"RNLI" Alternate Universe
Heather woke at around five to find she was alone, maybe she woke because she was alone. For a while she just lay and listened, trying to work out where Buck was, eventually she became aware of a faint sound from the living room, a low murmuring sound. Pulling on her kimono she walked to the door and eased it open a few inches.
The sound was the television, from the look of it an old episode of Doctor Who. She could make out the back of Buck's head on the sofa watching. Anger sparked in her, how dare he leave her in bed to watch so ancient TV show in the middle of the night? But her anger died when she heard him speak.
"How you doing now kid?" Buck was looking to his right at someone who was below the level of the back of the sofa.
"'Bout the same I guess," came the weak reply.
Quietly she walked into the room; Mac looked up from his place on the armchair, alerting the two men to her approach. She found JD, curled up under his duvet, at the other end of the sofa, looking like a ghost, a large bucket on the floor beside him, and a tall glass of water on the table behind him.
"What's up?" she asked.
JD scowled at her but said nothing.
"By now just about everything, I hope," Buck explained.
"Oh JD, I'm sorry, can I do anything to help you?" Heather tried to sound sympathetic.
"No! I don't need anything from you."
"JD!" Buck bristled. "Heather's only trying to help, you don't have to be so rude."
Before JD could defend himself or even apologise, he threw off the duvet and jumped up, and bucket in hand, ran for the bathroom. Buck without another word followed, tossing Heather an apologetic look as he followed. When JD had stopped heaving yet again, and it had happened so often in the last three hours he'd given up counting how many times, Buck handed him some water. JD didn't drink it, he just washed his mouth out, every time he drank he puked, even a few swallows of water made him unwell. Finally he sat back against the bathroom wall.
"Boy, you look like shit, I'm gonna call Nathan," Buck announced.
"No, it's just a tummy upset, it'll pass," JD protested.
They had been through everything that JD had eaten in the preceding forty-eight hours, but no likely candidates for a case of food poisoning presented themselves. Nevertheless Buck was worried, JD was very pale and slightly feverish, since he couldn't even keep water down there was no way he could keep any paracetamol down.
"Please don't wake him up now," JD pleaded.
"Okay, but I'm gonna call in the morning, whatever you say. Wanna go back to the living room?"
They had abandoned the bathroom for the living room not long after Buck found JD. JD needed something to keep his mind off the cramps and the ever-present nausea; the trips to the bathroom were still too frequent to make sleep a possibility.
"Okay but "
"Can you ask her to go back to bed, I don't want her there."
"JD she's only trying to help," Buck explained, suddenly feeling he was being got at. "She likes you, I don't know what your problem is with her."
JD wanted to say 'I don't like her, she's up to something, don't trust her' but he didn't, he fell back on teen gaucheness. "It's embarrassing Buck," he pleaded.
Whatever anger there had been melted in Buck. "Okay, I'll ask her. Come on, lets get you off the floor."
Buck called Nathan at home first thing in the morning expecting him to be in, but he'd missed him. It seemed JD wasn't the only person to get sick, and Nathan had been called into work at the crack of dawn. Buck had managed to speak to him about JD and established he was in no immediate danger. He assured Buck he would put JD on his house call list and hoped to be with him by mid afternoon. There were other casualties, of what ever was ailing JD and they included the pub's main barman Tom. That left Buck short-handed, and having to divide his time between taking care of JD and working downstairs. It wasn't too bad because JD had finally fallen asleep at around seven a.m. and Heather had announced she could stay over and would help out. Inez was also looking after her jovenzoelo and shooting daggers at Heather whenever they saw each other. Looks Buck appeared to be oblivious to.
Finally at nearly four a very tired-looking Nathan walked in, and with Buck following him headed upstairs.
"Well, JD youre sick," Nathan announced.
"I had worked that out," JD muttered.
"You've got a mild fever and you are a bit dehydrated, but nothing serious. Have you been able to keep any water down yet?"
