You Didn't Know What You Were Doing

by Nellie

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JD was disappointed that he had not managed to stay awake for long when Casey visited. They only had time to share a few short words before he felt the tiredness flood his body. He was frustrated as his weak body let him down but couldn't fight the tug of sleep. Casey stayed for another few minutes, holding his hand and just watching him sleep. She looked at his injuries and wondered how you could do that much damage to someone you supposedly loved. She understood that Buck had been drugged but she found it very hard to accept that he could not have stopped before it was too late. Surely, the large agent would have some self control. A flame of anger began to burn inside her.

Ezra stood at the entrance to the room and watched the young girl, a range of emotions coursing through him. She obviously adored JD and he wondered how she coped with JD's career with its obvious daily danger.

Sighing deeply Casey stooped and laid a gentle kiss on the sleeping boy's cheek.

“I love you JD Dunne,” she whispered and then turned to Ezra.

“Mr. Standish. Do you think I could visit Buck?”

Ezra raised his eyebrows, surprised by her request.

“Let me ask,” he answered and they walked towards the lifts. Leaving her in a nearby waiting room he entered Buck's room and saw that Vin and Chris were talking quietly, watching over the sleeping man.

Chris looked up as he came in. “Hi Ezra. Did you leave Casey with JD?”

“No Mr. Larabee. I'm afraid our young team-mate's strength did not hold out. We've just left him sound asleep.”

Chris smiled. “That's the best thing for him at the moment. I take it you're going to see that she gets home safely.”

“Certainly but first she has asked if she can visit Buck.”

Chris frowned and shared a glance with Vin.

“I'm not sure that he's up to any other visitors at the moment. Vin has been filling in the blanks for him.”

”As you wish Mr. Larabee. I will tell Miss Wells that Buck is sleeping and that she shall have to visit another time.”

”Thanks Ez. Did you get the statement?"

The southern agent nodded. “Miss Bowman was adamant about what she saw. I'm sure it will be adequate for JD's innocence to be proved.”

“Bout time something good happened for him,” drawled Vin.

Ezra looked over at the sleeping Buck.

“How is our resident ladies man?” he asked.

“Tired, sore and kinda mixed up but he's a helluva lot better than last night,” said Chris turning his own gaze to the sleeping patient.

Ezra nodded. “That certainly is good news, although I suspect that he is putting on a brave face just like some of his friends.”

Vin chuckled.

“Damn Ez, there's not much get's past you is there?”

Ezra let a small smile dance across his lips.

“Now, I shall see Miss Wells home safely and retire to the office to complete my report. It shall be on your desk by the end of the day Mr. Larabee.”

Chris stood up and shook his team-mates hand.

“Thanks Ez. I'll be there myself in an another hour.”

Ezra nodded and turned to walk back to the patiently waiting Casey Wells.

Casey looked up as Ezra returned. “Can I see him?” she asked hopefully.

“I'm afraid that Mr. Wilmington is sleeping at the moment. Mr. Larabee thinks it may be a good idea if you visit another day.”

Casey hadn't realised that JD's boss was in Buck's room and she was glad that she had not just stormed in as she wanted to. What she had to say to Buck was not meant to be shared and she decided that she would find a moment when the injured man was alone for her to let him know what she thought of him. Swallowing her frustration she let a weak smile cross her face.

“I understand. Perhaps I could visit him when I come to see JD tomorrow?”

Ezra nodded his agreement.

“Perhaps. Come along Miss Wells and I will see you safely to your home.”

”Thank you Mr. Standish – for everything.”

Ezra ducked his head. “You know that I will help you as much as I can Miss Wells. JD adores you and in my opinion that makes him a very intelligent young man.”

”Oh Ezra, you do say the nicest things,” she laughed and then linked arms with him and lead him towards the Carpark.

+ + + + + + +

When JD woke next he found Nathan sitting at his bedside. The dark man was sitting in the chair reading the medical notes mumbling to himself as he processed the information. JD shifted and groaned as his stitches pulled. Nathan was immediately alert and helped make him comfortable.

“Alright JD. Don't try to move too much and you'll feel much better.”

JD forced himself to stay still and finally the pain level dropped to a more bearable level.

“Hi Nathan,” he mumbled, his throat dry.

Nathan smiled down and grabbed the glass of water on the bedside cabinet. Gently cradling his young friends head he fed the straw into his mouth and watched as JD sipped steadily. When he was satisfied he took the cup away, lowering his head to the soft pillow.

“Better?” he asked softly.

JD nodded. Although he was in pain, he found that he could cope with it. Tiredness still flooded his body but his mind was the most alert it had been since his admission. His first thought was for his best friend.

“How's Buck doing?” he asked, pinning Nathan with his gaze.

Nathan smiled. The kid was unbelievable. After all that had happened to him his first thought was for someone else.

“He's doing better. The drug seems to have cleared his system and his leg wound is healing pretty nicely.”

“Leg wound?” exclaimed JD shocked.

