle hand on his arm, and turned impatiently to see JD's fearful entreating eyes.

"We gotta get 'em out. We can do it Chris." JD told him, needing the assurance back from their leader.

Chris nodded and opened his phone again, punching in numbers. "Kelly, we

+ + + + + + +

Ezra opened his eyes when he realized that he could move. Darkness was all there was. The undercover man used his hands to feel what was on his chest. It felt like a wood beam. He found its edges and pushed hard against it.

The unexpected pain to his shoulder caused him to cry out loud. The beam had been relativity small and easy to maneuver but it had housed the protruding piece of metal that had just been ripped out of his shoulder.

He felt a warm, sticky liquid and knew that he was bleeding. He thought about the ruination of a good suit and why he was wearing it. He thought of going to court, entering the building and the loud explosion that had assaulted his ears. Vin and Buck had been with him.

"Dear lord," Ezra said aloud, then yelled as loud as he was able, " Mr. Tanner, Mr. Wilmington?" No answer, "Vin, Buck?"

No answer again. Ezra felt in his pockets, he had a mini flashlight on his keyring. A little gift from JD and he used it only to please the boy. He was glad now of that indulgence. He used the little light to survey his surroundings. Wood and stone rubble. Torn wire and busted pipes. A leg.

He moved to the leg, calling out both Vin and Buck's names. He found Buck first, he pushed rubble off his chest and was relieved to see the breathing movement.

He moved the light around, searching for Vin. Not finding him on the first inspection, he moved the light more slowly, moving his own body to different areas. He finally saw a glint of hair and crawled over to it. Under a pile of rubble he unearthed Vin.

Vin's head was bleeding and his arm was in an awkward position. But he was breathing, that was all that mattered to agent. Vin was an important part of the team and the team would never forgive him if he had lived and Vin had died.

Ezra removed all the rubble and debris from Vin's supine body. Then he removed his own jacket and folded it to become a pillow for Vin's head.

He undid Vin's belt and used it to strap the broken arm to the side of the tracker's body, to prevent further injury. He eased it under the body very gently and cinched it tightly enough to keep the arm immobile.

Ezra ignored the pain in his shoulder and chest and made his way back to Buck. He didn't see blood or broken appendages. He did find a large lump on the back of the ladies man's head. He removed the rubble from around his head so Buck could also rest more comfortable. On a closer perusal he found that Buck had at least one broken rib.

Ezra took off his shirt and folded it so he could wrap it around Buck's chest. He used the sleeves to tie it snug, hoping to restrict movement.

Ezra was down to his tank top undershirt stained with blood.

The man consummate at pushing his emotions aside, continued to ignore the pain that burned with each movement. Ezra didn't let himself relax, he was afraid he wouldn't have enough energy to get back up.

He surveyed the damage to his surroundings, searching for a way out. The damage looked pretty bad and with so much debris, a way out appeared impossible.

Ezra did have one relief, because Vin and Buck were here. The others would be working hard to find them.

+ + + + + + +

Chris and Nathan, Josiah and JD, worked in pairs to move the boulders of wreckage away from the entrance their friends had used. They worked in tandem to move the large pieces aside.

JD asked Josiah, "Do you think they're still alive."

"Yup, can't see them any other way." Josiah said, never pausing in his movements.

The four ATF members found themselves joined by the whole of Team 8. Ryan Kelly nodded at Larabee. His team started right in hauling off more rubble and debris. There was no competition here, when a member of the ATF family was in trouble, the ranks pulled together.

To an onlooker, the scene before them might appear chaotic, but all is not as it appears.

The fire department worked diligently to put out all the fires. Five additional companies had joined the original responder. Hoses were attached at all available hydrants. Extra fire crew was helping in the rescue efforts.

The bomb squad was out looking for possible additional bombs. They also searched for the cause and site or origin of the bomb that trapped a possible four hundred fifty people. Any extra officers were helping in the rescue efforts.

Urban Search and Rescue were working with the Sheriff's department in freeing the daycare children still trapped. They opened a small crawl way and were stabilizing the opening for extraction.

Hospitals had sent doctor's for triage assessment, ambulance companies had all available vehicles out at the site. Pulling together to provide quality care as quickly as possible.

Food and drink made its way out to the rescuers, origin unknown, just appreciated. Professionals at their jobs worked together to make a disaster survivable for as many as possible.

The press had reporters and cameras. Video cameras were rolling, hoping to catch something news worthy for the evening news. Patrolmen kept a firm perimeter, the rescuers didn't need to be interviewed as they worked.

+ + + + + + +

"Aw, ouch," squeaks of pain came from Vin.

"Vin?" Ezra rushed to his side.

"What happened?" A crocky voice asked.

"An unscheduled demolition of the court building as we entered." Ezra told him. An unusual giddy feeling at hearing Vin's voice was explained away by thinking that Larabee wouldn't kick him off the team now.

"Our trial?" Vin asked in less than a whisper.