"I had some about an hour ago, it seems to be staying put," he admitted.
"Good, keep it up, a little at a time, sucking ice cubes is good too. If - and only if - you keep it down until supper time, start on some flat lemonade." Nathan looked over his shoulder at Buck.
"No sweat, we got a half-open bottle of Seven Up in the fridge, I'll take the top off, and it'll be flat by supper time."
JD was making a face at the thought of it.
"JD, it's good stuff, completely clear, lots of sugar, but right now you really don't need all those bubbles," Nathan explained. "If that stays down you can move on to plain boiled rice and either white fish or skinless chicken breast - boiled or steamed, tomorrow."
JD's face told them all they needed to know about what he thought of that idea, but he said nothing,
"And keep drinking water as well, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, I know."
"Good, if you keep the water down you can try some soluble paracetamol at supper time as well, to help get your temperature down. I'm going to ask Buck to keep an eye on that." He turned to Wilmington again. "I'll leave you a thermometer, take his temperature before the paracetamol, at bed time and tomorrow morning, I'll call in and see him again then, okay. Now please leave me and JD alone a moment would you?"
A look of fear and concern flashed across both Buck and JD as Nathan rose and quietly and firmly closed the bedroom door.
When the doctor came out he took Buck aside and spoke to him privately.
"Buck, I have to tell you JD is not the only person who got sick last night "
"I know," Buck interrupted. " Tom called in sick this morning, and Sally had to stay home because Dave was sick too." The loss of one of his best and most reliable barmaids had put him and the remaining staff under even more pressure, but her husband was ill and she had to take care of him and their three children.
"We have seen ten people, including JD today, and who knows how many haven't reported it."
"Nate, what are you telling me for?"
"Because all the people who got sick have been in here, in your pub. This weekend, yesterday or Friday."
Buck paled and backed up a step. Then he shook his head slowly. "No way, Nathan, no way! No one ever got sick eating in my place, no one!"
"Look I'm sorry, but I have to follow this up, I don't think it's food poisoning, it doesn't present like that, but "
"Nathan don't do this."
"I have to, it's the law. I've taken samples, and I'll hassle the lab to rush the results through, but I have to report it to Environmental Health, sorry."
"You were here, youre not sick, Heather, Inez, hell, I ain't sick - what about the others, the guys?"
"As far as I know they're fine."
"It doesnt work that way and you know it. Now have you been taking precautions with JD?"
"Of course, every time he uses the bath room we clean it with an anti-bac cleaner, we all wash our hands, everyone is using paper towels and chucking them. I know what I'm doing Nate!"
Nathan kept his voice quiet and calm, coolly professional, fully aware just how angry and worried his friend was.
"I know you do. And I know how much of a pain this is and how stressful, but, I honestly don't believe the tests will find anything and I am sure your kitchens will pass with flying colours."
"Nathan have you any idea how many regulations I have to comply with? Public Health, Environmental Health, National Food Standards, English Tourist Board, E.U. Directives, HM Customs, Licensing regs - if they want to trip you up they can do it, even if your kitchen is brand new and never been used!"
"You ever had a problem before?"
"No, five stars every time."
"How many stars can you get, max?"
"So what are you worried about? I'm doing this because I have a legal duty to do it, not because I think there is a problem Buck I'm sorry I have to do this."
Buck let a small smile escape. "Yes, I know, sorry to give you a hard time, I'll see you out."
"What!" Inez shouted. There then followed a long, loud cascade of Spanish as she stormed back and forth in the kitchen. Buck knew when he told her what the doctor had told him, this would happen.
"My kitchen is clean, spotless, you can eat off this floor!" She stamped dramatically.
"I know," the publican said patiently, waiting for the storm to pass, at full flow Inez could rival Chris.
"What gives them the right? How dare they? What was Doctor Jackson thinking of?"
"He is doing his job. Look we were inspected in the spring, we passed, we will pass again - right?"