Nathan suddenly realised that JD had not been told the full details of what had happened two nights before.

“I'm sorry JD. I forgot that you didn't know.”

”What happened Nate?” the young man whispered.

Nathan gripped JD's hand and with a big sigh began to tell JD exactly what had happened. He stressed that they realised that Buck was not to blame for the attack and that they knew that he had not intentionally meant to hurt him.

JD lay back and listened in mounting horror as the full details were revealed. Buck had stabbed him and then tried to kill Chris. Vin had been forced to shoot him or he would have killed his oldest friend. What kind of drug would make him do that?

Nathan finished up with a list of JD's injuries and his prognosis of recovery.

The dark medic finally stopped speaking and sat back to look at his young friend. JD was obviously in deep thought, lines of strain showing on his face.

“Things are really fucked up aren't they? Is Buck going to face charges?”

Nathan shrugged. “I don't know JD. Obviously there'll be an inquiry but the facts are pretty simple. Buck was hallucinating when he attacked you and we have the blood tests to prove it. We have a witness who is willing to testify that the drug was planted in your pocket. It should be a formality. But you shouldn't worry about any of that now. You just need to concentrate on getting well.”

JD leaned back in his covers and raised his arm slowly to examine his injured hand.

“I remember him stamping on my hand deliberately,” he said slowly. “And I also remember him pulling out the knife. In that split second I knew he was going to kill me and there was nothing I could do about it.”

“It's going to take time for you to recover but you are going to be ok JD.”

“How's Buck doing? Mentally I mean. I guess finding out that you'd tried to kill your best friends is pretty damn hard to cope with.”

Nathan nodded. “It's going to take some time but we're all trying to be as supportive as possible. We all know that he's a victim as well but I think it'll take a while until he comes to realise that deep down.”

JD pinned Nathan with his gaze again. “I really need to talk to him Nathan. Do you think you could ask him to visit?”

“I'll ask him. I'm sure it'd help both of you to come to terms with what happened. In the meantime, get some sleep. That's what your body needs.”

JD closed his eyes, his strength waning again.

“Ok Nate,” he murmured and Nathan watched until JD's breaths evened out and he knew he was asleep.

Chris was again at Buck's bedside. He had sent Vin back to the office in order that he could give Josiah some support. He had arranged for the physically fit members of the team to work regular shifts between the office and the bedsides for the next few days. Hopefully, Buck would be released by the end of the week but JD would be staying for an indeterminate time.

He looked up as he heard a quiet groan from the bed and saw that Buck seemed to be dreaming. By the looks of it, it was a nightmare and Chris heard the phrase 'killed the kid' more than once. He ached with his friends pain. He knew that the soft hearted man would battle with his demons for a long time. He still refused to see JD and Chris had been unwilling to push him into it realising that Buck had to want to see JD willingly. Chris sighed as he heard an anguished cry of “JD” as Buck woke up.

He let his friend come awake before he said something. Buck took a deep breath and then opened his eyes, a sob catching in his throat. He looked up as Chris patted his arm.

“Another nightmare?” he murmured.

Buck nodded and swallowed trying to get his emotions under control.

“It'll get better Buck,” said Chris but Buck remained unconvinced. Although he remembered nothing of the attack his nightmares were full of detail, a cowering JD flinching away from the sharp blade. Each time he would watch the knife enter the young flesh and the red blood well up. He heard JD beg for mercy before the final horrific moment before he woke up of JD asking ”Why?” before he died. He had no idea what was the truth and what was the result of his fevered imagination.

Chris saw his struggle and tried to talk to him again about visiting JD.

“Nathan says JD has asked to see you again,” he said, disappointed to see Buck weakly shake his head.

“No,” he muttered. Chris decided to push a little harder than he had before.

“Why not Buck?”

Buck's eyes flashed in anger. “I tried to kill him. How can I face him.”

“I never realised you were selfish Buck,” said the blond agent tauntingly.

Buck's eyes widened. He had been called many things but never selfish.

“Selfish?” he demanded angrily.

Chris nodded.

“I'm not selfish Larabee. I'm just ….” his voice trailed off as he realised he didn't know why he couldn't see JD.

“Scared?” finished off Chris.

He thought for a few moments as he calmed down and a deep resignation flooded through him.

“No, it's not that I'm scared. Well not completely. What if I lose control again Chris? I might kill him next time.”

Chris stood up and came to sit on the bed.

“You were drugged Buck. You're body is free from any trace now. There is no reason why you would hurt JD now except ……”

“Except?” prompted Buck

“The kid is hurting now, not just physically but mentally. His heart is breaking because he can't see you and he is worrying himself to death about you. You've got to see him Buck or the healing won't start for both of you.”

Buck sighed deeply and looked away.

“I just can't accept the fact that I could do something like that.”

“You were protecting JD in your mind. I don't know how but you got it in your head that JD had been killed. In your mind you were hurting his killer. You love JD - he was just in the wrong place and the wrong time.”