"More than likely," Ezra agreed. Ezra had noticed a pipe leaking earlier and made his way over to it. He sniffed it to discover if it was indeed water. He took off his undershirt and ripped the bottom part off. He soaked it with as much water as it could hold. He squeezed the water drops onto Vin's lips. The lips parted further to receive the moisture.

"Thanks." Vin's voice sounded less dry. He tried to move, in addition to the pain he couldn't maneuver much. "Ez, my arm's trapped."

"I belted it to your side. It's broken."


"Do you hurt anywhere else? Vin?" Ezra turned the light on Vin's face. He felt a momentarily panic until he checked and found a strong pulse. The steady beat beneath his fingers relaxed his own rapid beat.

Ezra then repeated the procedure for collecting water to drip it on Buck's lips. Buck's lips parted slightly to accept the moisture. He checked Buck's pupils and the appeared equal and reactive. Again Ezra was relieved that Buck wasn't suffering from a major head blow.

Ezra closed his eyes and thought about the last year. He had worked hard to live up to the faith that Chris Larabee had shown him by giving him the second chance. They didn't really trust him, the team, he knew they didn't, but this job was better than any other situation he'd had. Sitting there, alone with his thoughts, he admitted that he wanted to fit in here. He just didn't know how to do it.

If he could keep his partners alive, they would keep him. He truly feared that they wouldn't want to see him each day as a reminder if they died.

Ezra was very tired and wanted to lay down but argued with himself that he must stay awake and tend Vin and Buck. He knew how much the team loved these men and he didn't want to be further cause of their distress.

He started talking out loud, to help keep himself vigilant. "You wouldn't know it Buck, but I respect your easy way with people. I can talk and charm in the line of duty, but you seem to be able to relate on any level, on the personal level." Ezra shook his head at his mother's voice chastising him for such honesty. "Vin. Vin has been trying to make friends. A funny expression, make friends. Friends were something I never made. Vin doesn't seem to let up though. At first, I tried to figure out what he had to gain, now I've come to believe that he just wants to be friends, Buck, how do I do that? You even have our fearless leader under your spell. I know that you have a long history, but you manage to pull a smile when he really needs it. I do not believe that Mr. Larabee likes me. Just recognizes that my abilities are useful to the team. That is the real reason why I don't attend the holiday festivities. I don't wish to ruin his day."

Ezra moved over to check on Vin again and continued his verbal monologue. "JD seems to genuinely like everyone, myself included. Whereas Nathan and Josiah seem to be reserving judgment. They expect me to run off each day. I won't, my promise to Larabee. At times lately, I find myself wishing that I really belonged to this group." He sat back, silent again, thinking again on his unaccustomed honesty. Glad that no one was conscious to hear.

Amid the silent debate, Ezra's attention was caught by a faint sound; like rocks hitting rocks.


He wanted whomever to know that they were here, alive and in need of rescue. He picked up a hand sized chunk of rock and started hitting the debris closest to where the sound came from. He turned off the light and rested his back against a pile of rubble and hit the rock again and again and again.

+ + + + + + +

Ryan Kelly picked up the water bottle that had been donated and took a swig. Larabee hadn't paused for a moment in the rubble removal. His desire to free his men was tireless. He knew Larabee had the same dedication to his team as he did. He just hoped they were alive. Larabee would take their loss hard. A good leader does.

The pile behind them was now larger than that before them. They were close to gaining entrance. They had all heard the cheers when the children had been reached and evacuated. The rescue teams were working on the other trapped people. The ATF boys would free their own.

Josiah was close to the entrance, next to Chris. He thought that rock was falling and had Chris pause. They both listened for the direction of the rubble fall. Instead they heard a consistent bang. JD stopped and joined them.

He yelled in excitement, "That's three long, three short. Their alive."

Chris pounded a rock in answer. While the others yelled together, "We're coming, hold on."

With a renewed energy that each man suddenly had, they worked to remove the rest of rock, rubble and debris.

As the first crack of light broke through, Ezra released his hold and slipped into unconsciousness.

Chris peaked in and yelled, "They're here. Get an ambulance."

Josiah ran off, he had no plans on taking no for an answer.

Chris and Nathan got the whole large enough for Nathan to get in. He went through and every member of Team 7 and 8 waited in silence for Nathan's report.

"All three are alive. We need medics."

The last part of Nathan's words were drowned out by the cheer that erupted by the ATF men. They worked with another bout of renewed energy and got the entrance large enough for the stretchers to bring them out.

The four members of Team 7 watched as the paramedics brought out their comrades. JD puzzled aloud, "Why is Ezra without his shirt?"

Chris was too preoccupied to care, as was Josiah. Nathan responded with his curiosity, "I saw that too, maybe he was too hot."

Vin was brought out next, followed closely by Buck. The ambulance loaded all three and told the others that they had to get there on their own.

Josiah turned to Chris, "You go, I'll stay here and help get others out." Nathan and JD agreed.

