It's Not As Bad As It Looks

by Phyllis Loafman

The screen slammed as JD and Vin entered. Chris came out of the kitchen, a scowl on his face.

"If you two 'boys' can't open and close the door without banging it, just stay outside."

Larabee turned to reenter the kitchen, but JD's voice pulled him back around.

"Chris, where's Buck?" the dark haired agent asked breathlessly.

Chris noticed that the young man's face was flush, and both he and Tanner were breathing hard, as if they had run a marathon. Hearing footfalls behind him, the blonde turned to see Ezra and Nathan walking in from the living room.

"What's going on?" Jackson inquired.

Vin looked at their youngest, as JD's hands waved around. "Oh, nothing. Nothing's wrong. We," his hand now lay on Tanner's forearm, " were just asking where Buck is."

Ezra's eyes sparkled in amusement as he studied the two young men in the doorway. "Why would you be so interested in Mr. Wilmington's location this close to start time? You are aware that the race is about to start, no doubt?"

JD opened his mouth to say something, but froze at the bellow.


Both young men in the doorway jumped. JD had the look of a deer caught in the headlights; while Vin looked like he was ready to sprint away. When it appeared that Tanner was about to do just that, Dunne's hand locked around the Texan's wrist. His other hand came up to point at the lean face.

"Vin, you said you'd back me. Don't be running off." The two men stared at each other.

"NOW, JD!!" The windows in the house seemed to vibrate against their frames.

Chris and Nathan stood and watched the two young agents, as Ezra moved past them and out the door. A soft, 'Good Lord' was heard uttered by the undercover as he stepped out of the doorway and moved off the porch.

Dunne's head had dropped and Tanner easily pulled his wrist free. Once loose, he placed the arm around the smaller man's shoulders; shoulders that were visibly shaking.

"Come on, kid. He's not going to kill ya. I'll help ya explain."

As one, they moved to the door and stepped out into the bright sunlight. Larabee and Jackson followed close behind.

The ATF leader gazed at the sight in front of his house and then moved to stand opposite Tanner, next to JD. He reached out and ruffled the dark hair, as he leaned over and whispered, "It's been nice knowing ya, kid."

JD almost bolted, but the firm grip Vin had on his shoulders prevented his escape.

The foursome stepped off the porch and approached the other three members of Team Seven as they stood in the drive.

Josiah stood next to Wilmington, a blinding smile on his face as he and Ezra surveyed the GMC pickup that was Buck's pride and joy.

Buck stood glaring at his roommate, as the young man hesitantly moved forward. Wilmington's fists were firmly planted on his hips. "What the hell is the last thing I said to you before the two of you drove off? Can you tell me? Were you listening to a thing I said?"

JD swallowed as he looked from the man to the vehicle. Finally screwing up his courage, he waved his hand at the vehicle and offered, "It's not as bad as it looks, Buck. Really."

"I told you, 'be careful'. Weren't those the words I said? "Be careful". Does this look like 'careful' to you?" His hand flew out to indicate the truck and JD flinched at the sudden movement.

"Honest, Buck, it's not as bad as it looks," JD beseeched. Then he decided to switch tactics. "It could have been a lot worse?" he whined.

Josiah guffawed at the big man next to him as his eyes widened, eyebrows shooting up.

"Not as bad as it looks? It looks like you brushed the wall at Daytona, JD. What were you thinking?"

"I's thinking I was gonna die. Hell, Buck. You ain't even asked if we're ok!" JD tossed back.

"Well, I can see you're all right. You're standing right here." Buck finally took a deep breath, mentally calming himself. "You're right, JD. You and Vin are more important than a…truck." Buck struggled to get the word out. "A truck that I hand built from a scrap of rust, but that's okay." He threw his hands and waved at the two agents. "Ya'll are more important than a hunk of metal."

Vin stepped forward. "It wasn't JD's fault, Buck. Some kid had his daddy's Hummer and obviously didn't know how big it was. He came up beside us and…well…you can see…he didn't even slow down 'til he was past us."

Chris clapped a hand on Wilmington's shoulder. "Cut the kid some slack, Buck. It's apparent it wasn't his fault. He and Vin weren't hurt." Chris paused as Buck eyed the two young men in question. He added, "You can use the barn to repair it."

Buck stood looking at the damage done to his baby. Every panel on the right side of the vehicle was scraped and scratched. The moldings were torn off as well as the door handle and mirror. He sighed deeply as he looked over at his roommate.

"I know it's not your fault, JD. Sorry about blowing up at ya." The young man visibly relaxed as Buck wrapped a big hand around his neck and gently squeezed. "I'm glad you two weren't hurt."

JD smiled up at the big man. "Thanks, Buck."

Wilmington stepped over the truck and reached through the open window, pulling the door handle up. "You're welcome, kid. Like you said, it could be worse."

The handle slid up, the lock disengaged, and door started to swing open with the same creaking, popping noise as always.

And then…it fell to the ground at Buck's feet… the hinges mangled beyond recognition. JD and Vin were already backing away.


Chris, Nathan, Josiah, and Ezra had all jumped back as the door crashed to the ground. Josiah stood staring at the twisted metal. "I think it just got worse."

JD started running first, but Vin caught up and passed him within ten yards. The thunderous sound of boots slapping the ground behind them only served to spur both young men to a faster pace.

The other four watched the foot race's progress with amusement.

Ezra held out a hand. "Ten to one, Mr. Wilmington does not catch either of the two."

Nathan just shook his head.

Chris grinned. "No bet. Buck's running on anger, but them two," he pointed as JD cleared the back of the barn three steps behind Tanner, "they're running for their lives."

Josiah clapped his big hands on the shoulders of Larabee and Standish. "Well, brothers, shall we go watch the race?"

The four men headed to the house, the voice of Buck Wilmington reverberating off the walls.


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