Inez finally let go a long calming breath. The spring inspection had been a real trial. Buck had only been home from the hospital a week and the inspector had refused to give them an extension until he was fitter. Despite the combined efforts of all the staff, not just Inez and JD, he had instead on supervising the cleaning and getting all the paper work in order, once the inspector had gone he'd ended up back in bed for the best part of two days. But he argued it was worth it, they had again passed with the highest marks.
"Yes, of course. Oh?"
"Oh poor JD, he will be thinking it is his fault - you know what he is like - you have to tell him it's not his fault."
"Inez you are an angel. I have and so has Nathan, repeatedly. Mind you whether he believes us is another matter. Why don't you tell him, he'd love another visitor."
Heather stepped back from the kitchen door where she had been listening; she smiled to her self and returned to the bar. When she had offered to help she had admitted she had never worked behind a bar, but offered to collect glasses and wash them, if she was waiting for Wilmington to tell her he couldn't have a lady like her doing that kind of work - she was waiting in vain. Buck believed in equality, and equality worked both ways, and that meant women, however elegant and well manicured could do shitty jobs too, if they offered.
As both Buck and Inez exited the kitchen she was back behind the bar.
"Everything alright?" she asked cheerily.
Inez turned and glared at her before she disappeared up stairs. Wilmington had seen the look, in truth Inez had been glaring at Heather ever since she arrived, JD was acting that way as well. He was quite mystified as to why those close to him, seemed to dislike the woman he was beginning to think of as his girlfriend, so much.
"It will be, love, we got it covered."
"Captain you have been paid," the man in front of Stefan Corvanich repeated angrily.
Corvanich regarded him with an air of indifferent boardroom. Before him was what he considered to be a worm, dust on his boot - if that. Ali Fedili was a good six inches shorter than Corvanich, where Corvanich was lean and athletic, despite being over fifty, Fedili, who was only thirty two was overweight and sweaty. His olive skin seemed, to Corvanich at least, to be almost green, just proving to him that the squat Turk was beneath him.
"And now I want more, I know how much your getting per shall was say, unit, I reckon I'm getting less than thirty percent, after expenses, but " He jabbed the podgy man in the chest. "I'm taking all the risk. Do you know how close we came last time, when that tub broke down? I want more, or we don't sail."
"So your only getting thirty percent, thats still, thirty thousand dollars a trip, hell even your crew are getting - what? Three thousand a trip, thats a years salary, each trip."
"Forty thousand or I don't sail, and you have to find yourself a new captain, and believe me, you acquisitive little rat! It will cost you a lot more than ten thousand to get someone willing to take the risk in that boat, me and the Neo is the cheapest you'll get buddy and you know it!"
Fadili turned away, he really, really hated Corvanich. The man was a bigot, cold blooded, sadistic bastard, but he was right. It would cost him a lot more than ten thousand dollars to find a captain he could trust with his cargo. It might be an illegal cargo but it was the most profitable he had ever dealt in.
"Very well. I will pay - but do not try to up your fee each trip, I know you are charging me for fuel and crew who don't exist."
The taller man smiled slyly. "Good boy. How many units this trip?"
"One hundred and twenty one, mixed, full size and half size."
Silently swearing, because he hated taking half units, Corvanich asked when and where he was to pick up his latest cargo.
By Sunday JD was improving, he had eaten the boiled rice and fish Inez cooked for him, and though his stomach rumbled he kept it down. By supper-time he was well enough to try eating Buck's mother's patent remedy for 'grouchy tummies' - Bird's custard - it worked and he liked it a lot better than boiled fish! His temperature was still above normal but he was getting better rapidly. JD might have been improving, as were the others who got sick that Saturday night, but new cases were occurring all the time. Nathan and his colleagues were rushed off their feet. And with his bar staff dropping like flies so was Buck. Worse still, Heather had left in the afternoon for a short business trip, she wasn't the worlds fastest bar hand but she was better than no one. Inez and JD however, couldn't have been happier.
