Elvis & Me

by Beth Green

An ATF Universe tale of Buck & the Seven

(Y’all may be able to guess what movie inspired this.)

Ezra Standish hurried into the conference room, well aware that he was five minutes late for a scheduled one p.m. briefing. He was pleasantly surprised when he was able to gain his seat without anyone commenting upon his tardiness. A quick scan of the room provided the reason for his reprieve from Mr. Larabee's tongue lashing. It appeared that Team Seven was still lacking two members: Buck Wilmington and JD Dunne. He made a mental note to thank them, later, for sparing him from Chris Larabee's ire.

Team Three was present in its entirety, as were the FBI agents who were waiting to present the details of the upcoming joint operation between their respective departments. The room remained quiet, as the various Team members maintained their best behavior in the presence of their guests. More importantly, none of those present wished to call down the obvious wrath of Mr. Larabee upon themselves.

The tension level in the room increased with each passing minute. At precisely fifteen minutes after the hour, the loud "snap" of a pencil being reduced to splinters signaled the end of Chris Larabee's patience. As Buck and JD were not present for him to direct his anger toward, he satisfied himself with glaring at the members of his team who were currently occupying the room. His low, quiet voice promised a slow and painful death to the absentees.

His eyes glinting through narrowed lids, his voice deceptively calm, he stated, "I'm sorry that two members of my team aren't here yet. Why don't you get started, and I'll make a few calls, see if I can find out what's keeping them?" His slow, measured walk as he left the room was eerily reminiscent of a gunfighter heading for a showdown. Josiah sent a brief prayer heavenward, asking God's mercy for his absent friends.

Chris retreated to the privacy of his office, leaving the door open. He knew that if he attempted to close it, he'd more than likely rip the thing off its hinges. He sat a moment at his desk, trying to rein in his anger. He didn't want to be billed for yet another office phone replacement. Assistant Director Travis had begun deducting the cost from his paycheck after he'd managed to destroy three in one month. He'd attempted to explain that his office equipment assaults beat the alternative of assaulting the agents responsible for his anger. AD Travis was less than sympathetic, offering the ridiculous suggestion of anger management training. Chris snorted. If Travis had to work with these boys day in and day out, he'd know why Chris had almost given in to his impulse to tell Travis to take his "anger management" and put it where the sun don't shine.

Chris had made it quite clear to all of his agents that this afternoon's briefing was mandatory, and they'd damn well better be on time. The only excused absence would be in case of death. Chris picked up the phone, still fuming. If Buck and JD weren't dead yet, they would be once he got through with them.

He'd just finished dialing through to JD's cell phone when the tinny opening bars of the "Magnificent Seven" theme song drifted through his office door. JD'd been so proud when he'd programmed the damn thing into his cell phone, he must've played it a hundred times. If JD left his cell phone in the office, Chris was going to kill him. He slammed the receiver back into its cradle, not waiting to see if he'd managed to break another phone. He stalked into the office, following the sound of the music. In his haste to investigate, he nearly ran over JD.

JD backed away nervously, his hands raised to hold off his superior's charge. "Whoa, there, Chris! I know we're a little late."

Chris cut off his explanation. "Are you dead? I don't think so. What about Buck? He dead?"

"Well, no. . ."

"Then I don't care to listen to anything you have to say. Get in the damn conference room." As Chris spoke, he'd noticed Buck leaning against the wall. Done with JD for the moment, he turned his attention to the senior partner. His anger swiftly gave way to shock at Buck's appearance. He was pale and sweating, leaning against the wall as if he'd fall over without its support. His clothing was wrinkled and disheveled, as if he'd been rolling in the dirt. Road rash was visible through the torn knee of his pants leg.

Chris was at his side in three long strides. "What the hell happened to you?" Much as Chris wanted the answer to his question, he cut off any explanation Buck may have made. "Never mind. If you ain't in the Emergency room, you're okay to go sit in on the damn briefing." His voice more of a threat than a promise, Chris stated, "We'll talk about this later."

JD hovered anxiously nearby as Buck slowly limped to the conference room. Much as Buck would have liked to lean on JD, he didn't care to show any weakness in front of the FBI "fibbies." More importantly, he didn't want to give Nathan any excuse to think that he might need to make a visit to the Emergency room.