“Why did this happen?” moaned the anguished agent and Chris grabbed his arm.

“Shit happens Buck. You've got to remember that you don't have to deal with this alone. You need JD as much as he needs you.”

Buck smiled thinly.

“I guess I've been wallowing in my own guilt and not considering JD's feelings. That makes me selfish doesn't it. I've got to deal with it or things will never be ok between us.”

Chris slapped his hand on his arm. “Are you going to visit him then?”

Buck nodded. “I'm scared as hell though,” he admitted.

“I'll be there with you all the way Buddy,” assured Chris, relieved that his words had finally got through.

“I'll go and check with JD's doctor to see whether he's up to a visit this afternoon. In the meantime don't start panicking. This is JD we're talking about not some monster.”

“No the monster's me,” said Buck to himself but offered up a wan smile to his friend.

“Ok Chris. Thanks pard.”

“Why can't I move my legs?” asked JD as the doctor finished changing his dressings.

The doctor secured the last bandage and addressed the young man directly.

“You know that I told you that you've got a lot of bruising on your back.”

JD nodded.

“There is a major bunch of nerve endings directly under the heaviest bruising. The swelling has caused them to become compressed. We've done a CT scan and there is no damage but it'll take some time before the swelling does down.”

“So it's not permanent?” said JD in relief.

“No JD. You should start feeling something soon but I'm afraid you're just going to have to be patient.”

“I really need to get my legs working. It's not fair,” he pouted.

“I know JD but you're doing really well,” replied the Doctor patiently.

“But I need to see Buck.”

“I understand but I'm afraid that's going to be impossible for a while. Buck will have to come and see you instead.”

“But he obviously can't. I really need to see him to make sure he's ok,” said JD, tears of frustration welling in his eyes.

The doctor tried to calm him and was relieved when Chris walked in.

“Hey JD. What's all this about?” he asked in concern as he walked to the bedside. “Where's Nathan?”

“I asked him to take a break while I changed JD's dressings,” said the Doctor.

“I want to see Buck,” cried JD “ Tell him Chris.”

Chris looked down at the upset young man.

“I was just coming to ask if it's ok for Buck to come up and see you.”

“Really?” gasped JD

“Yeah. Look, I know it's been difficult for you but Buck has had a lot of issues to work through. He's ready to see you now. Are you ok with that?”

“Of course,” said JD with a wide smile.

“Good, I'll rustle up a wheelchair and we'll be up to see you in about half an hour.”

“Tell him that I can't wait,” said JD enthusiastically.

Chris followed the doctor out.

“Is he up to this? It may get a bit emotional.”

The doctor nodded. “He's been asking for him for the last two days. I'm just glad that Buck has finally seen sense. I've no worries that JD will handle it. He's a tough kid.”

Chris nodded and walked to the elevators ready to collect Buck.

+ + + + + + +

Buck looked up at his friend as Chris stopped the wheelchair just outside JD's room. He felt a strong hand on his shoulder.

“Just to warn you Buck. He looks a mess at the minute - full of bruises and bandages and he's got a morphine drip in his arm but he is doing really well and the doctor is pleased with his progress.”

Buck nodded silently in understanding, grateful for his friends thoughtfulness.

“I'm ok Chris,” he murmured and felt his shoulder squeezed. “Liar,” he heard whispered and he gave his friend another weak smile.

“Are you ready?” asked Chris.

Buck nodded again and steeled himself as he felt the wheelchair being pushed forward.

JD was dozing and did not see them come in and Buck was able to take in the full extent of his injuries before having to put on a brave face. He felt tears begin to stream down his cheeks as Chris pushed the wheelchair to the bedside.

“Oh god, I really did a job on him didn't I?” he muttered.

JD stirred and opened his eyes to see his best friend, tears running down his cheeks.

“Hey Buck,” he called softly raising his hand. “There's no need to cry. I'm getting better every day.”

Buck leant forward in the chair and gripped the raised hand.

“JD …” he choked on the words that he wanted to say.

“Are you ok? I've been worried about you,” said JD gripping the warm fingers tightly.

“Damn kid. You're beat up to hell and you've been worried about me?”

JD nodded. “It wasn't your fault Buck.. I don't blame you for me being hurt.”

“But I did this to you JD. Don't you understand that?”

JD shook his head. “No Buck. When you attacked me you told me that you loved JD and you were going to kill me for killing him. You told him that you didn't care what happened to you because you couldn't face the thought of a life without him. It's funny in a way but I was kinda touched by that.”

Buck snorted in disbelief.

“Touched by that? Was that before or after I stabbed you?” he asked incredulously.

JD smiled “I guess it was before that. You were out of your mind Buck. You didn't see me. I can't blame you for hurting me if you didn't mean it.”

Buck wiped away the tears from his face and stared intently at the young man in the bed before him. He studied JD's face and then traced down his body, noting the various bruises and bandages. His eyes settled on the bandaged hand.”