Come Sunday night JD was almost his old self and with Heather away for another day at least, if not two, he was feeling relaxed in his own home again. Not until she was gone had he realised how her presence effected him, how tense she made him feel. If she and Buck really were getting serious he knew was living at the Inn on borrowed time, and that was something he didn't want to think about. He had stayed with Josiah at the presbytery for the odd night, the house was bigger than two priests and a house keeper would ever need, boasting four guest rooms, and Sanchez had made it known he was always welcome. That wasn't the point though, the pub was home, his home. He had felt that from that very first day when - lonely and demoralised - he had wandered in looking for a moments warmth and rest, and a total stranger with a trusting blue eyes and a warm smile had offered him a roof over his head. Logically he had always known he couldn't live with Buck for ever, one day he would have to leave and make a home of his own - hopefully with Casey, but he had though it would be a long way in the future.
JD rolled over in bed and looked at the alarm, 3:25 a.m. it read. That was the trouble with being sick and lying around all day, come the night you weren't sleepy. He lay there listening to the sound of the sea through the open window. It was a calm still night and the gentle lapping of the water against the harbour wall was barely audible. As he lay there he was aware of the breeze and as the clock rolled over to 3:30 he heard St Mary's strike the half-hour. When he had first moved in he though the damn clock and it's bells would keep him awake all night, but within just a few days he had stopped noticing it. Suddenly the peaceful night was rocked by a loud crash from downstairs!
JD sprung to his feet and dashed out into the living room. Mac, illuminated by the light spilling out from JD's open door and the orange glow of the street light outside, lifted his head briefly.
"Some guard dog you are," JD commented.
Buck hadn't come to his door, maybe he hadn't woken up; he was very tired and Chris always said Buck could sleep through a hurricane. Well he reckoned it was up to him to investigate, the burglar alarm hadn't gone off, whether that was good or bad he wasn't sure. Picking up Buck's huge cricket bat he stepped out onto the landing and listened. Someone was moving around downstairs, in the kitchen from the sound of things. That was odd, he assumed any thief would be in the bar, looking in the till - and finding it empty since the takings were locked in the safe, behind the blocked-off fireplace in Buck's bedroom - or stealing the spirits from the cellar. Grasping the bat in both hands JD slowly made his way down the stairs, pressing his back to the wall as he went. He knew where all the squeaky floorboards were and how to avoid them. The lights in the kitchen were all on, and as he reached the bottom of the stairs he found most of the movable kitchen equipment in the hall way and bar, in fact so much was in the hall way he could hardly move. Squeezing past the warming cabinet, which he hadn't even known had wheels, bat still in hand, he made his way to the door.
What JD found was Buck, dressed in an old pair of jeans and an even older tee-shirt, walkman clipped to his back pocket, head phones on, scrubbing the floor. The pungent armour of bleach hit JD just before he ventured on to the damp floor in is bare feet, and he wisely stayed where he was in the doorway.
"Buck!" he all but shouted, but failed to get the older man's attention as he worked the long handled deck brush into the corners beside the deep fat fryer. "BUCK!" he shouted even louder.
Wilmington suddenly spun around, it took him a second to register who was standing there, than he pulled of the headphones and smiled at him.
"Sorry, did I wake you?" he asked. "Dropped the bucket." He waved in the direction of the galvanised bucket standing in the sink.
"No, I was awake anyway, came to investigate."
"So I see." Buck gestured to the bat.
Blushing and lowering the impromptu weapon, JD asked what he was doing at gone three in the morning.
"We could be inspected to tomorrow, I know you didn't get sick from here "
"I do too, never though I did."
"Thanks, anyway I still don't want to give them any excuses, our records and food samples are all up to date, and we stripped and cleaned a few months back - but we closed for a day to do that, I can't afford to close in the summer, so I'm doing it now."
"We all did it in the spring, you can't do it all on your own in one night - no one could," JD argued.