The room grew abruptly silent at his entrance, all eyes turning to stare at him and JD. With a wan smile, Buck apologized. "Sorry, guys. Don't mind us." He slowly lowered himself into a chair, using his arms against the table edge and chair back to ease his painful transition from standing to sitting. He ignored Nathan's sharp clinical assessing stare.

The fibbies droned on, as Buck tried to concentrate on what was being said, rather than his own personal misery. It was a losing battle. He sighed. He'd ask JD fill him in, later. Right now he needed all of his energy to maintain the illusion that he didn’t feel as if he were going to pass out. There's no way in hell he was going to the hospital. Today was bad enough, without being forced to wait for hours in an uncomfortable chair in a crowded waiting room to be told to go home and take two aspirin. He'd probably end up catching the plague from some other toxic visitor to the Emergency room.

There was not one square inch of his body that didn't hurt. He should have at least stopped to get some ice for his knee; he could feel it swelling as he sat. After one of the longest hours Buck had ever had to sit through, the meeting finally broke up. Buck's teammates couldn't help but notice that he made no attempt to get up from his chair. They kept to their own seats, obviously waiting to hear Buck's latest tale of woe. Buck had no desire to share it with them.

Once Chris made sure that Team Three and the FBI agents were well on their way, he confronted Buck for his long overdue explanation. "Alright, Buck. Out with it. What the hell happened?"

Trying to put off the inevitable, Buck stated, "There's nothing much to tell. First off, though, I don't suppose someone could get me a cold pack?"

JD snickered. "A six pack? I don't think Chris would appreciate you drinking on the job."

Buck swatted at JD with his ATF cap, as his target ducked out of the way. "A cold pack, you deaf-eared son of a. . ." His voice trailed off at Nathan's entrance.

The EMT had made a trip to his desk for the first aid supplies. He began to assess his injured friend. "Okay, Buck, where are you hurt?"

Rather than answer with the truth, "Everywhere," he focused on his most visible injury. "My knee."

Nathan began to manipulate Buck's injured leg, with a lot less care than Buck would have liked. He let his feelings be known. "Ow! Ouch! Dammit, Nathan, you trying to rip my damn leg off?"

"Sorry, Buck, but I need to make sure that you haven't injured any tendons or ligaments. The only way I can do that is to put you through your full range of motion."

Tendons? Ligaments? Buck didn't like the sound of that. He eyed Nathan warily, waiting for his verdict. Thankfully, it was in his favor.

"You don't seem to have done yourself any serious injury. I just need to do a cleanup on this road rash, then you can have your cold pack."

As Nathan tended to Buck's injuries, Chris would not be put off any longer. "Buck. You still haven't answered my question. What happened?"

Buck hesitated, trying to figure out how to get away with saying as little as possible. With a painful shrug, he offered a kernel of truth. "I fell."

JD's derisive snort guaranteed that Chris wouldn't let Buck quit there. Chris skewered him with one of those looks that gave a man the impression that he could see right through him. His gaze panned slowly from Buck to JD and back again to Buck. "That's pretty obvious. Somehow, I think there's a little more to it than that."

Buck was ticked off at JD. He knew that boy was just itching to tell the whole story. He expected he'd look a whole lot worse if he let JD tell his version of the truth. Taking a deep breath, he began. "It's all JD's fault."

JD jumped up in righteous indignation. "It's all my fault? How do you figure that, Buck? Maybe you better have Nathan take a look at your head, 'cuz you must've hit it when you fell. Why else would you be saying something that ain't true?"

Buck waved JD back to his seat. "Now, JD, just whose idea was it to go to Burger King?"

JD replied, "Mine; so, what?"

"So, everyone knows that Elvis was seen at that Burger King up in Kalamazoo."

JD disagreed. "Everyone knows? I don't think so. I never heard of such nonsense." He turned to Nathan. "Did you?" Nathan shook his head in denial, as JD asked the room in general, "Did any of you?" He got a few head shakes in reply, as well as a few blank looks.

Chris just stared. He was beginning to think that maybe Buck did have a head injury. Or maybe JD did. Or maybe Chris, himself, as this conversation certainly didn't seem to be making one bit of sense to him. He could feel a headache starting to build behind his eyes. "I don't give a flying fuck who saw Elvis where! What the hell happened to Buck?"