“What did I do to your hand JD?” he asked quietly.

JD looked at his hand and shrugged, wincing at the movement - an action not missed by Buck.

“You stamped on it when I tried to get up,” he said simply. “It's ok, the bones are knitting together nicely according to the doc.”

Buck let out a groan of anguish.

“I'm sorry JD,” he cried, the tears again streaming down his face . “How can you ever forgive me?“

JD called out his friends name softly and Buck raised his gaze to JD's liquid brown eyes.

“I forgave you the moment it happened Buck. It's you that needs to forgive.”

“What?” asked Buck in confusion. “I've got nothing to forgive you for. You didn't know that that pill was a drug.”

JD leant back in his pillows and let a tired smile play along his lips.

“You've got to forgive yourself Buck. What happened wasn't your fault or my fault, it was that jerk who put that pill in my pocket and I guess he's paid the ultimate price.”

Buck shook his head in wonder.

“JD you're one of a kind,” he whispered and leant forward to hug his young friend.

Both men grimaced in pain but held on tightly to each other. The healing had begun.

Chris and Nathan watched from the doorway and each smiled as they saw the two injured men embrace.

“Kinda touching,” commented Nathan causing Chris to let out a short laugh.

“I knew that once we got them together they'd be ok. They've both got a lot of healing to do but I guess we're over the worst.”

Nathan nodded in agreement. “Come on let's go and get a coffee. They need time alone.”

Chris agreed.

“Buck, JD we're going to get a drink. We'll be back in about 15 minutes OK?”

Both men looked up and nodded. Buck met Chris's gaze and nodded his thanks. It meant a lot that he was trusted to be alone with JD.

“So come on JD, tell me the truth - how are you really feeling. Physically I mean?” he asked when they were alone together.

JD grimaced. “It hurts but they've rigged me up to the morphine drip so I can give myself a dose when it gets too bad. I'm getting better though. I feel a lot stronger than I have been the last few days. I guess it's 'cause I don't have this Buck sized weight on my shoulder any more.”

Buck couldn't help but smile.

“It's going to take some time JD but I'll be at your side all the way. We'll get you out of here and I'll look after you.”

JD smiled, tiring rapidly.

“Just make sure that they don't give me any aspirin.”

Buck laughed. “No, I think I'll stick to Tylenol as well in the future.”

“How's the leg? I heard that Vin shot you.”

Buck looked down at the bandage.

“I didn't give him much choice,” he murmured.

“I guess not,” said JD “but your leg's going to be ok isn't it?”

“Yeah kid. Just some muscle damage, I guess he knew the best place to shoot.”

“Did he apologize?”

“Yeah, he told me he had to get rid of his guilt or his head would explode. Kinda didn't give me a choice to forgive him. Would have made a helluva mess of my blanket.”

JD laughed out loud, pleased that the Wilmington sense of humour had not been entirely erased. He regretted it as a sharp pain from his stomach caused him to gasp.

Buck leaned over and pressed the morphine pump and JD welcomed the warm fluid.

“You need to rest Kid,” he said gripping JD's hand.

JD felt the drowsiness wash over him.

“Please stay for a while,” he said simply before he closed his eyes.

“Rest easy Kid, I'm going nowhere.”

Chris and Nathan walked in about 10 minutes later to find JD sleeping, a smile on his face and linking hands with Buck. Buck turned and looked up at them tiredly. He had been sitting watching JD sleep thinking about all that had happened. JD had told him he had to forgive himself and he had finally begun to do that. He realised that what had happened was not his fault. It was the fault of the drug manufacturers and pushers. Even the young man who had planted the drugs on JD was a victim. He resolved to get well and to help with the investigation and when the time came he was going to ask Chris whether he could have 5 minutes alone with the bastard who was to blame for their agony.

Chris laid his hands on Buck's shoulders.

“Time to get you back Buck.”

“Are you going to stay with him Nathan?” asked the moustached agent.

“Yeah, I'll stay with him until 7 o'clock and then Ezra and Vin are coming down.

“Are you glad you came?” asked Chris taking hold of the wheelchair and manoeuvring it towards the door.

Buck sighed deeply and nodded. “I've been doing a lot of thinking while JD's been asleep. I realise that it wasn't my fault, I was just a victim, same as JD and same as that young guy who planted the drugs. I want to get the bastards who are behind this. The manufacturer, the pushers.”

Chris grunted an agreement. “We all do Buck.”

“I need to get out of here and start helping you guys.”

Chris nodded. “Only when the Doctor says that you can Buck. You were shot and you've got to recover from that.”

“I know I was shot Larabee. I feel it every time I move. Look I know I'm not exactly mobile, without wheels, but at least I can sit in the office and trawl through the Intel files. It'll free up someone to walk the streets.”

Chris nodded. “Let's see what the Doctor says. I know you want to help Buck and it would be greatly appreciated. My damn team is down two good men and we're all getting a little stressed. But I don't want you overdoing things. JD's gonna need you when he gets out.”