"True, but I can do the floor, it's better than doing nothing. Go back to bed kid, you look like shit." JD didn't move. "Go on, you can't help, I'm be a few hours yet, see you in the morning."
JD went back up stairs but he couldn't sleep, sitting in the living room gently fondling Mac's ear he spotted Heather's laptop. When they realised she had left it behind Buck had called her mobile, but she said she didn't need it and could he look after it for her. A thought occurred to JD, an evil, crawling thought, a thought that was not worthy of him but it wouldn't go away. Even before he was aware what he was doing he had the computer open. Hacking was something he had been good at, but he hadn't done it in a while, he didn't really like it, the fear of being found out was a constant worry, and besides, he had never found anything very interesting. It helped that her laptop was the same make as his, and getting past her log-on code was ridiculously easy. He moved to 'My Documents' and surveyed the files. When he spotted one called 'Dunne' he had to open it. Curiosity turned to anger, shock and even horror as he read the contents of the file.
"Tanner take the shot."
But he didn't he just lay there, squinting down the sights of his rifle. The target was a tall man, with greying hair in his late forties. He was dressed in camouflage fatigues with a colonel's insignia on them. He had a clear shot, but - the target was surrounded by his family, small children ran everywhere. There was no danger of him hitting one of the children, but he didn't want them to see the man die, see his head explode as a high-powered soft-tip bullet hit it. No child should see their uncle, cousin, maybe even their father die like that. He just couldn't do that to those children. The man was a war criminal, a leader of the most radical of radical nationalists, responsible for mass ethnic cleansing and genocide, he had personally tortured and murdered dozens. But the children were innocent; they didn't deserve those memories.
"Corporal take the shot now!" the captain hissed.
Vin fired, the bullet missed the man by a whisker and shattered the water barrel behind him. The adults reacted instantly, gathering the children and taking cover.
Vin sat up in bed instantly. He was gasping for breath, and sweating. Getting shakily to his feet he made it to the main cabin and drew himself a glass of water, which he downed in one gulp. Finally he sat down in the dark cabin and tried to sort his thoughts out. At least this time he dreamed it as it happened, more than once he dreamt he hit the target and watched the children scream, on other occasions he dreamed he hit one of the children. The C.O. had officially accepted it was a genuine miss, Vin was only 19, it was his first 'cold kill' mission, he was bound to be nervous. If he suspected it was a very deliberate miss he never said anything.
"Ffwc!" he exclaimed out loud.
Why was he having that dream again? For weeks now it had been coming back in various versions. He had left all that behind, it was over. Missing hadn't been the end of the mission of course, they still had to get out of there undetected. Getting caught meant one of two things, getting killed - most likely after they were tortured, or creating an international incident - and getting tortured. Luck was not with them that day and although most of the six-man squad got away Vin and the Captain were captured. While the rest of the squad called in and planned a rescue Vin and his C.O. were brought up in front of the man they had been trying to kill.
"Show me their weapons," he had demanded of the men who had captured them.
As the two marines stood there outwardly impassive, inwardly trembling, he had examined their guns; eventually he was holding the sniper rifle. He stared at the two men, looking from one to the other, than he made a slight hand gesture and the Captain was taken away.
"This is your gun?" he asked. Vin did not reply. "Boy, if you give me the 'name, rank and number' routine I guarantee all your friends will find is corpses, not very pretty corpses. Now is this your gun?"
"I have to assume, that if they gave you this gun you know how to use it. So tell me, are you a good shot?"
"In the hands of someone who knows what they're doing, it would be hard to miss with this gun, wouldn't it?"
"So why did you miss?"
"You thought you were gonna hit a kid?"
"You didn't want them to see me hit?"
After that he had gone back to examining the gun. Finally he looked up. "I have no quarrel with you, or even your officer, not personally, you are professionals - I respect that - and I respect that you disobeyed your orders, for my children. Family is important; do you have family, corporal?"
Vin shook his head, never once had he broken eye contact with the man.