JD added, "They'll need you to take care of things there. I want to help somebody else get their loved ones back today, so they can feel the way I do right now."

Ryan looked at Larabee over the kid's head and smiled, "Hell, we're staying too."

Chris Larabee shook Kelly's hand, "Thank you. I owe you."

Kelly shook his head, leaned in and lowered his voice, "Nah, this was family. We love our teams that way. Next time you'll owe me," he patted Chris on the back before turning back to his team.

Chris headed for his dented vehicle and followed the ambulance to the hospital.

+ + + + + + +

The trauma center was all set up at the hospital, expecting many patients by the end of the day. The admitting nurses were apprehensive as they saw Chris Larabee stomp into the emergency room.

Helen, the head nurse called out, "Who?"

Chris answered succinctly, "Standish, Tanner, Wilmington."

Helen pulled their files in the alphabetical order he had given the names. The doors swooshed open as the gurneys carrying Larabee's men entered. Helen knew that Larabee knew the drill, and that he was prepared to break it, so she just waved him in. Why fight the tornado.

Chris watched as doctors worked on all three men. Buck was the first to make noise. His yelp should have waked all the other patients. After taping his ribs and checking for concussion, they left him to help with Ezra.

Chris went and stood beside Buck. "Good to see you old friend."

"Glad to be here. Older friend."

Chris just smiled at the dig, glad that Buck was here to give it. As he watched the nurses remove the belt around Vin, asked Buck, "You put that on Vin?"

"No Chris, I think it was Ezra. I heard him talking out loud. He thinks we don't trust him and he thinks you don't like him. That's why he won't come for Thanksgiving." Buck looked up at his oldest friend and saw the pain there. Buck knew that Chris cared, else Ezra'd be gone. But somehow, he could show Vin he cared easier than Ezra. Well, Ezra did make it tough at times.

"Does he know you were listenin?" Chris asked.

"Nah, it was right before we were rescued." Buck told him as the pain killers took affect and he closed his eyes, knowing Chris would fix it.

Chris paced while they worked on Vin and Ezra. They set Vin's arm and stitched his head, shaving just a tiny spot after Chris objected to a full out head shave. He didn't want Vin to shoot him and the doctor first thing. He waited for news on Ezra. All the doctor would say was that he had lost a lot of blood.

Buck and Vin were wheeled to recovery before Ezra was completed. Part of Chris wanted to follow Buck and Vin, but something kept him rooted to Ezra instead.

Chris pulled a chair next to him as the nurses finished setting up the drip bags. They had given him two pints of blood and they wanted to watch him here before sending him upstairs. Chris stayed by him so he'd know he wasn't alone.

Ezra opened his eyes and was dismayed that Chris Larabee was right there. That could only mean something bad happened. He wanted to close his eyes and ignore it, but the worry would fester and only agitate him more.

"Vin, Buck, what happened? They okay?" Ezra didn't even realize that he used their first names.

"They're both doing fine. They've been move to recovery. I wanted to wait with you." Chris told him gently.


Chris turned to look at Ezra directly, "Why what?"

"What bad news do you have to depart?" Ezra asked with his non-expression.

"None. Why do you think there is bad news, Ezra?" Chris asked of his agent.

Ezra wasn't sure what to say, the truth seemed inappropriate. "Usually you're at the sides of Mr. Tanner and Mr. Wilmington."

"This time I waited with you. You're all my team, I worry about all its members." Chris watched while a look of disbelief flashed across Ezra's face. Chris tried something else, "Ezra, this year, do you think your mother would mind if you all came to my house instead. I need to have you there. This was too close to losing you guys, and I want the whole team together."

Ezra studied Chris' face and could see that this was very important to him. He nodded, "Yes if I can get out of this place. I will be there."

The nurses came in to check the monitors and told him he would have to wait while they readied the patient to take him to recovery.

Chris leaned over and whispered into Ezra's ear, "I love ya same as the others. You're my brother." Chris left the room, treasuring the stunned look of joy on the man's face.

+ + + + + + +

With a load of instructions given to Nathan, the three men were released to Chris. Thanksgiving morning dawned great, they were seven strong again.

JD grumbled good naturedly, "Geez, Buck, what you do to get out of a little work."

Buck laughed, "Don't blame me, it was all Ezra's idea, he's the one that hates manual labor."

Ezra just shook his head, not yet used to the complete assimilation into the off duty group.

Vin sat next to him as the others were setting the table and getting the food dished. "Thanks for the care in there when we were trapped."

"No thanks necessary, you'd have done the same." Ezra said, embarrassed.

Vin put his good hand on Ezra's shoulder as he said eye to eye, "Yea, Ezra, I would. Don't forget that." Ezra said nothing, overwhelmed with too much emotion.

Chris called them all in, got them sat down with the right plates. "I'm glad to have you all here today." He smiled at his new family, emotion filling his chest. "Could be luckier," Chris said to all the men seated at the table, then added, "But I don't know how."


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