Buck grimaced.

“Don't think that's going to be for a while yet pard,” he said quietly.

Chris clapped a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“Hell Buck, you know JD - he crashes and burns but he recovers quicker than any of us. I bet he's back on the job before long”

Buck frowned. “I guess so,” he answered, unconvinced.

The Doctor allowed Buck to leave the hospital the next day with the strict instructions of complete rest. Buck made a show of accepting the medic's orders and promised, with his fingers crossed, to rest his leg for at least a couple of weeks. His only intention was to get back to the office and help the team track down the drug dealer. He was not surprised that it was Chris who came to collect him.

“I see you drew the short straw,” he muttered as he saw the blonde agent walk in.

“Pleased to see you too Buck,” Chris snapped back good naturedly.

They shared an amused look, each man glad to see the other.

Buck moved to stand up, wincing as he put weight on his injured leg. He fumbled for the pair of crutches leaning against the wall and found them thrust into his hand by his friend.

He nodded a thanks and painfully climbed to his feet.

“You ready to go then,” murmured Chris.

“Yep. I can't wait to get home but I want to see JD before we leave.”

“Ok. How are you two getting along?” Chris asked. They had left JD & Buck to work out their differences and not pushed for anything that either man wasn't willing to give.

Buck sighed deeply. “Ok I guess. I'm still finding it hard to forgive myself but JD's determined that I will. I only wish that all this had never happened.”

Chris nodded sagely. “That's been said a lot over the last few days by all of us.”

Buck settled himself on the crutches and limped over to the door and Chris followed.

“Did the doctor give you any medication?” he asked and Buck turned and nodded towards a bag on the bed.

“Yep, painkillers and a couple of clean dressings. Not that I really need them now but I guess they're handy to have.”

Chris smiled to himself. “You've not been on your leg too long. Let's see how you get on today before you start throwing the pills away.” He looked in the bag. “Glad to see they've not given you any aspirin.”

Buck shuddered. “I never want to see an aspirin again.” And then he walked out of the door.

They made their way slowly to the elevators, Chris hovering behind ready to lend his shoulder should the ladies man falter but Buck was determined to prove that he was getting better.

Hell, it was bad enough that he had been shot by a friend and he hated showing any kind of weakness. All he wanted to do was to get the bad guy and the only way that Larabee would let him do that was if he could show that his recovery was going well.

Chris knew what Buck was doing but didn't say anything. At this moment in time Buck needed something to cling on to and the hope that he could find the one person who had started all this trouble was the spur to getting the big man back on the road to complete recovery - both physically and mentally. He resolved to support Buck but not mollycoddle him. Buck would come to terms with all that had happened eventually but he needed the time and space to sort his life out.

JD was just finishing with the physiotherapist who was working on his injured hand. Buck and Chris watched through the door in silence as the young man winced in pain as the stiff muscles were flexed. Chris heard Buck sigh and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. JD heard the sigh and looked up to see his two friends waiting in the doorway.

“Hi guys,” he said tiredly “Meet Marcie. She's been torturing me for the last half an hour.”

Marcie smiled a greeting at both men.

“Come on in and take the weight off your feet,” she said, indicating the chair to Buck.

Buck gratefully fell into the chair. “How's he doing?” he asked Marcie.

“Very well. His hand is still a bit stiff but if JD keeps on working on it daily it'll be fine in no time.” She turned back to JD. “Right sweetheart that's enough torture for today. Remember to do those exercises every two hours and I'll see you in the morning.”

JD smiled and thanked her. He knew that he had to put up with a bit of pain if he was to get full use of his hand back and her efforts, although uncomfortable, were necessary.

Buck watched as Marcie left. She was a large black woman with an ample bosom and he was lost in his thoughts for a moment.

Chris noticed this and cleared his throat..

“I don't think that's ethical Buck.”

Buck looked up in surprise “What's not ethical?”

“Lusting after my physio,” laughed JD, his eyes resting on the now grinning Buck.

Buck raised his eyebrows in innocence. “I was just thinking about how good she is at her job. I bet she has nimble fingers.”

“Buck!” cried Chris in despair as all three agents fell into a fit of giggles.

JD groaned as his stomach wound pulled and it immediately brought Buck back to seriousness.

“Kid, are you ok?”

JD grimaced but the pain soon passed. “Yeah Buck. Just hurts when I laugh,” he commented.

He looked at Buck and for the first time noticed he was fully dressed.

“I guess Chris has sprung you,” he said.

“Yeah,” answered Buck

“With the proviso of complete rest for at least the next two weeks,” added Chris sternly.

JD nodded in earnest as Buck blew out his breath in frustration.

“You've got to rest that leg Buck. I'll need you to get well so you can help me when I come out.”

Buck felt the guilt surge through him again and bravely fought to swallow the lump in his throat.

“I can't wait to get you home JD so I can make it up to you.”