They were both beaten, and although questions were asked, Vin suspected it was mostly for effect, since they didn't seem to be angry when they got no answers. Finally they were placed in a cellar together - from which they escaped. It was ridiculously easy, a small window had been boarded over, but the boards were rotten. No guard challenged them, in fact there didn't appear to be any guards as they slipped into the forest and rendezvoused with the other men at a pre- arranged meeting point. The mark - Stefan Corvanich - had let them go - there was no other explanation for the ease of their escape.
They say no good deed goes unpunished. After a short stay in a military hospital to recover from the beating Vin was debriefed endlessly, he was asked to tell them what happened so often he had begun to think his head would explode, and wish he had shot the bastard after all. Then he would sleep and dream of the children, screaming in horror and panic, or worse still covered in blood, gaping holes where their innocent faces should have been. And knowing that they were dreams and not reality made it worth the price he was paying, because however bad it was it was temporary, it would pass. If he had killed the man the damage to young lives might well have been permanent, and it wasn't worth it, not to Vin it wasn't.
Vin pushed himself up and headed out of the cabin and on to the deck. He was only wearing a pair of boxers, and despite the fine weather he still felt a sudden chill as the cool onshore breeze hit his exposed flesh. Sitting cross-legged on the cabin roof he tried to clear his head as he listened to the wind and waves, the slapping of the water against the hull of his boat, the 'ting ting' of the numerous rigging lines on the aluminium masts of the other yachts, even the occasional 'plop' of a fish feeding in the still sheltered waters of the harbour. But nothing worked, it never did, his mind just went over those dark times over and over again.
He had killed after that, more than once, without hesitation, but then he had never been put in that position again. He only had nightmares about the non-kill. Whether it was his fear for the children or his own weakness that prayed upon his sub-conscious he didn't know, and didn't try to find out. He just decided to leave the military behind. It had been good to him, he had a home and food and money in his pocket, he had a feeling of belonging and self-worth. The structure and discipline were hard to deal with, but he understood their purpose and accepted it was good for him. His life had been in danger of spinning out of control, the Marines had put him back on track, but that was done now, now he had to make his own way - if only the dreams would let him.
Vin hadn't realised just how long he had been there until the sky began to pale and his keen hearing picked up the familiar sound of the milk float making its slow progress along the harbour front, stopping every now and again with that distinctive 'chink' sound as the bottles rattled in their crates, to drop off a pint or two at each doorstep. He glanced up at the steps that gave his access to the top of the wall; his own empty bottle was in place, tucked neatly into the corner of the top step. So not wishing to give the nice but gossipy milkman - Ted - any fuel for the town rumour factory he slipped below deck, to dress and face yet another day on only a few hours sleep.
By the time Buck had the kitchen floor so clean, Inez's boast about eating of it really was true and all the equipment was back in place, and weak dawn light was filtering in through the windows. He headed up stairs, hoping to get a few hours rest before the brewery truck arrived at eight with a full load of barrels to be exchanged with the empties in the cellar. The Lifeboat Inn was a 'free house', not tied to any one big brewery. Buck made his own deals, mostly with small independent brewers producing 'real ale' as opposed to the mass produced, carbonated beer the big breweries produced, but customers expected light beer and lager as well and these he purchased from the big brewers, and that meant early morning deliveries at their convenience, not his.
He was bone weary as he mounted the stairs and decided to skip going for a jog with the dog in the morning so he could have an extra hour in bed, Mac would have to do with a quick walk after the delivery - not that he would mind. To his surprise he found JD sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table, his laptop in front of him. As he came in JD hurriedly closed whatever he was working on and shut the down the computer, he kept his head down, not meeting Wilmington's gaze once.
"JD you need to sleep, you're not well," he counselled.