Buck yelled back. "I'm trying to tell you! JD insisted that we had to go to Burger King for lunch. Just when we were getting ready to leave, this psycho crazy chick comes screaming into the lobby, 'Elvis is in the building!' Now, I'm looking around like everybody else, before I finally figure out that she's pointing right at me. I couldn't believe it. She starts jumping around, grabbing at me, screaming, 'Elvis! Elvis!' Meanwhile, I'm pulling out my ID, letting her know that she's about to get herself arrested for assault, when a couple of other ladies join her. Pretty soon, I'm surrounded by all these crazy women!"

By this point in Buck's story, JD had begun laughing. Buck pointed a finger at him accusingly. "See! Right there, that's part of my problem. Instead of helping me out, JD was too busy laughing his ass off. The more women showed up, the worse things got. It was, what d'ya call it, mass hysteria. Finally, I was able to make a break for it, and head for the parking lot. I almost made it to the truck, but then. . . God, Chris, it was like suddenly finding myself faced with an oncoming herd of stampeding cattle, excepting that they was women. It was damn scary. So, anyway, I guess I wasn't watching where I was going, and I stepped out between two parked cars, and managed to get myself sideswiped by a third one. I ended up flat on my ass. I swear, I thought I was a goner, as all them women just kind of swooped in over me."

"Thank God, by this time JD figured out that I was in trouble. He stood over me with his weapon out, ordering everyone to back off, which they finally did."

JD smirked, "Not until you gave that one woman your autograph."

Buck didn't try to deny it. "Well, it was easier than shootin' her."

JD shook his head. "If I hadn't a seen it, I would've never believed it. Buck Wilmington, running from a bunch of women."

Buck frowned at the laughter from his teammates. "Them weren't just ordinary women. They was," he paused for a moment, searching for the right word, "Fanatics!"

One by one, his teammates filed out of the room, each leaving with some quip or comment.

"Buck, you ain't nothing but a hound dog."

"You know how the song goes, don't you? 'I Feel So Bad.'"

"Glad I don't have to walk a mile in your shoes."

"What woman could resist a hunk-a hunk-a burnin' love?"

"It's them 'Girls Girls Girls!'"

Finally, it was just him and JD. At least JD had managed to keep quiet: for now. While Buck appreciated it, he grudgingly had to admit that some of those song quotes the guys had used were almost clever. He figured JD would be wanting to add his own contribution. It was a measure of his concern for Buck that he didn’t jump right in. Buck decided to save him the trouble. "Well, JD, I guess all I can ask you is to please don't be cruel."

JD's answering grin was tinged with sympathy, as he realized that Buck was trying to distract himself from the pain. He responded in kind. "I thought that you were going to ask me not to step on your blue suede shoes."

Buck's answering laugh was more of a groan, as he managed to get himself upright and moving. "Yeah; that, too." As he limped slowly to his desk, he asked, "JD, do you think I look like Elvis?"

JD's replied without hesitation, "Not a bit." However, that was not going to stop him from teasing Buck about it whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Ezra, whose desk was near enough to overhear, offered his opinion. "How anyone could confuse you with as notable a presence as the King is beyond my understanding." After a pause, he added, "Unless, of course, one considered the fact that, were he still alive, Elvis would be sixty-some years old. Why, then I could see where someone might find a passing resemblance between the two of you."

Buck replied sarcastically, "Gee, thanks, Ezra. Remind me to offer you my opinion the next time you don't want it."

"I don't have to remind you, as it is something which you do constantly."

His tired brain having lost track of the conversation, Buck let Ezra have the last word. He was, instead, reviewing the insanity from earlier in the day. What a crazy world he lived in. Him, Buck Wilmington, as Elvis Presley. He could hear Elvis spinning in his grave at the idea. That is, if Elvis really was in his grave. Ah, hell. "Hey, JD, what was that meeting all about, anyway?"

Buck and Team Seven got down to the business of busting bad guys, while the women who'd been at Burger King that day told a few more women, who told a few more women, as the story began to grow regarding Elvis' new alias: Buck Wilmington.

The end?

Comments to: bethgreen@aol.com