“I know Buck.”

Chris wasn't sure that allowing Buck to be on his own with JD was a good idea as both men still had mixed feelings to work through. He had anticipated JD coming back to his ranch and Buck staying there with him meaning that Chris could be a buffer between them. However, it appeared that JD had a different idea and was intending to return to their shared apartment. Once again Chris marvelled at the resilience of the young man. Not only had his best friend tried to kill him but it was at his own home. Chris was sure that neither man had thought the move out fully and to what extent either man would be affected. However, JD was going to be staying in the hospital for at least another week and Chris resolved to discuss the situation with the other members of the team and canvass their opinions.

Chris became aware of JD addressing him. “Any news on the bad guys?”

“Josiah has been liasing with the DEA. We've got a few names to chase down but there's nothing concrete yet. I'll let you know as soon as we do.”

“If you need any help, just bring in my laptop.”

Buck stood up awkwardly.

“Don't you worry about that kid. I don't mind being chained to a computer for a while. Especially as I'm not exactly mobile.”

JD frowned. At least you've got legs that work he thought but immediately pushed that thought to the back of his head. Buck didn't need any further guilt loading on his already heavy shoulders.

“Ok,” he said.

Buck leaned down and clutched his good hand tightly.

“You get some rest kiddo. I'll be in to see you later on tonight,” he whispered and they locked gazes for a long moment.

“I'm ok Buck,” said JD simply.

Buck nodded unconvinced. The boy was still looking pale although he was improving with every day that passed.

“Ready?” asked Chris looking at his friend.

“Take me home Larabee,” said Buck quietly and with one last squeeze of the fingers he grabbed his crutches and limped towards the door.

“See you later JD,” said Chris, looking down at the now tiring younger man.

“Make sure he's ok,” said JD looking up earnestly into Chris's eyes.

The blonde agent nodded.

“Why change the habit of a lifetime,” he murmured and was pleased to see JD smile.

JD watched them both leave and then closed his eyes.

He knew that Buck was still letting the guilt cloud his judgement but he knew that his friends would all support him. He couldn't wait to get home. He just wanted this nightmare to be over and to be able to get his and Buck's relationship back to what it was.

They had decided that Buck was to stay at Chris's ranch for the next few days so that he could be on hand if Buck needed anything. Buck didn't object to this as he was still not as mobile as he would have liked and it would also be easier for Chris to drive him to the office every day. However, first they had to visit the CDC to pick up some clean clothes and a few other essentials. Chris drove them to the apartment block and parked up in a convenient space close to the main entrance door. He looked over at his passenger.

“You can wait here if you want Buck,” he said quietly.

Buck shook his head.

“I've got to go home sometime Chris. I'll be ok,” he said firmly. He took a deep breath and nodded at his friend. “I've got to face it and I'd rather do that with a friend by my side.”

Chris nodded his understanding. “Alright buddy. You just wait there while I open the door for you.”

Buck swung himself down from the truck and took the proferred crutches from his friend and then they made their way slowly to the elevator. Soon they were on the second floor and stood outside the locked apartment door. Buck took a deep breath again and felt Chris's hand on his shoulder.

“If you can't handle it just walk away Buck. I understand that this is going to be hard to face.”

He turned away and unlocked the door which showed a new lock that had been fitted to replace the one Vin had shot away. Stepping in, he walked into the living room aware that Buck was hesitating in the entrance.

Buck looked into the apartment, not quite sure what he was going to feel. Bracing himself he took a few steps forward and entered fully into the living room. The team had cleaned up the area where JD had been assaulted and there was no trace of his blood anywhere. Buck moved into the middle of the room and looked around.

“It's different,” he said quietly, aware that Chris was staring intently at him.

“The guys cleaned up while you were away,” he said simply.

Buck nodded vaguely. “I wish I could remember what happened,” he said. “Seeing this, I dunno, it just doesn't seem as if anything happened.”

Chris put a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“Do you want me to show you?

Buck nodded numbly. “It would help if I could picture it Chris,” he said.

The blonde agent nodded.

“Ok, this is where we found you when we burst through the door. JD was lying on his back and you were straddling his body.” He indicated a spot behind the sofa.

Buck stared at the spot and tried to picture the scene but his mind was a complete blank.

Chris saw that he was becoming distressed and moved to comfort him.

“Maybe it's better that you don't remember anything Buck.”

Buck stared at the carpet, trying to envision the pool of blood that must have stained the floor and came to the same conclusion.

“I guess you're right pard. But what about JD? He remembers everything.”

“I guess he's gonna need a friend at his side as well Buck,” he murmured.

Buck lifted his head and looked up at the other man. “Come on, let's get my things.”

Chris nodded and turned towards the bedroom.

Buck took one last look at the spot behind the sofa and shook his head.

“I'll be right by your side when you walk in JD,” he whispered and then turned and limped towards the bedroom to supervise Chris.