"I'm okay now." Still JD did not look up, he sat there, head down willing his friend to go into his own room so he wouldn't see him put the computer away in and realise what he'd done, willing him not to notice the state of his tear-swollen eyes and tear-streaked face. Buck looked at JD wondering what was going on, then he happened to look into the youth's room, and straight at his laptop sitting on the desk. For a moment it didn't click, then he did a double-take and looked back at JD sitting on the floor, trying to look as small as possible.
"JD what the bloody hell is going on?" he demanded. "That's not your computer is it?"
He advanced into the room, scanning for Heather's bag and finding it beside JD open and empty.
"What the hell have you been doing, son?" he bellowed.
"I had to, please just listen "
"You read stuff on her computer, you hacked someone else's computer?"
JD nodded miserably. "Please, you have to hear what I found, please?"
"No, no way. JD I I " he groped for words to express his disappointment and anger with JD. "This is unforgivable JD, you just don't do things like that. I thought you were my friend, I thought you were a man. God JD, how could you?"
"I can't explain it, please let me tell you what I "
"NO!" The anger in his voice shocked JD. He had never seen or heard Buck really angry before, annoyed, irritated, shocked, even moderately pissed off - but never really angry, and it scared him. "I don't want to know, you don't read peoples personal stuff, it's like reading their mail or a diary. Why JD, why did you do it?"
"I had a feeling, about her, I didn't trust her, she's I can't explain it."
Buck turned away form JD, mainly to stop himself hitting the smaller, younger, weaker man.
"What? Youre jealous? It's okay for me to have a string of one-night stands but I'm not allowed to have an on-going relationship? Is that it?"
"No no you don't understand "
"I think I do, you don't run my life, kid " For once the word 'kid' was delivered not as an affectionate endearment but a statement of fact. " how and with who I live my life is down to me, got it? Me and me alone, and no snot-nosed waif and stray is gonna dictate to me!" He turned back to face the youth who had so hurt him. "JD, the least you can do is look at me!"
Finally JD raised his tear stained face to look deep into the eyes of his friend, his anchor, his protector, and surrogate big brother.
"I'm sorry, I thought, what I mean is I did it because because ."
"Because what boy? Go on, because - and it had better be good."
"Well Ezra said "
"Ezra? What the hell does Ezra have to do with this? I might have known that sneaky, snot nosed, stuck up "
"Stop it!" JD bellowed, finally getting up. "Ezra's a friend, he isn't any of them things and you know it. He gave me some advice that's all, and any what I already knew what he told me, it just sort of confirmed it, that all he did, don't take it out on Ez, he didn't do anything. I did it for you, why don't you stop shouting and listen for moment - please," he all but pleaded.
"Get out JD, get out of my sight, now before I do or say something we both might regret." He was almost trembling with rage by now.
The tears had returned as JD stood there, wishing with all his heart the last hour of his life could be pulled back and lived over, so he could do things differently. Whatever he had found out, whatever the consequences and hurt it would cause, it wasn't worth this, nothing was worth what was happening now. Without saying another word he turned and fled the room, slamming the door behind him.
Inez woke to the sound of shouting from the flat below hers. She was well used to strange nocturnal noises coming from below, but this was different. Angry voices, mostly Buck from the sound of it, and a lighter voice, almost pleading at times. Even though she couldn't make out actual words clearly the two men were arguing. The slam of a door was so loud it made her jump, clearly the argument was not resolved. Inez wanted her men to be happy, never were two men meant to be friends more than Buck and JD. Determined to broker a peace between them so she got out of bed and pulled on a pair of loose sweat bottoms under her tee shirt. Then headed for the door, only to turn back as she had her hand on the handle and make a dash for the bathroom.
Changing his mind about jogging, Buck changed and calling sharply to a confused Mac he headed out. Running always cleared his head, let him think clearly and put things in perspective, that was why he did it alone, with no human company.
JD couldn't stop crying, and for once he didn't feel stupid or a baby, all he felt was lost and alone. He just let himself cry while he packed his own laptop and threw a few clothes and wash things in an overnight bag. Then without even looking back he ran downstairs and out into the cold dawn light and an empty town.
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