After packing a suitcase the two men returned to the 'ram'. Chris started the engine and turned to Buck. “Do you feel up to going into the office or do you want to head out to the ranch now?”

“Hell Larabee. You know I want to get to the office,” snapped Buck impatiently.

The blonde agent smiled and held his hands up in pacification. “Ok pard. I just thought you might be getting a bit sore and tired.”

Buck regretted his tone and apologized.

“Sorry, but I just want to get back to work. I've been lying on my ass for too long while that scumbag is peddling his trash to the kids.”

Chris nodded thoughtfully. “Ok, but we're only staying for a couple of hours and I know that you're gonna need a painkiller as soon as we get there. You're not fooling me Buck Wilmington, I know your leg is hurting.”

“Oh hell Larabee. Stop mothering me,” snapped Buck but this time with a grin.

The atmosphere broken, both men relaxed and Chris put the car into gear.

“Do me a favour and ring the office and warn them we're coming,” he said as he pulled out of the parking space.

Buck nodded and picked up the mobile.

About 30 minutes later Chris parked the 'ram' in the underground garage and helped Buck out of the passenger seat. The moustached agent cried out as he put weight on his sore leg and would have collapsed had Chris not been holding him. Fumbling for the crutches he righted himself and braced himself for a painful walk.

“They won't be necessary Mr. Wilmington,” called a cultured Southern voice from behind him.

He turned round to see Ezra with a wheelchair in front of him.

Buck glared at the chair.

“If you think I'm sitting in that you've got another thing coming.”

“Come come Mr. Wilmington. Why struggle when you can sit in comfort,” admonished Ezra with a smile.

Chris leaned over. “And think of the sympathy you'll get from the ladies.”

“Ah yes. The famous Buck Wilmington wounded hero impression,” added Ezra with a sly grin.

“But I'm not a wounded hero. One of my own team shot me.”

Chris leaned over again.

“Nobody knows except Travis and the team Buck. As far as everyone is concerned JD was attacked by an unknown assailant and you were shot while going to his rescue.”

Buck looked up in surprise.

“You lied about what happened?”

Chris shifted uncomfortably but Ezra helped him.

“We did not exactly lie. Our colleagues in the ATF merely assumed and we did not deem it necessary to correct them.”

Buck smiled. “Damn. I've got a fine set of friends. Thank you, I was kinda worried about what kind of reaction I was going to get.”

He felt Chris put a hand on his shoulder and begin to manoeuvre him around into the wheelchair.

“Now, are you going to sit down or are we gonna stand in the garage all day. I think Cuervo is getting a bit fed up of us now.”

Buck looked up to see the large ginger cat had jumped onto the hood of Chris's 'ram' warming himself on the cooling engine.

“Hey Cuervo, have you missed me?” called Buck as he finally sat down and breathed a sigh of relief.

Cuervo didn't reply but merely flicked his tail in distain.

“Come on boys. Let's get the wounded hero up to the bullpen,” he said firmly.

Ezra and Chris looked at each other and shook their heads.

His passage through the building proved to be an ordeal for Buck. Inwardly he winced as kind words were thrown at him. He didn't feel like a hero and although he was coming to terms slowly with what happened he knew that he didn't deserve any of the condolences that he was getting. Both Chris and Ezra realised his discomfort and managed to hurry their little party through the corridors until finally they reached the sanctuary of team 7's office.

Nathan, Vin and Josiah immediately left what they were doing and rose to their feet coming to greet Buck.

“Mighty fine to see you Bucklin,” drawled Vin, a grin on his face.

“Good to see you back in the fold Brother,” said Josiah giving him a firm handshake.

“You look like shit Bucklin. Where are you painkillers?” said Nathan.

“Good to see you too Nate,” grinned Buck shaking his head.

Nathan grinned, showing his white teeth.

“Glad to have you back with us. Now where are your painkillers?”

Chris held the bag up and Nathan went to fetch a glass of water from the kitchen.

Once Buck was settled and he had taken a couple of painkillers Chris sat him with Josiah and asked the large agent to fill him in on recent developments in their investigation. Retreating to his office he began to work on the pile of paperwork before him. After a few minutes he heard a quiet knock on the door.

“Come in,” he called and Vin poked his head around the door.

“Busy?” he asked.

Chris looked at the paperwork in front of him and sighed. He couldn't concentrate on the work anyway and he shook his head with a rueful grin.

“Not really. What can I do for you?”

Vin came in and closed the door behind him. He walked to the front of Chris's desk and dropped into the chair in front of it.

“I just wanted to see how you're doing?” he said simply.

Chris sighed. “Me? I'm ok.”

Vin smiled but didn't say anything, just continuing to look at his friend.

Chris shifted uncomfortably under his gaze before letting out a heavy sigh and relaxing into the back of his seat

“Ok. I'll try that again. No, I'm not ok. I've just had to take my best friend back to the scene of where he very nearly murdered his 'brother' and me.”

“How'd he react when he got there?”

“Kinda strange. There wasn't much of a reaction. He doesn't remember a thing and I don't know whether that's good or bad. I had to show him where it happened.”

“And how did you feel when you walked in?”

“Me?” said Chris in surprise. “I ….” he sighed and took a couple of seconds to collate his thoughts.

“I pictured JD lying there and the blood that stained the floor but you guys did a good job and there's no trace of what happened there now.”

Vin nodded. “Do you think they'll have problems living there? I guess it's going to be kinda rough of both of them.”

Chris was impressed by Vin's insight and he voiced his own doubts.

“JD wants to go straight home. He wants Buck to look after him but I'm not sure that they're ready to do that straight away. It's not only the fact that they'll be alone together but it's the memories of what happened.”

Vin nodded again. “So you think it'll be best if they both stay with you?”

Chris agreed. “There's plenty of room at my place and I guess I'll be on hand if anything goes wrong.”

Vin calmly looked at his friend.

“And how long do you reckon they'll stay?”

Chris shrugged. “As long as it takes I suppose.”

“And what if they never feel able to leave and live on their own?”

Chris frowned. “What is this , 20 questions?”

Vin leaned back in his chair.

“Naw. I just think that the longer they leave not living at the CDC, the harder it will be. They're both big boys now and I understand that they need our support but we can't be mothering them for ever. Bucklin has to deal with this and so does JD. In fact, Buck's not the problem - it's JD we've got to worry about”

Chris looked at the sharpshooter, surprised.

“JD? He's doing well isn't he?”

Vin shook his head. “No he's not. He's putting on a brave face but he's not come to terms with what happened either. That boy is hurting inside but he's more worried about Buck 's feelings than his own.”

Chris sighed. Thinking about it he realised that Vin was right. He had just been happy to see JD awake and alert but each time he had visited, JD had been more worried about Buck and the others than himself.

“You're right. I guess he's had us all fooled. So you think it's a bad idea for them to stay at my place?”

Vin shook his head. “No, I'm just saying that we have to be careful and listen to what JD wants. He's got no control over what's happening to him and we've got to listen to what he wants - not just do what we think is right for him.”

“Hell, we all know what that feels like,” murmured Chris thinking back to the times when he had been recovering from a spell in hospital. He sighed again and Vin added

“And you need support as well. You can't cope with both of them on your own Larabee. I know you've been trying to play the strong man but you're human just like the rest of us. You know that if you ever need to talk, I'm here.”

They shared a long look which left both men with a smile on their lips.

“You'll never realise how much I appreciate that Vin. It's hard knowing that your best friend could have killed you without as much as a passing thought. If it hadn't been for you Buck would be dealing with even more guilt.”

“Hell we're all guilty Chris. I shot the man. I feel it every time I see him struggling to walk. Have you talked to him about it?”

Chris shook his head. “He's got enough to cope with.”

“Talk to him Chris. It'll do you both good,” advised Vin climbing to his feet.

Chris rose and they clasped their forearms in their special hold, each installing their strength into each other.

“Thanks Vin,” he murmured. Vin merely nodded, words not needed.

“Get back to your paperwork boss. What time do you want to leave?”

Chris looked at his watch. “I want to be out of here before 3 o'clock if possible. Can you keep Buck amused till then.”

“Hell yes. With those painkillers, I guess he'll be dozing on your couch in about half an hour anyway.”

“Buck?” called Chris softly. Buck woke up and opened his eyes to see his friend bending down before him.

He stretched and groaned at his sore leg. Awkwardly rising into a seated position he blearily looked around him. He was in Chris's office having been deposited there by Josiah when he began to doze.

“Time to go home pard,” said Chris handing him a hot coffee.

“What time is it?” he asked, gratefully sipping the dark liquid.

“Just after 3 o'clock. You've been asleep on my couch for over an hour.”

Buck grimaced. “Sorry,” he murmured but Chris just smiled down at him.

“Finish your coffee while I get our coats. I think you need to lie in a soft bed and have an early night tonight.”

“I said I'd visit JD tonight.”

Chris shook his head.

“Not tonight pard. Don't worry, the rest of the guys are going down. You and I need to talk.”

Buck looked up suspiciously.

“Talk?” he said slowly. “About what?”

“Oh all sorts of things Buck. Come on don't be so worried, that's what friends do.”

Buck saw the look of encouragement on Chris face and relaxed.

“Yeah, sounds good,” he murmured, finishing his coffee.

Chris disappeared and reappeared a short time later holding their coats.

“Come on Bucklin,” he said and Buck moved himself gingerly into the wheelchair.

They bid a farewell to the remaining team members and made their way back down to the underground garage. Cuervo was still curled up on the hood of Chris car and was extremely displeased when he had to shoo him off.

“Guess I can't please everyone,” he laughed as the ginger cat flicked his tail and turned his back to him in disgust.

Buck chuckled as he climbed in. “I hope you're a better nursemaid than a kennel maid Larabee.”